Sirajul Haq had made some bizarre comments during his speech at Minar-e-Pakistan last week, and they have been really bothering me.
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On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia beheaded the 8th Pakistani in a few short weeks. This is remarkable for a number of reasons, but the one thing I am thinking about today is how different the reaction is to these cases and the case of Aafia Siddiqui who was convicted of terrorism and sentenced to prison.
In the case of Aafia Siddiqui, the Government of Pakistan approved millions to pay for her defence, and she was given a full public trial. Even after the trial, the state has continually tried to secure her release. Public rallies are held for her and she is termed as “the nation’s daughter’.
Then there are the others. The nameless Pakistanis who we have abandoned to be beaheaded in a Saudi Arabia. The Foreign Office has been silent on these cases. Are they less Pakistani than Aafia Siddiqui?
Arsonists burned down a Hindu temple in Tando Mohammad Khan district last week. SSP Tando Mohammad Khan, Naseem Aara Panwhar responded to the incident with the type of compassion that we have come to expect from authorities.
“We had asked them not to keep these things in this manner and at least raise proper boundary walls. But they did not care,” she said.
You see, it was the fault of these stupid Hindus for keeping their holy artifacts in a manner that they could be seen instead of hidden away where they belong.
Perhaps Shama and Shehzad would have been better to have kept themselves hidden away, too. Their very existence as non-Muslims was so offensive that they were burnt alive, purifying our country of their Christian-ness.
Four years ago, historic floods devastated Pakistan. The government immediately launched an effort to raise money to provide relief for affectees, with President Zardari stepping up and donating over Rs.300 millions of his own money to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. The government admitted being overwhelmed by the unprecedented natural disaster, but efforts to help those suffering the most were hindered when ambitious politicians chose to use the event for their own personal agendas. Imran Khan led the pack in this move, telling the international community that Pakistan’s government was too corrupt and that they should donate their money to his own personal foundation. In doing so, the PTI chief was able to build his own personal stature, but at the cost of undermining the state itself.
Imran Khan wasn’t the only one who took this cynical attitude towards suffering, however. Also there was jihadi leader Hafiz Saeed who used his newly formed front group “Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation” to distribute relief goods. Like PTI, Hafiz Saeed uses “humanitarian relief” work as a cover for promoting extremism.
In Pakistan, Jamaat ud-Dawa and the FIF continue to operate quite openly and Hafiz Khalid Waleed said the group was using its flood relief camps to preach its version of Islam.
“We think that a Muslim has to live according to his religion in order to become a good human being. Thank God, we do preach to them, and it has its effects, and they are converted. To us, this is social work, too.”
Today, PTI and Jamaat-ud-Dawa are working hand in hand in Sindh, where Imran Khan is desperate to get a political foothold. By providing humanitarian relief, PTI and JUD are able to win the “hearts and minds” of the people there, turning them against their own government and making them more sympathetic to the PTI’s and JUD’s agendas.
This may be a cynical political ploy by PTI and JUD, but the real responsibility comes back to the state. If the state was providing adequate relief to affected people, there would not be a ‘vacuum’ for other groups to step into and take over the role of the state. By failing to provide for the people, the state is undermining its own legitimacy and fueling its own demise.
Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel has reportedly complained that firing on the Line of Control is negatively affecting Zarb-e-Azb operations. No doubt this is true. Frequency of cross-border attacks has increased significantly in recent months which will obviously drain critical resources and distract from operations against militants on the Western border. The problem is, the escalated tensions in Kashmir did not materialise out of thin air. Actually, they were very openly discussed for months…in Lahore and Islamabad.