Be young and shut up

A blog about student activism.

What you haven’t heard in the news…

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Guest post by Khadija Basit, a Pakistani student at Edinburgh University and an active member of Students for Justice in Palestine and the Islamic Society.

This is her take on the treatment of CIA agent Raymond Davis, who shot dead two men in Lahore, Pakistan. ‘A motorcyclist was also killed when he was hit by a car driven by an American official sent to rescue Davis from the scene.’ (Telegraph)

Over to Khadija…

My Dear Reader,

There is a lot that I have to tell you today. Most of it is my own perception and my own understanding of the events surrounding the world. So if at times I appear biased or my values intervene, forgive me. I am not exactly an objective observer.

The facts are simple. The Truth is not complex, but unfortunately, life is. More than a month ago, an American was caught and arrested by the Pakistani police for shooting dead two Pakistani civilians and killing another in what seems a hit-and-run accident. When Davis was arrested in Lahore (the city I live in) he claimed he worked at the U.S Embassy. The U.S. Government maintained that Davis was a Diplomat and demanded immunity. It was soon discovered by the Pakistani Intelligence Service that Davis was in fact an undercover agent trained for target killing. Thousands of American CIA Agents roam the streets of Pakistan with all sorts of weapons. Davis claimed ‘self-defence’; he said that he thought the two civilians on their motorbike were robbers who were going to kill him. I guess we’ll never know now but the fact that he shot them in the back more than once is enough to formulate my own judgment. At the time, the Pakistani government was under immense pressure by the civilian population to convict Davis – surely he had murdered innocent Pakistani civilians and why in the world was he carrying weapons in his car trunk in broad daylight? Davis was held for a month.

On March 16, 2011, Raymond Davis was released by the authorities in Pakistan. Blood money was offered to the relatives of the deceased at an amount of £1.1 million. Blood money is an aspect of Islamic (Shariah Law) but delving into that here hardly makes sense. What you ought to know is that these Islamic laws are manipulated by the State for their selfish gains. I will tell you how.

One of the victims’ wives, Shumaila, poisoned herself committing suicide. She had demanded Qisas, “blood for blood” which is also an Islamic (Shariah) Law. She knew the State would release the man who murdered her husband because the State’s relationship with America is far more important than the lives of innocent civilians. On her death bed, she is reported to have said, “They are planning to release him. This is why I have taken this step [poisoned myself]. I want justice. I want blood for blood. He should not be acquitted. He should be shot the same way he shot my husband.”  It is easier to take advantage of poor and illiterate people; it is easy for the State to bend these laws for their own interests.

Two days after Davis left, illegal U.S drone attacks killed nearly 40 innocent civilians inPakistan. The government condemned the attacks.

This incident is a slap on every Pakistani civilian’s face. It indicates that our leaders are willing to sell us, have us murdered and killed mercilessly at the expense of foreign troops who wander our cities to create mayhem. It tells me that my life is worthless and that our ties with America are more valuable. If it were a Pakistani who had shot dead two American civilians, they would have tortured him to death by now! Perhaps the Pakistani State already knows this. Perhaps not. They can’t be that naïve, but whoever said slavery had been abolished? I see people being bought and sold every day. It is easy, they just get bribed, forced to accept money for the loss of their loved ones, or if they’re unlucky, the State sells them to another country. They just go missing…

I went to the Pakistani Consulate in Glasgow with a few friends from Edinburgh to protest. I lied to my mother and when she asked me where I was and what I was doing, I told her I was spending the day in Glasgow with friends. It wasn’t entirely a lie but it wasn’t exactly the truth. I’m not sure how she’ll take this and sometimes I feel terrible for not being honest with her.

We hung Pakistani flags outside the large cottage-like building located in a primarily Pakistani neighbourhood. There were flyers and placards and there were a few Pakistanis already gathered there (they wanted to join the protest). We called ourselves, “Youth for Justice inPakistan.” Employees of the Consulate told us we were protesting in the wrong place and we should have gathered at the American Embassy in Edinburgh. The governments are quite clever; they’ve placed us in this situation where we don’t know who to blame – if we protest at the American Embassy they’ll tell us it’s the Pakistani government and if we go to the Consulate they tell us to go to the Americans. It’s a sticky situation.

From the outcome of the protest, I’ve concluded a lot of things. Glasgow has a population of around 60,000 Pakistanis but at the protest there were only about forty of us there. Including myself, there were only three women present. Passersby glared at us from the windows of their cars and as they picked their children up from school. None of them joined the protest- every second car and individual there was a Pakistani. It was slightly disappointing but it was a first step. The Pakistani nation is yet not ready for an uprising. We’re divided on a lot of things and I suppose it will take us a while to actually realise that what’s happening in our nation is entirely not to our benefit. These things happen because individuals are not affected in the same way as others and it is certainly not easy to stand up for what you believe in.

The Cricket World Cup just came to an end. India beat Pakistan in the semi-finals and the World Cup. I’m happy for them because they were highly professional and organised. At the same time, I’m slightly worried. Cricket means so much to people in South Asia, especially India and Pakistan. Considering that nearly a million people were watching the semi-final, I’m afraid people in Pakistan are gradually forgetting about Shumaila’s death because they’ve become so used to suffering. In my 21 years of living, I am beginning to understand that equality, peace and justice are highly over-rated concepts. Raymond Davis murdered two innocent people and technically he fled the country (as was already predicted). Things have become really strange. An Israeli soldier kills an innocent Palestinian child while they’re playing, but no one jails the soldier.  On the other hand, a Palestinian is hunted down, tortured and killed for killing an Israeli. Similarly, an American roams around the streets of Pakistan with weapons in his car but no one even suspects him. In fact, the government let him go. And the American President wins the Nobel Peace Prize…

I tell my father that I want to be the President of Pakistan and make him my advisor. It’s our little joke and makes discussion amusing. He tells me I should run for President and promise to have him there. I agree and tell him that my mother can be the Treasurer. He knows things are going terribly but I’m not sure he’s willing to gather with his family and the neighbours yet to protest. I’m not sure my mother is willing to get out there either. We can’t compare ourselves to the Egyptians who endured nearly 30 years of oppression. Their women and children bled for their nation and their futures.  A lot needs to change in Pakistan and I know that it might not be in my lifetime. Perhaps 30 years from now I’ll be saying what my father says to me to my children.

So, my dear reader, we live in very exciting times and I urge you not to stay behind. It’s time we set things straight and fought for those who are too afraid to stand up for themselves and those who are unable to. In time, things will change and there will come a time when the Israeli soldier will be questioned for his actions and people will carry flowers instead of destructive weapons in their hands and car trunks. It’s wishful thinking but as a human I am allowed to dream because time in dreams is frozen and happy thoughts can be prolonged…


Written by CakeCakeCakeCakeCake

April 18, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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