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- Monday, April 30, 2012 - From Print Edition

Mass graves are usually required for two reasons: 1. Natural disasters such as the earthquake in Kashmir in 2005 and the floods throughout the country in 2008. It was often impossible or impractical to arrange individual burials, so mass graves were resorted to. 2. Wars between nations or conflicts between various groups within a country.

The 25,000 deaths resulting from the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004 and the uncountable casualties caused by the earthquakes in Agadir and Skopje are still remembered. Sometimes there is no alternative but to bury the dead in mass graves.

Now let us look at some of the atrocities of the recent past. The first that comes to mind is World War II, which was started by Hitler. His most abhorrent and dastardly act was the detention, starvation and gassing of Jews, who were mostly innocent and patriotic citizens. Their bodies were either incinerated or interred in mass graves.

Similarly, during the three-year siege of Leningrad by Field Marshal Paulus, millions of Russians died due to bombardments, hunger and disease. Again, individual burials were not possible. The same was the case in Japan after the nuclear attacks by the Americans. Twenty years ago we witnessed the genocide of Bosnian Muslims and Croats by the savage Serbs. Almost 250,000 innocent people were slaughtered and thousands were secretly buried in mass graves, some of which are still to be traced. Then there were Liberia, Rwanda and Burundi.

Why have I brought up this subject? To draw your attention to the bloody revolutions in France, Russia, China and Iran and to trace their relevance to our situation. These revolutions took place because the rulers and their security organisations brutalised the public while they themselves were enjoying all imaginable luxuries.

There is a limit to what people can tolerate. When that limit is reached, even the meek and gentle become ferocious like tigers, as happened in the countries mentioned above. Those bloody revolutions cost millions of lives, some bodies landing up in mass graves and some were left out to the dogs and vultures. This kind of reaction is expected from any nation having any self-respect. Unfortunately, this is a commodity which is scarce in our country. Not only the rulers guilty, but the public is also to blame for accepting oppression.

Our rulers are like the strong swimmer who never thinks that he could drown or the racing car driver who believes that no accident will befall him. They too believe that nothing will happen to them even though, just in the recent past, we witnessed the downfall of Ayub Khan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and Musharraf.

Even more striking examples are those of Iran, Libya and Iraq. The rulers of those countries behaved like pharaohs – masters of life and death of their subjects – and treating them like slaves. Opponents were simply abducted and then quietly made to disappear. The Iranian intelligence agency, Savak, was particularly notorious, even more than our own ISI.

But then the Divine struck through the people. They had had enough, took power into their own hands under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini and left no place for their rulers to hide. Some of their leaders managed to flee but died in disgrace on foreign soil. The people’s court under Ayotollah Khalkhali took revenge for all the cruelties perpetrated upon them. The ruling clique, the generals, Savak officers, all were hung and Iran started out with a clean slate. Since then nobody has dared infringe on the rights of the people.

Similar scenes were witnessed in Libya, Iraq and Egypt. Now the Turks are taking the old military dictators to task, as I am sure Musharraf will be taken to task too one day.

Some days ago I was startled to read an item in The News in which the correspondent wrote about his apprehensions that, under the prevailing conditions, the suffering masses might take on the army, considering it to have been a partner in all the dirty games played by the rulers. That is what this whole column is about. There are millions of guns out there and our people know how to use them. The army and other law-enforcing agencies hardly make up two percent of the population.

If the current trend of unemployment, load shedding of electricity and gas, inflated cost of living and suicides persists, the 180 million people of our country will have no option but to take matters into their own hands. This would result in atrocities like leaders being tied to jeeps and being dragged through the streets. Some would land up with ropes around their necks while others would be shot. Many would die.

It needs to be stressed that the rulers should not be under the illusion that nothing can happen to them. Sooner or later something will, because the institutions have failed the masses.

The rulers have been living like kings, but they have not bothered about the ordinary people. That is why I am talking about mass graves. If such a revolt takes place, there will definitely be need for mass graves. Many may even be left lying dead and bloated on the streets with nobody willing to touch them, as happened to Abu Lahab.

Here are some Divine Edicts relative to such situations:

1. Such were the Aad people. They rejected the signs of their Lord and Cherisher, disobeyed His apostles and followed the command of every powerful, obstinate transgressor and they were pursued by a curse in this life and on the Day of Judgment. (11:59-60)

2. When we decide to destroy a population, we first send a definite order to those among them who are given the good things of this life and yet transgress, so that the word is proved true against them. Then it is We who destroy them utterly. (17:16)

3. Thus have We placed leaders in every town (nation), its wicked men to plot (and burrow) therein. But they only plot against their own souls and they perceive it not. (6:123)

Let this be a warning to all, without discrimination. Such a situation can easily arise and will probably happen if present conditions persist. It is advisable for all parties to consider the issue of their own mass graves, otherwise their corpses might become food for vultures and/or their skeletons dragged through the streets by stray dogs.

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