Sunday, October 23, 2011
K = 1,000. If you didn't know.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Think Tanks Vs Universities - I Always Thought That Think Tanks Were Easier to Engage With Since High School
But back to think tanks. They serve corporate interests and are endowed by private or corporate funding. Universities at some level have to serve the public interest.
Interestingly, in the United Kingdom, there`s been a spate of fake universities, in fact fraudulent, private universities, so much so that the mouthpiece of middle classiya Pakistan, The News carried a piece on a clampdown on them. Now if I could find it.....
(Gratuitous ideological point: Maybe neo-liberalising everything was a bad idea? It let the fraudsters loose.)
I sort of realised how easy and simplistic the messages are, coming out of think tanks, in comparison to universities because:
1) The pronouncements of Think Tanks, always seemed a bit too simplistic.
2) Before the neo-liberal era, (the Bretton Woods era of the sixties and seventies, and yes Bretton Woods ideas are not completely applicable anymore) the main engine of ideas was the university, not the Think Tank.
After the rich started getting richer, in the late seventies onwards (not just in Pakistan, but across the West), Think Tanks seemed to rise to greater prominence than universities, as a sort of rival generator of ideas. This was driven home by this piece by Adam Curtis where he writes on the strange rise of this competitor to idea generation, the Think Tank. And considering the furore over the report published by the Jinnah Institute (the Think Tank parade/charade comes to Karachi) the history of the Think Tank, as an alternative to the University as idea generating machine. The university, in world politics, were so important to the world`s history during the sixties and seventies, that it echoes down to this day. Even in Pakistan.
But I always felt that serving the corporate interests was easy, and it is. It`s so easy, a high schooler could do it. With a high school education. And then earn a high schooler`s wages for life. Which is why kids are told by their parents; get lost to university and come back with good grades.
The rise of neo-liberalism was paralleled and aided by the rise of the Think Tank industry. Corporate power in the west, and military corporate power in Pakistan rose during the last thirty years, aided by a think tank industry acting as a handmaiden, and corporate ideological armourer for it. The power of think tanks has gotten so great, as idea based rivals to universities, that with New America Foundation and the Jinnah Institute, those trying to serve democracy and stop the excesses of corporate military and corporate power are finding themselves needing to recreate the tactics of their ideological opponents. To have ready made ideas lying around, except this time in service to democcracy.
Maybe universities and their students should consider stepping up on this matter. If they can stop worrying about the constant problem of jobs and grades that plagues them.
In the meantime, have a look at the strange rise, and rise of the Think Tank.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Credit to Najam Sethi who gave two vital pieces of information that were necessary at 5:11 and 8:14, at what ails the PPP-MQM relation, and the breakdown of armed forces in Karachi, respectively.
In this city: There are 20,000 Rangers based inside Karachi, 35,000 police for Karachi, plus 55-56,000 private security guards.
That's an armed force of ~ 110,000+ armed men for a city of 18,000,000.
They can be deployed and within 15 days hunt down and capture the men doing this.
However from there it gets complicated.
Many will be released back into the streets due to an obsolete jail system and an overloaded judiciary. But that's not even the real hindrance that is stopping the government from starting an op against these men.
The real issue is that government relies on the MQM for seats. Much of the MQM's cadre will be swept up if an impartial sweep is started throughout the city. The MQM cannot afford to have large numbers of its men thrown into prison.
Also in the sweep many ANP men, and possibly members of the People's Aman Committee will see its men tossed in the cooler. But their criminals are joined through alliances, not party membership. MQM has party people who are in trouble. And the government needs the MQM. There is a way out; if the pol's can negotiate with each other and decide how much of their cadre its acceptable must face prison time for crimes committed. Also if they negotiate down from the angry maximalist positions each has taken regarding local administration systems & unresolved power sharing agreements in Sindh and Karachi/Hyderabad, that might help.
The census is abut to start, and in relation to that there is something regarding the demarcation of electoral constituencies, and the politicians are antsy about that. Most And a final compromise on the negotiated end of the commisionerate system, the Musharraf era elected Nazim (mayor) system and what version a democratically elected government would want.
A final solution....my God....here's an outline. The politicians from the PPP, ANP & MQM, and I have to stress, it must be *THE* leading politicians of these parties, must sit down and find where they can agree on the Venn diagram of what kind of local government Karachi & Hyderabad (and in contrast the rest of Sindh) must have, what common minimum principles/numbers they can accept on the demarcation of electoral constituencies and most importantly, what proportion of their cadres are completely criminalised and need to be taken off the streets.
It is entirely up to our politicians to work this out. There is no Uncle Sam or General Kayani to hold their hands. They must realise that they cannot completely wipe any of the other two of the board, and for better or worse, everybody will have to live with each other. A path out of this bloody deadlock we are in, may appear if they can reach some sort of binding decision on how Karachi/Hyderabad should be governed and simultaneously, with the criminals taken off the streets.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
The relevant section to be scrolled down to is:
"2.3 The MQM Versus the Pakistani State and the MQM-Haqiqi"
LOOK AT THE DATES:
1992; June 19 is listed as the date when:
"the Pakistani army intervened in a government-initiated military crack down code-named “Operation Clean-up”, allegedly in order to quell the chronic ethnic unrest in the province. Following the army operation, which resulted in a thousand of so-called terrorists and dacoits killed (Verkaaik, 2005.), a vendetta ensued between the two rival factions of the MQM. The MQM (A), whose leadership had to go underground, set about recovering by force its lost offices and the localities of Landhi and Korangi controlled by the MQM (H). It soon took the shape of a proxy war between semi-autonomous gangs trying to control small patches of the city and which lasted for months causing the death of many bystanders."
