July 12, 2013 § 1 Comment
In the wake of Abbottabad raid on OBL‘s compound back in 2011, we saw a knee-jerk reaction in the form of nation-wide anger. The anger was not directed at a terrorist who killed thousands of innocent people and yet, was comfortably residing next to some critically significant military facilities in our beloved country – no, rather, there was a sudden surge of nationalistic jargon coming from foaming mouths who wanted America to pay for having violated our sovereignty.
Naturally, there is a possibility that OBL planted his DNA, multiple fake wives and children, a fake trail, fake couriers who maintained his link with an Al-Qaeda which, by the way, doesn’t really exist. Luckily, at least we are ready to admit that the raid by US Navy SEALS was real.
Discounting such patriotic notions and fairly intelligent conspiracy theories, the Commission which was tasked with probing into the May 2 raid, recently brought together its findings in the form of a report. Since the Commission didn’t comprise exclusively of army personnel, it’s objectivity, sanity and patriotism can be questioned. Such doubts are compounded by the fact that ‘certain elements’ barred the report from reaching the mainstream media until some obviously-traitorous whistleblower recently leaked it.
Now, the findings of the Commission are fairly startling, so you don’t have to hold them as true. For instance, the Commission has explicitly stated multiple times in the report that the May 2 raid, and the fact that OBL was present in Pakistan, were both huge failures on the part of the military as well as the civilian government.
However, the chief body which was directly working on tackling high-value targets in Pakistan is ISI. The intelligence agency didn’t share any intel on OBL with other civilian intelligence or law-enforcement agencies, which means that no one else knew what leads CIA had provided regarding the former Al-Qaeda chief. Given ISI’s exceptionally vigilant performance, then, it is no surprise that OBL was able to sneak into Pakistan back in 2005 and live in Abbottabad cantonment for years, without triggering any alarms.
In light of the evidences gathered, timelines constructed and testimonies heard, the Commission noted that it was virtually impossible for the renowned terrorist to hike around Pakistan without help from someone within the security agencies. Of course, this would be far more probable if General Hamid Gul was still serving in the military. But since he’s still the primary inspiration of many top army officers, the Commission’s analysis isn’t that far-fetched. Besides, we have seen many recent incidents where army personnel went over to the dark side over promises of Houris and cookies.
Now let’s deal with them Americans. In 2005, CIA stopped sharing intel pieces regarding OBL with ISI, simply over certain well-substantiated allegations that the agency often rats out the intel, abetting certain high-value targets in escaping just before a strike. Such notoriety eventually lead to an ally which became increasingly disillusioned of our ‘sincerity’ in nabbing the top Al-Qaeda cadre. As a result, when the CIA finally had confirmation that OBL was comfortably lounging off his late years in a lavishly large compound in Abbottabad, the agency acted without consulting Pakistan’s military or the political government.
While the anger over violation of our borders is justified (a violation which, by the way, has been committed by hundreds, if not thousands, of Taliban since 2001), the question is: shouldn’t we be angrier over our inadequacies in tracking down the most wanted man in the whole wide world? Why aren’t our nationalistic sensitivities hurt over the fact that at one side, we minted billions of dollars from the U.S. and at the other, OBL found a safe abode in Pakistan? The Abbottabad raid was certainly an insult to us, but it must be so only because we were not the ones who nabbed OBL first.
The Commission’s report clearly points out that the greatest failure in this debacle was on the part of ISI. The agency didn’t share its OBL-related intel with any other domestic agency while the political government wasn’t informed any better, thus leaving the onus of responsibility on ISI. It’s about time for GHQ to take note of such inadequacies, root out any and all such elements which have the slightest inclination towards religious extremism, especially within ISI, and once and for all, submit to the will of the political government.
There are many who’d love to blame the West for the whole thing. Such comical manifestations of our idiotic notions of national sovereignty are merely a reflection of an ostrich burying its head in the sand. As long as we remain in the vile shade of denial and refuse to take care of our own backyard, the international community is not going to stand by and wait for us to devise solutions for a problem that has a huge global impact. And for that, the ball is in GHQ’s court.
