How much must we lose?

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.

12 Comments so far

  1. crazymonkey on March 5th, 2009 @ 8:41 am

    So long cricket! Bye bye! Au revoir! Ma’assalama! Tata!

    Good Riddance!

  2. kaami on March 14th, 2009 @ 5:58 am

    BASANT: BB its not Basant that is at fault. People around the globe celebrate their festivals, which are in most cases linked to the arrival of "spring" or farmers celebrating the "cutting of the crops". Its not Basants fault that people in our country disregard sanctity for life, property and privacy. Not only that but conciously or unconciously inflict injury on themselves or others.

    So Basant Mubarak ho…. even though we dont know how to celebrate. On the other hand the religous types always advocate Quran Khwani or Melaad, a safer but boring alternative.

    AMERICANS: I dont know why did you dragged Americans in this post, anyway its your post.

    SRILANKANS THE GREAT: The reason why SriLankans are so generous, because they are used to this mayhem, their country has been at civil war since god knows how many years. They have also got the whole package including Suicide bombers and mass murders. When no one toured them Pakistan did. also, Pakistani pilots have flown their aircrafts to bomb LTTE. So they understand and they cant complain.

    TREATMENT BY INDIANS: All I can say we deserve it. In the past three decades we have spent our energies to de-stabilze that country, ultimately resulting in shooting ourselves in the foot.

  3. Posts about Attack on Sri Lankan Cricket Team in Pakistan as of March 14, 2009 (pingback) on March 14th, 2009 @ 6:43 am

    […] in Pakistan as of March 14, 2009 Posted By: Aman Harees    Category: Uncategorized How much must we lose? – 03/13/2009 The Long March is imminent now; this country knows no peace in any […]

  4. Asim.Net.Pk (asim) on March 14th, 2009 @ 4:00 pm


    True and unfortunately! but that’s the reality!

    1) Well, people don’t care if someone is disturbing you by shouting on
    streets because we don’t have give a damn on someone on road and not
    care about people but someone people who are in senses knows this is very
    major problem.

    In Pakistan, we love to give a horn to the front car as its stop as we
    dont care taffic might jam in front as we all are impatient people
    if you ever drive outside pakistan in modern countries they dont give
    horn at all on road and mostly cue and wait for their turn.

    bottom line, we need to fix it but since no justice in our society and
    among us, any illiterate and slap the Ph.D on street for good or bad.
    Big example is our corrupted Judges miss using power
    and as Mr.Asif Zardeer as our country president who come to power by the
    death of his wife and he spend few years in jail due to his past corrupt
    case files. The top to bottom is corrupt and have to suffer.
    Also you can say that people are illiterate now lot of money but they
    dont have proper sense to spend properly in their life and mostly things
    go wrong because of those people who really dont know what they are doing

    Basant, you like it or not but thats another issue which we have to think
    since though its taking many lives but who cares! thats why they allowed

    Unfortunately, this is truth of so called our civil society which do not
    have any proper rules and the rules which are present no one follows.
    Only currently generation like us can make things better for our future
    or our next generation will be complaining same as our eldest!

    One of my friend quoted, to my suprise!!!
    Pakistan Zindabad! per Pakistan se Zinda Bhaag! :((

    so we must fight back to regain our true identity of being muslims
    and Pakistanis

  5. kaami on March 14th, 2009 @ 5:41 pm


    Why do we have to use word "FIGHT" so often. Fight for this or fight for that,for this screwed up ideology or that screwed up ideology.

    Why can’t we work hard and have some fun at same time. Why cant we enjoy our culture and seek piety through whatever our belief system. Is this an impossible goal? isnt this what all sensible nations are doing from Japan to America’s?

    I think what is lacking is common sense, thats all.

  6. azface on March 15th, 2009 @ 8:03 am

    I’m inclined to agree with Kaami yet again on this one. As a nation, we really do need to remove the word ‘fight’ from out psyche and move towards an ethos of work hard, play hard (responsibly). Basant used to be one of the rare occasions when the divide between the rich and poor waa bridged albeit for a day. Over the years, it has become increasingly difficult for the poor to celebrate due to the rocketing prices and the decline in living standards.

