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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Patriotism For Sale Part 2

Original Article: Daily Times
Date Published: March 08, 2012

Last week I highlighted the infamous orator, who has now been limited to various TV screens. His so-called 'Takmeel-e-Pakistan' rhetoric is still there though. In his heart of hearts, probably, he must have come to the conclusion that his charm is very limited. The so-called shaheens (eagles) of Iqbal are not interested in a long march to New Delhi. There are other more pressing issues encompassing the wretched lives of the youth of our land. Or for that matter, some of them have found a new 'superhero' who can take them to the valley of their dreams — sometimes calling them to a 'Pakistani Spring' or promising them a 'tsunami'.

Let's look at Allama sahib's vision for a moment. When Iqbal was dreaming of a land for the Muslim majority of India, he was envisioning one for all the Muslims of India. Hence to paint him as a philosopher solely for Pakistan is disingenuous. The Pakistan Resolution came to fruition after the demise of Iqbal. To somehow tag and link him to be Pakistan-specific is a major misconception. Furthermore, if people focus on his message, his message is addressed to the entire Muslim world. Simply speaking, it is a reminder to reclaim the glory of the past by achieving excellence in every walk of life. But somehow our emotionally charged people only focus on the idea that Iqbal wanted us to wage wars. If they had their way, Allama sahib would be in full khaki gear, ready for combat.The measure of patriotism is to some extent linked with war and conflict. If the people are ready, able and willing to wage, participate in and support conflicts, then they are extremely patriotic. If they refuse to engage in these futile strategies then our emotionally charged ones bestow the honour of being a traitor on them. The ones who do sense the hollowness of this argument can easily decipher how off the mark our clueless jihadis are.

Iqbal was not against the west, as we are sermonised by some. Why would he head to the west to seek higher education? Why would he accept the title of 'Sir' from the west? Why would he not relinquish the title if he was so disturbed by the inequities of the west? Besides, every creative person, be it an artist, poet or a musician, reflects his emotions based on his personal experiences. Each experience has a context. Simply pasting a couplet here and there and spinning it to further the desired narrative is dishonest. Iqbal is not around to provide us with an explanation or his clarification for certain renditions. To claim to think like Iqbal is a great disservice to his name.

The other rather bizarre development is a new organisation called Difa-i-Pakistan Council (DPC) — a coalition of many religious parties along with a few so-called charity organisations. Their aim and objective is rather similar to our expert orator: to fight with India and the US till death. One has to give credit to them for engaging the ultra-hyper and charged, often jaded people, who are seeking their salvation through a speedy death. A lot of fellow scribes have given their brilliant analyses on DPC, so I will save the readers from any further torment.

However, I would like to ask a few questions of our highly patriotic DPC members for people to get some clarity. According to them, the State of India is an 'Enemy of Islam' with a vengeance. Are DPC folks aware of the simple fact that India has a soaring population of Muslims, greater or equal to the ones in Pakistan? DPC rallies beat around the old bush, say, of Raymond Davis, who has long been gone. They demand to stop the NATO supply lines because of the Salala incident, yet stay totally mute on other massacres within Pakistan...any reason why? Furthermore, who gives DPC the right to make such outlandish demands, which violate the policies of the elected government? Lastly, if their reckless rhetoric may result in something fatal, then how would they contain it?

Preparing people to die in the name of patriotism or religion is fairly easy. The tough part is to educate and demonstrate to people how to live, and live with such traits that benefit them and the others around them. Come to think of it, it is the empty stomach that is often the cause of any major conflict. None of these folks want to build something, which may be beneficial to the generations ahead.

If the DPC and their likes can harvest their patriotic fervour by creating a parallel fighting force, then why is it unable to construct roads, schools and irrigation works in the rural areas? If the answer to this question is that it is not within their scope as it is the responsibility of the elected government, then by the same token, national defence is the responsibility of the same government. It takes minutes to embrace and convince others to embrace death. It takes years and a lot of hard work to lay the foundations of schools, roads, hospitals and commercial enterprises. The former is a cop-out if you will, and the latter requires immense amounts of dedication and hard work. The test of the hereafter begins with the life here. How we lead ours and let others lead theirs is the first step towards salvation. To me true patriotism means helping another human being to live and prosper. This alters the course of many generations and collectively the future of the entire nation. I would like to sell my brand of patriotism too. Any buyers for this one?

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