A culture of haters

Pakistan needs to revive its cultural roots, reach out to others.

Pluralist societies fear military invasion from ideological/religious societies. Ideological/religious societies fear cultural invasion from pluralist societies.

The great Pakistani leader of the masses and educationist, Hafiz Saeed, recently complained from the Madrasa Qadisiya on old Lake Road in Lahore that "Pakistani culture was being changed" in the name of education. He was probably angered by a local English-medium school's attempt to teach comparative religion to its senior classes. The "scandal" was, of course, unveiled by a TV anchor.

After the TV discussion, the state took action, confiscating all the textbooks informing high school children about Islam along with other great religions of the world, including Hinduism. The school backed off, fearing terrorist attacks, and the dust has settled over yet another effort to inform Pakistani culture with other global belief systems.

On August 4, a website called Pakistan News Pakistan Views had one Sajjad Shaukat voicing, once again, the fear of India's "cultural penetration" of Pakistan. He went through the tiresome catalogue of smears that this paranoia justifies: India is moulding "the behaviour pattern of a country's people on the basis of a handful of elements in Pakistan". The target was Indian films and plays used for this "penetration". The default status quo assumed by this plaint is the condition of war.

Of course, "psychological warfare" was mentioned. It is on this ground that the state already disallows Indian news channels and at times pulls channels like BBC, CNN and National Geographic off the air. The question is: why is the Pakistani citizen attracted to Indian entertainment? The next question is, why do people want entertainment? Why can't they always be busy doing serious ideological things? Why do people living under an ideology want more entertainment than the ideological state can afford to give them? Why do such culture-related elements as Pakistani singers, actors, cricketers and cricket commentators survive by going to India?

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