In search of peace in Pakistan

This summer I have been an ashamed, embarrassed, and guilty Pakistani.

Wali Tirmizi August 14, 2011
I’m a fiercely patriotic individual generally. I’ve always been one, and primarily because this country has always given me a reason to. This summer, however, I have been an ashamed, embarrassed, and guilty Pakistani.

Ashamed at the fact that today, more than ever before, Pakistani’s have been killing their fellow countrymen.

Embarrassed at the fact that no major leader has stood up and asked for this madness, no matter in which part of the country, to come to a standstill.

And guilty because I, myself, have not done whatever I could as a citizen of this country to stop this bloodshed and return this country to some semblance of civilization and peace.

This summer, Karachi and Balochistan have once again been home to ethnic and sectarian violence of gigantic proportions and catastrophic nature. The nation’s financial capital has been engulfed in violence caused by on-going political conflict between the city’s three largest political parties; MQM, ANP, and PPP. As a result, the death toll for July alone was upwards of 200 people. Similarly, Balochistan, home to an increasingly disgruntled, cessation-seeking population, has witnessed a number of sectarian attacks targeting the Shia community in the recent past. The exact identity of the killers in either case has neither been revealed nor properly sought after. The same goes for the victims. Though one fact is known about both: they were Pakistani.

As the whole world or at least all of Pakistan knows, ethnic and sectarian violence is not the sole menace that plagues Pakistan today – there is much more that we face on a daily basis. Terrorism, unstable governance, corruption, shortage of electricity and petrol, an economy in shambles is a short list of problems 180 million Pakistani’s live through day by day. In spite of all of these, the saddest and most difficult to fathom issue we face is without a doubt that of ethnic and sectarian violence. More simply, Pakistanis being killed by fellow Pakistanis. Do think about it for a second; does it make sense that citizens of a country that has merely 60 years of existence, a country that seemingly the whole world is out to get, would kill each other simply because of their various ethnic and sectarian backgrounds? Many would tell you that the issue is much more complex than that – and it is – however, at the end of the day, it all boils down to the fact that we are killing ourselves.

What’s funny (and sad) is how the very instant an American drone lands in Pakistan and takes the life on an innocent citizen of this country, all of Pakistan comes together. We cry about the fact that our fellow citizens have been killed, our sovereignty breached, and our international standing thrown down the drain. Yet, when we kill each other, we turn a blind eye. Don’t get me wrong, it is incumbent on us to stand up and defend ourselves against any country that takes the life of a citizen of Pakistan. Though, is it not incumbent on us to stand up to any Pakistani who does the same?  Is it not incumbent on the country’s leadership to condemn such widespread killing? Surely the gunning of more than one hundred people in four days calls for the Head of State or Head of Government to address the nation and call for the madness to come to a halt. What happens to our national image – one that we try so hard to protect – when such incomprehensible acts of violence erupt on the streets of our largest city? What face do we show the international community when such atrocities take place at home? We show the face of a divided state, a state in a state of shambles.

Soon, Pakistan will turn 64-years-old – truthfully, I’m confused as to how I’m supposed to feel about this.

Am I supposed to celebrate the independence day of a country when its citizens will most probably be gunned down on the same day? Am I supposed to celebrate the independence of a country whose name means Land of the Pure, but 64 years into its existence its citizens aren’t pure of hate for each other? It’s ironic how the name Pakistan was brought together by combining the five major ethnic groups that make up the country; Punjab, Afghan (K-P), Kashmir, Sindh, and Balochistan – but in reality, these five ethnicities can’t be brought together to live in peace.

Today, more than ever, I find myself in search of a country built on the Quaid’s vision, a country built on unity, faith, and discipline. In search of a people united as one, faithful to one flag, and disciplined in our plight to make this country shine.  And as I find myself in search of these things, I realize that I am actually in search of something greater.

I am in search of Pakistan.

This post is part of  a blog competition by The Express Tribune - Citizens Archive of Pakistan for This is my story: Dialogue with Pakistan to address violence in our society.
Wali Tirmizi A political science student at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. He tweets at @walitirmizi.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Ian Ombima | 12 years ago | Reply I am impressed by the candid, no frills views expressed here by a Pakistani, this type of realism should be infectious(in the right way) to all citizens of Pakistan. As a foreigner living in Pakistan I have unfortunately become comfortably numd to the senceless violence and shinanigans that are a part of ones' daily life. Walli I salute you, I met you at LAS and my wife also taught you, I can confidently state that we are very proud and pleased with your sensibilities and sensitivities towards your country and peoples. I wish you and Pakistan all the best in your future endeavors. Ian Ombima.
Awais Khan | 12 years ago | Reply Instead of being one nation, we have been divided and we are after each other's blood.
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