Original Articles

Recommending Aatish Taseer – by Alamdar Mengal

Aatish Taseer should realize that the mentality of the Darbari liberals who are trashing his article is no different from the intolerant mindset of his father’s murderer, Mumtaz Qadri.

It was interesting to come across some Twitter reactions to Mr. Aatish Taseer’s boldly written article, “Why My Father Hated India” that was published in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, which poses some tough questions about the historical and current nature of the military dominated state of Pakistan. 

Prominent Fake Civil Society (FCS) journalist types (also known as Darbari Liberals) were quick to dismiss this compelling and incisive article and resorted to the typical personalized digs that one makes in the absence of coherent arguments. Then again, what would these FCS types know about coherent arguments and maintaining journalistic integrity?

Prominent among them was Ejaz Haider, a “journalist” whose long ties with the Pakistan Military Academy are well reflected in his condescending, too-clever-by-half “articles” that the discerning reader has to suffer to on a regular basis.

Suffice to say, Ejaz’s latest article is another piece of incoherent babble that suffers from reductionism and petty personal digs- the same thing he unfairly accuses Aatish of. 

While the FCS Tweeple Brigade will do its best to diss Aatish’s article, one must at least examine the arguments within Aatish’s article.

Aatish Taseer gets to the roots of the issue of extremism in Pakistan:

“To understand the Pakistani obsession with India, to get a sense of its special edge—its hysteria—it is necessary to understand the rejection of India, its culture and past, that lies at the heart of the idea of Pakistan. This is not merely an academic question. Pakistan’s animus toward India is the cause of both its unwillingness to fight Islamic extremism and its active complicity in undermining the aims of its ostensible ally, the United States.”

For the urban (fake) liberal chatterati, this profound insight is unsettling.  Most cannot come to terms with critical questions about the hazy myths and drawing room gossip that they hold as sacred truths regarding Pakistani history and Partition.  Hence, it is very difficult for them to grasp Aatish’s very valid argument that the India-phobia shared by the security establishment has been the primary factor for fuelling violent Islamofascism in Pakistan.

For the venal, shallow and fickle de-politicized urban elites, the India phobia of the security establishment defines them as well. Their virulent hatred for elected political leaders blinds them to the fact that the vast majority of Pakistanis who vote in PPP and other groups do not share their warped obsession with India. Pakistan’s elected leaders in the last three decades have all done their best to restore good relations with India (BB-Rajiv, NS-AV, AAZ-MMS) only for their efforts to be scuttled by the security establishment.

Therefore for this class, America, like India before it has become a convenient scapegoat to perpetuate an Ostrich mentality.  Hence any criticism of the Taliban and their security establishment sponsors is diverted by regurgitating Tariq Ali’s stale and rehashed critiques of US foreign policy. Like Tariq Ali, this class is mostly beholden to the world view of the security establishment and its assorted creatures like Imran Khan.

It is Aatish’s bold and direct criticism of the military establishment that is the most refreshing aspect of this article and perhaps the single major reason for the unfair criticism he has to bear by urban liberals of Pakistan.  He writes:

“The primary agent of this decline has been the Pakistani army. The beneficiary of vast amounts of American assistance and money—$11 billion since 9/11—the military has diverted a significant amount of these resources to arming itself against India. In Afghanistan, it has sought neither security nor stability but rather a backyard, which—once the Americans leave—might provide Pakistan with “strategic depth” against India. In order to realize these objectives, the Pakistani army has led the U.S. in a dance, in which it had to be seen to be fighting the war on terror, but never so much as to actually win it, for its extension meant the continuing flow of American money. All this time the army kept alive a double game, in which some terror was fought and some—such as Laskhar-e-Tayyba’s 2008 attack on Mumbai—actively supported.

The army’s duplicity was exposed decisively this May, with the killing of Osama bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad. It was only the last and most incriminating charge against an institution whose activities over the years have included the creation of the Taliban, the financing of international terrorism and the running of a lucrative trade in nuclear secrets. This army, whose might has always been justified by the imaginary threat from India, has been more harmful to Pakistan than to anybody else. It has consumed annually a quarter of the country’s wealth, undermined one civilian government after another and enriched itself through a range of economic interests, from bakeries and shopping malls to huge property holdings.”

In these few lines, Mr. Aatish Taseer is more lucid and clear than most of the media big wigs like Najam Sethi (1990s messiah fame), Omar Waraich (who recently tried to paint Messrs Hamid Mir, Najam Sethi and Ejaz Haider as anti-ISI), Marvi Sirmed and Cyril Almeida (PPP-abandoned-Taseer fame) and all those who have recently anointed themselves as “liberals” (or as a Balcoh friend recently called them ‘darbari liberals’). 

Such criticism of the security establishment only comes from a few brave individuals amongst a small group of non-professional journalists and analysts – individuals who are not part of a sellout industry.

The bold tone of Mr. Taseer’s article is sorely lacking among our “Darbari liberals” who jealously guard their turf and whose one-sided virulence against political parties, particularly the PPP, is matched by their tame, weak and vacillating critiques of the security establishment. 

The “Darbari liberals” of Pakistan are liberals in name only and in the mistaken impression that the ability to imbibe bribery liquor and show-off their surface knowledge of the European Football league somehow qualifies them as liberals. I wish it were that easy.

For example, most recently, these “Darbari Liberals” and their FCS cheerleaders couldn’t even tolerate a twitter activist @laibaah whose impassioned, in-your-face approach to minority rights was too much to bear – a quality that saw her account being suspended for the third time in 2 weeks via the coordinated effort of this tweeple brigade of “darbari liberals”. For these “Darbari liberals”, the daily human rights abuses of the Baloch can be explained away as part of a RAW conspiracy to destabilize Pakistan-anything to divert attention away from the security establishment whose material interests are allied with theirs.

Mr. Aatish Taseer should realize that the mentality of these darbari liberals who are trashing his article is no different from the intolerant mindset of his father’s murderer, Mumtaz Qadri. They are in no mood to be circumspect at the harsh but true observations of Aatish. During the lifetime of the late Governor Taseer,aatish taseer he and his family were often made the targets of vicious personal attacks due to his loyalty to PPP and on his clear stance on the Lawyer’s Movement and the Jamaa Islami and Sipah-e-Sahaba leaning judges in the LHC and SCP.

The same people who rushed to cry a few crocodile tears on Salmaan Taseer’s death whilst simultaneously blaming the PPP for his murder are also likely the ones who will not take too kindly to the bold and refreshingly honest article of his son.  In the post-Taseer scenario, they were up to their typical obfuscation tactics to minimize the role of the security establishment in fanning religious hatred (directed against the democratic government) and the role of the Opposition parties both in providing compromised security and fanning extremism and hysteria.

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Abdul Nishapuri

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