Save the youth from disillusionment, Mr PM – give Sabeen’s cause a voice!

Published: April 26, 2015

Before this, there were few who spoke about the atrocities in Balochistan. Many tried in vain, and were silenced. But Sabeen went ahead with it sir. At the risk of her own life, she went ahead with it.

Before this, there were few who spoke about the atrocities in Balochistan. Many tried in vain, and were silenced. But Sabeen went ahead with it sir. At the risk of her own life, she went ahead with it. Sabeen Mahmud. PHOTO: TWITTER Image from the scene where Sabeen Mahmud was killed. PHOTO: REUTERS

Dear Mr Sharif,

There is no doubt that you have heard about the murder of Sabeen Mahmud. Other members of parliament and politicians have extended their grievances.

And I’m sure that even as I write this, your PA is vigorously typing out your official response; one that will attempt to soothe the flaring tempers of the people who knew her and those that didn’t. But Sir, haven’t we been here before? Someone beloved and irreplaceable gunned down because they said something that upset someone more powerful than them, and everyone condemns their murder via an official channel.

What more will you do Sir, as the prime minister of a country home to those brave enough to say that which you cannot openly admit? Isn’t it strange Sir that you, the ‘democratically’ elected leader of a nation 18-crore strong weren’t a threat, but Sabeen, a humble woman running her library-cum-coffee shop from a quiet part of Karachi would threaten factions strong enough to silence an uprising that broke Mohandas Gandhi’s world record?

You’ve never lived in Karachi, so I don’t know if you’re familiar with Sabeen or her work. She was incredibly sweet. When I was 17, I was involved in a student NGO. We had big dreams and no money, and Sabeen was one of the five people who agreed to help us. My friend and partner went to visit this lovely lady, recovering from a knee surgery, who humoured the ‘I want to change the world’ sentiments of a teenager. She invited Karachi’s public and its intellectuals over for coffee and conversation, keeping the spirit of community alive and vibrant. And most recently, she took a stand against oppressive elements and agreed to let the gaping wounds of Balochistan use her tiny ‘second floor’ as medicine.

Please don’t misunderstand me, Sir. I am not advocating her case to you. Her genius does not need your endorsement. Her bravery does not need your medals. But as a Karachiite, I need you to understand what has been taken from us. I need you to understand what we have lost. She was more important than your campaigns Sir, because she never had to claim to understand our grief, feel our pain or value our opinions. She never had to pretend to be one of us; she was one of us!

And I know that just like before, her murder will be dismissed with a brief ‘condemnation’. But it cannot stop there. You cannot let her death end what she had the courage to start. You cannot let the Balochistan cause disappear into the abyss once again. Before this, there were few who spoke about the atrocities in Balochistan. Many tried in vain, and were silenced. And now there are reports that Sabeen too was threatened.

But she went ahead with it sir. At the risk of her own life, she went ahead with it.

The least you can do is honour her sacrifice. If a single woman with little power, and lots of knowledge, could raise her voice against this dangerous subject, then the most powerful man in the country should have the gall to ensure that death does not silence her cause.

I will not condemn this country; because I have lived in Pakistan long enough to know that it is a brave and resilient nation. I know that the children of Pakistan value the lives of others more than their own. I know that the mothers of Pakistan can recover from the massacre of their children. I have lived in Karachi long enough, and have met enough of its people to know that in some circles Sabeen wasn’t the exception, she was and will always be the norm.

But sir, neither you nor I can ignore that the government has failed this brave nation one too many times. Since news of the tragedy broke, I have heard the voices of naysayers. I have been told that Sabeen’s example wasn’t that of inspiration, but of a warning. That there are some aspects of civilian rights that must remain anonymous. And I’m sure that you would caution me in the same way.

Why am I even writing this? I suppose these are the outpourings of one who is truly powerless. I suppose they are the confusions of the child in me, who saw Sabeen’s little space and said,

“I wish I could do that!”

Ultimately, I suppose it is a feeble act of desperation, of disillusionment. But it is to remind you that you and I both have a voice; yours is louder than mine, and perhaps this is to urge you to, for once, use it.


Ushah Kazi

An avid reader, literature buff and co-founder at She tweets as @TheKollectivePK (

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

  • SAIF

    You are writing to the wrong guy, Miss. First off (given that he gets this letter), he will get his translators to read it to him. Even after that, he can’t simply comprehend anything about it because whatever you wrote in here, whatever the noble message and cause is, it is above his little mind, which is mostly filled with small money-making tricks and dirty gimmicks. So, basically, you are in a situation where you have no one to turn to address this situation. I am sorry. This is just as it is these days.Recommend

  • islooboy

    Where are these so called human rights organizations when Ulema are killed in Karachi?Recommend

  • singh

    Great personality but sad end. You will be missed by many. RIP.Recommend

  • Parvez

    I liked the way you worded that appeal and if it were going to a leader who cared about his people possible something would be done…….but in this case you are blowing in the wind. Whatever will happen, if it happens, will be through your and my doings and by the grace of providence.Recommend

  • JKhan

    The liberals are a microscopic minority. When lawyers garland killers we know that illness is terminal. Pakistan is dying a slow motion death and our deluded countrymen welcome it.Recommend

  • curious

    Late Sabeen never spoke about atrocities against Kashmiri youth in Kashmir and Bharat or atrocities by Sardars on poor in Pakistan especially Baluchistan. Why was she so concerned about “missing persons” only? I can answer but will wait for any bright ideas.

