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My Trip to Pakistan: Eid-al-Adha Festivities, Hardees, Terrorism & Conspiracies

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This year, I spent my first Eid in Pakistan in perhaps 2 decades. I was excited to be there, as there is a no better place to fully enjoy Eid than one’s “native” country. The festivities around Eid seemed muted though. The crowd at Lahore’s famous “Liberty” shopping area, for instance, seemed sparse. As I was to slowly find out, ironically “liberty” had been replaced with fear.

As I talked with different people, from a car driver working for a meager $85/month, to the MBA graduate working as a loan officer for about $400/month, to the businessmen making that much in a day, a sense of pessimism and fleeting happiness cut right through. A genuine concern about tomorrow seemed to constantly loom over everyone’s head. The driver complained about growing inflation, and the impossibility of giving his child a good (=costly) education. The banker inquired about opportunities abroad, not satisfied with his career trajectory. And finally, the businessman complained about growing competition, and massive uncertainty in the business and political environment.

With Eid-al-Adha approaching, our family’s sacrificial goats were bought and tied up on the back yard. Prices were exorbitant, about $180/goat; twice the driver’s monthly pay, and about half the MBA-graduate’s take. I wondered what was driving prices so high, and the answer seemed to lie in the number of goats demanded per upper-class household. It has become a custom for this class of folks to do more than their obligation.  Most of these upper-class households sacrifice several animals. I even saw a beautiful camel trotting on its way to a mansion (interestingly, don’t expect this family to eat camel meat as “no one” eats that meat, except the poor of course).

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I questioned the high ratio of animals to households, because it is not like these upper-class Pakistanis (in general) are that religious. Some suggested that there were so many poor folk that doing the bare minimum hardly provided enough meat. Others gave a more sinister reason: this was a “status thing”.  That is, people would boast about how many udhiyas they performed.  I suspect that the real reason was somewhere in the middle, like most things in life. Unfortunately, those who suffer in the end are the lower middle-class, for whom the price of udhiya becomes unaffordable.

Despite the somber realization of sacrifice-boasting, it was still great to see the unfamiliar sight of goats in the backyard, wake up to the sound of children having fun with the animals, and to eat some of the most fantastic foods one can find anywhere in the world, an undeniable quality of Lahore.

Initially one would have thought there wasn’t a war going on within Pakistan; people carrying on their lives, apparently sick of talking about sick carnages. But as soon as the news was on, everyone’s attention turned to the tube, fearing another blast, another attack somewhere in their country. There was a constant threat looming over people’s minds. And it wasn’t just the attention to TV.

Going to the Masjid, the presence of the armed guard(s) was quite ominous. Once when I accompanied a family member to see a “ruqqiyah scholar” from the peers of Shaykh Sana’ullah Madani, we were frisked just to enter one of these sanctuaries of Islamic knowledge. Every section of Lahore had check-points. Only the presence of a female or a child in the car could save you from constant car inspections. And who could blame the police for doing this?

Before I knew it, the days of Eid came upon us. The goats were sacrificed (I took three down myself!), and the practice of our great Prophet Abraham (AS) was remembered. Hordes of poor people, entire families, lined up outside the house. Families brought their six kids with them, each with a plastic bag to take some of the offering. And within a few minutes, all our giveaway meat from our several-goats offering was gone!

Going out on Eid day, the markets still seemed light. The biggest crowd was in front of the first-time-in-Pakistan, newly minted American franchise of Hardees. Now, mind you, Pakistan is no stranger to franchise restaurants. There isn’t a corner where you won’t find a KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway, etc.  But I guess there is something to be said about the new kid in town. It was humorous, and at the same time troubling to see lines at the entrance to Hardees Junk Food, Inc, where a burger meal costs about $3.50, about 5% of the driver’s monthly pay. Were a banker to take his family of five out to eat fast-food once a week, he’d be spending 20% of his monthly food on junk food!

The point? Food isn’t cheap. As one writer from Pakistan wrote, America’s junk food is eaten by the poor and unprivileged in America, while it has become the luxury food of the rich and privileged in developing countries. The poor man in America keeps getting fatter and unhealthy on junk food, while the poor man in Pakistan can’t afford it. I guess you could consider this as a silver lining.  Another ironic aspect of the lines at Hardees is the reminder that no matter how much the Pakistani street may hate America’s influence in Pakistan, the street can’t get enough of American food. I guess that’s  similar to Pakistanis’ infatuation with Indian movies. You could be in a war with India, and Pakistanis wouldn’t give up Indian movies!

Towards the end of my trip, the relative peace in metropolitan Pakistan was shaken, when an attack took place at a mosque in Rawalpindi. Every Pakistani seemed glued to the TV. People narrated the story of the attack to each other in highly emotional language. One would have thought that Pakistanis would be now used to these near-routine news murderous attacks, whether at the hand of terrorist-men or terrorists-drones.  However, the syndrome of “old news” that doesn’t seem to move those of us who are distant and unattached to these incidents, obviously did not apply to those living it daily in their lives, in their own homeland.

Sixteen children died that day in the horrible attack in one of the houses of Allah in Rawalpindi. The head of TTP’s South Waziristan operations, Waliur Rehman, told the BBC that militants loyal to his organization had carried out the attack on the mosque. I wanted to see the reaction of the street. Who will it blame?  I was expecting the same old blame-game, start with America or India, then move down to the internal government, and then there is a chance that those who carried out the attack may get some heat. This time though I witnessed dramatically different reactions:

A very raw sense of despise and hatred was first aimed at the militants who carried this out. The man on the street wants to know why aren’t even the masajid spared?

