A Gastrocentric Evaluation of the Problems of Painful Excretion in Pakistan – an Op-ed

There are certain groups of people who will endeavour, on a daily basis, to explain to you what the fundamental problem with this country is. Using catchy titles they will goad you into believing their articles offer the best and most insightful perspective on whatever is transpiring on a national level. This is another such piece.

The fundamental problem with this country is that there are too many Op-eds. If Pakistan were a math problem, we would now have an infinite amount of proposed solutions to it, which is the same as having no solution at all, as anything divided by infinity is zero.

It is a medically proven fact that Op-eds give people ulcers. What happened to the good old days when somebody wearing a uniform told you how things were, instead of people with no credible authority telling you how they aren’t. You can blame democracy. I do.

Bad things only happen so that columnists may write Op-eds about them. Before the advent of newspapers there were no terrorists, no sectarian divide, nothing was on the brink, nobody was at a crossroads; the insidious Op-ed writers have invented all these things to scare us under our beds, like parents who tell their children ghost stories because they don’t want them wandering around in the dark lest they flip the light switch at an inappropriate time.

Below, I will list some of the major culprits of Op-edism.

Progressives/Liberals. By far the biggest offenders. They will start a piece off by asking questions of conventional and conservative wisdom. They will then answer these questions with more questions, and those more questions with vague, confusing statements that might as well have been questions. Once they have questioned everything, they will forget what they had started to write about, throw in a paragraph criticizing the military and conclude with a random quotation from a prominent liberal thinker. Like Noam Chomsky. Or Yoda.

To them I say: much disturbance in the force there is. Take a Xanax and calm down you must.

Faujis. Of course, every retired army man has to write a rebuttal defending the military. These poor people are forced into it you see, it is one of the conditions of their pension. Write ten or more rebuttals against progressive liberal pieces.

If the person retired as a Major, he will normally not bring up any of the wars the army is supposed to have fought against the enemy. If he retired a Colonel, he will mention two wars, 1947 and 1965, however he does not have clearance to talk about the 1971 fiasco. That can only be brought up by a General, who also has permission to talk about the more successful (compared to ours) military campaigns of history, like Napolean’s disastrous invasion of Russia.

To them I say: just because you wore the same khaki trousers for thirty years doesn’t mean you know any more about this mess than your average sanitation worker and anyway, forget about these liberal upstarts, go play some golf in that hundred acre backyard of yours.

Sometimes a Civil Servant will desire to see his name attached to an Op-ed, usually criticizing the same establishment that affords him the luxury to write Op-eds while on the job. If the officer is of a high enough grade, say 20 or above, he will have an Op-ed written for him. He will be pleasantly surprised by his own powers of expression when he reads it one afternoon and will decide that he simply must write more often.

Grades 19 and lower must deign to write their own Op-eds, these will usually bemoan the legion of audit objections thrown their way on a daily basis.

To them I say: dear pencil pushers, if you’re out of pencils, push other things, push rulers, paper weights, push each other down the stairs, don’t log onto that computer, don’t write that Op-ed. Cease, desist, you get off at 3 anyway, go home and annoy the kids or something.

The fresh university graduate will often turn his eager faculties of perception to solving all the problems of Pakistan. All of them, in one 800 word article. This is the intellectual equivalent of an ant trying to take down an extremely well fed sumo wrestler. The ant is squashed to death obviously but will remain obstinate that it could’ve won had it just been given another chance.

To them I say: shine on you crazy diamonds.

Social workers. I like social workers. Despite all the upheavel and soul shattering chaos taking place in the world around them, they will sit down very calmly in front of their donation funded laptops, sip on their donation funded latte and write about their donation funded concerns.

The rate of schooling for the second child in a family has gone down across the country. It doesn’t matter if it’s elder sibling was blown to pretzel shaped chunks last week making it the first child now or that it’s dying of dengue, the rate of schooling for the second child in a family has gone down and people need to donate generously to an NGO to redress this situation.

To them I say: keep writing, you need the publicity to fund that new espresso machine at the office, it’s for a good cause.

Then there’s my favourite. The economist. The economist must explain in thousands of words what can be said in four: things have gotten expensive. He must drone on about consumer price index and interest rates and the size of the central bank’s financial phallus and he must refer to statistics and figures because it is a mutually beneficial arrangement; the statistician churns out reports and the economist writes articles based upon them, it’s like a wrestling tag team, only these two don’t wear tights and high five each other, not in public anyway.

He will use phrases like “75% of this country is almost 3/4 of the population” and “the real rate of interest is expected to rise by the end of the month although it could also fall or stay the same”.

To them I say: I’ve got an index for you, an index finger right in your eye. Ouch.

Academics. The academics feel the need to reduce everything to the simplest, most basic terms. The world is black and white for them, not only because they are colour blind, but because their ‘theory’ can fit everything neatly into binaries. They will not refer to people as people, but as a class, a sect, an ethnicity, a waistsize; popular phrases from academic Op-eds include “the struggle to fit into your pants after the age of forty is a class based struggle” or that “terrorism is brought about by a lack of opium in the diet”.

For academics it doesn’t matter what they’re arguing, just that they are. They will explain why you drive the car that you do, eat at the places that you do, read what you read, vote for whom you vote for and why you will no doubt disagree with their perfect summing up of your existence. Because you are a jerk.

