What is there to celebrate?

Raza Rumi

Today was a usual day despite the platitudes churned out by the media and the struggle to ‘celebrate’ something. Naeem Sadiq’s email was instructive as it said many things that I wanted to write today:

I decided not to celebrate the 14th August this year, to record my personal grief, shame and solidarity with the innocent citizens of Gojra, who were killed , wounded and burnt, for belonging to the same God, but a different religion. In my room I will fly the Pakistan flag at half mast, I will put my TV off, have none of those “milli naghmey” and sing no national anthem. I am sad, ashamed and distressed. I will call up all my Christian friends to say I am deeply sorry and I apologise.

I do not wish to celebrate the birthdays of a land where the Mullahs spread hate from the minarets of their mosques. Where 20,000 Muslims unite to kill a few hundred Christian men, women and children. Where the administration provides bullet proof vehicles and multi layer protection to its leaders but will do nothing to protect the life and property of its ordinary citizens. I am ashamed that not one person, the CM, the PM, the Governor or the President resigned from his job as an admission of failure to perform their primary duty.

There are plenty of flags, parades, speeches and ceremonies, but no real sense of guilt, remorse, or reform. The Dawn newspaper alone has 24 ‘ad’ nauseam ads, sponsored by the government departments, with the tax payers’ money, most carrying the pictures of four members of the same family. All under the garb of a “Happy Birthday to you, dear Pakistan”. The theft and plunder of peoples’ money does not pause for rest, even on the 14th day of August. Should not a state, at a minimum, protect the life and property of all its citizens, to deserve ‘a happy birthday’.

I love my country, this is the only one I have. It is our identity and our future but being a Pakistani is a painful compromise with so much that is not in our grain. In one year, we have treated millions in the northwest like cattle, burnt non-Muslims and our state has withdrawn behind high fences and barriers leaving the citizens to deal with the menace that is not of their making. The Baloch Pakistanis are alienated and the Sindhis are fearful of the coming storms. The leader of urban Sindh calls Partition the biggest mistake and the poor ..well they are just toiling despite sixty two years of Independence. The recent success of the military operation is a glimmer of hope.

Let us pray that next year things are not as grim as they are today.

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19 Comments

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19 responses to “What is there to celebrate?

  1. I co-sign the post and sentiments,I am happy for Pakistan but do Pakistani Christians have a viable future for our coming generations, in this intolerant environment. I am SAD for Gojra,Bishop John Joseph and Blasphemy hypocrisy.
    TODAY I AM A CHRISTIAN,HINDU AND SIKH IN PROTEST AGAINST THE INHUMAN POLICIES OF STATE OF PAKISTAN. full stop

  2. haq

    An article that I would strongly disagree with. Yes, we should be ashamed of Gojra and so many other things.

    But any unemotional analysis of where Paksitan was on Aug 14, 1947 and where it is today will show that we have much to be proud of. Yes, during the way perhaps we should have not made so many mistakes but then forging a nation out of nothing is not easy and loosing the way at some points of this journey is to be expected.

    Most of our problems are faced by other third world countries also. Some even by first rate countries….we have got into wrong wars and so have the US and UK. We have not treated our minorities they way we should have but the record of the US (in recent history) with African Americans was not something to write home about. Same can be said about other European countries. Let us not discuss India, the most successful democracy in third world, we all know what that amounts to.

    An intolerant version of Islam was perhaps in our genes given the history of Indian Muslims and recent Islam. But nobody in his serious mind sees widespread talibanisation of Pakistan. Perhaps we are already seeing gradual surrender of this variety of Islam from Paksitan given the recent national resolve against TTP.

    At the same time if we look around without being cynical we will see a lot of ingridients which have solid roots in our society and will take our country to Jinnah’s ideal. Places like PTH being one of them.

  3. DilNawaz and Haq
    thanks for your comments. The issue is not to be cynical here but question the sad acceptance of things that are wrong in the homeland.

  4. clifton

    Its certainly true that we cant talk about azadi with the way our poor our minorities and our women are treated. But we can certainly hope that the future will finally make good on the promise.

    Dawn has a pic of shops in swat celebrating Aug 14th with the green and white flag which no matter what its flaws still beats the black one by a mile .

