Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Bombing in Liberty Market

Last night as I was falling asleep, my friend Anita sent me an SMS warning me not to go out to the markets for the next few days as there had been a bombing in Liberty Market. Liberty is in the Gulberg area of Lahore, a short drive from where I live. Anita and I had been there a few weeks ago buying cloth for my wedding dress, and I had even gone there last week for an afternoon of shopping. It's the closest market to me so it's one I always end up going to. Sometimes I even do my grocery shopping in that area.

So turns out that there was a small homemade device that went off in a shoe store. Nobody was killed, only four people were injured and a lot of property damage incurred. Even cars parked outside the store were wrecked. It's a miracle nobody was killed!I had planned on doing some shopping today but maybe it's time to think of another plan....

See more here:

Nobody is sure the motives of the bombing. A prominent leader of the Baloch resistance movement was recently killed, and some think that it may be connected to that incident. Others see it as a cry from the youth against the current military government and General Musharraf. More and more of the radicals and the MMA (religious alliance) are speaking out against the current government and asking the General to step down.

I don't know what I'd do if there was any change in government. I've seen other countries where the army is so corrupt that it oppresses and takes advantage of the people, but here I've grown to trust the army. The officers I've met are very respectable and have the best interest of the people in mind. Even one of my close friends, a Major from Sialkot, was wounded while trying to keep down Balochi separatists outside Quetta. In my opinion, the only thing keeping any order in this country is the military and it's good to have someone in charge who's not an extremist.

When Musharraf came to power he restored all the schools which were formerly Christian schools back to the missionaries. Under Zia they had all been Islamized. Even the buildings' names were changed from the name of the missionaries to "Allama-Iqbal Hall" and "Quaid-al-Azam Auditorium." A friend of mine told me that when Musharraf spoke at the Foreman Christian College commencement ceremony for the first time after coming to power, he urged them to change the names back to their original names. "Did Allama Iqbal do anything to create this university? Was it his work that founded this place? No, it was the missionaries. You are all praising the fanatics and the relgious leaders, what do they teach the children? How to roll up their shalwar (pants) and use a lotta (for cleansing before prayer)? On the other hand, the missionaries are the same ones who took a boy from the street and could make him president?"

(paraphrase of Gen Musharaf through several people...not original quote)


Anonymous said...

obviously you have no idea about pakistani society even though you live there, or the best you can think of is the direct interest of your coutry. Each and every pakistani hates army and army is the root cause of all the ills of pakistan including extremism. If you think that MMA is against army or vice verca, you are too naive to think so.

Heather said...

If you're still reading, I've been having a problem with my blog and have not been seeing the comments for months. I guess I still don't know how to work all the settings or when I changed to the new blogger beta I forgot to reset them.

The opinion I portrayed is that I think General Musharraf's decision to reprivatize Foreman Christian College was a good one, and that the experience I have with the armed forces has led me to a new respect of the Pakistani army that I didn't have before living in Pakistan. I did not generalize about the "army versus the MMA." I know that every society is complex, and I know even more that Pakistani society is complex. With 68 languages and an estimated 400 distinct people groups, there is no way to say that Pakistani society can be explained as A vs. B.

You are also wrong to say that "each and every Pakistani hates (the) army and (the) army is the root cause of all the ills of Pakistan including extremism." This is simple untrue. I know many Pakistanis who admire and respect the army. I personally know several young boys who's goal is to become an army officer and serve their country. They believer that the army is doing a service to the people. I also know many Pakistanis who would prefer to live in Pakistan without the army. I know people who consider the army and government to be completely corrupt. I know people who say that want 'real' democracy and not a military dictator.

Did I say that Musharaff was not a dictator in my post? No. Did I say that I think military run government is the answer to all of Pakistan's questions? No. I was trying to say that before I went to Pakistan I had a very different view of the army than I do now. Will that view change as I learn more and experience more of life in Pakistan? Yes, I'm sure it will.

Also, if you think that my postings and thoughts all have to do with "the direct interest of (my) country" then you are wrong. I don't believe that America's foreign policy should be based on "America's best interest" unless America's best interest would be redefined as meaning caring about what is best for other countries and not only for America. As an American, many times I am ashamed at our foreign policies. If I was concerned for the 'direct interest of my country' what good would it be for me to spend my time in 55 degree (130 F) Lahore, enduring monsoon rains, riding in polluted streets in rickshaws, living away from all the comforts of home...only to help train teachers in YOUR country?

If you'd like to share further opinion, feel free to post.