Sabeen Mahmud, Jibran Nasir and Shaan Taseer are all cut out from the same fabric

Published: July 11, 2015

In May 2013, just a little over two years from now, there was a wave of change which brought with it new possibilities and ‘hope’. Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) tenure had come to an end and elections were going to take place. We had various political parties competing against one another for the win. In the entire hullabaloo that was taking place, there was one young man, about 26-years-old who ran for the NA-250 constituency. Jibran Nasir ran his campaign actively on social media and other forums, and gained many followers, however he lost the political end game.

Shaan Taseer, very well-known in the social circuit for belonging to a well-off family and the son of Shaheed Salmaan Taseer who was murdered in cold blood for ‘blasphemy’ charges, has been seen standing by Jibran through all his campaigns. According to Shaan,

“I think the Jibran that stood outside Lal Masjid against extremism is the same man that stood for the 2013 elections. The basic demand is the same; transparent governance.”

For a while, there seemed to be silence from this young man. Many thought that he ran for a political career out of sheer patriotism. Yet, when the unspeakable Peshawar carnage took place, we all saw Jibran back on social media, on our television screens and on the roads. It was a day that has scarred Pakistanis to an immense degree. Keyboard jihadists began tweeting and putting Facebook statuses against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) faction that had taken responsibility of the gruesome attack on innocent children who were murdered in cold blood.

Our political leaders solemnly condemned the act, as they always do. Imran Khan, the leading political frontrunner of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) took days to visit the grieving families, while our Premier Nawaz Sharif was seen giving a televised condemnation. As the country mourned, Jibran and his team took the stance of justice and “transparent governance” to the next level. He ran campaigns on social media and got around to making sure that humanity existed. It was a breather in a nation that has been dead for quite some time.

As events unfolded, we saw Jibran and Shaan braving the intense cold in early 2015 and standing against Abdul Aziz and the likes of him who blatantly spread hate speech in their sermons. So much so, that this same Maulana who is now referred to as Mulzim (criminally accused), Aziz did not condemn the Peshawar attack.

Aziz was a part of the Lal Masjid incident. He was the same man who wore a burkha (veil) and ran away. He is also the same person who has been invited many times over by renowned television channels spreading hate speech. Yet, no one dared to question his morality. This bearded man was pious, and although pretentious piety was at its best with Aziz, not a single television anchor who hosted him, asked about this man’s ethics.

The Peshawar attack changed people’s mind-set. Yet, Abdul Aziz was still not held accountable for not condemning the attack and carrying on with his hate speech. It took a 27-year-old nationalistic young man and his team to gather and stand against him.  In Jibran’s words,

“Islamabad in December 2014 was not a city much known to me. I hardly knew any people there. On the first day when I stood outside Lal Masjid to condemn Mulzim Abdul Aziz, there were hardly five people whom I had met for the first time. Yet, it was nothing but a natural reaction a sort of an expression of our individual frustration.”

As days went by, more people began to join Jibran’s movement.

“I was there on the second day, on Jibran’s call. Power drunk with the belief that Mulzim Aziz is above the law; he issued a press statement threatening to harm us all. It was then that we marched to the police station and filed an FIR against him”, recalls Shaan.

According to Jibran,

“In a greater scheme of things, it was (the movement) one of the most positive way that the citizens of Pakistan could have responded.”

Undoubtedly, we saw that there was a collective mind-set of humanity that was being questioned.

“We are not a nation of quitters nor is violence inherent in us. We just need to galvanise and channelise this potential,” he continued.

Currently, Jibran is involved in two projects. One is “Pakistan for All”, for which Shaan is the co-founder with Jibran. This project is an advocacy collectively aimed at giving voice to the marginalised sections of the Pakistani society. The project works for recognition and enforcement of civil liberties that cut down on hate speech and fight censorship. It is very much an extension of Late Sabeen Mahmud’s activism, as she herself was the co-founder of the project. Remembering Sabeen, Shaan adds,

“Memories can be short in our part of the world. However, in this case we have not forgotten Sabeen or the children of APS. Citizens in Pakistan and in the Diasporas have commemorated the Peshawar tragedy on the 16th of every month globally. A movement of consciousness is underway. It may seem that our heroes are forgotten, only because people need to move on in their lives, but a change in the zeitgeist is underway.”

The second project that Jibran is involved in is called Never Forget Pakistan (NFA). This project is an online media platform that he has created with a group of concerned citizens. The NFA is aimed at not only creating a counter narrative to religious extremism, but also populating it amongst the masses.

One of the most important aspects of both the projects is to ensure that our martyrs and heroes never become a fading memory. According to Jibran, it is apathy that results in people to forget easily.

There is one particular slogan that usually strikes the mind when Jibran’s name comes up, that being “Reclaim Pakistan”. When asked what this slogan truly means, in his apt words he replied by saying,

“It is not what I believe but what our reality is. Our country is home to over 15 ethnicities and it has more than 20 languages, while it practices many faiths. This speaks intrinsic ‘tolerance’. It is an innate notion of co-existence which is eroding and being lost to the growing radicalisation that was imposed on us due to state policy.”

‘Reclaim Pakistan’ is in short, going back to our roots, where we are one nation belonging to one blood. It is indeed, humanity before faith or creed. In Shaan’s words,

“It means to take ownership, control the narrative and to play your part as a responsible citizen.”

