Cross Post : Accounterterror blog
By Anas Abbas
This Essay is in response to an article “The liberal lynch mob” written by Mahreen Aziz Khan published recently in The Express Tribune. It will not only focus on this article itself but will mostly critically analyze the mindset behind such viewpoints and briefly look at the message in other such related articles for example “Get another passport” written by the famous “Flotilla Hulk”.
Recently a horrifying video of a crowd watching a mob brutally killing two brothers in Sialkot has sparked mass demonstrations in Pakistan. The video, widely broadcasted on Pakistani TV channels, shows a lynch mob taking turns to savagely beat the two boys with sticks, metal rods drawing blood from them before dragging and hanging their dead bodies from a nearby pole. But perhaps just as shocking was that none of the dozens of people including police officials watching tried to stop the ferocious attack. The government has responded to the attack by promising to launch an investigation and bringing the culprits to justice. Civil/Religious groups and Media condemned the killings and youth held demonstrations. The scenes have outraged Pakistanis all over the country challenging how their society could submissively watch the shocking killings without intervening.
Amid this crisis, a new debate has sparked in Pakistan as to how should one perceive it. Columnist Fasi Zaka not only condemned the incident but referred to Pakistanis (metaphorically) as ‘human cockroaches’ and concluded that we cannot and will not change unless we rise above all the defenses, excuses and accusations that we give to others and ourselves and take responsibility for our actions. In other words, we need to understand the nature and magnitude of our crimes and make a pledge with ourselves to change our ways. To change the world around us, we need to change ourselves first. In another hard hitting piece, a Pakistani journalist George Fulton focused on the gruesome nature of the society and highlighted the culture of vigilantism that has been ingrained in the very roots of the country and ever since actively promoted and widely accepted on mass scale within the country.
However there is another interesting point of view which was endorsed by Mahreen Aziz Khan in her article “The liberal lynch mob”. In this article, she lambasted both George and Fasi Zaka’s opinions labelling them as ‘western liberals’ and concluded that the norms of our society are not very different from those of the western more developed nations and that what happened in Sialkot was not as out of the ordinary as portrayed by the media.
Mahreen Khan’s article does not come as a surprise as I have been reading these viewpoints since a long time now. Basically this has always been the reaction of such analysts who either live in a mode of denial or deliberately choose not to scrutinize the loopholes in their society for the sake of their misperceived patriotism and false pride and nationalism. They guard the political-military elite of Pakistan and have been one of the biggest impediments in the democratic process by always possessing a soft corner towards the Pakistan army and its political supporters. They are the ones who choose only to criticize Pakistan’s current President Asif Ali Zardari (Popularly known as the source of all problems in the country) by demanding him to donate his entire wealth to compensate the flood victims and maintain their silence on the £10bn empire operating within the country that runs several industrial and manufacturing conglomerates (From Cement to Cornflakes), owns 12m acres of public land and controls one-third of all heavy manufacturing and approximately 7% of private assets. Welcome to Pakistan Army ladies and gentlemen.
The usage of the term “western, liberal”:
In her article, Miss Mahreen at least twice used the term known as ‘western liberal’. In Pakistan, this is a common term used to label any critic who points out either the caustic realities of the society or who invokes self introspection instead of blaming the West, Israel or India. This term takes a different form depending on the user. Some refer to it as Liberal Fascists, Liberal fanatics or Atheists and sometimes it takes a more blatant form such as Kafir, Hindu Agent, Jew or Qadiani, at all times the core meaning of the term remaining the same. These terms are used to describe those people who often:
- Challenge the popular opinion among the masses and take a stand for their views and have the guts to reach a rational conclusion on their own.
- Challenges the distorted version of history widely accepted in the country and demands a truthful reformation of the history books taught in the Pakistani classrooms.
- Highlights the importance of science and research and demand the country’s authorities to allocate a substantial part of budget towards this sector.
