Dawn News

I’ve related the story before, but I find the need to relate it again. Especially after watching a ‘born-again Muslim’ actually denouncing (on local TV) a woman parliamentarian’s plea to pass more pro-women laws in the National Assembly and doing away with the controversial laws that were imposed by the Ziaul Haq regime : due to which thousands of mostly innocent women languished in jails for crimes that were actually committed by men!

This was back in 1995. A women’s organisation invited me to a seminar for a discussion dramatically titled “The Casualties of the Hudood Ordinance.”

Interestingly, also present there were a string of pop and television celebrities of the time.

All of them passionately decried the Ordinance (imposed by the Ziaul Haq dictatorship).

Since it was a strictly no-smoking hall, my habit kept me going in and out of the hall, so much that I completely missed my slot as a speaker. No problem, because I am not much of a speaker and would rather keep quiet and listen.

However, I did manage to ask some of the celebrities present in the hall what they really thought about the Ordinance. All of them insisted they were against it. I asked if so, then how come none of them have ever used their art and talents to address this issue.

One of them who is still pretty popular, said, “It is not for us entertainers.”

“Really?” I asked, surprised. “Then what are you doing here then?”

He said he was there as a common citizen and not as an entertainer. Ironically, he said this while signing autographs for his fans.

“I see,” said I, smiling. “But common citizens do not sign autographs, do they?”

He smiled back, shook his head and moved on.

My eyes then fell upon another famous pop star of the time who today functions as an evangelist of sorts.

Since on most occasions we had remained amiable acquaintances, we did end up talking in that hall.

“So Paracha sahib, Marx kya kehta hai?” (What does Marx say?) He asked, sarcastically.

“Marx koh choro (leave Marx),” I said, “Tum kya kehtay ho?” (Forget Marx. What do you say?).

“Same,” he said confidently. “Same as everyone here. But we being Muslims should look for a middle-ground in this issue. After all, we can't just repeal a law given to us by Allah!”

“Allah? Or Ziaul Haq?” I asked, still holding my smile.

I was expecting a cynical chuckle at best, but what I got was a tirade of references from various Islamic scriptures. You must remember this guy was still a pop star and hadn’t turned to preaching.

“But all this is useless to a person like you,” he casually concluded, at the end of his passionate spiel.

“Hmmm ... ” I nodded, still holding on to the smile, even though I was slightly ticked off. Then putting a hand on one of his shoulders, I continued: “Now I get it. If this is how our pop stars think, I am wasting my time asking them to use their art for social and political causes. Of course, you will never use your star status to talk about the Hudood Ordinance, now would you?”

Lo & behold! He said exactly what his contemporary had earlier said. “We are entertainers, yaar, not politicians.”

Irritated, I decided to actually use a part of my unused speech on him. So this (in essence) is how it went… “You know, Zia’s Ordinances would have been welcomed by Nazi Germany!” I unabashedly announced.

He was shocked: “What do you mean?”

“Well,” I continued, “Women in Nazi Germany were to have a very specific role. Hitler was very clear about this. This role was that they should be good mothers bringing up children at home while their husbands worked. Hitler saw no reason why a woman should work. From their earliest years, girls were taught in their schools that all good German women married a proper German at a young age and the wife's task was to have children and keep a decent home for her working husband.”

He interrupted: “What has this got to do with the topic at hand?”

“A lot,” said I. “This is got to do with a law passed by a myopic regime in a society that is becoming more and more chauvinistic and intolerant. A society you entertainers, God bless you, are also a part of.”

He stared at me again. But decided to hear me out.

Mentally mapping words from my undelivered speech, I continued: “As housewives and mothers in Nazi Germany, their lives were controlled. Women were not expected to wear make-up or trousers. Only flat shoes were expected to be worn. Women were discouraged from slimming as this was considered bad for child birth. Women were also discouraged from smoking, not because it was linked to problems with pregnancies, but because it was considered non-German to do so. There used to be a song in Nazi Germany. And it went something like this: ‘Take hold of kettle, broom and pan, then you'll surely get a man, shop and office leave alone, your true life work lies at home.’”

