EID is a time of joy, to share festivities with family, friends and the less fortunate. While things are far from perfect in Pakistan on many fronts, we must at least be thankful that the country has not witnessed the savage militant violence that it had previously experienced in the run-up to and during many past Eids.
However, although we celebrate the occasion in a relatively peaceful atmosphere, millions of people across the world, especially in the Middle East, are not as fortunate, as they observe Eid in the shadow of war and displacement.
Whether it is Syria, Yemen or Palestine, people in these forsaken regions have had to put up with violence, hunger and dislocation for years and continue to do so.
The brutal Syrian civil war has been grinding on for over seven years. While levels of violence are down, life is far from normal in Syria. According to the UNHCR, over 5m people have fled the country since the war began, while more than 6m remain internally displaced.
The fact remains that until the Assad regime and the opposition can come to an understanding, the threat of war will remain, while militant groups such as the Islamic State will continue to use ungoverned spaces for their operations.
Meanwhile, the situation in Yemen is equally grim. The Saudi-led coalition has launched an attack to recapture the Hodeida port held by the Houthis. The coalition went ahead with the assault despite fears expressed by senior UN officials that any attack on the port would be “catastrophic” given that it is a key lifeline for aid to the Yemeni people.
Already one of the world’s poorest countries, the conflict has pushed Yemen to the brink through the targeting of civilians during warfare, as well as the spread of disease and hunger.
In Palestine, Eid celebrations would be similarly subdued, as many households are in mourning for their loved ones murdered by Israel during protests in Gaza.
Around 125 Palestinians are believed to have been killed by Tel Aviv, including children, as Gazans have been protesting for several weeks to return to their occupied homeland.
On Wednesday, the UN General Assembly through a resolution condemned Israel’s “excessive use of force” against the Palestinians.
Elsewhere, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who fled violence in Myanmar are living in squalor in refugee camps in Bangladesh, while Afghanistan continues to be rocked by acts of violence as even after 17 years since the fall of the Afghan Taliban, peace has eluded that country.
In India-held Kashmir, New Delhi continues to use brute force against the civilian population. A complex web of geopolitical factors and internal problems are chiefly responsible for this sad situation across the Muslim world.
However, the inconvenient truth is that until Muslim states pledge to put their houses in order, millions will continue to live in peril.
Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2018