A Voice Without Direction

Pakistanis are a truly creative, passionate and talented people. That’s a fact. Anyone who denies this is just ignorant. As a nation we have a vivid imagination and lots of ideas brewing in our somewhat distracted brains. Despite all the chaos surrounding us, we manage to come up with phenomenal things.

An example is Rohail Hayat’s Coke Studio, which is a home-grown production and everyone who appreciates music knows how superbly stellar it is. Recently, we even managed to host our very own Tedx Conference, which was organized by some extremely competent people. All I know is that when we, individually or collectively, want to do something, we don’t wait for chance. We take control and get things going.

Unfortunately, our one major drawback is that we are lazy and selective about where we direct our energies.

Take, for example, the Facebook ban. Who knew that the Lahore High Court had it in itself to take such a bold step? With this action, ulterior motives aside, the LHC really did take on the world. And the people- let’s not forget the scores of people who spurred into action and went and protested for and against the ban. There was endless activity on the Internet as well, with blogs, tweets and hate mail being shared. This became such a huge deal that mainstream television channels across the world were covering the ‘mayhem’ in Pakistan.

This entire episode made me think that we Pakistanis are foolish to believe that we don’t have a voice. Who are we kidding? Of course, we have a voice and a very strong one at that. But it’s a voice that is used to condemn, judge, ostracize and criminalize everyone else. It’s a voice that hasn’t found an identity or a direction yet.

This voice, which was so forceful during the FB crisis, remained silent when the Taliban ravaged Swat and adjoining areas. This voice did not condemn the lawless beheadings or the honour killings. It remained mute when uneducated, crass men, calling themselves mullahs, started to take over our religious institutions and spread hate. And finally, the voice switched off completely when a handful of barbarians massacred some 80 members of the Ahmedi community during prayers. Never have I seen this shameful a display of silence.

Since the Flotilla incident, I have seen a lot of Pakistanis rallying for the Palestinians on the Internet and otherwise. It is great to see this show of unity in the face of aggression by Israel. However, it disconcerts me to see that Pakistanis have more ‘Falastini Jazba’ (Passion for Palestine) than humanity for their own countrymen.

What does all this say about our national character? That we are two-faced, selfish and morally depraved? That we prefer to preach rather than practice? That we like paying lip service to fashionable causes?

The Pakistani point of view is always that the Muslim ‘Ummah’ needs to stand as one, and that we have a duty to defend the brotherhood, the community and the religion. Why does our interpretation of standing up for the Muslim community have to have an international twist to it? Why can we not begin with caring about our neighbors and our relatives and the orphans and the poor? I believe that is how it was ordered in the Quran. Till we don’t begin to clean up our own mess how can we take care of others?