For example: A high rate of crime, such as the one in South Africa, is not the problem that threatens the state. It is a problem of course for the 2010 Football World Cup hosts, but not the problem. Similarly, Talibans never was and probably never will be the problem for Pakistan. Yet it can not be denied that there is a problem – I mean, when there is smoke, there is usually a fire too and if everyone but you are panicking, perhaps you yourself have not understood the gravity of the situation.
Yes, the problem is grave. Obama was supposed to just walk into office and roll back everything wrong that we the Pakistanis thought Americans were doing. He only increased whatever we the Pakistanis thought Americans were doing. Again, that was not the problem, this American intervention since the birth of this green-and-white country.
The problem is us.
The problem is that an exceptionally high percentage of our urban population thinks that the madrassahs are a good thing. That same population also find the westerns rhetoric that the madrassahs are preaching hatred to be part of a larger conspiracy to take over our nukes – the Islamic bomb, remember? That is till you start paying attention to what you average Maulvi-in-the-Masjid is talking about.
The problem is never the circumstances, but always one’s response to that stimuli. Our response, as individuals and as a society is that of egotistical confusion. We really, I truly believe, do not know what Islam is. We find it hard to imagine that something as deep-rooted as Islam can be so magnificently simple to understand – if only we tried to learn. (both words ‘try’ and ‘learn’ are important here. You have to take initiative, hence try and your objective should be to learn, which means, first and foremost, that you accept you probably are wrong in your current knowledge – the latter part being the hardest for many, hence the ‘egotistical confusion’).
For example, when yet-another beard tried to take over the capital of Pakistan through his women brigade, everyone seemed to jump about that ‘Oh look, the state has lost their writ in the capital,’ or something like, ‘Just look how far the Talibans have infiltrated’ and ‘its the government’s fault’ or ‘Go Musharaf Go’. That is pure bull shit.
The problem was not the a zealot has tried to do what any nutt-job would want to. The problem neither was the supposedly controversial action that the government took against the Red Mosque’s inhabitants after the inhabitants shot down a dozen or so trained army personal. The problem was and is and remains the people’s reaction. I still remember being more bewildered than usual when I found myself speechless in front of the women- and men-folk whom I met that actually considered Ghazi (one of the ring leaders in the Red Mosque drama) as a true hero. ‘ he did what any self-respecting Muslim would!’ What? What are you reading, friend? And what are you on?
Then when the terrorist-who-tried was caught and tried and then released, he came back and said, ‘Hear ye, hear ye, all is cool. Suicide bombing is justified as long as it is against Kaafirs’.
And the problem is not that he said that – like I already mentioned, that is a job of any nutt-job to say nutty stuff. The problem is that most people nod their heads when he says it. Not because they think Islam sanctions it, but because they know of nothing else.
I have a task for you, dear reader – go to your nearest Mosque, say, for the Maghrib prayer, and after the prayer, ask the Maulvi as to who is a kaafir. And while asking that, don’t laugh or smirk or anything. Nod your head like a respectful slave. When the monologue is finished, ask him again, saying something like, ‘I did not understand what you just told me, sir, I am sorry, will you please teach me again because I want to learn?’ But this time, throw in a question or two – why this, or what makes you say that, or where is it mentioned in the sources. And I insist that you keep the questions as respectful and as humbly-presented as possible. Depending on what sect that Maulvi belongs to and which sect he thinks you belong to, you will get some pretty interesting answers. That will be the madrassahs talking. Step back and enjoy. And try not to meet his eyes at Isha.
The problem is not American conspiracies, Israeli intentions or Indian intelligence. I never intend to give you the impression that the above three are not present here, for sure-as-shit, they are. But that is not the problem. The problem is us. We, like a pooch trained on a whistle, point a finger every time something goes wrong. And in the words of another Maulvi – this time a relatively good one – when you point a finger at someone, three of your fingers point back at you.