Shaheryar Ali

Famous Pakistani academic Dr Robina Saigol has written an influential critique of Nation State from feminist perspective. It is known as “Militarization, Nation and Gender: Women bodies as arenas of violent conflicts”. The study explains quite brilliantly the ideological structures which lead to crimes against women during violent conflicts. Pakistan is the specific focus of this study. I am reminded of it after I discovered the fate of Miss Zarina Murree a Baluch woman who went missing along with 429 persons since December 2005 according to Asian Human Rights Commission Report. She is reportedly being abused as a “sex slave” by Pakistan Army. I came to know about her, thanks to the inspiring blog “Grand Trunk Road” which writes about the duality of response on the predicament of two women. The suspected Islamic Fascist terrorist Dr Aafia Siddiqui and Miss Zarina Murree. The entry can be read here .I will deal with this problem at multiple levels trying to deconstruct the hegemonious discourse on Terrorism. Why a poor school teacher like Miss Zarina Murree would be abused as a “sex-slave” by Mujahid army of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Dr Saigol explains this phenomenon in general term:

“Recent feminist theories of nationalism have pointed out that the Qaum (nation) is essentially feminine in construction. The nation is narrated on the body of women who become an emotionally-laden symbol of the nation, self, the inner, spiritual world and home. One’s motherland or maadar-e-watan, as it comes to be called, becomes invested with the kind of erotic attraction felt towards women, especially in the figure of the mother. The country comes to be appropriated, represented and contained within words which have strong romantic, erotic as well as maternal connotations. The desire for this land/woman/dharti is constructed as masculine desire; the desire to possess it, see it, admire it, love it, protect it and die fighting for it against rivals.

Since the desire for women gets transferred on to the nation and women’s bodies come to signify the nation, communal, regional, national and international conflicts come to be played out on women’s bodies. These bodies thus become arenas of violent struggle. Women are humiliated, tortured, brutally raped, and murdered as part of the process by which the sense of being a nation is created and reinforced”

Thus by kidnapping and than sexually molesting a poor Baluch teacher, Pakistan’s Army is trying to reinforce the ideology of “Islamic Republic of Pakistan”. This a reply to the traitor Baluchs. The ironic fact is the history of Islamic republic taught at school traces the history of Islamic state from the invasion of Sindh by Muhammed Bin Qasim, the Umayyad , who as the myth goes invaded Sindh to defend the “honour” of a Muslim girl. Like all other myths of Islamic Republic’s ideological history this honour laden justification of Arab imperialist assault on Sindh is deconstructed by great Sindhi poet and famous conscientious objectors to 1965 Indo-Pak , Sheik Ayaz in his poem which is the lament of the native girl of Sindh abused by invading Arabs. When Yvonne Ridley, former Taliban prisoner and now a pro Taliban activist and Respect Party affiliate who could very much be suffering from “Stockholm Syndrome” broke the news of Dr Aafia Siddique being sexually molested at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan, ritualistic drum beating started. The fact that its very hard to dismiss Dr Sidiqque’s links with Al-Qaida and Islamic fascism was ignored. There is a case of abuse of Dr Siddique’s rights and all extra judicial punishments, torture and abuse must be condemned but this is clearly a case of “double discourse”. All the discourse of civil rights, human rights, woman rights, good governance etc in Pakistan favors the ideological interests of Islamic Republic. Thus suspected and alleged sexual molestation of Dr Siddique, an Urdu speaking girl from middle and upper middle classes who is involved in Jihad is the drummed up at all levels in Pakistan from media to text messages on mobile phones asking the young muslim men to follow the example of Muhammed Bin Qasim and deliver the “daughter of Islam” from infidels. Liberals and progressives follow this ideological discourse bound by their ethos of “human rights” and “civil rights”, the fact that Dr Siqqique if was successful in her Jihad would result in a system which doesn’t recognizes even the concept of human rights is ignored by most lefti human rights activists. Whilst they must raise a voice against state abuse they must make sure that their interest is only in the fact that Dr Siddique be brought in a court of Law where she gets a fair trial. Just as Ajmal Kasab has the legal right to fair trial. Nothing more than that. Unfortunately we saw Iqbal Haider becoming party to the the emotional drama created by the Right. He should  have kept in mind, what image they created of other abuse victims. Mukhtar Mai, the Saraiki woman raped on orders of village counsel is a “whore” according to moral punjabi middle class. Dr Shazia Murree, the Baluch doctor raped by Captain Hamad was declared a “slut” and government narrated the stories of “condoms” in her home with a question why did a good girl had “condoms” in her home??

The great respect to woman, civil rights and human rights expressed by Islamic Republic and its ideological apparatus the media and the chattering class in cases of suspected Taliban and other ideological allies clearly vanishes when such atrocities are done to “others” of Islamic Republic by establishment. Thus the documented use of rape as a war tactic by Pakistan Army and Jamate Islami in 1971’s Bangladesh’s war of Liberation is dismissed as “Indian propaganda”, similar use of rape as a tactic to curtail MRD in 1980s in interior Sindh and Saraiki region of Punjab is never spoken of. The rape and genocide of Baluch people by Pakistani state again fails to gain any mass support or even media attention. Why this happens. Dr Rubina Saigol writes in “State and the Limit of Counter-Terrorism: The Case of Pakistan and SriLanka”

“The foundational myth of Pakistan is the two-nation theory, which

posits Muslims and Hindus as two mutually exclusive, separate and

irreconcilable nations. This ideology divided the freedom struggle

against British rule as early as 1909 with the Morley-Minto Reforms in

which the principle of separate electorate was acknowledged by the

British government. It subsequently remained the main slogan of the

Muslim League and led to the division of independence by religion.

Within the two-nation paradigm, two states emerged, a Hindu India and

a Muslim Pakistan, although Indians generally see their country as secular.

The emergence of Pakistan within a struggle divided by religion meant

that religious identity came to be the defining characteristic of Pakistani

citizenship. This implied that other, sometimes older, sources of identity

in language, region or culture had to be suppressed if not entirely erased.

The construction of Pakistani identity as Muslim required the forgetting

of the identities of Bengali, Sindhi, Punjabi, Pathan or Baloch”

This is the root of all the double discourse in Pakistan. This is the bases of Bengali Genocide, this is base of failure of democracy and this is the base of Rape of Zarina Murree. Dr Saigol is one of those few academics from Pakistan who recognizes the fact that most of the problems of Pakistan like failure of democracy and Islamic Fascism are result of the “state” itself. She also traces the roots of Taliban terrorism in two nation ideology of Pakistani state. Just have a look at the report of Asian Human Rights Commission here .

The Asian Human Rights Commission has received further details in the case of Ms. Zarina Marri, a 23-year-old schoolteacher from Balochistan province, who has been held incommunicado in an army torture cell at Karachi, the capital of Sindh province and used as a sex slave, please see our statement; http://www.ahrchk.net/statements/mainfile.php/2009statements/1843/——–”
Sanakhawan e Taqdees e Mushriq Kahan hein?

SanaKhawan e Taqdees e Mushriq Ko Lao——–