I didn’t know Owais very well. He wasn’t a very close friend of mine, so perhaps it is inappropriate that I am writing about him. But I grieve for his departure – and it would be even more inappropriate if I did not release my pain in the only way I know. Until 12 hours ago I was only concerned about the fact that a plane had crashed and fell asleep with the relieving news of ’45 injured recovered’ echoing in my mind. Now it’s personal.
Owais was someone to admire – someone who gained lots of respect in IBA, amongst both his peers and seniors, very quickly. For a sophomore to be held in such high esteem in a culture that respects seniority above all might have been remarkable, but then it was fully deserved as well. It was never Owais the person who demanded respect – it was his actions that did. For he engaged not in aimless banter but in constructive activity. He actually made things happen. While I was denouncing the media for doing a bad job of covering Pakistan, he was organizing one of the finest events in recent IBA history – I-MARC – designed to improve the media. Arm-chair politics has long been the country’s national pastime, but Owais was a member of the Youth Parliament and was set to be, quite literally, one of the leaders of the future. With a business degree from one of the finest schools in the country and a stellar extracurricular record, the sky was the limit. Unfortunately that turned out to be literal.
Last night on Twitter I criticized those who immediately blamed Air Blue and Pakistan for the disaster, while the rescuers were still doing their job. This morning I felt bad about it when I heard no one had survived, for being a little heartless, for not mourning. Then I realized that Owais would have approved. It wasn’t his style, as far as I know, to mindlessly criticize, condemn, or complain – he was too wise for that. No, he did his best to fix the problem and had the heart to be sympathetic to those who erred.
Usually we tend to be particularly effusive while remembering a loved one, (appropriately) embellishing the good side of those who have departed. In this case, however, it is absolutely no exaggeration to say that Owais bin Laiq was one of the finest young men in the country. He was the kind of person who everyone is talking about when they say that our youth has great potential. The kind of guy you would point to for evidence that people are indeed doing good in Pakistan and taking long term initiatives to shape the future. Forget about having a great future – here is someone who had a great present.
My only regret is that I cannot use the present tense in the last sentence.
My last words relate to my last conversation with him. I once asked him how he could manage giving exams (in Karachi) and participate in Youth Parliament (in Islamabad) at the same time. He said it was tough, but he managed it. Inwardly I marveled at his stamina and work ethic, thinking that it was impossible for mere mortals to handle a workload like that. (After all, others have been ridiculed for trying to be Superman.)
But…Owais bin Laiq is now immortal, and no kryptonite can dull the brilliance of his life anymore.
Rest in peace, friend.
Note: As mentioned, I was not a close friend of Owais’s and apologize for any mistakes made above. I don’t know everyone who WAS,and thus ask his friends to tag each other and everyone else who needs to see this. Originally posted at Facebook, re-posting here so that it can be shared to those who may not be able to access it there. Deciding not to keep this private so that my tribute lives on.
And, trying not to be preachy, but we would all do well to follow in his example in many ways – for example, try to fulfill our potential, work hard, and be generous.
Let us not forget the others. Over 150 people passed away. Over 150 families have been affected. That translates to thousands, literally thousands, of people who count amongst the bereaved.
I strongly believe that every loss was irreplaceable. Everyone is special. Everyone will be missed – if not be me or you personally, then by someone, SOMEWHERE.
There were at least four other ‘friends of friends’ on the plane. I did not know them. But I grieve for them and their families. They ALL need our support, understanding, and love.
All of them.