Sunday, August 08, 2010

Zardari's Betrayal of the Flood victims

This article is written by Zaynab Ismail

Pakistan has seen its biggest natural disaster since 1929. As the crisis ravages through its territory, 1,500 people have been killed, and another 3 million displaced according to the UN. Images show heart wrenching pictures of people struggling to stay alive such as an uncle holding on to a wire fence whilst fierce currents repeatedly bash against him, almost certainly killing him if his hand slips. Other images show the elderly and children with fear and worry written across their faces as they are led to temporary safety, whilst facing the shock of having everything they've ever owned or known destroyed in a matter of hours.

The nightmare does not end here as the disaster could continue to expand if food, sanitation and shelter are not supplied quickly. The World Food Programme estimated a staggering 1.8 million people to be in urgent need of water, food and shelter. An outbreak of water-borne diseases such as cholera is now feared, due to the decomposing animals in the water. The need for basic supplies has led many to fight over supplies of mineral water.

Whilst the Pakistani government in almost characteristic form was slow to respond, many charities around the world and organisations considered militant by the West quickly sprung into action. They quickly amassed tents and distributed food and clothing; the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, was one such organisation. Whereas the external charities are finding it difficult to get to the devastated areas and the army presence currently is overwhelmed and low in number, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa seems to be the most effective, as one senior official of Jamaat-ud-Dawa said: "If the government were doing this work, there would be no need for us," "When the floods came, we carried people out on our shoulders, to our own ambulances. Where were the government ambulances?"

The commander and chief of the army, Zardari was nowhere to be seen as the biggest natural disaster hit Pakistan. Instead he is currently in the UK, with the aim to account David Cameron regarding his recent accusation that Pakistan is exporting terror. Whilst very few have argued Zardari is attempting to defend the nation, hoping to claw back some respectability of his shoddy governing, it is clear the aim was quite different. Zardari's schedule includes the launch of his son Bilawar's political career as he has now graduated from Oxford University. It should also be remembered that Britain was the place the deal was struck with Benazir Bhutto to being her back to Pakistan to salvage the declining popularity of the then stooge General Musharraf. Amongst all this Zardari has found time to attend a number of fashion events in the UK.

Whereas the work of charities and other organisations reflect the deep rooted bond of brotherhood shown by all Muslims by their quick response to the suffering, it is clear the effort requires more than just food, clothing and shelter. Crucially the ability to get to the needy is paramount and therefore the nature of disasters on this level requires a mechanism which only a state could provide. It is the leader who is in control of the resources; from a nation's manpower to the army and scientists who can foresee and prevent natural disasters, as well as collecting food from all over the country. However if this leader has the resources but fails see his role as the caretaker of the ummah then such a mechanism is rendered useless. It is a common pattern amongst all our leaders that they care more about a luxurious lifestyle whist jumping to the whim of various colonial powers.

As an ummah we should feel ashamed to have such people representing us in the 21st century. We should feel further shame that we allow these people to stay in their position of power, ignoring the needs of the people, stealing their wealth, and aiding their enemies with food and energy. We should be angered when we see the poverty we live in is a manufactured one, we are told we have no oil or gas yet our lands hold the world's lions share. We are told we have no food yet we have lands full of agricultural potential. For example Pakistan is also the world's largest producer of ghee (Clarified Butter), the 2nd largest producer of chickpeas, buffalo meat and milk, the 4th largest producer of apricot, cotton, goat's milk and mangos and the 5th largest producer of onions and sugar cane. This is clear evidence that not only do our leaders neglect us, they are leaving our families to struggle and die.

It is time we call and work for the new leader who follows in the footsteps of past khaleefahs who feared Allah سبحانه وتعالى and the accounting of his people. Who strives to fulfil their many rights given by Allah سبحانه وتعالى as citizens who at least have the right to food, clothing and shelter.

As the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم has told us: "the Imam is responsible over the people and he is questioned over his responsibility." [Al-Bukhari]

The understanding of the responsibility that the khaleefah and State have towards its people is what made Abu Bakr (ra), as the khaleefah, serve an old blind women living in the outskirts of Madina. Omar Ibn Al Khattab (ra) wanted to serve her too, but he found that Abu Bakr (ra) had already cooked food, cleaned the house and washed her clothes. It is the same understanding and feeling of responsibility that made Omar (ra), when he was the Khaleefah, go back to the Bait-ul-Mal (treasury) and carry bags of wheat and food on his own back all the way to a woman and her kids living outside Madina and cook food for them. He (ra) refused his servant's offer to carry the bags for him by saying, "will you carry my sins and responsibilities for me on the day of judgment?"

Far from a dream, this leader is promised to us by Allah سبحانه وتعالى, however we are commanded to work for this system like any other responsibility, so that Allah سبحانه وتعالى would give us the Nasr (victory) when we have proved ourselves. May we be the honoured ones who bring back the Khilafah as shown to us by the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and the righteous khaleefahs after him صلى الله عليه وسلم.

Narrated by Ahmed in his Musnad, from Al-Nu'man b. Bashir, who said: ‘The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said ‘Prophethood will be amongst you whatever Allah wishes it to be, then He will lift it up if He wished to lift it up. Then there will be a Khilafah on the way of the Prophet, and it will be whatever Allah wishes it to be, then He will lift it up if Allah wished to lift it up. Then there will be an inheritance rule, and it will be whatever Allah wishes it to be, then He will lift it up if He wished to lift it up. Then there will be a coercive rule, and it will be whatever Allah wishes it to be, then He will lift it up if He wished to lift it up. Then there will be a Khilafah on the way of Prophethood.' Then he was silent."

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