February 16, 2013 § 10 Comments
December 12, 2012 § 8 Comments
Most of the times I read an op-ed about PPP in an English daily, it’s almost bilious – especially if it’s meant to eulogize the party. Normally this is how the course of such articles go: high words fly, lofty ideals are cited, arbitrary versions of historic incidents are recounted with more than a tinge of bias, grand titles and appellations are quietly slipped into what is pitched as a balanced opinion piece and the masses are told, yet again, that in PPP is embodied the ultimate saviour of this nation.
I have often read such pieces and tolerated them, hoping year after year that the party that is so revered by the liberals of this country may perhaps someday live up to those expectations. But the last five years have been an abysmal disappointment, even when I know well the adage about history repeating itself.
Let’s, for once, be honest. PPP is not a liberal party. It has never been a liberal party. It is a political party that is as opportunist as PML-N, ANP, MQM, PTI or JI. From Zulfiqar Bhutto’s decision to render Ahmedis infidels to PPP’s cowardly silence over Salman Taseer’s murder, I utterly fail to see how this party is any different from others who play to the gallery and use populist rhetoric to score points. PPP has proved liberal at times, yes, but only when it was most convenient. And the same goes for all other political parties. I simply fail to see how one is any better than the other.
The liberal coterie has long lambasted PML-N for its electoral alliance with extremist organizations such as SSP. However, I don’t hear no caustic words from the jayalas-in-guise over PPP’s decision to form an electoral alliance with Sunni Ittehad Council. Let me remind those with poor memory retention powers that SIC is the same party which openly hailed and eulogized Salman Taseer’s murderer, Mumtaz Qadri, and campaigned for him all over the country.
What is even worse is that the fiercest apologies for PPP emanate from those who profess in being rationalists and unbiased analysts. Time after time, they would defend the feudal culture that breeds in the very lap of PPP, the dynastic politics that is the hallmark of the party and the other follies that are silently glossed over with what can best be termed as intellectual dishonesty. They would tell you how PPP has passed a bill in the assembly which will finally bring deliverance to such women who are victims of domestic abuse – yet they wouldn’t tell how the bill has zero practical value due to an utter lack of implementation and serves merely to earn PPP precious political points. They would tell you how PPP is committed to the elimination of all kinds of religious extremists – yet won’t say as to why the party would take the likes of Maulana Fazlur Rehman under its fold every now and then.
Recently, many of these ‘intellectuals’ have taken to defending the up and coming ‘heir’ to the party’s ‘throne’ – Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. I have nothing against Bilawal – he may be a bright, young man for all I know. But what I do know for certain is the fact that to this day, he hasn’t played any political role in Pakistan, has spent little time in his homeland, and feels a lot more comfortable speaking English than Urdu. The primary, and sole, merit for a politician is the work he has done, or not done, for the people – not the family he hails from.
How does one pre-qualify Bilawal as a great politician when he doesn’t have a day’s worth of actual political experience? If he contests elections, enters practical politics, bags some worthy achievements, I’d be more than happy to vote a youthful leader. But until he has done that, I fail to see how can one extol him without being dishonest.
I have no grudges against PPP except that it is the one party that was not based on religious claptrap or stifling ideological premises. Yet, it has failed to deliver what many had hoped it would. And in doing so, it has stooped to the prevalent mediocrity of the political arena.
July 21, 2012 § 2 Comments
(Cross-posted from ET Blogs)
Yesterday the by-elections on NA-151 were held in Multan. This was the very seat from which Yousaf Raza Gilani was removed as the Prime Minister. Ever since PPP was elected and Gilani was appointed as the Prime Minister, Gilani’s sons, Abdul Qadir Gilani and Ali Musa Gilani have been doing exceptionally well. We found a few hints of this in the ephedrine case in which Musa Gilani is currently implicated.
But I digress.
So, in the by-elections Abdul Qadir Gilani scored a win. No surprises there – the Gilanis are a Pir family with a huge number of followers and a lot of influence in Multan.
What was surprising for me was that our very dear Twitter liberatti started cheering for PPP the instant news came in of AQ Gilani’s success! They started hailing this as the victory of democracy, the voice of the masses, the apt answer to the judiciary’s ‘aggression’ and what not. Naturally I was amused, but not so much at the hollow grandeur of these words as at the very stance taken by many friends and colleagues.
As it is, a lot from our liberal coterie tend to support PPP for some very obscure reasons. They term it the ‘true face of democracy’, the party which has sacrificed a lot for the sake of democracy, the only party with a liberal manifesto and the list goes on.
I personally hold most of this to be plain untrue.
Whereas PPP may have made a lot of efforts towards the restoration of democracy and for its continuity, for which I sincerely commend the party, it is still far from being a truly democratic party.
Abdul Qadir Gilani’s win is case in point.
Hereditary and family politics has become a sad norm within PPP. With is shocking is that this is getting support from people rather than critique.
Log on to Twitter for a second and you’d see hoards of tweets stating how AQ Gilani has proved democracy is the true winner. Really? The son of a Pir (a religious equivalent of a typical feudal) who was able to swoop the seat of the Pir once he was disposed, is a victory of democracy? Either there’s something very wrong with this argument or I’ve had all my definitions wrong.
My only contention in all this is that many liberals – some of whom I deeply revere and respect – have become more of a reactionary force. In trying to belittle PTI, oppose Imran Khan and somehow ridicule the party, they are trying to justify a whole lot of equally despicable evils. For instance, a gentleman on Twitter was found stating something like:
Since grapes are sour, PTI fans would now say that voters in NA-151 were illiterate.
Through such sarcastic remarks, he thus effectively discarded what is a very valid argument. You can take that from someone who has lived in Multan for the last 15 years.
AQ Gilani’s vote bank indeed comprises of a lot of tenants and such people who are directly favoured, affected or controlled by his family. This has been true for feudals and for Pirs, but suddenly it’s no longer true for Gilani because, well, he is opposing PTI and his win could be rubbed into the judiciary’s face.
