I always like a bowl of spaghetti and sauce – or meat ball spaghetti – which is not only convenient to prepare but looks good also. The only thing that is a bit of an inconvenience is getting it from the plate to your mouth with grace. There would be this struggle to get the right amount wrapped around the fork and there are sure to be some strands dangling from it when you finally detach it from the totality; and unless you also use the power of your lungs, the dangly parts would simply not get through all the way. The reason is that to start with, the spaghetti is in separate strands but once they are all meshed up, it is simply impossible to separate them. They all come together in this wonderful jumble with an intricate, tangled mesh. I can't really say why each time I start analysing the situation that the rulers, military establishment and the fundamentalist right wing created in this unfortunate land the image of my favourite dish pops up.

The genesis of the problem always lies in the greed for power and lust for perpetuation of illegal or illegitimate rule. The reason for creating Frankensteins is simply to use them for ill conceived and short sighted shallow gains. The ultimate aim itself is an abstraction, driven out of some half-baked ideologies of imagined glory in yonder lands without an iota of wisdom regarding the real issues of the people of this region. The checkered history seems as if there are no real people or their multiple problems here, driven out of poverty and lack of opportunity. In its place is an imaginary goal of attaining a glory, for which the sacrifice of millions of people and generations of children is a mere footnote.

The cherished journey to that elusive glory itself was the destination. It hardly mattered how the millions of people suffered. It was far more important to liberate Kashmir, raise Pakistan’s flag in Red Fort in the Indian capital and extend the boundaries of the Pak Islamic Empire to the banks of Amu River in Russia, crossing the whole of Afghanistan. In the presence of such lofty ambitions it hardly mattered if dangerous games being played and murky plots being cooked up would have an extremely perilous impact on the very survival of the country; and that it would destroy the entire social fabric across the four provinces. It was also conveniently forgotten that these plots and plans might actually not turn out to be a success or that there was an overwhelming probability of total failure. It was also not considered that by creating a huge force of illiterate, unskilled militants and arming them to the teeth, as well as providing them military training, might be a bit dangerous if any or all of them decided to go rogue. It was also forgotten that although the militants might be illiterate or uneducated, they had learnt the art of survival in treacherous conditions – and they would not be cheated or made fools of easily.

It was none other than Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who in the guise of a nationalist and a democrat, played in the hands of the right-wing extremist forces in order to perpetuate his ill-gotten rule over severed Pakistan and effectively destroyed any slim chance of this country ever progressing in the right direction. The seeds of hatred and bigotry were laid and made a part and parcel of the Constitution; and the stage was set for the extremists to play their games in the name of religion. Zia-ul -Haq merely used the opportunity, so conveniently provided by Bhutto, to perpetuate his evil rule and built on the foundations provided by Bhutto himself. The people, in blaming Zia alone, forget that it was Bhutto who drove this country on the path of extremism.

The long stories have oft been repeated and no amount of regret would turn the clock back. But the facts remain that the military establishment and the political governments both used right wing religious parties in their clever games. There are scores of retired generals who till this day come on TV and state how they created militants with the help of religious leaders of big madrassas and used them for various adventures and proudly called them their ‘strategic assets’. They were used in Afghanistan, Kashmir, Kargil and elsewhere in covert operations, in order to carry on the journey toward the ultimate destination of glory and control. 

How many children were used and wasted? How many denied the right to life and liberty? How many used as killing machines? How many discarded as cannon fodder? How many deceived and betrayed as the policies from above kept shifting and swinging from time to time? The militants became the killing machines they were tuned into and their patrons in the country have grown bigger and stronger. The killers, who were raised as the fifth line of defence, turned their guns around to target the children of this country now.

But even today is there any serious thought and plan regarding the elimination of the menace that is now threatening our existence; that is targeting our children in schools and colleges? Has anyone thought of looking into the syllabus and atmosphere of the madrassas where these militants are coming from? What are they taught there? Who is teaching them and what are those methodologies that even the young boys are obsessed with dying and having access to seventy-two virgins? How is lust for sex being used as a teaching tool? Is anyone in the government bothered about the innumerable hate speeches recorded before live audiences against Ahmadis, Shias and other sects? Has anyone noticed how people are incited to kill openly and aggressively and the teachers and preachers are known figures? To give just one example: is anyone in Pakistan bothered that so called Moulana Tariq Jameel is openly giving sermons on the body contours, sizes, height and dresses of the promised virgins in heaven, which will be available to momineens and martyrs and describing them in minute details in the Ramazan sermons and that the listeners are enjoying his erotic khutba with great amusement and religious fervour? Is anyone bothered that this might be contributing to the tendency of becoming suicide bombers?

Have the people also gone utterly mad in this country? I have no other explanation as to how seemingly normal people can sit in front of a preacher in a Juma Khutba in a mosque in Ramazan, which is supposedly a time for abstinence and listen to erotica and not be bothered? Not even one? No one stood up and bothered to ask, where the hell did the moulana come up with this great piece of information?

And yet there is no check on people like this so called scholar, no check on Moulvi abdul Aziz, no check on the leaders of banned organizations giving sermons all over the country and publishing pamphlets to spread their messages of hope. No, there is nothing and neither is there any hope of it. For, these characters did not jump out of a horror movie, but were created, nurtured, facilitated and used by someone important. And boy, they are having loads of fun now enjoying their part of the deal.

I implore the Prime Minister of Pakistan if he is the least bit serious about the security of this battered country, then would he be kind enough to get out of his slumber and pay attention to the activities of these so called religious preachers. Would he please take some time out of his busy schedule of globetrotting and private visits to UK every month, to just sit down and listen to the recordings available on the internet, including Maulana Tariq Jameel. And although I have not even an iota of hope from Mr Imran Khan I can however request his party members to ask him not to invite the ‘Hoor describing maulvi’ to his palace for cozy dinners. But if he must invite him, please do ask how he found the details of the contours of the celestial virgins.