Aug 13, 2011

Men in hoodies

By Anjum Niaz

Bravo Pakistanis – poor, miserable and starving. Patience is your biggest virtue despite jerked around by corrupt rulers doing their damndest to provoke you into coming out on the streets and looting anything in sight. You must be made of Teflon!

On to the Anglo-Saxon land of England over whose empire the sun never set. Freeze! The hoodies are here. Fear and suspense have gripped the streets of London, Birmingham, Liverpool and Bristol. It’s a looting binge. These cities burn as men dressed in hoodies – sweatshirts with a hood and a very large pocket in front – are freebooting homes and shops.

The word ‘hood’ has been around since Biblical times. Ancient movies like ‘Ben Hur’ and ‘The Robe’ starred lithe heroines donned in long flowing hoods, especially during clandestine rendezvous with their lovers, making them look vulnerable and sexy. Not to miss is the fairy tale of our childhood years where Little Red Riding Hood visits grandma in the woods and gets chased by the Big Bad Wolf.

Today ‘hood’ is a dirty word. “It’s dangerous to drive around the ‘hood’ at night,” says a friend who warns that the criminal element likes to concentrate in one area of a residential neighbourhood where drug dealers and professional thieves hang around wearing hoods to hide their faces. Most of these characters are black. I wonder if the term ‘hoodlum’ is the first cousin of ‘hood’. Rapper Eminem always in a hoodie, shocks us with his vulgar lyrics enticing the rage-filled suburban teenagers who want to shut out the world by burying their heads in hoodies.

Enough of wardrobe blather. My focus in this column is to throw questions out at the readers on the artificial demarcation drawn between the so-called civilised countries like America and Britain and the ‘uncivilised’ nations like Pakistan. As 3rd World citizens, fighting hard against a downgrade to 4th (downgrade quite the fashion here in the US) we’re constantly reminded of our primitive, tribal and barbaric origins. The Renaissance, as the Caucasians boast ushered in a reinvented Europe with the cultural revolution as its arc while the Arabs lost their glory, science and wealth to the Europeans and regressed to the Mediaeval Ages. They have since stayed in that time warp.

True to some extent, but before you let the Renaissance romance you, read on...

It is not a clash of civilisations wrongly predicted by the Harvard Professor Samuel Huntington but a clash of class. The income disparity between the rich and the poor around the world has beaten all records, Pakistan included. Here’s a shocker: 400 Americans are richer than half of America or 156 million people today! The ‘civilised’ English poor, mostly young and unemployed, have risen to snatch whatever they can from the rich. Even the young in Israel are protesting ferociously against the wealth gap. Will never the ‘uncivilised’ Pakistanis rise to reclaim the Swiss Bank money stolen and blocked by rich corrupt politicians and bureaucrats?

Take note of what a Swiss Bank insider, recently retired, says: “Pakistan is a poor country but Pakistanis are not.” According to him “28 trillion (28,000,000,000,000) of Pakistan rupees are deposited in Swiss Banks.” A Pakistani tells me if our rulers were to bring back their money and invest it in Pakistan, the next 30 year budget will be tax free; we can generate 6o million jobs; we can build four lane roads from any village to Islamabad; we can ensure forever free supply to more than 500 social projects; we can provide Rs20,000 per month as financial assistance to deserving citizens for 60 years; we can end our dependence on the World Bank and IMF loans.

Failure to get the loot back by the Supreme Court and the khakis is the reality on the eve of our 64th Independence Day.

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