“What is the fault of those 16 beloved children, dressed up by their mothers in new Friday clothing, to go to pray with their fathers, but  they are returned to their mothers in coffins”

As I mentioned, the language was very emotionally colored. After the militants, the next finger is firmly pointed at the abject failure of the government. Zardari is probably equally hated as much as the militants. Pakistanis are embarrassed, very embarrassed to have a criminal as their president. They cannot wait for him to move on, but at the same time many openly wonder that after Musharraf, they got Zardari, after Zardari, who knows whether something worse could befall them?

Interestingly, the role of America or the West isn’t mentioned as much. I found this surprising. In fact, I often took the lead in reminding folks that a significant part of the responsibility for the current state of Pakistan lies firmly in the policies of my adopted country, America. There is no doubt in my mind that one of the greatest and most horrific legacies of W. was America’s strategy in Afghanistan, his unholy alliance with Musharraf, leading to a situation where Pakistan and Afghanistan have become intricately linked, perhaps not to be separated again.

But to the average Pakistani, it has become quite a bit simpler and much more direct. They are not prepared to discuss history; it is more about the present and the future. They want the militants out. They want the militants to stop using Islam as a mantle for terrorism. They want the militants to  leave their cities, and to go back to where they came from. The reason is quite simple: America will be, to them, America. You can’t change its bad habits of interference and shortsighted strategies (that hurt long-term security). America’s a bully that they don’t have much hope in changing. What Pakistanis can impact is their own government. What they can impact is to protect their own children from being brain-washed by any of the militants. That is what they are interested in, a thought-evolution of sort, a desperation of sort.

My cousin, who lives only miles away from the Masjid in Rawalpindi had this to say about the mosque attack:

“the masjid in rawalpindi where 17 kids were killed is 2 min drive from my house….. my mum’s dentist Dr shehnaz who lives on the main road and opposite that area, lost her 24 years old son in that masjid, which is just a few min walk from her house…. the heart wrenching catastrophy is that he had just returned from UK ten days back for his … impending wedding…. which was 2 weeks later!!! :( he was in the masjid with his 2 nephews and his dad… a retired general… dad n one grandson were in the 1st row… and late Bilal was with his younger nephew somewhere in the last ones… when he heard the fire, he fell on his nephew protecting him and told him to recite Kalma…..and he himself expired…
:( …………….. speechless!!!!!”

The doctor’s 24-year old son, coming from UK to Pakistan for his wedding.  He wasn’t at a night-club. He wasn’t playing poker. He was praying in the first row, the most blessed row of the Masjid, when he was killed by terrorists, who took their own lives.  Imagine the brainwashing of these killers for a moment under the context: Masjid-> Jumuah Prayers-> On  the day of Jumuah-> Suicide bombing-> to become shaheed??  Is there a more painful scenario for this murderer?  He kills Muslims, men and children in a holy place, on a holy day, thinking that he will somehow be rewarded with good in the akhira?

Only a day or so after I returned from Pakistan, I heard the news about yet another bombing. This was even closer to home.

“Two brides, who were getting ready for their wedding at a beauty parlour, were among 62 people killed”

In fact, some of my relatives were just leaving home to do some school-shopping for their kids at the Moon Market in Lahore (another famous bazaar). My parents heard the blast at their home. That night, yet more women became widows. More children lost their mothers. And more parents lost their offspring. Another calamity struck the houses of those who had ventured out to buy some groceries for the home, buy some stationery for their children, or just enjoy a light snack. And yet more men killed themselves in the hope that their murderous rampage will lead them to paradise.

Shifting gears a bit

While most Pakistanis seem to have gotten over conspiracy theories, I was not surprised to find many webpages continue to call these cowardly attacks, all over the world, as being “false flag operations” or some other conspiracies. There is of course a silver lining to this perverted thought process. At least there is a general unity among the vast majority of Muslims that such attacks are heinous and to be condemned. The problem is that some continue to not believe the “news”. Whether it is the “biased” media (yes, the ENTIRE media) or some other excuse, a strong sense of cognitive dissonance prevents such folks from believing that their beloved mujahideen (a perversion of the term) could kill men, women, children, despite the daily evidence and lack of counter-evidence.

These same conspiracy-theorists would turn to the weather channel and never arrange a barbecue when a “fasiq/kafir” weather-man tells them that there is a 90% chance of rain tomorrow. These same conspiracy-theorists would not disbelieve the “news” about a drone attack that killed x number of innocent people in Pakistan!  These same conspiracy-theorists would depend and believe on all sorts of news in the world, but when the same news people tell them that militants attacked Mumbai, or militants attacked Sri Lankan cricketers, or militants killed and keep killing tens of their own everyday, they would be suddenly reminded of the ayah in the Quran of not believing the fasiq. Somehow the mass media, with its million prongs, is “controlled”. Even when credit is taken by the militant commanders, it is obviously planted. Somehow, in this age of free press and free access, where militants have their own sites and can plant propaganda on second-by-second basis, somehow, no one gets the story right. Except for the conspiracy-theorists of course.

