Hamza Ahmed: No cause is too elite to fight for
A 16-year-old boy was shot dead due to a petty argument in the troubled city of Karachi. Like thousands of others before him and hundreds of innocents after him, he stands a good chance of being denied an impartial, fair investigation, and a thorough delivery of justice.
Yet, when his family and friends protest against the murder of their loved one, it is met with scepticism as to whether the killing of this boy deserves the media attention it is getting. When his picture and story are shared on social media, they are met by comments on how he “brought it upon himself” and how because he was richer than other victims, his death is not nearly as tragic as several other losses.
Since he was assassinated over a dispute regarding a female friend, the inculcation of “western values” is blamed for the tragedy.
Because the media takes notice, this loss is counted as a rich man’s privilege, a denial of the rights of other people who die left and right in Pakistan.
I want to take a moment here to express my disgust and disillusionment with what my people have become. Several of us had given up on our government and judicial system to deliver much good. However, the failure of our own populace to grieve for rampant lawlessness taking the lives of innocents – no matter who they are – is a serious, painful, crippling blow.
This high profile killing is not the first such incident of the year. It adds steam to a trend of unaddressed violence that has invaded every single Pakistanis life. The loss of Hamza Ahmed is not proof that we are too westernised for our own good, or that we only stand for losses of privileged Pakistanis. Instead, it is testimony to the fact that we can no longer disassociate ourselves from the violent, insecure society we inhabit.
No matter how wealthy, educated or protected we think we are, we are dogged by constant fear. Crime is no longer limited to low income localities and times when only the poor and underprivileged suffered have long gone. No one is free. No one is safe.
As for whether our troubles come from an excessive adoption of western values and mannerisms, if it was indeed true, this country might be a better place for it. Average citizens of these countries are more respectful of human rights, freedom of speech and the word of law than Pakistani society has ever been. They do not break traffic laws, practice obsolete feudalism, pay bribes, employ nepotism and abuse females nearly as much as we do.
Understand that when news agencies and social media pay attention to any loss at all, it is an opportunity to reduce the misery we live in. Every time there is hype about an innocent death, it is a rallying cry for everyone who stands against crime and injustice. Protestors who demand change alongside Shahzeb Khan’s family, or condemn violence at Hamza Ahmed’s murder do it because they care about the millions of other losses as well, and want a better life not for two or three families, but for society as a whole.
If we ever want to leave our house without fearing for the loss of our belongings and our lives, we need to support these causes, instead of considering them too elite for middle class ambitions.
Indeed, those of us who believe that Hamza and Shahzab’s tragedy steal the thunder from other target killings and bomb blasts should bring up the causes we find sidelined, use whatever resources we have at our disposal to spread awareness about them and stop considering our own selves too small or too insignificant to make a difference.
The day these criticizers decide to do something about less publicised incidents of violence other than attack sympathy for other victims, they may be able to contribute more than a bitter, negative opinion.
It is about time we stop trivialising those who do raise their voice against injustice. It is true that some families have more resources at hand than others to demand retribution. But this should prompt us to support those who do not have the same resources by following in the example of those who try to gain justice against the odds.
Cases like Shahzeb and Malala have shown that we are not as helpless as we think when it comes to propagating unheard losses and asking our media and people for greater accountability.
No matter what faith, income class, or school of thought we identify with, every time an innocent like Hamza is shot, we draw closer to becoming a victim ourselves.
Sadly, it is not a political party, the Taliban or the West that is plotting the demise of Pakistan. It is our own silence.
Read more by Areeba here.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.