Monday, May 09, 2016

Shooting and hacking far away on the other side of the planet

Of course we are all mortals.  Which is why we worry about everything all around us.  If we were eternal, then we would not care. Not even a bit.  As Dana Gioia put it:
One of your primary experiences of reality is to be mortal.  A human life is a linear structure of time in your natural world which repeats itself so every spring everything is new again except for you. If you are a Christian and you also believe there is the eternity.  There is a level of existence outside of the linearity, outside of the natural cycle so time becomes a reality and a paradox.  ... If we were not mortal, if we did not exist in time, you would have forever and nothing would matter
Life matters because we do not live forever.

It becomes even more troubling when this mortal existence is unnaturally ended, which is increasingly the case in India's siblings--Pakistan and Bangladesh.  In the essay in the New Yorker profiling the Pakistani novelist/writer/journalist Mohammed Hanif, I came across this:
Last April, Sabeen Mahmud, a close friend of Hanif’s who ran a local event space called the Second Floor, was planning a panel discussion involving Baloch leaders. Worried that the I.S.I. would react badly, she turned to Hanif for advice. He told her that it would be very risky, but Mahmud decided to go ahead anyway.
Hanif was out of town the night of the discussion, but he followed it on Twitter, and was relieved when it came to an end without incident. A few minutes later, he got a call from a friend: gunmen had pulled alongside Mahmud’s car and opened fire, killing her and wounding her mother. “It really shook me,” he said. “I used to think, like Sabeen, that we were really small fry. Who the hell cares about a hundred and twenty people sitting in a room talking, a bunch of like-minded losers?” Mahmud’s death was a measure of how much things had changed in Pakistan. 
And today in the news, reports that yet another activist--Khurram Zaki--was shot dead in Karachi by unidentified gunmen.  Zaki was forty:
This was the third high-profile killing of a rights activist in Karachi in recent years and pointed to the immense dangers faced by activists in a country troubled by religious extremism and intolerance. Last year, Sabeen Mahmud, the director of a popular arts center in Karachi, was gunned down in the city after she hosted an event on human rights abuses in southwestern Baluchistan Province. Parween Rahman, a social justice activist, was killed in 2013.
Miles away, on the other side of India, a Sufi leader was the latest who was hacked to death in Bangladesh:
Similar attacks on intellectuals, secular writers and others have taken place over the last two years in Bangladesh. The attacks have seemed to increase in recent weeks, with a Hindu tailor being hacked to death last month, as were two gay rights activists, among others. Several of the assaults have been claimed by the Islamic State or by a branch of Al Qaeda, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist websites. An English professor was hacked to death, also in Rajshahi, last month, in an attack that was claimed by the Islamic State and that police said they believed was connected to Islamist militants.
I--and, hopefully you too--worry about these because we--and that includes you, too--are mortals. Mere mortals.


Ramesh said...

Yes we are mortal. The events in both Pakistan and Bangladesh point to more than merely intolerance. It's the takeover by criminal elements of civil society. These zealots care two hoots for Islam. They are criminals plain and simple and exercising their power. The state has abdicated its fundamental duty ; that of protecting its citizens from war and criminal activity.

Remember the Mumtaz Qadri case - when he was hanged thousands of people took to the streets to protest. That is intolerance with a capital I. A killer who cold bloodedly murdered someone who he was paid to protect and there is such massive support. What has Pakistan come to ?

Sriram Khé said...

Yes ... bizarre that the killer--who assassinated a decent human being of a politician whose only "crime" was defending secular politics--that killer is celebrated as a martyr :(

Pakistan's leaders allowed themselves to be screwed over by three different political entities: the USSR, the US, and the Saudis. Each one screwed the country for its own benefits, but it is Pakistan's people who are suffering the terrible, terrible consequences. It has been a few years since I gave up on Pakistan.

(Recently, I have given up on India too, though for different reasons; my advice to any young person who is able and willing to exit India will be to exit the country at the earliest!)

Ramesh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ramesh said...

Hey Hey, I can't let you get away with that. That's an appalling piece of advice. Justify your stand young man, for you are about to be bashed up :):)

Sriram Khé said...

I am sure that will be a lengthy post one of these days ... until then, keep sharpening your pencils ;)

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