Blogs > Cliopatria > PAKISTAN - NO MAN'S LAND

Aug 11, 2009 4:46 pm


No one could be more hopeless about the future of a country, than Evan Thomas of Newsweek is about Pakistan. He visited the country with Richard Holbrooke. Before they could go anywhere the streets had to be emptied. The president cannot look out of his window because there is a wall designed to withstand a bomb blocking the view, he reported yesterday on Inside Washington. It is a country on the brink of collapse. The host thank him for the depressing news!

The moment the transcript is posted I will link it. At the moment something is wrong even with the video. Flames of Hate

Wide eyed, and alert, Javed and Irfaan, two brothers, step in to the house. They sit close to each other, almost in a huddle. Both look slightly anxious not knowing what to expect from our conversation, but as it progresses, they seem more at ease.

‘Two of my cousins and my aunt were burnt alive in the Gojra incident,’ Javed states, stressing on each word holding my gaze. Javed does most of the talking while 19-year-old Irfaan sits quietly staring and occasionally, faintly, repeating his brother’s last word. His cousins who were murdered were Honey who was in 8th grade and Saji, who was a little younger. Memories of them are as far away as seven to eight years, but they become ebullient as they reminisce about their horse play. ‘We used to play hide and the mountains, not like the ones here...we used to play that a lot,’ and they’re both smiling. . . .

The attack that took place in Gojra on the 1st of August was a premeditated attack. Warning signs were given hours in advance with some armed victims keeping the attackers at bay for a few hours. All this time, the district police officer (DPO) opted to remain a silent spectator to the brutal killing and the police refused to step in. The mild admonition of the DPO entailed a transfer of his post. Given the grave outcome of the attack the state should have prosecuted the law enforcers who were supposed to adopt a strong stance against organised terrorism and against anyone who supports it, especially those who don’t prevent it from happening.

The incident at Gojra where seven Christian children women and men were burnt alive on the pretext of ‘blasphemy’ allegedly on the instigation of the banned Sipah-i-Sahaba is not an isolated incident. Minorities have been victims of many similar attacks in the past as well. Without a modicum of respite just a day after the Gojra incident, there was another vicious display of fanaticism in Sheikhupura when a factory owner was burnt alive. Incidents similar to these picked up pace after the blasphemy law was amended by the dictator, Ziaul Haq, creating a draconian version. It seems as if the only use of this amended law was for the purpose of misuse. . . .

The day after the Gojra incident, a group of people gathered on a green belt outside the National Press Club in Islamabad. As one got closer one could hear a faint sound of hymns. The group was led by a woman with a child leaning against a tree. Those present sat in heavy silence and those who spoke did so just to give information as to why they were there. There was a substantial turn up from the Christian community, but unfortunately no Muslims were to be seen. That said a lot.

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