Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pakistan in the Eye of the Pig, Again

A case of swine flu?

 I knew this was coming... Please check out the following bit from an AP report about Swine Flu:

Medical detectives have not pinpointed where the outbreak began. Scientists believe that somewhere in the world, months or even a year ago, a pig virus jumped to a human and mutated, and has been spreading between humans ever since.

China has gone on a rhetorical offensive to squash any suggestion it's the source of the swine flu after some Mexican officials were quoted in media reports in the past week saying the virus came from Asia and the governor of Mexico's Veracruz state was quoted as saying the virus specifically came from China.

One of the deaths in Mexico directly attributed to swine flu was that of a Bangladeshi immigrant, said Mexico's chief epidemiologist Miguel Angel Lezana.


Lezana said the unnamed Bangladeshi had lived in Mexico for six months and was recently visited by a brother who arrived from Bangladesh or Pakistan and was reportedly ill. The brother has left Mexico and his whereabouts are unknown, Lezana said. He suggested the brother could have brought the virus from Pakistan or Bangladesh.

Oh COME ON! Is there anything bad in the world that is not the fault of Pakistan?! And of all things, SWINE flu?? If there is anything that will get Pakistanis' goat, it is being associated with a flu named after pigs! I know there are a lot of suar ke bachay in Pakistan but this is really beggaring belief!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Suck it up, Brian Hunt

So, the second bit of news from the weird Twilight Zone we inhabit is this:

The US Consul General in Lahore, Brian Hunt will give the "prestigious Congressional Eagle Award" to three Pakistanis on Thursday. "The award is being given for the first time to any Pakistani", according to the Press Release printed in The News.

Among the recipients are Geo reporter Moeen Ahmed, for filing a story about counterfeit vaccines; Mehar Khalil, the intrepid driver of the Sri Lankan cricket team bus during the 3/3 fiasco; and... wait for it... Hamza Sharif, son of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

According to the Press Release:

"Hamza will be awarded for courageously running the business and other affairs of his family during their exile."

Do I really need to comment on this?

Raymond Becomes Interior Minister

Two bits of hilarious news culled from today's The News... I'll deal with the second one in a separate post...

The first one tells us that after winning a Senate seat, interior czar Rehman Malik has finally made it to full ministership (as opposed to advisership with the status of a full minister). It actually makes no difference at all to the people of Pakistan, not in terms of his job description or what he was doing (or not doing), nor in terms of the perks and privileges he was enjoying and will continue to enjoy. But it might force Fatima Bhutto to revise that line in her articles about unelected advisers holding the most important positions in this government.

But that is not the bit that caught my attention. About the only thing interesting about Rehman Malik being sworn in as federal interior minister was his Profile issued by the Interior Ministry (why this profile was not issued when he became de facto head of the ministry last year, I do not know; perhaps they needed time to 'research' it). Among the other swashbuckling superhero / Dick Tracy-like exploits and achievements it lists is the following:

"A post 9/11 Hollywood film under the name of Path to 9/11 based on his investigative work was televised both in USA and by BBC, UK. Famous Hollywood actor Art Malik played his role in the film."

Obviously, Mr. Malik had something to do with writing this profile since I have yet to come across such assiduous interest in the arts from even the culture ministry, let alone the interior ministry. But why the interior ministry or even Mr. Malik thinks it important to play this association up in the minister's official profile, is a bit beyond me. Especially since Art Malik also played the psychopathic Islamist terrorist in the Arnold Schwarzenneger vehicle True Lies. But there is obviously no accounting for tastes, or stopping those hungry for Hollywood-style glamour.

In actual fact, "Path to 9/11", far from being a Hollywood blockbuster, was a two-part television mini-series that ran on the American network ABC as well as, subsequently, on a number of other international channels. It starred the well-known actor Harvey Keitel, whereas Art Malik's name is 12th (!) on the official credit list. Not only that, it is obvious from the synopsis that, rather than being based on Col. Raymond Malik's "investigations", the story is actually about the alleged missed opportunities by the US government since the 1993 World Trade Center bombings to get Osama bin Laden, told throught the perspective of CIA and FBI operatives. This of course should be sort of evident from the name itself but also if you think about what possible "investigations" Rehman Malik could have been conducting while living in exile in London as a fugitive from the law from 1996 to 2007. The official profile also claims that "there are a number of international media reports highlighting his work in the field of anti-terrorism and money laundering" and that "there are around 1.43 million internet results on him." As far as I remember, it was he who was accused of money laundering, including because of his part-ownership of a company involved in the scandal-plagued UN oil-for-food Iraqi programme. Oh, and yeah, if you do a Google search for ALL Rehmans and ALL Maliks in the world, you get about that many results, not that the number of Google results has the slightest bit of relevance to why a man should be appointed interior minister.