May 14, 2013 § 8 Comments
The elections are mostly over and the final verdicts are pouring in, sealing a decisive victory for PML-N and sufficient seats to put PTI down as a significant opposition player. Where lion-bearers are very joyous, vowing to bring back the glory days of Pakistan, PTI supporters look utterly saddened and dejected.
However, now is not the time to pout or be sad. Now is also not the time to deny the fact that PTI did not get a sweeping majority. Rather, it is time to gracefully admit defeat, hail the 30+ odd seats that PTI has secured and learn a few critical lessons from the voting season.
What PTI achieved?
PTI has emerged as a political force to reckon with. At the same time, Imran Khan can be given the absolute credit for prompting the youth of this nation to become an active part of the political process. I was a part of the D-chowk jalsa on May 9; I actively engaged in political discussions with others of my age group – and the sheer hope and optimism they expressed and the renewed vigor of nationalism that twinkled in their eyes and in their conversations, was absolutely awe-inspiring.
This was the first time in Pakistan’s history that such a huge portion of youth has gone out on the streets, stood in lines for hours and cast their votes. This is also the first time in this country’s history that expat Pakistanis have flew back in such huge numbers to stamp the ballot paper.
Finally, PTI is currently the second-largest political party in Pakistan. The struggle that started 17 years ago, at the hands of a single man with no hopes but a rock-solid ambition, has now turned into a huge force. This is the time for celebration of a really good start, not that of disappointment.
What PTI needs to work on
However, it is also time for the party to look inwards and discern its short-comings. The chief among these is the fact that PTI has turned out to be a party that is primarily focused on the urban middle-class youth. This objection is true to a certain extent – the detachment of the party from rural pockets is what decisively turned the tables against it in Punjab. Then there’s also the issue that PTI didn’t really do any ground-level mobilization in Sindh or Baluchistan – both are critically important for this country and are becoming increasingly so. PTI needs to reach out to the population at large and go beyond urban dwellings.
Secondly, PTI must use the next five years to mature itself as well as its supporters. There are those amidst PTI who refuse to discern the critical importance of democracy and tend to undermine it at times. There are also such who tend to dwell on the negative, call the mandate of others a fraud or useless and similar other bold statements – PTI leadership needs to communicate to their young, hot-headed, yet politically active voters, that such ideas are terribly adverse to the democratic process in Pakistan at large.
Youth in Pakistan is here to stay and will form a majority of the population until 2052 or so. And this youth vote will become an increasingly dominant phenomenon in the coming years. Although this youth seems to have kicked into the political arena, it is undergoing disorientation. One can understand that to carry out a huge election campaign, you need to have a foe you can cite as a failure. So PTI’s criticism levelled towards PMLN was an election strategy.
But elections are over – a huge populace, comprising of the youth, is waiting for Khan to show them the way now. This path must not be that of hatred, intolerance or destructive criticism. It is high time for PTI to rally the youth around someone more grand and more inclusive – namely, nationalism. I have seen the hopes in the eyes of those who have been utterly disappointed in their country; I have seen the so-called mummy daddy kids stand on streets for hours, in blistering rain and under rains. This passion, this fervor must be used to fuel a nationalism and reinstate our pride in being Pakistanis.
December 18, 2012 § 11 Comments
Imran Khan recently kicked up yet another melee in Pakistan’s media when he declared that he would have women contest elections rather than enter the National Assembly on reserved seats. Before weighing the plausibility of the argument, many were quick to jump the bandwagon of unqualified criticism simply because it was Khan who said so.
For the uninformed, women in Pakistan’s National Assembly currently have 60 reserved seats. How exactly are these seats filled in? Well, since the seats are allocated to each political party based on their proportion in the legislature, the said political parties have the sole authority to figure out who will fills these seats.
