The Ummah Card: Messed-up Pakistan Series 4

Gaza FB

January 2016 update: Iran and Saudi Arabia are on a collision course after Saudi Arabia cuts diplomatic ties with Iran over execution of a Shia scholar Nimr and the attack on Saudi Embassy in Tehran. The row now spreads to other Muslim countries.

Can Pakistan play any role? Given our no leverage, the answer is a BIG NO. But if some powers push us into siding with any party, it may burn our own house and create a major Shia-Sunni strife in our country.

1 June 2015 note

You have been warned: Expect fake and photoshopped photos and videos about Rohingya (Burma/Myanmar) misery (what they call genocide and ethnic cleansing at the hands of Buddhist monks) to dominate your Facebook and Twitter timelines in Pakistan this week, just in time for Ramadan.

A simple image search in google will expose the fakery of whole exercise.

Some ‘groups’ in Pakistan will raise money for them during Ramadan. Which is unlikely to reach the potential beneficiaries any way.

6 June: When I post this link about fake Myanmar photos, people ask me: really?

Lucky that BBC too published this: The fake pictures of the Rohingya crisis. Will now need less energy to convince them.

A separate post on this fakery:

What Pakistan needs is not education but a Project Ignorance

3 August 2014 note

Civilian deaths in Gaza in Israeli air strikes are now in the region of 2,000 with no signs of ceasefire of this operation. The piece below was written on 13 July at the start of the current crisis when death toll was reportedly 100. Clearly, the severity of the crisis calls for increased international effort to stop this madness.

My Facebook and Twitter timeline and newsfeed are filled with scenes of missile attacks, the injured and the dead children and damage to buildings in Gaza. Or emotive images showing the above. Or call for duas for Palestinian brothers.

Over 100 people have been killed so far and casualties are increasing. The Palestinian leader has called it genocide.

You can soon expect rallies by Pakistani religious and religio-political parties and groups to show solidarity with our Palestinian brothers.

For a week, Gaza has been the lead story on all TV channels and newspaper front pages around the world.

There are citizen demonstrations in the UK, US and elsewhere (where there is significant population of Palestinian origin) asking their governments to pressurise Israel to stop these attacks.

Israeli Prime Minister has refused that Israel will budge under pressure, and there’s now a UN attempt for ceasefire.

So far.

This post is not about the recent Gaza attack or the attacks before. This is about our reaction to the attack – on social media and on streets.

Since the Gaza coverage was widespread and I usually highlight the under-reported, but significant, issues on social media, I did not post any status, photo or video about Gaza on my Facebook.

What happened then was my alumni and FB friends sending me text, Whatsapp, Viber, FB inbox messages that why I wasn’t posting anything.

Thinking that my alumni wanted me to highlight this issue for a just cause, I posted Dawn news of that day, reporting 100 deaths and a map by Telegraph UK of missile attacks.

Coincidently, the same day, there was a briefing by Karachi police giving figures of nearly 1,700 people killed in 300 days including 719 deaths in targeted killings. I posted that too on my blog and posted a status on FB. Updated link below:

Killings in Karachi: updated data

Since I am an analytics man, after half a day I checked the stats of post views.

There had been a dozen shares or comments on the Gaza status but no share, and just one comment on the Karachi killings story (that too from a KPK professor who routinely comments on my statuses).

Majority of my alumni are from Karachi. I was stunned.

Total silence on a story that concerned them very much: killings in their own very city, and not a single comment?

And so much interest in the Gaza deaths? A place where we are not even a stakeholder. Israel, Hamas, Palestine, US, UK, UN may have been parties to the crisis and a solution seeker. But we? What can we do?

Yes, they are our brothers and innocent children being butchered and killed, but there have been a daily, weekly, regular occurrence of killings of much larger scale in our own backyard – Karachi and all over KPK and Balochistan.

See: Quetta and Peshawar among 20 most terrorist prone cities in the world

Is the price of humans killed in Pakistan in terrorist, or militant attacks or bomb blasts or suicide attacks any lower?

We don’t even know the names of killers. They are only called namoolam afraad.

Karachi’s Killers by FP’s Ivan Sigal

This brings us to the fourth question mark in Messed-up Pakistan Series: The Ummah Card.

