Sunday, April 3, 2016

Pakistan: A Million Mother March.

Teleport yourself to Pakistan in March of 1962; Jackie Kennedy wife of US President  in an open car on the streets of Karachi and cheered by the crowd, or Queen Elizabeth’s visit in 1961 welcomed by the people. Back in the present day either of these two events would be impossible to conceive for a western public figure in the same manner as it was back then. Sadly even Pakistan’s own political leadership would think twice of being driving down a main city’s streets in an open car. While security may have become a global issue, in Pakistan it has become a daily occurrence.

Every scene of violence is ugly, the only difference in Pakistan is that it grotesque in it ugliness and the justification for the act is even more animalistic than the previous act of terror. The Taliban splinter group which claimed responsibility for the Lahore attack in a children’s park made the point that as the army continues Pakistan’s own ‘war on terror’ with venom they will choose ‘soft targets”. The implication of terror is straight forward now; a message to every mother in Pakistan that ‘your child will not be safe any more and is now fair game in this war’.

Ironically the same day that children were being blown up in Lahore, a large contingent of protestors were in the capital, Islamabad, making their point that they opposed any change in the controversial blasphemy law and chose to make the killer of the Governor of Punjab their hero for the occasion. Was this a neat diversion by the radical elements to allow their even more radical cousins to put ball bearings with explosives and walk into to the children’s park and wreck a havoc that was brutal and barbaric?

Commons sense would suggest that attacking women and children will alienate the masses from the Taliban cause. Clearly this is not a concern to the Taliban because they do not plan to come to power through the ballot box; their vote is through the force of the barrel of the gun. After all in a country that has an elected parliament and Prime Minister the process of change of law, or the protest to change it, is done through street power.  The more people you can mobilize on the streets, the more bricks you can throw, the more buildings you can burn the more the chance that the government will negotiate on changing the law, as we see with the Qadri protests in Islamabad, will grow.

How does one deal with this subversion of the democratic process? We know the religious radical groups do not have the numbers in the elected Parliament to even initiate a bill of change to the existing laws they protest about. The fact remains that in a country were religious sentiment is exploited for political gain the use of street power is considered ‘normal.’ The way to deal with this wanton subversion of the will of the people is for the silent majority to come out also on the streets. Why not a 10 million March of the Mothers to protest against the killing of women and children? Why doesn’t the silent majority speak up rather than sit in their drawing rooms and watch TV soap operas and tell their cousins abroad about how bad things are in Pakistan.

This is not the Pakistan that Quaid e Azam, the founder of the nation wanted, this is not the Pakistan that millions of decent God fearing people in Pakistan wanted. Indeed Pakistan literally means the ‘land of the pure,” but it does not imply and religious cleansing of the population by a small minority whose only way of cleansing is to eliminate the ones  they do not consider pure. Yes it is time we consider it the land of pure; the people who want it pure and cleansed from violence, intolerance, religious fanaticism and more of all the mentality that a handful decide what is good for 180 million people. Its time for the mothers to be heard, it time for the armchair opposition to violence to now come out and condemn the actions that result in ball bearings embedded into the bodies of our children. It is time to say ENOUGH OF YOUR VIOLENCE.

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