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Unheard Pleas Of The Oppressed Hazaras And The PM’s Stubbornness

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پڑی رہنے دو انسانوں کی لاشیں

زمیں کا بوجھ ہلکا کیوں کریں ہم

یہ بستی ہے مسلمانوں کی بستی

یہاں کارِ مسیحا کیوں کریں ہم

جون ایلیا

Let the dead bodies lie around

Why should we lighten the load of the world?

This is the land of Muslims

Why should we be the Messiah?

Jaun Alia

The first sign of Man becoming civilized was when hundreds of thousands of years ago our long distant ancestors started taking care of those who needed help. This compassion eventually led to developed societies and civilization as we know it. Compassion is not restricted to homo sapiens. Several animals take care of hurt members, some even mourn and shed tears for the loss of their loved ones. Compassion is a noble sentiment and standing with the oppressed is an obligation for anyone claiming to be morally upright. This goes double for those in power for they claim to be leaders of their people and have the duty to help the hurt ones.  

My favorite political figure is Abraham Lincoln. In my opinion the greatest non-religious head of state this world has produced. Lincoln won the civil war and ended slavery. The former is an important political victory, the latter a crucial moral one but also tied to overall policy. But the reason I respect him even more is because of the compassion he showed even for those not who would have little bearing on his politics. In November 1964 Lincoln learned that a widow in Boston called Lydia Parker Bixby had lost five sons in the civil war. They were fighting for the Union army and as the President of the United States those were his citizens that had died. Lincoln deeply felt her pain and wrote to her directly.

Executive Mansion,
Washington, Nov. 21, 1864.

Dear Madam,

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,
A. Lincoln.

The 140 words he wrote encapsulated Honest Abe’s sincerity and gave solace to a bereaved mother’s heart. November 1864 was a busy time for the President. Men were dying, the republic was in danger.  America was in the middle of a civil war and in war soldiers die. Even if he cared, the President’s secretariat had plenty of people who could have sent a note on official letterhead. But Lincoln took out time to write himself and it is this compassion that makes him a great leader in my book.

Now I am not a politician so maybe this might sound naïve. But I really do not understand why our leaders do not condole the oppressed and the downtrodden. All it takes is a few words of condolence, perhaps an hour or so to meet the family of the ones who have passed and a promise to better things. Surely the compassion shown by New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the positive response it got from the victims of Christchurch shootings and the rest of the world would have made the case for personal touches and care for the oppressed even stronger.   Even if they do not care about the cause, surely the heads of state should realize the value of good optics and public relations. George Bush Jr.’s presence and strong at the ruins of the bombed World Trade Center transformed a bumbling President rejected by a majority of the Americans in the 2000 elections into a statesman for his countrymen, his approval ratings touching 90%, almost double of his overall average. Moments of national crises define leaders, this is a moment of crisis for the PTI government as the dozens of sit-ins across Pakistan are showing.  

I really do not understand why Imran Khan is not going to meet the family members of the Hazaras killed in Quetta. It comes across as callous and unfeeling. It also shows poor understanding of basic realities. If he is being advised then his advisers are wrong and he should follow common humane conventions. If he really does not care then he should realize that these are moments of history and history is unforgiving. At the sit-in I spoke to several people. Most were Shias, Haraza and non-Hazaras. But there were also a Sunnis, Hindus and Christians in the crowd. But whoever they were, Muslim or non-Muslim, they were angry and confused about the reluctance of the Prime Minister to meet the family of those who have been murdered so brutally and offer his condolences and support.

These people will not make it easy for the Prime Minister to shy away. The people in these pictures are in Karachi. It was nippy but nothing compared to the freezing temperatures of a Quetta winter. And yet the Hazara mourners sit there, day after day, with their women, their young and their elderly shaming the government. For almost two decades they have been targeted and killed for nothing except their religion. In seventeen years, this is the twentieth attack against them. Their homes and businesses have been bombed, they have been shot after being pulled from buses and they have been openly targeted in Quetta, one of the most fortified cities in the world. Hazara Town, where many of them live, is practically a fort with tall walls and barbed wire around it in an effort to stop those who are bent on killing them. And yet, they haven’t been silenced.

Bombed or killed, the Hazaras will never be silenced and their vigil around the bodies of the unburied dead will become a millstone around the neck of the government. The Prime Minister should listen to them and take care. As history has shown, unheard pleas of the innocent and oppressed have often proven to be the clarion call of destruction for politicians and governments.  

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