And then there is no entry for two years until suddenly......
APRIL 1994. The normal tick, tick, tick, of a few dead, then weeks of peace was blown to smithereens by a massive quantity of violence. And then the slide to hell began:
"1994; April 29 to May 5, The six-day insurgency: The MQM violently opposed the provincial government of Sindh as well as the federal government headed by the Sindhi leader of PPP, Benazir Bhutto. The MQM militants attacked more than 70 law enforcement agencies in the province and killed 32 people, mostly by sniper-firing (Haleem, 2003: 469). Till June, 62 policemen and more than 500 civilians were targeted (Haq, 1995: 1003)."
Long live memory and human experience. The direct way we learn.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Even though I disagreed with the guy, I bloody did not want him dead. Where does Al Qaeda end & the Pak Mil begin? RIP Syed Saleem Shahzad.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet ReplyTLW
This is what I wrote when I heard of Saleem Shahzad`s murder. We knew thanks to twitter that Mr Shahzad had been disappeared, but like many people we expected something like the Umar Cheema incident, where a reporter gets picked up, roughed up and released. Instead, we are confronted with the potential murder of Mr Saleem Shahzad at the hands of the intelligence services.
I may be saying potential, but that is what the news reports say. The opinion, rippling up and down the twittersphere, is that despite reporting on the intersection of Islamic militants and Pakistan's intelligence agencies, it is the latter part of the equation that has firmly done in Mr Syed Saleem Shahzad. Mr Shahzad's last piece, the first of a promised two parter, on the infiltration and presence of Al Qaeda cells in the Pakistan Navy, is likely what sealed Mr Shahzad's fate.
Mr Saleem Shahzad's name was likely one I had come across, as a hyperlinks would casually direct one to the Asia Times website over the last decade. And why wouldn't they? Before this current generation of journalists and bloggers, with their synthesis view of the War on Terror, growing up with it (seeing as we were just merely teens when 9/11 happened) Asia Times had a staff with multiple alternate ideologies running, right through the time of the Asian financial crises of 1997, when the print version of the newspaper folded and "Asia Times Online" took shape.
Mr Shahzad, along with Pepe Escobar, covered Pakistan from their own perspective for the early part of the last decade, whilst other voices also began rising to the surface.
However, as this new Pakistan focused journalism rose up, Mr Shahzad continued on the stories that were most attractive to eyeballs outside Pakistan, namely, the rise of Islamic extremists and their links within the Pakistan government and military. The new breed of Pakistanis journalist was more interested in what was payed to play by the domestic Pakistani consumer.
Mr Shahzad did not focus his stories intently on this "inside the loop" version of Pakistani news. He continued to focus on the line that was sold outside Pakistan, because let's face it, it effected those countries through violence; the continuous rise, and rise of Islamic extremism. And of course its murkier, and murkier connection with the Pakistani state.
This was no longer the open and shut training of Afghan Mujahideen in the eighties or of training Kashmiri guerrillas in the nineties. After 9/11, and in fact, after the airlift of evil, or as I call it, the airlift of buying General Musharraf credibility.
Parading the caught members of the airlift of evil would have been the easiest way to bring Pakistan to the reputational cul-de-sac it finds itself in, plus could have nipped the seeds even of the Taliban insurgency.
For God's sake, Pakistan AIR FORCE officers would have been taken as Prisoners of War inside Afghanistan in November 2001. I remember that time. It would be the current pressure Pakistan is facing, multiplied by a factor of ten or twenty. The Pakistan military, and General Musharraf should thank their lucky stars that President Bush and V.President Dick Cheney were incharge.
The thought of Pakistani Air Force officers being paraded around as POW's inside Afghanistan by the Americans in late 2001, would have bought the military to the DOMESTIC crisis point it faces right now within Pakistan; our soldiers being caught so closely in co-operation with the Taliban right after 9/11.
We were bought a good ten years.
The reason I bring the Airlift of Evil up, is that with the capture of Osama Bin Ladin a thousand yards from Kakul, a decade long obfuscation campaign has officially ended. The last ten years since 9/11 have been spent by ordinary citizens and reporters trying to decipher and cut through reams and reams and of bullshit spun by those at the top of multiple governmental heaps. Those would be the government heaps of the United States, and Pakistan. The Bush junta, and the Musharraf junta, constantly spinning a line of BS to keep people distracted from their own incompetenct complicities in crimes of commission over the last ten years.
To try and make sense of these problems, we the ordinary people were left with groups like Asia Times Online, and their ideologically charged reporters, such as Pepe Escobar, and the Urdu press influenced Syed Saleem Shahzad.
In those ten years, the Islamist virus entered Pakistan, mutated and turned in all different directions. Syed Saleem Shahzad remained focussed on it.