But coming back to Path to 9/11, this is how the Wikipedia entry on it begins:

"The film was initially promoted as having a high level of authenticity, with claims that its screenplay was "based on the 9/11 Commission Report", but controversy arose when this claim was later removed by ABC. Critics pointed out that key scenes were fictional in nature, and controversy ensued."

In fact, there was so much outrage over the inaccuracies in the film that not only Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, FBI consultants and historians but even Harvey Keitel strongly criticised the film. In fact, because of this outcry, the DVD of the miniseries has still not been released, although the film first aired in 2006.This is what a bunch of Democratic Senators wrote at that time to the Walt Disney Company which owns ABC:

"Presenting such deeply flawed and factually inaccurate misinformation to the American public and to children would be a gross miscarriage of your corporate and civic responsibility to the law, to your shareholders, and to the nation."

Which of course makes it perfectly fitting that Rehman 'Raymond' Malik should cite it as one of his glowing achievements!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Very Impotent Person

Omar Khan in the zombie-horror flick Zibahkhana may have been on to something.
There must be something in the water in Islamabad...

Musharraf willing to return to the helm of power
Saturday, 25 Apr, 2009 | 12:14 PM PST |

LAHORE: Former president General (retired) Pervez Musharraf has said he will be willing to take the president’s office once again if the country’s political and economic affairs continue their downward spiral.

Interviewed by the Al-Jazeera television channel, he said that he would mull over the chance of returning to his previous position if he thought he could play a meaningful role for the country.

Musharraf told Al-Jazeera that he had resigned because if he had continued he would have become ‘kind of an impotent president.’ He said he did not like sitting around uselessly and therefore chose to depart.

However, Musharraf said that since relinquishing his position, he was increasingly becoming ‘despondent’ about the country’s state of affairs, especially the situation in Swat, where the Taliban had been allowed by the government to introduce sharia law.

Guinness Geniuses

Firstly, have a look at the latest from Absurdistan (this is from The News):

Saturday, April 25, 2009

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr. Babar Awan here on Friday declared that the name of Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani may soon qualify for the Guinness Book of World Records for regularly attending sessions of the National Assembly.

Ok, I'm not going to question whether doing your job qualifies you for the Guinness Book of World Records or even if the Guinness Book of World Records now has a category for the most regular attendee of Pakistan's parliament (if it does it could be placed right after the most rewarrhis eaten in a single session while suspended from a ceiling fan in inner city Multan)...

But what IS it with this government and its geniuses? Image it seems is all they are concerned with, but it's a validation they seek only from 'abroad', preferably from the most tackiest of fora. Substance it seems is never a question. I can almost see 'Dr' (another one of those Aamir Liaquat-type degrees) Babar Awan quoting the Reader's Digest next.

Picture of the Day

Barrack Obama gets some batting tips from West Indian legend Brian Lara, or as he was later billed, "the Michael Jordan of cricket", during the US President's visit to Trinidad to attend the Fifth Summit of the Americas...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Brilliantly funny, need one say more

Once in a while, something comes along to capture the mood of the times perfectly. Here is that thing for these times...

Imran Khan Makes A Mess Yet Again

OK, this was crying out to be deconstructed, and if anyone Khan, I must.

So, even as Mr. Imran "Find Your Roots and Eat Them" Khan sat in a shirt and trousers in the heat of Dubai watching Pakistan play Australia (funny how his roots assert themselves only in Pakistan), a long and muddled piece by him was on its way to be printed in The News. Grandly titled How To Clear The Mess, it purported to provide the prescription to Pakistan's myriad troubles with regards to terrorism and militancy, which astute readers may remember Immi bhai until recently saw as no problem at all. In any case, let's see what our warrior from Zaman Park has to say...

