IRSHAD SALIM — Pakistani pyrotechnic team won the top slot in a major competition on 14th August in Moscow. The (video below) captures their ten-minute performance. Watch after 2min 15 sec mark for fireworks synchronization with Pakistani beats. “A brilliant show,” says the observer and commentator who shared the clip:
“Compare this to the fireworks done in Pakistan on 14th August…this exactly describes the dilemma the country faces. The ruling elite is divorced from ground realities and the potential the country has,” he wrote.
According to him, “the rent seeking elite wants to sustain the status quo, leaving out the huge community with genuine talent” –an observation other independent socio-political one’s have been saying for decades.
Oscar, as I nicknamed him since we started to interact, asserted that “mainstreaming this community will unlock the potential of Pakistan, but,” he says, “will also defeat the status quo forces; hence they will never allow this transformation to happen.” –a view carried by many others also.
His posit is a Tango by all account with mine, including my father’s, and et al I used to hang out with in the 70s and early 80s.
One of the shock and awe (Jhatke pe Jhatka) at that time for me is also an Oscar Tango to the issue — the decades old remains alive and kicking, and dust-storming the society just like the ‘black & white zebra with red all over crossing the road’ is a distraction at the Zebra crossing on a boulevard narrowing into a broad street as it snakes through the downtown!
FLASHBACK: An impromptu visit to a child beggar’s camp in a Karachi suburb in the mid-70s led to this conversation:
“We don’t let them (child beggars) go, nor empower them with literacy, education, civility, money, etc. They won’t listen to us then, and then escape…how will we survive then?,” a middle-aged gentleman said to me. I understood he was the big guy of the camp for chatting so confidently.
The visit from a policeman and his sharing doodh patti tea alongside me at the adda (goth), and the conversations we were having were ultimately a kaleidoscopic gaze to me, and remains so even decades later.
BLAST FROM THE PAST: On or about the evening of March 25th 1971, Baba (my father) had said in Khulna, former East Pakistan now Bangladesh that, “Yeh pagri waley log nahi chahte.”
It took me decades of studentship to understand who the “pagri waley log” were and are, and what it means and what they “nahi chate” meant and means.
Pagri waley meant, as I understand now, something beyond linguistic parlance or provincial, ethnic symbolism –it’s the cabal which seeks the status quo, I’ve come to realize. I have rejected the usual take on it, as our family on Baba’s watch, is multi-ethnic, multi-lingual through inter-marriages and cross-cultural bonhomie.
Therefore, I’ve taken to understand that Baba meant a groupthink of predatory albeit binary (banya) nature, and left it at that, as his takes were usually telegraphic.
Reminiscing, this motley but powerful mindset-carrying community comprising all shades and from all the horizontal and vertical sides, over the years overgrew into a huge politically powerful cabal –and it consciously and competently maims / twists / breaks the system’s limbs systematically –just as the limb of a child the gentleman at the beggars’ camp told me they do, so they can day in day out, unfettered, rake in money, power, prestige, etc., and achieve a so-called unassailable position in the society and in the power structure bottom up.
PS: The child beggar I had met had talent: He could whistle well, was a great conservationist. He used to talk me into buying two bun kababs: one for me and one for him. I consider him a member of the marginalized talent community (sunshine generation) but at the mercy of the status quo.
Oscar is therefore right (again); We’ve got talent. How we Tango will remain though the million dollar question for the future generation to figure out. We failed them.
To quote Aitzaz Ahsan sahib, “we the hinged generation (I call the sunset / nero generation) dropped the ball…we are leaving behind a Pakistan worse than we had gotten from our forefathers.” God bless him. Pakistan Zindabad I must say; it’s the Wind Behind My Wings…
Karachi, Aug. 17, 2022