Published on CHOWK, by Mariam Riaz, March 16, 2011.
If I wear a hijab and pray five times a day; does that make me an Extremist/Islamist? Wait, I have a strong inclination towards the creative arts and I believe in “freedom of speech”; does that make me a Liberal or a Moderate Muslim?
He watches his target from his hiding spot as the poor innocent victim goes around his daily business. He slowly takes out his gun. Aims for the prey’s heart. “Steady now”, he tells himself. He holds his breath and…*BANG!*
No, this is not another case of public shooting or target killing that we witness every other day. This is a whole new case of “you’ve been tagged!” The “gun” that every Pakistani wields these days is the Tagging Gun. Ever seen the staff of a superstore holding gun-like objects which they use to paste price tags onto items? That’s about it.
Similarly, Pakistanis walk around holding tagging guns ready to label anyone and everyone at our whim. Long gone are the days when these labels were limited to Muslim, Christian, Sikh and Hindu. Our new and improved list of tags range from Sunni, Shia, Brelvi, Deobandi, etc. and now have evolved to the point where we have the all-famous Extremist, Liberal, Secular, Islamist, Moderate etc. etc.
The Pakistani flag has two colours, Green and White. Green is supposed to represent the Muslims and White, the “minorities”. Everyone is happy… NOT! Where has my Pakistan gone? The country that boasts of differing cultures, languages and landscapes has now become a battleground of clashing opinions and beliefs. Ik parcham ke saaye talay hum aik hain? Unfortunately not … //
… When I attempt to explain to my foreign colleagues what it means to be Pakistani, I usually find myself stuck at a crossroads. What DOES it mean to be Pakistani? Once we find the answer to that, maybe we can finally move on to other pressing matters like … oh, I don’t know… basic human rights perhaps? Obviously, it’s far more important to determine whether Pakistan is a secular state or not, right? (full text).