by Syed Yahya Husainy
We are living in an increasingly contentious political climate fueled by partisan gridlock, negative campaigns, and huge trust deficit contributed by a largely biased media. Promotion of civility in everyday life is a much needed virtue. It is not just an important psychological but also a political factor. With all the street violence and blame game being played for the lawlessness in Karachi, let us not forget that civility lies at the root of true democracy. The legacy of Dr. Imran Farooq should be honored by respecting the same democratic process which he was an advocate of, not by killing people or setting buildings and vehicles on fire.
On the end of the “combat mission” in Iraq, American President Barack Obama said,
“It’s well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset, yet no one could doubt President Bush’s support for our troops or his love of country and commitment to our security”.
President Obama’s choice of words was very respectful towards former President George W. Bush, even though he disagreed with the former president over the Iraq war issue (among many other things), making this an excellent example of being civil in a democratic environment.
Mohammad Ali Jinnah in his letter on Gandhis death stated:
“Whatever our political differences, he was one of the greatest men produced by the Hindu community, and a leader who commanded their universal confidence and respect…”
Jinnah and Gandhi were contemporaries, colleagues and archrivals. However, despite the propaganda, Jinnah and Gandhi’s relationship was based on mutual admiration and friendship.
Why is it that lately when we disagree, we treat each other as enemies and let blind hatred get the best of us? Why can’t we respect others opinions and not attack individuals – only their ideas?
When a friend recently set off to buy a handgun for his protection, I was forced to think how Karachi has seen its share of better days. With the death of Dr. Imran Farooq – a native of Karachi and one of the founding members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement – current situation in Karachi has gotten out of hand and it seems that the city has descended once again to its dark ages. Turn on the TV and you see clashes, violence, firing, deaths and everything else unimaginable in the biggest industrialized city of Pakistan. A sad day for Pakistanis and Pakistan!
The situation in Karachi is especially of concern as it is the provincial capital of Sindh, run by a coalition government formed by MQM and the PPP. Before Dr. Farooqs death, tensions between the MQM and PPP were already running high because of the possibility of a large shift in demographics as flood victims from interior Sindh began moving towards Karachi, a largely “Muhajir” populated city.
Respected American Federal Judge Charles W. Pickering once said that, “A healthy democracy requires a decent society; it requires that we are honorable, generous, tolerant and respectful.”
If we are to live up to the promise of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, we must to communicate in a more respectful and non-violent manner, giving way to improved public discourse. We all have the ability to display and deliver a positive attitude and this will result in the strengthening of our social fabric and our city becoming an even better place to live in.