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Reaping a bloody harvest: The cost of terrorism for Pakistan

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PAKISTAN-UNREST-BLASTS

By Ishan Kukreti

Violence is a two-edged sword that Pakistan had been carelessly waving for a bit too long. On hindsight, that sword has left the nation with much to mourn about than to cheer.

To go strictly by statistics, 35,000 Pakistanis lost their lives between 2001 to 2011, due to terror-related atrocities. In financial terms, according to the Pakistani government, terrorism has cost the nation roughly 68 billion dollars in the first decade of the 21st century. For more than a decade, hardly a single month has gone by peacefully without registering terror related deaths in the country.

Former Presidents, Asif Ali Zardari and Parvez Musharraf, have confessed Pakistan’s role in promoting terrorism. Groups like Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Omar, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Sipah-e-Sahaba to name a few have long been operating out of territories owned or occupied by Pakistan.

Though it has joined US’s war on terrorism, its tendency to differentiate between beneficial (Good Taliban) and not so beneficial terrorism (Bad Taliban) has prevented Pakistan from taking the problem head on. In turn, the measures taken by the nation against the “Bad Taliban” have unleashed reactions that Pakistan finds difficult to bear.

Bracketing Pakistani terrorism

The cat of Taliban’s origin has been long out of the bag. US’s involvement has been as major as Hydrogen’s in Sulfuric acid formation. However, a fact often overlooked in the shining star cast of Taliban’s inception is that the movement was fed manpower and guidance by Pakistan. Mujahedeen from Pakistan were the ones who gave and took lives in the war against Communism in Afghanistan.

Image courtesy Reuters.
Image courtesy Reuters.

Dilshod Achilov, a professor of political science at East Tennessee State University, while in an interview with International Business Times clarified the position of Pakistan.

“We should not forget the historical roots of the present day Taliban/Al-Qaeda dilemma. Let’s recall the historical facts that shed light into the present. We know that both the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI helped to create the Taliban militia forces to fight the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan during the [latter stages of the] Cold War. When the Soviets retreated from Afghanistan, the army of 100,000-plus well-armed and well trained Taliban mujahedeen still remained.”

Everyone loves an extra hand

The striking coincidence in the ending of Cold War and the beginning of militancy in Kashmir doesn’t require a Machiavelli to understand the relation. In a fight over a disputed piece of land, this well trained and armed army provided a reliable extra hand for Pakistan.

At the same time, this helping hand provided a good influence over Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s relations with Taliban while it ruled Afghanistan are contested. However, Pakistan second fiddling the uncle in this whole process is undoubtedly clear. Afghanistan’s strategic placement in relation to the oil-rich Middle East made it lucrative to the US while Pakistan played a willing side kick to the uncle in his adventures in the region.

(Video courtesy Al Jazeera English)

What goes around…

Taliban’s castle in Afghanistan came down with the World Trade Center in 2001 followed by US’s war on terrorism. Pakistan’s trouble began after the Waziristan War while the formation of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in 2007 turned the tables completely on the nation. Major terrorist attacks in Pakistan increased from 16 in 2006 to 50 in 2007, the year TTP became active. Last year’s attack on an army school, leaving more than 100 kids dead, too was carried out by TTP.

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Pakistan’s sincerity in fighting terrorism has always been and still is in question. The US State department recently made a statement, “The military operations had a significant impact on TTP safe havens, but some terrorist organizations in the region continued to operate, primarily along the border with Afghanistan.”

On one hand the decrease in the frequency of terror attacks in Kashmir is reason enough to believe that Pakistan has a lot on its plate right now. On the other, the fact that Pakistan has not taken a serious action against terrorists like Hafiz Muhammad Saeed says a lot about the present calm in the situation. It is caused by reasons other than good intentions and is temporary.

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed (Image courtesy CNN)
Hafiz Muhammad Saeed (Image courtesy CNN)

Postscript

No conflict continues due to purely economic or petty reasons, although they are a major factor. Deeper, under the palpable layers of logical connections lies a belief, a faith.

Faith drove the Conquistadors to slaughter an entire race. It was the adherence to an ideology that razed Europe to the ground in the last century. And it is faith that continues the Indo-Pak conflict. A belief that religion decides a person’s nationality and makes murder excusable.

