An Unfortunate Mindset

You know there is a very fine line, thin and almost obscure, which connects the mindset which deems it ok to insult someone in public by calling them names – especially when the person in question is of the opposite gender – and the mindset which is ok with ‘light beating’ of wives to be ok for things which are not ‘acceptable’ in terms of their behavior.

This very thin line of connection whilst cannot be seen so easily and to the naked eye is actually one of many big problems with us. And it’s a problem not just in one way or one level. Multiple ways. It’s an entire thought process or school of thought if you will which isn’t really the produce of a well-researched and intellectual think tank or anything of that sort. Just the opposite. Fueled by an ignorant and ancient mindset which refuses to embrace good for humanity and wants to continue ruling with their veil of ignorance on top of everyone to stay in their positions of power and influence. I am sure it won’t require any rocket science to guess who I am referring to.

But that’s one of the things. We are ok dissecting and discussing it in drawing rooms and condemning it as if it was the most natural thing to come to us. Whereas upon closer introspection you might find that one some levels you are just as ignorant. Ok maybe not ‘just as ignorant’ but definitely more ignorant than you would like to admit.

Khawaja Asif’s remarks in the Parliament against Shireen Mazari were uncalled for, unbecoming and definitely not something that should be part of the nation’s parliament much less coming from a federal minister for crying out loud. It was not the first time from Khawaja Asif and definitely not the first time in the history of the country. There have been many incidents in the past involving women parliamentarians of all parties. Benazir Bhutto too had to face such ridicule.

It is sad that such things happen. But these things happen not just here – they happen in other parts of the world as well. So this is actually a bigger problem world over especially with the whole ceiling on women’s achievements and growth and success etc. Till we as a whole get out of this need to differentiate between genders in the professional realm – things will remain the same.

This discrimination and mindset world over is there but perhaps most parts of the world have become a bit more subtle and sophisticated so they don’t tend to boil over like it still does here. It was also unbecoming of people chiming in with ‘Keep quite aunty’ etc. It was also unbecoming of others present there not doing enough to control the situation and try and make amends immediately. Surely this is not something which cannot transcend different political party lines. Respect and all?

Sadly it doesn’t. It is this very mindset which will perhaps condemn the light beating issue of the CII (the wonderful people that they are) but will actually internally agree with them and then well who knows what happens in their households. It is the same ignorant and ‘jaahil’ soch that thinks it is ok to go around beating the weaker sex. As is the case. It is the same mindset which then goes on to connect with other problems like honor killing and all. The one which would most likely look down upon the victim of a rape and take out their flaws and faults which led to the crime rather than look at the perpetrator.

It is the mindset which thinks it’s a man’s world and only men are allowed to be kings and rulers and have every single inch of power available in this world. And that anything else is here to be man’s objects of desire, use and rejection. It is unfortunate that such a mindset occupies the parliament of our country. It is unfortunate that such a mindset is allowed to spew negativity towards development. It is unfortunate that we have not done enough to battle this mindset.

It is this mindset which has for years continued being an obstacle towards girls education. It is this mindset which has given liberty to elements like TTP and the like to go about attacking and murdering innocents, destroying structures and lives, vanquishing dreams and hopes. It is this mindset which is unfortunate and which hasn’t been dealt with where it needs to be dealt with the most – in the mind. The military operation has beat the TTP in the background. But the social fabric of our society is still suffering.

Attack on Lahore, Attack anywhere, Attack on Humanity

Prayers for all the lives lost in the attack in Lahore yesterday. Prayers for all the innocent gone. Prayers for all the families broken. Prayers for the sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers who are no more. Prayers for those who are undergoing treatment to try and recover. Prayers for those who are trying to recover from the trauma. Yet again prayers. Yet again we are the same juncture. There will be widespread criticism of security arrangements or the police or the intelligence or the politicians. There will be criticism that (and rightly so) the politicians will just be doing what they always do. They will come on media and ‘strongly’ condemn the barbaric actions of those behind this attack. There will be criticism of western media not giving equal weightage to the tragedy of an attack in a non-western state or country as given to the attacks in Belgium or France. There will be lots of noise on social media. There will be some sanity. There will be some chaos. It will all be there. And then once the cacophony has dimmed over the course of the next couple of weeks – we will move on. The world will move on. As it always does. As it always has. We lost 144 bright futures in children in Peshawer in December 2014. There was hue and cry. There was a black day. There were black profile pictures and black cover photos. Then after a couple of weeks, a year passed by and people marked the anniversary of the attacks. The same happened in Paris – there was a wave of people who changed their profile picture to mark their solidarity with them by having a watermarked French flag. Then life moved on. Belgium happened. Life is moving on. In between Yemen happened, Istanbul happened – life continues moving on.

We blame ISIS, we blame RAW, we blame the US. Life still moves on. But tell me how does any of this actually bring about any change? How does it comfort the lives of the ones left behind of the victims? How does it help the world in the future? What real action or objective is being achieved in the eradication of all these evils? It will only be better when we stand up to the evils of all these extremists. All these people who in the name of religion carry out murders, terror and destruction. They are not representative of anything or any religion or any race. They are all an evil against humanity and humanity must prevail against them by recognizing this fact. By moving beyond religion and race and standing up to them and saying this isn’t about any of that. This is about humanity. This about an attack on humanity – regardless of where, regardless of on who.

The change will come when we come forward and stand up to the mindset that was there in Islamabad yesterday. If we don’t stand up to that and stop it now – there will be more Lahores, Peshawers etc. If we don’t stand up to and stop extremism world over, there will be more Belgiums and Paris’s.

There cannot be any place in this world for extremism. We as humanity must stand up to it.

