September is usually the month when full activity is resumed after the summer and all sorts of official work begins in earnest, according to planned calendars. The weather too is conducive for it with just a slight and pleasant nip in the air. But nothing gives the Pakistanis, the ones with the slightest sensitivity, a let-up or a breather from real examples of the dismal lows that we continue to slide to or to find time to think about productivity and positivity.

Even as some of us strive to better the fate and future of the girl-child, there happen incidents, in and out of media spotlight, that remind us that girls from under-privileged homes are under a serious threat in this society. (Not that the ones from privileged ones are much safer but at least they have more awareness and some education to deal with what can come their way). While we were still struggling to come to terms and understand what happened in the Shazeb murder case, in which the criminals have been able to buy their freedom and get off scot free, there was heart-breaking news of a five year old girl who was kidnapped, gang-raped in Lahore and thrown outside a hospital in a critical condition.

Anybody who has children can imagine the pain and the trauma of the child and her family. What is it that triggers such inhuman and animal-like behavior? Particularly, in our society where we are constantly fed rhetoric on how good and pure we are and how we are the chosen ones. There appears to be absolutely no connection between what we espouse and what we do. It is considered OK to break every rule in the book of ethics so long as you do not get caught. Like the reality of being the country that makes the largest contribution to charity in the world but also has the distinction of being the most avid watcher of pornographic sites.

I, for one, have been able to think of nothing else except how this will affect the little girl so vandalized and how, if ever, she will be able to be grow up as a normal person. It is the complete ruination of a life, along with her immediate family’s. Even though the CJ has taken suo moto notice and the Chief Minister too has set the police in motion (and even on the off chance that the culprits are caught and punished) her life will never get its equanimity back.

Another recent example of mistreatment to female children was the discovery of a 13 year old girl confined in chains at the house of a former MNA Liaquat Abbas Bhatti. The little girl and her one year older brother were left at the ex-MNA’s house by their father who was unable to repay the loan he had taken from him. Where is the state protection for cases such as this?

This, though slavery is abolished in the modern world, shows how the powerful continue to mock all rules and get away with, as in Shazeb’s case, even murder in broad daylight. Just the sir names of the young men who had committed the crime, Jatoi and Talpur, and the eventual outcome of the case reveals that feudalism  and the unequal power structure is alive and well in Pakistan.

Something has to be done about societal values if things are to change. Hypocrisy has to stop and humanity ingrained instead. Every now and then one is confronted with various video clippings of people at private parties, posted by one or other of the moral brigades, on the social media which go on to talk about how the Islamic Republic is ignoring these un-Islamic activities happening under its very nose. There are also examples like that of a PTI elected representative asking Bushra Gauhar to cover her head before talking to him on a live TV show which reflect badly on his party. Women have to come together to defend their rights because if they don’t there are not many men who will do it for them. As far as the eye can see, there isn’t another Jinnah on the horizon, unfortunately.

My worry today is how we are going to set this mind-set in order. It is here that the most focus is needed and where the best projects and biggest budgets ought to be spent. The vision of another city on the other side of the Margallas with high-rise buildings akin to the UAE can surely wait until the basics are sorted out.

Post Script: While the best possible thing to encourage among men and women both is a keen sense of enquiry and a quest for knowledge and such like, what our morning shows on television are doing is the exact opposite. They spend weeks on make-believe marriages and have multi-day celebrations which are basically advertisements for people who provide various services for weddings. For starters, it is encouraging wasteful expenditure and making those who cannot afford the luxuries resentful and unhappy. These aimless, fun and frolic make- believe wedding shows also reflect badly on a society because it appears bereft of its bearings and filled with emptiness inside. It is not about ratings alone surely that the electronic media is all about.

On the other hand and, perhaps, the only bright light for me in the last few days is the ‘Jashn-e-Amir Khusrau’ happening in Islamabad. All the many faceted creative expressions of Amir Khusrau, the classical, prolific poet of the 13th century, were reenacted and presented for a range of audiences including children. Khusrau remains one of the first (recorded) personages of the Sub-continent with a true multi-cultural and pluralistic identity. The Jashn-e-Khusrao included a lecture, story-telling, an instrumental music show, dance performances and the topping on the cake, a Qawwali by the best of the best, Fareed Ayaz, Abu Mohammad Qawwal and group. Kudos to the organizers for such wonderful entertainment for Islamabad’s populace.

The writer is a public relations and event management professional based in Islamabad.