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Why Pakistan?

May 23, 2010

As a person of South Asian descent I often wonder; why it is that Muslims in general and Pakistani’s in particular get so passionately involved and embroiled in religious and social controversies.  

It is rare if ever I hear about people belonging to other faiths getting so worked up about a religious issue where its followers come out on the streets and life comes to a standstill. The exception to this is perhaps Hinduism, with a version of a militant faction that engages in anti-social activities in response to perceived offenses to their deities or practices. But, the truth is that this is a very small minority of people that are more politically motivated than they would have us believe. . 

Pakistani’s more than others seem to be either in the lead or go it alone. The current imbroglio about the silly “draw a Muhammad” contest started by a cartoonist from Seattle named Molly Norris, as a protest against Comedy Central’s decision to censor an episode from a popular TV Serial entitled South Park that supposedly depicted Muhammad in a Pig suit is the latest that seems to have rubbed the Pakistani’s the wrong way. There have been plenty others and the list goes on and the perceived affronts too numerous to be mentioned in this write-up.

Most reasonable people would agree that engaging in activities that question and belittle the core beliefs of individuals, religions, societies and civilizations is at best rude.  Free societies tolerate it as freedom of speech guaranteed by their constitution. However, rational thinking people would also agree that we refrain from many an activity otherwise permissible under freedom of speech on the basis of civility and sensitivity to a race, culture or religion in the US we refer to it as political correctness.

Granted there have been instances where certain individuals made comments that could qualify for an insult to Islam. However, it is safe to assume that most of the perceived insults are borne out of ignorance and an oversight rather than a mean attempt to malign or insult the religion or its followers. This latest controversy dealing with the drawing contest is nothing more than a shenanigan and pure and simple chicanery. No intent to hurt the feelings of Muslims or to belittle Islam or the Prophet.  It was simply an act of self expression and a reaction to an act of censorship (a violation of the first amendment of the US constitution). Is it right that Molly Norris did what she did? The answer to that depends upon whom you ask. Molly Norris in an interview does not seem regretful simply because she defends her right as a cartoonist to poke fun at people and things.

What Molly Norris and people like her perhaps do not realize (because they do not harbor ill feelings) is that simple acts of expression that could have easily been ignored as ignorance and fool hardiness turn into diplomatic nightmares not to mention full blown riots for the concerned states. In this case namely Pakistan.

Pakistan manages to get its name in the headlines for any and all issues and non-issues regarding Islam and Muslims regardless of where the alleged injustice may be happening or originating. From Palestine to Peshawar Muslims all over the World can best be assured that they have a voice; solicited or otherwise to stand up for them and “their” cause(s). Pakistani’s consider it their religious duty and moral obligation to stand up and be counted on all issues that may or may not have any direct relation to them or Islam. Regardless, if anyone else considers an opinion, activity or a production to be an affront to Islam, the self proclaimed forbearer’s of Islam never fail to register their disapproval to put it mildly. Pakistan it seems serves as a barometer for Islamic controversies.

Opportunities present themselves from time to time when those living in free societies exercise their rights guaranteed under their constitution and question and sometimes poke fun at the underlying beliefs of Islam. But, does one person’s poor judgment necessarily call for wild protests and boycotts of media and social media organizations?  Most if not all other Islamic countries again Including Saudi Arabia seem conspicuously absent in registering any sort of a protest or boycott.  So then I asked why Pakistan?



  1. Mia permalink

    Very, engaging and informative. Truly enjoyed reading it.

  2. Bob permalink

    A View of Pakistan

    I met a young man from Pakistan, about 30 years ago. He was in the US to track down a man who had injured his mother with a car in Pakistan. He intended to kill the man. I met another who was wonderful person. We visited often but during travels we lost contact. I hope we can visit again. I met these because we often offered hospitality to visitors and International students.

    Another friend from the US and his wife told of being rescued from the roof of the US embassy in Pakistan by a helicopter. They remembered how it was getting hot and the tar began to melt. I have been to the KSA five time so that I am not a stranger to the middle East.

    When I read your comments I view these events as more views of the battle between
    Satan and God for the souls of men. God chose Israel to make himself know to the world. Satan uses every opportunity to destroy the Jew.

    I see the world as having two religions. One based upon man working to gain merit with God. The other based upon forgiveness offered by God to man. In the merit system man makes rules that others must follow to please God. The problem becomes how do you know that you are doing the right things and are you doing enough? This then leads to corruption and enslavement all in the name of trying to please God. Then that is followed by rules that control all aspects of life.

    Islam is not expressed in art forms or music. This maybe why the cartoons you mentioned receive such a violent reaction.

    God offers forgiveness to those who ask. This based upon his love for us and not upon rules we follow or tasks we perform. He asks us to return his love to himself, our neighbors and our enemies. He also claims vengeance to be in His domain and not ours.

  3. Baqar permalink

    If you make derogatory comments or even satirize :
    black people, they call it racism,
    Jewish people, they call it anti-Semitism,
    women, they call it sexism,
    homosexuality, they call it intolerance,
    your country, they call it treason,
    the Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him)…, they call it freedom of speech.

    I dont know why the people of the Indian subcontinent seem to take responsibility for acts of vengence, reacting violently to any derogatory comments against Islam, perhaps due to the high illiteracy rate in the region.
    Pakistan and moslems all over should take a lesson from the Jewish people in the west who have watchdog organisations , such as the Canadian Jewish Congress , who immediately respond by commenting on and neutralising any attack on their faith or for that matter Israel, without resorting to any threats or acts of violence. Far more effective.

  4. Keith permalink

    Interesting blog, Mr. Bolkalia. Every religion has its extremes, and none is exempt from having extreme elements. The Bible talks about in the last days, people will think they are doing God a favor by killing others, and some extreme elements who call themselves Christian aren’t beyond doing this.

    I don’t look for political leaders to solve this. It’s a sign of the times we are living in. . .and a world that is becoming more and more out of control.

    The interesting part is that the Bible says that “God is not a god of confusion, but a God of peace.” That, too me, is a good reason to take my eyes off what the world is doing, and look for something more enduring to focus on.

  5. Kisra permalink

    wonerful blog!! Baqar has replied it well, I agree with him an others also.
    Islam is a complete religion which definitely does not teach hatred or vengeance. its not for ignorants ,but the regions where its most practiced are full of ignorance. They hate because they are used to hating certain community , its nothing to do with How God thinks!!!
    its complicated!
    I,m still hopeful, one ay it will get better…It will, all we need to o is to raise voice against prejuice and intolerance and of course wrong course of life , for the luv of humanity if not for religion.

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