Then there is the regular argument of putting PPP’s (on-paper) liberal stance against PTI, PML-N and others. My question to all of those who do this is:
Wasn’t Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto the one who branded Ahmedis as non-Muslims and initiated a vicious cycle that still continues to this day?
And exactly what liberal policies have PPP been able to enact practically throughout its three governments? Merely passing bills in the parliament is barely an achievement.
Moreover, the way our present government has handled all issues, from the energy crisis to inflation, I have absolutely no love lost for this government, but yes I would really want to see it complete its term and continue the democratic process.
Having said as much, I would also want others to justify the rhetoric of PPP being the best ever political party. This is a claim which needs to be propped up on facts and achievements and not mere words.
Image Courtesy: ET Blogs
January 8, 2012 § 3 Comments
Pakistan’s political environment is electric with Imran Khan’s ‘tsunami’ that has swept across provinces and parties alike. It’s just about two months ago when political pundits were claiming that PTI is a non-entity and that Khan’s claims at bringing about a change are nothing but hogwash. They would sweep their hands in a condescending manner, mid-air, and laugh off his chances in the future politics of Pakistan. I must give them that since his jalsa in Lahore, they have accorded him a little respect at least.
The political environment in Pakistan, which has been stale with old slogans and tried faces, has suddenly turned electric and alive. People, youth, political recluses and hermits are suddenly thronging Imran Khan’s jalsas. This may be perhaps one of the very few and rare instances in Pakistan’s history when a political cause has struck such a chord with all and sundry.
The most interesting aspect of this ‘revolution’, however, can be seen in the liberal coterie of Pakistan. While some select few have chosen to side with PTI and be a part of this change which may be in the coming, others have only grown fiercer in their criticism leveling newer and more advanced allegations against Imran Khan. Here, by liberals we can assume two distinct groups.
One is the group that claims to be the leftist set, clinging stubbornly to an age-old, tried and failed model, stuck to the pre-cold war era and breathing a belief that they can bring about a communist revolution in Pakistan. They are perhaps the smallest political ideology in Pakistan. They read Noam Chomsky by the day, smoke Marlboro whites in anti-capitalist seminars by the night and discuss Lenin and Marx with their ‘comrades’ which, in a given gathering, rarely exceed the figure of ten. Their sole criterion for one’s merit is the extent to which that person conforms to their narrow, set ideology. And anyone who stands contrary to that is a pro-capitalist, elites’-serving, establishment-implanted thug. Period. That’s pretty much the argument.
The second set of critics from amongst the liberals is those who genuinely believe in human rights, separation of state and religion and desire to see Pakistan moving towards a more humane political model, without necessarily sticking to a definite ideology. I tend to believe I am a part of this group. However, I have stark disagreements with these liberals, at large, over PTI and Imran Khan. Most of the criticism that has been mounted against Kaptaan by them is more or less articulated in my earlier article ‘Imran Khan – to vote for or not?’And I absolutely agree to this part of their stance that from a purely liberal view-point, Imran Khan is definitely not a good choice.
But the present political discourse is more of an argument of ideal vs practical. They wish to have a person who is the epitome of secular humanism and would lead them right-away to a Pakistan where religion and state are entirely aloof, rights of all minorities are well protected and military suddenly has absolutely no role in politics. Well, here’s the bitter pill: that’s insanely utopian.
The immediate analysis, by the liberals, after the Lahore jalsa was that Imran Khan gathered people from all around Pakistan and that such a huge crowd after so many preparations wasn’t that great an achievement. The Karachi jalsa pretty much trashed this argument. But then some new arguments surfaced during Karachi jalsa, which were equally ridiculous. A fellow tweeted that security personnel had been ‘instructed’ to attend to jalsa. None of my acquaintances from security agencies corroborate this allegation but that’s not a proof of no-guilty. What is a substantial proof to the contrary is that a mere look at the crowd would have convinced any sane analyst that this was a jalsa where people from all walks of life, all ethnicities and all kinds of backgrounds were present. Even if security personnel were instructed as per the claim, that would have contributed barely a fraction of a percent of the crowd on site. An insignificant contribution to a popular cause at best, if at all, but nothing more.
I also am unable to comprehend the tacit approval and support extended by fellow liberals to PPP. A party that, yes, may have a rather liberal manifesto but one which rarely ever contributed to make Pakistan a more humane state. A party that has been involved in perhaps the worst corruption scandals of all times, with the exception of unearthed billions gobbled by our military, that is. And a party that has been ridiculously adamant in pursuing politics merely for the sake of politics. Why would a sane person in his right mind support such a party any more, especially when BB is no longer leading it and persons with feeble intellects and absolutely no political vision continue to be at its front. For my part, I think supporting PPP any more is hazardous both to Pakistan and to democracy. The other major player, PML-N, too has failed to do anything significant in its current spell. It has merely played the role of an opposition for the mere sake of playing that role. And its subtle approval of the right-wing extremists, the likes of Jamat-ud-Dawa and Sipah-e-Sahaba is as clear as the day! So no, I won’t support the Sharif brothers either.
Incidentally, only a year ago, I was planning on writing an article where I thought I’d propose a mock government with kind of ideal persons (from amongst the available lot) in all positions. I placed IK as PM, Javed Hasmi as Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi as Interior minister and similarly, all best-of-the-worst politicians at a position which best suits them. A year forward, IK is pretty much realizing the very plan. The allegation that IK is suddenly bringing all the ‘used’ baggage to his party is not good enough, to me. I think that on the contrary, may be a lot of people are jumping the PTI bandwagon because things have gone so wrong that they really want to work under someone who at least speaks of bringing about a positive change. And in IK, all these ‘spent’ cartridges have found their salvation.
The case of Javed Hashmi is definitely not that of someone hoping to ‘gain’ political power or someone who’s been ‘advised’ by ‘deep state’ to go join IK or any of the other standard motives proposed by liberals about those leaving their parties and joining PTI. His case is, at least, one glaring fault in the arguments put forth by most analysts. But yes, there are some who have joined PTI as opportunists. And such morons will always do so during every major political transition.
