Presumed innocent…

A 12-year old boy, along with his friends, abducted and then raped an 8-year old girl. This bit of news originated from Sheikhupura yesterday. We see tales of rape cases everyday on our television sets. Gang-rapes on orders of panchayats, doctors raping nurses, teachers raping students, some just plain old cases of kidnapping and rape. It is a four-letter word that has lost its meaning by being in the news so frequently. A few would contradict me, but I tell the truth here and nothing else. If its meaning had not been lost, then these cases would not go unnoticed as just another piece of news. We would not simply utter a “tsk, tsk” at the sight of the grieving girl and her parents, and the next minute proceed to change the channel. Our reaction would be quite different, if the despicable nature of the word’s meaning was not lost on us.
What makes this case from Sheikhupura different from others is this: Can I look at a 12-year boy from now on and presume him to be just an innocent kid? The perpetrator of the heinous crime this time was not a grown man. He is a child, a sixth-grade student, who has admitted to committing this sin. Standing behind bars and asking for forgiveness, what would you say to him? This is what our society has come to! We should no longer just expect a 12-year boy to be ‘the innocent kid who is still ignorant of societal sins”. He could always snatch up an 8-year old and wreak havoc with her life.
I do not intend to generalise this seemingly isolated incident. It was just one 12-year old who faltered, you would say. The thing that is troubling me is that the mind of a 12-year old could sink to these depths in our society, that is what is alarming.

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The Green Express!

Paralysed by the spot-fixing controversy, humiliated by the string of defeats, declared hopeless by its own people, the cornered tiger had not much to lose further. Licking its wounds, it sprang up and with unrelenting spirit, silenced all those who had questioned its very existence. Unpredictability is what every Pakistani cricket fan has to accept with regard to the national team. Yet, that is what makes the victories even sweeter. With the recent series win in New Zealand, the Green Shirts have shouted out to the cricketing world that they are not to be ruled out. Come February 19th, the Pakistani team will be as prepared as any other. So what if recent times have been tough for the unit, to say the least. Not finding the right team combinations, losing three top players in the spot-fixing row, the controversy stirred up by the runaway wicket-keeper, pathetic affairs of the Pakistan Cricket Board, and to top it all off, not having a captain for the World Cup till last night. The list could go on, believe me, but let’s leave the negativities in the past. For today, we gear up for the mega event. The team is oozing with spirit, and everybody seems to be finding form at just the right time. We finally seem to have a settled opening partnership with both Hafeez and Shehzad looking in excellent touch. The experienced middle order, with the likes of Misbah and Younis, can provide the backbone of our batting. And the explosive Afridi and Razzaq can always turn around any innings with their scintillating strokes. Another good thing that has come to the fore recently is that even our bowlers can bat a bit. Wahab Riaz and Sohail Tanvir know what to do with the stick if the situation demands. So, there you have it. The team will hopefully not disappoint now as it carries the hopes of millions with it. The nation could use some good news right about now, and believe me a World Cup win would be just the right tonic. As for me, I believe that the team has what it takes to go far in the tournament. We have all the guns blazing at just the right time. As the game ends, and the players huddle together in the middle, shouting “Pakistan Zindabad”, you get the good feeling. The time is right. They have faced difficult times and come out stronger. The Green Express is ready to roll!

Preach the goodness, ‘Maulana Sahib’!

I live today in a land, split up into two, in all manners of speaking and acting. The line dividing the two is getting stronger by the day, as differences in beliefs, ideologies, opinions and sentiments, gain momentum by the hour. Yet, the strongest currents causing the tide of differences to mount, is the take on human life. The value of human life, is seemingly not worth a penny to these hate-mongers littering our streets. The rift will only grow from here. There is no way back for either side. One upholds the sanctity of human life. While the other is hell-bent upon destroying all humanity. At this point, one has to wonder. Which religion would entice such hatred? Which God would instruct to kill? And we all come to the straight-forward answer. Why would the Creator teach to destroy! Yet, out comes a brand of the religion that makes you want to question your own beliefs. Preaching on appearances alone, with the swirling beards, shalwars above the ankles, and a glowing sense of greatness that they are the ultimate finality on religious issues. Preaching their own brand of the religion, hand-picking only those dictates that serve their purpose, they are brain-washing the vast majority. Rather, have been doing so for the past many years now!

