By Farah Zia
Author and journalist Mohammed Hanif speaks his mind about how the idea of a hero is conceived in our society
The News on Sunday: Nations tend to pick their heroes. How important are heroes for nation-building? What goes into the making of a hero?
Mohammed Hanif: I don’t know if heroes are important for nation building or not. All I know is that we have had too many heroes lately, we are fast running out of honours, medals, and clichés to bestow upon them. It seems you have to get gang raped, get shot in the head, or die at the hands of a state-employed torturer to become a hero. Why can’t we just have people who turn up for work? Why can’t we just stop thinking that we are god’s gift to this universe?
TNS: Why can’t we agree on our heroes — Jinnah or Maududi, Hakimullah or Malala? And then, each side claims its hero defines the national narrative.
MH: I don’t think there are many nations which agree on their heroes. I don’t really think Jinnah is anyone’s hero. I think a lot of people in this country don’t even know who he was and the ones who know will never agree what he said let alone what he meant by what he said. I don’t think there are many people who are going to consider anybody a hero who says: get disciplined, work hard, stand united. Sounds like your PT teacher, doesn’t really inspire anyone. Now if someone comes along and says let’s fight to liberate the Ummah, let’s go and take over the world or die trying, there is more to life than office slavery, that is the kind of stuff we expect our heroes to say. And can the national press stop using the term national narrative? Any editor who can achieve that will be my hero.
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