Original Articles

Deconstructing Pakistani liberals: A response to Shashi Tharoor and Raza Rumi

Shashi Tharoor ought to redirect his criticism at Pakistan’s pro-establishment fake liberals instead of genuine political liberals

Related posts: Recommending Aatish Taseer

How to identify liberal proxies of GHQ in Pakistani media and blogs

Taseer’s murder and the call for a ‘broad-based alliance’ between PPP and the ‘civil society’ – by Ahmad Nadeem Gehla

Recently I happened to read Shashi Tharoor’s response to Pakistani “liberals”, particularly to Ejaz Haider which itself was a rebuttal to Aatish Taseer.

After reading Mr. Tharoor’s piece, despite some bold and honest statements in it (e.g., the fact that several Pakistani writers conveniently forget that 1965, 71, Kargil wars were started by Pakistan), I feel deeply insulted.

I feel insulted because Mr. Tharoor has lumped all Pakistani liberals into one category. It seems that he and his counterparts in Pakistan are conflating “social liberal life style” (English speaking, whisky drinking, selective human rights supporting, elitist liberals) with political liberals (i.e., those who are currently being massacred by the military state and its various proxies because of their commitment to democracy, human rights, equality and liberty).

I know some pro-liberal-unity pals in Pakistan (e.g., Raza Rumi, Beena Sarwar, Marvi Sirmed) may not like what I am going to say in this post, but frankly I don’t see Pakistani liberals as one homogeneous group nor do I see any need for all Pakistani liberals to be united into one group setting aside their differences, which in my view are very substantive than trivial or abstract.

For example, my friend Raza Rumi falls into same fallacy last week in his piece in Express Tribune titled “The charge of the secular brigade” when he writes:

“Critics of state-sponsored jihad are few and largely confined to the English press. The Urdu media continue to present jihad as central to Pakistan’s raison d’etre.”

What Rumi fails to acknowledge here is that Pakistan’s (fake liberals dominated) English press is as pro-military establishment as is the (right-wing dominated) Urdu media. It’s only the difference in tactic, vocabulary and style which distinguishes one from the other, otherwise, barring a few exceptions, both segments of Pakistani media remain almost completely silent on mass murders of the Balochs, Pashtuns and Shia Muslims in general by the military state and its various proxy organisations (e.g., Taliban, Sipah-e-Sahaba, LeT, JeM). See for example, how Pakistan’s English speaking urban liberals reacted to release of an ASWJ-LeJ terrorist Malik Ishaq. Instead of blaming the ISI-backed, PML-N affiliated Supreme Court, they conveniently blamed the police and the prosecution!

Rumi further writes:

“During the year 2011, three political assassinations — those of Salmaan Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti and Saleem Shahzad — should have spurred on activists to fight for secularism, moderation and a progressive Pakistan. However, this did not happen. The rightwing calls them agents of the US and India, but so-called secularists are not shy of calling each other spokespersons of the military and the ISI.”

Apparently Rumi forgot to acknowledge that it is the political liberals of the PPP (and other progressive parties eg ANP, MQM etc) who are paying the price of their commitment to liberal values, while urban liberals remain silent spectators or complicit to the military state narratives. For example, while right wing products of the Deep State’s Jihad Enterprise were busying slaughtering Benazir Bhutto, Salmaan Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti and other PPP leaders and workers, several pro-establishment fake liberals (most of them in the English media) were busy in blaming the victim, i.e., Asif  Zardari and the PPP for these murders. For example, read these two posts: A plan well executed, and Three musketeers and the “PPP abandoned Salmaan Taseer” narrative.

Therefore it is important to understand that those (fake) “liberals” who favour or reinforce the killers’ narratives cannot and must not be lumped or united with those liberals who are being massacred and then blamed for their own murder.

Rumi further writes:

“Salmaan Taseer had emerged as a towering figure for a secular, tolerant Pakistan due to his public profile and proclivity to not mince words against bigotry. His death could have been a rallying point. However, subsequent activism against his murder remained thin and ineffective.”

