Why must only the dead deserve attention?
In the past week of killings, arson and general mayhem witnessed in Karachi, many have raised a voice condemning the chaos that spread in the city following the murder of scores of its residents.
Accusations and heated condemnations have been levelled, insinuations of gaining knowledge of the true perpetrators of these atrocities exchanged, and the general call for the ever-elusive ‘change’ raised in what has now become an abhorrently futile repetition of finger-pointing and ‘I told you so’s’.
I, on the other hand, refuse to put up a false pretence of caring about who died and who didn’t — as long as it was not someone I am directly related to. I don’t really believe that all those raising a hue and cry over the death of a dozen or so nameless, faceless pushcart vendors and rickshaw drivers were actually even remotely affected by the latter’s (however tragic) demise. Call me callous, call me insensitive, call me inhumane; I refuse to suddenly believe that the incidents of the last two days amount to some kind of national tragedy.
And why should I? When every day that I step out of my home in this city, a part of my subconscious reconciles with the fact that I may never return to it again. When I know that the calm that exists between this moment and the next may abruptly vanish at a single gesture of those that hold power over us. When I know that, in this city, the protectors of peace and the keepers of justice are just as incorrigibly corrupt and dangerous to my person as those they are tasked to protect me from. When I know that in this city it is not ‘I’ who matters, but always the more empowered ‘others’, whose lives and comforts are more important than mine. When I know that, on normal days, those now decrying inhumanity shamelessly parade the luxuries of their comfortable lives while many of their fellow citizens struggle to survive through every single day.
In Karachi, such misery is life as usual for a vast majority of its citizens. I ask all those kicking up a fuss: do only the dead deserve attention?
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