Monday, January 31, 2011

Dwarfed Fantasy and Delusions of Grandeur Long Past

Is it possible to hit two sixers off one delivery? Cause Karachi Khatmal does that with every blog posting he's done.

And I do love that tagline he uses; of our country, as insufficiently imagined. The same man also said that, "It is commonly and, I believe, accurately said of Pakistan that her women are much more impressive than her men". In the spirit of this inquiry into ourselves (when it is subtly discouraged), it`s great that Umair Javed's Recycled Thought got into the act of trying to understand urban internet using Pakistan.

Karachi Khatmal once made the point that it would be the abused and downtrodden of Pakistan who would really come to its defence, in an analysis of how certain Pakistanis ravings about our nuclear weapons being stolen represented the sort of people who would gladly sell off any part of their country whilst they would continue to rave jingoistically about their own country. In light of Veena Malik's defence of her right to go on Big Brother, and her smack down of a Mufti sahab who would likely not have verbally attacked a man the way he attacked her, I think Mr Ahmer Naqvi is vindicated in saying Pakistan's intersection of gender and defense myths is nothing but a pile of Phallic Phantasies.

As for me, I'm now crazy busy moving house. So assume blogging to be light for a little while. In the meantime, please enjoy Mr Najam Sethi showing our anchors how real news presenting is done, and Veena Malik, telling Mufti Sahab that it's not on. And we end with Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto telling everyone to go to hell.

Phallic Phantasies + Veena Malik = Super Win

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

This Made Me Sick

Pakistan’s Sindh province.... is suffering levels of malnutrition almost as critical as Chad and Niger.

I just felt sick reading that. There's more, but this news report outlined how as family's were assessed for the first time they were found to have malnutrition levels worse than what had been imagined. I feel like this is a problem all across South Asia, where the situation for the worst off may be worse than imagined or measured by statistics. That's a narrative that has to be put forward. In Pakistan, Pakistanis must speak about it. And remember as Amartya Sen said, the simplest way to avoid death by starvation is to live in a democracy. Malnutrition is another problem though. And by the way, maybe a little of the defence budget could be sacrificed to put some dent in malnutrition rates.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

You Guys Forgot Wikileaks?

First off, Wikileaks has released the entire US State department Cablegate Data Drop, all 250,000 of those cables that were given over to Wikileaks. Assange Co. however, as many may have heard, has been handed data disks from an executive of the Julius Baer bank group. Wikileaks basically did what their prime directive said they would do; make the primary source data available. People are wondering when the Julius Baer data will be fully released, so that the banks can also get a taste of the Wikileaks effect. However, in the meantime, Wikileaks is finding itself being abandoned by those who might be feeling, have been supplanted in their job by the Wikileaks organisation. Here is the excellent McClatchy news organisation, covering how

"the Overseas Press Club of America in New York City declared him "not one of us." The Associated Press, which once filed legal briefs on Assange's behalf, refuses to comment about him. And the National Press Club in Washington, the venue less than a year ago for an Assange news conference, has decided not to speak out about the possibility that he'll be charged with a crime."

These news organisations probably do not realise it but they will be next if and when the US corporate/government nexus increases the pressure on their journalist community. A motivation may be professional anger that, let's face it, Wikileaks broke multiple scoops they should have been getting for themselves. Nonetheless, the Wikileaks people have done a great deal that should in all honesty be a gold mine for journalists. And the simple fact that Julian Assange is being treated like a criminal rather than a facilator of whistleblowing should be a signal of alarm to the US journalist community. Journalists should be encouraging people to leak as many classified documents as possible. Covering this story is admittedly, an Agitation Propaganda group, Russia Today (who do not like Pakistan), but they use a US citizen employee to cover the dropping of Wikileaks, and the rising threats against Julian Assange:

More significant is Birgitta Jonsdottir (Bir-Geeta Yaughns-Daugh-tier) the Icelandic member of Parliament who was elected from a marginal left wing political party in the wake of her country's economic collapse. She worked with Julian Assange in setting up Wikileaks in Iceland. She helped with editting the video of the Baghdad Helicopter attack called "Collateral Murder". I specifically remember her doing an excellent job with marketing and spreading the word around about Wikileaks during its Iceland phase, through 2008, uptil about the end of 2009. In this interview Birgitta is interviewed by a Canadian interviewer who is with every constructed sentence trying to discredit Julian Assange. Ms Jonsdottir goes along to the extent of outlining her reasons for differences with Julian, but doesn't out and out condemn and reject Mr Assange. Discrediting in our world is a prelude to punishment. In her interview she bought up the real threat, that power structures around the world are trying to criminalize whistle blowing. That is the real danger.

