Jamaat al-Ahrar made a bold claim today. “We have entered Lahore.”
About the Author.
I, Mujtaba Faruqui, am a senior at Purdue University. Moved to Indianapolis, Indiana on Christmas day, 2012. I celebrated my 19th birthday two days later in Cleveland, Ohio. I hail from the city of Lahore. My incredible journey so far from, has changed the way I view the world around me. A few years ago I was sure of myself & what the future holds for me. Fast forward four years & I am filled with doubt & vulnerability. The rebellious teenager who was aching for independence & liberty grew up, & he transformed into a person who is very much in a limbo. Early twenties are a very uncertain phase of life. You move away to a place without any friends or familiar faces & this self-doubt is unimaginable. Nevertheless, The American Dream beckoned.
These writings may be rants of the kid who lost his identity & is desperately trying to cling onto his childhood. Someone who is trying to decide between what is right & what is easy.
Anyways I hope you can spend a few minutes & look at the world the way I see it. It may not be correct, it may go against what you believe but it does offer a unique perspective. If I did end up offending you, I apologize. Feel free to contact me & I would love to hear what you have to say.
This article is pretty much a kneejerk reaction to one extremely brutal attack carried out by the Al-Ahrar group, or locally known as Jamaat Al-Ahrar. Jamaat (meaning Assembly in Arabic). It was carried out on Easter day. A hate crime targeting Christians. Jamaat Al-Ahrar are a militant group affiliated with the Taliban.
Pakistan’s second largest city is Lahore with a population of around 7.6 million. (New York City by contrast is 8.4 million). It is a mega city by all means & often referred to as the Pearl of Punjab. Osama bin-Laden was founded and captured in Abbottabad, a mountainous town, merely 500 kilometers (310 miles) away from Lahore. Not Pakistan’s proudest moment admittedly.
Lahore is my home. This is where I grew up. Coming from a family of the 1947 migrants or Muhajir as they’re known I was never a red-blooded Lahori (Resident of Lahore). The City adopted me. The attack on Lahore was frightening. I am always frightened for my family. Once I know for a fact that my family and friends are safe, my heart bleeds for the others. I cannot mourn with them and I cannot fight the people who hurt others around me. Or do much to help. I can honestly just write. Writing has become my way of dealing with such issues.
وقد وضعت الله ختم على قلوبهم و على سمعهم و على رؤيتهم هو الحجاب . و بالنسبة لهم هو عذاب عظيم . و من الناس من يقول : "نحن نؤمن بالله واليوم الآخر "، لكنهم ليسوا مؤمنين . هم [ اعتقد ل ] خداع الله والذين آمنوا ، لكنهم خداع ليس إلا أنفسهم و ينظرون [هو ] لا. في قلوبهم مرض هو ، لذلك زاد الله مرضهم . و بالنسبة لهم هو عذاب أليم لأنهم [ عادة ] تستخدم للكذب . و إذا قيل لهم: " لا يسبب الفساد في الأرض"، كما يقولون، " نحن ولكن الإصلاحيين ". مما لا شك فيه ، أنهم هم الذين هم المفسدين ، ولكن يرون [هو ] لا.
Translation and context to this paragraph from the Quran can be found at the end.
Jamaat al-Ahrar made a bold claim today. “We have entered Lahore.”
The true origins of the city are unknown, Carbon dating labels the old city to around 2000 Before Christ. The myth claims that the Shahi(Royal) Qila(Fort), bears testimony to the founder of the great city, Lavapuri was founded by Loh, the youngest son of Rama, which is the 394th name of lord Vishnu. The oldest written tradition revolved around the Hudud-e-Alam (The regions of the world). The 4000 year old city was described as "Impressive temples, large markets & huge orchards." It refers to "two major markets around which dwellings exist", & it also mentions "the mud walls that enclose these two dwellings to make it one. “The City is said to have been first inhabited by Hindus, back then it was a tiny village known as Ichra. Ask any Lahori today & they will tell you that Ichra is one of the prime locations for shopping & food related activities, shops that are older than the country can be found.
326 years before Christ, a certain general named Alexander was marching east towards (what he believed was) the World’s End. He came across the land of the five rivers, also known as Punjab. Here Aléxandros Mégas met King Porus & his army of beasts in Punjab the land of the five rivers, one of the greatest tacticians ever to have graced the earth faced a worthy opponent across the vast river Jhelum in the Battle of the Hyadespes (Jhelum). Despite eventually losing out to the mighty Macedonians, The Punjabi King & his band of Indian warriors won the respect of Alexander.
Wounded in his shoulder, standing over 7 feet tall, he was asked by Alexander how he wished to be treated.
"Treat me as a king would treat another king" Porus responded.
The attitude of pride & respect has been ingrained in everyone who associate themselves with Lahore & the Punjab. Beware.