I first really took note of Saleem Shahzad's name when he appeared on an independent Canadian news program/Youtube channel called "The Real News". The Real News is known for having an independent bent, as it is lead by Paul Jay, an independent journalist and film producer, who's been running the Real News since the summer of 2007. I especially recall, "The Real News" introducing Beena Sarwar on film (this was the first time I had seen her on tv) in the time around the emergency and in the period leading immediately to what turned out to be the surprisingly independent February 2008 elections. Pepe Escobar was his regular international correspondent, and it is likely that he bought Saleem Shahzad in. When I first saw Saleem Shahzad on The Real News, I was not totally impressed with what I saw, but I had to admit that Mr Shahzad was somewhat on the right path. At that point, in and around the summer of 2007, the Musharraf regime was collapsing, and one was hoping that everything would be resolved with minimum bloodshed. That was not to happen.
During 2008, I ventured onto Asia Times Online, time and again, to try and make sense of the prevailing low level chaos that was ensuing. Even though I got some valuable editorial insight, the air of excessive speculation, and excessive reliance on ideology (an unreconstructed Marxism in the case of Pepe Escobar and prevalent ideological conservatism in the case of Saleem Shahzad and Spengler) was a bit of a turnoff for me. I read Asia Times on and off through 2008 and 2009, but came to feel they were not good for illumination on the development of Pakistan's democratic politics. Cyril Almeida lightly references this feature of Asia Times, when he describes Syed Saleem Shahzad's publisher and the last story that Mr Shahzad did that is likely the reason that got him killed:
His last piece was illustrative of this. That the PNS Mehran attack was facilitated by someone in uniform, retired or serving, seemed fairly clear to many. There had also been rumours for months about navy personnel picked up by intelligence agencies for links to jihadi groups, but the veil of secrecy was tight and veteran trackers of militancy had not got very far on the details.
Saleem’s last piece, though, was a narrative perfectly formed, all the pieces falling into place in a way most people familiar with such stuff would at least have raised an eyebrow at. The theory didn’t get much play locally or internationally and it would be fairly plausible to assume the second part of his two-part series would have been received with similarly cool interest.
After summarising the nature of Mr Shahzad's last story, and critically looking at the nature of his publisher, Cyril Almeida does turn to the very obvious facts of the present case:
So, we are left with the case of a journalist picked up from central Islamabad whose work had long since ceased to make waves in the media, and yet he was brutally tortured to death. That’s what makes the ‘why’ part so thoroughly unsettling, if not downright scary.Cyril goes on to point out how now there will be a difficulty in determining what is going on in the further recesses of our deep state, a condition already difficult, exacerbated by this murder. The appropriate phrase is "chilling effect", but just the amount of outrage this murder has caused will lead many to question whether overt criticism of the military establishment can be stopped. The military establishment now knows that technologically, it is now difficult to stop people from overtly criticising it, however, the purpose Syed Saleem Shahzad's murder may serve may be to stop deep investigations of the deep state, those sort of attempts at understanding, where you are sometimes unsure whether you are speaking to a witness or a participant.
And that is what happened in the line of reporting Syed Saleem Shahzad was pursuing.
Here he is, on The Real News, on 20th May 2011, TWO DAYS BEFORE the attack on PNS Mehran, describing how there is a possibility of a mutiny brewing within the Pakistan military over the close co-operation with the United States. He had been tracking this in his news filings over arrests made in the Pakistan Navy of cells of Islamic extremists. Al Qaeda had threatened retaliation if those captured terrorists weren't released. That is why we had those bombings of Pakistan Navy buses.
Much of what Saleem Shahzad said in this video is worth investigating. I don't have space to go into every salient thing he said, I would mention though, the fact that the ISI mis-reported to Musharraf who was behind the December 2003, completely fucking up relations between the Jihadis and the military (a month of rage, May 2004, was carried out in Karachi, attacking higher military leaders, possibly not unrelated to this) and General Kayani earned his chops, by actually being in charge of finding WHO tried to kill Musharraf in December 2003. Needless to say, Syed Saleem Shahzad, correctly predicted that there would be a partial mutiny inside the Pakistan military (it happened in the Navy, I think we may have to wait for the actual Army shoe to drop *shudder*) and just to add to the Saudi-Iran angle of them using Pakistan as a proxy battle ground, there is a LOT to be said for this, but just to blow your mind, here is a trailer with video of an Arab Sheikh handing out money to the families of kids who were used as camel jockeys in a Gulf Arab Emirate, on whom this is a documentary. The more important point is, here is a Gulf Sheikh, just randomly handing out money to a group of poor south Punjab Pakistanis.
If Pakistanis want to talk about sovereignty, they will also have to talk about how they are allowing all these countries to use their territory as a proxy battleground for all their stupid sectarian feuds. Saleem Shahzad's further points on the Taliban being stunned whilst simultaneously grieving for the loss of Bin Ladin are also valid assessments to make.
After the murder of Saleem Shahzad, from Pakistan's side, there has been loud anger, and a voicing of a desire for resistance and protest. Some of the responses have carried great personal steel, and resolve to not let matters continue in the way that they are. Others are not always too secure in this view.
Munizae Jahangir is right. This is a government that has been unable to even convict anybody for the murder of Benazir Bhutto. It was also interesting to see The Real News reference Asian Correspondent.
People will continue to speak against the excesses of the military establishment. But they are constantly unsure whether these criticisms or protestations will have much impact.
As for poor Syed Saleem Shahzad, he left a book. That was published just two weeks ago.
Called "Inside Al Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11". I'm buying and reading it.