When I asked them how they are planning on tackling issues related to minority killings, Balochistan, Taliban and other grave issues in Pakistan, whether it is the massacre of the people of Hazara, or Christians being lynched or the Taliban going on a killing spree of innocent children and women, Jibran replied,

“For starters this question should be asked from Nawaz Sharif and Raheel Sharif and all chief ministers, people who have signed up and are paid for this job, not from ordinary citizens like Shaan and myself who are doing activism because we feel passionately about our country. Still, in our limited capacity through projects like Pakistan For All and Never Forget Pakistan we are trying to ensure sustainable means of carrying on the work.”

Shaan further added,

“We will continue to do whatever it takes to make more and more Pakistanis speak out. Those tactics may include social media, mainstream media, protests, or holding the government accountable through litigation. The goal is to break the apathy.”

Jibran recently took a trip to the US where he delivered speeches in 18 cities, 25 universities and hosted 50 talks. Various people pointed fingers at him by saying that his trip was funded by the US government, whereas Jibran openly tells us that the Pakistani Student Association as well as many other Pakistanis supported him. He invites any concerned journalist, citizen or officer of the state who believes that his trip was funded by the US government to find even a dollar worth of contribution by anyone other than Pakistan and its citizens.

On this note, we are proud to have people like Jibran and Shaan working fervently for our nation’s betterment and our basic civil rights. We have had people like Sabeen and many more who were driven in the same direction as these two patriotic gentlemen. However, we lost them too soon to cold blooded murders, yet they are our heroes, and Jibran as well as Shaan strive to keep their memories alive albeit fighting for a nation that has been looted, corrupted and tarnished.

We pray that they achieve their goals while the Pakistani citizens realise their worth and work alongside these two living heroes.

Zara Hafeez

Zara Hafeez

A digital marketer, writer, a history buff, volunteer for humanitarian causes for The James Caan Foundation, UNICEF Promise for Children, among others and a tea-aholic. She tweets as @zara_hafeez (twitter.com/zara_hafeez)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Parvez

    Its a pity that we have so few like them……..but then its a blessing that we still have people like them.Recommend

  • ovais

    The same man who wont criticize the liberals PPP and MQM .. kudos . Jibran sabeen etc are all jokes .Recommend

  • http://www.umalik.com/ Usman

    With sincere apologies, was this an “insert Shaan” piece? Life piggybacking on Jibran’s work and Sabeen’s death? Recommend

  • ovais

    and who the hell is shaan taseer , ?? A ceo who doesnt pay salaries ??Recommend

  • Disgusted

    Sabeen Mahmood does not belong here.Recommend

  • Rajesh Mehta

    Unless Pakistan has the realisation that there are no Good or Bad Taliban or strategic Jihadi assets like JUD (which runs in lahore under blessings of govt),there would be no resolution whatsoever of the insurgency and radicalism the nation is at odds with
    All in all, it seems Pakistan is now getting back its own medicine in form of TTP which wants to achieve same thing which Taliban in Afghanistan wanted,unless Pakistan can reform its radical madrasas ,tame its rogue intelligence agencies which sometimes doesnt even operate under the ambit of established guidelines nothing much meaningful would be experienced by civil society in Pakistan
    Also, Express Tribune Please note how your publication was banned for few weeks by threat of Taliban or how you cowered when you refused to support Hamid Mir’s GEO TV story.
    Merely blaming the pawns in the game, the few Mullahs wont change anything, even your newspaper knows you are threatened by a nexus which goes beyond Mullahs or radicals…
    Murder of Sabeen Mahmood was done by radicals? Please be objective, who would be the one to benefit from her murder, obviously same institution who feels threatened about its kidnap/dump policy carried out in Balochistan
    (I wouldnt blame you if you dont publish my comment after all in Pakistan even reporters arent safe always on watchlist of BigBoss)Recommend

  • Rajesh Mehta

    Correction to my post below(if it ever gets published ) ,”Also, Express Tribune Please note how your publication was banned for few weeks by threat of Taliban” ,it should be read as Publication had banned/cennsored reporting on taliban for few weeks–

    The context being the aftermath of killings of tribune reporters,immediately following the killings, the paper’s editor, sent an email to staff outlining the paper’s new policy.

    Henceforth there would be “nothing against any militant organisationand its allies like the Jamaat-e-Islami, religious parties and the Tehrik-e-Insaf”, the rightwing party led by Imran Khan, that strongly opposes military operations against the TTP.

    There would also be “nothing on condemning any terrorist attack”, “nothing against TTP or its statements” and “no opinion piece/cartoon on terrorism, militancy, the military, military operations, terror attacks”.

    Reporters got banned from describing a movement responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians, soldiers and police as “outlawed” or “militant”.

    Again,I dont blame your newspaper thats stark reality you face in Pakistan,where discretion would always be better part of valour,no point young kids like you getting killed for an expose on militancy/jehadi nexusRecommend

  • logical

    Check out the credentials of the ‘writer’. A PR specialist. What were you expecting? I am sorry you wasted your time reading the whole article. Fortunately, I did not.Recommend

  • hassam khan

    I pity that such ill researched opinions become part of this section, Sabeen Mehmood was a mover, an initiator, Shaan was a spoiled billionaire play boy who is famous among the employees for daily times for an alleged porn scandal and Jibran Nasir is nothing but an opportunist… he is Malala in disguiseRecommend

  • Vap

    Who else belong here genius ?Recommend

  • Saladin1Chamchawala

    Metaphor is “cut from the same cloth” not “fabric.” There is another metaphor conveying similar sense “chip off the old block.”Recommend

  • ARCH

    Thought didn’t get any better way to cash Sabeen Mehmood killing in favor of Jibran Nasir? or better be you kidding!Recommend

  • http://www.umalik.com/ Usman

    Well said, I did waste my time. From now on I’m reading any of these tribune blogs bottom up! Recommend