Sunday, 1 December 2013

Hypocrisy & Loyalty

Imran Khan said before the elections that he would shoot down US drones if given power. That didn’t happen, so he’s resorted to clogging traffic. The blocking of NATO supplies by PTI doesn’t seem to have had much effect on the transatlantic military alliance, but it has caused a lot of concern among a certain section of the Pakistani media.

Since public opinion, shockingly, is still against America’s killing campaign, the discomforted media members cannot directly ask that NATO not be caused inconvenience. Therefore, they have resorted to indirect methods. These include criticizing the effectiveness of the blockage & the choice of route as well as calling it illegal and hypocritical.

The hypocritical bit is most interesting. The argument goes that as KPK government runs many development programmes with US aid money, the PTI have no right to question the democracy bringers. An addition to “calling out the hypocrisy” literature was made in a column by a London based lawyer. She argues that since Chaudhry Nisar’s children are US citizens, it is wrong for him to question their policy. Imran Khan, we are also reminded, chose to marry a UK citizen and have children with her when he clearly knew he would be halting NATO supplies almost two decades later.

The actions of Nisar & Imran have apparently caused US & UK to refuse visas to Pakistani citizens, the exact number for which you will have to ask said columnist. In my personal experience of trying to get out of Pakistan once Gillani said “Why don’t they leave then?” it was the No-Passport policy by the PPP government that caused most concern. Bilawal & Co btw had passports and lived abroad.

She also believes that burning visas and not visiting the US or UK will be far more effective in stopping drone attacks than blocking the supplies to bases that house drones. Yes, not going on holiday stops drones; stopping supplies to drone bases does not stop drones. The logic clearly is flawless.

The application form for a visa to the US or the UK does not ask one to declare full support for their extra-judicial killing campaigns. The aid for the development programmes also doesn’t stipulate a support for drone attacks. Citizens in the two countries do not, repeat do not, pledge never to condemn drone strikes that not only often kill innocents, but also provide more fuel for terrorism.

Yet this thinking, in our more “liberal” section of media, persists. If you raise money in the US, you cannot criticize their policies; if you live in the UK, you cannot protest their transgressions.

The fact that this logic implies you have to give up your citizenship or rights or whatever just to disagree with a government’s policy of murder is not the point. The point is what this tells us about people moulding the public discourse every day in Pakistan.

Space in our newspapers is being given to people who live in another country & believe that if you so much as travel to another country, you shouldn’t criticize them. Space is being given to people who work for NGOs and believe development money means you have to support immoral policies of the donor. On our TV set are news channels that draw revenues from say the US, and their employees tell you off if you question the US war after raising money from volunteers in that country.

These people, by their own admission, link money, travel and citizenship with loyalty and support for immoral and illegal policies. How can they be, and how come they are being, afforded space in public discourse when they clearly, THEMSELVES, believe they have a conflict of interest, scratch that, believe they have a compulsion to support their “benefactors”!?

Friday, 22 November 2013

Drones & the Taliban

Nek Mohammed:

Probably the first militant leader of note in FATA, Nek Mohammed was 27 when he was killed in the very first US drone strike in Pakistan, in June 2004. He fought against the Army when they launched an operation in South Waziristan to drive out the foreigners based there, and caused considerable losses.

He was then handed a peace deal, called the Shakai Agreement, which didn’t last. So the Pakistan Army requested the US to take him out. After the strike the Army claimed that it was them who killed him, but not many believed them. His grave reportedly became a shrine and his killing only provided more motivation & impetus for militancy in the tribal areas.

Shakai Agreement - 2004:

The deal between Nek Mohammed and the military entailed registering of foreigners in the area and a halt of cross-border attacks into Afghanistan. The military in turn would pay for the damage it caused to property of tribal people and pay for repaying their debts to Al-Qaeda.

More importantly, many have argued, the military afforded Nek Mohammed stature. Gen Safdar Hussain went to a madrassa in Shakai to ratify the deal; the militants’ turf. He also bypassed the tribal elders and Political Agent, making them look weak.

