Tuesday, September 13, 2005

E-7: A residential hangout for the unwanted

This is an article I wrote and no one published it because they were worried about it being a little too controversial. Go figure...

Having just returned from the United States after four years of intense education, I realized how nice it was to be back in my own home country. Having weighed the differences between New York City and Islamabad, the latter seemed the better choice.

I would like to indulge your attention, for a moment, to elaborate on some elements of desire that I have for Islamabad, and perhaps the people of Islamabad can come together in some form of cohesion to make Islamabad a safer, cleaner, more comfortable place to be living in.

There is a distinct issue at hand that I wish to address that is E-7, one of the nicest sectors to live in, or is it? I remember many beautiful things about E-7 that I believe can no longer be more than a memory, something today’s youth may not ever enjoy. I remember having met my childhood buddy by the infamous ‘fuwarra’ (fountain) of E-7 with the colorful glass which has been a landmark for us. I remember having many birthdays in the park of E-7 facing Margalla Road. I remember playing soccer with many school friends from ISI in the fields behind E-7. I remember going to the banyan tree of E-7, fascinated by its width each time. I remember going for walks around E-7 with my father, always trying to keep up with his Air Force stride and pace.

I can go on, but I won’t because I would like to make a point. In the five years I was away, a lot of these things have changed. I love E-7, just as much now as I did then, but one element has permeated our space and infected the life out of our wonderful sector. This element is the fundamentalist maulvis. They have huddled together like a swarm of bees, built a hive of a madrassa and are now flying around E-7 with their stingers ever-ready to sting anyone who interferes.

Fortunately for me, I am a very moderate individual with convictions that I reserve for myself, refusing to impose them on others. This is the gift my father has bestowed upon me and with his presence and strength; I am able to be true to my own beliefs. These maulvis, who have come to E-7, thanks to a certain dictator of Pakistan who I will not mention, have become a nuisance and an annoyance to the people of E-7. The soccer fields in the back of E-7 are now fields of athletic gathering for the maulvis. They have monopolized that entire part of E-7, being that their ‘home’ is right adjacent to the field. They have no courtesy for oncoming traffic, crossing the roads like headless chickens, walking in the middle of the road neglecting to use the sidewalks. They maintain a body odor that is most unpleasant to inhale at any given time. They had the audacity to burn down a fantastic tree that I used to love to visit as a child, one used by Buddhists as a place of respect and worship prior to them having a proper temple.

Where in our religion does it say to deny tolerance to people of different beliefs, choices and so forth? If I am not mistaken, one is to respect his/her mother even if she is a prostitute by profession. Can anyone imagine that being a reality?

Respect is earned with time not acquired by force. This is something my father always taught me and I believe it is a principle that has taken him through life with pride and honor. People like him who live around E-7 like to go for their strolls in the evening, admiring the beauty of Islamabad by foot. To take in what him and his Air Force colleagues fought so hard and long for, risking their very lives, just for future generations to have a home, a place they can call home, whether they are Muslim or not. Is it fair that a man of his stature should have to walk around E-7 concerned with the deterioration of this sector, let along the country as a whole? Is it fair that the youth, people like myself, should go abroad for an education with dreams of prosperity and success in the west and choose to come back to better their country and see that the religion has become a disease more than a way of life or a savior? Is it fair that we deny the youth of Pakistan, the younger generations that still attend schools of all levels, should not even know what beauty Islamabad used to maintain? It is true that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, but this beholder does not see beauty in new roads as he does in a comfortable way of life, a life where everyone minds their own business and does not interfere in that of other peoples. With this, we may as well enforce our own version of the ‘Patriot Act’, or the ‘Sab Kuch Dikhta Hain Act’ as I would imagine it.

Islamabad is a city of great beauty. Green roadsides, good hearted residents (for the most part), Hills in the rear, Rawal dam on the other side. Without anymore details, just a mere comparison to the traffic, dust and disarray of Rawal Pindi, sets Islamabad miles apart from most other cities of Pakistan. Let this be a plea to the people of Islamabad, more specifically the residents of E-7, to build some pressure on the CDA and government to do things that please us also, let the foreign countries get what is due to them in time. These maulvis are truly becoming a cold sore in our way of living and they must be contained someplace and I believe E-7 is not that place. They have no respect for anyone other than those sporting the ‘foot-long’ beard. I have nothing against the beards as I have one myself. It should not be a source of identity for people as it is not for me, rather a choice. I know some folks who are very polite, hygienic, well-spoken, considerate, and religious who would agree with me about these maulvis.

I am most outraged that we can spend so much money on all kinds of ridiculous things, but not devise a policy to make Islamabad more livable. Take Turkey for example, in Istanbul, alcohol is legally served yet the country has a 99.9% Muslim population. How does that work? Very well actually, people do not interfere with each other. They take an interest in their long term future together, not the next four years of money making and power struggles. The drinkers drink, the praying ones pray and when they cross paths on the road, they greet instead of judging each other. Not that they are a stellar country of reasonable people, but for the most part the people have the comfort of knowing that religion is not as much a threat to their lives as it is a benefit. If this country wants foreign educated young adults, such as me, to return to the green pastures of Pakistan, then I suggest this article be the first step to a serious improvement overhaul.

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