The result is simply that the wives, daughters, sisters, relatives of the bigwigs of each political party smugly position themselves on these seats, clamouring out about women rights yet being utterly incompetent to launch the least effort to that end. Seats are allocated purely on political connections with nary a thought spared to any merit or qualification.
There are plenty who dished out a tab bit intelligent criticism to Khan’s proposition by stating that letting women contest elections is nearly impossible in a conservative country like Pakistan. The argument is quite valid and yet it is utterly inadequate to reach the conclusion that the reserved seats shouldn’t be tampered with.
In my view, yes women contesting elections still seems a remote possibility. However, things are on their way to change with ECP pushing for a greater number of party tickets given to woman candidates. Meanwhile, what we CAN do is to ensure that at least the women who find their way to NA on reserved seats merit some minimum qualification.
Just like I would never vote Hamza Shahbaz for being Shahbaz Sharif‘s son, I wouldn’t want a woman to represent Pakistani women simply because she is the wife of an eminent politician. Is that principally wrong? No. Is that too much to ask or somehow impossible? Absolutely not. So why the mindless ruckus then?
Rather than expending their energies in rabidly attempting to defend the reserved seats, I would suggest that the women rights activists can do a far better job if they tried to coordinate with the authorities and somehow devise some kind of minimum qualifications for the women who get to be appointed on the reserved seats. A proven record of working for women, some political insight into policy-making for the said gender – anything tangible that may make sense for a person who gets to be on one of those reserved seats. And I really don’t think that is too much to ask for.
May 21, 2012 § 8 Comments
The show started around 10. The room wore a very neat look with the curtains being freshly washed and couches from the adjacent room placed next to the sofas. The arrivals comprised of an elderly woman and two young girls, welcomed very warmly by Ashraf and his wife, Atifa. There was a clear demarcation of positions on the either side of the table. To its left were seated the guests and to its right, the hosts. The latter wore forced smiles which did little to hide the tense anticipation gnawing on their faces and sunk into the worn-out seats like pleading, grateful entities. After formal exchange of pleasantries, the conversation entered into the regular second round – that of questions and answers. The questions were thrown with a keen fervor coupled with a thick air of complacency and answered with meek smiles by the other side. Intermittently, now and then silence would creep in and throats were cleared.
‘So what is your daughter’s age again?’ the elderly woman asked in a shrill voice, partly natural and partly due to her try at sounding high-pitched.
‘She’ll turn thirty this year’, a subtle tone of apologetic reassurance crept into the Atifa’s voice.
‘Ahem’, throat clearing. Silence. Then the creak of the door opening.
The object of their interest was here. Clad in a blue dress and wearing lipstick, Nazia entered the room. Being the fourth time in the same month, she had thought the estrangement of the whole setting would be fleeting now. Yet, her face was embarrassed and eyes lowered as she pushed the cart set with the refreshments. A pineapple cream cake, cookies, pizza and halwa. Quite an extravaganza it was.
‘With the grey sprouting through her hair, she looks much older than thirty’ the woman muttered just loud enough to be heard through the room. Helping herself with the cake, her gaze lingered ominously at Nazia. Taking in her face, then shoulders, it slipped lower, thoroughly scanning her in all.
‘I don’t like her teeth when she smiles. They look so big’ the two girls bantered, whispering among themselves.
‘And look at her nose. It seems like the flaring nostrils of a dragon. Natiq likes sleek, pointed noses’ the second of them commented.
‘My son is very well-educated and he has a fine job’ stuffing herself with yet another helping of cookies, the lady announced, though in a by-the-way manner. The hosts nodded fervently presenting their agreement of whatever she uttered. ‘And of course being an educated family, we are against dowry. However, Natiq wants to live honorably in a separate house with his wife. You agree, don’t you?’ her insinuation was well picked by the hosts who suddenly had aghast looks on their faces which looked almost comical with their plastic smiles still intact.
