Afghan-NATO and Pak-India conflict: Radicalization of youth a growing phenomenon in Pakistan
By Aarzoo Naeem Chaudhry
ne of the most important realizations in the year 2009 for me was that a lot of young people around me lack two basic, essential qualities –Respect and belief in Peace. Why this past one year? Because earlier I never really cared about people’s opinions or interacted with young people other than my friends. I never talked to people my age or younger on how they feel about the world around us. I assumed all young people wanted peace and normality to return to their lives and Pakistan. I thought all this because it was what I wanted.
Yes, I was ignorant, but now I’m shocked.
– Majority of young people do not believe that peace is the solution. Guns and bloodshed are the final way out.
– A lot of them think all Pakistanis are Muslims and Pakistan belongs to Islam. Only.
– They have little or no respect for other religions, nationalities etc.
I thought, why? Why would young people be so ignorant and pessimistic? I feel that the problem lies with those who are sources of inspirations for young minds –our parents, teachers, elder siblings and of course the media. There’s little we are doing to teach children and the young generation about respect –not just the’ respect’ that is associated with humans, parents, teachers etc. but respect, which is born out of tolerance. Respect for all people, religions, races and cultures.
There is a great need to teach children about the concept of ‘Respect’, because the world they have been born into is diversified yet inter connected. Only those people can survive and bring peace into this world who know how to co-exist. Yes, co-existence is the key to the future. New media, mass migrations, diasporas and so many other things have made us inter-related and inter connected. We can now meet people belonging to any country or religion of the world in a matter of minutes at minimal cost.
I’m speaking from personal experience and because the teenagers and young people I meet have little respect for others. They will dish out racist comments without even realizing what they’ve said. A close friend of mine would keep saying ‘Churi’ (a derogatory word once used for Christians) without realizing what it meant and she’d say it in front of some of our Christian friends. It was embarrassing for her once she was corrected in front of a lot of people in a party and that’s when she realized what she’d been saying. A lot of people comment without thinking that it may be offensive to those around you. To top it all off, I have seen such comments on Facebook –a social networking website used by MILLIONS of people! At least learn some form of co-existence from social networking websites! It may be because many of us haven’t grown up with the consciousness that there are people of other religions, races and ethnicities around or communicated with people from a different background.
Many of us realize this when we go abroad to study and have to live and communicate with people from different backgrounds. It may be too late then, but at least you learn something! The most important thing I have learned by interacting with people from different cultures is ‘respect’. As Pakistanis, we should know a lot about respecting other nationalities and religions because we are direct victims of racist comments and stereotyped identity. In fact we should know how it feels to be set apart and be known as ‘pakis’, ‘brown people’ or more recently, ‘terrorists’ by some ignorant people around the world.
Another thing that has been annoying me for quite some time now is how some will go on and on and on about how Pakistan belongs to Muslims and we are the ones who are pure and ‘Pak’ without realizing that they may be talking to someone from another religion. Patriotism has little to do with religion, you may not agree with me, but that is how I feel. A good Pakistani does not equate to a good Muslim, so stop mixing these things up. Recently, I was listening to a highly emotional (almost filmi) speech on patriotism by someone on television and I thought to myself that were I a Christian, Sikh or Hindu Pakistani listening to this speech, which smartly mixed Islam with Pakistan, I would be downright offended. I’ve been accused of being a non-believer and that I’m negating the Two Nation Theory by saying all of this.
Another thing that annoys me is hatred towards India. It is irritating! Like I’ve said, I’m not ‘pro-India’, I’m not pro-‘anyone’ except Pakistan, but I cannot hate India or Indians. We cannot be one; there is no ‘United India’. We have our own identity as Pakistanis, and will remain like this. I have seen celebrities give statements on TV, which are to the effect that ‘We are one –Pakistanis and Indians.’ Well, I strongly disagree. No, we are not one, we will never be one. BUT this does not mean I hate Indians. I’ve grown up with them and some of my best friends are Indians and Bangladeshi. Hatred is a destructive emotion; I’d suggest all those who ‘hate’ India, to think over it. By calling another country names and abusing her you are not doing your own country any favor. Bring a change in your own country, do something positive for it. Pakistan does not need you to spew hatred against others or spread conspiracies. Pakistan needs you to educate where there is no education, to build where people are deprived of basic necessities, to save people from social injustices and poverty. She does not need you to plant seeds of suspicion and hatred.
There is no need, no place for hatred in this world, so don’t let it grow in your heart. Every time I say I believe in peace, I’ve gotten amused looks and comments like, ‘Are you pro-India?’, ‘That’s so clichéd and out-dated. Peace? *snorts*’ etc. I mean, come on people, what is so wrong with believing in peace? Do we have another way out? Boycott, protest, demand your rights but don’t take out your guns and shed blood!
Respect the diverse world you live in. Respect people, no matter what their color, caste or creed.
Believe in peace.
Like Kahlil Gibran said,
“An eye for an eye, and the whole world would be blind.”