By Faheem Amir
Although we have celebrated the 66th Independence Day with traditional pomp and show last month and now are paying homage to the Quaid for the meritorious services he rendered for the Muslims of the subcontinent on his death anniversary, in reality, every poor Pakistani is in a gloomy mood, shrouded in a sense of utter hopelessness and helplessness.
Suicide attacks, target killings, conflict in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, abductions, corruption, unemployment, poverty, prolonged load shedding, sectarianism, extremism, illiteracy, American drone attacks, killings and exploitation of Pakistani minorities, and many other social, economic, religious and political problems have turned Pakistani society into an intolerant one, a society where the voice of love, tolerance, brotherhood and fraternity has been chocked. One feels as if one is living in a veritable inferno, where the flames of hatred, exploitation and deception are burning one alive.
No real human being can imagine or tolerate members of one Muslim sect killing the members of other Muslim sects and minorities in the name of Islam.
Around 28 innocent Shias have been killed since August in Balochistan. The most barbarian acts perpetrated against Shias were in Babusar and Nullah areas, where around 44 innocent people were killed after checking their identity. Words are not enough to express the feelings of helplessness of men who were shot dead under the thunderous slogans of Islam.
A car bomb killed 12 in Peshawar market on August 31. On that very day, the Pakistani Taliban released a video showing what appeared to be the severed heads of a dozen missing Pakistani soldiers. A Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesperson, Sirajuddin said, “Many of them (soldiers) were killed by bullets; 12 of them as you see have been beheaded; you see 12 heads here, and more heads are on the way.” The TTP released a similar video of slain, beheaded Pakistani soldiers in July.
Is it not the greatest tragedy that a killer is reciting the words of God while shooting or slaying another innocent Muslim who is also reciting the words of God? Pakistanis are in no need of Shakespeare to write a play on this grotesque situation for catharsis, as every sensible Pakistani is crying over these gory scenes.
The story of the Christian girl, Rimsha Masih, and the arrest of the imam, Khalid Chishti, for implicating the innocent girl by adding pages from the holy Quran to the burnt pages brought to him by a witness unmasks the evil faces of some of our degenerated and pseudo-religious leaders, who are unscrupulously exploiting religion for their own material designs. These people are defaming Islam by instigating hatred against the minorities in Pakistan.
Daily Times reports that around 7,000 to 10,000 Pakistani Hindus (around 1,600 families) have left the country in the last two years due to exploitation and fear in the shape of forced labour, unpaid or low-paid working conditions, kidnappings for ransom, abductions, rape of girls, forced conversions, restrictions on religion and robberies.
The Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child reports that around 2,000 minorities’ girls have been forced to convert to Islam, while 161 people have been charged with blasphemy in 2011.
Are the members of minorities not Pakistanis? Why does our ruling class not provide them protection and security? These questions lose their importance when we see that around 40,000 innocent people have been killed in this so-called ‘War on Terror’. Over 5,100 people have been killed during the rule of the present PPP-led government in Karachi. There is no end to the killing of missing persons and dumping of their mutilated bodies in Balochistan.
According to the Ministry of Human Rights, 150 people were reported to have disappeared in 2011, and 108 or 109 of them were from Balochistan. Countless people, injured in bomb blasts, yearn for death, as they do not have money and resources for rehabilitation. Millions suffer mental scars after seeing the scattered parts of bodies of innocent people, including their near and dear ones, after bomb blasts.
According to Associated Press: “...In Pakistan’s northwest — the main Taliban sanctuary in the country — where psychiatrists estimate millions are suffering post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological illnesses after years of militant attacks, army offensives and US drone strikes. Many don’t receive treatment, largely because of an acute shortage of psychiatrists and psychologists.”
A sense of perennial insecurity, deprivation, debilitating poverty, hunger, and cutthroat competition, fear of failure, mistreatment by landlords, teachers and parents are forcing many people, including teenage girls and students, to commit suicide. According to WHO, over 15,000 suicides were committed in Pakistan in 2012? The HRCP’s annual report for 2011 stated that there were 1,153 attempted suicides and 2,131 suicides in 2011.
A Transparency International report says that our ruling class has plundered around Rs 8,500 billion during the present government’s rule. Millions of people fall ill and many die due to unsafe food, poisonous water and contaminated medicine. The government-judiciary tussle and the Pakistan army’s dual policy to fight against the ‘bad Taliban’ and protect the ‘good Taliban’ are pushing the country towards utter chaos.
Is this the great Quaid’s Pakistan? No. The great Quaid has given his ideas about the ideal Pakistani state in his first address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947, in which he says: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”
Are we free to go to our mosques, to our temples, or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan? The answer is very sad. We are still not free in this ‘land of the pure’.
Our leaders have betrayed the Quaid’s noble wishes, auspicious mission and sublime messages, which is a sheer injustice to his sweet memory and great soul. This is not Jinnah’s Pakistan.
Faiz Ahmad Faiz has aptly said:
Ye Daagh Daagh Ujaala, Ye Shab-Gazeeda Sehar
Vo Intezaar Tha Jis Ka, Ye Vo Sehar To Nahin
(This blemished light; this night-bitten dawn/This is not the dawn we awaited so long).
The dark clouds of doom and gloom can be cleared from the horizon of Pakistan if our ruling elite shuns its unpatriotic practices, arrogant attitudes and lust for power and pelf. These blemishes can be overcome by following the teachings and life of the Quaid, who sacrificed his health and, even life, for the people of Pakistan. The people of Pakistan can also play their part in actualising the Quaid’s dream by electing honest and patriotic politicians in the next elections.
Faheem Amir is a staff member.