Malala and The Justified War of Terror – IIOct 16th, 2012 | By Ahmed Javed | Category: Latest, Pakistan, World
I got in to the car and in the hour long drive back I reflected on the hopeless failure for dialogue. There has been endless condemnation of 9/11 from the “Muslim world” but the propaganda of the last decade drowns it out. Somewhere along shouting out support for such sacred morals as “freedom of speech” the west drowned out its own conscience as conveniently as it blocked out the “Muslim world” asking it, “what about the right to be heard?” I pause and reflect at the flow of my own thoughts. I realize how I have succumbed to “generalizations” while claiming to raise my voice against this very evil. Perhaps the propaganda of our times is best reflected by the quote noted below, and attributed to Confucius with some variations:
“If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success. When affairs cannot be carried on to success, proprieties and music will not flourish. When proprieties and music do not flourish, punishments will not be properly awarded. When punishments are not properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot.”
While the domestic narrative in the US is one of their military being out to do wonderful things, reinforced over and over again by blacking out the body bags coming back from the war zones but soldiers returning to propose on camera, giving parents a surprise, helping disabled teens cross finish lines are etched in the minds. I wonder if the lady I had met just moments ago could name even one of the Iraqi or Afghani children that died in the 90’s or a million Iraqis that died as a result of war based on lies. She will likely not remember the names of the Iranians who will be killed by the sanctions in the coming years and in all likelihood yet more that will be killed as a war that “breaks out” in the coming years. I wonder if she ever switches off her television and reflects on the disconnection with Iraq’s experience. Churchill was threatening to “gas” them in not so remote history, followed by the deliberate destruction of infrastructure like water purification plants, during the first Gulf war, followed by crippling sanctions, followed by a full scale invasion that has killed at least a million more and displaced millions internally and externally. I wonder if she could name a single civilian killed in Pakistan during the drone strikes or if she knew the names of the victims of Raymond Davis, who shot people in broad daylight.The US government subsequently, in the mother of all ironies, flew him out of the country based on loopholes created by their cronies in Islamabad on the very Sharia they demonize. The only legal consequences he received were due to a brawl he got in to after returning to the US.
I wonder if she knew the 16 year old Tariq Aziz, a boy from the tribal areas of Pakistan who had volunteered to learn photography to begin documenting drone strikes near his home. He had come to Islamabad to protest. A few days later he was murdered – in yet another drone strike. I wonder if she could name a single Pakistani soldier or civilian killed by these terrorists – over 40,000 dead. Above all I wondered if she realized that for Pakistanis and Muslims it is a two way struggle of responding to American imperialism and the lunatic fringe. Of course, in Pakistan we have to do this in the absence of any governance since our saviours in Washington are probably already working on an exit plan for their current servants in Islamabad. I wonder if this lady had even an inkling of understanding of the how much better people outside the US understand America’s own history. It is therefore, no surprise that George Bush could stand in Philippines in 2003 and talk about his plans for the Middle East and no one in America questioned the almost comical historical contrast. No one in America cares about history especially if it doesn’t fit right in to American exceptionalism. Naturally, there is no need to think about USS Maine.
My mind shifts back to Malala. A few days before the attack on Malala, thousands of people from all corners of Pakistan had invested their own money and time and risked their lives in a show of solidarity with their brethren in the Tribal areas. They raised their voices for innocent lives being wiped out by drones in a grotesque video game like new war tool that is even more dehumanizing than the chilling brutality humanity has displayed in the most recently concluded bloodiest century to date. It was fascinating to see how this story would be replaced by the likes of stories such as Justin Bieber’s throwing up on stage on “CNN USA”, the “CNN international” website being slightly more generous in the number of hours this seemed to be on any notable corner of the main page.
Efforts like the peace march to the tribal areas could be turning points in ending this seemingly endless cycle of violence, especially given that many Americans who joined this peace march . In the few days that these wonderful human beings spent in Pakistan, they won the “hearts and minds” of not just Pakistanis but Muslims around the world and created a stark contrast in results produced by arrogant euphemisms about wars to win hearts and minds. It called the bluff of western governments and its media of labelling every casualty in this endless war as a “terrorist” and where the over one million Iraqis, unknown thousands of Afghanis, drone wars killing in Pakistan, Yemen and an ever growing list of “sovereign” countries is not even a consideration in the discourse that is delivered by crisply dressed men and women with a plastic smile.
Among the people who came to Pakistan was the British convert to Islam, Lauren Booth, the sister-in-law of former British Prime minister. The schizophrenic self-talk emanating from the TV screen in the west chooses to ignore her as much as it chooses to ignore the ever growing number of western converts to Islam unless of course it is about fear-mongering about the Islamic takeover of Europe with impossible numbers projected from birth rates amongst Muslims. The war on terror is simultaneously a war of civilizing the savage as the latest Islamophobic ads In New York subways explicitly state; it is not just about saving a people from their God, Muslim women from Muslim men but it is also about objecting to Muslims having children. A recent study determined that the majority of converts to Islam are British women with an average age of 27 and many have adopted traditional Muslim attire and wear a head scarf. The very symbol of oppression to the west is a choice for many but the media in the west has the luxury to talk right past these contradictions.
It gets dark and I pull in to a gas station and pray Maghrib in my car after trying to align myself the best I can to the Kaaba. I imagine millions more if not well over a billion are engaged in this very same act for the five daily prayers. I miss my daughter who lately has developed a fondness of climbing all over me while I pray. I marvel at the connection of Muslims to the Prophet Mohammed, Peace be upon him, who would prolong his prostration in prayers if his grandchildren climbed on his back. 1400 years later my child playing with me during prayers becomes a Sunnah. The sun has almost disappeared and I am saddened by how much we have failed to represent the teachings of the most magnificent man to walk the earth; a man who was sent as a mercy to the entire universe.
In the stream of propaganda we have become fathers that kill our daughters for honour. I run my hands over my face and feel my beard. The war on terror has come as close as my facial hair. If it had been better times I would have laughed at how ridiculous this thought was. Daughters and men with beards burying them … we learn no different than Pavlov’s dogs but if we use the intellect that we are gifted with we will see the Quran talking about avenging the girl child that was buried alive. The closest association Muslims finds in their heritage of how bearded men feel towards their daughters is the Prophet Mohammed, Peace be upon him, crying to the point that his beard was drenched when a man confessed to having buried his daughter alive before the advent of Islam. I put the car in drive and after a long time I seem to know what my journey is.
Link to Part I