By Haider Changezi
April 13, 2012 – Group Captain (Retd) Cecil Chaudry; a twice decorated war hero loses his battle against cancer; a sombre moment indeed. His passing away reminds me of the 1971 war – a war which Pakistanwas fighting with itself; it’s Eastern Wing. It ended on 17th Dec 1971 when the Pakistan Armed Forces surrendered and East Pakistan finally declared itself an independent country Bangladesh. This war reminds me of two war heroes;
The first hero is Wing Commander Mervyn Middlecoat. On the outbreak of war on 3rd Dec 1971 Wing Commander Middlecoat was sent on a strike mission inside enemy territory – on his way back from a successful mission he was engaged by enemy aircraft and in the ensuing dog fight shot down. He ejected but landed in Shark infested waters…his body was never found.
The other war hero is Flight Lieutenant Samad Changazi. On the last day of this war (17th Dec’71) Flt. Lt. Changazi was flying his last mission (out of a total of 11 missions in ‘71) he was defending the skies of Pakistan when two Indian Mig 21s had intruded into Pakistan’s airspace – in the ensuing air battle his F-104 Star Fighter was shot down by an IAF aircraft. He did not survive.
Both gentlemen were awarded with Sitara e Jurraat for their supreme sacrifices for their nation. So both soldiers fought for their country and gave the supreme sacrifice – what’s unique about this you ask?
Both the gentlemen belonged to different minority groups of Pakistan – one belonged to the Christian community and the other to the Hazara Shia tribe of Balochistan – back then both communities (and probably all other minority groups too) felt pride in serving and defending their nation.
These people fought for this country in its darkest hours (1965, 1971, 1999) without hesitations – the question is; ‘did this nation fight back for their people when it mattered’?
In the present day Pakistan; we all know the plight of Christians – Aasia Bibi, Shaheed Shahbaz Bhatti…Blasphemy is the weapon being used to vilify them. The entire community is mocked at and not accepted as equal Pakistanis. Being a non-Muslim in a Jihadi Islamic State is nothing short of hell.
So Pakistanis hell for non-Muslims, then what is the problem with Hazara Shia Muslims? The answer to this is that the definition of ‘Muslim’ in this ‘Land of the Pure’ has become dynamic and ever evolving – the ‘Islamic’ circle keeps getting smaller and smaller by the day and these days it seems the Shia sect has only one foot inside and the other outside that holy circle!
These days in Pakistan being Human and being Muslim are now two mutually exclusive entities – if you want to become a better Muslim you have to become less of a humanist. Once you have chosen to be a Muslim than you have to become a ‘Better’ Muslim – only being Muslim is not enough. The standards of ‘Better Muslim’ is set by the ones who are already ahead in this curve. It’s a race to ‘Out-Muslim’ each other and the competition is literally ‘cut-throat’ (you get ‘Halal points’ for slitting the throats of non-Muslims and lesser Muslims).
In the midst of this all what is worrisome is that the majority is simply silent to this radical evolution taking place in this country – engrossed in their daily lives and oblivious to the sufferings of the minority groups – but they do not realize that in this race everyone eventually is a loser as everyone will become a minority. As aptly put in this statement:
First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
~ Martin Niemoller
These days you hear the party of the youth shouting that change (Tsunami) is coming – and this will bring peace to Pakistan– someone should remind them that graveyards too are very peaceful!
The weekend just ended – I hope you all enjoyed yours because 32 Hazara families didn’t – they were busy burying their loved ones killed over the past two weeks in Quetta, Balochistan by Islamist groups who are on a state sponsored mission to Islamify Pakistan.
It seems that the Pakistan that Samad Changezi and Mervyn Middlecoat fought for was a different Pakistan, a Pakistan of a by-gone era never to return…and this Pakistanis only a ‘Land for the Pure’.
The author can be followed on Twitter @hachangezi