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Smokers’ Corner: A Tuesday in hell


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Tuesday, the 16th of April was an extraordinary day in Pakistan. The sun rose to bring into view a brutal attack on the convoy of PML-N leader, Sannullah Zehri in Khuzdar, Balochistan.

Though Zehri survived the assault, unfortunately three members of his family lost their lives.

Police pointed the finger at the Baloch insurgent group, the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) that has already threatened to thwart the election in Balochistan.

But the tragic episode rudely brought home a stinging realisation to the PML-N: Keeping mum about armed militant threats may give it space to hold rallies and corner meetings in the Punjab, elsewhere it is as venerable to the psychotic rage of extremists as are secular parties like the ANP, MQM and the PPP.

The PML-N has to realise that by remaining awkwardly vague about its stand on the threat faced by secular parties from those who slaughter indiscriminately in the name God, it cannot remain unharmed in a country now overflowing with mad men of all shapes, sizes, hue and colour.

If those who mercilessly cut down Zehri’s family members belonged to an outfit that evokes hatred in the name of Baloch nationalism, the same Tuesday witnessed yet another bloody attack on the ANP by those who consider themselves to be the only true Muslims in this country.

Ever since the TTP threatened to attack leaders and rallies of the ANP, MQM and PPP, it has planted a bomb in front of almost every little step that the ANP has taken.

On that eventful, gory Tuesday, the extremists were at it again blowing up a small ANP rally in Peshawar that was also being attended by veteran ANP leader, Ghulam Ahmed Bilour. His younger brother, Bashir Bilour, had already been killed by the extremists.

Bilour only barely managed to escape the onslaught, but the attack put to death 17 people, including eight children.

It is perfectly reasonable to ask exactly how killing innocent men, women and children pleases the Almighty and benefit the faith that He bestowed upon us Muslims through his last Messenger?

Equally rational is to question the sanity of men who slaughter unarmed civilians in the most sneaky and cowardly manner and then claim that their faith and God ordains it?

But even more pressing should be the question seeking an enquiry into the state of mind of those who, despite the ever-increasing episode of mindless bloodshed that our TV screens are usually splattered with, still manage to actually end up blaming the victims.

And here I am not only talking about the confused urban middle-class kids who move to and fro from their Xbox consoles to their laptops, bashing out ill-informed and knee-jerk gibberish on Twitter and Facebook — reactionary nonsense that sounds as foul as their fast-food burps.

They are simply mimicking all those noble men and women who appear on TV with the sole aim to obfuscate the obvious truth about the sheer brutality of the madmen.

They do this with reactive rhetorical arguments studded with pointy terms like geo-political situation, Islamophobia, drone attacks and corruption, etc.

If they can’t get themselves to forgive the ‘last five years of record-breaking corruption,’ of ANP, MQM and PPP leaders who have so far been killed by the extremists; and, in a way, see the killings as God’s retribution against these awful, awful politicians, what about the men, women and children who had absolutely nothing to do with what the satanic politicians were up to?

How is the mass murders justified? In this case, of course, expect the drone argument to sprout like a wild flower, and angry laments about how we are fighting someone else’s war to kick in.

So about 49,000 Pakistani civilians, politicians, cops and soldiers have been massacred by those who kill indiscriminately just because drones chase them and we are fighting an alien war?

Ah, if it was all that simple. TV channels showed the heartbreaking scene of a nine-year-old child weeping and beating himself at the site where our anti-imperialist heroes tried to blow up an aged leader of the ANP.

No one knows if the kid was doing so because he had lost a relative or a friend in the attack, or was he in shock, but imagine a son, brother, nephew or close relative of yours as young as that unfortunate boy going through a similar episode.

The extremists are what they are and they take pride in their madness. That’s why to me more disturbing are apparently sane men and women who seem to muster their sadness, outrage and tears only if a tragedy comes with the words drone, America and Karachi gangs. As if all other acts of murder and violence are justified and not worth outraging about.

The lives of the loved ones of the 49,000 Pakistanis killed since 2002 have been shaken. On Tuesday, everyone else (especially in Karachi) was shaken by an earthquake (about 5.9 on the Richter Scale).

