Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society


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There will be few people in Pakistan not acquainted with the Persian word tauheen. In English its equivalents could be disrespect, ridicule or derision. In Pakistan it can even mean blasphemy.

Here we have all kinds of tauheens ranging from religion to judiciary to political figures – regardless of how characterless and yellow the last two are. And since some months ago, we also have tauheen e fauj. To be honest this phrase is not used as such and I have invented it for the purpose of this piece. To be second time honest, the army has always been holy and beyond censure perhaps because it defends this ‘Fortress of Islam’. Only now it has been decreed that criticising the uniform can have one branded traitor.

It is understandable that in a declared Muslim (or is it Islamic?) country, one cannot be critical of religion. This is especially true when we know that Islam is the first and last and truest word of God. When we know that God in his infinite wisdom had given the Law to Adam, the first human, and wanted it to prevail for all times. And we also know how successive rotters (the Jews, so they tell me, foremost among all rotters and, for good measure I’ll throw in the Hindus too) corrupted the Word until it was no longer what God had handed to his first human being and prophet Adam.

Through repeated attempts via 124,000 prophets to set it right, God finally gave us the original version 1400 years ago. Since we believe that to be true, we hold Islam sacrosanct and cannot commit tauheen against it. And that is understandable, especially when such mischief can have a baying mob 50,000 strong at your door within seconds to stone you to death and then burn your corpse.

But then we have tauheen e adalat: contempt of court. For fear of being put away for six months by the rare judge who can read English, I will not comment on this. Suffice it to say that we cannot commit this kind of tauheen either.

Then we have the tauheen we once upon a time routinely piled upon our politicians. We derided them for their ineptness, lack of intellect and even plain stupidity. But not anymore. You cannot do that even when the politico is as incompetent and ineffective as the Man with the Wig. Do that and you can receive a call from some Gullu Butt type to be taught to refrain from such acts. I am certain there are folks who can tell us how that happens.

And now we have the tauheen e fauj. Now one cannot criticise the army. Not even for what is happening to innocent Baloch in the Unhappy Valley of Balochistan. Inevitably, the malaise has spread to the rest of the country and people who speak for human rights now disappear as a matter of routine. Just in the first week of 2017 we had five activists who went missing and representatives of the State tell us they have no idea where they are.

If this isn’t tauheen e aam admi – Contempt of the Common Man, I don’t know what is. But while we have contempt of this and contempt of that – even contempt of inanimate objects, we know nothing about the contempt and disregard suffered by ordinary, upright, patriotic and law-abiding citizens of Pakistan.

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posted by Salman Rashid @ 00:00,


At 24 January 2017 at 03:00, Blogger LoneWolf - INTJ said...

A much needed piece on the existing diabolical state of affairs in Al-Bakistan. Appreciate it.

According to geological studies, the earth is estimated to be around 4.5-4.6 billion years old - with the oldest rocks found on earth an estimated 3.0-3.7 billion years old. Since, research is in progress on the origins of life, there are no concrete answers yet on the beginning of human existence. However, this does not substantiate the "creationists' myth" of Adam and Eve as first humans on the planet. If the calculations of James Ussher is given some credence (although, there is no need to), Adam is claimed to be born in 4004 BC and lived until 3074. It is nothing short of a fable (a deliberately false or improbable account)for a human to live a life of 930 years. Humans existed before the mythical Adam predating before the Neolithic Age which began in 10,000 BC. Likewise, the relgious history which followed is full of inconsistencies and evident loopholes, falling flat on its face.

At 24 January 2017 at 10:39, Blogger Faraz1 said...

Great sir, This country now "Tauheenabad", only tauheen of ordinary man is allowed, no one else.

At 24 January 2017 at 17:27, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Dear Faraz! You have capped it!

At 25 January 2017 at 00:25, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I agree to the intent and content of the article, I believe we need to draw a line between freedom/respect of an individual and the odious acts one may exercise in cover of these values. Self respect and freedom of an ordinary man is a scarce commodity in our country, for that reason "Contempt of the Common Man" is taken for granted. However, these missing persons are accused for some illicit and shameful acts (which cannot be concealed/justified in name of freedom or self respect), even though they shall be tried in an open court rather than removed secretively.

At 25 January 2017 at 01:14, Blogger Abubakar Mehmood said...

This needed to be said. So eloquently put, Mr Rashid.

In a Hobbesian state of nature, as I think Pakistan almost is, everyone is always afraid and insecure, and this fear of offending any powerful being, be it the mullahs or the judiciary or the army or the bureaucracy or the lawyers or even the local goon, is just one of those fears.

At 25 January 2017 at 11:53, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Thank you, Abubakar Mehmood. Pervasive fear is what we live in.


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My Books

Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand

Jhelum: City of the Vitasta

Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

Between Two Burrs on the Map: Travels in Northern Pakistan

Gujranwala: The Glory That Was

Riders on the Wind

Books at Sang-e-Meel

Books of Days