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A forsaken place?

by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Most people live in a make-believe world of their own in which a Kalmah-reciting person considers himself superior to others who do not. This was clearly demonstrated when the coffin containing the mortal remains of Air Blue disaster victim Prem Chand was emblazoned across its length with the word kafir

Sheikh Saadi in Gulistan narrates: “After conquering Egypt, Haroon-ur-Rasheed deliberately assigned as governor his slave Khaseeb there as a punishment because the Pharaoh had claimed divine status. Khaseeb’s ignorance was as legendary as Luqman Hakeem’s wisdom. Once when floods destroyed the cotton crop, the farmers complained about the loss to him. He replied, ‘Why don’t you sow wool instead of cotton?’” and thus displayed his legendary ignorance.v

Khaseeb was Haroon-ur-Rasheed’s retribution for Pharaoh’s transgression. Have you ever wondered what sins the people here have committed to suffer the Khaseeb-like rulers, elite and establishment? The punishment has been harsh and unremitting, its severity and duration indicating, on above logic, that colossal sins must have merited this third degree chastisement.

As there is no Haroon-ur-Rasheed assigning Khaseebs here, why has there been an unbroken line of succession of Khaseebs? Metaphorically speaking, some say, the gods have forsaken this place and it is therefore permanently saddled with rulers of Khaseeb’s ilk. But, surely, they are not the result of the displeasure of the gods because the people here have religiously and regularly voted the Khaseebs into power, though sometimes the army’s august Khaseebs invite themselves to the throne. It is with the consent and connivance of the people that the rulers of Khaseeb’s ilk rule here. People pay the penalty for their mistakes, errors, acts of omission and commission and acceptance of military rule without resistance in the form of Khaseebs, both civilian and military. The gods only forsake those who forsake themselves.

The fundamental problem is that the people in general and the rulers, elite and the establishment in particular are enmeshed in an eternal, pernicious and remedy-resistant political, cultural, historical and economic warp. They are simply out of touch with the modern-day needs and realities and live in a fantasy-dominated life of the Islamic and Mughal eras, which cannot be replicated today and which even then were far from perfect. They live in their own make-believe world, steadfastly refusing to accept reality and the urgent need to conform to the demands of contemporary life. This, in turn, has promoted fundamentalist intolerance and violence.

The fundamentalist violence and intolerance finds justification in the belief that some are superior to others on the basis of religious beliefs alone. The protagonists of this belief try to depersonalise and dehumanise others so that the killings and oppression can be justified. Remarkably, when the Hutus began the genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda, they termed them as cockroaches and that dehumanisation and depersonalisation made that inhumane genocide possible. This course and scheme is not only used for religious persecution here, but for the persecution of the minority nationalities as well. Until and unless this fundamental misconception is removed, the genie of violence and intolerance cannot be bottled. This task now seems well nigh impossible because the state here has for long calculatingly nurtured and nourished this genie to Herculean strength.

Many still genuinely believe that natural disasters are a retribution for their black deeds. Most people live in a make-believe world of their own in which a Kalmah-reciting person considers himself superior to others who do not. This was clearly demonstrated when the coffin containing the mortal remains of Air Blue disaster victim Prem Chand was emblazoned across its length with the word kafir. It has always been beyond me to comprehend how on virtue of a religious belief someone could be superior to others, or say Rachel Corrie.

The misconceived belief of the army and government that they are invincible and represent the ummah has led to the present orchestration of the burning of the oil tankers. These attacks in Sindh and Balochistan show that the Taliban have been facilitated to make deep inroads into these otherwise secular, Taliban-free areas. This attempt to put up a mock show of public resentment at violation of their very precious sovereignty is going to have long-term debilitating and pernicious implications, which the powers here in their make-believe world cannot comprehend.

For one, the government and armed forces of this already anarchy-ridden country are giving a free hand to criminals and religious elements to do whatever they want with impunity though, in contrast, if a lawyer like Zaman Khan Marri and Ali Sher Kurd expresses resentment at injustices against the Baloch, he is brutally eliminated. This free hand to the Taliban and criminals will allow them to eliminate whatever resistance to their outdated ideology remains here, the recent attacks on Sufi shrines and moderate scholars being an example.

They should also not forget that the US is very unforgiving of insults from non-entities. They will soon get an alternate route for their supplies through Russia and the Central Asian Republics (CARs) and then proceed to test Pakistan’s resolve on the sovereignty issue to their satisfaction. After the apology from NATO, the foreign ministry too has suddenly become alive to sovereignty-violating drone attacks, which have gone on for donkeys of years. I wonder how soon the powers here, now smirking at extracting the apology, will go with hat in hand to the US to plead for mercy.

Unfortunately, the Khaseebs here are an undying and unrepentant breed. Now Musharraf, not content with the surfeit of people’s blood and miseries that taint his nine-year misrule, plans to return. Speculations about his future are rife, with most pundits ruling him out. I would, however, advise caution; this is a funny country. Who in his right mind would have believed in November 2007 that Zardari would become the president? This country has not yet lost its capability of surprising even the most seasoned pundit.

Logic and rationality has never had pride of place in this country as most happenings defy common sense. Little wonder George Bernard Shaw termed it as ‘uncommon sense’. I sometimes wonder why, given this place’s weirdness, the laws of physics and other sciences still apply here.

An anecdote may well explain the attitude and behaviour of the rulers, elite and establishment. Once Mullah Naseeruddin was told that his mother-in-law had drowned; he rushed to the spot and started walking upstream. Surprised, his friends advised the downstream route. He replied, “You probably didn’t know her, she acted differently obsessively, so I am certain we will find her body somewhere upstream.” You can always bank on the rulers here to do the exact opposite of what the ground reality demands of them. The people too, sadly, either mutely follow or emulate them.

Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He can be contacted at

Original article