May 8, 2018

When little Zainab was raped and killed … the second time

Artwork for the TV drama Zainab kay Qatil
A friend of mine sent me the link to the post (shown above) by A-Plus TV while I was asleep today. I’ve never watched A-Plus TV myself, but a cursory glance at their Facebook page tells me that they have more than 2.4 million likes on Facebook; clearly, the channel is very popular amongst the masses. My first introduction to this abhorrent lick of degeneracy masquerading as a TV channel was in the form of a video that another one of my friend’s had posted on his Facebook wall, way back in 2016. The video was from a Ramzan Iftar show that aired on A-Plus TV in which that famous misogynistic insult to men Waqar Zaka, and his female version Maya Khan, had blindfolded an elderly lady and asked her to ‘live on the edge.’ She was to put her hands in 6 containers placed side by side and identify what was inside them, and if she could successfully do it for all, she would win something or the other. The first basket was filled with lettuce; the second with mice; the third I do not know, because my stomach flipped after it saw a woman who looks like a grandmother, picking up and squishing a mouse whilst blindfolded. The video thumbnail showed a crocodile, so I’m assuming at some point, she would’ve had to put her hand into container with a crocodile and squish it too.

Here’s the irony: The video was titled “most fascinating and thrilling moment.” This was a Ramzan show.

Now A-Plus TV is back, and it’s even more fascinating and thrilling. They’re going to make a drama around the death of little Zainab; the same little Zainab who was 6 years old, and who was brutally raped and murdered by her neighbor in Kasur. Clearly there’s a market for morbid, debased and vitiated TV, because why else would A-Plus TV decide to shoot an entire drama around the brutal, gruesome death of little Zainab? The erudite brains at A-Plus TV saw that the drama ‘Baaghi’ based on the life and death of Qandeel Baloch was largely successful, so they decided it would be apt to rehash the formula with another tragedy. Only this time, it’s a 6 year old girl who’s body has been cold for only 5 months.

In the summer of 2017, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (the show runners behind Game of Thrones) decided to pitch a TV show called ‘Confederate’ who’s premise was that the South had successfully seceded from the Union “…giving rise to a nation in which slavery remains legal, and has evolved into a modern institution.” The reaction to the idea was swift and brutal; slavery in the USA might’ve been abolished in 1865 with the passage of the 13th Amendment, but even in 2018 the thought of two white men creating a show with an alternate history in which black people are shown as slaves is condemned with a vociferousness we seldom see. On the other hand in 2018 in Pakistan, little Zainab’s death can be exploited for ratings, fame, money and glamor, and there’s nothing anyone can/will do except pass a comment, or heave a sigh. Our collective amnesia seems to be the culprit, but it is more likely the fact that somewhere in the past 70 years, our morality committed suicide.

Some things are sacred. Some things you do not make light of. Zainab’s death is one such thing. Imagine the pain her parents must go through every day. Now imagine them watching their worst nightmare exaggerated and dramatized, and broadcasted into the homes of millions of people across the world. Does your head bow with shame? Because mine does. It pains me to think that we have become so desensitized to basic human emotions that it is OK for us to exploit someone else’s tragedy for our own benefit. After this drama airs, which it inevitably will, the actors and actresses which take part in it will laugh and drink as they accept and give awards and congratulate each other, and say cliché things like “Zainab’s death is an eye-opener” or, “Zainab’s story is the story of millions of children in our country.” They will fail to mention the millions they will earn to exploit these stories.

Meanwhile in Kasur, one less light will burn in little Zainab’s home because she doesn’t exist anymore and there’s no one left to fight for her honor.