Of course, Rumi fails to acknowledge that a major element of the urban fake liberal activism after Taseer’s death was to blame the very party, the PPP, which Taseer so proudly served and died while defending its ideals of equality and social justice. See for example, how some of the urban elite fake liberals tried to attribute Taseer’s murder to a lone wolf instead of the Jihad Enterprise of the military state which has brainwashed and produced thousands of Mumtaz Qadris and Malik Ishaqs.

Here’s another example. In his extensive three articles series on Balochistan (recently published in daily Dawn), leading Pakistani liberal writer Cyril Almeida tried to equate the Baloch genocide by Pakistan army with the violence by the Baloch nationalist groups. However, he did not write a single word on Shia Hazara genocide by the army backed Deobandi Jihadi sectarian monsters (ASWJ-LeJ). The same author shamelessly justified notable Baloch scholar Professor Dashtiyari’s murder in his column on Balochistan by blaming him for his support to violent Baloch nationalist groups. This is what Mr. Almeida wrote:

When asked about the allegations that Dashtiyari had been killed by the intelligence agencies, a senior security official responded defiantly, “Who owned his death? BLA did. They put out statements eulogising him. Who was he close to? What were his politics?”

Multiple sources confirmed to Dawn that Dashtiyari, while never having taken up arms himself, was close to insurgent groups and at various times had exhorted violence against the state and other ethnicities living in Balochistan.

Of course, ISPR, ISI and MI are some of the “multiple sources” used by Pakistan’s fake liberal journalists who frequently recycle and reinforce the military state narratives in Pakistani media.

As my fellow authors and I have explained in various posts on the LUBP blog, many of Pakistan’s urban elite fake liberals are nothing but an extension and an accessory of Pakistan’s military establishment (just as Islamo-fascists are), who carefully guard their own socio-economic and political interests and lifestyle by remaining complicit to or silent on Pakistan army’s brutalities to democracy and the people.

Therefore, it would have made much more sense if instead of directing his piece at all Pakistani liberals, Mr. Tharoor had directed it at urban liberal elite, also ‘lovingly’ known as fake liberals.

The following description of Pakistani urban liberals in Mr. Tharoor’s article is remarkably similar to what Tarek Fatah terms as ‘Islamopatriots’.

Pakistani liberals are particularly prone to the desire to prove themselves true nationalists; it is the best way to ensure that their otherwise heretical opinions are not completely discredited by the men in uniform who hold the reins of power in the state.

It is of course a fact that several urban elite liberals are known for promoting their economic interests as consultants or development consultants, and are probably tasked to develop pro-military establishment hate-India, love Taliban narratives in Pakistani media.

Overall, I like Mr. Tharoor’s piece except the last para in which he made a generalizing and sweeping statement about all Pakistani liberals. For example, I invite Mr. Tharoor to read LUBP, one of Pakistan’s most popular (and obviously controversial) alternative media websites, which does not recycle the military state sponsored lies and narratives on India.

Also, in my humble view, by ignoring voices such as Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa, Kamran Shafi, Dr. Taqi, Mr. Tharoor has shown that he remains unaware of the internal heterogeneity of “Pakistani liberals”. While Mosharraf Zaidi, Ejaz Haider and some others in Pakistani media are widely known to have a pro-military establishment stance, Kamran Shafi and others are a victim of the military establishment and its various agencies.

In the Islamo-fascist military republic of Pakistan, liberalism is a lucrative industry for urban elite and their middle class flatterers and aspirants. It brings fame, wealth and power. Therefore, Mr. Tharoor’s criticism should be rather directed at Pakistani “urban liberals” who remain in the main urban-centric and military-establishment-centric.

Acknowledgement

This post is motivated by the following tweets by a fellow social media activist @laibaah1 who remains a fierce critic of Pakistan’s military establishment and urban liberals. Here’s a snapshot:

