Youm-e-Shuhada - Pride and Confidence
The huge monument, standing tall on the ground of Soldiers Park, Aziz Bhatti Road, Lahore, is engraved with the names of so many officers and soldiers that it is difficult to find the name of the loved one you have lost in this wild War on Terror of the passing decade.
Or have you lost your loved one at all?
One does imagine for a moment as to what celebration or compensation has their brother given away his life; is this the way he is to be celebrated that his name would barely be getting a few centimeters on the extensive slab of commemoration that is to be decorated with a floral wreath every once a year? No limelight to his action, no stardom in the media cascade!
Or had he considered this girder of names so towering, as would wallop his name to the reaches of another world that is incognito to the bare human eye! What is this human sacrifice, asked of a man, when he stands at the fence between two countries, two ideologies, and between life and death; who will be that one man who will take the bullet on his chest, protecting the nation, the family and the schema of a world view behind him? Who has this man talked to when fate had eventually asked him to stand affront to the enemy and turn back not, and lay not down his arm but only his body and ready his soul for a flight - It is God that he has conversed with and it is on His name that he lets his blood soak in the soil of a land that bears the mark of acceptance of his Lord.
So is this chivalrous account level also for those who bear no sword and steed, nor tanks or jet fighters that plunge into the airfield of the opponent, splitting their armor and rupturing the resolves that had mustered in their hearts of evil plan? Now that war has become a muddle of psy-ops, intimidation, back-door diplomacy, door to door battle that may involve espionage over our own peace-loving people; how are we to distinguish then between terrorist and peace-lover, between friend and foe, or even between right and wrong?
Is it not simple for us to understand that the soldier who has fought the battle with his life did not do so for the PMLN, the MQM or the PTI; when his commander ordered him to plunge into active battle, he did not ask him if he was pro-peace-talks or against them; nor did he question if giving away his life would further the cause of democracy or help to derail it! Standing at the fringe of reality, his concern was much grosser than these trivialities; the concern of those who protect their nations with their lives is the independent, sovereign integrity of their people. Their concern is to ensure a better, stronger and more prosperous place to their children and family, and for this, they have meant to become a part of a protection machine that has the capability to secure all the borders of their nation, be they physical, intellectual or ideological.
The soldier who has vowed to serve the army with his life, does not mean to be a part of an army that is too naïve to anticipate the intricate designs of its enemies; should today’s army suffice with rowing up on the fences, one soldier one rifle, when the enemy has advanced with all modern paradigms into its deserted tracks, its neighborhoods, and its television sets? Do we want to rely on an army that is incapable of intercepting the soft-power of the enemy that works to break us down from the inside, and has the tendency to set us up at daggers with our own people and our own institutions? Surely, that would be a naïve position!
Surely, in this fast age of satellite technology, mind-control techniques and a 4th Generation Warfare that declares propaganda and covert action its prime weapon, it would be most naïve to ask for an army that keeps to the 1st Generation venerations only. With a world going into an outlook of no more boots-on-ground and extended reliance on remotely controlled technology, covert, implanted, non-state intrusion and use of mass media and social media whichever and wherever possible, are we to ask our Army to put down its intelligence and put on a meek cloak of inactive celibacy?
The Martyrs have not put down their lives in a delusion that has been caused by the trickery of an enemy that maneuvers upon our senses with stealth and ploy. We must remember that war has been incited within our borders, within our institutions and within our senses, so the Army must today protect us from within.
When peace at home is at stake, and when the minds have been attacked, then is a time when the enemy has to be countered with counter-gimmick and intelligence.
Defense does not only mean deploying the army, its backbone lies in strategy. The defense strategy of a nation coupled with its foreign policy present the personality of a state, just like that of a person living in his neighborhood, but only in a bigger framework. In other words this strategy defines the overall character of the nation; if the strategy is imperialistic, aggressive, opportunistic, abrupt or even too vocal, that would show what kind of people it presents. If the strategy is defensive, non-aggressive, helpful to its neighbors in time of need, that shows the kind of people it is a resultant of. The people of Pakistan are proud to be of such nature, as they are a nation that has always vowed to defend what is rightfully theirs, and has helped their neighbors in terms of their immigrants in times of war and has fortified them when they have faced oppression and above all they have never aimed to grab an inch of land from any neighbor.
The people of Pakistan can appreciate the truth that the strategy of unity in fortitude, and in standing courageously behind a friend in need is ever-lasting, while the unity via occupation and force is a weak façade bound to drop down in time. Yes strategy also means the moves you draw on paper and the deals you sign with other states, but underlying all strategy is a basic strategy that comes out of a graceful and truthful people who love their brethren and the greater cause of the humanity as opposed to a people who are tyrant upon their neighbors and self-centered in their grandest goals.
Let us congratulate ourselves, on our defense day, as we pay our salutations to the numerous men who have laid down their lives, in the thick of the battle, and on unmarked tracks of our borders, just so that the enemy should not dare to peep an inch further inland.
They have not left the defense of their country to another day, nor have they returned to their mothers, wives or daughters to say a last good-bye before the snipers would tear their souls away from their bodies. Let us congratulate ourselves and our martyrs with the greeting that we are a land well-fought for and a people good to defend, as we mean no harm to our brethren in faith nor our fellows in humanity, but with the tinge of piety in our strategy of defense, we potentially unite our brethren around us, and therefore become a beacon of hope for peace in the wider world.