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The missing sword

August 24, 2012

-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.