When our beloved people die …
These are my views. You may agree or not.
Yesterday we had a ruling about Mumtaz Qadri, the murderer of Salman Taseer. It was supported by most people in the media. This included many (including me) who oppose the death penalty and want him to get an un-parolable life sentence. Think of it: killing is an act of just a few minutes. And then he's dead. It shows human emotions that makes the Government murder a person — which is not really different from what the criminal did.
A long life sentence is something that is going to teach the murderer (all the time) about not just another man's life and the tragedy he caused the man's wife, children, friends, and followers … it will also make him think of his own wife and children. They, in fact, did nothing wrong and maybe someone needs to give them some help in ways to live.
Add to this, if you are pro-death, to the difficulties and the problems we have in our laws and how we frame and get people, often for the wrong reasons, denounced as criminals. Happens frequently. Just think of Aasiya Bibi, right now! I think the courts should move ahead and pardon her. To hang an innocent person is far worse …
But I also thought of ways beyond this murder.
What does the State (or the Government of that time that we have 'contracted' to run the State until the next elections) do when a person dies or is killed or gives up his/her life in a battle or war? How does it make sure that these people are honoured for a long time and our children and their children read about them or talk about them?
Let me tell you what we do: In the military circles many roads are named after such heroes … which is right. After all it was one of them who gave up his life fighting hard for the lives of the rest of us. His colleagues and his juniors honour him. He joined the forces, knowing that this was a risk he was taking. I feel sorry for his family, too. And their amazing courage.
Often, though, many main roads in the cities are named after them. I move around Karachi a lot …and go to Lahore, often. I can't recognise more than a couple of names and what they did. I ask young people in Lahore and they say so-and-so is a 'Shaheed', but they don't know which war with India he fought. I was also told that one person died in our 'war with Russia', when I knew that was not true. Incidentally, how many main roads are named after war heroes? Take a look at this page, for example, and see. And you can find many others, too.
There's also a lot more that we miss out on.
Take the murders of Salman Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti, Sabeen Mahmud, and may more. If the Government wants us to remember them, how about naming the places where they were murdered linked to their names. A Memorial Square, maybe? Perhaps with a link to their websites written on a stone under it … for the young go their often. Let them see what honest people, doing honest and respectable things, were killed for. By whom, too, if we really know.
A Salman Taseer Roundabout or a Shahbaz Bhatti Avenue shouldn't be too difficult. The Sabeen Mahmud Square - at the place where she was shot - should be no problem, at all. In fact the latter would be put up by DHA/CBC and show that they care, too, about the things these people did for this country: their country and our country.
How about Postage Stamps? They go on our mails abroad and within Pakistan. Let's have their images on them. That should be an ideal follow-up to the series of those who helped make Pakistan and have images on stamps already. After all, these people were the ones who tried to keep Pakistan safe and better for many of us. In fact people around the world held services for them.
I'd love to see small paragraphs in our Pakistan Studies books? Books that children get bored of reading fairly soon may become more exciting when we have newer paragraphs on people they have seen. And one can keep changing these every few years to keep them updated.
Do you think we can do this?