Jun 12, 2008 - Uncategorized    No Comments

My right to protest is still sacrosanct – a response to Phill’s comments

I am writing it in response to Phil’s comment on my previous post. Honestly, I was expecting more people to comment along the same lines but somehow I only got 2 such comments. Perhaps I over estimated the popularity of my blog 🙂.

He very rightly commented that we, Pakistanis, do break the traffic signals, rob the nation and rape the women in broad day light and get away with because of faulty system. We are hypocritical and authoritarian and all the things that are perhaps not included in the post. My reason for writing the previous post was just that. Iran is as flawed as any other country in the region, if not more. I have met with so many people who have never even set foot in that country and are so enamored with it that it is not even funny. A lot of Pakistanis romanticize the revolution of 1979 and want something similar to take place in Pakistan. The reality of that country is a lot different.

How many of these proud defenders of state of Iran have actually gone to the country and saw it for what it is, and here, I am not talking about touristy visit to the museums and ruins in Persepolis. How many of you have gone to the University of Tehran and tried speaking with the students there about their civil liberties and found out that they were not even allowed to study the subjects they want to and it is the state that determines their education and the course of future? How many of you have been expelled from their universities in various parts of the world for holding slightly more liberal political views than your government? Irani students face this every day. How many of you are professors and are sacked because you refused to indoctrinate your students with the directives that come from the holy council and government? Irani academics have been subject to that. How many of you are women who have been publicly chastised by the moral police in the cities of Qom and Mashhad because you were showing three hair and wearing lipstick? I have been subjected to that along with millions of women who live and visit Iran. How many of you had their asses pinched in the bazaars of Tehran, Esfahan, Rasht, Tabriz, Sheeraz and Yazd? How many of you are women who wanted to become judges but cannot because the state does not recognize your right to be part of judiciary on grounds of your gender – something which is pre determined and you have absolutely no control over it? How many of you are women and are interested in sports but are banned from watching any of the sporting events where men play in your countries? Irani women are; they cannot even go to the stadium with their families.

They have the same problems of corruption and nepotism like any other country and it is not something that I am saying, it what Iranians say. Not everyone is interested in becoming a nuclear power, not even radicals. Like all of us, Iranians too want access to better employment and better health care.

If military service is mandatory in democratic countries, that does not make it perfectly adaptable for everyone else. At least in democratic countries, a person is allowed to travel outside the country without performing the military service (they put it on hold). I have had several friends and class mates from Greece, another country with mandatory military service, who were attending university in England without performing the mandatory duty. Iranians do not have that liberty.

Pakistani men break into bhangra at the drop of the hat at every occasion, bet it a political rally or the New Year’s night yearly sojourn to the beach in Karachi. Irani men are not even allowed to dance in public. The moral police can arrest them for this offence and can keep them in custody for a week or two. I prefer to live in a country where personal expression is not curbed to this level. I may not agree with the politics of people’s party but every time during elections when I heard the party’s anthem Jeeay Jeeay Jeeay Bhutto Benazeer blaring out of cars in the streets of Karachi, it made me smile a little.

As far my lack of interest in Iranian food is concerned, well that’s personal. Anyone who has had to survive on chilo kebab and jujeh kebab for 45 days straight will probably not be too fond of that kind of food. The fact that I prefer vegetarian food may also contribute to that.

Iran has superior economy because of oil. I am not so sure about their education and information systems. Irani students do not perform extra ordinarily well in western universities like other Asian students do. It’s a closeted society and the information that is fed to its people is extremely limited. Let me cite an example. Pakistan shares a long border with Iran and faced a catastrophic earth quake in fall 2005, when I visited Iran in 2006, no one, including our guide and translator who was the protocol officer with Iranian state television company knew anything about that earth quake. We have had volunteers from lands as far and remote as Cuba but our next door neighbours were unaware of that; such is the level of information in that country.

We are all busy arguing stuff in the cyber world but in Iran, harmless social networking sites like orkut are banned because they promote promiscuous attitudes in the youth, or so the government says. A lot of blogs are banned for the same reasons. The government in Pakistan blocked youtube for a few hours and people took to streets and ridiculed it to no end on all the 70 private television channels, which is why I like living in Pakistan. At least my right to protest is still sacrosanct.

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