Welcome to the LUBP Denial Archive. Here we have have compiled some of the most useful resources which will shed light on the psyche and though process of supporters and apologists of jihadi and sectarian violence committed by the Taliban, Sipah-e-Sahaba and Al Qaeda.
The Archive also sheds light on the modes and processes of denial, and provides irrefutable arguments and evidence to help those who are currently suffering from the Denial Syndrome.
While the majority of Deobandis in Pakistan are peace loving, moderate Muslims, it is a fact that almost all Taliban are Deobandi by sect. While not all Deobandis are Taliban, it is a fact that all Taliban are extremist Deobandi, and have been directly and indirectly supported by the Deobandi network in Pakistan, i.e., Deobandi madrassahs, Deobandis political organisations (e.g. JI, JUI), Deobandi jihadi cells (e.g. Jaish-e-Muhammad), Deobandi sectarian cells (e.g. Sipah-e-Sahaba) etc.
Therefore, it is no surprise to find the majority of moderate Deobandis in Pakistan in a state of denial. Instead of condemning extremist and misguided Deobandis (in Taliban and Sipah-e-Sahaba), moderate Deobandis have receded into a state of denial.
This archive is intended to help moderate Deobandis of Pakistan (and elsewhere) to understand their denial syndrome and make an effort to have a critical and realist view of things.
This is a long list of reading. Thus, you may wish to read it in more than one sittings to make an honest effort to grasp the essence of this archive. Happy reading! (Abdul Nishapuri)
Blackwater is the new name of Taliban
Blackwater is the new name of Taliban – according to Taliban apologists. Here are two news items without any further comment:
Blackwater involved in Karachi catastrophe, says Mufti Usmani
Updated at: 2050 PST, Wednesday, December 30, 2009
KARACHI: Noted religious scholar Mufti Muhammad Rafi Usmani has alleged that the infamous American agency Blackwater is responsible for the gory incidents of Karachi.
Addressing a news conference along with Mufti Muhamamd Taqi, Mufti Muhammad Naeem, Maulana Tanvir ul Haq Thanvi and traders here on Wednesday, Mufti Rafi Usmani said that Blackwater is involved in the killing of innocent people at the Muharram procession.
Immediately after the blast, markets were set on fire according to a well thought-out plan, he said, inquiring how could the miscreants get petrol and weapons so early.
He claimed that the traders suffered losses worth Rs1oo billion. Mufti Usmani further demanded that immediate measures should be taken for the compensation of losses.
Taliban claim responsibility for the Karachi attack
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) – Pakistan’s feared Taliban network claimed responsibility Wednesday for a suicide bombing that killed 43 people at a Shiite parade in Karachi and threatened further attacks.
The claim was made by one of Pakistan’s most wanted commanders in the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) movement, which for two months has been targeted by a military offensive near the Afghan border.
Monday’s attack in Pakistan’s biggest city reduced events marking the Shiites’ holiest day, Ashura, to carnage and sparked riots, underlining the security challenge faced by the nuclear-armed Muslim country.
It was the deadliest militant attack in Karachi in two years and one of the deadliest sectarian-linked attacks in conservative Pakistan.
“We carried out the suicide bombing in Karachi,” Asmatullah Shaheen, a top militant commander based in South Waziristan, told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location.
“We did it to protect the honour of the companions of the holy prophet,” he said, referring to a centuries-old disagreement between Sunni Muslims, who dominate the Taliban, and Shiite Muslims over the succession to the Prophet Mohammed.
“We will carry out more such attacks and also target government installations,” Shaheen added.
The pathology of denial
September 15, 2010
The writer is editor of business and economic policy for Express News and 24/7 firstname.lastname@example.org
Even cliches fail me now. Even as our cities are bombed and our minorities mowed down with machine guns and hand grenades, there still exists a loud cacophony of voices in our midst which seeks to deny that we have a problem with extremist and intolerant strains of religious militancy. Even as floods devastate our countryside, at a time when we need the state more than any other time in our recent history, there exists a cacophony of voices in our midst which seek to discredit whatever broken remnants of government we have left.
The piling debris of confusion and despair now looks hopelessly unmanageable. The cross cutting conflicts are too many to be reasoned through, the voices too shrill to be argued with, the arguments too specious and slippery to be engaged with. It seems like the bombs are the clearest voices in our midst now, the targeted killings the most persuasive arguments, and the floodwaters the only public spaces left that effectively connect us with each other — sweeping all before them without regard to gender or creed, race or religion, sect or language.
And still denial rules supreme. Still there are those who say this is not our war. Still there are those who would prefer to tear down the edifice of state rather than work to shore it up. Still there are those who pine for more chaos, more disorder, with all the wiles of a moviegoer who waits anxiously for the plot to thicken, for the destruction to come on harder and headier. Yes, let’s all exalt the spectre of revolution and military takeovers, just pause the action while I fetch my popcorn!
Notice how denial always rests on a popcorn understanding of large scale events. For instance, notice how adamantly so many cling to the notion that America is out to destabilise Pakistan, when every shred of evidence clearly shows that the superpower is in fact struggling mightily to sustain and prop up the global order it has presided over since World War II. In a world fast falling apart, with instability plaguing countries from Mexico to Iran to North Korea, a semblance of stability has been brought only recently, and through tremendous difficulty to the Caucasus, the Balkans and Southern Africa and large parts of North Africa. With that in mind, why on earth would the superpower be seeking to create more instability in a nuclear-armed country like Pakistan?
Of course it doesn’t help that a small band of ideological warriors went ahead and ordered the invasion of Iraq in 2003, wreaking such catastrophic damage to America’s global mission that the superpower is unlikely to ever recover from it. It also doesn’t help that America is leaving Iraq in a condition of greater disrepair than the country has ever experienced. But how on earth do we see that sort of thing happening here? Under the present American administration?
But evidence matters little to those in denial. It’s easier, more comfortable and certainly less confusing to select a couple of dots and connect the shortest distance between them and disregard the rest as the PR machinations of an imperial ambition and its collaborators. It’s easier to outsource our understanding of the world through blind faith to trusted arbiters, whether the cricketer turned politician or someone else, who participates heartily in the cottage industry of denial based views.
But denial won’t save us from the bombs and the bullets. Denial won’t produce order out of chaos. Denial cannot substitute for politics once we have torn down the last and only edifice of participatory state making that we have, broken and imperfect as it may be. The high road today is to find a way to tame this animal called democracy. The low road is to shoot it dead. And please remember that we are fighting the Taliban on the streets of our cities today only because for years we denied their ascendancy in the tribal areas of our western borderlands. If we continue in our denial today, tomorrow we’ll be fighting them in them our homes, indeed even in our hearts and minds.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 16th, 2010.
A state of denial
By Shahid M. Amin
Wednesday, 21 Oct, 2009
The GHQ attack has drawn accusations from several quarters in Pakistan that it was inspired by foreign powers; some have named India and the US among the usual suspects. Such ‘experts’ rarely bother to give any concrete evidence to substantiate their charges, which are based mainly on conjecture.
They can only argue as to which country would want to hurt Pakistan the most: surely it must be India. Since many now see the US as the enemy, it too, in their view, could be the hidden hand behind the attack. In this particular case the leader of the terrorists has been captured alive. An army spokesman has identified him as Aqeel, alias Dr Usman, affiliated with terrorist outfits based in southern Punjab. The terrorists involved in the attack were apparently trained in South Waziristan.
Will the spokesman’s disclosure silence those who see a foreign power behind the attack? Not likely. The conspiracy theorists in this case are the same people who have been claiming that the suicide bombers — who have killed thousands in Pakistan over the last few years — could not be Muslims. They ignore the reality that many of the suicide bombers have been identified and found to be part of Islamist extremist groups such as the Taliban.
Similarly, some conspiracy theorists believe that Al Qaeda does not exist and the Sept 11, 2001 attacks were the handiwork of Israeli agents. The fact that Osama bin Laden has taken responsibility for 9/11 and all those involved in it were Arab nationals has not deterred the ardent believers of conspiracies.
How should one explain such a state of denial? It is not a case of not knowing the facts. Actually, the conspiracy theorists do not want to believe anything that comes in the way of their firmly held views: firstly, that the US, Israel and India are the arch enemies of Muslims; secondly, that the militants involved in the struggle against anti-Islam forces must be absolved of any charge of brutal excesses.
One can see a clear pattern at work. After every gruesome terrorist act the ‘defenders’ of the terrorists react. They assert that this must be the doing of anti-Islam and anti-Pakistan forces, or of elements within the regime, such as intelligence agencies. Even when the Taliban or other extremists claim responsibility the ‘defenders’ assert that this must be disinformation. It would not be incorrect to conclude that there is a nexus between the Taliban and these apologists, mainly belonging to our religious parties which seem to be acting as the political face of the terrorists.
What kind of mentality is helping create sympathy for violent extremism? How is it that extremists are attracting so many adherents? No doubt, the majority are drawn from madressahs where young boys are subjected to relentless brainwashing. But some supporters are well-educated people. It is important, therefore, to understand the phenomenon of ‘Talibanisation’ since military measures alone cannot destroy Al Qaeda and the Taliban. In the final process, ideas must be fought with ideas.
Over a period of time the perception has developed in Pakistan and elsewhere that the US is following a global anti-Muslim policy. The US is viewed as the main supporter of Israel, which has long been a dagger in the heart of the Arab and Muslim world. The Al Qaeda phenomenon itself developed after the US attack on Iraq during the first Gulf War of 1990. In 2001 the US invasion of Afghanistan and, more notably, the invasion of Iraq in 2003 raised Muslim fears to an unprecedented extent.
In Pakistan, sectarianism has been on the rise for the last three decades or so. But it was under Ziaul Haq that extremism acquired the shape that we see today. He patronised fundamentalism for political and ideological reasons. The Soviet military occupation of Afghanistan was seen as a threat to Pakistan’s own security. The West had its own motives to oppose the Soviets. There was also sympathy for the Afghan Mujahideen whose struggle against the Soviets was seen as righteous. It was not realised, until it was too late, that these militants would turn into Frankensteins. Today’s Taliban are the offshoot of the Mujahideen.
Sept 11 led to the US invasion of Afghanistan. Here another miscalculation occurred. The Afghan people have a long tradition of opposing all foreign invaders and history is now repeating itself. Thus, the US and Nato forces are facing a war of national resistance which the Taliban have converted into a ‘jihad’ in the Pakhtun areas. Ethnic Pakhtuns also live on the Pakistani side of the border, thus extending the area of conflict to our tribal belt. Vital support is also coming from sympathisers affected by Talibanisation.
To counter Talibanisation and the religious fanatics, it needs to be emphasised, firstly, that they have done a grave disservice to Islam’s image by their senseless violence and brutality. Secondly, the rampant anti-Americanism that is providing so many recruits for Al Qaeda can be countered by recalling some historical facts. The US invasion of Iraq in 1990 was due to Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait, an Arab and Muslim neighbour. In that war the UN and the majority of Arab and Muslim states had supported the US.
In 2001, it was the terrorism of 9/11 that resulted in the US invasion of Afghanistan and not vice versa. The liberation of Muslim Bosnia and Kosovo in the last decade was secured by the US, whose support for the Mujahideen had earlier secured Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. Even in the case of Israeli aggression against the Arab countries, it was the US that twice secured Israeli withdrawal from Sinai. The US also secured Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza in 1994 that allowed the PLO to return and form a Palestinian Authority in those territories.
Nevertheless, the onus lies on the US to rehabilitate its image in the Muslim world. It must end its blind support for Israel. The US withdrawal from Iraq must be expedited. The US should play a role to help resolve the Kashmir dispute. Barack Obama has a historic opportunity to change the Bush-era policies and build bridges between the US and the Muslim world. It remains to be seen how far he can rise to the occasion.
Terra Incognita: Pakistan’s state of denial
By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
None of the current problems has anything to do with the US; all of them were “made in Pakistan.”
In an op-ed in The New York Times last year, the newly elected president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardani, explained how the US could now “mend fences with Pakistan.”
He claimed that “twice in recent history America abandoned its democratic values to support dictators and manipulate and exploit us.”
Furthermore, the US “used Pakistan as a surrogate in the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. That decade turned our peaceful nation into a ‘Kalashnikov-and-heroin’ society – a nation defined by guns and drugs.”
The US even created the Taliban, and was thus responsible for supporting the “most radical” Islamists in Afghanistan.
But that’s not all. America is also at fault for having relations with India. “The perceived rhetorical one-sidedness of American policy often fuels the conspiracy theories that abound here – theories that blame the West for all of our ills.”
And then Zardani capped off his complaints with a list of what America must do for Pakistan. America must “work with us to turn public opinion around,” and the US must give money without strings attached, no “dependency” and the US must “mediate the Kashmir dispute.”
Is there more? What else can Zardani order from the American menu?
THIS PAKISTANI view is alive and well. The country’s pseudo-liberal newspaper Dawn published an editorial in June that asked: “Would Pakistan in the 21st century be wracked by militancy and terrorism if the US hadn’t supported Gen. Zia and pumped millions into the Afghan jihad?” A responsible person reading the Pakistani description of Pakistan’s history, even if she took it at face value, would wonder, “If America has been responsible for supporting Pakistan in the wrong way, will not our new support for this government one day be used by another one to again blame us for all the ills of the country again?” The Economist’s writers were not taken in. In a September article they claimed that Pakistan’s elite, “with heroic exceptions,” show “little appetite for trying to improve the place.” Many prefer to blame their problems on others, ideally America.
