Gaza and Pakistan

Raza Habib Raja

As a liberal, I believe we should be consistent across issues. There is absolutely no way can I justify what Israel has done over the years. It has usurped Palestinian land and has indulged in severe human rights violations. Moreover extremely biased support of United States for Israel has enabled it to simply ignore the rest of the world. Let us not forget, that there have been numerous resolutions in the United Nations where the only two parties opposing it were USA and Israel.

Whereas I do condemn Israel, but at the same time there is nothing praiseworthy about militant tactics used by Hamas. It is an extremist organization which has always resorted to violence and has indulged in blatant terrorism not only against Israeli citizens but also against some of the Palestinians.

However, while I can understand the outrage which Israel draws globally, particularly in the Muslim world, I have never been able to fathom Pakistani hyper emotional and selective response. Right now as I write these sentences, almost all across urban Pakistan there is severe resentment against Israel and people are expressing anger through various mediums. Social media like Facebook and Twitter are literally replete with mentions of what is happening in Gaza.

To a certain extent, it is understandable because Islam lends a sort of commonality amongst Muslims across the globe irrespective of sectarian, ethnic and political differences. Secondly, over the years, the issue has been framed in such a narrative that all Pakistanis feel an instinctive empathy towards Palestine. Thirdly, human suffering anywhere has the power to move fellow humans and particularly of those who share a common ethnicity or religion with us.

I will not reiterate which some of the Pakistani liberals are saying “that Pakistanis do not have a right to object or even feel for Palestine because the situation is worse in their own country”. Our feelings of empathy are often instinctive and these are not a matter of right. Human misery, particularly of those with whom we share something will always move us.

However, I will definitely agree with their contention that whereas Pakistanis feel really aggrieved over what happens thousands of miles away, we are almost completely oblivious of what is happening in our own country. Right now all across countries, Shiites are being massacred and yet there is hardly even recognition of this horrific tragedy. Those who are being killed are our brothers and sisters and yet I do not see any sort of condemnation.

What I have seen consistently is either shameless insensitivity or outright denial where everything is simply blamed on outside forces. Why is that something which is happening so far away is moving us while something far more sinister in own backyard is being simply ignored?

Our TV anchors, our newspapers and even the so called liberal government of PPP, all are quiet and simply unable to do anything about our own miseries.

Yes there is a deeper connection between Gaza and Pakistan and that is not what I mentioned earlier. It has been rightly pointed out: Pakistan is the Gaza for all the minorities who are getting butchered here. And yet while real Gaza draws condemnation, this Gaza does not.

I understand why the real Gaza draws our sympathies but I continue to be dumbfounded over why this Gaza does not. More so because what is happening in Gaza is out of the locus of our control and what is happening here can be potentially addressed.

My Pakistani brother and sisters! Yes do protest about what is happening in Gaza but for once also ponder about your own country and its minorities. Here you may be in a position to actually do something. As Pakistan cedes space to maniacs who are killing in the name of their version of Islam, soon you will also be on the receiving end.

Think and act before it spirals out of control and your own street becomes another Gaza.

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