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The missing sword


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-Illustration by Faraz Aamer Khan.

There really are no black and white categories that can determine what the future holds for us. If that was likely by even a smidgeon, wouldn’t everyone be happily married, having cased out beforehand the compatibility structure, every childhood be smooth with just knee-scraps to show for learning to walk, a few issues later in life but ironed out because your category was determined and treatment for your inflictions known, the world a happy place and basic human rights and humanity be more of a reality than a myth we aspire to one day find?

In this beloved country of ours, we are in one form or another subliminally reminded of the Quaid’s three pillars of strength – Unity, Faith and Discipline. Sadly, all three are neither practiced nor visible today.  Compounding this invisibility, lack of tolerance is wearing dangerously thin. The root cause identified by successive governments – a lack of education. Lip service, electioneering slogans notwithstanding education has never been accorded a priority by any government.

The word “tolerance” now acts more as a gasp-insinuator than a reality-check. This ‘intolerance’ was recently revealed in all its sad glory in the inhumane handling of an 11-year-old girl, Rimsha Masih suffering from Down’s Syndrome in Islamabad because she supposedly burnt pages from the Quran which later reports said were actually pages from a Noorani Qaida (school text book with Arabic script as written in the Quran).

With passionate, uncontrolled, immediate rage being one of our character traits a mob quickly assembled to punish the little child for her supposed crime. To note, all this happened in Ramazan the month of forbearance and sacrifices. More specifically on Juma-tul-Widah.

Its time we all agree that education is indeed the proverbial sword missing from Teen Talwar. As a result of this lack of education and the fact it is not nurtured, tons of talent too is being wasted. Look at Qayanos Khan, the young garbage-collector who by sheer dint of determination, resolve and hard-work made a living for himself and paid his own education expenses. He took it upon himself to sit for the Matriculation exam from Mirpurkhas and achieved 2nd position against the privileged bunch he was up against, no thanks to the government.

Am I too much of an idealist to ask that education be made a national priority? It might help prevent or at least diffuse mob situations like in Rimsha’s case. It might help people understand that they are not above the law; and taking it in their own hands is unacceptable.

The term ASAP has never had a better use than being put in front of the word “Humanity”. I will not even dignify calling Rimsha Masih the little “Christian” girl because difference in religion is redundant in matters of humanity. What if it had been a Muslim girl suffering from Down’s Syndrome?  Would she have been inflicted similar physical torment?

And is Down Syndrome the only reason we are clicking our tongues in outrage? Shouldn’t age, in this case, a minor in all respects be taken into consideration? Didn’t they know the little child does not know even now why she was taken away from home to live in a jail? And may probably never know because of her mental condition?

Is not the treatment meted out to this girl more of a travesty to our nation’s image than Osama hiding out in Abbotabad? While this sad incident is being talked about now, I can guarantee it will be forgotten as soon as a politician or anchor pulls yet another ridiculous stunt.

We say the rest of the world is racist towards our people and they have the wrong impression of us, but guess what? Clichés are built on some premise of reality. And we are simply giving them reasons for their opinions. Its time we look at ourselves to see where we are headed. With corruption eating away at the innards of our country, we opt instead to make our own list of evils. And by the looks of it, a mentally challenged girl is a bigger threat than the monster of corruption bedeviling our country.

Pause. Think.


The author is a writer, radio jockey, extremist animal lover and aspiring film-maker with a penchant for going off on a tangent.


