Part of the purpose of this blog is to tell you a little more about Pakistan and its culture. I’d love to share with you about what is going on right now in the country and what affects it has on me and on you. I’m also linking a lot of great news articles if you want to learn more.
This past Thursday a series of bomb blasts killed 96 people in Quetta- most of whom were from the minority Shia community. Before you get worried, Quetta is about 450 miles from me- so I’m fine. Since Thursday, thousands of protestors have flooded the streets of Quetta in outrage that the government could let such a violent act occur. They have put all 96 bodies in coffins and barricaded the streets with them. The coffin barricade shuts down city activity and gets a lot of media attention. Shia communities all over Pakistan have been having sit-ins, protests, rallies, burning tires in the road, etc. They said they would protest until the army took over the city and promised to do a better job protecting them. Its also freezing and snowing in Quetta, so this threat to continue protesting is not without consideration. Essentially the Prime Minister made a compromise early yesterday morning and he took over the Province. He promises to remove the majority of the provincial ministers who haven’t been treating the Shia well.
In addition to that, there has been a massive march (20,000+ people) form Lahore to Islamabad with Dr. Qadri and the TQM party. Last week people were standing by the highway in Hyderabad with signs asking for food and fuel to help them join this march. They are marching for “democracy” and against corruption. For me, this means the price of fuel is sky high because everyone is taking massive busses and bomb-proof tanks to Islamabad and using up all the fuel. It also means electricity, water, and gas are off much more frequently because the government finds this as useful leverage to get people to stop protesting. Schools, offices, markets, etc are also closed because people are burning tires in the streets and don’t let you pass.
Then- today, the Supreme Court called for the arrest of the Prime Minister. He is being arrested largely for acts of corruption. Elections are this March and if held (which is unlikely now) they would be the first time Pakistan has ever moved from one Prime Minister to the next through an electoral process. We’re all waiting to see what this latest development brings.
I tell you this not because I think you need just a news update. I tell you this to make you ask yourself what you would do. If your “group” were constantly the target for bombings, if your kids couldn’t go to school anymore because they were the minority, if you couldn’t get a job because of your religion- would you stack coffins up in the street and demand attention? If the meter on your house never matched up with your electricity bill, if your water and gas and electricity just went out for days at a time no matter how many times you paid your bills on time, if your government received millions in aid that your community never saw- would you collect canned foods and walk with thousands of others for integrity? If you felt that first time justice was being carried out- would you celebrate in the streets with your friends and keep warm by a fire- even if that fire was from a burning tire?
What would any of us do in desperation? I’m not sure. But I do know what I would do to get people out of their desperate situations. I know because its what I’m doing now. I believe when you educate someone they learn to think of a better way of doing things, they learn to engage in discussions of development, they are empowered to be greater than the past has ever let them hope to be. So while I may not know what I would do if I were desperate- I know I must respond on behalf of those who are.