Pity the Nation…
By Khalil Gibran
Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion.
Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave,
eats a bread it does not harvest,…
Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero,
and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful.
Pity the nation that raises not its voice
save when it walks in a funeral,
boasts not except among its ruins,
and will rebel not save when its neck is laid
between the sword and the block.
Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox,
whose philosopher is a juggler,
and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking.
Pity the nation whose sages are dumb with years
and whose strong men are yet in the cradle.
Pity the nation divided into fragments,
each fragment deeming itself a nation.
In 1998, an event in Pakistan drew elation across the Muslim world – we became the first and only Muslim nuclear power, Alhumdulillah. We, the vanguard of the Islamic Ummah, delivered the latest WMD (weapon of mass destruction) now in Muslim hands. After all, Allah (swt) has commanded us: “And make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war (tanks, planes, missiles, artillery, etc.) to threaten the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others besides whom, you may not know but whom Allah does know…” (Al-Anfal, 8:60)
Armed with the latest technology, Pakistan was all set before 9/11 to take its rightful place in the comity of nations; it had earned their honour and respect. Two major world conflicts had been on Pakistan’s agenda since its creation and remained to that fateful day: Palestine and Kashmir. Both involved Muslims in the ‘little guy’ position, and both had the financial, political and social support of the people of Pakistan.
The Soviet-Afghan War was another crucial political stance that Pakistan chose to back. It supervised the entire war, aiding the winning Afghans, and in the aftermath of the fall of the USSR and its withdrawal, influenced the political landscape that resulted in the Taliban gaining power in Afghanistan. Pakistan now had a protected western border.
Iran, Pakistan’s other important Muslim neighbour, received undoubting support during the Gulf War (Iran/Iraq in the 1980s), eventually winning against the Saddam regime.
Thus, contrary to the CFR’s report (Council on Foreign Relations) which states “that Pakistan used to be a world pariah: censured and sanctioned for its nuclear ambitions”, Pakistan’s geographic location enabled it to provide a leading voice and play a decisive role in major international issues.
Post 9/11, Pakistan was offered a choice, a dichotomous choice – to consider only two alternatives when, in fact, there were additional options (shades of grey between the extremes). An incorrect logic (fallacy) was used in an attempt to force a choice: “If you are not with us, you are against us.”
One man, the then all-powerful General Musharraf, decided to make the biggest U-turn any country has ever made in its history, regarding its foreign policy. He ‘volunteered’ Pakistan in the US’s ‘War on Terror’, initially for a paltry $ 4.2 billion (approx. $26 per person). This quickly turned into a ‘War of Terror’ for Pakistan.
Taking up arms in Islam can be classified into three categories:
- Self-defence: where the individual is authorized to take action to protect himself.
- Retaliation: this involves the state. An individual cannot retaliate, or else you will have people killing each other at will, resulting in chaos.
- Pre-emptive violence: this also involves the state. The when-a-country-hasn’t-done-anything-yet-but-might-do-something-in-the-future-so-we-should-go-after-it-now stance.
It suffices to say that none of the above applied to Pakistan, when it decided to enter the ‘War on Terror’. Being on the invading side against former friends that Pakistan had helped meant abandoning all its previous policies, resulting in the loss of Pakistan’s world stature and respect. More importantly, Pakistan had no religious, legal or any other type of reason to become a party in this war.
What has Pakistan lost? Politically, it lost its allies, its integrity in the international arena and became infamous for having a corrupt government and being a creator of terrorists and terrorism. Economically, it has lost $ 2 trillion, and experienced an inflation rise of 300%. Loss of human life stands at several tens of thousands. Drone attacks have wreaked havoc in the tribal belt, traditionally Pakistan’s line of defense on the western front. But these are merely facts and figures.
Pity the nation that has lost its youth to senseless pursuits, where the price of bread is ten times more than the SMS package offered by cellular phone companies – targeting the teens and tweens of Pakistan.
Pity the nation that has lost its voice of morality in the pandemonium of clinking coins, where the concept that ‘might is right’ prevails and the common man has no hope for justice, or the time to pursue it due to the rising living expenses.
Pity the nation that has betrayed its citizens in exchange for friendship with the bully, where the government trades its citizens to please the tyrant and buries its head in the sand when the common man asks for justice, for instance, drone attacks, the Raymond Davis case.
Lord Macaulay, in his 1835 address to the British parliament said: “Do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage…for if the Indians (prior to partition) think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem…and they will become what we want them: a truly dominated nation.”
Pity the nation that will not understand, that will not teach its children and youth its history, and that will not admonish its young when they belittle all that is theirs in favour of all that is foreign.
Pity the nation that has lost its identity; we love our country from afar. Let someone else suffer the suicide bombings, drone attacks, etc. Acquire money and travel to greener pastures. Pakistan has seen a mass exodus of qualified people, while the country needs these people in order to progress.
However, there is hope, for Allah (swt) says: “O You who believe! Take not as (your) Bitanah (advisors, consultants, protectors, helpers, friends, etc.) those outside your religion (pagans, Jews, Christians, and hypocrites) since they will not fail to do their best to corrupt you. They desire to harm you severely. Hatred has already appeared from their mouths, but what their breasts conceal is far worse, indeed we have made plain to you the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses) if you understand.” (Al-Imran, 3:118)
All is not lost, only if we understand and act. We have the technology; we must educate and focus on our youth. Life after 9/11 in Pakistan is not a struggle; it is a focused move ahead towards a common goal – to revive Pakistan’s economy, education and moral status internationality, to reverse the ‘brain drain’ and to trust the ultimate design that Allah (swt) has for us. Ameen.
Are you contributing towards the positive in Pakistan, a decade after 9/11?
- Are you trying to encourage unity among yourselves, regardless of what you want and what you do (in terms of age group, profession, etc.)?
- Are you endorsing merit and justice in your own capacity?
- Are you buying Pakistani products to help the local economy?
- Are you curbing wastage?
- Are you putting on hold an extravagant lifestyle?
- Are you educating yourself and others about Islam, and the responsibilities that come with it?
- Are you discouraging foreign cultural invasion?
- Are you setting a personal example for youth and children?
- Are you refraining from patronizing incompetent people based on ethnicity?
- Are you boycotting corrupt politicians and their parties?
Box Feature 2
Positive trends in Pakistan post 9/11
- Masajid are thriving in great numbers.
- Muslim lifestyle publications have penetrated the market.
- There are a myriad of workshops on Islamic guidance and counselling.
- Schools have been established with integrated curriculum (Deen+Duniya).
- An Islamic financial system is in place.
- There is a more conscious endorsement of the Shariah dress code.
- More individuals at all levels are coming forward to found and fund welfare organizations
- Pakistan is the leading Muslim country to pay Zakah.
- Pakistanis are realizing their identity as a Muslim.
In a nutshell, Islam is returning to the Muslims. Yes, Pakistanis are not perfect. We need to work harder, and with more competence and cooperation. However, there is great hope. We should not feel dejected and give into maligning and mud-slinging. Self-criticism should be aimed towards improvement and not disappointment and pessimism.