Apr 292008

Ahmed Quraishi

Adnan Babur Mirza would have been a real prince today had his family fortune lasted. His great-great-granduncle was Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last king of the Mughal dynasty in what used to be Muslim India. Today, this handsome 25-year-old Pakistani is in a Texas jail under a 25-year sentence in a confusing case that the FBI links to terrorism but his family links to Washington’s Pakistan paranoia. His widowed mother in Karachi was denied a visa for a third time last month by the US embassy in Islamabad. She just wanted to meet her sole breadwinner. She might not see him again in her lifetime.

Compare this American callousness to Pakistani generosity. Sarabjit Singh kills innocent Pakistanis. His family not only gets a visa to come and see him, they also get an opportunity to create emotional scenes captured on television and exploited to pressure Islamabad for an amnesty. Asma Jahangir, a Pakistani rights activist, jumps at the photo-opportunity with the Singh family but utters not a single word about the agony of families of around 500 Pakistanis in Indian jails.

If this is not enough to dent your pride, the next lines should. Our entire western region from Gwadar to the Chinese border is up in flames. The connection here is obvious. A UN probe is about to be sanctioned by our own government that will turn us into another Rwanda or Lebanon. And some of our brightest diplomats, renowned for giving our rivals hard times in closed-door diplomatic parleys, are being sidelined. You would think some of this deserves attention. Yet, some Pakistanis continue to pretend that restoring a bunch of judges to their old jobs is the number-one priority of the nation.

It is criminal that this issue received more airtime last week than, for instance, the visit of the Afghan foreign minister. Rangeen Dafdar Spanta breezed through Islamabad even as his government’s forces killed several Pakistani soldiers on the border. Nothing happened. Not even a whimper from our side. If this were Turkey or China, Mr Spanta would have been snubbed by at least one or two senior officials, who would have declined to meet him in protest.

But what Pakistani official would dare take such a bold step, in a country where mediocrity beats uprightness any time. After the dismissal of Foreign Secretary Riaz Muhammad Khan, a China linguist and a defender of Pakistani rights, it is Munir Akram’s neck on the line. A recent op-ed piece in The New York Times predicted Pakistan’s break-up after Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. Akram, our UN envoy, immediately fired back a response that included this splendid line: “Pakistan is a strong state held together solidly by the patriotism of its people and the strength of its civilian and military institutions.” It’s ironic that the new government might dismiss Akram from office but is nominating Husain Haqqani, seen by many as a prolific Pakistan-basher in US media and think-tank circles, as our new ambassador to Washington.

Only an enemy would wish us the loss of such high-calibre diplomats. Yet they are on their way out because they dared tell the new government that a UN probe in the Bhutto assassination is not in our larger interest. The worst thing that can happen to any nation is to come under foreign occupation. And a UN probe is the second-worst thing after an occupation.

You would have thought the cold-blooded murder of a vice-chancellor at the Balochistan University would have finally brought the much-awaited universal condemnation by Pakistani politicians and media for the Balochistan Liberation Army, a terrorist outfit and a Cold War Soviet creation that was revived in 2003 by some elements in the Kabul government with help from their Indian friends. As a Pakistani, I was expecting to hear our government officials use the sad death of the professor to call on our misguided young men to drop arms and rejoin their people. Instead, steps are afoot to rehabilitate the image of the late Akbar Bugti, a man who went down fighting his country.

Compare this to Maqbul Hussain, a symbol of supreme courage and unshakeable love for the homeland. You wouldn’t look at him if he passed you by on the street. His tongue is cut and he’s mentally retarded. Just a sipahi, a low-rank soldier forgotten by his people. The Indians arrested him in the 1965 war, tortured him for forty years. But he refused to breakdown and divulge information. So they cut his tongue. When they pushed him across the border a little over two years ago, the first thing this wretched sipahi did was to walk all the way to the base of his unit and report to duty. That’s pride.

The writer works for Geo TV. Email: aq@ ahmedquraishi.com

Courtesy: The News, 29/4/2008

 Posted by at 7:59 am

Leave a Reply

en English
%d bloggers like this: