Friday, April 29, 2011

Joe Bageant, 1946-2011

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.

End reference:

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 Summarises the Uncertainty over these Naval Bus Blasts



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:

1) They are not sure that this is part of the larger "War on Terror". Maybe the Taliban could take responsibility, but as people were discussing on twitter, they may just take random credit for any attack.

2) The Navy should really have all its buses change their routes randomly as they are very likely under surveillance. I thought of this when I got up, but I just saw Shaheryar's suggestion of it.

3) It really is too easy to pull of an attack like this in Pakistan and South Asia. Pakistani cities are crowded, traffic is packed quite close together and there are odds and ends sticking out of all parts of a city that allow an attack to be carried through if one has the few bomb-making geeks necessary. This type of attack is called a "remote control bomb" from back in the day in South Asia. I.E.D became the popular term for it because of the US military's chutar (fucked) habit of trying to talk its enemies down. Back in the eighties, with KHAD operating in Pakistan, the ISI & the Muj in Afghanistan and the ISI, Muj & Khalistanis operating in Indian Kashmir and Punjab respectively, these type of "remote control bombs" were very common. Back in the day here means the eighties till some time in the mid-nineties.

Anyhow, the history lesson can wait. I have an episode of HIGNFY to watch to decompress, a piece to re-edit and then some really serious work to get to. Say a little prayer for the dead doctors and dead Naval support staff. I've known these people from personal experience in my life in Karachi, and all they demonstrated they wanted from life, was to work hard and get ahead, for themselves and their families.

They didn't deserve to go.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

MQM Guys Likely Killing People. Here's Why.

In this piece (4 Political Activists Gunned Down in Karachi) all the dead are listed as being either from, or related to someone from the PPP, the ANP or the JSQM. All three parties have a leftish bent, derive their base support from rural Pakistan, and have a not-insubstantial following in the cities as well. Plus all parties are known for a bit of an ethnic bent (in the JSQM's case it's out and out an ethnic party), with the PPP being known for having a serious Sindhi following and the ANP for representing Pashtun folk. The PPP does try its best to appeal to all of Pakistan, but faces a backlash in urban centres and suburban environs with anyone even minorly conservative.

And that backlash in Karachi is killing its workers. Who is missing from this list of the dead? What major party, known for its Karachi stronghold, doesn't seem to have its workers dying here? Obviously, the urban, centre right, "purportedly" non-ethnic MQM. I seriously doubt that ANP members are gunning for PPP people. Or that Lashkar-e-Jhangvi or the Pakistani Taliban would waste their meagre and hunted resources in Karachi, wreaking vengeance on their old ANP foe.

The article is missing any references to the MQM. The Dawn newspaper has a policy of simply boycotting coverage of the MQM, unless another party mentions it. Ergo, we are left with only one culprit hunting down rival parties members all over Karachi.

Of course the last question is, why? Why is the MQM hunting members of opposing parties? Two old reasons and a surprising new one. Firstly there is the old segueway of political partywork connecting sometimes seamlessly into the criminal underground. There is a fight over the spoils of that. Secondly, the Musharraf dictatorship kept the city quiet by reading the MQM the riot act. The Musharraf dictatorship could use the stick of the Karachi Corps Command to whack anyone who decided to raise a ruckus in the country's major port city. But the present government either does not trust the military, is not trusted by the army, worries that if it unleashed the army, collateral damage might occur where the army goes after those it has been aching in Karachi to harm and the ensuing collateral damage would be left strewn around the civilian governments neck. The fight for black and grey resources, and deep tensions over the use of the military to suppress the killings are two reasons why these killings continue.

But a new reason may simply be, that the left(ish) parties star may be rising. That parties like the PPP, ANP and JSQM may be gaining a filip because the poor labourers who a generation ago voted for them, now have educated children who want to go up in the world, recognise these parties as a ready made vehicle to work from their own ethnic perspective and wish to use them to improve their own position. The MQM has its own children who want to rise, but whereas a generation ago it was the MQM's cadres that could boast of being "educated" (completing high school, gaining some college education, completing bachelors) a new multi-ethnic "educated" generation has come about in Karachi, one where ethnicity is not considered a great barrier to being called "educated". The desire for upward mobility is no longer the sole prerogrative of the Muhajir working and middle class. Its spread across ethnic lines to many children of Karachi, who's families could a generation ago be described as "rural" when they arrived in the city.

