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As the saying goes, durr ke dhol suhaney (distant drumbeats sound melodious). In the same sense, ideological propaganda is based on stories of far off, unseen lands where the great historic struggle for Sharia is being fought and the pangs of birth of a new egalitarian society is being heard. All the flowery adjectives are heaped on the struggle for new societies or great Arab springs and the jihad whether in Russia, Algeria, Palestine, Kashmir, Philippines, Chechniya or Afghanistan. It was only later that we realised the failings, human suffering, rapes and mass killings from these far off mystic lands that woke us up from dreaming of revolutions in our own country.

-Illustration by Sabir Nazar.
-Illustration by Sabir Nazar.

The misery of the Rohingyas, Chechens is highlighted to inspire people for an Islamic revolution in Pakistan. The workings of our jihadis in Pakistan is least inspiring, and evokes only disgust looking at the butchering of soldiers, attack on mosques and school girls, blowing up of school buildings and sufi shrines, suicide attacks in busy bazaars, and the Shia killings. It is only the fables of distant lands that can inspire the general public about blessed revolutions. The Taliban’s rise to power is also attributed to lawlessness, brutality, corruption and the moral degradation of mujahideen commanders. The rape of two Kandhari girls and the marriage of a local commander with a boy are quoted as the reason for the birth of the Taliban. The myth of a peaceful and sovereign Afghanistan under the Taliban never mentioned the mass killings of Hazaras, Heratis and the destruction of the remaining 75 per cent of Afghanistan that was left by the Russians.

During the Afghan jihad of the 80s, the only news available to Pakistanis was either from the mouth of Azhar Lodhi at 9 ‘clock Khabarnama or the newspapers that were cleared by the Press Information Department. The aura of the Afghan Mujahideen was deliberately built as Allama Iqbal’s purisrar banday and ghazis. The holy warriors who are fighting the soviets military war machine only with their courage, bravery and old Enfield rifles (momin hai toh betaigh bhi larta hai sipahi) and 95 per cent of Afghan territory was under their control (sounds familiar). But evil is the design of fate as I had a brush with two commanders who were contrary to the description of what was instilled in the youth of Pakistan.

-Illustration by Sabir Nazar.
-Illustration by Sabir Nazar.

I was in the National college of Arts in Lahore when major students strike against a vigilante group gripped the college. The scheme was to merge NCA with Punjab University. Students who were against the merger were attacked and quite a few of them were injured very badly. The students knew what would be the fate of college once it became a department of PU during the height of Zia’s marshal law. It was probably the only successful student strike that forced Zia to accept the demand of NCA as a separate mini university. The students were very suspicious of the activities of the group. One day a shady looking character was seen in our hostel, who was staying with my friend (lets call him Irfan) whom I knew before college and was a member of the student forum during the strike.

The suspicious character was a mujahideen commander who didn’t come out during the day and was seen going out only at night. He reappeared after a month and was again staying at the hostel with my friend. I confronted my friend and asked him who he was and what he was doing here. Irfan told me that he was his friend and an Afghan commander and would leave in a few days. Sometime later, when we were sitting in a relaxed mood, and he told me, Yaara! He is not a mujahid, he is an Afghan and joins one of seven mujahideen groups based in Peshawar, crosses over to Afghanistan, comes back to Pakistan from Quetta, sells his Kalashnikov and goes to Karachi, enjoys himself in the red light of Karachi, and then comes back to Lahore on his way to Peshawar. I was a bit taken aback and the myth of ghazis and purisrar banday came crashing down, never to be repaired.

-Illustration by Sabir Nazar.
-Illustration by Sabir Nazar.

