On a bright Sunday morning in April, 2005, a group of excited and eager young men and women had gathered at the Gujranwala stadium, to participate in a mini-marathon, organized by the city administration, on a cue from President Musharraf and his wishes of presenting a soft image of Pakistan to the world. Something the CM, Punjab had done with his Lahore Youth Festival recently.
However, the organizers at that time had not taken into consideration the wrath of the self appointed protectors of the faith, who strongly felt that men and women running together in a mixed race was a threat to Islam and its values. So, they decided to put a stop at this un-Islamic display of vulgarity, by attacking the unarmed young men and women.
And instead of running in the race, the women participants had to run for their lives to save themselves from being attacked by hundreds of furious and angry MMA workers, who gate crashed into the stadium.
Armed with batons, sticks, Molotov cocktails and various weapons, they burnt cars and motorbikes, set fire to vehicles and petrol pumps, damaged other property, injured policemen and tried to kill the district police officer.
And instead of the “soft image” of Musharraf’s Pakistan, the world watched in horror the harsh images of innocent women being chased through the streets of Gujranwala by frantic, angry, screaming, stick waving MMA workers. The police tried to protect the participants by using teargas, but finally had to open fire to subdue the angry mob, injuring several and arresting hundreds - The March of the Taliban had begun.
Recently, a Rtd. Parsi Maj. Gen. of the Pakistan army had also warned that the Taliban had entrenched themselves in Karachi and in two more years, the city would face serious infighting between MQM and the Taliban. He had advised people with money, to take their heads out of the sand and get out from this blighted city, as they would be the first target.
According to the security agencies, thousands of Taliban now have a well organized network throughout Pakistan, equipped with sophisticated and modern weapons. They have already captured large portions of the tribal areas and are now preparing to grab the rest.
The continuous and repeated daring attacks on our secured areas, including army and police installations, are a proof that the Taliban have infiltrated these highly sensitive institutions, as such attacks are not possible without the help and assistance from the Enemy Within. To win back their hearts and minds is not going to be easy.
For the time being, a cease fire between the government and the Taliban has been declared, but how long it will last is anybody’s guess. The March has come to a temporary halt, but have their demands changed? Their leaders have stated that Islam does not allow democracy or elections and they view democracy as a system imposed on us by the infidels and declared that they do not respect the Constitution of Pakistan or the laws of the country and want the supremacy of the Sharia Law in Pakistan.
Many fear that making a deal with the Taliban will lead to more violence and bloodshed, which could finally be the beginning of the end of our way of life. Our governments have been using the Taliban as the ‘Bogey Men’ and crying ‘Wolf!’ to scare the West into pouring millions of dollars to fight them, but now, the Bogey Men have become a reality and have come to haunt us.
Our leaders have always been reluctant to establish social justice and an equitable socio-economic order, the root cause of the discontent between the haves and the have not’s and have only been interested in looking after themselves. They have ignored the needs of the poverty-stricken population, who have been suffering for the last five decades.
And we, the educated and the privileged, have played the fiddle, while our cities burnt. Therefore, the stage has been set for the March of the Taliban, which began many years back. The danger was never admitted until now, when it is too late.
Mr. Roedad Khan, a relic of the past and a senior, retired federal secretary who served under two Prime Ministers and six Presidents, in varying positions, has expressed his anguish and pain at what Pakistan has become.
In his article, ‘The rage in my heart’, in the News on February, 2009, Mr. Khan had written: ‘Mr. Jinnah could not have foreseen the tragic decline of Pakistan when he passed his flaming torch into the hands of his successors or how venal those hands could be. Sixty five years after Mr. Jinnah gave us a great country, little men mired in corruption, captured political power and destroyed his legacy. I have been frightened for my country only a few times in my life, this moment is the scariest of all’.
We all appreciate and share Mr. Khan’s anguish and pain, but wish that he and other senior bureaucrats, judges, professionals, journalists and citizens, had only remembered the words of Sir Hartley Shawcross, the Attorney General of GB, at the Nuremberg Trials in 1946, where he had stated:
‘There comes a point when a man must refuse to answer to his leaders, if he is also to answer to his conscience ’. And another, which states that: ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.’ And that is the sad story of Pakistan.
If these fine, honorable men had broken their Silence of the Lambs, acted according to the dictates of their conscience and voiced their anguish and pain two decades back and had The the courage to say NO to the policies of their leaders, things in Pakistan would have been different.
In fact, most of the problems that we face today are linked to the wrong policies of our leaders and their advisors, who were only interested in their ‘merck’s and perks’. And even now, when the country is facing such a grave situation, our assemblies are filled with Ministers, MNAs, MPAs and Senators, whose only interest is self preservation and to benefit from the joy ride. They refuse to break the ‘Silence of the Lambs’ and lack the moral courage to say NO to the wrong policies of their leaders.
May God save the country from the shallow and hollow men and women of Pakistan.
Hamid Maker. (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).