By Sitwat Rizvi
I had no particular affinity with the city of Karachi having moved here only three months ago. When I came to Pakistan I was a little lost, a little lonely and completely out of touch with who I was or where I truly belonged. Luckily I stumbled upon The Citizens Archive of Pakistan.
Working with Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy has probably been one of the best experiences of my life. She is a force to be reckoned with. An inspiration to all. She is hard working, dedicated, strong, honest and true to her cause. She is someone who believes in speaking out when most of us are too scared to do so. She is someone who DOES while the rest of us sit around and talk. Sharmeen is a great leader, a great teacher. And the kind of Pakistani we all need to be.
Even though it did not start this way the last two months have been a process of self-discovery, a process of growing up and a process of beginning to understand and relate to my people. Shanaakht gave me hope. It gave me realization. It gave me the ability to understand that Pakistan is my home. These are my people and it is important that I give something back to them in any way I can. It is my responsibility as a citizen of this city to do something however big or small to help negate the negativity that is associated with our nation. The concept of Shanaakht was only to give people the opportunity to experience and learn from our past and to learn from the positive aspects of our society. It was to show every single Karachiite what it really means to be a Pakistani. It was a platform where people from all walks of life could gather together and enjoy themselves. All we wanted to do was to hand out a slice of hope to people for free. That was our only intention.
We did out part. As someone who was very closely involved in the organization of this festival I can confidently say we did every single thing we could have done to ensure that these five days would be an unforgettable experience for the city of Karachi. Ironically it was but not in the way we had imagined.
During the course of the half day the festival was running I remember having a conversation with someone and saying â€œToday I am so proud to be Pakistaniâ€ I am enraged and hurt that that feeling was taken away from me a few hours later. I am saddened by how a few people for their personal agendas turned everything upside-down in a matter of minutes. I am amazed at the audacity of the government.
We made a mistake. We admit that and we are apologetic for it. We take responsibility for having overlooked the â€œoffensiveâ€ picture. But this in no way justifies the reaction of the people who came and ruined the event for the people of this city.
What they did was wrong. Plain and simple. Sadly, they too are our people. This is our identity: Intolerance. These are the cards weâ€™ve been dealt with. All we can do is make the most of it. So we will pick ourselves up. Move on. We will bounce back because thatâ€™s who we are and thatâ€™s what we do.
Our hearts may be broken but our spirits are not.