Pakistan….A day of Sadness

Reading a novel makes us sentimental….A news piece makes us restless…. A beggar invokes frustration & guilt….

Countless emotions and thousands of expressions….

When you see a child who was martyred in Gaza, you cry! You feel sad or at least heavy hearted for some time. When you find a dead cat laying at the corner of a street in a puddle of mud…you feel disgruntled with the lack of empathy shown by the people towards this little body.

Many other small moments can be exemplified as the ways we feel and express our emotions. But I believe I should rather come to the point which needs more emphasis than the background theory behind it.

So we feel pity for the destitute, anger at the government, fiery when someone pinpoints our religion…but the question is do we realize we can be the cause of such intense emotions for others?

You might feel quizzical over this question raised, but we all are somewhere the cause of provoking such negative and fierce emotions in others. The question is who those ‘Others’ are? Who are the prime targets of our unconscious provocative actions?

We all protest against the religious and cultural ethnocentrism shown by ‘The Westerners’ towards our ‘culture’. But do we realize the magnitude of Ethnocentrism practiced by us? Do we ever observe what happens when we treat someone from another subculture as an alien to ours?

Ever tried to be in the shoes of the ‘Muslims’ we segregate as Shias or Sunnis, the ones targeted as a ‘Cultural Deviant Group’ just because they follow their own beliefs. When a Christian criticizes a Muslim, this is sheer Cultural & Relational violence. But what about when we crack jokes about the Aftar timings of a Shia who probably is a part of our social group? The Muharram and Shia Mournings not accepted? Or the other way round, When Shias show abhorrence with the way Sunnis perform their Religious requirements/Ibadat?  Isn’t this also Cultural Violence, rather an extremity because here the target is of the same religion and just another Sect!

The man of a Thousand Emotions…how could you not witness the cruelty you perform when you segregate the men in the black dresses from the men in white in Muharram? When you loathe them for the way they pray?

Oh don’t you remember they pray to the same Allah? They bow down to the Same Lord….Our Lord…Our Allah!

This is sheer violence…when you see the men mourning over the death of Hussain (R.A) and don’t feel the pain. I am a Sunni, but does it lessen the pain of the Shuhada-e-Karbala? The beloved Grandson of Our Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) martyred brutally ….it makes my eyes wet too, it makes me tumultuous and tears away a portion of my heart too.

Though we differ on certain arrangements in Islam with the Shias, but the core beliefs are the Same! Same Lord, Same Prophet (P.B.U.H)…yet no pain?

More than a 4700 Shias have been martyred so far in Sectarian Violence in Pakistan, since 1989. Today November 22nd 2012, a day when 4 blasts were recorded in 4 provinces while 3 were targeted at the Shia Majalis. Isn’t this sheer brutality against our Muslim Shia brothers and sisters? Islam orders us to love, tolerate even Non-Muslims and what do we do? We demarcate a boundary between Muslims as the ones We accept & the ones We don’t?

Whenever a blast or a bullet thrashes the flesh of a Shia…the blood & the flesh leaves a wound on the body called Pakistan. When this body is full of internal wounds, what’s the need of external forces against this Islamic nation?

The internal wounds will gradually weaken it till the body deteriorates and falls down itself…but when it falls down, the cause will be these inner organs….

The cause will be these countrymen, the men of thousand emotions & still Heartless!


Media: Great Power Without Responsibility?

Musharraf’s power gave away media freedom and consequentially Pakistan witnessed an emergence of more than a dozen news channels in the past decade.

Almost one half of the advertising expenses in Pakistan are absorbed by news channels, this shows the commitment of viewers contributing magnanimously towards the TRP’s of these channels. The power of the media is precisely explained by Toni Morrison, a Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, editor, and professor:

“For a long time I am convinced that the conflict between Jewish people and black people in this country was a media event”.

Hence, it was media, hosting an enmity for the sake of TRPs.

Whenever there’s a blast or a disturbing issue at hand, we divert our attention towards these numerous news channels. We, the gullible sum of 18 billion people, look up to these channels for the right message to be conveyed to us at the right time.

Media has gained the power to make or break an issue, a rapport, a reputation or a nation within the sixty minutes of a Talk show.

