The Moral Complexities of Supporting the Armed Struggle in Kashmir

Source: Indian Express

Source: Indian Express

The mind of a modern, liberal, enlightened youth in Pakistan is boggled with the moral puzzle of the armed struggle in Kashmir. Should Pakistan stop backing the Jihad in Kashmir? Or should Pakistan provide support for the freedom movement in Kashmir? What a world of a difference do these words make.

In a world that is unforgivably anti-Jihad since 9/11, and very rightly so, backing Kashmiri Jihadi group sounds like a recipe for diplomatic suicide. This could possibly isolate Pakistan, cost valuable alliances with the West and jeopardize economic prosperity and trade partnerships in the future.

But suspending the lifeline of the Jihadi struggle in Kashmir also sounds like an unacceptable option to many, especially the Pakistani establishment. Other than their political designs, it would effectively mean that a Kashmiri would probably never be able to see the face of a military grade weapon again.

It would mean that all they would ever have to respond to the occupying force of way more than 500,000 strength military is sticks and stones. It would mean the death of the Kashmiri freedom struggle, which is somehow acknowledged as legitimate by people who condemn the Jihad in Kashmir at the same time. No other country in the world is going to come to support the supposedly peaceful Hurriyet leaders.

Which route is easier? Certainly the former. It would make Pakistan less unpopular and who knows India would grace us with a bilateral cricket series. It could improve Pakistan’s image as the state recovering from hiding Osama Ben Laden right next to its military academy. Why should a Pakistani go out of their way to help a Kashmiri anyway?

Alright, a lot of Kashmiris live in Pakistan. They are our next door neighbors, relatives by blood, friends, and colleagues. So what? Even the Pakistani Kashmiris apparently do not seem to be too bothered with what is going on across the Line of Control. Why do we need to replicate the misery of the Indian Kashmiris in our lives?

However, with every mutilated unarmed Kashmiri teenager, and every raped Kashmiri woman and wounded mother, something stirs the conscience of a nation that is notorious for ignoring everyday atrocities within its own borders. A nation which cherishes a law that is designed to make its religious minorities suffer in constant terror. All of a sudden morality becomes much more complex than sheer self-interest. Even though it should not. It does not make any sense.

So would a Pakistani support the armed struggle in Kashmir or not?

It’s a question with a rather simple answer. Either you do or you don’t. But if you do, then it’s important to embrace the cause and defend its moral grounds. There was a time when the Pakistani state used to openly embrace it. And since when have we stopped referring to Kashmiri militants as freedom fighters? But it was a different world. Still, hanging somewhere in the middle reminds the world of the policy Pakistan has been adopting from selectively targeting Taliban factions to continuing old partnerships with the likes of Ben Laden from the days of the Afghan Jihad and pretending that we are fighting terrorism. The Americans have moved on, but our security leadership has been having a very hard time.

Of course, it is perfectly legitimate to defend the Kashmiri armed struggle on moral grounds. Are the Kashmiri Jihadi freedom fighters terrorists just because they are Islamists? Does the secular character of a freedom struggle immediately makes the cause legitimate? Surely, you cannot expect the Kashmiri freedom movement to turn secular overnight, not that it would ever have any such intention. Is targeting soldiers, even if sleeping, an act of terrorism or an act of war? Especially when the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen is not exactly very friendly to the Indian State. But then there are Mumbai attacks, Parliament attacks, Hindu Pandits. Innocent lives. What to do?

With the exception of those who committed these atrocities, our intellectuals get played at the hands of the textbook Indian diplomatic rhetoric when they declare the Kashmiri freedom fighters terrorists. They end up endorsing foreign state propaganda in an effort to avoid the local one. Though they speak the truth in their own right. Pakistan has had enough of fighting other people’s wars and lying about it. Enough of freeing Afghans from the Soviets, or restoring Saudi custody of the Ka’aba, or sending pilots to fly Syrian planes or handing over bases to the United States. All for nothing but to make our generals richer, who, let’s face it, would have grown richer anyway. But we need to build our country. Who gives a damn anymore?

How do you harness an out of control Jihadi who is raised on hate? How do you expect that they would never hurt citizens? Does this effectively mean that supporting armed resistance in Kashmir is not any different to supporting and apologizing for terrorism? And India is surely justified in believing that any country that is supporting an armed movement in its borders is its enemy. Granted, but should Kashmiris be abandoned to their conditions of a whole state turned into almost an internment camp? Simply expressing solidarity will not get them anywhere.

