By Waseem Altaf
There is hardly any sector of Islamabad left where so called scientist A Q Khan does not have a plot or a palatial house, including the illegally built palace at Bani Gala. Last time he was in the news when he plagiarized an entire extract from the prospectus of a British university. A Pakistani student caught him on that and exposed his intellectual caliber
Those portrayed as national heroes’ impact our lives. We are enthralled by them. We tend to idealize them. Regardless of their integrity and behavior we often become enamored with their power and status and allow ourselves to become an extension of their values and beliefs. As we tend to emulate them, we also pass the phenomenon of hero adoration down to our children. Great people like, William Shakespeare, Florence Nightingale, Albert Einstein, Dr.Abdus Salam, Mozart and Alexander Fleming were all great heroes and did influence the lives of countless people. The way these heroes appear in folklore, popular literature, text books etc shows their bravery and courage, devotion and compassion, selflessness and humility, hard work and brilliance. It also sheds light as to how they contributed towards the greater good of the society and the influence they cast on the development of culture and civilization. In text books they are built up as role models for children to emulate. Let’s examine our national heroes as to who they were and what were their achievements.
Muhammad Bin Qasim was an Umayyad General sent for the conquest of Sindh and Punjab to control the trade route down the Indus River valley to the seaports of Sindh, an important link in the ancient silk route. Another reason for the invasion cited was the significant influence of Mids (a local tribe) which preyed on Arab shipping. And lastly the Sassanids and rebels, fleeing the Arab advance were increasingly seeking refuge in Sindh. It was said that a son of Imam Hasan had taken refuge in the court of Raja Dahir and Hujjaj wanted to kill him. It was the third attempt on Sindh by the Arabs while the first two failed.
After capture of Debal, Muhammad Bin Qasim carried out a bloody massacre and the main temple was razed to the ground. The same act was repeated in Nerun and Salusan (Sehwan) where main temples were demolished and replaced by mosques. After each battle all prisoners of war were executed and their wives and children enslaved in considerable numbers. 1/5th of the booty including innocent women and children were sent to the caliph. Muhammad Bin Qasim inflicted 6000 deaths at Rawar, around 16000 at Brahmanabad, 4000 at Iskalandah and 6000 at Multan. The local natives were subdued into paying a heavy tax called Jazya.
At Multan 6000 custodians of the sun temple were made captive and their wealth confiscated. The temple housing the great idol Sanam was a source of great wealth, hence it was left where it was, yet a piece of cow flesh was hung on its neck by way of mockery. At 22 Muhammad Bin Qasim was killed by his own Caliph and nobody knows where he lies.
Mahmud Ghaznavi killed his brother Ismail, ruler of Ghazni, and became the ruler himself.
In 1001 he attacked the Hindushahi Kingdom (Peshawar) and slaughtered 15000 Hindu soldiers, while 500,000 enslaved persons were brought to Ghazni. He demanded 250,000 dinars to free Raja Jaipal, the ruler of the kingdom which he did receive. In 1008 he again attacked Hindushahi Kingdom and defeated son of Raja Jaipal, namely Anandpal and killed 20,000 Hindus.
In 1009 he attacked Nagarkot (Kangra) which was famous for its wealth kept in temples. His army destroyed everything in its path. In 1014 he invaded Thanesar. The Hindus wanted to reach a compromise but Mahmud refused. His army destroyed the city, massacred the inhabitants and plundered the sacred temples. In 1015 he attacked Kashmir Valley, and then Mathura and Kanuj in 1018 – 19. Kalinga and Lahore were invaded in 1023. In 1025 he attacked Somnath, which was his 16th invasion.
He ordered his men to destroy the sacred idol Linga. He also looted wealth worth 20 million dinars. It is also to be noted that Mahmud warred equally with other Islamic sects, as he was a Sunni Muslim. Ten of thousands of Shias were butchered by him in the name of Islam.
Aurangzab the Mughal emperor, highly applauded in our text books as a great Muslim ruler seized the throne in 1658 by killing all his brothers and imprisoning his father Shahjahan, for life. Dara Shikoh, eldest son of Shahjahan was a mystic and Sufi disciple with an interest in India's diverse religious heritage. Aurangzeb used a fatwa from Muslim scholars denouncing Dara Shikoh as an apostate. He then had the crown prince tortured and murdered. He remained engaged in a useless war with the Marathas for 27 long years. Aurangzeb's inflammatory and discriminatory practices reached their zenith in 1679 when he re-imposed the Jazya, a poll-tax on non-Muslims that had been abolished by Akbar. It was under his rule that in 1687 Bijapur and Golkonda, the last of the two Shia states were forced to surrender to the Mughal Empire after considerable bloodshed. Aurangzeb ruled as a militant orthodox Sunni Muslim; In addition, Hindu idols, temples, and shrines were often destroyed.
