For those who flinch every time Rehman Malik makes an outrageous statement like terrorists being some kind of celestial beings in Star Wars (or was it Star Trek) sartorial finery, flinch no more as other government officials make gaffes at par with his proclamations. We already have Donald Rumsfield’s ‘Known unknowns” and the latest one to join ranks with Malik sahib is Foreign and Commonwealth office (FCO).
Yes, as part of their counter terrorism activity, the FCO has commissioned an anti terror cartoon film (what an oxymoron) “Wish you Waziristan.” The film’s target audience is young Muslim wanna be terrorist boys. I just wonder how receptive a wanna be radical boy – someone already inclined towards violence – would be in an animated story about perils of jehad in the wilderness of Waziristan.
Although the makers of the film claim that they have been working on it for past two years – it was commissioned by Labour government back in 2009 – it is quite obvious the film has used all possible clichés and popular references on the topic. The first overly simplistic cliché is that those who face racism will become terrorists. It is like Dr. Phil declaring that Osama Bin laden became a terrorist mastermind because he was the 17th child and did not get love and attention from his father. So if you are suffering from the 17th child syndrome or have latent anger over childhood insults, chances are, you will end up in Waziristan trying to blow up random shit. The failed bombing in Waziristan and the use of the word Bro are all from Chris Morris’ hilarious jehad satire Four Lions. Wish you Waziristan (I cringe every time I type this name) film-makers should know that when you are working on a serious project, your point of reference should never be a satire.
The film has two main characters, a young boy of Pakistani origins (he has relatives in Pakistan) with jehadi tendencies names Abu and his younger- not-interested-in-jehad-but-accompanying-big-bro-because-that’s-what-you-do brother. If they had researched it properly, they would have known that desi boys are not named Abu. The inspiration for the name is obviously someone like Abu Hamza a.k.a Maulvi Hook who is an Arab.
Though the film deals with the issue of racism, it makes a mandatory reference to a Muslim/Pathan jihadist’s inappropriate touching – in the guise of body search – of a teenager.
The FCO has been accused of wasting tax payers’ money on this film. I am sure whosoever came up with this idea must have had some linkages with Pakistani bureaucracy as they too come up with one asinine idea after another. Just like we declared 2007, the year everything went haywire in Pakistan, the year of tourism, FCO came up with this gem. While we spent a fortune on ads printed in Urdu newspaper promoting tourism, this film is made at a relatively low cost of £33,000. Looks like our former colonial masters are not as good at the art of squandering public money on frivolous pursuits.
Originally published in Dawn