They also blithely dodge tax – at around 10% of GDP, Pakistan’s tax-collection rate is one of the world’s lowest.”
That is the situation today. Maybe it’s worse; 20% of Pakistan was recently underwater from flooding, affecting about 21 million people. But even in the midst of the flooding, three bombings were carried out targeting minority Shi’ite and Ahmadiyya Muslims. One of the bombings, carried out by the Sunni Taliban, actually killed Shi’ites marching on “Al-Kuds [Jerusalem] day” in solidarity with Palestinians. More than 100 people were murdered in the bombings, and in response Shi’ites rioted across Pakistan. One must ask the writers at Dawn and Zardani: How can America be blamed for these bombings? Surely a way will be found.
Pakistan, of all countries, is probably the one where the people’s heads are most buried in the sand. They are in denial about almost everything befalling their nation. In the province of Balochistan, which accounts for 48% of the land area of the country but only about 5% of the population, there is widespread resentment of the central government and an ongoing insurgency by the Balochistan Liberation Army.
In Karachi there has been a simmering ethnic conflict between Sindhis (Pakistanis from the province of Sindh) and Muhajirs (Pakistanis who immigrated to the country from India in 1948 due to partition and independence). There are around 13 million Muhajirs in Pakistan, and since their mass flight from India they have felt discriminated against.
They settled primarily in Karachi, where they now make up 6 million of a population of 13 million. In the 1970s they were the main driver behind the “language riots” that racked the city, and which were directed at Sindhis. They have been steadfast opponents of the Pakistan People’s Party (Zardani’s party, founded by his wife’s father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto), which they view as a Sindhi-dominated organization. To gain political rights, the Muhajirs founded the Muttahida Qaumi Movement in 1984.
On September 17, Imran Farooq, a leader of MQM, was found dead in the UK. In response his followers in Karachi rioted because they believed his death was part of a conspiracy.
Zihad Hussein of The Wall Street Journal reported that “party supporters torched several vehicles and attacked markets.”
He noted that in August MQM supporters had also rioted against Pashtuns (another ethnic group) after the murder of a lawmaker.
The Pashtuns make up 28 million of Pakistan’s people and are the main members of the Taliban who have been active in the tribal regions of northwestern Pakistan and who succeeded in taking over parts of that region between 2001 and 2010.
None of these current problems, the massacre of minority Shi’ites and Ahmadis, ethnic violence or secessionist movements, has anything to do with the US; all of them were “made in Pakistan.”
THE COUNTRY has a terrible habit of forgetting its own history.
Founded in 1948 by Ali Jinnah, a leader of British India’s All Muslim League, it was birthed in blood by the expulsion of some 7 million Hindus and Sikhs. Mass ethnic-cleansing paved the way for a Muslim-nationalist nation. The cleansing of Hindus presaged the intolerance that has marked the country ever since, with rioting against Shi’ites and other groups, and interethnic clashes.
Coups, far from being America’s creation, are part of Pakistan’s culture. They began in 1958 and occurred again in 1977 and 1999. Rather than being on the side of India, the US has long cultivated relations with Pakistan, and rather than “using” Pakistan, it was Pakistan which used the US in Afghanistan, funneling weapons and money to the Islamists after making sure to remove any mention that they came from the “great Satan.”
Pakistan’s troubles are made at home, and it will be a wonder if the country can ever emerge from its internal problems.
The writer is a PhD researcher at Hebrew University and a fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies.
Pakistan: Living in Denial
Ahmad Faruqui, PhD
Pakistanlink, News analysis, , Posted: May 31, 2009
During a long appearance on the Fareed Zakaria show, General Pervez Musharraf proffered his analysis of the war against the Taliban. While conceding that the threat posed by the Taliban to national security was real, he blamed the problem exclusively on the situation in Afghanistan.
He contended that the Taliban were using drug money obtained by the cultivation of poppies to finance the purchase of advanced weapons with which they were making war against the poorly equipped Frontier Corps. The implication was very obvious.
If the Taliban in Pakistan did not have advanced weaponry, they would not be making inroads in Swat and coming within sixty miles of Islamabad. In Musharraf’s narrative, the surge of the Taliban in Pakistan can be traced to the failure of the US to subdue the Taliban in Afghanistan. Ergo, if the US knew how to fight a war, the problem would go away.
That bit of revisionist history caught the usually unflappable Zakaria off guard. Musharraf, even though he no longer holds any office in Pakistan, likes to speak as if he still runs the country. And he is as pugnacious as ever.
One has to assume that the general’s increasingly frequent appearances on the US lecture circuit, which he admits most military officers cannot even dream about, have the widespread support of the army. In Pavlovian fashion, the army blames its failures on someone else.
Those who have read the Hamoodur Rehman Commission report know that General Yahya Khan blamed the army’s defeat in 1971 on the “treachery” of the Indians. And, in his first address to the nation in October 1999, Musharraf said that the army had never let the nation down.
Musharraf knows that without the support of the army, the fledgling Taliban regime that took over Kabul in the mid-nineties could not have survived. Indeed, the Taliban were provided extensive financial and military aid by the army and the ISI. Without such nurturing, the Taliban would be dead.
It is also well known why the army went down this misguided path. A deeply Indo-centric mindset had caused it to embark upon a deliberate strategy of fending off an Indian invasion by creating “strategic depth” for itself in Afghanistan.
In this tiresome narrative, all threats ultimately can be traced back to New Delhi. Today, it is being argued in GHQ, India is out to encircle Pakistan. As evidence we are told that India is setting up a ring of consulates in Afghanistan from which mercenaries are being recruited and sent out to undertake missions in Pakistan.
The terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the subsequent US invasion of Afghanistan made the army’s support of the Taliban untenable. But doubts remained. Many analysts, and not just those in the US, felt that the army was still supporting the Taliban. The only difference was that the support was now being provided clandestinely.
How else could it be that a military establishment that counted a million active and reserve troops in its strength, and one that was equipped with sophisticated air weaponry, would not be able to take out a rag-tag group of militants who were being pummeled into oblivion by the Americans?
When Zakaria asked the general to opine on whether influential voices in the army’s high command were indirectly supporting the Taliban, Musharraf flinched. He said that anyone who distrusts the ISI and the army – i.e., does not take them at their word — does not know much about Pakistan.
Zakaria then gave the general an opportunity to hit a sixer. He asked whether the recent surge of the Taliban was due to the weak leadership being exercised by the new civilian government. Given that opportunity, the general hit the ball out of the park. He said that for months the civilian government had dithered on how to deal with the Taliban and had provided no direction to the army. He went on to say that now that clear direction had been provided to the army, the problem would be taken care of.
At that point, Zakaria should have asked the general about the direction, clear or otherwise, that he had given to the army during his nine years in power when there was no doubt as to who was in charge. Perhaps the only benefit of military rule is unity of command.
Despite this unity, the army failed to subdue the Taliban. In all probability, the generals were divided on whether the Taliban were a friend or a foe. More fundamentally, the high command pre-occupied with running the country forgot that that the war was largely an ideological one and only secondarily a military one.
It was being waged in mosques all along the border with Afghanistan where illiterate preachers who knew little about how the world worked dished out a hate-laden gospel. They convinced an entire generation of Pashtuns that the troops which had invaded Afghanistan were carrying out Satan’s mission while Osama bin Laden was carrying out God’s mission. Most continued to deny that he had anything to do with 9/11.
But they did not stop there. They went on to accuse all those who had a different interpretation of the Qur’an and Sunnah as being agents of Satan and made their followers –the good Muslims — duty-bound to take out the bad Muslims.
Musharraf and his military regime did little to contain this cancerous doctrine. It was only a question of time before it would jump over the Indus River and lodge itself into the mosques of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.
The battle for the soul of Pakistan was lost when these hate-loving preachers were given a free rein in the Pakistani heartland. It was not lost because the Taliban got their advanced weaponry from across the border.
For the war to be won, a lot more will have to be done than to simply take away that weaponry. The time has come for the nation’s security establishment, which continues to be dominated by the army, to look inward and engage in self-criticism.
What good is it to say, as Musharraf did on the Zakaria show, that the army continually engages in threat analysis and knows how to balance the threat coming from India in the east and the threat coming from Taliban in the west? If it did, a nation of 170 million would not be under siege by a few thousand Taliban fighters.
A Country in Denial
From THE ECONOMIST online
Western leaders claim there’s a connection between the bloody war in Afghanistan and “extremist safe havens” in Pakistan. The Economist’s central Asia correspondent heads to the borderlands …
As I walk through the bazaars of Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province, it is easy to think there is nothing wrong. I struggle through the crowds and pass mounds of spices in great brown sacks, birds trilling in pink cages and tiny old men struggling to restrain honking donkeys and whooping boys. Trade is brisk, and many of the shopkeepers, spotting a foreigner, grin and call out “How are you, Mister?”
But round the next corner is a different scene: a large building has had its front blown out, littering the street with bricks and slabs of concrete. “Suicide bomb yesterday,” explains Kausar, a local. “Many died. The people are scared—every week there is a new attack. They slaughter us even in the bazaars now.” Their attacks have been unrelenting: on March 5th, in the Hangu district of the North-West Frontier Province, a convoy of Shiite pilgrims and paramilitary soldiers was attacked by a suicide bomber. Twelve people were killed and more than 300 injured.
Theories abound as to who Mr Kausar’s “they” are. “They are Blackwater operatives,” says Dr Naveed Irfan, a prominent psychiatrist whose house was damaged by one recent explosion. “That is why they never recover the body.” He is equally confident about Osama bin Laden. “I met him once. Al-Qaeda is not a terrorist network. It is a conspiracy by the Americans to destabilise our country.” Similar theories are aired regularly by Pakistan’s newspapers and TV channels. This is a country in denial.
In recent months, international attention has been concentrated on the open warfare waged in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province. But far from the borderlands around Kandahar, the battle for “hearts and minds” rages on in the other major Pushtun-majority region, the vast area between Peshawar in Pakistan and Jalalabad in Afghanistan. President Barack Obama and every other Western leader involved in the war with Taliban have emphasised the importance of “recognising the fundamental connection between our war effort in Afghanistan, and the extremist safe havens in Pakistan.” I undertook this trip to learn something about that connection.
At Islamia College, a prestigious institution with buildings and grounds like an English public school’s, I meet a young man who is reading for his master’s in political science. He does not know who is behind the bombings in Peshawar, but he has convictions about the fighting over the border. “The Americans have no right to be there,” he insists. “They invaded Afghanistan and Iraq because they wanted bases next to Iran and China.” We are interrupted by a college lecturer who insists on convincing me of his love for English literature by listing his favourite books (practically the entire Western canon, it seems). He assures me that Pakistan “wants to march with the rest of the world.” The student scowls.
For lunch, I drive to the outskirts of the city to meet Sikander Afridi, a tribal chief. His compound is just beyond the Smugglers’ Bazaar, whose stalls sell everything from narcotics and fake dollars to World Food Programme biscuits (“Gift of Germany—not for individual sale”) and British and American military uniforms. Ordinary police have no authority here in the Khyber Agency, part of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). A bodyguard ushers me into Mr Afridi’s office, decorated with Islamic calligraphy and submachine guns. The chief himself lies on a long sofa. Lunch turns out to be a Nestlé cereal bar, a change at least from curried mutton with plain naan. (As far as I can tell, “Peshwari naan” is a myth propagated by British restaurateurs.)
He invites me to sit next to him with a gesture and takes out his mobile phone. “Look,” he says, selecting a video. The camera zooms in on an elderly man who has had his head chopped off and placed between his legs, a pool of blood spreading rapidly around him. “Taliban did this, Taliban this morning.” Members of his tribe have not been targeted like this before. This afternoon he will chair a shura to decide what to do. As he speaks, he takes a packet of white powder from his pocket, pours some onto his hand and snorts it. (Is it naswar, the Pushtun version of snuff? But naswar’s not white.) “For the stomach,” his bodyguard tells me, smiling.
To meet the Taliban, I need to head deeper into the Khyber Agency. Azam Khan, a local politician, has agreed to take me to one of their madrassas. A friend of his drives us most of the way, but we have to hail a donkey taxi to take us the final mile. The walls of the madrassa are whitewashed and I feel the force of the mid-day sun as we stand in the courtyard. About 40 young Taliban, 15 to 30 years old, quickly gather around us. Azam introduces me to the centre’s imam, a cold man in his forties who, like those of his students who are old enough, sports an impressive beard. He leads us to an underground classroom where we sit cross-legged in the gloom. A tall man with a black turban joins us: he has recently returned from Kandahar, we are told.
The imam explains that his students study the Koran here for eight years: some already have the 6,666 verses completely memorised. The Taliban answer my questions—yet more conspiracy theories—and then say they have one for me. “Why are your countrymen trespassing on Muslim soil?” a young man asks. “Why do they slay our Muslim brothers?” I choose my words carefully, explaining how the Americans demanded the Taliban hand over Osama bin Laden after September 11th 2001, but were refused. “Listen,” says the young man, his fierce, proud face framed by a short black beard and a white prayer cap. “We are Pushtun people. We live by the Pushtun code. If your enemy came here”—he gestures towards the sky—“we would protect you with our lives. It is our duty. So it was when the Americans came for bin Laden.” The imam nods, smiling. “The Taliban said, ‘Give us proof, and we shall hand him over.’ But the Americans did not give the Taliban proof. So it is our duty to protect him, as it is our duty to protect you.”
