By Brig Asif Haroon Raja
Articles of Farooq Sulehria appear occasionally in ‘The News’. He writes sensibly but at times his liberal bent of mind overtakes rationality and fair-mindedness. In his recent article titled ‘Swat video from Sudan’, which appeared in the News on 23 December, he has forcefully condemned lashing incident in Sudan and has also replayed the Swat video of lashing incident in early 2009. He is feeling shocked on seeing a burqa clad woman receiving lashes in Sudan for wearing trousers and subjected to public humiliation and torture. He has written a full article on this trivial incident which is of no concern to any Pakistani sunk up to his neck in the sea of problems. But for Sulehria the incident was earth shaking that has shocked many around the world. He portrayed the graphic details in a manner as if the woman was being bit by bit slaughtered.
I recollect how the western world as well as all the liberals and hyper seculars in Pakistan were shocked on seeing the video of a girl getting flogged in Swat. I also remember that the lashes were not delivered by the bearded man with a whip but with a two-foot leather sole while sitting down and the hand not going above his head. I can recollect how quickly the girl got up after receiving 34 lashes and sprightly walking away from the scene.During Gen Zia’s tenure, it was rare that a guilty person awarded ten lashes or so could withstand more than 2-3 lashes. The purpose of delivering lashes in public was to create a scare and deter law breakers to mend their ways. It had a salutary affect on the chronic evildoers.
As per Sulehria, Swat incident had shaken Pakistan. Wailing and crying by the girl receiving lashes was a natural reaction. What else should she have done except to squirm and cry out whether guilty or not guilty of the crime for which the moralist was punishing her. She would have done the same if her ears were pulled or she had been scolded and beaten by her husband on a petty issue. The fair sex particularly the Amazon types are otherwise notorious for tantrums and raising a storm to put the spouses on the defensive and to gain sympathizes of the onlookers.
I also recall how the brigade of liberal women led by foreign paid NGOs and backed by secular media sprung to life and raised hue and cry. A mountain was made out of a mole. Sulehria is wrong in saying there was universal outrage. The outrage was within western world and India only and their indignation was shared by west lovers in Pakistan. They furiously huffed and puffed when it was said that the clip was fake and stuck to the theme given by their paymasters abroad. The purpose was not to sympathize with the Swati girl but to demonize Taliban, defame Islam, get the Nizam-e-Adl agreement annulled and to provoke the government to unleash a ruthless military operation in Swat. They succeeded in their mission partly but the main purpose of USA and India to entrap the Army entrapped in the fortress of Swat remained unfulfilled.
One wonders why no protest marches were held or slogans raised when so many men belonging to Army and police were kidnapped by the Taliban and slaughtered? Were they lesser human beings than the fair sex? I do not know whether Sulehria has ever visited women languishing in jails for years and seen how they are treated by sex starved cops? Many bear illegitimate children while others contract mental diseases. Has he never read the stories of torture and rape of women in Thanas? It is a matter of common knowledge and a routine affair happening every now and then and seldom the accused are punished.
Does Sulehria know how a Wadera from Sindh, a Sardar from Balochistan, a Choudhary from Punjab and a Malik from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa treat the peasants employed on their lands? They are treated like bonded labor and erring ones chained and put in dungeons and their women kept as concubines. He seems to be blind to the ongoing dismal state of affairs of the country where the secular system of governance and system of justice has enriched the rich but made the lives of the poor wretched. While the liberals have materially progressed and are enjoying life, the poor are grinding under poverty and are finding it difficult to earn even one time meal. Enlightened moderation espoused by Gen Musharraf to please USA and now vigorously pursued by PPP has wrecked the morality of the nation. The youth has gone astray and crime is thriving.
To earn pats from his friends in the west on his next trip he audaciously questions as to why puritan regimes are keen on morals. Can any nation expect to have fair system of justice, even distribution of food, clothing, healthcare, education and security if it is devoid of morals, ethics and human lives and are lavishly spending ill gotten wealth on their fun and frolic and are completely insensitive to the pains of the deprived segment of our society?
