Today marks the official end of one of the most talked about years in human history — the year 2012. It started with much anticipation and apprehension because of the famous Mayan Prophecy which proclaimed that the world will come to an end on December 21, 2012. Well the prophecy did not really come true; however, it would not be wrong to say that the world did come to an end for many Pakistanis who either lost their own lives or the lives of loved ones in bomb attacks, sectarian violence or targeted killings in 2012.
The year 2012 certainly was more violent as opposed to the preceding many years as sectarian and terror attacks surged greatly. Mosques, religious procession, pilgrims and children were attacked throughout the year making history in terms of intolerance towards other schools of thought and faiths. Reports also suggest that violence against women also increased by seven per cent in the same year making the said year bleaker for many Pakistani women.
Many Pakistanis, Indians and other people who are well aware of the political dynamics of the region and live elsewhere do not feel very optimistic about the existence and future of Pakistan as a country. In fact many believe that she will be broken into several small territories before perishing into the history.
Mahar* who originally hails from Karachi but now lives in Montreal, Quebec said, “It is most unfortunate for us to witness whatever is happening in Pakistan. We are fighting insurgency, poverty and other forms of violence all at the same time. Balochistan is one of our biggest concerns; however, no one is interested in sorting the issues out. We blame foreign countries for their involvement in Balochistan and other parts of Pakistan but the truth is that what is happening in the region is our fault.”
“As much as I hate to say this but I really see no hope for Pakistan. I see it breaking into smaller countries and being removed from the global map unless something radical happens. For now I only see this country being ruled by fundamentalists and opportunist who are nothing more than scavengers,” he added.
Another Pakistani-American from Detroit, Michigan on condition of anonymity said “A country where small children and women are attacked just because they demand their rights for education and free speech cannot survive for very long. Everyone feels threatened in Pakistan. Whether you talk about women, journalists, Ahmadis, Hazaras, Balochis, Shias or Hindus, no one is safe and most importantly everyone I know is looking for a way to escape. I do not blame them for feeling that way because had I been in Pakistan now I would have felt the same way.”
Their words made me realise that many amongst us share similar views in the deepest corner of our hearts but are hesitant to voice them fearing that they will come true or else we will be killed for expressing a little too much.
An Indian from Bangalore that I recently met said, “I know that it gets difficult for people to accept my words because I am an Indian but trust me I have more Pakistani friends than Indians. Pakistan has given birth to some really intelligent, determined and honest people. Every time I hear that the situation in Pakistan is deteriorating I feel really sad because I know that majority of them are sane and secular people who deserve a safer homes and better lives.”
“To be honest it kills me to say this but it is evident that the future is not very bright unless another leader like Muhammad Ali Jinnah emerges and takes over the reins of the country. You guys really need a revolutionary leader,” he added.
It was quite saddening to hear all the comments from people who follow the news and are concerned about the geo-political situation of Pakistan. However, having lived in Pakistan for the longest time I can vouch for the dedication and resilience of Pakistanis who strive hard to make Pakistan a better place for everyone. It is rather ironic but the perseverance of Pakistani men and women, as a nation, never ceases to amaze me.
Despite of all the challenges and threats that we faced in 2012, we continued to work harder to achieve our objectives. We defied all the odds and stood up as a nation when a young girl was attacked by Taliban putting aside all the danger. We poured out on the streets and demanded justice for the slain polio workers who worked diligently to protect the future generation from living on crutches. We demanded protection for Hazaras and Shias who are regularly killed and harassed for belonging to a different school of thought. The will and fortitude of young activists and general public who continue to serve Pakistan in their own capacity by putting their own lives on stake is most definitely extremely inspiring.
Many of us face deadly situations every single day and wake up the next morning with same will to renounce the radical forces. How many people in the world have the courage to rise from the ashes and start from scratch hoping for the best to come in such sad circumstances? I would say not many. I take this as an opportunity to salute all Pakistanis who work day in and day out to serve their country and its citizens. We are going through trying times but I am sure that our determination will certainly bring about a positive change in the future giving rise to an inclusive and sanguine society.
I fervently pray that 2013 is a better year for Pakistan including its Hazaras and Shias who were brutally massacred in 2012 and the preceding year. I wish that that this year will bring prosperity and peace to the lives of many Hindus who are looking for ways to cross the border or seek refuge in foreign countries because of the reprehensible state of affairs. I hope that our mosques, temples, churches, pilgrims and religious processions will remain safe from violence this year. I pray that our schools and other educational institutes remain free from all religious biases and are only used as a platform to propagate true knowledge rather than venomous text that causes rifts between people professing different faiths. I also wish that the approaching year proves to be better for women from all walks of life and brings an end to sex and honour crimes. I look forward to see Indo-Pakistan relations evolving into friendly ties from 2013 onwards and most importantly I hope for Pakistan to become an inclusive and tolerant society where rights are mutually respected and accepted.
So Happy New Year and I wish a safe year to all Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshis and North Americans and everyone else in the world.
*Identity concealed due to security reasons.
The writer is a Reporter at Dawn.com