To an utterly dumbfounded reader, news in every paper on 15th August 2011 read:
â€œSenate Chairman Farooq H. Naek, National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza, Interior Minister Rahman Malik, Secretary General to President Salman Faruqui and late Punjab Governor Salman Taseer have been nominated for â€˜Nishan-i-Imtiazâ€™. Similarly, the chairperson of Benazir Income Support Programme, Ms Farzana Raja, Pakistan Ambassador to US Hussain Haqqani, Baitul Maalâ€™s chairman and former PPP MNA Zamarud Khan and Presidentâ€™s spokesman Farhatullah Babar have been nominated for â€˜Hilal-i-Imtiaz.
The list also contains names of former adviser to Sindh chief minister Sharmila Faruqui and Cabinet Division Secretary Nargis Sethi as recipients of â€˜Sitara-i-Imtiaz.â€
The rest (of us) hang our head in shame (while quietly thanking God for not being awarded the once prestigious National Awards if this were the criterion we had to meet!)
Words fail me. Abysmal, pathetic, brutally insensitive!
National awards in any country are the ultimate gesture of extreme gratitude and pride conferred by the state on selective few for unparalleled National services. This year, just like democracy in Pakistan has been made laughing stock â€“ a subsidiary of the PPP â€“ so have been the National Awards. Which is to say that the services of the comedians that rule us today are in any ways parallel to the work of lets say- the father of Pakistanâ€™s atomic bomb? Or equal to the saviours of our boundaries in the wars of 1965, 1971 and 1999? Nothing has been so derogatory to the esteem of our real heroes than the latest cheap publicity tactic by the ruling elite.
But of course they deserve these awards; what if ordinary citizens like me and the 180 million more consider it to be mockery of the highest stature? What if the country burns in local and foreign wars, explodes in bombs every day, is dropped dead by external armed intrusion while the ones awarded sleep? What if we are bankrupt, globally labeled terrorists, corrupt to the core, involved in embezzlement of even Hajj funds? Who cares about people contributing towards education, rehabilitation of flood victims, or that poor labourer who burns himself out during fasts under the scorching sun to earn himself and his family the nightâ€™s meal? Our ministers deserve the Hilal, Nishan & Sitara.
What if our Interior Minister (recipient of award) makes absurd humiliating claims on the percentage of target killings done due to disgruntled wives/ girl friends while the economic hub of Pakistan dwells in eternal blood bath? After all, his job is to make the people laugh in times of grave disasters and he triumphs in his comedy. This is not an easy job, so well deserved Hilal, sir!
Tell you what dear rulers? The ones who really deserve Hilal, Nishan and Siatara are the 180 million masses of Pakistan, for their exemplary tolerance of clowns such as you. Takes a whole lot of patience to gulp as much agony and anger as you bestow on us.
PS: My recommendations for next year awards are- Veena Malik, Dr. Aamir Liaquat, Faisal Raza Abidi, Hamid Saeed Kazmi & Altaf Hussain.
By: Nabiha Chauhdry