Business as usual

Published: March 5, 2013
Email
The writer is associate editor of South Asia Magazine and holds a BA in international relations from Boston University

The writer is associate editor of South Asia Magazine and holds a BA in international relations from Boston University

A city which has become prone to targeted killings, bomb blasts and abductions, Karachi continues to burn without leaving any significant impact, except the loss of countless lives and further deterioration of the state of law and order. Engagement parties at heritage sites continue in full jest, with the police force overwhelmingly deployed to provide security to VIPs, while the people of Pakistan burn and die under the rubble of apartment buildings in Abbas Town. Following twin bomb blasts, one of which occurred outside a Shia imambargah, over 135 people have been injured with at least 48 dead. Innumerable others have lost their property and belongings. The numbers are most likely to rise. But the targeted victims are Shias and soon life will, disturbingly, return to normalcy for most of us.

This is not the first time a bomb has exploded in Abbas Town (or any other locality in Karachi), nor is it the first time that the Shia community has been targeted in Pakistan. In light of innumerable episodes, civil society, most recently, and media gradually rallied behind the Hazara Shias from Quetta, demanding their right to live and protesting against the systematic Hazara killings. As the widespread Shia massacre continues unabated, the people of Pakistan look on, some with horror and some with unfortunate apathy. The need has never been more urgent to form a consensus and vociferously demand an end to nonsensical violence which threatens our very survival. The “internal threat” that successfully continues to rip our social fabric apart has yet to be addressed, despite the army chief’s unexpected announcement on Independence Day last year that the Pakistani state is pitted against an internal enemy that must be stamped out. A welcome move, as for a fleeting moment it seemed that the establishment would see some level of overhaul, but results are yet to be delivered.

A shameless media scurries to secure sound bites from orphaned children and devastated mothers in a desperate effort to secure ratings. Images of children lying in pools of their own blood, charred and destroyed apartment buildings, wailing women and injured men should be enough to jolt us to reality. This is happening on our watch and make no mistake, we are responsible for this carnage. Tomorrow, when life returns to normalcy, we will forget this systematic massacre until another bomb rips through a populated area. Shias are murdered and we are given, yet another opportunity, to briefly raise our voices. One hundred and eighty-seven million Pakistanis occupy this great country and our ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural diversity is what makes us unique. We must strive to not only protect it but promote it.

Pakistanis have copyrighted “resilience” as if it denotes our collective ability to endure injustices, condemn wrong and wage for justice and peace no matter what the threat. This cannot be farther from the truth. We are numb and divided to the core, jaded towards horrific occurrences that have become commonplace. We are then not resilient for we, the overwhelming majority, remain silent, inactive and absent. Perhaps paralysed by fear and, in some cases, apathy, we lack the collective vigour to successfully rally against atrocities and demand accountability from our leaders who continue to exploit the people and misdirect state resources behind a façade of democracy.

Like many young Pakistanis, I, too, have Shia and Sunni friends (as well as those from other faiths). In many instances, the distinction hasn’t arisen or been important. We argue about cricket, politics, music, religion and men’s facial hair, amongst other things. Our faith and belief systems may be different but they are not divisive, so why choose religion as the sole determining factor of our friendship? These differences failed to divide us when we were young. And they should fail, even now.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 5th, 2013.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (20)

  • Muslim...thats it.
    Mar 5, 2013 - 10:44PM

    Last paragraph: beautifully said. What does it matter? Shia or Sunni? We are human beings with the same sentiments and arguments, around the world. How many times have young people ever looked at each other and distinguished themselves according to sect, before having regular conversations than any given groups of people would have, regardless of religion.
    Well said, Ms. Jawaid. Keep writing those brave words.

    Recommend

  • Muhammad Omar Iftikhar
    Mar 5, 2013 - 11:16PM

    This is one very well written piece. I agree that the last paragraph is the one which compels us to contemplate on the Shia killings, especially the Abbas town bombings. I have been reading Arsla Jawaid’s articles and she hits right on target. She always talks to the point and expresses her feelings with simplicity. Agree 100% with the last lines “These differences failed to divide us when we were young. And they should fail, even now.”