- Promote religious harmony and tolerance by demanding equal rights for Ahmadis and other minorities.
- Call for abandoning nuclear weapons and transparency towards nuclear wastes and challenge the “first use” nuclear doctrine of the Pakistan Army.
- Challenge religious orthodoxy and extremism, Taliban, and promote freedom of speech, race, religion, gender and Ideology.
- Promote the democratic political process instead of taking patronage under the military oligarchy.
- Point out other regions of the world as well (such as Baluchistan, Darfur, and Xinanjiang) where Muslims are fighting for freedom instead of just playing the usual Palestinian, Iraqi and Kashmiri card
Here I am not going to defend or further analyse this term but instead I will certainly examine why this specific term was used by Mahreen Khan when the criticism or self-loathing by Fasi Zaka & George Fulton involved Pakistan only?
Where does ‘West’ come from?
The term ‘West’ used by Mahreen Khan was basically to offset the impact of the dilapidated condition of Pakistan highlighted by both Fasi and George by diverting the whole attention through highlighting similar incidents in other regions mainly West, Israel and India. Basically according to this mindset, we should not introspect and work towards seeking constructive feedback of our deeds and instead find similar faults of other nations and indirectly justify ourselves.
The basic strategy is to mention the names of these three regions in order to fuel the revulsion that already exists in Pakistan against them and to discredit the other argument not by presenting valid arguments but by presenting excuses. For example, whenever there is a bomb blast in a mosque or shrine in Pakistan where the Taliban accept responsibility for it, firstly it is not accepted by this mindset and secondly even if it is grudgingly accepted, it is incorrectly and indirectly justified by presenting a case where America is bombing Iraq and parts of Pakistan, killing innocent civilians.
In simple words, this Mahreen Khan Mindset looks at every problem in Pakistani society in this context:
As a point of illustration, on the issue of dealings with the minorities in the country, this mindset believes:
“So what if Pakistani institutions have been highly unsuccessful in protecting its minorities? Look at India (The typical Gujrat 2002 story), Palestine issue, and American invasion in Iraq etc’. ‘See the magnitude of violence they have been promoting!”
By presenting this “comparative-analysis”- excuse which is often out of context, this mindset justifies the weaknesses of its own society and dismisses any criticism directed against their country’s institutions. Eventually the critics are labelled as traitors, Liberal fascists or Western Liberals – as can also be seen in Mahreen Khan’s article.
Mahreen then says:
“These columnists (Fasi Zaka & George Fulton) would not dare to write in such sadistic terms about western cultures. No, they only prey on the weak – pure lynch mob mentality – developing nations like Pakistan, battered by natural catastrophe, war and poverty.”
My first basic questions to Mehreen Khan are:
Why on earth do these columnists need to criticize the “West” and its culture when the discussion is about Pakistan in the first place?
I would have understood had these articles “Pakistani Human Cockroaches” and “Don’t Act Surprised” were written by western analysts such as Bernard Lewis, Noam Chomskey, Christine Fair or Sumit Ganguly. But these articles were written by Pakistani nationals- so why wouldn’t they talk about their own country alone and present their opinion? They live here, they work here, their children go to school here- so why don’t they have the right to point out the shortfalls of their society (which they want to progress) and freely present their criticism?
What is the need to criticize the West or its culture- dragged out of context in Pakistani affairs? Why aren’t the Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Arabs so criticised?
The answer is simple: because “West” is despised by the masses in Pakistan so it has always been the requirement of Mahreen Khan type mindset to mention them in order to overshadow the Pakistani domestic problems.
The use of this strategy is not limited to the likes of Mahreen or Naseem Zehra but has also been employed as a frequent tool of digression by the bigoted mullahs who rule the illiterate Pakistani masses.
According to Mahreen khan, one should never criticize a third world country like Pakistan – battered by natural catastrophes, war and poverty.
Why I can’t criticize my country when I know that it is us who are responsible (due to our collective acts) for the natural catastrophes, war and the poverty?