The Afghan ruler Mahmud Ghazni pushed his conquests eastward, the shift of power from, then ruler, Raja Jayapala to Mahmud was almost unopposed & the latter decided to make Lahore a pivotal city with respect to trade. Malik Ayaz, was a slave turned officer in the army who ascended to general was rewarded with the throne of Lahore. Malik’s final resting place can be found in the Rang Mahal district of Lahore. After the fall of the Ghaznavid Empire the city was ruled by various Muslim factions known as the Delhi Sultanate including the Khiljis, Tughlaqs, Sayed, & Suris. The last Lodhi ruler, Sultan Ibrahim Lodhi was greatly disliked by common folk primarily because of how he had his brother assassinated to claw his way to the throne after the death of his father.
The city reached its darkest hour when the Mongols arrived in 1241. The city was levelled & the entire population was wiped clean. They wanted to attack the Delhi Sultanate but were crushed by the central forces in Delhi.
The night is darkest before the dawn, Lahore had been brought down to its knees by the Mongols & was just recovering. Nearly two hundred years on & the city was reborn, thanks due to the Mughal invasion by Babur. The three hundred year rule resulted in monuments, mosques gardens & forts all around the subcontinent, Lahore fort came into being, it is also known as the Shahi Qila & to this day remains one of the most iconic sights of the country. Some traditions claim that some sort of foundation had already been set for the Qila by the mythical son of Rama, Loh (the very person who this city is named after). The fort as it is today was started by Akbar, the final piece was laid by his son Jahangir. Another massive symbol of the city was made by Aurangzeb, the Badshahi mosque. The mosque is facing the Alamgiri Gate of the Qila.
The fall of the Mughal Empire coincided with the rise of Ranjit Singh & his Sikh empire. The frequent invasions by the Afghans had resulted a lot of instability in the city & Ranjit Singh gained power, he remained in power till his death, the Sikh rule continued till the British gained control via the EIC. The British raj (rule) continued till the mid-1900s, when Muslims gained independence & the State of Pakistan was founded by Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The Lahore resolution was the official document where the demand for a separate homeland was presented. The Resolution was passed at the location of Minar-E-Pakistan which is a national landmark. Post 1947, Lahore has become the second largest city of Pakistan, with 10 million residents it is the 18th most populous city in the world. The 4000 year old City is renowned for its beauty, cultural & historical significance. However one aspect people might overlook would be the people of the city, with residents who have lived in the city for millennia, this is home. Muslims who moved here after the Independence have found a home here too. This city is a haven & home for all who mean well.
Easter day, 2016:
Jamaat ul-Ahrar, a faction for the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack at Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, where Christian & Muslim children were playing & celebrating the Easter holiday. 60 people lost their lives. More than 300 have been reported injured. Families destroyed. "It was quite haunting, as many of the children's rides were still operating, while there were dead bodies lying all around them." Says Mohammad Ali, a student who lives nearby.
Throughout history the innocent have been killed for motives beyond comprehension. When I hear of these acts against humanity what I can feel is anger, frustration, & sorrow. This time, however I felt something I didn’t feel before, it was different. This time I feared for my family & friends. The fear evaporated & got replaced by sorrow for my townspeople, when I got in touch with my brother & he told me our friends & family were safe.
The whole world condemns these pathetic acts, news was shared everywhere. Profile banners were posted on Facebook. Facebook’s new safety feature was triggered. The technological blessing was a relief yet it frightened me when I saw a notification of when someone is marked safe, not everyone I know marked themselves safe.
The politicians condemn, the army looks in despair as their highly successful Zarb-e-Azb (The Holy Sword) operation takes a hit. Halfway across the world Donald Trump claims how it would never happen on his watch. The blame goes on & on. They might be called the acts of a mad man. Might be labelled as an act of war by old foes, might be called an act of aggression for resources from the alphas of the world.
However the whole world can see one thing, this city does not bow down to monsters like you. The city of Loh, comes from a Hindu tradition, different creeds of people have come here since the beginning of recorded history. Farmers came & made use of the lands. War lords came, leveled the city, shed the blood of innocents plundered for loot. Rulers came, made this place their home & made it the beautiful behemoth we can see today.
You say “We have entered Lahore.”
Good luck to you.
The mighty warriors & protectors of the land go beyond color of skin, & who they worship. They thrive on people of heart, people who can unite when their home is threatened, ask the Rajput who has been around for more than a couple of millennia ask the Bhatti who came here to conquer & instead fell in love with Lahore ask the Suri. Go question the Muslim who found a safe haven in ’47, one who left his life behind & the city welcomed her with open arms. Ask any Lahori you meet, your acts of cowardice do not deter us. The city showed that yesterday, the Christians who were wounded yesterday have Muslim blood in their veins, the Muslims who were injured have Christian blood in their veins today.
You think you have won today, but Lahore smiles at you, she mocks you. She has seen worse than you, she has seen the greatest kings, the worst tyrants. She has seen beauty. She has seen art. She is the mother of Sufis & saints, lovers, poets she is the home to the people who are free & will never bow down to monstrosities like you. The Lahoris fight for love, poetry, music & most of all freedom from oppressors like you. & in all those battles we won, the oppressor lost.
Lahore is like a woman, the man looks across & he can see a beautiful diva. Driven by heart or lust he claims he must possess her. Some can only admire from afar. Some take the challenge make Lahore theirs. Most can’t hold on & loose her to another. But the ones who truly love the city know how powerful she is, she can captivate you & blind you.
