Killing the albatross | By Imtiaz Rafi Butt


Killing the albatross

THe murder of Arshad Sharif being one of the most prominent journalists of Pakistan is a grim reminder of the story from Coleridge.

An Albatross has been killed and the omens of spilling the blood of the innocent will soon follow.

As it is said, we are free to make choices but we are not free from the consequences of those choices.

The killers of Arshad Sharif have made their choice, now it is upto the leaders to provide justice otherwise the killing of the Albatross brings bad omens and disastrous in the offing, merciless and unavoidable.

The killing of the albatross in the poem by Coleridge can be metaphorically related to the incident at hand.

In the poem by Coleridge, a ship is sailing through a sea. The captain of the ship is a cruel man with no regard for beauty, honesty and tolerance.

At some point, the winds slow down and so does the ship. The captain is frustrated. One day, he observes that there is an Albatross sitting on the ledge of the ship.

The captain decides to take out his cruelty and anger on the innocent bird and shoots the bird.

The bird Albatross is a large bird that is found mostly at sea. It is commonly visible on shorelines and travels long distances over waters.

In English literature, Albatross is symbol of nature, honesty and good luck. The captain kills the Albatross and crew of the ship are scared.

They speak among themselves that the killing of the Albatross is a bad omen. The captain dismisses it as mere superstition but the crew is sure that the killing of the innocent will not bode well for the ship.

Soon, the apprehensions of the crew turn out to be true. The ship is surrounded by thick fog and mist.

The whole ship is lost in darkness with no clue as to where it is and the crew members begin to die one by one.

The crew grows angry at the sailor who shot the Albatross and forces the captain to wear the dead Albatross in his neck as punishment.

But even that remedy is unable to change the fate of the ship and finally a ghostly ship attacks the crew and the ship killing everyone onboard and only the captain is spared.

Even the sea is not ready to keep the captain and he is thrown out to the shore.

The captain than becomes a narrator of the whole saga, waming all others in the land to never kill an Albatross, lest they be met with such a horrific end..

In the last two years alone, around 118 journalists have been killed in Pakistan. Many others have been forced to flee the country.

These journalists are persecuted due to their reporting and highlighting different matters relating to the public.

The explosion of social media plat- forms has given more power and speaking ability to these journalists, but has also created clatter.

Freedom and democracy demand that everyone be given a voice. The harassment and killing of journalists is a sign of cruelty, intolerance and tyranny. Disagreement can never warrant murder.

And it is this intolerance that has the power to destroy nations and bring down empires. The death of Arshad Sharif shrouded in mystery.

Investigations are ongoing and the matter is now under judicial scrutiny. It is not credible that he was murdered out of mistaken identity, as pointed out by the police of Kenya It seems that his murderers planned the whole scheme.

Arshad Sharif left Pakistan in August due to threats. He took refuge in UAE and then circumstances were created where he had to flee from there as well.

—The writer is Chairman, Jinnah Rafi Foundation, based in Lahore.


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