Admittedly, it is a norm of our society to blame God, Global Warming, India or America, but in reality it is the Pakistanis themselves who are mostly responsible for these floods because of their mismanagement of the Indus river, the role of the timber mafia in denudation of the vast forests, and the appalling situation of National Disaster Management Authority etc.
Should we not highlight these grave loopholes and debate this issue as to why efficient disaster management and building dams has never been a priority for the Pakistani state in the past decades? Why are we all possessed by the need for national security (Indian threat) and the weapons race?
Cities like London and Paris have floods too but they also have a set of appropriate measures to implement in such crises. Why cannot Pakistan take proactive steps to better manage its potential disasters as well?
Or, if we go by Mahreen Khan’s logic, should we first blame the ‘West’? Or find examples of similar natural disasters there and reach a dismissive conclusion that we should not do anything about this because it is also coming in other countries?
In the same article, Mahreen Khan has promptly responded to the Maula Jatt example given in “Don’t act surprised” by giving an American alternate of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre example promoting once again a comparative analysis as highlighted by George Fulton in “Don’t act surprised Part 2” . This “Harvard” intelligentsia is clearly missing the point as to why the Maula Jatt example was mentioned in the first place. Yet again, instead of acknowledging the culture of vigilante justice bred in our state, the Mahreen mindset spends hours Googling similar examples in only those regions which are despised by the masses in Pakistan example India, Israel and America. (Remember No China).
These Pakistanis live in a mode of denial completely ignoring the murderous vigilante culture which has been promoted in their society. The people prefer to make their own law rather than following any set rules of law. This utter disregard for law gives way to even more mayhem thus resulting in today’s daily acts of terrorism, looting, raping and murders.
Take the incident of Sialkot killings for instance. How many times a mob or an individual in Pakistan has taken justice in his hands? This latest Sialkot tragedy is one of the countless incidents that has erupted like a hyper active volcano. How many Christians and Ahmadis have been victimised at the hands of these people? Other such instances include the Gojra incident and the Sangla incident. Read any report of Pakistan Human Rights Commission and notice how many Ahmadis, Christians and other minorities have been brutally victimised through such people. Does anyone even remember the famous incident which took place in 1995 in which Dr. Sajjad Farooq was beaten to death (Stoned) on false apostasy charges (rumour circulated by someone out of personal enmity) by people outside a police station in Gujranwala? Even the mosques and the ruling Islamic ulemas have always been supportive of such incidents.
How can one forget the pseudo scholar by the name of Dr Amir Liaquat (followed by masses) publically endorse the murder of an Ahmadi? (Notice the increase in the killings of Ahmadis immediately after this public legitimisation) How can one forget the late dogmatic Dr Israr Ahmed (followed by the masses) who endorsed the killings of both Ahmadis and apostates? How can we ignore the fatwa of a powerful radical cleric known as Mufti Rafi Usmani on Geo News for mobilizing a mob to kill Salman Rushdie?
As I am writing, a gun battle between the Chang and Khan groups over a 30-rupee loan left four brothers dead in Gulshan-e-Khair Muhammad Hyderabad. Recently, a teenage girl was gang raped by a feudal tribal council as it was recommended by the Jirga (the increasingly popular Imran Khan’s Insaaf Mechanism) purporting that justice can only be served by the rule of “an eye for an eye”.
This barbarous, merciless, homicidal and bloodthirsty approach is not only limited to rural or tribal areas in Pakistan but it is somewhat pervasive in urban areas among the educated families as well.
For example, quite recently a mass hysteria has been created in Pakistan after 3 Pakistani cricketers were exposed for spot fixing in a sting operation by a British tabloid.
Look at our reactions as shown on Pakistani TV channels:
One of the major consensus among the public as shown on various channels is that the cricketers deserve the same fate as that met by the brothers who were brutally murdered in Sialkot. The icing on the cake is that even educated sportsman such as Amir Sohail came on ‘Super eye show’ (August 29th 2010) on Geo Super channel and recommended the “Sialkot type” punishment for the Pakistani cricketers.