To be honest, the conspiracy-theorist don’t matter that much in the big picture. But the problem with their theories is that it highlights their own struggle to see how wrong many of the militants have gone. Until they and we, the “normal” Muslims, who watch news with healthy skepticism but not paranoid disbelief, those of us who don’t live in an imaginary world of perfect warriors, until we all unite not just in agreeing it’s wrong, but also unite in who to blame… Until we unite in blame, these terrorists will continue to be labeled mujahideen, and we will continue to lose our children, our fathers, our brothers, our wives, our mothers, and our sisters to them, except we won’t believe it was them in the first place.

So dear Muslims, wake up. We have a problem. This “trained suicide bomber” (video tomorrow) is screaming to us that we have a problem. And even if that problem continues to be fed by external forces, that problem is now within. Let’s deal with it.

It’s our problem now.

Conclusion

Overall, on a personal level, my trip to Pakistan met its objectives, to be with family, to enjoy the Eid as it is supposed to be enjoyed. But on a deeper level, it gave me new insights into the psychology of a nation in deep turmoil.

May Allah save the country and protect is people from bloodshed and harm.

———————————————————

Tomorrow, I’ll post a a chilling video that speaks volumes for the khawarij mentality of the terrorists. And the guy doesn’t sound like a Blackwater guy, folks!

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Abu Reem is one of the founders of MuslimMatters, Inc. His identity is shaped by his religion (Islam), place of birth (Pakistan), and nationality (American). By education, he is a ChemE, topped off with an MBA from Wharton. He has been involved with Texas Dawah, Clear Lake Islamic Center and MSA. His interests include politics, cricket, and media interactions. Career-wise, Abu Reem is in management in the oil & gas industry (but one who still appreciates the "green revolution").

69 Comments

69 Comments

  1. Arif

    December 14, 2009 at 12:42 AM

    Ameen to your du’a.

    You brought up an interesting point that for Pakistanis, war is a reality in their homelands. For Americans, it is more of trumping war cries and talking gallantly of war. The problem with this is that no war took place on the American mainland since the Civil War. Only if one lives the reality of the war will they really understand the great insecurity and pain that comes from a war…

  2. Amad

    December 14, 2009 at 12:57 AM

    To bolster the point of fear seeping through the public psyche:

    ‘80% Pakistanis fear leaving home due to security threats’

    • Ameera

      December 14, 2009 at 1:13 AM

      True, to an extent. We do *fear* leaving home but we have to anyway and slowly, we tend to forget about the risk associated until something happens and suddenly, it’s all confusion and fear again. A friend of mine hasn’t used the University transport for the past two months, her parents drop her off and pick her up themselves… and the reason is fear that the buses might become the target of an attack.

      Alhamdolillah, Karachi (and Sindh in general) has been spared terrorist attacks in the past two years so people here can go about their lives with relatively lesser tension and worry, however, the news of an attack elsewhere casts gloom on the whole nation.

  3. Stinger

    December 14, 2009 at 2:29 AM

    I wish the world really were as simple and straight forward as you say. Yet this article doesn’t give any definitive evidence against the questions posed by so called “conspiracy theorists”. In how many of these attacks did the Pakistani security forces carry out a thorough forensic investigation to find out exactly where the attacks originated from and who supplied the training and funding for them? You’ve stated that militants have claimed such attacks, yet they have also released videos denying other attacks so why should we believe in one claim while denying another? I want to make clear here that the militants launching attacks in Pak are completely unIslamic and the ways in which they are forcing some people to carry them out are completely Haraam and should be opposed by all sides. Yet this isnt’ what my response focuses on.

    Questions are still lingering on the Mumbai attacks which are receiving a disproportional amount of media attention. Almost 2000 Pakistani civilians have died over the last year yet CNN and Zakaria primarily seem to care about 170 Indians who were killed over the same period. You are right that we need to control our emotional reactions to such attacks and think about them rationally based on evidence. There is solid evidence that Indian intelligence is arming insurgencies in Pakistan as it has against other nations in the past (ie. Sri Lanka). RAW isn’t spending untold amounts of time and money planning for the development of Pakistan, quite the opposite I assure you. I don’t know about anyone else but I refuse to live a lie and believe whatever is told to me without investigating for myself first.

    I’m not some ignorant person who is making wild claims to rationalize how Muslims can never be bad people. But when I learn that Indian counter-terrorism operatives assisted the Mumbai attackers and that one of the first policemen to be killed there was a top official who cracked a high profile terrorism case against Hindu extremists, what conclusions would you expect? On top of all this his bullet-proof jacket was missing during the investigation leading to even more questions around his death.

    One thing to remember from such high profile attacks is seeing who the ultimate beneficiary is and who is loosing the most. The over 60 year Kashmir dispute is playing a central role in the power struggles we’re seeing today. Ever since the decline of Pakistan the Indians have practically been handed over Kashmir. In conclusion, I think that people who are experts in the realm of geopolitics should step forward and give their thoughts on this issue rather than uninformed people who may lack the credibility or linguistic ability to explain such events in a rational manner. This will better inform the readers and help distinguish between the what is reality and what is speculative rumor.

    • amad

      December 14, 2009 at 2:43 AM

      IF India is involved, then it is involved because of our own weaknesses. No doubt Kashmir is thorn in Pak-India relations. However, look at the state of the Pakistan we ALREADY control… let alone territory that we do not control. Focus on fixing what you got.

      So, let’s fix our own house first. As you agree, we have “bad apples”. And there are quite a few of them.

      I only made a passing reference on Mumbai… the issue right now is about Pakistan.