Syed Saleem Shahzad is survived by his three children and widow.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Ted Rall Speaks to The Young Turks About the Rise of the Obamabots. It's Great When Stuff You Like Comes Together
Cenk is the one who interviews Ted and is the "Young Turk" who named and founded the show with his friend Ben Mankiwiecz. Mr Mankiewiecz is the son of a famous advisor to the Democratic party. The show, the Young Turks has it's own interesting take on Pakistan, which has now considerably changed and been updated with the capture of Osama Bin Ladin from right next to Kakul. I wanted to blog about The Young Turks and their take on Pakistan earlier, but I'll definitely do something on them at a later date. Cenk should consider having Mr Rall on MSNBC, where his views could be seen more favorably and disseminated more widely.
For now, please enjoy Mr Ted Rall's independent take on the Obama presidency, the political red lining that took place during the Bush years (that continued till three years back and could return again) and the rise of the Obama Bots.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Sorry I've been gone for a bit of a while all this year. Between the murder of Salman Taseer, of Shahbaz Bhatti, the Cricket World Cup, the eruption of the Arab Spring across the Middle East and North Africa, and my subsequent taking up of Twitter and Tumblr over the last three months, as I had been promising to people for nearly half a year, a LOT has happened. A Lot.
I promise I shall add my Twitter and Tumblr to this blogspot, but for now, you can directly read my updates as I figure this stuff out.
And then there was the mother of all events that happened in of all places, Abbottabad, as the United States Public Enemy No 1 was killed by 80+ US Navy SEALS in under 40 minutes after ten years of being really on the lam, after committing the greatest terrorist atrocity the world has ever seen. And Pakistan plus every global news cycle was thrown into an administrative tailspin. The murder of Osama Bin Ladin on Pakistani soil (a thousand feet from our premier military academy) resulted in the first ever offering by the DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE PAKISTANI KILLING ISI to resign for a mistake that he committed. And the Pakistani parliament and civilian establishment let that opportunity slip through their fingers. They didn`t even extract a promise to carry or aid an investigation and THEN get General Ahmed Shuja Pasha`s resignation. A failure. Along with the dizzying array of failures that have stalked this land (and even threatened and blown parts of it up) since 4 US helicopters slipped below the radar into Pakistani airspace on the night of 1st May 2011.
These failures are documented by even dear old Wikileaks, which has now signed a deal with dear old DAWN to exclusively publish all those old leaked cables from late last year that pertain to Pakistan, exclusively in DAWN. The same cables that may have helped set off the Arab Spring through their revelation of President Ben Ali`s wrongdoings in Tunisia. So there is that. A documentation of failure.
And those failures continue.
And we have at, this point in time, a 10 hour long failure unfolding in PNS Mehran. A failure that strikes deep into the heart of the Pakistani military, and deep in my heart, as I lived close to PNS Mehran at one time and have even been there. PNS Mehran is entering it`s eleventh hour of siege and TWO P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft were destroyed by 10 to 15 militants who snuck into that little monument to my childhood and its commute, PNS Mehran. That's a total of $70,000,000 worth of damage to Pakistan right there and then by the TTP.
In response to the murder of Osama in Abbotabad. And then some other reasons of course.
So there's that.
I have to go now and won't be back for some time. You can follow me on Twitter, but in the meantime, for the best analysis of this whole situation; from the capture of Osama Bin Ladin a thousand metres from Kakul, to the glass half empty session of parliament that partially absolved the military, to an entire UNIT of militants sneaking into the Pakistan Navy's premier Naval Air Base and blasting away $ 70,000,000 worth of equipment.
Good Night Y'all.
And God Bless All Those ordinary rank and file who fought and died and were injured fighting those scum that were sent in PNS Mehran.
Friday, April 29, 2011
It seems a lot of people have died since this year has started. A lot of famous individuals dying and a lot of regimes have died as well, especially in the Arab world (sorry for not covering that, but things don’t seem to shut down in Pakistan). But most of those deaths were political or well known to the media. The one I am confronted with is a slightly personal one, the death of a literary influence on my work, a man I began reading in the mid-2000’s. A good man and a good writer, Mr Joe Bageant.
Mr Bageant died on the 26th of March of 2011, last month, and since we were all busy with our own things, I didn’t notice the death of somebody whose writings informed me. His writing introduced me to another culture of America, that of the working man, and what it means to have to fight and struggle in this brave new economy when the chips are stacked against you.
There were a few salient features of Mr Bageants writings. His description of a rural pre-television childhood, a description of being raised in a pre-internet era, the contours or shadows of the confederacy he could feel in his life in the South, how he enjoyed reading, whilst many of his fellows growing up were not too fond of it. The more serious stuff was how he described the effects of growing up a religious Christian and most importantly, why George Bush won the second term and why people voted against their own interests to elect George Bush to power, not once, but twice. On the way, he verbally kicked an American John Dolan, who is related professionally to Matt Taibbi, whilst in the process humanising Lyndie England (who never should’ve been in Iraq, like the rest of the American army) yet simultaneously condemning her act of torture. In his later writings he turned to a very environmentalist reading of the economy, something I disagreed with, and sometimes wrote off as a feature of age. Especially when he talked about the US maybe become a second world country and “Please excuse the lack of oxygen”.
He is also one of the few Americans who mentioned Swat as one of Obama’s wars and tried to explain to Americans what their role was in the war in Swat. For that he has my permanent gratitude.
