Dharna dances — a parliamentary debate?

03 Sep 2014

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If the youth, tired and sick of political theatrics, wants to dance to some music, what's wrong with that? —Reuters photo
If the youth, tired and sick of political theatrics, wants to dance to some music, what's wrong with that? —Reuters photo
If the youth, tired and sick of political theatrics, wants to dance to some music, what's wrong with that? —File photo
If the youth, tired and sick of political theatrics, wants to dance to some music, what's wrong with that? —File photo
If the youth, tired and sick of political theatrics, wants to dance to some music, what's wrong with that? —File photo
If the youth, tired and sick of political theatrics, wants to dance to some music, what's wrong with that? —File photo

In my opinion, one can disagree with the ‘dharnistas’ on dozens of accounts, without any mention of the term 'vulgarity'. In Maulana Fazlur Rehman's opinion, not so.

Yesterday, the JUI-F chief again invoked the 'fahashi' argument against men and women dancing at the Azadi march. And it wasn't even a talk show this time; he was standing inside the Parliament House.

Before we go on to discuss what fahashi (vulgarity) really constitutes, let's remind ourselves what happened the last time Mr Qadri descended upon Islamabad with his hordes of followers, aiming to destabilise the democratic system.

Opposition political parties issued a joint declaration from Lahore immediately, condemning his activities and vowing to defend the democratic process, thereby deflating the ‘revolutionary’ fervor.

Also read: Army will never utilise ‘musical show’ for power, says Fazl

A similar show of solidarity might have been a better way to deal with this mess than resorting to small-minded mockery and conspiracy-mongering. Some people went to the extent of filing a petition against the dharna's 'vulgarity', which the Islamabad High Court thankfully rejected.

Who is to decide what does or does not constitute ‘vulgarity’ anyway? It's a subjective notion, one lying ‘in the eyes of the beholder’.

The concept of 'vulgarity' is important only in bigoted, misogynist societies such as Pakistan.

People suffering from this mental state are shocked at the very sight of anything that's not conforming to traditional norms.

For them, just seeing a woman outside her home is shocking enough; and any dress or activity which falls outside the purview of their self-styled moral values, is thought to be invoking the devil itself.

Such incidents, unfortunately, are hardly rare in Pakistan. Women are regularly harassed and punished by men for so much as talking to a man outside the house. It is these baser tendencies which lead to bigger evils like honour-killings and acid crimes.

Explore: CM Punjab’s admirable moves against vulgarity

Unlike most civilised societies, the concept of personal space is non-existent in our society. One can find people decrying vulgarity for a-dime-a-dozen in our alleys (and parliaments, as it appears).

I'm sure a major reason for that is the absence of entertainment places and the reluctance to travel abroad. Parks, waterways, cinemas, clubs, theatres, quality book-shops or similar places for public assembly are few and far between in even our major cities.

Instead, what we have is a multitude of gaudy shopping malls, ever increasing in number. The absence of genuine entertainment has resulted in stagnation and negative thinking.

In that, it is nigh impossible to broaden one's horizons and explore the sheer diversity of values and ethics, which other people live with. Already no one from other countries is willing to come to our country and we no longer see any tourists on our roads.

The party-like environment in these dharnas proves that there is a desperate need for the government to increase entertainment opportunities for the masses. Based on anecdotal evidence, most of the dharnistas come to the late-night ‘festivals’ to enjoy and have some fun.

Read on: ‘Azadi’ March brings entertainment

If the youth, tired and sick of political theatrics, wants to dance to some music, why does that twist the knickers of our ‘moral guardians’? If women, who form half the population of this country, want to be a part of the political process, why does that fire up the mullahs?

Whatever the female workers of PTI do in their spare time should be of any concern to anyone; not to mention it is outright disgusting for anyone to allege them of obscenity.

In my humble opinion, this country needs more of social change than a political one.

This change should be against narrow mindsets. Right now, no political party seems interested at all in that cause.

I hope that Imran Khan will not remain silent on this moral and mental decline and will start a practical movement to eradicate this hypocritical mindset because the first requirement to ‘change the system’ is to ‘change the national mindset'.