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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2400

Where are Pakistan’s Heroes?

By Adnan Gill - for Asian Tribune

A nation's path to success and maturity can be measured by its performance in Olympics. More importantly, its character can be judged by how it treats its heroes. However, the nations determined to leave their mark on history turn their ordinary citizens into idols. India seems to have mastered the art of turning their zeros into the heroes. Regrettably, in a stark contrast, Pakistanis have mastered the art of disowning their genuine heroes. The Loin of Kargil, Capt. Karnal Sher Khan and Pakistan’s father of nuclear bomb, Dr. A. Q. Khan are only couple of examples of Pakistan’s knack for dishonoring its heroes.

Not too long ago, Pakistani President Musharraf on humanitarian grounds commuted the death sentence of a convicted Indian spy. Ansar Burney, the Pakistani Human Rights minister played a major role in securing Kashmir Singh’s freedom. Minister Burney ensured that Mr. Singh was seen-off to India with a huge fanfare. On the other side of the border, the Indians gave Kashmir Singh a heroes welcome. The hoopla was topped off by the Punjab (Indian) government’s announcement of a lifetime stipend, a house and job for his son for the jail time Kashmir Singh served for his country. As a token of gratitude to the Pakistanis, the moment Singh stepped into India, he mocked the Pakistanis and utterly embarrassed Ansar Burney by publicly announcing, he was indeed an Indian spy. Ironically, Kashmir Singh was an incompetent spy who miserably failed in executing his mission by getting caught, but that did not stop the Indians from turning their flop into a hero.

India must be on its way to leave its mark on history, because it has learned how to turn even their butchers into heroes. By any definition, Narendra Modi (who sat over the 2002 Gujarati massacre of 2,000 Muslims) and Bal Thackeray (the founder of an extremist Hindu party ‘Shiv Sena’, and a self-professed admirer of Adolf Hitler and Nazism) are racist bigots who openly hate Muslims and call for their elimination. Still they are virtually worshiped by a large of Indians who reelect them year after year.

It was 2003, barely a year after the 2002 Gujarat massacre, when the Indian cricket fans were granted visas in thousands to watch the cricket matches in Pakistan. In a heartening display of Pakistani hospitality the Indian fans were welcomed with open arms and open hearts into their homes. But how did the Indians return the favor? They blamed Pakistanis for every ill of theirs. Within hours of Bombay train bombings Pakistan was blamed. Within couple of hours of Samjhota Express bombings, in which dozens of Pakistanis were burnt alive, Indian authorities were pointing fingers at Pakistan.

However, a worst example of how Indians reciprocate gestures of kindness and friendship is when they returned a severely mutilated body of a Pakistani cricket fan. Khalid Mahmood, 30 years old, died on Feb 12 but his family in Pakistan was not informed about his terrible death till March 4. His dead body bore visible signs of horrendous torture he was put through by the Indian authorities. Just couple of months before Mr. Mahmood’s horrific death, he was visited by his elderly mother and a brother. He told them that he was routinely subjected to inhumane torture; among others: electric shocks, nail-pulling, and dowsed with the boiling-water. In a desperate effort to give a ray of hope to his shocked mother, he tried to put a happy face on the situation, by telling his mother that he is innocent, and at maximum, he will be forced to serve for another couple of years in jail.

To the credit of Aaj TVs host Talat Hussain, he is the only notable media personality who took exception to highlight Khalid Mahmood sad story and the plight of his grieving family. While rest of the major media remained obsessed with the endless political debates. For most of them, Khalid Mahmood’s violent death remained a side note. Sadly the Pakistani government also miserably failed to strongly protest the deliberate and malicious murder of its citizen. Only after the lone crusaders like Talat Hussain raised the issue to the national level; on March 10, the Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman Muhammad Sadiq mildly protested, “It is regrettable that India did not inform Pakistan’s High Commission in New Delhi about the arrest of the deceased as required under international diplomatic norms in such cases.” Obviously such a protest was ‘too little too late’.

Needless to say, had an Indian met such a deplorable fate, their propaganda machine would have gone into overdrive. Indian government would have gone to the UN Security Council demanding apology and restitution for his family. For their part, Indian media would have moved heavens and earth to demonize Pakistan.

Since we carry short memories; this may be a good time to remind ourselves of how, during the Kargil conflict, the Indian government in perfect harmony with their media successfully elevated the sagging moral of their nation. Case in point, upon getting lost dozens of Indian soldiers wandered over to the Pakistani side of LOC. They died when they accidently fell into deep crevices; frequently found in the inhospitable Himalayas. In an example of humane gesture and at the risk to their lives, the brave Pakistani soldiers retrieved their severely lacerated bodies from the dark depths of crevices. Pakistanis returned their bodies with full military honors to the Indians.

But who knew, Indians would play the dirty game of vicious propaganda of the dead bodies. Almost immediately, the Indian propaganda machine circulated malicious rumors that the bodies of their soldiers were intentionally mutilated and their body parts, like kidneys, were stolen by the Pakistanis. Certainly, such ingenious propaganda played a huge role in changing the world opinion against the Pakistanis. Indeed, it was a humongous public-relations coup against the dumbfounded Pakistanis.

The point is not to follow Indian example of capitalizing on vicious lies, but it's about unanimously standing behind and honoring every single Pakistani citizen who meets an unfortunate fate outside or for the Pakistan. This begs the question, where are the Pakistani heroes? Why do we consistently fail to make Capt. Karnal Sher Khan and Khalid Mahmood our heroes whom we can rally around?

- Asian Tribune -

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