Tuesday, 8 September 2020

The land is eager to teach

by Haris Gazdar

image by Asif Hassan/AFP

“If consciously or otherwise you were brought up believing that Karachi in 1947 was "a land without people for a people without land" this must be a disturbing time for you.  Commiserations.
 And if in your imagination Karachi was not part of Sindh, commiserations again. Check Google Maps. What is Karachi? A settlement on the sea shore, occupying land between the Hub and Malir Rivers, to the north of the farthest reach of the Indus delta.
You assumed, without ever caring to actually know, that you were entitled to the water that flows down the Kirthar Range, and the Indus, but only if it comes in taps. Commiserations. Water flows down. Sometimes taps come in the way. Sometimes not.
Urban planners duped you into assuming that the land, its rocks, hills, riverbeds, bushes, backwaters, mangroves, the sea, its tides and currents don't matter. Omnipotence of civil engineering. Commiserations.
You need to lash out. Of course you do. From omnipotence to impotence. What else will you do? The word Sindh, forget Sindhis for a minute, the word Sindh, it strikes fear because it shatters the fiction of omnipotence. Commiserations, and compassion.
Take time out. Let things settle. A crime has been committed. Relax, you are not the criminal. But you are not the most wretched victim, certainly not the only one. Let it sink in: there is no land without people, there are no people without land.
You are not impotent, omnipotence was an illusion. The fear is understandable. Let it pass. Sindh will irk you less. Sindhis too. The land is eager to teach, through people who have given it the time, their stories stores of knowledge, wisdom even, will make you powerful again.”
This post is adapted from a Twitter thread by the author published on 2 September, 2020. Follow @CollectiveKHI and @HarisGazdar to stay up to date with analysis and insights on current news in Pakistan and South Asia.