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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Turning History Into Rubble

Original Article: Daily Times
Date Published: March 15, 2012

The former President Bill Clinton in his autobiography, My Life, admits that his failure to get Osama bin Laden, post-USS Cole bombing, turned out to be quite fatal for the entire world. Had he been successful at that point, perhaps there would have been no 9/11 and the rest of the madness that ensued from there on. One thing is for sure, we are in a totally different world post-9/11.

Till this day, some folks who view the world from the myopic prism of religion, have been unable to comprehend the event. They rant and spin wild conspiracy theories about the event. I am not referring to the average clueless, emotionally charged and mentally challenged jihadi in Pakistan. I am referring to the so-called educated and enlightened professionals. The issue with them is they are unable to compromise with their ego. To them, it is an evil conspiracy to malign Islam. What they fail to let go of is that neither the late Mr bin Laden was a Muslim leader, nor was he representing Muslims of the entire world.

When we engage in a dialogue, they always come up with these pointless arguments, non-starters if you will, by asking, “Who created bin Laden”, “Do you know bin Laden was a US ally in the Soviet war?” I often smile and ask a very simple question, “Have you never experienced or witnessed a marriage, a business relationship or a partnership of some sorts go sour?” The fact is that we all engage in transactions, both monetary and non-monetary in all forms. We take oxygen in to let carbon dioxide out. Even in our personal lives, we do the same thing with our loved ones. Taking it to the other level, even in faith we submit to the will of God to earn a reward in the hereafter. Everything is give and take, no freebies at all.

Getting back to Mr bin Laden and the US. Mr bin Laden was supposedly offended by the abruptness of US policy reversal in post-Soviet Afghanistan. However right or wrong that move may have been, but to react in the manner that Mr bin Laden did, gave no boost to him or his so-called cause. As very aptly highlighted by Fareed Zakaria in his book, The Post-American World, Mr bin Laden and his al Qaeda’s overall impact will remain fairly insignificant in the overall scheme of things around the globe.

The irony is that disgruntled Muslims, who have been ruled by tyrants in their own lands, blame the western world for this dilemma. The inequity and vacuum of modernity they experience in their daily lives is somehow tied to the manipulation of the evil west. This is the catalystic argument used by the jihadis and their like to create the aura of self-righteousness. Somehow, to them violence and getting even by destruction is the only way to go. I have argued consistently here that this is a typical defeatist mentality: blaming others for your own shortcomings. No tyrant can ever survive, until or unless the people allow him to do so. No superpower can support one if its own people refuse to. Ergo, the hollow arguments of inflaming and swaying the overly hyper-emotional Muslims are quite shallow. It is up to the nation to determine what path it wants to embark on and how.

Last year when US Navy Seals took out Mr bin Laden, it was a major shocker. Even for the first few hours, I was in denial. However, after a few hours it became clear as day that President Obama was not peddling fluff to the world. My passionate and mentally challenged fellow co-religionists went into a complete denial mode back then as well. To them it was another “evil conspiracy” to malign Pakistan and its valiant army. But, alas, after all the denials and rabble rousing, we had to admit that yes, we were housing the most notorious terrorist of the world.

There is a commission called the Abbottabad Commission pursuing a judicial inquiry into this matter. What is most perplexing, however, is the recent demolition of the infamous mansion, where Mr bin Laden spent his final days. Why was an important piece of evidence demolished when the inquiry is still underway? People can come up with all kinds of lame reasons for such an act, but covering up, washing away or demolishing the structure will never erase the incident from our history.

The rubble in Abbottabad will remain in the books of history around the globe forever. How many such accounts can we amend, alter or change? If anything, the place could have been turned into a museum, so that people around the globe could come to this historical site to touch, witness and feel the lair of the so-called mujahid. A museum is not a shrine. A museum preserves history so others can see, feel and learn. All of us are going to perish. Some tend to make very tall claims and in the end, end up in the ocean. Just for the sake of perspective, and the world moves on. Nations that cannot preserve and reconcile with their historical blunders tend to repeat those blunders over and over again.

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