“Where do I begin?

To tell the story of how great a love can be

The sweet love story that is older than the sea

The simple truth about the love he brings to me

Where do I start?”

Where do I begin? With the Russian invasion of Afghanistan? With seventh century Arabia? With Zulifqar Ali Bhutto in 1974? With Benazir Bhutto in 1996? With Zia-ul-Haq and the advent of his Islamization? Where?  Where do I begin the narration of this sweet love story?

It’s hard. It’s hard to decide. Shall we begin today? Isn’t it as relevant as any date in history?

Today, we are in the throes of a strange war–a war characterized by an extraordinary love for the enemy, a peculiar tenderness for our killers. A war defined by the theme song for Erich Segal’s ‘Love Story’ more than by anything else. Only one of the pinnacles of this love story was played out recently when the present dayleader of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Hakimullah Mehsood, was interviewed on the BBC, heard and watched all over Pakistan. And we, the starry-eyed, expressed our adoration deliriously.

Not that there wasn’t enough evidence built up over the years of what the TTP and its affiliates were, or what their goals and objectives were. But since the state, its instruments, and all those concerned with strategic decision making on its behalf decided to bury their heads in the sand, the Taliban dropped a bomb in their efforts to wake up the State (to no avail, might one add). Quite obliging of them, still. Whilst his supporters in the mainstream political and media elite have stated innumerable times in the past that all our troubles emanate from our participation in ‘America’s war’, TTP leader Hakimullah has helpfully clarified once and for all that our troubles will not end with US exit from Afghanistan in 2014. Dear leaders, do you hear that? Dear All Parties Conference callers, can you hear him? Oh, but you are in love.

“With his first hello he gave a meaning to this empty world of mine

There’d never be another love another time

He came into my life and made the living fine

He fills my heart”

The TTP made your living so fine. It turned Swat into a real paradise – of gushing rivers of blood, of music crackling with the sound of machetes, of trees leaden with headless hanging bodies, of Chand Bibi, bottoms lacerated, screaming for her life. It was so fine.  

Intriguingly, his sacred word with regard to the Drone attacks closely shadows that of his supporters like Hamid Gul from the armed forces, like Imran Khan and Qazi Hussain Ahmed and their pack of PTI and JI, like Ansar Abbasi and Orya Maqbool Jan in the media. In his interview, Hakimullah has laid down a cease to Drone strikes as the Taliban’s first pre-condition to any ‘dialogue’ – since the Drones target the ‘innocent’. Of course. The state of Pakistan is conniving with the US to kill its innocent citizens in this war, and the TTP wants to save us. You see, the Drones do not target the TTP or Al Qaeda. Had that been the case, brave Hakimullah and his brave organization would just have fought back with their bare hands, Allah on their side. It’s on behalf of innocent masses being murdered by the US and the Jews and Indians together with the complicit Pakistani state, that he demands a stop to Drone attacks. Oh, my eyes should water for love of him.

“Like a summer rain

That cools the pavement with a patent leather shine

He came into my life and made the living fine

And gave a meaning to this empty world of mine

He fills my heart”

Dear Give Peace a Chance Leaders, doesn’t he fill your hearts with love … he ordered to shoot to kill a girl of 15? So refreshing in his approach, so valient in his actions. He gave a meaning to the empty world you lived in – he tried to bring the light back into that place cursed with the darkness of knowledge.

Hakimullah avows the TTP’s responsibility to protect Muslims, their Masjids and Madrassas. And for ease of reference defines Muslims too: those who love Islam, the Islamic ‘system’ and do not accept the system of the Kuffar (read democracy). He tells us the blasts that kill us every day in schools, markets, hospitals, buses and  places of worship are being carried out by the ‘agencies’. Ever the harbinger of truth, he unmasks the true enemy of the people. Dear leaders of the All Parties Conference, your agencies bomb us. You participate in democracy. You are not Muslims. You are the enemy. Are you listening? Oh, but you are in love.

“How long does it last?

Can love be measured by the hours in a day?

I have no answers now, but this much I can say

I’m going to need him till the stars all burn away

And he’ll be there”

Yes, till the stars all burn away, he’ll be there. Benazir Bhutto, Bashir Bilour, Sanaullah Niazi, Mushtaq Beg, Safwat Ghayyur, Mian Rashid Hussain and fifty thousand others have burnt away. But, dear Dialogue Leaders, he’ll be there, till we all burn away.  Because, as the mighty Hakimullah Mehsud says, American withdrawal from Afghanistan will make no difference to the TTP. Because TTP’s fight with the people and state of Pakistan is not based just on their friendship with the United States. That is but one reason. The TTP will attack Pakistan till the current political system is replaced with Nifaz-e-Shariat. And no Siri Paye points, or Chars points, for guessing who will be Emir-ul-Momineen.

Oh, but you will be spared. Because he fills your heart.

“He fills my heart with very special things

With angels’ songs, with wild imaginings

He fills my soul with so much love

That anywhere I go, I’m never lonely

With him along, who could be lonely

I reach for his hand, he’s always there”

Oh, do go on then and reach for his hand. Like the moth with the fire, go dance with him. Go sit in his Jirga – he invited you so. Go and negotiate with him. He’ll always be there. Till the stars all burn away…

The writer is a human rights worker and freelance columnist.

email: gulnbukhari@gmail.com

twitter: @gulbukhari