Of Gotham City And Pakistan

Jan 31st, 2013 | By | Category: Latest, Pakistan

I was watching the movie Batman Begins a few days ago, and one of the things in it that really perked my interest was the state-of-affairs of Gotham City. It was a city shown in shambles; a place where corruption had infiltrated the very infrastructure of the city. A city overrun by criminals, and no system of law and order. ‘Create enough hunger, and the society can be easily bought’. Even the people unwilling to resort to criminal acts were forced to do so just to survive. And the good people, who yearn for justice in the society, their hands were tied because they were encircled by corrupt people everywhere and there is no one to support them.

Why did it perk my interest? Well, because of the fact that the state-of-affairs in Pakistan are really not very different from Gotham City. The same corruption, criminal activities being carried out openly aggravated by complete absence of justice makes the poor, poorer and the rich, richer.

Of course, while drawing an analogy between reality and fiction, some things just do not add up. The most obvious one in this case would be: where is our Batman?

Where‘ might not be a suitable question to ask at the moment. A more pressing question would be, what does the ‘Batman’ in this context even refer to? To answer this question, I would ask you to recall the Batman movies (the Christopher Nolan trilogy in particular). The people believe in Batman. They have stored all their hopes in this one masked man, that as long as he is around, Gotham is safe and they can safely hope for a better future. In short, Batman is a symbol of hope for the people of Gotham City.

Coming back to the Batman of Pakistan, I think the above paragraph answers our question. We do not need a masked man running around under the cover of darkness beating up criminals to a pulp, for that would not solve our problems; we need a symbol of hope.

And thus crops up another question: do we even have one?

From a certain perspective, a lot of people would answer that question with a positive response. Hope is a must; it’s necessary if we are to get through these tough times. Usually these are the ever-optimistic people who are always saying things like “we’ll get through this, “one must always stay positive”, “do not lose hope people”, “sab theek ho jaye ga” etc.

For such people, I have a question: what exactly are you instilling your belief(s) in, that gives you such hope? Or what are you advising us to believe in and gain hope from? The people of Gotham City had Batman; who or what do we have?

People will react to that question in different manners. Some people will attribute their hopes to the government and the many political parties engaged in a never-ending warfare to wrest the throne from one another’s hands and trying to bring it into their hands. They may store their hopes in the current government, PTI leader Imran Khan, or the relatively new Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri or some other person/party; that is their business. Some people see hope in the Army. Others have given up on the government and all political parties and have instead resorted to putting their faith into the public uniting, or the youth of the nation and so on. Some people have given up on the country altogether and are concentrating on getting out of Pakistan, ready to resort to any way possible. And then there are the dejected pessimists who have given up hope altogether and continue about their ways, oblivious of the matters going on in their country, convinced that all is lost now.

Whatever your symbol of hope may be i.e. your Batman, it has to be a legitimate one. For the present state-of-affairs of our country have worsened far beyond the point of merely sitting around and hoping for a miracle. And here arises the complex problem, the reason why our nation is not progressing at all, and everytime we seem to be the brink of a revolution, it all crumbles down; it is our inability to cope with difference of opinion.

We all have our different ‘Batmen’, which sounds fine, but is actually not. The concept of ‘I have my opinion, you have yours, let’s leave it at that’ simply does not exist in our people. No, we tend to force our opinions down their throats and remain on their case until they see the error of their thoughts and the wisdom in ours. And these arguments are not carried out in a peaceful and proper manner, as they should, but rather heatedly with abuses spewing from both sides, and a sense of righteousness and extreme loyalty to the side we support accompanying the involved parties. These arguments may be carried out on some social network; where all it takes for things to turn ugly is some aggressive loud-mouth to make a rash statement, and then all that follows is merely a matter of feeding the fire; or in person; where fists can take over words in a matter of seconds. Take the latter scenario to a higher level, and you see people being kidnapped or gunned down for merely disagreeing with someone.

And this is precisely the attitude standing in the way of ‘unity’. According to our ideology, people cannot have different Batmans and the idea of one Batman reigning supreme over all others is simply unacceptable, and does get protested against ferociously. Our country is caught up in a circular loop, a paradigm. And sadly, this lack of difference of opinion does not exist simply where Batmen are concerned, but other matters as well (consider killings on the basis of ethnic, sectarian and lingual backgrounds and terminating their right to live? Bravo!).

And as long as this paradigm remains, shall I be one of those dejected pessimists who sees hope only in getting out of this country and settling somewhere else? For how can we hope for any progress under such circumstances?

To sum it all up: We as a nation have become so hostile in our opinions, goals, hopes and pretty much everything else. Add to that our absolute lack of tolerance for the existence of difference of opinion and we have the current situation: where the word ‘nation’ can no longer be used to describe us. We are a myriad of sects, tribes, peoples living in an enclosed boundary set by the British Empire right before they left. We live in Pakistan but we are not Pakistanis…

Azfar Imtiaz

About the author

Azfar Imtiaz is a Computer Science student at FAST Islamabad.

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  1. Befitting symbol. I compare Karachi to it… Unfortunately.

  2. Greetings,

    This is an intriguing post. Thank you for it.

    For me, a miracle is really the changing of people, that is, the changing of hearts. The how-to of this miracle seems outlined well in the recent post by Ali Naqash (“What Does It Mean To Be Religious?”).

    Iqbal speaks strongly to what you’ve shared here about the need for consensus.

    All good wishes,


  3. Still the hope is kalma.,which is shared with unity.

  4. Even if we do get a ‘Batman’, people are so full of themselves they will bring him down by saying “Yeh kon hota ha?”

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