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Saturday
Aug182012

Azadi mubarak.

Earlier in the week, I was getting nostaglic about being home. Eidi, sainvayian in the morning, five day holidays, the eventual grumpiness about being at work and the inevitable complaining of having to meet relatives that one never really wants to see. 

I take it all back. 

There is a lot that one can complain about Pakistan, especially when sitting in relative comfort miles away. Load shedding, inflation, security, terrorism, the apathy of the judicial and police system, the inefficiency of the political system, Rehman Malik, Aamir Liaquat..really, the list is unending.

The US isn't perfect either. The massacre at Oak Creek, mosques being burned down, hate crimes, drone strikes, Guantanamo Bay. Again, the list goes on.

But Pakistan is home. The US, is not my home. 

This week, the same where I saw Pakistan's flag being hoisted on its 65th Independence Day, I am seriously considering getting my grandfather's name, Ali, omitted from all my official documents when I go back to Pakistan. As awful as that sounds, I do not want to be one of those people pulled off a bus and killed in broad daylight on account of being labeled as a Shia. God forbid that that day ever comes in my life where I have to explain that I was born a Sunni Muslim, have not practised religion in yonks [save for on PIA, Airblue and American Airline flights when the turbulence makes you repeat the kalma and every other religious incantation you remember], and that my grandfather's name is perhaps the only link I have to the man that died long before I was born. 

In the past month alone, my sister faced a man pointing a gun in her face outside our house asking for her money. Another friend threw her bag and glass bangles on a street to ward off robbers while she was going home from work. And yet another friend braved a robber outside her house and called out for help. All live in my hometown, are educated, fiercely independent working women who belong to different economic classes, and have never shied away from being independent and working their butts off to be where they are today.

And then there is this: an 11-year-old Christian girl has been locked up behind bars in Pakistan, accused of blasphemy. Oh, did I mention that she reportedly suffers from Down's Syndrome? 

Tomorrow morning, I will be at a mosque, watching people pray as they rejoice to celebrate the end of Ramazan, and the beginning of a new year. And I will be standing there, wondering how our faith became so weak that an 11-year-old who suffers from Down's Syndrome apparently comitted the ultimate sin and deserves to be behind bars.

Enjoy your Eid, and your azadi.