A top Pakistani banker and a friend of popular television anchor Mubashir Luqmaan againrecommended the same punishment.
Let’s look at the Facebook status of a third rate propagandist and megalomaniac freak, Ahmed Qureshi, who recently blames George Fulton & Fasi Zaka of being British agents working against Pakistan – just like he usually blames the Jews and Indians whenever he struggles to get an orgasm.
“Pakistani cricket players chose to be a part of corruption. Where is the supervisory mechanism over the players? My take is: Hang the bastards. This country’s politicians and managers can’t give justice and can’t stop corruption. Burn the corrupt, I say. Make them an example, and start with all the corrupt all the way to the top” (Source Facebook Ahmed Qureshi’s Official Page)
Notice the terms “Hang the bastards” and “Burn the corrupt”; it reminds me of similar terms used by the lynching mob in Sialkot during their revenge against those ill-fated boys.
Let’s look at our “National Hero”, the merchant of menace Abdul Qadeer Khan’s article, “Acts of Ghairat”, in which he not only legitimised the full philosophy of vigilante justice but also instigated the public to take justice in their own hands by giving certain relevant examples.
How can we forget the cricket match against India in SAHARA CUP (1996), when the best batsman and national hero of Pakistan (Inzamamul Haq) assaulted a member of the crowd after he was compared with several kinds of potatoes on megaphone? I still remember… Mushtaq Ahmed was asked by Inzamam to bring a bat as he was about to beat up that person.
On Inzamam’s return to Pakistan, he was hailed and praised as being courageous and valiant.
Above all what about the glorified vigilantism, savagery and barbarity in relation to imperialist invaders (Bin Qasim, Ghaznavi, Ghauri and Babar) that the masses in Pakistan study in their crooked history?
Just when you are thinking that you have seen the deepest depths of Pakistani depraved thought- there’s more- People angry at the reported betting scam named donkeys after the players and accused and pelted them with rotten tomatoes to vent their anger. The poor donkeys which live sad existences anyway could not understand why they were being ridiculed and beaten in this manner. Animals though without speech can nevertheless understand affection when shown and are equally capable of understanding hatred. Someone once said, the way a country’s people treats its animals reflects the way it treats its fellow citizens. (Refer to the recent incident in Lahore where poor Donkeys were paraded and persecuted)
This is the real Pakistan where national heroes encourage vigilante justice and have themselves been live examples of it. Then why are we surprised when such an incident as the one in Sialkot happens?
To add to the knowledge of readers with the Mahreen Khan mindset, what Pakistan is, let’s look some of the facts below:
Pakistan is a country:
- With four provinces but the majority of the budget is usually allocated to Punjab and Sind with meagre left over amounts given to Baluchistan and Pakhtunkhwa, leaving them envious of the former two provinces. Thus all four states think for themselves only on a provincial level ignoring the benefits of the country as a whole, thirsty for each other’s blood. Even smallest issues quickly exacerbate into ethnic violence. Our country thus faces acts of terrorism and violence such as target killings on a routine basis. This is how the state of affairs of the country is run whose population is multiplying manifold whereas the resources are going down at higher rates. The country which proudly hosts a population of 170 million but doesn’t realize that this issue will become a national security threat in the upcoming years when the population is expected to reach 226 million.
- That proudly hosts some of the most dreaded terrorists ever, such as Dawood Ibrahim (Karachi Block 4 Clifton), Tiger Memon (Karachi Defence, PH 6 Khayaban Hilal), Masood Azhar (Garrison town, Rawalpindi), Hafiz Saeed (Muridke, Lahore), Illyas Kashmiri, the Afghan Taliban to name a few and the most prominent.
