I’m sure everybody gets affected to a greater or lesser extent by the protests that our fellow city dwellers like to indulge in frequently. I am among those who are most affected, because my office is on Davis road, the road where the Press Club is situated. Considering how protests usually end up heading for this destination, I would have recommended a ban on them altogether, had I not recently come to know that it is the democratic right of people to be able to protest.
Not one to be defeated easily, I have come up with the idea of allotting a park in the outskirts of Lahore, dedicated solely for protests and the like. I may not be the first among Homo sapiens to have come up with the idea; I do, however, believe that my plan doesn’t just let the common wagers go about their lives unhindered but also assures that the intent and purposes of the protestors are catered to.
Let’s face it – the general public hates protests (no disrespect to protestors), and the protestors are aware of it. The protestors are really seeking the media’s attention, and are not really hoping to inspire passersby to join in. So, let’s call for a new legislation binding the media not only to cover all protests but air them repeatedly, however, meaningless they may be (on selective occasions the media is doing this already).
It is a well-known fact that peaceful protests don’t have any impact whatsoever. Equally well-known (if not more) is the fact that violent ones – although they have an imprint – end up leaving the public despising the cause itself. One solution out of this conundrum can be providing walls dedicated to each political party with photos of prominent leaders pasted on them, and making available at subsidized prices eggs, tomatoes, spray paints and shoes for the protestors to throw at the walls. If the media reports the score, that is, how well beaten the walls of each party was at the end of every day, the violence problem can be avoided beautifully.
Flags of US and Israel (in any number) should be made available at short notice keeping in perspective their high demand (for burning) during all protests from our men of God. In fact, a lot of revenue can be generated by selling them in black every time the West breaches our sovereignty. Tires are an integral part of any protest, hence biodegradable tires should be available (not complimentary) for all who love smoke and feel deprived of a well rolled joint. Veena Malik has also earned her right to have a permanent mannequin of hers there, so that every time she does something that damages Pakistan’s image, people can buy dupattas (sold for Rs. 100 each) and drape them around her shoulders as a token of their outrage.
Imposing a nominal entry fee can also be beneficial in more than one ways. In addition to generating revenue for the government, the record of sold tickets will put to bed all disputes about how many hundreds of thousands attended a certain jalsa or protest.
Our film industry is past decline and is officially dead now. The extras, all being jobless and likely willing to do anything to earn a livelihood, can come in handy in these circumstances. On Valentine’s day, they could come to the park masquerading as unmarried couples where Maya Khan is allowed to do a show running after them.
Of course the liberals too should have space designed for them, with scented candles ready for them to light, bartenders serving single malt, a wall with Zia ul Haq’s poster on it, which they can desecrate after they are done with the ritual of inhaling the aroma and pushing the poison down their throats.
Now that I am in the middle of presenting my proposal, I am struck by another idea. Why settle for just a protest park situated in the middle of nowhere? Why not build a media city all around the park for the benefit of all parties concerned? The reporters will be able to cover all the proceedings from their office rooftops, saving precious time and gas. Hotels should be shifted there as well, so that the police can set up their check points in one area making their job of sniffing the breaths of passersby more efficient and streamlined. That can also have a very positive effect on the flow of traffic inside Lahore.
Life in general can be improved further if the VIP movement can also be restricted to the area around the protest park. Shifting the Gymkhana there might force the VIPs to shift their residences in that general locality, since they have to visit it daily. I have nothing against unmarried women but bureaucrats with beautiful wives must be provided with houses in that general locality because this city is full of overhead bridges and, trust me, we don’t need more.
It does, however, give me immense sorrow to say that lately people have stopped protesting against our cricket team’s bad performance. Instead, on social media the “Tum haaro ya jeeto hamein tum se pyar hai” season has been going on for some time now. This same noble sentiment has been a permanent one concerning our armed forces over the decades. I say let’s dedicate an area to cricket and make people come and abuse them initially for free just to bring back the culture. Once the tradition takes roots again, it can be taken off the free list.
Last but not the least, the proposed park must have bakeries that are open 24/7 so that the customers can get what they need around the clock, and the elite squad doesn’t need to work overtime.
The author is a journalist, director/producer, actor, documentary maker, blogger/columnist, managing director of a theatre company called Mishermayl and a struggling musician.
The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.