The moribund civil society has sprung into action, expressing clamorous solidarity with the people of Palestine.
The modest turnouts at the demonstrations is a reflection of the penetration of the electronic medium – the organisers relied on Facebook, mass e-mailing and sms messages to gather support.
Human rights activists, political party and trade union leaders, lawyers, doctors, journalists, show-business personalities, students and teachers of both genders and all age groups are out carrying Palestinian flags and banners.
Of late, Pakistanis have shown a tremendous spirit for exhibiting a global conscience, and exposing double standards which is the flipside of international diplomacy. However, it is in the denial of their own glaring double-standards that they manifest a hitherto unknown spirit. A catastrophe of unprecedented magnitude is unfolding in Gaza, but the atrocities being perpetuated in Pakistan’s north-west, particularly in Swat, don’t seem to prick the conscience of our concerned gentry.
Swat appears to have been consciously expunged from their memory. It figures in op-ed pieces, but has vanished completely from their drawing-room discourse, barring a digression on those rare occasions when wall graffiti threatening Talibanisation are spotted. Swat does not even have a functioning online petition on the famous website of the same name.
I leave to the more learned the utility of protesting against Israeli, but why do these protestors remain unperturbed by the atrocities committed in our own backyard? While Kashmir was up in arms and street protests routine, there was merely a sound from these self-proclaimed practitioners of universal rights.
They protest because protests are going on the world over. It fits into their philosophy of jumping on the bandwagon of popular dissent.
Ayaz Amir hits the right note again this week, talking about the futility that will entail the upcoming lawyers’ march, rounding it up with pointing out the short-sightedness and idiocy of those who rule the land of the pure:
Our political class refuses to learn from history. At a time when national unity should be the most precious commodity of all, knives are being sharpened for a fresh round of political confrontation, the PML-N talking in terms of popular mobilization and the PPP fishing for trouble in Punjab. Pakistan is facing serious threats, perhaps to its very existence, because of the fallout from America’s war in Afghanistan and the growing Taliban threat in Swat and FATA. But the political class, not for the first time, is demonstrating its incapacity to see beyond its short-term interests.