- Where terrorists such as Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar openly market their literature and audio tapes legitimizing hijacking, the use of RDX, suicide bus attacks etc. (Refer to Jamait Dawaa Urdu magazine GHAZWA to learn about the planning and legitimization of Mumbai attacks and Masood Azhar lectures on TAQI Usmani Website.)
- Where it is prohibited for an Ahmadi to write BISMILLAH on a marriage invitation card.
- Where it is banned for an Ahmadi to travel to Saudi Arabia in order to perform Hajj.
- Where religious abuse is evident even in the application of a National ID card and Passport(Notice this statement in application forms for Pakistani passport “I consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Quadiani to be an impostor nabi and also consider his followers whether belonging to the Lahori or Qadiani group to be Non-Muslim.”)
- Where a rogue and disgraced “scientist” illegally sells centrifuge designs and technology to totalitarian regimes like North Korea whose 25% of the population is imprisoned by the state.
- That persecuted the first Muslim Nobel Laureate Dr Abdus Salam and refused to endorse his candidacy when he ran for the post of Director General of UNESCO. (Just because he was an Ahmadhi)
- Where out of more than 170 million citizens, fewer than 2 percent pay income tax and sectors such as stock markets remain untaxed.
- Where despite enormous American hatred, people usually seen standing in long queues outside the embassy for study or vacation visas.
- Where Bollywood songs are a regular feature in most weddings despite Pakistan’s enmity and hatred for the said Indians and thus the Pakistanis thrive on Indian forms of entertainment, i.e. its dramas (STAR PLUS), movies and music.
- That depends every year on the ‘West’ to avoid bankruptcy and for the approval of financial bailouts.
- Where the provincial government (KP) pays Rs20 million to the military authorities/elites, as charges for the helicopters used in the rescue operations during the flooding within the province.
- Where Hindu religion is officially abused in the text books of all public schools in which 70% of Pakistanis study.
- Where an Army General by the name of Musharraf openly violated the Constitution (even accepted on television) and was nevertheless given a safe passage to Edgware road London.
- Whose politicians/army/elite persecuted the Bengalis and launched Operation Searchlight during 1971, killing hundreds and thousands of people and raping women. Despite all this, this country never even apologised for their brutal acts. A country which at the same time accuses America of nuking Japan but doesn’t mention alongside that the same America later played a crucial role in developing Japan and apologised for its destruction caused.
- Where a popular national hero and philanthropist worshipped by millions has been an insult to science by calling Charles Darwin a “half baked” theorist.
- Where mafias operates openly on the nook and corner of every street and are involved in hoarding stocks of goods such as Flour and Sugar thus manipulating the price of the products in the market and causing unnecessary sufferings to the poor at their benefit.
- Where the crime rate is so high in urban areas that people are routinely killed for a meagre Rs 500 mobile phone.
- Where a ruthless army dictator, Ayub Khan, accused Fatima Jinnah (Women rights activist and sister of Jinnah) of being an Indian and American agent.
- Where national heroes are regularly accused of taking banned substances such as nandrolene, cannabis and such.
- Where a court demands a blind girl (Safia Bibi) to present four male adult Muslim witnesses in order to prove that she was gang raped or else she would be charged with having committed adultery and sentenced accordingly (Famous Asma Jehangir Hudood Ordinance Case).
- Where a philanthropist (Abdul Sattar Edhi) who easily qualifies as one of the world’s greatest humanitarian activists, is threatened by the army to such an extent that he needs to temporarily leave the country.
- Where the powerful military makes its own people suffer by blocking the relief aid from other countries just for the sake of its egotism and vanity (Recently Pakistan blocks UK offer of military aid for flood victims in protest against David Cameron’s comments on a selling trip to India)
- Where the combined yearly education and health budget is peanuts as compared to the gigantic military budget.
- That suffered a $35 billion economic loss and lost thousands of lives in the War on Terror andstill hasn’t declared Al Qaeda a terrorist organization. (Read here how a famous terrorist escaped punishment from High Court just because Al Qaeda is officially not a terrorist organization in the country).
