[ This is a post from two friends in Pakistan responding to the tragic assasination of Sabeen Mahmud, activist and director of ‘The Second Floor’ (T2F) – a space that hosted many wonderful conversations and brave events. Sabeen was killed as she was going home after an event dedicated to a public discussion of disappearances and human rights violation in Balochistan.]
A normally quiet and desolate gali is packed with camera crews and hundreds of attendees for the funeral of Sabeen Mahmud. While there is a steady trickle of mourners entering and exiting the premises of the vibrant community space Sabeen created, the crowd waiting in the gali outside seems to be arrested by a mixture of disbelief, anger and grief.
Similar emotions paralyze us as we write about Sabeen in the past tense. It is difficult to believe she is gone, infuriating to think about the way she went, and, perhaps, the hardest to accept the beginning of her absence.
While watching her interview with PBS NewsHour last month, one is struck by how her cavalier attitude to fear and security, reverberates eerily in the wake of her murder.
“I grew up playing cricket on the streets” she said, “I just feel when the time comes, the time will come”.
It has been many months now since the Hazaras in Quetta were attacked. They were targeted during the month of January in 2013 and then only 36 days later in February, both times on Alamdar road where most Hazaras live – an area that has been termed an “open air jail”. Both times the banned Sunni organization Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility. In recent years, as many as 2000 Hazaras have lost their lives to similar acts of targeted violence in Balochistan. As power has been handed over from one civilian government to another for the first time in Pakistan’s history, the systemic nature of this kind of violence should be central to the concerns of Pakistanis – maybe even more than electricity, dare I argue? As Pakistanis think long and hard about what democratic change could mean, I write about the Hazaras now in order to point to the seemingly peripheral minorities as central to Pakistan’s issues. These attacks speak to the complex ways in which violence embeds itself into the everyday lives of some Pakistanis. In other words, the kind of structural issues that trying to wish a ‘naya Pakistan’ into existence will not assuage. Continue reading The Military and ‘Peripheral’ Violence in Naya Pakistan→
The predominant emotion with which jingoistic Indians and Pakistanis view each others’ misfortunes is schadenfreude. They count each other’s conflicts and rebellions to keep score. The Indian will talk about sectarian violence in Pakistan, and the Pakistani will ask about the treatment of Dalits in India. The Pakistani will complain against Indian atrocities in Kashmir and the Indian will point fingers at Balochistan.