  5. We really felt ashamed on the events happened at Gujra or any such events anywhere in Pakistan….
    But one tthing I wanna mention (as I think so)
    is that Gujra events cannot be tagged (only)under the slogan of discrimination with Maseehee brothers…The main behaviour behind it is the violant,extremists tendancies and sensationalism reagrding religious issues…As on the next day a factory owner and member of Tablighi Jamaat is also killed under the same charges….
    Violant tendancies have unfortunately become our national characteristics…
    I think peoples of Swat and the brothers of Maseehee community or Brothers from Ahmadiya Community have the same issues in this Country…
    Plz dont alienate our Maseehee Community from the aggrieved nation of Pakistan….

  6. We have to
    Celiberate The Day
    Asssociated with The
    “End Of British Imperialism”
    but we havent yet got rid of the ultimate results of British rule as religious hatred,Feudal lords and over developed bureaucracy…..and the new Imperialism
    Hope It will happen someday….

  7. Sorry to forget the Ehl e Tashee Community in my second last comments as they have been targeted for the last 30 years by the pro-wahhabi secataran organistaions

  8. Mr. Tambourine Man

    I agree with you Raza. I have a similar post over at Bazm-e-Rindaan.

  9. YLH

    I fully endorse this sentiment.

    Gojra is a slap on our collective faces.

    We must make every effort to stamp out Fitna-e-Maududiat , Kashifiat and assorted diseases that we have contracted.

  10. PMA

    Raza:

    I have asked this question in the past as well.

    What mechanism we the bloggers have to carry this message of religious tolerance to the public in general who does not have access to the internet. The public that can not even read and write. The public that gets aroused to the point that it is ready to kill all those who have different believes than theirs.

    I would say none.

    There is a great disconnect between ‘us’ few thousands here on the electronic and print English language media and ‘those’ millions out there. I am sorry to say that unless ‘we’ find a mechanism to fill that gap of disconnect, we are just shouting in the wilderness, happy to hear our own echos.

  11. Haq

    Raza,

    my problem with these type of articles is,

    a) they add no new information and only contribute towards cynicism
    b) most of the time are written without any sense of the context of the times we are living in (historical or current).
    c) compare the situation to some absolute ideals, at times such an approach is needed. But given the dominance of such material written by Pakistani commentators it reflects intellectual laziness
    d) Provide no solution.

    The point raised by PMA in the post above is relevant but seldom addressed.

  12. neel123

    The minority polulation in Pakistan has been systematically decimated in last six decades.
    Even if the draconian Blasphemy law is withdrawn now, that would not bring back the lost minorities.

    Someone in Pakistan remarked – ” the reason people convert to Islam in Pakistan is, life is so much easier as a muslim”, speaks volumes about the reality !

  13. bonobashi

    @neel123

    Tendentious remarks are annoying.

    Someone in Pakistan remarked – ” the reason people convert to Islam in Pakistan is, life is so much easier as a muslim”, speaks volumes about the reality !

    If you ask any young Muslim or mixed-marriage couple in Mumbai looking for a flat not in a ‘communally-dominated’ area, and I’m not talking about the recent incident alone, but in general, you will find that life is so much easier as a Hindu, or a Jain, or even a Sikh, most of the time, in India.

    Where there is a difference is that in India, there is no bias legislated against minorities yet, nor is there any incentive to convert; in fact, the contrary, there are efforts at getting anti-conversion laws onto the books. These efforts aren’t likely to survive judicial review, but they exist.

    We are ahead of the situation in India, but by a short nose. Let us not start congratulating ourselves for this illusory advantage.

  14. ralam420

    I find it distracting that the typical 14 August celebrations at the Sadiq household include renditions of the National Anthem.

  15. Anjum Altaf

    Raza,

    There was no reason to celebrate last year or the year before that or the year before that…. When exactly was the last year there was anything to celebrate?

    Hoping is not good enough. We have to figure out what’s wrong. I tried to set up the analysis in the following post:

    Pakistan: A Downward Spiral
    http://thesouthasianidea.wordpress.com/2008/10/29/pakistan-a-downward-spiral/

  16. D

    I would partly disagree with Raza Rumi. Gojra incident is a shame, no doubt. But has anyone mentioned Lahore incident? The way Christian protectors burned public property, smashed cars, beat the passengers of vehicles?? Was it any different from what happened in Gojra? Simply because there was no death, it was equally shameful and ruthless.

