As the sunny mornings warm and comfort us in the definitely descending winter chill, things have been heating up on some other fronts too. The long-standing PPB (Perpetual Plan B) of the Army – the Jamaat-e-Islami has been given a serious rap on the knuckles by the institution. The JI got it all seriously wrong this time and then to cover its massive faux pas wove itself into so many knots that it is finding it exceedingly difficult to go back to its original holy position!

Those of us who have always wondered at the importance that the JI has been able to get in national politics, despite never winning substantial seats, have been watching this chickens coming home to roost play-out. It is the Army that has always relied on this party to support its jihadist leanings as well as its forays in to political power. While also acknowledging that the Army is an institution that safeguards our borders effectively, the love affair with the JI and others of their ilk always seemed a bit too risky, whatever the goals may have been.

The majority of us, in both urban and rural areas, are not inclined towards the JI and similar schools of thought. The centuries old history of this inclusive land, if taught correctly, is a testimony to that. Pakistan was conceived to be a modern, progressive and social welfare state that was in harmony with the modern times. But the power games which certain leaders of our Army played, in cahoots with others with vested interests, did lead us up a path where now there is no option but to do a u-turn. As the Army has done with the JI. One is reminded of Nasir Kazmi’s verse;

Niyat e shauq bhar na jai kahin

Tub hi dil sai utar na jai kahin

Forgotten is the friend of yore and a fork clearly visible in their respective paths. For that there is nothing else to do but heave a huge sigh of relief and say under our breaths ‘Allah be praised’.

The head of JI Munawwar Hasan clearly over stepped acceptable boundaries when he said that our soldiers and officers who have given their lives in this war against terrorism do not have the status of shaheeds. I think this one sound byte from him has brought everyone, just everyone, other than the JI and JUF, on one page. We may not agree with the adventurist tendencies that some Army leaders have displayed at times but there are no two opinions about how we value the bulk of our Army and its role whenever called upon to safeguard the people from all types of calamities, including the ongoing threats against terrorism.

However, the release from the ISPR sorted it out for us leaving no ambiguity about what the institution thought of this unwise comment. The Prime Minister’s visit to GHQ the following day also sealed the stand of the government. If ever there was a need to isolate comments like the one that the JI head made, and by which he stands to date, is collectively and in the here and now. We do not have any choice but to learn from our mistakes and go forward in the light of that experience.

As the year draws to a close and another General selected to lead our Army upon the present chief’s retirement, the Army high command needs to re evaluate its strategies and actions in the light of its past policies. It has to take a hard look at the demons that it helped to create and which have become monsters in its own backyard, demanding a role much bigger than was conceived in the original plan for them. Allama Tahir ul Qadri, among the few scholars who have studied Islam and speak from knowledge based research, refuted the JI chief’s statement effectively as did some other religious scholars. We do not need fissures and divisions and demoralization of our troops at a point in time when the end game seems nigh.

The ten days of Muharram were more or less fine, barring the preventable skirmish in Rawalpindi. These ten days also revive the battle of Karbala and the commemoration of the sacrifice offered for truth and justice by the House of the Prophet. Karbala reminds us of the stand that has to be taken for principles and the steadfastness required in the face of tyrants. There cannot be a bigger or better example of victory in death and of defeat in winning as is demonstrated in the tragedy of Karbala, over 1400 years ago. And for the life of me, I cannot figure out why remembering and recalling the sacrifices made by the Prophet’s family is considered incorrect by some.

We seem to have lost the ability to reason logically and see clearly. Those who try to do that publicly are humiliated and ganged-up against. While non issues are debated ad infinitum no serious work is visible towards bringing about real changes in society which can only come from better educating them and working on producing a generation that can break free from the shackles of misinformation and bigotry. It is food for thought for our elected government as well as the establishment when they chalk out plans for our future at the dawn of 2014.

The writer is a public relations and event management professional based in Islamabad.

tallatazim@yahoo.com

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