It was not without feeling a pain and shame to watch clips of Express TV's interview with Pakistan film star Veena Malik and a mufti. Pakistani media in cahoots with religious right has taken Veena Malik to task for participating in an Indian reality show.
The only blame that host of the program, Shahid Malik, and Mufti Abdul Qavi could bring against Veena Malik was that she defamed the culture of Pakistan by participating in the show. My first question is that is there anything called Pakistani culture? There is no consensus about it at any level, because Pakistani people have yet to explore their historical roots.
The religious section, which is on a warpath against any dissenting voice, have been trying all along to link our roots with the Arab land. There is another section which looks towards Central Asia to find their antecedents. However, historians like Mubarak Ali have a strong case to say that the people of this region are old Indians and present-day South Asians.
Unless Pakistanis relate themselves to their roots, they cannot talk of any culture of their own, because culture is always a historical continuity. It never begins at a point in history; at least not at a certain date and year. Culture adds new layers to its old ones like a crustacean to grow.
Our culture did not begin with the invasion of Sindh by Mohammad Bin Qasim who was as culturally different from us as any foreign invader. Except for Pakhtuns, no Pakistani share any cultural roots with Ahmed Shah Abdali and Mehmud Ghaznavi who attacked then India repeatedly from the eastern side. India had never been a land without its own people; it has a historical continuity of no less than 4000 years.
People living in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan are denizens of the mainland, and they should accept this fact. It was the result of Arab traders' intermingling with the local population and the message of love by great Sufis that a section of the local population became Muslims.
With the change of religion, culture does not change so quickly; the Muslims of the region still culturally share a lot with people of India, irrespective of their religious differences. Cultures can not live in isolation; we lived in harmony with people of other religions in the same land for centuries and that is the reason that we have a lot common in culture.
Back to Veena Malik story, she presented a soft image of Pakistan for which she deserves our and our media's kudos. Pity the media and pity the people who take pride when 'we' send Ajaml Qassab to spill blood of innocent people in India. Then, this fact did not cross our face that whose culture Qassab and his accomplices were representing? At least not ours.
If Veena Malik should not have taken part in an Indian show--as suggested by clean-shaved maulvi called Shahid Malik--because of cultural sensitivities, then Pakistani players should not go to India for sports, or Indian players should come to Pakistan.
If our maulvis in and outside media are so touchy about the image of Islam and Pakistan, they should stop glorifying murderers like Qadri. It is not only shaming us Muslims, but is also sacrilegious. Stop stoning people to death and stop harassing those very Pakistanis who are just religiously different from us. It is disgusting.
If Meher Bokhari has Salman Taseer's blood on her hands, then if--God forbid--Veena Malik is killed by another Qadri, Shahid Malik and Mufti Abdul Qavi must be counted among the culprits. One longs for the good not-so-old days when there was no private TV in Pakistan and no such obscenity and vulgarity beamed into people's living rooms.
Veena Malik spoke with the strength of a conscience while shame was writ large on the faces of the two maulvis--one modern, the other archaic.