Censorship is Good

buddha-lahore-museumA couple of days ago, I had the misfortune of attempting to take my son to the Lahore Museum. The weather was pleasant, I was relatively free and had promised him this visit last month, but the one variable that completely skipped my mind was the schedule of our overlord, Mr. Asif Zardari – and I’m still cursing myself for this blunder.

The Lahore Museum is approximately a 25 minute drive from my home, but when we reached the Punjab Assembly building on the Mall, the road was completely blocked by the police, with the traffic being redirected to the right. On the second road that runs parallel to Mall Road, there was another block, and after the policeman asked me where we were going, he ‘recommended’ that we take some other road further ahead. After a very long and slow detour on crazily overloaded single lane roads that I would never enter in normal circumstances, sprinkled with a generous helping of muttered curses, we somehow reached the museum after more than one hour.

During the journey, my son kept asking me “Are we there yet?”. Since I did not want to trouble his tiny mind (he’ll have plenty of opportunities for such troubles in the future, without me adding to them) by trying to explain to him how the mere presence of a single pure bred homosapien in an area can create problems for a few thousand human beings when you live in Pakistan… so instead, I had to convince him to drop his idea of “burning the roadblocks and making the police let us pass” (no, he’s not a terrorist in the making, not yet – he just watches a lot of Ben10).

My estimate is that the Mall usually has traffic density to the tune of 1 car per second, now multiply it by a few thousand and you will get an idea of the magnitude of disruption, not to mention the loss of time (60 minutes for me) and fuel (atleast a couple of liters) that a single VIP visit / Provincial Assembly may cost to the Pakistani public.

In the museum, I saw an intriguing poster on display in the Freedom Movement section of the Lahore Museum. It said something along the lines of

When Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah Rehmatulah Aleyh was taking his last breaths, two words came out of his mouth – “Allah” and “Pakistan”.

I have been thinking about it, but still do not understand why this (not an antique) poster has to be displayed in our museum. Jinnah’s actions, vision and beliefs should be enough for anybody to respect the man, without the need of half a dozen prefixes and suffixes around his name to put him on a pedestal.

The drive back home, after three hours, was not much different. The Mall was blocked again, this time, near the Governor House, with traffic crawling at 5 Km/h.

The incident gave me a much better understanding of how terrorists are born. It also made me sort of agree with Zardari when he calls the long march a “mere carnival” – I would have given anything to see a tiny percentage of the long march attendees block the road upon Zardari’s arrival.

If you boil water in an open pan, it boils and evaporates. Watching water boil is boring stuff indeed. On the other hand, when you boil water in a closed container, steam starts building up, which could result in an explosion, or a steam engine. Either way, it is certainly much more interesting than watching water evaporate. I may be going senile, but I think that instead of long marches, what we actually need is more censorship, more injustice and more roadblocks for the government officials VIPs – roadblocks that make a few thousand people curse and think for a few minutes. After a few hundred such roadblocks, either the whole Pakistani nation will be trained into submission, or we will collect enough steam to purge the system for good. Either way, it will be a good change from our status quo of toad-dom.

4 thoughts on “Censorship is Good”

  1. No one elected Musharraf and no one elected Zardari. But somehow we are supposed to celebrate democracy now. Its depressing to see that what people consider their moment of revival is actually just more of the same thing that has happened in the past.

    About the traffic, I don’t get why they haven’t found a permanent solution. In fact I know exactly why they haven’t. I totally agree with your boiling toad analogy.

  2. do u need my affirmation on this? there comes a BIG yes when faced with such “VIP” visit troubles, sadly our collective issue despite our “”Umra returned PM’s” promises being chanted to erase all the VVIP roadblocks and all..hah!

    you didnt mention how did ur son find the much awaited visit(though i know ur focus is different in post)

    just to add, did u really enjoy ur visit to the museum, when i went 4 years bk all my enthusiasm melted and evaporated since it was in a depleted state, lack of maintenance and all..

  3. cache:
    I think these roadblocks are one of the few rare instances when they get to see the helpless public that they are ruling and they don’t want to let go of the chance.
    Here’s one possible solution – let us say each of the affectees of these traffic jams “donates” 100 Rs. – I certainly would, if it saves me a precious hour of my life. Let’s say there are approximately 1000 cars, with an average of two passengers.
    The money thus generated (200K) ought to be enough to take these helpless cripples from the airport to their destination in a private helicopter, there should even be some money left over for a bottle of champagne to make them a bit happier. Maybe all the people who donate can be automatically entered into a draw to get an autograph from their beloved leader. Won’t that be just great for everyone?

    It turned out my son had higher expectations, and wanted to see dinosaurs, machines and rides there. This was my third visit to the museum, the first one was when I was 5, the second when I was around 15 and this time when I am 31 (and my son is 5). Not much has changed in the last 26 years. Melted and evaporated are the right words, as it was too hot in there – all they had were those ancient (though befitting a museum) fans from the British era with their looong pipes – ever seen one of those?
    They don’t allow cameras in the museum, which makes sense when the motive is to prevent painting from the harmful flash – but I was shocked to see that none of the display cases seemed to have ANY form of temperature/moisture control… they are basically ancient cabinets with glass walls. And we are talking about relics worth millions of dollars here.
    Either the museum is being managed by idiots, or everything on display there is a replica.
    I hope for the later but I’m afraid it is the former.
    I think all these things are deliberately done to teach us the value of patience.
    Thanks for your comments though 🙂

  4. aww ur son didnt know that our museum isnt the national history museum (Uk/US) hehehe

    they dont really have much for cameras to capture…though i luved the paintings that were on display i remember having admired a painting with horses, it was beautiful. and ur so right about the idiots 😉

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