Hamas or Palestine?

By Haya Fatima Sehgal
Israel has subjected Gaza to intense bombing since October 7, leaving more than 13,000 Palestinians, including women and children. (Photo via video stream)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Despite a pause in the Israel-Hamas war which has claimed the lives of more than 13,000 Palestinian and more than 1300 Israeli lives, the debate over the region’s future and the role of Hamas in the conflict is at levels rarely seen in recent history of the Middle East. While most of the commentators in the West support Israel, majority of the commentators support Palestinians and some even Hamas in the so-called Muslim world. However, now voices are emerging in parts of the Muslim majority nations like Pakistan who condemn Hamas. Here is one such opinion:

The entire world stands with the Palestinians. The onslaught attack on Gaza by Israel in 2023 has reached the voices of millions across the world. The entire world except for Pakistan is unable to distinguish between standing for the cause for Palestine and between the extremist group Hamas. A speaker at a talk forgot to mention in the pride of a clapping audience in Pakistan, that Hamas has not been elected since 2006 which he claimed was the ‘elected’ group in Palestine. This small but significant point has been raised by Muslim expert commentators abroad who fully support Palestinians- yet they do distinguish between the two groups clearly.

Hamas does not in any way represent the cause of the Palestinians which it has hijacked in its shared hatred for the Americans and the Israelis. It also should not give rise to the Muslims cheering a music concert of 400 civilians being attacked by Hamas, which has derailed all peace talks and normalization for Israeli-Arab peace talks which was possibly the main intention. No peace, only war. Only an arms trade- And Pakistanis cheering it on lacking the knowledge that they are being played with rising pro-Islamic sentiments.

The majority of the Pakistanis who now only see the fight between Jews and Muslims- conveniently forgetting and bypassing that the Hamas have now derailed every effort that was being made to have any peace talks or negotiations whatsoever.

What needs to be addressed is a clear setting by any administration that the Palestinians will and can avail their rightfully allotted lands while being protected with dignity and live in peace with the Israelis.

A very cleverly placed tweet on the X (formerly Twitter) family of Pakistani keyboard warriors says to watch out for articles not to boycott goods or protest. But whose goods would Pakistanis be boycotting? The Pakistani franchises owned by Pakistani owners or would people want Pakistani Muslims working in these franchises attacked? The blood thirst is not going to end with a X rant. It also goes far deeper into politics that people would like to understand.

Who would the Pakistanis now protest against on the streets? Or who would they burn the tires off their Pakistani friend’s cars going to work? Halting the cities for a ‘cause’ has been the mainstay for politicians who sit with dual passports all the while exciting the mass of the population below to do the needful in the crippling economy.

Then we have the average foreign diplomat who will now spend the rest of their stay here inside- with no decision making on their hands to change anything that any of their administration decides millions of miles away.

Do the Pakistanis understand how they are being religiously goaded into excitement whilst a funded media team simultaneously pushing for the boycott of goods whilst their group leader goes to publish an article showing Pakistanis to be blood thirsty irrational beings who only see violent protests as part and parcel and thus; the Pakistanis would likely cause harm to any diplomacy talks with anybody.

Pakistanis being played is an old thing by an old guard well versed in rousing the Muslim sentiments. I often wonder how well the old guard took away education from the youth so they could play up all religious sentiments to extremist ideologies at will. Which is why one always suggests caution for the Pakistanis to not jump onto the bandwagon being sold.

For the innocent Palestinians caught in this crossfire – they must be given a ceasefire. It is the humanitarian choice that can only be measured out by the US which in turn can urge peace by engaging the Israelis. This particular standpoint one must consider in order to be bearers of world peace.

Hamas or the Hamas contractors are not there and even if they were- the disproportionate attack back have caught millions of innocent Palestinian civilians in the middle. The events of which have reached a level of which is being called a humanitarian crisis.

The Pakistanis fever-pitch which has converted into a war cry against Americans and Israel is now unable to understand antisemitic sentiments or even distinguish between Zionism and Judaism. This, because of the lack of awareness and knowledge.

One must always caution the youth activists in colleges. The adults who are exciting the youth are far more experienced in war games.

As a self-proclaimed expert analyst once said watch out for those who stand in the case of neutrality; the most popular Desmond Tutu quote which each Pakistani puts on their wall. I do NOT stand with Hamas. But I do stand with the innocent Palestiinas who are weighed under a siege of politics who will die in the cross fire as their land is cleared off them.

They will be the innocent; not supporting extremists but rather guarding their homes and their children in the meltdown and barrage of smoke and mirrors.

A person once said to me that Hamas was an ideology which cannot be killed. I disagree. All forms of extremism that derail peace and the normalization ties must be fought against and eradicated.

A terrorist has no religion. The Palestinians now are caught up there, on ground, are not the terrorists which we seek.

The world is standing with the Palestinian cause. But it can be done in Pakistan without a photo- op and to garner populist politics.

After we pick and choose the rock we need to die for, the Pakistanis one day must learn to envelop their mindsets with the honor of standing for the right without the politics which is leading them. Hamas is not that rock to die on. It is an extremist group. The Palestinians must have a ceasefire for them to continue to live as equal human beings on this earth. It is the distinction of not entwining the two which will help establish Pakistani motives and clearly have us established as the civilized and the educated.

The writer is a security analyst and author

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