And as a matter of fact, PTI doesn’t have much choice in this. If IK chooses unknown, never-heard-of candidates to contest elections for PTI, PTI will once again lick the dust in the elections. But if IK takes these eminent politicians within the folds of PTI and at the same time, manages to stick to his vision and proposed policies, this can well mean a definite step forward. Not the best move, mind you, but a step forward. Let’s not forget even a politician of Bhutto’s stature did end up including Khar in his league.
Also, if IK was someone with a liberal manifesto and PTI a party well divorced of all things religious, as our liberal coterie would have him, I don’t think they could have bagged more than a seat or two. The liberals ‘need’ to understand that if they keep looking for an ideal person and stand aloof from the ground realities of a country whose masses still are steeped deep in religion, they will never find anyone good enough. But if they are looking for the ‘better’ of the ‘worst’, they may find, in Khan, the very choice.
On a concluding note, criticizing from the distance and trashing virtually every political entity by counting out the flaws while never endeavoring to be a part of the setup and try and improve it, pretty much renders all arguments from the ones who merit the aforementioned qualification, illegitimate.
January 5, 2012 § 9 Comments
Most of you would have seen slogans seething with hatred plastered across the walls all around Lahore and most highways of Punjab. As soon as Pakistan and India relations began to improve, obscure coalitions and unheard-of groups have suddenly jumped the bandwagon of anti-India sentiment. And the credit of it all goes to our very own group of Khudai Faujdars – Jamad-ud-Dawa (JuD).
Whereas most militant outfits have gone extinct or at least covert in their operations in a post-911 Pakistan, JuD continues to enjoy full liberty despite being a banned organization. It arranges rallies, has a huge area in Muredke as its headquarters and its leaders continue to spew venom and hatred in their Friday sermons and speeches at rallies. Support for JuD’s activities has certainly waned among common masses but apparently, ISI is not really ready to part from its chief proxy-war gurus of Kashmir insurgency.
And that can be easily seen in this recent tide of ‘apparent’ opposition to Pakistan-India relations. I say apparent because while a huge majority of Pakistan either doesn’t give a shit about what pacts are signed with India, so engrossed they are in their own local political and economic issues, the insignificant cretins who number in thousands continue to litter the walls all across Punjab to make an impact. And whether or not ISI is directly backing this ‘project’ is unimportant. The fact is that JuD’s rise to power has been hugely funded and assisted by ISI and our Arab patrons who, after doling out millions in their lavish harems, come to Pakistan to cleanse their sins off by funding Jihadi fighters. And they have a particular fondness for JuD since it conforms to the most rigid, fanatic interpretation of Islam, Wahabbism, a love it shares with Saudi Arabia in particular.
The current peace process with India doesn’t sit well with our military. Military wants to be regarded as the most important entity in Pakistan, a status it has achieved through perpetuating war, rigging political process and influencing media. And it doesn’t want to let go of this status, since that may also mean budgetary cuts once everyone is finally sure that we are in peacetime, quite contrary to what army will have us believe. And so, as soon as an important milestone is achieved in peace process with India, suddenly one of the political hubs of Pakistan is ‘charged’ with anti-India sentiment. However, the turn-out at these rallies pretty much shows what strength an extremist organization has, even in a country riddled with religious fervor – numbered in thousands and most of them being the jihadi members of the organizations, shipped from all parts of Pakistan, they carry little significant anymore. But the depressing fact is that the state machinery is doing nothing to curb them and rather, in many ways, assists them.
Slogans like ‘Bharat se rishta kia – nafrat ka, intiqam ka’ pretty much shows the philosophy which is at the heart of JuD. The most interesting part is that JuD claims politicians are politicking over Pak-India relations and says that they should rather consider India an enemy while the fact is that JuD has long done its own politics over corpses, wearing thousands of youth it has gotten killed in Kashmir as a medal to acquire moral legitimacy and financial assistance. It cites these thousands of deaths with pride and without the slightest remorse even when these deaths have come about to yield absolutely nothing, zilch! And it naturally wreathes in agony as soon as something hints a normalization of Pak-India relations since that means JuD gets to lose its bread and butter and will no longer be able to drive its sales-pitch to a common Pakistani.
The unfortunate fact is that the federal government, despite having initiated the peace process itself, and PML-N chief having spoken publicly about his support for positive relations with India, don’t find the moral courage to openly denounce JuD’s activities or to ban its leaders. This has to change or we run the risk of non-state elements disrupting the entire peace process, like they have times and again in the past.
November 3, 2011 § 46 Comments
• There’s no doubt in the fact that he has magnetized the youth, especially the urban youth, to abandon the comfort of their homes and move forward from mere words; Imran Khan brought them to the streets and no matter how or what he is, he at least unfolded a new chapter in our youth’s political activism which is a dire need today.
• On a neutral stand-point, Imran Khan is someone who hasn’t been tested yet. Despite all the talk about Imran Khan being the ‘suicide’ option, even worse than status quo, the fact remains that so far, Imran Khan has never been found involved in any corruption charges. And the feats he has achieved in the past, from leading Pakistan to a run for World Cup to establishing the hospital and a university, all these clearly tell that here is a man who wants a social change and who has tried to bring it as far as he could. So, after all give and take, Imran is still someone who one seeks out as a possibly better option. In short, his past record shows him a man who is honest and incorruptible.
• Imran Khan does not come from a political background or hasn’t been launched by one of the major political parties and then took his own stage. He’s self-made, in so far as his political achievements are concerned.
• Imran Khan is a face well-known internationally. He is a person who knows how to speak well, how to get his point across and how to adjust to different kinds of audiences. Just ask yourself, who would the world take more seriously when addressing at UN General Assembly – Mian Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari, Altaf Hussain (just saying) or Imran Khan? Plus, his British connections may let him sale relatively smoother in the rough waters of foreign diplomacy. That, of course is an assumption but a fair comparison lends it weight.
