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Zia-ul-Haq wasn’t all charm

In his article “Zia was all charm” (Saturday Extra, June 7), Khushwant Singh called Gen Zia-ul-Haq mard-e-momin (man of faith) and mard-e-haq (man of truth). Unfortunately, Zia was neither of these and one fails to understand why and by what standards did Singh describe him as such.

Actually, General Zia was a cunning, dangerously shrewd, power-hungry, skeptical, fanatic and bigoted person. He was, of course, a so-called Muslim but could not be called a ‘momin’. He usurped power by masterminding a military coup. Does it show that he was a man of faith?

It was General Zia who created the Taliban to oust the Russians from Afghanistan. It was he who supported militancy in Punjab. Zia strengthened mullaism (religious fanaticism) in Pakistan. Under severe pressure from the fanatics, General Zia promulgated the infamous ordinance against the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Pakistan prohibiting them from calling Azan, greeting one another by saying Asslamoalaikum, using Islamic terminology, professing or preaching their faith.

Under the pretext of this brutal ordinance, mullahs, with full support from the government machinery, perpetrated inhuman atrocities on members of the Ahmadiyya community. General Zia even ordered the arrest of Hazrat Mirza Jahir Sahib, the fourth Khalifa of the community. Does Zia still deserve to be called mard-e-momin or mard-e-haq?

Zia ruthlessly stifled his opponents. An Urdu poet Habeeb Jalib said about him: Zulmat ko ‘zia’, sarsar ko saba, bandey ko khuda kya likhna

He used the word ‘zia’ as a pun. (Where is the need to call darkness ‘zia’ (light), a boisterous chilly wind a light breeze or a man God). Again he says: Ho jiski aankh mehroom-e-tawaazun/ Us aankh ko tum qibla numa kaise kahoge

General Zia had a skewed eye. His eyes were not in alignment with each other. Habeeb Jalib took advantage of this and used it metaphorically that how can one call a person whose vision and thoughts are not in accordance with Islam a true Muslim? Yet Khushwant Singh says he was a man of faith and a man of truth. And Khushwant Singh is an honourable man!



The writer left a bitter taste in my mouth. “Surmey waali Sarkar” means an honourable person (not government) with antimony in his/her eyes. Actually, Zia was devoid of the attributes implicit in the two epithets as mentioned. He was a cruel ruler who derived sadistic pleasure in punishing his rivals. Instead of showing mercy to Z.A. Bhutto, who was a prisoner on death row, he tauntingly said: “The higher you go the harder you fall”. Ironically, it was he, who met his end in that way.

Projecting himself to be the champion of Sunni orthodoxy, he imposed shariat laws and practices; but he himself never sincerely observed the pure dogmas of Islam. Women were denied human rights. About his oppressive rule, famous poet, Daaman, said people were so much terrified that even if someone wanted to say “insha-allah” (God willing) or “maasha-allah” (May God protect you), “martial law” fell from his/her lips. He was an archenemy of India and, thus, was bent on destabilising it.



Gen Zia-ul-Haq was, no doubt, extremely smarmy. But since his suave manners were artificially cultivated and did not match with his intrinsic cunning and perfidy, they can hardly be called charm which exudes from the beauty of mind and heart.

Anyway, what prompted the writer to rehash the subject ad nauseam? If the columnist has run out of ideas and become seedy, he should call it a day.


Centre must go ahead with nuclear deal

IS Chaddha’s article, “Nuclear pact with US: It’s now or never for UPA” (Sunday Oped, June 15) was timely. The Left parties can only make the UPA leaders dance to their old tune since they neither ruled the Centre nor expected to do so in the near future. But the BJP’s stand is not understood. The deal with the US is in furtherance of the BJP’s objective to make India a substantive nuclear power.

The BJP, perhaps, wants to take credit of signing the deal after the next general election, whether the eagle is of iron or wood (changed draft) instead of the existing golden eagle. It is not practical to sign such nuclear agreements with other countries by ignoring the US.

The UPA can hope of victory in the general election merely on this account in case it signs the deal and if necessary, dissolves Parliament. If the UPA allows the pact to die, it may stay in office for a few more months but with what face it would go to the electorate after completing five years?

The US may have many Hyde Acts, but it would also equally be in their interest not to annul the pact in future. It has done its duty in allowing India to have the nuclear deal without India being a signatory to the NPT and the CTBT. In the national interest, cutting across party lines, all political parties should rise to the occasion to make the historic deal a reality.



Decoding bhakti

In the book review, “Emotion of devotion” by Kuldip Dhiman (Spectrum, May 18), the reviewer while quoting the author of the book S.P. Sah says “bhakti is not a natural instinct like hunger, anger, fear, greed, etc but a subjective experience.

The dictionary meaning (Concise Oxford) of devotion is enthusiastic attachment or loyalty to a person or cause whereas love is an intensive feeling of deep affection or fondness for a person or thing. Thus, devotion is loyalty-intensive and love affection/ fondness-intensive. Love, therefore, is more close to the concept of bhakti.

Bhakti as a mode of worship came into being with the incarnation of Lord Rama and Krishna. Since they were in human form, people could relate to them more easily and get inspired from their divine deeds as recorded in the Ramayana, Srimad Bhagavadgita and Mahabharata.

Love (prema) as related to bhakti has four dimensions (bhavas)- Vatsalya bhava (parental love) as Yashodha had for child Krishna; Madhuriya bhava (amorous love) as Radha had for Krishna; Sakha bhava (friendly love) as Sudama had for Krishna; and Dasa bhava (servant’s love for his master) as Hanuman had for Lord Rama. All the four are icons of bhakti.

It is, therefore, not advisable to club Meera and Chaitanya together as the former practised Madhuriya bhava and the latter Vatsalya bhava.

It is gratifying to note that the word ‘bhakti’ has been included in the 2007 edition of Shorter Oxford Dictionary.

V.K RANGRA, New Delhi


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