Nek Mohammed called himself a “soldier of Pakistan” at the occasion. Later he refused to stop supporting the fight in Afghanistan. That led to his killing and another op. But near the end of the same year the agreement was revived, with his successors. The new agreement didn’t require the militants to register foreigners, only to stop cross-border attacks.

The part about registering foreigners turned out to be the biggest issue for failure of the original agreement. The government claimed that registering foreigners meant handing over the foreign fighters to the military. Nek Mohammed had given shelter to notorious Uzbek militant Tahir Yuldashev, and basically fought the army to protect him. He didn’t see how registering meant surrendering the Uzbeks.

Baitullah Mehsud:

Baitullah Mehsud was the first leader or Amir of the TTP, killed in a drone strike in 2009. He gained notoriety in 2005, highlighted by the Sararogha deal. It’s been reported that he was appointed Mullah Omar’s governor for the Mehsud tribe, in the presence of other local Taliban leaders, back in the day. 

Although Nek Mohammed is said to have targeted pro-government tribal elders or maliks, Baitullah excelled in this. He had a special taskforce whose sole reason was to eliminate anyone suspected of siding with the US or the Pakistani government.

Sararogha Agreement:

The second famous, or infamous, peace deal was the Sararogha deal in early 2005. This was also in South Waziristan. After Nek Muhammed’s death, Baitullah and Abdullah Mehsud rose as prominent militant leaders. Abdullah was a former Guantanamo detainee and had been involved in kidnapping some Chinese engineers. The military didn’t want to talk to him.

So they talked to Baitullah. The deal struck with him wasn’t similar to the one with Nek Mohammed. Baitullah wouldn’t attack Pakistani forces, they wouldn’t target him. He would not provide sanctuary or aid to foreign fighters.

Notice that there was nothing on surrendering or registering foreign fighters. The group was also not required to stop cross-border attacks. Also, unlike the Shakai deal, it was the Assistant Political Agent & Assistant Political Officer that signed the agreement with Baitullah, in presence of tribal elders.

Like the last agreement, the government had to pay tribal people for damages caused during the fighting that preceded it.

Baitullah made a point of milking this. At the ceremony he is reported to have said that he only started fighting after the military started the operation, and that caused loss of property and other hardships for the local people.

He also claimed that he did not want to fight Pakistan, as it didn’t help the cause of the Afghan Taliban, “We understand fighting against Pakistani security forces did not help the Taliban at all,”

The deal broke down soon. It’s not clear what incident triggered that. Abdullah Mehsud had significant influence. His men weren’t bound to not carry out anti-state activities. When Baitullah renounced the deal in July, he claimed army had broken the deal first.


In 2007 Baitullah became Amir of the newly formed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. The organization pledged allegiance to Mullah Omar. When a TTP spokesman or “senior militant commander” talked to a national newspaper about the formation of the TTP, he said militants from South Waziristan, North Waziristan, Aurakzai, Kurram, Khyber, Mohmand and Bajaur and some districts of NWFP like Swat, Buner, Dir, Malakand, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Tank, Peshawar, Dera Ismail Khan and Kohat had decided to “speed up their joint "Jihad" against the US and Nato forces in neighbouring Afghanistan.”

They also pledged to fight the Pakistani forces in self-defence, termed elsewhere as “defensive Jihad”, and demanded an end to military operations in North Waziristan & Swat.

Hafiz Gul Bahadur was named second in command of the TTP in the initial meeting. He however developed differences with Baitullah over attacking the Pakistani state. It wasn’t until 2009 that, reportedly at the insistence of Mullah Omer, the two buried the hatchet.

Mullah Nazir:

Nazir was the third man who buried the hatchet that day. He too was opposed to Baitullah’s Pakistan centric approach. He reportedly/allegedly had a peace deal with the security forces dating back to 2007.
Based in South Waziristan, Nazir had a particular disdain for the Uzbeks. He killed scores of them even when they were allied with the TTP. That didn’t endear him to the TTP, despite being in at least a couple of alliances/agreements with them.

So when he was targeted in a suicide attack in late 2012, TTP were prime suspect. Although they denied involvement, Nazir ordered all Mehsud tribesmen, who are the most bountiful source of recruits for TTP, out of the area. Around a month later, he was killed in a drone strike.

