You speak thine, I speak mine

My Facebook News Feed is as varied as the list of my Facebook friends that happen to come from different parts of the world. For the most part, it works as the only source of information for me. But at times, it exasperates me with photos, messages and ideas that I would otherwise not want to be exposed to.

News Feed can represent the overall outlook and mood of a people in a particular region or country. Similarly, when it comes to Pakistan, I find it a gauging tool to measure political leaning, growing religiosity and extremism, antipathy towards religious and ethnic minorities and whatnot.

Statuses, photos and other things shared on Facebook by my friends from Pakistan are not only reflective of the problems in the country but also herald Pakistan’s further descent into the abyss of radicalization along religious lines.

Since I have been very careless about who to friend and who not, there are several such people whom I do not know personally. These are the ones who click ‘share’ on almost anything without giving it a second thought.

A  couple of days ago, this photo showed up in my News Feed. A friend of mine had commented on it after a friend of hers had posted it, so it also appeared in my News Feed. It is one of many such items that appear in my News Feed which showcase the mentality and perceptions of  two generations of Pakistanis. Their view of the world is the unfortunate product of what a dictator had introduced some three decades ago.

In the eighties, Gen. Zia ul Haq, in his effort to reshape the fabric of Pakistani society along Islamic lines–or let’s say make it look like more Middle Eastern–orphaned the society of a culture. In subsequent years, the same society would adopt fathers not worthy of its lineage of great Indian civilization that had existed and flourished much before the rise of Arabs to dominance.

Talking of this photo, it reminded me of Zia’s steps to make Pakistan a ‘pure’ Islamic country, when  strong-worded instructions would be given to hosts of TV and radio shows to use the word  ’Allah’ instead of Khuda’. The later is Persian and hitherto had been in common parlance in different communities in Pakistan, including Christians. According to him, Allah was the proper word to refer to Muslim God.

The language of this photo is as assertive and aggressive as that of Gen. Zia’s.  It forbids use of English words and emphasizes on using Arabic words instead, which doubtless have already in common parlance among poor and middle-class Pakistanis since Zia’s period.

How ridiculous! Why someone else should tell me to use one language and not the other. Had the photo asked Pakistanis to use their mother tongue instead, I would have agreed (Many languages in Pakistan are nearly on the verge of extinction, because Urdu has forcefully been thrust upon people who do not speak it in the first place). In this case, I am being urged to use long, mundane words over ones that are precise and reflective of human expression.

I don’t know why people are so obsessed with a particular language. They need to understand that by speaking a certain language, one does not become a better human being. A language is a mere tool of expression, be it Arabic, English, Urdu or any other language. So why so much obsession with a particular one!

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