Finally, that cynical chuckle did arrive. But he went very serious when he asked: “So, are you suggesting that our laws are a product of fascists?”

“Yes I am,” said I. “Entertaining, no?”

He never talked to me after that. And/or vice versa.

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Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and Dawn.com

He tweets @NadeemfParacha

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


Comments (75) Closed

Oct 07, 2012 11:14am
Mr. Pracha do not get disheartened. Europe (to be exact white Christians) only in earlier 20th century believed in and acted in the manner for which they are condemning asian/arab/ muslim countries today. Hitler is a convenient bad guy; but taly
Oct 08, 2012 01:16am
Pakistan is still strong despite all the odds and standing tall even after 60 years of independence. Long live Pakistan and long live Jinnah.
Oct 08, 2012 01:20am
There can be no comparison between an Indonesian or Malaya Moslems and Paki moslems. Pakistani are defaming Islam more than Saudis.
Oct 08, 2012 06:18pm
And man you are so superficial in reviewing Pink Floyd, no further comments, just listen to it more (perhaps with some recreational/drugs).
Ashraf Gul
Oct 08, 2012 01:50am
Good one pal Nadeem
Oct 07, 2012 12:00pm
Thank Allah, for in Malaysia which is predominantly a Muslim country, women of ALL religions and creed have freedom of their choice. We have Muslim women occupying top positions in both Government and public life.In fact our Reserve Bank governor who is a Muslim lady has been judged as the best in the region time and again.To use religion to prevent women to achieve their aims shows the fear your men have of women power.
Oct 07, 2012 12:57pm
Not only a great read but so true as well. Just because Hilter lost the war does not mean that his strategies died with him. On the contrary I read that America was so impressed that immediately after the War they employed those responsible for such policies to work for them. So if the 'fundo' lot are using the same methods to achieve their ends why should we be surprised. Fact is no one ever learns from History.
Oct 07, 2012 06:27pm
I rather think the fault was with jinna's two nation theory.............. ..zia was just a manifestation of such a fault.........with the advent of advance communications the fault of jinna will manifest in many ways.....perhaps at an accelerated pace from now on
Amir Saeed
Oct 07, 2012 12:45pm
Does this qualify as incitment to Violence, Mr Moderator?
Oct 07, 2012 06:17pm
What about John Lennon, Pink Floyd, Neil Young....
Oct 07, 2012 06:20pm
Thanks for the sleeping pill,
shahzad khan adam khel afridi
Oct 08, 2012 03:47am
Respected,honorable and reverent Mr paracha your articles always remain an excellent source of information That you laboriously collect from so many sources and resources.your intellectualism is dubious owing to the fact the you hold bias political ideas. And promote an agenda of a certain political part.is that true or not.?I hope you wont take it amiss. Thanking you.
Does not matter
Oct 07, 2012 05:33pm
I am no Zia fan but let me ask you this, what made people to still follow his ideology after so many years of his demise? Let me tell you, no ideology can survive if it is not supported by mass. When the lawyers of the country came in open support of a murderer like Qadri, what else can you expect from common mass who clings to religion with all his might.
Oct 07, 2012 03:20pm
Till I read this I had never made the connection, in hindsight it looks quite obvious. Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Pinochet, Stroessner & Peron were all great friends of the Church. Thanks.
Oct 07, 2012 02:31pm
I am a big fan now, recently discovered your writing. Can't wait for next piece.
ahmad butt
Oct 08, 2012 07:24am
People have a flock sheep mentality , and the leader is a shepherd.Like the people having only ptv to watch had a choice really, 9pm military coup khabarnamas telling you one side of the coin...its self explanatory you open a bar you will encourage drinking, you open school you will raise student, you get your hand in a USA vs Russia proxy war in Afghanistan you being the neighbor will suffer.... Testament to history, one of the King Henry VIIII wife suffered and died from cancer, so word has it he opened a medical facility, and mughal emperor shah Jahan's wife passed away he built the taj mahal, both leaders did something significant back in their time. what has gen zia done that , most of them were fresh lawyers with least world exposure of a funcational judiciary like most of the pakistan has not been overseas and have never seen a democratic country, Im sure the top well off lawyers were sitting in their office watching the charade. the likes of Qadri are among us ,
