Too scared to be happy?

Published: August 25, 2010

Regardless of the various dissimilarities that tend to mostly divide us, a call for help unites and mobilises the entire nation.

Fun, in Pakistan, is a debatable issue. Being an Islamic republic, the idea of fun somehow ends up sparking a debate on “shariah compliant” ways to take pleasure in anything. Opinions clash, sentiments are hurt and the concept of entertainment is trashed before it can become a threat.

The concept of ‘having fun’ tends to be viewed as an attack on the sanctity of our religion. Everything is assessed for the label of ‘haraam’, whether it is pumping up the volume and tapping our feet to a song, sitting in an integrated gathering, indulging in a conversation with a member of the opposite sex or using the word sex. It brings back memories of my two years at St Patricks High School, when, at 18, sitting three feet away from a guy and shouting out a conversation was also frowned upon by the Father.

The word ‘fun’ tends to trigger conflict. Ironically, the one thing that seems to unite us is … you got it … sorrow.

It happens whenever tragedy strikes this country. Regardless of the various dissimilarities that tend to mostly divide us, a call for help unites and mobilises the entire nation. We saw it with the earthquake in 2005, when the month of Ramazan was fraught with the disaster in the North. We saw how people went all out to help to make sure that the people of the calamity-hit areas were not left to face the tragedy on their own. We saw it yet again a month ago, when the country mourned the Airblue crash. And we see it still, as hundreds of people among us have taken the troubles of the flood survivors upon ourselves.

Why is it, then, that we cannot seem to unite in moments of happiness?

This year, no different from the years that have gone by, Pakistanis started fasting on separate days across the country. It makes me wonder why the people of one country insist on justifying the sighting of the moon on two separate days, feel it necessary to argue over different ways to be a Muslim and celebrate Eid in bits.

Throughout the decades of turmoil, wars and natural disasters, have we forgotten how to come together to celebrate? Or are we just too scared to be happy?


Rabia Ashfaque

A graduate of the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture. She spent a few months teaching English to grade 7 before she found her calling and joined The Express Tribune where she works as a sub-editor on the Karachi pages.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.