The Long March is imminent now; this country knows no peace in any sector. But never will we stop celebrating, will we?
I live in a neighborhood that apparently has a lot of people who have these programmes to celebrate every single festival on earth. Plus, they make sure that every house for miles around will hear every singer they put on their stages. No matter what time it is; if these people have a mind to do so, they will not let us sleep till the wee hours of the morning, and will not let us study during the day. No escaping their music or their qawwali, not a chance. And right now, what I’m listening to is someone shouting at the top of his lungs into a microphone ‘Basant Mubarak! Welcome Basant!’, while I’m sitting in my own house.
What’s wrong with us? I ponder on his thought every day, and I get so many answers it disturbs me even more. What is sickening us so much that we just don’t care about anything but our own frivolous, impermanent, and dangerous fun?
The boards on the Liberty roundabout are not even partially old yet. They still strike a pang to our hearts and we still crane our necks to see the pictures of the men that died in the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team.
The story of the death of one particular guard on that day is still fresh in my mind. He was lying on the road, trying to make the gunmen think that he was dead, and when they were just leaving, he raised his head. And then they came back especially to kill him. How can someone be so cruel and so hard so as to kill a person who never did him any harm? How can someone come back especially to kill that person?
But then, how can a government be so cruel as to allow Basant to take place; an event that kills so many innocent children every year? How can they condone the death of so many people in such a horrible manner; by having strings dipped in powdered glass cut them on the neck?
Forget the government. Why do people do it? Why is there no pressure to stop this event?
We cannot deny that hundreds die on Basant every year. No one can deny that people will use powdered glass and even wires to fly their kites.
Most of all, we cannot deny that the frivolous pleasure that people get from it is so blatantly disrespectful of the events in this country, in this very city. Bomb blasts. Price hikes. Unemployment. Attacks on the cricket team. The death of seven young security guards who were only doing the best job they could.
One last thing. Has anyone noticed the decency displayed by the Sri Lankan cricketers?
I shudder to think what would have happened if (God forbid) an American cricket team had deigned to come to Pakistan for a tour, and the same thing happened. If some eyebrows are raised at the mention of America playing cricket, it may be well to mention here that the States were very interested in cricket at the time of the last World Cup. So it might have been a possibility. But if what the Sri Lankan cricketers went through had been experienced by most other cricket teams of the world, the result would have been much more disastrous in its impact on Pakistan in general.
Take India, for example. I hate doing this, because I’ve got some very close Indian friends of my own, but the way we are being treated by India now, there probably wouldn’t have been a shred of the decency that Sri Lankans have shown about this incident. For India, we’re the ultimate bombers. They have no terrorists of their own; at least not according to the mass media hype we hear and read about. At the least, I speculate that the airspace restrictions would have been put on again. And if any Americans were there, well, a few more drones, perhaps?
It’s not to say that what has happened is not such a huge deal after all; not to say that it is an incident that should be tolerated, but I merely point out the real gentlemen in the game here. Maybe we’re just not used to be treated politely anymore, but I was extremely surprised to hear that the bus driver who survived the attack has been called by the Sri Lankans for a tour with his family. Additionally, as soon as the cricketers landed and were interviewed in their home country, many of the first comments I read were praising the driver who saved their lives. Not one of them uttered a disparaging comment on the security provided, even though they had every right to do so. On the televised interviews, even though the reporters were trying to squeeze such comments out of them, the most these men would do would be to excuse themselves with a polite ‘thank you’.
Decency, people. Just simple decency. Something that we call in Urdu sharafat. That’s what is there in these cricketers who suffered so much at the hands of our country, and still do not say anything. Maybe they respect the deaths of the people who were protecting them. Maybe they’re just decent people overall, which comes to the same thing.
One thing I know; they’re showing more decency than our own people. For everyone here, a soon as something like Basant rolls around, nothing matters anymore. Not killing someone. Not feeling guilt for what our guests went through when they tried to save one of our biggest sports. Not mourning the mindless deaths of the countrymen who tried to protect them
All that matters, at the end of the day, is flying kites. But I’m going to skip the sarcastic ending for now and I’m going to plead with you. Anyone who is reading this; out of respect, out of decency, out of your own humanity, do not celebrate Basant. We have no excuse for celebrating anything; if we want to cheer ourselves up and not feel anything about what has been happening recently, we have means other than those which kill even more people. Try to convince your families and friends that such a celebration will be disgraceful behavior, to say the least. We owe our guests and our own people at least that much.