Thank you @ShashiTharoor for exposing the reality of Pakistan’s urban liberals. This was obvious in their reaction to Aatish Taseer’s piece: bit.ly/po6qis . It’s entertaining to see Pakistan’s urban liberals (from Lahore, Karachi, Isloo) incoherent reaction to Shashi Tharoor’s article. One can’t understand @ShashiTharoor’s criticism on Pakistani liberals, unless one reads this: http://bit.ly/kkYxMF . ShashiTharoor writes: “a Pakistani liberal is after all a Pakistani before he is a liberal.” Plz qualify: urban, pro-establishment liberals. ShashiTharoor writes: Pak liberals want their “heretical opinions not discredited by the men in uniform who hold the reins of power in the state” ShashiTharoor writes ” Pakistani liberals R particularly prone 2 desire 2 prove themselves true nationalists” = Islamopatriots is the word. ShashiTharoor writes: “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.” ShashiTharoor: The world “delusional” is most apt for pro-military establishment urban liberals of Pakistan. I commend your headline writer. Who will tell @shashitharoor that Messrs Ejaz Haider, Mosharraf Zaidi etc represent the urban elite lovingly known as Fake Liberals or Fake Civil Society (FCS). In fact @ShashiTharoor was referring to urban liberals of Pakistan who remain pro establishment & delusional bit.ly/kkYxMF

Some relevant comments on Mr. Tharoor’s article:

Source: Deccan Chronicle

Vicky 22/07/2011 – 08:50pm
“But Pakistani liberals are particularly prone to the desire to prove themselves true nationalists; it is the best way to ensure that their otherwise heretical opinions are not completely discredited by the men in uniform who hold the reins of power in the state.” The line sums up the situation in the Pakistani ‘liberal’ media. I think you were very lenient on Ejaz Haider, he is an out and out establishment columnist. Don’t use his very infrequent outbursts against the army as a yardstick. I still remember his article explaining why the Mumbai ’08 attackers couldn’t be Pakistani…. even though journalists by then had already located Ajmal Kasab’s family in Pakistani Punjab.

india_review 22/07/2011 – 04:57pm
This is excellent. Especially the last line. In fact had Salman Taseer been alive he would have given the same reaction to Aatish’s article as these liberals are giving. The design of Pakistani liberals has a pattern in itself.

Pakistan is a nation whose sole identity is based on being “anti-Indian” and while our liberal army of journos on Twitter pour all their love on the Pakistani liberals every time, they forget that the people who have been born into believing that being Pakistani means being anti-Indian, a slight stir will make their true natures reappear.

Pakistanis are miserable. lost and sucked into this never ending tunnel of darkness; the only thing they remember now is what they were told before they were thrown inside this dark tunnel, “India is an enemy, you shall be anti-India”.

Iftikhar Alam Khan 22/07/2011 – 04:52pm
“A Pakistani liberal is, after all, a Pakistani before he is a liberal.” The comment is slightly harsh, I understand that religious. fundamentalism is so strong in Pakistan that the so-called liberals cannot survive there without establishing their nationalistic credentials. In the grab of their patriotism they try to solve their problems of survival in that country. There is a dire need of secular symbols or heroes in Pakistan. With much difficulty they could project Mr Taseer and Mr Bhatti as symbols of secularism and democracy. But, unfortunately,just one article of Taseer’s son has washed away the whole shine from his father’s image. Therefore the panic reaction of the Pakistani liberals is quite understandable and instead of blaming them we should try to sympathise with them.

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  • Delusional liberals
    Jul 22, 2011
    by Shashi Tharoor

    Source: The Asian Age

    International affairs all too often seems a weighty subject, full of complexity and nuance, laden with portents of tension and conflict. No wonder it lends itself to overly solemn treatment, full of abstract analyses and recondite allusions: the relations between countries, it is usually assumed, cannot be understood through the recitation of trivial anecdotes.

    True enough. And yet sometimes a minor incident, a tempest in a teacup, can illuminate broader foreign policy challenges. Something of this nature happened this week, when Aatish Taseer, the estranged son (by an Indian mother) of the recently-assassinated governor of Pakistani Punjab, Salman Taseer, wrote a searing column in the Wall Street Journal, with the provocative title “Why My Father Hated India”, on the pathologies of hatred that in his view animated Pakistan’s attitude to our country.

    “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,” Aatish Taseer averred. “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.”

