Hermann Goering would be proud

“Why, of course, the people don’t want war,” Goering shrugged. “Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.”

“There is one difference,” I pointed out. “In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.”

“Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

– Hermann Goering, 1946

Borzou Daragahi, Middle East correspondent for the Financial Times, posted on Twitter on Friday that “Anti-film protests part of organized effort by power hungry extremists to promote local Islamist agendas and undermine moderates”. In other words, craven opportunists are exploiting the religious sentiments of the people to create a ‘siege mentality’ in which global forces led by the familiar bogeys – America and Jews.

As if on cue, Amir Jamaat-e-Islami Munawar Hasan began Tweeting himself:

Syed Munawar Hasan Tweets

What is extraordinary about Munawar Hasan’s claims is not only that he is clearly repeating disinformation, but that he did so just after being given the updated information:

Not only did the JI chief not correct his previous Tweet, he continued repeating information that he knew was not true. One can forgive someone for being misinformed, but to willfully misinform others is simply lying. So why would a supposedly pious man like Munawar Hasan knowingly misinform people about something as sensitive as who was behind a blasphemous and offensive film? The answer might be found on the streets of Karachi.

JI protest Karachi

It is, after all, much easier to rally unwavering support for your political agenda if you can point to a Zionist-American conspiracy against Islam than it is if the culprit is a convicted Egyptian drug cooker.

Munawar Hasan, however, was really just following in the footsteps of another Islamist totalitarian, Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who issued an address on Thursday blaming “the antagonistic policies of the Zionists and the US and other heads of the global arrogance”. And, just as with Munawar Hasan, Ayatollah Khamenei gives himself away at the end:

Muslim brothers and sisters must know that this desperate move by the enemies in the wake of the Islamic Awakening is a sign of the grandeur and importance of this uprising and heralds its increasing growth.

These are just two examples, of course, and each of them must be sending cases of sweetmeats to Khaled Abdallah and the hardline Egyptian clerics who brought the unknown film to the attention of the world. That’s the saddest part of this who tragedy. At its core, it was never about love for the Prophet (PBUH), it was about the lust for power and control. Hermann Goering would be proud.

Ansar Abbasi’s Poor Excuse for Terrorism

Ansar Abbasi appears on the front page of The News with a seemingly straightforward headline, ‘Rulers see long anti-terror war’. However, Abbasi’s article is actually a diatribe against the government and showing sympathy to jihadi militants.

According to Ansar Abbasi, a “source” claims that government officials see the war against terrorists lasting for a long time. This is, of course, plausible as the country has been infected with terrorists and is suffering attacks by terrorists almost daily. Actually, the same newspaper reported that police foiled an attempt to assassinate President Zardari which, whether or not you like Zardari, should be cause for alarm that someone would attempt to kill our president. It shows that these groups are directly targeting the state institutions. Or have we already forgotten PNS Mehran? CID office in Peshawar? Those brave Frontier Corps troops killed at Charsadda?

But Ansar Abbasi is not concerned with such inconvienient facts. Rather, he characterises fighting terrorists in terms of anti-Americanism.

Such is the dearth of a thinking process in Islamabad that it is blindly following Washington’s dictate to launch a military operation in North Waziristan against the pro-Pakistan Haqqani network in North Waziristan, ignoring Mike Mullen’s recent call to talk to Sirajuddin Haqqani.

Pakistan during the last ten years has not only sacrificed more than 35,000 lives in the US war on terror but has also lost US$68 billion worth of private and public property, installations, business and investment during the last ten years. What would be the impact of such losses if Pakistan is pushed to pursue the war on terror policy for next thirty-forty years is the question that the present rulers perhaps have not pondered.

While Ansar Abbasi may believe that terrorists would simply disappear if Rehman Malik invited them for tea, the facts perhaps suggest other wise. The government has tried to negotiate peace with militants, and at every turn peace agreements have been broken by the militants who insist on imposing their own ideology on the nation. This is the same poor excuse for terrorists made by Syed Munawar Hasan.

If terrorism can be countered through dialogue only, why have all the previous attempts to negotiate settlements with Taliban militants failed? The SHAKAI Agreement from 2004, Sararogha peace deal, Mirahshah peace deal, Kalosha in 2004…there is a long list of such dialogues that only ended in increased attacks by these same militants. How many ceasefires and truces have to be violated by extremist militants before we recognize that they cannot be trusted?

Next, if “extremist is the result of prolonged injustice and tyranny”, please let this man explain what is the prolonged injustice and tyranny that has been committed byAhmedis in Lahore? What is the prolonged injustice and tyranny that was committed by the Christians in Gojra? What is the prolonged injustice and tyranny that has been committed by Shias who have been the victims of extremist militancy? What is the prolonged injustice and tyranny that has been committed by people who are going toData DarbarAbdur Rehman Baba, or Baba Farid?

Actually the “prolonged injustice and tyranny” is being committed by TTP, LeT and other militant extremists against the innocent people of Pakistan.

