Sunday, August 12, 2007

O' Pakistan

O' Pakistan
Dr Farrukh Saleem: The News, August 12, 2007

Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday dear Pakistan. Alas, deep inside a sizzling hellhole. All our chestnuts on fire, all these stark contradictions. All these dark closets. All these suicide bombers. Seriously troubled, deeply flawed. Every time I think, I get such a fearful fright.

O' Pakistan, 'Islamic Emergency of Pakistan'. We call you 'Islamic' and we call you 'Republic'. O' Pakistan, you are neither divinely guided nor ruled by your people. O' Pakistan, you are neither 'Islamic' nor a 'Republic'. O' Pakistan, you are sixty but what are you? A nomad with neither a name nor an aim. A country without ideology. O' Pakistan who should rule Pakistan. Gun or law, mind or matter, Talibanised shariah or constitution. O' Pakistan we have neither a clue nor a sign.

O' Pakistan, your president wears a uniform. Your parliament a mere stamp of rubber. O' Pakistan, leaders leading you nowhere. Your Shujaat wants to kill. Kill anyone who says anything against thy army. O' Pakistan, your Shujaat, judge, jury and executioner all in one. Your Afzal also wants to kill. Kill all blasphemers. A speaker to kill blasphemers with his bare hands. Vow! O' Pakistan, your Afzal, judge, jury and executioner all in one. O' Pakistan, your leaders thirsty. Thirsty for blood. Red blood, human blood.

O' Pakistan, America's favourite whipping boy. O' America, we can live neither with you nor without. O' America, you buy all our exports. O' America, no one gives us export surplus but you. O' America, no one sends us tens of billions but you. O' America, you love no one but our generals. Ike loved Ayub, Tricky Dick adored Yahya. And, Bonzo found Zia irresistible.

O' Pakistan, your thirteen thousand madressahs. Some teach hate other self-immolation. Your two hundred fifty thousand schools. Some teach literature most preach hate literature. O' Pakistan, your classrooms full of death worshippers. Streets with deadly missiles, Muslims killing Muslims. Every time I think, I get such a fearful fright.

O' Pakistan, my home has fallen on bad days. I can't save a thing by telling lies. Truth is bitter, may do some good though. Devoid of logic, my home has fallen on bad days. Devoid of reason, my home has fallen on bad days. Bad days because we didn't listen to Bullhe Shah: "Let the prayers go to dust and fasts to the mud. Bullhe found the Beloved in the heart."

Fallen on bad days, listen to Sultan Bahu: "I peeped in to the heart and found Him there. I found him even nearer than the vein. We are in Him and He is in us. So near was He, but Bahu remained ignorant."

Fallen on bad days, don't hide behind veils. Open thy minds to Bullhe Shah: "Oh sisters, I removed the veil and danced. Wither I glance I see Him. I say in Thy name, there is no one else." Pakistan at sixty, at war with herself. At war with her past. Pakistan at sixty got no friends. A hundred and ninety-two to choose from. Got no friends. Four neighbours to choose from. Pakistan at sixty, got foes as neighbours, got no friends. Friendless and clueless we sleep alone, I cry alone.

Bad days will be over. Over soon, turn around we shall. Blackcoats danced in wajad (ecstasy) and blackcoats danced in qabd (despondency). Blackcoats danced for four long months. O' Pakistan, batons have lost bhangara has won. Pakistan danced in bast (happiness) and Pakistan danced in sahu (awakening).

Bad days will be over. Over soon, turn around we shall. Pakistan at sixty, chief justice has finally gotten justice. Pakistan my home, my home with a heart of gold. Punjab my home, home to Ravi, Chenab, Sutlej, Jhelum and Beus. Sindh my home, home to Sachal Sarmast, Mian Mir, Shah Inayat and Lakhino Latif. Frontier my home, Khushal Khan Khattak's home. Balochistan my home, Iftikhar Chaudhry's home. Every time I dream, I dream a turn around. Happy birthday Pakistan.

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


Anonymous said...

This article is of more relevance than maudlin prose on Pakistan

EDITORIAL: Whither Pakistan’s security if NATO leaves Afghanistan

A Pakistani tribal elder and former member of parliament (MP), Malik Fazl Mannan Mohmand, addressed the Pak-Afghan Peace Jirga in Kabul and demanded that “Western forces” be thrown out of Afghanistan in favour of troops from Muslim countries. “There is no need for NATO forces. Bring Islamic countries’ troops,” said the wise man from Mohmand Agency in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas.