(This is the first instalment of a correspondent’s diary about Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, published on The Economist online.)
The ‘It-is-not-us’ syndrome : state if denial
By Hajrah Mumtaz
Sunday, 15 Nov, 2009
A couple of months ago, I wrote a column in praise of certain Pakistani pop stars and bands, arguing that there are a fair number of songs that display political consciousness and a related sense of responsibility. I referred to such songs as Junoon’s ‘Talaash’, Shahzad Roy’s ‘Lagay Raho’ and ‘Kismet Apnay Haath Main’, Noori’s ‘Merey Log’ and Laal’s rendition of Habib Jalib’s ‘Main Nay Uss Say Yeh Kaha.’
I find now that that argument was all very well – as far as it went. Such is the manner in which we are bound by our long-cherished prejudices and mental chains that it took a report by the New York Times’ Adam B. Ellick to show me what I had completely failed to notice: the music acts’ total refusal to either touch upon the topic of the Taliban, or to even acknowledge them as a concern.
In a video report shot in Lahore, Ellick asks a few of Pakistan’s top musicians why they have spoken out against corruption, political wheeling-dealings, poverty and the manner in which the country has been done in by everyone from the politicians to the West to India – but never against the Taliban, who currently constitute the clearest and most present of dangers.
Here, verbatim, is what Ali Noor of Noori has to say:
‘We are not going to get up and say that we want to talk against the Taliban – simply because they are probably one of the smallest problems this country has. […] It’s the West. It’s the West that is against the Taliban, because they are very heavily affected by it. We’re not.’
And here is what Ali Azmat – the man who once sang about ‘zehni ghulami’ – has to say: ‘We know for a fact that all this turbulence in Pakistan … it’s not us. It’s the outside hands.’
What, really, can one say? The Taliban are one of the smallest problems this country has? When we’re having a bombing virtually every day, when parts of the south-west of the country were until very recently in serious danger of falling to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and its associated gang of goons?
Hadiqa Kiyani is a very popular Pakistani pop singer and has many albums in Urdu and English. She continues to do concerts in the main cities despite death threats from the religious clergy and Taliban. Many Taliban men secretly own her music CD’s and listen to her music under cover.
Ellick comments, dryly, that this view – it’s not us, it’s ‘foreign hands’ – persists despite a spate of bombings in the country with the targets ranging from civilians and security forces’ installations to an Islamic university for women. ‘They’re [Pakistan’s pop musicians] angry about one fact: that the United States has interfered in Pakistan’s politics for decades.’
Of course Ellick focuses in his report on the anti-American angle apparent in many Pakistani pop songs, using stills from the ‘Klashinfolk’, ‘Kismet Apnay Haath Main Lay Li Hai’ and a CoVen video to press his point home. And he ignores other work such as that by Laal. Nevertheless, his point is made well enough to make me cringe: amongst the people interviewed in his report, there seems to be an utter refusal to acknowledge that the Taliban are in any way a threat, or that this is a local, home-grown problem that affects Pakistan first and most deeply.
To be sure, other comments may have been made in the interviews that were edited out when the report was compiled. And, as Nadeem Farooq Paracha tells Ellick, a musician is not necessarily the best person to come up with insights into the situation of Pakistan, since his view would tend to reflect the dominant one. But, he asks, ‘at least address the schools’ issue. Why are you [the Taliban] destroying schools? What has that got to do with America or Zionism? Nobody’s even talked about it.’
Noor–ul–Ain popularly known as Annie, (Punjabi, Urdu: عینی) is a Pakistani pop singer. Annie was born in 1984 in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. In 1985, her parents moved to London where she grew up.
Annie started her singing career at the age of fifteen. In 2000, during a summer vacation in Pakistan, she performed for the first time in a live concert for Abrarul Haq’s charity in Sargodha.
So in the next shot, Ellick puts the question to Ali Azmat. Off-camera, he asks, ‘Would you ever sing a song about how two hundred girls’ schools were blown up?’ Azmat’s reply? ‘Well you know, you cannot blame the Taliban for that. Where do you think those fundings are coming from? It’s the agenda of the neo-cons to de-Islamise Pakistan… religion must be killed.’
One could be forgiven, at this point, to want to shoot oneself in despair. We’re all tempted to defend Pakistan in the face of criticism, sure. But in this manner and in such ill-chosen words?
But why blame Ali Azmat or Ali Noor? The sad fact is that this is a nation of delusional people, and the views these two men have expressed are shared by a great many people – I’d go as far as to say the majority. It took years of beheadings, bombings, whippings and extortion by the Taliban to turn the tide of public opinion against them. It took the infamous ‘flogging video’, the imminent fall of Swat and parts of Malakand into the militants hands, and an active threat posed to the government’s writ over Peshawar to set people saying finally that the Taliban-led militants had to be countered. Until then, if you remember, the public discourse had mainly been along the lines of ‘but all they want to do is enforce an Islamic system – and that, after all, is what we all want.’
What will it take for us to recognise that Pakistan’s problems, from the Taliban to poverty, under-development and corruption, are home-grown? Even where we reject them, we try to blame others. ‘It’s the foreign influences; a conspiracy against Pakistan and Islam; it’s India; it’s America; it’s Israel.’ Like pre-schoolers, we whine on and on: ‘It’s not us; we aren’t like this.’
JUNOON – The internationally acclaimed South Asian rock band. The band that plays a fusion of western rock and traditional eastern mystical music. Their lyrics are inspired by the great Sufi saints, Rumi and Bulleh Shah; and their music by Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Robert Plant, Jeff Beck, Santana, U2, Beatles, and Queen. Junoon is not just about a rock group – it is about sanity, it is about harmony, it is about tolerance and more importantly it is about truth
Ellick also shows in his report portions from that highly popular song ‘Yeh Hum Nahin’, the collaborative effort against terrorism by some of the country’s biggest pop icons. Here are the lyrics he picks up on:
‘This is not us; not us. The story that is being spread in our names is a lie. These stamps of death on our foreheads are the signs of others.’
(To be fair, Ellick also refers to Shahzad Roy of taking on religion in his ‘Laga Raho’ song. But that doesn’t alter the fact that no one refers to the Taliban-led militants. And it is true, as Ali Hamza says, that ‘If we start talking about the Taliban, it’s very easy for them to get rid of us.’ But that doesn’t alter the fact that others, from theatre groups such as Ajoka and Tehrik-e-Niswan, to filmmakers and journalists, are speaking up.)
One of of the single male Pakistani singer Atif Aslam who zoomed up the charts with musical … who bring the whole stadium up on their feet.” He has been able to woo his fans in India to bridge and bring peace vby his music. Atif’s pet peeve is … and Pakistani people will come closer by cultural associations. … “Live bands are a niche bunch in India whereas in Pakistan they are the people’s voice. …we don’t do the Bollywood crap we are more into the music create by the music icons of our time like the Beatles..Marley….Queen….Eagles…..Springsteen …..we may sing in a different language..but we all have the same passion for love and peace…
Pakistan is a nation in denial, unwilling to mature and accept responsibility for mistakes past and future – unwilling to shoulder the weight of responsibility for improving its own future. Certainly, other countries have meddled in our politics. But we’re the ones taking the decision to let them, and then finding ways of shooting ourselves in the foot. The Taliban are a case in point, thanks to Pakistan’s notions of strategic depth in Afghanistan. Like ostriches, we always have and perhaps always will keep our heads stuck in the sand. One can argue that it is the state and the government that ought to be tasked with steering the course of the country’s future away from its currently suicidal direction: but until individuals who constitute society change their minds, a mere government can achieve little of long-term impact.
Farrukh Rehan: Denial-istan
Posted: April 27, 2009,
Every morning I roll out of bed and scan the papers on the net. Today, like most days, I find something distressing about Pakistan. As part of my new routine I call my younger brother in Lahore. The exchange is familiar to both of us: No, he wasn’t near the suicide bombing/commando attack/ mammoth demonstration/drone fired missile. Yes he will be careful and will not visit fancy restaurants where he may be targeted in an attack against “Western” establishments, and yes, he agreed, he will not go to pray at mosques either, which perplexingly also seem to be a favoured target of the radical Islamic extremists who send the suicide bombers.
It is a devastating failure of state for any country when its citizens have to think twice before going to their place of worship. But the biggest failure of all is the utter inability of the leadership of Pakistan, both civilian and military, to unite the Pakistani people against this grave and imminent threat, and to explain to them what is going on, who is attacking the very core of the republic and what needs to be done to defeat this threat.
In the absence of national leadership or even basic coherence at the top, rumours and ideological punditry masquerade as reason. A television anchor insists that all the attacks are the handiwork of Indian intelligence agents. A talking head on another channel claims that the Taliban are misunderstood – all they want to do is to bring swift justice in the country. Another strategic expert assures viewers that everything happening in Pakistan is the US’s fault. Drone attacks are creating anti-Americanism, and its only natural that those attacked will retaliate wherever they can. If the US were to simply stop the drone attacks on Pakistan, everything would be just fine. The fact that Pakistan was spinning out of control well before anyone had heard the term drone hamla, is left out of the conversation.
Some though, have a more sinister explanation for Pakistan’s rapid descent into chaos. They whisper that the Pakistani army is orchestrating the bombings and ceding territory in Swat to ensure continued US attention and funding. How else can you explain the total capitulation of the vaunted 500,000 strong Pak army, which can’t seem to battle a rag tag force of a few thousand militants? But a counter theory gaining currency is that it’s actually the United States that is simultaneously supporting extremists on the one hand, and launching drone attacks with the other. The purpose of such dastardly duplicity? Well duh, to break up Pakistan into pieces so that the US could take over its precious nuclear weapons.
The net result of this mass confusion is that the people of Pakistan can’t seem to diagnose what is apparent to any objective observer:
A. – that the process of acceeding to Islamist demands that started in the 70’s has reached its logical conclusion, where the Islamists are now simply demanding that the whole country be handed over to them.
B. – the cancer of extremism, once foolishly used by the State for its own purposes, has metastized and is now spreading through the body of the nation.
But admitting this would be tantamount to admitting that we have been on the wrong path for a very long time. It would mean admitting that we have been wrong in our blind pursuit of Kashmir to the detriment of Pakistan, that we have been wrong in our meddling in Afghanistan for the sake of strategic depth, wrong in neglecting our people’s education and development in favour of purchasing F-16s. And most of all, it would mean admitting that we have been wrong in changing ourselves from our founder’s vision of a progressive, muslim majority but pluralistic Pakistan to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. No one has the courage to face these bitter truths. It is far easier to be in denial than to examine the core beliefs that form our national mythology. It is far easier to be indignant about the infringement of our sovereignty by US drones than to wonder how a nation could claim to be sovereign and yet be largely dependent on the generosity of other nations for paying its bills. It is far easier to keep blaming the USA for a thirty year old Afghan policy, rather than to ask why we chose to continue that policy once the Soviets had gone back.
And so it continues, every horrific incident, every injustice, every new low is justified and explained away. Mumbai attacks that trace back to Pakistan? Can’t be Pakistanis because the attackers seemed to know their way around Mumbai too well. What about the daily bombings across Pakistan? Of course it’s the work of India, perhaps the US, and maybe even Israel. What about the killings and beheadings in FATA areas? Well, those are unsettled areas, so what happens there doesn’t really affect the rest of the country. And the handing over of Swat valley to the Taliban? Its what the people of Swat wanted – the Taliban will bring peace in exchange for territory. What about the flogging of a 17 year old girl in Swat captured on video? The first response: That was shameful, no ifs and buts. A few hours later: Maybe the video was a hoax to defame Pakistan? A further few hours later: Its definitely a hoax. How could the girl take 34 lashes and then be able to walk home? A few days later: People have forgotten about it and moved on.
As the body of the patient convulses on the operating table, and the doctors squabble over both the diagnosis and the treatment, the seeds sowed in past decades – seeds of extremism, seeds of disenfranchisement, seeds of misgovernance – have come to bear their deadly fruit. I can only surmise that this fruit is so bitter, the picture in the mirror so ghastly, the fate so clearly written on walls, that our minds cannot accept it and denial is the only refuge for us. After all, if Amerindia is responsible for all this, we are responsible for nothing. Neither for creating it, nor for fixing it.
I place another call, this time to my sister in law. She laughs at my concerns. “My dear brother, the media exaggerates everything” she tells me. “You people living abroad become paranoid. We’re used to it. This is Pakistan. This is how its always been. People are going about their business and life goes on. It will all blow over in time.”
“I gotta go now, we’re going out to dinner” she tells me, and hangs up.
If our leaders and our people continue to keep their eyes wide shut, I’m afraid no amount of aid or drone strikes can prevent the coming calamity that will likely dwarf Iraq and Afghanistan.
— The writer is a Pakistani living in Montreal and writes on the Blogzine www.pakteahouse.wordpress.com.
Read more: http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2009/04/27/farrukh-rehan-denial-istan.aspx#ixzz11keCkV1Y
The Denial Of the Lambs
By Anas Abbas
Cross Post : Accounterterror blog
By Anas Abbas
This Essay is in response to an article “The liberal lynch mob” written by Mahreen Aziz Khan published recently in The Express Tribune. It will not only focus on this article itself but will mostly critically analyze the mindset behind such viewpoints and briefly look at the message in other such related articles for example “Get another passport” written by the famous “Flotilla Hulk”.
