On the Cusp of Change

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It’s a new day. It will soon be 8:00 am in Pakistan. Like a blank sheet of paper the day is ours to write whatever we wish to, individually and collectively. Yes, it’s a Friday, don’t forget to read Surah Al Kahf advises my niece and the good Doctor Qamar Zaman, an angel of mercy; his mother is ill, please pray for her recovery and good health. And we are still grieving the loss of the 60 freshly minted police officers who were, macabre, as it may seem, summoned back, and rendered defenseless to await their fate in the darkness of the night; and those tragically few who were designated to protect them and paid with their lives. Faiz, a prophetic poet, had perhaps written “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” but as the death roll continues, one appalling carnage follows another, our senses are numbed, dulled out, leaving us like zombies in a haze unable to grasp, to fully comprehend and feel the pain that the death of the young in these horrible circumstances causes to their near and ones. Death too, has become a number. Perhaps John Donne makes more sense, “never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee”.

But yet in these despairing times, there is a hope, a flickering light, a candle in the wind, that perhaps the skirmish of last night in the Federal Capital is finally the much awaited harbinger of change, of a better tomorrow, especially so for the teeming millions of our people who have been rendered destitute and forlorn by a pervading system of institutionalized corruption which has, in its expanse, touched a fair amount of seemingly good honest folks. How else can you explain that in a shrinking economy with a rising unemployment particularly of the educated young, the middle class has grown to 35 million – someone quoted in Dawn the other day. I wish them well. They have to deal with their conscience, I with mine. Yet for the increase in the middle class, which accounts for the success of the services sector, millions other have been pushed into dismal poverty.

So what do we do now? Do we equivocate? Do we preach constitutionalism? Do we tut-tut about breaking the curfew? Or do we grasp the moment, take the bull by horns, challenge the thousand little gods that we are petrified of and carve this nation’s destiny afresh, write, what has hitherto been unwritten. It is up to the young among us to determine; for it is their tomorrow that’s at stake. We just need to remind them that the time is now.

For those of us who were born with Pakistan, a few years earlier, a few years later, are in the twilight years, for better or worse, we have lived our lives, lame in one leg, barely able to walk with the other and diminishing sight we cannot impose our vision on the young. That would not be fair.

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