Interestingly, however, his Afghan counterpart, MP Sardar Mohammad Rehman Ogholi, demanded the ouster from Pakistan of “foreign terrorists” entrenched in the Pakistani tribal belt along the Afghan border.

Thus each side demanded that the other get rid of its “foreigners”.

Meanwhile, everyone knows that Afghanistan would be overrun by Al Qaeda and Taliban forces if the ISAF-NATO and US forces left Afghanistan. Therefore the question arises: what would happen to Pakistan if Afghanistan were to be vacated by the UN-mandated foreign troops? Would the Afghan army, comprising a measly 35,000 men, which is barely capable after the mujahideen destroyed it in the 1990s, be able to fight the raiders coming from Pakistan? Already, the NATO-US foreign troops are hard put to defend the Pushtuns of Helmand, Uruzgan, Zabul and Kandahar provinces against the Taliban, but they are keeping at bay a wholesale invasion from Pakistan by giving the invaders battle in the provinces of Paktia, Kunar, Paktika and Khost bordering Pakistan’s Tribal Areas.

Most commentators in Pakistan protest that the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan is complicating the situation instead of bringing peace in the country. Typically, however, no one realises what effect their ouster would have on the security of Pakistan. Worse, the views of the Pakistani tribal elder at the joint jirga echo the universally held view in Pakistan that NATO has failed but is delaying a solution based on the will of the ‘deprived’ Pushtun majority population. Most also prefer an Islamic force in place of NATO.

The ouster of NATO from Afghanistan will, of course, redress the ethnic-demographic balance in favour of the Pushtuns, but it will no longer be a balance within the total Afghan population. What it will bring about is a much-empowered Pushtun population by reason of a “merger” with the Pushtuns of Pakistan’s Tribal Areas. A condominium of Taliban and Al Qaeda will stand behind this new balance. What will be the consequence of this?

Inside Afghanistan, it will cause the non-Pushtun ethnic unities to come together with “foreign” help from Afghanistan’s Muslim neighbours. The battle lines will be redrawn between the Pushtun south and the non-Pushtun north, including the Shia province of Bamyan being ruled by a female governor these days. Because of an imbalance of forces introduced by the Taliban and Al Qaeda elements from Pakistan, the countries of Iran and Uzbekistan, backed by some distant sympathisers like India and Russia, will stage interventions to prevent Pakistan from taking advantage of the situation. The region will explode in a replay of the great game all over again.

It seems to us that Pakistan’s national security establishment is still not fully attuned to the disaster in the making. If it has learnt any lessons at some level within the army it has not made them public. But one can sense the blowback of its failed strategy from the internal turmoil it is facing these days. The trouble with Malik Fazl Mannan Mohmand is that, just like Afghanistan, Pakistan doesn’t control its vast territories. If NATO is ousted from Afghanistan, Pakistan too will be overrun by a much strengthened Taliban-Al Qaeda combine. Just as Pakistan is hinterland to the Taliban’s forays into Afghanistan, Afghanistan will become hinterland to forays into Pakistan till a clerical-jihadist state is established here.

As for the replacement of NATO with Islamic troops, Pakistani opinion is naïve to a criminal degree. If the decision is taken at the Saudi-funded OIC, what combination of states will want to get into Afghanistan without triggering a grand Islamic internecine Armageddon? NATO in Afghanistan suits Iran and Uzbekistan — the last named supported by Russia — and India. Islamic troops sent to Afghanistan will have to keep the Arabs out or Iran will veto the plan. If the Islamic troops are Sunni, could they be sent into areas dominated by a Shia population? The question to ask is why can’t an Islamic army be sent to Iraq?

Al Qaeda is looking for a permanent base and thereafter wishes to be armed with nuclear weapons. It is not hidden from anyone that in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas Al Qaeda and the Taliban are joined at the hip. Al Qaeda tried to get into Somalia and was prevented by the US and Somalia’s neighbours. Then it tried to get a base in Iraq but there the Shia militias are too strong for it to establish itself. Pakistan is the most secure place for it to hide, with a population of 160 million already starry-eyed with admiration. With NATO gone from Afghanistan, Al Qaeda may even get to Islamabad with added force and put up a government there as sympathetic to it as the one in the NWFP.

After that, it will have nuclear weapons too. And that scenario should not be acceptable to any reasonable and patriotic Pakistani. *

Anonymous said...

Well, relevance to what?

Anonymous said...

To "to any reasonable and patriotic Pakistani". :-)