Amazing how well Karachi managed to survive the quake, with all those tall buildings and congested apartment blocks.

On the night of the earthquake, a famous TV anchor did us all a great favor by talking to a seismologist. But, alas, since for some strange reason any talk about science on local TV channels requires to be balanced out by the musings of a religionist, the anchor then promptly called in a cleric to give that inevitable religious twist to the topic.

His mighty insight: The Almighty creates earthquakes in societies that listen to music and have become obscene.

How conveniently we trivialise the glory of the Almighty and how quickly we reduce science to mean nothing but a heap of secular, Western nonsense.

So remember, the next time you switch on your Ipod, you might be inviting an earthquake. Meanwhile nothing of the sort happens when men slaughter women and children in the name of God.

Of course, nothing obscene about that, no?

Author Image

Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and He is also the author of two books on the social history of Pakistan, End of the Past and The Pakistan Anti-Hero.

He tweets @NadeemfParacha

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (70) Closed

Nony Apr 21, 2013 05:37pm
i have myself listened to many of them during khutba of friday prayers saying Pakistanis are suffering because God is not happy with them (as if God personally told them). As per them God gets offended due to women not wearing a Burqa or men not having foot long beard and then he calls for floods, earthquake and sometimes President.
FR Apr 21, 2013 12:01pm
Sry - NFP has brought to light the insecurities and moral dilemma of a nation that has been interminabley fed one-sided and twisted version of history. To add to NFP's list -"beruni hath" and "Indian conspiracies" are also welcomed as worthy explanations for the random violence that pepper our everyday life. While drone attacks seem to favorite drawing room discussions the fact that Pakistan has yet to experience a single Muharram without some senseless act of sectarian violence escapes mention and those who venture to discuss may face the "apt" question - "Why don't you criticize Indian atrocities in Kashmir?"
AHA Apr 21, 2013 12:10pm
NFP, this is a masterpiece. Let us look at this: "How conveniently we trivialize the glory of the Almighty and how quickly we reduce science to mean nothing but a heap of secular, Western nonsense." It seems people have not noticed this, but you have subtly extended the reach of your debate.
rana1 Apr 21, 2013 06:02pm
well in the light of quran earthuakes were a punishment for the people who did not follow the rules of ALLAH.e.g SODOM N GOMMORAH ,The great flood during prophet Noah and then some tribes were erased from the face of earth for defying GOD. Maybe NADEEM its time for this to culminate in many parts of the world including pakistan and afghanistan whose people are killing each other using the name of ALLAH, or on behalf of some fascist groups or beliefs. ALLAH abhores killing under any name except if its a true jihad.
pathanoo Apr 21, 2013 07:06pm
Only from the pen of Nadeem paracha come such powerful, honest analysis. I always wonder why most Pakistanis, at least who comment here, invoke Insallah, Islam and Allah to solve these problems when it is clearly in their capacity to get rid of these terrorists....Just stand up to them; eliminate them. God only helps those who help themselves.
Zaheer Apr 21, 2013 12:13pm
I couldn
RSS Apr 21, 2013 10:04am
Sh Apr 21, 2013 10:03am
lolz :D
bkt Apr 21, 2013 10:01am
Afghanistan gets a lot of earthquakes a lot of the time. Perhaps the almighty really is trying to tell us something our maulvis don't want to hear?
shariff Apr 21, 2013 09:59am
very confused!!!!!!
T. Celtic Apr 21, 2013 09:59am
"It means millions of Muslims believe in the above kind ideology" No. They don't. You don't know what is in their minds. You are projectingyour own prejudices, if you but knew.
LOL Apr 21, 2013 09:55am
"Balochis insurgents need to be tackled politically..they have some genuine grievances" "tackled politically" has never been, never is, the solution to murder, whatever the grievances.
ScimitarBlade Apr 21, 2013 09:48am