The ones who really love the city know that this city, much like a woman can’t be locked up. They know the history & character of the city demands respect. You respect Lahore & she will show you a glimpse of heaven. However what you have done is threatened its many lovers & its children. I know the look of a mothers face when her child is threatened. They say nothing on this earth comes close to how a mother loves her children. I cannot begin to fathom how strong that bond would be. Don’t know if you have a mother you can look in the eyes when you walk out the door to plot someone’s death. Mine told me that if I was one of you she would curse me to hell. Can you not see what you have done?
I have a message for you but who are you? What can I call you?
You never called yourself a victim but you could be? You might have been tricked into what you do. The evil ones might have your loved ones & you might have been forced into harming so many innocent lives. If they had my family at end of a gun & the only way to save them would be to kill. I would not hesitate. It sounds fragile & weak willed but I am only human. If it were to me I would forgive you as would every man woman & child who suffered because of what you were forced to do but they are still held accountable. They are the ones who want to make the world as black as their hearts.
You call yourself a protector of Islam? But you are no protector, you are evil. You threaten life. Lahore laughs at you, she mocks you. Your Islam is pathetic. She does not understand religion. She only knows her own children. You have threatened them enough. Can you see how futile your attempts to implement your twisted version of Islam on everyone are? The people have shown you. You attempt to hurt the Christian blood, well it flows through more bodies now. You better be prepared. Lahore will strike those who threaten her. Throughout history many guardians have boldly guarded their ancestral home. Since ’47 the mantle has been passed onto the Pakistani Army. They have safeguarded the lady well.
Are you a warrior? Looking for material gains? Like one of the many who came to Lahore to claim her? No, throughout history many came & tried to possess her, they fought armies for it. Ask Alexander what he fought against to defeat Porus. Some might have been like you, they would harm the innocent. But I must admit this is the first time I’ve ever seen a band of warriors who run away from the battlefield & in to parks to take the war to the children. You know what? You even lost that battle, Aitzaz Hasan laughs at you. I wish it burns your ears every time you hear his name, I wish it scorches your eyes when you look at his face in the paper. For those who do not know of Mr. Hasan. He is the thirteen year old who fought a suicide bomber and detonated his bomb vest prematurely outside the school. Saving dozens of his friends and teachers in the process.
I know how armies have plundered homes & searched for loot in residential areas, but that was all after a war. I guess you use terror. But I think I already told you how pointless that would be. You are no gladiator. You are a coward. You run from the maidan-e-jung (The Battlefield) to the parks, it makes me feel for you, makes me wonder how proudly you claim an attack like a feather in a cap. Come beat the guardians of Lahore in the field, face to face. You defeat them & you have complete control to spread your twisted thoughts where killing innocents is allowed. Islam has taught us that when you fight for the right thing you never fear anyone, are you so scared of fighting that you’d rather face death?
Can I refer to you as animals? No I don’t think I can call you animals, because I have never seen an animal which kills another because of how different the other is, in fact I haven’t ever seen an animal which kills itself after it kills the innocent. I can’t call you animals because animals don’t blackmail, trick & threaten innocents to go kill. Are you the devil? You could be. I think I’ll call you the Devil. You are the worst of the worst. You are pathetic & you lost even before you decided to bring the fight.
Whoever you are, you cannot beat Lahore she has seen it all. Her proud children & protectors will toss you back to the hell hole you came from, oh and don’t forget to say hi to your god. You will not kill in the name of mine.
Allah has set a seal upon their hearts and upon their hearing, and over their vision is a veil. And for them is a great punishment. And of the people are some who say, "We believe in Allah and the Last Day," but they are not believers. They [think to] deceive Allah and those who believe, but they deceive not except themselves and perceive [it] not. In their hearts is disease, so Allah has increased their disease; and for them is a painful punishment because they [habitually] used to lie. And when it is said to them, "Do not cause corruption on the earth," they say, "We are but reformers." Unquestionably, it is they who are the corrupters, but they perceive [it] not.
The Holy Quran Surah Al-Baqara, Verses 10-12.
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What the world does not know.
Pakistan does have the ill reputation worldwide of "harboring" terrorists. This is sad but true.
One significant Point I did not cover was the geography of the country.
The Northwest Mountain ranges (home to the second highest peak (K-2), have a terrain not many can understand.
Searching for guerrilla warriors and terrorists is no easy job, even for the all powerful United States armed forces.
Criticism towards Pakistanis is unjust. We have lost many a man woman and child in this fight. This battle was never ours to fight. The innocent got dragged into this mess. The heroes we have in the form of the world famous Malala and (lesser known yet equally brave recipient of the highest civilian honor) Aitzaz are the ones who will save our once great homeland and take it back where it belongs.
Keep it Clean Folks!
Like I already said. I am definitely open to a different point of view and criticism. But please kindly keep your emotions in check and try not hurting other people over the comments. Internet bullying is the opposite of what we need in these already hard times. Thank you for going through this article. I hope you enjoyed it.
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