Monday, May 04, 2009

Viewpoint - An Insult to My Pakistan

An Insult to My Pakistan

Remember why we created Pakistan.

[Text by Sehar Tariq; imaging by Xploiтєя]

Eight years ago I boarded a plane to the United States to come to college. I was 17. As I left, my father hugged me and told me to never come back because he believed that soon Pakistan would not be a country fit for me to live in. I told him he was trying to save money by not having to buy me tickets to come home. We laughed it off. I hugged him goodbye and that day my father and I began our great debate about the fate of Pakistan. Abba told me to stay away. I defied him every time. I came home twice a year. I only flew PIA. I refused to do an internship in the US I worked every summer in Pakistan. I moved back when college ended. I started work in Pakistan. I worked two jobs because there was so much to do and not enough time to do it in. I was inspired and energised. I was hopeful and optimistic.

Today I am neither. And I have lost the debate with my father about the fate of Pakistan. The Parliament by endorsing the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation (NAR) has heralded the end of Pakistan as I knew and loved it. Today, the elected representatives of the people turned Pakistan into Talibanistan. Today we handed over a part of the country to them. I wonder how much longer before we surrender it all.

Today we legislated that a group of criminals would be in charge of governing and dispensing justice in a part of Pakistan according to their own obscurantist views. They have declared that the rulings of their courts will be supreme and no other court in the land can challenge them. They have also declared that their men that killed and maimed innocent civilians, waged war against the Pakistani army and blew up girls schools will be exempt from punishment under this law. A law that does not apply equally to all men and women is not worthy of being called a law. Hence today we legislated lawlessness.

What was most disturbing was the quiescence of the Parliament to this legislation. The utter lack of debate and questioning of this ridiculous legislation was appalling. The decision was not informed by any independent research or expert testimony, and to my knowledge none of the parliamentarians are authorities on matters of security, rule of law or regional conditions in Swat. This signals disturbing possibilities. Either our politicians are too afraid to stand up to criminals or maybe they don't possess the foresight to gauge the national impact of this action. There is no hope for a country led by cowards or fools.

How can one be hopeful about the political future of a country where the will and the wisdom of politicians becomes hostage to the threats of barbarians? How can I be optimistic about a country where doyens of the media like Ansar Abbasi hear the collective silence of the parliamentarians as the resounding support of the people of Pakistan, but are deaf to the threats issued by the Taliban to anyone opposing the legislation? How can I feel secure in a country where the army, despite receiving the largest chunk of our resources, cannot defeat a bunch of thugs? How can I expect justice when there are different laws for different citizens, and I as a woman am a second class citizen? How can I be inspired by a country where there is no culture, no music, no art, no poetry and no innovative thought?

How can I be expected to return to a country where women are beaten and flogged publicly, where my daughters will not be allowed to go to school, where my sisters will die of common diseases because male doctors cannot see them? How can I be expected to call that country home that denies me the rights given me by my Constitution and religion? I refuse to live in a country where women like me are forced to rot behind the four walls of their homes and not allowed to use their education to benefit the nation. By endorsing the NAR and giving in to the Taliban, Parliament has sapped my hope and optimism. Parliament has dealt a deathly blow to the aspirations of the millions of young Pakistanis who struggle within and outside the country, fuelled by sheer patriotism, for a peaceful, prosperous and progressive Pakistan.

When there is no hope, no optimism, no security, no justice, no education, no progress, no culture – there is no Pakistan. Maybe it is because I am the grandchild of immigrants who was raised on stories of hope, patriotism and sacrifice that even in this misery I cannot forget that Pakistan was created to protect the lives, property, culture and future of the Muslims of the Subcontinent. It was not established to be a safe haven for terrorists. We fought so that we could protect the culture of the Muslims of the Subcontinent, not so that we could import the culture of Saudi Arabia. Our ancestors laid down their lives so that the Muslims of the Subcontinent – both men and women - could live in a land free of prejudice, not so that they could be subjected to violent discrimination of the basis of sect and gender.

Maybe it's because I'm competitive and I don't want to lose the debate to my father, maybe I am afraid to lose the only home I have, or maybe because I love Pakistan too much to ever say goodbye – I hope we can remember the reasons why we made Pakistan, and I hope we can stand up to fight for them. I hope we can revive the spirit of national unity of 1947 and lock arms to battle the monster of the Taliban that threatens our existence. Talibanistan is an insult to my Pakistan. I want my country back. Pakistan Paaindabad!

[The writer is pursuing a master's at Princeton University. Earlier, she attended Yale University]


J said...

It'll be a long and hard battle.. But a battle that must be won for their sake and ours.

Anonymous said...

an islamic republic with islamic law, not very different from saudi arabia. why are u complaining?

Anonymous said...

