When I heard that four Hazara women were identified on a bus in Quetta, then taken out and shot by extremists who don’t think Shia deserve to live, I didn’t react immediately. The news came in yesterday and I barely absorbed it because it was so horrible. I wanted to bat it away from my mind as quickly as possible.
I had just published an op-ed in the Dawn about Imdad Ali, a paranoid schizophrenic who faces the death penalty for a murder he committed in 2002. The comments on the op-ed and on social media showed no understanding of mental illness and how it diminishes the capacity of a person to understand his or her own wrongdoing. “He should be hanged,” they said, “to give the victim’s family justice.” “So what if he says he’s insane? Zardari said he had a back problem and fled abroad to dance.”
I woke up this morning and the Hazara women’s killing was all over the news and social media. I couldn’t help then but react, and react badly, with a storm of Tweets about what this incident makes me feel about my country. This happened at the same time a lynch mob consisting of mullahs wanted to get their hands on Nabeel Masih, a 16 year old Christian boy charged with blasphemy because he “liked” a picture of the Kaa’ba on Facebook. They would have torn him to pieces if the police hadn’t protected him by keeping him in jail.
Here is what I had to say about what it means to be Pakistani today.
Four Hazara women on a bus were killed by gunmen because they were Shia and Hazara. Triple minorities: disgusting crime on so many levels.
We are a bloodthirsty nation. Unless blood is spilled we are not satisfied. We are a vengeful nation, too. Forgiveness? What’s that?
Even though Islam teaches us to forgive, we use Islam as a reason to take revenge. We are a nation of confused souls. Malicious, too.
Like victims becoming abusers, we are traumatized people who take our hurt out on the vulnerable and defenseless in society.
We have no understanding of our own psyches, we have no capacity for self-reflection. We are frozen in ice, and our cold-heartedness hurts.
We want all God’s mercies and blessings on us but we don’t even want to consider acting with mercy towards the weak. We are bullies.
And who are our victims? Minorities. Children. Women. The mentally ill. The physically disabled. While we hide behind a show of strength.
THIS is what it means to be Pakistani?
We should cry at what we’ve become. A harsh, unkind, unforgiving nation. I want to cry.
We cry about Syrian refugees but are ready to throw out Afghan refugees from our country.
We cry because we are not respected as Muslims abroad and then we disrespect minorities at home.
We talk about Muslim unity but we allow Shias to be murdered with impunity.
We talk about respect for women when women are bought and sold every day in our country.
We cry when Saudis mistreat Pakistani laborers while we ignore bonded labor in the brick kilns of Punjab.
We cry about burkinis in France but harass and molest women at bus stops in all the cities of Pakistan.
We cry about corruption and then admire the weddings of the super rich in our social magazines.
We have no moral compass. We have no ethical core. We claim to be Muslims, God-fearing, but we act like animals, not humans.
We boast about our charity, how much we give to the poor, while we grow fat and bloated on stolen money like ticks on a dog.
We laud killers and we abuse those who fight for human rights.
We boast that God gave us Pakistan while we steal land from poor villagers to make gated complexes and mega malls.
We boast that Muslims are cleaner than Hindus, chooras, chamars, but we throw our garbage on the streets everywhere.
We stuff money into charity boxes but we underpay servants and laborers to save money.
I didn’t tweet this but I wanted to:
There is a chapter in the Quran named after people like us, and you win no points for guessing which one it is.