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Tag Archives: Karachi violence

Tujh ko kitnon ka lahu chahiye ae arz-e-watan….

Elections 2013 to be held on May 11th are a week away. We all wait for a new beginning for our beloved Pakistan…..but everyday innocent people continue to lose lives at the hands of militant forces, and the upcoming elections promise to be a time of more bloodshed. I hope our worst fears are proven wrong.

Did Faiz write this for us? For Pakistan today?

Tujh ko kitno(n) ka lahu chahiye ae arz-e-watan
jo teray aariz-e-bayrung ko gulnaar kare(n)
kitnee aahoo(n) say kalejaa tera thunda ho gaa
kitnay aansoo teray sehraao(n) ko gulzaar kare(n)

Teray aewaano(n) mei(n) purzay huay payma(n) kitnay
kitnay waaday jo na aasoodaa-e-iqraar huay
kitnee aankhoo(n) ko nazar khaa gaeey bud-khwaho(n) kee
khwab kitnay teree shehrahoo(n) mei(n) sungsaar huay

bilaa-kashaan-e-muhabbat pe jo huaa so huaa
jo mujh pe guzri mut us say kaho, huaa so huaa
mabada ho koee zalim tera garebaa(n) geer
lahu kay daagh to daman say dho, huaa so huaa

hum to majboor-e-wafa hei(n) mugar ae jaan-e-jahaa(n)
apnay ushshaaq say aysay bhee koee  karta hai
teree mehfil ko Khuda rakhay abad tak qaaim
hum to mehmaa(n) hei(n) gharee bhar kay hamara kya hai

Where are you, Mister Prime Minister, when your people need you?

March 5, 2013

A family affected by the Abbas Town blasts mourns over their loss, while Mr Prime Minister plans his trip to India. PHOTO: REUTERS

Headlines, juxtaposed, stare back at me in the morning paper. I am reading it, still shaken by the events of the Abbas Town Blasts. The sky on this Tuesday morning is tinted a strange reddish strain. Maybe it’s just in the minds of traumatised Karachiites who cannot get over the blood spilled in Abbas Town– blood that has still not dried.

Fumes of that blood are now being breathed in also by residents of the hitherto protected upscale neighbourhoods of Karachi who live in fear of their daughters and wives being kidnapped. We are talking about the blood of the (at least) 48 dead and 140 injured – shops and homes burnt, families displaced, children lost.

Broken toys and burnt textbooks and scattered around. Glass panes through which they used to see the world are now lying as broken shards. Torn dupattas, molten electric wires, blistered dreams and mangled photographs of families smiling on Eid decorate the ground.

Yes, the sky is a little reddish today, especially after the funeral procession also came under fire. Even the dead can no longer rest in peace, not because of their own sins, but because of the sins of those who are still alive and armed.

And as a resident of this bloody city (literally), I somehow cringed at this headline:

“Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to visit shrine in Ajmer Shareef, India”

Really, PM sahab?

With all due respect, it is not your going to Ajmer Shareef that is the problem, sir. Refreshing spirituality, washing sins and praying is as much your right, sir, as is mine. It is the timing! It is the fact that you never cared to visit the site of the blast. Neither did any other bigwigs, the maai baaps, the rulers and movers and shakers who rule and move while our very fabric is shaken up.

However, enough has been said about that. We, the citizens of Pakistan, know now more than ever that we are on our own – abandoned, unclaimed. We are independently left alone to clean up the mess after every carnage. The message “abb khud kuch karna paray ga” (we must do something now) stares at us in the face.

We really don’t have a choice. We no longer trust the promises of getting Rs 1,500,000 each for the families of the dead and Rs 1,000,000 each for the injured. Even if, as part of a huge hypothesis, the amount reaches the deserving hands, will it bring the dead back to life? And wouldn’t it be a band-aid too late, even if it does arrive?

Meanwhile, emotionally drained and angry Karachiites channelise their anger like they should. They vent on social networking sites and outside dhaabaas incessantly, for the sake of their own sanity.

They agitatedly argue about how to react to this; they debate the “what next”; they talk about the ugly head of civil war expected to raise its head. They talk about how it is finally a sad fact even the most patriotic ones of us have to accept that yes, I’d rather let my child become a part of Pakistan’s brain drain.

Let the mass exodus begin. For it is no longer time to say “kaheen Karachi Beirut na bann jaye”. Guess what. We’re already there, but are in denial.

Still, all is not lost! We, the Karachiites, right from Dalmia to Defence,are doing what should be done, and what little is in our power. We stage peaceful protests and raise awareness and collect donations in cash and kind. Our students are tear-gassed and baton-charged and arrested for protesting because the real criminals are a league above – they cannot be laid a finger upon.

The awaam still continues to be resilient. Within 24 hours, 60 bags of blood are donated just outside the phase IV Imambargah Yasrab. Within 24 hours, one million rupees are collected. Within 24 hours, shelters are set up and food, medicines and clothes are reaching the effected. Expats are desperately trying to wire money across to Pakistan. On Sunday night, I got a call from a friend who was weeping because she, after volunteering all day for the victims, still wanted to do more, and wanted to know how she can do it.