So the younger, more desperate have linked up with these national and nationalist parties, the fight for control over Karachi's resources has gotten more desperate, and the desire to make something of oneself manifests itself in greater, more reckless displays of political bravery. And the aging youth (pretty soon aging men) of the MQM, find themselves having to face a tide of younger and possibly hungrier kids. The children don't have martial co-ordination as good as the MQM, so they find themselves more the hunted, than the hunter in these targetted killings. And why should the ANP, PPP and JSQM have better internal co-ordination than the MQM? They've demonstrated their lack of capacity to respond effectively or demonstrably whilst in government. So the MQM can continue sending out bullet ridden messages to workers of rival parties.

And what does our government do, in a situation that can only be described as a rising tide? One in this case of human blood and not salt water
At the central police office, it sets up a "special cell", which, "has been recently set up on the chief minister`s directives to keep the exact record of targeted killings in an effort to prevent misreporting of the incidents in the print and electronic media."

Our government decides to just sit at home and count the bodies.

Which considering the past behaviour of our government, seems quite apt.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

RIP Moin Akhtar

Gone at the age of 60. Yah Khuda, who does that nowadays? Moin Akhtar sahab did, and it's sunk in that an original, hardworking and good man has passed away.

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:


Moin Akhtar's work had a mild socio-political bent to it, a consistent criticism that went along the lines of nobody's perfect, and if anybody in Pakistan is pretending to be, they aren't being honest or smart. It was not necessarily Jon Stewart-esque, but in an environment (the last three decades of the 20th century) when entertainment in Pakistan was purely apolitical, Mr Akhtar stood out for criticising people who had influence on this society.

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

Postscript: Mr Nadeem Farooq Paracha wrote the best fact based obituary on Mr Moin Akhtar. It covers his history, his rise to fame, the famous stars he worked with, his health issues towards the end of his career, and most important the last role he had with Mr Anwar Maqsood on "Loose Talk" (multiple episodes available on the net), the show on Pakistan's private television channels that from 2002 onwards, made him famous amongst the young of Pakistan, all over again. Here is Mr Paracha on Moin Akhtar: "Death of a Comic Genius"

From God We Come, and To God We Return.

But it happens faster if we overwork and smoke as well.

انا لله و انا عليه راجعون

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The article "The Tribune' asked me to write and refused to Publish by Shabnam Hashmi

I don’t know from where to begin this story. There are thousands of images which float by. An image appears for a split of a second and then disappears. Some images and memories stay so long that they haunt. Sometimes I try to run away from the stories and images but they don’t leave. I fight with my own self, running away from these images is betraying the victims, on other occasions I feel my brim is full I cannot retain any more.

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.

Shabnam Hashmi
March 14, 2011
New Delhi


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

When the JI and JUI Aren't Fanatic Enough For You

Combined with the double assassination attempts on Fazl-ur-Rehman this attempted attack on a JI leader should really give us pause. Even after everything we've seen, this acts as a signpost on how faaar out of whack the situation with the militants has gotten. If the Jamat-e-Islami and the Jamiat-e-Ulema-Islam are not fanatical enough for a person, then this certainly means that things have gone far out of the control of a lot of people. The children, teenagers and youths planning these attacks have basically become a bunch of crazy wild dogs, snapping at anyone and everyone who does not conform to a deeply backward regressive view of the country. And have no doubt about it, these are all kids under thirty planning and executing these attacks. It becomes more obvious that religious indoctrination in our society has to be cut back, curtailed and controlled. The scaling back has to begin, and the JI and JUI, who were at the forefront of raising it, have to be told to shut up and back off for their own safety. These two idiot parties deserve a serious chunk of the blame for what has happened but they should now recognise that they are on a suicidal path that will destroy if not this nation, but certainly them. On the way, more innocent Pakistanis will die in the JI and JUI's attempts to make Pakistan and Pakistanis more palatable for Islamisation. At this stage Islamisation and Talibanisation begin to look like one and the same.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Two Videos and a Series

Ahsan had a video up by someone who visited North Punjab and Central Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa. They were a collection of pictures with commentary on the context of each picture, accompanied with . Here are two videos I found sometime back that I think are worth watching. Both are Karachi related, and present a unique viewpoint on the city by the sea. The first is "Scraplife: Ewaste in Pakistan", by a Green Peace photographer.

Tracking illegally (obviously) exported ewaste to Karachi, the ewaste dumped on Pakistan comes to the very famous Lyari neighbourhood of Karachi. Well, famous to Pakistanis. Just like Dharavi has seeped into the Western consciousness maybe Lyari (or its strongest contender Orangi) will do the same.

This video was intriguingly shot in summer 2008, a period of medium level political turmoil, when frantic negotiations between the PML-N minority and the PPP government continued, all under the Presidency of General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf. It turned into the last summer of Mr Musharraf's presidency, as at the end both parties came together and forced the General (retd.) President to resign.

