The other day a young man connected with me on WhatsApp posted angry criticism on the Army, for enforcing the security cordon around the 23 March Parade Venue during a rehearsal. It was apparent that a critical feature of the security arrangements for the annual event, was the denial of certain roads to general traffic. Elaborate details of alternate routes was therefore announced on television and FM radios the evening before, and in all probability ignored or perhaps missed by some commuters, who travel on a daily basis between the twin cities. The result was that people were unable to reach their destinations in time or some found the check points irksome. I too was stopped thrice, during my daily drive to the office. My car was searched and my identity verified in a most professional courteous manner. I crossed the last barrier praising the soldier for a job diligently done and received a smart salute as reward.
The outburst on WhatsApp may have been overlooked by me as immature and reflective of a point of view generally held by individuals, who have either studied or worked on well-paid jobs abroad. I would have digested it in the knowledge that this category of Pakistanis (barring some exceptions) are so infatuated with ‘western systems’ matured through centuries that they have detached themselves from native dynamics which are only seven decades old. What prompted me to take serious notice of the comments was that a couple of other young individuals allied themselves with the notion that by implication, vilified the defenders of our internal and external frontiers.
Criticism of our valiant soldiers is not something new. It has been regularly done by ‘liberal progressive intellectuals’, from the comfort and security of their homes – a comfort and security that flows from the sacrifices rendered by the men in uniform. Many of these individuals attain celebrity status as writers and human right activists and in the euphoria of their success, it is easy for them to forget that they owe a debt of allegiance to their motherland – a debt that cannot be paid by ‘consorting’ with those hostile to Pakistan.
The news that the late Asma Jehangir, who earned international fame as a human rights activist was being awarded Nishan e Pakistan did not surprise me, considering the fact that the PML N government and its disqualified leader have consistently shown a soft corner for the ‘other side’. I shall be nonetheless be failing in objectivity and truth if I do not reluctantly acknowledge Ms. Jehangir’s courage in pursuing controversial human right issues and even producing remarkable results for which she has won acclaim at home and abroad. All her achievements, however become controversial, by activities that insult the sensitivities of the nation.
Her visit to India in the late 1990s on a UN Ambassadorial mission, where she met Bal Thackeray (the radical Hindu leader, who consistently demonstrated nothing but hatred for Pakistan and Muslims) would not have caused a furor had she not chosen to wear Saffron colored garments and all but relinquished her national identity. Then Ms. Jehangir appeared on media receiving the “Friends of Liberation War Honour” award from the Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajid. The celebrity from Pakistan not only attended the ceremony that ‘back stabbed’ the memory of those valiant Pakistan men, women and children (both civilian and military), who lost their lives brutally at the hands of Mukti Bahini, but later demanded an international probe for what she termed as genocide by the Army.
Asma Jehangirs fervor for human rights and her animosity towards the Armed Forces appears to have pushed her across the threshold of reason. In August 2017, she represented the families of terror convicts sentenced to death by military tribunals before the Supreme Court, but lost the case. She also spoke against the five member Supreme Court judgment, which deposed Nawaz Sharif from office, questioning the presence of Inter Services and Military Intelligence representatives in the Joint Investigation Team.
The award of Pakistan’s highest civil award to someone, who eulogizes an enemy that deprived us of our East Wing and who demands an international probe into what she terms as ‘genocide’ by Pakistan Army is something that is, to say the least, another indication of how the Government is detached from the pulse of the nation – a pulse that beats against conferment of the award.
The writer is a freelance columnist.