Dear MBS, As you would know fairly well that Pakistan is traversing a critical juncture in revamping its inertial forces to resist an ideological metamorphosis. Most of the nation’s energy is currently being invested in ensuring that only one half of the population heats up food, and the other half does not.

Now, your highness, you know fairly well that the ideas that you’ve weopanised and then exported in our neck of the woods in military aid, have played a part in helping create that status quo where ‘khaana khud garam kar lo’ becomes a chant for rebellion.

Yes, we were worried when you allowed women to drive in your country. Even though, women are technically allowed to drive in our country, but your move suggested an inclination towards dangerous territories.

Our fears seemed to be on the verge of being realised when you started opening cinemas, pubs, bikini beaches (seriously?) and then when your clerics began to say that the hijab isn’t compulsory.

I mean after brainwashing three generations of women into completely redefining their idea of cultural dressing – not that their indigenous culture brims over with gender equality – you decided to shoot out of the blue, that hang on if you don’t cover your head, there’s a chance you actually might not be fried alive in eternal hellfire.

However, your interview this week has thrown the cat among the pigeons. Male cat and female pigeons of course.

In your interview with CBS News on Sunday, you said that those who forbid mixing between the sexes are ‘extremists.

Your exact words were: “We have extremists who forbid mixing between the two sexes and are unable to differentiate between a man and a woman alone together and their being together in a work place.”

Hang on a minute there, your highness. It was only four years ago that your country, which we have for decades deemed synonymous with faith and indeed the divine, declared atheists as terrorists.

So now people who actually follow the fiqh and Sharia that you taught us, thereby radically establishing gender divides, and hence who absolutely cannot be nonbelievers, are being binned in the same bracket as atheists?

How do we now deal with our mothers, sisters, wives, and the daughters that we’ve raised and those that were in the middle of raising?

Do we now tell them that, wait a minute, just unlearn all that we taught you for all these years, because now this is the true Islam?

Sorry MBS, we really can’t have a new true Islam after every couple of decades.

This become even more complicated when those very mothers, sisters, et al, are the ones in charge of teaching the misogynistic ideals over to the daughters and granddaughters.

So we really would have to start from the top of the pyramid, where forty years of Salafi ideas – which you are now dubbing extremism, your highness – have been planted. Those seeds are now fully grown Islamist trees, that can’t just be chopped off, MBS.

That is the problem with Islamist anything – let alone trees – that it depends on the aforementioned ‘true Islam’. Therefore, the stemming Islamism – ie the enforcement of Islam – will fluctuate, if the ‘one and only’ true Islam, remoulds itself every now and then.

Your highness, please allow me to muster the audacity to come up with a suggestion that could perhaps give us all a solution that is significantly more long lasting than the one your ancestors came up with in 1979.

How about we just do away with the theological rubberstamps and deal with the matter under the universal human rights, which your newest version of Islam, clearly guarantees?

That way, subjects of extremism, gender, etc, won’t be affected by any changes in the theological versions.

That way we can all heat our food together, and no one has to politicise it.

C’mon, MBS. Let’s do this.

Yours hopefully,

Al-Bakistani subject (oh can we use the P now?)

P.S. You could just have taken shale energy seriously a decade ago, y’know?


The writer is a Lahore-based journalist.