• Not only youth but a number of intellectuals, media personnel and a constituency of literate populace sides with him. While you will see men shipped from rural regions and ‘patwaris’ are the gatherings of both PPP and PML-N, the jalsa at Minar-e-Pakistan had people from all walks of life, most of the politically conscious, at least in comparison to the voters of PPP and PML-N.
• Thus far, Imran Khan hasn’t pitched in any ethnic-centric, region-centric or any other exclusive rhetoric. He claims to be fighting for elimination of corruption, all over Pakistan. Whatever the manifesto of PTI encompasses, it speaks for the entire Pakistan. And that is manifest in both the words and actions of PTI thus far.
• Imran Khan talked about women rights, about educating Pakistan and similar other objectives which pretty much constitute much of what’s wrong with Pakistan today.
Not to vote:
• The chief problem that I find with Imran Khan is his anti-US rhetoric and pro-Taliban stance. Of course he hasn’t openly supported Taliban like JI and others, he has never spoken against him. He speaks of talking to Taliban by ending war or terror and thus restoring peace but all this is a highly impractical as well as illogical. Taliban are not ready for talks, their Shriah-aimed ambitions are not regional but universal and they are not to be told to ‘give up’ their demands just like that. A recent proof to that can be found in the example of the fate Rabbani met in Afghanistan.
• Another great concern is about the personnel his party has been embracing. From Hamid Gul to Jamat-e-Islami rightists, his party has well catered to all sorts of members without disagreeing with their ideology. PTI has also been indiscriminate towards accepting such politicians who have abandoned other ships or were kicked out, some of them even on corruption charges. So whereas yes, Imran Khan comes clean on the issue of corruption, his party seems to be taking a somewhat relaxed stance towards it.
• The worst, of all things leveled against Imran Khan, is his alleged involvement with the deep state or what we know as military establishment. There has been talk of agencies supporting his cause and Imran’s tacit approval of army’s actions since he never talked against the army or it’s exploitations in Pakistan. And this allegation gains much currency when one sees that right now, PTI is only hurting PML-N’s vote-bank, the only party in the political arena who aims to bring army to accountability. Naturally, the logical path for army is to support Kaptaan and that is understandable – but Kaptaan’s support for army is what perplexes many since corruption simply can never be eliminated from Pakistan until army, too, is brought under accountability.
• Recently, PTI arranged a demonstration in Peshawar where it blocked roads to barr NATO tankers from going across. According to media reports, the demonstration was attended by a number of extremist right-wing parties. Also, on the way back, Imran stopped by at the Maulana Sami-ul-Haq’s seminary, the great madressah which has the ‘honor’ of having first launched Taliban who were students there. This is not to hand-pick a single example and lambaste PTI over it – rather, this is simply a proof to the aforementioned assertion that Imran Khan seems to sport pro-Taliban sentiments – now whether these sentiments arise purely out of his anti-US strategy or are these a result of some military minds working to shape PTI’s orientation, one cannot say. But those are the facts.
While that pretty much sums the chief features of both sides of the mirror, let me add that I haven’t absolutely ticked off Imran Khan. He has made his presence known and he may well have a political future, perhaps a significant one. What makes me wonder is that in recent days, in fact within a week of his jalsa, a number of intellectuals have been won over by him – they are optimistic, liberal, humanists and they see a hope in him. My sole hope with Imran Khan, however, is that the mistakes he has made thus far and the errors he has committed in the estimation and ideology of the Taliban and other right-wingers is a result of his naiveté and political immaturity, further bolstered by the ‘patronage’ of JI hawks and exploited (?) by the military establishment. One can only hope that once the liberal coterie abandons its distanced criticism and joins the flock, Imran Khan may have a chance of bettering his views and consequently, his policies. I, personally, think he will be the last man to concede to the implementation of Shriah.
- Will popular Imran Khan be independent too? – Pakistan Daily Times (news.google.com)
October 14, 2011 § 25 Comments
There comes a point in the spiritual journey of a man when things no longer are what they seem. Whereas others look at things in the same ordinary fashion, you have a deeper understanding of them and discern other, deeper meanings of them. For example, the other people be looking at apples and calling them apples but nay, you be the wise one, knowing that what they see is a banana, looking like an apple. Such is the profundity of true wisdom. And when such true wisdom transpires to others who can ‘see’, they are elated and instantly rush to you to congratulate you at having achieved that height of spiritual excellence. These like-minded wise men then shower you with all sorts of accolades so as to prompt you onto your path of wisdom so that you may reach that pinnacle of human intellect whither you can discern that an apple is both an apple and a banana. The-duality-of….fruits phenomenon, as they call it.
October 6, 2011 § 9 Comments
Steve Jobs was not just one of the most successful CEOs of his time – he was also perhaps the most creative person and above all, a very, very inspirational man! It’s from these latter traits that his true greatness emanates and it’s for these traits that he will not be forgotten for a long time to come. I never really knew Jobs until quite recently – for me, his was a name that would occasionally pop up in the headlines, so I considered him a big-wig, some Silicon Valley tycoon and that’s it. Little did I know, though, that Jobs was an extra-ordinary person, an embodiment of the fact that you must pursue your dreams to find out what your life really is about. I eventually did come to know him and I realized that here was a person who never gave up on his dreams to pursue something even when it took him to the path less travelled by. Especially, he made iNaming quite a phenomenon, which shows how perfectly he amalgamated creativity and elegance.
He is one of my greatest inspirations and he will remain so for the rest of my life.
RIP Jobs – you will be dearly missed!!
September 27, 2011 § 25 Comments
The pressure on Pakistan is mounting with US officials heaping direct allegations on Pak army for having connections with and supporting the Haqqani network. The army and ISI, as usual, continues to deny any and all allegations.
The response of ISPR is somewhat like this: “Haqqanis? Who Haqqanis? We don’t know any Haqqanis. And even if we did (and we’re not saying we do), we don’t have any connections with them. And even if we did have connections with them (and we’re not saying we do), every intelligence agency tries to keep contacts with terrorist organizations. And even if we did support them (and we’re not saying we do), we would never endorse their act of attacking the US embassy in Afghanistan.”
