Bleed­ing the white in our flag

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL - Moshar­raf Zaidi

THE Easter Sun­day bomb­ing in La­hore was meant to do many things. One of them was killing Chris­tians. There is no pun­ish­ment in Pak­istan for hooli­gan­ism, or bar­bar­ian­ism, or wan­ton thug­gery. You can at­tack the PTV head­quar­ters, at­tack the par­lia­ment build­ing, at­tack the Supreme Court build­ing ( yes, prime min­is­ter, we have not for­got­ten). You can de­stroy shops, and burn cars. You can set fire to metro sta­tions. There is no pun­ish­ment for any of this. But if you are a Pak­istani Chris­tian? That's a crime that will be pun­ished.

If we can­not con­jure up the moral courage to ac­cept the crim­i­nal neg­li­gence of Chris­tian places of wor­ship, or Chris­tian women and chil­dren, of Chris­tian busi­nesses and com­mu­ni­ties, then we should stop all the high-brow anal­y­sis of how long this war will take. It is a never-end­ing night­mare. Moral ob­fus­ca­tion is not just a lin­ear prob­lem. It is a spir­i­tual crime. In the land of Bulleh Shah, Rehman Baba, Ab­dul­lah Shah Ghazi, Ba­haud­din Zakariya, and Hazrat Daata Ganj Baksh, such crimes will never go un­pun­ished. Never. If Pak­istan is en­dur­ing pain and agony, at least some of this is a prod­uct of our crim­i­nal ne­glect of our duty to pro­tect - at all costs, un­der all cir­cum­stances - Pak­istani Chris­tians.

Whatabouters will ask: why only Chris­tians? Of course, not only Chris­tians. But to con­flate all the other in­jus­tices wreaked upon all the other com­mu­ni­ties in our coun­try as I write these words on Easter Mon­day would be an ob­fus­ca­tion too. Early re­ports sug­gest that the La­hore Easter Sun­day at­tack saw more fa­tal­i­ties of Mus­lims than it did of Chris­tians. That too is an ob­fus­ca­tion. The ter­ror­ists that took re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack specif­i­cally talk about their blood­lust for Chris­tians ob­serv­ing Easter.

Why Chris­tians? Be­cause it is the pure white of our star, cres­cent and stripe. Be­cause the brand of pa­tri­o­tism in Pak­istan that em­anates from the churches in this coun­try is unique, and un­par­al­leled. No one quite flew a plane fighter plane for the Is­lamic Re­pub­lic like Ce­cil Chaudhry did. No one served jus­tice in the Is­lamic Re­pub­lic quite like Alvin Robert Cor­nelius did. No one sang milli nagh­mas quite the way the Nerissa, Sheema and Sha­bana Ben­jamin did. No one stood for the op­pressed, and the voice­less, quite like Sha­heed Shah­baz Bhatti did.

When wealthy and wannabe wealthy Pak­ista­nis that strug­gle for clar­ity about the vic­tims and enemies af­ter a ter­ror­ist at­tack think of the best schools for their chil­dren, they think of the Con­vent of Je­sus and Mary, or Saint Joseph's or Saint Patrick's. When Pak­istani hos­pi­tals think of the best nurses for their doc­tors and pa­tients, they think of Chris­tian nurses. When we need the stains cleaned off of things, so of­ten, so read­ily, we turn to Chris­tians. The blood stains on the white on our flag? It will be Chris­tians that will wipe it off.

Let's not lose per­spec­tive. As Anthony Per­mal noted in a poignant note on Face­book, the blood run­ning through Chris­tian veins in the af­ter­math of the La­hore Easter Sun­day bomb­ing is from Mus­lim veins. Mus­lim La­ho­ris thronged hos­pi­tals search­ing for vic­tims that they could help. Mus­lims de­cency and char­ity and hu­man­ity doesn't check the re­li­gion of vic­tims where it counts, when it counts. In hos­pi­tals and dis­pen­saries in La­hore on Easter Sun­day - that much was clear.

But let's also main­tain per­spec­tive. Less than a year ago, Youhan­abad's cup had run­neth over. Af­ter the twin sui­cide at­tacks on churches in Youhan­abad, the ug­li­ness was so deep that we could not wait for the next at­tack, so we could stop talk­ing about that one. Be­fore that, was All Saints Church in Pe­shawar. All three took place on Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif and In­te­rior Min­is­ter Chaudhry Nisar's watch. If you were a Chris­tian, how would you re­act to a re­minder about the fact that it was "Pak­ista­nis" that were tar­geted in Youhan­abad, in Pe­shawar All Saints, or on Easter Sun­day at Gul­shan-e-Iqbal? How would you find de­scrip­tions of the se­cu­rity situation hav­ing im­proved dra­mat­i­cally? How would you get up from where you were sit­ting, with­out want­ing col­lapse back down? Bruised, bat­tered, and bro­ken at the knowl­edge that your brothers and sis­ters in faith were be­ing tar­geted for their faith?

As Pak­istani Mus­lims, this should not be so hard. For decades, we have kind of bled with Pales­tini­ans and Kash­miris. Not ac­tu­ally bleed­ing, but we have felt their pain and their agony. When Mus­lims in Myan­mar are hunted down by Bud­dhist ter­ror­ists, we feel the sear­ing pain they feel. In our mosques, each Fri­day, we pray for our brothers and sis­ters in Iraq, in Syria, in Afghanistan, in Ye­men. When we are shown pic­tures of chil­dren be­ing killed in school shoot­ings in the United States, some of us re­spond with pic­tures of chil­dren killed in drone strikes in the tribal ar­eas. All fair. All real.

Surely, we know and un­der­stand and ap­pre­ci­ate the con­cept of em­pa­thy - of step­ping into some­one else's shoes to feel their pain and their agony. Surely it can­not be so hard then to frame the Easter Sun­day at­tack cor­rectly. This week, just for a mo­ment, per­haps we should feel for Pak­istani Chris­tians. What is it like to be a four­teen year old Chris­tian boy in Pak­istan? Know­ing about Youhan­abad. Know­ing about All Saints. Know­ing about Gul­shan-e-Iqbal. Mind you. This is a four­teen-year-old boy. All that bur­den is in ad­di­tion to wor­ry­ing about grow­ing up. About want­ing to buy nice things. About want­ing to take care of his sis­ter and his mother. About feel­ing proud of our F-16s on March 23. And about pro­cess­ing his anger. This week, just for a mo­ment, let's also feel for Chris­tians in far-away lands. In Ethiopia, and Rus­sia, and Wales, and yes, even Amer­ica.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.