ahmad butt
Oct 07, 2012 02:45pm
And the sheer irony is that Zia ul Haq, one of his daughter living in the USA claims that its an inside CIA job, while the other one is in UK. Oh daughters of holy Islamic warrior General Zia, please return back with your entire family to Pakistan and see what your father has done to the country,made it from a tolerant liberal society to a narrow bigoted society with flawed jingoism. I wish to know their reason on living in the West, i hope someone can get their interview on how they feel on what has become of the seeds sown by their father
Ahmed Rehan
Oct 07, 2012 10:49am
Perfect comments, NFP don't blame Hitler or Zia, have some courage and write truth only do not cosmetic it with recent society requirements.
Big Yellow Taxi
Oct 07, 2012 12:41pm
On making pop stars sing for causes: personally I believe in art for art's sake. Music that is preachy and agenda driven is generally bad music. Exceptions exist of course, but generally it tends to cause artistic awfulness and naivety by the bucket full. Just look at Shehzad Roy, Ali Azmat, Salman Ahmed. My message to musicians: leave it alone unless you're Bob Dylan. And besides, nobody is going to change their minds about something important because of a song, or so I hope at least, because that would just be scary.
Oct 07, 2012 03:05pm
Mr Paracha, the Germans could change as their were driven by a particular ideology but would Pakistanis change as they are driven by Religion.....not saying as an Indian but I genuinely believe whether its India or Pakistan, if religion starts driving human beings to do wrong things, there is very little hope.
Oct 07, 2012 03:06pm
Our fascist leader has done too many wrongs to our country, snatched it from the upward move and slid it rolling downward. I hope in the same manner, he is rolling down to the deepest level in hell.
Oct 07, 2012 03:11pm
Does that mean religion does not have to be practiced in its literal sense or does it mean otherwise? If the latter is true, its a shame.
Oct 07, 2012 07:25am
Hitler was a mighty Christian warrior. Germany has always been a great Christian Nation. He wanted German women to follow what is required of them in the Bible. Christian women are required by the Bible to be slave to their husbands, keep covered and stay quite. Stay indoors, take good care of their husbands and produce as many children as possible. No contraception. This is not fascism, but Christianity as per the Bible. Have guts. Say it as it is. Have the courage of your convictions. Call a spade a spade or say silent..
Rohail Butt.
Oct 07, 2012 08:00am
Thank heavens an article that has nothing to do with Taliban Khan's cheap stunts. Thanks, NFP. Such pieces make many of us realize what is happening to Pakistanis as a society.
ahmad butt
Oct 07, 2012 10:31pm
@Krish, i would believe your argument, but other than my elder Pakistanis, i have met so many foreigners who have visited Pakistan back in the day when such things were unheard of ,and after bhutto and zia things never became stable. Most upsetting thing for me is i dont want Pakistani minority to feel marginalised and leave the country,, and have the media slam us for it, do you think the average Pakistani is happy with rimsha case Pakistan has become the cannon fodder of biased reporting. Yes the partition has left a bitter taste and many conspiracy theories say that both the creators of Pakistan and India were actual collaborators of the British, but that is long gone and past(65 years than 25). Even the rich and powerful in India have benefited from it, dont get me wrong,many educated indian who come overseas realise this as well that how multicultural first world countries operate. The younger generation of both countries cannot just assume power and make it follow on the patterns of a first world ,only now those having media exposure would read the likes of NF Paracha, and have points of ponder. I believe only the creators can carve future of the nation, those who assume or grasp power dont know the value of sacrifice. A singaporean friend of mine was saying how Le Kwon Yu crushed opposition and shared his grievance, i said that he set your country on track for all the years he was in power, same with Mao for China. Pakistan lost Quaid and Liaquat ali in the early days, the rest is all documented power tussle, and India having Nehru being a leader worked, but having Gandhi rule a few more years after partition could you a much better country, and we would have been able to repair the wounds of partition and become welfare states. So our politicians and military would never be the leadership, and they are not innocent and helpless unknowingly what to do, maybe they want things to stay for their benefit,this is where an ex-cricketer who echoes the same sentiments is get immensely popular with the youth of today.