Julian Assange's situation is becoming like that of Pakistani news reporters; only international orgnanisations dedicated to the safety of newsreporters are the ones taking notice to the threats to their lives.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

25 Commandments for Journalists - Overlaps With George Orwell's "Politics and the English Language"

This seemed to be going around twitter a lot. The 25 Commandments for Jouurnalists. Its constant harping on brevity reminded me of that old George Orwell essay (and here's the original link from when I read it ten years ago), so I thought I should save it. The rules in both these write-ups are useful for blogging. I've got to keep your attention too, haven't I?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Do It Uncle Sam!

You breastfed Chacha Zia to cultivate this poisonous version of Islam, now you slap his verbal disciples around to give them some sense. We voters of Pakistan have tried to use logic and reason to make these bigots and suck-ups to power see sense, but they refused to use their God given brains. Do this Uncle Sam, and you`ll have kicked them where it hurts; in their creature comforts which allow them to completely ignore the painful reality within which these heartless cynics live.

Ban All Those Who Ideologically Supported the Murder of Salman Taseer From Ever Getting a US Visa.

US Mulls Visa Ban on Several Pakistanis
The US government is considering a ban on issuance of visa to those people who supported the assassination of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer earlier this month. Sources in Washington told Daily Times that the Congress took serious view of cheering, supporting and condoning Taseer’s assassination by one of his bodyguards in Islamabad on January 4, or for publicly encouraging, directly or indirectly, the killing of “blasphemers.” They said the US government was preparing a list of Pakistani journalists, parliamentarians, lawyers and religious leaders who would not be issued visas or allowed to travel to the US for supporting the assassination of Taseer and lionising his assassin. They said journalists Meher Bokhari, Ansar Abbasi, Majeed Nizami, Irfan Siddiqui and Mir Shakilur Rehman, MNAs Shaikh Waqas Akram and Maulana Fazlur Rehman, lawyer Ashraf Gujjar, and religious leaders Sahibzada Fazal Kareem, Syed Munnawar Hassan, Asadullah Bhutto, Maulana Shah Turabul Haq Qadri, Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, Syed Mazhar Saeed Kazmi, Allama Syed Riaz Hussain Shah, Allama Zamir Sajid, Haneef Tayyab, Shahid Ghauri, Farid Paracha, Mufti Naeem of Jamia Binoria, Maulana Asad Thanvi, Maulana Shabbir, Pir Khalid Sultan, Pir Ghulam Siddiq Naqshbandi, Allama Syed Khizr Hussain Shah, Alhaj Amjad Chishti, Allama Ghulam Sarwar Hazarvi, Allama Syed Shamsuddin Bokhari, Pir Syed Ashiq Ali Shah Jilani, Mufti Muhammad Iqbal Chishti, Allama Fazal Jamil Rizvi, Agha Muhammad Ibrahim Naqshbandi Mujaddidi, Maulana Muhammad Riaz Qadri, Maulana Gulzar Naeemi, Allama Syed Ghulam Yaseen Shah, Abul Khair Muhammad Zubair, and all leaders of the Tahaffuz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat Mahaz might face the proposed ban.

Obama & I Concur: Banning These Sissy Fascists Would Be AWESOME

Well wisher to Pak progressives, NFP may have helped popularise the idea:

No Visa le US for the Viva la Qadri! Good move. There goes your chance to convert Mickey Mouse, lads.

US Cong revoking visas of Qadri groupies. Europe should follow suit. Say bye bye to Disneyland, hate-mongers.

I would encourage readers to call the US government, or forward this letter to them and have these hate mongers publicly named and shamed by the US government. These Pakistani Cold War fossils would feel the sting of that slap.

State Department; you`re move.

The Jamat-e-Islami is a Terrorist Party and Should be Banned.

Keeping in mind the events of the last few weeks, months and maybe even the last thirty years, Bangladesh did the right thing.

Pakistani Intel is Still Trying to Raise Terrorist Pets - Dear Pak Mil, Please Stop This

Ali K. Chishti is a good guy. A lot of us are sick of these fascists and Chishti sahab has reported deeply into how the f, the military that our tax Rupees pays for, is still trying to raise them like rabid puppies. Anyway, read how the Pak Mil is trying to combine all terrorists for export into Afghanistan under one command. Uh, dear Pakistan military, please don`t. These religious extremists are already more evolved politically than they should be, they`re dangerous, and their ideology has turned against you and wants to destroy the Pakistan military. Please don`t do this. Please.

