A Sad Day for Pakistan

By Mahvish Akhtar, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

Karachi–The 12th of May, 2007, was a sad day for the people and leaders of Pakistan. I don’t need to go in detail and tell you what the whole chaos was about. I know my readers are learned and well-read people.

What I would like to discuss, however, is that we as a nation have demonstrated a lack of morals, ethics and decency.

We demonstrated that we have no concern for human life and that we regard ourselves as being above the law. We killed our own and yet we are only slightly remorseful. When people die in Iraq we blame the Americans. When people die in Afghanistan we blame the Americans. On this day people died and we have no outside forces to blame.

Watching the news it was as though I was watching a movie. People walking around with guns shooting at random and there was no one to stop them. The whole day went by and no one came to rescue those at the other end of the gunshots. It was to the point where a television station was being heavily targeted and there was no help to be seen anywhere. What can be said about the government of a nation where its journalists are so brutally attacked while the officials watch and do nothing? There were promises of sending help, but no help was provided until very late.

That TV station kept its broadcast going amidst all the chaos and attack. They were able to show the faces of the shooters and attackers while under attack. Some would say that would have been helpful in catching the culprits, but in reality no arrests have been made as of yet.

A woman who has three grown children and lives in a decent neighborhood in Karachi said that she wished she had a gun that day.

She explained that they could hear the gunshots from outside and felt really helpless. Also she wondered that if someone decided to come inside her house, what would she do to protect herself or her children? The answer is nothing.

A young boy of only 17 said that it seems as though it’s ‘civil war’ out there. It is an extremely shameful day for a nation when its young can with ease say something like this without batting an eyelash. Mothers and fathers on that day were worried about their sons. Children were worried about their fathers on that day. No one knew what the next moment is going to bring. The uncertainty and chaos was overwhelming for those who understood the whole scenario and realized that this is nothing to kill each other over.

A woman waiting for her husband who had gone to a rally (it is irrelevant as to which side he supported since human life is human life regardless) told me that she was afraid he would not return. She said, “Until he gets back I cannot eat anything–it’s like food refuses to go down my throat.” I asked her if her husband knew things could be this bad why he went. She replied, “How would he know? How would any of us know that people were going to get killed over having different point of view? How could we ever think that our own Pakistani brothers would pick up their guns and want to shoot one another just because their opinions didn’t match?” She was right. But also she was very wrong. Living in this world and living in Karachi, she should have known that we have lost all consideration for truth and fairness. All we have left is weapons. Anything we need done we get it done through the gun or through the fear of the gun.

The people who picked up the guns and spilled so much blood did it to exude their power. They wanted to make sure people understood that every time someone would go against their views they are capable of creating a bloodbath. They believe that this has helped them secure their place in the jungle of politics. Maybe they are right. Actually not maybe, they are absolutely right. They have scared people into submission. Now people who are quiet are so because they fear for their lives and the lives of their loved ones. And the ones who are still courageous enough to speak their minds are those who are not afraid of dying.

In all this, the question that lurks and still has remained un-answered is–where was our President? Where were the rangers during that day? Where was all the help that was so badly needed? We heard that the President held an emergency meeting on upon finding out about the events. The question still remains, why did he not take any action right away? What was the meeting about? What did he discuss in it? Did he not try to chalk out a strategy to stop the violence which as we all know is still going on?

This brings us to our other big question…The rangers have been put in place and so-to-speak, help has been provided; so why are their masked people roaming the streets holding guns? Who are these people who are apparently above the law? What is their purpose and why are they not being stopped? Going through the news one can very visibly see men with their faces covered, holding guns walking along side the rangers and security officials in the streets of Karachi and it’s as though they are friends. Having security on the streets now is even more heartbreaking for the residents of Karachi. They say that until the rangers had arrived we kept thinking once they come things will be better. Even if they show up late at least things will be under control once they show up. Now that they are here and can be seen allowing people to get killed, and allowing people to walk around with guns, hopelessness and a feeling of complete loss takes over.

It’s the 4th day of violence in Karachi. When we hear reports that there is “calm” in the city, that doesn’t mean things are back to normal–it just means there is less violence than yesterday, or the day before.

This is another shameful moment that we have redefined the meaning of ‘calm’. What is the end? Where is the end? Unless someone unmasks those people there will be no end. Right now it seems no one can dare do that–which means we are stuck in a bad situation until someone gets the courage to walk up to them and shows their faces to the world. Let’s pray that that time comes soon and before too many more innocent lives are taken.


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