Saturday, July 14, 2007

The war has just begun for the Soul of Pakistan

By Dr Farrukh Saleem: The News, July 15, 2007

President-General Musharraf has put his ninth life in the line of fire to rid Pakistan of her Frankensteins. Musharraf has brought down one, a few hundred more to go. Al Qaeda has urged revolt against Musharraf. Ayman al-Zawahri, Al Qaeda's number 2, has called for a holy war against Musharraf.

In Pakistan, Frankensteins were harvested by the Zia-Reagan-King Fahd trio, an ISI-CIA-Al Mukhabarat Al A'amah joint project. Since then, we have had Presidents Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Farooq Ahmed Leghari and Mohammed Rafiq Tarar. Since then, we have had prime ministers Mohammad Khan Junejo, Benazir Bhutto, Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, Nawaz Sharif, Moeen Qureshi and Mir Zafarullah Jamali. No one dared taking on Frankensteins and Frankensteins lived, prospered and multiplied.

President Musharraf's is the first blow. Apparently, there are 88 Frankensteins in Islamabad alone. Is Musharraf leading a paradigm shift? Is Musharraf redefining the role of religion in our state and society? People blamed Musharraf before Operation Silence for not doing enough and are now blaming him again for what he has done. Mullah Nasreddin, the 13th century Sufi-sage, had the ideal recipe to make people stop talking.

Here's how the story goes: Mullah Nasreddin and his son went on a journey. Mullah decided to let his son ride the family donkey while he walked. A group of fellow travellers remarked, "Look at the healthy young boy on the donkey! That's today's youth. They have no respect for their elders. The son rides while the poor old father walks!" Mullah's son immediately disembarked and insisted that his father must ride while he walked. A bunch of tea-sippers saw the new scenario and remarked, "Look at that! A young and hearty father rides while his poor, little son strides along." This time the Mullah had his son jump onto the donkey and sit right behind him. Another group soon came by crying out loud, "Look at the poor donkey! The feeble, little animal has to carry the weight of two people." The Mullah counselled his son that the best thing for them to do is walk along the donkey so that no one would complain. Soon another group of travellers showed up. "Just look at those two fools. Both the father and the son are walking under the mid-summer hot sun, neither of them riding their own donkey." Utterly frustrated, Mullah lifted the donkey onto his shoulders and told his son,"Come on, if we don't do this it will be impossible to make people stop talking."

Lal Masjid's battle has ended but the war has just begun. Lal Masjid was all about the politics of jihad. Frankensteins were meant to be instruments of state policy in the promotion of national interest. But, as in Mary Shelley's novel 'Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus', Victor Frankenstein's 'cursed creation' woke up, walked out and murdered the creator's own brother, his best friend and then his wife.

The new war is all about the soul of Pakistan--a war between logic and jihad, between a culture of martyrdom and a culture of reasoning. Our Frankensteins are isolationist, both a military and a political threat. The counter equation must contain the military in-tandem with politics. Their marginalization would have to be both military and political; Pak Army plus mainstream civilian politicians. Military can't do it alone neither can the politicians--genuine representatives of the people partnering with professional soldiers is where the real solution lies. It's time for fusion, not fission. Surely, not the time to launch a new struggle within.

The writer is an Islamabad-based freelance columnist. Email:

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