The Fallen – Lest we Forget

7th January 2014

Hangu District, Pakistan

A 17 year old had just been reprimanded for tardiness and denied entry to class. As Aitzaz Hasan waited outside his school with a couple of other tardy kids, he saw a strange man approaching them. The man asked, in an unfamiliar dialect, about the location of the local school.

There are different accounts about what happened next.

Some say Aitzaz approached the stranger cautiously, and upon seeing a detonator in his heavyset jacket, quickly alerted his peers to run and inform authorities. Others say the man got spooked and tried to make a run for the school before Aitzaz even got to him

But all accounts agree on what happened next.

Aitzaz ran after the Suicide Bomber, fearlessly taking him down. The struggle resulted in an explosion engulfing both of them, and Aitzaz sacrificed his own life in the process.

He selflessly traded his own life for the lives of thousands. Not a single innocent soul harmed except his own.

Later on,  during an interview, his father emotionally says,

“My son made his mother cry but saved thousands of mothers from crying for their children.”

Truer words have never been spoken. Not only did he save thousands of lives directly, he saved the thousands of family members who would have been mentally obliterated had their child or sibling died that day.

The epitome of a real life hero: Aitzaz Hasan

He deservedly received the “Sitara-e-Shujaat” (Star of Bravery), the highest honor a civilian can receive. As the Chief of the Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif said, “ He is a national hero, who has sacrificed his today for our tomorrow.”

He ignited a bright fire within the nation, a flame that said the country would not back down against these extremists who seem hell bent on targeting and killing more Muslims than any other group

The reason I write this is to remind us all about the past and how we cannot allow it to be forgotten. After all, if the past is forgotten, it inevitably ends up repeating itself. We self-centered people are not deserving of a gallant soul like Aitzaz. But we can correct ourselves. We need to ensure that Pakistan does not need another Aitzaz to extinguish would-be disasters. We need to learn, and learn quickly for time is a great teacher but it will eventually kill all its students.

aitzaz

“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life.”

You in whose army?

I’m sure we’ve all heard of the poor Syrian refugee boy who washed up on the shores of Turkey. Reportedly, He was one of at least twelve Syrians who drowned on Wednesday. Incidents like these are now becoming commonplace. Just a few days ago, on the 26th of August, more than 50 bodies were found inside the hull of a ship about 50 kilometers off the coast of Libya. People are willing to risk everything as they try to reach safe havens in the form of Europe and the West. However, even if they reach there, travelling perilously through the stormy weather and unforgiving sea, they are not generally welcomed simply because their passport (If they hold one) is of a different shade on the color spectrum.

In fact, the very family of the boy (who washed up ashore) had their refugee claim rejected by the Canadian government, like many others I’m sure.

Most of the prominent authorities have condemned such treatment of refugees. But, judging from what they’re doing about it, I’m going to take a wild guess and say that most of them don’t lose sleep over the issue. Their job is to prevent injustice WITHIN their own countries borders, so why should they care for foreigners & outsiders? These countries and governments have their own agenda to tend to and it seldom involves helping out immigrants. We try to convince ourselves that our countries would lend a strong hand and help up the victims. But the fact of the matter is that all they do is condemn “this” and criticize “that”.

Remember the big uproar by everyone when Gaza was bombed? Remind me again what happened to those war criminals guilty of those atrocious crimes. About 2 million still live miserably in Gaza and approximately 75% of the families still do not have enough to eat.

People need to understand that just because it isn’t happening here, does NOT mean it’s not happening.

Before I end, I’d like to say that Germany is one of the few countries I can wholeheartedly commend. With 100 refugees coming in every hour, they are doing what they can to accommodate those in dire need. Their interior minister recently announced that he expected more than 700,000 people to seek asylum in Germany this year. And towards the end of August, Angela Merkel’s cabinet raised the federal support for local communities to €1 billion. Merkel is keeping the far-right activists under control as well, a feat in itself.

This endeavor of hers should be set as a role model for the other “leaders” around her, who have conveniently abdicated their responsibility. Bayern Munich, the dominating Bundesliga club of Gemany, have donated $1.11m to refugees. Even the German National team supported their governments policies and stood up against xenophobia & called for integration.

Even though this has little to do with football, I am overjoyed knowing that it was compassionate and sympathetic people like them who won the World Cup.

