Why Vidya Balan’s Begum Jaan has been banned in Pakistan


A leading Pakistani politician once explained to me, “Pakistan is a security state. Until we change that, we will always act from a place of vulnerability.” A couple of years later, while I was interviewing a colonel in Lahore, he echoed this line of thought. He told me that all the wars we had fought – whether in 1947, 1965 or 1971 – were fought to protect the country from its enemies. “Pakistan is, after all, a defensive state and we have always acted to defend ourselves,” he reasoned. Vidya Balan

A lot can be justified in the name of security and defence. People who may hold different views can be browbeaten, secular institutions and activists can be eliminated through force on the pretext of liberal fascism and blasphemy, army budgets can be inflated and wars can be sold as imperative and necessary state actions. In the same name of security, certain histories can be accentuated while others can be silenced.

Pakistan, a country, which emerged out of one of the worst episodes of bloodshed and violence, continues to suffer from the trauma of its birth.

Triumphant and proud of what it had achieved in terms of independence and freedom, the nation also found itself anxious, insecure and paranoid. Just as an infant wails loudly at its birth, uncertain of the world outside the womb, a new nation created at the dawn of decolonisation and an emerging new world order, found itself with the enormous task of nation building. All its past lives, its past incarnations, its Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh and Jain histories had to be washed away so that a new child could be baptised into purity – the land of “Pak” and the pure. Read more


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