      Finally, to be honest, India has moved decades past Pakistan in economic progress and governance. Strategically, it will actually help their economy to have a stable Pakistan, even if that flies in the face of all the territorial enmity. RAW has enough of a job dealing with internal fissures in India (lots of ethnicities and religions there too). I am not saying that they don’t have any involvement… I don’t know and I really don’t care. There is something I can effect… that is Pakistan itself. That’s what the people’s attention is shifting to.

      P.S. Mostly I am not giving my opinions in this piece, but relaying the pulse of people I interacted with.

      • Stinger

        December 14, 2009 at 3:58 AM

        Salaam,

        Amad we are discussing two separate issues here. One is fixing the internal problems of corruption, instability, broken system in Pakistan and the second is finding out who the culprits may be at least for some of the instability we are seeing in the country. You have stated that there could be some foreign hands in some of these attacks but if Pak was stronger they would not have been able to take advantage of its weakness. I agree with you on this and that the primary concern for anyone who cares about this country is to help it change for the better internally.

        On the issue of what India’s or other anti-Pak Nations/Actors true intentions are, we shouldn’t attempt to speculate on them. They could be positive or negative but historically they have been negative. Focusing on core internal problems shouldn’t blind people to legitimate outside threats. Let us stand on the side of justice no matter what happens or who is responsible. My advise is that people do care about where threats are coming from, internally or externally, rather than denying them. Remember Pak is a nuclear nation and there are nations that will stop at nothing less than disarming it or dismantling it. Having said that, I again agree that the country needs to get its act together internally and remove the cancer of corruption and incompetence that is eating at all levels of society. People must find and appoint the moral, capable leaders to positions of power and remove the (excuse my un-professionalism) monkeys that have turned it into a banana republic.

        • Amad

          December 14, 2009 at 4:02 AM

          good thoughts

        • Abu Rumaisa

          December 14, 2009 at 3:41 PM

          Not to deny all the short comings of Pakistan, India would be the happiest when nukes are taken away from Pakistan. While, I don’t buy the theories that RAW is conducting these terrorists attacks in Pakistan it sure is trying it’s best to corner Pakistan from the western border (aka Afghanistan). It supported Northern Alliance when Taliban were in power & is one biggest supporter of the puppet regimes in power in Afghanistan, the place is swarming with RAW.

          (I m not a Pakistani, in case one if wondering)

          • Dan

            December 15, 2009 at 9:30 PM

            Is the support of the Northern Alliance a bad thing? I’m Pakistani and supporting the Taliban was a huge mistake for Pakistan. I doubt many Pakistanis would want to live under the rule of Mullah Umar yet they think it’s okay for Afghanis to live under the hardship of that dictator. But the same people who decry secular dictatorships are often either silent or enthusiastic over a dictator that claims to uphold ‘Shariah’ (whatever version the dictator has in mind, that is).

          • amad

            December 15, 2009 at 11:57 PM

            So the support of extremist Sunni taliban is the worst thing anyone could do, but the support of warlord thugs of shia northern alliance isn’t such a bad thing??

            The problem is that you are so warped up in this sunni-shia thing that you see everything from that prism, and it is getting very annoying.

          • Dan

            December 16, 2009 at 1:46 AM

            Amad, do you have any evidence that the Northern Alliance is comprised of Shi’as mainly? Last I checked, many of them were Sunni Tajiks and Uzbeks, with some Hazaras in the mix. Hizb-e-Wahdat did what they could to defend their people from being annihilated. The Northern Alliance had their faults, but at least they weren’t hosting terrorists and wiping out people like the Taliban were. It is a well known fact that the Taliban was dedicated to eradicating the Shi’a Hazara population. Well-known accounts by HRW and Amnesty International can attest to it (you know, the same publications Muslims cite when it is against Israel). Their siege of Mazar-i-Sharif which resulted in pogroms against Hazaras in addition to the murder of 9 Iranian diplomats is well-documented.

            And for the record, Ahmed Shah Masoud wasn’t a thug. He was a hero who wanted to liberate Afghanistan from the clutches of Pakistan and Saudi control. It’s a shame he was killed by animals who were too cowardly to fight one on one, just like how they deceived the late Abdul Ali Mazari (the leader of Hezb-e-Wahdat) by throwing him off a helicopter in 1995. This is how they choose to reward a man who was instrumental in repelling the Soviet invaders in the 1980’s.

            In Afghanistan, no group is innocent, so I prefer to choose the group that is the lesser of two evils, which in this case is the Northern Alliance.

          • Abu Rumaisa

            December 16, 2009 at 9:00 AM

            Dan,

            Wow! u actually prefer Northern Alliance even though they were far more brutal than the Taliban, while the Taliban were strict when it came it’s laws, NA openly looted & raped the ppl where they ruled. This is hilarious!

      • Muhammad

        March 8, 2010 at 11:38 PM

        The pulse of the people changes dramatically from region to region. I wonder if you had opportunity to talk to victims of state terrorism in the northern regions of Pakistan. Violence breeds violence. The majority of the suicide bombers in the aftermath of the Lal masjid operation were related to the victims of the violence in some way. Similarly, it’s much easier for those behind the suicide killings to go to affected regions and recruit willing volunteers thirsty for revenge.

  4. L Mirza

    December 14, 2009 at 3:15 AM

    @Stinger
    I agree with Amad. The issue is ours to solve. No more we can go o0n blaming others, RAW, I ndia etc.

    Our people are killing our own people – in mosques, on roads, in schools, you name it. All in the name of the Almighty.