The Prime Minister seems quite clueless over whatever is happening and is playing to the tune of army. He’s like “Come on boys, let’s gather around and make some noise for our patriotic army because the army dudes are so good as to not disrupt our government so far.” Needless to say, an all-parties conference profits PPP politically by sending out an ‘all is well’ message to the masses at large.
As a common Pakistani, I am a tad bit more concerned about the affiliation-with-Haqqani part. I passingly referred to it in a post back in 2010 too. Many past events clearly show that something is not quite right in army’s so-called intents in fighting terrorists organizations. Here’s a list of some of these past events:
- Misreporting by Pakistani army about Ilyas Kashmir, an eminent Al-Qaeda strategist and among the most-wanted guys. Pak army declares him dead (to mislead US and let the Kashmiri have some health-reviving in the tribal regions?). A while later, Saleem Shehzad breaks the news that the guy’s alive and that causes quite an uproar. Later, though, he is killed in a drone attack.
- US raid in Abottabad: So far, not ONE statement from army officials says that OBL was not here. Any statements made about the raid merely condemn US cross-border intervention and do not talk about OBL’s presence. This only confirms one thing: OBL was having a cozy retirement in Pakistan and the army knew about it. At least some key officials in army or ISI were well aware of the fact.
- Mehran naval base attack: All evidences clearly tell of an internal involvement with the terrorists. Naval officials collaborated with the terrorists and provide them all help to carry out the attack successfully, which they did. A number of naval officials have even been arrested after the post-attack investigations over allegations of having helped the terrorists. The attack was a message from Al-Qaeda over the arrest of several of its supporters in the navy as pointed out by Saleem Shehzad’s article, an article which perhaps cost him his life.
- Saleem Shahzad’s murder: After receiving a number of direct threats from ISI because he broke stories of ISI’s ties with terrorists and its secret dealings with Al-Qaeda and Taliban, Saleem Shehzad was finally killed. Before being killed, he mailed a number of his colleagues stating that he feared he may be murdered by the ISI. These colleagues include Hameed Haroon, the editor and publisher of Dawn and Ali Dayan, Pakistan’s Director for Human Rights Watch. Few days after this mail, he was murdered. ISI, as always, as usual, denied any involvement.
And now the Haqqani issue. Pakistani army and ISI have always been short on smart decisions. Ever since the inception of Pakistan, we see very few wise strategic decisions made. From Ayub Khan to Yahya Khan down to Zia and Musharraf, we have seen one blunder after other being made. But army seems to take absolutely no cue from it. It stills clasps its ‘strategic assets’ (read home-grown terrorists) to its breast in the hope of using them some day in future in installing a friendly regime in Afghanistan. I think decades of a f***** up relationship with these terrorist organizations should have taught the army a lesson – that they don’t even give a shit about Pakistan or its security. They would bomb even the army if it contradicted with their version of Islam.
So what’s it gonna be? For now, Kiyani has got the political government on board with him in a bid to blackmail the US government into coming to his own terms – which, necessarily, are that let us do as much as we are doing and don’t make us go after the real terrorists; we won’t go after them because they are our strategic assets and we will need them in the future. That sums the army’s stance. Of course, US can’t compromise us while it still struggles in Afghanistan and it will eventually reconcile with Pakistan. However, to think that we have won or even profited from this episode, to think that this can bring us some good in the future, is the height of arrogant stupidity. Such acts will only isolate us from the rest of the world and God knows perhaps plunge us into the same reign of terror that the Taliban have unleashed in Afghanistan already and keep showing glimpses to, in Pakistan. Whereas Pakistan army is dreaming of using Taliban for its own ends, Taliban leadership dreams of an entire ‘caliphate’ under its rule. And may none of us be so damned and doomed to see that day!
September 21, 2011 § 44 Comments
The following article appeared in print in Us magazine, The News, albeit as a watered-down version.
I am assuming most of you have already realized what is causing the massive outbreak of dengue fever in Pakistan. According to a number of confirmed resources, the mosquitoes that are causing dengue have been deliberately engineered with the nefarious virus. After they were infected with the virus, they were inducted into Pakistani airspace where they wrecked havoc. And who, of all, could have inflicted such damage upon us? Of course the Zionists!!
They have long been jealous of our economic and social progress, not to mention the political stability, the unparalleled research centers and one of the highest literacy rates around the world. When they couldn’t disrupt us through riots and by bribing people to become Taliban (yes, they were the ones who did this!!!) they have finally decided to unleash a biological weapon.
If you doubt this, that indicates weakness of faith. We have substantial evidence that such weapons have been used by Zionists even in the past. Remember the floods? Last year, when Pakistan was about to make a leap in economic progress (or was it social or political? Can’t remember, never mind), floods hit Pakistan! I mean, isn’t it obvious! The timing of the tide and the fact that it killed so many of our Muslim brothers and took away their lands and property – it has Zionists hands all over it!
Besides, they have the HAARP technology that can turn day into night and vice versa. And cloudy weathers into dangerous storms. And vice versa. And twilight into dawn and evening into night (um…maybe the last part happens on its own). Some researchers also argue that the deceiving behavior of the moon on the eve of Eid (like this year Saudi Arabia saw a moon that was not even there. But how can they make a mistake?)may also be a manipulation of the HAARP technology, meant obviously at deepening the fissures in the exemplary unity of Muslim Ummah.
Although a notable singer (read scholar) (ok don’t), had a minor disagreement with others when he said that the flood was actually an Azaab from God and not a Zionist conspiracy. It had me a little mixed up – so what was it. A sign from God or a Zionist conspiracy – or worse still, both, which meant that God was siding with the Zionists this time. Fiery words were exchanged between proponents of each side. Anti-Zionists finally discovered that the scholar was a RAW-agent-in-disguise and said that he should be stoned to death; whereas the scholar passed the verdict that these anti-Zionists were committing blasphemy by pinning God’s deeds on Zionists and thus should be killed publicly by anyone willing (he also mentioned that the one to do so will immediately get a one-way ticket to heaven. And beyond.).