We see an advent of dozens of talk shows, each being hosted by an anchor who leaves no stone unturned in criticizing the running policies of Pakistan. These shows, being supported by the nation, invite the most powerful people from our nation and create a controversy by creating enmity between them in front of billions of viewers.

Another treachery of this media is the coverage is 100% irrelevant: either flawed or intentionally skewed.  By irrelevant I mean the issues given coverage are not the ones which are of utmost concern for the Pakistani common men. For example, if Bollywood is crashing or Hollywood is thrashing, it should have no whatsoever importance for the person watching news to learn what’s going on in his country.

‘Intentionally skewed’ because these channels cover the relevant material with an exaggerated concentration on one sided arguments. When an epidemic poses a threat to a nation, why only the dead are being shown while those alive can also be an example of the intensity the disease is posing on the nation. Why the government is blamed for lack of awareness, when creating awareness is the ‘Prime Target’ supposedly for a ‘Responsible Media’?

As Thomas Griffith states:

“The news is staged, anticipated, analyzed and reported until all interest is wrung from it and abandoned for some new novelty”.

At the end, all I would like state is that Media needs to buckle up and start focusing on its code of conduct. Media literacy is or rather should be the primary aim of any ‘Mass media’ which claims to serve the people. I hope that the hopeless immaturity shown by media will soon be replaced with a much stronger and genuine approach directed towards the betterment of the nation:

“Newspapers & TV networks have sometimes been outrageously abusive, untruthful, arrogant and hypocritical. But it hardly follows that elimination of a strong and independent press is the way to eliminate abusiveness”, Potter Stewart.


The Life Of A Pakistani!

The first page of every newspaper is enough to give you goosebumps, take care because you might spill your tea due to the horrendous mishaps that occur everyday in almost every city of Pakistan. Some say, due the persistent attacks Pakistanis are left with no empathy or shock for those who were just murdered brutally by God knows whom!

But i firmly believe that no matter how staunch, obdurate or insensitive you are, somewhere deep down you feel ‘weak’. A blast or an attack, in a far-fetched area might not affect you. But when it is your own city or sometimes your own neighborhood…….you are just left a little more assailable and devastated!

Did you just hear a mother crying over her son’s the dead body who was martyred while catching a few terrorists? It cuts your heart, so that you bleed out all your anger and frustration?

A man who slaughtered his own family because of poverty leaves you pondering for hours. An act of insanity or a wise decision to protect them from dying of hunger? It just hits you….and it hits you hard.

A normal human can’t sustain such amount of savagery, so we try to distract ourselves. Some get drowned in their career and others start living a lie to pretend as if nothing happened. But when we take a step into realities, we experience the same trenches of poverty and shackles of inhumanity. When you hear about a blast near a place which you visit everyday, it make you quiver. You have a flashback of all those people you saw there yesterday. Are they still alive? Or they are the victims of this act of violence?….Am I lucky that i survived? What if i was there at that point of time? Then my life would also have been wasted as just ‘another victim’ of an attack.

I met a foreigner and we started a discussion about current affairs. He said that all Pakistanis must be used to attacks and violence since excess of it makes you apathetic. But is it that easy to become numb? No! Its not.

No matter how long you have been living in summer……..the heat of sun still excruciates & makes your body sweat.

No matter how long you have been hiking the mountains a rock thrown at you………… still hurts you in the head.

No matter for how long people have been slaughtered………each time the color of the blood is still red!

The broken chain of evidence!

After three years, seven months and eight days, the Anti-Terrorism Court has yet again postponed the verdict of the alleged architect of the Lal Masjid massacre which left almost a thousand people displaced, 248 injured and 108 killed. The Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) has only now, on 20th April 2011 , indicted former chief cleric of Lal Mosque Maulana Abdul Aziz and 20 others for killing a Rangers soldier on July 7th, 2007, while the charges on these suspects have been struck down from twenty to one during this time.

This is not just one case which has gone unattended. According to Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the provincial minister for information, almost 98% of the alleged terrorists are acquitted on the basis of insufficient evidence or lack of witnesses.
The amount of such cases is appallingly increasing and the presence of militants in the society is posing a major threat for the civilians. A staggering 1,591 people lost their lives in these attacks while 10,161 militants were arrested in 2010. But the puzzling question is that why many of the extremists behind this butchery have never been punished or even trialed. Continue reading