In 2001, I wrote this letter to my son, the war had just begun.
My son, your birth began on the day American and British warplanes started to bomb Afghanistan. I cried out of joy and fear. You were born at 04.05 GMT, in Manchester whilst the American and British warplanes were reloading for another bloody sortie. Alas my son, you had to be born into America’s ‘war on terror’. A war, we have been promised, like no other we have ever seen – one without end.
Now my son, you have come into a world, where millions of hungry are fleeing in terror, from those who claim they are out to defend freedom and civilisation. You have been born in a world in which a white life is worth more than a black one; a world in which American life, is worth more than a country and even perchance the world.
Son, you must always hold your head up with the knowledge that you were born into ancestry that has believed in a great religion of peace and social justice; and many of its followers have clamoured for progress and prosperity.
America is at war my son. A war without end – but a war with endless enemies. A war in which there is no victory in sight, only destruction? It might be raging when you are old.
As I write these words, the Americans have obliterated whole villages, they have killed United Nations workers, they have bombed charity warehouses and have even bombed fleeing refugees.
Cold winds, heralding a bitter Afghan winters harvest are blowing in the faces of bare-foot children as they flee across mountains without food, sleep or shelter.
But why you may ask are they doing all this? On September 11th the forces of darkness attacked the angels of death in their own home. Thousands of innocents were killed.
You will not be able to make sense of the world if you try to understand its history from outrages. To understand the outrage, you must try to make sense of the rage that caused them.
The Americans are enraged that ‘their people’ and the symbols of ‘their’ civilisation were attacked. They have long believed that the dispensation of death, destruction and terror was their preserve. America is no stranger to such outrages. Every step of its history is drenched in the blood of the innocents.
When the first white man set foot on the vast and beautiful land of America, there were native civilisations, with great and generous people. Hordes of Europeans descended on this continent, grabbing what they called free land. They saw the native peoples as no more than savage beasts, terrorists, who would dare to fight to hold on to their lands and their way of life. Europeans hunted the native peoples, raped women, skinned the men and pillaged their lands. Look into this phase of American history my son and you will see images similar to those of the Arabs, Afghans and Muslims of today.
Not only is early American history dripping in the blood of Native American people, but this civilisation has also been built on the backs of African slaves. Millions upon millions of African men and women were snatched from their homes and transported across a mighty ocean to America. There, they were sold in auctions, along with beasts of burden. The slave owners raped African women at will, children were deliberately separated from their mothers, and all were forced to work themselves to death on plantations of cotton, tobacco and other crops, the harvest of which made the plantation owners fat and wealthy. Those slaves who tried to resist were demonised, hunted down and killed. Even today, descendents of these slaves have been terrorised by men dressed in white robes carrying burning crucifixes
Some people may try to confuse you my son, by telling you these were ancient days. “Let bygones be bygones”, they say, but American-lead-inspired-conspired-financed death and destruction has continued unabated. Over the last 50 years before your birth, American governments have in one way or another been responsible for millions of deaths. They bombed Cambodia into the Stone Age. They murdered millions of Vietnamese. These are but two examples. Those nations, which have tried to control their own destinies, the Americans have deemed a threat to their ‘national security’. Governments have been toppled, democratically elected leaders put into jail or killed. When not killing themselves, they have paid agents to do it for them. Merciless dictators of every shape and type have been forced on numerous countries by them. Such was the case in Pakistan, were I was born. Here for 11 long years, the Americans ensured the continued rule of General Zia. People caught with leaflets critical of General Zia, were summarily sent to jail and tortured; many were publicly whipped. Poets were imprisoned, as were other writers. Workers were shot and trade unionists imprisoned. Women were declared to be half human and those brave women who protested were attacked on the roads. All this was supported and encouraged by American governments. But then the American’s were engaged in a jihad against the Russians. The forces the Americans claim to be fighting today were raised in their own laps. During this period, the heroin trade was organised through Pakistani agents, all carefully co-ordinated by the Americans. Not only did the American’s manage to ensure that all human and civil rights of the peoples of Pakistan were crushed, they fanned heroin addiction to finance the anti-Russian war. From zero registered heroin addicts prior to 1979, in ten years we had nearly two million. Our ancestral village had never heard of heron addicts prior to this period. But we too had some.
It was not just Pakistan where the Americans imposed ruthless dictatorships. Across in Chile, on 11th September, 1973, on the anniversary of which the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were attacked, General Pinochet was brought to power by the US, in a hail of bullets. General Pinochet’s rule resulted in the deaths and disappearance of thousands of people. There is hardly any country in South America where the US has not been involved in the most heinous of crimes against humanity. They have even tried to destroy the economy and government of a tiny island like Cuba, because it people do not wish to accept the American way of life. They have for decades tried to murder Fidel Castro, the Cuban leader. On many an occasion he was painted in much the same colour as the present day bogey man- Osama bin Laden.
My son when you hear about the Americans defending freedom, remember that they have ensured the feudal rule of a few rich families in many countries such as in Saudi Arabia. These American puppets flaunt all basic human rights of those working and living in the kingdom. They portray themselves as the pious champions and guardians of Islam. Yet the brothels and casinos of London and Los Angeles are the playgrounds for many of them.
Arabia my son has been blessed with the misfortune of oil. Now America has thousands of soldiers sitting the holiest of Muslim land of Saudi Arabia. They are ensuring that the control of Arab oil, the lifeblood of their own industries, remains firmly in their own hands.