The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (45) Closed

ahmed41 Aug 25, 2012 07:21am
Education is a good ideal~~~~but here we are addressing an education in humane values. Formal education is not enough. Correct humane values are created in the mind and heart of the child at home by the parents, elders and role models. That is where we should start~~~~not in high school
Asim Aug 25, 2012 06:11am
Perhaps you should stop reading Farhan. Like the rest of us who cannot bear the truth.
Tahir Aug 24, 2012 05:53pm
There is a culture among the Christians, that is, despise Islam and bash the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Whatever the american priest Terry John did? Which Sydrome was he suffering? What the american troops did with the Quran in Afghanistan? Which Sydrome were they suffering? The american christians used the Quranic papers as the toilet paper on Guantanamo bay? Which was their syndrome? Should we forget the blasphemy through the caricatures? Moreover, there are evidences that the christian clergy in Pakistan appear on the Pakistani media and explicitly blaspheme, which is their syndrome? The elders set the example and the layman follows their foot-steps. Who will meliorate the christians and solicite them in the name of God, please stop stop stop the diseased culture of the abuses. Will they? i have less hope, cause its the part and parcel of their creed. Has any Muslim burnt the Bible? Why all the moral lessons are only for the Muslim society? I think its an old syndrome, categorically known as Muslim/Islamophobia.
Raj Aug 27, 2012 07:16pm
Then take revenge from Americans if you have guts. Why this poor girl is punished. And who throws those papers in dust bin. That girl didn't bought papers she find as a rubbish paper. Somebody from your community might have rubbished and thrown in to dust bin. Use your brain if you have.
ashok Aug 24, 2012 01:08pm
Instead of Praying, do something useful ........or enjoy watching daily soaps............prayers never helped anyone. It is just our Illusion. It an advice for both Hindus and muslims.
Sandip Aug 24, 2012 12:24pm
Let kids be kids. Let them play and have fun. Why do 11 year old need to burn pages from books to cook. Why cant they simply play and have fun. I would never put my daughter in that situation. No matter what happens. Other part of it is in India and Pakistan, why do people have so much time? Can't they do there work instead of getting into a mob. Work and make your life better instead of gathering in a mob to protect your religion. If there is no food on your table what are you going to eat? Basic knowledge, my first duty is to myself which is to make life better for my family.
shankar Aug 24, 2012 12:54pm
So you kill some more in the name of religion. What a logic!
Nabarun Dey Aug 24, 2012 12:56pm
Islam devalued ? Spurious Blasphemy eating into the vitals of Pakistan? Shame indeed.
shankar Aug 24, 2012 12:53pm
Hahaaha. Down and counting! But really sad as you said that it could have been so much different for Pakistan. They had good human and natural resource. One obsession killed it all.
Amir Saeed Aug 24, 2012 12:47pm
What a shame! and then we wonder why does Pakistan have such a bad image?
asma ali Aug 25, 2012 05:08pm
Really sad and tragic. Poor Rimsha. Where the heck is the government? or are they too an uneducated ignorant lot with no humanity in them?
Hina Aug 26, 2012 07:33pm
May I ask...if she was 16 and not afflicted with down syndrome... would it be OK to take action against her for ... let
manish Aug 25, 2012 06:12am
fully agree with is just an illusion....and nothing else....
doraha Aug 25, 2012 07:59am
You are courageous and brave and need to be saluted. Believe it, illiterate population of this country with the stamp of extremism and madrassah education all are in suffering from down syndrome not this innocent girl.
Dixit Aug 25, 2012 06:18am
Can't Dawn try to translate these good articles so as to enable more people read them because only few people read articles in english and only few of them are capable of doing something useful.
Ather Aug 25, 2012 06:40am
To the Author and all the proponents of Christianity here: Stop highlighting this issue! The West is butchering innocents daily in Waziristan with the complicity of the Western Media which conveniently ignores the massacres by American Drones. One little girl is wrongly accused hereband all the hell breaks lose in the Western media. Can't you see that the West is waging a sophisticated campaign to defame Pakistan? It doesn't help one bit when our Media wrongly lights up this relatively benign news. Has the New York Times times published on main page the annihilation of Burmese Muslims at the hands of their venerated Buddhists whose leader they rushed to award the Nobel Prize?