    He went on to make his point in language that was both sharp and, at least to this reader, heartfelt and accurate. I do not know Aatish Taseer, nor had I met his colourful father, but I have admired the young man’s writing, particularly his poignant ruminations on Salman Taseer’s murder by his Islamist bodyguard earlier this year. So I was surprised to see the outraged reactions his article provoked from Pakistani liberal journalists. A number of them whose ideas I have appreciated and whom I “follow” on Twitter — the likes of Marvi Sirmed and Mosharraf Zaidi, widely-respected progressive thinkers both — reacted with rage and derision. One of them, the estimable Ejaz Haider, who has penned some courageous pieces in the Pakistani press criticising his own country, went so far as to author an entire column to disparage and deconstruct Aatish Taseer’s.

    Young Taseer had, in his piece, put the onus on the Pakistani Army for that country’s problems, and particularly for diverting the vast amounts of American aid it has received (he underestimated it at “$11 billion since 9/11”) to arming itself against India. He added, powerfully, words I would have gladly put my own name to: “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 realise these objectives, the Pakistani Army has led the US 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-Tayyaba’s 2008 attack on Mumbai — actively supported.

    “The Army’s duplicity was exposed decisively this May,” he went on, “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.”

    It is hard to imagine anyone in India, however sympathetic they might be to Pakistan, dissenting from this view of the malign role of the Pakistani military. In our naïveté, we also tend to assume that Pakistani liberals would agree with us, seeing the salvation of their land lying in greater democracy and development, free of the stranglehold of the world’s most lavishly-funded military (in terms of percentage of national resources and GDP consumed by any Army on the planet). Alas, judging by their reactions to Taseer’s article, this seems not to be the case.

    In his rebuttal, Ejaz Haider goes into great detail about the strength and deployment patterns of the Indian Army, as if to justify the Pakistani military’s behaviour. But there is no recognition whatsoever that India’s defence preparedness is prompted entirely by the fact that Pakistan has launched four incursions into our territory, in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999; that India is a status quo power that manifestly seeks nothing more than to be allowed to grow and develop in peace, free from the attentions of the Pakistani military and the militants and terrorists it sponsors; and bluntly, that there is not and cannot be an “Indian threat” to Pakistan, simply because there is absolutely nothing Pakistan possesses that India wants. If proof had to be adduced for this no doubt unflattering assessment, it lies in India’s decision at Tashkent in 1966 to give “back” to Pakistan every square inch of territory captured by our brave soldiers in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, including the strategic Haji Pir Pass, all of which is land we claim to be ours. If we do not even insist on retaining what we see as our own territory, held by Pakistan since 1948 but captured fair and square in battle, why on earth would we want anything else from Pakistan?

    No, the “Indian threat” is merely a useful device cynically exploited by the Pakistani military to justify their power (and their grossly disproportionate share of Pakistan’s national assets). But Pakistani liberals are particularly prone to the desire to prove themselves true nationalists; it is the best way to ensure that their otherwise heretical opinions are not completely discredited by the men in uniform who hold the reins of power in the state.
    As this otherwise minor editorial spat demonstrates, Indians need to put aside their illusions that there are liberal partners for us on the other side of the border who echo our diagnosis of their plight and share our desire to defenestrate their military. Nor should we be surprised: a Pakistani liberal is, after all, a Pakistani before he is a liberal.

  • Twitter Monitor

    Laibaah Laiba Ahmad Marri
    There is a ruckus in Pakistan’s urban elite to condemn Aatish Taseer’s article which criticizes an Islam-exploiting military state. A Twitter search reveals following Pakistanis criticizing Aatish Taseer’s piece: @ejazhaider @laalshah @FiveRupees @cpyala @TammyHaq @OmarWaraich @ShakirHussain Need I say more?

    MirzaWaheed Mirza Waheed
    RT’d by kaalakawaa
    Shashi Tharror attacks Pak military and Pakistani liberals in the same piece. asianage.com/columnists/del…

    OmarWaraich Omar Waraich
    That piece would’ve read more honestly if it was entitled, “Why I hate my father’s country”

    cpyala
    Am so happy that @ejazhaider took on Aatish ‘Stranger to Writing’ Taseer 4 his trashy piece in WSJ. bit.ly/njbgLi

    cpyala
    Aatish Taseer’s claims about Iqbal & Taliban are simply wrong. The rest of his piece flows from a Shining India mindset.

