[Op-Ed] Giving up on Pakistan

This op-ed was drafted a day before Gov Salman Taseers assassination, erringly it talks about peace and the notion of blasphemy in Pakistan

As we round the corner, saying goodbye to 2010 and entering the new year, everyone chooses to make a new year’s resolution. Promises are made, hoping for some miraculous conviction that will transform our wishes into a reality. But practically, each one of us knowingly accepts that these promises are meant to be broken, only to be remade the following year. Many wishes are egocentrically linked to personal wealth and happiness, while some fools, like me, choose to wish for a better and a peaceful Pakistan.

Innocent and howsoever utopian this resolution may sound, it should have an important place amongst every Pakistani. After the bloodshed from the escalating violence and uncontrolled terror attacks, one would have hoped that the disastrous year would have sent shockwaves compelling people to denounce terrorism with a very strong commitment to peace. Denounce they do, but it’s limited to a simple vocal chatter rather than concrete measures to prevent such bloodshed from happening again.

Shocking as it is, I get a sense that Pakistanis have lost all hope for peace. They have been reduced to pawns in a political chess match, being used by other people who have little interest in bringing peace to their country. I choose to share the example of two back-to-back days: December 31, 2010 and January 1, 2011. These two days, interconnected with a common midnight, presented a jolting reminder that the people are being used as pawns for something that is completely not in their interest.

On December 31, the political opposition pulled off a nationwide strike, opposing any amendments to the blasphemy law. The strike had more to do with exerting political pressure on their opponents and less to do with Islam or even the notion of religious freedom. It also, in some indirect way, reaffirmed that Pakistani society accepts this form of blasphemous violence as an acceptable norm and part of its culture. And this comes as a bit of a surprise, given that people, by and large, condemn acts of terrorism perpetrated by militants and extremists.

The very next day on January 1, 2011, the Aman Ittehad, an apolitical citizen platform striving for peace, democracy and justice in Pakistan, organised a peace rally in 109 cities across Pakistan. One would imagine that such a call for peace would get strong support, yet I stood outside the Karachi Press Club with only a few dozen likeminded citizens chanting slogans for peace. The biggest crowd-pullers were in Islamabad and Lahore, which only managed to muster a few hundred supporters of peace each.

Only a few thousand people across 109 cities is a shocking reminder that the issue of peace is not on the radar of either the political parties or the citizens of Pakistan. I’m not an easy man to get disheartened, but when I walked back home from that rally in Karachi, I realised the stark difference between the two days. Ruthless politicians have degraded the people of Pakistan to such a level that they have lost any glimmer of hope to wish for peace in their own country. Call me stupid, but with such overwhelming odds, I’m probably barking up the wrong tree.

The politicians, as we all know, will continue to play their game of musical chairs, ensuring that the public remains mesmerised in their mystical trance, while the media plays alongside, focusing on its own gallery of viewer ratings. The ruling clique, and those associated with it on the periphery, will never seek to change Pakistan. After all, why should it, since it is achieving its own set of handsome profits at the behest of Pakistan’s disasters.

Is it possible that I might be living in a country whose people have forgotten what’s best for them? I hope not. But one thing is for sure. I get an overwhelming sensation that we have given up on Pakistan. Have we? Please prove me wrong.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2011.

32 thoughts on “[Op-Ed] Giving up on Pakistan”

  1. Dr. Awwab,

    Sorry, but I dont agree with your writeup.

    Aman Ittehad rally had a decieving agenda. Although it had the nice pitch of Aman and ittehad but we all know it was just meant to pressurize govt to annul the blasphemy law, thus encouraging people to insult the beloved prophet of Islam and get away with it.

    I don't endorse the abuse of blasphemy law, but at the same time I do not want it to be annuled so that we may be seen as POSH on MTV.

    "The strike had more to do with exerting political pressure

    on their opponents and less to do with Islam…", Political:What do you base this on? was MQM involved in the rally? Islam: Because you are an authority on Islam?

    Don't think if people don't buy what you are selling that people have given up on Pakistan. Check the product you are selling before you question the sanity of the people.

