In the likeness of Yazid

Ayaz Amir

Are we so blind as to miss the symbolism altogether? Fourteen hundred years after Hussein’s martyrdom in the sands of Kerbala, another epic drama in blood is being enacted on the same land made holy by his sacrifice. Grandson of the Prophet, Hussein fought for justice. On the orders of the then Ummayad ruler, Yazid, his small band of followers, including women and children, was surrounded, denied food and water, and then massacred, an event resonating through the annals of Islam like no other and mourned by Muslims of every sect. Why is Najaf holy? Because there lies buried the great Ali, Caliph of Islam, father of Hassan and Hussein. Not far off is Kerbala where Yazid’s army put Hussein and his followers to the sword. Every inch of that soil consecrated by blood and washed in emotion.

Didn’t the Bush White House and the Cheney/Rumsfeld war party read up on their Islamic history when they set in motion the invasion of Iraq? Had they no idea that the moment an invading army set foot in Iraq instant comparisons would be drawn with the army of Yazid? Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make ridiculous, a process we see unfolding in Iraq. The Anglo-American axis is encountering a bitter truth. Its invasion of Iraq has ignited fires from whose flames a national resistance has emerged, Sunnis and Shias attaining a unity of purpose unknown in the modern history of their country. In the Bush administration’s rush to disaster notice an alarming parallel with Nazism. The people of Iraq are tired

of American lies and just want the Americans out of their country. They don’t want the gifts the Americans say they have brought with them: liberation, democracy and reconstruction.

In all this what are the lessons for Pakistan? The realisation, above all, that Iraq is not an isolated event. It’s part of a larger American design, pushed by friends of Israel sitting in the Bush administration, to eradicate the very notion of resistance from Muslim minds, thus making Israel more secure and extending American control over Muslim oil for another hundred years.

Isn’t it high time Pakistan learnt to say no to the US? Look at the mess we got ourselves into in Wana. If the operation had succeeded, the Americans would have been pressing the army to launch more, a course of action that could have set the entire tribal belt on fire.

The government alone is not at fault, however. Things are no better on the other side of the national divide. Benazir Bhutto says not a word against the US convinced that the road to power in Islamabad runs through Washington. Nawaz Sharif is a guest of the House of Saud, a conglomerate not famous for taking extreme positions. As for the Mullahs of the MMA, their thunder is worse than their bite. Half the time it is difficult to make out whether on any particular issue they are for real or just holding forth for the benefit of the galleries.

With such a cast of characters no wonder Pakistan faces a crisis of leadership. But the mother of all questions: the world of Islam under threat from a string of American lackeys within, and American aggression without, what is to be done? The first step, the starting point of rectitude, is to appraise Iraq correctly. Frustrating American designs in Iraq, defeating the Americans in Fallujah, holy Najaf and timeless Baghdad, is at this historical moment the highest affirmation of the Islamic ideal. Ayaz, a columnist for Dawn, writes for THT from Islamabad