TO EXPLODE OR NOT TO EXPLODE, THAT IS THE QUESTION OF THE DAY!
Thank God for the Taliban of Afghanistan!
Yes, I never thought I would live to see the day when I said that!!! This time, though, I am grateful to them as they lent a touch of (black) humour, amidst the deep depression India's nuclear explosion had plunged us all into.
No, I am not hinting at the slaughtering of their citizens, or the crippling of their criminals or even the public flagellation that is their usual past-time. This time the law-makers of Afghanistan surpassed even themselves, yet strangely enough, there is no real cruelty involved.
"The News" (15th. May 1998) reported that there is a new law in Kabul that decrees the length of fringes. Fringes MUST be cut. Since the length of fringes is a very serious matter, righteous protectors of public virtue carry scissors at all times. They never know when they might come face to face with criminal violation of this very serious and important law. As with everything else the Taliban do in Afghanistan, this too is all done only for the greater good of the victim; and needless to say, in the name of Islam. The new haircuts, given by the knowledgeable Taliban are 'islamic' haircuts. This is the first time I have ever heard of a hair-style that has a religion. Being less enlightened about such matters, I do not argue with those who know better. I am sure the learned scholars understand the far-reaching, ethical and moral effects of issues such as 'islamic' and 'unislamic' hair-styles.
No doubt, all this must be a little confusing for the simple people of Afghanistan. Earlier, the Taliban had insisted that people grow the hair on their chins, and cutting a single millimeter of it was a punishable offence. Now they decree that they cut the hair on their heads, and growing it a millimeter over the prescribed limit is a punishable offence!
There is ofcourse a very plausible and logical explanation for the shearing of the offending, 'unislamic' hair-styles. The Taliban have discovered that the fringes act as a barrier between Man and the Almighty. The papers report that 65 people have already been given an enforced 'islamic' haircut. It is heart-warming to know that at least 65 people in Afghanistan are now in closer communication with God.
Being a little wiser about physical barriers between the Creator and the created after having read this eye-opener, I was not a little worried about the plight of Muslim women, especially those in Afghanistan. The veils wrapped upto their eyebrows and around the ears, to keep errant hair invisible, might be the reason their prayers are unanswered. The barrier between them and the Almighty keeps Him from responding to, or even hearing their prayers. The Taliban still rule Afghanistan.
Fringes aside, what is it about hair that generates such strong emotions?
Come to think of it, why does everyone of a fanatical bent of mind think The Almighty is so deeply engrossed with the length or otherwise of Mankind/Womankind's hair?
Even our 'heavily mandated' Prime Minister took time off from PPP-bashing to ban long hair on television. Some mean-spirited people say the ban was prompted more from envy than religiosity.
But hair is hair, and a bomb in Indian hands is a Bomb aimed at us all. The capers of the Taliban could not divert my attention for long. I could not avoid worrying about the impact of the irresponsible act of the Indian Government. It affected my very future and safety as a Pakistanis. Many sites on the Internet held polls for or against Pakistan's option of exploding a nuclear device. The day after the explosion I voted against following foolishness with stupidity. All day long the 'ayes' and 'nays' ran neck-to-neck. After the rumbling, threatening sounds emanating from Indian leaders, I had second thoughts. I searched for the voting site as I wanted to change my vote.
I do not envy Nawaz Shareef. 'Heavily mandated' and having swept the local bodies in the 'free and fair' elections, today he must find himself between the devil and the deep sea. Dammed if he explodes a nuclear device... and dammed if he doesn't. On the one hand lies India with its more than serious threats, on the other lies penury for the penurious, and an increasingly belligerent populace. American guarantees do not count. Pakistan has seen their guarantees in action. They have used and discarded us too often.
Taken all in all, especially since the political leaders all seem to want Pakistan to follow India's example and after reading General Karamat's statement on the issue, I really can not see how the government can avoid it. Blast and be dammed, seems to be the prevailing mood in the country. The future promises not to be exciting.
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