One's personality is both a composition and reflection, but if I have to choose one of them, I will choose reflection as the "self" is more important to me than "me". One's composition may change, walking across the cultural landscapes and climbing the social ladder but one's self is tied to one's reflections. The fun part is that reflections are not bound to "Time-Space" barriers ( it is not time-space) and respective mental constructs, which have grown so thick over ages, that they had reduced the image of humans to Sisyphus, rolling different sizes of boulders on hills of different heights.… As the name of this Blog indicates, knols are my perspectives on topics of interests, sweet/bitter experiences or just doodling :)

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Bus Movement

As usual, I took bus No. 15 from University Union. It has become a ritual for me that as I sit in the bus, I start reading the books or papers out of my reading list that I struggle reading at leisure. That evening, as I took the book out of my bag to read, a skinny African American girl, wearing a pink t-shirt who was struggling to bring her luggage and backpack into the bus caught my attention. Since my childhood, I really liked watching ants carrying loads bigger than themselves and whenever, I see someone struggles with heavy loads, I spare sometime to watch the determinations (hard backbone) involved in it. As she brought in her stuffs, she talked to the driver and sat on one of the front seat close to driver. The driver started talking on his communication system, called the girl and asked few questions and the girl again sat back. I started reading my book. When the bus took a different rout, it made me puzzled (Have I taken the wrong bus, I wondered). The bus stopped next to other bus. The driver of other bus came in and handed a red purse to the driver and the driver thanked him. The African American went to driver and took the purse and took two dollars to insert into the machine. The level of care and honesty that drivers had shown (some may call it professionalism but it was more than that) impressed me so much that I might had uttered "coooool" as the the passenger next to me turned his face to give me a look and me by re-positioning myself sat upright, acting as nothing had happened. May be, it was something very normal for other passengers but it wasn't for me as I was linking it to three events: Montgomery Bus Boycott, Separate buses for Hazara Students and Hunger Strike of Kabul University Students. 

On the evening of December 1st of 1955, the arrest of an African American woman started the Montgomery Bus Boycott that lasted for 381 days:

On the evening of December 1st in 1955, the African American woman, Rosa Parks was tired after spending the day at work as a department store seamstress. She sat in the fifth row (the first row of the African American Section: In those days, in Montgomery, Alabama, when a bus became full, the seats nearer the front were given to white passengers.) of the bus 2857 for the ride home. More passengers came in and as front seats were full, the  bus driver James Blake ordered Parks and three other African Americans seated nearby to move to the back of the bus. Three riders complied but Rosa Parks refused to move. She was arrested and fined $10. Her arrest resulted in Montgomery Bus Boycott led by Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy during which people in Montgomery refused to ride the buses for 381 riding bicycles, cabs, car pooling or simply walking to works. After almost 13 months of the boycott, Supreme court ruled out  racial segregation of buses as unconstitutional. It was a milestone achievement in the civil rights movement. 

Of course, without those struggles, I wouldn't see what I saw on the bus this week. American Civil Rights Movement is one of the biggest events of the modern time and is considered as part of general knowledge and I would certainly be surprised, if a highly educated person expresses ignorance about it. It is this assumption that I was fully surprised when I heard that, the Universities (Particularly SBK Woman University) in Quetta had decided to arrange separate buses for Hazara students after BIUTMS bus came under attack, in which scores of Hazara students and professors died in 2012. Separate buses for students of a community was an obvious act of discrimination. And such kind of acts from highly educated segment (University establishment) of the society surprised and worried whole Hazara community. One of the student of the University S. Batool wrote in her letter to LUBP ( Letter from Quetta: ‘I too had a dream, but being a Pakistani Shia, it will remain a dream), "I was in the University that day, rumors circulated that Hazara students are supposed to travel by a separate bus – this was ordered on the call of other communities’ request to the VC of the University. I didn’t doubt VC to be such a sap-head to act upon the call, however, my expectations dusted and we were asked to travel by the separate bus." The discrimination by teachers and intellectuals are the most painful because their actions are not out of ignorance and they are looked at as agents of change.

Hazara Democratic Party's press release condemning the decisions of separate buses for Hazara students calling it injustice and discrimination against Hazara student based on ethnicity and religion. 
Well, one might argue that, Baluchistan has a tribal system and prejudices are an integral part of tribal system. With this system intact, education in not much of help in improving the conscience of the people. I may agree with this to some extent as last month, it took 8 days of hunger strike by more than hundred students of department of social studies (Kabul University) against discrimination on basis of ethnicity and religion to get heard their voices by Kabul establishment. Twelve years are very long time in history of any country and despite of 12 years presence  and help of international forces, the tribal system has not let Kabul to distance itself from her historic prejudices and discrimination.

To me, the biggest question is, "What is the potential of civil rights movements in bringing change to tribal and sectarian mindsets?" So far, I haven't been much hopeful as I haven't seen any mention-able potential"... Let's see... 

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