The show dragged on for yet another hour. Nazia was thoroughly noted. According to Natiq’s mother, her upper lip was slightly detached and gave her a strange look with her rather large teeth. And her nose too, duly pointed by her daughters, was a no-no. Plus, although she had thoroughly applied mascara, her eyes looked quite small.
As soon as the clock struck 12, the mother clasped her hands together and stood up.
‘Well, that’s all. I’ve to visit a few other houses in the neighborhood. We’ll let you know of our decision within a week’ her daughter conveniently picked the last cookie on the way out. Nazia retreated back into her room, needing some time to ‘recover’ till the next installment of the show was to commence. Every time, she would end with soft sobs interred deep into her pillow.
Ashraf and his wife sat in silent contemplation, wondering a car certainly would’ve cost less, it being the demand made on the last show.
‘I don’t like her. Rejected!’ the woman exclaimed as she walked with her girls to the next house.
And thus the show culminated. For now.
January 5, 2012 § 10 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 24, 2011 § 8 Comments
It was the dream of a girl – a dream to work for global peace in whatever ways she can. And that gave birth to a unique idea, that of celebrating global diversity through a project that shall encompass the entire globe. When Danielle Lauren came up with an idea, it was the idea of one person. But as she started working on it, with the conviction that the world really is a beautiful mixture of cultures and a realization of this beauty can bring us all together, she was able to bring together an international team of bloggers, social activists, translators and web designers. Today, her idea is on the very brink of realization.
11eleven project is a unique venture in that it tries to show us a different dimension of globalization – a face that is not menacing or threatening but one that depicts how the world is connected together in a conglomeration of different cultures and languages, each of them equally beautiful and enchanting. On a single day, Nov 11, 2011, the day when the date is to be spelled as 11/11/11, bloggers, photographers, film-makers, tweeters and social activists will come together on a platform to share their ideas; their views of how the world looks like from where they see it; what beauty the sounds spill from where they hear it; what truth the words which they pen contains; and finally, how this mosaic of inter-twining perspectives brings out the true connection that we all share, no matter where we are placed on a map.
The ‘about’ section on the official website well sums up the idea behind this project:
“We want to plant a seed of compassion in the world and allow people all over the planet to gain a perspective of this crazy rock that we all live on. Are people from different parts of the world really that different? Different cultures may have different traditions, but we’re pretty sure a teacher inMadagascaris trying to achieve the same as a teacher in theUSA, or a Muslim father wants the same for his children as a Jewish father! We want this to be used as a time capsule for people to look back on and see how the world was in 2011. We’re looking for truthful stories from people around the globe that will give us a clear idea of how it is to live where you do, something that news channels or other programs miss out on.”
The best part about the project is that if you wish to participate in it, you are not constrained by language barriers. Write in whatever language you may deem fit, be it English, Urdu, Punjabi or any of the thousands of other languages. The team at 11eleven claims that it has a team of international translators that is all set to handle this multitude and craft it into a semblance of a single, global narrative.
With a few days to the project, thousands of people are already on the list, actively participating in the project and furthering the word. 11eleven has partnered with a number of international not-for-profit organizations such as Global Voices to let the world know about it. You also stand a chance for your artwork to be introduced to a global audience through a number of publications such as Marie Claire Magazine.
The topics for the submissions are: Beginnings; Make A Wish; Play; Courage; Routine; Beauty; Water; Darkness; Faith; Heartbreak and Love. You will have one day, Nov 11, 2011, complete with its 24 hours to submit artworks from any of the categories about the topics listed above. The bloggers are to blog about “How I wish the world will be in 100 years”.
I feel particularly excited about this event because in it, I see a chance of showing the world what Pakistan truly is – that behind the glaring headlines of terrorists attacks and war against terrorism, we are people just like any other people; that we share similar joys, sorrows, similar routines, similar love for art and a similar compassion for humanity like any other in the world; that Pakistan is as culturally rich as any other region in the world. I believe that here, now, is an opportunity for us to tell the world who we really are and weave our colors in an international narrative. And to say out loud that we are a nation that loves peace and humanity.