And my son, one of the most prolonged of injustices in the Arab world is the stealing of Palestinian land by European settlers. The British, gave Palestine away to Zionists, who implanted Israel, a country whose every bloody and murderous deed has been backed up by the Americans. For fifty years now, the Israelis have acted as agents of Pax Americana – keeping the natives in control. It is a deeply racist entity where Jews born anywhere in the world can go to Israel and take Palestinian land. But Palestinians cannot go back to their own villages or towns. The Israelis have killed tens and thousands of people in occupied Palestine and Lebanon and American money has replaced Israeli bombs and bullets. It has also paid for the illegal construction of houses on occupied land. The Americans have ensured the success of the most dastardly of Israeli deeds, like the invasions of Lebanon, in which hundreds of thousands of people fled the advance of Israeli tanks; or the massacre of Sabra and Shatila refugees, where in the middle of the night, a militia controlled by the Israelis massacred thousands of unarmed Palestinians. The Israelis lit the sky with flares so their murderers and rapists could see in the dark nights of Beirut.
The country of your birth today has gone to war in defence of civilisation. Tony Blair, the Prime Minister has roamed around the world, like a viceroy of the United States, smiling and shaking hands with despots and threatening hell and damnation in defence of “freedom and civilisation”.
But what my son is this great British civilisation for which Afghanistan is now being destroyed and in whose name the world stands on the brink of a catastrophe? Over the past 400 years or so, there has not been a single day in which a British soldier has not been involved in killing or suppression in some far away land. It was from the shores of this country that white conquerors landed in America. It was from these shores that slave ships set sail for Africa and colonisers spread across Asia and much of the globe. Whilst British imperialism was pillaging the world, here young children were sent to die in the coalmines. The unemployed were frogmarched onto ships and sent off along with criminals to Australia and other colonies, where they, like their American counterparts hunted and annihilated native peoples. The rise of Tony Blair’s civilisation is littered with the corpses of hundreds of millions of people across this earth.
Across the sea in Ireland, Britain still militarily holds a corner of her oldest colony. They have imprisoned her people, called her heroes, terrorists, and planted in their midst settlers whose survival meant their ever enduring loyalty to the English Crown.
We have been told that the present war has no end. They say they will fight until they ‘defeat terrorists’. Even as the British Prime Minister was mentioning this, across the seas, the Irish Government was exhuming the bodies of men that the British had killed calling them terrorists. The Irish are going to rebury them as their national martyrs.
Whilst the British war machine spends hundreds of millions of pounds dropping bombs on Afghanistan, here the state structures are crumbling, many schools don’t have enough teachers and hospitals lack staff and basic resources. Patients have died travelling long distances because local hospitals had no beds them.
Fear is raging through this ‘civilised’ land, which Tony Blair has deemed must shoulder the US crusade against Terrorism. Muslim men, have had to run through the city centres of Britain, as walking exposed them to too much danger. Muslim women, especially those wearing the Hijab have been assaulted. Mosques have been petrol bombed, attacked or defaced. Muslim taxi drivers have been attacked, with one Afghan worker being crippled London by racist thugs encouraged by the words of British politicians. In some cases white passenger’s on finding out that the driver was a Muslim have refused to get in their cars. In one school, white parents taunted Muslim children and parents, telling them to go back to where they come from. In some places white neighbours have stopped talking to their Muslim friends, with whom they had had no dispute. But who is a Muslim now a day? ‘I became a Paki when I was young, then Asian, then black and during the Rushdie affair a Muslim,’ Jasbir Singh, a Sikh school teacher, and an old friend of mine said recently ‘now I have become a Muslim terrorist.’ Why were you born here my son? Your roots are sunk deep into the beautiful valleys of Kashmir. In 1846 the British government, who had occupied that part of the world, sold Kashmir, along with its Land, animals and your ancestors for £300,000. There then followed terrible repression of Kashmiris, all of which was watched and encouraged by the British. My grandmother, your great-grandmother is approaching her 100th birthday. She remembers her grandparents recanting tales of our families’ forced migration following the British selling of our ancestors.
My ancestors settled in what became Pakistan. Today, as I watch US and British planes and missiles flying to Afghanistan, and as US troops entrench themselves in bases and ports in Pakistan, I am filled with shame. The overwhelming majority of the peoples of Pakistan oppose their being used against the people of Afghanistan.
I do not know what if anything of this world will be left when you are as old as me, but whatever it is, it will need rebuilding. You must start with the premise that all human life is of equal value and that all that is created by human beings belongs to the creators. I have come to understand that all people need basic things – food, shelter, clothing, education and security. All people want peace and justice. This cannot happen while a small handful of nations, today dominated by the United States, control the world. You will find no peace until a world is created a world, which is ruled by the creators of wealth.
With each of your baby breaths, I have felt another life had come on this planet. And each life brings with it its own love, needs and energy. Residing within that is the hope of humanity.
I have hope, that we in our time will be able to defeat the warmongers and create a better world for you. But should we fail, then my hopes are with you.
Great crimes against humanity are being committed by two of the most powerful nations on this earth. It is my hope, that one day, we will be able bring all terrorists to justice.
If you wish to live in peace then you must free your world from those whose real God is money and whose greed knows no end. You must learn to share your world with all, and fight against those who would want to steal its wealth for themselves. END.
My new novel Song Of Gulzarina – a 77 year old Pakistani atheist becomes a suicide bomber in Manchester. OUT NOW
My previous novel- You’re Not Proper – In a town seething with Islamophobia, two teenage girls struggle to find out who they are.