Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sialkot Lynching - the culture of vigilante justice:

It is with great compulsion and nerve that I bring myself to write on the horrendous incident of Sialkot which troubled the minds and emotions of many. In fact, I averted writing about this appalling atrocity for a long time for many reasons. First, the incident itself is of such dreadful nature that it causes shivers down one’s spine. Leave aside the question of writing about it, but even a single thought of the incident is a severe pain in my stomach. Secondly, approach towards this incident leads only to feelings of indignation and distress. And most importantly, I wanted a break from continuously being subjected to downhearted feelings already caused by the preceding shocking occurrences in the country (the airblue crash, floods, and constant hue and cry about political corruption).

So why after all those balanced reasons mentioned, I come around writing on this subject when in fact I am personally against the obsessive observers of sensational or sordid subjects (as found on facebook)? It is because that the incident besides exhibiting the peak of brutality in a civilized society also reveals some noteworthy specifics in relation to our society which mostly have been overlooked in our discussions. I will mostly restrict myself to talk about those specifics throughout my article. Enough have already been said about the terrible nature of the incident and the degree of brutality like here.

It is important to note that this is not the first time that human beings have been murdered callously with inhumane people viewing and doing nothing. If you can recall, it’s just an incident of two years ago when two guys accused of robbery were burned alive in Karachi(here). Often times, we hear about the ruthless murders of mothers, sisters, and daughters for honor. Anger and violence had always been prominent characteristics of many of our protests. But this time we had the clippings and videos run on our screen which brought stern reaction from the public. Also lately, the trend of vigilantism (when people start taking law into their hands) has increased immensely and sort of a culture of vigilante justice has been developed.

Just two days back, I was watching a talk show on television in which some xyz DPO told that Sialkot had this tradition of murdering the thieves and then celebrating. So in short, angry citizens have started taking law into their hands and then they overlook the violence unless they themselves become sufferers of it one day.

The culture of Vigilante justice becomes common when citizens stop trusting the state or authority to provide them with justice. If they believe that the state will provide them with justice, they would not take the law into their hands and in fact, leave it to state. But if they believe that they won’t be compensated as they should be, they would take the law into their own hands convicting and punishing whoever they find responsible. This results in a society wherein aggrieved groups in their frustration and desire for vengeance fail to judge all accounts of actions, and are involuntarily granted the unqualified liberty of deciding an appropriate punishment for the guilty. Effectively in civilized societies, this freedom only lies with the state which in turn is efficient enough to ensure civil order and justice to the citizens. But when authorities fail, people establish their own mini courts which often times result in innocent being accused and guilty being punished brutally. Also, we are pretty much aware of how badly Pakistani institutions have failed its citizens. Not only has this but the decrease of civility in our society worsened the matters more.

With the decline in sovereignty of the state, weakening of public institutions, and decrease of civility, it would be absolutely misleading to expect a society free from violence and aggression. But the latest clippings of Sialkot incident clearly indicated how deep-seated violence in Pakistan has turn out to be. It becomes extremely vital then that the state put efforts to gain trust of its citizens and that the institutions are made effective. On our part, we should collectively make efforts to restore civility by practicing tolerance and preaching peace.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pakistan engulfed in seas of woes

Sixty-three years of Independence have passed. But this time Independence Day, amid the "heart-wrenching" devastation caused by the worst floods to hit Pakistan in history, was somber than ever. From a close look at few decades from now, I realize how much of Pakistan has tainted. It’s lamentable and indeed hard for a devoted Pakistani to consider as truth, but it is what the current state of Pakistan so strongly indicates.

The present Pakistan is not the one Quaid wanted to be. Jinnah's once liberal and progressive Pakistan is now looked by the international community as a forefront of terrorism. The present Pakistan is not the one Iqbal dreamt of. He dreamed of a united Pakistan where ethnic tensions and conflicts were not prominent. The present Pakistan is not the one Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto so proudly spoke about. He spoke about a Pakistan where rulers served people and despised living lives of extravagances. We, the unfortunate people, have certainly left behind the Pakistan our forefathers lived and struggled for.

It’s not the first time we are confronting a calamity. People of Pakistan valiantly faced up to the challenges of the 2005 earthquake and the crisis of the IDPs last year. But the enormity of the destruction caused by the floods this year is unprecedented. According to estimates, the floods have killed more than 1600 people, destroyed 8 million acres of crops, and rendered around 2- 5 million homeless. The shocking waves of flood swallowed with them the housings and livestock of the poor who had no other wealth or property, and who currently starve in camps with nothing to eat and drink. Under the sky, these moth and snakes bitten unfortunate people living in poor sanitary conditions, now become disposed to deadly waterborne and skin diseases. The situation can’t be more appalling. The sight of Pakistani brothers and sisters raising hands and fighting over the food distributed is the most troubling one to my mind and emotions. And this just does not stop here. Once the flood stops, more aid will be required for complete rehabilitation of the villages washed away. With one-fifth of the country flooded, infrastructure of the affected areas has been severely damaged. Also, crops worth of billions have been cleaned out causing substantial agricultural and economic loss to the country. For a country already afflicted with inflation and economic instability, these losses will have unimaginable consequences in the form of food shortages and price hikes.