I ran into Mr Bageant’s writings in 2005. I’m not sure how I ran into his writings. It likely had something to do with the website workingforchange.com and its internet published columnists, that eventually led me to Mr Bageant’s little place on the internet. I had been referred to workingforchange.com by Michael Moore’s website, a man who championed (and still does) America’s urban working poor. And whereas Mr Moore’s factory workers have been driven from the factory into the fry-cook job, Mr Bageant’s rural American workers have been driven off their land over generations by collapsing food prices thanks to corporatized farming, to compete with America’s working poor for those fry cook jobs. It is these people Joe Bageant wrote about, because it is these people Mr Bageant came from.
Some of the few things I read off Mr Bageant, flipping between 4chan and Joe Bageant’s website. 4Chan has made into Time magazine as a cultural icon. Mr Bageant deserves to be counted as one as well.
Carpooling With Adolf Eichmann (references Pakistan’s “nuclear blackmail”)
Drink, Pray, Fight, Fuck (An introduction to the Scots Irish)
Poor, White and Pissed (Why poor people in the United States may have voted against their own economic interests)
Lafayette Park Blues (A History of Joe Bageant During the 1960’s)
Mash Note for the “Girl With the Leash” (On Lynndie England’s infamy)
Driving on the Bones of God (A Contemplation on the Federal Government Structure in Washington)
Karaoke Night in George Bush’s America (A Contemplation on His Ancestral Town’s Fellow Citizens)
One Last Kick At Liberal Dogs (On Contemplating American Liberal’s Own Sometime Bigotry Against and Misunderstanding of Rural America)
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Shaheryar Mirza got everything right that we could possibly get over the current air of uncertainty and opaqueness over these recent bombings of Naval buses over the last three days. I had just written a large 800+ piece on the twin bombings on Tuesday against two Naval buses, simultaneously attacked in morning rush hour traffic in two different parts of Karachi. I was editing that piece last night when twitter lit up that a new attack had taken place, this time close to PNS Karsaz, this time at a different Naval support base. This obviously means that the all Naval support bases and their staff are a target. A few salient things to take away from what Shaheryar said:
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Forget emotions, I feel like there's a small empty space in my heart.
Ahmer Naqvi and Sami Shah wrote best on Moin sahab's passing.
And this one video Ahmer Naqvi posted is tragic, as he typed it. It's the comedian Omer Sharif reacting to his comedian colleague Moin Akhtar's death:
All I can say is said by Ahmer Naqvi, on the passing of a talented and good man:
Moin Akhtar was easily one of the greatest Pakistanis to have ever lived, my favourite comedian growing up.
انا لله و انا عليه راجعون
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Every journey into writing is an emotional journey into the stories of a besieged community and the apathy of the state and the nation.
I often wonder how these women retained sanity.
A mother hiding in bushes, clutching her two children close to her chest while her elder daughter was being brutalized, stripped naked, gang raped; her breasts cut off and burnt to death. The helplessness of the mother, the choice of being killed herself along with the two children or letting the daughter be massacred without registering a protest haunts me. In the initial months every time I met her she kept mumbling,’ I am ashamed to be a mother; I am ashamed to be a mother’.
A mother carrying her unborn five month baby inside her womb, carrying another three year old with her, fleeing from the mobs runs for safety to a village which is 5-6 kms away, gets shelter is asked to leave early morning, reaches an Adivasi village, after two days again on the move but not lucky enough to escape this time. The younger daughter is killed on the spot and mother gang raped and left considered as dead. The mother survives and so does the five month old baby inside her womb. On July 5, 2002 around noon I reach the hospital the baby, just two hours old, sleeps peacefully beside her mother. I see a smile on the mother’s face for the first time in all those months.
Another mother is beaten severely inside her own house. These are not VHP goons; these are men in uniform and the year in 2009 and not 2002. She is kicked on her private parts with boots. She has a 18 day old baby. Snatching the baby from the mother, the baby is thrown to the ground. The mother bleeds heavily and finally losses consciousness. Eleven other women face the same ire from the local police. The reasons can be any. Right now the police are frustrated as someone whom they had arrested got down from their motorcycle and walked away while they were taking him to the police station. So they arrive in nearly 25vehicles start breaking the doors of residential homes, break vehicles, and enter 12 homes, attack women and children, molest women, arrest them and take them away. Its only next evening that the magistrate orders a medical test but the doctor is too frightened to take a stand so no lady doctor is found to examine the women.
Khatoon takes food for her sons on her visit to the jail the police officer pushes it away with his shoes, scattering the entire meal on the floor. She had perhaps saved money from her own meal to be able to bring this for the sons. Two of her younger sons are moved and she is not informed where they have been moved to. She keeps searching for them. Then the third son is also moved. For three months she has no clue where the sons have gone. She goes almost insane searching for them. Finally her elder son manages to write to her and informs her that they are in Sabarmati jail in Ahmedabad. Shamsher Khan, Siddique Khan and Nasir Khan are released after nine years. They have been declared innocent. What about those nine years of humiliation, torture, want, hunger, separation, a mother’s sufferings?
Yasmin Bano’s body is waiting for her last journey, her four children crying bitterly hoping Abba would come at least for the funeral but parole is denied. Was it just some skin decease because of which Yasmin died or did she succumb to grief? Her husband Hanif Abdul Razak had a business of manufacturing school bags. The crime branch police officials took him as well as his younger brother from the house at about 3:00 AM on March 27, 2003 with the promise to release them the next day.