Hakimullah Mehsud:

Hakimullah was the next leader of the TTP, and recently met his demise in a drone strike. He had been an important leader in the TTP before taking over command, and soon after he masterminded an attack on the CIA to avenge Baitullah. That attack has been termed the deadliest against the agency in years.

This prompted the CIA to go after him with more vigour than usual. Coupled with the fact that South Waziristan, TTP base up-till 2009, was stormed by the Pakistani Army soon after Baitullah’s killing, Hakimullah spent a lot of his time as Amir in hiding.

This did not, apparently, reduce his effectiveness. Even though they control a much smaller region when compared to the heyday under Baitullah, the TTP perhaps became more relevant. For instance, they targeted specific political parties and tried to influence elections.

The TTP also launched some of their most audacious, sophisticated attacks under Hakimullah’s command, especially against the military. Including Kamra, they attacked defence installations 16 times since 2009.
Coincidentally, they grew much closer to Afghanistan during this period. Then TTP-Swat head Mullah Fazlullah permanently moved to Afghanistan from where he has orchestrated many attacks into Pakistan, including the one on Malala Yosufzai. 

More recently, Hakimullah’s handpicked No. 2, Latif Mehsud, was caught inside Afghanistan travelling with Afghan Intel agents by US forces. He was described as a “valuable asset”. Incidentally, this Afghan asset bought a $120,000 home for Hakimullah, at the gate of which he was killed.


The commonality between all of them, apart from death via drone or as I like to call it; DVD ™, is the allegiance to Mullah Omer & a declared support for fighting the US in Afghanistan. Sheltering foreign fighters is another, although Mullah Nazir is complicated. Even though he hated the Uzbeks, as with some other good Taliban, he still didn’t mind the Saudis. I read somewhere that his crackdown against the Uzbeks started when they assassinated two of his Saudi guests.

The differences between them are also striking. They went from “support fighting in Afghanistan” to “don’t want to fight Pakistan” to “defensive jihad” to “all-out war”. As the war has dragged on, their stances have become more and more extreme, and not just in terms of fighting Pakistan.

When Baitullah denied any hand in the murder of Benazir Bhutto, his spokesman said, "It is against tribal tradition and custom to attack a woman,". Contrast that with the current TTP head Mullah Radio and his unabashed pursuit of a schoolgirl.

Military action and drones, the former dating back to 2002 or 2003, and the later to 2004, have not only failed spectacularly to stem this slide, they have been the biggest catalyst. War apparently promotes that kinda thing. Go figure.

To focus on drones specifically, let’s weigh what they have achieved and what they have cost.


All of the above are high profile insurgents who were killed in drone strikes. 

Drones are supposedly an accurate and not-putting-soldiers-in-harm’s-way method of killing militants. There have been 281 or 345 or 367 drone attacks in Pakistan, killing kids as young as 12 to veteran womens as old as 67

The only tangible way these deaths have benefited us, or impacted the larger scheme of things is by creating opportunities for a quarrel over succession within the TTP.

Other than that, there are little gains. The TTP is an umbrella group and pretty decentralized. Separate chapters are independent in their actions, so it isn’t clear how striking at specific leaders would, or does, hamper their operational capabilities.

Nor does it scare them. Or deter. In any sense that would benefit us. From Nek Mohammed to Hakimullah, after each killing, as a rule, a more demented guy takes over, with a more aggressive, vile agenda. Take Fazlullah for example.

No drone strike I can think of has actually resulted in wrestling back territory from the TTP. In fact, North Waziristan (245 drone strikes), the most droned place on earth outside Afghanistan, remains the strongest bastion of Taliban.

This is consistent with the lack of success drones have had in Afghanistan. In 2012 alone almost 350 drone strikes were carried out across the Durand line, forcing the Taliban into giving the US ... no concessions at all.  

Minor Issues:

No point in pretending that people give a shit about civilian deaths, so let's focus on the larger picture.  In the last decade, drones are pretty much the best thing that has happened to the Taliban. At least the Pakistani ones.

What was achieved from getting Nek Mohammed droned?