The Little Boys always grow up too fast…

Most substantial Nuclear developments (At least the advances to which the world was privy to anyways):
Ivy King: 500 Kilotons*,
B53 : 9,000 Kilotons,
Castle Bravo : 15,000 Kilotons
& finally The Tzar Bomba : 50,000 Kilotons

*(In case you’re not aware, A kiloton = One thousand tons of TNT)

Following on from my last piece (If anyone actually read it**), This time we’re going to delve just a little bit into how Atomic Bombs (or Nuclear Warheads as the media commonly refers to them as) developed over time. The most significant one, the Tzar Bomba (50,000 KTs), was developed by the Russians in 1961. Now, 50,000 kilotons is no small number and certainly no joke.

However, before we go any further, I feel its imperative to refer back to the infamous bombings that forced a bloody end to a pretty messy WWII. Explosions that were considered so catastrophic that Japan was forced to fold their cards and concede defeat. Any guesses as to how how many Kilotons of TNT were packed into those bombs?

The Fat Man (Dropped on Nagasaki) & Little Boy (Dropped on Hiroshima) had 15 & 21 kilotons of TNT respectively. That’s it. Hard to believe? It definitely was for me. These bombs which leveled those Japanese cities and killed more than a 100,000 (200,000 according to other sources) were merely a shadow of what Nuclear Power would become.

So if 15 KTs decimated a city, what could 50,000 KTs do?

First, Lets hope humanity does not have to ever endure a scenario where this happens. When the Tzar Bomba was tested, its detonation was so strong that windows in three other countries were broken and it produced a mushroom cloud 40 miles high. It was said that if there were spectators even as far as 60 miles away, they would have experienced third degree burns.

I’ll give you peeps some time to process this, especially since it took my pessimistic self a while to contemplate not-so-pretty scenarios. I mean are we really ever going to feel safe knowing that a man or group of individuals have the power to decimate anyone or anything with 50,000 KILOTONS of TNT?

In other words, As long as Nuclear with such destructive potential exists, I don’t see humanity getting a happy ending any time soon.

** https://sullysretreat.wordpress.com/2015/08/08/never-forget-the-little-boy-and-the-fat-man/

Never Forget the Little Boy and the Fat Man…

   Despite what the title might suggest, I’m afraid this is not one of those didactic stories with a crystal clear moral conveniently present at the end of the ride. Or perhaps it is. You be the Judge.
Regardless, I’m sure you’re at least a little bewildered by the title?

Let me clarify, This “Little Boy” I talk of, weighed roughly 140 lbs and his brother, the “Fat Man” weighed 14 lbs. Even though they were genetically different, when they were unleashed onto the world both had unparalleled carnage at the time and shook the world to it’s very core, with the 140 pounder causing the ultimate massacre. Still perplexed? If you know your chemistry (I had to do a bit of research since I don’t) you will have a fairly decent idea from the following: The genetic difference is that of plutonium and uranium.

No worries if you’re still confused, I’m going to stop beating around the bush and get right to it: Hiroshima, August 6th & Nagasaki, August 9th 1945.

Ring a bell? I’ll be damned if it didn’t.

This “Little Boy” killed 90,000166,000 people when it was dropped on Hiroshima , with the “Fat Man” killing 39,00080,000 in its respective city of Nagasaki. That’s somewhere between 129,000 to 246,000 human lives. Human lives not dissimilar to you and I.
And it doesn’t end there, Just about half of these deaths occurred on the first day. So lets say you were in Nagasaki or Hiroshima and miraculously survived the initial blast (Reportedly equivalent to 15,000 Tons of TNT), the radiation poisoning would most probably lead to your genes mutating and Cancer, even if you were exposed to only a moderate dose. Not to mention your children & grandchildren would suffer with similar conditions due to the ramifications posed (Leukemia among other cancers) by the exposure to Nuclear radiation. All in all it would probably be a gruesome experience, with an unnatural death a very plausible ending.
Not pretty is it?

Although The Fat Man and Little Boy were retired in ’50 and ’51 respectively, it was not out of humanity but out of them being overshadowed by newer and more powerful upgrades. Which makes one ponder the question: What monstrous behemoths awaits mankind after more than 50 years of biological and chemical research on these Nuclear Warheads & Why do nations pride themselves on advances in this field?

I’ll talk more about this in upcoming posts, for now let us take a moment to remember the tragedy that the world likes to conveniently overlook.


“I’d rather change the world, than let it change me”