    It is our fault and nobody else’s that we do not have functioning democracy, our military is not under civilian control, we do not have institutitions, majority of our people are illiterate,w e have a feudal land ownership system; the list goes on.

    A country was carved out for Muslims 60 years ago. And now it is “No country for no men”.

    Here in US (and I bet in many other countries) we are perceived as a place for terrorist training. It just got reconfirmed when five boys (two of our own ancestry) were caught in Northern pakistan for trying to join the terrorists.

    Now with the army again in control, and a “hero” in peoples minds, any hope for a fundamental change after this crisis may be unfounded.

    • Abu Rumaisa

      December 14, 2009 at 3:45 PM

      bro, from what I have read so far the 5 from DC didn’t go to Pakistan to blow up markets or kill innocent civilians or to conduct terrorism but to fight against the terrorists, the occupying terrorists in Afghanistan.

      • L Mirza

        December 15, 2009 at 1:37 AM

        -No personal comments please. -Editor

  5. Amatullah

    December 14, 2009 at 3:24 AM

    I can relate to the udhiyyah and junk food …Three of my family members and I went to Hardees a little while ago and the total was like 89 junayh –which is less than $20 american but for a regular native Egyptian family, that’s a chunk of their salary! We hardly eat the junk food, I honestly feel like it’s israaf here. For foreigners though it’s not that big of a deal because we convert the local currency into $ or pounds!

    This was my first Eid in a “Muslim” country. I was sad because we realized that families here usually don’t eat meat on a regular basis because of the cost. I think one sheep was about $400 (2000 ganay–that’s more than the average rent!)–It was only about $150-$200 last year for udhiyya. Amazing how in the West we debate if we can give cash for zakatul fitr instead of food….we have such an abundance of it that we don’t even realize the blessing in it. SubhanAllah.

    • TheAlexandrian

      December 15, 2009 at 10:11 AM

      Yeah, I don’t know what the deal is with the inflated price of animals for slaughter in Egypt. The Islamic Relief pricing breakdown was something like $65 for a country like Sri Lanka and over 3x that for Egypt…something is amiss.

  6. Sister M

    December 14, 2009 at 4:51 AM

    Assalamu alaykum

    Very nicely written mashAllah! Thank you for sharing your trip and your thoughts with us.

    Having grown up in the States, I’ve never lived through anything like you describe. I can’t imagine how the people there live with such an ever present threat of terror in their lives. It makes me really sad for them. I can’t even conceive of trying to raise a family in that environment.

    May Allah help us all, eradicating the ignorance, and bringing us towards better understanding and peace for all in our ummah, ameen.

  7. dilsenomad

    December 14, 2009 at 8:24 AM

    Please remember us Pakistanis in your duas. May Allah grant us patience, bring us ease and guide us to the correct mode of action, through the duas of our concerned brothers and sisters.

    • Holly Garza

      December 14, 2009 at 9:07 PM

      Ameen. You all are and will even more so now, be in My Dua’s

  8. Farhan

    December 14, 2009 at 9:10 AM

    So very sad. I hate terrorism. It is the clear enemy of the Muslims.

  9. Faraz Omar

    December 14, 2009 at 10:53 AM

    When I speak to my colleague, a Pakistani journalist who worked for years in Dawn, he tells me the internal issues, ground realities of politics, leaders, and their agendas. Let me tell u that’s at stark contrast with the reflections of common people. Common people are only the guinea pigs. Their opinion doesn’t matter. Common people have no weight.
    It’s the opinion of the elite that matters. It’s mighty, powerful and game changers that matter. And that’s what guides the policy of a nation.
    Media is only a tool to fool the guinea pigs.

    • .

      December 14, 2009 at 8:44 PM

      Assalaamu alaikum
      Can you please share what the journalist told you? It would be interesting to hear

      • Faraz Omar

        December 15, 2009 at 3:45 AM

        unfortunately he hasn’t replied yet.

  10. Regular Baba

    December 14, 2009 at 11:00 AM

    Salam

    So Brother Faraz, can you please tell us what the reality is? I, for one, would really love to know.

  11. ayesha

    December 14, 2009 at 11:01 AM

    …….

  12. Faraz Omar

    December 14, 2009 at 11:05 AM

    I’ll mail him this article and get his comments… I’ve only heard from him.. he can be more precise insha Allah.

  13. Zuhayr

    December 14, 2009 at 11:14 AM

    Asslamo alaikum

    May Allah guide the people who are involved in terrorist activities.

    • Regular Baba

      December 14, 2009 at 11:18 AM

      Salam

      Maybe this is harsh, but my mother was in Lahore at the time of the attacks in Moon Market, and for all I know could have been there at the time. Alhamdolillah, she wasn’t. I can assure you that the very thought that someone had made my mother’s blood halal made me think of doing the opposite dua, that Allah never guides these people, but leaves them to die in their misguided state.

      • Zuhayr

        December 14, 2009 at 11:32 AM

        u don’t know if i have been effected personally by the attacks.

        The decision is with Allah to guide someone or not.

        • Regular Baba

          December 14, 2009 at 12:32 PM

          Salam

          My apologies, Brother Zuhayr. Moderators, please delete my post.

  14. Lucield

    December 14, 2009 at 1:17 PM

    We go visit my family in Lahore every winter, as my grandparents are very old and their last main wish is that their family come to see them as much as possible (since all their children live outside Pakistan except for my phoopho).

