“We are brave, your highness.”


Pinning our hopes on the new year



2016, if one believes social media, will for a long while yet be remembered as the year of death. Pakistan, perhaps, understands this better than most. All in all, it’s been a dismal year. The National Action Plan has been dragged through the mud often since its conception after the 2014 APS massacre. Repeatedly, its progress has been examined and repeatedly, it has been found wanting — the Isa report being the latest example. 2016 has also seen multiple, bloody attacks in Balochistan in quick succession. 2016 also saw the (literal) fall from grace of the national carrier, PIA; a fall that proved brutally fatal. And despite our high hopes for the government’s work on CPEC, one project the success of the entire country does not make — especially not when dogged by the unresolved Panama-gate. It hasn’t been great on the legislative side either: not only were Punjab’s women’s protection bill and Sindh’s efforts to curtail extremism in the madaarisopposed by the religious alt-right, Pakistan’s most progressive province now boasts a banned, militant organisation’s backed candidate as a member of its legislative body.

And while one can argue that death is no laughing matter, and that, in this day and age, one should always be a supporter of non violence instead of retaliation, we are pressed to admit that there are certain deaths in 2016 that were — for the lack of a better word — welcomed. Hardened militants, terrorists, murderers and kidnappers sentenced by military courts were finally awarded the death penalty, including four members of a banned organisation involved in attacking persons of Ismaili community travelling in a bus at Safoora Chorangi, and the murderers of activist Sabeen Mehmood.

In a year this dismal, this is a victory, not just for the military courts, but for all those who work towards an end to religious prejudice, extremism and violence. Pakistan, it has been said, produces people of extraordinary patience and bravery. But no nation should require its people to be so brave. This should serve as inspiration to those in the judiciary and legislative bodies to focus on their jobs: not safeguarding their political interests by staying mum when innocents are killed or wrongly sentenced, but by safeguarding the innocent instead. They’ll have plenty of chances in 2017 — perhaps they can start by freeing Aasia bibi and silencing those baying for an innocent’s blood. After all, it’s almost election time, what better time to live up to their promises?