December 2002 News

Return to sanity
An appeal to militants in Kashmir

12 December 2002
The Asian Age
Ram Jethmalani

"Beat, beat till your own mother will hate you," was what an American journalist involuntarily exclaimed when he witnessed unarmed satyagrahis being mercilessly beaten by the British police. This is what the people of Kashmir will say to you if you persist with killing innocents. There may be a few, like me, followers of Gandhi, who distinguish between the evil- doer and his evil actions, and while they hate the latter, they are not tired of morally persuading the former. But the overwhelming majority of Indians, including those in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, hate you for what you have done to the state. I do not believe that even your mothers are proud of you.

This is an appeal to your reason and conscience. After having wasted the best years of your life being indoctrinated by people who do not understand Islam or its beauty, you have slaughtered thousands. Because of you industrial growth has stopped in J&K as has the inflow of tourists, poverty has been aggravated and unemployment is on the rise. All this has converted a piece of paradise into a desolate land of sorrow and tears. So, it is time for you to sit calmly and introspect and ask yourself: "What have we achieved; are we nearer by even an inch to our goal?"

September 11 has shown that terrorists have acquired the sophistication and capacity to destroy life and property on a huge scale. It has also shown that many of you are breathtakingly "brave". This may make you feel proud and even get you an applause from some quarters, but, thus, have you not generated a strong wave of revulsion and con- tempt against the likes of you? Have you not united all civilised and powerful nations into an irrevocable resolution to stamp you out? And have you not disgraced Islam, the glorious religion of the Prophet, by invoking its benediction for your evil deeds? You have created a situation whereby the world is moving towards a war between Islam and Christianity. By your actions, you have endangered every Muslim government In the world, including that of Iraq and Pakistan.

Your conscience should tell you that you are engaged in furthering the political purposes of successive Pakistan governments. They pretend that Kashmir is in their blood. This is one way of saying that their record of governance is bad enough for people wanting to throw them out. They give Kashmir to the people to divert their wrath. Poverty stalks the land, the nation is immersed in debt, economic growth is all but stalled, unemployment is at its peak, wasteful expenditure, on armaments and armed forces is hastening bankruptcy, fratricidal warfare within the country is taking a daily toll of civilian lives and vast sections of the people are ready to secede. Pakistan is on the brink of a break-up more lethal than the one in 1971. democracy is dead and the people are being trampled under the heavy boots of the armed forces. The castle Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah built has vanished and even its ruins are barely visible.

If you don't believe my voice of sanity and advice born of friendship, listen to what General Musharraf had to say to his people after the holocaust of September 11. Here are some excerpts from his address to the nation on January 12, 2002. Referring to September 11 he said: "This terrorist act led to momentous changes all over the world. We decided to join the international coalition against terrorism and in this regard I have already spoken to you on a number of occasions. We took this decision on principles and in our national interest.... What really pains me is that some religious extremist parties and groups opposed this .decision. What hurts more was that their opposition was not based on principles. At a critical juncture in our history, they preferred their personal and party interests over national interests... Some extremists, who were engaged in protests, are people who try to monopolise and attempt to propagate their own brand of religion.... These are people who considered the Taliban to be a symbol of Islam and that the Taliban were bringing Islamic renaissance or were practising the purest form of Islam... These extremists were those people who do not talk of haqooq-ul-ibad (obligations towards fellow human beings). They do not talk of these obligations because practising them demands self-sacrifice. How will they justify their Pajeros and expensive vehicles? I want to ask these extremists as to who was responsible for misleading thousands of Pakistanis to their massacre in Afghanistan?

Sectarian terrorism has been going on for years. Every one of us is fed up of it. It is becoming unbearable. Our peace-loving people are keen to get rid of Kalashnikovs and the weapon culture. Everyone is sick of it. It was because of this that we banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Muhammad... The verdict of the masses is in favour of a progressive Islamic state. This decision, based on the teaching of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and in line with the teachings of Quaid-e-Azam and Allama lqbal will put Pakistan on the path of progress and prosperity. I think, these people have declared more Muslims as kafirs (infidels) than motivating the non-Muslims to embrace Islam. Look at the damage they have caused. They have murdered a number of our highly-qualified doctors, engineers, civil servants and teachers who were the pillars of our society.

Who has suffered? The families of the dead, no doubt. But a greater loss was inflicted on Pakistan because, as I said, we lost the pillars of our society. Islam teaches us to seek knowledge, even if it involved travelling to China. I am sure you are aware that the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) had told prisoners of war in the Battle of Badar that they would be set free if each of them imparted education to ten Muslims. Quite obviously, this education could not have been religious education as the prisoners were non-Muslims, so the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) was actually referring to worldly education. Real change can be brought about through personal example, exemplary character and superior intellect. It can be brought about by haqooq-ul-ibad (obligation towards fellow beings). Have we ever thought of waging jihad against illiteracy, poverty, backwardness and hunger? This is the larger jihad. Pakistan, in my opinion, needs to wage jihad against these evils. After the battle of Khyber, the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) stated that Jihad-e-Asghar (smaller jihad) is over but Jihad-e-Akbar (greater jihad) has begun. This meant that armed jihad i.e. the smaller jihad was now over and the greater jihad against backwardness and illiteracy had started. Pakistan needs Jihad-e-Akbar at this juncture."

General Musharraf has wisely called for cessation of violence and terrorism, for elimination of religious tension and return to the rule of law and peaceful, progress. He has eloquently explained that the way of the extremists is not the way of the Prophet of Islam. It is true that the General has not withdrawn moral and political support from the people of the state of Jammu and Kashmir but moral and political support means the support of reason and dialogue, not that of the gun and the grenade. General Musharraf has restored the dream of Jinnah. Speaking to the constituent Assembly Jinnah said about his dream: "You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you arc free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed - that has nothing to do with the business of the state." I wonder if you know the teachings given to the 19 terrorists by their leader Mohammed Atta who hijacked those American planes on September 11. Some extracts from his letter offer a chilling glimpse of the indoctrination and training in murder: "Read Al-Tawba and Anfal (traditional war chapters from the Quran) and reflect on their meanings and remember all of the things that God has promised for the martyrs. Shouldn't we take advantage of these last hours to offer good deeds and obedience?

"This test from Almighty God is to raise your level (of heaven) and erase your sins. Only a few easy seconds separate you from the beginning of a happy life, peaceful life, and the everlasting tranquility with prophets and the faithfuls and martyrs. God said: 'God will weaken the schemes of the non-believers.' Be happy, optimistic and calm, because you are heading for a deed that God loves and will accept (as a good deed)... Know that the gardens of paradise are waiting for you in all their beauty, and the women of paradise are waiting, calling out, 'Come hither, friend of God.' They have dressed in their most beautiful clothing."

This is a gross misinterpretation of the message of the Prophet and is an insult to the Almighty. Be sure God does not approve of murder of innocent women and children nor does He give rewards in the shape of well-dressed women. He has better things to do.


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