Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dust to dust: The bomb's journey from Chagai Mountains to Margalla Hills

A week after India’s capital saw a Serial Blasts Saturday it was the turn of the Pakistani capital. A man wanted to drive a truck packed with as much as 1,000 kg of explosives into the lobby of the Marriott Hotel, the best and the hottest hotel in Islamabad's shiny Shalimar overlooking the pretty Margalla Hills. The guards at the highly-secured hotel stopped the truck. So the suicide bomber detonated his truck bomb right there. The explosion was so powerful the hotel caught fire and now stands as a devastated witness to the curse called: terrorism in the name of jehad.

This is what happens when you *****……. Those who want to repeat that famous line from The Big Lebowsky hold your Pomeranians. It’s true that Pakistan nurtured and nourished terror. It’s also true that Islamabad, in its blind passion to be seen as equal to the other child of that midnight, tried to bleed India by a thousand cuts. And it did succeed to an extent. But the Bomb, as yours truly wrote earlier on these pages, equalised the two for ever and ended the race. The atom bomb also killed their idea of an enemy, the enemy they lived for. Enemies give us a purpose to live. Poverty, fear, ugliness, ignorance, loneliness, envy and so on. All of us live to see the demise of our biggest enemy. And we toil day and night to rid ourselves of that enemy. When the very enemy you live for, the idea that sustains you, your raison d’etre dies, what do you live for? Disintegration/separation was the idea of Pakistan. Keeping it all together was the idea called India. That’s the story of the midnight’s children.

In Pakistan’s western neighbourhood, the Taliban, well-assisted by a well-equipped, well-educated tall lanky man with flowing salt-and-pepper beard, were mastering the art of suicide bombing. There was no point in getting inside the mind of a mindless suicide bomber. What mattered to the world was how to protect itself from dying young men and in cases women. They died and killed in the cold deserts of Afghanistan. Some went abroad and died to kill on September 11, 2001 other days. The promise of heaven and fairies is too simplistic for educated men to believe in. They wanted something in this world after their deaths. It was martyrdom, as eulogised in Palestinian rallies and al-Qaeda videos. The word Fidayeen has a positive connotation whether you like it or not. Osama bin Laden or Mullah Omar did not choose to go fida. They found a lot of young men to do the job for them. Many elements in Pakistan were happy to see this fever catching on. They could use some of its spores in Kashmir. And they did. In groups of three or four, fidayeen would attack in Kashmir and die in gunbattle if they couldn’t escape.

But apart from Kashmir the fidayeen saw no point in travelling too far away to die, when all the ‘enemy’ ills they were indoctrinated with were in the neighbourhood. India has more Muslims than Pakistan but Indian Muslims are not ready to die in vain for fake martyrdom. There is still rule of Indian law and all those who tried, like any other Hindu, Sikh, Jain or Christian, have reached the top. In films and in industry, in corporate India and outside, poor Muslims in India face less discrimination than those in Pakistan. There is discrimination but it’s as true for poor or backward Hindus, Sikhs or Christians.

Pakistani society is caste-ridden and nearly tribal in parts. The Punjabi ruling elite has alienated large parts of the country. In areas bordering Afghanistan there is no rule of law. Many areas have not yet tasted the fruits of Pakistan’s recent economic leaps. In absence of a government, Wahhabis have taken over education and brainwashed a whole lot of youth into thinking how modernisation and urbanisation violate the basic tenets of Islam. Baitullah Masud finds recruitment easier. These young men come to Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore or Karachi and find people watching TV, obscene mujras based on vulgar Indian songs, girls in jeans, conversations in coffee shops, booze in bars, hostesses in hotel lobbies and everything that they related depravity with.

Hence, the deafening Marriott explosion did not surprise Islamabad. Pakistan has an army of young men waiting to die. And going to America, Europe or even India is not easy. So they detonate at home. If Pakistan wants to escape its own children, it must stop cantonmentising the frontier provinces and start civilising them. Giving them tools for life will at least wean them away from martyrdom today. Those who are already matured for martyrdom will detonate tomorrow. But the day after may be safer. Inshallah!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Discrimination is no excuse to kill the innocent. It can never be. And discrimination in this country is as true for a poor Dalit and a poor Christian as it is for a Muslim. Problem is that while the others try and move up that social strata with education and employment, majority Muslim mindset is still stuck in the ghetto. It needs fidayeens who can pull it out of that maze. And not mouthpieces like Shabana Azmi and Saif Ali Khan who insinuate by selling personal tragedies.