    Recommend

  • David
    Mar 6, 2013 - 12:19AM

    I am still waiting to see at least one reader comment that all these killings are nothing but a conspiracy plot engineered by the “Axis of Evil’ i.e. USA, India and the Israel against the innocent Muslims (of whatever sectarian hue) … waiting… waiting… when will it come? Or do I have to go to some other newspaper to read these “realistic” (i.e. truthful) rants ???

    Recommend

  • jimmy jaz
    Mar 6, 2013 - 12:23AM

    when sunnis dies no one write like this oh i got it its does not matter its normal…

    Recommend

  • Talal
    Mar 6, 2013 - 1:04AM

    It is too great and scattered of a mess to take up on our sleeves, hence we refuse to let sorrow of our situation sink in our souls. Because it is too big of an emotional baggage with no obvious or directed channel to relieve it constructively.

    The difficult part is not to make people realise or initiate sensitivity within them, the tough part is to steer them in the correct direction and convince them of a reasonable outcome.

    We either fail to understand this at all or, we have not been able to carry out a proper plan or else we give up too early, losing up on our patience when things start getting cold or perhaps merely difficult…

    hence.. we go back to business as usual..Recommend

  • truthful realist
    Mar 6, 2013 - 1:42AM

    we have prominent ministers that haven’t paid their electricity bills (the figure of 4.9 million was brandied in the newspapers), we have educated people that would break every traffic rule and light as if they were rushing to the aid of their ill parent (and yet these same folk treat the law as religion when abroad), people that litter and spit as if the roads of our dear country are no better than a sewer, and people that use every trick (bribery included) in the book and every influential relative known to get ahead. is that too a conspiracy by this axis of evil you speak of?

    i look around, and see people that would rather hate than love, kill rather than forgive, use the “book of peace” to justify heinous acts of violence against good people, and then, incredibly foolishly might i add, be puzzled by the state we find ourselves in.

    get a brain and stop blaming this “axis of evil” (there are muslim countries out there, not pakistan whose very people are rotten, that are doing well for themselves) and take a look at yourself david. this victimization complex will get us nowhere, but some introspection might just be the start of something beautiful

    Recommend

  • g[65
    Mar 6, 2013 - 2:14AM

    Exceptional OpEd. There is not a word I can disagree with. I hope that the wish you laid out in your last paragraph comes true – though people have to fundamentally change the way they think about diversity (whether linguistic, religious or ethnic) to make that happen.

    Recommend

  • Iyaz Ali
    Mar 6, 2013 - 3:01AM

    ” One hundred and eighty-seven million Pakistanis occupy this great country and our ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural diversity is what makes us unique”. What religious and linguistic diversity. U imposed urdu on a bigger population than ur own. Now ur killing other religions. WHat uniqueness ru proud of. False pride indeed.

    Recommend

  • Feroz
    Mar 6, 2013 - 3:45AM

    There is a very fine line separating resilience from apathy. Creating problems and then expending time and resources to overcome them is not the best way to build a country. A cursory reading of the Constitution is enough to understand where the problems originate, the source of perpetual turmoil.

    Recommend

  • Pakistan One
    Mar 6, 2013 - 7:37AM

    It’s not resilience, its an indifferent attitude.

    Recommend

  • Mehwish
    Mar 6, 2013 - 12:23PM

    The latest atrocity is a wake up call for the nation, in which all innocent people apart from their sectarian, ethnic and linguistic affiliation came under attack, resulting immense losses of lives and belongings.

    Now the whole nation should stand against extremism and raise their voice.

    Recommend

  • MSK
    Mar 6, 2013 - 5:04PM

    I think the second last paragraph is the meat of the article. No need to talk about friendships with different faiths or denominations. Because at the level of common people no problems exist. It is created by some leaders to serve their purposes and then allowed (probably enabled) by the government. So, the second last paragraph is what it is. We are the people who are allowing this to happen and continue unabated. Then we must deserve this.

