#Pakistan The Hotel Mohenjodaro

Published on July 6, 2004 By pakistanisecularist1 In History
In 1967 Ghulam Abbas, arguably Pakistan’s finest short story writer, wrote a story called ‘Hotel Mohenjodaro’, that never ceases to amaze me. It was almost as if Ghulam Abbas had a crystal ball. Looking into it he saw clearly into the future and wrote what we are experiencing today. Abbas sets the scene in Pakistan’s future in the closing years of the 20th century, in a Hotel called Mohenjodaro which has 71 storeys. Pakistan is about to become the first nation to reach the moon. On the 71st floor of Hotel, in the famed hanging garden, a grand reception is taking place. Ambassadors and delegates from all countries of the world are gathered to see this phenomenal human achievement. As the Pakistani Astronaut, praising Allah and saying Pakistan Zindabad, lands his spacecraft on the moon, there is music and dance. Messages of congratulation pour in from all over the world. It is a proud day for Pakistan. 

Next scene is set in a mosque many miles away. A Mullah speaking to his congregation declares that some Kafir Pakistani has violated the divine law by landing on the moon. Soon this cry is echoed all over Pakistan. The Mullahs are able to stir up enough religious frenzy that the Government is forced out of power and there is an Islamic revolution. Soon thereafter an Amir is elected on the basis of adult franchise and an Islamic Government is instituted. All forms of modern inventions, technology, music, art forms and other ‘evils’ of the western civilization are banned. Arab dress is made compulsory and Arabic is legislated to be the national language of Pakistan. All knowledge except Islamic knowledge is declared evil, and universities, schools and libraries are destroyed. Women are strictly secluded from the mainstream and men are appointed their guardians. Soon afterwards however the Mullah rulers of the country are divided into several ‘colours’ that have their own exegesis of Islam. Soon thereafter there is infighting that quickly turns into a civil war. As rape pillage and destruction of mosques continues, the Amir is martyred by one faction, leading to total chaos. Taking the advantage of this situation the armed forces of a neighboring country invade. The final scene is set in a desert. A few tourists are being led on camel by a tourist guide. At one point he pauses and says : ‘This is the spot where, before the enemy struck, stood the hotel Mohenjodaro with its 71 storeys.’

This story was prophetic on many levels. In 1969 the US became the first country to reach the moon, and it was decried by the Mullahs in the Muslim world as a great kufr. However the most striking part of Abbas’s prophecy was the coming of the ‘Islamic’ Revolution and his description of life under Mullah rule. We have seen how a Modern Muslim country like Iran was suddenly sent into medieval times by its Mullahs. The same almost happened in Algeria. The life under the Taliban was strikingly similar to that described by Abbas 3 decades earlier. Islamization and Arabicization under General Zia-ul-Batil in Pakistan did come true and in Peshawar today the ruling Mullah coalition’s behavior has an eerie similarity to the Mullah coalition that takes over Pakistan in this story. The sectarian violence that we are seeing in Karachi is exactly how Abbas described it. What is left is an invasion by our enemy.

Ghulam Abbas was a believing Muslim, but never an intolerant one. As a self proclaimed Iqbalian he was wedded to the idea of Muslim modernity and its positive role within the greater world. Pakistan in his time was still a liberal and tolerant country, where the edicts of the Mullah, the notorious fatwas, were ridiculed, and free thinking was encouraged. Amazingly in the period 1947-1979, before the imposition of the draconian 295 C, only 6 cases of blasphemy were instituted in all of Pakistan, and all six of them were laughed out of the court of law. Ghulam Abbas however could read the undercurrent. He could see that the visible development and progress that Government of Pakistan flaunted shamelessly was uneven. Hence Pakistan could reach the moon in the future of his imagination, but its masses would still be illiterate and ignorant susceptible to false religious frenzy, that the Mullah was capable of. Clearly this was the message of the time, that had Pakistan’s youth then to rally around socialist causes and parties.

We must learn a lesson from Abbas’s prophecy and stop this decay before it consumes us, as Pakistanis and as Muslims. Even Islam as a faith has no real conception of clergy. Repeatedly the Quran calls upon the Muslims to live their own lives without interferences from the holy men and witchdoctors. Then why are we tolerating the Mullah in the name of Islam? The Mullah is no defender of Islam. He is a parasite sucking the very life blood out of our faith. Obscurantism and retrogressive values will lead us no where but to total destruction. We will be humiliated and in the words of Iqbal ‘tumhari dastan tak bhee na ho gi dastanon mein’. The Muslims world over should decry this unnatural priesthood conferred upon the mullah. As my hero Jinnah once said ‘Every Muslim should be his own priest’, so let us reclaim as Muslims our intellectual heritage from the clutches of the diseased leech that the Mullah is. Our future lies in complete rejection of Mullahdom. Only then can we march into the Modern world with our heads held high. 


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