Of love and war

Published May 10, 2019
The writer is a PhD student in urban/regional planning at the University of Illinois.
The writer is a PhD student in urban/regional planning at the University of Illinois.

THIS is not a love for war. This is a war for love. Look at how far we’ve come. From losing half our nation to misplaced ideas of nationalism, we are finally able to acknowledge that better critique would have made us a stronger nation. We have finally accepted that questions can provide useful guidance.

Thousands of our compatriots have died in this process. Their murderers accepted responsibility brazenly; they were people who had a justification for killing young children. Who in their right minds can justify killing or injuring children, whether in love or war?

It wasn’t just civilians who were martyred. Talk to a policeman — officer or ranker — and they’ll shake you to the core with stories of sacrifice. Remember DIG Malik Saad, ASI Muhammad Ameen, DIG Syed Ahmed Mobin, constable Abid Ali, SP Mubarak Shah, and ASP Salman Ayaz as a few of the hundreds who have been martyred in the line of duty? But then … Rao Anwar.

Pray for Lt Gen Mushtaq Baig, for Capt Salman Farooq, and for Capt Bilal Zafar. Recall with pride the sacrifice rendered by Havaldar Iqbal Khan in Loralai in January this year, as well as Havaldars Mumtaz Hussain and Razzaq Khan as some of the thousands who were martyred. But then also remember Hamid Gul and Aslam Beg, and if you’d like, Pervez Musharraf.

All may be fair in love and war, but then what is war, and what have we been doing for two decades?

What is it that so many of our civilians, policemen, and soldiers have been martyred for? Azadi? The right to live our lives as we choose? Surely, none of them died to support oppression. Surely, at least those from our security forces — police and military — who gave their lives believed in something higher, more important than just them, you, and me. Something like the rule of law. The Constitution.

All may be fair in love and war, but then what is war, and what have we been doing for two decades? What were we trying to protect when we decided to take on the terrorists and violent miscreants, giving up thousands of lives in the process?

I think we can all — lovers and warriors alike — agree that it was a war for the rule of law. A war to enable our citizens to live in peace. A war to ensure the provision of the most fundamental rights, as enshrined in our Constitution, to every man, woman, and everybody else. A war to end all wars.

The war to establish the rule of law cannot be fought outside the same rule of law. All may be fair in love and war, and wars may be ruthless. But where is the line that differentiates between terrorist militants and the good state? We cannot follow the same tactics of arbitrary seizures of rights to life, liberty and freedom of speech and conscience. A war for these principles cannot destroy them in the process.

In the constitutional order that we aspire to, treason is defined by the same set of legal and moral principles that define our existence as a unified nation. Those principles are represented by the Constitution, and after thousands have laid their lives down for it, we can safely recognise that a struggle to attain constitutional rights is a struggle for love. Stupid, foolish, and maybe even blind, but love nonetheless — and an untiring commitment to the set of principles that all political forces have historically agreed on.

We can, and have, recognised that questions make us wiser and, by extension, stronger. Both political and military leaderships have acknowledged that no state should have any role in issues like the missing persons tragedy. If we’re fighting for supremacy of the law, every suspect should be dealt with under the very law that we are ready to die for. No war there.

And then, how many of us would like landmines in our backyard? The right to safe passage, through territory internationally recognised as our own country, is fundamental to human welfare. Safe passage cannot involve the off chance of getting blown up! Nor can it include unnecessary hassles including elaborate scrutiny and surveillance. If we were willing to hand over large parts of our country to warmongers, we can give a chance to the lovemongers. No war there either.

We should remember that there are many around us who have yet to get into the habit of love. Any perception of discord would invite their nefarious designs. Coming from a long war, our state should immediately protect, highlight, and celebrate all claims to constitutional rights and privileges. That such claims can be made underlines our successes after many painful years. These campaigns are the fruits of our sacrifices; they are nothing to fear, and foreigners are welcome to support the supremacy of our Constitution if they’d like.

In the same book in which John Lyly famously said that all is fair in love and war, he also wrote, “As the best wine doth make the sharpest vinegar, so the deepest love turneth to the deadliest hate.” Luckily for us, we’re all drunk in love here. Hate? Time’s up.

The writer is a PhD student in urban/regional planning at the University of Illinois.

faizaanq@gmail.com

Twitter: @faizaanq

Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2019

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