A Call For Reason

A Call For Reason


K. Hussan Zia.

Bloody Partition of India BBC Picture The street was short and narrow. Lying like the garbage across the street and in its open gutters were bodies of the dead


It was very moving to read Editor Pakistan Think Tank’s account of what he appropriately describes as the holocaust that took place in East Punjab in 1947. Like him I too am a survivor of that terrible calamity and have still not gotten over the trauma brought on by what I witnessed. I was able to include some eyewitness accounts in a book that I published about the history of Muslims in India and how Pakistan came into being.

The sacrifice was enormous. It is not possible narrate everything here except that it was open season on Muslims everywhere in Indian Punjab. Things were allowed to go on for four months until there was not a single Muslim left. By most counts more than a million of them were massacred regardless of age or gender in unimaginably cruel ways. Some seven million or so were forced to leave everything behind and seek shelter in Pakistan. They lived only because there was Pakistan. 

The two things that stood out most was firstly the incredible generosity and sacrifice by the people already in Pakistan, nowhere more so than in Lahore. The city had a deserted look in those days. Virtually all the shops and businesses were closed and the streets empty. The only noticeable traffic consisted of lines of ‘rehras‘ (horse carts) laden with piles of baked chapattis streaming towards the refugee camp, day after day, all day long donated by the ever so generous and compassionate citizens of Lahore.

The other was the incredible resilience shown by the refugees. They did not waste much time nor did they wait for the govt. to provide for them. They went wherever they could find a place and got on with their lives as best as they could. Impelled by an indomitable spirit, they believed without question that Pakistan was going to survive and be a success. This is what made Pakistan and what has enabled her to overcome every set back in the past.

Sadly, we seem to be losing this spirit and giving way to despondancy and despair. Much of it is due to the media that do not have the national interest at heart and appear to have sold their souls. The succession of low grade leaders has not helped either. Many of them too are in the business for themselves; others are trying exploit public sentiment for their own purposes regardless of how much damage it is doing to the country as a whole.

They are screaming for change but have no coherent plan for what they will do once they are in power. The question we have to ask is what exactly is it that they want to change and precisely how they intend to bring it about? It is not good enough to say, ‘hand over the country to me and then I will show you’. The Devil lies in the detail.

A country can be likened to a tree. it is necessary to prune it and remove the dead wood from time to time to maintain its health. If you start to dig at its roots you run the risk of killing it. The point being that there is a right way and a wrong way and what is being done now, I fear, is not the right way. 

The ongoing shenanigans remind me of Ata Ullah Shah Bokhari and Allama Mashriqi, two fiery Muslim leaders who opposed to the Muslim League and Jinnah. They and their ilk would have brought nothing but unmitigated disaster had it not been for Mr. Jinnah, may Allah bless his soul. If there is to be change it has to be done right and under the right leadership otherwise we shall spend the rest of our lives repenting it. 
If there is any truth in the saying that nations get the leaders they deserve, we have to look at ourselves first. Sadly, we have not done nearly enough to justify the legacy bequeathed to us by Jinnah. There is a lot we can do at our personal and local levels that we are not doing. Cursing Nawaz Sharif and calling for his head is not going to solve anything and could easily land us in a far worse situation.
Level headed good sense and informed logic has to be the guiding principle and must prevail for there to be a better Pakistan. Just as important, each of us has to do his or her own part and the sooner we start the better. Uncalled for theatrics, tasteless invective, lawless politics and expedience at the expence of principles can only lead to instability which is highly dangerous given the existing geo-political environment.


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