Kashif Hafeez Siddiqui

Pakistani ExPats are ashamed but not for reasons they should be!

In Clsh of Civilizations on May 14, 2010 at 6:53 am

By Mirza Faraz Baig

“Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.”, so said the same Joseph Goebbels who’s linked to the famous quote “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it”.

Despite West’s claim of despising the Nazis, they’ve fondly adopted the standards set by Hitler’s propaganda machine, and they’ve improved it to near perfection. Over the course of the last decade, the western media have trumpeted with untiring consistency a claim that has now taken its root in the minds of not only the general public in the west, but also the victims of that claim!

The claim? “Muslims are terrorists”… Ok not all Muslims are terrorists, but those that we call are definitely them, so say the west. This lie has been repeated with such focused concentration and in so many different formats and versions – through movies, news, novels, social media- that it is now accepted as fact. So much so that whenever a new terrorism incident takes place, Muslims, especially Pakistanis, are the first to condemn it and after finding out the accused was indeed a Muslim brother or sister, start alienating him from the global Muslim brotherhood. In essence, before the trial is even begun, the accused is convicted by his own people and actual case proceedings remain only a formality!

This behavior is most evident in the recent case of Faisal Shahzad, the Time Square bombing “suspect”. Ever since it was reported that he could be the major hand in plotting probably the biggest car bomb in recent history, internet was exploded with apologies from Pakistanis across the globe. Pakistan’s most watched channel was angry that this person has brought shame to the entire Pakistani nation and his own family. Most of the blogs and their commenters rued the fact that he threw away his carefully built “American Dream” just like that. Pakistani ex-patriots feared even more strict vigilance over them, while believing this “fanatic should be jailed for life”. All in all, their verdict is, guilty as charged!

However, one felt there’s something missing from this whole story, the other side of course! Even though Faisal Shahzad can now boast a wikipedia page , that’s probably not for reasons he’d have liked himself. That page is full of stories mentioning different facets of the case- some claiming he dumped his documents in the home he had abandoned quite a while ago- but they didn’t, even for a single line, give a piece of what Faisal Shahzad says. It’s totally one sided. And to put it mildly, that stinks! But somehow this fact is missed by all involved. There has been absolutely no access to him by our government or by other Pakistani coummunity members, at least not publicly available.

The report that his documents were found from his “abandoned” house is so ridiculous that it shouldn’t have made it to the press in the first place. What would a person, allegedly looking to bomb his way into FBI’s most wanted list, be doing in his old house is beyond logic and beats a level headed reader. Other claims are that he had gone to his birthplace Peshawar on his recent visit ; started wearing all blacks and remaining serious while stealthily walking across his backyard, that’s neighbor’s reports, he was seen posing on Times Square was also a claim. That his documents had cards from someone wishing him well were also pertinent for some reports. Huffington post even attempted to sneak into his Facebook profile only to put the blame on another Faisal Shahzad. Such is the state of electronic media and citizen blogs. Whatever happened in Pakistan is another matter.

When I asked a few Ex-Patriots, their opinion was that it’s an open and shut case – he plotted a crime, failed, got arrested, gave up his rights and admitted! I was amazed, appalled really to see how much faith they have in “their” media and government is saying, otherwise any Pakistani knows how people can be made to confess under duress. Besides, in most laws, confessions under custody weigh nothing unless they’re given in front of legal authority. If an accused declines to testify on his confession it may be called a mistrial.

I invite you to put yourself in Faisal’s shoes. You’re an average Pakistani living in the US trying to consolidate your career there. You’re very apprehensive of any indication of extremism from any of your acquaintances. You try to live by the sidelines. You’re boarding a flight to Pakistan; suddenly you get arrested, finding you’re on TV across the world. Authorities give you two choices, confess the crimes handed to you and face some years in Guantanamo Bay Prison or get ready for trial find yourself guilty as charged and still go to Gitmo facing life sentence. You’ve heard of water boarding, you’ve heard of electric shocks, you’ve heard of stories of blood hounds in Abu ghuraib jail. You’re an innocuous, in fact scared, person. You’re left with no choice but to admit the crimes which you didn’t hear before that day. Under duress, any scared person would do what he did.

For most people my theory would seem laughable but Dr Shirin Mazari also smells a rat in this whole story. I don’t trust American justice system and for good reason. It’s discriminatory! It has been discriminating on grounds of race, religion and color. This is not a matter of today, it’s been happening since the first day an Italian set foot on this soil. America bombs more Pakistani civilians daily in drone attacks then it has lost soldiers in Afghanistan. Pakistani blood, Muslim blood is so cheap that even thousand Muslims don’t equate an American life. Is that justice? My apologies to US lovers but any country who had laws legalizing lynching only 50 years ago and has killed more people than Hitler and Halaku combined has to do a lot more than just lip service to gain Muslim’s confidence.

Lastly, Pakistanis living in America shouldn’t be ashamed of Faisal. They should be ashamed of themselves. Their brothers and sisters, fellow compatriots are facing one-sided trials in front of their own eyes. Faisal Shahzad and Dr Afia are only two of hundreds detained in Gitmo without proper trials. Still, Pakistanis in general are happy to live their lives with the convenience of their families, fearing any voice against these cases might land them into trouble. What’s shameful is this behavior, not getting framed by corrupt authorities. It’s their pathetic submission to this unjust system that has led the Americans to believe that all Pakistanis would give up their rights if paid enough. They’re feeling shame alright, but one feels it’s for all the wrong reasons!

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  1. Excellent blog. Would like to quote it in my community as well…

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