The other day, I read a news item about a stand-up comedian from Pakistan not being allowed to perform, by a political party. Generally, I tilt towards the liberal — freedom of culture and expression being my firm belief.
Strong-arm tactics against any artiste generally fill me with rage. But this morning, I found myself saying, “Serves him bloody right. We don’t want to laugh at his jokes!”
The next moment, I was quite horrified at my reaction. This was not ‘me’. I don’t react like this normally. So was I becoming a victim to constant media pressure or was this the result of some sustained propaganda?
I was troubled, to say the least. I went into a thinking tailspin and explored every possible alley of my mind, not to mention that I did not gestate on the anatomy of hate and other worldly matters. The more I thought about it, the more I remained angry and impenitent.
Then it came to me. I was angry. And I was angry, not with the cardboard Pakistani Establishment but with the people of Pakistan. Governments have treaties and accords and agreements with other governments, while the people of two countries just have an emotional bond where we respect or love.. or tolerate or hate the populace of the other land.
Up in arms
I’m angry because my city, Mumbai, has been the most welcoming city on this side of the prime meridian. Over the years, it has welcomed with open arms all artistes and sportspersons.
Of course, by this, I also mean from Pakistan also, and yet, I don’t find one, person from the other side telling
their government, “Hey, we need to sort out what happened in Mumbai. We have been there and it was great to us. We owe Mumbai that.”
I believe that Pakistan is in a democratic phase now. So how about its citizens rising up in arms and telling their leaders that they should quit sidestepping and do something about the carnage that enveloped the city which always welcomed them?
Power to revolt
People have the power to do that. We’ve seen that in our country time and again. We have fought for Jessica Lal and we have fought for the Taj.. and we will continue our fight. But if the people in Pakistan don’t fight for us then they are no friends of ours.
Don’t show me Pakistani cricketers saying that we should continue with cricketing ties. Let us see them telling their leaders to get their act together instead. Don’t export that Pakistani actor here before he has a thing to say to his people.
This is a simple fight. It is a fight for our survival. One good thing that George Bush said was, “If you are not with us then you are against us!” Go make someone else laugh! We are mourning.