Maybe Ansar Abbasi and Munawar Hasan believe that jihadi militants are angels being unjustly persecuted by Pakistan military. But the innocents who suffer their vicious attacks know the truth.

Reclaiming Our National Honour

It is time we say goodbye to this hollow ghairat. We must find honour, dignity and respect through constructive work in the fields of economics, science and the arts, instead of looking for ghairat by crying out war chants, paranoid accusations and waving our skinny wrists and fists while pretending to ride our way to ghairatmand glory on our much cherished nuclear missiles.

The best analysis of the entire Raymond Davis drama comes from Nadeem F. Paracha, and in it he says almost nothing about the Raymond Davis case. This is wise because, as with all the manufactured controversies that play out on our TV screens each night, this too is but another in a long line of dramas that will continue to come and go.

Pakistan is not the only poor country in the world. We’re not the only country at war. We’re not the only country with tense relations with its neighbors. We’re not even the only country where all of these challenges come together at once. For too long we’ve looked for excuses in India, America, communism, secularism, the IMF, the World Bank. But every nation must deal with challenges coming from all sides.

We see in Japan that even the wealthiest nations of the world suffer natural disasters. On 9/11 we saw that even the mightiest nations of the world suffer terrorist attacks. There will be more disasters, and there will be more terrorist attacks, and the countries that succeed are those who do continue to keep their eyes looking forward, their energies dedicated to moving ahead.

Appearing before the Supreme Court on the matter of the Reko Diq mine earlier this year, Nuclear scientist and member of the Planning Commission, Dr Samar Mubarakmand, stated that Pakistan has the technical expertise and manpower to run the Reko Diq project, therefore the government should not give it to any foreign company. This is but one example of our professors and experts declaring that we have the expertise and manpower to manage our own affairs. It’s time we stop saying it and start proving it.

And proving it doesn’t require that we first close the American Embassy and put all Westerners on planes back to their home countries. It doesn’t require that we build a giant wall around the nation to keep out any and all foreign influence. We can start by improving our education system so that every Pakistani child has the opportunity to become the best – the best doctor, the best lawyer, the best businessman, the best journalist, the best scientist, the best teacher, the best driver, the best cook. Every Pakistani child should have the opportunity to be the best at whatever he or she chooses.

But taking responsibility for ourselves does not come without cost, and it is a cost that each and every one of us must bear together.

Who says we should not have honour or protect our sovereignty? We must, but it cannot be done with angry words alone or pointless demonstrations. We have to stand up for what we believe in. Particularly the full bellied, who are the most incensed.

The solution is not complicated, it is not molecular biology. Start paying your share to keep this nation afloat. No one is asking for outlandish sacrifices. No one is saying sell everything and give it to the nation. Just pay your reasonable share. If you have income, from whatever source, even if agriculture, pay a part of it to protect your honour and sovereignty.

Then, all your talk will have meaning. You will have a stake in this country, not just in an ideational sense but because you will be a partner in its upkeep. Then the notion of the collective will feel real and not just a mental construct that gives you a sense of identity. It is like building a house, not by watching from the wayside but brick by brick with your own hands. It is that sense of ownership which is needed, and over time will replace hollow patriotism.

Once we are able to pay our bills, then sovereignty will come too. No crash course would be needed. It is not a mythical concept that needs to be learnt. It is a state of being that comes from not being beholden to anyone. It is the confidence that standing by oneself gives. Alas, we have a long way to get there.

So stop telling me that the politicians and the Army are corrupt while you are doing corruption yourself. Stop asking me ‘who is the man of impeccable character to lead us for the next decade’. Stop telling me that you oppose increase in taxes out of concern for the poor while you run down rickshawalas in your shiny Pajeros and Prados.

We have created an economy of excuses that pays to put TV anchors in designer clothes, but has not a paisha to spare for a school or a hospital. We take lessons on morality from people who strap bombs onto children while dismiss as ‘sell outs’ those who speak of the same compassion and tolerance exhibited by the Prophet (PBUH).

We do this not because we are bad or immoral, but because the alternative is difficult. It means making a sacrifice. It means that maybe you can’t buy a new car or take a trip abroad. And we have discovered the convenience of blaming someone else. A ‘foreign hand’ is responsible, not us.

Imran Khan and Syed Munawar Hasan will organize street protests about Raymond Davis, but where is the street protest about a lack of education? They will march and chant demanding an end to drone attacks, but where are the chants demanding an end to tax evasion?

Enough. It’s time we take responsibility for our own nation. If we don’t want foreign agents running around the country, let’s get rid of the terrorists who they are coming here to find. If we don’t want our children joining militant groups, let’s build schools so that they will have a future to look forward to. Whether Dr Samar Mubarakmand is correct that we have the technical expertise and manpower to manage the Reko Diq project alone I cannot say. But I can say this: We have the pride, the intelligence, and the power to make Pakistan one of the greatest and most prosperous nations in the world. But for that to happen, we must stop looking for easy answers and easy excuses. The power to change is within us, if only we have the faith in ourselves to make it happen.

