Eidul Fitr is special because it comes after the best month of the Islamic calendar, Ramazan, the month when the Holy Quran was revealed. It is also special for Pakistan because in this month Pakistan came into being. We are lucky because this year Eid has fallen once again in the month that saw the mass movement of Muslim population that marked the partition that took place on August 14, 1947.
It is moving to see the people — rich and poor alike — observing the fasting month with a lot of preparation and ceremony so that they can rejoice on the day of Eid. A lot of things happen on the economic front, which we are not able to interpret right. Consumption goes up resulting in change in the map of supply and demand ending in price hikes in respect of food items.
The paradox is that this happens not because the rich increase their intake but because the poor start buying things they normally would not buy. Another paradox is that the people who benefit are also poor who run small shops. The only negative that happens is that the price hike of Ramazan, being predictable, allows the rich middlemen in the market to hoard goods to make inordinate profits. Perhaps, what is wrong here is also our yearly self-flagellation about ‘Muslim profiteering’. The law of supply and demand is as ineluctable as the law of piety.
This Ramazan, like many before it, has been gory. The Taliban, like every Ramazan, decide to kill us with impunity while retaining their sense of superiority in propagating better Islam. Our defences are down during fasting, especially during iftar when those in charge of guarding us desert their duties and go off to open their fast. This is what happened some years ago when the Marriot Hotel in Islamabad was blown up exactly during the last minutes of the fast. The killers arrived with their truck loaded with explosives, passing through abandoned check posts in Islamabad, and were able to destroy the hotel. What was even more shameful was that the team of terrorists that accomplished this were later let off because of ‘insufficient proof’ to live another day and inflict more damage on Pakistan.
The Taliban strike during the three Eids, the third one being Eid Miladun Nabi. Muslims are regularly slaughtered while celebrating the birth of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). In April 2006, the Eid Milad gathering of the Sunni Tehreek at Nishtar Park in Karachi was blown up by a suicide bomber who had come from the tribal areas. Out of the 1,500 that had gathered, 57 died while over a hundred were injured.
This year, the killers struck at the heart of our defence establishment by attacking the Kamra airbase during the holy last week of Ramazan when many Pakistanis are busy doing ‘aitekaf’, a special prayer when they set aside all involvement with earthly affairs. The man who is the suspected mastermind of the attack was a terrorist, not long ago awaiting death in a Bannu jail. The Taliban attacked the facility and helped him escape from there. The man was an ex-air force officer who knew Kamra well enough to plan the attack.
The state is no longer able to protect its Shia population from the Taliban who many believe are simply reacting to the American presence in the region and Pakistan’s alliance with the US against them. Killings in Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan are simply a part of a plot to exterminate the community, while the state stands aside and watches, wondering if the massacres are ordered by the Americans. This Ramazan, too, 25 people going to Astore and Gilgit in buses were identified as Shia and shot dead.
One reason this Eid is sad is that we deliberately mis-identify our enemy, siding with the terrorists by accusing America, while our politicians insist that the Pakistan Army should not take on the terrorists located in North Waziristan. Sections of our media have since long been brainwashed and manipulated into spreading the word against America; now the media is taking revenge by clinging to the isolationist agitprop, while the army actually wants to do something about the killers.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2012.
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