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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

A dream for peace within Pakistan

Published: April 3, 2009
Section: Arts, Etc.

The first time I met Benazir Bhutto is a wonderful memory that I can never forget. She was the first ever woman prime minister of a Muslim country. And what a lovely New England autumn day it was. I fondly remember how she looked at the blue sky and the red-orange leaves and said “this is my version of heaven on earth.” While that day will always be incredibly special to me, what she symbolized is even more important: hope, courage, and determination. Benazir was a great source of inspiration. Like so many others I was devastated to see her go. What a terrible loss! I still cannot bear to think of that tragic day in December when she was assassinated.

Benazir is gone but her message to never lose hope will live on. She never gave up her struggle for democracy in Pakistan. Her book, “Daughter of Destiny,” is a powerful reminder of the significance of the need for democracy. This principle truly is the most beautiful and wonderful thing about America. The best example of this is when Benazir says, “America, it was in America that I had experienced democracy for the first time, and where I had spent four of the happiest years of my life.”

In her book, Benazir often pointed out examples when people from different parties came together to fight for democracy. Given the current state of affairs in Pakistan, now more than ever this is a time for unity, not division. It is a time to move forwards, not backwards. All party differences and political affiliations need to be forgotten. Things are very difficult and times are not good. It is very important to set aside the differences at all levels of society and government and move on as one, before it is too late. Most importantly this is not a time for blame or fights. In the words of Gandhi, “an eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind.”

Now more than ever, Pakistan needs to work with the world, and the world needs to work with Pakistan. India and Pakistan need to work together. There is too much in common and too much is at stake here. Their destinies are tied together. They cannot afford not to be friends. Understand that there are extremists on all sides who do not want them to be friends. They do not belong to any religion. And they should not be allowed to destroy the peace and prosperity of the region. People have struggled and suffered far too long.

“Our object should be peace within, and peace without. We want to live peacefully and maintain cordial, friendly relations with our immediate neighbors and with the world at large.” These wise words were spoken long ago by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, and they should not be forgotten, especially now. The most important goal is peace within, without which nothing will ever be possible. For as long as the people remain divided, they only will be hurting themselves and going in circles. One cannot expect total agreement in everything, which makes it essential that we learn to disagree peacefully.Violence and anger never have and never will solve any problems.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” How true. And how tragic that a nation of 160 million people, a vast majority of whom are moderate, peace -loving people, lets such a small minority destroy their country! Pakistan has always been one of the most progressive Muslim countries in the world. It is essential to keep it that way. No compromises should be made with the people who are determined to destroy this country. People who are destroying schools are destroying the hope and possibilities for the future, and that should not be permitted.

What is the silent majority doing? Where have they gone? This silence must end now. Oh, peace loving people, wake up, wake up, please wake up. Don’t be silent any longer and don’t sit on the sidelines! Come out of your sleep. Do something but don’t throw stones and do not yell at each other. Write and speak peacefully.

Someone once told me that hope is more powerful than love. Without hope, everything would be hopeless. The opposite of hope is despair and impossibility. It would be foolish to lose hope and live in a world of impossibility. We should create a world where children can continue to have hope and dream for a better future. Together we can change the world. Let’s start now.

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