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Opinion

June 5, 2017

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A leaf from history

A leaf from history

Random thoughts

Today, let’s examine some interesting facts about two entirely different topics.

Zamzam water is a true miracle. Many international research institutes have tried and failed to determine the secret of Aab-e-Zamzam.

In Makkah, where the Zamzam well is located within the premises of the Kaaba, there is no trace of any other source of water. International research institutes have brought many distinctive characteristics to light. In one minute, it provides 720 litres of water. In one hour, the well  provides 43,200 litres of water. But nobody knows the source of this water.

A Japanese research institute has concluded that nowhere else in the world is there any water similar to that found in Makkah. Even recycling the water does not change its characteristics. Analysis shows that one litre of Zamzam water contains 133mg of sodium, 96mg of calcium, 43.3mg of potassium, 195.4mg of bicarbonate, 163.3mg of chloride, 0.72mg of fluoride, 124mg of nitrite and 124mg of sulphate. The total depth of the well is 96 feet and the distance from the spring source to the bottom of the well is about 56 feet. All other wells usually develop algae and minute plants. These change the taste of the water – usually for the worse. However, the taste of Zamzam water never changes.

Once, when I was setting up the uranium enrichment plant at Kahuta, I went to Germany with some colleagues. On the way, we stopped off in Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah. General Zia had made a rule at the time that government servants could perform Umrah while on their way abroad and only had to pay the small cost of rerouting their flights via Saudi Arabia. We gratefully made use of this facility.

At the time, the marble surrounding the Kaabah was hardly 20 feet wide. From this walkway, the main prayer halls were connected by various paths with gravel between them. Many people used to place their prayer mats on this gravel to pray. Unfortunately, many of these stones would come onto the marble and it was extremely painful when people stepped on them with bare feet.

Just to the left of Muqam-e-Ibrahim, a flight of stairs led down to the Zamzam well and one could peep into it. Pumps circulated the water to taps and people were taking showers there. With time, all this has changed. The gravel was removed and white marble was laid all around with under-floor cooling. The open spaces and stairs leading to the well were closed. Zamzam water was placed in coolers for devotees to drink and large tankers took water to Madina and coolers were put inside Masjid-e-Nabvi. All devotees now have access to cold Zamzam water. Just recently, the Saudi government started a train service from Jeddah to Makkah and Madina, sparing devotees the inconvenience and extra expenditure.

The second interesting topic I would like to mention refers to General Zia’s important cricket diplomacy. In the late 1980s, the Indian government deployed a large number of soldiers and weapons near its border with Pakistan – Operation Brasstacks. The whole world was afraid that another war would erupt between both countries. Out of the blue, General Zia decided to travel to New Delhi to watch the cricket match being played there between India and Pakistan. The Indians, still under the illusions of December 1971, were not aware that my colleagues and I had meanwhile put sufficient nuclear weapons at General Zia’s disposal to inflict unacceptable destruction on India. This is the true story narrated by the Indian National Security Adviser (Behramnam) to Rajiv Gandhi, as published in India Today:

“The late President of Pakistan, Gen. Ziaul Haq, faced a huge Indian Army at Pakistan’s border. On the other side, the Russians were fighting with the mujahideen of Afghanistan. People were worried that Pakistan and India might get involved in a big, devastating war. The Indian Army was waiting for a nod from the PM to attack Pakistan.

“At that time, Gen. Zia suddenly reached Delhi ‘to see’ the cricket match between India and Pakistan. Rajiv Gandhi was in no mood to meet Gen. Zia, but he had to go to the airport to receive the president. He showed cold behaviour and told me to go to see the match with Gen. Zia. Zia had iron nerves. In spite of Rajiv’s cold behaviour, he kept a smile on his face.

“Before leaving for Pakistan and saying goodbye to Rajiv Gandhi, he said: ‘Mr. Rajiv, you want to attack Pakistan; please go ahead but remember one thing. After this war, people will not talk about Changez Khan and Halaku Khan and will only remember Ziaul Haq and Rajiv Ghandi, because it won’t be a traditional war but an atomic war. The whole of Pakistan may be destroyed. There are more than 50 Islamic countries, but there will still be hundreds of millions of Muslims. Remember, there is only one Hindu country – India – and I will ensure that India and the Hindus are wiped out. If you don’t withdraw your troops before I reach Pakistan, the first thing I will do is to order my troops to fire.’

“Rajiv Gandhi had perspiration on his forehead and I had an (unpleasant) sensation in my spine. At that time, Zia looked to me to be the most dangerous man on earth. His face looked like stone and his words had terrifying effect. Looking at his eyes, I felt that he would wipe out the Subcontinent with nuclear weapons. A second later, General Zia was his normal, smiling, courteous self and shook hands with all the dignitaries. Beside Rajiv Gandhi and me, nobody had the slightest inkling what the courteous and smiling General Zia had just conveyed to Rajiv Gandhi.”

Note: General Vernor Walters, former US president Reagan’s special emissary, regularly came to Pakistan to meet General Zia and to convince him to freeze the nuclear programme. With his usual politeness and humbleness, General Zia sent him back satisfied every time. Later, in Reagan’s de-classified papers, the American general wrote about General Zia: “Either he really does not know (about the nuclear programme) or else he is the most superb and patriotic liar I have every met in my life.”

 

Email: dr.a.quadeer.khan@gmail.com

 

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