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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A smile for a rose

Quetta is one of the cities of Pakistan that has felt the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks perhaps more than other places. Quetta has always been known for its diverse population, a rich cultural heritage, and the warmth and friendliness of its people.


The post 9/11 reality of Quetta has been very different: suicide bombings and other terrorist incidents have increased sharply. The region once known for its beautiful landscape and serenity is now associated with a tense security situation and escalating intolerance levels between different ethnic communities inhabiting it.


These incidents are affecting the people of Quetta on a psychological level. People live in a constant state of apprehension. Social gatherings are rare, and people feel isolated and cut off from the rest of the country.


A group of Active Citizens exchanged ideas on how to bring a sense of hope to people and help them forget their troubles at least for a little while. They bought a few hundred freshly cut roses and on a fine sunny day set out to hand them out to any one they came across. Being presented with a rose by a smiling stranger, most people could not help but smile back.