An open letter to the authorities… Whose side are you on?

February 21, 2015

Dear PM, CMs, MNAs, MPAs, COAS, Commissioners

Anyone else who is supposed to be interested in the ‘affairs of the State’ and the (sad) ‘state of affairs

I won’t get into too much of historical aspect, which is all too clear, and shall assume complete ignorance on the gravity of the situation.  This is the only way to ensure that the writer of this letter and those addressed are at the same level of understanding with respect to the issue being discussed.

In the recent past, we have witnessed a group known as Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamat (ASWJ) spewing venom against the Shia community.  Aurangzeb Farooqui has been seen vowing to ensure that survival for members of Shia community is made impossible in Pakistan.

Public gatherings are held where anti-Shia slogans are chanted, even in Islamabad, the federal capital of Pakistan.

A group of concerned citizens raise their voice against such atrocities followed by attack on an Imambargah in Shikarpur.  Sharmila Farooqui of Pakistan Peoples’ Party attends to the protesters outside the Chief Minister House ASWJ bannedand the visit is followed by agreements of cleaning of wall chalking in Karachi by banned outfits including ASWJ.  She also appears on television and confirms that ASWJ is a declared banned outfit in Pakistan.  On the following day, however, ASJW is found gathering in large numbers threatening the civil society and the state with great zeal and fervor, as if knowing no one can possible take any action.

Later that evening, the concerned citizens, raising their voice for peace and against terrorism and hatemonger are arrested as they continue to chant “Shia Sunni Bhai Bhai, Pakistan Zindabad” while those who threaten the civilians and the state are allowed to rally.  The lovers of peace continue to scream and shout from behind the bars and fight for their constitutional right.

open letterASWJ has now planned another rally in Islamabad, which has brought to the kind and unconcerned knowledge of the authorities by the concerned citizens, although it is really perturbing  to note that citizens are required to bring activities of banned outfit to the knowledge of the law enforcement agencies.

As a Pakistani, I demand answers to these questions:

  1. After looking at the videos in this piece, why are those asking for peace behind bars and those preaching hatred allowed to rally freely?
  2. Why are citizens required to bring anything to your attention? Is this a reflection of your incompetence?
  3. With such self-incriminating speeches, what else is required to take action?

MOST IMPORTANTLY…

  1. Whose side are you on?

Introspection…

media_47454_enIntrospection is the examination of one’s own conscious thoughts and feelings.  In psychology, the process of introspection relies exclusively on observation of one’s mental state, while in a spiritual context, it may refer to the examination of one’s soul.

Introspection, a faculty far too alien to most of us and much needed considering the overall fabric of our society.  The monumental challenges spread all over include but are not limited to overall values, health, education, religion, sectarianism, ethnicity, terrorism; the list is never ending and ever growing.  In this vociferous age with ‘agents of change’ growing in number, one may feel hopeful.  Pakistan is witnessing unprecedented number of protests, both in electronic form (on social media) and on the streets, quite often organized and mobilized on social media only. The number of petitions moved and participation in the same is rather impressive.  Protest calls by citizens for minorities (term used for reference although a more apt term would be ‘lesser Pakistanis’) and the subscription to the public display of rage and registration of concern is once again inspiring.

These petitions and protests have been perpetrated in response to societal issues with varying degree of impact.  Themask subjects have included but have not been limited to dilapidated state-run schools, failing public health system, promotion/protection of those employing children, inadequate water supply, apathy towards poor, culture of royal/VIP lifestyles at the cost of tax-payers, spreading of sectarian/religious hatred, etc.  And the number of voices, protests and intensity of the same is growing by the day.

With such developments, one would hope to witness some sort of abatement, arrest or some nuance of amelioration in any of the issues against which voices are raised.  As a citizen, the exact opposite is witnessed.  The incidents not only seem to be on the rise but the level of blatant shamelessness is of another level.  Ever wonder why?  The answer is fairly simple and much closer to home.

mask (1)While we are out fighting for justice, there is too much unjust at home which is conveniently overlooked.  How is it possible to be out there raising a voice against child labor and expect to make a difference while leaving own children with underage maids at home?  The food insecurity must be addressed.  Indeed a pressing issue which requires attention at all levels.  But let us not remind ourselves of the same while we spend thousands in restaurants.  Sectarianism and religious extremism are eating away the foundation of this country.  It is important to go out and raise our voices and register our protests.  But let us not spend time with our children and speak to them of peace and co-existence.  Prevalence of justice is considered the key to progression in any society.  By all means speak up on the streets and on social-media, take part92ee9a8126a15963006f42151f251898 in demonstrations, but when faced with an actual situation within the circle of family, friends, colleagues, stay away and make sure you don’t take a stand for what is right and just as it may get you in trouble and have an impact on your relationships, employment, livelihood, etc. We don’t bother to turn off the tap while shaving, but let’s take part in the demonstration for water conservation, shall we?  Simply put, we like to speak about the unlawful situation without missing a chance of running a red traffic light.

In so many ways, we all contribute to the issues and problems we raise our voice against, knowingly and unknowingly.  Who are we fooling? There are just too many of us on the “unjust” side.  There is no hope till this changes.

Time to introspect… We need to stop blaming others because they sin differently! Should we decide to take a stand for something, we need to own it and make sure we are not a party to it. That is the only way to ensure at least one less person contributing to the problem.

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