The Pursuit of Change

The word Change has been trumpeted around for quite a long time. Politicians use it. The establishment uses it. The judiciary uses it. The media uses it. The average household uses it in their daily lives and drawing room discussions. Heck I bet even the good folk in the TTP and LeJ etc use it. But that’s just about where the idea comes to an end. The more one thinks about it, the more one feels that actual and real change doesn’t seem to be trickling through.  We as a nation have become conformed to a response mindset rather than actual change or ‘reform’. And hence so have our leaders. ‘Jaisee qoum wesse hukumraan’.

I read Cyril Almeida’s piece in Sunday’s Dawn yesterday (LINK: http://www.dawn.com/news/1160725). For a lot of you who have read it or care to read it I am sure it will hit home. And as usual as it is with a lot of truth in this country, it’s sad.

The Peshawar Attacks are still recent in our memories but yet one can feel they have more or less gone out of the national narrative. And then yet again a new attack struck, this time a sectarian target. More than a 130 died in the barbaric brutality of Peshawar and more than 50 died in the suicide blast of Shikarpur. The operation is still going on as it has been for the past 8 or so months and seemingly has the Boys’ conviction at the heart of it. This is a change of sorts I suppose and we can take heart from it. But does it seem to be enough? Is the funding being cut off? Is the supply line being cut off? Is space being taken away for them to regroup and rebuild? Is there a contingency? And where is the rest of the change. Sure the moratorium was lifted and people are being hanged. Well some were hanged anyway and it received a lot of media attention but what after that? Why are notable leaders of the same kiln being allowed to roam freely? Why are characters like Abdul Aziz and Malik Ishaq not behind bars? Why is Qadri the self-confessed murderer of Salman Taseer not being given a final sentence? In fact a few days back his ‘case file had disappeared’. (LINK: http://www.dawn.com/news/1160391). All this makes for a little hard viewing to see any change.

Take other issues – energy for example. The PML N got their mandate by and large on the back of a strong ‘Energy will be resolved campaign’. The promises on energy varied from a year to 5 years of delivery at differing times since the elections in 2013. No change has really happened. There is still load shedding. There are still supply issues. There are still high cost energy issues. But no change is really happening. And instead we are focusing on metro bus lines.

Even the recent petrol crises – there was nothing done to show that a change is being made in the system or process to ensure that this incident doesn’t happen again. No one was really taken to task. Instead the PSO MD was made a scapegoat and shown the exit door. And their own man was brought at the helm.

The short term was addressed which is always the case. And why? Because they know that we as a nation are also in the most apt of definitions a fickle nation with short term memories. Short term thought processes when analyzing the issues. Who cares about long term? We won’t be there. We will make as much as we can now and then let the long term be a collection of all the failed short terms.

Imran, as much as his heart seems to be perhaps in the right place also seemingly started his marathon 127 days of Dharna (or was it 129?) with a short term goal. Or so some of his ardent supporters would say. He needs to become prime minister now because he is getting old. He is running out of time. The system’s change should not be a strategy dependent on the viability of one individual. That in itself just doesn’t seem viable or sustainable.

This is not to say there has been no change whatsoever. There have been some things which have changed. People in KPK are testifying to a difference , a positive difference in the state. A positive difference in the general administrative nature of things. The police. The hospitals. The judiciary. So that’s great. But no one has actually gone around amplifying this and instead have stuck to the same rhetoric – elections were rigged, electricity will be solved in xyz years, condemn the heinous attacks etc etc etc.

So yes almost 2 years on from the supposed election of ‘change’ in 2013 we are still not anywhere near that ‘supposed change’. The pursuit for it is still in the process if it hasn’t started yet. Or so it seems. And so it increasingly seems to be the case as an ongoing phenomenon.

Of Malala

Malala Yousufzai, the 16 year old brave girl who survived a taliban attack last year, delivered a fine speech at the UN Youth Takeover earlier this week in New York. She spoke primarily for the cause of education. For the cause of girls education from the region she hails from. The cause she raised her voice for and for which she was attacked. She delivered her speech with absolute calm and poise, viewed by a father who was beaming with pride and a mother who could not help but be emotional. It was certainly a moving moment. And why shouldn’t it be? Malala deserves the applauds that are coming her way. And for once I think we should rise above the conspiracy theories and just take this for what it is. The girl who survived an attack and went on to address the world.

I am not for one moment saying that she has gone through the worst possible experience and that there aren’t others out there. Yes there are – she pointed that out in her speech as well. She rightly said she is just one among many. But let’s rise above trying to make this into yet another American Conspiracy towards defaming Pakistan. Lets for once try and rise above our obsession with the US meddling in Pakistan. They do.. I am sure they still have agents / assets running around in Pakistan providing Langley with whatever the required intel is. But let’s not take anything away from what Malala has achieved here and what she stands for. What she symbolizes.

The speech may very well have been written for her. But she is still the one who delivered it with such authority and calmness that you could not fault her. And she doesn’t boast of a private school background – she has achieved this on her own through the basic system of schooling that was available to her.

And again – she was attacked, bullet to her head. It is not easy for anyone to come back strong from something as traumatic as that let alone a mere 16 year old girl.

I for one would like to applaud Malala for surviving and displaying the courage and maturity that seems years beyond her age. And I would also applaud all other Malalas who have gone through the same but have unfortunately not gotten the same media focus or attention. Those who continue in their silent struggle. Those who are waiting for their chance to free themselves from the shackles. ‘The Pen is mightier than the sword’. It certainly came true last week at the UN Youth Takeover.

Bravo Malala, I wish you all the success for your cause and I wish a better fortune for everyone for whom you have raised your voice. I will certainly try and do whatever I can to help this cause, for ‘Education First’. Can we all rise above the conspiracy theories and drawing room discussions to do the same?