Zia’s long reach

Quddus Mirza in Himal Southasian:

The Pakistani state no longer forces the country’s artists to comply with stringent political or moral diktats – but it doesn’t have to.

“We live in a postmodern age, everything is simulation, everything is reference, even dictatorships.”
– Dubravka Ugresic

Ijaz-ul-Hassan--Rifle-Butt A young man writes a love letter to his fiancé, and adds a line or two about the government of his country. He posts the letter, but soon after dispatching he realises that if it is opened in the censor office, he is going to suffer because of the casual negative remark he made. In order to avoid such consequences, he decides to apply for a job in the censor department, so he can try to get hold of his letter. To his surprise, he does indeed get a position, and thus starts learning his new tasks. Several months later, during the course of normal post-checking, he finally comes across his letter. He opens it and reads the content. But instead of hiding it or throwing it away, he writes a note that the sender of the letter has committed a crime against the state and must be punished.

More here.