The first time I read about KONY 2012 was when someone posted a short write-up on my college group on Facebook. The next thing I knew, my residence hall group had a link to the video. Even if I wanted to keep track of the times that followed, I wouldn’t be able to. The video flooded my homepage with its short yet alarming title – “KONY 2012”. Upon noticing the intense attention it was receiving, I felt a sort of compulsion to watch it. It was wonderful. The opening of the video begins with a narration that emphasizes the power social networking has. And I could see it – we all could. There was seconds of difference between the time it was posted in my Pakistani high school group and my Canadian college group. To see such a beautiful collaboration of minds, worlds apart, was truly spectacular. Ultimately, whether there are language barriers, cultural barriers, or ideological ones, the age-old belief that the inherent goodness of humankind will unite it held true. Midway through impactful thirty-minute video, I was heartbroken as I watched the innocent children tell their stories and express their fear of sleeping in their own homes. I couldn’t help but parallel this to the bullet-ridden houses and walls of Lyari, and Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s “Children of the Taliban”. The problems we face are just as universal as the humanity we feel when the painful truth is shown to us. That was when Facebook notified me. A small, blue speech-bubble in the lower left of my screen informed me that I had been added to “KONY 2012: Pakistan Edition”. That was when I began to think. Here’s what I cannot get myself to understand: as Pakistanis we live and breathe atrocities every single day. We witness the havoc and extreme violence when Pathans and Muhajirs let Karachi fall in flames. We stand and watch, dumbly, as Ahmadi places of worship are destroyed and Ahmadis are treated as second-class citizens. We sign our passports every few years, admitting that Ahmadis are non-Muslims when our own religion explicitly tells us that we have no right to determine that. We watch as minorities are degraded and persecuted in our own backyards, and yet we are too cowardly to question it. Pakistanis witnessed as Salmaan Taseer was brave enough to oppose a law many of us disagree with and was shot dead for doing so. And we, the nation that claims to crave change, don’t want to struggle for it. We live in a country with far too many Konys but we don’t seem to care. I cannot begin to comprehend how or why we are willing to blind ourselves from the pain and suffering in our country. And I cannot wrap my head around how people are now beginning to justify their ignorance. Comments such as “Kony first: Pakistan next” legitimizes the fact that we are putting what is an international fad before what has been home for our entire lives. Someone thought they were putting it wisely when they asked, “we might complain about [the issues] we face, but are we doing anything about them?” What’s as heartbreaking as the plight of Pakistan is that we have accepted that we are making no effort to change it. We have acknowledged this, accepted it, and moved on. And, this too, just two weeks after everyone frantically posted Facebook statuses congratulating Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy on her Oscar – how she is an inspiration for Pakistanis and how she has sparked what might be the beginning of something special for the country. Where is that patriotism now? Seems like the bandwagon ran it over, crushed it and left it to rot. While the cause, I would like to believe, is noble, as it demonstrates, better than anything, the power we have as a collective unit against war and injustice; the Pakistanis so involved with it, I am forced to believe, are superficial. They have tossed and forgotten their “LIVESTRONG” bands, their “Flood Appeal” t-shirts and their country, which makes one think that even this campaign will be short-lived. When you say “Pakistan tomorrow”, keep in mind that that apathetic mindset and approach ultimately translates to a forgotten promise.
– S. Azam Mahmood
(Featured image: Mandyl De Waal)