    Recommend

  • Lala Gee
    Mar 6, 2013 - 6:26PM

    @David:

    “I am still waiting to see at least one reader comment that all these killings are nothing but a conspiracy plot engineered by the “Axis of Evil’ i.e. USA, India”

    Here your wish is granted. Only a naive would think otherwise. Read below for answer.

    @truthful realist:

    “get a brain and stop blaming this “axis of evil” (there are muslim countries out there, not pakistan whose very people are rotten, that are doing well for themselves)”

    Other Muslim countries you are referring to do not have a neighbor called India. Ask Bangladeshis if you think that only Pakistan is falsely accusing her. Read this enlightening report “Why Bangladesh hates India”, by Ramananda Sengupta, or check this link how India wrecked havoc for 30 long years in Sri Lanka – a small peaceful country whose only crime was being India’s neighbor – by sponsoring terrorist outfits and terrorism as a tool to attain hegemony over a sovereign country.

    Recommend

  • Hukum Singh
    Mar 6, 2013 - 8:01PM

    @Lala Gee:
    “Other Muslim countries you are referring to do not have a neighbor called India.”

    Bravo, Lala Gee. You nailed it. Blame India. All problems will be solved. That is how every problem is solved – find the one cause that you cannot do anything about.

    Recommend

  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Mar 6, 2013 - 8:11PM

    @Lala Gee:

    sponsoring terrorist outfits and
    terrorism as a tool to attain hegemony
    over a sovereign country

    looks like you are talking about Pakistani misadventures in Afghanistan!

    Recommend

  • Parvez
    Mar 7, 2013 - 12:25AM

    You have written this very well.

    Recommend

  • jLaLi FaqeeR
    Mar 7, 2013 - 8:14AM

    And one more time:

    You say Taliban are the problem. They are nothing more than a manifestation of a far bigger disease called apathy to which all of us are a party. We become a party by either active participation or passive complicity or inaction. As I have said time and again, when a country and a society, collectively continues to marginalize and dispossess a large swath of its own people, consciously or not, then a time comes when these people first beg, then ask and finally shove their salvation down the throat of the so called mainstream society. Since the marginalized and dispossessed have no voice of their own, groups such as Taliban, Hamas, IRA, ETA, Tamil Tigers and others, who have their own agendas, fill that void and provide the medium of violence to shove that salvation down the collective throat of society.
     
    When society through socio-political and socio-economic framework continues to perpetuate illiteracy, poverty and disenfranchisement of the mass of its own people, then all who either actively participate or are passively complicit towards this perpetuation are part of the problem. Eventually every society with such variables reaches a point where its Taliban or its Hamas gets manifested and subsequently metastasized. Next time, don’t say Taliban are the problem and the government should fix this problem. Have the courage to stand up and say, I am part of the problem and intend to do something about it. If you continue to be complicit, and indifferent to the far bigger problem of apathy then one day you will not just be looking at the victims but will become the victim.
     
    As Elie Wiesel would say, in denying the humanity of others, we betray our own.

    jLaLi FaqeeR

    Recommend

  • Bandgi
    Mar 7, 2013 - 2:30PM

    We forget the real path(manzil). We must not passimist. We should help each other in better way..Our need is less than other.Allha bless People of Pakistan.

    Recommend

  • Nishant
    Mar 7, 2013 - 7:30PM

    this is not resilience
    this is acquired helplessness
    a common service class person, who has a job, and a family to feed cannot do anything against these “clash of ideologies”

    Recommend

  • Solomon2
    Mar 8, 2013 - 12:36AM

    “Like many young Pakistanis, I, too, have Shia and Sunni friends (as well as those from other faiths). In many instances, the distinction hasn’t arisen or been important. We argue about cricket, politics, music, religion and men’s facial hair, amongst other things. Our faith and belief systems may be different but they are not divisive, so why choose religion as the sole determining factor of our friendship? These differences failed to divide us when we were young. And they should fail, even now.”

    We Jews thought the same thing in Germany. What happened on Kristalnacht was that all over the country the Nazis organized their thugs so they would always attack the property of strange Jews unknown to them. So personal friendships aren’t going to be enough to see Pakistanis through this.

    Recommend

More in Opinion