How to clear the mess
Thursday, April 23, 2009
By Imran Khan

The reason why there is so much despondency in Pakistan is because there is no road map to get out of the so-called War on Terror - a nomenclature that even the Obama Administration has discarded as being a negative misnomer.

First off, as far as I can see, the despondency has more to do with the unrelenting march of the Taliban and the government's and army's abject capitulation in Swat before them. But what do I know? I just live here, not in some fantasy-land of my own making.

To cure the patient the diagnosis has to be accurate, otherwise the wrong medicine can sometimes kill the patient.
Yeah, and to say nothing of attending to the right patient in the ward.

In order to find the cure, first six myths that have been spun around the US-led “Global War on Terror” (GWOT) have to be debunked.
OK, so Immi bhai's contribution to the debate is the coining of the term GWOT. Which is kind of like Otto's characterization of the chip as the British contribution to world cuisine in A Fish Called Wanda, but I digress...

Myth No. 1: This is Pakistan’s war

Since no Pakistani was involved in 9/11 and the CIA-trained Al Qaeda was based in Afghanistan, how does it concern us?
Yeah, how does it? I mean those 1395 people killed in 1842 attacks were not Pakistanis now were they? And Swat was always a provincially administered territory.

It is only when General Musharraf buckled under US pressure and sent our troops into Waziristan in late 2003-early 2004 that Pakistan became a war zone.

I kind of remember two or three suicide bombings in Karachi in 2002 and 2003. Plus I remember the sectarian radicalization of Pakistan in the 1980s and 1990s beginning with General Zia (at the same time that Immi bhai was being lured out of retirement by the military dictator) and numerous attacks on mosques as well as the targeted killing of hundreds of Shia doctors and intellectuals. Some of these same sectarian outfits and Kashmiri jihadists such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jaish-e-Mohammad are now known to have strong Al Qaeda links. I even remember the fears expressed by civil society of the creeping Talibanization of the country from the mid-1990s (Shariah Bill anyone? Malakand insurgency in 1994?), long before 9/11... Aaah, but what do I know? Don't let facts stand in the way of your argument Immi bhai, please proceed...

It took another three years of the Pakistan army following the same senseless tactics as used by the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan (aerial bombardment) plus the slaughter at Lal Masjid, for the creation of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). If our security forces are being targeted today by the Taliban and their suicide bombers, it is because they are perceived to be proxies of the US army.
Yeah, dude, and so was the children's library in Islamabad that the Hafsa girls took over. As for the suicide bombing of imambargahs in Chakwal et al, everyone knows the Shia are proxies of the infidels.

Iran is ideologically opposed to both Al Qaeda and the Taliban yet why are its security forces not attacked by terrorists? The answer is because their President does not pretend to be a bulwark against Islamic extremism in return for US dollars and support.
Or, how about, that it locks up idiotic apologists like you and Qazi Hussain?

Michael Scheuer (ex-CIA officer and author of the book Imperial Hubris), writing in The Washington Post in April 2007, cited Musharraf’s loyalty to the US even when it went against Pakistan’s national interests by giving two examples: the first was Musharraf helping the US in removing a pro-Pakistan Afghan government and replacing it with a pro-Indian one; and, the second, for sending Pakistani troops into the tribal areas and turning the tribesmen against the Pakistan army. To fully understand Musharraf’s treachery against Pakistan, it is important to know that almost a 100,000 troops were sent into the tribal areas to target around 1000 suspected Al-Qaeda members - thus earning the enmity of at least 1.5 million armed local tribals in the 7 tribal agencies of Pakistan.
So, we come to the point. Taliban = pro-Pakistan = good. Of course, forget that the entire intelligentsia of the country had been crying hoarse about Pakistan establishement's misguided support to the brutal Taliban regime while the Americans were happily dealing with it and while "patriots" such as Hameed Gul and his ilk were propounding their stupid ideas of 'strategic depth.' Musharraf's treachery as the rest of the Pakistani establishment's treachery was actually that they waited to turn against the Taliban when the Americans told them to.