I never found a legitimate reason for the formation of Pakistan..., if it was for the 'Muslims' to live a 'better' life in the Indian subcontinent (what a joke though), then why are Muslims fighting amongst themselves now? Does it prove the fact that it were Muslims who didn't want to live with non-Muslims and wanted a separate country?! I guess it does!
I guess the adage ‘As you sow so shall you reap’ very well goes for Pakistan today, Pakistan has sown HATRED always. Muslims of the ‘subcontinent’ are more successful in the non-Islamic countries today; guess the architect of Pakistan couldn’t presume that…!

ashMAX said...

Dear Madam,
Do u really want to know why really this is happening to pakistan --Pakistan has always immersed itself in the politics of htred and mischif.a nation will never survive if it has nothing but hatred as agenda.Pakistan did some very very stupid mistakes, it is still ,infact doing,the same.--1) while using terrorists against india, pakistan created free heven for terrorist, by giving them all that they needed,to settel & prosper
2)Pakistan's domastic as well as
forign policy was based on one single, stupid notion--defeating and humiliating India,there is hardly any emphasis given to economic/political development
3) most important--the comman pakistanis--i wonder if they could ever think beyond -allah, army ,india
Please understand that pakistan is already a failed state
i appriciate that u love ur nation so much, but surely in pakistan hatred has overpowerd the love.

Anonymous said...

Amusing to read this blog. The Darcula of Direct Action Day stripe sowed the seeds of Talibanistan long time ago.

Until and unless you face reality & truths how can you even dream of fixing the problems.

One of the common lies paks beleive in is Dracula was a saint, Dracula wanted a tolerant state, Dracula really didn't want partition, it was forced upon him by Nehru and Gandhi, etc atc, etc.

The truth is Nehru wanted an India, where national secular identity will supercede all other identities based on religion, language, ethinic identities. Dracula continued to talk about muslim majority states forming federation, special rights, etc.

Dracula started as a secularist, but later years became an absolute communalist, and hate monger...and the results are here for every body to see.


Anonymous said...

The seeds of partition and Jinnah turning towards Muslim league started in 1936 when he was sidelined (or should I say not respected) by the so called congress statesmen like Nehru and Patel. If only we Indians had given Jinnah the space and power then Rahmat Ali's dream of pakistan would still only be a dream.

It is also ironic that Pakistan was supposedly founded for the so called benefit of sub-continent muslims but the universal brotherhood concept of umma was never practiced between the Sindhis, Mohajirs, Punjabis, Pashtoons, Kashmiris and Baluchis. I have taken cab rides in London, NY and Germany from Pakistani cab drivers and it is fascinating to hear the different versions of their experiences in Pakistan depending on whether you talk to a Mohajir, Punjabi, Kashmiri or Sindhi.

Maybe the one unthinkable and unacceptable solution which may turn out to be a good solution for the benefit of the subcontinent is to have a re-united India but I can imagine the loud sneers and jeers from my Indian and Pakistani brothers and sisters on this proposal.

Faiza Khan said...

The truth as I have percieved with my knowledge and exposure is that Pakistan is not a failed state. It still has enough resources and dedicated people who can uplift it in a span of few years. This country needs to take power away from some super corrupt politicians. Who are these families, ruling a state like a kingdom? Change is something no one can stop and who knows exactly, what this nation might become, in future.

Anonymous said...

Is Pakistan being let down by its corrupt politicians or by by its military or by its mullahs - only you Pakistanis will know. I have very close Pakistani friends and my boss is also a Pakistani. Some interesting comments from my closest Pakistani friends without any prejudice to Pakistan or my brothers and sisters from Pakistan - We in Pakistan should organize a serious religious conference in some faraway place and organize a ship to carry all the mullahs. We should then sink the ship to save Pakistan. People in the military can retire early and have a cushy life and all the benefits. So the generals have to keep this military establishment going and the only way to sustain it is to propagate the hatred of India to the ignorant masses.

I ask a good friend where is from and he tells that he is from Delhi. I knew he was from Pakistan and so ask him when he migrated and his response said it all - My family migrated when I was 2 years old. All these are comments from Pakistanis who reside abroad and so not representative of the true feelings of locals. However, it gives an impression that Pakistan has not lived up to the ideals imagined by its founders. Sad part - not enough internal soul searching to get to the bottom of its identity. So, please do not blame just the corrupt politicians to the current mess.

Anonymous said...

As Maulana Madani, an Indian Muslim put it to General Musharaf. India is the best place for Muslims to live a peaceful and fruitful life. Being Secular doesn't mean not practicing your religion, but understanding the true meaning of "Live and Let Live". Pakistan was created as a Muslim majority secular nation and has failed terribly at that. So it is logical for the Taliban to take over and bring in islamization. Pakistani's have to answer this question: "Are we really secular?"

Anonymous said...

Once my Pakistani friend told me "What a joke Pakistan was creating for the betterment of Muslims and Muslims are suffering os of Muslims and in India Muslims and Hindus are co existing"

I have often felt the critics in pakistan are the best in the world.They are rare but they can criticise it with such honesty.I think a Pakistani can only be extreme.for good or for bad...peace