Pakistan: Not quite a ‘deathly silence’

Rally organised by the Movement for Peace and Tolerance (MPT) and Pakistan Peace Coalition (PPC) in Hyderabad, joined and addressed by a large number of civil society, peace and human rights activists, lawyers, writers and concerned citizens.. Photo: Zulfiqar Shah

Email to Gwynne Dyer, March 10, 2011:

Dear Mr Dyer:

Regarding your article ‘Deathly Silence Prevails in Pakistan’ published in several newspapers and reproduced by NewAgeIslam website  where I saw it – you make some valid comments but to say that there is a deathly silence is untrue and unfair.

Many people in Pakistan have been raising a voice, fighting for their rights and against vigilante violence and unjust laws even before the murder of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer. The murder of Federal Minister Shahbaz Bhatti was a huge blow, but they are still speaking out. Here are some instances:

Please visit the Citizens for Democracy (CFD) blog to get an idea of some of the public statements and rallies that have been made over the last two months.

Also see this moving video of a rally in Lahore after Mr Bhatti’s murder - and this one in Islamabad (BBC Urdu video report). There have been several public rallies for Shahbaz Bhatti around the country (some are mentioned in the CFD blog). A major Reference is being planned in his honour in Karachi on March 20 (CFD organised one for Salmaan Taseer also)

The country’s most widely watched television channel, Geo TV broadcast a tribute to Shahbaz Bhatti – ‎”Na Tera Khuda Koi Aur Hai, Na Mera Khuda Koi Aur Hai…” (which translates essentially to: ‘we have the same God’).

Hundreds of prominent people, as well as students, have endorsed an open letter about these murders – you can see the list of names at the CFD blog. A mass public signature campaign aiming for thousands of signatures is starting on Saturday March 12 in Karachi (11.00 am-7.00 pm opposite Park Towers. People are requested to bring some postage stamps and lots of friends).

To dismiss all these voices, people coming out in public at the risk of their lives, as ‘deathly silence’ and to say that Sherry Rehman is the ‘last woman standing’ is to do a grave injustice to all those who are speaking out.

Sincerely

Beena Sarwar

p.s. Forgot to add this: In addition, please see Gawaahi.com (Witness) which is also compiling voices speaking out; Naveen Naqvi’s latest post: Your silence can mean more murders

11 Responses

  1. An excellent retort Beena. I really admire your struggle to keep Pakistan’s image clear and intact. We need writers like you in Pakistan.

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  2. Thank you so much for mentioning and linking Gawaahi and my post!

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  3. […] Pakistan: Not quite a ‘deathly silence’ […]

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  4. I agree that there is not a deathly silence, but neither is there the mass roar that would indicate traction. For most the Bhatti death has barely registered. My guess is that the vast majority would have never have heard of him before his murder and will have quickly forgotten about it afterwards.

    Public attention spans are as short here as elsewhere, and there is a daily diet of atrocity that would numb the sensitivities of any population.

    The minorities and the ‘masses’ are almost hermetically sealed from one-another. There is almost no crossover interaction at any level. The Xtian communities that I know well in Punjab have no natural point of contact outside of work and virtually zero contact socially. Likewise the large Hindu population on the edges of the desert. All of the minority members that I meet speak of a perpetual sense of fear for their lives, with the Ahmedis perhaps being the most fearful of all.

    The few truly moderate (as in having arrived at a position of moderation after a deductive and elective process) Muslims that I know are themselves on the margins of society, not mainstream. They are people like you Beena. Decent men and women who struggle for the rights of those less fortunate than themselves. Who struggle to make this a better place. Until their struggle is capable of generating the roar rather than the rumble in the middle distance, they sadly stand little chance. We lost the battle with the mullahs decades ago, all they are doing today is picking up the spoils of war. This does not mean that you – and I – should not carry on the stand. We should. but we must also understand that many more of us will die in doing so and be even more quickly forgotten than Bhatti.

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  5. Chris, the mass roar will happen – but not overnight. We have to change the public discourse. See the photos at the CFD blog of the event in Karachi today. Very inspiring. http://bit.ly/e9JXrl

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  6. “I really admire your struggle to keep Pakistan’s image clear and intact. ”

    Image in whose eyes? Not native Allahrakhi or Abdul’s eyes! Articles need to be in urdu, sindhi, punjabi, Pashto, Baluchi and Brohi for image. When 70% of Pakistanis ar functionally illeterate and only 5% can read and write in alien English this effort of image building is a waste of resources.

    Moreove, why so much focus on image building. Aren’t images unislamic and not compliant with Koran & Sharia?

    Whom are you deceiving by photoshoped image?

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  7. The Effort has been made. I am really looking forward to the result of this signature campaign. What is important is the outcome of it. Keeping my fingers crossed. :)
    Beena, the efforts you are taking are huge. Laudable and Praiseworthy. I hope that as a true social activist you are guiding people’s thoughts . Some Social Activists have the habit of creating thoughts and using people to see them through. Nothing comes out of it except hatred. I hope that at this moment , as i write this comment.. there are waves of converging thoughts among multitudes of pakistanis to unite against a social evil that is dangling over them. It is the People who can make the difference. Beena can only pave the way. Power to the People! Long Live Pakistan.
    – A true well wisher from India

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  8. […] published her e-mail correspondence with Gwynne Dyer, dismantling the perception that there is a deathly silence after the assassinations. The letter writing campaign, Naqvi spoke of in her blog, gathered over […]

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  9. […] published her e-mail correspondence with Gwynne Dyer, dismantling the perception that there is a deathly silence after the assassinations. The letter writing campaign, Naqvi spoke of in her blog, gathered over […]

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  10. […] published her e-mail correspondence with Gwynne Dyer, dismantling the perception that there is a deathly silence after the assassinations. The letter writing campaign, Naqvi spoke of in her blog, gathered over […]

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  11. […] Beena Sarwar, menerbitkan korespondensi surelnya dengan Gwynne Dyer, meruntuhkan persepsi bahwa ada kebisuan mencekam setelah pembunuhan tersebut. Kampanye penulisan surat, menurut Naqvi dalam blognya, mengumpulkan […]

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