    In such a depressing time, the timing of this event couldn’t have been better.

    Let’s go fly a kite….. :)

  7. sceptic on March 15th, 2009 @ 9:24 am

    Noise and the lack of privacy:

    I have gotten used to the omnipresent noise pollution by virtue of having born in the Land of the Pure. Apart from some sensitive souls, living in the claustrophobic model towns, no Pakistani can claim immunity from the incessant ear-deafening salvos that we are subjected to from multi-barreled multi-kilowatts speakers of all 6 plus mosques within 500 meter radius of our homes. The writer in her teenaged/early-twentyish love-hate obsession with the US won’t say boo to this daily torture at the oddest hours by readily accepting the mullah’s obscene voice as part of Paki religion-cultural environment. However, she has readily jumped up to write a 2000-word long whine on one-day Basant celebration (in a country where miseries are aplenty, and fair few and far between) as she does not like noise she’s been forced to hear from merry-makers. I will be more than happy to live with blaring music from my neighbourhood any day than being subjected to a non-rhythmic daily torture call at dawn in an alien language – that too not from one set of speakers but intermingled garbled voices from many masjids vying for the ears of all and sundry.

    Basant kills:

    So does messy traffic, so does many other unregulated human activities. A blanket ban is not a solution. Regulation is. Otherwise, the Spainairds won’t be running in thier streets in front of pack of unruly bulls; the Hajj pilgrimage would have stopped by now as the annual yatra has become associated with stampedes; so on.

    By the way, we need to also be vocal about the lack of health facilities, general hygiene awareness, women and child abuse, etc. These issues also result in casualties.

    Happy Basant, all.

    What Amir Khusro had to say:

    Aaj basant manaalay suhaagun,
    Aaj basant manaalay;
    Anjan manjan kar piya mori,
    Lambay neher lagaaye;
    Tu kya sovay neend ki maasi,
    So jaagay teray bhaag, suhaagun,
    Aaj basant manalay…..;
    Oonchi naar kay oonchay chitvan,
    Ayso diyo hai banaaye;
    Shaah-e Amir tohay dekhan ko,
    Nainon say naina milaaye,
    Suhaagun, aaj basant manaalay.

    Rejoice, my love, rejoice,
    Its spring here, rejoice.
    Bring out your lotions and toiletries,
    And decorate your long hair.
    Oh, you’re still enjoying your sleep, wake-up.
    Even your destiny has woken up,
    Its spring here, rejoice.
    You snobbish lady with arrogant looks,
    The King Amir is here to see you;
    Let your eyes meet his,
    Oh my love, rejoice;
    Its spring here again.

  8. azface on March 15th, 2009 @ 4:47 pm


    I couldn’t agree with you more. The deafening noise from the ubiquitous mosque is a constant reminder of our dead intellect.

    Millions of muslims in the west continue to attend prayers without being subjected to the systematic cacophony.

    Free your mind….

  9. aamna on March 16th, 2009 @ 10:02 am

    wow…I’ve been called so many names I’ve forgotten my own. Lucky it’s my username.

    But of course, all of you are absolutely right, hence the title of the post-how much must we lose? With all noise,air,water,land pollution, the traffic, now we get another thing that is (a)Killing people (b)Frivolous in a time where we as a country have hit an all-time low. (c)causing more noise pollution (all right, it’s only for one day, it’s still a pain to listen to every bubblegum Bollywood song produced in the past five years) and (d)Is plain disrespectful to the people that have died in so many attacks and bombings in the recent past

    About the mosques: Did I mention mosques? I don’t think so. But I am against using the mosques for what they use it for, singing naats to the whole neighbourhood etc. So yeah, same thing. They should give the azaan and let it go at that. For our sanity’s sake.

    About America: Bringing them in was just in my train of thoughts on this subject. And no, I don’t have a love-hate relationship with the US, I just try not to have any kind of relationship with it at all. More of a disgusted one, maybe.

