• Haris, an old college buddy of mine back in the mid-1980s, came from a highly conservative middle-class family in Pakistan’s chaotic, colossal metropolis, Karachi.

    Yet, he was an impassioned member of the left-wing student outfit that we were both once an integral part of. However, I was never really quite sure about the nature of his ideological disposition.

    For example, though Haris would usually agree with our student outfit’s views on matters such as democracy and supported the organisation’s opposition to the reactionary dictatorship that was in power in Pakistan at the time; yet, he would refuse to participate in the many demonstrations that we held on the campus against those who were aiding Afghan, Arab and Pakistani militants fighting against the Soviet-backed communist regime in Kabul.

    Though, today, I can effortlessly call the entry of Soviet troops in Afghanistan as an all-out invasion, back then, in a world still in the grip of the Cold War, I would passionately try to prove that the invasion was part of some glorious socialist revolution unfolding in Kabul.

    All of us who were on the left sides of Cold War politics described the other side as being nothing more than a bunch of counter-revolutionaries. But none of us were able to fully gauge the true nature of the fall-out of the Afghan Civil War, especially in Pakistan.

    Benazir Bhutto, during her first term as PM (1988-90), was the one who first began to exhibit concerns about how the winding down of the Afghan Civil War would witness the wholesale return of fighters who had been radicalised while fighting the Soviets. But personally, I became a lot more conscious about this predicament by what I was once told by a cousin of Haris.

    In December 1990, I began my career as a journalist and hadn’t been in contact with Haris after both of us graduated from college in late 1987. Bumping into his cousin at the Karachi Press Club in early 1991, I only casually inquired about Haris.

    He told me that right after graduation, Haris had travelled to Afghanistan. I instinctively asked whether he had gone there to side with the Soviet-backed regime — just as dozens of young men from leftist student groups in Pakistan had done across the 1980s.

    I was baffled when I was told that Haris had actually jumped on the other bandwagon: The one that hundreds of young Pakistanis had jumped on to ride into Afghanistan to join the anti-Soviet mujahideen. I was told that Haris had fought alongside the mujahideen for almost a year and only returned to Pakistan in late 1989 when he got injured.

    I finally met Haris in 1994. At the time he was rearing to go and fight in Indian-held Kashmir. I asked him what had made him turn right from left, and he told me that he had joined the leftist student outfit at college only to bother his conservative father with whom he was not on very good terms.

    So, after college, instead of trying to bother him, Haris decided to impress his father. Not by joining a government institution or a private firm (as his father had wanted him to); or by growing a beard (which he eventually did in Afghanistan); but by actively declaring his enmity against those his father detested the most: The surkhas (communists). By travelling to Afghanistan, he wanted to put this into action.

    So, was the father impressed? Far from it. He was mortified. All he wanted was a ‘pious’ son with a stable professional career.

    Well, by going to Afghanistan, Haris had ended up bothering his father again. And he wasn’t able to go to Kashmir because his parents just refused to let him go. I had jokingly suggested to him that he'd become a leftist again because maybe this time his dad would be more appreciative.

    But Haris did not react jovially to the joke. With a stony expression, he responded by saying: “But there is no Soviet Union anymore. We defeated it.” And when I inquired that whether by ‘we’ did he also mean the United States, he remained stone-faced.

    Haris never went to India-held Kashmir. Instead (as I found out in 1999), he travelled to Madrid and then ended up settling in Seattle in the United States.

    Two of his paternal uncles had settled in Seattle in the early 1990s, and by the early 2000s, Haris was living with one of them and working (as a partner) at three grocery stores that they owned in the city. He called me in May 2004 and told me he was visiting his family in Karachi. We met in my office for lunch. He had gotten married and had two young kids. He had come to my office with the aforementioned cousin.

    As I was jokingly teasing him about his flip-flopping ways, his cousin suddenly jumped in and sarcastically mentioned something about how Haris had now been busy trying to make Pakistanis living in the US, 'better Muslims'.

    Haris had by then joined an apolitical Muslim evangelical group. So I asked him what he was doing living in a western country. His reply: “They (the Westerners) are very tolerant and understanding people. They let you live according to your culture.”

    His cousin again jumped in: “Great. Why don’t you now invite a group of American Jews and Christians to Pakistan? Let’s show them how tolerant we are as well.”

    Haris was not amused.

    Haris’ cousin was totally apolitical in college. I never knew him as much I did Haris, but he told me that he was very close to Haris’ father whom he had blamed when Haris had run off to Afghanistan.