Terror Report Card:Pakistan


Investigations and background interviews with intelligence and security officers confirm that sectarian organisations have successfully linked up with the more fanatical organisations supported both by the TTP and al Qaeda. In what’s described as one of the most blunt comebacks in years, the Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP), a banned organisation known for targeting minorities, has suddenly re-appeared. Daily Times can confirm two addresses – Sipah-e-Sahaba USA Inc Brooklyn, NY, 11230 PO Box 795 and Sipah-e-Sahaba USA Inc (Women Wing) PO Box 300310, Brooklyn, NY 11230, USA – which have been used as proxies from the US to fund various extremist organisations.

In Karachi, however, the greatest victim of the SSP is bizarrely not the Shia community, but the Barevli-led Sunni Tahreek, which confirmed the recent emergence of the SSP and a threat to its organisation. Sarwat Ejaz Qadri, the Sunni Tahreek chief, told Daily Times that more than 80 of the Sunni Tahreek’s workers had been targeted by SSP last year and “that certain old punters of the SSP that we thought were dead had recently re-emerged out of nowhere”.

While on the security side, the Pakistani intelligence agency, which has taken pains to separate the operations of the groups operating in Kashmir from the activities of those based in Afghanistan after 2003, seems to be in a limbo.

“The organisations we had worked upon and even our manufactured ones are lost. The reason is the red mosque incident, while top commanders do listen and can be controlled, but we are witnessing a loss of over 60 percent of mid and lower cadre of militant leadership. The problem is that we don’t have a clue where these 60 percent of terrorists are going,” confirmed an ex-spy master.

After the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, the new strategy of ‘reorganising’ jihadis under one command structure, a move that failed in 2002-2003, is being implemented again. The new jihadi set-up being formed now is the result of pressure from the ISI. Because of the irresponsible behaviour of some jihadi organisations, the ISI is incorporating them into the organisations operating in Indian-held Kashmir or changing the leadership of these organisations. All such decisions are being taken in Muzaffarabad and Muridke. This view was corroborated by the office of Harkatul Mujahedin, Kotli, where we learnt that Fazlr Rahman Khalil was trying for the greater clout of Harkatul Mujahedin in the new setup, which is still considered as a “strategic asset” by the security establishment.

The objectives are to unite jihadi organisations under one platform, to work out a collective military strategy, to remove mutual differences among jihadi organisations and to work out a common stand on national and international issues. While intensive investigation and background interviews with both terrorists and intelligence officials confirm that big Deoband jihadi organisations like Harkatul Jihad Islami have been advised to stay low and hibernate. While most of the terrorists obeyed, some hardcore members joined other sectarian organisations or took refuge in the tribal belt, whereas some opted to fight inside Afghanistan. Interestingly, Brigade 111, or what is now known from its Punjabi Taliban tag, based in FATA is now under the command of a former SSG commando, Ilyas Kashmiri, and has only recently merged with Jamiatul Mujahedin based in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and has widened its scope with the TTP and other groups in carrying out attacks within Punjab and other urban areas.

While there seems to a deliberate policy from the Pakistani intelligence agencies post-2004 to split various jihadi organisations within Pakistan to stop their increasing clout, Daily Times can confirm that the actual policy of the security establishment has largely backfired, where instead of splitting various jihadi organisations – fearful of their fate – they have managed to allow the merger of these organisations with various sectarian organisations, including the TTP and al Qaeda, to form what is being called a supreme jihad council, which supports using suicide attacks and issuing fatwas against the state of Pakistan.

The export of terrorists from Pakistan is continuing where ISAF sources confirm that LeT and Punjabi Taliban are hyperactive in the province of Kunar, Afghanistan, which is turning out to be another headache for both sides. A western diplomat who is closely watching this development told Daily Times, “We don’t know what to do with this… these are dangerous developments, but rest assured we will be exerting our pressure to sort such things.”

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

In Memoriam of Salman Taseer

Salman Taseer died because he stood up and spoke against the environment of abuse and intolerance that permeates Pakistan. What more can be said? People have abused religion in Pakistan for power since before this country was created. For pointing to this atmosphere of murderous bigotry Salman Taseer paid the ultimate price. His own party told him to drop the matter; but I guess some sense of outrage must have kept that recklessly brave man going. And so a tall grass was culled by the disgusting security apparatus sprouted from colonial Punjab, the pro-segregationist Dixie of South Asia.

