Aafia, The Daughter; Pakistan, The Motherland
Addressed on the Ocassion of Pakistan Independence Day, August 14,<
by Dr. Fauzia Siddiqui
August 14th and Pakistan’s Independence Day. This day is supposed to mark the rule of the will of the people of Pakistan – that we freely choose our rulers and they do our bidding for the People’s best interests. It is supposed to mark the fact that we are a free nation where we can live in peace and harmony, follow our religious beliefs as we will, our children can get the best of education without discrimination of race and creed. We are Pakistani’s and that is enough. This day also signifies that our daughters and sisters, wives and mothers, will be protected and kept safe from harm. That we stand proud of our ideology as a sovereign Islamic Nation.
14th August 2010 marks the 8th year of independence celebration after the abduction of Aafia and her children and the continued captivity of Aafia and the unknown fate of Suleiman. It also marks the 9th year of torture, rendition and war-crimes committed in the name of a so called “war on Terror”. Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is a Pakistani Citizen, born in Pakistan, after completing her PhD s returned to her motherland only to be rendition with her three little children… This year as I drove around the major cities of Pakistan I saw a picture of a beautiful innocent looking woman and an inset of a tortured haggard woman with the caption “Dr Aafia Siddiqui, daughter of the Nation”. Banners around the country with slogans “Free Dr. Aafia Daughter of Pakistan”. I realized; Aafia Siddiqui has now become the symbolic daughter of this whole nation; I wandered what does that signify.
Why would it be that Aafia would become that symbol? And the more I thought and researched it dawned on me that it is no accident that fate chose her to become the daughter of Pakistan. What has happened to her, it seems, is exactly what happens to her motherland. The fate of both is inescapably linked. Here are some very vivid examples:
1. For 5 years Aafia was locked away in some secret detention betrayed by her own and manipulated by others for their own aims. During this time, Pakistan too was secretly being shackled and manipulated and betrayed by those trusted to protect it. As the daughter was treated, so was the motherland.
2. Pakistan was declared the most dangerous place in the world and its people demonized as threats. Aafia was declared the most dangerous woman in the world and demonized with fabricated proof. Again, the daughter and nation were made to share the same labels.
3. Then since 2008, we have seen open humiliation and public destruction of Aafia and so have we seen the open and horrendous destruction of Pakistan and the terrorization of its people. As the daughter is tortured so too the nation is torn apart.
4. Just as Aafia has been betrayed by those who were supposed to defend and protect her interests, even close relations, so too has this nation been betrayed by those who are supposed to uphold its interests, even those entrusted by sworn oaths. As the daughter is betrayed, so is the nation.
5. The same people who claim to give “justice” to Aafia on their own terms are the same people who offer “aid” and “support” to Pakistan for their own aims. As the daughter is shamefully convicted, so is the nation indicted and shackled.
6. Aafia is humiliated through strip searches and denied access to family. So too now all Pakistanis are “specially searched” and access to the homeland considered suspicious. As the daughter is humiliated, so is the whole nation.
7. The injustice in the verdict against Aafia was clear but there was silence except from the brave few. The accusations against Pakistan are just as unfair but the silence of our “friends” is deafening except for the few. Just as the daughter learns who are true, so does the nation.
8. I could go on, but what I want to point out is that these things are not made up but have been witnessed by everyone. That is why intuitively the Pakistani people know that Aafia’s fate is Pakistan’s fate. It is not about guilt or innocence. It is the strange bond between a person and the land and people she loved. The bond of a daughter with her mother; if we fail her, we WILL fail ourselves.
Aafia does not belong to Karachi or Lahore or Quetta or Peshawar. She is not of Sind or Punjab or Frontier or Baluchistan. She is and has always been a Pakistani. What happened to her and continues to happen to her is a fate shared with the whole nation. Look at what has happened to Pakistan since she was taken to America. What part of Pakistan has been spared?
Those that are responsible for Aafia’s misery are the same whose actions are now spreading misery across the whole nation. No wonder the whole nation recognizes this and sees in Aafia the personification of the motherland.
I must add that faith too has an important role in both for the survival of Aafia and Pakistan. As we know the religious addict of all major religions hold honor of women sacred. As Aafia’s honor is attacked the nation begins to disintegrate from natural calamities. It is a sad but undeniable fact
It is clear that those who are against Aafia’s interests cannot be for the interests of Pakistan. This sounds like a slogan but it is becoming clearer every day. The strange link between motherland and daughter is more than just symbolic. So, do we take this and despair because there seems no way out?
The answer is NO. Because it is this very link that will save both the motherland and the daughter.
a. Those that seek to destroy Pakistan tried to kill Aafia. But she is still alive and so our nation is still in one piece.
b. Aafia has been tortured with the worst kind of abuse using her children. She is still standing, damaged but resilient. The nation has been battered more than any other in this war of terror. But it is still standing and resilient and we finally see hope of unity.
c. Aafia’s children were taken away from her. So too, this nation has lost a whole generation due to lack of education and hope. But we now have Aafia’s son back and he will recover. So, we now realize the value of our youth and the next generation shall recover.
d. Aafia is in a physical American prison supposedly for life. The nation is in an economic and political American prison seemingly for life. Only the same resolve and national loyalty that can free Aafia from her physical prison can free the nation from its mental and economic prison. I believe that people finally recognize this fact.
e. This is why we have hope because, in Aafia, God has shown us a simple way to judge our national resolve. We now have a simple case where success or failure is easy to measure, where performance of everyone involved can be clearly evaluated and where loyalty can be tested. IT IS AMAZING THAT THE SUFFERING OF THE DAUGHTER HAS PROVIDED HER NATION WITH A SIMPLE LITMUS TEST TO SEE WHO IS FOR PAKISTAN AND WHO STANDS FOR SOMETHING ELSE. Aafia only has meaning for PAKISTAN as a whole, for ALL its people and she cannot be freed unless the entire nation unites. It cannot be Partisan or regional or ethnic or class based. She has no independent flag or politics. Her flag is the Pakistani star and crescent and her politics is the vision of Quaid-e-Azam.
I would like to summarize by saying that Aafia has brought home to us the true value of the motto that Quaid-e-Azam gave us: FAITH, UNITY DISCIPLINE. Her situation and suffering and that of the nation has shown us what happens when we lose these elements. To restore her freedom and our dignity, we must have FAITH in God and ourselves, we MUST be UNITED as Pakistanis and we must act with DISCIPLINE to achieve goals that are in OUR interests – Goals that solve OUR economic problems, provide security for PAKISTANIS, and eliminate OUR inferiority complex.
Finally, to end, I would like to add a fourth component that Aafia strongly believed in: OPPORTUNITY. Aafia dedicated her life to education because she believed that the best legacy a society can leave its future generations is not wealth but better opportunities.
So, this August 14th let us resolve to have FAITH in ourselves, UNITE for a common cause to free Aafia and her children and to act with DISCIPLINE to save Pakistan so that we can create a nation where our children will have abundant OPPORTUNITY and will not have to stand in humiliating lines for foreign visas.