The most shameful aspect of the lie that this is our war is that the government keeps begging the US for more dollars stating that the war is costing the country more than the money it is receiving from the US. If it is our war, then fighting it should not be dependent on funds and material flowing from the US. If it is our war, why do we have no control over it? If it is our war, then why is the US government asking us to do more?
Ok, this I will concede: Our war should not be dependent on US dollars and the sooner we realize this the better for us. But the reason the US keeps asking us to do more (besides the byzantine political theatre they play) is because craven, cowardly Pakistani governments give in to the Taliban apologists of the army, media and politics (you being a good example) and the ruckus they raise.

Myth No. 2: This is a war against Islamic extremists - an
ideological war against radical Islam

Was the meteoric rise of Taliban due to their religious ideology? Clearly
not, because the Mujahideen were equally religious - Gulbadin Hekmatyar (supported by the ISI) was considered an Islamic fundamentalist. In fact, the reason the Taliban succeeded where the Mujahideen warlords failed, was because they established the rule of law - the Afghans had had enough of the power struggle between the warlord factions that had destroyed what remained of the country’s infrastructure and killed over 100,000 people.

True. But forgetting that it was the ISI that switched its support from Hekmatyar to the Taliban, many of whom were former mujahideen themselves.

If the Pushtuns of the tribal area wanted to adopt the Taliban religious ideology then surely they would have when the latter was in power in Afghanistan, between 1996 and 2001. Yet there was no Talibanisation in the tribal areas.

Considering that the Taliban brand of Islam was almost exactly what was practised in the tribal areas and many parts of the settled Pashtun areas, I'm not quite sure I follow. In Hangu (a settled area of the NWFP), I was told by a local in 1992 that the reason his particular area remained peaceful during sectarian mayhem, was because 'his people' didn't allow Shias and cinemas in their areas...

Interestingly, the only part of Pakistan where the Taliban had an impact was in Swat where Sufi Mohammad started the Shariat Movement. The reason was that while there was rule of law (based on the traditional jirga system) in the tribal areas, the people of Swat had been deprived of easy access to justice ever since the traditional legal system premised on Qazi courts was replaced by Pakistani laws and judicial system, first introduced in 1974.
Aaah, the plug for the jirga system. I wondered when it would bubble up.

The murder rate shot up from 10 per year in 1974 to almost 700 per year by 1977, when there was an uprising against the Pakistani justice system. The Taliban cashed in on this void of justice to rally the poorer sections of Swat society just as they had attracted the Afghans in a situation of political anarchy and lawlessness in Afghanistan.
Once again Immi bhai's dismissal of historical facts and dates takes my breath away. I suppose he considers such manipulation as innocuous as lifting the seam of a cricket ball. Sufi Mohammad's first insurgency in Malakand happened in 1994, when the Afghani force known as the Taliban had only just been formed. And it was actually as a result of the Frontier Crimes Regulations (in force in the Malakand area since 1979) being declared null and void by Pakistan's Supreme Court, creating the legal vacuum into which Sufi stepped with his lashkar, asking for the imposition of Shariah law. There is no doubt that the FCR (which contained elements such as collective punishment for individual crimes etc) were archaic and in some cases inhumane. But Pakistani law was not in force in Swat at that time and had the legal vacuum not been created by the Supreme Court's ruling, the results might have been different. Moreover, what is often harked back to as 'Shariah law' that existed in Swat before 1969, was in fact, the feudal law of the princely state of Swat as practised by the Wali of Swat. When the princely state was dissolved, Swat was brought under Pakistani law for a short time, until the inefficiencies of the state structure in providing swift and cheap justice (ala feudalism) led to a rebellion against the system. The same collapse has happened in other places in Pakistan where the feudal system has collapsed but that does not mean that the feudal structure should or can be re-introduced in a changed environment. But that is getting into understanding sociology and the dynamics of change which are probably beyond Immi bhai's limited capabilities.

It is important to make this distinction because the strategy to bring peace must depend on knowing your enemy.
I know who the enemy is. It's people who mangle facts and history to suit their point of view.

Michael Bearden, CIA station chief in Pakistan from 1986 to 1989, wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine that the US is facing the same Pushtun insurgency that was faced by the Soviets in Afghanistan. According to him, as long as NATO is in Afghanistan, the Taliban will get a constant supply of men from the 15 million Pushtun population of Afghanistan and the 25 million Pushtuns of Pakistan. In other words, this Talibanisation is not so much religion-driven as politically-motivated. So the solution to the problem in the tribal belt today does not lie in religion and “moderate” Islam but in a political settlement.
Interesting how Immi bhai keeps quoting those devil CIA-types to bolster his argument.

