Warmongers in Pakistan and India have been strong from day one, missing no opportunity to hurl abuses at one another and threatening to annihilate each other.
They are adroit at distorting history, concocting stories about their past glory and spitting venom in the name of religion and so-called patriotism. If given a chance, they might slaughter one another, cut their enemies to pieces, lacerate their bodies and incinerate their bones. This is not just a figment of somebody’s imagination; the history of Partition is also a testament to this trend.
The trains filled with mutilated bodies, molested women, traumatised children and devastated families reflected the height of insanity that these elements could attain within no time. These people have the potential to turn villages into graveyards, bustling towns into crematoriums, green fields into ashes and pristine rivers into bloody stagnant ponds. The carnage in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid incident in the world’s largest democracy, the killing of over 600 Muslims in Gujarat, the hatred that incinerated Joseph Colony in Lahore and the venom that engulfed people in Gojra and Gujranwala indicates that these obscurantists can go to any extent to achieve their nefarious designs.
These trident-wielding thugs and sword-waving goons are sworn enemies of one another but it is innocuous Western traditions that unite them, forging a sense of brotherhood between them. They put a hold on their internecine war, turning their vitriol towards far more ‘lethal’ enemies. These include New Year’s Eve celebrations, Valentine’s Day and other Western incursions into their sacred territories. In the process, selling blood, kidneys and children is ignored and the abject poverty of more than 600 million in the world’s largest democracy and over 50 million in the land of the pure do not arouse any wrath and fury. In addition, images of children eating rotten fruits from garbage heaps, orphans walking barefoot in the sweltering heat and the elderly and homeless dying of the cold on footpaths also do not lead to any sense of indignation.
The fragrance of flowers on Valentine’s Day jeopardises the ideological foundations of their beloved states. To them, the words of love and affection on Valentine’s Day cards commit a far more heinous crime than the carnage of Jallianwala, the suppression of the 1857 War of Independence and the famine of Bengal. They seem to believe that the jubilant youth in both countries on New Year’s Eve are far more threatening than atomic bombs, long-range missiles and other lethal arms that have the potential to wipe out millions within a few minutes.
So, the saffron-clad holy warriors will set out for a rampage spree on Valentine’s Day, tearing beautiful cards, trampling upon colourful flowers and thrashing young couples caught exchanging gifts. Their ideological brothers in Pakistan will storm small alleys in Punjab University, make surprise raids at Karachi University and unleash a reign of terror on all the campuses where they hold sway.
On the eve of the new year, a Korean war-like situation can be witnessed at Sea View where stick-wielding youth thwart the onslaught of ‘debauched and jubilant teenagers’ who will try to make their way to the sea in a bid to gain respite for some hours from the suffocating environment that has plagued their city for decades. It is interesting to note that these intrepid warriors in both countries cannot summon enough courage to sabotage the private parties that go on for hours in affluent areas.
Bertrand Russell once advised the East against borrowing the worst Western political system, which he called totalitarianism. Interestingly, we embraced the most lethal inventions of the West. From Kalashnikovs and missiles to submarines and nuclear bombs, every destructive invention was greeted in the land of Buddha, Jain, Bulleh Shah, Baba Farid, Shah Latif, Nanak, Kabir, Sultan Bahu and myriads of other pacifists who detested the very idea of violence and war.
We also eagerly bought torture tools that civilised Western countries manufactured to create a world free of violence and inhumanity. Every destructive thing of the West that has the potential of jeopardising the very existence of humanity has been greeted in this part of the world. No religious decree has ever been issued against the destructive capability of lethal arms but one can find countless holy orders forbidding the use of television, radio, photography, ultrasound, computer, internet, kidney transplantation, blood transfusion, X-ray facilities and a number of other Western inventions that have, by and large, benefited humanity.
During the Ottoman period, it was decreed that the printing press could not be used to publish Islamic books. A famous cleric of India in the 19th century forbade the use of a loudspeaker. King Faisal infuriated the clerics by allowing television sets in a conservative country. The government’s decision to have a photograph on passports triggered outrage in Pakistan just a few decades ago. A number of clerics also issued religious decrees to smash television sets.
These are not obscure stories but are all well-documented. We express euphoria on the destructive inventions made by the West. For instance, the nuclear tests were celebrated by religious parties in India and Pakistan. But when it comes to innocuous Western traditions like Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, ‘holy’ orders are issued against them and physical force is employed to implement these restrictions.
The writer is a Karachi-based freelance journalist.