Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Above all this is a story of hope for the future.

People often lament about the youth of their times. I suppose it is a rite of passage. Young people are often judged to be disgruntled, good-for-nothing kids going nowhere fast. They are usually a disappointment and often fall short of the expectations of their adults. Their clothes, their hobbies and their choice of entertainment, regularly incite negative responses from the older generation which includes much head-shaking and vigorous finger-wagging. Then the youth cross the threshold and as adults look back at the generation following them and the cycle ironically repeats itself. And so it goes.

I myself, being of a certain age (that shall remain undisclosed), have tried my best to not be a part of this head-shaking, finger-wagging mind-set.  I try to look beyond the few that are truly wasting the best and potentially the most productive and rewarding parts of their lives...and such people do exist.  But then there are those who are not only motivated individuals, but also dedicated to bringing about a better future -- for themselves, for those before them and the ones following them. This is the story of not one but a group of such special individuals.

A few days ago I attended a rally, in New York, against genocide and sectarian killings in Pakistan. The focus was the targeted killing of Shi’as. I went there fired up with a sense of duty and brotherhood. I grew up in Quetta with many ethnicities all around me, enriching my life. Among them were the Hazaras with their beautifully unique features, their musical  language and their rich history. I wanted to be a part of any gathering which condemned this mindless violence. 

The day dawned dreary, cold and wet and I sloshed up to the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza which is a park in front of the UN and a popular site for rallies and demonstrations. Around 3000 people had shown up despite the conspiratorial weather.

I wanted to find out who arranged this event and so I asked a passing organizer if he could take me to the coordinator.  I was introduced to a young woman who looked barely out of college. She was busy trying to find someone to cover for a speaker who was stuck in traffic.She was surrounded by hand-outs and press-kits and had media waiting to film her. Despite the multitude of things unfolding around her, this young woman was in control.

As I spoke to her about the rally, my admiration for her and her dynamic crew grew. Sakina, the chief organizer, is a recent law graduate. She works for Imamia Medics International, an organization dedicated towards the enhancement of the medical, social, intellectual and spiritual well-being of communities.  She was articulate and poised and passionately explained how invested the entire group was in stopping the mindless violence. She masterfully handled the press, the media and the demands of the rally, all of which required her immediate attention.

As I walked around, I saw young people  answering peoples questions and guiding the attendees.  They had food for everyone as well as water and hot tea. They went around making sure that everybody had something to eat and drink and that all questions were answered. They led the congregation along the streets of NY to the Pakistani Consulate in an orderly fashion and presented their petition to the officers.. After that, they continued their demonstration around the corner along Fifth Avenue where organizers handed out pamphlets and informed passers-by of their cause

They managed this rally which had attracted around 3000 people despite the weather. This gathering not only attracted people from all religious sects of Pakistan but also from other countries. It was endorsed by several secular organizations. It had the attention of scholars and academics among them familiar and renowned names like Reza Aslan and Noam Chomsky, to name a few. And it was all possible because the future generation of our world decided to look beyond everything that makes us different and united us on a single platform.  

How could a country whose youth shows the motivation that I saw on that wet and dreary Friday ever lose faith? If the future of our country lies in the hands of accomplished young people like Sakina then there is hope indeed. As Benjamin Disraeli said “The youth of a nation are the trustees of posterity”.

Indeed, above all else, this is a story of hope and the promise of a better future.


  1. Great coverage. Hats off to young Sakina.

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