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March 29, 2020

Azan in the quiet of night

Islamabad

March 29, 2020

At a time when you hardly hear any voice from mosques in daytime, calls for prayer echoing in the stony terrains of Rawalpindi and Islamabad ring a message of hope.

Such rituals have many dimensions.

At the time of natural calamities like floods and earthquakes, we witness Azans being recited at night and every time this ritual is performed with heightened intensity.

As in my family, kids took their elders to rooftops of their houses, listened to Azans and prayed for humanity. I know that we shall soon be through this pandemic.

At this time when every sensible soul is desperate to fight this disease, we see that a lot of false heroes are popping up on our social media.

I stay in touch with different groups of university and college students.

They are spread in all corners of the country and they are a source of education in their communities.

Students belonging to Chitral, Gilgit-Baltistan, tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtukhwa, far-off areas of Balochistan and the south of Punjab have gone back to their areas.

They are doing a wonderful job there educating their communities through whatever means are available to them.

The government has expressed its desperation to engage youth in coronavirus relief activities. It is advised that it engages university students in this activity on a larger scale.

Only in Islamabad, universities have enrolled over 100,000 students. They have the energy about technology in solving community problems.

The government has already announced that educational institutions will remain closed till May 31. During this period, their services, as and when required, should be valued in three or five credit hours. They should also be paid modest remuneration for this community service.

This experience will change their thinking pattern permanently.

Many of these students have been reduced to becoming robots in their studies.

Teachers with no experience in the field they are teaching yoke them to assignments and presentations, leaving little room for them to interact with society at large.

Confirming to their thinking pattern, I have proposed that their services be equal to three to five credit hours, which will put an official seal to their work.

They are our real heroes. No so-called national or international will own up to them. Every organization has seemingly taken this pandemic for a project to market their proponents in Pakistan.

A lot of confusion is created due to this excessive marketing as to who is fighting corona in Islamabad and elsewhere as everyone is a self-claimed champion.

Second, if a force of volunteers is made up of youth of a certain political party, it will be discredited at the outset.

Politicization of this pandemic is the last thing the masses deserve. University teachers, too, are talented enough to lead their students in community service diligently.

The sound of Azan at night rings a message of hope that humanity will prevail this crisis. These young and educated souls are our true hope for a bright future. We have not trusted them yet. The incompetent and corrupt decision-makers have sowed discontent in their minds. But I believe if we give them a chance to prove their worth, they will give us back hope in this dark and quiet night of despair.