Is there no path after day and night? – 07 Mar 2023

There is no point in the existence of a state in which its citizens sleep hungry

In the manifesto of the International Labour Orgainzation, which won the Nobel peace prize in 1969, it is written that if you want peace, cultivate justice, but at the same time prepare fields in which more bread can be produced, otherwise there will be no peace remaining. This confession that hunger and social disorder are linked is not new because it is evidenced in the Old Testament: “And all this shall pass, but when they are hungry, they will spoil themselves and curse their king and their God.”

It is fact that shortage of bread gives rise to an army of hungry people. Today, 80% of the population of Pakistan is suffering from severe shortage of bread and about 60% of the population sleeps hungry. It means that today the enitre army of the hungry has been prepared in Pakistan. Every person who is born in Pakistan has a moral right to food. If he sleeps hungry, it is not his failure, but the failure of the state. And there is no point in the existence of a state in which its citizens sleep hungry.

During the Russian Revolution of 1917, bread and peace were written on the flag raised by the revolutionaries. Both of these are the first priority and the first right of man. Fridtjof Nansen, the 1922 Nobel laureates, after the First World War said: “I wish I could show you the scenes that I myself have seen and experienced. I wish I could tell you for just a moment what it feels to see an entire nation running through the streets of the villages with a savage terror, or travelling among the famine-stricken people, or entering a hut where men, women and children are lying still with no complaints on their lips, just waiting for death, where graves are dug and corpses are taken out and are being eaten and starving women are slaughtering their children for food. But no, I have no intention of explaining more now. But believe me such troubles cannot come without the destruction of our entire social system. They suck the energies of nations and inflict wounds so deep that even if they begin to heal, they take a long time.”

The way Fridtjof has depicted the devastation and destruction during and after the First World War is heartbreaking. But if he were alive today and were to walk through the streets of Pakistan, he would have forgotten the destruction and devastation of the First World War. His heart would have burst at the sight of the sufferings of us Pakistanis, prompting him to shout: “O God, there is no war here, no sky has fallen, and no calamity occurred. But why these ruins and destructions? Why is death roaming around houses here?

Romanian-American writer Elie Wiesel says: “You can get out of the Auschwitz, but the Auschwitz will never get out of you.” Similarly, this game of death which is being played in Pakistan today will never leave our hearts and minds. Can one live a meaningful life under the burden of such painful memories? Is it right that memories serve never-ending agony? Is there no path after day and night?

In Bill Bryson’s book, A short History of Nearly Everything, Physicist Leo Szilard tells his friend, Hans Bethe that he was thinking of writing a diary. “I don’t intend to publish it. I just want to write the facts to let God know.”

“Do you not think that God is aware of the facts”? Bethe asked. “Of course he knows the facts, but he doesn’t know the facts from my perspective,” replies Szilard.

So we should also tell God about everything from our point of view. When people say that God is watching, we start wondering what He is looking at.

The writer is a senior analyst based in Hyderabad.

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