I woke up late this morning, around 11:00 AM, to the sweet smell of tea priming up on the stove and the sound of the Tv set (tom and jerry taking each other on with pots and rakes). I washed up, had breakfast with my wife and daughter and changed the channel to a news network in Pakistan. I expected to see the usual images of the ongoing street protests in the country against last year’s rigged elections. Instead I saw the distinct image of army personnel in a civilian street. I thought to myself, “so the military has stepped in… Go Nawaz Go!” But, in a minute, my surprise turned to disbelief. When the reality showing on the box had finally settled into my mind and turned to horror a silent tear brimmed and trickled down my face. I hid it so my daughter wouldn’t start her questions (she is a very observant and inquisitive 3.5 year old). At that time the news was showing 29 children killed. Being a parent I know that the ultimate sadness for a father or mother is on the slightest harm coming to their child… no words can express the grief on their death. But having your child murdered is another dimension of pain. I switched back to Tom and Jerry and strode back to my room to settle down the turmoil in my heart and mind.
I grew up in Karachi. I have had numerous mobile phones snatched on gun point, tended to an uncle who lost a limb in a bomb blast, seen cars set to fire, heard gunshots and bomb blasts close to my house, seen protests and government brutality on them. I have seen, on TV, attacks on mosques, churches and Hindu temples. I have seen reports of honour killings and rape. I thought I had seen the full spectrum of human degradation, hate and violence… but I have never felt greater despair and anguish than today. As such I can go on about how bad I felt but I believe every one of you, especially the parents among you, already know that feeling. So I will divulge to other aspects of this ‘happening’.
For me, there are 4 aspects we can talk about:
- The facts
- Islam’s take on this incident (and on terrorism in general)
- The motives
- The Solutions
Lets quickly get the facts out of our way:
- TTP (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan) sent 6 attackers in army uniforms and suicide jackets to a school
- 10 blasts were heard and gun shots went on for at least 6 hours.
- 141 were killed – 132 of them children (all below 18 years of age)
- 122 injured
Islam’s take on this incident (and on terrorism in general)
I believe, and I hope you would agree, that no religion should be judged on the actions of a handful of deluded, crazy, inhuman low lives. Therefore, I have chosen to keep it simple and give you 3 verses from the Holy Quran to make the point.
- Chapter 5 Verse 32
…if anyone slew a person―unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land― it would be as if he slew all of mankind: and if anyone saved a life it would be as if he saved the life of all of mankind. Then although there came to them Our Messengers with clear Signs, yet even after that many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.
- Chapter 6 Verse 151
…take not life, which Allah hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus doth He command you, that ye may learn wisdom.
- Chapter 4 Verses 90-91. The first verse is the infamous Jihad verse which is always taken out of context and is incomplete without verse 91. The context is that a party attacked the Muslims at the time of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) these verses were revealed to guide them to deal with the situation.
Verse 90 …But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks.
Verse 91 Except those who join a group between whom and you there is a treaty (of peace) or those who approach you with hearts restraining them from fighting you or fighting their own people. If Allah had pleased, He could have given them power over you, and they would have fought you: therefore if they withdraw from you and (instead) send you (guarantees of) peace, then Allah hath opened no way for you (to war against them).
You can see in the heading of this section that I have deliberately used the word motive(s) and not the singular ‘motive’.
As such, TTP have taken responsibility and said that the reason was “To avenge the Pakistan Army’s operation against Taliban in North Waziristan (Operation Zarb-e-Azb)”. I will not go into too many details about the Taliban and Al-Qaeda here but I hope I have made it obvious that they are renegades and their actions are completely un-Islamic. Religion is not the reason, heaven is not their goal. It is, in fact, all about money and power. The attackers themselves could possibly be (and probably are) brainwashed youth who may be blowing themselves up for the sake of God… but the leaders, the brain-washers are nothing but power and wealth hungry maniacs. They work for money and for the destabilization of many countries, one of which happens to be Pakistan.
So allow me to bring to your attention 4 major things going on in Pakistan right at this time.
- Imran Khan (whom I think many of you know already) has staged history’s longest… peaceful… protest against the Government (who came to power through rigging last year’s elections). It has been going on for more than 3 months now and is close to culmination. The present Government is corrupt to the core and would do anything to stay in power.
