Last night I took myself to the PNCA auditorium to take in aplay , that has had its share of reactionary reviews and was witness to another episode of high-handed VIP culture when a woman, claiming to be the wife of a government official created a scene at the PNCA, and could later on have been instrumental in trying to have the play performance cancelled.
It all started as eager Islambadites trooped into the PNCA auditorium for a sole performance of Ajoka’s ‘Burqavaganza.’ Madiha Gauhar’s irreverent play had been banned last year, and we were keen to see what the fuss was all about!
As i walked in, I couldn’t help noticing that some people, in total disregard of the rules, and unmindful of the inconvenience to others, had brought young children into the hall. Madiha, made her intro speech about the play, and mentioned the rule, requesting these children be taken out. A woman in the third row had an entire line of children sitting with her (I counted six), and when Madiha asked her to remove the kids, this person’s retort about being the wife of the Deputy Commissioner, or some similar name dropping, had Madiha insist even more vehemently. At this voices were raised and the woman stormed out, but not before threatening to have the play shut down.
Burqavaganza then commenced and a good time was had by all as this biting satire on the hypocrisy of Pakistani society and Mullahs had us rolling with laughter. At play end, we all trooped out in to the foyer, where, I was approached by a Govt official ( a familiar sight to the activist demonstrators of Islamabad), asking me details of an ‘incident’ earlier on. I realised what he was alluding to, the woman had gone complaining to her husband, and this man was here in response, I quickly narrated the facts, and impressed upon him illegality of her actions and behaviour. The look on his face implied he believed my version, I then quickly walked back into the hall, approached Madiha and apprised her of the encounter.
She was furious, and, while we were engaged in conversation, her producer walked up saying that his sound room had been stormed by 3 magistrates, demanding to have the play shut down immediately. It was only his cool thinking and powers of persuasion, that held them off and allowed us to watch what is a unique and thoroughly enjoyable and thought provoking play.
Later it transpired, that, the said Dc along with his entire force/amla had surrounded the premises as if it was under siege, by some insurgents, the DC was quoted as saying that this was an affront to his personal status and he was not going to tolerate it!! ( yeh meyray zaatee shanakt per hamla hai aur main is koh bardash nahin karoon ga!)
We were told that the officials were fearful of a ‘bomb threat!’ This is the oldest trick in the book to cancel a performance or evacuate a place. How can this kind of attitude and behaviour be tolerated?! We demand an immediate inquiry and appropriate punishment to the woman as well as these officials. They have made a false statement and should be arrested. Especially in an environment, where the entire Country is tense, the last thing we need is for such idiotic behavior and such false reasons for attempting to panic the already stressed residents of the Capital to satisfy the over inflated egos of the D C and his family members who incidentally and conveniently forget it is we who pay their wages and it is them who have a status of civil servants, not ‘Rulers’!!
After wards, when the troupe arrived back at their guesthouse, they were shocked to find that they the police were there in force, harassing the employees and staff for identities and papers! The usual and common way to stress out the poor man! People of Pakistan haven’t we had enough of this attitude and behavior? Is it not time to put a stop to it and say “Enough! No More! Stop NOW!”