    Laibaah Laiba Ahmad Marri
    The media critic blog, @cpyala, now tasked to reinforce urban legends and interpretations about Aatish Taseer’s article? Pak Foj Ko Salam.

    shakirhusain
    another reason 2 read @etribune on tues. @ejazhaider takes aatish taseer to school & back. http://t.co/1gkiY93

    pakistanpolicy
    @ejazhaider easily dismantles Aatish Taseer’s shoddy WSJ oped bit.ly/nWkTKO

    Laibaah Laiba Ahmad Marri
    @ejazhaider its unfair 2 reduce Aatish’s bold article on India hating, Islam exploiting milit state to father-son feud. bit.ly/nTeOdI

    Razarumi
    +1 T @Shiringul: @Razarumi aatish taseer , Fatima Bhutto no sense of history personal views #epicfail

    Laibaah Laiba Ahmad Marri
    Fatima Bhutto offers support to military establishment. Aatish criticizes ME. Very different persons.

  • Twitter Monitor 2:

    MaulaBuksh Maula Bux Thadani
    “Delusional Liberals” was harsh but accurate, like our web mag’s support 4 Aatish http://t.co/MdkUa8r Many Pakistani ‘liberals” abuse PPP but dare not mention the names of Jihadi militias & their backers.
    When Taseer murdered, Pakistani “liberals” stayed clear of the role of those who create & protect Jihadis. When Taseer was murdered, Pakistani liberals blamed the victim, PPP who lost one of its senior most leaders. When Taseer was murdered, Pakistani “liberals” stayed clear of the role of those who create & protect Jihadis. “Delusional” is the correct way to describe most Pakistani “liberals”, some of whom called Aatish “a delusional b——-“! sad

    NabihaMeher Nabiha Meher Shaikh
    LOL @ those foaming about Tharoor’s article but LOVED Ejaz Haider’s blindly. many Pak liberals want elite recognition & sycophancy too. only if they don’t promote nepotism & stand up for what they believe in. don’t forget our liberal elite have been complicit in some of the most heinous crimes (covered up). I estimate that each Lahori elite family has at least 1 male member who has killed someone drunk driving. none of these murders has served any time & got away with it by paying off the victim’s family. Heinous. some liberal “elite” we support were complicit in torturing & sodomising an employee & filmed it! Tharoor did make a good point about the liberals who jumped on the outrage bandwagon..and an oh so classy tweet referring to Aatish Taseer’s own (half) brother as “disillusioned bastard”. so to say we are ALL delusional is as offensive & the sign of an immature mind. many of us liberals did NOT react with the outrage expressed by those who were close to Taseer.

    primary_red primary red
    As Aatish Taseer’s narrative rained on his dad’s nauseating hagiography by Pak pseudo-liberals, @ejazhaider attacks him in his Express Tribune piece. Should we believe you on Pakistan Mr @ejazhaider or our lying eyes? Trying to discredit a man whose narrative helps liberals is despicable

    RatanSpeak Ratan
    Ejaz Haider bhai, Ur @etribune article is a dud. Started2 ridicule Aatish but ended up discussing irrelevant bs on Army and what not!

    smokenfog: Two things thrive on ‘India hatred’ – one is our defense budget and the other is Ejaz Haider’s journalistic career.

  • LUBP is single major obstacle in the way of the unity of Pakistani liberals. This post is a proof.

    Instead of criticizing anti-Pakistan Indian Hindu Shashi Kumar, you support him? Shame on you

  • To me the only true liberal writer in pakistan is Nadeem F. Paracha. He may have a rapid mouth when he writes but it’s good to see how he never ever gets involved in cat fights between liberals.

    I think his journey from being a hardcore leftist to becoming a staunch left-liberal has given him exactly the kind of level-headed attitude and wit that all liberals in Pakistan really need.

    Though I was waiting for his response to Shahsi’s and Taseer’s article, but I was not surprized that he refused to write a single word about it in Dawn or Twitter. He has better things to discuss.

    My 3 cents.

  • @Nasser

    I agree with you. The other day I read an excellent piece by Nadeem Paracha in which he boldly highlighted the silent massacre of Hazara Shias in Quetta by sectarian proxies supported by the ISI.

    Previously he also wrote bold articles on mass murder of Saraiki Shias in D.I.Khan and Bhakkar.