    Intolerance and violence is not confined to Mullah or Taliban, it is a social character. You will find clashes on roads, over traffic accidents, over property and deaths in top tire universities. Were protesting Christians Mullahs who burned buses and public property? Believe me if (Pakistani) Christians were a majority they would have been doing the same thing. Hindu’s who burned Gujrat are not Muslim or Taliban. Christians get killed there as well, Christians in Southern Thailand do same thing with Muslim.

    Extremism is not only a problem in Pakistan but in entire world. Chances of getting a job for an Asian or African american are 50% less then a white even in USA. In many Asian countries situation is worst then Pakistan. More cars are burned every year in France then produced in Pakistan. Malaysia, Indonasia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka….just name it, 100’s from minority die every years.

    It is not Taliban madrassah alone which preaches intolerance. You know how many students are killed in our universities every year. Not only by Jamaita but by Progressive, nationalist and Liberal organisations as well. It is social and economic structure of society, which develops a mindset and behaviors. Unless there is a paradigm change in social and economic structure, violence and intolerance can not be eliminated. Obviously laws and punishments help to reduce the crime to certain extent but force is never a deterrent.

    Change in environment can bring the change in behavior development. It begins from top, and flows down. Spend some time with a Christian friend and he will tell you how many top powerful Christain leaders are involved in Qabza Groups and a war with in for possession of Churches. That is what Mullah do in name of Islam and same Hindu do in India and Christians in Thailand. Same Isreal do in Palastine and USA does in Iraq.

  17. Fiaz Taj

    Mr D – I simply say “Ditto” my friend.

    It is amazing how these shameful acts are perpetrated so close to major days. Designed to demoralise and fracture further unity.

    No one in their right minds can condone such vile acts but once again we see the end results as being blame Mullah’s blame Wahibi’s in general blame Islam. As “D” has quite rightly pointed out every where else it’s communal but in Pakistan it is ISLAM.

    What I am ashamed of the most is how my fellow country men capitulate and not see that this is a heinous crime by criminals.

    How many of you wrote such articles when the Muslims of Gujarat were burnt alive whilst the Indian police stood by and watched? By no means does this justify what has happened in Pakistan but by the same token it is interesting to see how we like to implode. How many Pakistani flags flew at half mast when our brothers and sisters (in Islam) were being burnt alive then. This by no means justifies the current crime but merely putting into perspective the situation and how we react and beat ourselves up.

    I am a little disappointed that the perpetrators of this crime have succeeded in getting Raza to fly the flag at half mast and ignore the celebrations on the day when it should have been fluttering at full mast in the wind celebrating our Independence day in defiance to those who wish to demoralise and destroy us. Who do you think is controlling the Drones that frequent us often and kill 30/40 at a time including women and children – Have you questioned what religion they belong to??

    Events are taking place in Pakistan that have a design and purpose i.e blowing up the hotels, attack on the cricket team etc, the continuous bombardment, Indian soldiers disguised as Taliban fighting and committing atrocities, Heroin addicts hired out of Afghanistan to Strap bombs to them selves and march into a Masjid of Friday and blow it up etc.. Designed to isolate and demoralise Pakistan.

    Finally you can get rid of the blasphemy law. I have never seen any one take another group to court over this anyway in Pakistan. Everyone knows, rightly or wrongly, how it is settled in Pakistan. Law in Pakistan is the Harlot of the rich and the well connected.

    The bottom line is Pakistan is in this state for one reason and one reason only. Our Audacity to build test and declare ourselves on to the Nuclear stage. To stand-up and say to our neighbour you know what I got a bigger stick than you pal. So live and let live or we die together. Since the test was carried out, A plan to remove our nuclear deterrent has been underway. Now it is being run from the angle of the “Taliban” risk or a president that is mentally unstable (which is true but they put him there). Fortunately he is kept well away from our defensive capabilities.

    14th August – Pakistan Zindabad!! (warts en’ all)
    My flag flew full mast and fluttered in difiance.

  18. karun

    Indian soldiers disguised as Taliban fighting and committing atrocities,

    wow! did you see with your own eyes!!! how many pairs do you have? btw

  19. @D
    I also have mentioned above the same as Violance as a behaviour or our national characteristic…..
    Those who got powes by religious means…have the same attitude in our society