  • I agree with the writer wholeheartedly about exposing Sabeen Mahmood’s murders and giving Balochistan and other social and political causes a voice. However, I don’t believe, and am not convinced, that Sabeen Mahmood’s murder had to do with T2F hosting a discussion on Balochistan.

    Sabeen had not been threatened regarding that; she didn’t have a troubled relationship with the establishment; it makes no sense for establishment agencies to take such a step given the high cost and low benefits; and the event she hosted was a small affair anyways. I wish her death would stop being slanted with simultaneous mentions of Balochistan. This probably has to do with Karachi’s local political and religious dynamics.Recommend

  • RFD

    Nawaz el Sharifa bin Muqin al Saud is in England, currently. Checking his overseas accounts, bank balances, talking to his accountants and seeking advice from private bankers on where to invest his loot from Pakistan. So much loot, so little time.
    He has no time frivolous things like a civil rights activist getting assassinated. His
    money, his family, in that order, come first.Recommend

  • Pasha

    You are addressing the wrong Sharif.Recommend

  • You are brainwashed by Imran Khan. Nawaz is just a politician, flawed but not the arch-villain your master has made him out to be. Imran has conditioned his followers to hate and dismiss; he’ll ultimately lose from having done so because he’ll alienate everybody decent.Recommend

  • islooboy

    Read Moeed Pirzadas article on Pakistan psuedo liberalsRecommend

  • siesmann

    What is the birhgt idea behind shooting dead a person whom you don’t agree with.Only you can think that a citizen has to criticize foreign governments,but not their own;speak for foreign nationals and not for their own citizens.Recommend

  • siesmann

    Most reasonable question should be in the reverse.When are these mullahs going to speak for the common man and his present life.Recommend

  • RFD

    Who is Imran? The cucumber sandwich eating, UTurn Khan?
    The one who attends the Duchess Of Manchester’s soirees?
    With Elton John? The same one who was kicked out by Jemima?
    The Office for the Terrorists/Extremists in Islamabad Khan? Well….
    maybe you mean dancing on a Container Khan? Disco Khan?
    ‘Mayn bahar ki hoon’ Reham Khan’s husband?…so,…which one?Recommend

  • Minerva

    We dont know if Sabeen supported the Baluchistan cause or not. She was just giving Mama Qadeer a space to express. Whatever causes she supported, she didnt deserve to die.

    Since you brought up Kashmir, looks like Kashmiri separatists are luckier than Balochi separatists, since they are alive. Hurriyat leaders, yasin malik and their ilk must be thanking god for being born in India.Recommend

  • islooboy

    They do protest you just call them terrorist sympathizersRecommend

  • Neutral

    Pleading to Punjabi elites/security agencies won’t work on this as they carry out/support these atrocities again minorities and anyone who argues for these oppressed peopleRecommend

  • Oyster

    Both questions carry equal weightRecommend

  • Neutral

    That means she gets killed for that? I guess her raising the voice of missing Baluchis struck a sensitive chord with Punjabi elites and security agencies.Recommend

  • farah

    I doubt he will be able to understand this letter and its depth.Recommend

  • curious

    Your response is typical if the so-called disillusioned persons who adopt lifestyles alien to them and think they are the luberal kind. Nobody is endorsing the killing of a person. This is again typical of these human rights activists who consider themselves superior to the poor suffering and are choosy in their protests. You all assumed it was due to her this and that. It is not confirmed yet. She was not the only ‘social human rights’ activist! So before commenting check your facts and do not mixup a murder with a non issue.Recommend

  • Zee

    No! Late sabeen and others alike don’t have words for such a cause as these NGOs won’t get funds anymore if they do that. Few days back, I was reading somewhere that roughly 250 billions rupees, these NGOs get annually from their foreign masters. Recommend

  • Zee

    Oh pl. 100k killed, thousands are still missing, thousands have been raped and you still considering Kashmiris lucky! Poor Kashmiris!Recommend

  • siesmann

    You still did not explain the bright idea behind killing her,with all your vitriol.Recommend

  • siesmann

    they sure are terrorist-sympathizers.Recommend

  • Sheeda

    So a person who raises a voice on a subject needs to justify not raising voices on the rest of the thousands of issues worldwide????