The Taliban have killed Bashir Bilour, one of the top leaders of the ANP in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. In the aftermath, ANP leaders have said some bitter things about how Pakistan interprets terrorism in the country.
They insist that it is the Taliban we have to fight, not America. In other words, the enemy is not the trio of America, India and Israel, but the home-grown terrorists led by Hakimullah Mehsud under the tutelage of al Qaeda.
No one is going to listen. It suits all the political parties to avoid looking terrorism in the eye. In the coming elections, the three ‘secular’ allies — the PPP, ANP, MQM — are going to be targeted. Their voters may not even turn up for voting. The others don’t want to be in the bad books of the terrorists. They will insist that Bashir Bilour was killed because Pakistan was siding with America; get out of this evil connection and terrorism will go away. The media will run away once again with this miracle mithridatic potion.
Pakistan suffers from a terrible misdiagnosis of what it is suffering from. The last crutch of its ‘moral’ stance — the drones — may be taken away after America and the EU decide to retreat into the stronghold of their highly organised state enacting draconian laws against Muslim immigrants, leaving Pakistan to cope with the disease it refuses to acknowledge. The drones have killed 50 al Qaeda terrorists to date, not including some very dangerous Pakistanis turned against their own state.
The 2013 elections will truly be a re-enactment of the Stockholm Syndrome: self-empowerment through kissing the hand of the tormentor. Terror works better than any ideology; that is why ideology often leans on ‘fear and trembling’ to get itself accepted. ‘Terror’ in English comes from the root ‘tr’ meaning to tremble. It gives us words like terrible, tremor, tremble, tremendous, deter, etc. The dominant sense is that of fear but in the case of ‘tremendous’, it can also mean so good that it makes you tremble. In French, ‘tressaillir’ is to tremble. This root ‘trs’ has come down to us.
In Persian-Urdu, the word is absolutely the same. ‘Tars’ in Persian means fear. In such Urdu words as ‘Khuda-tars’ (God–fearing), there is no ambiguity.
Trembling is present in both fear and sympathy. When you feel sympathy for someone, you tremble the same way as when you experience fear.
In Greek, trembling is associated with pigeons. One must admit that pigeons are a frightened lot and tend to tremble all the time — hence the Greek name ‘treron’ for pigeons, which is used as genus in zoology.
But in Hindi, it is the monkey (‘kapi’) that trembles! The monkey trembles because it is full of unspent energy. Maulvi Azad tells us that in Persian, too, it is called ‘kapi’. This is from the verb ‘kanpna’ (to tremble) and is present in Urdu for trembling, ‘kapkapi’.
In Russian, a coward is called ‘trus’ or ‘truslivi’, demonstrating that there, too, the root ‘tr’ is operative. In Punjabi, the word for fear is ‘trah’; it has been derived from Sanskrit ‘taras’.
Punjabi ‘trah’ derives from the same Indo-European root. Interestingly, the Latin name of Eros, the Love God — Cupid — comes from the ‘kp’ root meaning trembling because when you are in love, your emotions are in a state of upheaval.
The ANP is right when it says that terrorism is going to increase after the Americans are gone. Pakistan is looking more and more like Afghanistan as it loses control of its territory. Fukuyama would be intrigued by this ‘decentralisation’ of Pakistan through an act of national ‘trembling’.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th, 2012.