And here lived, beneath the receding waters of Mangla, my forebears, once upon a time
As her waters recede and the green grass shimmers in the full glory of the sun
We are taken back to the memories of our ancestors, only just buried in our minds
If you pay attention, amidst the eerie silence of her hills you can hear children play
Enthralled by the smiles of elders, whose sons and daughters ploughed the fields,
And if you close your eyes, you might just see them breaking bread as nightfall falls
In homage to the labours of pious sustenance, they tell stories of a past long dimmed
And then they go to sleep, another night, another dusk, to repeat yesterday’s morrow
Oh Mangla, what have you done to those vibrant villages and bustling market towns?
Pakistan has its electricity, the Occupier his pound of flesh and Your Royalties
But we, the orphans of Kashmir, scions of the soil, have dispersed – our hearts broken
As we wake up in the land of the free, we feel the mountain breeze all around us
“The Himalaya will never forget you” – she whispers in the Pahari tongue, hearts beat again.
From the loins of a chastised people, of a history long assailed, a seed now grows,
Lodged deep in the consciousness of an awakened kin, the journey home begins.
17 June 2018 Reiss Haidar
A poem dedicated to the peoples of Jammu & Kashmir; to our elders and forebears, whose ancestral graveyards lie buried deep under the waters of Mangla Dam.
A poem dedicated to all humanity from Cuba to Taiwan, Chechnya to Zimbabwe and particularly our erased elders, our forebears of so-called Azad or Free Kashmir – the Occupied Jammu Kashmir, whose ancestral graveyards lie buried deep under the waters of Mangla, whilst her offspring dispersed into the Diaspora, adopting the beautiful cultures, languages and values of their new homelands, coalescing and merging into a united people.
But those who never got out, continue to die unnoticed, disheveled, heart-broken, exploited, humiliated amidst the empty mansions of expatriates, and no roads, no industries for locals, no jobs, bed-less hospitals, roof-less schools, Kashmir’s orphans all the more, receding remittences, and Pakistani Army Dictators shouting Muslim slogans, deceptively.
This, the actual price of Jammu Kashmir’s dispossession – Hindu Pandit expulsions, human rights violations of ordinary folk and the farce of a Muslim Free Territory amongst the world’s genuine democracies. No genuine democracy recognises the farce of Pakistan’s claims about Azad Kashmir’s democratic system, not least because Pakistan is one of the most corrupt and tyrannical places on earth especially for ordinary Pakistanis, a forgotten mass of humanity.
Who will speak up for 210 million Pakistanis in this woke world of #BlackLivesMatter and the #MeToo Movement?
Corruption begets corruption. Greed is the enemy of humanity. Pakistan’s establishment continues to brainwash its subjects about the country’s supposedly coveted role in international politics, whilst the Free World and the Gulf Arab States, the Saudi Monarchy gradually close their doors to Pakistan’s economic migrants. Just speak to the good folk of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Transparency International about the Army Establishment’s assault on human rights activists, conviction journalists and campaigners for equality and diversity for everyone. Human Rights have been under attack in Pakistan since the earliest days when General Zia ul Haq took up the mantle of Islam and thoroughly polluted the beautiful religion of Islam, forcing millions to exodus the faith and become secular humanists, agnostics and even atheists, whilst others found spiritual shelter in Christianity, in the heart of the Liberal West. Some of the fiercest critics of Islam only left the faith because they were brutalised by rulers justifying their brutality through invocations of God and Muslim tradition.
Pakistan Army is no friend to its own nationals, just ask the fleeing refugees of Afghanistan and Taliban brutality; the Muslim daughters of India’s Occupied Kashmir Valley region because of Indian Army reprisals – thousands have been raped, murdered and disappeared. Ask the surviving victims of genocide in Bangladesh; 3 million were murdered and nearly 400 thousand women were raped – all forgotten facts on account of America’s war with the defeated Soviets and Pakistan’s duplicitous role in that war. But the Cold War is now over, and so will the West remain silent as self-styled “Islamic Pakistan” cosies up to Atheist Communist China? The Afghan Taliban of old used to accuse the Pakistan Army of stealing American and Saudi aid destined for the Afghan resistance, all established facts that have yet to be withered by the storm of Pakistan’s sanctimonious critiques, all irrelevant talking points designed to cause confusion. The truth indicts the Pakistani State, plain and simple, on numerous counts.
And yet ordinary dispossessed and disenfranchised Pakistanis want to blame India for all of Pakistan’s woes and crimes. This is a nation that does not want to know that its Autocratic and Dictatorial Army lost all three wars with India, and has no military parity with the Indian Army. On conventional terms, Pakistan’s Army is the Army of the White Flag, it surrenders on the battlefield because it is undisciplined, weak and corrupt. It is not the underdog of any just cause, but a sinister force in its own society that exploits and manipulates its nationals so it can remain top-dog in an unequal and cruel society for women, children, the elderly and the disabled. The mass soldiery has become fodder for the Generals – they get paid a pittance for all the lives they extinguish in places like Baluchistan. The Army’s real war is against the ordinary Pakistani ‘state subject’ who thinks he is an equal citizen when in fact he is a mental slave; women have no parity with men in this truly unjust society, the men dictate all the rules.