His death didn’t break the spirit of his fighters. Thousands attended his funeral, he became a rallying cry and, as mentioned above, months later we had to concede a more humiliating deal to his successors.

More than that, it was the way the whole affair was handled. ISPR claimed back then that any suggestion of American involvement in his killing was “absolutely absurd”. He was killed by Pakistan. Clearly not taken into account while making this claim; the fact that people have eyes.

They did the same thing when a drone struck a seminary in Bajaur, 2006. It killed over 80, labelled militants. After the attack, Pakistani helicopters arrived at the spot and fired at nearby hills. Another pathetic claim was made, that the military had carried out the attack. A commission of the Peshawar High Court Bar Association and Peshawar District Bar Association ascertained that the Pakistani Helicopters arrived a full 20-25 minutes after the attack and most of the 80 plus dead were kids aged between 9-18.

Around a month later 42 soldiers were killed in a revenge attack. As in they called and said, “Hey, we killed 42 soldiers because of that drone strike”.

Pakistan owned these attacks. We requested some. Even now, or until the last government, our Presidents gave the go ahead. Yet utter shock is witnessed when suggested we have to face the blowback.

The commonality among all the Taliban militants, as mentioned above, is the pledge of loyalty to Mullah Omar and enmity with the US. And in “our” war that was ordered, and is completely paid for, by the US, drone attacks are the most visible link of our alliance with the Americans.

Drones are not a decisive weapon or a trump card. They haven't pushed the fight an inch closer to the end. In fact, what they are is the foremost tool for prolonging it.

Even if bad options are all we have in this war; drones shouldn’t be one.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Stupid APC

It took Nusrat Javed all of 10 minutes after the martyrdom of a PTI MPA to call his party “cowards”. Ironic as he usually taunts opponents for being too brave. Anyhow, that set the pace for another round of point scoring matches which have essentially replaced discourse on all things political in Pakistan.

The sometimes sober journalist and others are increasingly vicious these days because of the much maligned APC. Called with the stated aim of creating an elusive consensus in Pakistan on how to deal with terrorism, the APC has had the opposite effect.

One side is convinced that their narrative has won out, while the other has a newfound resolve to correct the error. Instead of coming closer, both have dug their heels in. So much so that it isn’t about finding a solution to the problem, not even about mourning the fallen. It is all about proving the other side wrong.

And it’s hard to resist doing that. It really is. Especially when the guys on the other side are such assholes.
But it doesn’t get us anywhere. So I am trying these days not to do that. Very proud.

I recently read this article about Uzbek fighters in Waziristan and how the army was trying to tackle them and Al-Qaeda in Waziristan. Way back in 2004.

The most striking thing about the article was how it spoke of the Uzbeks and Al-Qaeda, but not of the Taliban. It was just the 700 or so Uzbeks that were the issue, everyone else is referred to as “the tribesmen”. Splendid how we got from there to here isn’t it.

Good old days.

Wasn’t it simple? Just take money from the US to fight “our war” in the tribal areas. No blowback. No TTP. Should have known it wouldn’t last.

How does this work really. I can’t get someone to fund my studies, but the gracious American’s fund our war. War! Who does that!?

“Here is 50 bucks. Go take a shit. Remember to wipe afterwards.” - “Why thank you sir. Oh I will!” Happens to everyone right?

There is so much rehashed shit. And so much bullshit. Beware of the one who pulls figures out of his behind. 13 K have been killed in terrorist attacks. This includes 6k in suicide attacks. Excludes 3K in drone attacks (good killings).

But who really gives a flying fuck. Numbers are cooler if they are higher. You tell someone less people have died and they are actually fucking disappointed. It’s like you have snatched candy from a kid. I am sure one guy cried himself to sleep. Retards.

See, your argument will have more weight if you quote a higher figure. But nobody quotes the highest figures. How many killed by military ops? How many displaced? How does that make them feel?

“I had a family member blown to bits by artillery fire. Home destroyed and shit. Love the army. Pakistan XOXOX”

Nationalists won’t talk about it because it makes the Pak Fauj look bad. Humanitarians will not talk about this because it makes military ops look bad. Clusterfucketh.

