A single drop of water, in a fire of hate

By Usman Ahmad

According to a parable, when Prophet Abraham was cast into a fire by the tyrant king Nimrod, the spectacle was met with horror by a small bird. It spread its wings and soared to a nearby river, where it filled its beak with water. The bird carried these meagre drops to where the fire was lit before going back for more. The water it fetched was of course, not enough to quell the raging flames.

An arrogant crow mocked the bird’s scurrying efforts and haughtily told him:

‘How can you hope to douse the fire with such little water. Surely you realise that there is nothing you can do?’

The bird remained unperturbed and calmly replied:

‘When I meet with God, He will not ask me whether I was able to put out the fire, He will only inquire whether I did my part to see that it was extinguished.’

Reports of another Ahmadi killing have emerged today. The name of the latest victim is Mubashir Ahmad Khosa, a basic medical practitioner who was shot at by two unknown assailants in Mirpurkhas as he tended to patients in his clinic. He died on his way to the hospital. Ahmad was 50 years old and is survived by his wife and four young children.

I cannot sketch out the broader details of what has happened as I am not aware of them. But what I do know is that the reaction to this deplorable crime will be as muted as the desolate silence that envelopes me while I pen these words.

Reticence, quiet and indifference rest upon this land. It is strange to think how so much destruction can breed such awful calm. And yet, this is the absurd reality we are faced with in these troubled times.

This latest killing is just another brutal reminder of the misery inflicted on so many in our country.

Each turn of the season brings fresh grief to Pakistan’s Ahmadis, Shias, Hazaras, Christians and numerous others who have been deemed unworthy of life.

Too few, if any, will speak for them, rouse themselves to action or even feel an inkling of disquiet for their plight.

Is there anything left of Pakistan except the quarrels of politicians?

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Justice has been strained to the brink of non-existence, moral authority abdicated long ago and coexistence is more a punch line than truth.

The blood-drenched streets aren’t fit for walking; suffocation plagues ashen neighbourhoods. This is not the stuff of which real nations are made of, especially those which aspire to the grand ideals of pluralism and democracy as the chief actors in the current political crises keep telling us is the case.

More troubling still is that the ideological justification of religious extremists fuels this machine of hate, leaving in its wake deep societal rifts and little love for the sanctity and preservation of life.

And if there still is a Pakistan, it teeters atop the wreckage of its own crippling hypocrisy and duplicity. But it cannot hold its balance forever.

As the poem once said, ‘ya zulm mite ga dharti se, ya dharti khud mit jai gee.’

In this desperate state, I have heard many a note of despair. Friends, work colleagues and acquaintances alike have expressed a profound degree of pessimism as to whether any change for the better can be brought about in Pakistan.

Much as I, too, am often plagued by the same despondency, like the little bird in the parable, I have chosen to let the sadness deep within ripple once more against the undulating dark of night through the flow of my pen.

I realise that my words are likely to have little or no effect on anything, but that would be missing the point. To struggle for something is not always about succeeding. Sometimes, it is more important, more meaningful and more worthwhile to address your own conscience.

Amidst the helplessness of it all, one must not allow his/herself to lose the courage of their convictions. Instead, it is incumbent upon all of us to break the prevailing silence, even if our cries drown in this sea of noise.

The truth is – it is less about what we do and more why we choose to do it. The final judgement will be cast not upon our deeds but our intentions, and to that end the struggle must go on, even if it has the bearing of just a single drop of water.

Usman Ahmad is a British freelance writer based in Pakistan. He writes mainly on issues of human rights, minorities and features.

He tweets @usmanahmad_iam.

SOURCE: (AND FURTHER LINKS): http://www.dawn.com/news/1133841

Also read: Mob attack over alleged blasphemy: Three Ahmadis killed in Gujranwala
Also see: Footprints: No space for Ahmadis
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