February 23, 2020
Home  »  Magazine  »   » Diary  » Lahore Diary »  Dare To Dissent

Dare To Dissent

Dare To Dissent
Sometimes the most unexpected things keep one going. Like the May 18 memorandum submitted to the chief minister of nwfp against the proposed model of a Ghauri missile in Abbottabad. The petition, signed by 25 citizens-lawyers, doctors, political activists, and ngo workers representing various professional and political fora, showed guts, as it coincided with the start of the 10-day celebrations to mark the anniversary of the May 28 nuclear tests. Now officially called Yaum-e-Takbeer (day of thanksgiving), it's also billed as 'the most important day since Independence', symbolising 'self-reliance' and the 'restored balance of power' in the region. The government pulled out all stops and anyone looking in from a distance would be excused for thinking the nation was united in its support of the Sharif government's nuclear policy. But the Abbottabad citizens felt "human security is an essential part of national security", stressing the need to "allocate public funds towards projects that aim at providing essential social services such as clean drinking water, sanitation, education and health cover". Similar voices were raised in letters to newspapers, articles in print and on the Internet, seminars and demonstrations. But the number of events originally planned dwindled as May 28 approached. Organisers received threatening phone calls, and most ngos pulled out believing that their participation would be politically unwise at this point. But many individuals, minus their organisation's banners, carried on regardless. They may have been few, but the fact that they took this public stand, despite the risks, was significant. In the centre of official-ridden Islamabad, for instance, about 80 prominent writers, scientists, academics, and ordinary citizens held a silent demonstration. Their placards, in Urdu, Sindhi and English, said: "No to War, Yes to Peace", "Pro-Peace, Pro-Pakistan", "5,000 missing in Sindh typhoon, what is there to celebrate?", "50 years of crisis in Kashmir, what is there to celebrate?", "No Chagai, No Pokhran, Just Long Live Pakistan", "30,000 school bund, jahalat aur andhera, jashn kis baat ka (30,000 closed schools; ignorance and darkness, what's there to celebrate?)", "Make the whole world free of nuclear weapons", "We want a nuclear-free South Asia", "Bomb nahin, roti, kapra aur taleem (No to the bomb, yes to bread, clothing and education)". They also demanded an end to the hostilities on the Indo-Pak border in Kashmir. Sadly, going by the media, one would have thought such dissent didn't exist. In that atmosphere of 'nuclear nationalism', even independent newspapers didn't give the prominence it deserved.

Next Story >>
Google + Linkedin Whatsapp

Read More in:

The Latest Issue

Outlook Videos