Also. Shut the fuck up. ANP. Really. Give Swat to Taliban. Fight Taliban. Call APC and say we should talk to Taliban. Then kill people in Karachi. Then say terrorism is bad. Then say everyone is confused and we have clarity. The fuck.

Anyways. There won’t be a military operation. And there won’t be peace talks. It started with Sethi getting everyone hormonal with his “Army wants to take action but politicos won’t let them” drivel. That was based on Kayani’s speech, 14th Aug I think.

Kayani sahib was the handpicked COAS of Hazrata Shaheed Mohtarma (R.A) and Gen Musharraf and Amreeeka. As with the above three, he never had a hard on for mullahs. But as with the above three he never let principles stand in his way.

What Kayani did with that speech and other noises was to get drunk columnists off his back. They were political statements. When we say we want action, we speak of North Waziristan. North Waziristan already has Pakistani troops stationed in it.

But Kayani will not touch the Haqqani’s. That’s it. So you can wank off to his speech all you want, when it comes to doing the North Waziristan op, they won’t do it. They have actually done it everywhere they could without touching the Afghan Taliban. They are not shy of ops. Just not there.

If the US couldn’t get them to do it, they!

And he’s been releasing Afghan Taliban after that statement as a goodwill gesture. FFS!

Nawaz Sharif just wants to make some money. Stalling is the name of the game. He won’t commit one way or the other until after the 2014 thing happens.

Meanwhile we are kicking each other in the balls over the APC.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Corrupt Over The Murderous

I will take the ‘corrupt’ over the ‘murderous’ every day, all year.

That’s the line that pushed a certain segment of our educated (in the basic formal sense) populace to orgasm Sunday morning. Saroop Ijaz giving words to their frustration built up, especially during the last month or so, but generally, over years. Oh how they have waited for this, and how indeed have I.

First though, Imran Khan. The man is a liar, also condescending, ignorant and sinister. It’s hypocritical, deceitful and stuff of him to even pretend to honour our martyred soldiers. It’s silly that he would know better than Saroop just because he has been to the tribal areas. Saroop knows all. Hail.

The counterweight is of course the ANP. ANP good, know tribal land better, Imran bad, idiot.

Thus the future government will, in Saroop’s view, yearn for a “reconciliatory embrace with the terrorists over dead bodies”. This will be different from when ANP-PPP thrashed out a peace agreement with the same foes, or as they pledge to do again in the future, because they went, and will in the future go, ‘around’ the dead bodies.

Going ‘over’ dead bodies is what’s really bad. Everyone knows that, stupid.

Now let’s come back to the real issue here.

The murderous, vs. the corrupt. The animalistic vs. the humane. The people who believe
in dialogue, just as you do, vs. the people who take out a gun, shoot someone repeatedly, cut them into pieces and dump them in a gunny bag.

Which ones are the murderous again?

Yes, the guys who aren’t being killed, and/or a perceived to be quiet, are murderers. The guys actually, physically, killing people aren’t.

It’s confusing, yes. Little bit. But there is a reason why such marvellous logic has graced a newspaper near you.

Let me explain with the help of two pictures.

See. One of these guys is a terrorist responsible for the killing of a former Governor. The other pumped 27 bullets into the back of Salman Taseer.

That though isn’t how the ‘Saroopish’ folks see it. They are seeing one very charismatic leader of a liberal-secular last hope for sanity party and a guy who pumped 27 bullets into the back of Salman Taseer.

Notice how “terrorist responsible for the killing of a former governor” translates into “very charismatic leader of a liberal-secular last hope for sanity party”.

Now you cannot be blamed for wondering if these guys have horse-shit injected directly into their brain, because, well, they do. The consequence of injecting horse-shit directly into your brain is a mental disorder called Secularitis.

Secularitis is a serious condition not to be taken lightly and it has fascinating effects on one’s vision, among other things. Like, for example, the basic understanding of phenomenon such as terrorism.

A quick Google search could tell you that terrorism is defined as “The use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.”

That though isn’t how a patient of secularitis sees it.

For them, it shows "The use of violence and intimidation by bearded man. (Except Zulfiqar Mirza.)"