    Of course, unlike other silent observes, he is the only true liberal writer in Pakistan, who writes on these issues, and does not give us ‘full of knowledge’ lessons on history while massacres are taking place RIGHT NOW.

  • Apparently Mr. Shashi Tharoor has graciously accepted the critical perspective offered in the present post.

    JunaidQaiser
    Deconstructing Pakistani liberals: A response to @ShashiTharoor and Raza Rumi: criticalppp.com/archives/53901 @NTYAG @acorn

    ShashiTharoor
    @JunaidQaiser criticism fully accepted. Should recognize heterogeneity of Pakistani liberals. @NTYAG @acorn

    Thank you, Mr. Tharoor.

  • May I add the following reading list:

    Adil Najam and his pseudo-liberals’ outpouring of sympathy for Sherry Rehman – by Sarah Khan
    http://criticalppp.com/archives/28084

    Where liberals and mullahs of Pakistan converge: The GHQ induced patriotism
    http://criticalppp.com/archives/35695

    On Syed Talat Hussain, Angelina Jolie and Pakistan’s pseudo-liberals
    http://criticalppp.com/archives/27053

    In rejection of pseudo-liberals of Pakistan – by Sarah Khan
    http://criticalppp.com/archives/17766

    Pakistan’s Top 5 Liberal Fascists – by Razzak Memon
    http://criticalppp.com/archives/39817

    The liberal fiasco in Pakistan – by Suleman Akhtar
    http://criticalppp.com/archives/38302

    Also, several tags in these posts are useful.

  • Good points Muhammad Khan, but it’s amazing how many of NFP’s fans as well as crtitics want him to write about everything under the sun.

    Isn’t it enough that he was one of the first Pakistani writers to start highlighting the radicalization trend in pak society a long long time before other liberals and blogzines like you began doing it?

    The problem I think arises when he refuses to interact the way writers these days are supposed to. He does not reply to comments in his Dawn articles, does not chat with people on Twitter, does not have a Facebook account and refuses to appear on TV.

    So, yes, I tend to agree with both you and Nasser. I too think he’s a fine liberal writer, but he must take up issues he hasn’t. Peace.

  • PS: And also, let’s face it, as a writer he has been the most constant supporter of the PPP, even though he tries a bit to hard to continue to advocate a PPP-MQM allaince.

  • @Ursilla

    The continued massacre of Hazara, Saraiki Shias and Tooris by the Khaki sponsored Jihad Industry, and silence in mainstream media on this massacre cannot be belittled as “everything under the sun”.

    I otherwise agree with the remainder of your comment.

  • @K.Khan
    Instead of analysing Mr. Shashi Kapoor’s opinion you refer to his religion. Shame!

  • Excerpts from Interview with Saadia Toor
    On Pakistani Liberals

    For the Pakistani liberal elite, based in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad, these areas have always been “the Frontier,” both geographically and within the imagination — somehow not really a part of Pakistan. There has always been ethnocentric (bordering on racist) attitude towards the Pushtuns and Baluchis, and this prejudice is more apparent than ever in the discourse of liberal Pakistanis.

    Liberal intellectuals such as Pervez Hoodbhoy — who, by the way, have become the voice of the Pakistani liberal-left for the U.S., thanks to the privileged access they have been given by alternative media channels such as ZNet — regularly talk about Pushtuns as backward, “tribal” and thereby uniquely misogynist.

    We also regularly hear the claim now that the Taliban are Pushtun nationalists, as if there was somehow some essential connection between Pushtun culture and fundamentalist Islam. Of course, making this claim requires erasing the long history of left politics in the Frontier. In fact, if anything, the Taliban are an anomaly as far Pushtun political history is concerned — Pushtun nationalism in Pakistan, at least, was always intensely secular.

    However, facts like these cause the liberals in the U.S. and Pakistan too much cognitive dissonance, because squaring the rise of the Taliban and increasing militancy in this region with its past history of secularism requires understanding the fallout of the U.S. government’s Cold War machinations in Afghanistan — in particular, the proxy war with the Soviet Union, which the Pakistani army engineered for its masters.

    From the very beginning, the Pakistani state, which was increasingly under the control of the military from the 1950s onwards, treated minority nationalities with contempt and even brutality. We saw this in the way in which the ruling West Pakistani elite treated East Pakistan for 25 years, and which culminated in the horrifying army action against Bengalis in 1971, in which they raped and killed their own citizens indiscriminately.

