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A sad place, indeed
By Kamran Shafi
Tuesday, 08 Jun, 2010
My piece of last week was more a personal journey in time: remembering old friends and recalling a time when there was no distinction between Sunnis and Shias and Ahmadis and Bohris and Aga Khanis and what have you, each worshipping his God in his own way, but all equal citizens of the state. — Reuters Photo
I have to start with the drama fast unfolding in the honourable Supreme Court, and the reaction to it that one meets on the street and on the Internet.
I wonder how conversant My Lords are with cyberspace, especially when one sees the utter abandon with which the Lahore High Court first ordered Facebook banned and a few days later restored.
In the interim Pakistan was made to look like a foolish country with foolish people who did not have any idea about what was good for them and what was not.
But surely, some of them will know what is going about on the Internet, particularly from bloggers from Sindh and Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa about the ethnic makeup of the Supreme Court.
I say what I am saying with extreme humility, and as a good friend and supporter, nay as a loyal servant of an independent judiciary. I merely point out what I do to caution My Lords that parallels are being drawn between the present court and the hanging bench that despatched another Sindhi, that time the brilliant Zulfikar Ali Bhutto via the hangman’s noose: the four Punjabis on the bench convicting and the three non-Punjabis acquitting.
A noose that should never have been used according to Nasim Hassan Shah, one of the hanging judges, in several interviews he has given over the last five or so years.
What is the parallel you might well ask? ZAB, an elected leader of great note within the country, and of world renown abroad on the one hand, and the much-maligned Asif Zardari on the other? But this is the whole point, is it not? When the smaller provinces feel badly done by — Bhutto’s judicial murder; Nawab Akbar Bugti’s cold-blooded and targeted killing; the disappearance of many Baloch and Sindhi activists — the seeming relentlessness of Asif Zardari’s pursuit does not enter the equation.
This is what people in positions of authority in this poor and fraying federation must understand, and the sooner the better. Incidentally, the whole argument about ethnicity is just that: ethnicity and not the province in which someone or other resides or is domiciled.
One more time might I suggest too, that in order to demonstrate that they are not only interested in the laying low of the federal government in particular, and politicians and parliament in general, that My Lords step back to give and take some respite, and call other weighty matters before them in suo motu actions as well? At the top of which very long list is the matter of the disappeared which is really attaining alarming proportions.
Critically, it seems an absolute exercise in futility to have a retired judge heading a tribunal of inquiry on the disappeared when a bench of the Supreme Court itself cannot (will not?) summon an army officer above the rank of colonel before it.
To revert to the terrible atrocity perpetrated on our Ahmadi brothers and sisters, first off, my deep gratitude to the Pakistan Army for burying with full military honours the well-considered Maj-Gen (retd) Nasir Ahmed Chaudhry, a 90-year old gentleman who was gunned down in cold blood with the worshippers. Well done, my army, and may this spirit of loyalty and fairness and rectitude guide the high command in other matters too. Today I am a proud former soldier.
My piece of last week was more a personal journey in time: remembering old friends and recalling a time when there was no distinction between Sunnis and Shias and Ahmadis and Bohris and Aga Khanis and what have you, each worshipping his God in his own way, but all equal citizens of the state. This week we must look at the reaction of the state to the killings of Ahmadis as compared to that which is put on display when others are similarly butchered by people who cannot abide those who do not subscribe to their own, narrow beliefs.
For, it is a sad fact that others, whether they be Shias or Sunnis of this or that sect and creed and belief, all have been targets of the obscurantist killers of humanity. Indeed, our Christian and Hindu and Sikh brothers and sisters have likewise been targeted by cruel murderers. But every time that some outrage has taken place, political leaders have bestirred themselves and visited the homes of those killed. Why not this time?
The Ahmadis might be considered non-Muslim by the state; surely they are still Pakistani? Surely, then, all of the protections and succour that a state should provide its citizens are to be extended to them too?
Far more than this, please note that the compensation which is announced immediately for those killed or injured as a result of such wanton acts in the case of others, was announced five days after the event in the case of the Ahmadis (Rs500,000 and 100,000 respectively for those killed and injured). Indeed, look at the language used while announcing compensation: “Jo maraygaey” for those who were killed. Surely there are kinder terms that could have been used, such as “Jo jaan bahak huay”; “Jo halaak huay”; even “Jo faut huay”!
Why are we so cruel towards the poor Ahmadis, can some one please tell me?
Let me add in passing that my Ahmadi friends tell me that the reply of their community to the offer of compensation is that the community is well placed to look after its own, thank you very much, and that the compensation which is to be paid should be transferred to the people of Hunza-Gojal for the relief work which is ongoing and which will surely increase as the disaster widens.
Pakistan is a sad, sad place my friends; a twisted and pitiless and heartless caricature of what our founding fathers had in mind. I am heartbroken. Kudos, however, to Nawaz Sharif for openly saying that the Ahmadis are our brothers. Of course, it is another matter that the obscurantist elements have jumped down his throat! More strength to him I say.