Although this explains why patients such as Saroop cannot define what the MQM-PPP-ANP do as terrorism, it still does not explain how they don’t even perceive it as murder.

That is a most interesting matter and one that has confused doctors for a long time. The most credible theory was that Secularitis patients see the people killed by their beloved parties as dogs. This theory though has been rejected on the basis that, since many patients are dog lovers and pretty concerned about animal rights in general, they would have reacted at the killing of around 9000 dogs.

Thus it is still unclear how Secularitis patients view people murdered by ANP-PPP-MQM. All that we do know is that they are not viewed as humans. Or dogs.

Even our limited knowledge of the disease though explains many phenomenons that would otherwise seem absurd.

For example, that the sudden talk of “funerals in other Pakistan” has burst out after around 55 deaths in a month while it didn’t happen after 100 deaths in 4 days can only be explained with reference to Secularitis.

Similarly, the belief that we are anti-militancy with Zulfi Mirza’s wife as the Speaker of National assembly can again only be attributed to Secularitis. The same goes for condemnation of terrorism with a career target killer as governor.

The examples, as you can imagine, are many and implications are wide. The most peculiar among them though has to be:

“I will take the ‘corrupt’ over the ‘murderous’ every day, all year.”

When the slimy fuck will actually take the murderous corrupt every day, all year.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Lawless Lawyers

Since the return to Pakistan of former military dictator Pervez Musharraf, a certain political party has taken flak over its perceived silence, reportedly at the behest of foreign sponsors. While the Saudis might have played a role in pacifying the former President’s political rivals, it can be reasonably assumed that they don’t wield the same influence over Pakistan’s legal fraternity.

The black coats have been Musharraf’s most potent opponents since his return, just as they were during his time in office. And while it is admirable that they have taken the initiative when others seemed somewhat hesitant, the ugly scenes witnessed in Rawalpindi on Tuesday would suggest that they have gone a step, or several, too far.

Musharraf supporters had reportedly turned up in large numbers as he appeared before a court in connection with the Benazir Bhutto murder case. Lawyers were also present, although they claim not in the same numbers. After some sloganeering, a melee broke out between the two groups and while the lawyers were at first outnumbered, reinforcements soon arrived and carried them to an (in)glorious victory.

The savagery didn’t stop there however. Not satisfied with beating the living daylights out of their “opponents”, lawyers, sticks in hand, took to beating passer-bys and breaking the windows of any vehicles they could find. Initial reports suggest vehicles did not shout pro-Musharraf slogans.

While the healthy participation by female lawyers is one positive the legal community could point to, there are not many others. The fact that members of a revered and educated segmented of society, specializing incidentally in “law”, would take the law into their hands and act as petty thugs in such a blatant fashion must be worrying for everyone not only in the community but in the country.

It’s even more worrying that this was not a one off incident. Since Musharraf’s return, the lawyers have only grown more violent with each passing day. First a shoe was thrown by a lawyer at the former General. The next time it was a chair. Next a couple of his supporters were singled out for punishment, landing one in hospital.

Yet the most worrying aspect in all of this is the indifference of the leaders of the legal community. Appearing on a TV talk show the evening of the incident, prominent leaders of the lawyers’ movement, including Ali Ahmed Kurd and Taufiq Asif, president of the Rawalpindi High Court Bar Association, did not appear too keen to confront the issue of continued use of violence by lawyers.

Taufiq Asif especially stressed on the non-culpability of lawyers because they had been provoked and attacked by Musharraf supporters. Hence what they did was only in retaliation.

Now the “they started it” argument here is out of place for a number of reasons. First because it is being made not by a 5 year old but by the President of a High Court Bar Association. Second because two wrongs make a wrong. Third because if everyone was to follow the example set by the lawyers, which is to settle their scores on their own and circumvent the legal process, lawyers would become... kind of extinct.

Moreover it deflects from the fact that since the Lawyers movement re-seated CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry, the community has become a pressure group not to be messed with; rather than the educated, righteous role models to be emulated.

Lawyers have been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons since the movement ended. They have beaten police officers, they have attacked judges, they have assaulted media persons and much of it has been caught on tape. Their response to getting filmed while beating someone has been to beat the people who filmed them. Not exactly encouraging.

