Is the tide turn­ing?

The Pak Banker - - EDITORIAL - Har­ris Khalique

Ab­dul Sat­tar Edhi be­lieved in or­gan dona­tion and had asked his fam­ily to do­nate all of his func­tional body or­gans af­ter his death. He died at a ripe old age due to re­nal fail­ure. Only his eyes were found to be use­ful and one each was sub­se­quently trans­planted into a man and a woman to bring light to their blind worlds. And lo and be­hold! While Edhi was be­ing gen­er­ous and kind even in his death, a dik­tat was is­sued by some cler­ics de­nounc­ing the prac­tice of or­gan dona­tion and de­scrib­ing it as some­thing against Shariah. Then we have Pak­istani sportswomen bring­ing lau­rels to the coun­try with­out even hav­ing ba­sic re­sources avail­able to them for train­ing and prac­tice in their re­spec­tive sports. One of them, a crick­eter, is some­how hired once by a com­pany to do an ad­ver­tise­ment - just like her male coun­ter­parts do all the time and earn mil­lions reg­u­larly for do­ing these pub­lic­ity ad­ver­tise­ments for a num­ber of things, from gad­gets to soda. She is shown bowl­ing in a match, in ac­tion as a part of a pro­mo­tion of the item she is pub­li­cis­ing.

Orya Maq­bool Jan, cer­tainly su­per­an­nu­ated as he is said to have re­tired from gov­ern­ment ser­vice, a hy­per­bolic colum­nist and com­men­ta­tor, finds this ad­ver­tise­ment ter­ri­bly ob­scene. It is also Jan who draws an anal­ogy be­tween women and bitches. Say­ing that it is nat­u­ral for the fe­males of all species to stay home and take care of the off­spring. But the ex­am­ple he chooses to give from the whole of the an­i­mal king­dom is that of dogs and bitches. Bitches stay home with the pups and dogs wan­der around. There­fore, women should stay home and feed and nur­ture their pups, oh sorry kids, while men wan­der around and loll about.

Then we have Fouzia Azeem, her ac­quired name be­ing Qan­deel Baloch, a model and a so­cial me­dia ac­tivist, killed in the name of hon­our by her brother. She was mar­ried off early in her teens and moved out of that abu­sive re­la­tion­ship. She turned into a non-con­form­ist, said things on so­cial me­dia which were hard to swal­low in a con­ser­va­tive so­ci­ety, spoke for the equal­ity of women and ex­posed the cus­to­di­ans of moral­ity. To some­one like me, she was a bit of an ex­hi­bi­tion­ist and went over­board in her pranks. But she was to­tally be­nign, some­one who would make peo­ple laugh or make them think about the hypocrisy that pre­vails in this so­ci­ety.

In any cir­cum­stance, how much you agree or dis­agree with some­one, how can you kill that per­son? This is grotesque, a hor­ri­ble crime, an un­ac­cept­able act of bru­tal­ity and cru­elty. Qan­deel was only 26, a young woman full of life. She was as­phyx­i­ated in her sleep by her brother on the pre­text that she was bring­ing dis­hon­our to the fam­ily. But her mother and fa­ther, lower mid­dle class, semi-ur­ban Pak­ista­nis, were shaken by the crime com­mit­ted by their son. They think she was a brave woman and see a con­spir­acy be­hind her death. But an­other se­nior colum­nist and com­men­ta­tor, Ha­roon Rasheed, de­clared with his char­ac­ter­is­tic au­dac­ity that the things she said and did had left lit­tle choice for her fam­ily but to elim­i­nate her. In Pak­istan, there are so many acts of kind­ness that are crit­i­cised and acts of bru­tal­ity that are jus­ti­fied. But in the past few weeks I have ob­served some sig­nif­i­cant changes in re­ac­tions of peo­ple around me - from dif­fer­ent classes and back­grounds - to the in­ci­dents I have men­tioned above and some other sim­i­lar hap­pen­ings. These are the peo­ple who used to keep silent or obe­di­ently nod to any ar­gu­ment made in the name of faith, tra­di­tion or cul­ture by hy­per­bolic, au­da­cious and ag­gres­sive so­cial and po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tors. This they did even if these ex­pe­di­ent but or­tho­dox com­men­ta­tors would have lib­er­ally dis­torted his­tory, were dan­ger­ously se­lec­tive in their in­ter­pre­ta­tion of faith (ac­cord­ing to their sec­tar­ian in­cli­na­tions al­ways though) and cre­ated an il­lu­sion of racial and civil­i­sa­tional su­pe­ri­or­ity among peo­ple that their an­ces­tors in fact never had.

Peo­ple at large com­pletely ig­nored the dik­tats against Ab­dul Sat­tar Edhi. When a sec­tion of con­ser­va­tives were crit­i­cis­ing his son and the dead man him­self for be­ing in­spired by so­cial­ism, by Marx and Lenin, most peo­ple paid no heed to that crit­i­cism. In fact, even with­out know­ing what Edhi be­lieved in when it comes to his faith, com­mon Pak­ista­nis looked up to him as a role model of a good Mus­lim. His dona­tion of eyes was cel­e­brated and any opin­ions con­trary to or­gan dona­tion in the name of re­li­gion were not ac­cepted. Is the tide re­ally turn­ing to­wards more peace, tol­er­ance and ac­cep­tance of dif­fer­ence and di­ver­sity? Or are peo­ple just tired of death and de­struc­tion, hate and ex­clu­sion? I don't know yet. But it is time we re­alised that while Pak­istan needs a space for di­ver­gence of views, we also need a con­sen­sus on some ba­sic norms and prin­ci­ples. -

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