Recently a horrifying video of a crowd watching a mob brutally killing two brothers in Sialkot has sparked mass demonstrations in Pakistan. The video, widely broadcasted on Pakistani TV channels, shows a lynch mob taking turns to savagely beat the two boys with sticks, metal rods drawing blood from them before dragging and hanging their dead bodies from a nearby pole. But perhaps just as shocking was that none of the dozens of people including police officials watching tried to stop the ferocious attack. The government has responded to the attack by promising to launch an investigation and bringing the culprits to justice. Civil/Religious groups and Media condemned the killings and youth held demonstrations. The scenes have outraged Pakistanis all over the country challenging how their society could submissively watch the shocking killings without intervening.
Amid this crisis, a new debate has sparked in Pakistan as to how should one perceive it. Columnist Fasi Zaka not only condemned the incident but referred to Pakistanis (metaphorically) as ‘human cockroaches’ and concluded that we cannot and will not change unless we rise above all the defenses, excuses and accusations that we give to others and ourselves and take responsibility for our actions. In other words, we need to understand the nature and magnitude of our crimes and make a pledge with ourselves to change our ways. To change the world around us, we need to change ourselves first. In another hard hitting piece, a Pakistani journalist George Fulton focused on the gruesome nature of the society and highlighted the culture of vigilantism that has been ingrained in the very roots of the country and ever since actively promoted and widely accepted on mass scale within the country.
However there is another interesting point of view which was endorsed by Mahreen Aziz Khan in her article “The liberal lynch mob”. In this article, she lambasted both George and Fasi Zaka’s opinions labelling them as ‘western liberals’ and concluded that the norms of our society are not very different from those of the western more developed nations and that what happened in Sialkot was not as out of the ordinary as portrayed by the media.
Mahreen Khan’s article does not come as a surprise as I have been reading these viewpoints since a long time now. Basically this has always been the reaction of such analysts who either live in a mode of denial or deliberately choose not to scrutinize the loopholes in their society for the sake of their misperceived patriotism and false pride and nationalism. They guard the political-military elite of Pakistan and have been one of the biggest impediments in the democratic process by always possessing a soft corner towards the Pakistan army and its political supporters. They are the ones who choose only to criticize Pakistan’s current President Asif Ali Zardari (Popularly known as the source of all problems in the country) by demanding him to donate his entire wealth to compensate the flood victims and maintain their silence on the £10bn empire operating within the country that runs several industrial and manufacturing conglomerates (From Cement to Cornflakes), owns 12m acres of public land and controls one-third of all heavy manufacturing and approximately 7% of private assets. Welcome to Pakistan Army ladies and gentlemen.
The usage of the term “western, liberal”:
In her article, Miss Mahreen at least twice used the term known as ‘western liberal’. In Pakistan, this is a common term used to label any critic who points out either the caustic realities of the society or who invokes self introspection instead of blaming the West, Israel or India. This term takes a different form depending on the user. Some refer to it as Liberal Fascists, Liberal fanatics or Atheists and sometimes it takes a more blatant form such as Kafir, Hindu Agent, Jew or Qadiani, at all times the core meaning of the term remaining the same. These terms are used to describe those people who often:
- Challenge the popular opinion among the masses and take a stand for their views and have the guts to reach a rational conclusion on their own.
- Challenges the distorted version of history widely accepted in the country and demands a truthful reformation of the history books taught in the Pakistani classrooms.
- Highlights the importance of science and research and demand the country’s authorities to allocate a substantial part of budget towards this sector.
- Promote religious harmony and tolerance by demanding equal rights for Ahmadis and other minorities.
- Call for abandoning nuclear weapons and transparency towards nuclear wastes and challenge the “first use” nuclear doctrine of the Pakistan Army.
- Challenge religious orthodoxy and extremism, Taliban, and promote freedom of speech, race, religion, gender and Ideology.
- Promote the democratic political process instead of taking patronage under the military oligarchy.
- Point out other regions of the world as well (such as Baluchistan, Darfur, and Xinanjiang) where Muslims are fighting for freedom instead of just playing the usual Palestinian, Iraqi and Kashmiri card
Here I am not going to defend or further analyse this term but instead I will certainly examine why this specific term was used by Mahreen Khan when the criticism or self-loathing by Fasi Zaka & George Fulton involved Pakistan only?
Where does ‘West’ come from?
The term ‘West’ used by Mahreen Khan was basically to offset the impact of the dilapidated condition of Pakistan highlighted by both Fasi and George by diverting the whole attention through highlighting similar incidents in other regions mainly West, Israel and India. Basically according to this mindset, we should not introspect and work towards seeking constructive feedback of our deeds and instead find similar faults of other nations and indirectly justify ourselves.
The basic strategy is to mention the names of these three regions in order to fuel the revulsion that already exists in Pakistan against them and to discredit the other argument not by presenting valid arguments but by presenting excuses. For example, whenever there is a bomb blast in a mosque or shrine in Pakistan where the Taliban accept responsibility for it, firstly it is not accepted by this mindset and secondly even if it is grudgingly accepted, it is incorrectly and indirectly justified by presenting a case where America is bombing Iraq and parts of Pakistan, killing innocent civilians.
In simple words, this Mahreen Khan Mindset looks at every problem in Pakistani society in this context:
As a point of illustration, on the issue of dealings with the minorities in the country, this mindset believes:
“So what if Pakistani institutions have been highly unsuccessful in protecting its minorities? Look at India (The typical Gujrat 2002 story), Palestine issue, and American invasion in Iraq etc’. ‘See the magnitude of violence they have been promoting!”
By presenting this “comparative-analysis”- excuse which is often out of context, this mindset justifies the weaknesses of its own society and dismisses any criticism directed against their country’s institutions. Eventually the critics are labelled as traitors, Liberal fascists or Western Liberals – as can also be seen in Mahreen Khan’s article.
Mahreen then says:
“These columnists (Fasi Zaka & George Fulton) would not dare to write in such sadistic terms about western cultures. No, they only prey on the weak – pure lynch mob mentality – developing nations like Pakistan, battered by natural catastrophe, war and poverty.”
My first basic questions to Mehreen Khan are:
Why on earth do these columnists need to criticize the “West” and its culture when the discussion is about Pakistan in the first place?
I would have understood had these articles “Pakistani Human Cockroaches” and “Don’t Act Surprised” were written by western analysts such as Bernard Lewis, Noam Chomskey, Christine Fair or Sumit Ganguly. But these articles were written by Pakistani nationals- so why wouldn’t they talk about their own country alone and present their opinion? They live here, they work here, their children go to school here- so why don’t they have the right to point out the shortfalls of their society (which they want to progress) and freely present their criticism?
What is the need to criticize the West or its culture- dragged out of context in Pakistani affairs? Why aren’t the Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Arabs so criticised?
The answer is simple: because “West” is despised by the masses in Pakistan so it has always been the requirement of Mahreen Khan type mindset to mention them in order to overshadow the Pakistani domestic problems.
The use of this strategy is not limited to the likes of Mahreen or Naseem Zehra but has also been employed as a frequent tool of digression by the bigoted mullahs who rule the illiterate Pakistani masses.
According to Mahreen khan, one should never criticize a third world country like Pakistan – battered by natural catastrophes, war and poverty.
Why I can’t criticize my country when I know that it is us who are responsible (due to our collective acts) for the natural catastrophes, war and the poverty?
Admittedly, it is a norm of our society to blame God, Global Warming, India or America, but in reality it is the Pakistanis themselves who are mostly responsible for these floods because of their mismanagement of the Indus river, the role of the timber mafia in denudation of the vast forests, and the appalling situation of National Disaster Management Authority etc.
Should we not highlight these grave loopholes and debate this issue as to why efficient disaster management and building dams has never been a priority for the Pakistani state in the past decades? Why are we all possessed by the need for national security (Indian threat) and the weapons race?
Cities like London and Paris have floods too but they also have a set of appropriate measures to implement in such crises. Why cannot Pakistan take proactive steps to better manage its potential disasters as well?
Or, if we go by Mahreen Khan’s logic, should we first blame the ‘West’? Or find examples of similar natural disasters there and reach a dismissive conclusion that we should not do anything about this because it is also coming in other countries?
In the same article, Mahreen Khan has promptly responded to the Maula Jatt example given in “Don’t act surprised” by giving an American alternate of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre example promoting once again a comparative analysis as highlighted by George Fulton in “Don’t act surprised Part 2” . This “Harvard” intelligentsia is clearly missing the point as to why the Maula Jatt example was mentioned in the first place. Yet again, instead of acknowledging the culture of vigilante justice bred in our state, the Mahreen mindset spends hours Googling similar examples in only those regions which are despised by the masses in Pakistan example India, Israel and America. (Remember No China).
These Pakistanis live in a mode of denial completely ignoring the murderous vigilante culture which has been promoted in their society. The people prefer to make their own law rather than following any set rules of law. This utter disregard for law gives way to even more mayhem thus resulting in today’s daily acts of terrorism, looting, raping and murders.
Take the incident of Sialkot killings for instance. How many times a mob or an individual in Pakistan has taken justice in his hands? This latest Sialkot tragedy is one of the countless incidents that has erupted like a hyper active volcano. How many Christians and Ahmadis have been victimised at the hands of these people? Other such instances include the Gojra incident and the Sangla incident. Read any report of Pakistan Human Rights Commission and notice how many Ahmadis, Christians and other minorities have been brutally victimised through such people. Does anyone even remember the famous incident which took place in 1995 in which Dr. Sajjad Farooq was beaten to death (Stoned) on false apostasy charges (rumour circulated by someone out of personal enmity) by people outside a police station in Gujranwala? Even the mosques and the ruling Islamic ulemas have always been supportive of such incidents.
How can one forget the pseudo scholar by the name of Dr Amir Liaquat (followed by masses) publically endorse the murder of an Ahmadi? (Notice the increase in the killings of Ahmadis immediately after this public legitimisation) How can one forget the late dogmatic Dr Israr Ahmed (followed by the masses) who endorsed the killings of both Ahmadis and apostates? How can we ignore the fatwa of a powerful radical cleric known as Mufti Rafi Usmani on Geo News for mobilizing a mob to kill Salman Rushdie?
As I am writing, a gun battle between the Chang and Khan groups over a 30-rupee loan left four brothers dead in Gulshan-e-Khair Muhammad Hyderabad. Recently, a teenage girl was gang raped by a feudal tribal council as it was recommended by the Jirga (the increasingly popular Imran Khan’s Insaaf Mechanism) purporting that justice can only be served by the rule of “an eye for an eye”.
This barbarous, merciless, homicidal and bloodthirsty approach is not only limited to rural or tribal areas in Pakistan but it is somewhat pervasive in urban areas among the educated families as well.
For example, quite recently a mass hysteria has been created in Pakistan after 3 Pakistani cricketers were exposed for spot fixing in a sting operation by a British tabloid.
Look at our reactions as shown on Pakistani TV channels:
One of the major consensus among the public as shown on various channels is that the cricketers deserve the same fate as that met by the brothers who were brutally murdered in Sialkot. The icing on the cake is that even educated sportsman such as Amir Sohail came on ‘Super eye show’ (August 29th 2010) on Geo Super channel and recommended the “Sialkot type” punishment for the Pakistani cricketers.
A top Pakistani banker and a friend of popular television anchor Mubashir Luqmaan againrecommended the same punishment.
Let’s look at the Facebook status of a third rate propagandist and megalomaniac freak, Ahmed Qureshi, who recently blames George Fulton & Fasi Zaka of being British agents working against Pakistan – just like he usually blames the Jews and Indians whenever he struggles to get an orgasm.
“Pakistani cricket players chose to be a part of corruption. Where is the supervisory mechanism over the players? My take is: Hang the bastards. This country’s politicians and managers can’t give justice and can’t stop corruption. Burn the corrupt, I say. Make them an example, and start with all the corrupt all the way to the top” (Source Facebook Ahmed Qureshi’s Official Page)
Notice the terms “Hang the bastards” and “Burn the corrupt”; it reminds me of similar terms used by the lynching mob in Sialkot during their revenge against those ill-fated boys.
Let’s look at our “National Hero”, the merchant of menace Abdul Qadeer Khan’s article, “Acts of Ghairat”, in which he not only legitimised the full philosophy of vigilante justice but also instigated the public to take justice in their own hands by giving certain relevant examples.
How can we forget the cricket match against India in SAHARA CUP (1996), when the best batsman and national hero of Pakistan (Inzamamul Haq) assaulted a member of the crowd after he was compared with several kinds of potatoes on megaphone? I still remember… Mushtaq Ahmed was asked by Inzamam to bring a bat as he was about to beat up that person.
On Inzamam’s return to Pakistan, he was hailed and praised as being courageous and valiant.
Above all what about the glorified vigilantism, savagery and barbarity in relation to imperialist invaders (Bin Qasim, Ghaznavi, Ghauri and Babar) that the masses in Pakistan study in their crooked history?