All the while the leaders of the legal community have done nothing. This is perhaps the most well organized community in the country, with Bar Associations for districts and provinces and at the national level. Yet they take no action against the “black sheep” who physically assault people and suspend memberships of lawyers for representing certain clients.

This is to say, between beating people and representing people, the latter is deemed more reprehensible by the Bar Associations.

The lawyers have a problem and it won’t go away if it isn’t acknowledged. It is about time leaders of this community realize that their own reputation is what has suffered most at their battle-hardened hands.

The various Bar Associations need to take meaningful action against the culprits in Tuesday’s fracas, most of whom are easily identifiable via video. If they don’t, they will only be hastening the fall of the whole community from the status of heroes to the status of hoodlums.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Why Pervez Hoodbhoy, Why?

How much bullshit is enough bullshit? That’s the question Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy ought to ask himself, or you ought to ask Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy, after he produced some high quality bullshit in Express Tribune this Saturday.

Cricketer Khan and Maulana Qadri? Really, you were a professor? Do you also use Lohar Sharif and Husband Zardari?

The corruption in Pakistan, which amounts to billions of rupees daily according to a government friendly and government appointed NAB chief, is not really an issue. The youth are over-zealous pawns and contraceptives will save Pakistan! Right.

How desperate, bitter and biased do you have to be that you invent a country to justify your bullshit?

Have any of you heard of Italy? It’s a country in Europe, shaped like a boot. It’s where Pizza came from.

Well, there’s a separate Italy, the real Italy that only Mr. Hoodbhoy knows of. It’s a land filled with joy, ruled by the happy go lucky Silvio Berlusconi. It is totally unaffected by the corruption and ineptness of its rulers and it just keeps getting “richer and better”.

The fake Italy we know has fallen on tough times. Berlusconi’s corrupt government coincided with a steep decline in the country’s fortunes. It doesn’t keep getting “richer and better”; in fact the economy has shrunk in the golden corrupt hands of Mr. Berlusconi. Things were so bad that they ushered in a technocratic government to fix the economy. That’s exactly what we have been dreading since Maulana Qadri came onto the scene.

Mr. Hoodbhoy though isn’t only an expert on Italy; he also knows a little something about the USA and her devious presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Thing is, the Americans have it as bad as we do, have you ever heard them complain? I mean Romney only paid as much tax as our “unscrupulous parliamentarians.”

Very accurate on all counts.

The Americans don’t mind at all. The occupy Wall Street movement was actually a protest against skin tight pants. Long overdue, I know. The institutionalized corruption and lending to banks hasn’t hurt them either, just that people don’t have jobs, the country’s debt keeps soaring and it narrowly avoided a so called fiscal cliff.

Romney paid almost $2 million in personal income tax in 2011. That is 20 Crore PKR. That is almost 19 Crore more than what Lohar Sharif and Showbaz Sharif paid combined that year. That is 20 Crore more than what our President Husband Zardari paid. That is not “only a little more”.

Anyways, let us not dwell on the details. Bottom line is that corruption obviously isn’t Pakistan’s problem, or Italy’s. Or America’s. Then what is?

The professor seems to have sourced a 7th grader’s essay to answer that question. Saving the issues of poverty and illiteracy for another time, he chose to focus on 1) population. His insight really is unparalleled. He would also like you to believe that this problem would have been brought under control if it weren’t for the big bad Jamaat-e-Islami and their 2/3rd majority in parliament.

Then we move to 2)terrorism, which Lohar Sharif and Husband Zardari would have defeated by now if it weren’t for Maulana Qadri’s three weeks in Pakistan or Cricketer Khan’s objection of drones. Contrary to what the mad cricketer says, drones work. Just look at how North Waziristan is now a terrorist-free zone thanks to drone attacks.

Last is the economy. You don’t have to collect taxes and redistribute wealth, you just have to 3) create more wealth. Husband Zardari has been creating wealth by printing wealth, doesn’t seem to have worked.