The first crime being: Fraudulent Claims

The second curse being: The Sultan Rahi Syndrome

The third curse being: Monopoly & Gatekeeping

PS: This Ummah Card part was to come later in the series but this week’s media attention on Gaza brought it forward. Keep an eye: there’s a separate part on ‘Use of Religion’ too.

Gaza is not the only event that has dominated my timeline.

Last year, it was Burmese Muslims.

Yes, there’s a crisis between Muslims and Bhuddists in Burma. But not to the tune of ‘mass killings’ that fake pictures on social media scared the users for several months.

Insight: The Rohingyas: The most persecuted people on Earth?: The Economist

A year before, it was Egypt killings.

These causes dominated our social media: all in the name of a Muslim Ummah.

When I was growing up, Yasser Arafat of Palestine, Qadhafi of Libya and Saddam Hussein of Iraq were presented to us as saviours of the Muslim Ummah.

There were books, movies and songs on them and city landmarks named after them. We didn’t know anything about them other than their heroic victories that our controlled media narrative fed us.

Thanks to social media today, we found out Qadhafi and Saddam and their sons had nothing to do with Islam.

They were mass murderers, criminals killing their own people, drinking alcohol, gamblers, womanisers of highest order and plunderers of their nation’s resources.

Look at the conditions of their country’s infrastructure, roads and living conditions of their people – in their lives and after.

In every Friday prayers all these years, I heard the masjid Imams in all parts of the country praying to Allah that Palestine, Iraq be freed and peace return to these places.

As I grew older, new names were added to the list: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Chechnya, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Egypt, Algeria, Yemen, Syria.

The hearts of Muslims cried for their freedom and their peace causes.

The question is:

Did we have any clout to impact the events in these countries?

Was there really an Ummah for which we spent our energies and came on the roads? What did we achieve by doing this? A complete isolation in the world?

No country on earth, including brotherly Muslim nations, was and is willing to accept us Pakistanis for employment, visit, business or (easy) settlement today.

Pakistani passport ranked second worst for international travel

Pakistani nationality ranks second least valuable in the world

To the question if there’s really an Ummah? My answer is: No.

Let me give you a perspective.

I train and coach high-networth executives in most GCC countries – like Kuwait, Bahrain, UAE. Governments and businesses in these countries will prefer to do business with or employ people from India or any European country. All non-Muslim.

Even Pakistani-owned businesses would rather hire a Bangladeshi or an Indian/Nepalese Hindu if they met their work requirements better and would avoid recruiting a Pakistani Muslim. Ummah? What Ummah?

In a world dominated by economic interests, every country decides on what suits them – no entry for religion on the application form. The currency is: economy. Not the Ummah Card.

It’s the economy, stupid

If we really want a respectable stake in the nations of the world, we need to become economically stronger.

This way, we can use our leverage to stop the perpetrators of Muslim killings in any part of the world by a threat of pulling out our businesses.

That lever alone can be far bigger and have more impact that street demonstrations or dominating the social media timelines in our own countries, with no impact on ground whatsoever.

And why will not Pakistan be in a messed-up state when, on one hand, we have such an inconsiderate approach towards all types of killings in our own country and, on the other, we fantasise about an Ummah which has never been there all along?

Can we revisit the Ummah Card in #Pakistan2050?

This is Part 4 of How we messed up Pakistan: A series by Wali. The Part 1 is here. The Part 2 is here. The Part 3 is here. The Series looks only at events and patterns that impacted Pakistan in the past. No present assessment. No solutions suggested. That’s elsewhere on this blog.

Update: See also an addition to this post: Gaza: ‘Boycott Israeli products’

20 July: Do read Aaj ki Shaam Gaza ke Naam by BBC’s Wusatullah Khan

3 August: Do read Agar Duaon Se fursat Mile by BBC’s Wusatullah Khan

Will appreciate your comments. Stay tuned for Part 5.

Wali Zahid is founder of two reform movements – Tehreek-e-Adl aimed at social and political reform in Pakistan, and #HumanizeMedical, aimed at global medical education reform ( A social media strategist, he can be reached at TwitterLinkedInFacebook and Google Plus.