alia Aug 24, 2012 03:05pm
11 year old girl making fun of islam? Solomon2 either you are ignorant or ur grey cells need some tonic. When did the child girl make fun of islam? She suffers from Downs Syndrome since birth. Do you know what that is? Their mental faculty slows down. An 11 yr old might have the mind of a 2 yr old. And physically too they are hampered. Did she even know what she was doing or what papers were in her hand? Think. Suggest google Downs Syndrome, read and then comment. Ignorance is what is killing this country
Saeed Aug 24, 2012 03:47pm
Really? The killing of innocent people gets 'boring' for you? I am sure the people dying on the streets of Karachi every day, and the persecuted Christians and Hindus, and the massacred Shias, and those killed around Pakistan on the basis of their ethnicity won't agree, and neither will their families. You may not like the article itself (I don't either), but your apathy is and inhumanity is astounding and disturbing. I sincerely hope, for the sake of Pakistan, my country and yours, that people stop thinking of these horrific acts as 'routine' things. I don't have to kill someone to believe in what I do; you don't have to die for where you were born, what your affiliations are, and what language you speak. For God's sake, look at your own loved ones; have a heart.
Believer Aug 25, 2012 02:20am
Religion is a personal matter and don't expect anyone to agree with my views. While I wouldn't knowingly desecrate a copy/part of Gita for what it represents to me, I wouldn't worry or care if someone else did. The words of Gita are words of God and thus eternal truth and divine
malik Aug 25, 2012 01:39am
Agree man. All my life I have never seen a miracle or any pray being answered.
PAKISTANI CANADIAN Aug 25, 2012 12:26am
Wow , I wonder How come all our politicians sleeping or just don't care . i wish some one just ask the question ,where did the girl find the supposedly Holy Quran pages , surely it didn't belong to her , so why don't the catch the Muslims who threw these holy pages in the first place , cause if this so called caring Muslim would not throw this sacred pages this uneducated , mentally incapable kid would not have destroyed them , PEOPLE WAKE UP AND LOOK AT THE MIRROR AND IF YOU HAVE A CONSCIENCE ASK YOUR SELF WHO IS TO BLAME
Hammad Aug 25, 2012 12:10am
Though my knowledge regarding the event is meager, I really don't think that by any chance a 11 year old girl would be treated like an adult. And you really can't argue on that. Osama, I think was the biggest threat to Pakistan, if not Islam directly, Because of him thousands of Muslims have been victimized and martyred. And I don't really believe in conspiracy theories, the fact is they are dying because of this. But that was not the point of my reply. My argument here is leave others and accept Islam by heart as our Holy Prophet(SAW) guided us and how sahabis followed it. When each Pakistani Muslim is like that then we can cater to issues of such nature. khud sahi hain nahi, har kaam mei chorri hai, jhoot har jaga aam hai, masjidein khali hain and kisi 11 saal ki bachi ne kuch ker dia tu Islam pe anch agayi.. bhai islam appna tu lo phir jihad kerna us k liye..
Hammad Aug 25, 2012 12:00am
I don't really agree, but wouldn't say more as I believe you follow a different religion.
sami Aug 24, 2012 10:23pm
A most intelligent article who has a most intelligent mind, one who knows the difference between educated thinking vs that of emotional outrage like beating this child. Thank you Ayesha. We need more educated thinkers in the world like you. Maybe we could live in peace by knowing the "right" thing to do. Bless this child and her family who have been let down by her neighbors & community. Thanks again for an honest report.
fed up Aug 24, 2012 08:39pm
Would the sunnis please rise and stop this insanity in their name? Even in US we have sunni cemetaries where shias are not allowed to be burried. Religion is supposed to bring peace to your heart. If you can't find peace in being a sunni than go practice some other faith. What part of "Lakum deenukum walia din" do you not get.
hirni Aug 24, 2012 09:38pm