Just when you are thinking that you have seen the deepest depths of Pakistani depraved thought- there’s more- People angry at the reported betting scam named donkeys after the players and accused and pelted them with rotten tomatoes to vent their anger. The poor donkeys which live sad existences anyway could not understand why they were being ridiculed and beaten in this manner. Animals though without speech can nevertheless understand affection when shown and are equally capable of understanding hatred. Someone once said, the way a country’s people treats its animals reflects the way it treats its fellow citizens. (Refer to the recent incident in Lahore where poor Donkeys were paraded and persecuted)
This is the real Pakistan where national heroes encourage vigilante justice and have themselves been live examples of it. Then why are we surprised when such an incident as the one in Sialkot happens?
To add to the knowledge of readers with the Mahreen Khan mindset, what Pakistan is, let’s look some of the facts below:
Pakistan is a country:
- With four provinces but the majority of the budget is usually allocated to Punjab and Sind with meagre left over amounts given to Baluchistan and Pakhtunkhwa, leaving them envious of the former two provinces. Thus all four states think for themselves only on a provincial level ignoring the benefits of the country as a whole, thirsty for each other’s blood. Even smallest issues quickly exacerbate into ethnic violence. Our country thus faces acts of terrorism and violence such as target killings on a routine basis. This is how the state of affairs of the country is run whose population is multiplying manifold whereas the resources are going down at higher rates. The country which proudly hosts a population of 170 million but doesn’t realize that this issue will become a national security threat in the upcoming years when the population is expected to reach 226 million.
- That proudly hosts some of the most dreaded terrorists ever, such as Dawood Ibrahim (Karachi Block 4 Clifton), Tiger Memon (Karachi Defence, PH 6 Khayaban Hilal), Masood Azhar (Garrison town, Rawalpindi), Hafiz Saeed (Muridke, Lahore), Illyas Kashmiri, the Afghan Taliban to name a few and the most prominent.
- Where terrorists such as Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar openly market their literature and audio tapes legitimizing hijacking, the use of RDX, suicide bus attacks etc. (Refer to Jamait Dawaa Urdu magazine GHAZWA to learn about the planning and legitimization of Mumbai attacks and Masood Azhar lectures on TAQI Usmani Website.)
- Where it is prohibited for an Ahmadi to write BISMILLAH on a marriage invitation card.
- Where it is banned for an Ahmadi to travel to Saudi Arabia in order to perform Hajj.
- Where religious abuse is evident even in the application of a National ID card and Passport(Notice this statement in application forms for Pakistani passport “I consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Quadiani to be an impostor nabi and also consider his followers whether belonging to the Lahori or Qadiani group to be Non-Muslim.”)
- Where a rogue and disgraced “scientist” illegally sells centrifuge designs and technology to totalitarian regimes like North Korea whose 25% of the population is imprisoned by the state.
- That persecuted the first Muslim Nobel Laureate Dr Abdus Salam and refused to endorse his candidacy when he ran for the post of Director General of UNESCO. (Just because he was an Ahmadhi)
- Where out of more than 170 million citizens, fewer than 2 percent pay income tax and sectors such as stock markets remain untaxed.
- Where despite enormous American hatred, people usually seen standing in long queues outside the embassy for study or vacation visas.
- Where Bollywood songs are a regular feature in most weddings despite Pakistan’s enmity and hatred for the said Indians and thus the Pakistanis thrive on Indian forms of entertainment, i.e. its dramas (STAR PLUS), movies and music.
- That depends every year on the ‘West’ to avoid bankruptcy and for the approval of financial bailouts.
- Where the provincial government (KP) pays Rs20 million to the military authorities/elites, as charges for the helicopters used in the rescue operations during the flooding within the province.
- Where Hindu religion is officially abused in the text books of all public schools in which 70% of Pakistanis study.
- Where an Army General by the name of Musharraf openly violated the Constitution (even accepted on television) and was nevertheless given a safe passage to Edgware road London.
- Whose politicians/army/elite persecuted the Bengalis and launched Operation Searchlight during 1971, killing hundreds and thousands of people and raping women. Despite all this, this country never even apologised for their brutal acts. A country which at the same time accuses America of nuking Japan but doesn’t mention alongside that the same America later played a crucial role in developing Japan and apologised for its destruction caused.
- Where a popular national hero and philanthropist worshipped by millions has been an insult to science by calling Charles Darwin a “half baked” theorist.
- Where mafias operates openly on the nook and corner of every street and are involved in hoarding stocks of goods such as Flour and Sugar thus manipulating the price of the products in the market and causing unnecessary sufferings to the poor at their benefit.
- Where the crime rate is so high in urban areas that people are routinely killed for a meagre Rs 500 mobile phone.
- Where a ruthless army dictator, Ayub Khan, accused Fatima Jinnah (Women rights activist and sister of Jinnah) of being an Indian and American agent.
- Where national heroes are regularly accused of taking banned substances such as nandrolene, cannabis and such.
- Where a court demands a blind girl (Safia Bibi) to present four male adult Muslim witnesses in order to prove that she was gang raped or else she would be charged with having committed adultery and sentenced accordingly (Famous Asma Jehangir Hudood Ordinance Case).
- Where a philanthropist (Abdul Sattar Edhi) who easily qualifies as one of the world’s greatest humanitarian activists, is threatened by the army to such an extent that he needs to temporarily leave the country.
- Where the powerful military makes its own people suffer by blocking the relief aid from other countries just for the sake of its egotism and vanity (Recently Pakistan blocks UK offer of military aid for flood victims in protest against David Cameron’s comments on a selling trip to India)
- Where the combined yearly education and health budget is peanuts as compared to the gigantic military budget.
- That suffered a $35 billion economic loss and lost thousands of lives in the War on Terror andstill hasn’t declared Al Qaeda a terrorist organization. (Read here how a famous terrorist escaped punishment from High Court just because Al Qaeda is officially not a terrorist organization in the country).
- That spends $2 million of the people’s money for the legal process of a terrorist, Aafia Siddiqui, whereas no such financial assistance is allocated to the countless cases of women undergoing corporal punishments, domestic violence, arson, torture or kidnapping.
This is the real Pakistan that has been dominated mainly throughout its history by illiteracy, conspiracy theories, corruption, political instability, military interferences, terrorism and poverty. A country where leaders openly justify on national TV that their involvement in corruption is acceptable, by employing the same tactics as those employed by the likes of Mahreen Khan. According to them, it is justified to delve in some corruption because another person belonging to X party is also involved in corruption. Hence, there was nothing wrong with this equation. But the truth of the matter simply put is that two wrongs do not make one right.
Yes Pakistan has positive qualities too as does every other country to more or less some extent. In fact every individual has some positive qualities alongside the negative ones. But what defines you as a good person/ country are the overriding qualities—the good ones or the bad. In other words, the important thing is what prevails over you. For instance, an active child molester also donates some money to a school as charity on a monthly basis. The money he donates will be overpowered by the indecent acts towards children. The same goes for Pakistan whose negative qualities have tipped its scales towards being not only a failed state but a rogue state.
This is not the Pakistan which was envisioned by its founders. It has now instead become ‘Denialistan’ whose citizens do not accept their shortcomings and- if they are faced with no other choice but to accept their faults- are quick to justify them by pointing out similar failings of other states. Who similar to lambs, follow mindlessly what is fed into their brains through the variety of mediums present in the society (such as the military elite, the Ulema and other influential personalities who are idolised by the masses). Just like lambs do not use their minds before following its leader, the vast majority of us blindly follow these figures of influence without applying our brains to what is being said/ asked of us. Moreover those who dare to introspect are condemned as “western liberals” who ought to ‘Get another passport’.
According to this ‘Get another passport’ directive recently reiterated by “Flotilla Hulk”, a person should either blindly love Pakistan or, if he or she can’t do that, they should go get themselves another passport. (Reminiscent of George Bush’s “With us or against us Rhetoric”)
In reply to this, I would like to give the following example:
If a mother chides her child who is consistently failing exams due to an irresponsible attitude and who refuses to take studies seriously, she has every right to criticise her child and doing so does not make her less of a mother to her child. She only chides because she cares. If the same child brought in a good result, she would be equally quick to applaud him.
If we suppose that the mother in the above example was in fact ‘Flotilla Hulk’, what response to the child’s failings do we expect of him? Wouldn’t he criticise his son and take whatever steps are necessary to push his child towards success by pointing out what he was doing wrong? Or will he simply “Get another son”?
Similarly, if the critical analysts of our country have some vitriolic truths to convey to their readers, it is not to pull the country down, neither does it make them any less of a citizen. In fact it is for the betterment of the country at heart that they take a stand in the first place.
Above all, Pakistan is not the property of these Guevaras, Khans, Qureshis, Peerzadas, Guls etc, it’s the country of 170 million people and everyone has the constitutional right to form their opinion.
I would like to end this by dedicating the following quote to this Denial Brigade of Denialistan:
“Sometimes reality has a way of sneaking up and biting us in the ass. And when the dam bursts, all you can do is swim. The world of pretend is a cage, not a cocoon. We can only lie to ourselves for so long. We are tired, we are scared. Denying it doesn’t change the truth. Sooner or later we have to put aside our denial and face the world. Head on, guns blazing. De Nile. It’s not just a river in Egypt, it’s a freakin’ ocean. So how do you keep from drowning in it?” (By Meredith Grey)
If we keep denying ourselves the right to critically self-analyse, willingly turning a blind eye to the blatant causes of the problem, the potential within us to improve and tackle these deeply ingrained issues will be utterly wasted.
Analysis on Pakistan Army enterprize were taken from the book Military Inc.
Beyond state of denial: How blind hatred of United States is undermining our own interests
By Raza Habib Raja
Raza Habib Raja has contributed this piece to LUBP which was previously published at Chowk. Here is Mr Raja’s brief introduction in his own words:
I am an economist by education and a banker by profession. I have enormous interest in political issues. Politically I am a moderate though slightly on the left side and have a staunch belief in skepticism. I avoid taking dogmatic positions on issues.
In the current era of media fueled urban politics, the issues most discussed on the media have tendency to take all the limelight. Once an issue assumes the status of a “rallying” point then political parties try to show adherence to the same in order to remain politically popular. Right now and increasingly after 9/11, US bashing supplemented by notions like national sovereignty and nuclear arsenal paranoia, have taken the centre stag. Historically the anti US sentiments had always been present but these were given a new vigor after 9/11. From that point onwards, the scale has increased to such an extent that it has become the sole paradigm through which we view the world. Right now as the case of Faisal Shezad has emerged, our media is again ranting the same mantra of a grand conspiracy of USA to “frame” Pakistan.
I would have casually dismissed this hatred as comic absurdity had it been a harmless thing. However, it is now bordering insanity and has made us completely oblivious to our own shortcomings. It is true that the current superpower is not an angel and historically has been an aggressor with imperialistic designs, but the way we are viewing things has seriously affected our own welfare and virtually made us unable to self introspect. Moreover, this trend is forcing political parties to reorient their focus increasingly towards irrational direction rather than deploying their energies towards real issues such as employment, power shortages, provincial autonomy etc. Since political parties and populace have a reciprocal relation with each other, right now it is like a self reinforcing spiral taking us to complete intellectual bankruptcy.
One has to see the evolution of this phenomenon after 9/11 to see its negative effects. I was in Karachi when 9/11 happened. As I watched TV coverage with my cousin, he was ecstatic and visibly showed his excitement that finally USA was being meted out the treatment it deserved. I objected that targeting civilians like this was not the right approach but was countered by the ever famous answer: “these people have killed Palestinians in the same way” and also that in the 2nd world war USA had used even nuclear bomb against Japan. “Those who target other’s civilians should be punished in the same way”, he remarked.
A few days later as the situation changed and gradually it became clear that USA was pointing fingers at Osama Bin laden and hence this region would be the focus of some kind of military action, the excitement gave away to accusation. The act which had made my cousin happy a few days ago was suddenly transformed into a “grand plan” by USA to have justification to come to this region.
His opinion actually was also the dominant opinion in those days in majority of the urbanities particularly those from Punjab and such views were increasingly being endorsed and promoted by newly emerging Media. Talk shows were in their infancy and mirroring the variants of what essentially was the same opinion. Of course, some variants were exceptionally more fantastic (one suggested that the WTC had explosives planted also which set off the moment the planes hit), but the basic premise remained the same: USA itself had executed the attacks to conjure up a justification to come to this region. The supreme justification was that since it had given them the opportunity to attack Afghanistan in retaliation therefore it had to be planned by them.
This mindset increasingly started to look like an alternative universe, where the devil was United States of America. Whatever USA said or endorsed had to be against us. It pointed fingers at Osama, therefore Osama had to be innocent. When the USA attacked and routed out Taliban, and evidence mounted that Osama had orchestrated 9/11 attacks, the interpretation changed to accommodate Osama as an agent (though still some doubt that he did it). USA could not be right and its interests could not be our interests, was the justification for these ever changing weird spins. When horrific atrocities of Taliban regime were brought to media attention those were simply dismissed as mere propaganda of the western powers.
The worst thing which happened was the Iraq war. It actually gave credibility to the foundations of this parallel universe. The devil of this universe actually behaved like a devil. I watched a raging debate on BBC when a labor backbencher pointed out that Britain by going into this war is merely going to alienate the moderate Muslim opinion. I knew inside my heart that he was right. When you are driven by instinctive hatred, you need very little evidence to stick to it. Iraq war provided much more than a flimsy justification. Suddenly, every weird theory found increased number of believers.