The destruction of such large scale as this obviously requires to be met with considerable domestic and international aid. Despite all of it, we do not find the same zeal among our Pakistani fellows to donate as we did during the 2005 earthquakes, though the situation is eventually getting better. And we are certainly not getting enough aid from the international community. Even though Britain, USA, Saudi Arabia, Canada, World Bank, and UN are providing aid, there is no response from other international organizations like European Union, SAARC and Nato countries. According to statistics by BBC, the donation for a survivor of flood amount to $6.89. But compare it with the donation per survivor of the Haiti earthquake which amount to $669.90. Now, Is it because Pakistan has become extremely unpopular? Or is it because donors are not that motivated to donate owing to many recent disasters? Or is it because of biased media coverage (interesting article)?

Having sufficient aid is just not enough, it is equally important that there proper and strategic use be made. Without efficient disaster management and tactical planning, it would be hard to meet the tasks on hand. A large number of people suffer from indecisiveness to make a contribution only because they believe it won’t be spent on those in dire need. An obnoxious air of distrust has overwhelmed people. But now with the formation of a transparent fund raising committee and the growing understanding of the terrible nature of the disaster, people are willing to contribute.

It’s not adequate to talk about the tribulations only. When we are put into difficult situation, there is always a way out. Though the misery we are in is of exceptionally high degree, it does not make us helpless. As citizens of this nation, we all have role to play at such crucial time as this is when every 1 of 10 is suffering.

Our instant duty should be to contribute and help in whatever capacity we fit in. In fact, we should try to do as much as we can in this blessed month of Ramadan. Instead of squandering all our pennies on extravagant Iftar parties, let us contribute that little also on our millions of brothers and sisters who lost everything. And it is important to note that our contributions should not stop after Ramadan. We would only be able to get out of this dreadful disaster, if we continue contributing. May ALLAH help and bless Pakistan. Ameen.

Image courtesy: boston. com and CNN

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Summer time

Two months of break from IBA passed as quickly as my first year at IBA did. Time flies. And now, there is only one month remaining to prepare myself for the departure from the comforts of home and for returning back again to the sociable and at the same time solitary hostel life routine. Although I have always loved the time spent at IBA and hostel, I never wish to be away from home. Therefore, this summer is a very special one for me and I wish to spend it in ways I can get the most of family time and also be productive. Here’s a short account of my activities this summer:

  • Visit to Larkana with family ( baba’s official visit):

We are all aware of the difficult time Pakistan is going through. Millions have been affected on account of the recent flood which is now moving towards Sindh. Owing to these conditions and my father’s job (general manager), he was asked to visit the power plant at Naudero to ensure the safety of the employees there. When we were visiting the place three days ago, the situation was much under control. Although the river Indus which usually seems to be nearly dry and arid had enough water, it was not in an exceptionally high flood. On our way, we spotted some relief camps with police officers, few tires and boats. I observed that, though many politicians associate great significance to this city which is the hometown of Bhuttos, it is still not completely well developed. There were few universities and schools (including SZABIST and city school), but the population still seemed to be poor and illiterate. Besides that, there were beautiful green fields of rice and wheat crops. These fields gave a wonderful view from car windows. So in all in all, while exploring the city, I get to spend some constructive time with family. Long drives of 5 to 6 hours provide great favorable circumstances to family members to discuss and debate on issues they feel are important. For now, I pray for all the flood victims. May ALLAH give them great strength to endure all hardships. And may they receive quick aid and resources. Amen.

  • Internship at Bank:

It’s an enriching experience. Not only have I learnt about the banking operations but also about the ways with which we should deal and interact with people. Remaining at home teaches men nothing but it’s the exposure of the real world situations that teaches men how to behave and conduct themselves. What I hate about interning at a bank the most is that usually the works given are extremely boring like posting entries into journals, learning about stamps, arranging documents, keeping records, filing and all clerkish sorts of works. The explanations given are not that boring though. Moreover, interning at a bank means four hours spent on a single chair with no physical activity except records keeping and hands movement. How hard I wish to get up and have a 5 minutes walk I can not explain!

Banking is a sedentary job with same routine works. All my sympathies with bankers!

  • Goodreads:

As mentioned in my ‘About me’ that I am a book addict, I love this social networking site for book lovers which provides them with tools to keep track of what they’ve read, compare books with other members, give book recommendations, write and read book reviews, join and form book clubs to discuss on books read and other various issues as well. So for anyone who has a real knack for book reading, this website is the place to be. It has other options as well like customizing your profile with favorite quotes and authors. The only misfortune is that there are not many Pakistani members.

  • Tweet, Tweet, Twitter:

I I have also sort of become a twitter-holic. Before joining, I assumed that this site was for youngsters to be connected and tweet their thoughts and let other fellows know about them. But I am surprised how this site has good number of great bloggers, journalists, anchorpersons, politicians and media devotees. Though I am a late embracer of this site, I find it an interesting and informative place to be

So, that is all I have been doing this summer!

Image Courtesy: Google