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.
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.
July 9, 2010 § 2 Comments
Host: So how do you view the current turmoil in Pakistan?
Rep: Alhamdulillah our government in Punjab is working wonders.
Host: What about the terrorists that are rumored to be camped in Punjab?
Rep: These are mere conspiracies pitched by those you are well aware of *wink*
Host: Do you think your government is doing enough to thwart terrorism and militancy?
Rep: Of course!! Look at our sasti roti programme. It’s a booming success!! We are bringing relief to the common man.
Host: There are talks of Punjabi Taliban. What do you have to say about them?
Rep: I myself have seen people from northern regions leading prayers in Punjab. There are camps in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
Host: But what about camps in Punjab?
Rep: Jamat-ul-Dawa is a legit organization. They have a clean record and we won’t do anything to harm them.
Host: Do Taliban exist?
Rep: We must stop the operations. They are doing great harm to our Islamic country.
Host: I’ve been told PML-N’s party-head tried to have himself declared ‘Khalifa’ in his last reign?
Rep: Taliban had a glorious rule in Afghanistan. They established Shariah and look for yourself how peaceful it was. *tears of joy*
Host: Why have the terrorists been successful in striking Punjab again and again?
Rep: Please don’t try to harm the democratic government in Punjab by such comments!!
Host: Have you done anything to ensure the security of the common man?
Rep: Our leaders spent many years abroad in a large palace and a luxurious lifestyle for the sake of this nation. What more do you ask of us?
Host: If the Taliban are not stopped, don’t you think anarchy will replace order in Pakistan?
Rep: We have restored judiciary. We mobilized lawyers. And now Babar Awan is giving them money. Look at them!!
Host: The Center said that they passed you information about a possible attack on the shrines. Why, then, was no action taken or security upped?
Rep: We have announced a large sum of money for the families of those who lost their lives. The centre wants to derail the provincial government.
Host: Why was Punjab government not able to do anything to regulate sugar prices? Is it because many PML-N members are directly involved in sugar production?
Rep: I swear upon my life we won’t let the price of roti go beyond 2 rupees.
Host: What is the greatest threat to the security of Pakistan?
Rep: The greatest threats are Rehman Malik and Governor Punjab. They are enemies of democracy. They conspire and it’s a result of their conspiracies that people have become foolish enough to blame the Taliban for everything.
Host: Don’t you think Taliban are the chief problem right now?
Rep: No. PPP has started a campaign against judiciary. We won’t stand it! We have been trying to respond peacefully but we will fight now!
Host: Fight whom? The Taliban?
Rep: We believe in dialogue.
Host: You mean you’ll engage in dialogue with them to give up terrorism?
Rep: We hope so. We have tried that in the past too by asking them not to attack Punjab. I think this time we should ask them in Pushto.
Host: Do you have any message for the masses?
Rep: Yes! I want to let the masses know that we are the ‘khadims’ of the awam. Do not look at our Mercedes’ or BMWs and think we are exalted. Do not think for a moment that our sugar mills will stop us from feeling your pain. Just know that we are your sincerest khadims and we will lay down our lives to protect you from everything, including a military operation. Please side with us in fighting this global conspiracy so that Quaid-e-Azam’s dream of an Islamic state could be restored.
July 8, 2010 § 2 Comments
US Afghan strategy has been dealt one blow after another of late, and the war efforts seem to be faced with a much greater resistance and criticism, both from within and without. The Af-Pak policy seems to be in a serious jeopardy after the current stream of events. The Rolling Stone article exploded into the face of American policy-makers. Despite the claims made of the extensive legislations and policy-making over US military operations in Afghanistan, it’s been General McChrystal and his ‘Team America’ who’s been calling the actual shots, says the article. As if this was not enough to wrestle away President Obama’s optimism of an ‘honorable exit’, the rapid surge in US army’s death toll has topped things up. Marjah has turned out to be a nightmare for US soldiers and still stays far from being declared a clean zone.
