The Zeitgeist Politics

Global Politics with a focus on The Middle East

Welcome to Denialistan

with 13 comments

Welcome to Denialistan. Leave your brain at the door, and hand rational thought over to the bouncer, and have a drink of that delightful forgetfulness-serum that’s being handed out.

That, dear readers of this blog and those who come here via strange Google searches, seems to be the correct name for the place I currently inhabit. The state of denial that seems to have gripped the country I live in has become ridiculous, even for those used to the inanity exhibited here on a daily basis.

Several people – particularly XYZ at Cafe Pyala and Naveen Naqvi – have blogged about the state of denial in Pakistan recently. And I’ve had several encounters in the past few days that have left me put off news channels and politics altogether. The denial really is about who is to blame for Pakistan’s current state. As exemplified by several opinion surveys, the rather ridiculous statements given by Pakistani musicians and by the various conversations I’ve had and overheard over the past few weeks; no one really wants to accept that the Taliban – or any other militant group –  are our problem. That they are to blame. That despite the fact that there exists evidence of their involvement and that they proudly take responsibility for  bombing everything – from schools and hotels to military and intelligence facilities – a large majority of Pakistanis are ready to blame anyone else. Blackwater, DynCorp, India, US, Israel, CIA, RAW, Mossad – anyone but us, our mistakes, our decades of involvement in other countries, our military training, our intelligence, our public support, our governments, our funding.

Welcome to Denialistan.


Written by Saba Imtiaz

November 15, 2009 at 1:36 am

Posted in Pakistan

Tagged with

13 Responses

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  1. Demagouges, fear and religion; add a little bit of exaggeration and throw in some words that people wanto hear, and you hve the perfect recipe to control people. It isn’t even an intrinsic phenomenon. And while your local imam has been spewing this, Zaid Hamid and his ilk have learnt all of their tricks from Fox News.

    Mudassir Chapra

    November 15, 2009 at 2:08 am

  2. It’s perhaps the dozenth time I am reading about the prevailing phenomenon of denial in Pakistan. However, what good is it’s citing over and over again? Honestly, did you really expect Pakistanis to give up all their prior notions of jihad and islam that has shaped their social mindset for the past many decades, not to consider the long spells of governmental backings amid.
    Really now, do you really happen to believe that can happen overnight? Even with the imminent terror that reigns, it’s impossible to scratch the conspiracy theories and once-state-policy of anti-India/US/Israel mentality that has been our answer to many of our problems in the past.
    We need to think long term for there are NO short term solutions. None, really! Only a long-term solution may put an end to Talibanisation in Pakistan.

    Salman Latif

    November 15, 2009 at 2:40 am

    • Salman, I’d just like to point out that just because something has been said many times before does not mean that it is any less true.
      Also, I don’t see where in the post Saba is advocating a short-term solution…


      November 15, 2009 at 3:16 am

  3. I do believe that saying the same thing over and over doesn’t really make any difference, unless it’s bringing one something new to ponder about or a solution to the issue at hand.
    And well…I didn’t say that she was proposing a short-term solution. Rather, her reaction over the adhering of Pakistani masses to conspiracy theories depicts that it was more like something unexpected to her- and that’s rather surprising to me for all the ingredients for such connotations had been breeding within us for decades, they haven’t matured overnight. And so, the reverse would be equally laborious and long.

    Salman Latif

    November 15, 2009 at 4:08 am

    • Salman, I think it’s more complex than simply denial vs. non-denial. There are obviously a number of contributing factors that are causing the current situation in Pakistan, I think what Saba is doing is asserting that Pakistanis are focusing on the wrong factors. Judging from the comments this post has generated, I’d say it’s still a fairly pertinent issue to discuss. It may not be new but it’s far from resolved.


      November 15, 2009 at 8:22 pm

      • That’s precisely my point of contention. It’s far from being resolved because it has become the end in itself for us bloggers to discuss the issue. Do we see a solutions cited to it? No – and those which are indeed put forth, hoping or rather proposing an overnight shift of vox populi, are highly unrealistic.
        Do we really think that an immediate change in this social mindset is even possible? I’d say if we think so, that’s being naive and nothing else. It’d take us years, if not longer, to reverse this product of decades of work.

        Salman Latif

        November 16, 2009 at 3:01 am

  4. Saba,

    While I agree on the point that we are trying to find scapegoats, the fact that external influence is a huge factor, cannot be over-looked.

    There are corrupt and bad people in every country but not every country is in a state like Pakistan.


    November 15, 2009 at 4:16 am

  5. Well,, why everybody want to emphasize on just one factor ?? The state in which pakistan is now simply is “multi factored”.. Wrong education, poverty , etc etc and yes foreign involvement too… I don’t know , when somebody points out to the foreign factor , why it sounds bad to some people…


    November 15, 2009 at 10:01 am

  6. @Salman – the blogpost was really my take on the frustrating nature of the denial. And I agree with you – it will take Pakistan years to reverse the current state of mind. That said, there has been a shift in recent years. I think people do accept now that there is a problem. But the solutions will need to come at every level: our education sector, the political system, the judicial system, law and order, our regional strategies etc etc. What I really find frustrating is just the denial that this is a Pakistani problem and not one bequeathed to us.

    Saba Imtiaz

    November 16, 2009 at 3:27 am

    • Salman,
      also what you ask strikes at the nature of blogging itself. Why do we blog? As a form of catharsis, to discuss, to learn from each other’s points of view. To state what we see as ‘the truth’. I put it to you that 99% of even the best blogs will not change ‘the public’s’ mindset on any given issue anywhere in the world, let alone sway government. But those are not our objectives of blogging in the first place.

      No one ever blogs with the goal of an overnight shift in vox populi, on anything for that matter. But that should not be a reason not to state the truth, as we see it. If one is of the opinion that the overriding state of denial in Pakistan is a barrier to progress and that responsibility needs to be taken, that is a salient point and is as worth noting as any other.


      November 16, 2009 at 3:46 am

  7. I wouldn’t speak of what a blogger has or has not the liberty to cite or opine at. It’s the way people see things, granted. However, considering the same liberty of blosophere, I then reserve the right to object at a given opinion by commenting on it.
    And since I believe that simply citing a notion over and over again without really presenting with a viable solution, rather becomes a recurring rhetoric with no output, I stated that as how I see things. And considering that most of us, I hope bloggers of this blog included, blog for social activism, we really need to come up with solutions too.
    Having said that, I can’t or won’t, of course, dictate anyone anything. Everyone has his/her own opinion and take on things and has a right to stand by it. 🙂

    Salman Latif

    November 16, 2009 at 4:01 am

  8. As that dude in the Dawn article that I am too lazy to link said, it’s a big shock to your worldview when your recent history and what you are consistently fed is turned upside down and you are expected to react to it and accept the new paradigm – people in general do not react well or optimally to such stuff.

    It is like reading Ayesha Jalal for the first time and then cursing the woman for making mincemeat out of Pakistan’s theory of existence. Many a sharp mind has faltered there as well.

    Sohaib Athar

    November 17, 2009 at 3:43 pm

  9. […] seems to blow himself up on an almost daily basis.  But in the midst of the inane debates and Denialistan and the general sense of ‘how the hell do we get out of this situation?!’, does anyone […]

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