In near past, just because USA was forcing us to take a timely action the militants, we were all against it because in our heads it was against us and our “own” people. Those delays eventually enabled the militants to have a complete foothold in places like Swat. When news regarding the Taliban atrocities started to emerge, we refused to believe them because some of the western channels were also airing them. As late as 2009, when flogging video went on air, instead of being appalled, the entire media thrust was on proving that it was a fake. It had to be propaganda against Islam and us. The Nazam-e Adl deal was virtually endorsed by our media and a large section of sensation loving romantic nationalist urban middle class. And when ANP successfully maneuvered the situation to expose that militants were indeed animals, almost overnight they became bad Taliban who had been created by USA. We conveniently overlooked the fact that in fact USA had been pressurizing us to take action earlier and only a few days before we were reacting violently to opposition to Nazam-e-Adl by calling it interference in our internal affairs. And not surprisingly when reality dawned about Taliban by virtue of a live speech of Sufi Muhammad, we were quick to point out to the possibility of emergence of “Bad” Taliban. In this parallel universe every fact had to be spun to be consistent with the original premise.
This hatred has now reached such gigantic proportions that even when clearer evidence is presented in front of our eyes about what creed of people Taliban are, we are completely unable to condemn them. Instead we are either calling barbarism a reaction or trying to bifurcate them into good and bad Taliban. A “strategic” asset, created by our own armed forces and defended to madness by our own media, is now believed to be partially bought over by USA. USA the devil becomes our sole point and in that hatred we completely overlook where we are heading.
Since blame has to remain constant on them, now the “victims” of false propaganda in the past are provided an apologetic defense of poverty or “reaction” against US drone attacks. As blood litters our streets, rather than collectively denouncing the ideology of hate and barbarism, our sole reaction is pointing to the same premise in one way or the other. This sole reaction shows the depleted soul of the nation. We are ready to hold rallies when a few are killed due to a drone attack but speechless when literally hundreds are killed by the Taliban monsters. Rather than trying to fight the miserable creed of monsters we are coming up with new spins of national sovereignty, reaction to US policies, nuclear arsenal, grand conspiracy of US and God knows what else. Consequently, it is becoming exceptionally difficult for the government to muster the political will to sustain this fight which is no longer physical. The hatred is misplaced, the enemy is within, but we are totally oblivious to it and in the process strengthening the forces of extremism through appeasement, apologetic defense or outright denial.
Right now it has to be understood that despite differences, at least in one critical aspect, USA’s and our interests are common: we face a common enemy. And yet just because they are saying it, we are opposing it and in the process treading on a self destructive path. Our every new interpretation is contradictory to the previous one, but it does not matter; because irrational instincts are driving our introspection. It stretches beyond that. Anyone who opposes Taliban vehemently and does not buy these wild theories is labeled as an unpatriotic, liberal elitist or someone who is a sellout.
The effects of this mindset, if unchecked, will go beyond the current battle against Taliban. As the anti US rhetoric is whipped into frenzy and becomes a popular rallying point, the politics will no longer be an art of identifying core issues and striving to address them but merely expanding the borders of this parallel universe. An open and intellectually honest society should have the moral courage to look into itself also rather than blaming each and everything to USA. We are in dire need of that spirit of self introspection.
“No Muslim can do this”-
by Dr Khawaja Muhammad Awais Khalil
Attack on Data Darbar is a continuation of the same events in which Pakistanies are under attack by the few ‘Faithfuls’. Its not an event in isolation and its not a solitary attack on Braylvies. Its essentially the same wave of attacks [based on religious hatred] in which Christians, Hindues, Shiites and Ahmedies were targeted in the past. After the attack, watching the so called ‘Azad Media’, I noted a theme, which was recurrent with slight change of words. ‘no muslim can do this’, ‘this is not done by any Muslim’, ‘how a Muslim can think of doing such a horrific event’, ‘those who did this are not Muslims’. I ask a question from myself are they really not Muslims or are we just in a state of mind, called denial? Are we trying to find out the excuses to blame ‘some one else’ but Muslims?
Muslims have been involved in killing of other Muslims for centuries on religious grounds. If we analyse the history, 3 out of the 4 of our pious Caliphs were killed by the people who claim to be Muslims. Prophet’s Household [peace be upon them] were slaughtered in Karballa by their fellow Muslims. Not just slaughtered but mutilated,their dead bodies chopped into pieces and were not allowed to be buried properly. During the Caliphate we killed each others without hesitations, when ever needed to be. In recent past we can remember the events of Mazar-e-Sharif when Talibans [Muslims] captured it, they killed 15000 Shiites and then didn’t allowed their dead bodies to be buried rather let it rotten so that dogs and other animals can eat them. This was an exhibit of their religious hatred against Shiites. Our brave [Muslim] Army is alleged to kill hundreds of thousands of poor Bengalies. Most of you will remember the picture of dead body of Najibullah hanging from a traffic signal [shown above] , castrated and his penis put in his mouth. This was done in the name of Islam, as is evident from the statement by the Taliban official “He killed so many Islamic people and was against Islam and his crimes were so obvious that it had to happen. He was a communist…”.
In 1990s Shiites were killed , their Majalises were bombed, their intellectuals and community leaders were targeted, by whom, our Sunni brothers. They, not just took responsibility of it, but also took pride in it and did it as their religious duty. I feel sorry for those so-called analysts and politicians who think that all this started post 9/11. Christians and Hindues were persecuted and our ‘faithful brothers’ were involved in it. It was ‘Mullah Radio’ who was on killing spree in Swat and it was ‘Mohtaram’ Sufi Mohammad and his fellows who dugged out the dead body of Pir Sami Ullah of Swat, that was mutilated and then hanged on a crossroad. Those were our ‘faithful brothers’ who attacked and bombed the mazar of Rehman Baba. Those were our ‘faithful brothers’ who attacked Ahmdies in Lahore. PML N Govt still holds one of them but doesn’t want the pubic to know that, he is our own home grown ‘Muslim brother’ trained in a madrissa and inspired by some so-called scholars.
Most of the above mentioned events were/are driven by the religious hatred. This hatred is still being taught, preached and propagated in most madrissas in Pakistan. This hate is also being propagated day in, day out on TV, radio and newspapers. When we allow teachings like ‘Ahmedies are murtid hence wajib Ul qatl’, ‘Shiites are blasphemous to Sahabah hence wajib ul qatl’, ‘Braylvies are mushriq, Shirq is the worst crime of all, Data Darbar is the hub of ‘Shirq’ hence Braylvies are wajib ul qatl’, ‘Christians and Hindues are blasphemous to the Prophet Muhammad hence wajib ul qatl’, then what we are seeing is a logical consequence. Most of us were and are silent on the propagation of this hatred just because it was not against us. Muslims remained silent when Hindues are Christians were targeted by the barbarics. Braylvies and Ahmedies remained silent when Shiites were under attack. Shiites and Braylvies remained silent when Ahmedies were slaughtered. Now its the turn of Brayvlies and others are somewhat silent or just giving verbal condemnations. As long as we come out and speak against this hatred,which is the root cause of it, we all are in it and sooner or later we will be attacked.
ظلم سہنا بھی تو ظالم کی حمایت ٹھہرا ——- خاموشی بھی تو ہوئی پشت پناہی کی طرح
Generation Axe –
by Nadeem Farooq Paracha
by Nadeem F. Paracha
It does pain me to see a lot of ground-level PPP workers being pushed into a corner by their party leader’s nonchalant ways. They seem and sound helpless and exhausted in trying to defend their leader who has become the target of an obsessive-compulsive punching campaign of the media.
However, though the president does not seem to be bothered by the campaign, he must realize that there are many of his party workers who are being seriously affected. More than this, he should also realize that the media is targeting these very workers because it knows how vulnerable they are at the moment and also how defenceless they are feeling in the wake of both the media’s rather pathological hatred for Zaradri as well as Zardari’s own obvious and not very endearing eccentricities.
Let’s just forget what I think about Zardari’s tour of France and the UK in the wake of the devastating floods that have hit millions of unfortunate Pakistanis. All I’ll say is that my view on the issue is not compatible with those members of the PPP who are defending the President’s trip, but nor are my views in tune with those heaping scorn over him for being such a heartless president. Instead I will share with you an observation.
In 2005 when a horrifying earthquake hit Kashmir and many areas of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, we saw an immediate response from thousands of young men and women who just rolled up their sleeves and plunged into relief work, sometimes facing great dangers.
I am proud to note that this is one thing this generation is very good at. So I was expecting the same this time around as well. So, off I went with a friend to take a tour of some offices and colleges where we knew a few people.
I won’t go into details about this, but will share with you an episode I witnessed at an office full of young folks. This episode neatly covers the ground realities I experienced elsewhere as well.
At this office I saw three donation boxes put there to collect funds for the flood victims. Since they were one of those transparent plastic ones, one could see through and in them. They’d been lying there for three days and none of them were even half full.
A number of young people approached me and they just seemed to have Zaradri’s trip on their minds. Seeing me retreat, my friend intervened: “Zaradri was wrong to go. But what have YOU done to help the victims? Do you think all this obsessive whining about Zaradri would help you help the hungry, broken and shelterless victims?”
He was right. Because whereas one saw a number of young Pakistanis gathering to actually do something practical and tangible to help the earthquake victims, this time around however, the same young guns and, of course, the electronic media were spending more time spouting accusations and curses at Zaradri and navel-gazing about morality in this context than actually doing something a lot more noble.
There is no nobility I’m afraid in attacking an incompetent (democratically elected) government when every Junaid, Seema and John in the media is doing so – especially a wobbly government of a country ravaged by the demonic specter of religious extremism and violence, a dwindling economy, unchecked corruption and sudden natural calamities . Turning such loud whining into an obsession is even worse.
In a democracy people get the chance and the right to throw such a government out through the power of the vote. But, of course, those who make the most noise in this respect, hardly ever go out to vote.
What’s even shoddier is the way the many western media correspondents based in Pakistan report the happenings here. I have met some really good ones, who are open to learn about the complexities of the many social and political issues that this country faces. But unfortunately, since many of them have connections with the so-called intelligentsia and media of Pakistan, they too end up describing a lot of events through the paranoid shades of the somewhat despotic, self-righteous middle-class morality.
While reporting a political event involving, for example, Nawaz Sharif or Asif Zaradri, most western reporters (like the Pakistani middle-classes) are bound to digress towards commenting on the dynastical soap opera of the Sharif family and the Bhuttos with, of course, Fatima Bhutto, always making some kind of an entry, despite the fact that the talented writer that she is, the lady quite clearly has no clue what politics is.
And when it comes to Altaf Hussain, many western correspondents again take the minority, non-voting Pakistani middle-class view. They (like a bulk of the middle-class in the Punjab), are still measuring Hussain and his party as if this was not the 2000s, but 1992!
Nevertheless, after concluding our ‘fact finding’ mission in which we saw young, middle-class Pakistanis filling donation boxes with anti-Zaradri curses (instead of actual money), my friend and I drove down to a café in Karachi where I was invited to meet a large group of young high school and college students.
They wanted to talk to me about terrorism. I’m not much of a speaker, so I just asked them to start a conversation on the subject. They were a lively bunch. But such is the state of confusion, denial and mistrust in the country’s urban middle-classes, that I wasn’t surprised at all to be bombarded by one conspiracy theory after another that these young people had obviously picked up from the electronic media and a number of (the rather unintentionally) hilarious websites out there who deal in peddling the most outlandish claptrap this side of Erich von Däniken and Zecharia Sitchin!
I let the young group’s members do most of the talking, until I decided to ask a few questions: “How would you like to be part of a generation that may go down as the one during which Pakistan was finally turned into hellhole of religious extremism? How would you all feel when history describes your generation to be the one that in spite of having unprecedented access to some stunning technology, democracy and superior education, still allowed its country to become the breeding ground for audacious, obscene and insane mad men who use the good name of God to spread hatred?”
“That won’t happen!” A young man announced.
My friend intervened: “Oh, but it’s already happening. It happens almost every single day. Can’t you see it?”
“That’s what the West wants us to believe,” a young lady replied.
“Okay then,” I said. “Let’s say for a while most of you are right to suggest that that ubiquitous foreign Indian, Western, Israeli or Martian hand is involved, it’s still Pakistan’s survival on the line, isn’t it? What have you done about what your country’s going through, apart from, of course, forwarding Zaradri jokes and nice little religious couplets through SMS …”
I was interrupted by an enthusiastic young man announcing the ‘news’ about Zaradri facing a ‘barrage of shoes in Britain!’
I nodded my head: “Right, so you think the answer lies in throwing shoes at Zaradri?”
“Hell, yes!” came the reply from a couple of young guys sitting in the front row.
“So if you see Zaradri, you too will be willing to throw a shoe at him?” I asked.
“Yes, I definitely would!” A young man announced.
“Would you throw a shoe at a religious extremist? I asked.
“Are you crazy!” he shot back. “He’ll blow me up to bits!”
A ripple of laughter and high-fives ran across the gathered group.
“That, I’m afraid, makes you a coward.” I said.
The laughter faded away.
“Anything that scares you or retaliates, you deny its existence. As if it’ll just go away. But all that which does not hit back or retaliate is fair game for shoes and boos? That, lad, is the dilemma of your generation. Now, if you all don’t mind, this creaking 42-year-old cynic would like to have that coffee this café is famous for. Thank you.”
The Great Denial
By Nadeem Paracha
In Pakistan, the audacious has become the norm. The terrorist attack in Lahore today – along with the many that have taken place in the last many years in this unfortunate country – may seem something out of ordinary anywhere else in the world, but not in Pakistan.
