Happy Kashmir Day

I congratulate all my country fellows out there for keeping this cause of 'freedom for Indian held' Kashmir alive since last 60 years.  

That's an incredibly long time. A lot has changed since then. We couldn't keep East Pakistan, but thank God we don't celebrate a Bangladesh Day to claim our right back on it. We are also not sure, which parts of the remaining Pakistan we would be able to keep, and which ones we wouldn't. And how many more days we'll be celebrating in future for the lost causes? For instance, a Sui Gas Day some time in near future, to claim back our right on Balochistan? Or a Karachi Day for the freedom of an 'MQM-terrorised Karachi’? Kalabagh dam or Mangla dam days, to claim back our freedom to produce and use electricity? There is one thing we could be quite sure of though; we have a thing for the lost causes.

And here comes the million dollar question: among the current fiasco we are having in this country, is Kashmir really a cause worth fighting for?

In the lessons of distorted history we study at schools, we're only told half the truth. After partition, Hari Singh, the ‘procrastinating’ Maharaja of Kashmir, knew that time was running out and his Muslim peasants were revolting against him. We are told that Maharaja, ‘in order to keep his rule, conspired with Indian government.’ Help was sought and Indian troops were deployed in Kashmir to control the insurgency.

But we're never told the other side of the story. On October 23, well before the Indian troops were deployed, British trucks and jeeps of the Pakistan army, loaded with some 5,000 armed Pathan Afridi, Waziri and Mehsud tribesmen, crossed the Kashmir border. And they headed east along the Muzaffarabad-Burmula road that led to Srinagar itself. That 'Invasion' of Kashmir from Pakistan will long be called by Pakistan a 'purely volunteer action' undertaken 'spontaneously' by 'furious tribesmen' rushing to the aid of their oppressed 'Muslim brothers.' But the truck, petrol and drivers were hardly standard tribal equipment. And the British and Pakistani officers, all along the Northern Pakistan route these 'tribals’ used, knew and supported that violent October operation. The operation in which Pakistan seems to have hoped to trigger the integration of its so called 'paradise on  earth,' Kashmir into the nation.

Long live our Pakistan 'Twisted' Studies books, and a very happy Kashmir day, indeed. 

19:20 hours
Thursday 6 February 2014

Caution: Not for the faint-hearted

There we go, towards formal talks with Taliban.

But what would happen this time around? Would the talks be just for talks again or there’ll be talks for peace? The later seems quite a topsy-turvy road full of disappointments, at the moment. Why? Because, we’re aiming for something at the cost of losing our greatest merits – our freedom, our culture, and our centuries old moderate ways of living.

Yes, we Pakistanis are moderate people, if that comes as a surprise to some of you. We have always been moderate and were never extremists as far as our history goes. The women of our villages work in fields. They don’t observe a strict Purdah. Ours is a culture of singing and dancing. It’s vibrant and full of colours. Our villages are the most animated ones when it comes to folk songs, music, dances or dresses. And as far as religious extremism is concerned, we don’t follow religion, anyways. Instead, we just follow an idea of religion. Majority of Pakistanis don't read Quran with translation ever in their lives, they mostly live their lives with customs and traditions and not with the principles laid out in their sacred book. 

Yet, there is one dream that a vast majority of Pakistanis share. It’s an impossible dream of living in an ideal state that complies with ‘the ways of Islam.’ But what ways of Islam, is not agreed upon yet, hasn’t been since ages and am not sure if ever be. Since in a country, where languages, dialects, food, dresses, music - all change every few miles; so does the versions of Islam. One belief followed by one sect could be totally condemnable by another.  Such are the ways of Islam in this country.

However, the version of Islam that would be imposed upon us by Taliban, in case we go for ‘their conditions for peace’, mostly doesn't tally with our different popular versions of Islam. For, most of us cannot imagine being slaughtered for merely singing in a wedding, having their eyes gouged out for elopement, having being pulled out of houses for five times prayers.  We cannot afford our women not being able to work, or one of the male family members forced to join Taliban to fight against ‘west’ or for the ‘greater glory of Islam.’  Yet, majority of us still advocate for Taliban, ‘our saviours,' to take over the administration of this country. We are dreaming about something we haven’t quite thought-through!

What I have mentioned above, are not mere warnings, these are real life instances that actually happened in the areas under Taliban’s rule of command. But most of Pakistanis will deny it as some conspiracy to ‘defame Taliban and Islam.’ For them, Taliban are only good-natured friendly bunch of people who are so much pushed to the wall that they have resorted to violence. 

Probably we need Taliban’s version of Pashtoowali amalgamated with Sharia to open our eyes. Unless, we see Taliban patrolling our streets with their guns, slaughtering and flogging people for not following Pashtoonwali; unless the entertainment they provided for our blood-thirsty desires would turn into our actual experience, we are not likely to realise the friendliness of Taliban.

What peace are we talking about, for heaven’s sake? There is no peace in talking with them when their very purpose and nature is ‘not to remain in peace.’ It’s a war we cannot avoid, one way or another. Either we first let them come out from their wilds and destroy our colorful and animated lands; fight them only when they stand with their swords on our heads. Or we fight them now!

23:20 hours
Friday 31 January 2014