So, how do we clean up that mess? More pertinent is how do we even start? Where do we start? Charity begins at home, and that is where we all need to begin. Put yourself in the witness stand and be your own judge. We all are guilty, since none of us thought to take action when it was due. We failed to truly comprehend the gravity of the situation. As a result, we have left our religion in the hands of those who only know hatred and violence. So, contemplate today and ask yourself the questions that you have buried away in some faraway corners of your minds. Create an understanding yourself, and jump off the bandwagon dragging you to destruction. Stop following blindly the proclaimed-custodians of faith. Take a moment. A moment is all you need. Does Allah want you to love or hate? Would He condone violence? Are His creations of no value that we can kill them in the name of our faith? Does causing death and destruction in His name, not violate His magnificence? Does the Quran instruct Muslims to wage jihad only? And that too, only one kind of jihad that justifies our violent ideas? Why not turn our attention to all the other Quranic teachings that have been sidelined very expertly! Let us talk about the things we have forgotten our religion stands for. Talk about peace and co-existence, honesty and justice, brotherhood and forgiveness, humility and tolerance, kindness and compassion, sharing and caring. Let us talk about Muslims being human again, instead of the violent and destructive race we are depicting ourselves to be. Wake up, and smell the threat! Too much damage has been caused already. Let the next sermon be about tolerance rather than irrational hatred. Breed a culture of humanity, not of destruction. Instil the true aspect of Islam, not the violated one. If we ever hope to salvage the ‘real Islam’, openly condemn and denounce the ‘mullah-Islam’. It has gotten us nowhere. There is still time. Preach the goodness, ‘Maulana Sahib’!

Shame on the senators…

In a small corner of an English daily yesterday, I found some news that was disturbing to say the least. Here I am, shocked at the reaction of common people and lawyers who are hailing a killer as their newest hero, when the Government has proved itself to be no different. The article said that in the Senate session held a day ago, Senator Nilofar Bakhtiar tried to table a resolution condemning the assassination of Governor Salman Taseer. Instead of an easy passage, the resolution was outrightly opposed! Seems our senators are very openly condoning cold-blooded killing on the streets. Also, the same senator had asked that atleast fateha be offered then for the deceased soul. Our esteemed senators could not even do that, and many walked out of the session. What can I say, except shame on all the senators!

Going to school…

Just a few minutes ago, I came across this story about a 25-year-old mother of two, who has enrolled in school last December. In the present times, when everything that makes news in my country is painful to say the least, this bit of news is sure to make all smile. We read and hear about the Pakistani society of today, tales of non-tolerance, injustices, gender disparities, class differences, and what not! Yet, a story emerges, bringing a hopeful and positive message. Rukhsana, the woman making the news, says she was denied an education by her parents when she was little. This again makes a case for the narrow mindset of our society, one that denies basic rights to girls, but that is another discussion for another day. Today we only read about Rukhsana’s story, and take the positives out of it.

Here is an adult woman, married and with children, who has taken a pretty bold step. Just goes to show, there is no shame in wanting an education whatever your age. The husband is quite a good fellow for not discouraging her. I say this, because in our society, men do seem to be holding onto a leash of narrow mentality. We witness cases all around us where young college-going girls are married off and then never get a chance to complete their degrees. In this tale, Rukhsana lays down an example for all of us. Wanting and getting an education, at any age, is the right thing to do. Anyone who tells you otherwise, is only making up blind lies!

Insanity prevails!

The nation has been jolted awake. We were all enjoying the peaceful slumber of indifference, where anything happening outside our houses was someone else’s story. As long as we were spared, the suicide bombings hardly mattered. Security alerts, no more a cause for alarm. Rather, a usual occurrence. Turning on the television sets to find the flashing red news strips on the bundle of news channels was a routine matter. In fact, absence of a ‘breaking news’ would seem quite surprising now. As I said before, we were all sleeping soundly within the shells of our existences, cradling the indifferent attitudes. As a nation slept, the country descended deeper into chaos. It was not simply a matter of a number of days or months. The lava had been burning for many years now, and it finally erupted. 4th of January happened!