Initially a shocked silence overcame people, compounded by the sprouting of obscene Facebook groups celebrating the murderer Qadri. The shocked silence gave way to mental screams of horror from the blogosphere over the disgust at the celebration of murder. It has been the bloggers from Lahore who have done the loudest protesting against this despicable murder and the disgusting environment of hate that spawned this act, celebrated it and defended it.

Karachi Khatmal, Sana Saleem, Nadeem Paracha and a few others, outside Punjab are resonating against this act and the aura of intolerance. I do not blame bloggers from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan for not following up much on this beyond righteously angry obituaries. They have a lot on their plate to deal with and they have suffered the consequences of Establishment sponsored hatred too long, and know too well its effects. It is now those at the outer edges of the establishment, like in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad who are feeling its effect and have to consistently speak out. A lot of people have stood by whilst the fanatics slowly gained strength, and fostered an atmosphere of sectarianism and intolerance. One aided and abetted by the establishment. Maybe now people will realise that they must counter the Establishmentarian tactic of fostering divisions between people.

But back to Salman Taseer. It used to be a pleasure watching a politician interact, or at least obliquely answer questions raised by everyday internet users. I am a blogger; and Mr Salman Taseer was a micro-blogger through twitter. His twitter account has been left as a tiny cyber memorial for him. If people ask what is the point of this, then we might as well ask them back, “What is the point of an idea?”.

There is also no doubt in my mind that it is the murder of a 21st century man who used technology as prolifically as I do that has sent me and many others into shock. Maybe this was a reminder of our mortalities. People’s use of technology, and their attempts to put down their thoughts and feelings are not just an attempt to get ideas across, but also a way to scramble for immortality. People want to be remembered beyond their years. Salmaan Taseer, by having died speaking up for those dispossessed of their rights in Pakistani society, has ensured his memory will live on. Just as those who spoke or acted for civil rights for all Americans in the United States, and died in the process are remembered, so shall Mr Salman Taseer.

R.I.P. Lion of Punjab

Salmaan Taseer (31 May 1944 - 04 Jan 2011)

Innalillahe wa inna ilaihi rajiun

On Missing Persons

So it turns out that the judge who declared 2011, the year for recovering missing persons, and then found his parents dead, may have simply been a victim of a family dispute. We shall see if this was just a symptom of a really convuloted ISI plot, or his family is actually that stupid, and Justice Javed Iqbal made this statement to redeem himself and the legal fraternity of Pakistan after the fiasco of lawyers pelting Salman Taseer's killer with roses. Considering some other statements have been made by the court about the agencies being "held accountable" (yeah right) we shall have to see how this plays out since there are a heck of a lot of "disappeared" people from Balochistan. I doubt the court could get at all of those disappeared in Balochistan. And if it pushed too hard, maybe the court might be harmed itself. And it is questionable how people would respond to another attack on the court. We shall see. Anyway, here's what the Daily Times had to say about the whole thing:

A Daunting Challenge

The courage with which the Supreme Court (SC) is questioning the culture of impunity surrounding the intelligence agencies is commendable. In the latest hearing of the missing persons’ case, the SC upheld the rights of the citizens enshrined in the constitution: “No functionary or authority is competent to detain, arrest or pick up any citizen unless there is sufficient material or circumstantial evidence against that person. This court shall take due notice of it.” Justice Javed Iqbal, who heads the three-member bench hearing this case, had said in the last hearing that 2011 would be the year of recovery of missing persons. Also, last week the judicial commission on missing persons submitted its report before the court, whose contents have not yet been made public. At the same time, in expressing dissatisfaction with the attorney general’s report, the court directed him to meet top officials of the ISI and convey the court’s reservations to them, which, in the court’s opinion, would resolve 50 percent cases. With due respect, the ground realities may not so easily lend themselves to the kind of solution the court desires. If that had been the case, this particular issue that has been before the SC since 2007 would by now have yielded a far greater number than the 174 recovered out of the officially acknowledged 235 missing persons.

Human rights activists put the figure of missing persons at about 7,000 in Balochistan alone. Some quarters in the government dispute this claim, calling it an exaggeration. If a citizen, a set of citizens or a family or community claims that their loved one has disappeared and is able to provide some evidence for that disappearance, how can the government refute that claim out of hand? Instead, it must act responsibly by investigating any such claim to determine whether it is correct or not.