A few years later, my brother was getting married in Peshawar, and my younger brother who was had friends all over Peshawar wanted to celebrate this first wedding in family with style. He arranged a few dancers from Lahore for a mujra night. That was quite a tricky thing as it is not the mujra but the attendants who get rowdy and need to be controlled. Two maternal cousins, Lala and major sahib, who roamed about with body guards were given the duty to police the event. The bearded bodyguard of major sahib was showering notes on the dancer. After some small fights, the mujra concluded peacefully and I was asked to show the major and his bodyguards their rooms, biathaks (drawing rooms) borrowed from neighbours. I could only remember the ferocious and violent eyes of the bodyguard as he swayed back to his room. When I entered the room I saw empty bottles that explained his blood shot red eyes. He seemed a strange character, to be the bodyguard of major sahib but he acted as his friend and equal.

-Illustration by Sabir Nazar.
-Illustration by Sabir Nazar.

I asked my cousin Lala about major sahib’s bodyguard, and he told me that he is an Afghan commander. What! He was drunk like anything and was mostly in the centre dancing with the girls and then firing into the air. It turned out that he was close to Mullah Rocketi of Quetta. Mullah Rocketi earned this name because of his specialty in stinger missiles and selling them back to the Americans. He had links all over Pakistan from Quetta to Peshawar and had access to all places where he could find evidence of stinger missiles and then broker deals with the Americans.

-Illustration by Sabir Nazar.
-Illustration by Sabir Nazar.

When I asked my cousin what kind of mujahid commander is was.  He laughed heartily and said, anyone can become a commander in Afghanistan. All he has to do is to arrange a few young men and some Kalashnikovs, dig in two spikes across the road, put a chain in between and start collecting taxes from passing vehicles. If you can arrange a few fellows and Kalashnikovs, viola! You too can become Commander Sabir Nazar!


The author left architecture for painting but ended up as a cartoonist and now writes Hijjo. He is the jack of all trades.


The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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Comments (33)

