By Mehr F Husain
31 July 2014
Pakistan's condemnation of Israel's violence is easy to scorn and laugh at. After all, we have our own problems in Kashmir, Baluchistan and of course, Waziristan. Shouldn't Pakistan clear up its own mess before condemning another?
Yes. And that is precisely what this government set out to do.
The Prime Minister conducted his campaign on wanting to make the country terror-free and in an interview during a visit to London, acknowledged the suffering of the Baluch and expressed a desire to conduct talks to resolve all conflicts.
Does that mean Pakistan turns a blind eye to the atrocities being conducted in Palestine? No. Suffering is universal, and it is a matter of humanity that cannot be ignored - whether it affects us or not.
And this is why Pakistan must take a stand not just on Israel's aggression, but violence internally as well.
For every issue, there are protests, condemnations, the written and spoken word expressing outrage and anger – symbolic or substantial, it is very much there. Those voices may be in the minority but they cannot be ignored.
And since Pakistan realises the horrors of Gaza, it has even more of a right to voice an opinion on it. Both countries have seen far too much bloodshed and lost too many children to wars.
Some can argue that Pakistan has been its own worst enemy, but just look at the sacrifices the people have made in the form of human life to ensure the country can exist while the world continues to play games, not realising their impact on a local level.
There is no peace in finding others in misery; to see others suffer just puts out whatever hope is left flickering in one's own home.
Many talk about the comparisons between Israel and Pakistan. But their fates could not have been more different. One is getting stronger and the other, weaker. One is supported by foreign powers and the other remains helpless to defend its own soil from foreign bullets.
The sad similarities between Pakistan and Palestine consist of both being victims of a never-ending terror and loss. In 1971, Pakistan lost an entire half of its population. Today Baluch, Pathan, Sindhi, even Punjabi all can relate to the scenes of violence, loss, horror and bloodshed - and despite the ethnic cleavages, they all still form what is known as Pakistan.
And while the criticism hurled against Pakistan is that they need to clear up their own mess, the fact is that the country is trying to do that.
To criticise Pakistan for taking an anti-violence stand is making the error of clumping the country's right with the left.
As compared to the left, the right has been selective in picking their fights, choosing to speak on issues that fall within their ideology.
Merging the two weakens the left, which is campaigning for a peaceful Pakistan. Pakistan speaking up for Gaza is indicative of a very strong stand on its foreign policy too.
It's no secret that Pakistan's outlook and relations with the world have been influenced heavily by global heavyweights such as the US and Saudi Arabia.
As always - and unlike Pakistan - Saudi Arabia has chosen to stay silent on the thorny issue of Gaza rather than risk offending the western superpowers.
Pakistan's offer of aid to Gaza and condemnation of Israeli violence must be respected because the country is not just stepping out of the Saudi line, but also their policy is in direct opposition to the US stance.
Global politics today ignores geography or sovereignty. And that is precisely why condemnation - of violence, nationally and globally, is necessary. None of us are free.
If we were, Pakistan would be problem-free and so would Gaza.
As humans we strive to exist peacefully. And that is why we must speak out against oppression.
It is a matter of reminding us of humanity, the sole feature that separates us from animals.
Mehr F Husain is a columnist in Lahore