The conspiracies of our enemies don’t end here. A friend recently revealed that the Arab spring, the bulk of anti-government movements that have surfaced around the Arab world, is actually according to Zionist agendas. It is meant to pave the way for Greater Israel. In fact, Gaddafi had been forced by the Zionists to leave his throne and the people we saw on the streets in videos and on TV have been created by a highly sophisticated video-editing technology. Doubts have been raised as to whether it’s the same technology that was used in the famous ‘fake’ video against a very pious televangelist or an advanced version of it.
Coming back to the matter at hand, the dengue virus has gone out of control. A constant reinforcement of infidel mosquitoes from across the border has rendered it virtually impossible for the government to contain it. The gear these mosquitoes are wearing has been specially imported from Israel which makes them more resistant to the local climate and therefore, more lethal. The scholars who first discovered that there were foreign agencies involved in the epidemic have prescribed a special anti-RAW, anti-dengue vird to be recited ten times every morning. This will create an invisible shield between you and the would-be attacker and thus, keep you safe from the virus.
Efforts are underway to locate the HAARP system that is relaying directions to the dengue squad. But they may as well be futile, states an ex-intelligence officer, General Bull who says that Zionists had a very advanced technology as far back as the soviet days. The technology enables them to hide facilities, buildings, sometimes entire cities so that no one can see them and no radar can detect them. ‘We were able to defeat them only when we chanted slogans and the reverberations of our voices disrupted their security mechanism’ he said, with a truly patriotic gleam in his eyes. ‘But…wasn’t it the Russians you were fighting in Afghanistan, Sir?’ a little confused, I ask him. ‘Come on! Don’t you know that Russians were puppets in the hands of Zionists’ he shakes his head from side to side and gives me a disappointed look.
Meanwhile, a reverent federal minister, who has a particular fondness for Google Apps, has also voiced his concern at the mosquitoes that are at loose. He told media that he was closely inspecting the activities of these mosquitoes through Google Maps and that he was well aware of the real culprits. “We will have them by the necks” zooming in on Lahore’s satellite images, he concluded, “I can see where their hide-outs are and soon a detailed operation will be launched to curb them.”
SZH, a notable expert on mosquito strategies and their role in national security, posted on his facebook page stating that his sources at Washington confirm the existence of a lab at a location in a country somewhere in the West where the virus was actually engineered. After his previous vows that one day the green flag will wave atop Red Fort in Delhi (which had to face a temporary postponement), he now vowed that he will send pious mosquitoes to attack these enemies of Islam and eliminate this imminent threat to Pakistan’s stability. “Pakistan will be victorious against this attack. Pakistan is meant to be victorious. No one can harm us, no matter what. Except, perhaps, the liberals who are actually Zionists, unknowingly” he adds, with a meaningful wink.
The worst thing in this entire episode is the non-Islamic attitude of the common masses. Rather than exposing the Zionists, many doctors have said that dengue is an epidemic that can be dates back to centuries and is able to thrive due to unhygienic environmental conditions. They are also prescribing western medicine for its cure which is very un-Islamic and ought to be condemned. Finally, we must understand that the entire world, with the exception of Islamic countries, has joined its hands in conspiring against our mighty nation. Our atomic bomb is the greatest threat to them and they may send stinger bees in the future to neutralize it. Therefore, we must stand united in this time of great ordeal and be fully cognizant of the truth. Only then can we hope to deliver Pakistan from this crisis and continue our rapid ‘rise’ in the comity of nations.
August 26, 2011 § 18 Comments
Shahbaz Taseer has been kidnapped today. No one has claimed responsibility so far but it’s only obvious that this is the work of the religious fundamentalists. The same religious fundamentalists who want Shahbaz Taseer to forgive his father’s murderer, Mumtaz Qadri; the man who murdered his father because he dared to speak for human rights. The same religious fundamentalists Punjab government is in bed with and supports openly. The same religious extremists who have carried out a number of suicide blasts and killed many Pakistanis yet no religious party or madressah or mullah opposes or condemns them.
I came across the news hours after it had happened. I logged on to my facebook and read Ali Moeen Nawazish’s status which stated this piece of news. And there were then hundreds of comments below, hailing the act, calling for the immediate murder of the abducted fellow and other similar notions. What I fail to understand is that what has induced this into our society? Who has made us the thaikaydars of Islam? How we delude ourselves to believe that we have the right to punish someone or to forgive someone; to brand someone Muslim or otherwise? What makes us think we are at a moral ground higher than anyone else? Did God become so powerless that He now needs us mortals to carry out heavenly tasks on our own?!
Pakistani society, at large, has become so steeped in religious bigotry and extremism that it can no longer tolerate a difference of opinion. Say something against a person’s religious beliefs and you never know the next thing may be a dagger in your heart. Terrorists are at large, especially in Punjab where the government openly supports them, and many of provincial legislature members are best friends with acclaimed terrorists. The intelligence agencies, on the other hand, have some strange, convoluted notion of patriotism. This includes providing covert support to terrorist organizations and not doing anything to effectively disrupt their activities.
As a society, we have become so remote from humanity that we don’t mind killing a person or two or many just for the fun of it! As a precaution, we can always append a religious cause to it because in Pakistan, you can always get away with a murder committed on the name of Islam.
Many who, either out of cowardice, or because they secretly support this act of kidnapping, have used the age-old excuse: since hundreds of other people are dying in Pakistan, why should we care about the abduction of one person, merely because he’s a celebrity? To such dumb-head cowardly hypocrites, let me ask this: why should we give a damn to the killings in Kashmir when people are dying at Baluchistan at the hands of Pak army, a land which is much more close? Why should we give a damn about Palestine or Afghanistan when we have millions living below the line of poverty here at Pakistan? The fact is that you can’t negate one issue through another! That’s simply an excuse, a way out so that you don’t have to protest, to condemn or act in any way. That’s sheer cowardice!