Myth No. 3: If we keep fighting the US war, the super power will bail us out financially through aid packages.
Recently, the Government’s Adviser on Finance stated that the war on terror has cost Pakistan $35 billion while the country has received only $11 billion assistance from the US. I would go a step further and say that this aid is the biggest curse for the country. Not only is it “blood money” for our army killing our own people (there is no precedent for this) but also nothing has destroyed the self-esteem of this country as this one factor.
Agree about the curse bit. But there is a precedent bhai. East Pakistan in 1971, the Baloch insurgency of the 1970s, the MRD movement of the 1980s, the MQM insurgency of the 1990s... oh forget it. You were still partying in Annabelle's at the time.

Moreover, there is no end in sight as our cowardly and compromised leadership is ordered to “do more” for the payments made for their services. Above all, this aid and loans are like treating cancer with disprin. It enables the government to delay the much needed surgery of reforms (cutting expenditures and raising revenues); and meanwhile the cancer is spreading and might become terminal.
Immi bhai the economist is almost cute. "Cutting expenditures and raising revenues"... now why hadn't anyone thought of that!

Myth No. 4: That the next terrorist attack on the US will come from the tribal areas.

First, there is an assumption, based purely on conjecture, that the Al Qaeda leadership is in the tribal areas.
What you really want to say is: there is an assumption, based purely on conjecture, that the Taliban in control of Pakistan would be a bad thing... Oh come out and say it.

In fact, this leadership could well be in the 70 % of Afghan territory that the Taliban control. More importantly, given the growing radicalisation of the educated Muslim youth - in major part because of the continuing US partiality towards Israeli occupation of Palestinian land - why can it not follow that the next terrorist attack on the US could come either from the Middle East or from the marginalised and radicalised Muslims of Europe, motivated by perceived injustices to Islam and the Muslim World.
It well could. You should ask your friends in the CIA why they don't write about this so you can quote them.

Myth No. 5: That the ISI is playing a double game and if Pakistan did more the war could be won.

If Talibanisation is growing in Pakistan because of the covert support of ISI in the tribal areas, then surely the growing Taliban control over Afghanistan (70 % of the territory) must be with NATO’s complicity?
Couldn't agree more. Or at least with the complicity of the Northern Alliance warlords. In fact, the Beeb just did a report about where the Taliban are getting their weapons from, which confirms this. But you didn't want me to agree, did you?

Surely a more rational understanding would be to see that the strategy being employed is creating hatred against the US and its collaborators. Aerial bombardment and its devastating collateral damage is the biggest gift the US has given to the Taliban. According to official reports, out of the 60 drone attacks conducted between 14 January 2006-April 8 2009, only 10 were on target, killing 14 alleged Al Qaeda. In the process almost 800 Pakistani civilians have been killed, while many lost their homes and limbs.
I wish you would tell us which official reports these are. The on-ground reports I have received in fact show that after the US stopped sharing intel about impending drone attacks with the Pakistan army, the efficacy of the attacks increased manifold. Since the Taliban / Al Qaeda immediately cordon off areas where the drones hit and remove any bodies related to them before anyone is allowed to go near them, I'm not quite sure where these figures have come from. But then again, you didn't really need proof to claim, like Qazi Hussain and Hameed Gul, that thousands of girls and children were killed in Lal Masjid, so I don't know why I should bother.

Despite its military surge effort, the US will eventually pack up and leave like the Soviets, but the “do more” mantra could end up destroying the Pakistan army - especially the ISI which is being targeted specifically for the mess created by the Bush Administration in Afghanistan.
Wow, Immi bhai, you as a champion of the ISI... I never would've guessed. That, by the way, is the exact thinking within the Pakistan army, which is why the Americans keep getting pissed off with them.

Myth No. 6: That Pakistan could be Talibanised with their version of Islam.

Both Musharraf and Zardari have contributed to this myth in order to get US backing and dollars. Firstly there is no such precedent in the 15-hundred years of Islamic history of a theocracy like that of the Taliban, outside of the recent Taliban period of rule in Afghanistan.
Sigh. Now even Islam predates Islam. Hey, dodo, we're still in Hijra 1430.

