By Gulmina Bilal Ahmad
What is on the cards for the thousands of Pakistani citizens marching towards the Prime Minister (PM) House in Islamabad? Freedom from the oppressive regime or a revolution that will change the whole system? No one has a definite answer.
On August 14, 2014, thousands of protestors/citizens of Pakistan started marching towards Islamabad, led by Mr Imran Khan (chairman PTI) and Mr Tahirul Qadri (chairman PAT). While reporters, senior anchors and analysts on Pakistani news channels were trying to ascertain the total number of participants of the two long marches, namely the azaadi or freedom march and inqilab or revolution march, those sitting in their homes were glued to their television screens, watching every moment of the two long marches. Now that both marches have entered the Red Zone in Islamabad, where all the important government buildings including parliament house, the presidency and Supreme Court (SC) are located, the uncertainty has grown even further.
During October 2013, Mama Qadeer Baloch and about two dozen Baloch also started a long march from Quetta to raise awareness over the plight of the families of more than 18,000 missing persons from Balochistan. Unfortunately for Mama Qadeer, whose son was picked up and later killed and dumped by ‘the unknown’, no television channel or their fancy drone cameras were there to cover his long march. Mama Qadeer and his fellow protestors reached Islamabad on March 3, 2014 after covering almost 2,800 kilometres on foot. Except for a few human rights organisations, no one showed solidarity with Mama Qadeer and he went back after meeting the representatives of the UN in Islamabad.
Mama Qadeer Baloch and his organisation, Voice of Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP), represent the plight of the Baloch people. Just try to imagine for a moment the plight of 18,000 families who have lost their loved ones. They have not even mourned because they are not sure about the whereabouts of their fathers, brothers or sons. Others who find the mutilated remains or dead bodies of their loved ones are at least allowed to mourn.
After comparing these two different situations, a few questions have started ringing in my ears. Why this hypocrisy by the media and the rest of the country? Why are Mama Qadeer and his fellows being termed as traitors? Would the long march participants from Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir or even the tribal areas of Pakistan have been given the same treatment as the present long march protestors? Well, I do not think so.
Unfortunately, we as Pakistanis are too quick to hurl the accusation of being a traitor on anyone who tries to stand up for his or her rights. And I am sorry to say this but our media has also grown insensitive to the injustices being committed in other parts of the country, only focusing on what sells the most. Therefore, its focus stays on the audience from larger cities and districts. Perhaps the only reason is that people from such areas are in a stronger position than the rest and occupy the corridors of power. What happens to the rest of the country is of no importance because it does not sell. So if you are from Gilgit-Baltistan, Kashmir or any other impoverished area and are thinking about marching towards the capital to raise your voice against the injustices committed against you, then try not to do so because there is a strong possibility that you might be termed a ‘traitor’ who is marching against the state.
Fortunately for Mr Imran Khan and Mr Tahirul Qadri, they are not traitors. They have led thousands of protestors to the capital of Pakistan to march against the corrupt policies of the current government and have been keeping the whole city hostage for almost six days now but that is not a crime. Instead, they are being called “revolutionaries”. Mr Khan is openly hurling accusations against the sitting PM and his cabinet, and Mr Qadri does not accept the democratic setup at all, but that does not fall under the description of treachery.
I am not at all against Mr Khan, Mr Qadri or their respective revolutions but I am against injustice. I am against the fact that when Mama Qadeer marches towards the capital after covering 2,800 kilometres on foot, he is called a traitor and even our so-called free media does not bother to recognise his and his two dozen fellows’ efforts because this news does not sell and nobody is bothered by their long march. On the other hand, the two long marches are being given full coverage.
While all of this is happening, a number of injustices are being committed in the country that are going unreported. Even the government does not seem to know because it is also in a fix. This is nothing but sheer injustice for the rest of the citizens of this country and all of this makes me think: are they children of a lesser God?
The writer is a development consultant. She tweets at @GulminaBilal and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Courtesy: Daily Times
Republished in The Balochistan Point on August 22, 2014.