Whole world stopped to mourn when it was learned that the great man Abdul Sattar Edhi had died. His death was even reported in The New York Times who called him ‘a revered figure’. There is no doubt that Edhi Sahab was revered by many, but since the past few days I have not been able to stop looking at these two photos and thinking about what it says about our society.
Abdul Sattar Edhi Janaza
Mumtaz Qadri Janaza
When Saudi Arabia confirmed identity of Jeddah suicide bomber as Pakistani Abdullah Qalzar Khan, it felt like a kick to the stomach. Then it got worse. 12 of 19 arrested for three bomb attacks in Saudi Arabia were Pakistani. There has been no clear explanation for the terrorists motivations, but that is not the point. There can be no justification for terrorism. I only mention this because it is another example of our countrymen who have been “willing to die” for their cause. We can accept that these man were misguided and unjustified and whatever they believed, they have actually done more to harm Islam than to defend it.
These reports were followed by another news report quoting PML leaders saying that ‘Pakistanis are ready to lay down their lives for Harmain Shareefain security’. While we don’t know their exact thinking, it is easy to assume that Abdullah Qalzar Khan and the others who carried out bomb attacks in Saudi Arabia probably believed they were laying down their lives to defend Islam. Now we are told all Pakistanis are ready to lay down their lives to defend Islam from those who are ready to lay down their lives for what they believe is defending Islam. Maybe it is time that everyone stop trying to die for Islam and start trying to live for it.
Abdul Sattar Edhi has done more for Islam in this world than any jihadi, and he has done it not by killing or dying but by living and helping to live. Edhi sahib has given the greatest sacrifice of his life, not by losing it but by giving it to others. There is a famous story of a man asking if his ambulance service is Islamic why his ambulance picks up non-Muslims. Edhi sahib replied perfectly, ‘Because the ambulance is more Muslim than you’. If we want to honour Islam, we need to be as Muslim as Edhi’s ambulance, not Kalashnikov’s rifle.
Almost half a million people have fled fighting in North Waziristan since military operations against Taliban began, and there will likely be more fleeing their homes for safety. Such a large population of IDPs would present a challenge to any government, and proper care will require cooperation between government agencies and NGOs, and humanitarian aid provided by countries like UAE and USA. Unfortunately, there will also be some who try to take advantage of the crisis for their own personal gain.
Pakistan has a long history of producing brave heroes. Strong, proud Pakistanis whose fearlessness is matched only by their sense of justice. So how is it that we are also plagued with cowards who prey on the weak and whose only sense of justice is the tip of a sword? The roots of our current troubles can be traced in part to a history of choosing to praise the wrong heroes.