Do not miss our Understanding Pakistan Series

Wali on The Pakistan 2050 Opportunity

Wali on Pakistan of future

A miracle: Pakistan score in Long Term Orientation goes from Zero to 50

Pakistani culture through 6-D Model

Native languages in Pakistan

How future oriented are we?

How we messed up Pakistan: A series by Wali

Pakistan’s two value crimes no one talks about

What Pakistan needs is not education but a Project Ignorance


  1. Very thoughtful analysis of events currently faced by Muslims in general and Pakistan in particular. Your approach to current event is 100% (probably more) exactly the same as mine. During young age, I also had sympathetic view towards Muslim world but my perception has drastically changed since I began to learn more about innate problems of Muslim world. I remember, back in early 1970s (when Z.A. Bhutto was PM), Col. Qaddafi visited Pakistan and an Air Show was arranged in Peshawar in his honour. I saw the overwhelming enthusiasm of people there and everyone was struggling hard to have a close view of him. Z.A. Bhutto was being pushed around by people in their quest for a life time opportunity to touch or see Qaddafi closely.
    I think the following events have done irreparable damaged to Muslims in recent history.
    1. Creation of Bangladesh.
    2. Oil Embargo and murder of Shah Faisal.
    3. Rise of Khomeini and Saddam Hussain War with Iran at the behest of US.
    4. Murder of King Daud and subsequent events in Afghanistan till this day.
    5. Saddam Hussain’s Capture of Kuwait and all the subsequent event till this day.
    6. And now Egypt, Libya and Syria.
    These event gave US and West tremendous Power over Muslim world. Ironically all these events are Muslims’ own making. If we look at Gaza in this perspective, we should not be surprised at all what is happening there.
    We must be concerned about any atrocity taking place anywhere in the world but before we can play any effective role, we must first put own house in order. Otherwise it will just be an emotional rhetoric and nothing else. May Allah guide us all to the right path. Ameen.

  2. Reading this piece of your blog is thought provoking. I completely agree that we don’t try to solve our own problems and we just react to things happening in the world against Muslims in the name of Muslim brotherhood. We don’t analyse facts, don’t try to find the root cause of the problems and never try to find a way out.

    Also we can’t turn a blind eye to what is happening in the world politics. The thing is that for the developed world peace and stability in the Islamic world is never a priority. Somehow war and instability favour their strategic goals. Reference Book “The Next 100 years” by George Friedman who talked about geo politics at length in the book.

    Here is a link for reference:

    Bottom line is we shouldn’t just flood our facebook with emotional statuses and pictures but try to stay aware of what is happening in the world, understand our internal problem and also the bigger problems of the world. In this way we’ll be able to learn from the past and may also find more passion and courage to solve our internal problems.

    But staying quiet and just observing shouldn’t be the solution!

  3. No disrespect to the other views but is it really one over the other sort of priorities! Yes we need to (must) improve our local conditions but we can (shall) not detach ourselves with what is happening around us, some genuinely serious things! Secondly, it was never a choice for us to pick between state and Ummat for good 1300 years, why to have it now? and those were good days…If the Ummat does not has a face right now it doesn’t mean we shall let it be. Being Muslim we do not have this choice…

  4. @shakir sultan : I fully agree with you.

    United we stand – Divided we fall. Be it at any level – Family, City, Province, Country or Ummah.

    We also need to keep in mind that emotions is an integral part of human psychology. All that is needed is to channelize it properly and use it with some good sense. Pure emotions are as dangerous as is the pure selfish attitude. We need to strike a balance between our responsibilities at home and our position as being an integral part of Ummah.

  5. We can not and Should not keep ourselves away from MUSLIM WORLD. We are an ummat for whom it is quoted that if one limb hurt the whole body gets fever. If Karachi- Pakistan is suffering its because of its own bad decisions and election of wrong representation. People do not comment on it anymore because educated don’t see a way out as 70% illiterate emotionally gullible people vote for wrong parties. Because our own Governments allow these atrocities and do not do anything about it. It certainly doesn’t mean that we don’t care. Pakistanis are one of the most informed Muslim nations. We care for other Muslim countries whereas I haven’t seen the same in Arabs at least…. the least informed lot.

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