On May 28th, Pakistan will once again celebrate the annual Bomb Day, marking the 13th anniversary of the moment when the mountains of Chaghi turned bleached white with terror and the earth shook as a million degrees centigrade burned the innards of our land. Shrill sounds of Allah O Akbar accompanied the spectacular display that rent asunder the womb of the earth. We gave that day the strange name of Yaum-e-Takbeer as though it had divine blessings and some holy connotation.
Seventeen days earlier, India had demonstrated its nuclear potency with Atal Bihari Vajpayee announcing gleefully that the enemy may not look us in the face as ‘we have a big bomb now’. Our two-thirds majority prime minister was not to be left behind so he replied with matched arrogance that mashallah, our nation, too, has a big bum for all to see. We exploded one extra bum lest the enemy think we are far behind.
We were supposed to go to sleep that night with the comforting reassurance that there is a national bum to protect us and if the enemy hurls one of its atomic contraptions at us, we could throw one right back, tit for tat. Even though we had vowed to eat grass to enter the hall of fame of bum-wielding countries, we didn’t mind because other foodstuffs are too expensive anyway. Hungry but secure, we reposed our trust in the mushroom cloud of national security hanging protectively over us.
Alas, it turned out to be a false sense of security. We found out, to our dismay and chagrin, that while our holy bum lies in various bits and pieces all over our land, waiting for India to irritate the hell out of us, the real enemy was all the time hiding deep within our own bellies. Thousands of militant lashkars of various hues and shades were incubating inside our body through the scientific process of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) by the CIA and ISI. This monster received its nourishment from our own security apparatus and was now ready to hatch. Our precious bum, acquired at the expense of international sanctions and abject poverty, was useless against the scores of zealots spreading mayhem and spilling innocent blood across the country.
It’s funny how reality mimics science fiction. I saw a movie on cable television in which an alien, residing and growing inside a human body, tears apart the belly and, in the process of being born, kills its host. The plethora of lashkars and militants, fed by our own national body, emerged and began to kill the host country! These aliens that emerged from our national belly slowly ate at our vitals and bled us until we became anemic. Hailing from an assortment of alien lands (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Chechnya, Africa, Europe, you name it) they set about destroying their host with a vengeance, thus blowing our false sense of security to smithereens!
Science fiction movies are really telling. When you create a monster, you can bet it will come back to bite you. In Jurassic Park the Americans created a t-rex which, in a sequel, made its way across the oceans to San Diego to feed upon a healthy protein diet of Americans! In reality, the Americans and Pakistanis together created OBL (a mutated t-rex) that managed to reach New York and brought down the twin towers, the very symbols of capitalist America. OBL must have seen Jurassic Park for none other than the brilliant Steven Spielberg and the exciting Michael Crichton could have imagined such fantastic scenarios.
OBL and other aliens sprouting from his sides began to swallow their own Fathers. They managed to reach the GHQ itself despite the thousands of barbed wires and armed men on duty. They attacked buses carrying ISI personnel, bombed a PAF mess, destroyed vehicles carrying naval officers and brought down FIA buildings and a naval college in Lahore! Now, our security apparatus is in dire need of protection. The Chaghi bum is not going to do the trick.
How about bloody civilians? Looked down upon by army officers as an inferior species that lacks intelligence and needs protection, maybe the bloody civilians can be entrusted with the task of protecting us all, including our defence and intelligence personnel. Ironic as it may seem, how about giving them the task now that others have failed. Not a bad idea.
Bloody civilians can perhaps bring us out of the morass in which we find ourselves, with the whole world shining an angry spotlight on us, and accusing us of nurturing and harbouring monsters in our backyard. The defence, foreign and security policies can now be given to them so that they can start the process of cleansing our land of aliens hiding in the furrows and crevices of our scarred land. Maybe civilians can also mollify and pacify our angry international interlocutors and save our generals and officers from humiliation. The ghosts of Kargil are rising and reminding us that ultimately civilians haste across oceans to save us from our own monsters and monstrous follies.
The security apparatus in both the US and Pakistan needs to learn that spawning monsters to fight an ‘enemy’ can backfire; what goes around, comes around. They need to overcome the Frankenstein syndrome because one’s breed can get out of control and turn upon the breeder. This is a lesson worth learning for those who still think the ‘good Taliban’ can be raised to eliminate the ‘bad Taliban’. Those still afflicted with this learning disability may need to rethink their strategies.
In the meantime, let sleeping bombs lie. Let Bomb Day pass without reiterating our ‘glorious’ achievement. As our scientists tell us, given the materials and money, the bomb can be made by a technician for it requires no advanced scientific knowledge. Bombs do not protect a country, people do. Let’s seek our protection through peace with neighbours instead of competing for bigger and better bombs.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2011.