The act itself was, well, just a murder. We hear of such atrocities everywhere on a daily basis. Yet when you have a governor on the receiving end, a grinning bearded man holding the gun, and all of it happening in broad daylight in the very heart of the capital, shock waves are generated at a very high frequency. Then you add the bit about the attacker being a security guard, detailed to the security of the very man whose life he took. Cast a glance at the very controversial past record of the man in question, what he was doing still wearing a uniform you might ask. The fact that none of the other guards on duty raised even a finger as the gunman emptied his bullets into the governor’s body. The self-confession and the reason given by the assassin. Now all this makes for some very disturbing news. Still, the worst is yet to come. The lowest point was achieved as we all received SMS after SMS of jubilatory tones, people distributing sweets on the streets, so-called educated minds condoning the murder. The upholders of the law and order of the country, the lawyers kissing the grinning, self-confessed murderer and showering him with rose petals. At the same time, many announced they would be representing the convict free of cost. Rallies taken out to celebrate the newest ‘hero’ for the masses, as the upholders of our religion openly condoned the murderer, declaring him the saviour, a ‘ghazi’. Insanity prevailed! Rather, it still does.

And while all this was going on, the few left of us who were appalled by this atrocious behaviour, could only wonder in amazement. What have matters come to! Is this the country we inherited from Jinnah and our ancestors? Are these the moral values we want passed on to our future generations? Were we all sadly mistaken when we were trying to convince the world that Pakistan is not a country of extremists? What we were calling just a small faction of the people, has turned into a much larger group. The basic ideas and values are the same, as we have seen from the nation’s reaction. What we had understood to be the views of only some madressah-taught men, are indeed the views of even the youngsters studying in the most prestigious universities in the country! How could this have happened? We were all so busy trying to convince the world that our religion is one that calls for peace. Killing and destroying holds no place. Yet we have negated all of that by our own actions. Yes, we have shown the world that we hold no sanctity of human life. Rather, we are barbarians who are celebrating the death of one man, and hailing the assassin as the nation’s newest hero! Try explaining to the world now, where the ‘peaceful religion’ has disappeared. You claim to represent Islam, you claim to represent Pakistan, I say, you represent neither! In reality, you are just an ugly smear on the face of humanity that needs to be wiped clean!

After 9/11, there were fears Pakistan might be bombed ‘back to the Stone Ages’. Well, I say that we do not need anybody’s help in doing that, thank you! We have taken huge leaps ourselves on the path to self-destruction. Today, in all manners of thinking and acting, we are living in dark times indeed, very dark!

The Truth!

To say that life begins after death,

undermines my role here,

When heavenly pleasures await,

why worry myself with mere worldly affairs,

isn’t it better to steer clear then,

away from the alluring sins,

beckoning at each precipice of life’s journey,

but how can isolation be the answer,

when I was born into the tribe,

the human tribe,

all of us bonded forever,

with the meticulous strings of humanity,

so why preach what makes no sense,

why preach at all,

the truth lies in the heart,

the journey of discovering it worthwhile,

painstaking, yet charming,

the realization, awe-inspiring.

The Writing Hand,

has surely not written,

the horrendous tale that is preached to all,

a tale with cold hearts,

savage yearnings to destroy who does not listen,

maimed mannequins that are not allowed to speak,

to feel,

even whose shadows are veiled by the darkness,

wild groups storming the world,

murdering His creations,

preaching what renders the alive, lifeless,

punishment and death,

tortuous symbols,

supposedly marking our every move,

scaring,

causing alienation.

What the Hand Writ,

is a beautiful tale,

full of love and kindness,

where eternal light,

shines upon all His creations,

spun together in a web of intricate delicacy,

like flowers making up a garden,

each one with its unique fragrance,

but together giving the rich aroma,

of heaven right here on earth!