Anybody who's woken up to the stench of burning "something" in Karachi, and I absolutely loved the reference to Lyari as a place where everything that isn't allowed in Pakistan happens in Lyari. What like drinking, doing drugs, whoring and murdering? Oh if only, and only those things happened only in Lyari. Maybe he was talking about secularism, democracy and civilian rule. Yes those certainly aren't allowed in Pakistan, but they happen in their own perverted way in Lyari (See People's Aman Committee for further details). I enjoyed the observation that Lyari's electronics burning grounds give an "apocalyptic feel". Most of Karachi gives me an apocalyptic feel. Much of the video and the descriptions are run off the mill street poverty in Karachi, interacting with 21st century Western techno-activism. This story mentions the wholesalers who buy the used computer hardware, and that got me wondering how much of it ends up in Uni Plaza as spare parts. Likely the parts that look least damaged, or Uni Plaza's suppliers import computer parts that actually work. The story that touches my heart though is that of on of the many Gold Melters of Lyari (you read that sentence correctly), and their short, poisoned out lifes. A good video to jolt Pakistanis from the complacency they feel about all the poverty they live in; and a look for foreigners, at the real everyday fight in Pakistan; the fight for a decent living.

The second is Amar Jaleel, a Dawn columnist who I used to enjoy reading for as long as he wrote in the Dawn Sunday Magazine. Here he is speaking about Karachi.


Its also a good video, but I would take some issue with what he said about there being no fighting when Hindus and Muslims lived together in pre-partition India. There must've been some fighting. And at Mr Amar Jaleel, I would also add that I know exactly who Ms Zaib-un-nisa was, a famous journalist and editor from the 1960's who stood up to the Ayub Khan regime. This bit of information is pre-internet.

But I do agree with Mr Jaleel, the sense of loss from 1947 in Karachi is undeniable. Mr Jaleel's articles in the Dawn magazine were known for covering current affairs with a meta-physical feel to them. I do miss them a bit, but their critique of the dominant authoritarian, anti-democratic political culture in Pakistan were too allegorical. He didn't land any direct punches. Maybe because the people from his generation who landed direct punches were disappeared or pushed out of journalism or Pakistan. There are more videos of Mr Amar Jaleel in a series he called "My Vanishing Karachi". Under "My Vanishing Karachi" he had "DJ Science College", "Empress Market" (warning beheaded goat's heads maybe NSFW), "Heritage Buildings" and very appropriately "Tram Service". Mass transit is a serious necessity in Pakistan.

I went for the first video, because it was the first one I saw, but I had no idea how popular the series would prove, nor how to bring it up. Ahsan provided that opportunity.

Taken together they are a pretty serious indictment over the neglect of an expanding Karachi, coupled with the serious lack of democratic institutions for Karachi'ites to use. A failure to realise the extent of the growth of a city that houses ~10% of all of Pakistan's population.

A last few words on Amar Jaleel. I've been saddened that he stopped writing. Especially when the Musharraf regime that he despised actually began to crumble. Mr Jaleel's writings are now very difficult to find on the internet. Many of them very politically provocative; taking sharp and deep digs into the dominant institutions of Pakistan, and some of its most cherished myths. Dawn has a responsibility to fix its error ridden archive. Now with the internet, we may actually have a real and effective memory hole not necessarily for entire sweeps of history, but certainly for individual episodes and discrete events. There are some people who have complained that Dawn has been losing some of its most provocative articles to '404 errors. I would agree, especially in relation to a valuable writer like Mr Amar Jaleel. His allegorical stories were good. One that stood out in my mind was where he characterised Musharraf as a neighbourhood bully who had forced his control on the neighbourhood, and the United States arrived as a storm like monster. Musharraf had the chance to let it enter the neighbourhood (in this case Afghanistan) or not, and Mush allows the US to enter. And you can hear the cries of pain and terror from where the monster is, but the neighbourhood bully keeps trying to distract you with the sound of his own voice. A good story.

Pakistan is Going Through Puberty

On Karachi Khatmal's advice I've put this here as a blog post. I think its appropriate. I ended up jamming an entire blog post as a comment on a swansong to Shoaib Akhtar. Shaiby deserved better. Both from my comment and in real life. But Mr Khatmal's analogy of Pakistan as a country with a misifiring adolescence was too good to pass up, and something I had considered for a very long time. Please keep reading.

Love, is a Shoaib Akhtar delivery KK. Because your understanding of love does change as you grow older. And the moment of release, is better than what a child could imagine.

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.

Please check out Karachi Khatmal's beautiful doosra style comeback on Pakistan being stopped in the World Cup.