Meanwhile, a number of parallel factors have been established into the entire Afghan saga. The COIN strategy, introduced into Afghanistan by General McChrystal and his team, continues to exact a high toll of civilian casualties. This has resulted in harsh criticism from human rights’ activists. General McChrystal, in a special meeting, explained to President Karzai the reasons that entailed such collateral damages and assured him of contained deaths in future operations. He later imposed stricter regulations on soldiers for their ground assaults but it quite resulted in a conundrum since COIN thrives chiefly upon ruthless and swift attacks, with a large number of ground troops involved and contained assault comes to bear heavily upon its effectiveness.
Naturally enough, soldiers involved directly in these ground operations were reported to express resentment towards this development. The most important part, however, is that General Petraeus, the new head of US Central Command over Afghanistan has, in the face of mounting pressure regarding the humanitarian crisis, produced prompt statements affirming General McChrystal’s policy towards an ‘improved’ COIN strategy. Again, this means that such a measure will in actuality depreciate US ground effort in Afghanistan. In fact, a large faction of critics and security analysts label COIN as out rightly ineffective and a failed strategy plan.
The McChrystal debacle has also brought forth the lack of co-ordination that exists between Washington and the actual happenings in Afghanistan. It ascertains the notion that the military has been largely independent in making its war-time decisions in Afghanistan, often contradicting those made by the civilian representatives. President Obama’s rage is quite understandable over the General’s scandalous remarks towards a number of personalities, including the Vice President. He declared in his statement that the General’s conduct “undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system”. However, some factions seem to heed the rather scathing remarks McChrystal procured towards the Obama administration.
President Obama himself, despite having stated that the US will start forces’ withdrawal from Afghanistan by 2011, went on with the decision to send yet another 30,000 US troops to this war. Clearly, even when he couldn’t accept his commander’s criticism, he had to consent to the war-needs which depict that US war is far from being won.
A very intriguing, and important development, in this entire episode is the emergence of Pakistan as a chief negotiator and power-broker. Within hours of McChrystal’s unholy fall from grace, Pakistan rose to the status of sins-redeemed. Not only is the US government eager on ‘proving’ its sincerity on Afghanistan, it has gone a step ahead to appease Pakistan when none other than the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen regarded Pakistani nuclear assets as the ‘much-needed deterrence’ and ‘their crown jewels.’
A remarkable shift, one can’t help but wonder, from the earlier US stance of pointing fingers at the same weapons’ vulnerability to being exploited by militants. Rumors about General Kayanis efforts in trying to broker a deal between Taliban and the Afghan government are also doing their rounds despite the Generals denial of having facilitated any such arrangement. Such media pronouncements may also be a reason why US authorities have displayed a sudden desperation in being more lavish in asserting ‘friendliness’ towards Pakistan, being wary of a possible ousting from the final equation.
Local Perspective on a possible policy shift
Taking a more local view, if indeed the current Af-Pak policy fails to be replaced with one where Taliban are an essential part of the settlement, this shall have disastrous implications for both Afghanistan and Pakistan, much more so for the latter. With popular support from a vast majority of Afghans and money from petro-dollars already on their side, Taliban will then have a legitimate political power at their disposal which they may essentially expend in furthering their narrow-set ideology.
Afghanistan may not bear a deeper brunt than the ones it has in the past in case so happens. Pakistan, however, will be left to lick wounds of a war which came to a meaningless end and in which it suffered a lot. With its large territories under army operations in an attempt to cleanse them of the militants, Pakistan will then move back to point zero, with Taliban in an even stronger position than before. It’ll also mobilise the Jihadi factions for here will be there chance to re-emerge, more victorious and all the more virtuous. In short, Pakistan will be back in Zia Times, essentially made to take a policy shift which will once again legitimise self-proclaimed Jihad.