India does not win the diplomatic battle for Kashmir out of any moral virtues or for having a clean human rights record, but simply because of the leverage it enjoys for being a sheer heavyweight. Anyone who does not recognize India as an emerging global power is sadly mistaken. At least, it’s the strongest military presence in the Asian continent after China, and not doing too bad in terms of economy either. So why pick a fight with India when we can avoid it?

But calling a Kashmiri freedom fighter a terrorist still is a resounding slap on the face of every Kashmiri who idiotically risks his life to needlessly wave a poorly sewn, incorrect Pakistani flag on some obscure building. It’s an insult to the desperate Kashmiri who shortens his misery by exposing himself to the pellets because he has to choose between a life of humiliation and a not-so-distant inevitable death. How is a Kashmiri to fight back? Does anyone bother answering this question? Are the Naxalites not fighting back?

The biggest moral problem is that if a Pakistani would not stand up for the plight of the Kashmiri, who else in the world will? Because the fellow countrymen of Kashmiris pretty much consider them expendable second class citizens and a distant border state with delicious produce and exotic vacation destinations. Still, it is a battle that would take anyone taking this road on a tough, treacherous ride.

It only takes a hypocritical Pakistani to realize the plight and it only takes a brainwashed Jihadi to fight this fight. And well, there is plenty of hypocrisy to go around. Neither our generals nor our Jihad backing secular liberals would have the gut to fight for anything, let alone Kashmir. So you can only count on Islamist fanatics. It’s just stupid.

Though as far as the right of an oppressed people’s armed struggle is concerned, it would be a betrayal of history not to recognize it. Just pray that you are not in their way. And the inherent, incurable hypocrisy of Pakistanis should not sabotage this right of the battered citizens of Kashmiris.

Let it be the humiliated Yazidis, the frustrated Palestinians, the courageous Kurds or the brutalized Balochs, it is almost insensitive to ask them to become Gandhi at the face of continual aggression. Walk up to the gas chambers in obedience. However, how they make their point tells a lot about a people. You would be judged differently when you blow up a civilian building instead of retaliating against an army camp.

Every liberty seeking individual should welcome India’s new stance to support the freedom movement in Baluchistan, even though more out of animosity with Pakistan than the love for the Baloch, and should welcome them to the club of “terrorist states” or “backers of terrorism.” Just like the United States and allies are backing the Syrian rebel army to overthrow the despotic Assad regime. Just like the British backed the Arabs to bring the Ottoman Empire down to its knees. Perhaps Pakistan’s role in Kashmir is not too odd after all.

Sometimes, you have no choice but to be a “backer of terrorists” to fight oppressive tyrants.

You get no extra bonus points for turning the other cheek anyway. All it does is get you crucified.

The post was originally published in The Nation blogs.

The Mystery of Openly Operating Banned Religious (Terrorist) Organizations in Pakistan

Source: The Nation

Source: The Nation

What does the banning of a religious organization really mean?

What is the point of announcing their addition to the list of condemned organizations when there are hardly any curbs on their activities?

It is easy to criticize the Government of Pakistan in this regard, but hardly anyone accounts for the complex problems they have to deal with.

Even if we say that these problems are of their own making, it does not eliminate the need to consider the difficulty of the task at the hands of the government.

They simply just cannot take these banned organizations away from the public.

Or maybe they can.

But this goes to show the sheer force of the religious political groups prevalent, and growing, in Pakistan. A force that is so enormous that even the government of Pakistan and the military are afraid of it. Nobody wants a religious uprising to deal with.

This is what happens when you declare a war against an ideological enemy without convincing the people of your country against it.

It would be understandable to see the anger of the members of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa if their political activities were to become illegal.

Furthermore, the likes of ASWJ would also be seen protesting on the roads if such a decree pertaining to their organization would come into effect.

Of course, we cannot even imagine the day when political parties such as the JI, JUI, ST and MWM are prevented from running in the elections.

But apart from that, it is hard to oppose organizations that you consider heroic.

This is why when it comes to narrative about the local Jihadist organizations, charity must begin at home.

But has there been any active effort to confront such narrative, which is only affirmed on occasions such as the Kashmir Solidarity Day? An otherwise seemingly harmless holiday observed to show moral support for the oppressed Kashmiri people, mixed with vows to liberate them from their oppressors.

Again, from a nationalistic viewpoint, attacking India for any such purposes sounds pretty fair. However, the sad part is that this narrative provides a lot of fodder for these banned militant outfits to feed on.

So probably the state should think twice before giving the narrative around this holiday its blessing. Surely, the holiday can be observed without any belligerent calls to Jihad.

But the general impression remains that a good number of masses in Pakistan views Islamist militant organizations positively and accept their active role in politics.

