Over the past three decades, greatly encouraged by a firm grip on the destructive adoption of religiosity, this Islamic Republic has comfortably settled itself into the adoption of a cult of sacrifice and martyrdom, presenting itself to those world powers which succour and aid it (always keeping their own interests at heart) as a victim of their evil designs. It plays the sacrificial, martyrdom and victimisation cards at every conceivable opportunity.
Take the various leaderships, civil and military, the top layer of which, with few exceptions, have by no means ever made any sacrifices, quite the opposite. Whilst sacrificing their country and people they have, on the side, grossly enriched themselves, their entourages and their sycophantic supporters. The so-called beloved awam have been left to muddle through and survive as they can. Fine, one could say that yes, the country is a victim, but it is a victim of the whims, false policies, selfishness, ineptitude and greed of its governments, be they ‘freely and fairly’ elected by a captive electorate, or imposed.
Anyhow, by the constant refrain of the governing classes, pleading before those countries of the world to which it is connected, that it has made enormous sacrifices, suffered much martyrdom, whilst never admitting that these were either through their own sins of omission and commission, the external powers that be have been browbeaten into admitting that, yes, Pakistan has indeed made sacrifices in its stand against its self-created, religiously connected terrorism plague that has affected the world outside.
Two recent headlines from The New York Times: “Boy’s religious sacrifice roils Pakistan” and “Pakistan’s needless martyrs”. The first story is a damning indictment of the national mindset and apparently has caused no disturbance to the members of the national leadership, only to some citizens who find it abhorrent. A boy at prayers in a mosque near the capital of the ruling province, erred in his ignorance, was accused by the mosque imam of blasphemy, went home, chopped off his right hand and presented it to the cleric. His father’s reaction: “We are lucky that we have this son … we will be rewarded by God for this in the eternal world.” It was Lee Kuan Yew who once supposedly remarked that he has no advice to give to a nation that views the hereafter as far more important than life on earth.
The second, written after the Charsadda disgrace, linking it with the Peshawar APS, is equally damning. Mohammed Hanif writes: “The language used to report these massacres is sickeningly celebratory and familiar. The children are called martyrs. Their parents are applauded.” The truly awful, even horrible, thing is that Hanif is quite right.
The children did not give their lives for any cause; their lives were taken from them by thugs who in name practice the same religion as they did. Their parents made no sacrifice, they were deprived by murderers and will suffer in sorrow for their lifetime. It is grotesque to link martyrdom to those who are slain by fellow citizens of their own country. It is not fair or just to the dead. This applies to the thousands who over the years have died at the hands of homegrown terrorists. Think, the suicide-bomber, or Kalashnikov wielder, who is killed in his murderous attack on whoever is also hailed as a martyr by his fellow terrorist mates.
Barack Obama is right when he predicts that terrorism will stalk Pakistan and Afghanistan for years to come. Given the confusion that reigns in the heads of the leadership as to right and wrong, as to good and bad, it is a foregone conclusion. And when Nawaz Sharif, sunning himself in Davos far away from Jamrud and Charsadda, announced to an audience that Pakistan had licked the terrorism bug, he was way off the mark.
The Pakistan Army, led by a chief who does what he should do, has done its best. But sadly, so far it seems the best has not been good enough.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th, 2016.