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Saturday, May 29, 2010

the day after

bullets … attack… mosque … those were the three things i got from a call from lahore ...

i switched on the tv. it was too near the jum'a prayers and my heart caved in. how many would they get today?

from the moment i switched the tv and flipped through channels all i got was the unfolding horror of what was happening. bullets. blow-ups. crackers. noise. police trying to get in and seemingly unable to do anything. and the voice of anchors being able to tell us that two 'worshipful places of a minority community' had been hit.

of course. you couldn't say mosques or anything resembling that. it was supposed to be against the law. you couldn't say - moments later, as the figures started coming through - 4 shaheeds. they were ahmadis. anchors were moving slowly from 'prayers' to 'worshipping', wondering if saying shaheed was against the law.

it took us almost 4 hours of looking at the screens to see how badly the 'places of worship' had been hit. and then the rushes of seeing the injured sent to hospital, the bodies sent to morgues or clinics.

was there anyone who was going to say something? would the government say anything? ok … the laws may prevent them from going to the janazas when they take place, but what about offering the widows, the children, the aggrieved some word of solace, some sympathy?

not yesterday.
not today.

oh, cm shahbaz had a quick piece on tv about his getting reports that night to tell him what happened ... but did he say anything to make the victims feel better? no.

there were others, too, who later on went on to the tv and the print media to say it was raw, zionists, americans, jews, afghanis — anything but pakistanis. we never do anything like this, do we?

it was one of the worst days of my life. we've been through tortuous days before ... but, this time, i knew that we were not going to get the kind of anger that we hear. we were not going to get the crowds ranting and raving. after all, they were non-muslims — which is bad, itself. but, to top it all, they were ahmadis. what a way to exist …

the evening came and went. i had to go to a blogger awards meeting. all evening i sat there, looking at 'tweetie' on my phone to see what was happening. death tolls climbed up. [today i read that it's more than 93 who have died. over a 110 have been injured.]

life got worse as i discovered about the deaths of a couple of people. we also heard of a friend's father and uncle having just missed the bullets. they were now out, running from one place to another, arranging for dead bodies to be wrapped up, friends informed.
this was not enough: coming back home i received a message that was from someone whose father had 'suggested' that she should commit suicide. yes! [don't get me wrong. it's a really weird family.] she was feeling depressed. i sent her a message and she soon came back with a zillion things, a lot of which were fairly meaningless and ridiculous to me. but i think i helped her, despite her anger: she did get out of the suicide mood. the fear of living with a family like that is awful.
went into bed. thinking. crying a bit. the ahmadis need a place to live safely. in this country. their being non-muslim is a matter that the court has decided — so that is ok, in 'legal' terms, until someone alters that. but for them to be hounded out of everything. for them not to say 'salaam alaéküm', or use the standard symbols that have become part of our lives ('insha allah', for example) that even our hindu-christian-parsi friends use, for them never to read the qurán or pray in public ... there are a million such things.

i fell asleep and woke up frequently at night: what else one can do to help them. is there a way? is there any way that the useless parts of these laws can be revised if not completely removed? can there be any way that the stupid passport forms don't ask us to write obscenely strange stuff about them? the taliban might tell them to leave pakistan or be killed, and sms messages jump up about their deaths ... is there no way we can tell them to stay here and be [at least] as happy as the rest of the minorities?

today there was much to read: there is tazeen's beautiful post: we all have blood on our hands

and there are others. some that i read:
we are all ahmadi
our collective shame
targeting the ahmadis  
are all pakistanis equal
maén baaghi hooñ
original sin

On monday, 31st may, there will be a call for a rally at the karachi press club. if you are here, hope you'll get to kpc and help us tell them — and many others — that there are people who care.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Candid post, indeed. I'm a little relieved to know that at least a few people show their compassion and sympathy for the grieving ones regardless of their beliefs. It's like a dying ray of hope.

30 May, 2010 12:57

Blogger Atif Khan said...

I strongly condemn religious intolerance of this society. Religious fanaticism has to be eliminated at any cost. I don't care what others faith is all I know is anyone getting killed for no reason is highly condemnable.

30 May, 2010 18:30

Blogger komal said...

i agree... we've got to do something... this is where those of us abroad may be able to do more... what do you suggest? i know even the papers can't publish an editorial if i mention the things i want to. can you help me find a forum to write something?

30 May, 2010 19:43

Blogger Zakintosh said...

@komal ... i have also said on fb that friends/pakistanis abroad can do a lot. how about writing stuff for atp and chowk? how about guardian? what about the local papers, too. depends upon where you are.

how about a message to the ambassadors,wherever many of you are, to tell them that this is how the pakistanis feel.

how about using amnesty, civil rights groups and more to change all this.

30 May, 2010 19:54

Blogger Vic said...

From wikipedia: "The Holy Quran enjoins us to reflect on the verities of Allah's created laws of nature; however, that our generation has been privileged to glimpse a part of His design is a bounty and a grace for which I render thanks with a humble heart"

This is a quote from 'First Nobel Laureate' (the magisterially defaced inscription on his grave in Rabwah) Abdus Salam.

It is hard to imagine the value of *these* design features, the killings of people at worship. How do the killers sleep at night? How do their supporters face their loved ones in the morning? Or has love been excised from their lives?

02 June, 2010 11:48


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