Asma Jahangir submitted before the court that four more persons had disappeared on December 4, 2010, three from Balochistan and one from Sindh. On Monday, three more bullet-riddled bodies of missing persons have been discovered in Balochistan, bringing the number of such bodies to 85 in the past two and a half months. Is the response of the intelligence agencies to the pressure that they are being subjected to by the SC to produce tortured and bullet-riddled bodies of the missing persons? The court must take serious notice of this.

The missing persons case is symptomatic of the dilemma of Pakistan, which inherited a weak political and civil society and an overdeveloped state structure from the British at the time of independence. Over the years, the military asserted itself in national decision-making and the scope and role of intelligence agencies widened, especially after the first Afghan war. This ‘deep state’ is neither transparent nor answerable to anyone. Is it not time to reverse this trend, whose ill effects on society can be seen in this case? Although the SC has expressed its determination to continue hearings till the last person is recovered, the SC’s hearings may not be enough to reverse this trend. The SC’s remark that it is a case of public interest and parliament should take it up makes eminent sense. It is the job of the political forces and parliament to control the deep state. The judiciary, political society and civil society will have to come together to reverse this malign phenomenon.

The Jamat-e-Islami Punjab University Terror Model - As Applied to All of Pakistan

Basically, the Jamat-e-Islami, and the "Islamisation" it started in the early '70's can be seen as a model for later terror groups, especially all the various "banned" groups that operate across Pakistan and Afghanistan. These include overt and covert groups like the Taliban, the JUI and the various Lashkars operating across Pakistan. Here is Dr Manzur Ejaz talking about these murderous ideologues. If the US had any sense, it would advocate for the JI or JUI to be designated material supporters of terrorism. Everybody even remotely involved with Pakistan knows that the Jamat-e-Islami likes to portray itself as a "vanguard" revolutionary Islamist party. The United States is currently fighting against another such "vanguard" revolutionary Islamist party. It's called Al Qaeda.

In terms of an organic political resistance to rising Islamism in Pakistan, all one can hope is that the ethnic separatists gain strength, and in Punjab, some sort of left returns (Ha!)? Anywhere, here is Dr Manzur Ejaz on how the Jamat-e-Islami Turns "Villains Into Heroes":

Turning Villains Into Heroes

When killer Mumtaz Malik Qadri was shooting at Governor Salmaan Taseer (shaheed) his security colleagues remained mere spectators. After committing this act he was safely handed over to the police. After a few minutes, his confession statement was leaked to the media. Up until then the media was using the word “martyred” for Governor Taseer but after his confession statement was whipped up by everyone, suddenly the words “assassinated” and “killed” replaced martyred, and the killer was declared a “ghazi”. In no time the killer was being compared with Ilm Din who had been praised by Allama Mohammad Iqbal and defended by Mohammad Ali Jinnah in court. In short, the martyred was turned into a villain, and a killer into a ghazi.

You must be thinking how all this happened so quickly, as if the angels themselves were directing the TV channels. Divine inspiration cannot explain the turn of the media. However, this rhetoric can be attributed to organised groups — agencies or operators of political parties and terrorist groups — deputed to take care of the media. Such elements use all kinds of methods like threats and enticements to force the media to use their language. The Salmaan Taseer case shows very well how the planners quickly got hold of Qadri’s confession and put it all over the media.

Salmaan Taseer’s martyrdom reminds me of the early 1970 period of Punjab University (PU). Then the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT) was testing its initial model of Islamisation in PU, which was later implemented in the rest of the country by various religious and political parties. Incidentally, members of the IJT have penetrated many political parties, particularly the PML-N, MQM and some others. The etymology of religious terrorism is very different in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from Punjab where the IJT’s PU model is self-evident. This is one of the reasons why 90 percent of blasphemy cases have been registered in Punjab where the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and IJT are most powerful.

I vividly remember how the IJT used to plan before terrorising a student or a teacher. For example, a night before action they would prepare posters condemning the ‘surkha ghunda gardi’ (terrorism of the Left). They would then assign people to go to the police station to file a report against the Left. It was rumoured in those days that the JI managed to have their chosen police officers employed in the Wahdat Colony police station, which covered the university’s jurisdiction. The next day, within minutes, after breaking the bones of some of its opposing students or insulting a teacher, they would put up these posters on every wall of the university. In no time, a police report would be filed and the police would be moved to arrest the victims. Sometimes press statements about the incidents were sent to the media even before the action. This is how methodically the JI, through the IJT, terrorised the left-liberal students and teachers.