Drones constitute an illegal foreign invasion of an UN sovereign state. An urgent matter for Pak Foreign Office and the UN to attend to. Failing which the Constitution requires that Pakistan
Moderate Muslim Apr 21, 2013 08:47pm
That is the problem my friend. What exactly is true jihad? If it entails killing others then, it is barbarism regardless of the interpretation that one wants to make from the religion. Enough is enough.
Karachi Wala Apr 21, 2013 10:58am
Nice try once again by NFP but seems it is getting a little too late now. Political parties in general PML-N and PTI in particular, have done what for years religious parties could not do.
Muhammad Omer Farooq Apr 21, 2013 10:37am
A critical and a very serious analysis of the whole situation. I guess it is because of witnessing the heartbreaking scene of a nine-year-old child weeping and beating himself at the site of the blast that took place at ANP rally. Where i completely share the view, i highly doubt that it will make any difference to this insensitive Nation, confused in their thought process.
WALEED FAKHAR Apr 21, 2013 08:01am
Shruti Apr 22, 2013 11:05pm
and sometimes the President :D :P. Good one Nony!
Shruti Apr 22, 2013 10:46pm
Mr. Paracha, lovely piece of writing.
G.A. Apr 21, 2013 01:11pm
This social media generation seriously needs to stop putting so called Islamic scholars on a pedestal they don't deserve. Never have I ever seen or heard these YouTube 'scholars' asking Muslims to try and excel in studies or try and reach the moon and the stars. The world is so far ahead in inventions.
rana1 Apr 21, 2013 06:18pm
dim wits,half wits,imbeciles and even uneducated idiots dont blow each other ONLY religious nuts and mercenaries(born as muslim with no value or knowledge of islam) paid by religious nuts and enemies of a system kill others and get killed. Lets face it MUSLIMS are on sale OR are getting paid to do anything under the sun today.(just like their leaders)
maximusMinimus Apr 22, 2013 01:47am
Tsunami of Beer! Woo-hoo!
rana1 Apr 21, 2013 06:21pm
if you read and believe in the hadiths, a time will come wherein Saudi arabia will be in turmoil and a large area of it will sink in the earth and ONLY mecca will stand.Rest ALLAH knows how true these hadiths are.
Capt C M Khan Apr 22, 2013 07:20pm
@ abbas, You are defending the CORRUPTION of Pakistan? You are enjoying life in Montreal and are least bothered about your Shia brothers being used as Target practice by the other Pakistanis. If I write Shame on you for this act of yours Dawn will not publish this comment.
Aamir Apr 21, 2013 03:15pm
I agree, Alqaida and Taliban invasion is a threat. Pak army must step up and take action against them asap.
Aamir Apr 21, 2013 03:09pm
yes, elaborate please
Jamal Apr 21, 2013 03:01pm
And you are an idiot... How about this for an uncalled for comment?
London_Laddy Apr 21, 2013 02:59pm
Well said NFP! This is "more of a cauldren of dim-wits, half-wits, imbeciles, religious nuts uneducated idiots all mixed in one"
Hindu Apr 21, 2013 02:18pm
Interesting thot there by the cleric. Wonder if he is right given that no natural or man made calamity struck Saudi Arabia...
Almanaar Apr 21, 2013 01:54pm
NFP is right about the religious extremism, he is right about us that we moan only Karachi gangs or drones. He is right about us giving an event as simple as an earthquake, a religious spin. But he is not correct about the fact that TTP or the home grown terrorism. My simple question to NFP and all the people who think TTP or some other groups are solely at fault for these things IS, why they never EVER try to hurt direct Western Interests? I mean I never saw them going after American or British embassies, right? Or any other western businesses. And please KFC or McDonalds do not count as western businesses. Although they had been hurt in the past but not in the recent memory. Not that they should.
Shaz Apr 21, 2013 01:47pm
Perhaps if you read all EIGHT words in the sentence the meaning may be clearer to you!
Aamir Apr 21, 2013 03:25pm
unfortunately that is exactly the solution presented to us by our pious media, IK and PML-N. Taliban and extremism is not a threat in the eyes of these forces. PPP ANP and MQM who clearly stand against extremism are being slaughtered. We have to decide who we want to stand with. People who side with extremist forces or people who are against them. In the end I'd say I object to that nickname 'halal'..