    Although I love going and love seeing my grandparents and want to go even more than I already do, a part of me can’t help but wish I wasn’t going this winter. The halaat in Pakistan is terrible, when I heard about the bomb blasts in Lahore I was worried for both the victims of the attack, and for my mother who I knew was going out to get outfits made for my sister! The whole family is scared of going to markets, and although you can’t live your life in fear, I can’t help but be worried about what will happen during my break.

    I feel the worst for my dada, he was an officer before partition in the Indian Army, and after partition he like everyone else, had great hopes for Pakistan. He continued his career and joined the Pakistani army, only to leave in the 70’s as the level of corruption was simply too high, and now he is seeing the country that he helped to create being torn apart. His heart is full of grief and sadness! and no one can do anything to ameliorate his condition.

    Please keep us in your duas.

  15. Dan

    December 14, 2009 at 2:23 PM

    Good article amad, but I have an issue with one part of your post:

    Interestingly, the role of America or the West isn’t mentioned as much. I found this surprising. In fact, I often took the lead in reminding folks that a significant part of the responsibility for the current state of Pakistan lies firmly in the policies of my adopted country, America. There is no doubt in my mind that one of the greatest and most horrific legacies of W. was America’s strategy in Afghanistan, his unholy alliance with Musharraf, leading to a situation where Pakistan and Afghanistan have become intricately linked, perhaps not to be separated again.

    I think blaming Musharraf completely is a cop-out. A lot of the blame rightfully deserves to go towards Gen. Zia ul-Haq for his obsession with turning Pakistan into another Wahabi Arab colony. His obsession with turning the country into a hellhole by promoting the ‘Kalashnikov’ culture and increasing friction between Shi’as and Sunnis has done a lot more damage which continues to affect the country to this day.

  16. mystrugglewithin

    December 14, 2009 at 3:33 PM

    I wonder what would your opinions be if you’d been living there for the last one decade (The Musharraf era).

    It’s very, very indecent and unprofessional to summarize your rant against “conspiracy” based opinion you disagree with based on:

    your cousin’s account about a saddening event,
    a bunch of goats,
    a video,
    and your un-related eid-ul-azha trip

    Amad, Pakistanis are suffering, and the worst that one can do to them is to criticize them for their inability to change things. In this struggle for transition, their distrust is inevitable, unfortunately for which, we loathe them. I stopped giving out my views on this. You know why? because I am not there, & it’s chill here that I am enjoying. So, I and you do not deserve to even talk about it.

    Besides that, I agree with you on many, many things :)

    • Dan

      December 14, 2009 at 4:34 PM

      Musharraf era was still better than living under the Zia or Sharif era. I think the only reason people some here bash on Musharraf is because of his secularism, while ignoring the fact that religious fanatics like Zia have done a lot more to damage Pakistan than anyone else (even more than Gen. Yahya Khan).

      • Qas

        December 14, 2009 at 4:40 PM

        … and you know all this how?

      • Amad

        December 15, 2009 at 1:41 AM

        to be honest, this historical discussion about Zia vs. Musharraf is off-topic.

        Maybe it started with Zia, maybe it didn’t. It doesn’t matter. The most recent history is related to Musharraf. And really even that is somewhat irrelevant. It is about now and tomorrow. What’s done cannot be undone.

        I don’t wish us to get into this historical political debate.

    • Amad

      December 15, 2009 at 12:25 AM

      If one has to live in a place for a decade before forming an opinion on it, then I guess we can shut down the entire media complex!

      Also in your list of my sources, you forgot to mention the beautiful camel :) Yes, I am kind of being facetious, but just because I didn’t list every person I talked with, doesn’t mean I didn’t talk to many people in my weeks of stay there.

      Finally… I criticized Pakistanis? Hmm, I think in your haste to pass judgment, you didn’t read the post properly enough. In fact, I applaud the people for being resilient throughout all this and their better judgment (in my opinion) on how to fix the situation.

      P.S. We can all individually decide what we deserve to talk about and not talk about. Besides that, thank you for your comments.

      • mystrugglewithin

        December 15, 2009 at 8:07 AM

        To understand Pakistan for the sake of it’s welfare, I still believe (a very personal opinion) that even a decade of stay isn’t enough – there is much more to it. I get to know things which are analogous to a kid learning when he’s 10+ that there are 4 alphabets he never knew about – two of them were vowels.

        You talk to people -> people listen to geo .. let’s stop here on this :)

        You criticized Pakistanis who believe in things that you call conspiracy theories and about which I am (with all due respect) challenging you that they are the majority of Pakistan.

        p.s. So true. If I can’t, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t – I just shiver when I try to summarize Pakistan like this.

        Jak for the feedback.

        • Amad

          December 15, 2009 at 8:52 AM

          This isn’t a summary or a history book on Pakistan. It is just one opinion out of hundreds. You are free to take it as you wish. I go over tons of almost random things in the article, even though I feel they are all connected in some way.

          • mystrugglewithin

            December 15, 2009 at 3:58 PM

            problem: muslimmatters -> most read muslim blog -> personal opinions ?!
            solution: personal opinions -> personal blogs

            This will go on, let’s cut it .. I am missing my family back home, and I think i’ll sleep tonight in the office :D

            Thanks.

