Letter from Nagasaki

Dear Pakistanis,


I am sickened – sickened to my stomach – at the sight of these jubilant faces ´celebrating´ Pakistan´s nuclear tests. These are the faces of unashamed ignorance. These are faces that have never even given a thought, let alone seen, the evil that is manifested in nuclear arms. I have seen it first hand. I am the granddaughter of a survivor of Nagasaki, and I bear the scars of that living hell in my deformed feet, one eye that cannot see and a left hand that only lies motionless at my side. My mother too is a victim of severe physical deformities that she has inherited genetically from my grandmother – all thanks to the ´miracle´ of nuclear energy that Pakistan and India are celebrating so fervently today.

How can any sane human being believe detonating nuclear devices provides security? Is sitting on a ticking time bomb a position of security (the people of Chernobyl have an answer to that)? Is sitting on the brink of nuclear war a secure position to be in? I think not.

After letting a crazed dictator rule their lives for 10 years, this is certainly the most regretful thing that the Pakistanis have ever done, and now they will surely have to pay dearly. I see children on the street, begging for enough money to have just one scrap of food, women carrying malnourished babies, begging for alms, old people dying in gutters.

And they will all continue to die, for instead of listening to their pleas and seeing to their needs, the Pakistani government has now pushed them even further down on their list of priorities, if they were even there to begin with. Instead, now they will be selfishly and pompously pumping even more of the national exchequer into this utterly ludicrous game of one-upmanship with India. Nuclear bombs will not put food on that starving child´s plate.

I studied Islam while doing my doctorate in religious studies. I learnt that human beings are considered the highest form of life. I´m afraid I don´t believe that anymore. Of all the creatures on earth, humans are the ones who have never evolved, we were born barbarians and we shall remain so, no matter how many veils of civilisation we cloak ourselves in.

We are the only creatures on earth who continuously devise more and more devious ways to kill our own kind. The more weapons of mass destruction we can come up with, the more pompous we become. Killing people is the only way we can feel good about ourselves.

And how easy it is for us to forget. We have been making the same mistakes since the dawn of time and each new generation conveniently forgets the mistakes of its ancestors. The Jewish nation faced the worst kind of barbarism at the hands of the Nazis, and then turned around and did exactly the same to the Palestinians. So too in Bosnia; and let´s not forget the treatment of the Christian minority in Pakistan of late. Hell struck Hiroshima and my home of Nagasaki, and the world still went on blindly with the nuclear arms race. It is true, a human being will bring down the worst kind of atrocities on another human, simply because he thinks the same can never happen to him.

Why do you think Japan never entered the arms race? Because we experienced the horror of nuclear energy in our homes; we saw our loved ones charred in front of our eyes; our houses crumble like sandcastles. Neither India nor Pakistan have seen the sightless eyes of a newborn in Hiroshima and Nagasaki who till this day is born with defects through no fault of his own. And that is what enables the people here to celebrate. I pray no Pakistani mother has to one day look down at her newborn baby and see two cold, vacant blue spots where the child´s eyes should be.

(Translated from the Japanese by Rahman.)

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Himal Southasian