Merely playing to the galleries would not be sufficient for the federal and provincial governments. Simply adding these militant outfits to the list of “banned organizations” to create an impression on Western powers would not work.

An ideological awakening and education of the masses are required to ensure a gradual social change.

Or at least for the government to be able to enforce the bans that it proposes.

The post was originally published in The Nation blogs.

What is Common Between Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman and Aamir Liaquat Hussain

Source: Dawn/aamerliaquat.wordpress.com

Source: Dawn/aamirliaquat.wordpress.com

What is common between Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman and Aamir Liaquat Hussain?

Both of them divide the public opinion drastically about themselves, with half of the population loathing them, while the others adoring them. But the popularity factor is rather true for Aamir Liaquat Hussain, as most people dislike the Maulana for his devious and Machiavellian politics. At least on this side of the Indus river.

But seriously, what is common between them is religion. Well not really. Who in Pakistan is free of a connection to religion?

What they actually have in common is the religious background and how it has held them back from achieving their ambitions, while offering them success at the same time. But this success is largely due to their personal modified talents, instead of any genuine religiosity.

Both Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman and Aamir Liaquat Hussain are sons of clerics, alright, religious scholars is the more politically correct job title. This fact immediately sanctioned both of them with the duty to follow the footsteps of their respective fathers. Both were laden with the heavy responsibility to continue propagating the holy faith.

While many would deem religious background an advantage, for these two gentlemen, it has been nothing more than a handicap apparently. Not only has it prevented both these individuals from achieving a lot more, but it has also kept them bound in a cage, especially Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman. Being condemned to live with a beard for all their lives.

Even though Aamir Liaquat still is an actor and an entertainer and probably nothing more, he cannot openly pursue a career in acting and dramatics because of his religious background and career. He only started wearing that beard on the insistence of his adoring audiences. While most people, secular and religious, would consider his pursuit of acting inappropriate any way, I actually find it tragic.

This gets even more tragic for Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman who is condemned for life to live like a cleric. While I believe that he is actually secretly not religious, there is little doubt that he would be tempted by the lifestyle of his peers and must be greatly conscious of his handicap. Furthermore, I get the impression that his beard and religious leaning are the greatest hurdles to his becoming the Head of State of Pakistan.

So what if Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman is referred to as the father of the Taliban? Was Zbig Brzezinski also not involved in collaborating with Pakistani forces in arming and preparing them for Afghan Jihad? So what if he could possibly be accused of the deaths of thousands. Is that not true for Henry Kissinger as well? Statecraft demands a little sacrifice every now and then.

Getting back to Aamir Liaquat, his religious rhetoric is drenched with melodramatic theatricals, and it moves people doubly because it concerns faith. His love of theatrics is all but obvious and his religious show is a living testament to that. Most of the people attack him for his personal morality and feeding lies to the public, but they cannot deny that his innovation in religious broadcasting has become a popular trend.

He is a brilliant showman and perhaps even a megalomaniac, which is evident from the elaborate sets that his wife helps him set up. What he is actually doing is telling the world that he is capable of building his own theatre, with its own million rupee stage and with him alone enjoying all the spotlight. And that he can buy crews and even audiences. And that it’s all about money and that there is nothing wrong with it.

Source: New York Times

Source: New York Times

Most of the people were mad at Aamir Liaquat Hussain for his Geo TV leaked video. I actually developed some respect for him after watching it, except for the infamous misogynistic rape joke. It showed his human side and probably that is how a reckless drunk actor would be behaving in between scenes, no matter how immoral it looks. At least it was far less profane, lethal and immoral than his on-screen religious preaching.

I would have had more respect for him had he manned up and admitted that it was indeed him saying all that. But since he is in the business of lying hypocritically, that is religious preaching and TV evangelism, he had to attribute the clip to certain “camera tricks and advanced dubbing techniques”. His sheepish, embarrassed, insincere apology almost gave out that he actually believed people knew he was lying. But then again, only the prophets are incapable of committing sins.

With Chaudhary Shujaat – Source: Express Tribune

Speaking of sins, Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman may get all those votes for promoting a militaristic Deobandi Islam under the white-black striped Jihadi flag, but that largely undermines his personal skill and talent. Like the MQM, he always is at the forefront of negotiations for government formation.

As a matter of fact, he mostly wants to be at the forefront of negotiation of any sort. He has this longing to be a diplomat and a statesman. He has this megalomaniac urge to have his name written down in history books for something great. He wants to go beyond being a politician.

