“Sindhi Topi Day.” Wonderful. But Why the Guns?

Posted on December 6, 2009
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Culture & Heritage, Law & Justice, Society
39 Comments
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Adil Najam

Did you know that today, December 6, was “Sindhi Topi Day”?

I did not. But I now do. I also now know that it was celebrated with great fervor. I am glad that it was.

Even though some have raised concerns about how such a celebration might “isolate” Sindh from the rest of the country, especially in the wake of the violence that the country is in the grips of, I think the idea of celebrating our heritage is a good one.  In fact, I hope that it will be followed by the “Pakol Day,” the “Karakul Cap Day,” the “Kulla Day,” and days for celebrating all the diverse and rich array of caps and turbans worn all across the country.

I mean that in all sincerity. After all, we at ATP have been celebrating the Caps and Turbans of Pakistan right from the beginning (here and here).

What I cannot understand, however, is why the centerpiece of the celebrations seemed to be guns and fancy firepower, even more than ajraks and Sindhi caps?

This was so not just in this picture, but in a number of other pictures too. And it is by no means specific to this celebration. All across Pakistan, we see this morbid fascination. Guns at Basant are as disgusting as guns at weddings or guns at college graduations. And yet, the insecure amongst us cling to them in shallow bravado and false machoness. In ordinary times, the spectacle are merely disgusting displays of bad taste. In times like these, such acts become ominous reminders of how the validation of violence (also, here) is a deep deep scar on all of our society.

The picture above is particularly disturbing, not only because of the ugliness of the weapon but for the obvious glee on the lady’s face (from the photo’s caption, she is a “political activist”) – not to mention that in her glee she forgot to don the Sindhi Cap she is supposed to be celebrating. One assumes that the child clinging to her (in a state of shell shock, as he should be) is her’s. One wonders what lesson he is taking back from this episode?

But the bigger question really is, what lessons are we teaching our children about violence and the validation of violence?

Three past posts from ATP still haunt me to this day – the first about an angry mob burning a thief alive, the second about WAPDA engineers opening fire at protesters, and the third of a man beating his wife a his son looks on. All three are really stories about the validation of violence; stories that we have had to write again and again.

The question, indeed, is: with all this fascination with guns and all this violence thick in teh air, what have we become ourselves and what are we teaching our children to become?

39 responses to ““Sindhi Topi Day.” Wonderful. But Why the Guns?”

  1. Skunk says:

    Bottomline:

    If you seek the paradigm of humanity, then so be it,

    and

    if you seek the greater good so be it,

    however, avoid double standards, rules should be the same for all.

  2. Skunk says:

    The picture was something I was expecting but something I was sure of was that how people would find ifs and buts to criticize the event.

    The only problem is that our media would beat the Swiss and Thai to humanitarian issues when something good is being done, when the ordinary man on street is genuinely happy or celebrating.

    How many times has ATP put on display the weapons bearing Islami Jamiat Tulaba or their usage of brute force on guys hanging out with girls in public universities of Pakistan on valentines day?

    We got rid of Basant because ten people use to die every year at least, indeed justified, but when would we ban the Raiwind Ijtama, due which approximately thousands die every year in Pakistan, women have acids thrown in their face and other people hailing from different sects are scorned at at work?

    Perhaps they should have named it Sindhi Islamic Topi Day, the women I’m sure would have gotten away firing a tank without a word of criticism (i.e. wearing a burqa of course, she’s obviously entitled to choose from the black sleek one or the blue rugged one).

  3. Masd says:

    The Sindhi Topi day on 6th December was celebrated with fervor and Sindhi folks were jubilant on this day and that is something no one has any objection. Since our childhood we have seen Sindhi topi as not something exotic but part of our common culture who live in Interior of Sindh. Born in Hyderabad to Urdu speaking parents but proudly calling my self as a Urdu speaking Sindhi I remember myself wearing Sindhi topi often on different occasions. Not a big deal. Our many teachers used to wear it and we understood that Sindhi topi, Ajrak, Sindhi language, sufism, romance, poetry, passion, longing and love they are the manifestation of Sindhi culture. When I came to Karachi for studies there I realized how much a wide gap or should I call gulf exists between Urdu speakers of Karachi and Sindhis. My Karachiites friend used to ask me how far is Hyderabad, can you reach there in 4 hours, is road safe, and all the other kinds of questioned that showed their complete lack of information, knowledge and distorted perception about interior of Sindh and those who live there. The same gap although now not as wide as 10 years ago due to better media still exists. The need is to bridge the gap of communication between Urban and Rural Sindh particularly and between rest of Pakistan and rural Sindh generally. Believe me there are millions of Karachi’s young generation who have never ventured out beyond Sohrab Goth and interior of Sindh for them is still the bastion of dacoits and universities there centre of politics. Time has moved and there is a need to bring Pakistanis closer. Jeay Sindh, Jeay Pakistan.

  4. HMD says:

    First of all, guns have no place in celebrations, and their use in public gatherings and festivities is simply unsafe and unethical. This “culture” is perhaps a reflection of the disregard in our social attitude towards the well being of others.

    However, maybe we are condemning the picture because of the wrong reasons…

    We owe it to ourselves to look, beyond the obvious decay, into the reasons behind this practice. Even after close to a century of gaining independence, guns legally remain out of reach of ordinary Pakistanis, or any other South Asian for that matter. Yes, the Talibans, bandits, thugs, criminals, and politicians have easy access to entire arsenals, but the average Pakistani proletariat can only look at the end of a barrel!
    No wonder they find the prospect of actually holding one so fascinating!

    Guns are not inherently bad. They are just tools that can be used for good or bad like any other tool. They can be used for crime as much as they can be used against it; by tyrannical governments as much as they can be used against them. They bring empowerment to the masses and equalize the playing field when citizens are facing threats to their lives and property. See Switzerland and USA for examples.

    By severely restricting their access to ordinary law-abiding civilians, the ruling classes try to extend the duration of their rule, as was the case during the days of Raj, but this is something that should be condemned – not embraced by vague references to “validation of violence”.

  5. Rizwan says:

    The real issue here is the gun culture that has spread in the country and whose costs we are paying. The public display of weapons is a curse and must be stomped.

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