In -Tolerance

If weather was an indicator of how things are on ground, the skies would rain ash. Its ironically lovely outside right now with just a hint of softness in the cool breeze while countless tyres burn on Karachi’s main artery, twitter is abuzz with MQM, PPP and ANP political parties’ love-hate triangleship and the vast majority of the citizens cower at home for fear of losing an arm, leg or precious neck.

See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil needs a revision. The newer version could read “see everything, don’t hear, don’t speak’. For we all know what happens to those who do. Swan songs aplenty in the journalist world to remind us of consequences.

And what about tolerance? Bookish knowledge some say. Time for action, say others. The result? Mobs going wild and the scars of the 90’s in Karachi scratched and bleeding once again.

Extremism has no religion. A resident of Balfour's Siyabuswa township runs for cover as service delivery protests turned violent.

Extremism is a word, not a religion. Cross border dialogues turn into hate tirades and finger pointing but at the end of it all is an individual. In my short period of analysing extremist culture over time in different people from around the globe and more so in Pakistan, the picture has been multidimensional. There are those who feel angry and frustrated by events at a local or international level or those who grow up in the unjust world of lanes where might is right and in order to survive, one must hit hard. Many turn to religion using basic belief systems sans any analysis or psychosocially appropriate zeitgeist and use dogmas to establish an easy basis for intolerance. In order for me to be right (and obviously I am right), you must be wrong.

Many others use an extremist identity to resolve their own inner conflicts – a sense of belonging, a sense of support that makes them go on in life, provides them with purpose and eventual fulfilment. Life satisfaction as a double edged sword one may say. It would be a happy ending for all concerned if that ideology would stay contained. Yet, as the followers grow, it spirals into a movement instead and group-think being the time-ticking-bomb it is, it is bound to create a sense of fulfilment now in group ideals. Hence aggression and all its associated features come into play.

Karachi has been a bloody playground for party people since ages. Partition and a hunky dory time period passed in a dream and then we had individuals who spoke – the young student leaders who later banded, disbanded and created group-think. Now, its not even group-think, its instinct-think and the law of the jungle integrated. The one with the loudest voice – literal or metallic, gets heard and then there is an even louder silence.

MQM behind my removal as home minister: Zulfiqar Mirza.

Now we have Zulfiqar Mirza with his anti-MQM statements and the people’s voiceless but action filled rebuttal? Among the nameless faces of pyromania there are quite a few having a party and the venue happens to be the road outside. While Federal Interior minister Rehman Malik apologized on behalf of Mirza to appease the offended, dogs, a donkey, several public transport vehicles and private cars have borne the brunt of most of the anger. Goodbye ozone layer. Hopefully we won’t need you. Goodbye effigies and goodbye outbursts, the people need something more substantial that cringes and whines.  Such is the mindset of a tough minded audience while peace lovers look on in shock and disgust. Hundreds gather near Zulfiqar Mirza’s home in Karachi, children chant slogans like a mantra and the onlookers far outnumber the activists.  There are videos of people clapping and dancing in rallies in Badin, Hyderabad and other parts of Pakistan. If it were not for the burning tyres, the whole thing would look like a festival. Bonfire anyone?

Understood, no one likes to be called ‘hungry and naked’ and be reminded insolently that they were provided shelter; much in the manner of a landlord lording over his bonded labourers, yet is Zulfiqar Mirza’s speech incentive enough for anger? Were offended Karachiites hot headed enough to leap to action at the whip of a tongue of flame? A tongue is a tongue, not a gun and while an apology has been made to the hurt sentiments of the migrant populace, the unwittingly blown speech bubble includes names, and party politics along with an entire community. It will not be an easy task to smooth out everything in 48 hours by issuing ultimatums to those with a tongue to leave the city while the city dwellers vent their feelings conveniently by smashing their own utensils. Truly the angry mind doesn’t think. By the same formula, heaping all Urdu speakers into a pile and associating all of them with the name of MQM doesn’t work either.

TV channels are having a field day replaying the video taped speech over and over again. Much like a cricket ball by ball commentary we have shots of the background revealing who shook his head, who didn’t, who smiled, who tapped who on the shoulder and when. Welcome to the world of masala mix.

Time to make a third amendment for in-tolerance: See nothing, hear nothing and most definitely SPEAK NOTHING. And ofcourse those who are blind, deaf and dumb will do nothing.

Yet among all the gore, there are glimmers of light – the population that can differentiate between the right to speak and the right to vent was till yesterday sending sympathetic messages for the unfortunate  blasts in Mumbai and receiving equally thankful and understanding responses from the other side. Flip side of the coin, Pakistan and Afghanistan again gained an infamous image for exporting terror. Export? Both are busy battling the weeds in their own gardens.

And where there are gardens, weeds will grow.

In… tolerance.

Featured images courtesy


9 thoughts on “In -Tolerance”

  1. “See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil needs a revision. The newer version could read “see everything, don’t hear, don’t speak’. For we all know what happens to those who do. Swan songs aplenty in the journalist world to remind us of consequence” Kiran, it’s a really a vicious circle of oppression we are chained with. Those who enlighten are silenced, candles are fused, because the demagogues have to take the scheduled advantages out of people mind. So if and when , we are not complacent by ourselves, they forces it upon us. Brainwash us to believe against our own good, and in other way create confusion.

    In one of my recent pieces ( ), I have discussed, how they suppress new dialogue, how they kill a discourse and how they call out on a debate.

  2. Brilliant piece Kiran Nazish. Just logged on to PTH. I love the way you have analysed the present scenario keeping in view the Chinese and Soviet backdrop. The confusion is very real and it is purposefully maintained in order to keep many from moving forward.

  3. Hmmm interesting read and emotions well expressed, specially some of the phrases were catchy but since I heard way too much, I have no comments to comment on the scenario.

    1. I can relate to that. In a conversation with a friend today, we were discussing how people have gone back to their normal routine life today. Raat gai, baat gai . (Much like a one-nighter). In a way its good for the Karachiites so they can move on with their lives and for people like us it leaves a lot of room for reflection. Shall I dissect the mental machinery of the person who sat eating tikka kebab on Tariq road the evening after or shall I look at the TV and see the repetitive tape of ‘the speech’ being replayed over and over again. Viewer’s choice. Not to mention the grins at the camera from amongst the crowd that stood guard over the speech maker’s residence.

  4. My first time here but I am I stumbled on to this post. As for the “one-nighters” I believe that the masses here have been unsensitized. The ‘raat gai baat gai’ attitude is slowly eating away the very reason this garden of ashes was once created for and I would not be surprised if there comes a day when the poor and so-called weak of this Country are going door-to-door kicking the rich and so-called powerful OUT of their homes slanting “it’s our turn mo-fos!”.

    Whatever goes up…. Always comes DOWN!

    Stay Safe!

    Naveed Khan

    1. Hello Naveed,
      I am glad to see your feedback to the post. You’re very right in predicting that French Revolution style upheaval. Signs of it can be seen in small instances already like petty thefts, even mobile snatching and other issues in society. It is a fact that the dynamics of society are such that they turn the tide whenever the gap between the poor and the rich seems to be widening ever more. Here our dilemma is not only in this gap but various other gaps of understanding and tolerance.

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