    Sri Lankans: India is also dealing with conflicts and bloodshed and what not…but they would not have reacted like these cricketers did.

    And this objection…"However, she has readily jumped up to write a 2000-word long whine on one-day Basant celebration (in a country where miseries are aplenty, and fair few and far between) as she does not like noise she’s been forced to hear from merry-makers"—begging your pardon, I have not said anything about the bloody noise the merrymakers make. What I have said is that it is a shame we have to celebrate just when we should be a bit sober and think of the people who have died and who will die when we celebrate in a dangerous fashion.

    And all of you who say it’s fair that we have some fun in the midst of this grief, you’re right, but do read Hasan Mubarak’s post that comes after this one…is any celebration worth the death of any innocent person when you know they will die because of it?

  10. dare2dv8 on March 23rd, 2009 @ 1:37 pm

    What is the point of an event that is rife with grief and mourning more than the so called ‘fun and joy’ it brings?? And what amazes me the most, is that not a single voice has been raised to ask why is the March 23 parade cancelled? This is an event that is an integral part of being Pakistani and instills and rejuvenates in us the national pride we are seeing gradually seep away. We owe a whole lot to this day and if it wasn’t for March 23 you wouldn’t have a damn roof-top to stand on to fly that dumb paper stuck to a string. So face up to the realities and voice your concern on real issues! Some cultural event is not who we are. Sitting around wearing green on all these TV channels and saying you’re celebrating the day isn’t much of an effort at all. The parade was like a stimulatory injection for us all I believe. It recharged your batteries and renewed hope. How deplorable that we don’t even stand up for the real issues any longer! Oh yeah…ban a pointless event like Basant and these Lahoris end up having a coronary over it…pathetic!

  11. laarsh on April 1st, 2009 @ 3:42 am

    What a fabulous discussion, in English no less, Alhamdullilah. I have been looking for an opportunity of such a meeting of the minds for a long time. It all sounds a bit jaded to me. You do sound a bit jaded AND whiny. I don’t live in Lahore, so it is really hard for me to understand why you, being totally immersed in your culture, feel the way you do. I grew up in the USA – Catholic. I, as they say of blacks in America, "reverted" to Islam as an adult. I married a wonderful Pakistani man (from Lahore). I only came to love Pakistan, and especially Lahore, Basant, the Azans, the people, the food, the noise, the whole Punjabi experience, and everything else through just one visit there, and in getting to know my husband, and keeping in touch with his family through email and phonecalls. We got married and had a few weeks together in Pakistan, and two and a half years later, we were finally together again in the USA. There are no azans in American towns filled with the sound of church bells! In the USA we keep Islam alive in our home and in our heart as best we can. We have a masjid, and a community of muslims to belong to, but how thrilling is the memory of the azan that echoes in every corner of Lahore! In the USA, or any other place, there are only vestiges of any Pakistani celebration, in Lahore there is the motherlode! Don’t ever think of getting rid of any of these celebrations, or cultural events, or points of pride. If you do, then the terrorists have won. If they’ve got the territory, who needs that? Basant can be made safer. It needs massive planning and educating the public, and just like building a democracy, it will take time.

  12. aamna on April 2nd, 2009 @ 9:12 am

    @laarsh: I’m sorry if I sounded like that. But I’m just tired of it, and the tiredness is bound to come out. But bear with me for a moment. Our country, especially our city, is suffering newer and more grevious tragedies every week. In cases like these, it seems extremely disrespectful to launch a celebration of the spring, especially one in which even more people get killed. Basant cannot be made safer for a long, long time yet, and until it is, should we just accept the children killed by the twine or by electrocution? In the name of culture? This event is not a point of pride for me, it’s a part of the ugly realities of Lahore. What about the events that we do have that are safe? Eid is a ‘loser-ish’ thing to celebrate among many people now. What about the Tarawih prayer and the gatherings in the masjid? All gone, stripped away by some sort of warped shame in practsing religon. And now we want to celebrate by something that kills people every year, by the dozens, without fail? Yes, it will take time to organize Basant, but in the meantime, should we just go ahead with it?

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