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Paying for beliefs

January 01, 2013

FROM Swat to Karachi, from Malala Yousufzai and her friends to Mehzar Zehra, no one is safe from the growing lawlessness, militancy and sectarian violence. While the year 2012 saw innumerable deaths on these counts, Malala and Mehzar, though spared by death, are two figures who have made thousands of hearts to weep and hands raised in payers for their early recovery and health.

Mehzar was wounded while on her way to school along with her father who was the main target. Mehzar’s only fault was that she belonged to the Shia community whose members are frequently targeted for their religious beliefs, making us the butt of all jokes with Muslims killing Muslims for religious beliefs.

On November 30, Mehzar’s father Syed Nazar Abbas Zaidi, who was a member of the Shia Azadari Anjuman, was on his way to drop his daughter to school when his car was ambushed. Both were rushed to hospital, but while Zaidi could not survive, 12-year-old Mehzar is still struggling for life. She is reported to have received three bullets, one of which hit her spinal cord and doctors fear that she might be left paralysed.

Mehzar’s parents, one of whom is no longer in this world to support the other in this crisis, definitely had dreams for their daughter. Her mother sitting at her bedside, praying for her life and health, is suffering a double grief – she lost her life partner; she couldn’t even mourn her husband’s death and her daughter is in critical condition struggling for life. Only God knows whether Mehzar will be able to get up on her feet, go back to school and pursue her and her parents’ dreams.

A young girl is suffering such pain just because she is a member of a community which some elements in society do not agree with and want to eliminate its followers, especially active members who are trying to contribute to the cause of the community or working for the community’s welfare.

Though the country is plagued with general lawlessness, target killings especially on sectarian grounds are causing restlessness among the community. Incidents such as these show the government’s incompetence to provide security to the public, who have been left at the mercy of the terrorists.

There are people who suspect that certain political parties and the government may have vested interest in not controlling the situation from getting worse. “The fact that blacklisted and banned outfits have offices in Karachi and their rallies are given protection by police and Rangers give credence to this assertion,” remarked one.