From Ramazan to ‘Ramadan’, Pakistan to ‘Al-Bakistan’, ‘Khuda Hafiz’ to ‘Allah Hafiz’, has been a painful journey for us over the past three decades. These cosmetic changes actually represent a more significant societal change, a move for the ‘Arabisation’ of our land of the pure. Pakistan, once, had been a pretty much open society. Women rode bicycles, people were not beaten up for not fasting, women were not harassed for not covering their heads, and were at least legally equal before the law.Then, came Zia ul Haq the most destructive force in our 69 year old history, after Qandeel Baloch of course. A force, that shook the very foundations of society, that, like a cancer, infected it’s very roots. His was an ideology based on bigotry, intolerance and banning of everything from free speech to wearing jeans. Ptv was one of the first victims. Censor reached such, to use the phrase, idiotic levels, that objection was raised over a scene in one play, because a drowning woman’s scarf had come off her head. A drowning woman, it meant, should be more fearful for her hijab than her life. In another teleplay, two well known actors of today, happily married in real life, said the dreaded words (‘talak’) three times and the religious goons declared that their real-life marriage was annulled and they were living in sin. Dissidents were jailed, even flogged, draconian laws introduced. Distance between male and female students sitting on a bench was specified. All in the name of ‘Islam’. Thus started the advent of “arabization” But Zia was not the first to impose a Salafist version of Islam on the muslims of South Asia. Zia considered Emperor Aurangzeb as his role model. Aurangzeb who toppled his father the great Shah Jahan and triggered the collapse of the Mughal rule in India. Portrayed a hero, in our text books as well as our national discourse, Aurangzeb’s clash with his lesser known elder brother, Dara, is not well documented. Whereas Aurangzeb believed in a strict and narrow interpretation of Islamic teachings, Dara on the other hand believed in Sufi Islam. He spread the message of love, peace and tolerance. In his famous book, “The Mingling of Oceans”, he established that the two major religions in India, Islam and Hinduism had much more in common, than the superficial differences. Dara believed in a religion of peace, understanding and dialogue. Perhaps one of his weaker points was the art of war, hypocrisy and deceit, in which Aurangzeb excelled. He was one of the most ruthless Muslim ruler, who not only killed his elder brother and imprisoned his father till he died, but also killed his younger brother Murad and nephew Suleman, not to mention his own son. The gruesome act of sending the severed head of brother Dara to his blind, imprisoned father must be regraded as one of the most despicable act of a Muslim ruler, who had claims of being a pious ruler. The past is the past but at least in our history it returns to haunt us. it begs the question, what if Dara had been the victorious one? What if he had become emperor? Would the subcontinent have been a better place? Would religious fanaticism be so rampant? Would Pakistan be facing the problems it is facing today? Would we, as a nation, be better off? Today, we are living in extra-ordinary times. The middle class is diminishing, the poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer. Perhaps the only country where the poor and the salaried classes are taxed more and more while the rich, non-filers, are let off lightly. As a result, the masses have no time or will to think about anything else, and are more concerned about the next meal, and the affairs of the state are left to the affluent classes. There are other issues to hoodwink the masses. Should a good muslim wear his ‘Shalwar’ above his ankles or lower, should the land of the pure be filled with jeans wearing women or not, should there be music in the world? And the most important question of all; what should be the length of the beard and thickness of the moustache. These questions fill the human mind with “wonder”, and “inspire” debates to put Socrates and Plato to shame. A person not familiar with the all-important debates, may think these as jokes. Sadly, they are not. These are the issues of prime importance in Pakistan, I mean Al-Bakistan. Brains have been washed during the ideological “Wuzu” (or should one say “wudu”?) The sons of Aurangzeb and the followers of Zia-ul-Haq, are continuously purifying the land of the pure, thanks to the “pure” Saudi dollars. Can we bring ourselves out of this hole we have dug ourselves into? Can we rise as a nation to fulfil it’s true potential? Can we, revert to the vision Dara had of a just, peaceful and tolerant society, where freedom of thought and debate are encouraged? If not, than may Allah protect our ‘Byara Bakistan’.