Oct 07, 2012 07:56am
Beautifully entertaining.....
Oct 08, 2012 03:06am
Pinochet was America's man in Chile. America has a few here too. Always had them...one after the other. Should your revert, you die: ZAB, Zia, others.
Oct 07, 2012 07:53am
Thank you, Mr. Paracha. The mental gymnastics of the "entertainers" is absolutely entertaining. yet they are horrifying in their fascist elements. Some pakistanis blew up Zia, but why can't they blow up (repeal) his cruel and idiotic legislation?
Oct 08, 2012 02:58am
Malaysia is essentially a cheap labor camp for the West. Pakistan is dangerous to them. Hense the focused attention it is getting from them.
Omar B
Oct 07, 2012 09:38pm
Not to worry, if you ask NFP he'll probably tell you there is not much of nicotine in the stuff he smokes.
Oct 08, 2012 02:53am
Imran Khan has taken the shine off the ball...er NFP.
Oct 08, 2012 02:47am
Another misogynist women hating bigot.
Oct 08, 2012 02:44am
Without Jinnah you could not be here posting. Obviously you can't on your side.
Guest 103
Oct 08, 2012 02:40am
You sound more like a mulla than most mullas.
Oct 07, 2012 07:16am
Fascists anywhere have one goal, power through subjugation of others, and forcing women and minorities to toe the line.
Oct 07, 2012 09:57pm
Oh yes and India is such a vast bastian of propriety - deluded individual. Obviously the cow's urine has gone to your head,
Oct 07, 2012 06:41am
Why is your luster dim for the last two columns in a row. Still NFP is the best and it would be a huge pity if NFP sells out. I want original NFP to shine all the time.
Yawar Ali Bhatti
Oct 07, 2012 06:19am
Stunned. This is so true. The Nazis thought exactly that way.
Yawar Ali Bhatti
Oct 07, 2012 06:20am
And who was the pop star? JJ, Najam ...?
Oct 07, 2012 04:59pm
Its your viepoint. Ask the Mullahs, they think that having promoted the Hadood law, Zia is in heaven.
Ahmed j
Oct 07, 2012 08:53pm
@KKRoberts...Churchill was a racists and a drunkard as a man. How could he be a mighty Christian warrior? Indian Army fought the war for the British but Churchill disliked them. He remarked about the Indian Army as inept, disloyal and nothing more than an armed Frankenstein
ahmad butt
Oct 08, 2012 07:25am
Yes its like the are both in hte Jerry Springer Show trying to out do each other
Oct 07, 2012 11:49pm
Why do you Indians always bring this topic to all discussions. It isover. Forget about it. We got Pakistan. Live with it. Ote topic, I think it is sad tha te women are made to suffer to appease the mullahs and male chauvinistics whose ego will hurt if wome were allowed to freely work and live in Pakistan. Its all t do with education. We need to increase the level of education in Pakitan so tha males are more open to ideas of wome independence.
Oct 07, 2012 11:57pm
dot dot dot dot dot dot....... (learn the basics of writing before using it as a medium of your feeble opinion based belief)
Oct 07, 2012 11:20pm
can you please drop them in Atlantic or Pacific? We don't want them in Indian ocean, some of them may survive and swim safely to India; then our government will make them "Ghar-Jamai" like Kasab
Oct 08, 2012 02:27am
@KKRoberts:" Hitler was not a mighty christian warrior...Winston Churchill was was a mighty christian
Oct 07, 2012 08:20am
The nation now ( 30+ years on ) is paying by arms and legs for the Crimes of Zia ul Haq's American's peanuts offer . For every soul which departed unwillingly (cut to pieces ) since Zia declared his intentions to be the conduit and Controller of the American Peanuts and Saudi petro$ , his own soul has to bear the crimes against humanity which he unleashed on to this nation . His laws are the Gunnahe Jarriya ( likes of sadiqah jariya term in religious jargon ) for his own soul in general and the nation's poor down rotten bloody civilians in particular . No wonder , he was burnt alive in this world too so as to complete the process called ( muqafate ammal ) the nature's balancing act , that no one could identify even his remains ! ( a dental DNA came to his rescue , to be eventually buried in this land !
