By Samad Khurram
Back in 2002, I was returning from Friday prayers when I saw an unusual gathering of singing and quasi-dancing mullahs. Unusual because I had always assumed mullahs to be against all types of kufr (art). The amused crowd were listening to chants of “Taliban aa-gae! Taliban aa-gae!” I smirked: As if! Pakistan is a nuclear country with the seventh-largest army. We’re safe.
The mullahs’ songs have been answered – the Taliban indeed are coming. And with them the cowards are bringing a lifestyle that destroys everything Pakistan.
Oh, no! Wait! This guy is on the paycheque of those who are trying to break Pakistan. The Taliban are our heroes, it is America which is in the wrong. Yes, this is the typical self-defence mechanism coming to full force. Having nothing to lose, and having been already declared a CIA agent earlier in life, I suppose I’ll continue. Continuing with a genuine fear that these words are falling on either deaf or hostile ears, it may well be that Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s Pakistan is over in a year if all this chaos continues.
Perhaps, if Jinnah knew that the country he founded was going to become an arena for public flogging, where the laughs of sadist barbarians will mingle with the screams of women and children, he would not have decided on creating it. Had he known that there would be more suicide bombs in his country than any other place in the world, where militants and bigots would go around threatening women to “dress properly,” where schoolchildren would have to undergo security checks as if they were in a war zone, he would be extremely upset.
All our talk shows discuss the merits and demerits of the 17th Amendment, or bash America and India. Yes, American drones and Indian statements are a threat to our sovereignty. Yes, the balance of power is important, but it is the Taliban who have killed more people than India or the US drones combined, and have made us feel more unsafe than anyone else in the past thirty years. What other definition of sovereignty is there than provision of protection to people and maintenance of the writ of the state? Why can’t we have some programmes that discuss the atrocities of the Taliban, acts of terror that they do and how they have destroyed Pakistan?
No, it’s not the “Hindu Zionists” working on a CIA/Mossad-sponsored conspiracy to break Pakistan. And for the sake of argument, even if they are foreign-funded, does that not mean we should double our efforts to counter them? Remember when India briefly occupied some land in 1965 and how the whole country rallied to defend this invasion? My grandfather had stories of people going with sticks to support the army. I am afraid I will not have any such stories of patriotic resistance to tell anyone when another enemy has taken control of, say, a fourth of the NWFP and roughly one-twentieth of Pakistan.
But remember the great Pakistani Fauj which, under the Ameer-ul-Momineen, Zia-ul-Haq, crushed the Russians? This is only a plan to make America taste the same fate! Yes, thank you Zaid Hamid. For a nation which already lives in denial, your conspiracy theories are all we need to turn us completely schizophrenic.
For the love of God, can anyone explain to me why the great army whose laurels we sing from the day we are born has still not been able to jam radio stations pouring terror in Swat? How is it that these Taliban leaders can appear before journalists in broad daylight and roam freely without any trouble even when they claim responsibility for a suicide bombing?
Perhaps the real question I should ask is, why do I even care? When I took time off from Harvard to be part of the lawyers’ movement I had seen a ray of hope. There were concerned citizens and lawyers who stood for what was right, no matter what the consequences. We fought for a principle and won, with the hope that things will slowly improve. Today the very judges we had faith in released the Lal Masjid cleric whose crimes everyone knows about. If the judiciary was going to release people whose crimes were recorded on TV, perhaps it does explain why the Taliban are growing popular.
Having said that, rays of hope like Afzal Khan Lala, who has refused to move from Swat while he is alive, appear every now and then. However, he stands alone in facing the storm. Other than Ayaz Amir, not a single Pakistani leader has spoken out against the Taliban. Will the real leader who can get rid of these monsters stand up, please? Imran Khan? Qazi? Nawaz Sharif? This silence is criminal!
What’s worse is that these leaders of ours have unanimously approved a state within a state run, which is not accountable to anyone, absolved the Taliban of all crimes and provided them a safe haven to kill more Pakistanis. The so-called Nizam-e-Adl Regulation was endorsed by the National Assembly without any proper debate.
The sad story, friends, is that the Taliban are here, and unless we stand up against them in every possible way, Pakistan will be lost for good. And it will not be lost because of Zardari’s real or perceived corruption or anything else like that, but because of the silence of the lambs – we ALL will be responsible if Pakistan fails.
The writer is a student at Harvard University and turned down an award from the US ambassador as a mark of protest against killings of Pakistanis by US drone attacks. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org