Patriot Apr 22, 2013 12:21am
I am little disappointed that NFP has blamed the BLF for attack on Sardar Zehri. This is far from truth and someone needs to understand dynamics of tribal culture in Baluchistan and apparently NFP needs to go Khuzdar to further investigate.
Pizza wala Apr 21, 2013 11:46pm
exactly......what do they mean when they say "listens to music" do they define music?
HNY2013 Apr 21, 2013 11:51pm
They didnt blame India/USA/Israel for the earthquake?
RSS Apr 21, 2013 04:02pm
What facts, please?
Osaka S. Apr 21, 2013 03:57pm
That is not what he said. Drones represent the invader...
simple Apr 21, 2013 05:02pm
Saudi Arabia itself is a "calamity". How can calamity strike calamity?
Zinc Apr 21, 2013 04:27pm
lol, Karachi walay, I am Karachi wala as well, However you are a definitely from muppetabad side of the city, My friend PML N is pro establishment Party , have you ever heard the name IJI ,and same is the case with PTI, they are conservative parties with fancy outlook
caz Apr 21, 2013 09:42am
The psychotic rage of the (islamic) terrorists reflects their mind trapped in the cage is devoid of the ability to reason. It is an epidemic in the miscreated country pakistan. It is the product of a desert tyranny fuelled and funded by the retarded, insecure and despotic beduins of saudi, who strongly influence our venal military led ruling elites, with their petrodollars.
Immigrant canadian Apr 22, 2013 02:29pm
@abbastoronto, if you are so sick of how things are run in Canada, please leave. I can picture the image of a disenfranchised "citizen" on your rants.
malik Apr 21, 2013 04:17am
So what will happen if we enjoy a drink?
Alan Apr 21, 2013 04:18am
A really heart felt article by NFP. Completely agree with it. All civilized people need to stand with ANP and against TTP at this time.
Nony Apr 21, 2013 04:33am
"It is perfectly reasonable to ask exactly how killing innocent men, women and children pleases the Almighty and benefit the faith that He bestowed upon us Muslims through his last Messenger?" No one has right to announce on behalf of God whether He is pleased or not, does God speak to Pakistani clerics and give them a list of acts he is happy with or not ? We have to stop this stupid act of clerics who act as god for us.
observer Apr 21, 2013 04:52am
Thought provoking article.
RAW is WAR Apr 21, 2013 05:00am
"Equally rational is to question the sanity of men who slaughter unarmed civilians in the most sneaky and cowardly manner and then claim that their faith and God ordains it?" Dear Nadeem, Now we have terrorists incidents running into hundreds of thousands of them. It means millions of Muslims believe in the above kind ideology. Time for introspection.
Nony Apr 21, 2013 05:00am
Most dumb speaches about scientifically proved facts are given by clerics on Pakistani TV channels with huge viewership, and acceptance of those views makes us ignorant and utopian nation. We have only learnt two things: put blame of all our failures on other nations and put blame of failure to cop with natural disasters on God. And that is true Dawn so you got to put this on.
Sapna Apr 21, 2013 05:13am
I have just switched OFF my iPod now I can tell you.... many thanks indeed for that "warning" NFP !!
Imran Apr 21, 2013 05:30am
Pak Military has to decide now,,,it's about time...otherwise it will be too late. These Fanatics TTP need to be crushed with iron hand. Balochis insurgents need to be tackled politically..they have some genuine grievances.They are two different political situations and need to be tackled differntly
ubed Apr 21, 2013 05:42am
this is such a moving piece, kudos to you my friend.
arshad hussain Apr 21, 2013 05:42am
its very good article based on striking facts.
Feroz Apr 21, 2013 05:55am
The mind accepts what it is conditioned for and tuned to. The worst form of indoctrination and radicalization happens to a young child in his own home, not just in a Madarasa.. You will not find a child brought up and taught all religions are equal in the eyes of God and that Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Buddhists are equal in HIS eyes --- ever getting radicalized or violent or hating others. Like charity beginning at home, breeding of Saints and monsters also happens there.