    It is the same kind of prejudice and discrimination that has defined the state’s attitude towards Baluchistan, in particular, but also FATA. These longstanding prejudices are now on full display, and being used to justify state violence in the Pushtun areas, and in Baluchistan today.

    It is important to note, though, that even though the prejudice and discrimination against Baluchis and Pushtuns has always been there, there has been a tremendous change in the level and intensity since the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan began, and Pakistan was pulled into the “war on terror.”

    What we are seeing now is not simply an extension of an already fraught relationship between minority nationalities and the state — since 2001, the terror that the Pakistani military has unleashed in Baluchistan, in particular, has been unprecedented. The Pakistani military occupies Baluchistan at the moment — Baluchis are essentially living under siege, in constant fear for their lives. And to top it all off, there have been horrifying accounts of the rapes of local women by members of the Pakistani armed forces in Baluchistan.

    It is this army that Pakistani liberals are cheering on, because they want to see it as a force that is protecting them from crazy militant fundamentalist tribals, who would otherwise somehow take over and destroy “their way of life.” If you notice, the discourse is very similar to liberal discourse around “radical Islam” in the U.S. For both sets of liberals, the use of military might in Afghanistan, FATA, Baluchistan, etcetera, is justified in the name of protecting “their way of life,” and for both sets of liberals, those who die are not human beings (or, in the case of Pakistan, even fellow citizens), but rather militants and fundamentalists (real or potential).

    It’s important to note, though, that Pakistanis in general do not support military action against militants unreservedly, even if they support the army. Poll after poll shows that the majority still thinks that dialogue is the best way.

    The liberal (and to some extent left) intelligentsia, however, have projected their opposition to the rising conservatism in Pakistani society — which itself needs to be understood historically — onto the Taliban. Add a healthy dose of racism, and you have a very heady brew.

    http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2009/smith271009.html

  • Oh!!! So the whole response/rebuttal is built around tweets of a browbeat twitter “fellow”, a harsh critic of Pakistani liberals, Welldone!!! What you have to say Nishapuri Saain!!!

  • excellent article, which reinforces the fact that those who seem to be liberals in pakistan, in their hatred for the political class especially the PPP cement the stance of the military and their touts…

  • LUBP/ fellow readers,
    Few months ago I bumped on LUBP while exploring the background of dubious Pakistani blogger Moin Ansari (rupeenews) through google search. Indeed LUBP is doing excellent job informing the world with fair assessment of Pakistani culture, politics and mindset. As I see, many nonPakistanis especially from south Asia unaware there is a respectable media outlet on net exist such as LUBP from Pakistan. There is a need to make LUBP more visible in Indian net space that surely would add more confidence to Indians in dealing with the issues of mutual importance.

  • First I don’t think there are liberals in Pakistan. The name mentioned Raza Rumi, Marvi sarmad and few others are not liberal by any means. Marvi is a PPP supporter, Raza Rumi has no clue about any thing. He is primarily a meaty mouthy writer with half baked ideas and probably does not even understand what liberalism is all about. Most of these guys just follow Hussain Haqqani who is nothing more than a rank opportunist. A recent article in a US paper, a baloch writer, exposed Hussain Haqqani, and I agree with what he wrote about him. Will try to post the link too. I read somewhere that most of the Pakistani liberals are primarily left of the center in good times and right of the center in bad times. There is no chance of true liberal emerging from a predominantly feudal society where most of the middle class so called liberals, profess liberalism to become acceptable to the elite. Even the secularists from the smaller provinces are secular in reaction to state’s commitment to religion and the use of religion to suppress political rights of the people of the smaller provinces. They hardly believe in human rights and are as against the women rights as an fundamentalist rightwing can be.
    We have a thoroughly confused society and there is no magic wand to fix that. This confusion helps the establishment to manipulate different groups for maintaining its control over the state.
    With apologies to the writer, I don’t think there is even a single soul in the Ppp that can be called liberal in any sense. Liberals stand for change, and none in the ppp likes the change.