its not the girl..its the christian land they wanted so scare her family to move and they can take over their house wealth or settle a personal score...They can get away with it because government is on their side not the minorities. So welcome to Pakistan land of pure and pious..I never understood ."I need my god to protect me why I have to protect my god."..why my god is so weak? why my faith is so weak that it is threatened by 11 year old girl..ask yourself why..and answer me...
Zafar Malik Aug 24, 2012 03:42pm
Ignorent and blood thirsty mullahs are the real culprits. Unless you find the a way to controll these people, they will keep one brainwashing people and incite them to commit horrible crimes. Like movies are censored, their sermons should also be scrutanized by a censor board. Mullahs thinks that they are the wisest people in the world, but in fact they are not. They are doing to Islam what Catholic clergy was doing to Christianity in medival Europe. what Minsha is going through is an Islamic version of Witch hunting.
Salman Aug 24, 2012 11:01am
Indeed, Education should be priority specially when it comes to Religion. Islam has always been a religion to promote peace, patience and Love among the people of the society no matter to which race, cast or religion they belong. It always makes me sad to hear such incidents. May Allah guide all of us.
Hamid Hameed Aug 24, 2012 03:08pm
Great. Now you ought to translate it in English for the benefit of the English speaking masses.
raika45 Aug 24, 2012 12:37pm
If the papers were in Arabic, how can a christian girl that does attend Islamic religious classes understand what was written on these papers?
i like it Aug 24, 2012 07:16pm
those 35,000 deaths are justified in america for the lives lost in 9/11. both arguments are shallow and ill-conceived. i think being a citizen of a country that was based to protect minorities (muslims in India), that you would have the basic sense of compassion for minority rights. or maybe you have lost the true sprit of being Pakistani
Indian Aug 24, 2012 07:06pm
ya..its boiring for you because you are not facing the hard burger fed intellectuals will never understand...its simply so called "boring" for you.....continue living in a shell of luck
farhan Aug 24, 2012 01:00pm
You should stop writing..!!
Cyrus Howell Aug 24, 2012 05:15pm
Sad, isn't it.
Solomon2 Aug 24, 2012 01:03pm
"Is not the treatment meted out to this girl more of a travesty to our nation
fiaz Aug 24, 2012 01:08pm
Sadly we live sick barbaric society, were the educated are no better then un-educated, because they are silent as it's not happing to them.
rehan Aug 24, 2012 11:13am
Yawwn...another clumsy attempt at linking the article to the same issue , namely the "insecurity" of minorities. Gets boring after a while really, especially when you consider that 35,000+ people have been killed in the "war on terror" .
alia Aug 24, 2012 10:44am
Bravo Ayesha! Amazing article! To be honest, I said a prayer for little Rimsha after my juma namaz today. You are showing us a mirror to our faces and I,for one, am ashamed of myself
Zimbo_Indian Aug 24, 2012 04:44pm
Ashok, I do agree that prayer is a useless instrument for achieving any thing good. It most commonlyyields inhuman results. Yet, Alia's writing on this page is itself a small little step towards a better world. Don't ridicule her.
Mihir Aug 24, 2012 12:04pm
Galib masjid hai bahut door, chalo ajj kisi rote hue bache ko jalaya jaye.
shaukat Aug 24, 2012 02:37pm
May I ask why?
Sohail Qureshi Aug 24, 2012 02:36pm
Don't know, what to say ? Rationale behavior is coming to en END, as far as the Government of Pakistan or it's Politicians are concerned -- Less said, the Better. Everything is a means for more manipulation and violence. Man has gotta know his limitation ---- that includes the Majorities and the Minorities.
BRR Aug 24, 2012 02:17pm
The writer's anguish seems genuine indeed. But her suggestion that "lack of education" is the problem is not true. A tolerant society, even with lack of educational means, will not descend into such barbarity. An educated intolerant society will revel in such exploits. Don't point at education as the solution, or the reason for the problems. Point your finger at the people, at their lack of morality, at their propensity to inflict harm on others, at their self-righteousness.
Deepen C Aug 24, 2012 11:31am
What can you say when the majority has been suffering from the downs syndrome? Just sad.
maryam Aug 24, 2012 01:34pm
This post is really offensive. So you turn a blind eye and let injustice continue? " Focus on the injustices of others, but please kindly don`t address and correct it at home. "