Now review the chronology of events on the day Salmaan Taseer was martyred in this backdrop. You will see that it was all pre-planned. The planners knew how the governor was going to be gunned down, how the killer would be handed over to the police and how his confession statement was to reach the media. It seems that the planners had prepared teams to manipulate the media through threats or enticement. Without planning, media portrayal does not get reversed so quickly.

The JI is the mother of religious terrorism in Pakistan. It is the only party that has ideologues, strategists and operators. The JI knows how to, directly or indirectly, use the religious parties to its advantage. The JI has done most of its experimentation in PU and other educational institutions.

When the JI was convinced that the agenda of Islamisation was getting weaker because of Taliban suicide bombings killing thousands of innocent people, it started the campaign against drone attacks and in favour of Aafia Siddiqui. Aafia was chosen because she was a soft image — a mother of little children who had been maliciously kidnapped. The JI did not undertake a similar campaign for Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad because he would not have been a proper image to provoke Pakistanis. He was a healthy young male for whom winning mass sympathies was not easy.

Now look at the cases of Aafia Siddiqui and Faisal Shahzad. Both were American citizens and prosecuted in the US like all other citizens who commit crimes. Aafia Siddiqui damaged her case through her statements in court, showing that she was a member of al Qaeda. However, her case was presented in Pakistan as if she was a Pakistani citizen who had been kidnapped and brought to the US for prosecution. The people running the ‘Free Aafia Campaign’ were shrewd and knew that there was no way that the US government could pressurise the judiciary to get her out. Only President Obama could have pardoned her but that would have been political suicide for the Democrats.

Our prime minister did not prove to be very sharp-witted when he appealed to the US to free Aafia Siddiqui. He did not know that, by appealing for Ms Siddiqui, he was justifying a future Aafia named Mumtaz Malik Qadri. If Aafia Siddiqui was turned into a heroine, then Qadri could have wished to become a ghazi without much trouble.

The ‘Free Aafia Siddiqui Campaign’ was meant to provide political cover for the Taliban and create an atmosphere in which crimes can be committed in the name of religion without any repercussions. For Mumtaz Malik Qadri, breaking the law was not a serious matter in such an atmosphere.

I Must Admit

That the murder of Salman Taseer has made me more thoughtful. The gleeful reactions of Pakistan's freckled faced fascists on Facebook, with their eulogisation of a murderer, seared my mind. On that Fascist path, lies the mental road to self destruction. That much is burned in my mind.

I've been doing a lot of quiet thinking since then. And no it hasn't been of the "leaving Pakistan" kind. It's been of the Sun Tzu kind.

In the meantime, its glad to see that the various Roshan Khyal Pakistanis of the internet are coming to grips with the fact that they live in a bigotted and prejudiced society. And it's just the "educated" middle class that can display this bigotry on the internet. What goes through the minds of everyone in the lower classes? How will they raise themselves up without falling into the same traps of bigotry that our middle class is in? These are questions that need to be thought of. And like I said in my piece on a long term Peace Plan for Afghanistan; I concur with Ambassador Maliha Lodhi that a long term plan is needed, and I believe that the blogosphere is coming to grips with this concept.

Political Assessments on the Murder of Salman Taseer

That Pakistan needs a psychologist and a good few therapy sessions (or at least its Middle Class does) whilst learning to breath:

Dead in My Tracks

The blogger Philistine asks about the reserve army of fanatics that religious extremists have in Pakistan, and how the fact has to be dealt with that these are members of Pakistan's electorate/society:

Who Are We Fighting

The title says it all:

Unlearning Hate

Referencing the Registan blog for the first time; a discussion on the Blasphemy Law:

Blasphemy Law Takes Centre Stage

Cyril Almeida discusses whether the PPP's behaviour during the lead up to the murder and after it is a tactical retreat or a defeat:

Tactical Retreat or Total Defeat?

My take on Cyril's thesis is that the murder of Salman Taseer is so huge, that the blasphemy law will continue to stink up the sirways, and action will be demanded on it, in one way or another because this scandalous tragedy is just so out there.

