Pen versus Gun — I by Citizen Pakistani

Pen versus Gun I

Citizen Pakistani

October 24, 2014


Heraclitus, a sixth century Greek philosopher, believed that the entire world was in a constant state of change. Therefore he said, “you can’t step twice into the same river,” because, “everything flows and nothing stays.” Nevertheless, change in human thought and affair has always been resisted. How to affect a change in a highly traditional society? Or shall we ask what the precursors to a change are? For one, skepticism must exist and develop into a critical mass. The other requirements are embracing rationalism, positivism, understanding of the relativism, and pursuing of reformism among other things. The so-called centuries of darkness and ignorance compelled intelligentsia to embrace reason, humanity, and sciences. This resulted in new trends in human thought and letters and the period of such trends was later termed as an Age of reason or Enlightenment. That, however, was only in the West.






The part of the world, where we live, the Middle and South Asia, escaped those events and remains entangled in the past, even to this day. Describing the life in early 20th century in Palestine, James Neil, in his Everyday Life in the Holy Land, wrote, “[..] everything in that life is strange to us. Every feature of it is foreign to our experience in the modern life of North-West.” Why? Neil explains, “[..]  the life is unchanged from the earliest ages. [..] Not only change of any kind thought inexpedient, but more, it is held to be morally wrong. Everything is bound to conform to a’adeh ‘custom.’ A’adeh is inexorable; it binds their life with an adamantine chain. They must not, cannot, dare not, do anything differently from the way their ancestors have done it. Thus all we see in Syria today— apart from European influence—is of hoary antiquity, a life five thousand years old!”


As diamonds are produced from carbon under very high temperatures and pressures, one might think, the distress, Mirza Ghalib went through whole of his life, may have made him produce immortal poetry. His pension was not only reduced but also discontinued for which he had to ride for months from Delhi to Calcutta to see General Charles Metcalfe. An incident happened in Calcutta at a gathering to which some Englishmen were also invited, Ghalib got very agitated, “[..] Whoever told you that Hindi is the language of Hindu and Urdu of the Muslim?” Ghalib continued, “This is the work of these Englishmen [..]” Later on when he did meet Metcalfe, Ghalib heard Metcalfe shout at him, ”Go! Go away! Go back to Dilli. .. You Indians are thankless. Small mind, small heart, can’t see far. You say Hindus-Muslims are bothers? Which brothers? Murderers. Killers. You people keep fighting. Keep murdering each other and then say that we divide you. Idiots. Fools. You can never be far sighted …” (Gulzar; MIRZA GHALIB, A Biographical Scenario). That was in year 1828.


Fast forward to August 1946 Calcutta, India;  “At dawn on August 16, Moslem mobs howling in a quasi-religious fervour came bursting from their slums, waving clubs, iron bars, shovels, any instrument capable of smashing in a human skull. They came to answer a call issued by the Moslem League, proclaiming August 16 “Direct Action Day,” to prove to Britain and the Congress Party that India’s Moslem were prepared ‘to get Pakistan for themselves by Direct Action if necessary. [..] Later the Hindu mobs came storming out of their neighbourhoods, looking for defenceless Moslems to slaughter. Never in all its violent history, had Calcutta known twenty-four hours as savage, as packed with human viciousness.” (Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre: Freedom at Midnight).


October 10, 2014, Islamabad, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, while chairing the National Security Committee meeting, asked the army to employ a “tit for tat” strategy against India over the recent unprovoked border shelling and firing, spoke highly of the armed forces and expressed confidence in their capabilities, and aired his view, “War with India isn’t an option.” (Daily Times, October 11, 2014). On the same day in Lahoreaddressing a protest rally against Indian violation of the Line of Control, Hafiz Saeed,  chief of Jamat-ud-Dawa, labeled as a terror group and slapped with economic sanctions by the United States, had to say, “ [the Indian violation] was the result of the meeting between American President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendera Modi ..” (Daily Times, October 10, 2014).


October 13, 2014, Karachi, Ex Pak Army Chief and President of Pakistan, “Pervez Musharraf said on Monday that Pakistan should respond tit for tat for ceasefire violations by India along the Working Boundary and Line of Control (LoC).” (Daily Times, October 14, 2014). Musharraf and Shareef brothers, who may consider each other nemesis and the general public may locate them on the opposite poles, but their thoughts about the so-called “violations” on the eastern borders of Pakistan are quite the same.


While India and Pakistan claim themselves as nuclear powers, yet keep spending billions of dollars annually on weapons, the rulers of the two countries failed completely to arrest rampant poverty in their large populations and seized up to ramp up basic healthcare infrastructure for the masses. “The two countries with the largest cuts in aid to basic education from 2010 to 2012 were India and Pakistan, even though both sit among the top five countries in the world with the most children out of school,” suggested recently the new figures of the Education for All – EFA Global Monitoring Report of UNESCO. And while the political and military leaders of the two countries with their age-old a’adeh [ Arabic: custom] keep refusing to prevent the killing of civilians and soldiers even at otherwise very elaborate and electrified international border, which the divisive and sharp knife of Sir Cyril Radcliff had created in 1947 to carve out Pakistan from the map of British India and which has recorded over it the greatest human migrations of religious necessity in the history of humankind; all Muslims in the East Punjab had to run for their life as had the Hindus and Sikhs in the West Punjab; thousands were killed, maimed, and raped. Thousands of families that were otherwise well settled in their forefathers’ land and were flourishing happily, had to leave with whatever they could hold in their two hands on a moment’s notice. The border which have already seen so much of human blood, misery and depravation still keep on demanding intermittently more human blood, internal displacements and misery since the creation of Pakistan; thanks to the ‘wisdom’ of all of our civil and military leaders ever since then.


(to be continued)

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