In 1699, on his orders the Mughal governor of Sarhind surrounded the fort of Anandpur in Punjab, which was occupied by Guru Gobind Singh and well armed Sikhs. After oaths of safety by the Mughal forces, the Guru decided to leave the fort. However the Mughal forces broke their promises and attacked the Guru and the Sikhs. The Mughals held his 2 young sons Sahibzada Zorawar Singh and Sahibzada Fateh Singh captive and executed them by burying them inside a wall. Meanwhile his elder sons (15 and 17 years old) named Sahibzada Jujhar Singh and Sahibzada Ajit Singh fell fighting Mughal Musketeers at Chamkaur (close to Anandpur Fort). Gobind Singh wrote a letter named Zafarnamah to Aurungzeb. The letter is written in exquisite Persian verse. In this letter, Guru Gobind Singh reminds Aurangzeb how he and his henchmen had broken their oaths taken by the holy Qu'ran and loyalty to the Mughal Empire.
Ghazi and Shaheed simultaneously, Ilam Din was a 19 year old carpenter from old Lahore. While he and his friend Sheeda were passing by a mosque, they heard the maulvi instigating the audience against a Hindu publisher Rampal who had published a compilation of selective Ahadis written under the pen name of Champu Pati Lal (the actual writer was the student of a swami).All the material was reportedly drawn from the “four known books”. Some say that it was supposedly a retaliatory action by Hindu community against a pamphlet published by a Muslim, depicting the Hindu goddess Sita as a prostitute.Ilam Din purchased a knife for one rupee and stabbed Rampal to death on April 6th 1929.
At the trial court Ilam Din entered the not guilty plea thorough his lawyer named Farrukh Hussain. The court ruled against him. Ilem Din filed a mercy petition to the King Emperor asking for a pardon which too was refused and he was hanged on 31st October 1929. Maulana Zafar Ali Khan the writer cum journalist said before the burial “Ah only if I had attained this blessed stature”. Dr. Sir Mohammad Iqbal while attending his funeral, with tears in his eyes said “This young man left us behind” (in stature).
Dr. Abdul Qadir Khan, whose product is capable of destroying all other products, was working with URENCO in the Netherlands when he stole blueprints for uranium centrifuge and left for Pakistan. He was convicted in 1983 in absentia by a court in the Netherlands for stealing the designs; however the conviction was later overturned on a technicality.
By the year 2000 it became clear that Khan was at the center of an international proliferation network. In March 2001 he was dismissed as Director of the nuclear lab due to numerous complaints of financial irregularities. In January 2001 he was also removed from his post as the scientific advisor to the President. In January 2004 intelligence officials in Pakistan concluded that two of the countries senior most nuclear scientists A.Q Khan and Muhammad Farooq had black market connections that supplied sensitive technology to Iran and Libya.
On 4th February 2004, Khan appeared on national television and confessed to running a proliferation ring. On 5th February 2004, the day after Khan’s televised confession, President Musharraf pardoned him.
There is hardly any sector of Islamabad left where this so called scientist does not have a plot or a palatial house, including the illegally built palace at Bani Gala. While extremely fond of publicity Dr. Khan remained in close contact with a number of journalists whom he obliged to win favors in the form of write-ups, exaggerating his accomplishments as a national hero. Last time he was in the news when he plagiarized an entire extract from the prospectus of a British university. A Pakistani student from abroad caught him on that and exposed his intellectual caliber before the nation.
Since our heroes comprise murderers, plunderers, looters, conspirators and traitors, what else can we expect from those who are indoctrinated to emulate them? In a state where such individuals are glorified and a society where such personalities are applauded, there is not one but countless Mumtaz Qadris’ epitomizing all characteristics of a murderer, a conspirator and a traitor.
How unfortunate that we could not portray intellectuals, writers and poets, scientists and inventors, painters and artists, philanthropists and social workers, missionaries of peace and ambassadors of goodwill as our heroes.
On January 4th 2011, Malik Mumtaz Qadri shot the Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer whom he was under oath to protect. Wearing an official uniform and carrying an official sub-machine gun he struck from behind and riddled Taseer’s body with bullets. Today a large number of people consider Mumtaz Qadri as their hero. This has shocked the entire world. However it is not unusual for us as our history is replete with such characters.
Let us not forget that the culture which promotes and glamorizes those who symbolize death and destruction ultimately becomes a victim of the Frankensteins it creates.
Waseem Altaf is a human rights activist.