Image isn't everything

June 21, 1996

Like several other academics and British Pakistanis, I am not convinced by the movie project on Jinnah as advocated by Akbar Ahmed (Perspective, THES, May 31).

Himself a senior civil servant officially designated as an OSD (officer on special duty at Cambridge), Professor Ahmed may be well-advised to remember the harsh realities of his own poor country. Jinnah's Pakistan has been exploited and destroyed by the ruthless ruling elite and no wonder poor Pakistanis are so fed up with them that any populist individual promising a way out is readily envisioned as a deliverer. Pakistan, a country idealised as a tolerant and forward-looking state by its architects, has been too often subjected to the worst kind of bureaucratic-military oligarchy, both coercive and opportunistic by intent and nature.

In a country where 70 per cent of people do not have access to clean water; illiteracy is 70 per cent and increasing; hundreds of thousands of schools lack basic infrastructure; millions are hooked on drugs; the 22 universities are in the red; and where millions of landless peasants remain enslaved to the whims of a few thousand feudalists, one is not really convinced by Professor Ahmed's rationale for an image-making movie on Jinnah. Pakistan's priorities must be different.

If Jinnah's own creation turns out to be the world's second most corrupt country thanks to its enlightened elite, then what is the sense in making a feature film that 97 per cent Pakistanis would not be able to understand or benefit from?

IFTIKHAR H. MALIK

Lecturer in history

Bath College of Higher Education

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