February 27, 2013 10:13 am
Brilliant !!! a revelations indeed of the true character of the so called holy warriors !!!
February 27, 2013 10:23 am
Commander Sabir Nazar!
February 27, 2013 10:23 am
he is a good cartoonist
February 28, 2013 3:29 pm
Real Mujhahideen are acually the black sheep
February 27, 2013 6:57 pm
tusi chha gaye ho sabir sahb.! i cant decide which one is better, the article or the cartoons. thumbs up..!
February 27, 2013 12:52 pm
There are true and false, hide and seeks and two tales as above...but only lighten on one side...where is other side...
March 1, 2013 5:24 am
Please watch a movie made by an Afghan Journalist. "The dancing boys of Afghanistan". That movie might open your eyes.
Gulbaz Mushtaq
February 27, 2013 4:25 pm
You extremely disappointed this time. Sorry!
February 27, 2013 12:30 pm
Intelligent cartooning!
February 27, 2013 4:15 pm
Hats Off to Dawn Management for allowing the truth to be published. As more and more authors start writing the truth, it will be harder and harder for the military-mullah clique to brand them agents of India or Israel or USA. Dawn and the authors are as good patriot as the the soldiers. May be better in a deeper sense in that if Pakistani Awaam was to know the truth, the soldiers will not have to shed their blood because of the evil mentality of the top few who start the unneeded war where soldiiers die and top of the command get personal benefits.
February 28, 2013 4:08 pm
Did you ever read Gita, Bible or Guru Granth sahib. I am sure no and you ll never read it because your religion does not allow you to know about other religion. Then how you can suggest some one to read Quran. Wise people thinks twice before suggesting something they can not do themselves. We are talking about the so called holy warrior here and we can see what they are doing so no need to read any book for us
February 27, 2013 8:36 pm
Please don't generalize. There are many holy commanders like Hafeez Saeed who are ready to lay down their lives for us.
Tahira, USA
February 27, 2013 3:55 pm
Good sense of humor and good drawings. I wish that the rulers of Pakistan realise that no TALKS nor TARGETED military operations are needed to deal with Taliban or extremists and that it is only an economic issue. If every adult in Pakistan was gainfully employed, he will have no time left for destructive activities. If we had factories built and provide abundant utilities for successful running of these, have boom in exports after providing jobs for all, people can have some self respect earning for their families and they will not be attracted to destructive elements. Why does the government not realise this single factor and work on it. Look at places like South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia and other examples to follow.
February 27, 2013 4:01 pm
A very true and correct picture of these so called Mujahideen. They should first correct themselves and then go out for their fanfare.
Nayyar Ahmad
February 27, 2013 2:04 pm
excellent, i belong to Peshawar and witnessed many of such commanders, thanks for writing! cheers :)
February 27, 2013 11:01 am
:-) we pakistanis seem to have too many of these fake or accidental commanders. But it is nice to see the whole saga in a humouristic fashion. I wish all pakistanis will wake up and realize that Tabliban are nothing more than a total menace to society. But it will take too much time and eduction.
February 27, 2013 1:36 pm
Who is more shameful? The Afghan 'mujahideen' commanders or our own military commanders for giving a free hand to these foreigners to roam about and harass Pakistani citizens? In any other country this would almost be treason.
ali ahmed
February 27, 2013 2:45 pm
All he has to do is to arrange a few young men and some Kalashnikovs, dig in two spikes across the road, put a chain in between and start collecting taxes from passing vehicles.....the same formula is being used in karachi
February 27, 2013 9:28 pm
How do we know you are not lying and making stories like all liberal politicians do every day on prime time tv talk shows. The success of taliban in defeating the two super powers tells another truth which you are trying to hide but people of Pakistan know in their hearts who is true and right no matter what you write to portray other wise. Your futile effort can't change the reality and history which is that taliban have won you like it or not, so accept the reality
February 27, 2013 10:49 pm
I guess it will be all forgiven once they attain martyrdom and go to heaven.
February 27, 2013 11:47 pm
Sabirbhai, getting better and better everytime. Salute to commander from lieutenant chump.
February 28, 2013 12:27 am
Judging an organization by three of personal experiences along with your skills of illustration and disseminating the thoughts to masses... Two of that experiences were just word of mouth If that is now the criteria for publishing an article then journalism is no more credible - apparently Lets say that all of your assumptions combined with your theory of life are true, yet I cant establish an opinion about an organization Its just like judging French nation by Dominique Strauss Kahn, or Italians by Berlusconi and Americans by Bill Clinton's private life
February 28, 2013 1:34 am
Author seems inspired with Iranian revolution, striking Qamah on old dead people. Perhaps he is a part of conspiracy against the country. He did not discuss root causes of extremism and terrorism with solution. Also Pakistani media is biased, it did not like truth to prevail and people should know truth, Most articles are welcomed having rhetoric and overlooking fact, at other side removes such comment that show right way to solution. This is the culture of media and writer is part of this culture.
February 28, 2013 2:13 am
Sounds pretty fake story to me.
just a human
February 28, 2013 2:20 am
Dont pay attention to any of these propaganda of either side. Study Quran yourself and make the judgement call. Wise people do their homework and then make up their minds.
February 28, 2013 4:15 am
Love theuse of humour to create a context of a society.
February 28, 2013 5:35 am
Stop insulting the entire Mujahideen clan just bcoz of a few black sheep u met somewhere...and u said ur self they never were mujahid, just Afghan one claims high morality for Afghani, Pakistani or any other 'national' commander...
February 28, 2013 5:40 am
I think the title should be "A tale of three commanders"...u forgot Zia.
Mustafa Razavi
February 28, 2013 5:45 am
Amazing, some people are thick skinned enough to be still supporting the status quo.
February 28, 2013 5:57 am
Its a wonderful article , and a lesson for all those people , who has miss used the true and virtue concept of Jihad . this falsefied concept has taken our peace away and we are broken like hell , tired , and life has become paiful for all free muslims in Pakistan . May We be forgiven for all our brutality .
February 28, 2013 7:20 am
Kalashnikovs sold per kg. How much govt gets on tax? Love the cartoons..
February 28, 2013 7:40 am
Can anyone shed some light on the word 'exceptions'?
Ahmed Saeed
February 28, 2013 7:40 am
Bravo Sabir, you have unearthed the real jehad.
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