Is Sulehria ignorant about the mass slaughter, torture and displacement of millions of Afghans, Iraqis and Pakistanis at the hands of armies of so-called civilized world? Does he not know that war on terror was ignited to kill Muslims and to undermine Islam?I am sure he must have learnt that great majority of Americans suspect that 9/11 was an in-house drama conceived and executed by neo-cons and fake charges were leveled against Taliban, Osama bin Laden and Saddam regime. Has he any knowledge of the chilling details of torture inflicted upon suspects, mostly innocent in infamous Guantanamo Bay, Abu Gharib and Bagram Base jails and other CIA operated detention centres? Videos showing graphic details of harrowing torture, rapes and abuses inflicted upon detainees are available on U tube.
WikiLeaks has further uncovered the crimes of gun totting occupation forces in Afghanistan and Iraq and Indian forces in occupied Kashmir. Atrocities committed by them have paled the reigns of terror of Change Khan and Halaku Khan. Sulehria should compare flogging with water boarding, electric shocks and sexual abuse and decide which are more dreadful. He should also compare the prolonged ordeal of Dr Aafia Siddiqui and unjust 20-year prison term with flogging. It is these soul searing revelations which has left the world aghast, shaken and shocked and not the two video clips of Swat and Sudan.
Sulehria has tried to touch the sensitive chord of the west by playing upon the brutalization of women’s bodies. He says in patriarchal societies, women bodies are jealously guarded as personifications of honor. I am certain he must be well aware that women in the western world have been turned into playful dolls for the pleasure of men. Under the garb of liberation of women and equal rights, women are being exploited. Abortions and homosexuality have been legalized; concept of marriage has been overtaken by single mothers and unmarried couples and gays are looked at with sympathy and respect. These and child porno videos and blue movies will give an insight to the level of moral degeneration of the west. Drastic aftereffects of breaking the family system are now being felt and homes for the old people are bursting at the seams.
Sulehria should have written about a recent episode in Karachi in which two young girls returning from a late night party were kidnapped by a group of gangsters and gang raped. The girls refused to initiate an FIR because of their shady conduct. Working in a beauty parlor, partying is their hobby. What was shocking was that one of the girls lives in a flat with her boy friend. Late night parties with dance, music and hard drinks are quite common in Karachi. Even a gay club is functioning in cosmopolitan city. Frequency of gang rapes, consensual sex, and molestation of females in workplaces and in markets has surprisingly increased alarmingly ever since Hadood Ordinance has been modified. Concept of boy friends and girl friends and dating in co-education schools and watching x-rated movies has become fashionable. It gives a broad idea as to where the so-called enlightened moderation is leading our youth to.
Instead of commenting upon the Karachi incident and the fast declining moral turpitude, Sulehria has chosen a subject which interests the west only. He as a Muslim defends man-made western systems and censures Islamic system of justice prescribed by Holy Prophet (pbuh) and terms it as callous. He calls the Islamists advocating Sharia as apologists. If the Taliban during their rule in Afghanistan were flogging the women and Sudanese regime under President Bashir is also doing the same, Sulehria must understand that both were following Sharia based system of justice. The motivation of USA to declare Sudanese ruler as a war criminal is that he has refused to follow its dictates and is running the country on Islamic system which emphasizes on decency and morality. Who could be a bigger war criminal than George W Bush, but Sulehria thinks otherwise. What Sulehria has to say about recently introduced system of checking of passengers at US airports through x-ray lens cameras and body pats? Is it decent and free of humiliation?
Brig Asif Haroon Raja, a Member Board of Advisors Opinion Maker is Staff College and Armed Forces War Coursequalified, holds MSc war studies degree; a second generation officer, he fought epic battle of Hilli in northwest East Bengal during 1971 war, in which Maj M. Akram received Nishan-e-Haider posthumously. He served as Directing Staff Command & Staff College, Defence Attaché Egypt and Sudan and Dean of Corps of Military Attaches in Cairo. He commanded the heaviest brigade in Kashmir. He is lingual and speaks English, Pashto and Punjabi fluently. He is author of books titled ‘Battle of Hilli’, ‘1948, 1965 & 1971 Kashmir Battles and Freedom Struggle’, ‘Muhammad bin Qasim to Gen Musharraf’, Roots of 1971 Tragedy’; has written number of motivational pamphlets. Draft of his next book ‘Tangled Knot of Kashmir’ is ready. He is a defence analyst and columnist and writes articles on security, defence and political matters for numerous international/national newspapers/websites.