Both the brothers are separated and beaten severely for almost two and a half hours. In the morning, they are put together and the police officers then debate whom they should implicate in a case. Ashok Singhal, one of the police officers proposes they should implicate the elder brother, as he is the only earning member in the family. Both are detained illegally for 12 days without being produced before the court, are regularly physically tortured by the police. Hanif is harassed to agree to every condition otherwise be prepared that younger brother would be booked in the same case.
On April 9, 2003 Hanif is produced in the court, before the Metropolitan Magistrate. He is granted fifteen days of police remand. During that time, they subject him to excessive torture. They strip him completely, lower him down into a tank full of water and then give him electric shocks on the sensitive parts of the body. They ask him to admit that he had made the Tiffin bombs, or else his body might succumb to severe torture.
After the 15 days of police remand he is produced again before the court. The Magistrate, already has a statement under the section 164 of IPC that Hanif is asked to sign. Hanif however, refuses to sign the statement arguing that he has not committed any crime. The magistrate then turns to the police officers and says, ‘Take him back for another day, see that he doesn’t refuse to sign tomorrow’. As instructed, Hanif is brutally tortured all night and therefore does not resist any longer. He finally succumbs and signs the statement under the section 164 of IPC in the court the next day. Based on that statement, the court sentences him to ten years of imprisonment on May 15, 2005.
Hanif was neither granted parole when his mother died on Jan 4, 2007 nor on May 13, 2008 when Yasmin, his wife died. No mother with a Muslim name can sleep peacefully in Modi’s vibrant Gujarat.
Niaz Apa lived in village Ognaz in Daskroi taluka. She had a fairly big house in her village and 18 Gunthas of agricultural land touching the road. Her house was attacked, looted and destroyed in 2002. Her granddaughter Farheen was playing outside the home when a petrol bomb was thrown towards the house. It came and fell in front of Farheen. Something seem to have frozen with in her mind since then. She has to be helped to walk even nine years after the incident, she cannot even see a stove burning, and no amount of treatment has helped so far, a child traumatized for life.
The family fled and spent 8 months in a relief camp. Niaz apa filed cases against the attackers naming them. They were all neighbours and land owners. She could not return to the village or cultivate the land, the condition was withdraw the cases. She tried giving the land for cultivation on commission (batai), the attackers again did not allow that till the cases were withdrawn. They threatened to destroy the crops if any such effort was made without compromising on the cases. Then Niaz apa tried to sell the land, the attackers threatened the buyers with dire consequences. Finally she sold the house and the land secretly on a throw away price much lower than the market rate. Like 5000 other families she lives in Gujarat as an internally displaced person in a small room in one of the make shift colonies built by various NGOs for the internally displaced. There are many others who compromised and went back to the villages living next to the rapists, murderers and looters.
Rashida Ansari lived in Ootwali chali in Behrampura, Ahmedabad. Her colony was attacked, looted and burnt down, Rashida fled with her family, Junaid was 9 years, Ibrahim 8 and Javed only 6. They asked the police to help them but police only fired at the people trying to escape the attacking mobs. It was just their sheer luck that the family was not hurt. She spent 6 months in camp in Jamalpur which ran in a school building. The camps were forcibly closed down after 4 months and she still had nowhere to go. She tried going back to where she lived. A wall was built to block the way to where once the Muslim families lived. Rashida tried to take another route to her house but immediately a small mob collected and they took out swords. Rashida had to run for her life never to return to that area again. She erected a small chappar in a corner and spent another two months under that.
While still at the camp she came to know about a meeting taking place at the Behavioral Science Centre. She decided to go there and what she heard there was absolutely new and amazing. She met people who talked about justice and equality, about the dream of building a society without hatred. There were more Hindus in that meeting than Muslims. She had seen only the VHP, Bajrang Dal and RSS brand so far who used religion to spread hatred. She was happy to meet so many Hindus who believed that her right to the nation and citizenship was as much as theirs.
Rashida decided to join this fight. Her family was very supportive but there were the conservative Muslim organisations who objected to Rashida doing this work. There were pressures to wear burqa and remain in the confines of the household but these voices in Gujarat were feeble and are still feeble as compared to states where Muslim conservative sections have been stronger.
In the coming days Rashida had become a part of Aman Samudaya. She joined the teams working in various relief camps, filing police cases, doing surveys, fighting for the rights of victims. Now Rashida fights for all the underprivileged.
Every story that I narrate reminds of hundred similar stories.
Certificates for Modi from Vastanvi and the likes have not changed the reality on the ground.
In a State where stray dogs from the cities are caught by the municipalities only to be let off in the early hours of the morning in Muslim bastis what justice can you dream off?
It is the enthusiasm and conviction of a few to resist which keeps the hope alive, though the rays of hope to overcome this madness are becoming blurred with every passing day.
March 14, 2011
Note From TLW: I ripped this off Facebook and posted it here because I have no interest in spending anytime on Facebook, and this through twitter and open hyperlinks, should be available on the open net. I really don't like Facebook.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Friday, April 8, 2011
Now, you know me, I go straight for the what-makes-this-place-tick part of the story, and man did I love your meta-description/discussion of our image problem. The suppressed past part is apt, and I've been warning people to always prepare for "embarassing realities" to pop up suddenly into the political scene. Just one example of an "embarassing reality" was that whole Pakistan's pervy google search thing, and another was our horrid labour practises which just killed of 40+ miners. Heck, Kamran Akmal is an embarassing reality, and even our beloved Shaiby and Lala pull heavy on the embarassing part in a way Imran Khan had to enter politics to acheive.