It can be estimated conservatively that Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman and Aamir Liaquat Hussain are probably both psychopaths. That’s alright, most interesting people who have something to offer to the world are. And let us, the highly-judging moralist audiences be not such hypocrites ourselves. We all have that morality on-off switch.

But it is indeed an interesting study, and the beauty of the high drama of life that such powerful individuals can become so helpless when bound by the unchallengeable walls of the fortress of Islam that they swear so passionately by.

It’s as ironic as the lives they lead. As the lives we lead.

Dengue Fever Blues

Source: phuketgazette.net

Dengue fever. I had heard the name of the disease quite a few times throughout my life, ever since my childhood, and I had always taken it lightly. Of course you are not supposed to get freaked out by a disease you don’t even know about when you are a child, until recently as all that changed  A serious dengue fever epidemic broke out in Punjab with its greatest concentration in Lahore. Thankfully, as yet, I or anyone that I know personally have not been infected yet, which is a great advantage of not living in Lahore right now, or say, the parts of Lahore which are getting affected the most, as there are many cities within cities.

Becoming sick in a country where an epidemic outbreak is wreaking havoc can be a very dangerous feeling. In case of dengue fever, caused by dengue virus of the genus Flavivirus spread by the Aedes genus of mosquitoes recognized by its distinct white spots or stripes, the very thought, let alone actually contracting the fever, is probably much more excruciating than any other disease. There is a reason for that. The symptoms of the disease are so vague and commonplace that everyone who gets ill can start fearing for their lives.

Of course, the bone-breaking part of the fever and the appearance of the rash are very specific symptoms that point towards dengue fever, but other than that you would never be able to tell if you have the virus in your veins and if you are in risk of developing serious complications that it could lead to. So it is only natural that the entire city turned up to get themselves tested for dengue fever at hospitals in Lahore. What makes things even worse is that in many cases, it remains asymptomatic. Surviving with the dengue fever virus can be alright, but that exposes other people to the risk of infection.

No one would be afraid of, or even give a damn about the dengue fever thing had so many people not died because of it in its present outbreak in Lahore, with over 5,000 cases reported, over 100 lost their lives and many ill even at this time as I write these lines. I have not kept the exact count of the deaths caused by the epidemic, or at least that is what have been thought to have caused those deaths, but each time you hear the news of more deaths, it shakes you for a minute, frightening you, while also alarming you and renewing your caution.  Although statistically, the death toll resulting from dengue fever is supposed to be extremely low. Maybe, the deaths caused by now have been extremely low. Who knows. One death seems a lot.

This is where an epidemic can be frightening. It is living among death, in a sense. But not too much. I recall that the world has seen worst epidemics, and pandemics for that matter. Wonder how they would have lived through the Black Death.

There is no vaccine or treatment for dengue fever, they tell me. This is how much control we have over the life of the patient, but the treatment is based on symptoms.

This makes you wonder how helpless we are. The only way to evade the disease is to kill mosquitoes and not to let them bite you. Simple. But it is not that simple. At the same time, the politics people argue about it as usual and people die, suggesting that perhaps not even an alien creature can unite the human species. So much for Roland Emmerich’s ideals. If you don’t believe me, you can enlarge a mosquito to giant size and see for yourself what I mean by the alien creature. Now I spend my days dodging it all the time.

Although dengue fever poses a statistically small threat of hemorrhagic fever resulting in death, but how do you know you are not under the risk when you suffer from it. And there is no way to kill the microbe because it is a virus, yeah right. That’s just about how strong human beings are on a cosmic level. The question is what is the point of creating all the sophisticated weapons in the world, which are supposed to protect you, when you cannot even protect yourself from a damn virus, or even a mosquito if its occurrence is not prevented in the first place.

This also raises a question about priorities. Neither will everyone see this nor necessarily agree with it, but why cannot humans as a species concentrate on research that allows them to overcome microbes and diseases resulting in severe complications and deaths with increased focus, and I mean spending more on it than on other apparently useless ventures, as I am sure medical research is always an ongoing process and has made tremendous progress.

Because to me, the measure of the scientific progress of the humans is the absence of a vaccine for a microbe that causes a deadly disease. And I am not even talking about the efforts of the local governance because usually this particular disease breaks out in countries with low resources and generally incompetent and/or corrupt governments.

However, I salute all the medical professionals whoever they are and where ever they are working against this epidemic and curing people and most of all, offering them hope for life. I can never do that. Believe me, you live like never before after you have a close encounter with death.

Why not wage wars and Crusade and Jihad against mosquitoes, especially the Aedes genus of mosquitoes, instead of each other.

At least I am declaring Jihad against mosquitoes.