Caught In Between – By A. Sarwari
The Author penned this article immediately after Sept 11. It is reproduced here for reference.
In an attack that killed indiscriminately on September 11th 2001, one can clearly state that it is a war on all humanity. The world trade center encompassed in it the almost utopia-like belief where all the flags form all over the world lined up with equal grace. Saudi Arabia, Japan, Iran, Pakistan and countless other countries that had their people affected by this attack in some way.
When the embassy in Kenya was bombed I could easily relate to it because I have walked those streets the 4 years I lived there. I can almost relive the moment I saw the world trade center for the first time form the America West flight landing in Newark. Anyone with nerve endings can relate and imagine the pain associated with such a tragic attack on human lives and property. Would I be wrong in saying that this world’s intelligence would weep at this bloody crime against the very dignity of God’s creation? Or maybe I am wrong.
I read a book the day before the attack about atheists pointing to destructions and using that to vindicate that there is no God. Americans have shown immense amount of faith despite the lack of figures about who were the believers and who were not. I knew yesterday that faith didn’t belong to a certain religion but lies in some core inside of us. I learned that faith is simply breathing. The power inside of us to keep going on, the intuition that guides us away from danger and the ability to tell our truth. Those innocent people who perished beneath the rubble too had faith till their last breath. So, the people who did this are fighting a losing battle, they will never win. Whoever they are, they may have put an end to the breath of many but they can never put an end to faith before the murder.
Who said self-preservation is the main motivation of human beings? Stories moving against the tide of self-interest hum around that place. Yesterday America’s security was threatened and so was mine: Not only as an international student, but also as a Pakistani. My country was made from the grounds of dissatisfaction, boiling over after the introduction of religion into politics by Mahatma Gandhi. For Pakistan, religion has been a curse. It never seemed to get out of the chains of its illusion. It became ‘opium of the people’: Literally and otherwise.
Islamic fundamentalists who vigorously supported Mahatma Gandhi, such as the Ali brothers shouted anti-Pakistan statements before Pakistan was made. Pakistan was helpless in keeping these people out of Pakistan. These fundamentalists of Gandhi’s genre who thought religion as an inseparable part of politics became the religious leaders of Pakistan. They let all rules of dissent die in midair, they forgot that they once declared a fatwa asking the Muslims to follow Gandhi as their leader, they forgot that there is no clergy in Islam, they selectively ignored that progress and education go hand in hand, and like the people who attacked America yesterday acted to answer the call to Allah but forgot human dignity.
Today America has seen terrorism; Pakistan has seen it in series. The recent one being the attack on the trade center that also killed many Pakistanis who are believed to work there. Pakistan has seen terrorism in Karachi. The bombs the arms and the heroin that was quite non-existent before Russia abandoned Afghanistan in its war-ravaged state, appeared. This served as an ideal breeding ground for the minds behind the Taliban.
So that is the story of my country. I am sure it wasn’t meant to be this way. Our founder Muhammed Ali Jinnah stood for all values that supported the protection of Pakistan against the fanaticism and fundamentalism. He spoke repeatedly of justice, fair play, of being free in the state of Pakistan, of every citizen being equal, of the importance of law and order, of being friendly with all its neighbors, of religious freedom, of a sovereign independent nation with democratic institutions and most importantly the address to the Constituent Assembly in 1947 where he speaks of separation of religion and state.
Yesterday America was hijacked; the very same people held Pakistan’s foundations hostage 53 years ago. Perhaps this may not have been so difficult a task for Pakistan if it hadn’t got the Kashmir issue to devote itself to. Being friendly with India was a reinforcement of our reason to be. But we could not play friendly with a nation in which the constitution states Kashmir is part of their territory, when the people don’t want to belong to India. The fact that a plebiscite didn’t occur was tragic to the tale but over 600,000 Indian forces in Kashmir today is tyranny of the majority over a civilian minority. This is the tyranny Pakistan escaped form and this is what grips it today.
Today the mullah’s have the nerve to feel sympathetic towards the Taliban. Today the Pakistani fundamentalist organizations such as the Lashker-e-Tayiba exist under the protection of the right to assembly of any group of people. Pakistan is forced to walk the narrow path, in response to the sandwich that it is of both India and Afghanistan. Pakistan is choking on its self-created neutrality. It needs to quit being democratic by the standards of anyone and simply ban the fundamentalist Islamic groups that President Musharraf has and it needs to isolate the mullahs.
Yesterday New York lost its aesthetic beauty and its symbol of power; Pakistan is next to a so-called democratic nation that stood by in silence as Hindu fanatics demolished the Babri Mosque. Violence never ends. War breeds more war even after triumph is of the better side. Pakistan is on the defensive almost constantly. It was up against the wall in 1998 when India tested its nuclear weapons. Though unspoken, Pakistan was well aware of the only likely target of those mass murderer weapons. Pakistan tested its nuclear weapons.
Victims of Afghanistan’s post war problems come to seek shelter with Pakistan. Armed only with the belief that like India they hold a gift of being the world greatest something. Instead of the world’s largest democracy, they claim to be the world’s truest and purest territory: The most holy place for Islam. Afghanistan is now the ‘Mecca of the Islamic world’, they profess.
For me it’s like the beginning of an end. My country is looked at in suspicion just because someone somewhere pointed a finger before looking at policies. Pakistan is maligned. But faith is like that I guess’¦ comes and goes like the breath’¦ After all, Russia and America who are now chums have taken a little too long it seems’¦it’s a little too late.