Pakistan Zindabad.

Existential Threat

No More ExcusesI recently wrote that Syed Munawar Hasan’s poor excuses for terrorist jihadis were complete nonsense, and that his claim that militants are attacking because of some “prolonged injustice and tyranny” flies in the face of all reason. Husham Ahmed observes that the JI leader is doing more than just making excuses for terrorists, though – he is justifying a culture of death.

I pointed out the ridiculousness of the JI Amir just the other day.

Next, if “extremist is the result of prolonged injustice and tyranny”, please let this man explain what is the prolonged injustice and tyranny that has been committed by Ahmedis in Lahore? What is the prolonged injustice and tyranny that was committed by the Christians in Gojra? What is the prolonged injustice and tyranny that has been committed by Shias who have been the victims of extremist militancy? What is the prolonged injustice and tyranny that has been committed by people who are going to Data Darbar, Abdur Rehman Baba, or Baba Farid?

Husham Ahmed sees a pattern in the targets of these jihadis, though – they are attacking the very culture of Pakistan.

Those who have been perpetrating such attacks are very clear in what they are doing. Sadly, we are not. This is not indiscriminate violence nor are these senseless attacks. The targets selected by the terrorists are symbolic in nature. This is an attack on the culture and practices followed by the majority. Yet our state of denial still exists. Even after all these years, we still hear statements like, ‘Who are these people?’ and, ‘They can not be Pakistanis’ and of course, ‘No Muslim can do it’ not only from common citizens but also from the authorities. There are people among us who very conveniently put the blame on ‘foreign elements.’ As we refuse to realise that we are in a state of war against an ideology of hate and intolerance, which very much threatens to subdue the majority, we will continue to be attacked by them. This ideology is practiced by only a few militant organisations and banned outfits. As long as we allow the few bigots to dictate to us what is right and what is wrong, we will continue to be terrorised.

We are facing an existential threat as a nation. Ahmed Qureshi and his band of merry Useful Idiots may be willing to make excuses to help their careers just like Syed Munawar Hasan and his jamaati followers, but it is not the Americans or NATO or even the Indians who are trying to kill the very heart and soul of this nation, it is the jihadi militants which nobody seems willing to admit.

While our courts are busy setting the price of sugar and making petty power struggles with the parliament, our streets are being taken over by a band of killers that are not fighting against some “Western hegemony” or “Zionism” or “Indian aggression” – they are trying to wipe out Pakistan’s own culture, our own history and our own people are the targets.

No more excuses.

Syed Munawar Hasan’s Poor Excuses For Terrorism

Syed Munawwar Hasan’s Poor Excuses For Terrorism

Syed Munawar Hasan is making excuses for the terrorist militants who are killing our own people. In an article in The News of 1 November 2010, the JI chief is quoted to say:

He said terrorism could be countered through dialogue and not through the use of force. This was a clear lesson of history and the warring groups had to come to the negotiation table, he added. Extremism, he said, was the result of prolonged injustice and tyranny.

The war on terror was the US war and the US wanted to control the entire region, he stressed. He said sooner Pakistani rulers dissociated from this war, the better it would be for the country and the nation.

Where to begin?

If terrorism can be countered through dialogue only, why have all the previous attempts to negotiate settlements with Taliban militants failed? The SHAKAI Agreement from 2004, Sararogha peace deal, Mirahshah peace deal, Kalosha in 2004…there is a long list of such dialogues that only ended in increased attacks by these same militants. How many ceasefires and truces have to be violated by extremist militants before we recognize that they cannot be trusted?

Next, if “extremist is the result of prolonged injustice and tyranny”, please let this man explain what is the prolonged injustice and tyranny that has been committed by Ahmedis in Lahore? What is the prolonged injustice and tyranny that was committed by the Christians in Gojra? What is the prolonged injustice and tyranny that has been committed by Shias who have been the victims of extremist militancy? What is the prolonged injustice and tyranny that has been committed by people who are going to Data Darbar, Abdur Rehman Baba, or Baba Farid?

Actually the “prolonged injustice and tyranny” is being committed by TTP, LeT and other militant extremists against the innocent people of Pakistan.

As for whether or not the US wants to control the entire region, might it better be asked who is giving the Pakistan military $2 billions of support? If the US was trying to “control the entire region” why would they be providing these billions to secure Pakistan’s defense?

And while the US is providing equipment, training, and support for our own military, who is it that is launching attacks on GHQ and police buildings and military posts on the border? Who is it that is killing our own soldiers in Swat? Of course it is the very militants that Syed Munawar Hasan is defending to this very day.

Last week Bangladeshi security forces arrested 20 senior leaders and cadres of JI in their own country where they found some bomb making materials and anti-state leaflets also.

Should we also be considering the same?