"This is a 17 year old young man whom we will call Sajid for the time being; lying in disarray on a bed at the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, listening to the soft steps of death coming his way, suspended between life and death. A few months back he was the owner of a handsome, attractive face; the light of his parents' eyes, the future hope of his sisters, the strength of his brothers. The father earns his living driving a taxi and they live in a rickety old house in Orangi.
One day he was standing at the window taking some fresh air when a black-hearted, corrupt, animal of a human, who had earlier been angered at being cautioned for his crookedness, came and threw a jug full of acid on the beautiful face at the window. The acid was so strong that it burnt the mattress the young man was sitting on. The face became no more than a mass of coal with no skin or hair, two hollows gape where the eyes had been, the lips are non-existent, there are holes that go through and through his body. For the past few months he has become a trial for the doctors and a matter of life and death for his parents. The holes in his body still gape after endless grafting. The hard working, courageous father who was allergic to the mere mention of charity, now takes it silently with a bowed head. A society devoid of human and moral values dispirits the most courageous."
The above extract is taken from a previous column of mine that was published in "Dharb-i-Mumin" nearly one and a half years ago. The need to reproduce this bit arose when my bruises resurfaced as I recently read a fresh report about the same young man in a daily newspaper. This report has added new facets to my pain.
Many of you must have read the news too that says the incident happened on the first of July 2002 and that the American government has offered Abid's (whom I called Sajid) father a four year visa for Abid to come and have plastic surgery in America; while Italy has offered to provide eyes for him. The proposals have been accepted.
Because a few relatives of Abid live in my neighborhood, I had the fortune to go and visit him with some of my friends and to offer some paltry sums as help on and off. At those times I got to know that Abid's father had been knocking at the doors of official and private individuals for help towards his son and to bring the culprit to justice. He left no stone unturned in this quest: from organizations to individuals, from one office to the other, from police stations to courts. He had to change residence due to the threats of the opposite party and the continuous investigations of the policemen. He pitched up and went to live in the suburbs of the city. Any common man would have lost heart and left things to fate; but Abid's father proved to be a man of mettle. He did not give up. Disheartened with his own people he went to "strangers" and told them his story. They melted and agreed to support him. This cheerful news should make anyone happy, but two of the aspects leave me distressed and cheerless.
The first of them is that after 60 years we have still been unable to set up a judicial system that is capable of hearing the pleas of the oppressed and bringing to justice the oppressors in the shortest possible time.
The second aspect is more serious. When Abid will reach America or Italy, his horrible injuries will be photographed from all sides and pasted all over the print and electronic media to create uproar over not only all of Europe but all over the world. They will try their best to prove what an atrocious and brutal game goes on in the name of religion in Pakistan. The blackness of one face will be smeared on to the face of a whole nation; and when the musicians of our dear land, just waiting for something juicy like this, take up the tune, then this reprehensible and shocking song will be on all lips.
A few weeks earlier photographs of a Saudi TV announcer were aired who had been beaten by her broadminded and singer husband taking away her beauty and attractiveness. But the news has been worded in such tone that gives the effect that the whole world is unaware of the atrocities of wife beating in a religious country like Saudi Arabia. Incidences of Violence, murder, rape, robberies all go on in European countries too, much more than in Islamic countries, but such individual cases never give anyone the guts to paint the whole of Europe as a criminal, robber, or murderer. Amazingly, if such an act comes through the hands of any Islamic country or a religious person, not only outsiders but some insiders too portray that lone offense as the offense of the whole group or society. But we cannot avoid accountability merely by condemning such traitors and atheists. We have to keep close watch on such elements that are wolves in sheep's clothing and a disgrace to their country, nation, and religion.
God forbid, if such things do happen we should be in the foremost lines to give a helping hand to the troubled and distraught.