A legacy drenched in blood

January 17, 2021

Over 2,000 members of the Hazara community have been killed in repeat tragedies since 1998. Most recently, on January 3, 11 coalminers were brutally murdered in the Mach coalfields in Balochistan....

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Over 2,000 members of the Hazara community have been killed in repeat tragedies since 1998. Most recently, on January 3, 11 coalminers were brutally murdered in the Mach coalfields in Balochistan. They were woken from their sleep, blind-folded and trussed before being shot. Such has been the grief of the Hazara community that they - not for the first time - refused to bury their dead until the government gave some reassurance that they would not have to relive this nightmare yet again. Their demand was simple and is the basic constitutional right of every Pakistani citizen: the right to live in safety and security. When the assurance finally came in the form of the Prime Minister’s visit, it rang hollow.

Although Pakistan was founded by the Quaid as a secular state - anyone wishing to jog their memory need only read his speech to the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947 - his legacy has suffered the ignominy of descending into a sectarian nightmare by successive generations of leadership: Many observers say that Pakistan today lives not in the light of Jinnah’s Pakistan but the darkness of Zia’s, ruled by propaganda and false history. As an aside, KK Aziz’s “The Murder of History” provides a masterful explanation of how our history has been sanitized and rewritten over decades to serve the ruling elite.

Our Prime Minister’s tone-deaf - and some might say callous - response to the grief-stricken Hazara community’s pleas for justice has left even the fiercest of PTI supporters in shock. They should not be surprised, however: our Captain has repeatedly romanticized the Taliban and even hailed Osama bin Laden as a martyr. In his quest for alignment with the religious elements, he has continued the tradition of sacrificing Jinnah’s vision in favour of his own understanding of ‘Riasat-e-Madina,’ the exact contours of which even he would be hard-pressed to explain.

Currently, Pakistan ranks 140th in the human freedom index out of 162 countries globally, and much needs to be done to provide a safe and secure environment to all our citizens. Next door, the persecution of Muslims in Kashmir by Modi’s fascist regime is indeed a cause for Pakistan to rally the international community, but would our legitimate protests not carry significantly more weight if we also actively sought to improve the lot of minorities within our own domain? Would our voice not be heard loud and clear if it came from a country where human rights are respected across the board?

This road we have been on for decades now hurtles us continually towards the abyss. Without a deeper appreciation of the wonderful diversity we are blessed with as a nation, we are destined to self-immolate in a fire of our own creation. The Quaid’s legacy, already reduced to a blood-stained flag, is in dire threat of permanent extinction. It is now or never. Mr. Prime Minister, please pay heed.

— The writer is a student of Aitchison College, Lahore



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