- It’s what ‘They’ do to you that matters
A nameless, faceless, formless yet all-pervasive, all-invading spectre is haunting our Land of the Pure. While it scares and haunts us all at varying degrees, it has imperilled the very existence of the weakest, most vulnerable, most fragile among us. It would be an unpardonable sin to point fingers, name names, and hold certain quarters responsible when one knows that the mess we dwell in is decades in the making and, well, not one or two but way too many cooks have played their role in spoiling the broth we call home.
This hydra-headed monster of late transmogrified into an almighty, omnipresent menace. Like the ancient adage: to each his own, the spectre now means different things to different people.
To a former prime minister it is Khalaye Makhlooq (Aliens), to Hazara Shia it is their slayers, to Pashtuns it is treatment meted out to them for past many years, to a young lad who has completed his studies it is absence of good job opportunities and presence of a bleak future, to a small Punjabi farmer it is his accursed fate pledged to a landlord, to a Sindhi haari it is the mortals he turned into immortal gods — who now rule and reign from their graves making his life worse than death, to an ordinary, unremarkable Baloch it is baggage of tribalism and an overly-watchful state that scars him when it is done scaring him.
Since literature is our only hope to make sense of vagaries of life. During last couple of years I’ve sought solace in writings of Quratulain Haider, the Prima Donna of Urdu Literature. In her Magnum Opus ‘Aag kaa Darya’ – ‘River of Fire’-she wrote somewhere about our private torture cells, exclusive dungeons and personal infernos where we take our most beloved ones. We torture them, extract confessions of love, indoctrinate them with false claims and hopes, make them fall for us by use of words and images.
We love Baloch and Pashtuns, don’t we? We keep repeating that they are our beloved. Are they the beloved straight from the pages of Aag Kaa Darya? Have we not turned Haider’s infernos and torture cells real?
We have. We have. We have.
For we love to kill, torture, maim and devour our darlings. We, as Muneer Niazi wrote, have been firm believers and practitioners of ‘Mein Jis Saey Piyaar Kerta Hoon Ussi Ko Maar Daita Hoon’. (I kill my beloved).
We and our toxic, torturing love. We and our killing sprees. We and our cursed beloved ones. We and our never ending night. We and our last judgments taking place every day, every single day.
Amidst all of the above there is tiny hope that shimmers. We’ve witnessed the rise of Manzoor Pashteen, an ordinary, plain lad in his mid-20s who rose from the ranks, who is now spearheading the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement with necessary zeal and gusto the elders and mighty of his community either lacked or exchanged for petty, short term gains in shape of grants, aids, influence, and jobs for near and dear ones.
From the plains and mountains of Balochistan, Jalila Haider, the baby-faced lady of iron resolve and conviction, wage Herculean struggle where she vies to bag a normal, free from fear life for Hazaras of Balochistan.
Hazaras of Balochistan live, breath and perish amidst a war where invisible killers, en masse shootings and an overall pall of uncertainty looms large over every Hazara mother whose son leaves home, every daughter whose father goes to work, every sister whose brother undertakes a journey to the outside world, every wife whose husband is about to bid her farewell. Try to imagine the feeling, the sensation of almost knowing that you are looking at the most beloved face in the universe for the last time.
Imagine. Can you?
No Exit for our non-existent Black Cat
A very sly Dave Allen, 20th century British comedian par excellence, cracked a joke that aptly describes the present day Pakistan. Looking for an Exit out of Pakistan’s dilemmas is like trying to look for a black cat in a dark room that is not there.
Things, dear readers, go awry when a country is treated, handled and managed as a pie. Pakistan is no pie (Or are we?). Fact of the matter is we believe and behave as if it is. As a result, we have different groups hell-bent to exterminate the ‘other’ with extreme prejudice. And from it all, there is ‘No Exit’.
Way back in 2013, while braving a boring, soul-exasperating lecture on contract law, I had an inspired moment and jotted something on my diary. This time, I’ll end this piece with an excerpt from the diary of 23 year old me.
Waging same war, against same foe,
Yet in mirror I feign, that it’s a
Different me facing an enemy anew.
I, the Saint. I, the Sinner.
I atone for sins of my father
With blood of my son.