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Friday, March 06, 2009

Explosion at Rahman Baba's tomb


Rahman Baba

Friday, March 06, 2009
Harris Khalique

After the tragedy in Lahore where eight people, including six policemen, died and six of our guests from Sri Lankan cricket team got injured by an assault by terrorists, the news of the bombing of the shrine of Rahman Baba in Peshawar came as another severe blow.

It is not only an attack on Pakhtun culture, history and civilisation, it is an attack on Shah Latif, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, Bulleh Shah, Waris Shah, Ghulam Farid, Mast Tawakkali, Amir Khusrau, Mir, Ghalib and, above all, Rumi. It is an attack on Iqbal. It is an attempt to desecrate and dishonour everything that we could be proud of as a part of the cross-countries Muslim civilisation spread over Central and South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

It is comparable only to the destruction of the historic Buddhas of Bamiyan under Taliban rule in Afghanistan and the damaging of Quli Qutub Shah's tomb in Indian Gujarat by Hindu fanatics. The Sufis, the writers, poets and artists, of this godforsaken country must rise up against this madness now and fight the battle for our survival.

The battle for our survival is actually a war that has three battles to be fought simultaneously. The battle of ideas where bigotry, obscurantism, reactionary thought and eloquent legitimisation of violent means to impose your brand of Islam on others through our print and electronic media, have to be taken on by professing intellectual freedom and tolerance, promoting rational understanding of what is happening around us and encouraging creativity and critical thinking.

This battle has to be fought in schools, colleges and universities, on television, radio, in newspapers and in all public spaces. Michael Ignatieff once said that television is the church of modern authority. The current domination of our primetime discussion hours on key news channels by the semi-literate, reactionary and pompous television anchors needs to be challenged. Exceptions are few and far between. Likewise, newspaper columns, especially in Urdu, which is the language of public discourse in Pakistan, make heroes out of those who inflict pain and suffering on the masses in the name of Islam. The editors have to wake up now and give equally prominent space to rebuttals of such nonsense or to writers who are logical and progressive.

The second is the battle to save, strengthen or establish social and political institutions in the face of chaos, terrorism, mediocrity and plutocracy. What we need is a sovereign Parliament, an independent judiciary and a competent executive. We need political parties which are strong and democratic from within and a military which focuses on professional excellence and defending the country when faced with outside aggression.

The third is the battle to be fought on the streets of Pakistan, where people need to come out and ask for their right to a safe, secure and decent life. They have to ask for their legitimate right to employment, education, health, clean drinking water and basic infrastructure. They have to assert their right to a life with dignity where the justice system works and where all citizens are equal in the eyes of the state whether they are women or religious minorities.

Once common people demonstrate their desire for change, newer and stronger pro-people political forces will emerge from within to challenge plutocracy and incompetence. But is it incompetence alone which makes the provincial information minister of the NWFP (to be or not to be Pashtunkhwa) request the TNSM leader that he ask the militants in Swat to stop random firing on the government's security forces? Mind you, he has publicly said after taking charge of Swat that he considers democracy to be an un-Islamic concept.

It will not end in Swat. When a local spiritual leader was killed and buried by the militants, their commander was not fully satisfied. So they decided to exhume his body and hung it by a tree or a pole for some days. Now there is an attack on the symbol of our civilisation, Rahman Baba. Should we now request the TNSM not to let these things happen in future?

The writer is an Islamabad-based poet and rights campaigner. Email:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wahabee(Salafee)'s attack on Baba's shrine.
Mowlawee Aminullah Wahabee from peshawar blew up on Thursday, 5 March 2009 the mausoleum and the Mazar (Tomb) of Rahman Baba in Peshawar.
the Wahabee's are aginst visiting of shrines.
hope all muslims get united aginst enemies of Islam (the wahabee and salafee).