Finally Ayaz Amir gives the hardest political analysis of the entire imbroglio, whilst singling out the Jamat-e-Islami and Jamiat-e-Ulema-Islam for near terrorist levels of complicity in the murder; and pointing to the the delusional general and the incompetent politician, and their existence and power as the real reason Pakistan's fanatics constantly seem to be able to push their agenda:

Clerics on the March

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I Built My House on the Edge of Chaos

I really like Sami Shah as a comedian. Here he is writing about the Sisyphean nature of existence in Pakistan. I loved the lines, "Wake Up, Battle the Forces of Chaos".

From Sami's twitter feed, here is somebody who reconfirmed my opinion (at times) for Pakistani democracy, as a sort of Weimar-ish experiment. I've had this feeling, long before, of Pakistan's democracy being Weimar democracy, but people have to go on fighting and not succumb to the darkness.

In many ways this matches Nadeem Farooq Paracha`s "Paradox Republic", an essay where he says that a balance between those forces that can destroy Pakistan (ethnic fracture), are simultaneously the ones keeping it from going over the brink.

And speaking of all these residents of Karachi, the news that within 24 hours of a curfew plan being announced by the democratic government, a curfew was put down in Karachi, and then they will follow through with a search for the killers. This is the strength of having a democratic government.

If anybody complains that I'm going on about democracy a little too much, please consider the amount of violence I have seen in Karachi since the post-Zia era began. In 1988, the city (and country) had just come out of an 11 year long dictatorship, when even the idea of democracy was banned. When the post-Zia era began entire Muhajir neighborhoods hated entire Sindhi neighborhoods, and when ethnic violence flared up, ENTIRE neighborhoods went to WAR with each other. Now fast forward through 22 years, nineteen of which (1999-2002 being the exception) were filled by governments that had to either go through the pretense of democracy (2002-2008), or actually were democracies (1988-1999, 2008-now) and you will not find anybody who is willing to openly fan ethnic hatreds in Karachi neighborhoods, but you will find condemnation for the militancy, especially now that it is nearly indistinguishable from criminality. This time, its not neighborhoods going to war, its just a handful of militants from each neighborhood. That's an improvement from having entire Mohalla's (neighborhoods) hunting each other. A handful of militants hunting each other is a dilution of hatred. It is the effect of nineteen years of voting wearing down old hatreds, until only the bare bones of greed (now manifested as criminality) and hatred (now manifested as target killings by only a few men on bikes) is what we are left with. This is the nature of our long wars.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Best Articles on Karachi's Violence

Urooj Zia, now at the Pakistan Times, has written probably the best available article on the inner mechanics of the violence that has presided over Karachi for the last two years since the post-Musharraf coalition took power. One feels for the PPP, having to keep a fractious coalition together, whilst having a stolid and ominously silent military establishment in the background. The MQM has been extravagantly mercurial, and the recent leaving the coalition, before Salman Taseer`s death, and then spontaneously returning is a tragedy framed by farce.

I had heard the land dealing aspect of the ANP/MQM fight, but Urooj's highlighting of Shahi Syed's former role as a real estate agent truly illuminated the opportunities, connections and conflicts of interest bought to bear on Karachi's deeply abused social fabric.

The second article that needs to be read is Timur Khan's Letter From Karachi, where he frames Karachi's violence within the larger context of constant rural-to-urban migration; a global phenomenon. He starts from close to my old house, a few areas away from the Korangi industrial estate, and the expanding slums beyond. Timur tries to place the assassination of Salman Taseer within the Karachi heavily educated, yet lower middle class frame where people were relatively muted about the assassination of Salman Taseer. He doesn`t come out and say that anyone from Karachi celebrated, but the condemnation was at the level of a murmur in Karachi. Taimur does not mention this, but my assessment could be that Karachi residents are sadly all too familiar with violence. The most significant part of the article is at the end; where Taimur Khan is with a group of young men and women in Orangi. He describes them thus "Each had completed high school; some were pursuing college degrees, and all had put themselves through private English-language courses. Their parents had migrated to Karachi in the 1970s and '80s and had spent their lives working as laborers in the city's nearby factories."

They were frustrated with "the 'unfair game' of lower-middle-class life in Karachi, where only those with political connections are able to work their way to prosperity". Please observe that this cohort is ready to work their way to prosperity. We already know that, but for those who run Karachi, this theme must be emphasized. Here is the sentence at the end of the essay that sums up every Karachi residents life, "They are only interested in social mobility, and they'll support any party that can help". Is the world beyond Orangi listening?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Costs of Living in Large Democracies

If you can call Pakistan a democracy (barely), then what happened with Salman Taseer and the disgusting reaction of celebration across an influential section of Pakistani society, is one that we have to deal with. I guess this is also the cost of Cold War ideological training. The territory currently known as Pakistan doesn`t have the capital to create original ideas, it can just (barely) absorb them.