However, as mentioned earlier, the Taliban’s ascendancy in Afghanistan was not a result of their religious ideology but their ability to establish order and security in a war-devastated and anarchic Afghanistan.
We've covered this ground before. So, your point being? I feel it has something to do with accepting the ascendancy of the Taliban in Malakand because they have brought "peace." Right?

In Swat, the present mess has arisen because of poor governance issues. Also, it was the manner in which the government handled the situation - simply sending in the army rather than providing better governance - that created space for the Taliban. Just as in Balochistan (under Musharraf) when the army was sent in rather than the Baloch being given their economic and provincial rights, similarly the army in Swat aggravated the situation and the present mess was created.
Right. So we should all just shut up and hail the Taliban.

What Pakistan has to worry about is the chaos and anarchy that are going to stem from the radicalisation of our people because of the failure of successive governments to govern effectively and justly. Karen Armstrong, in her book The Battle for God, gives details of fundamentalist movements that turned militant when they were repressed. Ideas should be fought with counter ideas and dialogue, not guns.
I think you are about three decades too late with the argument about radicalisation of our people, a radicalisation one must add that was promoted by the people you count as your friends. But you could not get richer than saying "Ideas should be fought with counter ideas and dialogue, not guns." Hey, let me ask you a question, who of the numerous idiots around you writes your articles? Because, you see, Mullah Fazlullah, Baitullah Mehsud, Mangal Bagh, et al, I just don't recall them appearing on a televised debate or even putting forward their "ideas" in the press. As far as I recall, the gun (and the knife used to chop off people's heads) was their idea. I have another question, if you actually wrote this yourself: are you retarded?

Allama Iqbal was able to deal with fundamentalism through his knowledge and intellect. The slaughter of the fundamentalists of Lal Masjid did more to fan extremism and fanaticism than any other single event.
And I suppose, the stockpiling of heavy weapons in Lal Masjid was just in preparation of a debate about the vigilante raids on massage parlours and CD shops... Allama Iqbal could deal with fundamentalism because he rejected it outright. Of course, he had no Kalashnikov-toting, rocket-slinging Taliban to deal with who would have seen to raise his khudi from a lamppost had they been around. But I think he had the Lal Masjid terrorists in mind when he wrote:

Main jaanta hoon anjam uss ka
Jiss maarkay mein mullah hon ghazi

Pakistan is staring down an abyss today and needs to come up with a sovereign nationalist policy to deal with the situation. If we keep on following dictation from Washington, we are doomed. There are many groups operating in the country under the label of “Taliban”. Apart from the small core of religious extremists, the bulk of the fighting men are Pushtun nationalists.
You mean the ANP is part of the Taliban?! I knew it!

Then there are the fighters from the old Jihadi groups. Moreover, the Taliban are also successfully exploiting the class tensions by appealing to the have-nots.
Aah, so you read that New York Times piece too, I see...

But the most damaging for Pakistan are those groups who are being funded primarily from two external sources: first, by those who want to see Pakistan become a “failed state”; and, second, by those who wish to see the US bogged down in the Afghan quagmire.
How about those who don't see the danger of the Talibanisation of Pakistan?

What needs to be done: A two-pronged strategy is required - focusing on a revised relationship with the US and a cohesive national policy based on domestic compulsions and ground realities.

President Obama, unlike President Bush, is intelligent and has integrity. A select delegation of local experts on the tribal area and Afghanistan should make him understand that the current strategy is a disaster for both Pakistan and the US; that Pakistan can no longer commit suicide by carrying on this endless war against its own people; that we will hold dialogue and win over the Pushtuns of the tribal area and make them deal with the real terrorists while the Pakistan army is gradually pulled out.
I have news for you buddy. The Pakistan army has already pulled out and handed parts of the country to the terrorists. Or didn't you hear?

At the same time, Pakistan has to move itself to ending drone attacks if the US is not prepared to do so. Closure of the drone base within Pakistan is a necessary beginning as is the need to create space between ourselves and the US, which will alter the ground environment in favour of the Pakistani state. It will immediately get rid of the fanaticism that creates suicide bombers as no longer will they be seen to be on the path to martyrdom by bombing US collaborators.
Such as Shia imambargahs and funeral processions?