Soldiers of fortune can never win permanent wars – the Afghan Taliban will be dislodged eventually by Afghan civilians backed by peoples of conscience everywhere in the world, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. History will prove the dissidents right. Soldiers of fortune are only effective in destabilising their societies – marauders destroy and create chaos, becoming rich through the proceeds. They are tax collectors, and not revenue generators. They offer protection from themselves, and not prosperity on account of others. They are bullies in a small playground. Pakistan’s Army is essentially a soldier of fortune, it only exists as a state-institution thanks to the colonial tradition that created it to subdue the freedom fighters of British India, an enterprise that supposedly ended in 1947. I deploy the writings of British and North American scholars, and not the diatribes of idiots.
Will these facts remain an inconvenience now that the Taliban have been returned to power through the duplicity of the Pakistan Army and its Intelligence Services? This is the same Army that hid Bin Laden after 9/11 and gave Al-Qaeda sanctuary receiving American tax dollars to locate and apprehend its leadership?
Will Britain, Canada, America, Australia, Western Europe – the Free World give refuge and sanctuary to Pakistan’s corrupt elite when Pakistan finally implodes?
How many British, American and Allied lives were lost in the process of liberating Afghanistan?
Will the West remain silent about the Bengal Genocide of 1971 now that Pakistan is no longer a Cold War Ally, or a duplicitous partner in the War against Terror post-9/11? The 7/7 London bombers were trained in Pakistan through the networks and patronage systems of the Pakistan Military Complex, or is this a figment of this writer’s imagination?
Is every truth of Pakistan’s reality, voiced by the global community, to be denied as a lie by Pakistanis? Is Uncle Sam behind every false indictment?
The victims of Pakistani state-enforced tyranny have always been overwhelmingly Muslim. More Sunni Muslims have died at the hands of the Pakistan Army than the Shia minority, Ahmedis, LGBTQ, liberals, women, political dissidents, free thinkers, Hindus, atheists and persons of conscience.
Bad allies will always be bad, even to those who become their newest friends – values can never be transplanted by interests; convictions are never opportunities. Deceit is deceit. Disloyalty is disloyalty. Materialism is not spirituality. Politics is not religion. Ethnicity (and Race) is not propaganda and disinformation. Genuine democracies are redemptive and forgiving. Despotic regimes are vindictive and punitive. Authoritarianism exists for the upkeep of sinecures. It has no tradition or experience of reconciliation.
Despots rule through power, force, a culture of fear, intimidation, subtle and overt innuendo.
They lie, cheat, deceive and surveil when exposed by dissidents.
They exist for the few, and not the many.
They adopt the persona of freedom when it suits them especially to global audiences.
Human rights violations against the Baluch and the hurdled masses of Pakistan’s mountain regions and rural villages across Punjab and Sindh expose the scam of the False Muslim Narrative and the deluded egos that champion it abroad, all in the name of Establishment Islam. Islam is an old faith that has been hijacked by the same interests who used to gloat about the murder of the Prophet’s descendants. The earliest survivors sought shelter amongst Muslims and non-Muslims in foreign lands and became the first Muslim refugees. The Prophet’s descendants were refugees and immigrants.
Today, they speak different languages and embody different cultures.
Sunni and Shia Muslim scholars were the first victims of Establishment Islam. Sunni scholars in particular were imprisoned by Muslim Sunni Rulers, who had soldiers of fortune doing their bidding in the name of Islam. This powerful fact of history unveils every charlatan claim made by the political Islamists in the name of either retaining state power or grabbing state power. Their Kingdom of Heaven is on here on earth, and they are enjoying the proceeds. They want power, wealth and influence.
May the God of Islam bless the Prophet of Islam and give his genuine descendants peace. The prophet of Islam was never a soldier of fortune but a warrior of conviction, he was, in fact, the first Muslim resistance fighter who liberated his own society from the clutches of tribal despotism and female infanticide. And on his deathbed, he had no wealth to bequeath his children, not even a single plot of land to his only surviving child, Fatima al-Zahra (AS). His grandchildren were subsequently murdered by those claiming his tradition in the name of power.
He lived his teachings. He abstained from wealth but partook in human kindness and relations.
He was a dissident, never afraid to upset the apple cart.
He was a person of conviction, with courage and steely determination.
He was a beautiful human being opposed to Nifaq (hypocrisy; the split personality).
Allah bless him and give him peace, and I say this as a secular humanist raised on liberal values.