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Humayun Gauhar | 11 JANUARY, 2015

Ghosts Of Our Past

Battling Pakistan's past


I will write about the 21st Amendment and military courts once the dust settles somewhat and I get my mind round this latest paradigm. The imperative of the moment is learning from mistakes past, correcting our present and crafting a better future. It’s called “The Urgency of Now”.

Don’t fret. It’s darkest before dawn. Things usually get worse before they get better, but they will get better only if we cling to the right path. Cling to the wrong path and oblivion is your lot, the abyss awaits where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. Far from being a “prophet of doom” as those who don’t like reading the truth call me, I suggest that you try and stay in ruthless reality if you wish to make a better future. Don’t talk of Pakistan as if you are at a wake. There is a lot of life left in it yet if we grow intellectually and morally.

Now that our consciences are apparently awakening, we should ask some questions – some only – brushed under the carpet in denial, questions that need answering before we can move towards improvement, acknowledge mistakes made in anger, emotion and enmity or for personal gain. To help you, let me lift the basket under which we have hidden our ghosts of our recent past that history will never forgot. Mistakes from day one will take more space, but they too must be visited soon.

Before I get down to it, let me say that we are fed up of our governments and institutions telling us that we don’t know because certain issues are in their domain only and “only we know the facts.” This pompous assertion is a tangential duck, a sidetracking. The truth is that they get so lost in irrelevant detail that they mistake for ‘facts’ (does Ashraf Ghani use his handkerchief with his left hand or right, as if it matters) that they confuse themselves. How many times have we heard this nonsense before and how many times have we been proved right? They should fear the day when we start writing their Annual Competence Reports that won’t be confidential. Now to our mistakes:

1. Remember when that ‘great democrat’ Z. A. Bhutto first let the obscurant genie out of the bottle in 1974 when his parliament hijacked God’s function and declared Qadianis/Ahmedis non-Muslims and later banned alcohol and gambling in desperation? We didn’t object while Bhutto laid the foundation of the factory that churns out militancy.

2. Didn’t our army along with the U.S.A., Saudi Arabia and others fit a conveyor belt in Bhutto’s factory to roll out Jihadis-turned-terrorists and lost control of their monsters, like any Dr. Frankenstein? Still we are asked to believe that “we know best”.

3. Where were our intelligence agencies before the Peshawar Army Public School attack by Terrorist Taliban Pakistan? Where were they when terrorists attacked their own headquarters and bases or Karachi Airport? They know what you and I had for breakfast but they don’t know when and where terrorists are going to strike? About time they gave us a full account. No doubt they have prevented many an attack, but the ones I just mentioned were major hits on the State.

4. Tell us how Khawaraji terrorists were able to occupy Lal Masjid in 2007 and declare a state within a state right under the noses of intelligence agencies, killing and torturing innocents? Were they asleep on the job or were they complicit to get rid of President Pervez Musharraf?

5. Remember how we and our media criticized Musharraf for not liberating Lal Masjid, two TV anchors camouflaged in democratic clothing promising that they would not be critical of an army operation to rid us of the mad mullahs and foreign and local terrorists there?

6. Then remember how these same anchors, other media and people viciously criticized Musharraf with lies and fabrications and polluted public opinion when he liberated the mosque? They claimed that he killed women and children but have still not furnished their names or shown us their graves. Now our sins have come home to roost with Mullah Burqa Abdul Aziz on the rampage again, sympathizing with TTP terrorists over the school massacre and even with ISIS. We are so shameless that Mullah Burqa was included in one of the committees to negotiate with terrorists when Nawaz Sharif was so intent on a dialogue with them. Careful that the Lal Masjid doesn’t become a refuge and recruiting ground for ISIS.

7. Lal Masjid should be made into a real mosque, a House of Worship instead of a House of Satan that it has become, and the awful Mullah Aziz who escaped like a coward in a Burqa leaving women behind should be tried and never be allowed at large again. He got the girls in his seminary to pass a resolution approving of the demonic ISIS. Yet our interior minister says that Mullah Burqa should not be blamed, he knows him and knew his father and civil society should not pressurize him. We are far from learning anything.

8. Remember how we supported Iftikhar Chaudhry when Musharraf sacked him as chief justice? Remember how we celebrated when he was restored? Learn lessons and never forget the damage this ignoramus did to Pakistan and its judiciary and how allegedly corrupt he was. Never forget either how much damage those who supported him did, some wittingly, just to get rid of Musharraf. It is all very well to support a principle but not a person who is the very antithesis of that principle – independence of the judiciary. What we got in return were sham democracy, rigged elections, mind-bending corruption, a paralyzed parliament, an eroded judiciary, all branches of government and institutions gone, only shells remain.

9. Remember how we applauded when Musharraf granted Nawaz Sharif a presidential pardon and his wish to go into self-exile in Saudi Arabia?

10. Remember how we hankered after the return of Benazir and Nawaz saying that democracy would remain incomplete without them returning to lead their parties into elections?

11. Remember how we shamelessly forgot all this and became critical of Musharraf for pardoning Benazir Bhutto under the ‘National Reconciliation Ordinance’ and allowing Nawaz Sharif to return. I’m sorry, criticizing governments and its institutions may be fair enough, but we should also take a deep hard look at our own past if we are to learn and improve.

12. You want genuine criticism? Musharraf was misguided into believing that Benazir’s return would be good for Pakistan and for him for they were both ‘liberals’. He couldn’t see that he was being set up. After Benazir, he was the NRO’s third victim and Pakistan its first.

13. Didn’t we remain mute while Zia ul Haq spread obscurant mullahs like a virus and bigotry became rampant? Has it made better Muslims of us, or worse?

14. Not only have many, including lawyers and judges, made a hero of Salman Taseer’s self-confessed murderer, they had the gumption to disrupt vigils in Salman’s memory at the fourth anniversary of his martyrdom last January 4 and we looked on.

Terrorism, state and non-state, have become a worldwide scourge, as the latest murders of journalists and police in Paris testify. The West still has to learn that all freedoms have limits that end when transgressions into other freedoms begin. I wrote about the ‘Jihad of the Pen’ last week. But if the pen is used to hurt the feelings of others, you invite retaliation. The holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is the highest personality ever, too high to be hurt by cartoons. But by murdering his critics his followers belittle him and Islam, just what the cartoonists wanted. These so-called Muslims played into the hands of the Prophet’s (pbuh) critics. The West and we Muslims share equal blame for this scourge.

Now, in the first flush of anger it seems that Peshawar has been the tipping point for the public and the army. But has it really been for politicians? They had to go along with the army, but their words and body language betray that their hearts are not in it. Don’t expect too much – sorry, anything – from these clowns. At this rate, we will reach a tipping point about politicians as well and replace them and the system by one better that begets genuine democracy. Only then will we rise.

It all depends on what the moving finger writes and where it moves the pieces on the Great Global Chessboard, but remember too that it moves on after writing and all your tears will never wash a word of it. Till then, hold your breath, for it is no longer a Great Game limited to a region but multidimensional chess on a world scale where states and geographies are at stake.

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