Within this environment a consensual national policy to combat extremism and militancy needs to be evolved centring on dialogue, negotiation and assertion of the writ of the state. Where force is required the state must rely on the paramilitary forces, not the army.
And, of course, negotiators such as the Commisioner Malakand Mohammad Javed, appointed at the insistence of Sufi Mohammad. But what about the paramilitary wanting to be trained by the US before it goes into a fight against the Taliban?

Concomitantly, Pakistan needs serious reforms. First and foremost we have to give our people access to justice at the grassroots level - that is, revive the village jury/Panchayat system. Only then will we rid ourselves of the oppressive “thana-kutchery” culture which compels the poor to seek adjudication by the feudals, tribal leaders, tumandars and now by the Taliban also - thereby perpetuating oppression of the dispossessed, especially women.
Yeah, the panchayat / jirga system is SO respectful of women, isn't it?

Second, unless we end the system of parallel education in the country where the rich access private schools and a different examination system while the poor at best only have access to a deprived public school system with its outmoded syllabus and no access to employment. That is why the marginalised future generations are condemned to go to madrassahs which provide them with food for survival and exploit their pent up social anger. We need to bring all our educational institutions into the mainstream with one form of education syllabus and examination system for all - with madrassahs also coming under the same system even while they retain their religious education specialisation.
Ok, finally, Immi bhai, some modicum of sense from you.

Third, the level of governance needs to be raised through making appointments on merit in contrast to the worst type of cronyism that is currently on show. Alongside this, a cutting of expenditures is required with the leadership and the elite leading by example through adoption of an austere lifestyle. Also, instead of seeking aid and loans to finance the luxurious lifestyle of the elite, the leadership should pay taxes, declare its assets and bring into the country all money kept in foreign banks abroad. All “benami” transactions, assets and bank accounts should be declared illegal. I believe we will suddenly discover that we are actually quite a self-sufficient country.
Once again, I agree. Let's start by you bringing your money to Pakistan.

Fourth, the state has to widen its direct taxation net and cut down on indirect taxation where the poor subsidise the rich. If corruption and ineptitude are removed, it will be possible for the state to collect income tax more effectively.
Ok, you're going econo-crazy again Immi bhai. "If corruption and ineptitude are removed"? Again, why didn't anyone think of that before?! You do realize, you'd have to step down from politics and stop writing thought pieces too, right?

A crucial requirement for moving towards stability would be the disarming of all militant groups - which will a real challenge for the leadership but here again, the political elite can lead by example and dismantle their show of guards and private forces.
Let's do this: ask all the political elite to dismantle their show of guards (I fully support this by the way) and then let's wait to see if the Taliban follow suit. They would follow good examples, right?

Finally, fundamentalism should be fought intellectually with sensitivity shown to the religious and heterogeneous roots of culture amongst the Pakistani masses. Solutions have to be evolved from within the nation through tolerance and understanding. Here, we must learn from the Shah of Iran’s attempts to enforce a pseudo-Western identity onto his people and its extreme backlash from Iranian society.
Ok. Let's sensitively send you wearing the clothes you were wearing in Dubai to talk to the Taliban in Swat and Buner. Up until now I thought the phrase "heterogeneous roots of culture" referred to precisely those things that the Taliban were against. But what do I know. I've never been to the Dubai cricket stadium.

The threat of extremism is directly related to the performance of the state and its ability to deliver justice and welfare to its people.
One small mathematical aside here: "direct relation" would imply that the better the state does to deliver justice and welfare, the more the threat of extremism would grow. I think you may have wanted to say "inversely related" but then, you're the pro-Taliban fundo. You should know.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Zardari-Gilani: Action Men for Adnan Sami?

