Dr Qadeer Khan (Mohasn- E- Pakistan) and Pakistan
Dr Shabir Choudhry 28 August 2006
He was furious and had difficulty in controlling his anger, and my efforts to cool him down were not fruitful. ‘He is our hero. He saved Pakistan; and if it was not for Dr Qadeer Khan’s bomb India would have run over Pakistan… and what have we given him in return: humiliation, mental torture and deadly cancer’ This Pakistani friend roared again.
My immediate concern was not health of Dr Qadeer Khan or even policies of Pakistani military junta, but health of this friend who had by- pass operation many years ago, and had a serious heart condition. I and other friends also appreciated his concern and largely agreed with his views, but there was not much we could do. We were aware of his health condition and didn’t want him to take too much tension.
So we tried to explain to him that we cannot help Dr Qadeer Khan from here; and that best thing is to pray for him. ‘Pray for him’, he retorted. ‘Whenever we don’t want to face realities or don’t want to do anything we refer the matter to prayers and then satisfy our selves by saying that it was Allha’s wish…it is not Allah’s wish that he is humiliated and is in a solitary confinement. It is wish of the military government and wish of America’.
He was clearly in pain. He like millions of other Pakistanis adored Dr Qadeer Khan. His view was that at the time when Pakistan was at its lowest ebb after the worst defeat of Islamic history, he came as a ‘Messiah’ to save us. He abandoned his luxurious life style of Europe to provide security to his country, but we Pakistanis betrayed him. We failed to stand up in his defence. We are responsible for his plight.
‘Abdul Kalam is a President of India, even though his achievement does not match that of Dr Qadeer Khan. Hindu (Indian) government honoured achievements of its Muslim citizen and made him a President of India; but Muslim rulers of Pakistan instead of honouring a Muslim scientist for his great achievements imprisoned him and you are still asking me to calm down.’
We said to him that, in India there is a democratic government, and despite its faults it has a system in place which encourage, promote and rewards those who have some thing to offer to the country. In Pakistan on the other hand there is a military rule which only knows how to oppress and only reward their own lot. When Military is not in the driving seat they with help of landed aristocracy control from behind.
This alliance of aristocracy, military, and bureaucracy has created a culture of corruption, misappropriation and political instability, and we all are paying price for this. The ruling elite is there not to serve people of Pakistan or to strengthen the State of Pakistan or its institutions, but they have their own agenda. In order to stay in power they can do anything, even kill their own people, invade their own capitol, serve as ‘agents of foreign big powers’, and Pakistani history is full of this.
He resumed his ‘speech’, ‘Pakistan is safe because we have bomb and missiles manufacture by this great man, but unfortunately all characters who played leading role in making Pakistan nuclear are punished. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was the first victim, and the one who punished him was also blown in mid air because he also continued with the bomb project. Nawaz Sharif also had to be punished because despite many phone calls, threats, requests and offers of rewards he exploded the bomb and made Pakistan nuclear’.
He continued with passion, ‘And those who surrendered even Pakistan’s sovereignty on just one phone call from Washington decided to punish Pakistani hero and father of Pakistani bomb. Protection of their interest, in their view is interest of Pakistan; and their interest is to stay in power at all costs and obey the foreign masters. Message to future generations of Pakistan is that they must not do anything to make their country secure, they must not dare to invent anything which could bolster the defence of the nation’.
We understand all this I said but there is not much we can do apart from praying for Dr Qadeer Khan Sahib and taking our hats off in his respect and honour. He interrupted me again and said, ‘Enough of these excuses, for how long we are going to put up with this injustice. Bishop Desmond Tutu, who won Nobel Prize for Peace said: "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."
At this stage I decided to put some facts before him. I am sorry in advance if this annoys you but you Pakistanis don’t like to face realities. You want to live in world of your own, and whoever tries to indicate wrong doings that they could be corrected he/she is declared anti Pakistan and traitor and there is a long history to support this view point.
Another tradition of Pakistan is to bulldoze principles and dump all those who have sacrificed everything for Pakistan. Qaaide Azam was the first victim. We all know what happened to him in that broken ambulance in heat of Karachi- some even suggest that he was poisoned. Liaquat Ali Khan didn’t have to wait long before he was shot dead in a daylight public meeting; and then political culture was established where bureaucrats, remnants of the British Raj, took charge of the affairs of the government. All those who were well wishers of Pakistan and had ability to serve nation were side lined, and we saw policies and Prime Ministers ‘imported’ from America.
Those who established Muslim League and sacrificed everything for Pakistan were made scapegoats and unfairly treated. They asked for their rights which were denied. Those who supported their demand for legitimate rights were also intimidated and accused, and this struggle for basic rights led to a tragedy where Pakistani army was ordered to kill their own countrymen and millions of people lost lives and tens of thousands of women lost their honour in 1970/71 civil war.
Muslims of Bihar left everything behind and migrated to East Pakistan in 1947 that they can live in a country of their dreams. They fought for a united Pakistan in the civil war in 1970/71, and what have Pakistan given them in return? These Biharis were three hundred thousand in number and they were left at the mercy of those who they were fighting - Mukti Bahni and the Indian Army.
These Pakistani, now called Biharis, are abandoned by Pakistan, they still live in camps in Bangladesh and no one even speaks about their plight. But Pakistani government allowed more than three million Afghans in Pakistan because it was wish of America and government was getting dollars for each person. For the ruling elite it was simple mathematics - more people more dollars; and how military junta could say no to dollars, even if that meant introduction of gun culture and heroin culture in Pakistan.
Many more examples could be given where those Pakistanis who have served the nation have been either assassinated or have been badly let down; and tragedy is that there is no sense of loss or remorse. Pakistani governments have used Kashmir for their own ends and have badly let us down as they have abandoned our right of self determination, and have now started talking about ‘joint management’ and ‘self governance’.
It looks that Pakistan never got its independence. The British knew they had to go and they prepared a team of ‘Brown Sahibs’ to take over after their departure; and great ideals of Islam were mere slogans to divide India as it suited political masters of the time.
I thought my ‘speech’ will impress this learned Pakistani who was full of complaints about deeds of his government, but his response stunned me. Although he agreed with the facts I presented, but he didn’t like to hear this from a Kashmiri. All of sudden his ‘Pakistani nationalism’ arose up, and angrily said, ‘ Pakistan has done so much for you Kashmiris and you don’t appreciate that, we have fought wars for you and lost East Pakistan. If Pakistan is so bad then why you people are dying to join Pakistan. Why is it that Kashmiri people regard Pakistan as a fort of Islam and their ultimate destiny is my Pakistan, which is here to stay and flourish?’
I did not expect this somersault from this Pakistani friend who is highly educated and very critical of Pakistani governments, but then Pakistan and its people have always provided surprises. I said Pakistan lost East Pakistan because of follies of its rulers and that majority of Kashmiris don’t want to join Pakistan. My friend who accompanied me to this friend’s house realised that the atmosphere was getting heated up, so he asked me if we could to leave.
On our way back I was totally bewildered as I didn’t know how to treat these Pakistani friends who are not even prepared to listen to facts, facts which are generally known and accepted. Other nations listen to critics, analyse past mistakes and learn lessons that they can avoid these mistakes in future, but Pakistan and its political culture is not easy to understand.
Writer is Chairman Diplomatic Committee of JKLF, Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs and author of many books on Kashmir. He could be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org