It’s official – Pakistan is going through a mid-life crisis. The bad-boy of international geo-politics has outlived its younger years, working hard and playing harder, and the decades of naughtiness are finally beginning to show.
The diagnosis is complicated, but one any street hustler will easily understand. Having lost his founder-father – henceforth, ‘Daddy’ – at an early age, Pakistan – henceforth, ‘Pak’ – drifted into a vicious cycle common in most juvenile offenders: bad friends and bad habits.
As Daddy had left little inheritance, chronic outspending beyond his means led our poor protagonist to develop a dependence on scoring hits by borrowing from whoever was willing to lend. The streets were rough in those days. A loud, brash white boy by the name of Yank was the big player on the Westside of town. He was hitting his prime just around the time Pak entered the market. Surfacing after the fall of his passive-aggressive yet urbane predecessor, a snob called Brit, Yank serviced the Westside and beyond with an affable air.
Needless to say, Yank had learnt from Brit’s mistakes: establishing a high-society presence and sending your own boys to the do the deal was now old school – high risk with high overheard was a no-go for our new-age entrepreneur. Instead, Yank reached out to whoever could afford him, thanks to the novel concept of the ‘sign on’. He made his new customers endorse pieces of paper called ‘Treaties’, assuring them that he would ‘have their back’ in case anything bad went down. This was a winner with now thoroughly complex and complicated Pak – with serious Freudian-centric Daddy issues, Pak didn’t mind a far-off stranger selling him mediocre product at high-rates – at least someone ‘had his back’.
During this formative phase, Pak thus developed an appetite for whatever goodie was on the table: aid and aircraft, tube-wells and tanks, it didn’t matter. Without discrimination, Pak could smoke, shoot, sniff, snort, rip, cut, and even eat whatever feel-good product the Westside churned out. Brimming with the delusions of a venerable narcotic fiend, Pak started to imagine himself as bigger and stronger than he actually was, and one fine day in ‘65, decided to take on his nemesis and stepbrother, bad ol’ Indy.
This hostility was not out of nowhere. Indy and Pak had issues that went way back. At least that was what Pak’s Daddy had told him when he was a toddler. The story was too simple to forget: Pak’s mother, Hind, a woman gifted with extraordinary talents and beauty, had married two different men who courted her: Mos and N-Du. A powerful and eclectic woman, she thought such a lack of marital Puritanism was kosher, as long as she kept everyone fed and happy. But Pak’s Daddy said that because they had two different ancestors, Mos and N-Du’s kids could never live together. They needed their own turf. Thus, Pak and Indy came about.
What Daddy never told Pak was that Hind, an extraordinary mother, raised the scions of Mos and N-Du to the best of her abilities. Legend goes that they all lived as one – except for the formal stuff they had to do from time to time for the sake of ‘keeping it real’. Meanwhile, free-loving Mother Hind kept on hooking up with different wooers, old and new, whoever suited her needs – Guru, Zorast, Eesa, it didn’t matter. If they were good to her, she gave them babies.
Enter Brit, and the story takes a twist. As mentioned earlier, being a passive-aggressive smooth-talker, Brit seduced and raped Hind simultaneously. One of the immediate effects of his shacking up with Mother Hind was the systematic beleaguering of all of her children and his takeover of her assets. This happened for a while, till Brit fell old and weak (he had barely survived the beating of a lifetime from another Westsider, an upstart called Gerry), and let Hind’s eldest two, the successors of Mos and N-Du, figure their stuff out on their own.
All those years of being beleaguered and disenfranchised kicked in, and Pak and Indy were born in trauma, each fighting for Hind’s tit of sustenance. One mother, two fathers: without Brit refereeing, the neighbourhood got smaller, especially for Pak. Obviously, the binging started as soon as Daddy was gone.
Anyway, to wrap up Pak’s mid-life crisis tale, it was that drug-induced gangbang in ‘65 that led him to find a new supplier – a quite, mysterious Eastsider who went by the initials PRC, or as Pak liked to call him, Mean Cheen. As Yank hadn’t lived up to his Treaty and failed to bail Pak out in the Troubles of ‘65, Pak and Mean Cheen hit it off, big time.
But as any drug fiend with a rap-sheet and a rough family history will tell you, there is ‘no getting off the good stuff’. Pak missed Yank’s wares, and knowing this weakness – whenever he had an odd-job to outsource in that part of town – Yank would hire Pak and pay with the latter’s favorite: more goodies.
They say that the job that really got Pak was the Kabul Heist. Pak used too much variety, too quickly and too long. Yank’s goodies were mixed with Saud’s stash, Mean Cheen’s tech was ripped with Af-Goon’s finest white stuff, the Poppy. And the chrome – also known as the Kalashinkov, which means ‘Bad News’ in street talk -became a permanent part of Pak’s gear. While ’65 was an exercise in delusion, followed by a self-inflicted fire in ’71 that burnt down half of his crib, the perpetually high-and-happy wave that Pak started riding in the ‘80s has now evolved into a chronic, self-induced cancer for our protagonist.
Indeed, these are tough times. What were once Pak’s bearded toy-soldiers are now his ghouls. Worse, Pak feels, and is, surrounded. Yank and Brit, both of who always have other ideas, have subjected his sidekick, Af-Goon, to a hostile-takeover. Indy, who stayed clean and sparred alone during the early years, is now dealing himself, slinging for whoever can afford his wares, and he has a lot of takers. And good old Mean Cheen, being a martial-art-disciplined type Eastside boy, is loyal, but sensible enough to stay clear of poor, hurting Pak.
In the global gangland – with his dependencies breaking him and his ghosts haunting him – Pak seems to be in a state that the locals simply call ‘lit up’. On the Westside, Yank has come up with a preppie term that is making the rounds with those college-educated suburban folks: ‘Failed State’.
That’s the rap from Gangistan. Peace out…