The Ruined Ruins of Pakistan
By Humeira Kazmi
March 19, 2015
27 hours in flight, braving through four terminals, countless security check posts and halfway across the globe and being severely jetlagged leaves me about just as pleasant as a karela. It isn’t the ideal state of mind for writing anything. Yet, here I am slaving away at the keyboard because thing is I just accidently visited Harappa!
Yes, the Harappa that cradles the ancient ruins of the Indus Valley Civilization.
How grand! Only I didn’t visit the ruins; the city itself was enough as it presented itself to be one big pile of mud. No kidding. I asked our driver twice just to be sure if it was the famous city of Harappa we were forced to go through since the highway was blocked. Yes, the highway blockade was the reason I was in Harappa, not so much my love for historical sites.
As to why the highway was blocked? Because our Christian brothers were distraught and decided to take to the streets with sticks and stones and break a few bones. While many have reflected upon the disturbing factors that might’ve compelled this peaceful minority to go so gangsta, I’m thinking what took them so long, eh? If you’re a Pakistani, you must contribute to the wreck and ruin of your homeland on some and/or all levels. Alhamdulillah, the Pakistani Christians have finally realized they’re just as much entitled to disrupting social order and terrorizing the civic population as anyone else. To them I say, Der Ayad Durust Ayad, and if you’re thinking of attacking a mosque or so, do begin with Lal Masjid.
Getting back to Harappa – after the law enforcement authorities, recognizing the mob’s right to act like a mob, decided to let them vent and detoured all traffic to fields and flocks and anywhere but its destination, we found ourselves here. While I was still in shock, one of my kids exclaimed she’d spotted the ruins. I told her it was just a mud-brick house. See those cows? And those people probably live there. She pouted slightly only to screech again upon spotting a swimming pool by the roadside, and another, and another – Harappa had a lot of pools and nearly all were green with algae. Sigh. Those were just puddles left by the rain. My other kid who had been worried about the lack of street lights till then was suddenly worried about the lack of streets as our car roared and waddled through mud/water/something-like-a-road.
We were in downtown Harappa of the twenty first century that didn’t even compare to the ruins of the city once built by the Dravidians in 6000 BC. Dravidians’ Harappa had a drainage system. Pakistan’s Harappa is a drain in its own right. It’s a swamp that dries and cakes up under hot summer suns but festers and runs muddy with every rain. The trash is sprinkled all over town like sugar on a sugar donut. I wouldn’t be surprised if the ancient ruins that are the ticket to fame of this tiny town are ruined beyond recognition.
Pakistan isn’t fond of its ancient ruins or heritage it seems. The recent damage inflicted to Mohenjo-Daro as part of a cultural circus says much about how much of a rat’s a** we really give to this issue. The Jamia Mosque of Multan is another example. The building is 300 years old and would’ve collapsed for sure if not for the very few affluent local families who’ve taken it upon themselves to restore and renovate it after being flatly refused to be helped by the government. The government’s response was simple: we don’t have funds but mostly we don’t care; if you want it saved, do it yourself. And so they are. But I’m sure once the task is done, some idiot with a camera and a pen would visit it and trash the efforts by writing a fiery article saying how the local rich have wrecked the priceless Lok Virsa.
Anyhow, we found our way out of the ruined city of Harappa and my departing thoughts were, would it really kill the locals to not litter, if nothing else. I mean really. How much does a broom and a trash can cost anyway? And maybe, just maybe, with the gazillion red bricks lying around doing nothing, one could build a road? It would still be better than the dirt path that turns to a sticky quagmire every shower.
Too radical a thought? The Dravidians liked it.
Humeira Kazmi blogs about life, writing life, and her own books. Humour is the key ingredient in her pieces.