I see friends at work rushing out for an hour between work timings to donate blood. I know of parents who train their young children by making them pack boxes for the effected.

It’s not much, we all know, but this is all we can do.

What is most heart-warming is how the miscreants lost a battle there and then when Sunnis of the area opened their homes for their Shia brothers. Abbas Town blasts may be the worst that has happened top Karachi recently, but may bring out the best!

On Monday night, a friend messaged me, sharing how many members of the Shia community who had saved up money to go for Ziarat to Karbala, have decided to donate the money towards the rebuilding of the damaged homes. There are firstly whispers and then more vocal suggestions that money saved for Umrah could be used for the same – suggestions coming from Sunnis.

Mr Prime Minister, you and your comrades could learn a thing or two here, don’t you think, sir?

For me, the biggest silver lining is this: with each consecutive catastrophe, we become braver and more vocal and fearless.

We no longer speak in hushed tones. We are saying no to silence as a nation.

Read more by Farahnaz here or follow her on Twitter @FarahnazZahidi

Confession of a hard-core, biased Karachiite – I love my city, no matter what! That doesn’t mean I’m not hating what’s happening to it

I love Karachi. Period!
I was born here. This, to me, is home. This is where I belong.
Karachi is where the heart is.

To someone visiting Karachi for the first time, it would seem like a gigantic, unruly, chaotic, overgrown, terribly overpopulated metropolis with anger and impatience in it’s people’s traffic sense and a visible cloud of pollution over it when you land at Jinnah International. The pollution chokes you, literally, in certain areas. The load-shedding and electrical breakdowns are legendary. The compartmentalization and social disparity in Karachi is horrendous………we divide people into burgers and bun kababs, for God’s sake! We talk of people in terms of this side of the bridge and that side. People here are so busy and their lives are (no jokes ) so fast-paced that you gotta take appointments even to say hello! It’s a combination of a myriad of ghettos. And the ghettos are very guarded!! It has too many cultures in one city…..or rather, it has a culture all it’s own. It hardly ever rains in Karachi. The weather is often despicable. Half of the population has allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma (me included), and paan stains on walls and roads
are a norm.

And yet, Karachi is where the heart is. And if I could make a million emoticons of the heart right now, I would.

This huge, gigantic city welcomes everyone from all over the country and provides livelihood to millions. The multi-ethnicity culture gives a Karachiite so much exposure that he or she can usually speak Urdu, a bit of Gujrati, understand some Sindhi, laugh at jokes in Punjabi, have had friends from many religious backgrounds, and fit with ease in the hoity toity crowd as well as the average fellow-Karachiite. A Karachiite’s life is crazily fast-paced, yes, but the advantage is we are least pushed about peering into the neighbour’s house to check who their daughter is seeing……..we are more worried about our own lives…..whether this “we” is a maid or a bus driver or a corporate executive or a teacher. We are a little more streetsmart, a little more savvy, a little more resilient, and a little less laid-back than our counterparts from other cities.

My city boasts of Frere Hall, Empress Market, Mohatta Palace, the Baaradari, and the whole heritage museum…..mile upon mile….which we call Saddar. My city is the home of Waheed’s dhaaga kabab, Burns Road ki Rabri, Noorani ki Karahi and BBQ Tonite. My city has amazing cafes and the most upscale eateries, a great night life, and it throbs with art and culture. My city has beaches and parks and bridges that are our pride. We go crabbing here and love scuba-diving here. We get the freshest seafood and our city has the best evening breeze in the entire world. And on a positive note that may border on irrational here, Karachi is the home of the best paans in the world (can anyone beat Ami’s Raja Saab?)!

All’s ALMOST perfect in Karachi. To Karachiites, it’s the best place on earth. We take pride in it with arrogant defiance.

But every now and then, a part of me wants to run away. Escape.
Just go somewhere else and shut my eyes and pretend Karachi is like it was when I was growing up……..when I could cycle alone on the street and go for a walk every night, me and my mother alone, after dinner. When I could have smaller walls and no alarm systems in my home. When my school had no bomb threats. When I didn’t have to pray for my loved ones every few weeks when fresh surges of violence erupt that they make it home safe. When I could give lift to someone in my car and help someone I didn’t know without fear of being mugged.

When I did not have to read a headline on the 8th of July, 2011, that today is the fourth consecutive day of senseless violence and 80 people so far have lost their lives. 80 people…..mere statistics for me, but 80 homes in my city shattered and bleeding and in darkness. And this is not stopping any times soon, they say. It’s like a terminal illness. Dormant for a while, and raising it’s head again and again.

Karachi – How I love you, only I know.
But there are times I want to leave you. Give up on you. Run away.
I don’t…….but I do fantasize about doing so. I confess, my beloved, I confess.