When we were growing up in the ’80s, we neither had mobile phones nor cable TV and there was certainly no concept of social media in those days. When we returned home from school, we would either watch cricket or hear Nusrat Fateh Ali’s qawali or occasionally some national songs.
I remember that even in the days of peacetime, we would hear Masood Rana and Shaukat Ali’s patriotic song ‘Jaag Utha Hai Sara Watan’ on PTV which would raise our sentiments and make us wish would all head off to fight along our borders. In those days, one wished to be either a cricketer or a soldier. But destiny had other plans for me as I broke my leg during a game and could neither become a cricketer nor join the army. I had a keen interest in reading and writing, and with the advice of my friends entered the world of newspapers for a career.
Ever since then, I have seen the changing seasons and withering Karachi. There was religious harmony at times and also pain and agony. I’ve seen people standing in queues to donate blood for others, I’ve also seen human blood spill. When I was able to pick up the pen, I tried to raise these problems to my ability. At an early age, there was the shadow of dictatorship in the country and I had to put the pen away and for many years was content with just writing news.
There was an inner sense of unease that kept increasing every day. So I picked up my pen and started highlighting the most pressing issues in our society. I endured all sorts of taunts. I was declared a traitor.
I have always covered social issues and societal evils. I have written mostly against the PPP, then PML-N and so far the least on the policies of the PTI but have still faced criticism for being anti-establishment and received medals of treason. I was least bothered as if an esteemed personality like Fatima Jinnah can be declared a traitor then to which paddy field do I belong.
As a journalist, I have never encouraged a builder, liquor seller, gambler, or hawala dealer neither have I favoured those involved in any wrongdoing. I have always pointed out socials problems that plague our society. If this is considered treason, then I proud to be a traitor. As a responsible citizen, if you are a Christian, then you should keep an eye on the church to see if there is any propaganda against the homeland. If you are a Muslim, keep a watch on the pulpit so that no foreign agent becomes a scholar and spews hatred among naïve masses.
You should be on the lookout for unpatriotic and anti-social activities in your area. You should see if the tri-color flag is unfurled amidst the colors of Holi, or those who sought refuge from a neighbouring country are creating trouble and are involved in subversive activities. Be proud of your country and keep an eye on illegal activities, financial transactions, illegal weapons, and other social evils around you. But I am not considered a responsible citizen for pointing the failures of the government and the problems in society. If I am called a traitor, then I am proud to be a rebel rather than being a liar and hypocrite.