    1. Salam Faraz,

      1. If the blasphemy law is annuled; it should not be taken as encouragement to insult the prophet. We do have a historic evidence to prove this; you can easily check how many cases of this kind of incidents have happened prior to enactment of this law and you will have your answer.

      2. Nobody is asking for annulment of the law. Only ammendment is required so it can be used only for the purpose it has been intended for; instead of settling personal scores.

      3. Lets assume for a second; what if this latest case of Asia Bibi is fabricated. One year of her life is already ruined. 99% of the people in this kind of cases were killed prior to the court verdict. As soon as you are charged with blasphemy law you are a marked person regardless of guilty or innocent.

      4. If ammendment of the law is not a solution then what is the solution you are ready to bring to the table to protect a person from being wronglfully charged with the lives at stake?

      I have complete respect for all the prophets however I am against the law as it provides a loaded gun in the hands of the accuser without any consequences on his own well being in case he has charged wrongly.

    2. Faraz

      You talk about a deceiving agenda of Aman Ittehad, I think you merely base this argument on assumptions – no where in any document / draft / statement or comment did Aman Ittehad even mention the word Blasphemy, even a simple search on my blog of all their posts you will not find anything – http://teeth.com.pk/blog/2010/12/31/press-stateme… or any other post

      And you comment to say "Islam: Because you are an authority on Islam?" Never too did I ever imply that

      Comeback with a some logical arguments based on fact – not assumptions

  2. yes, give up and get lost from Pakistan

    Pakistan is not for western secularists

    "people have forgotten what’s best for them"

    who are you to decide what is best for us? people are intelligent enough to make their decisions themselves and don't need your westernized sermons to make their decisions

    1. Wah – you talk about Pakistan, yet dont have the balls to put your own name, how ironic

      "People Have forgotten whats best for them" does not imply western agenda, it means PEACE & DIGNITY in their daily lives – maybe in your understanding it has no place in an Islamic Society, or am i wrong to assume that

  3. sucking up to west might be 'DIGNITY' for you but not for others so keep that unto yourself

    let people decide their own standards of 'DIGNITY'

    or do you also want to 'liberate and bring peace/freedom' to Pakistan just like USA has brought those things to Iraq and Afghanistan ?

    1. Again – never did I equate the sense of Dignity with western values – neither did I mention Freedom, please do not intermix your own assumed arguments into context –

      I talk about PEACE & DIGNITY as a way of life – has nothing to do with western concpets – do come back when you talk with more sense…

  4. “People Have forgotten whats best for them”

    so do you have all the wisdom in world and are the authority to decide that what is good or people and what is bad ?

    1. How much funnier can it get! I am surprised that a person who would have had reasonable education, ( as you are using the internet and English language) would like to outsource "thinking", while abusing and accusing a fellow citizen for his "thinking" and "opinion", for a better Pakistan and which he has a right to, in a democracy. Your comments seems to be in support of the killings and mayhem and all that is ill with the Pakistan society, though you lament "the PEACE" in Iraq and Afghanistan. I always thought that the guys who encouraged senseless killings and terrors were a bunch of disgruntled, unemployed, young men in some far off mountain/inaccessible hideouts, egged on and USED by some semi senile and impotent old men, compensating their shortcoming in bed. "Your kind" surprised me!

  5. "And you comment to say “Islam: Because you are an authority on Islam?” Never too did I ever imply that"

    so what does this underlined phrase in the following line mean "The strike had more to do with exerting political pressure

    on their opponents and less to do with Islam…"

    So how did you figure that out? Does it not imply that you know Islam more than the people organizing the rally in support of Blasphemy law? Because you can not prove the first part of the argument, was the biggest political party of Karachi present in the rally to pressurize the govt.

    If Aman Ittehad rally was not meant to be against the blasphemy law then why are you comparing apples to oranges? and why you feel sad that 1000s of people showed up in support of the law, where as there were 10s in the Aman Ittehad rally.

    If Aman Ittehad was really meant for Aman and ittehad then why were these b!tches sleeping when Pashto speaking people and Urdu speaking people were murdered by ethnic based gangs in all over Karachi.