    Haris returned to Seattle. I didn’t hear from him again. Ten years later in 2014, when on Facebook I shared a picture of mine taken in Dubai, I got an SMS from a number that I did not recognise. It was Haris’ cousin. He said that if I was still in Dubai, I should go meet Haris who now lived and worked in Kuwait and was visiting Dubai the same time I was.

    I asked the cousin what Haris was doing in Kuwait.

    “He runs a business there. He moved from the US two years ago,” the cousin texted.

    I asked him why. And this is what he texted back (with a smiley): “He thinks they (the Westerners) are very intolerant and biased people.”

    “But didn’t he say they were very tolerant?” I asked.

    “Yes” the cousin texted back. “But Haris isn’t.”


  • Even though his name is very convenient to assimilate in the west.

    If the author has given real name.

  • There are thousands of Haris' around the globe. The Haris of Dawn writer was not so glamorous in his young age. He was just a lost guy searching and translating different ideologies. I had a bunch of close friends in my college days. We used to meet in Coffee House and Jabees Restaurant in the night. We were blend of religious, communist-cum-socialist, so called philosophers and what not. We used to debate late night before returning home and sleeping. In my practical life,I still have a circle of friends but the sites of meeting have changed. We debate like we debate in here, we have verbal fights like we have in here. But none of us have tried to translate their ideologies and perception into their own practicability. In real life, we have families to look after, servicing in corporate bodies, some in banks some in government departments some in business (stock exchange). Our debates start over a cup of tea and ends over a cup of tea. Period. But five fingers are not the same.

    I was astonished to read one of the shootists that killed 48 Ismailies and injured many in Safora Goth carnage. This young guy (I have forgotten his name)was a colorful person in his studying days, attending parties throwing parties, dating girls and enjoying a leisure life. Was in the last semester of his Engineering degree and was a brilliant student. In the last six month before Safora Goth carnage, his university companions, lecturers and professors, as testified before JIT, he went less spoken, grew beard and talked about miseries that Muslim ummah as a whole was suffering. Then this Safora carnage. That guy is not alone in his psyche, there are thousands of such guys (male and female both)that are being brainwashed. In another thread, I had discussed the modus operandi of ISIS. They are not sending jihadists in different countries. I don't know how much lucrative amount they offer such that beautiful girls from all over the world reach Raqqa through soft borders of Turkey, get trained and spread all over the world. Internet sites like Facebook, dating and chatting sites are brutally and successfully used to contact local guys and in a very well calculated way the charming chat and physical meetings (even sex) these girls transform the local guys into ISIL jihadists. The mastermind of this modus operandi ought to be applauded though he has chalked out the most dangerous and bloody game of the history.

  • @imtiazahmed sahib

    That's a sad recount. You talked about a mastermind behind this bloody game. There doesn't seem to be one entity - these are splinter muslim groups working independently and without any organization/hierarchy.

  • I asked the cousin what Haris was doing in Kuwait.

    “He runs a business there. He moved from the US two years ago,” the cousin texted.

    I asked him why. And this is what he texted back (with a smiley): “He thinks they (the Westerners) are very intolerant and biased people.”

    “But didn’t he say they were very tolerant?” I asked.

    “Yes” the cousin texted back. “But Haris isn’t.”

    At least Haris showed a little courage and moved to a region that reflected his fundoo ideologies. On this forum, I see many many cowards who live and earn their bread and butter in the West but disply a height of hypocrisy by constantly bad-mouthing the Western culture, the people and their values. Show some courage and move to middle east if that's the culture and values you adore.

  • And how do you know that there are such people on this forum?

    Will you Show some courage and name them by their IDs or is this just a empty slogan?

  • And how do you know that there are such people on this forum?

    I know at least one of those funfunfundoo is anjan BB

  • Muhajir Tripe!!

  • @Imtiaz Ahmed Sahib

    We used to have discussions among friends and cousins that raised BP and actually we still go through same exercise but we never dared to go beyond lip servicing. But I recall two of my cousins who were in IJT went to Afghanistan and one of them even Kashmir like Haris. Thank God both survived and are married and living happily with some Gov't job.

    I talked to one of them recently he had some health issues. I said back in the day you used to exercise what's going on lately. He said it's hard to find time for exercise. I was like really why what you are up to? You don't get up early for Fajar. He said he gets up even earlier for Tahajud around 2:30 AM. I said that's part of the problem. Your diabetes, blood pressure heart whatever the issues are Tahajud routine is making them worse. Try to sleep at stretch at least 8 hours do some exercise and then if you find time bang your head on floor. But I guess Old habits die hard.

  • Anjan

    ISI triphe

    ikhattar ka bhagora

    hahahaha---buz buz buzdil