To them I say: why waste your time writing Op-eds? Write books. They pay more, you can assign them to your own students and guarantee an audience.

Then there’s lawyers. They feel the need to opine on legal matters and since all matters can be argued to have underlying issues of legality, this unfortunately gives them limitless opportunities to write in. Their Op-eds are easily identified by their frequent use of legal jargon, like ‘Hideous Corpus‘ and ‘Ultra Virus‘, and their propensity for beginning their sentences with ‘Objection!’.

To them I say: I do not trust you to give your opinions away for free. I do not even trust you to give them away for a charge. Yes, there’s a theme developing here. I do not trust you. So don’t say things to me, things you say to me are like the suspiciously smooth tear on the inside pocket of my Kameez that I notice when I can’t find my wallet anywhere even though I could’ve sworn I had it with me that morning; yes that analogy sort of got away from me.

Finally, the journalists. It is in the nature of this beast to write Op-eds; you don’t teach a lion how to hunt, you don’t teach a rabbit how to burrow a hole and you certainly don’t teach a cow how to moo. Or wait, do you? I guess baby cows could learn from hearing their mothers moo. But then how did the first cow moo, now where’s investigative journalism when you need it?

To them I say: don’t pretend to sit there and tell me the truth, you’re not interested in the truth, you’re interested in making money or making sales or making a career or making a career making money making sales making my mind up for me…stop it! Stop making things up. Do your jobs, report, then go away. Let me draw my own conclusions. I like drawing.

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16 thoughts on “A Gastrocentric Evaluation of the Problems of Painful Excretion in Pakistan – an Op-ed

  1. gtoosphere says:

    I have read your blog after a long time… awesome🙂

  2. man there are so so many quotable lines in here the government should declare a public holiday in honour of this blog.

    however, after a while it did concern me that what was meant as satire upon re-reading feels like a pretty straight faced description of how the nascent cottage industry of op-eds has been developing. there isn’t a single person out there who can genuinely defy those boundaries.

    that observation had left me very despondent, but then i read on ET today that this generation of Pakistanis is the most liberal and progressive in history, and so i felt at peace once more.

  3. Ugly Shoelace says:

    Must do a dharna against civil officers writing op-eds. Must contact taliban to stop the fauji from writing them too. I rather like economists. Don’t ruin their precious eyes, pliss.

  4. ezuhaib says:

    Pichlay maheenay university ki farewell party mein jab mujh se poocha gya… “Aap jatay jatay koi message dena chahein ge?” (you can’t say no) to mainay baray danishmandana lehjay mei kaha…. “Message sirf ek hai: Har kissi ka message sun ke peechay naa chal diya karein. balkay har kissi ka message bhi sunnay ki zururat nahin.. hahahahaha. bas yehi message hai “… (followed by khusar phusar in the hall )

    In fact Op-Ed aversion has pushed me into an “opinion limbo” and has wiped off my stance on most sociopolitical issues. I only talk of flowers, and stars and fairies now. Reform is myth.

    Great article, btw.

  5. ilmanafasih says:

    Great piece.

    Waise aaps ki baat hai…aap iblees nahi hain. Ibless to aap ke aage pani bharta hai…aap to uske bhi khalooo hain. Read some of ur blogs recently…rolled with laughter incl the Bollywood/ Filmi ones.
    You have a great knack with words and they flow so eloquently out of ur pen…keep writing.

  6. Majid Rashid says:

    😀 bhai iblees fit likha hai ab aik aesa hi article tv talk shows per bhi ho jae. yeah jo itney sarey senior tajzia kar aur defai tajzia kar aa gae hein in key origin per bhi roshni dalo, aur important sawal yeah hai key sarey tajzia kar senior kiuon hein junior tajzia kidhar chale gae😛

  7. […] Op-eds. Yes. Bad things only happen so that columnists may write Op-eds about them. Before the advent of newspapers there were no terrorists, no sectarian divide, nothing was on the brink, nobody was at a crossroads; the insidious Op-ed writers have invented all these things to scare us under our beds, like parents who tell their children ghost stories because they don’t want them wandering around in the dark lest they flip the light switch at an inappropriate time. [Read the full post by Haseeb Asif] […]

  8. pasha says:

    acha hai…sahee..

  9. its such a good read i must say…i was hooked.

  10. […] Asif: A Gastrocentric Evaluation of the Problems of Painful Excretion in Pakistan – an Op-ed PrintEmailDiggShare on TumblrLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. from → Centre […]

  11. Yes there are living in our society a class those may be named as pen-addicts. These gentlemen come with suggestions every time same as you observed in the graveyards at the time of funeral.
    Besides of our Asiatic natures, this is another “side effect” of modern education layer, spread by so-called civilized people. They educated Asians with limited playgrounds; mainly to make them able to serve their kindergarten.
    A simple example is that,
    If Asians showed any outstanding performance in modern education, they were put into puzzle games like MBA CULTURE.
    MBA was portrayed as peaks of educational Hilton.
    (If we describe “MBA person” in general words MBA person do not have any skill except he can express his views very well, in a manner that he can prove NOTHING to VERY, VERY IMPORTANT or VERY VERY, IMPORTANT to a NOTHING.
    The same attitude is garnished at upper layers of our society, mixed with, our own Asiatic storyteller behaviors. Everyone has an idea (mostly idiot one) which he spread as religious duty.

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