The Daily Times seems to revel in the bizarre. Here's the latest:

Adnan Sami informs Zardari, Gilani of threats

LAHORE: Entertainer Adnan Sami Khan has told the Indian press he phoned President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani after allegedly receiving death threats in Mumbai on Thursday. “They had to be told,” he said, adding, “If something happens to me, I don’t want the wrong people to be accused.” According to Adnan, the death threats began at 9:30am and he got one every half hour after that. “The caller named the person on whose behalf he was calling and warned me to lay off... or face the consequences.” Adnan said he had promptly informed the Mumbai police and his security was beefed up. “But I don’t feel safe any longer,” Adnan said. “I feel everyone close to me is now in danger. So, I’m asking my family and friends to stay as far away from me as much as possible.” daily times monitor

Now, let me get this straight. Adnan Sami, the man who apparently renounced Pakistani citizenship, who now has Canadian citizenship and whose application for Indian citizenship is still in process, has called up who for help? Maybe I'm just out of it but what exactly are Zardari and Gilani supposed to do? One doesn't leave his official house for fear of being killed, the other just helped hand over a whole division of Pakistan to armed miitants. If it's anything other than issuing meaningless and ineffective platitudes, Adnan Sami is sure barking up the wrong tree.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

News of the Bizarre

What would Pakistani media be without its regular dose of surrealism? Here's an Associated Press of Pakistan report from The Daily Times. Since the report itself makes no comment about the content, I of course felt the need to supply mine...

Indian clerics issue fatwa on ringtones

ISLAMABAD (APP): Clerics from a madrassa in the Indian city of Kanpur on Friday issued a fatwa (edict), giving guidelines for the use of mobile phones by Muslims. [Do they really have nothing better to do?]

A panel of clerics from the seminary, Madrassa Jamia Ashraful Madaris, objected to the use of Quranic verses as ringtones. [Fair enough, I find them truly terrifying too since they tell me more about the person I am caliing or in close proximity to than I care to know]

They argued that the people who use the verses as ringtones and answer their cell phone midway through the verse commit a sin. [Yeah, man, just imagine picking up right after "There is no God..." and before "..but Allah." You'll be, like, damned straight to hell... where in all probability you'll be forced to listen to Zaid Hamid or Aamir Liaquat for eternity.]

According to the fatwa, taking a cell phone to the toilet as it rings is also a sin because Quranic verses cannot be heard in a toilet. [Okay, this confused me; what about hearing the azaan through that little ventilation window? Is that a sin too? Should toilets be hermetically sealed? And how does one do the wazu then?]

The clerics also condemned keeping cell phones on vibration mode while offering prayers. [I'm on board on this one, especially during rukoo and sajda]

I'm waiting with bated breath for the fatwa on annoying "missed calls" and those lengthy smses about religious holidays.

Torture, Who Me? (Part VII)

Phew! That's the last time I'm uploading such heavy files! I know, I know, I should have reduced them in size but thought, for those who actually wanted to read them, that might make the images a bit fuzzy... In any case, there you have it: what the Bush administration thought about international law.
Incidentally, the psychological profile of Abu Zubaydah detailed in this memo is also worth a look. I kept thinking, hey, that could have been my psychological profile or the profile of a bunch of people I know. Obviously, they would know what to do with people like that, wouldn't they?
Here's my other two-bits: if the clamour builds over these memos, I think the most that will happen (if we're lucky) is that Mr. Jay S. Bybee will be forced to say byebye to the US judiciary. But if someone can actually write this stuff as a legal opinion, he certainly has the thick skin to withstand all sorts of shaming.
And we know all about thick skinned advisers to the government, don't we!

Torture, Who Me? (Part VI)

Torture, Who Me? (Part V)

Have been reduced to uploading image by image... Know not why...

Torture, Who Me? (Part IV)

By the way, if you want to look at the other memos released or download them all in PDF format, you can go to the ACLU's own website....

Torture, Who Me? (Part III)

So, the reactions are already coming in... Of course, Bush and his gang of war criminals are mighty upset at this disclosure. Here's an extract from AFP:

"WASHINGTON (AFP) – Amid calls for torture prosecutions, former Bush administration officials Friday slammed President Barack Obama's release of terror interrogation memos, warning the move would fuel "timidity and fear" among US spies.

[I]n an editorial in The Wall Street Journal, former CIA director Michael Hayden and former attorney general Michael Mukasey charged that disclosure of the memos "was unnecessary as a legal matter, and is unsound as a matter of policy."

"Its effect will be to invite the kind of institutional timidity and fear of recrimination that weakened intelligence gathering in the past, and that we came sorely to regret on September 11, 2001."

It should of course be pointed out that Obama has pledged NOT to prosecute any CIA operative who flouted such pussilanimous "institutional timidity" - which of course means no prosecutions of anyone above them either! - a position the ACLU has already denounced as "untenable."