2011 has been a difficult year, filled with grief for those who love the country and want to see a free and prosperous people. We have all found ourselves angry. We have all cried and yelled and stared at the street and been on the verge of giving up. But we must never give up. We must hold our heads high, not out of some false sense of pride, but in our real accomplishments and our real potential.
The ghairat brigades think that they have to lie make Pakistan look good. That’s so wrong in so many ways. And all it really demonstrates is how little respect they have for themselves and their own country. We don’t have to pretend that everything is a Hindu-Zionist conspiracy or that no Muslims can possibly do bad things. The fact is that a lot of society’s problems are precisely because there are Pakistani Muslims doing bad things.
But the fact is also that these Pakistanis make up the smallest percentage. We mistakenly amplify their importance, though, by pretending they don’t exist. Everyone knows they exist, but by protecting them and defending them we end up smearing the 179,998,000 Pakistani Muslims who every day are doing GOOD things.
Consider this, which you didn’t see on the front page of the newspaper or headlining a talk show.
Pakistan’s exports registered a phenomenal growth of 42 percent during the month of February this fiscal over the same month of last year.
Pakistan has kept the momentum of export achievement of over $2 billion mark for the last three months, which continues in February 2011 also, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) announced on Wednesday.
Pakistan’s exports during February 2011 were valued at $2.16 billion, which was 42.1 percent higher than the level of $1.52 billion during February 2010.
But what about religious extremism?
250 clerics from around 18 countries have declared suicide attacks as haram, a private TV channel reported on Wednesday. They issued the declaration on the occasion of the three-day-long Seerat-ul-Nabi conference, which was also attended by several Pakistani clerics belonging to different schools of thought. The clerics issued a joint statement at the end of the conference, in which they termed the terrorist attacks as “a plan to destroy the state’s infrastructure” and a “well planned conspiracy against Islam”. The clerics also pointed out the need of establishing a committee, consisting of clerics and scholars, to review the 1961 laws. They also emphasised on the selection of academic syllabus of the madrassas according to the demands of the modern era, the channel reported.
While there’s no doubt that extremism and militancy is a problem, hundreds of religious scholars declaring that suicide attacks and terrorists are against Islam should be shouted from the roof top. There should be loud speakers circling the streets and announcing this news.
Or what about the news that drone attacks are largely killing terrorists and not civilians?
General Officer Commanding 7-Division Maj-Gen Ghayur Mehmood said in a briefing here: “Myths and rumours about US predator strikes and the casualty figures are many, but it’s a reality that many of those being killed in these strikes are hardcore elements, a sizeable number of them foreigners.
“Yes there are a few civilian casualties in such precision strikes, but a majority of those eliminated are terrorists, including foreign terrorist elements.”
The Military’s 7-Dvision’s official paper on the attacks till Monday said that between 2007 and 2011 about 164 predator strikes had been carried out and over 964 terrorists had been killed.
Of those killed, 793 were locals and 171 foreigners, including Arabs, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Chechens, Filipinos and Moroccans.
In 2007, one missile strike left one militant dead while the year 2010 was the deadliest when the attacks had left more than 423 terrorists dead.
In 2008, 23 drone strikes killed 152 militants, 12 of them were foreigners or affiliated with Al Qaeda.
In 2009, around 20 predator strikes were carried out, killing 179 militants, including 20 foreigners, and in the following year 423 militants, including 133 foreigners, were killed in 103 strikes.
In attacks till March 7 this year, 39 militants, including five foreigners, were killed.
This should all be encouraging. The fact that hundreds of clerics are denouncing militancy, that drone strikes are not killing civilians as jihadhi propaganda says, that the economy is improving – it should be cause for relief and pride.
We need to stop protecting the small number of fundos and crazies who are causing problems for the rest of us. People ask me why I get so mad at people like Shireen Mazari. Let me tell you why. It is because I know that she is smarter than the things that she is saying. When I watch TV, I know that the people saying the stupidest things are really smarter than that, and they know it. But for some reason, maybe a misplaced sense of duty, maybe they just don’t care, they are defending people who don’t deserve it and dragging the hundreds of millions of good people down, too.
I’m not saying that we should pretend that everything is fine. It’s not. But it’s not going to get better as long as we hide from the truth. If you have a rotten tooth, it is better to pull it out than to let it fester and cause more pain. And pulling that tooth doesn’t mean that you hate yourself. Actually, it means that you care enough to save yourself. Before we can stop suffering, we’re going to have to pull some teeth. Maybe it’s not going to be pleasant, but it’s a lot better than the alternative. We need to accentuate the positive.