It is about time for us to decide which way we want to go: do we want an Islamic state where Mullahs have the supreme powers which they will yield through crowds of religious fundamentalists, well armed by the terrorist religious organizations? Or do we want a democracy which is based on the principles of humanity? Do we want a nation where you fear your life just because of a sentence you utter? Or do you prefer a nation where all such issues are settled in courts which decide whether or not a person has infringed upon something illegal? Do you want to grow in fear, fear over your right to free expression, fear over your freedom of speech, fear over your right to act, speak and work? Do you want to live in a land where any Mullah, if he has a disagreement with you, can kill you and be hailed as a hero?
It is up to us that what you want. I have no hope in Pakistan’s youth as far as this is concerned. Our youth would wear jeans, dance all night, party crazily, indulge in all sorts of non-sense. Yet, at the end of the day, they would condone every murder on the name religion, every abduction on the name of religion. But this can’t continue. Either we will eventually give in completely to a reign where terrorism becomes rampant or we choose humane principles. The choice is ours. And this choice can only be made rightly if we choose to give up the garb of cowardice and dare to speak against any injustice, no matter how ‘saintly’ a person commits it and no matter what logic or argument he wields to justify it!
August 14, 2011 § 10 Comments
It’s 3 p.m. in the noon. 4 siblings are busy, right under the sweltering heat of Multan’s summer afternoons, trying to tie small paper flags to a long, thick thread that has been tied to the boundary-wall east and west. They have small flag-shaped badges pinned to their chests, bearing them as priceless laurels. They are through three rows and are now preparing the fourth one, evenly distributing the flags along the length. Once they are done, they would cut the long threads in half and then hang them on the front-face of the house as the customary decoration for the independence day. The flag, too, needs be hoisted and once they’re done with this arrangement of paper flags, they would attend to that.
That’s how I’ve spent countless of my Aug 14s. The preparation, the décor, the excitement of the day would start bubbling days earlier and I would busy myself with my siblings in taking every possible measure of decorating the house in the most awesome manner. It was about the same time when ready-made, paper-flag-strewn threads became available in the markets. But we refused to use them and would still spend hours preparing our very own threads.
And when finally the day came, it was a most exciting morning. We would wake up early to the tune of national songs played on TV, get through a hurried breakfast and then run off into the street to watch the décor of other houses, flaunt our collection of badges to others kids on the street and sing merrily. This would end as soon as the live transmission flag-hoisting ceremony on PTV would start and we would be stuck to the TV screen, taking in every movement, every minute, every word of the speech which we understood nothing of. Right after the parades and speeches ended, PTV started playing national songs incessantly. And we’d sway and sing with every song, and as soon as a favorite would hit the list, frantically start calling everyone to the TV.
Good, ol’ days, those. Sadly, nothing of that remains anymore. I’m talking about the social change that has occurred. No more paper flags, no more badges pinned to the chests, barely any more celebrations. It’s been replaced with mad biking sprees and similar freak-acts.
Kher, with what we are left with, I must say the day still holds some charm. At least to me. No matter how pessimist things are, whenever the day has come, I have felt myself lifted to a state of renewed, spirited enthusiasm. And here’s a few words to the elating feeling that this day brings me:
I think 64 years are sufficient to attempt a discourse over whether or not a nation should have been founded. It’s about time we moved on, on that debate or disregarded it for now and decided to talk something more constructive.
There is no answer to the now-almost cliché question ‘what are the solutions?’ We have to stop looking everywhere and fervently asking everyone. No one has the answer to that because we, the youth, are the answer. We are the answer to everything that has gone wrong with this nation. We are the answer to the lack of leadership, to corruption and debauchery, to the terrorism and militancy and to all that needs resolving. With an overwhelming populace which comprises a majority of the total population, we are a force to beckon and a power that can truly turn the tide. We are the future of this nation and it’s up to us how we want to shape this future.
I agree we have a nation plagued with extremism, law and order crisis, humanitarian crisis and economic crisis. But there still is hope. And we don’t even need the entire nation to fall behind us in this. Like they say, a few candles can light the way. And history has shown that times and again.
What we need is to clear our heads of religious fanaticism and to have humanity as our sole guiding principle. And to start towards a social order where human rights are of supreme importance and no one is discriminated against; where the women can work and stand side by the side with the men and contribute to the national progress; where education becomes accessible to everyone.
Every one of us can make a difference. It’s up to us then whether we continue to dwell in pessimism, cynicism and critique – or decide to make a difference and prove that when we were handed over the charge of Pakistan’s future, it was worth it. It’s entirely up to us.
May 26, 2011 § 5 Comments
While the wounds of Abbotabad’s ‘imperial insurgency’ were still fresh, a debate was going on in the GHQ. For the first time in the history of Pak Army, the Chief was vociferously questioned by the officials who were briefed by him about the entire operation. Some of them went as far as to suggest resignation for the entire top echelon.
The interesting part, however, is that all the questions thrown to the Army Chief General Kayani revolved around the violation of national sovereignty and about the drone attacks. The officers demanded immediate bans on drone attacks and wished to know how could US violate international regulations and launch an attack on our land. Sadly, not one of the officials asked the chief or seemed concerned about the possible presence of OBL. None even commented about it and the entire gathering, in general, didn’t seem to give a damn about whether or not OBL was here – what they were more worried about was US.
The recent operation has opened a Pandora box of questions about the role of army and ISI in Pakistan. Some analysts have bitterly criticized the competence of our equipment and personnel. Yet others have questioned the possible double-game that has been part of our intelligence’s shady politics. And the allegations of later have always stayed with us, especially during the Musharraf era when the war on terror was launched. It is also being rumored that someone very influential in the current democratic setup tipped US about Musharraf’s insincere raids and false intel. And that, more than anything else, smoothed a way at White house for a regime-change consideration.