  17. akhi

    December 14, 2009 at 6:13 PM

    The Mujahideen have clearly said that the recent attacks on civilians in Pakistan have nothing to do with the Mujahideen or Jihad there. They further explain how the Pakistani media is deliberately trying to pin the blame on our brothers while protecting the real culprits “Black-Waters” and other anti-Islamic groups
    http://www.sunniforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=53232

  18. Vishal

    December 14, 2009 at 6:30 PM

    For the first time I have read something so fresh and raw about Pakistan. I am an Indian and have a very limited political knowledge to comment on this entire issue but it did come as pleasant surprise that in this entire article there was no mention of India as a possible factor in the present turmoil in Pakistan.

    Digressing from the topic here, I can say it with conviction that every Indian I personally know, feels a great deal of sadness and helplessness when we hear of such incidents happening in Pakistan, and articles like these give conviction to our beliefs that there are an equal number of Pakistanis who feel the same way about India.

    In this era of global understanding and knowledge we are sensible enough to differentiate politics from popular belief and I think the sheer number of like minded people like us can give this whole political drama a meaningful and proactive turn in the future.

    • Amad

      December 15, 2009 at 12:32 AM

      Thanks Vishal.
      There is so much to gain for both nations if they just get with the program, resolve territorial disputes amicably (maybe I’ll discuss my thoughts on Kashmir one day, a thought that I shared with many Indian friends who liked it as much), and move to a EU-type subcontinent model. Probably a dream in our lifetime but imagine the economic fruits of this kind of relationship.

      • Faraz Omar

        December 15, 2009 at 2:43 AM

        not to forget a subcontinent cricket team .. lol.

        Though that’s a wonderful thought.. I don’t see it happening in present conditions. (This could have happened in the 90s may be.) Plenty of reasons:

        * India is progressing v fast. It’s economy’s growth rate is second only to China. While Pakistan is going in a downward spiral. If a resolution has to be fair then both countries should be equally successful and equally interested in a just, fair solution. For now, this cannot be envisaged. Pakistan won’t accept a compromise, and India just cannot “not use” its emerging weight as a superpower.

        * The hostility and tensions between the two countries have escalated to a great extent today. Whether one is a hardline BJP member or a secular non-communist, there can be no real friendship with Pakistan — after the highly-publicized series of terror attacks that were all — in the Indian perspective [Read: Think tanks, defense analysts, intelligence agencies and those whose opinion matter] — Pakistan’s doing.

        * Safety and security remain a major concern for India. It will do anything to protect itself, unless something is internally done for political reasons. So as long as Pakistan’s security and safety remains questionable i.e. if the attacks don’t stop, there cannot be a political justification, for India or Pakistan, to go ahead with peace talks.

        * The attacks won’t stop until America removes itself completely from Af-Pak region. Afghanistan should be left for the Afghans, even if that means a return of Taliban.

        * The real issue of attacks, suicide bombing and terror in Pakistan is not blaming ourselves as Muslims. Though I agree there does exist this ideology that you are referring to to and it needs to be tackled. But is this ideology responsible for those attacks? What needs to be asked is: Who are the militants? Where do they get the funding from? Where do they get the weapons and bombs from? What is their agenda?

        1. Who are the militants?
        The media tells us they are Pakistani Taliban. Wrong. The Taliban are different and these militants are different. Read this May 24, 09, interview with Owais Ghani, the governor or NWFP.
        This was during the Swat offensive when the Pakistani military went on to take the militants.
        He makes a clear distinction between Taliban and the militants, their respective agenda etc. Simplistically calling them the Pakistani Taliban is living in a fool’s world. So far, through the media we don’t know who the militants are.

        2. Where do they get the funding from?
        I don’t know. I’ll have to consult with more experts on this.

        3. Where do they get the weapons and bombs from?
        Same as before.

        4. What is their agenda?
        Western analysis usually say the militants want to bring sharia law. This is definitely not true. Under the deal they were given the freedom to rule by Sharia law. Normalcy was returning. BBC reported how it was in fact even just, fair to the people. The militants broke the deal. Again that interview is quite revealing.

        The post 9/11 war in Afghanistan and presence of US and NATO armies are really the prime factors today, without doubt. This has little to do with common public sentiments against US or the jihadist ideology. That may just get them new recruits. But this has to do with a real network operating for reasons Allah knows best.

        Afghanistan is different. The Pashtuns will never accept occupation. No matter how much the US tries to falsely convince that it’s there for their sake. Moreover the puppet corrupt govt. is not at all for the benefit of the people.

  19. MR

    December 14, 2009 at 7:54 PM

    SubhanAllah.

  20. NahyanInc

    December 14, 2009 at 8:18 PM

    innalillahi wainna ilayhi raji’oon, I didn’t hear of those attacks.

    That’s a grim picture of what’s going on, but an unfortunate reality we’ve got to face.
    Jazakallahukhair Amad, looking forward to the next post.

    May Allah guide those behind these acts, the people of Pakistan and us. Ameen.

    -Nahyan

  21. abu zayd

    December 15, 2009 at 8:19 AM

    I WANT TO KNOW WHY MM HAS PUT THE WHOLE OF THE KASHMIR REGION WITHIN INDIA ON THE FRONT PAGE TO THIS THREAD? IT IS ONE THING TO CORRECT ALL THE WRONGS IN PAKISTAN, IT IS QUITE ANOTHER WRONG ALL THE RIGHTS.

    • Amad

      December 15, 2009 at 8:55 AM

      Abu Zayd… I just found an image on the net… It is meant to show the fire (turmoil) spreading from Afghanistan into Pakistan… Of course the image isn’t dimensionally accurate, neither does it have any secret messages on Kashmir’s territory. If you can find me a better pic showing the same sort of imagery, I will be more than willing to change it. Thanks for your attention.