Does not matter
Oct 08, 2012 02:13am
May be it is from the habit of killing animals. When you kill animals with your own hands or even see them being killed regularly in front of you, you seem to value less for the life except of your own. In west at least they have better ways of killing instead of butchering them in open with knives and all.
Oct 07, 2012 04:12pm
So the popstar was either Junaid Jamshed or Ali haider. Who cares. The larger point is that Pakistan needs to be a moderate nation without any kind of extremeism be it religious or liberal.
Oct 07, 2012 01:57pm
Khan Sahaib, Gen Pinochet was a war criminal, who ordered killings of thousands of innocent people. We don't want these crazy people killing on the name of politics, religions etc
Oct 08, 2012 05:14am
Unfortunately, most of the commentators on law in Pakistan never care to read it. This goes for either side of the argument. But I question to NFP and many other commentators here: is it upholding of "a law" the real problem in Pakistan, or "lawlessness". For me the question of a law being good or bad, man-made or God-made, is quite secondary and debatable.
Oct 07, 2012 04:25pm
Hypocrisy, my dear Watson.
Oct 08, 2012 06:08am
Oct 08, 2012 05:18am
@Mani: Thank you for setting the record straight. Excellent comments on Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and Jinnah. Good to find educated comments here...getting rare by the day.
Krish Chennai
Oct 07, 2012 05:23pm
Mr. Butt, it is sheer fallacy to blame any predicament on one single individual. Zia may have been just a product of circumstances, Pakistanis have to gather their wits together and get on ! By and large, the younger set in Pakistan ( below 25 years ) think Zia irrelevant, and only the older ones think he did irretrievable damage. But it's still the younger set who are the future of Pakistan.
Oct 07, 2012 05:25pm
NFP, you get it very clearly. It is fascist extremists who hide behind roles in society like politics, entertainment, etc to gain control and impose their ideology of intolerance and violence.
Oct 07, 2012 06:22pm
Best comment so far. It seems there is no person alive to say spade a spade. Intellectualslike NFP are just wasting their time in looking for scapegoats like Zia, Bhutto or Jinna etc..... Let us see how long will they take to point out the real culprit.
Oct 07, 2012 06:24pm
Why are we so violent in our behaviours??
Zalim Khan
Oct 07, 2012 11:00am
Pakistan is a "nation of biggots" They give Islam a "bad name" They abuse the name of Islam, why don`t we see the same level of hate, killing, dishonesty and terror in Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, or even in India for that matter? Its these 'bearded criminals' who have been given the freedom to do so. We need a 'good general' who is willing to 'load these mullahs into a C135 and dump them from 30,000 feet into the Indian ocean, like the dear general Pinochet of Chile.
Oct 07, 2012 09:47am
Hitler was not a mighty christian warrior.He was a coward like bin laden staying underground and asking his followers to fight.Hitler suicided for the fear of caught by Russians.Winston Churchill was was a mighty christian 'Warrior'.
Oct 07, 2012 09:03pm
It was not the fault of Jinnah Sahib, rather it was the fault of Nehru and Patel, who derailed the cabinet mission plan, otherwise the the India will remain a united country.
Oct 07, 2012 10:56am
You should stop smoking, bro. Pakistan needs you to live long.
Muhammad Omer Khan
Oct 07, 2012 07:30pm
Oh come on mate, you should be able to accept the two nation theory now, had India not been a divided society, then after independence Pakistan and India would have been strong allies, but today they are vicious enemies, India has tried everything to destroy this nation, even cut off our water supply. And Pakistan has tried things too. These people are enemies now, they were not friends before independence either. Accept things and move on, don't be like BJP or Bal Thakeray.
Oct 07, 2012 07:33pm
Well, the fact is where Islam begins and where its ends as a throcracy no body really knows. Islam, unlike Christanity never took on the ardous task of (for a lack of a better word) the process of canonization or perhaps what the council of Trent did. There are 101 (modestly speaking) interpretations available for the politically minded Muslim. They know what they do is haraam according to some of the 101 interpreations yet they continue for the simple reason that their objective is never really about Islam it is always political. That is why the sooner people come to grips with the fact that most of these people are not fundmantalists they are political and seek power perhaps going to,the extent of being fascists. let us start calling a duck a duck. Plus, really it gives the fundamentalists a bad name!