- That spends $2 million of the people’s money for the legal process of a terrorist, Aafia Siddiqui, whereas no such financial assistance is allocated to the countless cases of women undergoing corporal punishments, domestic violence, arson, torture or kidnapping.
This is the real Pakistan that has been dominated mainly throughout its history by illiteracy, conspiracy theories, corruption, political instability, military interferences, terrorism and poverty. A country where leaders openly justify on national TV that their involvement in corruption is acceptable, by employing the same tactics as those employed by the likes of Mahreen Khan. According to them, it is justified to delve in some corruption because another person belonging to X party is also involved in corruption. Hence, there was nothing wrong with this equation. But the truth of the matter simply put is that two wrongs do not make one right.
Yes Pakistan has positive qualities too as does every other country to more or less some extent. In fact every individual has some positive qualities alongside the negative ones. But what defines you as a good person/ country are the overriding qualities—the good ones or the bad. In other words, the important thing is what prevails over you. For instance, an active child molester also donates some money to a school as charity on a monthly basis. The money he donates will be overpowered by the indecent acts towards children. The same goes for Pakistan whose negative qualities have tipped its scales towards being not only a failed state but a rogue state.
This is not the Pakistan which was envisioned by its founders. It has now instead become ‘Denialistan’ whose citizens do not accept their shortcomings and- if they are faced with no other choice but to accept their faults- are quick to justify them by pointing out similar failings of other states. Who similar to lambs, follow mindlessly what is fed into their brains through the variety of mediums present in the society (such as the military elite, the Ulema and other influential personalities who are idolised by the masses). Just like lambs do not use their minds before following its leader, the vast majority of us blindly follow these figures of influence without applying our brains to what is being said/ asked of us. Moreover those who dare to introspect are condemned as “western liberals” who ought to ‘Get another passport’.
According to this ‘Get another passport’ directive recently reiterated by “Flotilla Hulk”, a person should either blindly love Pakistan or, if he or she can’t do that, they should go get themselves another passport. (Reminiscent of George Bush’s “With us or against us Rhetoric”)
In reply to this, I would like to give the following example:
If a mother chides her child who is consistently failing exams due to an irresponsible attitude and who refuses to take studies seriously, she has every right to criticise her child and doing so does not make her less of a mother to her child. She only chides because she cares. If the same child brought in a good result, she would be equally quick to applaud him.
If we suppose that the mother in the above example was in fact ‘Flotilla Hulk’, what response to the child’s failings do we expect of him? Wouldn’t he criticise his son and take whatever steps are necessary to push his child towards success by pointing out what he was doing wrong? Or will he simply “Get another son”?
Similarly, if the critical analysts of our country have some vitriolic truths to convey to their readers, it is not to pull the country down, neither does it make them any less of a citizen. In fact it is for the betterment of the country at heart that they take a stand in the first place.
Above all, Pakistan is not the property of these Guevaras, Khans, Qureshis, Peerzadas, Guls etc, it’s the country of 170 million people and everyone has the constitutional right to form their opinion.
I would like to end this by dedicating the following quote to this Denial Brigade of Denialistan:
“Sometimes reality has a way of sneaking up and biting us in the ass. And when the dam bursts, all you can do is swim. The world of pretend is a cage, not a cocoon. We can only lie to ourselves for so long. We are tired, we are scared. Denying it doesn’t change the truth. Sooner or later we have to put aside our denial and face the world. Head on, guns blazing. De Nile. It’s not just a river in Egypt, it’s a freakin’ ocean. So how do you keep from drowning in it?” (By Meredith Grey)
If we keep denying ourselves the right to critically self-analyse, willingly turning a blind eye to the blatant causes of the problem, the potential within us to improve and tackle these deeply ingrained issues will be utterly wasted.
Analysis on Pakistan Army enterprize were taken from the book Military Inc.