August 3, 2010

Pakistan: swinging between extremism & liberalism

By Habib R. Sulemani

This morning when I got up, through the window of my room, I saw the flag of Pakistan. Yes, the Independence Day – August 14 – is fast approaching. As usual, Karim Rehman, my youngest sibling, had taken the wrapped flag out of the closet and had hoisted it on the rooftop of our home in Rawalpindi.

Soon after, I scanned the area from the rooftop. I noticed that only we had the national flag high in the sky in the whole neighborhood. This made me think about the depressingly dark current situation of our country as everywhere is fire, flood and blood!

“We’re a nation swinging between extremism and liberalism for the last 63 years,” I said in a monolog and went back to my room, where I’m living like a  prisoner since the attempts on my life four months ago.

As a family, we’re peace-loving people not traditional jingoists—but still, every year, on the occasion of national days, hoisting the national flag on the rooftop is a routine at home. My father takes special care of the national flag. He buys flags from the vendors in advance for the special occasions.

However, there is a national flag on the grave of my younger brother Ajaz Rehman (1978-1999). He was martyred as a member of the Pakistan Army during the Kargil War. Keeping the national flag at full mast on the graveyard, throughout the year, has been a routine of my elderly parents. This makes them happy and reminds them that their beloved son is still alive!

"A martyr never dies and gets eternal life," this is what my illiterate mother and half-literate father had been told in a letter along the dead body of my brother! My parents as well as we, the siblings, have never forgotten that cool, calm, soft-spoken and a very loving young man that Ajaz was.

Oh! There’re tears in my eyes as I’m writing this blog for The Terrorland—but I know betrayal is not something new in our checkered history. It often happens that those at the helm of affairs forget sacrifices of the commoners!

As I had written in a letter to the government of Pakistan (see "Journalist seeks protection" blog archive April 2010) if we had a general in our family, things would have been different today—I would never have been tortured along with my family members in this cruel way just for writing a novel against the Talibanization of Pakistan—the Islamic country founded by the liberal M. A. Jinnah!

CAPTIONS: 1) The national flag on our rooftop; 2) my brother Ajaz Rehman about a month earlier his martyrdom; 3) a smartly turned out contingent of the Pakistan Army presents the Guard of Honor after burial of my martyred brother with full military honors at our ancestral graveyard in Gulmit, Hunza.

Photos by The Terrorland Team

LINK: A war victim’s cry for peace:


  1. Habib,

    Your sentiments are shared by all genuine lovers of Pakistan. Something I said recently at my blog I want to repeat here:

    "The Supreme Court seems powerless against the might of these agencies. In the circumstances, we can certainly protest individually but collective action will be more productive. I wonder if there is a way to write to General Kayani with thousands of signatures and ask him to order the agencies to either release the people they have abducted or try them in a Pakistani court. What the agencies are doing is quite simply unlawful."

    And, of course, the agencies need to stop hounding and persecuting Pakistan's citizens.

    Just a minor quibble. I am not sure if it makes sense to apply the word "liberal" to Quaid-e-Azam. I hope that my next blog post will revolve around an interview Quaid-e-Azam gave in 1944 to a British journalist - to Jinnah adherence to Islamic principles implied democracy and upholding of truly human values. By contrast, a lot of Pakistan's so-called liberals are simply pathetic imitators of fashionable ideas originating in the glamorous lands of Europe and North America. As for our mullahs, they represent a distorted version of Islam which amounts to a negation of the Message of Muhammad Mustafa, Rehmatul-lil-aalameen.

  2. …I might buy into all this courage "The Terrorland" espouses if this blogger would start leading the people of Pakistan away from this undeniable evil…

  3. As I was reading the blog, I could not help but thanks the Divinity that we are so blessed living in Canada, or North America for that matter. I felt sorry for the loss of Mr. Ajaz Rehman who gave his short life of 21 years to the country.... "A martyr nevers dies and gets eternal life."

    The blog itself and the comments that ensued gave me a better understanding of the predicament of your people in Pakistan. I will have those victimized people in my prayers !!!

  4. Mohammad Ali Jinnah had never wanted Pakistan to be a Theocratic Islamic State.He was working for a country for muslims,where every one could live in peace irrespective of his cast creed or religion.