Of Bullet-Proof Shields and Tests of Courage


*First posted on PakTea House.

There are usually, if not always, a certain set of characteristics and qualities that a people expect their leader to have. Amongst the numerous of honesty, integrity and dignity that Pakistanis seek in a leader, is also bravery.

With the elections approaching fast, the idea of bravery seems to have been accorded quite a role with populism at play.

A certain notion has been developed in political rhetoric plus social media and political discourse that equates bullet-proof shields and security for protection to ‘cowardice‘.

931286_157861574389201_218288170_nA number of statements and acts have sprung forth from different political sides either proudly proclaiming their pluck and fearlesness, that they declare only to be existing for the Creator; getting a security measure chucked publicly to testify that or pointing its continuance at rivals’ rallies to ’prove’ their chicken-heartedness.

Imran Khan who initially did the above-mentioned, had to resort to shielded containers at some jalsas, reportedly even Nawaz Sharif also ordered the removal of his bullet-proof shield at the jalsa in Jarranwala.

In recent years, Pakistan has been consumed into an abyss that has swallowed over 40,000 including countless political leaders and representatives. From the late Benazir Bhutto to Bashir Bilour, the onslaught has only expanded and continues to swell.

Extremism and terrorism have breached every inch of the country and the lives of its inhabitants.

With blasts ripping through different areas of the country, attacks on various candidates of different parties, their processions, offices and rallies, these elections have witnessed the resurrection of the electoral field in Pakistan as a bloody battleground.

nawaz-PHOTO-INP-640x480Keeping the present in mind, the notion of abandoning security by any political leader as a testament to his ‘bravery’ not only falls nothing short of absurd, but constitutes sheer recklessness.

This country can neither afford more bodies to bury nor more tragedies caused to orchestrate further instability, which is being referred to as the main means to subvert the link of completion in Pakistan’s first transfer of power from a democratically-elected government to another: the elections itself.

In these times, bravery does not lie in the removal of bullet-proof shields but the vocal, wholehearted and practical espousing of a hardline stance against all kinds, types, forms of terrorism, radicalism, extremism and terrorists; their wholehearted condemnation which doesn’t slip into selectivity; the involvement of public presentations of proper policies and plans designed to purge the country of this menace; pressure of demands on different national institutions such as the judiciary and the Election Commission for trying, barring and excluding extremists and terrorists from participating in all types of activities be it hate-mongering or elections instead of keeping mum over instances such as the recent (reported) allowance given to 55 candidates from Punjab, who belong to 10 different sectarian groups, to contest the electoral race.

For too long, the demonstration of this genuine valor has been staved off through its substitution by hollow and superficial displays of bravery.

And it must be realized today that the real test of courage lies not in the removal of bullet-proof shields but in the embrace of this sincere audacity for what truly is, Pakistan’s fight for its soul.

~ Hafsa Khawaja

Published in: on May 10, 2013 at 8:04 am  Comments (6)  
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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Interesting- I had a debate with a gentleman earlier today where he kept asking me why Altaf Hussain is holed up in London and if he was a true patriot, why wasn’t he in Karachi to lead the election campaign. I argued that leaving all political reasons aside, why would a man choose to end his life prematurely? The argument went nowhere…

    • That is a very interesting discussion, but I see why it went nowhere.

      Thank you for reading the post Nabeel, appreciate it!

  2. Rightly written

  3. It indeed is good to see that you are writing more and I hope after the viral fever of election ends you do not get back to “one post after a month” strategy.
    I have said that many times that as a nation we have absurd issues with our priorities. We want a leader who is “brave” but we don’t want him to take “bold” steps. You mentioned BB and bilore sb but let me remind you what happened to our very first prime minister. Bullets and politics of hatefulness and been part of our politics even since pakistan want there and recently in the available varity wehave new additon s of flavours like extremism and terrorist activities The vulnerability has reached to its peak.
    There is a bleak difference between brave and stupid and normally we can not judge the difference. We as a nation are in the romance of color red the red of blood and the blood that is certainly not ours others is fine for us. The bullet proof glass discussion reminds me a column written by Mr dildar pervaiz Bhatti on the death of Mr rajiv Gandhi. During boyhood days when I read the book of Mrbhati it made sense to me but today I find it a bit absurd and a reference point of what general populer opinion is. The bravery of a soldier and a politician is as different as their duties and missions. The bravery of a political leader lies in his break free ideas and bold goals but we as a nation seldom give any worth two the bravery of thought beating ideas of fear. No doubt we are under the influence of shady priorities.

    • Haha, thank you for reading Rai!
      I actually post less on purpose, as to not annoy the blog’s follower and constantly appear in their emails, but I have considered your suggestion and have begun to write more often. :)

      So well-said and pointed out!
      Hate has always been a component in our politics, which has unfortunately been intensified to bloody lenghths by the fall of terrorism and extremism in Pakistan. Vulnerability, has certainly, reached its peak.

      We often fail to discern the difference between alot of things: stipidity and bravery; resilience and apathy.

      I commend you for commenting on this post with such meaningful and insightful additions to the discussion.
      The reference of a soldier is very apt, because their bravery is what we desire to see in our politicians.

      Romancing with romanticism, we as a nation do have ill-placed priorities, ideas and impressions.

      • challo apart from our political affiliations we agree on some point :) and the priorities is something that i am sobbing for years now. we only dream to become Asian tiger but our priorities are…. never mind!


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