  • Kudos, Hoss Sain!
    You nailed it, The article you are mentioning was by Masti Khan, I think, who exposes HH for writing a letter to Carnegie Endowment to stop a gathering of Baloch secularists.

    Though HH has denied writing such letter but Masti Khan sticks to what he has written.

    Ayesha S wrote an obituary when democrat HH turned to a diplomat HH, and criticised him for using his intellect and skills advocating the military in United States.

    But everything is right under the tag of “Pragmatism” and “Practicality”.

  • Actually Ali I had discussion with Ayesha when she was in DC on HH and his continuously changing loyalties. I think at heart he is still a gun touting jamaatia that he was in Karachi.

  • Though a columnist friend commented that Ayesha S is harsh on HH, but when I watched his recent session at Carnegie Endowment, I was shocked after listening him repeating the same arguments in defense of military on post Bin Laden developments, as spinned by the pro military writer Ejaz Haider and others like him.

  • I will cut him a little slack there as he has to do his job and he can’t criticize his masters in his official position in public appearance, however, after Kerry lugar bill he was too quick to take lead from the army rather than the civvies. Otoh, what can you do when the entire foreign office is looking up to the GHQ rather than the civvies for foreign policy decisions.

  • An excellent analysis Well done Abdul!
    Gulshan ko jab khoon ki zaroorat parhi gardan hamari hi kati
    Phir bhi kahtay ho ham wafadar naheen

  • Hoss and Aliarqam,
    I am not a big fan of Hussain Haqqani, but for once, he is the ambassador of Pakistan, the representative of the state of Pakistan in a foreign country. On the matter of post-OBL scenario, do you expect the ambassador of Pakistan to say that the civilians are good and our military is bad? We sitting on the outside have a lot of liberties and can speak our minds on various issues whereas a state representative just cannot.
    Havent you all noticed how dirt is thrown at Hussain Haqqani whenever something wrong happens be it in form of visas controversy, KL Bill drafting etc etc.
    Yes, HH has moved from one party to another but for the last 18 years he has stuck with the PPP in one form or the other. Whether we like it or not, he was favored a lot by Shaheed MBB and if she would have been alive and in power, HH would have been where he is today.

  • An incisive analysis and one of the best articles published on LUBP. The differences between the “liberal” forces in Pakistan are superbly threshed out. Thanks Abdul.

  • Reductive, simplistic and just downright shallow writing is not what one expects from Mr. Tharoor. When was he last here I wonder and further still if Mr. Tharoor is aware of the reasons behind the rift between son father and consequently the country Mr. Taseer so loves to hate. The fact of the matter is that I smell as rat a big fat novel rat that Mr. Taseer’s publishers will be releasing in a couple of weeks. Mr. Taseer has used his family to his advantage before and now to use his murdered father’s name to generate buzz on both sides of the border is the fait accompli he has delivered and far more deftly handled than his writing.

  • Incidentally, LUBP has been also “unkind” to Mosharraf Zaidi’s friend, Ejaz Haider:

    http://criticalppp.com/archives/tag/ejaz-haider

    It’s a tight network: Mosh Zaidi, Ejaz Haider, Tammy Haq, Omar Waraich, Najam Sethi, their spare parts (flatterers and trainees) and multiple sources (in agencies).

    Long live urban liberals, lagay raho Munna bhai!

  • Dear Ahmad
    In my college days, like every “Mutaliaa-e-Pakistani, was a fan of Maudoodi, I was aked about his party’s support to Fatima Jinnah, a woman and BB Shaheed opposition, both on religious grounds, I replied, “Fatima Jinnah ki himayat, eik Iztirari surat haal tee, the person questioning me replied, “tumhari tau taarikh iztirari halaat mey kiye faislon se bhari padi hai”

    Our complaint is from HH, who wrote From “Mosque to military” and many excellent research pieces in world journals e.g JoD, as a diplomat he is doing best one can, safeguarding the so called “National Interested”

    Here we are discussing the Liberal stalwart and democrat HH not the diplomat

  • […] Marvi Srimed is a victim of the military establishment and its various agencies. The link : Deconstructing Pakistani liberals: A response to Shashi Tharoor and Raza Rumi Haider in plain terms is but a "military stooge" ; I will not even go into what Shashi […]

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