The new heroes By Masood Sharif Khan Khattak Dated Saturday, March 14, 2009
Every Pakistani today should have been assured that he or she cannot be humiliated by a state functionary because the citizens were protected by the law. Pakistanis should have been assured of medical care provided by the state. The custodian of Pakistanis' honour and dignity should have been the state itself. Sixty-one years after independence, we should have been able to hold out our green Pakistani passports to immigration officers around the world with pride.
Instead, the children of Pakistan in most parts of its rural and urban areas gaze into a vacuum with no future. Was Pakistan created for its citizens to suffer? Does Pakistan only deserve turmoil? Is this what the future generations of Pakistan deserve?
It is the few heroes of any nation that chalk out its destiny. Unfortunately, we are short on heroes too. And those that we do get we eventually deride them, dishonour them and even take them to the gallows.
In Pakistan absolute pygmies have demolished our real heroes and we, as a nation, have been shameless spectators. Between Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Dr AQ Khan we have the nuclear military capability that keeps the Indian military away from Pakistan's jugular vein. Yet Zia-ul-Haq orchestrated Bhutto's judicial murder and Musharraf humiliated and imprisoned Dr Khan. Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto gave us the missile-delivery systems and when she required to be protected the State of Pakistan ignored her security needs despite real threats to her life. Mian Nawaz Sharif stood up to immense direct pressures from President Bill Clinton and went ahead with the Chaghai nuclear detonations to have Pakistan declared a nuclear military power. Today, he stands judicially disqualified from holding any public office because Musharraf had got him convicted of hijacking a plane. A prime minister of Pakistan being a hijacker is laughable. It is even more laughable when we see that Musharraf then hijacked Pakistan! The agony caused by Musharraf's rule will be felt for years. Many unsung heroes of Pakistan have been treated badly by one regime or another. A nation that disgraces its own proven heroes has to one day pay a heavy price. Aren't we already paying that price?
It is always circumstances that create a new breed of heroes. It is crises that become the womb from which are born circumstantial and instant heroes. This is why the Liberty Roundabout ambush of Sri Lanka's cricketers in Lahore recently produced Mehr Muhammad Khalil as an instant hero. This is why the lawyers' movement and its ongoing Long March for the rule of law in Pakistan is now producing a new and rare breed of heroes.
Those amongst the administrative machinery who have found the courage to answer the call of their conscience are Pakistan's new heroes. Such people are invariably destined to suffer due to their straightforward professionalism. The SP of Gujranwala police, Mr Athar Waheed, today stands miles taller than his entire service put together because of his refusal to arrest and humiliate the common Pakistani political worker, civil society members and the lawyers when it is his superiors who should have had the courage to guide the government into handling the Long March smoothly and in a non-violent manner. That would have saved the government a huge lot of embarrassment. Pakistanis must also salute the Nazim of Sahiwal, Mr Rai Hasan Nawaz Khan, and the Sahiwal DCO, Mr Muhammad Khan Khichi, for refusing to implement Section 144 and the unjustified roundup of political workers. These are Pakistan's new breed of heroes and deserve recognition of the nation. Over time many more will emerge and Pakistan will be on its way to the glory that was foreseen by the Quaid e Azam.
In 1995, between that grand old man, the-then interior minister Gen (retd) Naseerullah Babar, and myself, we handled a massive opposition-launched agitation in the shape of a Train March (Tehreek-e-Nijaat) from Karachi to Peshawar without a single pre-emptive arrest. Not a single person was baton-charged or arrested. Commotion created by governmental actions makes an agitation make its impact even before it is actually launched.
The writer is a former director-general of the Intelligence Bureau and former vice-president of the PPP Parliamentarians. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org