Capt C M Khan Apr 21, 2013 06:23am
NFP these are NOT ELECTIONS but... TALIBAN SELECTIONS. All state pillars are doing their best to knock out the three secular parties PPP, ANP and MQM before the elections. TT are smiling all the way. Biggest disappointment have been the Army. I see very bad days ahead for women of KP, unemployed, uneducated and of course the four million minorities including our Shia brothers.
halal Apr 21, 2013 06:30am
what is wrong if some people think they are not wrong while being wrong. these people need to be corrected. when we build Mosques and Madressas with the help of black money this is the out come. Answer to this problem is simple Tributes for mosque and Madressas should only be accepted from pious money as Quran's teaching Give Zakoth from your pious earnings. spending black money for this cause will not pious the rest. it will corrupt the system. now think about that.
Sry Apr 21, 2013 06:59am
Totally agree with the beginning; about how Nawaz league needs to wake up and recognize militants as out-and-out enemies of the Pakistan. And also the part criticizing apologist elements in the media who are misguiding public opinion regarding home-grown terrorism, and focusing only on American imperialism/terrorism (which is out of our control anyway). But I don't think that laying off "Karachi gangs" is a reasonable suggestion. Just because they happen to have no religious leaning doesn't mean they should escape scrutiny. They kill people, and so, they ought to be criticized harshly; as do the politcal parties & administration on their inaction against the thugs terrorizing the city.
Tania A. Ali Apr 21, 2013 07:00am
NFP remains to be a puzzle for most of his readers. But he really isn't so. Two days ago one saw him battling with his trademark wit and sarcasm the right wing trolls of Indian leader Modi on Twitter. He simply demolished them one by one. NFP abhours extremism and reactionary-ism no matter what ideology or faith it pretends to flaunt. And kudos to him for doing this. His message is simple and clear: Violence and terrorism, hate and bigotry are the product of disturbed and imbalanced minds. By the way, his dig at the cleric and the anchor who wanted to give the earthquake a religious twist was hilarious. :) I'll make sure to put my iPod off, in case it invites another shaking.
Lalat Apr 21, 2013 07:03am
Earthquake followed by tsunami !!!!!!!!
Tania A. Ali Apr 21, 2013 07:04am
Sry, By no means is NFP asking anyone to forgo the violence of Karachi gangs. Read that sentence again: He is simply saying that whereas many of us are only willing to show outrage if an act of violence comes with the words drone, America and Karachi gangs attached to it, but suddenly go quiet when violence is done by fanatics.
H Khan Apr 21, 2013 07:12am
NFP is as confused as those he criticises.
Tahir Apr 21, 2013 07:31am
Wow, and your 7-word sentence is oozing with clear wisdom and intellectual complexities. Kindly elaborate beyond 7 words. Thanks.
Pizza wala Apr 21, 2013 11:32pm
the next time you switch on your Ipod, you might be inviting an earthquake. lololololololololololololololol
Joe Apr 21, 2013 09:01am
Yes, YES! Time for introspection. And has been, for some time.
Tahir A Apr 21, 2013 09:05pm
Agree with you entirely. In the meantime we need to get rid of millions of bogus religious demagogues that have pirated our freedom to think with a broader horizon, Insh------- sorry!
Al Rume Apr 21, 2013 10:02am
No verfiable reference has been made to any named cleric. It is only the opinion of the author. No substance to the charge.
a.k.lal Apr 21, 2013 09:15am
sir --a road branched in two and you took the less travelled one, jihad, killing, kidnapping,arson etc in name of religion.
abbastoronto Apr 21, 2013 08:58pm
Ritu Shah Apr 22, 2013 05:50pm
Mr. Abbastoronto, clearly you don't know the meaning of freedom. I have nothing else to say.
Sadia Apr 21, 2013 12:28pm
and that, you think, is the solution to the menace of terrorism? WOW!
kafir Apr 22, 2013 02:15am
But ur name suggests u are a Kafir, so even this act of urs wont help u :P
Liberal Fascist Apr 22, 2013 02:21am
Yes you are confused, Shariff!!!