NOTE: (I do realize the worth and universality of this post,in that it speaks to human rationality and emotions regardless of geography. Please keep in mind, that although directed towards the Pakistanis, this piece may as well be for someone sitting in China, Chile or Alaska. So feel free to think of your own country/locality ‘s name whenever the name of Pakistan comes up)
This is dedicated to ‘us’, the ordinary people of Pakistan, the other Pakistan that no one wants to talk about but exists nevertheless, swept under the carpet, waiting for their time to come. We are not movie stars, political icons or revolutionary leaders. But we all have the potential to be revolutionaries unto ourselves.
We have our own stories of inspiration and fear, failure and achievement, of struggle in the face of all odds, of hopeless and hopefulness to share.
We are victims of child sexual abuse who suffer in silence, trying to save family name(s). We are rape victims who are let down by families believing their dignity and respect lies between our legs and not our individual contributions.
We are the religious and non-religious minorities of Pakistan. Thousands and thousands (estimated at 20,000 by some) of Shia killed in an unfair battle for survival that they never opted for in the first place; their fathers handpicked off the buses and killed mercilessly, their mother widowed.
We are Hindus whose daughters have been forcefully converted or raped as an even easier target,them being women in the midst of an already marginalized and stigmatized religious group. We, the Hindus, who have yet to be recognized as lawfully wedded couples as per Pakistani law.
We are Christians and Ahmadis, suffering the brunt of blasphemy laws, our crime being nothing but of being non-Muslims, or refusing to declare ourselves so.
We are Christians whose churches are under attack and Jews who live under false names, with no synagogue to go to. We are Ahmadis who cannot declare themselves Muslims as per 2nd Amendment and Ordinance XX. We suffer the systematic violence and stigma by both, the state and the society.
We are Women, who have been suffering domestic violence, acid attacks and honour killings with the only thing we possess of our own, our bodies, being exploited on the daily basis, in one way or another, by our very own husbands and fathers, sons and brothers.
We struggle to educate ourselves every day, and that is if we are allowed outside the four walls in the first place.
This is about the Balochi women who got buried alive for choosing marry someone out of their own choice. About mothers who got paraded half naked for perceived crimes committed by their sons. Who suffer the repercussions of Hudood Ordinance. About all the unsung heroines of Pakistan’s history and daily life.
This is for thousands of disappeared people that we have grown tired and used to talking about but who we fear might betaken for granted if no one spoke up. Be they Balochis picked up from their homes and their dead bodies thrown on the outskirts of the cities or the Pakhtun nationalists misrepresented in media and public discourse with next no voice of their own or those in the tribal belt held under the anti-terrorism laws and without any trial, making a mockery out of the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ common and legal sense.
This is dedicated to Queer/LGBT/Khwajasara (Intersex) people of Pakistan who have yet to be recognized as human beings deserving love, respect and empathy. Who suffer in silence believing their urge to find love in life a crime, and their sexual desires sinful, as if consensual love between two men (or women) was responsible for the turmoil our nation has found itself in and not the ineptness of indifferent political elite, the unleashed military High Command or the terrorists and militant outfits yet to be dealt with.
To the parents, children and friends of Pakistani Queer/LGBT/Intersex people: Stop being ashamed and embarrassed of your sons and daughters, parents and friends and/or their gender non-conformity for it was not their call to make in the first place.
They never chose to become gay, bisexual, transgender or queer, for it that were the case how easy it would be for them to wake up on morning and say ‘from hereon, I am anything but queer’ and lead a heterosexual life.
In fact they have tried. We have innumerable stories of homosexual men who married your heterosexual daughters, only to make their own lives, and those of their wives, miserable. Your Lesbian daughters married heterosexual men thereby stuck in a tragic, yet ironic, situation, of getting raped by consent(?).
If only our Pakistani parents realize how much an embrace of a mother and support from a father would mean to a Queer child. If only our society saw the loving relation between two adult members of same sex and the beautiful bond that exists beyond physical realm.
If only a Queer child sitting in some rural,or even urban, area of Pakistan ,could one day understand that he is as ‘normal’ as anyone out there and that it is but a false perception, false consciousness if you will, created by aggressively heterosexual and heteronormative to think otherwise geared towards control and domination.
This is dedicated to Queers who happen less queer than aggressively heterocentric society excluding them, for what is more queer, more strange, than irrational hatred or fear of another even if based on sexual orientation,religion, gender,religion et al? What is more unnatural than homophobia and what defines it in essence: lack of human reasoning coupled with irrational hatred.
So here is to the hoping that we finally do wake up and move beyond mere rhetoric for change and struggle for a real,and needed, change, lest our children and future generations look back at us hang their heads in shame, questioning us as to why we stood by while their raped, killed and pillaged one by one?
And that we learn to celebrate the individual acts of courage rather than decrying them in the name of traitory, and that we learn to appreciate the individuality and its contribution to the society as a whole,for we underestimate the individual acts of courage in helping gain the momentum for a collective change when the time has come.That we look beyond their religion, or lack thereof, gender or sexual orientation, ethnicity, or language. That we learn to accept. Accept what is real about Pakistan. Not the ‘Arabization’ or the pretence of being a fortress of Islam, but the ‘other’ Pakistan, that needs to be accepted, talked about,empathized with,and even celebrated!