    • Osman

      December 17, 2009 at 10:45 PM

      The Caps lock key is to the left of the ‘A’ key.

      – Thanks

  22. TheAlexandrian

    December 15, 2009 at 10:21 AM

    Quick questions (from someone who admittedly doesn’t know much about Pakistan). I noticed that most Pakistanis living in the West come from Lahore. Is that generally the case? If so, is there an underlying reason behind that reality? What of Karachi & Islamabad?

    • Regular Baba

      December 15, 2009 at 10:33 AM

      Salam

      Because we Lahorians are the only real Pakistanis!

      Ok, that’s an inside joke, which no-one outside of Pakistan will get.

    • Habeeb

      December 15, 2009 at 11:03 AM

      Lahore is the capital of the Punjab province, which is the most populated state in Pakistan. Karachi is the capital of the Sindh province, and while Karachi is the most populated city in Pakistan, Sindh is not as populated as Punjab.

      And if you are not rich, you don’t live in Islamabad :)

    • Amad

      December 15, 2009 at 11:41 AM

      Actually, I think there are about as many Karachites in the West as Lahoris… these are the two hearts of Pakistan, in some sense. There is affluence in both these cities, and many industrialists. They can afford to send their kids to the West to study, and that’s where many end up staying :)

    • Regular Baba

      December 15, 2009 at 11:46 AM

      Salam

      And EVERYONE knows that if you haven’t seen Lahore, you haven’t lived :-)

      • Amad

        December 15, 2009 at 12:08 PM

        La’or La’or hay..

    • TheAlexandrian

      December 15, 2009 at 12:59 PM

      Heh, gotcha. Thanks for the input, all :)

  23. destinyseeker

    December 15, 2009 at 11:12 AM

    On the topic of Pakistan, can anyone recommend good books to read on the nation’s history, etc?

  24. abdullah

    December 15, 2009 at 4:13 PM

    salaam aleikum,

    2 good books to read:

    1. The Duel: Pakistan on the FlightPath of American Power by Tariq Ali

    you can also read selections of the book online from Google here.

    2. Descent into Chaos – the U.S. and the Disaster in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia
    by Ahmad Rashid

    ——————————————————
    Also 2 good recent articles to peruse as well:

    1. How and why the Pakistani army distrust America and of how more Pakistanis are now anti-American than anti-Indian:

    Defending the Arsenal: In an unstable Pakistan, can nuclear warheads be kept safe?
    by Seymour M. Hersh

    2. How Musharraf had a deal in place to give Kashmir to India but the chief justice backlash and the Mumbai shootings foiled that:

    The Back Channel
    By: Steve Coll

    In the end, Pakistan was created on very shaky nationalistic foundations by a class of secular elites who were more loyal to the British than to the deen, they invoked slogans and used Islam to justify this new state and saddled it with many of the problems that people living there now face.

  25. abdullah

    December 15, 2009 at 4:23 PM

    One other good link that you may wish to add to this:

    Ahmad Rashid: Pakistani conspiracy theories stifle debate

  26. samy

    December 15, 2009 at 6:05 PM

    pakistani’s are the victims of western war in last 30 years,first during cold war against comunisim to save the civilized western democraceies from red army & now war against terrorism,which turned into war of terror.

    • L Mirza

      December 29, 2009 at 8:38 AM

      we cannot blame West; we have to blame ourselves for the sorry and sordid affairs of Pakistan. The army went on expanding based on a fear of a bogeyman (ie India); all institutions were ignored, political leadership and democracy suffered; basically we became a country in terms of having borders and nothing else. It is splintering now into four parts; proving once more that religion is not a glue, but cultrure, lifestyles etc are stronger glues.

      Until we put army in its legitimate place, no progress can be made.

      And it is high time we stop the blame game. Bengla Desh is now more literate than us. Figure out.

  27. samia

    December 21, 2009 at 10:49 AM

    good work brother Amad…. id like u to check out this site http://www.imranhosein.org

  28. Jake

    December 28, 2009 at 10:59 PM

    As a non muslim this whole article ( including comments) was so enlightening- I learned a great deal what the average Pakistani is going through- war sucks!. I can feel the author’s pain and concern however my thoughts on the terrorism issue is ” whereis the money coming from”. Whouis paying the bill? And in my mine it all leads back to the Saudi’s? On the other hand I agree it is a Pakistani problem and they have to solve it within. Unforrtunitely it seems we learn nothing from history and I wish Allah would finally say enough and striaghten things out once and for all.

  29. Dan

    December 29, 2009 at 2:13 AM

    Yet in other news, a suicide bomber murdered 35 Shi’as during Ashura in Karachi

  30. sami khan

    December 29, 2009 at 11:54 PM

    The situation is getting worsen day after day, and the
    leaders and upper class are acting like the last Mughal
    emprors.

    Apart of Poltiical uncertainity, economic insitiblity and social declination
    psychologically the masses are much in the cheos. they really don,t knwo
    where to go and what to do.

    May Allah Keep my Country Saved and Peacfull.

  31. maryam

    April 24, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    subhanAllah. jazakallah for this

    Ameen to your dua. Even i was almost a victim of a blast once, this fear is a killer, skipped everything from uni, to Allah subhanhau wa ta’ala knows what not, but then Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala gave me strength,

    death is inevitable, but i pray that the Malik protects us from this kind of death ameen.

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