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 A cry in the wilderness

No friends! I will not be able to write; words seem empty, and sentences trivial, the pen is stuttering, the mind is paralyzed, I feel desolate, wrapped in depression and pessimism. Besides I am an “‘Ajmi”, uncoached in the play of words. Neither can I write an elegy nor a eulogy; had I been the uncrowned king of lamentations I would not have been able to give this tragedy its due. But how long can a lamentation be? Here, it’s a new tragedy everyday, a new mishap, the writhing bodies of the innocent, the blasted breasts of patriots and hailers of Faith. Is it really true that no one has the right to walk our land with their heads up?

But these little angels had not challenged anyone! What they went through in light of day and darkness of night, under the very noses of minders and protectors, would not have befallen even a wild animal at the hands of a wild beast. Have we really descended so low into the hole of darkness where humanity struggles for breath and moral values die out? You must be thinking I’m putting riddles to you or trying to lay a puzzle to you……but no friends! This is neither a riddle nor a puzzle. This is a living tragedy that took place in Mayman Goth, a suburb of the “City of Light”, Karachi. It captured the banners of the press for some days and then became old news; but is it really old news? Just ask the mother who saw the body of her little darling, torn and chewed up by wild beasts; just ask the father who lifted the bits of what was left of his daughters in his arms!

I have the newspaper. I lift it and put it down; I start reading, then cannot go further. In my mind I reach Mayman Goth, where there lived two little girls, one eight year old and the other just five…………the age for building sandcastles, the time for playing. Faces like shining stars, but poverty a family member………a hard working father, hungry, needing wood for fire, the traditional eastern love coming to the fore, the wish to help the parents by collecting firewood, the journey to the woods to collect sticks……the sense of safety the nearby police station gave, the confrontation with the two legged wolves, the assailing lust, the hungry eyes, the satanic faces, the vulnerability and helplessness of the little angels, the cries, the little hands begging for mercy, the rolling tears, the devilish shouts of laughter, the monstrous brutality, the clothes in tatters, the bodies in blood, two corpses like broken toys…………lifeless eyes, the tears dried on cold cheeks…………the crowding of wild beasts after human ones, dogs, cats, jackals, wolves…………the tatters of humanity, the shavings of law, the shreds of morality. The heart-rending cries of the parents, the pledges of the politicians, an action replay of the 56 year old pastime of throwing mud on one another…… hypocrisy, callousness, accusations of incompetence, the generosity of the city’s governor, the price for the dead, a cheap bargain for humanity, the establishment of a committee, the promise of investigation, the announcements of hanging, the dreadful talk of making an example, the arrests, suspensions and dismissals!

But friends! Nothing will happen. The sands of time have covered innumerable guiltless bodies, countless protest marches and cries have bounced off the citadel walls. The sky did not fall in, the earth did not shatter, the current of time kept passing; the wrangling for ministries, and the power struggle never stopped, commissions and committees kept on being prepared, meetings kept on being held, declarations kept on being made, avowals kept on being taken to deal with iron fists.

But ………these fists whenever lifted, they lifted on friends, on patriots of nation and country. These days of course, these iron fists are very busy. Their increased responsibilities hardly leaves them time for such “small” matters. The Pathans of the tribal areas have become too headstrong. They just refuse to bend to anyone but Allah, they will befriend anyone who proclaims the Kalimah, be he Arab or Ajam, Tajik or Uzbek. They even marry into them, establish brotherhood; they don’t give a damn for national “interests” and “constraints”. They just don’t understand that this brotherhood was for a specified moment, this assistance was tied to the fancy of the bully of our times, and he does not fancy now. But these crazy people, they prefer Allah’s fancy to anyone else’s; they will have to learn their lesson, so this iron fist is being used. Suspicious public transport is under fire, blood is flowing, bodies are falling, payments are being made, commissions are sitting, investigations being done. These investigations made their debut with the founding of Pakistan………but neither are the results announced nor the characters get their due. These results are too sensitive, the characters too powerful; their safety takes precedence over everything. Honor, respect, blood, lives; all can be sacrificed for them. Bringing the results to light can change the whole scene: there can be big scandals, government overthrows, political shops shuttered down, the sentiments of the people escalated to hysteria, the weak come to power, storms raged in the halls of authority, whirlpools kicked up in stagnant waters……so naturally, its better not to reveal the results to the public.

These lines were being written when 48 more fell in Quetta. Hundreds are injured; the hospitals are choked with awry groaning bodies. Protestations have been made, commissions been set up, investigations started………the iron fist is operating. Declarations have been made to mete out severe punishment to those responsible for the tragedy……but just in the papers.

Sassi and Hajra, the unfurled buds of Mayman Goth! We are distressed at your parting. Your sighs and cries, your imploring entreaties storm our feelings. If you had been born in a responsive society, if you had been thus thrown under a mountain of torment in a law abiding country: many heads would have rolled, many ministries would have come under attack……but! In my dear country volcanoes might erupt and business calmly goes on undisturbed, shouts of laughter can be heard in company with cries of lament. It is just not done here to dismiss the answerable on the biggest of tragedies. My blossom-like daughters! The regret is that we can do nothing other than raise this voice of protest although we know that it will be nothing more than a cry in the wilderness……another cry among the millions of others…well, let it be……perhaps this might prove to be the reason for our absolution. Tomorrow when the cries will be gathered from the wilderness of cries, we will be lucky to have our voice among those that rose for the defense of innocent, defenseless daughters.

(by Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani Sahib)