Not to worry though, Lohar Sharif will do it. The pathetic GDP growth in Lohar’s two stints as PM, the even more pathetic GDP growth of Punjab the last five years, and PMLN’s vision to implement Bush style tax cuts that left US economy in tatters all tell Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy (PhD) that Lohar is the man.

Mind-blowing analytical skills.

Meanwhile, “the fist shaking, rostrum pounding” Cricketer, whom the professor desperately wants to group with the Maulana, has included both terrorism and the economy in his “empty thunder” that offers “nothing real”. He has been out administering polio drops, demanding justice for the Shia-Hazaras and his party has actually given an economic policy, which the heroic PMLN have not.

This is obfuscation of the most shameless kind. Lies and more lies. There was no point to Hoodbhoy’s piece apart from attacking anyone threatening the two established parties. Not an inch of substance.


Thursday, 10 January 2013

LoC Incursions & Perils Of Sensationalism

Last night I caught a glimpse of what is being broadcast in India since the alleged cross border raid by Pakistani forces that left two Indian soldiers dead. Barkha Dutt, an Indian journalist fairly well known on this side of the border, read out a very tense, stern, hyped-up monologue that set the tone for her show. Her emphasis, time and again, on the “unprovoked” aggression from the Pakistani side as well as the “gruesome” and “horrific” nature of the attack stood out.

Unprovoked because the Indian Army was attacked on its side of the LoC and had not launched an adventure of its own. Gruesome because according to the anchor, “one soldier was decapitated and the other may as well have been decapitated.”

For those who are still unaware, the Indian Army’s Northern Command have denied that either soldier was decapitated or had their throats slit, according to Reuters. How the decapitation story found it’s way into the discourse is brilliantly chronicled here. Also, this report by an Indian website confirms that the alleged attack by the Pakistani forces seems to have been in response to an earlier raid by the Indian army, on January 6th, that left one Pakistani soldier dead and another injured.

So the attack was neither “gruesome”, nor “unprovoked.” It was simply a retaliation for an earlier Indian raid and it is still only “alleged”. Why?

There is a UN Military Observation mechanism already in place, on both sides of the LoC, that can be called upon to investigate incidents of cease fire violations. India had not, until last night, called upon the UN mission to investigate the incident.

The UN mission is though going to investigate the January 6th incursion by Indian forces, which was promptly reported by the Pakistani side. As opposed to the patrol party engaging in a firefight, as happened on January 8th, Indian forces physically attacked a Pakistani post and while retreating left behind a gun and a dagger.

Based on the better evidence, Pakistan appears to have a stronger case to complain.

Yet it is the Indian media, with even the more moderate anchorpersons, building an emotional, hyped up narrative of barbarity and adventurism against Pakistan. Politicians have played their part sure, but the charge is firmly being led by the media.

The sensationalism means that the Indian Army’s initial raid, which actually escalated tensions along the LoC, has been erased from the discourse. Moreover a misreporting of the facts, coupled with TV screens flashing “When will India wake up” in red, are driving an increasingly hostile reaction against Pakistan.

The Pakistani media on the other hand did not raise much hue and cry on the 6th January incident. A part of the reason could be that we are more focused on the so called WoT. However it is also true, and more relevant, that large sections of the Pakistani media are actively working to bring Pakistan and India closer.

That is why the media is careful not to over-hype incidents that can derail the peace process and put the perpetually strained relations between the countries under more pressure. We love our soldiers as much as the other side, and we have our fair share of hawks eager for confrontation, but that didn’t stop the media from taking a cautious, reasoned approach.

The irresponsible and sensationalist stances taken by the Indian media can thus push their counterparts in Pakistan into a very uneasy corner. Already there is valid criticism on the media for not presenting Pakistan’s case as well, and as forcefully, as it should have. Parts of the media have in response taken sterner lines.

This will only grow if the Indian media doesn’t change its attitude, and the resolve on this side to keep the larger interest in mind will weaken. Journalists seen as pro-India will be called out and their credentials called into question. When one or two channels finally take the aggressive “when will we wake up” line, others will most likely follow.

The Pakistani media might have taken the pro-peace, some would say pro-appeasement, line with regards India, but they won’t be able to hold it for long if their Indian counter-parts keep sacrificing reason on the altar of sensationalism.