Pakistan’s zombie-like response to the Gaza killings

The lukewarm reaction to bloodshed in Gaza from the Pakistanis seems out of place.

Mansoor Jafar
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While Israeli jets pounded Gaza with sophisticated bombs over the last two weeks, indiscriminately killing unarmed men, women and children before an unresponsive world conscience, the lukewarm reaction to this bloodshed from the Pakistanis seems out of place.

Although Pakistani people, particularly women and children, watch in horror the pictures of mutilated, blood soaked bodies of Palestinian children, women and men, the trauma and anger is not translating into any worthwhile protests which has been the hallmark of the country in such cases in the past.

The Pakistani “silence” is all the more disturbing for Pakistani people, especially after they have been watching video clips on social media over the last couple of months showing the besieged people of Gaza calling the Pakistan army to come for their rescue against the Israeli aggression.

Pakistan’s reluctant and slow response to the latest Palestinian crisis is perhaps because Islamabad has been deeply engaged in its own web of crises

Mansoor Jafar

Pakistan’s reluctant and slow response to the latest Palestinian crisis is perhaps because Islamabad has been deeply engaged in its own web of crises; including escalating terrorism emanating from country’s unwise jumping on the bandwagon of the U.S.-led war on terror.

Too inward looking

At present Pakistan is too inward looking to attend to any foreign crisis. Its army is engaged in a fierce final phase of a decade long war against the Taliban militants in the tribal region bordering Afghanistan. The operation is aimed at flushing out the militants from the final stronghold of the Taliban and resulted in displacing about a million civilians from the region requiring huge resources to provide them shelter, food and medicines during the holy month of Ramadan.

The Pakistani foreign office issued a belated customary statement condemning Tel Aviv for the bloodletting of unarmed civilians and calling upon the world to take concrete measures to resolve the Palestinian issue to bring the crisis to an end. The media followed it by taking up the issue but not giving it the kind of priority the Palestine issue used to take 10 to 15 years ago.

Islamist leaders like Jamaat-ud-Dawah’s Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and pro-Ikhwan party Jamaat-e-Islami’s Sirajul Haq have begun bringing their workers out on the streets for protests. But the political scene was being confused by some strange political characters like Dr. Tahirul Qadri who is running an anti-government campaign funded by donations collected from Western countries.

Unusual enthusiasm

Pakistan, in the past, has shown unusual enthusiasm in displaying sympathy and support to different causes of brother Muslim people elsewhere in the world.

Though the majority of Pakistanis suffer from illiteracy, their love for Islam and fellow Muslims is overwhelming. This love knows no bounds when it comes to expressing support on the streets and through giving generous donations.

On a number of occasions in the past, Pakistani Muslims have responded to international acts. Whether it was the issue of the blasphemous caricature in the European press, or the setting ablaze of the Holy Quran by U.S. Pastor Terry Jones, or the murder of Muslim women in European countries for wearing hijab by Islam haters, Pakistanis had always responded to such gruesome acts by registering strong protests on the streets which often turned out to be violent.

Similarly, in cases of Muslim genocide in Palestine, Indian-held Kashmir, Bosnia, Chechnya and Myanmar, Pakistanis went further than raising their voices for these causes but also helped out by generously donating for their oppressed brethren engaged in a struggle for freedom against the occupant armies.

The kind of spark in their resilience shown by Pakistani Muslims in the past, even by sudden and spontaneous responses to the causes of Muslim world, can be judged by the widespread violent protests against the blasphemous caricatures in the European press in early 2006.

The old Pakistan

I can vividly recall that during the early 1990s when the U.S. launched its first gulf war on Iraq, Pakistan did not have many supporters of Saddam Hussain and common people hardly knew him in Pakistan. Yet a religious leader, Shah Ahmad Noorani (late), gave a call to the masses to hold demonstrations against the U.S. and in support of Saddam. It was amazing that tens of thousands of people emerged out of nowhere and gathered on the major streets. They blocked the major parts of Karachi within a few hours.

That was the story of a past Pakistan. The present day Pakistan has become a tough place to live for the common man because of spiraling price-hikes, unemployment, street crimes and power cuts that leave most parts of the day without electricity, forcing the industries to shut down and businessmen to shift their businesses and industries to other countries.

Alas, the unwise and power hungry rulers have badly spoiled the resilient Islamic character of a nuclear Pakistan to the extent of leading the courageous and loving people of the country into ideological trauma where they are silently watching the helpless Palestinian women and children being killed.


Mansoor Jafar is Editor of Al Arabiya Urdu based in Islamabad. He can be reached via Twitter: @mansoorjafar

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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