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Wish you gaffes

June 08, 2011


For those who flinch every time Rehman Malik makes an outrageous statement like terrorists being some kind of celestial beings in Star Wars (or was it Star Trek) sartorial finery, flinch no more as other government officials make gaffes at par with his proclamations. We already have Donald Rumsfield’s “Known unknowns” and the latest one to join ranks with Malik sahib is the Foreign and Commonwealth office (FCO).

Yes, as part of their counter terrorism activity, the FCO has commissioned an anti-terror cartoon film (what an oxymoron) “Wish you Waziristan.” The film’s target audience is young Muslim wannabe terrorist boys. I just wonder how receptive a wannabe radical boy – someone already inclined towards violence – would be in an animated story about perils of jihad in the wilderness of Waziristan.

Although the makers of the film claim that they have been working on it for the past two years – it was commissioned by the Labour government back in 2009 – it is quite obvious that the film has used all possible clichés and popular references on the topic.

The first overly simplistic cliché is that those who face racism will become terrorists. It is like Dr. Phil declaring that Osama Bin laden became a terrorist mastermind because he was the 17th child and did not get love and attention from his father. So if you are suffering from the 17th-child syndrome or have latent anger over childhood insults, chances are, you will end up in Waziristan trying to blow up random targets. 

The failed bombing in Waziristan and the use of the word ‘Bro’ are all from Chris Morris’ hilarious jihad satire Four Lions. The film-makers of Wish you Waziristan (I cringe every time I type this name) should know that when you are working on a serious project, your point of reference should never be a satire.

The film has two main characters, a young boy of Pakistani origins (he has relatives in Pakistan) with jihadi tendencies, named Abu and his younger- not-interested-in-jihad-but-accompanying-big-bro-because-that’s-what-you-do brother. If they had researched it properly, they would have known that desi boys are not named Abu. The inspiration for the name is obviously someone like Abu Hamza a.k.a Maulvi Hook who is an Arab.

Though the film deals with the issue of racism, it makes a mandatory reference to a Muslim/Pathan jihadist’s inappropriate touching – in the guise of body search – of a teenager.

The FCO has been accused of wasting tax payers’ money on this film. I am sure whosoever came up with this idea must have had some linkages with Pakistani bureaucracy as they too come up with one asinine idea after another.

Just like we declared 2007, the year everything went haywire in Pakistan, the year of tourism, FCO came up with this gem. While we spent a fortune on ads printed in Urdu newspaper promoting tourism, this film is made at a relatively low cost of £33,000. Looks like our former colonial masters are not as good at the art of squandering public money on frivolous pursuits.

Tazeen Javed has lived most of her life in Karachi; she now lives elsewhere and misses Karachi. She has worked as a journalist, teacher, salesperson, activist, tour guide, election observer, fruit vendor, copy writer and television producer in the past. She has wizened up since then and now only works for a living. She blogs at tweets at @tazeen

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.