Pakistan it seems stopped being part of the ‘normal’ world a long time ago. Nothing’s impossible here when it comes to faith-driven terrorism. Now everyday the terrorists manage to mock and dodge the government and the state, almost at will. Nobody and nothing’s safe.
One can go on criticizing the state’s many intelligence agencies and the government for exhibiting utter ignorance and helplessness in anticipating terrorist acts that have been repeated over and over again using almost exactly the same ways and techniques and impacting the same venerable areas and spots, but I’d rather take a more self-critical view of the whole damn nightmare.
What is it that makes these terrorists so sure and confident about themselves?
It’s simple. We do!
It is the sheer hesitancy that we show towards fully realizing the grave dangers these terrorists hold, and a weird, inexplicable sense and understanding of reality that most Pakistanis look to be suffering from, that gives these terrorists the psychological edge and opening; providing them as convoluted a justification to commit acts of barbarism in the fine name of God, as is our own habit of ending up actually recognizing their many deeds as being either a sympathetic socio-political outcome, or, of course, a wild conspiracy by our many (largely imagined) enemies lingering on our borders.
The TV channels and drawing-rooms will be abuzz for a day or two discussing the mayhem, but very few Pakistanis actually take the time they get during the lull periods to reflect as to what has happened to their country and its people.
Instead, these lull periods are spent going right back to flexing our pulpy rhetorical muscles and sharpening of our non-existent teeth against our ‘enemies.’
Amazingly, as politicians, TV talk show hosts, clerics, the chattering classes and journalists all get together for a collective show of inspired morning and bemoaning against our ‘corrupt politicians’ and ‘government of beggars,’ we so conveniently forget that at the moment nothing’s as bad or more troublesome an issue in this country as terrorism.
But it is not general apathy or distracted energies of the people that the extremists are feeding on; it is a collective case of denial on the part of an increasing number of Pakistanis that is strengthening these extremists.
First of all, it is a fact that violence-prone extremism was ironically the creation of the CIA, with patronage provided by Arab petro-dollars and the local intelligence agencies such as the ISI. There is not an iota of doubt about the history of these agencies using the concept of jihad as a calling card to gather fighters for the so-called ‘Afghan jihad’ in the 1980s. A string of radical Islamic scholars were used along with the state-owned media and madressahs to fervently indoctrinate a huge number of young Muslims.
More dangerous was the way droplets of this aggressive strain started to trickle down to shape the sociology and politics of Pakistanis who are not extremists. That’s why, for example, today, if you mention names like Musharraf, Zardari. Altaf Hussain or Nawaz Sharif, one won’t be surprised to see a number of Pakistanis leap into to action, getting into an animated mode, criticising and lambasting corrupt politicians and power-hungry generals. However, the moment you try to discuss a recent episode of suicide bombing, most Pakistanis can then be seen suddenly going into a shell, trying to avoid the topic.
The majority will not condone suicide bombings and terrorism, but they will not condemn it either – or at least the way it should be condemned. No wonder, according to a recent survey, most Pakistanis actually believe terrorism is a secondary problem in their country – rather obnoxious a delusion indeed.
And that’s dangerous. Some Pakistanis would avoid discussing the issue altogether, actually believing that maybe criticising the ‘holy warriors’ (no matter how violent they may be), is like criticising Islam, while some would gladly become navel-gazing apologists of such acts, pointing their finger at the every ready list of imagined enemies who want to ‘destabilise Pakistan.’
Whom should we blame, seems to be the question on their mind. The thinking is that blaming the extremists is perhaps equal to agreeing with Zardari and the US. It is this narrow, egocentric mentality, coupled with echoes of years and years of indoctrination of a contradictory and xenophobic strain of Islam that has left a bulk of Pakistanis apathetically suffering from and subdued by matters such as extremism and terrorism.
What Musharraf represented or what this present government is all about in the form of the establishment comes with a historical and visible baggage. It is thus a target that can be clearly seen, pinpointed and attacked, whereas extremism remains an elusive enemy. Some would even go to the extent of negating its very existence, in spite of the ubiquitous sights of blood, bodies and limbs quivering on blackened streets. So, it is not general apathy or distracted energies of the people that the extremists are feeding on; it is a collective case of denial on the part of an increasing number of Pakistanis that is strengthening the extremists. A denial made worse by the animated apologists found babbling and foaming incoherent and unsubstantiated drivel across the many TV screens and channels of the nation.
Though it is true the terrorists are not overwhelmingly popular with the masses, it is also true that most Pakistanis have yet to perceive the extremists as the kind of enemy that they really are. With ready-made explanations like RAW, CIA and that ‘fellow Muslims are being subjected to state atrocities in the north’ spiel being their best answers to the madness of extremism and terrorism, it is highly unlikely to expect Pakistanis to tackle the issue anytime soon – in spite the fact that maybe it’s already too late.
Can’t be us, or can it?
January 10th, 2010
On the day of the devastating terrorist attack on the Ashura procession in Karachi, the MQM chief, Altaf Hussain, pleaded for a complete boycott of those political parties and personnel who he believed were supporting the Taliban.
Leaders of other secular political parties such as the PPP and the ANP and members of the liberal intelligentsia too have been expressing their concerns about certain political and TV personalities who are said to be mouthing loud, sympathetic sentiments for the Taliban. It must be asked: what does it mean to be an educated, pro-Taliban entity in a modern, urban setting?
To begin with, the question is riddled with an obvious dichotomy. How can a person or a party in a modern, urban setting sympathise with a set of mountain men who are completely detached from reason and humanity; and whose idea of an Islamic state is actually a stony religious emirate built on the slain bodies of thousands of men, women and children, and a scruffy, violent romanticism derived from glorious myths about jihad, martyrdom and battles?
Well, supposedly educated men and women can regularly be seen on TV and heard in drawing rooms, passionately giving an economic twist to the shameful ways of the extremists. They say it is economic exploitation and lack of economic opportunities in the rugged areas of Pakhtunkhwa that have forced the locals to take up arms. But if this is true, then are these the only people in Pakistan hit by exploitation and poverty?
One can come across even worse cases of poverty in the widespread slums of urban Pakistan. This poverty has given birth to all sorts of crime and even a few protest movements, but how many of these people have decided to blow up whole markets and mosques packed with people; and that too, in the name of God? The so-called economic argument by the Taliban sympathisers does not bode well with their supposedly educated dispositions. But then the question arises: what is their education made of?
Many intellectuals and scholars have constantly lamented the volatile content that exists in the many Pakistan Studies books that have been used in both government and private schools ever since the 1971 East Pakistan debacle and, more so, since the reactionary Ziaul Haq dictatorship.
These scholars have systematically criticised these books for glorifying jihad and hatred (against both non-believers as well as those Muslims who do not follow a narrow and myopic rendition of Islam). Instead of telling history as a linear narrative based on authentic sources, these books read like badly written fairy tales oozing with half-truths and obvious distortions.
The space here does not allow one to analyse the number of such ‘history books’ being taught in Pakistani schools, so I will take a single example in this respect to hit home the point. The Illustrated History of Islam by Abdul Rauf is an example. Published in 1993, it is said to be offered by schools as an ‘important side reading’. The cover is a watercolour painting depicting a Muslim warrior on horseback, wielding a heavy sword against what, I’m sure, are infidels.
Not surprisingly, the book uncritically uses the usual (and clearly polemical) Arab sources (that started emerging some two to three hundred years after Islamic conquests). Insisting on portraying the religion as a culturally homogenous entity (with all other variations being heretical innovations), the author, it seems, uses a war drum instead of a thoughtful pen to jot down his thoughts.
Then, as is typical of such history books, the author laments the downfall of the Muslim empire and squarely bases the reasons of this downfall on the theological innovations of Muslims that made them move away from true Islam and indulge in luxurious living and social laxities of the infidels. Of course, the author never touches upon the stark economic and political reasons that can explain the fall of empires in a more rational and thoughtful manner. That would require a pen, instead of the sword he seems to be using here.
My favourite section of the book is a sub-chapter called ‘The Four Anti-Islam Elements.’ This is what the author writes: “Currently Islam faces grave dangers from the following four elements: Christians, Jews, Hindus and atheists.” In other words, everyone who’s not Muslim is a threat to Islam.
If such are the books being taught to children, is there any element of surprise left in watching certain TV personalities, politicians and their largely urban middle-class fans nodding in uncritical approval to what is simply a convoluted charade peddled as history and analysis?
The scary thing is, the bulk of young, educated middle-class men and women are lapping up these one-dimensional and black and white ‘historical’ tirades, and then using them to understand the issue of terrorism and extremism haunting Pakistan. No wonder then that even in the face of some stark proofs of the local Taliban’s involvement in terrorist attacks and religious coercion, our minds, as if on hypnotic cue, shut down and let the irrational instincts studded with paranoia and denial rule the roost.
‘Can’t be us’, becomes the mantra. Has to be some Christians/ Jewish/ Hindu or other such ‘anti-Islam’ abomination.
This column was originally published in Dawn on 10 January 2010.
Wake up, Punjab
by Nadeem F. Paracha
Another bomb attack in Lahore. What to expect from the PMLN government in the Punjab? Lip service condemning terrorism, of course. But, as usual, keeping in mind the Punjab government’s past record, the condemnation will be general and vague.
Even as the PPP-led coalition government in Islamabad will not hesitate to take names – they’ll point to the Taliban or the many sectarian organisations working as Al Qaeda’s foot soldiers – it is expected that the Punjab government under the PMLN will not.
Determining which forces are hell-bent on mutilating the country is not rocket science. But brace yourself (yet again) to be bombarded by the PMLN leadership and the usual intransigent suspects on TV channels talking generalised nonsense about terrorism and the ubiquitous ‘foreign hand,’ consequently drowning out the obvious involvement of any of the many extremist organisations running amok in Pakistan’s largest province.
But why the Punjab? Although it has been ravaged and broken by extremist terrorism for over two years now, political parties strong in the Punjab (such as the PMLN), the Punjabi-dominant electronic media, and fringe Punjab-based politicos such as Imran Khan have simply refused to acknowledge reality.
Still operating from the fanciful high pedestal of a superiority complex, a bulk of urban Punjab and its leadership continues to live in a stunning, air-tight state of denial.
Whereas in Karachi one can find a majority of common men and women unafraid to air their distaste for the extremists, and walls can be seen adorned with slogans such as ‘Taliban raj namanzoor’ (Taliban regime not acceptable), ‘Taliban sey hoshiar’ (beware of the Taliban), and, my favourite, a slogan found scribbled in a thick coat of black on a wall in a rundown lower-middle-class area of the city, ‘Mulla Omar dajjal’ (Mulla Omar the devil), one just cannot expect such voices and scenes in the Punjab, at least not in Lahore.
Why not? How can a province and a city (Lahore), devastated over and again and plunged into the depths of chaos and fear perpetrated by monsters such as the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and the province’s many clandestine sectarian organisations, simply refuse to face its most ubiquitous tormenters and demons? Why the fearful silence by its people, and why the spin, the vagueness, and ultimate derailing of the issue by the electronic media?
Punjab is suffering. And it is not only from extremist terrorism. It is as if every time its leadership and people attempt to awkwardly repress the obvious lashings of fear and confusion that cut viciously across the province whenever there is a terrorist attack, they become more vocal in their condemnation of the present government at the centre, incredibly investing more emotional and intellectual energy on abstract issues such as corruption, judiciary, and ‘good governance’ through passionate displays of TV studio and drawing-room nobility, rather than directly tackling their greatest enemy.
Funny thing is, they would readily accuse the president of corruption and the US and India for having nefarious designs on Pakistan without offering an iota of evidence, but would get into a long navel-gazing exercise asking for proof of militant involvement in a terrorist attack.
Again, why? Why in the Punjab? Are the Sindhis and Karachiites more enlightened, liberal, moderate or whatever? Some of my most intelligent friends are from the Punjab, as was my father. And so I keep asking these friends, why isn’t the Punjab fighting back this menace of extremism? Why have most of this province’s brightest minds allowed themselves to be pushed in the background by this new breed of neoconservative ‘intellectuals’ in the shape of TV talk show hosts, ‘journalists,’ ‘analysts,’ et al?
I will continue by relating two small but relevant incidents that may help clarify what I am rambling about.
In a province that has been witnessing nauseating bloodshed perpetrated by those who have a painfully narrow view of Islam and are least hesitant to slaughter innocent men, women and children in their pursuit of both heaven and the shariah, one of the Punjab’s leading politicians and ministers did not find anything wrong in accompanying the leader of a banned sectarian organisation during a recent election campaign.
The minister was PMLN’s Rana Saifullah, who proudly stood beside a notorious leader of a banned sectarian organisation during a by-election rally in Jhang. This organisation openly sympathises with the Taliban.
Only in the Punjab can such an episode take place. Only in the Punjab can a minister can get away with holding hands with a myopic violent fanatic and, in the process, openly mocking and insulting the feelings of hundreds of Punjabis whose loved ones were brutally slaughtered by the extremists that the fanatic sympathises with. Only in the Punjab can his party then go around and ask for votes from the same people. Yes, only in the Punjab.
One can also mention a recent incident that involves Zaid Hamid to hit home the point I am trying to make.
Mr. Hamid, a hyperbolic TV personality who is an animated cross between a foaming televangelist and an impassionate right-wing drawing room revolutionary, has been on a ‘speaking tour’ of various colleges and universities of the country.