- About two weeks ago a huge government side deal was unmasked @ Reko Diq (an area in the Baluchistan province of Pakistan). It has huge reserves of Gold, Copper, Gemstones and second biggest reserves of Shale Gas (the closest alternative to oil) in the world. Total worth of the reserves are estimated at +3 Trillion Dollars. Government officials were trying to sell rights out to a foreign private company and take billions of dollars in kickbacks. It is all at stake now because of the media’s exposure of this treachery.
- Pakistan holds a critically important geo-strategic position in the world. Destabilizing Pakistan, waging war there and taking control is in the interest of many countries. Just to give you an idea about Pakistan’s geo-strategic position… here are 4 points
- It is the gateway to central Asia. It shares its borders with Afghanistan, China, Iran, Tajikistan and India
- It has an un-paralleled Transit economy. This is because Pakistan has one of the biggest natural harbours in the world, so it is the trading link of China, Afghanistan, Iran and Tajikistan to the rest of the world
- It has huge reserves of gold, gem stones, silicon, natural gas and shale gas
- It is the most important Muslim country because of its nuclear weapons capability and advanced missile technology.
So what I am trying to say is that powers within and outside the country have a heavy stake in Pakistan’s instability at this point in time. I firmly believe that the Taliban work for money. On their own the Taliban can do nothing… they need funding, training and heavy intelligence support to carry out such a plan. I cannot, and should not, single out any entity and put the blame on their shoulders (because there is no absolute proof)… but the least we can do is to try to stay informed when dealing with unknown adversaries.
It is my humble opinion that education and the rule of law are the only solutions to this deeply violent situation in Pakistan.
Education, both worldly and Quranic, is necessary to prevent the youth from joining Al-Qaeda’s ranks. I guess some of you may think that Quranic knowledge is not the issue here… but let me tell you that the Quran forms the basis of the lives of most muslims. If they knew that a cleric was bull-shitting them by taking a verse of the Quran out of context to make his case… then the solution would be struck at the grass root level.
Establishing the rule of law is quite an obvious one isn’t it? But it is quite complex in a country like Pakistan. Law can be established by people with integrity who have been chosen by the masses as their leaders. For the past 67 years Pakistan has either been led by military dictators or one of two political parties who have literally been taking turns at coming to power (through electoral rigging). All of them have looted the country and instilled corruption to the core. The education system was never allowed to develop, the poor kept becoming poorer, the police and judiciary are in their pockets. The divide between the rich and poor is huge. They have even assumed that natural resources are their own and sold them in ways I cannot describe here.
One of the things I have tried to highlight in this blog is the huge potential Pakistan has of becoming strong and prosperous. I am sure the leaders of the world are equally aware of the same. But if they let our corrupt leaders buy land and own business in their countries (from money looted from the people). If they allow mass murderers to take asylum in their cities and actually control Karachi over the telephone (yes I am talking about Altaf Hussain). If they will be allowed to construct buildings in Dubai and horde money in Swiss banks. And if they rape Pakistan’s sovereignty and continue to kill 50 innocents every time they surgically bomb to kill one Al-Qaeda terrorist… then… I am afraid… the blood of the children killed today is on their hands as much as it is on the hands of the Taliban and the deluded killers.
Despite the gross picture of Pakistan you have seen above… the Pakistan I know is a different place. It is a country which produces some of the top GCE O-Level and A-Level results in the world every year. It universities pump out business people, engineers and scientists who get brain drained outside of the country in top positions. It has the biggest river network (which runs from north to south) and as a result has probably the best organic agricultural produce in the world. It is rich in minerals, coal, gem stones and gas. Its beauty is unsurpassed. Its people are patriotic. Its streets are teeming with tape ball cricketers every afternoon. Its armed forces are powerful and ready to die for their country. It’s a wonderful place. Not the horrendous terrorist pumping machine it seems from afar.
The world we live in is very complex. Actually human history has always been tumultuous and power games kept it complex. So I would say the fate of Pakistan and the world at large is in the God’s hand. I just remembered a verse from the Quran which I quote here to end this post.
Chapter 8 Verse 30
“They plan, and Allah plans. And Allah is the best of planners”
– By Muhammad Talha (@MTalhaImtiaz)