Whereas army’s role still remains in question, and its competence further in jeopardy after the post-OBL attacks targeting primarily military facilities, what we need to ask ourselves and our army is: what exactly is its role in policy-making and whether or not that’s the right role. For long, the debate has been side-lined and this time, too, the efforts to do so are underway. Huge billboards could be seen erected in nearly all major cities presenting ‘salam’ to the Pak army. And a number of demonstrations have been done thus far commending its role. But perhaps this once, it would be lot more difficult to thwart the critique.
While those officials in GHQ heatedly debated the future of war against terrorism, they never had the slightest clue that they never really were hired for the purpose. Army’s role, as per the constitution, is to guard our borders and ascertain national security. Policy-making was never legally among its jobs. But for so long have we deviated from these definitions that army now considers it a right to define and devise national policies. And to top it, these are done mostly without taking the political government into confidence.
The first thing that should have happened right after the Abottabad operation was to probe that was our army really playing a double-role. Or whether or not there existed rogue elements in ISI. Although these questions were raised, none of them were given much air-time by the popular media which, as always, was in a frenzy of anti-US propaganda. Although N-league yet again danced to the tune of party politics, one of the very positive proposals from it’s end was to bring all things military within the net of accountability. So far, no progress is seen as to that. GHQ continues to live in the delusion of being the rightful policy-maker, it’s officials so very concerned about changing policies. But it’s high time for army to realize that it is an institution to play the servant, not master. It is being paid heftily out of our budget for the sole cause of protecting us. And for deciding policy affairs, we elect people to a different institution called parliament. Once the generals at GHQ realize this, life would be lot more normal and smooth both for the army and an average Pakistani. It’s for the political government to decide whether we have to go on with the war on terror or continue the shady policies that army is famous for. And the army should concentrate more on it’s actual function and stop worrying about national policies. We have enough of those concerned about us already!
May 7, 2011 § 11 Comments
Nearly all that could have been possibly speculated about Osama Bin Laden’s death has already been said. From conspiracy theorists forming vague opinions about the notion of ‘framing Pakistan’, ‘accusing ISI’ and other such unfounded claims to those hailing his death to those offering his death prayers without any shame, there is a lot and yet nothing that is very clear. What does come out as clear are only very few things and I will throw in my two cents based upon such facts.
First of all, the alleged whereabouts of OBL have been reported as at Abbotabad, right in the apex centre of different sensitive army and intelligence facilities and right next to Kakul Academy. If that is true, and increasingly more resources are starting to confirm this sinister piece of information, that means only two things: an intelligence failure of epic proportions on the part of the ISI. Or that ISI itself was collaborating in letting OBL make himself at home here under high security.
The first possibility is very improbable, considering the fact that our intelligence is well gifted with ‘inside sources’ which provides it the valuable information it needs about Jihadi groups. These inside scoops are also possible because of ISI’s not-so-old strategic depth in all jihadi factions. Considering this, it is very hard to believe that ISI was unaware of OBL’s presence and never knew that the world’s most wanted man was lying quiet so close.
The second possibility, unfortunately very probable given the past record of ISI’s double-game, is one that quite makes one shudder. ISI, with a past of being extremely pro-jihad and pro-Taliban, still contains many such elements which hold deep sympathy for these past alliances. And a number of recent incidents have clearly demonstrated that no matter what the stakes are, they will support the Taliban and their allies. I would say that at least the top brass, both in the army and ISI, doesn’t regard Taliban as strategically relevant anymore. Yet, some very powerful elements in both do hold them so and the recent episode affirms that they can protect a man like OBL from anything within Pakistan. Either way, important hands in ISI and the army protected the guy.
Here it is important to note that so far, the Pakistani government or the Pakistani army have not denied the presence of OBL at Abbottabad. The nagging from our quarter has only been that whether or not we had collaborated in the operation, with the army and the intelligence desperately trying to show that they were part of the plan. Statements from US representatives, however, clearly indicate that no Pakistani links were taken in confidence out of the fear that this will lead to Osama’s removal from the mansion before the operation could take place.
Surprisingly, the US hasn’t come down as hard on Pakistan as many anticipated. After all, this is a huge intelligence failure if, for a moment, we dismiss the nefarious possibility of under-the-table collaboration. But this becomes understandable when we view different analysis reports that US may be using this as a tool to push Pakistani authorities to further flush any other militant leaders that are hiding within Pakistan.
The million dollar question is: as per the greatest probability, our intelligence knew it all along. Then why this? Why, after spending billions in war again terror, after laying hundreds of lives and ruining entire valleys over operation, was the army hiding this man? Was it yet another convoluted, twisted logic of strategic usage that the army has been applying since ever and failing ever since? Was it another idiotic decision made by the generals sitting at the top who can barely make sense of things, a fact which our history speaks of?
The sad part is, rather than asking these, the questions are very different in Pakistan. Some are questioning the fact that why did US launch such an attack without Pakistan’s knowledge and that this is an attack at our sovereignty. Even Noam Chomsky, in his article, came up with a similar logic. I agree that this does fall within international violations. But let me produce a counter-logic to Chomsky’s exemplification: if a terrorist who has killed millions and has ambitions of doing so again, and is regarded as a terrorist by all international organizations, is resting peacefully in a nation which is gulping billions on the name of war on terror against that very person, would not the country which has suffered the most take action? That is only very natural. If someone killed thousands of Pakistanis in some blast and then sneaked to India, our Jihadi Mullah brothers would be more than glad to launch stealth operations to kill him. Jamat-ud-Dawa should know that! Then why the pretentious surprise? It certainly is contrary to our sovereignty but the double-game of our own authorities is contrary to humanity, contrary to our dignity and contrary to any human measure that shall apply in this case! So it’s time for our Chief and others to stop the vociferous statements in an attempt to hide the embarrassment their pathetic policies has incurred us. And start doing what they claim to do!
At the end of the day, OBL is dead and we have come out of this episode as incompetent fraudsters. And it’s time to ask ourselves that do we want to continue being so or pay for the sins we have committed in the past.