Known for openly holding (and advocating) gun-loving militarist hogwash, Hamid has turned distorting history and dishing out the most twisted conspiracy theories not only into an attractive art form, but a lucrative undertaking as well.
Hailed as a modern Saladin (of the armchair variety, I’m afraid) by his mostly urban, middle-class fans, and flogged as a hate-monger with links to the most rabidly anti-India and reactionary sections of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies by his many detractors, it has been very easy for Hamid to speak at Lahore’s private universities and colleges.
This included a visit to the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) that only two years ago was the scene of a lively students’ movement against the dictatorship of General Pervez Musharraf.
If the student body of the prestigious university found Musharraf’s action of dismissing a chief justice unbearable, I wonder what was so bearable about a man who is not only a self-claimed supporter of the ex-dictator, but also a proud war monger whose fans are famous of uttering insightful gems such as “if the Pakistan Army was really guilty of raping Bengali women in former East Pakistan, then they had every right to because Bengalis were traitors!”
Nonetheless, after smoothly completing his ‘Wake up, Pakistan’ speaking tour of Punjab’s campuses, Hamid and his entourage of trendy, designer reactionaries, made their way towards the country’s most ravaged province, the Pakhtunkhwa.
Faced by an insane spate of suicide and bomb attacks by extremists and the military’s war against the Taliban, the youth of the Pakhtunkwa province have shown great resolve to fight back. Student organisations in various state-run universities and colleges of the province have gone on to organise cultural functions that the extremists would term ‘haraam’ and ‘unIslamic.’
Just like the Baloch Students Organisation (BSO) in Balochistan, the Peoples Students Federation (PSF), and the All Pakistan Muttahidda Students Organisation (APMSO) in Sindh, students’ organizations of the Pakhtunkhwa have continued to fight a cultural war against extremism, even when a recent cultural function organised at a university by the BSO in Balochistan’s Khuzdar area was bombed by extremists.
So when Hamid and his army of patriots reached Peshawar University, he was confronted by loud groups of protesting students who wanted him banished from the campus.
The protest, perhaps the first of its kind faced by the likes of Hamid, was organised by the Peoples Students Federation (the student-wing of the Pakistan Peoples Party), the Pakhtun Students Federation (the student-wing of the Awami National Party), and the independent collection of liberal students under the Aman Tehreek umbrella. What’s more, also joining in the protest was the Islami Jamiat Taliba, a student organisation whose mother party, the Jamaat-i-Islami, ironically sympathises with the Taliban.
As the students threw stones at Hamid’s entourage and tried to chase him off the campus, the Aman Tehreek explained exactly why democratic student organisations had joined hands to throw him out.
“We have already suffered a lot due to the suicide bombers and militants and do not want people (in our city and campuses) who promote the extremists,” said an Aman Tehreek activist talking to Dawn.
In light of this example, it seems Punjab’s political leadership is out of sync with the prevailing psyche in Sindh, Balochistan, and the Pakhtunkhwa regarding Pakistan’s war against extremism.
The people and politicians of Punjab need to contemplate difficult questions before they can rid their province of the violence that it has had to face. More so, the confused mindset that is causing violence to be bred and sustained in the Punjab must be eliminated.
A nation of sleepwalkers
by Nadeem Paracha
The day after the terrible terrorist attack at Islamabad’s Islamic University that took the lives of eight innocent students, certain TV news channels ran a footage of a dozen or so angered students of the university pelting stones. The first question that popped up in my mind after watching the spectacle was, what on earth were these understandably enraged young men throwing their stones at?
So I waited for the TV cameras to pan towards the direction where the stones were landing. But that did not happen. It seemed as if the students were pelting stones just for the heck of it.
So I called a fellow journalist friend who was covering the story for a local TV channel and asked him about the protest. He told me the students were pelting stones at a handful of cops. Now, why in God’s good name would one throw stones at cops after being attacked by demented men who call themselves the Taliban?
The very next day another protest took place outside the attacked University in which the students, both male and female, were holding banners that said: ‘Kerry-Lugar Bill namanzoor!’ (Kerry-Lugar Bill Not Acceptable).
I could barely stop myself from bursting into a short sharp fit of manic laughter. It was unbelievable. Or was it, really?
Here we have a university that was attacked by a psychotic suicide bomber who slaughtered and injured dozens of students so he could get his share of hooris in Paradise. The attack was then proudly owned by the Tekrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. And in its wake, we saw enraged students protesting against the Kerry-Lugar act? What a response!
What did the Kerry-Lugar act have to do with the suicide attack? Wasn’t this remarkably idiotic ‘protest rally’ by the students actually an insult to those who were so mercilessly slaughtered by holy barbarians?
But then, some would suggest that in a society like Pakistan, such idiosyncrasies should be swallowed as a norm. And I agree. What else can one expect from a society living in a curiously delusional state of denial, gleefully mistaking it as ‘patriotism’ and ‘concern.’ It seems no amount of proof will ever be enough to dent Pakistanis’ resolve to defend the unsubstantiated, wild theories that they so dearly hold in their rapidly shrinking heads.
Take for instance the recent case of a famous TV anchorman who visited a devastated area in Peshawar that was bombed by a remote-controlled car bomb. He talked to about 10 people at the scene. More than half of the folks interviewed spouted out those squarely unproven and thoroughly clichéd tirades about RAW/CIA/Mossad being the ‘real perpetrators’ and that ‘no Muslim is capable of inflicting such acts of barbarity.’
A friend of mine who was also watching this hapless exhibition of the usual top-of-mind nonsense suddenly announced that he wanted to jump in, hold these men by the arms, and shake them violently so they could be ‘awoken from their dreadful sleepwalking state.’
Pakistanis routinely continue to deny the fact that the monsters who are behind all the faithful barbarism that is cutting this country into bits are the mutant product of what our governments, military, intelligence agencies, and society as a whole have been up to in the past 30 years or so.
Well, this is exactly what happens to a society that responds so enthusiastically to all the major symptoms of fascist thought. Symptoms such as powerful and continuing nationalism; disdain for the recognition of human rights; identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause; supremacy of the military; obsession with national security; the intertwining of religion and government; disdain for intellectuals and the arts; an obsession with crime and punishment, etc.
Have not the bulk of Pakistanis willingly allowed themselves to be captured in all the macho and paranoid trappings of the above-mentioned symptoms of collective psychosis. It clearly smacks of a society that has been ripening and readying itself for an all-round fascist scenario.
This is the scenario some among us are really talking about when they speak of ‘imposing the system of the Khulfa Rashideen’ or shariah, or whatever profound buzzwords adopted to explain Pakistan’s march towards a wonderful society of equality and justice? Words that mean absolutely nothing, or systems and theories either based on ancient musings of tribal societies or on glorified myths of bravado.
I felt bad for the few bystanders at that Peshawar bombing site who kept contradicting their more gung-ho contemporaries by reminding them that for months the shopkeepers where receiving threatening letters from the Taliban warning them that they should stop selling products for women and ban the entry of women in the area.
One shop-owner who said he lost more than millions of rupees worth of goods in the blast was slightly taken aback when the anchor asked him who he thought was behind the bomb attack. For a few seconds he looked curiously at the anchor’s face, as if wondering why would a major TV news channel be asking a question whose answer was so obvious. ‘What do you mean, who was responsible?’ he asked. ‘The Taliban, of course!’
Fasi Zaka wrote a scathing piece on the floozy response of some students who chanted slogans against the Kerry-Lugar Bill outside the freshly bombed Islamic University. He was battered with hate mail, even from those who did agree with him that it were the Taliban who bombed the unfortunate university. But these folks turned out to be even worse than the deniers. They are apologists of all the mayhem that takes place in the name of Islam in this country.
Every time the barbarians set themselves off taking innocent men, women, and children with them, these apologists suddenly emerge to write letters to newspapers and try to dominate internet forums explaining the intricate ‘socio-economic problems’ that are turning men into terrorists. Or worse – as is expected from reactionary news reporters like Ansar Abbasi – they will start giving details about the infidel targets that the terrorists were really after at the place of the attack.
Zaka told me that he got letters suggesting that the Taliban attacked the canteen of the Islamic University because ‘women students were not behaving and dressing according to Islam.’ The state under Ziaul Haq had the Hudood Ordinance for such ‘loose women,’ but now the Taliban have bombs for them. And mind you, those who were trying to justify the bombing in this respect at the University were ‘educated’ young men and even women.
Recently, we also heard about a hijab-clad female student at the prestigious and ‘liberal’ Lahore University of Management Sciences, who bagged her 15 minutes of fame by capturing images through her mobile phone of students indulging in ‘immoral activities’ on campus. Of course, the same lady’s ‘concern’ and righteousness ends at becoming a self-appointed paparazzi for the reactionaries, whereas it was young women (in hijabs) and men with beards who died so senselessly at the Islamabad Islamic University campus.
by Editor, New Pakistan
November 13th, 2009
It was an August day when my cousin Navid and I were standing in the rain, by the edge of the Hudson River. He was somber, having decided to drop the cheerful façade he’d maintained throughout his visit to New York City. The wind blew his hair from his eyes; I saw tears.
Looking away from me and in a low voice, he recounted the night he learned his friend died as a result of a suicide bomb. A witness who survived said Abbas had been standing outside the Shi’ite mosque, turning off his music player before any of the older men could give him disapproving looks. He had loved Junoon, a popular rock band. He must have been near the bomber, maybe even glanced up and said “Salaam.” Something about the innocence of Abbas’ last act — turning off his music so the imam wouldn’t get mad — touched me deeply.
“It’s funny,” Navid said, looking suddenly at me. “That night it rained hard, like this.” Sitting outside the red-sanded steps of Abbas’ house that very night, the group of young friends knew things had changed. Going through the motions of consoling the family and being there for one another, they knew something foreign had entered their worlds. They were now face to face with the cancer of extremism, something that had always seemed so far away, because it affected the regions up north. Now it was in Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore.
Coming from a Muslim family with relatives throughout the world, I can many times connect the events in the news to people I know. I try to keep the two worlds apart though, but at times the they are too strongly linked.
As with this story.
This New York Times video details the Pakistani rock music scene. The truth may startle some not familiar with a public who uses anti-Americanism as a crutch against many national issues.
Junoon’s beloved lead singer, Ali Azmat, is now on a solo career and has become an icon. He has stopped singing about love and heartbreak, and, like many other musicians, now chooses to sing with current affairs.
The alarming anti-Americanism in the top songs of Pakistan is unsettling.
When asked if he would ever sing about the 200 girls’ schools that were blown up, Azmat looked slightly taken aback but then an expression of denial crossed his face and he declared “You can’t blame the Taliban for that! Where is the funding coming from? It is the agenda of the neo-cons to de-Islamize Pakistan.” His songs routinely condemn the United States for meddling in Pakistan’s affairs, for infringing upon Pakistan’s territory and causing the problems the nation faces today.
Another popular band, the Noori brothers, sat relaxed and carefree, with the most nonchalant expressions as they agreed “The Taliban are amongst the smallest problems Pakistan faces. The West is affected by the Taliban, we’re not.”
Pakistan has been rocked by devastating terrorism this past month; one wonders if the Noori brothers and Ali Azmat mourn for the countless killed, wounded, traumatized…or is their grief reserved for the US?
I should note one of the brothers wore a shirt that said “Not terrorized enough.” Well, exactly how many deaths and how much destruction will it take before it IS enough?
I find it absolutely ironic these musicians are complaining about the west trying to rid Pakistan of the Taliban. The militants are killing Pakistanis every single day, these militants wouldn’t even support the right to music, and yet…and yet we have people in positions of influence being grossly irresponsible and pathetic.
I am at a loss to understand this. I cannot comprehend the thought process it must take to blame the United States, India and Israel for the violence that paralyzes the nation. Bombings at mosques, like the one that killed Abbas, explosions at schools and markets, suicide bombings at aid organizations…how can this all be blamed on others?
What is more disturbing is how their opinions have gained traction amongst the youth.
In his last blog, which can be found here:http://blog.dawn.com/2009/11/12/a-nation-of-sleepwalkers, Nadeem Paracha implores Pakistanis to gather their wits about them. Regarding the bombings at International Islamic University in Islamabad, he writes
Here we have a university that was attacked by a psychotic suicide bomber who slaughtered and injured dozens of students so he could get his share of hooris in Paradise. The attack was then proudly owned by the Tekrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. And in its wake, we saw enraged students protesting against the Kerry-Lugar act? What a response!
What did the Kerry-Lugar act have to do with the suicide attack? Wasn’t this remarkably idiotic ‘protest rally’ by the students actually an insult to those who were so mercilessly slaughtered by holy barbarians?
He highlights the Pakistani media’s love of the conspiracy-minded mentality, and cites an incident after a suicide attack in Peshawar:
One shop-owner who said he lost more than millions of rupees worth of goods in the blast was slightly taken aback when the anchor asked him who he thought was behind the bomb attack. For a few seconds he looked curiously at the anchor’s face, as if wondering why would a major TV news channel be asking a question whose answer was so obvious. ‘What do you mean, who was responsible?’ he asked. ‘The Taliban, of course!’
In a time where Islamic clergy are taking a stand against the Taliban and suicide bombings (and often being killed for their bravery), it is a downright shame the leading musicians choose to spread an ignorant message of blame and denial.