  6. In my opinion the Aman-Ittehad thing was just a bubble, a transient emotional thing with little depth to it. I felt embarrassed with the tame, toothless slogans that were being bandied about as something out of the ordinary. I suggested some realistic slogans, more relevant to the Pakistani society today, but those were probably too radical for the smug organisers.

    In Pakistan today a system of apartheid operates, two parallel worlds of 'haves' and 'have nots'. The former, living in their ivory towers away from ordinary Pakistanis, have arrogated to themselves such fancy titles as "liberal" and "humanist" whereas the ugly reality is that these people are the worst sort of oppressors who are mercilessly fleecing the poorest of Pakistanis and denying them equal opportunities in life by erecting a thick wall of English which ordinary people cannot penetrate. Behind that sky-high wall of English these shameless followers of the worst aspects of American culture wallow in obscene luxury.

    As for the blasphemy law, ordinary people need to be informed of all the issues in a language that they can understand. Therefore, the fake humanists need to step down from their ivory towers and speak to people in Urdu or in the language of the region they belong to. A babble of voices in English may win the brainwashed Pakistanis them a pat or two on the back from their foreign friends but it is entirely useless in saving Asia Bibi from the intolerable situation she finds herself in.

    The tragedy of Pakistan is that it is being destroyed by two equally evil opposing forces: the USA-worshippers and the army of foolish mullahs who have distorted our Deen into a religion of weird ideas and rituals.

  7. Doc, why do you even bother approving these comments?

    I think we all know that illogical, emotionally unbalanced individuals are amongst us, no need to prove this by allowing some of the above comments to appear on your blog. It boils the blood that no one wants to read the Quran, research the Sunnah, and BE AN AUTHORITY ON ISLAM rather than believe whatever comes out from the pulpit.

    We are ruled by corrupt people and many of the people celebrate the murderers…

    If I murder someone, and some Governor comes along and calls the law that was used to convict me a 'black law', does that make the Governor a murderer as well? It doesn't, so why are people thinking that Mr Taseer was a blasphemer by calling a "man made law" a black law? (Please note, these laws are made my men…and people interpret different things differently. For example, Imam Abu Hanifa's fatwa on blasphemey is DIFFERENT than what is right now the law in Pakistan, that doesn't make Imam Abu Hanifa RA a blasphemer) …

    The solution is not to convince the people at large, but to stop the uncontrolled use of the mosque.

    God bless and good luck to us all…

    1. @Khan,

      What a facist thought, you want Awab to censor comments that do not please you, what a jackA$$..

      Awab, listening to his recommendation I sincerely praise your allowing people to post their comments freely. Doesn’t matter how much I differ from you, but this act itself is worthy of praise.

      @Khan,
      So you are the only emotionally balanced, it very much tells from your comment.

      Then you go one step further “The solution is not to convince the people at large, but to stop the uncontrolled use of the mosque…”

      So in other words you want to force your *idealogy* down the throats of people, what a bigot you are.

      It is this attitude of forcing the people that has divided th e society into bi-poloar disorder.

      I pray that Allah save our society from bigots like yourself.

    2. @Khan,

      What a facist thought, you want Awab to censor comments that do not please you, what a jackA$$..

      Awab, listening to his recommendation I sincerely praise your allowing people to post their comments freely. Doesn't matter how much I differ from you, but this act itself is worthy of praise.

      @Khan,

      So you are the only emotionally balanced, it very much tells from your comment.

      Then you go one step further "The solution is not to convince the people at large, but to stop the uncontrolled use of the mosque…"

      So in other words you want to force your *idealogy* down the throats of people, what a bigot you are.

      It is this attitude of forcing the people that has divided th e society into bi-poloar disorder.

      I pray that Allah save our society from bigots like yourself.

    3. Are you comparing Imam Abu Hanifah (r.a) with Salman Taseer? And you think you are logical "kana" among the illogical "andhay". LOL!!!. If you murder someone, courts convicts you in the case, and you have the option to appeal the conviction in higher court knowing full well such convictions are almost always set aside by higher courts yet a governor abuses his authority to interfere in matters that are clearly outside his jurisdiction. All the while a mob of journalists, artists, dentists and every tom dick and harry besieges the media in opposition to the law you can imagine how seriously the ordinary man will perceive this circus. Remember logic won't take you anywhere without the facts and the perspective.