I won't ask how we alleviate it because you went for the coup de'grace when you compared Pakistan to an adolescent who's still a child. Man, I've been saying that to a few people since 2007; that basically, I think Pakistan is going through puberty. Seriously. If Pakistan makes it to 2013, and then to a new legitimate government, this country will have grown. Puberty explains everything, from the fight with backwards extemists, to the robust debates in the media, to the military become more sophisticated in its propaganda efforts, to Zardari acknowledging dead minorities first in his speech to the parliament, to Zaid Hamid/Hamid Mir constantly carrying a dark cloud around them due to embarassment/voiceover in a murder, these are signs of childhood breaking down, and maybe people growing up. When you were a teenager, didn't you feel sometimes like it was the end of the world? Well, this country is not going away; its bought off half the Baloch leadership, killed off the recalcitrant part, and is skulking around to clear off embarassing spots on its Balochistan sheet. And growing up is part of this little saga. There's also the past.
It was good to also see metaphors of child abuse there. I always considered our dictators to be negelctful Guardians.
And I seriously think our relationship with the United States can be classified as statuatory rape. We were 3 years old when the US began wooing us. The US was 174 years of age. The even used Walt Disney to draw us in to buy military toys, and then turn us into their chauthy beewee in Asia.
Seriously, I think the US can be called out on statutory rape, and it has been an abusive history. How does one go about dealing with an abused child? Especially one that is maybe, finally giving signs of growing up? You can introduce it to love. And Shaiby's demostrations of passion in bowling, as a love to aspire to, and Afridi's bara bhai like attention, may be one of many ways this country deals with the psyche problems it has.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
I at least hope that Goddamn google, blogger and gmail don't leave me logged in. Blogger's wordprocessing application, in which I type is a bit of a pain in the neck to begin with, mis-formatting the font and spacing in odd ways. On top of that when I sign out, they don`t sign out completely. I logout of gmail or blogger, and then I open google in a new tab and it reopens with me logged in. I don`t think its a conspiracy, but I do think that like all Pakistanis, I push the products I own and use, to their specified limits and beyond. I want to get my time and moneys worth, and maybe google/blogger, just have some strange glitch. We shall see when I reuse this on some new internet browser. For now, I have all the four major ones installed; but this signing-out-but-not-signing-out glitch/privacy invasion is a pain in the neck. I'll keep an eye out on it for the time being.
Must. Go. Shovel. Now.
Monday, March 21, 2011
This debt slavery was transferred from generation to generation and children would be born directly into a slave family. That is the story of Iqbal Masih. Strangely, Pakistan is so anti-labour, that it doesn't even acknowledge this kid as a hero. Or maybe that people have too many tales of tragedy to tell in relation to their labour.
But in relation to the coal miners who recently got killed and a further few trapped inside the mine. Towards the last two minutes of this report, the reporter talks about how some miners mention that they took out debts, and they're working this dangerous job to pay those debts off.
And so there we have the primary resource workplace of Pakistan. No wonder people ignored it and didn't talk about it. Its depressing, dangerous, full of slavery and debt bondage that's been going on for generations around the society. The doyens of modernity are too busy focusing on themselves to notice society at large. Or they've withdrawn into their shell because the horrors of society are too overwhelming. Well they just maybe, but possibly for lack of organised attempts to fix them.
Friday, March 18, 2011
The author of Erase and Rewind, spoke to the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army. The worlds meet.
One thing I regret; is never going on Band Baja when it was active.
A personal lesson for readers of this blog: journalism by those raised in Karachi* does get a person places. Now if it could only change the world.
Kudos Saba, and thank you Jeremy Scahill.
Postscript: Along with this and a reference to Mr Ayaz Amir's column (Behold the Molten Rage of the Honour Armies), this is the first and last time this blog will talk about the annoying meme that is Raymond Davis.
*I changed the the phrase "raised around Clifton" to "raised in Karachi" as Saba Imtiaz contacted me and clarified that she never lived in Clifton. Clifton here is a reference to an area of Karachi where I spent a lot of time, and where a great number of educational institutes of Karachi are located.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Born - 9th September 1968
Murdered - 2nd March 2011
I feel this needs to be written. Even if its been two weeks since Minister Shahbaz Bhatti was murdered, and I know everybody feels the same way I feel, but this needs to be said loud and clear. I want to apologise to his family and friends and express my grief and regret. The sadness at this murder breaks my heart and runs over into my soul at the spectacle of murder my country at large has become a stage for. I once used to take solace in the fact that it was only Karachi that partook in large scale murder in this day and age. But with Pakistani imperial ambitions blocked in Afghanistan, and an insane Al Qaeda turning its strategic violence industry on Pakistan, the mad radicals have decided to exploit to the hilt, every faultline, every difference, every frayed nerve ending to get their message of vengeance across to the larger Pakistani public at large. This includes exploiting the fact that for some strange reason I still have difficulty fathoming, a section of Punjabi Pakistanis get more worked up on insults to the prophet, rather than sticking to their religious mandate to worship no God but Allah. Or maybe if they want to get worked up it could be over non-reporting teachers or raped and murdered children in the province of the serial killer Javed Iqbal. But no, it’s a law passed by Zia that is used to victimise people, steal their property or destroy their reputation, the preservation of which’s abusive nature is more important than any other social ill that plagues Pakistan.