Nevertheless, if Taliban come down to a settlement where they give up arms and come to participate in a democratic establishment, this ought to be considered. US, Pakistan and Afghanistan can work together to create an arrangement where the militant influence is eliminated and replaced with a parliamentary participation. If indeed this is achieved, it is perhaps the best choice for everyone. However, it may sound a little Utopian now. But we can always hope for better!
Originally posted at: The Express Tribune Blogs
February 6, 2010 § 15 Comments
While to an average man, it may seem rather more appealing to go out in the streets and wreck havoc on roads and buildings, a more rational approach would be the one cited by Babar Sattar in his recent article:
“Statistics regarding the US justice system establish two things. One, that despite the civil rights movement and momentous anti-segregation decisions such as Brown vs. Board of Education, the conviction rate for blacks has remained much higher in comparison to whites during the later half of the 20th century. And, two, despite the emphasis on due process and all safeguards implicit within the justice system, there have been innumerable instances of grave injustice meted out to individuals affected by social and cultural biases.
In view of such injustices, the Innocence Project was set up in the Cardozo School of Law in 1991, which uses DNA evidence to help prisoners exonerate themselves. So far, almost 250 innocent convicts have benefited from such evidence and won their release. For example, James Bain was released in December at the age of 54, after spending 35 years behind bars for the crime of abduction and rape of a child that he had not been involved with. Similarly, James Lee Woodard was released in 2008 after serving a prison term of 27 years for a murder that he did not commit. Would Aafia Siddiqui have been convicted on the exact-same evidence if, instead of being a veiled Muslim denouncing Zionist conspiracies in the New York courtroom, she had been a composed blond white women wearing a Versace outfit? The challenge for any legal system is to prevent invidious societal prejudices from influencing dispensation of justice. In the first instance, the New York district court seems to have failed in rising to this challenge.
Our president, prime minister and the Foreign Office have expressed deep concern over the ruling and have announced their intent to provide legal support to Aafia Siddiqui. This is the correct response. It must be supplemented with initiating an inquiry into who in Pakistan’s Interior Division or intelligence agencies ordered that Aafia be “picked up,” in breach of her fundamental constitutional rights to liberty and freedom from arbitrary arrest, and to be handed over to the Americans without the mandated due process under our laws.
Further, as we go around denouncing the US as evil incarnate, let us also remember that the same folks who arrested Aafia Siddiqui also detained Masood Janjua around the same time and our justice system is yet to find a clue to his whereabouts.Instead of following the Jamaat-e-Islami’s lead and mimicking the monkey who lit up his own tail in fury, it is preferable to focus on the available legal remedies within the US justice system. Notwithstanding the ideal that moralists would wish to see implemented, in our imperfect world, the extent to which an individual’s fundamental human rights stand respected still depends on the incidence of his/her birth, as well as national identity. And in that regard, protesting the West’s duplicity will not help. Reforming ourselves to build a nation whose rights no one dare impinge will be a more constructive approach.”
Even when I am very disappointed with the Pakistani government at the way it handled the case and the docility it displayed in pushing it, I am hopeful that the sentence and the consequence backlash, both from the right-wingers and human-rights’ activists, would make the government make better moves this time to ensure Aafia is accorded justice and is not sacrificed to a blind, injust sentence.
On a side-note, I am quite appalled at few leftist fellow bloggers whom I have come across. Their stance over the issue is quite beyond me. While they do claim to be human rights’ activists, they are of the opinion that Pakistani nation need not give a damn to her since she’s not a direct national concern. I must say this utilitarian approach is highly dangerous and we’d then be left to deciding who deserves basic human rights and who don’t, based upon how much that person is concerned to us.
Finally, I’d also want to see ANY arguments from such friends that may substantiate in anyway Aafia’s conviction since thus far, I’m quite unable to discern any solid proof or rational justification to her implication in the said case.
February 5, 2010 § 14 Comments
After months of speculation, outcries and protests over Aafia Siddiqui’s case, the US court finally passes the verdict against her, accusing her of attempting to kill US marines.