  8. @Mohammad Khan

    "The solution is not to convince the people at large, but to stop the uncontrolled use of the mosque."

    Certainly, but what do you mean by mosque, in the first place?

    As I understand the Islamic God declares the entire face of earth as mosque, with no mullah, no Loudspeaker (PBUI). It is sonic terrorism of the holy LSpeaker with mullah haranguing at full throat that needs to be got rid of to usher in peace in our society.

    1. If that is the case than why does the GOP department of Auqaf pays montly slalries to your local mullah?

  9. Teeth Maestro

    I don't think one should be disheartened at the number-game. All good causes, even the Mohammadan Islam had started with a few followers which now number in billions, despite anti-Mohammad blasphemy law of the Mushrikin-e-Makah working against them. As history tells us, the first few Muslims of Makah had to seek asylum in a Christian country, Habshah, to escape the BL of the Mushrikin-e-Makah and later on all of them had to migrate to Madinah for the same reason. Just imagine what would happen if the Christian West today enacts similar Blasphemy laws as exist in Pakistan, especially, against Ahmadies, how would the Muslims react.

    1. @ReadingLard,

      Dil ko bahlaney ko ghalib khayal achaa hai.

      If the west enacts a similar blasphemy law, then all the christians would immigrate first.

      Just like ahmedis, they call themselves as christians but have nothing to do with Christianity.

      and after that Ahmedis would have to migrate, they are the blasphemers committing sin and lies on Jesus christ.

      thirdly the Kaley-Angrez would have no place to make sajdaa to.

  10. @ Arsalan: Don't worry the good doctor will not ban you from his site. And you know why? Because he afriad of offending your kind.

  11. Thank you for proving my point, Doc. :)

    A blog is not a democracy, please. If you think this helps your 'cause', then that's different, but do you think that?

    @Arsalan: I am sorry if I came off like that… I humbly suggest that you look up what bigot means. And please re-read my initial comment, where all talk that I was referring to was emotionally charged.

    And by letting different sects declare each other 'evil' or 'kaafirs', the government lets this kind of hatred spread faster than someone can announce a prize for the head of Salman Taseer…

  12. @9.1 faisal says:

    "If the west enacts a similar blasphemy law, then all the christians would immigrate first.

    Just like ahmedis, they call themselves as christians but have nothing to do with Christianity."

    You have a point of course, but tell me whether the paky muslims have any thing to do with Islam, except to submit a declaration to the theocracy to that effect and chant 'inshaallah, alhamdulillah' ritualistically. Even their constitution which declares usury (interest) 'halal' is a declaration of war against Allah and Rasool and of all the world it declares only the Ahmadies as non-muslim 'wajibul-qatl' and requires only those pakies who call them muslim to submit declaration about their faith to become 'halfy muslims'.

  13. RIH

    Rest in Hell Mr.Taseer, ever after

    For insulting Muhammad (PBUP)

    We all know your views

    Your mother was a Christan

    Your one wife is a Hindu and you had a Hindu son also.

    1. جناب ، رسول کریم کی شان میں اصل گستاخی یہ ہے کے رسول الله کا نام استمعال کر کے اپنے دشمنوں سے جی بھر کے بدلے لئے جائیں . پاکستان میں مروج غیر اسلامی معاشرے کی روشنی میں یہ ضروری ہے کے ہم ایسے قوانین بنائیں جنہیں حریص اور خود غرض لوگ رسول الله کے نام کی آڑ میں اپنے ذاتی فائدے کے لئے استمعال نہ کر سکیں. مرحوم سلمان تاثیر کو قانون بہتر بنانے کے لئے اپنی جان سے ہاتھ دھونا پڑے ! ہم کب تک جہالت کی بدترین شکل کو “اسلام” کہتے رہیں گے ؟

