THE OTHER COLUMN: Up shitcreek —Ejaz Haider
Apropos the faith -reviving video from Swat: let me congratulate, not necessarily in the same order, various people — Mr Imran Khan, the Jama’at-e Islami leadership, Lt-Gen Hameed Napoleon Gul, the ANP government in the NWFP, the majority of Urdu-language columnists, some English ones who write poetic prose, and yes, tv anchors and my fellow Pakistanis.Finally, we have something to emulate, straight from the pure times of the rightly-guided caliphs. Islam, ladies and gentlemen, is here. General Zia’s dream has been fulfilled. Allah be praised.Since yesterday I have this strange sensation coursing through my veins, the feeling one gets after reading about the brave Muslims of yore in a Naseem Hijazi novel. I can’t forget the sight of three specimens of Islam’s purity, two of them pinning down a fallen young woman and one flogging her backside for having allegedly committed zina while the girl, may she be damned, cried and repented.This is Islamic justice at its most effective. It is simple, straight, speedy, effective, earthy and devoid of the meanderings and trappings of modern existence, historical accretions and bid’a-infested innovations. That’s the stuff the satanic West is made of.Okay, sure. I am bullshitting. But really? How far from the truth am I? Let me recount.Columnist upon columnist has been writing about the brave Taliban in Afghanistan; how Taliban rule had recreated khilafat-e rashida; how there was peace in that country; how everyone was secure and so on.Mr Khan has been hell-bent on reversing all his great contributions to this country, both as a scintillating cricketer and a remarkable philanthropist, by misguiding this nation on issues of politics and inter-state relations — about which his knowledge rivals only that of a kindergarten student. He has been talking incessantly about ghairat, how this is not our war and how our sovereignty is under attack from outside etc etc.The Napoleon, Lt-Gen Gul — or shall I say Hans Guderian, since Gen Gul is an armoured corps officer and not a gunner — has been mouthing his conceptions of grand strategies even as he carries the weight on his shoulders of the shameful defeat in Jalababad, a veritable fiasco.The religious parties, especially JI, have been fudging issues and telling lies about everything under the sun.C’mon folks. Go back and focus on the discourse in this country. From news anchors and tv hosts to columnists and experts and politicians. Revisit the days of the extraction operation against Lal Masjid and how we dealt with that. Recall how we have done everything possible to pull down the state in our enthusiasm to voice dissent on the basis of democracy which, incidentally, will be the first concept to lick the dust when the warriors come knocking on the doors.I had a hard time deciding how to deal with this issue of the flogging of a girl in Swat: express my deep resentment at the obscenity I saw or congratulate fellow Pakistanis for having successfully brought the state to this. Listen carefully to what people say on tv; deconstruct the discourse; discover the lies; the dissembling; the fudging and you would know why the flogging happened in Swat.I carried an article some weeks ago in these pages by Nasir Abbas Mirza (“How we lost Swat”, Daily Times, March 9). Go and reread it to see how and why Swat has been lost and how and why we are likely to lose the rest of Pakistan. I see outrage now. Why? Was everyone sleeping?The Urdu-language tv channels, for the most part, should be ashamed of the role they have played in giving airtime to the likes of Mr Khan, our various Napoleons and moronic politicians; for asking leading questions; for allowing them the opportunity to mouth crap; for supporting extremists in the name of jihad; for giving these thugs an aura of respectability and acceptability.So what the hell are we shocked about? Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. It’s as simple as that. We are still unclear and confused about the threat. Every outrage begets a standard response: “Muslims can’t do this; this is a conspiracy”. In which case, we deserve what happened in Swat; in fact, far from expressing any outrage, we should celebrate the incident.The truth, however, is that Muslims can do this and more. They are doing it and will continue to do it. Listen to Haji Muslim Khan on tv channels. What kind of system and society would have him, with his pathetic knowledge of almost everything, including Islam for which he supposedly stands up, as a public figure?Listen to his fudging and his threats. Listen to what ANP minister Zahid Khan had to say about this being the tip of the iceberg. The question is not about when this incident was filmed but the fact that it did happen; also, that the Taliban, according to their admission, have been giving these punishments and will continue to do so since this is what shariat calls for.Well, how about telling them to stuff it; that we do not accept such barbaric and medieval practices in today’s world; that Pakistani society is sophisticated enough to reject, in categorical terms, the obscenity the Taliban stand for.Are we prepared to do it; or will we remain confused about the nature, direction and extent of this threat?Finally, hello Pakistan Army. Are you guys there? I remember the in-camera briefing given to a select group of analysts back in November 2007. We were told that come March 2008, Swat would be reclaimed. Whatever the hell happened to that? Would someone tell me?But before I sign off, let me make a confession. Insert in all spaces whatever expletives you can think of because they are all there. That’s the kind of column I wanted to write. Who gives a f*** about niceties, intellectual and of other varieties, in the face of an existential threat that a collection of people has brought upon itself simply because they have some morbid notion of religion coursing through the body politic. I don’t.So, fellow Pakistanis, here you are: up shitcreek without a paddle. Enjoy!