While the decision comes as quite a shock with obvious anomalies marring the very authenticity of the case itself, it is indeed a shame to note that the Pakistani government didn’t do ANYTHING at all, all along, except mere lip-service to ensure that justice is accorded to one of it’s own citizens who had been illegally abducted many years earlier and have, since then, faced the torment and inhumanity of American military and government, most of those years even without an admission of her custody by the US government.
It aches my heart to note that even when with such a poor case and her illegal abduction for many years on end, her physical health testifying to the circumstances she’d been kept in and the way she’s been treated, and having lost two of her children, the brazen jury still goes on to pass a verdict against her. While the verdict has been passed, that certainly doesn’t mean that the questions over the case have ended. They remain and need to be cited as a reminder: Why on earth was Aafia Siddiqui given on repeated remands despite her physical condition and was never given a bail even when the court admitted her to be of a very weak disposition, both mental and physical??! On August 16, the US envoy to Pakistan made a public statement saying that the US had no “definitive knowledge” of the whereabouts of Aafia’s children but only a few days later the Afghan authorities revealed that an 11-year-old boy had also been “arrested” with Aafia and this boy was then repatriated to be received by Aafia’s family as her eldest son. Why the lie? And does this lie not point to a cover-up at the part of US government, continuously switching it’s statement about the details of the case and does that not have direct bearing on the credibility of US government in the case?
I want to quote an excerpt from Kamran Shafi’s write-up over the issue regarding the alleged firing of shots by Aafia: “By the way Excellency, if you care to notice, Aafia Siddiqui is about your build and dimensions. May I suggest you get one of your Marines at the embassy to bring you a US army-issue M4 rifle. Now ask him to clear the chamber, affix the magazine, put the rifle on ’safe’, and place it on the ground which would be the exact position in which Aafia Siddiqui found hers and with which she is alleged to have fired upon the US officer. You may very well fail to even cock it in 10 seconds, let alone find the safety catch, lift the rifle to your shoulder and fire it”
What’s more, FBI agent himself testified to the fact that no finger-prints of Aafia Siddiqui were found on the rifle she’s accused to have shot with. The witnesses’ statement also kept changing – first Aafia was accused of having been on her knees while shooting. However, later he said that Aafia was standing and that’s when she fired the bullets. An important thing to note here is that the Afghan interpreter who was to testify in the case has been brought to US by the US officials, helped in settling, and being issued a green card, according to his own statements to the court.
It aches my heart greatly as I try to imagine what she would have felt after the verdict was announced. After being sold by her our ‘respected’ country’s president to another nation, after being abducted by several years and being tortured and raped by the abductors, after being tormented, after having had life made a hell and EVERTHING that she held dear being taken away from her, and after having the entire nation’s sympathies, Aafia Siddiqui was not able to get a just verdict from those according justice! And while the entire nation was boiling with anger over this verdict, the government kept it’s calm and never tried to remove those scars off it’s escutcheon of national pride and self-dignity.
It’s not a question of a person – I agree on having being sentimental on it but I wouldn’t have cared to waste my rhetoric on it had it been that insignificant. But this case is not insignificant. It’s HIGHLY significant. In this case is implicit the nature of the future exploits of the war against terror, for the final decision on this case clearly sends us all a message from the US government: that ‘we can arrest you anytime, anywhere, in anyway and at any charge, no matter how absurd. And then no matter what you do, no matter what measures your national government takes, we are going to teach you a lesson, both extra-judicially and then through the judicial system. So shut up and stop whining and comply.’
And for the first time throughout the entire saga, I feel ashamed. I feel drained of all national pride and all I know now is that I’m not sure of the slightest guarantee my country would let me in case some other nation takes an assault on me. In fact, I can’t even trust my own government officials since they may sell me for a few dimes! For that’s what they did to Aafia Siddiqui. And for that, I’m very ashamed, Aafia Siddiqui. For your nation, and your fellow nationals, couldn’t do anything to stop this inhumanity and injustice!!