  14. A MESS LIKE PAKISTAN…

    the Mullahs are in Politics.. look what they have done to Pakistan.. divided into factions and sects.. this what happens when you allow religion into mainstream politics. you are killed because these mullahs have no understanding of the others opinions or lifestyle.. they will come in your backyard and tell you that this the way to say your namaz not the one your parents have told you.. people like Mufti Munib will make a mess of the First Moon, and he has never in his life will apologize for what he has done to nation… (DIVIDED) because his RELIGION ISLAM is much stronger then ours.. PEOPLE WAKE UP BEFORE THEY STEP IN TO YOUR BEDROOM AND TELL YOU WHAT THEY WANT FROM US. OPEN YOUR EYES.. AND MIND FOR ALLAH'S SAKE.. ONE CITIZEN OF PAKISTAN IS KILLED,, WE are All Citizen of Pakistan. If one HARAMI KHATIB instigate against a citizen of Pakistan and person like Qadri of the ELITE FORCE is just sitting on his butt and listen to his sermon without even thinking that he should have arrested that MAN.. NOOOO.. he put upon himself and Kill… now his whole family is applauded by citizen of Pakistan… HOORAH… One down 18 crores more to go.. when we will wake up.. I REally dont know..

    1. @Karam Ali,

      So Mullahs in politics are responsible for our miserable condition?? where did you find out this secret?

      So Yahya Khan must be a Mullah or he has done nothing wrong with our country.

      Bhutto was a Mullah and he has done nothing wrong with the country?

      Mujeeb ur Rehman must be a mullah or he didn't do any thing wrong with the country.

      BB must be a Mullah too as she killed innocent citizens of Karachi and Hyderabad.

      Musharraf must be a Mullah to, who brought this country to stone-age.

      Zardari, Rehman Malik, Altaf Hussain, Bugti, ANP must all be mullahs or they must have not done any thing against the interests of the country.

      Thank you for showing us how hypocratic *yateem surkhey* can be.

      I hope you die in *chulloo bhar pani*.

  15. Everyone feels that religious fundamentalism is the cause. But there has been injustice with almost every one in Pakistan.

    The rural poor never saw things looking up. Zamindars continue to rule in these areas. In cities, filthy rich businessmen, corrupt politicians and gangsters seem to flourish.

    Minorities one after the other are being targeted. Where is a sane voice with leadership qualities who can pull citizens and show them hope.

    Pakistan desperately needs a great hero of the kind who are born in century to lift the state out of the present abyss. My wishes that your country is saved.

    What else….

  16. @ Ali

    Whats with you.. Have you gone mad.. are you so damned blind that you do not see future .. or you dont want to see.. i am talking about the PRESENT scenario that the politically religious parties HAS BEEN putting the nation through.. and you are talking about dead people.. When will you people wake up and see the consequences of any action or reaction to an event.. why do we blabber about things that we HAVE NOT LIVED IT. WAKE UP,

  17. Pakistan has come to a point where thousands believe they are righteous and have divine authority to carry out God’s acts on this earth. The repugnant response by the supporters of Salman Taseer’s alleged killer has truly been mesmerizing. Qadri’s fan base has distorted Islam to such an extent that it has become laughable to comprehend how they perceive themselves to be protecting the sanctity of Islam. To read this article: http://bit.ly/i6eiYK

  18. Awab the Aman Ittehad rally in Islamabad had almost 3000 participants and included labour and a cross section of people. There were large rallies in some other cities as well. The karachi rally did suffer from a lack of cooordination but should not be seen as representative of the effort that involved a 109 locations including FATA and Balochistan where being identified with peace is fraught with high risk and seen with extreme suspicion. To march down the streets of Quetta against enforced disappearances,target and torture killings is a step that many of us that are seen eloquently answering emails and replying on blogs haven’t a clur of the context or the personal risk it entails both in the immediate and the long term. More of this is needed not less.

  19. When Taseer took the law in his hands and made a mockery of the constitution by declaring that an under trial prisoner will be freed without the completion of the trial, nobody objected. Such blatant abuse of power resulted in the response by Qadri.

    Blasphemy against the Prophet (Sallalahu allihae wasalam) is punishable by death and if a law is not in place to implement the shariah aspect of blasphemy and its punishment then obviously people will take the law in their hands.

    Lets see both sides of the coin.

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