When Abdus Sattar Edhi left us on July 8 this year, I came to believe that Pakistan had reached the nadir of its fortune. I told myself that his death was the worst thing that could have happened to Pakistan this year and that nothing could match it in terms of the grief and despair it had inflicted on the populace as a whole. But all of that changed yesterday. And I wish now that, in holding that belief, I had not challenged nature to a greater tragedy for the same was inflicted upon us in the aftermath of a devastating plane crash in Havelian that took from us, among precious others, the exceptionally gifted Junaid Jamshed.
So why compare Junaid Jamshed to Abdus Sattar Edhi? Primarily because the effect of their deaths was, in many ways, similar (-though Edhi’s death had been a lingering prospect for some time and JJ’s never so) and sent ripples of shock across Pakistan. They were both national icons and household names and, in their persons, represented ways of life that, though different and often deviating, were nevertheless extraordinary. But though both of them were tragically wronged, misunderstood and even belittled – JJ more than Edhi – the latter was the saint that the former never was. And that makes all the difference.
Edhi’s was a character that all our virtues put together may never match. He was the epitome of human excellence, if not beyond that. By that standard, JJ was more relatable. Whereas few can match his flair and fidelity and, fewer still, his spirit of sacrifice, almost all can relate to his tendency to make mistakes. He made mistakes, some of which we held him publicly accountable for, with the audacity of a learner fierce in his learning – a man not afraid to stumble upon personal flaws in pursuit of the ultimate perfection that is God. Think about how close that must have gotten him to his ideal. Blessed are those who climb their way out of the pits of despair, scarring their hands on the rope of repentance. Reminds me of a couplet from an Urdu class years ago, by a poet I cannot recall:
Wa’az kisay draway hai yaum-ul-hisaab se?
Girya toh mera nama-e-aamal dho gaya
Junaid Jamshed’s was a voice that will forever ring in our ears. His charisma – both personal and intellectual – will forever haunt us. His journey will continue to be an inspiration, as will the firmness with which he adhered to the path he had chosen for himself.
For those who think that to us born in the 90’s he is only a religious figure and a businessman: you could not be more wrong
For those who think that to us born in the 90’s he is only a religious figure and a businessman: you could not be more wrong. We associate with him in a myriad of ways, ranging from the romantic to the religious – with patriotic occupying a high slot in between. If life were a movie we’d fall in love to the tune of Aitebaar, make our spiritual journey to the tune of Qaseeda Burda Shareef, and celebrate national success to the tune of, you guessed it, Dil Dil Pakistan.
May we never wrong another person again. May we learn to value and reward people while they’re still alive. And may we, as a nation, learn to transform this pain from a paralytic to a driver.