Too many walls | Pakistan Today

Too many walls

  • Not enough bridges

It’s an ageless process, building walls in anattempt toprotect oneself from perceived or real external threats, which does not justify the proposed wall between the US and Mexico. It simply identifies it as one of themany walls by means of which man tries to keep ‘his’ possessions from leaving him, not just money but also rank, privilege, power and beliefs. Rulers stoop to anything to extend their tenure, including building walls to please an electorate. Some people justify shooting Malala to stop her from speaking about women’s education, because educated womenare seen as a threat to men. Or they murder Taseer to punish him for speaking up against the inhuman laws that set up a wall between people. There are those who killed Shama and Shahzad Masih because Shama questioned their bonded labour status. In other words she was seen as a threat to the feudal system of society that exists like the blind monkey behind a high wall.

At the end of the day everyone dies and only deeds live on.

Zia ul Haq’s tenure ended, but not quite the way he had planned, but his legacy of religious extremism — the Taliban he fostered, and their trail of murder remains. Malala found away throughher wall away from her tormentors, setting an example of courage in the next ten years of her life for other girls. Taseer lost his life, but even his critics during his life respect him after his death for his act of bravery. As for the children of Shama and Shahzad, they are receiving an education, which is the best way out of bondage. May they grow up to be happy and make a positive difference to the lives of their community.

Progress is often understood to be just about material things and on the personal level alone, when really,it is limited by the very walls that were put up to protect it, like the frantic beating against the wall of a man inside a cylinder. Real progress is about an attitude and is a shared process, moving towards a time when there is no need for guns, when men do not need to push down their women to maintain their superiority, when a belief system is secure because its strength rests on its enduring values and inclusion, not petty acts of force and exclusivity.

Societies can be educated out of its limited mindset, which although necessary is a long-term process. Meantime there are other things that would help. Such as immediate repercussions for certain things, such as maltreatment of employees. You see such treatment every day in organisations and homes, persons treating the ones reporting to him/her with astounding rudeness.

There must be rigid fines and imprisonment for discrimination. In some parks in Defence Housing Authority in Lahore, persons belonging to a less affluent background are expected to produce an identity card before they are allowed in

This society is also rife with cruelty against women and children, who because they are physically weaker live under all sorts of restrictions. No human being can prevent another from getting what is rightfully theirs, education, or employment. Those who do try to prevent these things should be made to face consequences.

There must be rigid fines and imprisonment for discrimination. In some parks in Defence Housing Authority in Lahore, persons belonging to a less affluent background are expected to produce an identity card before they are allowed in. Why? These are public parks belonging to all of us. The government itself is guilty of horrific discrimination with advertisements specifying non-Muslims only for cleaning jobs in some of its institutions. Muslims, apparently, do not clean as well as non-Muslims. Strange, isn’t it, given the stress on cleanliness in the religion?

“Men build too many walls and not enough bridges” said Joseph W Newton, a Baptist minister. It is not the Taliban and their brethren who generate peace and goodwill but foundations like the Malala Fund, an NGO that deals with the education of girls, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that promotes healthcare and education around the world, the Edhi Foundation, Medicine Without Frontiers, the Aurat Foundation, the Agha Khan Rural Support Programme… these are the groups that build bridges. Not IS or ISIS, the various Lashkars or al Qaeda. And not several groups that have received electoral sanction in Pakistan despite their extreme right wing leanings. We need to perceive the difference.

Rabia Ahmed

The writer is a freelance columnist. Read more by her at http://rabia-ahmed.blogspot.com/



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