Wars, insurgencies, floods, an economy in the doldrums, and now dengue. If Pakistan is not a “failed state,” some credit must go to the Pakistani sense of humour.
There’s been terrible out break of Dengue fever in Lahore. 39 have died and the toll keeps rising – it was 36 when I began collecting the material for this post. Sohaib Gulbadan tweets: “My Hizb-ut-Tahrir friend is sharing articles suggesting dengue outbreak in Lahore is a CIA strategy. Acha.”
Perhaps it is in response to that sort of stuff that Haseeb Asif writes this hilarious blog post:
It bites at the break of dawn and at the uh, what is an acceptable verb to accompany dusk? It bites at the break of dawn and the mending of dusk? It bites at the break of dawn and the gluing together of dusk? Nah, not feeling it, great chief Passing Wisdom say, when in doubt, try synonyms. Break of dawn and…snap of dusk?…crack of dusk?…multiple hairline fracture of dusk? Great chief Passing Wisdom a jerk, call Passing Wind from now.
Start over. Engaging Urdu mode.
Dengue ka machar Shara’i machar hai. Yeh Fajr aur Maghrib ke waqt kaat ta hai. Baqi din nahin kaat ta. Baqi din Roza rakhta hai. Jin logon ki tangein aur bazoo nangi hon, unko pehle kaat ta hai. Parda daaron ko nahin kaat ta. Burqa posh khawateen ko nahin kaat ta. Uski aik waja shayid yeh bhi hai ke burqe ke ander se humeisha khatoon nahin nikalti, Maulvi bhi baramad hojate hein. Maulvion ko bhi nahin kaat ta, kyunke Mualvi ulta isse kaat lete hein. [Must read – apologies to those who can’t read Urdu in Roman script.]
The report above is from the infamous TV channel Geo, which invited a maulvi to talk about the dengue in Punjab and flood in Sindh:
He further added that when the ruling elite loots and when men turn obedient towards their wives rather than their mothers, when the rich do not pay zakat, and when people come closer to their friends than their fathers, and people say hello hi to each other and mosques turn into battlegrounds, female singers and music becomes popular, and musical instruments become common, and wine is in demand and men wear silk, and the new generation considers the previous as lesser enlightened rather stupid , and religious education is sought for worldly benefits; God shows his wrath. [Link]
It is not just the mullahs but even professors of the elite Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) who are fuelling the conspiracy theories of the dengue being caused be (thankfully not India’s R&AW) but America’s CIA:
Very few people in Pakistan know the history of the dengue epidemic in Pakistan. It dates back to the era when we decided to give free hand to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to use our land for its nefarious activities.
We received many “gifts” from the Americans in post Afghan war that dismantled the USSR – dengue and drugs, arms and terrorism, religious bigotry and militarism. During the engagement in Afghanistan through the mujahideen, CIA started a “project” (sic) in Lahore under the name of the ‘Malaria Eradication Centre’ – headed by one David Nalin – to wage biological warfare against the USSR troops. The Centre hired some poor residents of Green Town as guinea pigs. They were infected with the dengue virus and were later on exposed to the Aedes mosquitoes in netted beds. In this way, David Nalin created virus-carrier species – A. aegypti A. albopictus, A. polynesiensis and A. scutellaris – capable of transmitting the deadly epidemic disease commonly known as dengue or yellow fever amongst the Red Army occupying Afghanistan. [Link]
If you aren’t already convinced of the CIA angle, try this. Doing the rounds is this article by a “gora” on “genetically modified” mosquitoes:
While Dengue fever had been eradicated in terms of naturally occurring outbreaks in the United States, cases that were research-related and laboratory-generated have occurred in the country for many years. This is because Dengue fever has been of particular interest to the United States government, US Army, and CIA since at least the middle part of the 20th century. There is a great deal of evidence suggesting that the biochemical research facilities at Fort Detrick were conducting tests on Dengue fever as a bio-weapon as far back as 1942. It is generally known that in the 1950s the CIA partnered with Ft. Detrick to study Dengue fever and other exotic diseases for use as biological weapons. [Link]
The CIA Conspiracy Theories, the Wrath of Allah Theories and more such were also floated by legislators in the Punjab assembly, where opposition PPP leaders did not intend to be funny when they said the Pakistani Supreme Court should take suo moto notice of the dengue outbreak – the Pakistani Supreme Court is notorious for being an active player in daily politics by taking suo moto notice of everything they don’t like, especially if they have to do with the PPP that is in power in the centre.
With calls for army help, democracy is again under dark clouds. The Chinese are donating cash. Sri Lankan doctors in town are asking people not to panic. The Indians are exporting medicines. The government of ‘the’ Punjab has imposed Section 144. Ali Dayan asks on Twitter: “I mean can you really impose Section144 on Dengue mosquitoes? Gatherings of 4 or more macchars banned?”
As always, Indians are unable to display a sense of humour. One Indians says on Twitter: “Send all dengue mosquitoes to Pakistan just as they send terror worms to India. Why play Gandhi?”
For those into hasya kavi sammelans, here’s the Urdu version of it, mazahiya shayari – “Hamari qaum ko is baar dengue ne latada hain”:
There’s always the bright side of things. For Muhammad Aayan, this is a moment that ‘unites’:
Cautioning each other about dengue symptoms, seeking anti-dengue tips from each other and a lot more dengue discussions have been going on in the city. Whether it is a street vendor or a bureaucrat, everyone is sharing their knowledge to fight dengue which spreads a sense of unity amongst us. People sitting at open air tea stalls, markets and other places are constantly nervous. Never have the people of this city and province been so scared by mosquitoes than they are now. [Daily Times]
The brave Sherry Rehman, a sitting senator from the Pakistan People’s Party, tweets: “Lahore mosquitoes are v bolshy. They r a bit like us on the street under Ziaul Haqs martial law, no respect for the law!”
On a more serious note, read Raza Rumi explain how the governance deficit will make the dengue mosquitoes return next year dengue outbreak return next year in greater force.