I will eventually get to this, but here is Mr Mosharraf Zaidi, trying to reach a middle ground, on the differing reactions to the Taseer assassination. And here is Mr Matt Taibbi, for his American readers, reacting to the near murder, (and surrounding massacre) of one of his country`s regional politicians. The cost of raising young mad, men and their ill formed brains whilst societally letting them have access to firearms. Sigh.

One hopes that the ever large Pakistani right wing, consisting in parliament of the MQM, PML-N, PML-Q, and further right (and outside Parliament) of the Pakistan Army, and points rightwards, can stop trying to pull down an electorally elected government before its mandated time. The path to salvation lies through letting democracy run its course, and letting elections cycle out old ugly faces for new ones. I must remind our readers, that the Westminster System, our country has currently adopted (and our military overlords, for their own survival must accept for now) showed it nearly difficult for any third party in the UK to make a real difference for periods of thirty years or so. I am surprised people don`t mention this, but until this year, the last time the Westminster system saw real coalition governments was in between World War I and World War II. It`s taken sixty plus years for the duopoly of the Labour and Conservative governments to be broken. And even then this parliament could break, just like ours nearly did. At this point it must be stressed that the Pakistani political system is the saner and better alternative than the GHQ political system, the Jamat political system, the JUI political system, or the Taliban or Al Qaeda political system. Providing mainstream oxygen for Islamo-Anarchism will kill those who do so. Whether they are in GHQ, Aabpara (ISI Headquarters) or a television studio.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Sherry Rehman Threatened

Now they're threatening Sherry Rehman from a mosque on Khyaban-e-Hafiz, like five minutes walk from a clinic I went to. Pakistan WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?

Oh yeah, I know the answer; it's fucking Defence. My fellow Pakistanis here's your frikkin political isolation; thrown back at your faces.

Repeal the Goddamn blasphemy laws.

So this is how we go out; not with a whimper; but a Facebook status update.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ahmed Rashid Tries to Redeem Himself With a Peace Plan on Afghanistan

So. A Pakistani who was known for calling for more war and bloodshed, now calls for peace. Here is Ahmed Rashid trying to come up with an Afghan Peace Plan for everything that's transpiring in and around the Durand Line.

Let's see if someone pays attention and makes it work.

I`m glad he`s thinking of ending this whole imbroglio. Shows he can be a human being. In these sad times, I`m glad to know that people more informed than me are also thinking about bringing peace to Afghanistan, and diffusing the fight on Pakistan`s border regions.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Two Pieces on Violence in Pakistan

Happy New Year. I'll talk about the obvious MQM defection later.

But for your reading pleasure I have two pieces that acknowledge the long-war-ish nature of violence in Pakistan. First is this blog entry on the 1400 deaths in Karachi over 2010. Apparently more people died in Karachi than from terrorism in all of 2010. Being a Karachi-ite, this should explain why I'm less scared of Islamist terrorists than ethnic ones. I'm a veteran. LOL. Anyway; here's the comment I left in very bad English:

Yeah, Sabeen, you made a point that is always at the back of my mind, which I also sometimes make to people, when discussing militancy; namely how can the government claim to “defeat” the militants in the north, if it can’t control Karachi? Karachi, Balochistan and FATA are a ring of insecurity and low level chaos all around the Indus farming plain. What do you do with a situation like this? Will the government accept that this is close to the nature of the problem of security in Pakistan itself, and then implement a democratic plan to deal with this issue?

OK; yeah, sanctimoniousness (and Dawn's questionable editing policies, where they randomly delete my comments) aside I think this point is valid. Nice of him (her?) calling Karachi an "Unconventional War Zone". At least we're seeing an acknowledgement of the problems of our city.

The second piece is from NFP, where he does his usual spiel, but adding to that, for the first time I have ever read him, he makes a direct acknowledgement of a tactical event on a battle field in North Pakistan! By a Pakistani soldier! He's no fan of the Pakistan military and is careful not to give an inch to any military propaganda, but for once, NFP gave space to a few words from a Pakistani soldier. Albeit it was about a conversation on a battlefield, but still wow! It's a nice piece, acknowledging how the Pakistan military should give space to voice the realities of the current conflict and not try to paper over the truth with propaganda. This is a fine sentiment that tries to work with outing the truth and should be encouraged.