Ahmed j
Oct 07, 2012 08:36pm
@Christopher...NFP is a Marxist.
Oct 07, 2012 08:09pm
Admin Please, Do not modify or short cut my comments. You have the right to delete them altogether. When you short cut them, the message a reader wants to convey gets lost or gets changed altogether. When the message gets changed, you are cheating the readers. it is dishonesty. The situation Pakistan is in, it is because for too long the voice of discent has been suppressed and for too long these Allah Ke Thekedar have been having there way and you people have been partner with them consciously or subconsciously. These people, with your help, have made Islam and Pakistan something to be ashamed of --- which they are not. So, please put my full comment or delete it altogrther i.e my comment in response to Tahira's comment and this one too. I hope you will be honest enough and brave enough to do the right thing.
Oct 07, 2012 10:24am
who are those pop stars? any guesses ?
Muhammad Omer Khan
Oct 07, 2012 07:34pm
Zia Ul Haq managed what the nation achieved with 3 years of Bhutto Rule, Even today, hard liners shamefully denounce Bhutto and praise Zia. The Zia regime was a very very cruel one.
Oct 07, 2012 08:24pm
Nadeem Sahib: Well written! And if you also keep on repeating occasionally hopefully your message will stick with the entertainers. That is, the Hudood laws as well as the Blasphemy law are man-made, not god-given. A long time ago Aristotle said: We are what we repeatedly do. Even rational people tend to believe what is fed to them through the power brokers and establishment. One wonders is this the Land of Pure or Make Believe.
Does not matter
Oct 08, 2012 04:22pm
I don't know where Pakistanis get an idea of their water supply being cut off. I have seen some shows on this water dispute and no where any of your water experts claimed that India has cut the water supply of Pakistan. They do make claims of India building many dams but that is as per the water treaty. It is the insecurity of Pakistani government and army that India "might" use dams as a weapon if there is a War. So, don't give India any reason for war.Behave like a good neighbor. Everything will fall in place for you afterwards.
Oct 07, 2012 06:31pm
So conclusion all fascists abuse religion, otherwise religion needs to be kept away from state, rules should not define a "good woman", a woman needs to make that choice for self or not.
Oct 08, 2012 12:47am
Sir Ahmed Khan came up with the two nation theory, way before Jinnah's time. Jinnah actually wrote a book on Hindu Muslim unity. Jinnah was the president of Congress before Gandhi but when Gandhi arrived, Jinnah was sidelined, I think because the majority of India were Hindus and they did not want to be led by a Muslim regardless of his qualifications. Jinnah did not want to divide India but felt the Nehru report based on which independent India's constitution would be set up was not fair to Muslims, he suggested a 14 point agenda, which was rejected. Then India split. Please check your facts before undermining the greatest Muslim leader of the 20th century. As far as Zia is concerned, he has nothing to do with the two nation theory. During his tenure he deployed a very strict and perhaps wrong version of Islam based on his tiny brain's understanding and greed for Saudi/ American money to turn Pakistanis against socialism.
Agha Ata (USA)
Oct 07, 2012 02:40pm
Nadeem, you reminded me of another song: A woman, a dog, and a chestnut tree The more you beat them better they be!
Oct 07, 2012 12:30pm
Please name the celebrities.
Big Yellow Taxi
Oct 08, 2012 09:50am
But John Lennon's "peace songs" with Yoko and their silly protests are considered one of the greatest tragedies in music history - everyone knows this - so that was a really bad example; Pink Floyd only sang for the cause of experimentation with recreational drugs as far as I know :) and Neil Young is as much a rarity as Bob Dylan. Political songs are a high-wire act. If you tilt to one side a bit too much; you're gone. It requires a great deal of subtlety and nuance in the writing. And like I said before, art should be for art's sake, and the artist's only responsibility is to be true to their art. (Was that a cheesy thing to say? If yes, I apologize; I'm no Bob Dylan either :) )