And so it’s with regret that I write that another in a long list of Pakistanis has been felled by the fanatics nurtured by our society and its government. Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti was killed 12 days ago on his way to work by Taliban gunmen. They were surgical about it, stopping the driver, telling him to get out of the car and then assassinating the Minister. He had not been given police guards, and simultaneously, an intelligence call came to him to inform him that his life was in danger. Allah. Yes geniuses at Pakistan’s intelligence agencies, we know Bhatti sahib’s life was in danger. What you people at the Jasoos Adda could have done would be to find the name of his killers, or maybe lodge cases and file for arrest warrants against everybody who had verbally or in writing made a threat against a sitting minister of the state.
My anger is overcome with sadness. The PPP should rabidly pursue the killers of their party member the way General Musharraf rabidly pursued those officers who tried to murder him, overturning entire careers if necessary. Yes I know that is a blasphemy, for civilians to challenge the careers of those in the government defence/intelligence sector, but I think it is necessary because too many high profile terror attacks have occurred for an example not to be made of in the government security bureaucracy.
This is part of the policy angle, and maybe some progress has been made. But I think more important is to speak about the human angle of the murder of Mr Shahbaz Bhatti, and this is painful to write. Mr Bhatti was a citizen of Pakistan. The community he belongs to, Pakistani Christians, are no less citizens of Pakistan, whether they are in Lahore, Pindi, Karachi or the insurgency hit Khyber district. In this day and age, with mass produced powerful weapons, more miniaturised, more sophisticated and more lethal in smaller doses, human thinking has to evolve beyond the barbarism of the 1940’s that it still seems stuck in. Mr Bhatti in his death has become a champion and symbol of victimisation for his community, against a policy instrument of persecution, of Muslims, Christians, Hindus and other human beings. His death placed the champions of the blasphemy law in a dark place, with Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman coming out and saying that maybe the law might need to be amended.
A dark way to get change.
Mr Bhatti was a brave Punjabi. The last post I wrote before his murder, I wrote in jubilation at Pakistan winning against Sri Lanka with our notoriously unreliable Cricket team. In it I wrote that Pakistan needs Brave Punjabis and smarter, wiser and more mature Pathans. In explanation I wrote, “A little more heart and soul in some brainy corners” in reference to Pakistan needing some bravery amongst its Punjabis. What more could I have possibly meant? That the smart Punjabis who have made their way up the corporate-bureaucratic ladder in Pakistan did so by staying silent about obvious displays of bigotry amongst Pakistanis and how these culturally normative prejudices were tolerated and accepted over decades. A time has now come to address these unspoken prejudices and hatreds. Mr Shahbaz Bhatti spoke about these and paid what can be described as the ultimate price for it. For that I salute him.
And I still want the Blasphemy Laws repealed. I asked for a brave Punjabi, and God dammit we got them. We need more brave living Punjabis, and not dead ones, but now I ask for the repeal of those instruments of abuse, the Blasphemy laws.
Monday, March 14, 2011
They say they actually know the people at Brain Computers. Go figure. I`m from Lahore too, so yeah. I had heard long in Pakistani professional circles that Pakistanis were responsible for creating the first ever virus. Then I got unrestricted internet access and saw it confirmed for real in Time Magazine. I suppose this could have some thing about what Karachi Khatmal says on originality and Alpha Za said about Pakistan needing some smart, scheming entrepreneurship to save its economy (even the Zardari kind is fine). But this seems more important. Its the intersection of both, originality and entrepreneurship by way of information technology, a minor interest of mine. And here it is, a Finnish computer security company goes to Lahore and meets the creators of the Brain Virus. There is something touching about this video.
For one thing, this is the first time I am tagging both Pakistani History and Internet together.
For another they have Lahori Pizza Hut at the end. YAY!
Monday, March 7, 2011
A Situation in Flux - My Response to Nadeem Gehla's "Between Blood, Revenge and the Legacy of Martyrs"
The PPP will have to have a long, hard sit down talk with the PML-N and the ISI about their sectarian friends in Punjab.
Then the PPP will have to wear its Naseerullah Babar pants and get ready to break skulls and, and catch cuts.
Now I have no doubt in my mind that the PPP has three armies of brave Jiyalas ready to fight for their democracy and their country. And reading this article by Ahmed Nadeem Gehla reminds me that these brave men and women are ready at the signal from their party to fight. This is a sentiment that dovetails completely with what I myself have written. However, Mr Gehla’s fear of an escalation and “intervention” by the establishment, keeping in mind what happened during the PNA movement are also valid. Keeping this in mind, I would like to request the party that it at least raise the verbal pressure on centre right, to right wing forces to suspend aid for sectarian terrorists.
If the PPP takes the decision to go through with extra-judicial measures against sectarian terrorists, I assure you the blog “These Long Wars” will support you.
In the meantime, I would like to add that your policy of non-intervention may or not bear fruit. Here is the Dawn article, “Too Little, Too Late” on the ever chameleon like Fazl-ur-Rehman expressing some regret on the current state of the Blasphemy Laws. The words from him and Dawn are:
“if a law is being misused against minorities, we are ready to discuss this [matter]”. Such is the grimness of the situation Pakistan is facing vis-à-vis extremism that even this small concession must be greeted with relief.
I wonder what this bodes in terms of Mr Gehla’s idea of non street confrontation over the blasphemy laws? This is a very serious situation, and the words of Mr Fazl-ur-Rehman have to be taken somewhat seriously in this respect.