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The Hindu Temple of Gulyana and Sikh Samadhi in Pakistan

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Gulyana, Pakistan

By: Wali Imran (Hindu Council of Australia)

900 years old Gulyana town of about a 50,000 people, just a few kilometers South of Gujar Khan, was raised to the ground once several centuries ago, by raiders from the West. The second time it was destroyed during the 1947 partition riots.

Gulyana, Pakistan

Before 1947, the Gulyana town center was mostly Hindu and Sikh. The Hindus and Sikh owned all the businesses in the town center and Muslims were their tenants, peasants and laborers. Muslims sold their lands to pay off their debts and also handed over their crop of wheat. The Dewan, Dutt, Mohyal Brahmin, and Singh families were always part of royal elite.

Bollywood Star Sanjay Dutt is from the same branch of warrior Brahmin Dutt and belongs to the same place.

Gulyana, Pakistan

Land owners were guaranteed protection from military’s presence in Gujar Khan from the North and a rivulet from the south. This land produced sheer gold and wealthy Sikhs and Hindus lived like kings in mansions make of stone, several storey high.

Gulyana, Pakistan

Bakshi Tek Chand, Dewan Prithvi Chand Dutt, Bakshi Moti Ram and Tara Singh were the dominant names of those times.  They built temples, dug up wells for the 30-50 kanal holdings each and distributed these lands amongst their permanent serfs. They did however, treat their serfs with respect and gave them a good share of the crop — what do you expect from absentee landlords.

Gulyana, Pakistan

The Sikh had a timber business. Logs from Kashmir valley were dumped into Jhelum River and recovered downstream near Jhelum city to be sold at Gujar Khan.

The Hindus were mostly traders, money lenders and retailers.

Gulyana, Pakistan

Muslims were mostly illiterate and poor and were destined to stay that way considering the only quality boarding school in nearby Gujar Khan had 95% non-muslim attendance.

During the 1947 riots, one Sikh Bali Singh and one Hindu Lady Banto were killed in the riots but the rest were whisked away with their gold, in the safety of Gorkha soldiers. The Muslim riot crowd burnt to the ground the several symbols of oppression and got rich in the process, during the looting.

One Hindu tehsildar had the magistrate’s powers to jail someone for 6 months.

Gulyana, Pakistan

When the British left suddenly in 1947, the carefully crafted social experiment in native subjugation came crumbling down within days.

Otherwise, one 100 years old resident of Gulyana tells me, “the Hindus and Sikh were very friendly towards the Muslims, their women played around with the boys, molvi were not trouble makers then; they cared about their serfs and neighbors’, built schools, hospitals and wells for the general public. No Muslim was allowed into their kitchen however. Balraj, Sita, Beera, Ramu Shikari, Gujrati, Peecha Singh, Mangat Singh, Jawals Singh, Raab Singh, Gurdyal, were the well-known Hindus and Labbu, Gurra, Jagdev, Santa, Paacha, Chatru were the known Sikh of the time. One Tek Chand Never left for India and embraced Islam. His wife and three sons left for India. Tek Chand married a Muslim lady and had seven children. They are all in poverty now. Several of the old mansion, one dhramsala, one temple, several bowlis (watering hole) have been lost to time.

Gulyana, Pakistan

The surrounding farms around Gulyana were refreshing. The old styled spoke wells, Sikh Samadhi, Hindu temple and 100 years old Gujarati’s mansion still survives.Gulyana, Pakistan

I went into the temple inner sanctum and saw the most beautiful frescos of mixed Hindu and Sikh religious figures like hanuman, Krishna, Sita, Baba Guru Nanak, Bala, Mardana, etc.

Gulyana, Pakistan

 

Pakistan government build a dam 5 km upstream, called the Ugahaun; it’s a lovely place to fish and boat around.

The union council in 1947 had more financial powers than it does today.

In short, all the entrepreneurs, educators, administrator, jurisprudence people, revenue people, land record people and large scale farmers left in 1947.

Gulyana, Pakistan

I am astonished how Pakistan survived with an illiterate mass of people, steeped in poverty — traumatized by exploitation and mass killings.

Other interesting places in Potohar region are:

Also Read: Protecting The World, The Hindu Way

Bedi Mahal, Pharwala fort, Malot fort, Sangini fort, Rawat fort and Mankial Stupa. (Hindu Council of Australia)