By Majed Iqbal- Earlier this week reports broke out of an incident of Quran Burning by a US Soldier in Afghanistan. The incident, not being the first, was met with mass protests in Afghanistan, spilling over next door in Pakistan as people finished Friday prayers and took to the streets.
John Allen, the top commander of American and Nato forces in Afghanistan responded later after the incident by stating that many books had been sent to a rubbish pit to be burnt, with some of them mistakenly being a Quran, Muslims Holy Book.
“It was not a decision that was made because they were religious materials” a day after an Afghan worker at the rubbish pit found the books.
“It was not a decision that was made with respect to the faith of Islam. It was a mistake. It was an error. The moment we found out about it we immediately stopped and we intervened.”
In a poor attempt to salvage US image in the war torn country, another military Official was quick to lay the blame on ‘extremists’ citing that it appeared that copies of the Qur’an and other Islamic readings in the library were being used to fuel extremism, and that detainees were writing on the documents to exchange extremist messages.
In 2005, US personnel at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp had deliberately damaged a copy of the book by flushing it in a toilet in order to torment the prison’s Muslim captives.
In 2002 US soldiers at Bagram Prison in Afghanistan said “Come and get your Quran and learn how to kill Americans.” claimed Moazzam Begg, an ex-Guantanomo prisoner.
“These were the words I heard when US soldiers were disrespectfully throwing copies of the Islamic holy book to newly captured prisoners” he said
More than a decade into the war on terror, there is a Global intellectual deficit in nations and people digesting the narrative and reason d’etre for US presence in countries, specifically in the Muslim World. Despite Top US military officials attempts to churn out media bites to contain the deteriorating situation, there is little support for American initiatives in the region. Recent events in Pakistan are testimony to the widespread distrust and negativity against US plans.
Last year in a shocking statement Afghan President Hamid Karzai in an interview on Geo Television said:
“If there is war between Pakistan and America, we will stand by Pakistan”
placing his hand on his heart and describing Pakistan as a “brother” country. Whether these comments came sincerely or simply words of regret following contemplation later, if just these two countries were to unite on common objectives, the US would seriously be struggling and would not stand a chance to operate in the area with immunity.
All that is lacking is Political will coated with a principled stance based on Islam.