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.