Two days have passed since Curfew was imposed in aftermath of Rawalpindi incident that claimed 11 lives. The word Curfew is attached in my memory with an image of a man soaked in blood, wearing a “sindhi” come running into my memory. That was my first introduction as a child to the horrors of intolerance and hatred can do to men. It was an afternoon of August in mid 90s and we were on summer break at our Uncles house in Hyderabad. A few days before our departure back to Punjab, we were told , a “Curfew “ has been imposed and we were suppose to play inside the big house compound. Those days the railway was still running its comfortable luxurious AC compartment services and we thoroughly waited for the Train ride to and from Sindh every summer holidays. The day of departure, we had to move out during the “Curfew Break” to reach the Railway station. The driver of my Uncle, an ethnically Urdu Speaking Muhajir, was fondly wearing a “Sindhi Cap” and waiting outside in the car. Suddenly we heard some shots, that time they felt strangely like “Patakhas” and I saw the driver all soaked in blood running inside the house and collapsing in front of me. The elders had heard the shots and had come out. I could still remember debating among them to take him to the Hospital in the Sindhi populated area and may be he could be saved. The man was not ordained to die that day and despite a bullet shot at his heart he survived to tell, that two men came on motorcycle stopped , looked at his “Sindhi cap” and shot him without hesitation. Since the Curfew had become the way of life those days , we rushed to the Railway station as the lax time was about to end. Sindh was burning and the fire had not extinguished till now..
Yesterday, as Curfew got imposed , Rawalpindi has been both bleeding and smoldering. An incident that started from verbal abuse resulted into death of innocent people and burning of properties. The reason was the same , one could not tolerate the beliefs of other. The mango man of the Rawalpindi has not come to grips with the situation, a usual peaceful city has not seen a curfew in its recent memory and knows not what the future holds. People are afraid and panicky, praying for the early peace. Mothers contemplating stocking food supplies and fathers are worried about the loss of wage and how to reach their work places. As army roams around the streets of the city trying to “keep peace” , the social Media buffs are making their own statements book justifying this or that picture as the proof of perpetrator to be “Shia” or “Sunni”. The Humanitarian aspect of the tragic event and its long lasting repercussions have almost escaped everyone’s thought. The trend shows we will forget the incident as soon as the temporary peace is restored. The theorists of Conflict Resolution call such peace as negative peace that is not non violence but only temporary absence of violence, more like a silence before the storm. The three pillars of Conflict Resolution, involve “peace keeping, peacemaking and peace building”. As the Civil Administration , Political and religious leadership is on the peace making task . The method to attain peace that can be employed successfully at any and every level is the “Peace Building”. This method involve the improving of relations among the parties to conflict and aim at changing the individual beliefs of the all parties to the Conflict. This technique involve story telling as part of reducing the fear among victims and offenders. It starts a process of healing and reconciliation. The technique has been successfully employed in the post Genocide Reconstruction of countries like Rwanda, Bosnia and Kosovo. The beauty of peace building is its emphasize on building positive and lasting peace which can be started by any common man or woman. The birth and rise of social media can give rise to movements like Arab Spring , it can also give rise to no violence peace movement in Pakistan as well. The fire of hatred has spread now to every part of our country and at the time of this war against terror we need to extinguish the fire of abhorrence . Social media can be a potent engine in this positive peace movement even if the tweeps only pledge not to post the violent instigative tweets. The neighborhoods who live peacefully the whole year and suddenly divide into sects as some elements incite violence can also self mobilized to protect each other. Do not let violence drag you into abeyance of ignorance and cruelty.