War-Time Miracles: Pakistan and Israel
The title of this blog post has the word miracle but the “miracle” I will discuss is different from the one we may witness in our lives. Sometimes we get to hear the stories of miracles that totally set aside the reasoning but such miracles happen rarely unlike the continuous one propagated as the basis of country’s origin and survival.
In 1965, a full-fledged war broke out between India and Pakistan. The masses were given an impression that India was the aggressor. The Radio Pakistan churned out fantastic and spirit lifting war-time anthems. People stood behind the armed forces. Defeat was not an option for the Muslim forces of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan attacked by infidels.
In circumstances like this – the Urdu press (Daily Jang) published new reports about the (mysterious) men wearing green headgear, mounted on horses fighting the Indian forces. They were called the spiritual forces protecting Pakistan.
Years later, I got to read some of those stories in Urdu fiction writer Mumtaz Mufti’s second part of autobiography ‘Alakh Nagri’, where he had quoted the same news report. Mumtaz Mufti remained aloof to religion for most part of his life. Due to rigid depiction of religion he felt rather attracted to Sufis and that became a regular narrative in later part of his life.
Mumtaz Mufti also touched upon the spiritual dimension of Pakistan such as he quoted certain people who claimed that Pakistan was created in an extra-ordinary circumstances and it was “literally” nothing short of a God’s miracle or gift to the battered Muslims of the sub-continent. Mumtaz Mufti marveled on these claims like we do. The message I gathered was that since Pakistan was God’s gift so it can never be wiped out of the map by an enemy such as India.
We may have survived but I can’t recall whether Mumtaz Mufti questioned the loss of East Pakistan in 1971. What happened to all those miracles and spiritual dimension? In any event, such narrative in today’s time seems quite futile because the definition of war has been changed. We are not fighting any external (infidel) enemy our enemy (the Taliban and militants etc.) lives amongst us and is engaged in the power struggle. However, people like Zaid Hamid are still harping on those old and fictitious tales of 1965.
Coming back to the 1965 fables, it may not be easy to tell where they were originated from but the plausible answer to why they originated could be that it is a part of war propaganda to keep the morale high through every possible mean. Moreover, tales like those make people ready to sacrifice their lives for the cause.
I had once written a post where General Zia drew similarity between Israel and Pakistan being ideological states. There is another striking feature that both the countries share. If Pakistan had its share of tales of miracles during the 1965 war; Israel came up with its own during the Six-Day war in 1967. One of the “miracles” was narrated here:
One such story involved a Catholic journalist who was reporting on the front lines during the war. Ernie Miller had personally met this man in Baton Rouge, LA. The journalist was reporting from the Sinai Desert during the 1967 war. The battle had become very intense and there were numerous casualties. At one point an Israeli soldier was rushed into the medical tent, where the journalist was wiring front line information.
The journalist observed that the soldier was severely wounded. In fact he had been shot in the intestinal area, and his intestines were hanging from his body. He knew it was only a matter of time until the man would die. Yet, the man, who was fully conscience, began praying and saying the various names of God in the Hebrew language. As he prayed he began to talk about God’s ability to heal him and to defeat the enemy armies. To the journalist amazement, the man suddenly screamed, and jumped up from the cot. His intestines were back inside his body and the entire area was healed! The man was jumping and screaming, and ran out of the tent praising God.
The journalist told Ernie, “I am a Catholic and I am suppose to believe in miracles but had never seen one. That day, I saw one with my own eyes that was a true miracle!” These amazing stories clearly demonstrate that the “Battle belongs to the Lord!”
During the Yom Kippur war (1973) the miracle on Golan Heights was discussed a lot, where the sudden and mysterious wind blew away the sand and exposed the land mines. 1973 war was a surprise attack by Arab states (Egypt, Syria and Jordan) to avenge the 1967 preemptive strike by Israel, where Israel had capture Gaza Strip, Jerusalem, West Bank and Golan Heights.
It is not just about the war-time miracles being narrated; generally, the existence and survival of Israel is heavily attributed to a god’s miracle, conveniently ignoring the backing of foreign powers. There is an entire movie that discusses how the State of Israel was created against all odds; people of Jewish origin adopted it and with god on their side they turned the region “with 80% of desert, into the food and flower exporting country”. Maybe it is a way to absolve themselves of the atrocities they commit against the helpless population.
The same is said about Pakistan, that it survived despite all odds and especially our “Islamic bomb” is considered god’s biggest “miracle”. How meaningless it sounds when we study the status of national integrity and the deep mess we are in. Indeed the history tells us is that it’s all rhetoric – plain rhetoric.