Beygairat Brigade’s YouTube Hit Song Challenges Extremism in Pakistan

Memo From Pakistan: Satirical Song, a YouTube Hit, Challenges Extremism in Pakistan

By SALMAN MASOOD

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A satirical song that takes a tongue-in-cheek swipe at religious extremism, militancy and contradictions in Pakistani society has become an instant hit here, drawing widespread attention as a rare voice of the country’s embattled liberals.

The song, “Aalu Anday,” which means “Potatoes and Eggs,” comes from a group of three young men who call themselves Beygairat Brigade, or A Brigade Without Honor, openly mocking the military, religious conservatives, nationalist politicians and conspiracy theorists.

Their YouTube video has been viewed more than 350,000 times since it was uploaded in mid-October. The song is getting glowing reviews in the news media here and is widely talked about — and shared — on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Read more » The New York Times

 

Shameful act against humanity: Three Sindhi Hindus killed in Pakistan

Three Hindus killed in Pakistan

Islamabad: Three members of the minority Hindu community were killed when unidentified persons attacked a village in Sindh province of southern Pakistan on Monday, officials said.

Another Hindu was seriously injured in the attack at Taluka Chak in Shikarpur district.

President Asif Ali Zardari took “serious note” of the attack on members of the Hindu community and directed authorities to immediately arrest those responsible and bring them to justice.

Zardari had sought an immediate report on the incident, presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said. Zardari instructed Ramesh Lal, a Hindu parliamentarian from Sindh, to go to the village and convey his condolences to the bereaved families.

The President said it was the “moral and legal responsibility of the government to protect members of the minority community against vandalism and atrocities”.

Babar quoted Zardari as saying that the “law would take its course and the culprits will not go unpunished“.

Courtesy » ZeeNews

Abducted Journalist Found Dead, Tortured in Balochistan

Journalist’s body found in Khuzdar

QUETTA – A bullet-riddled body of a journalist was recovered from Khuzdar district, some 360 Km southeast of Quetta, on Saturday.

According to police officials, area people spotted a body lying at Gazgi area and informed police. Policemen rushed to the site and moved the body to Civil Hospital Khuzdar for medico-legal formalities where deceased was identified as Javed Naseer Rind, a missing journalist. “The victim was hit by bullets in head and chest while marks of torture were also visible on his body,” hospital sources said. Police after completing legal formalities handed over the body to heirs. …

Read more »  The Nation

China’s ‘Cake Theory’

‘Cake Theory’ Has Chinese Eating Up Political Debate

by Louisa Lim

What goes on inside China’s leadership is usually played out behind the closed oxblood doors of the compound where the top leaders live. This year, though, a political debate has sprung out in the open — and it has leaders and constituents considering how to move forward politically.

This ideological debate comes as China gears up for a once-in-a-decade political transition. The country’s future top leaders seem almost certain, with Xi Jinping in line for president and Li Keqiang on track for premier. Horse-trading is under way for other leadership positions, however, sparking a debate that could define China’s future.

The Chongqing Model: Equal Slices

In recent months, the streets of the city of Chongqing have been ringing with song. These are not spontaneous outbreaks; they’re government-mandated sessions, requiring employees to “sing the red,” patriotic songs praising China.

This is a leftist vision of China’s future, with powerful echoes of its Maoist past.

It’s the brainchild of Bo Xilai, Chongqing’s party secretary and the son of a revolutionary elder, Bo Yibo, one of the “eight immortals” of Communist China. Bo Xilai has taken a three-pronged approach by “smashing the black,” or attacking corruption and organized crime, with what some say is a disregard for the rule of law. His approach also includes putting in place measures to help those left behind by China’s economic boom.

“The government intervenes to correct the shortcomings of the market economy,” says Yang Fan, a conservative-leaning scholar at China University of Political Science and Law and co-author of a book about the Chongqing model.

“There are projects to improve people’s livelihood by letting migrant workers come to the city, by building them cheap rental places and allowing them to sell their land to come to the city,” he says.

This is where it comes to what’s been dubbed “cake theory.” If the cake is China’s economy, the Chongqing model concentrates on dividing the cake more equally.

The Market-Driven Guangdong Model

The competing vision, based in the province of Guangdong, focuses on making the cake bigger first, not dividing it. In economic terms, the Guangdong model is a more market-driven approach, pushing forward development ahead of addressing inequality.

“The Guangdong model aims to solve the concerns of the middle class,” says Qiu Feng, a liberal academic from the Unirule Institute of Economics. “It’s about building society and rule of law. It wants to give the middle class institutionalized channels to take part in the political process. Its basic thought is co-opting the middle class.”

He says the “Happy Guangdong” approach is aimed not at those left behind, but at those who have profited from the economic boom.

Guangdong’s party secretary, Wang Yang, has criticized the Chongqing model, saying people need to study and review Communist Party history, “rather than just singing of its brilliance.” In political terms, he’s throwing down the gauntlet at his rival, Bo Xilai.

Finding A Way Forward

Both these politicians are fighting for a place — and influence — inside the holiest of holies: the Politburo Standing Committee. This comes against a background of criticism of the current leadership from a surprising quarter.

“The bureaucracy is corrupt. Power has been marketized. Governance has been industrialized,” says Zhang Musheng, a consummate insider. “Local governments are becoming riddled with gangsters.”

Zhang’s father was secretary to China’s Premier Zhou Enlai. This makes him what’s known as a “princeling.” He’s attended a number of meetings held by children of former leaders, where criticism of the current leadership has been aired.

Despite their grievances, they came to one conclusion.

“China’s such a complicated society. Right now, it can’t leave the Communist Party. So the Communist Party must reform and improve,” Zhang says. “Although it’s criticized, right now there is no social force which can replace the Communist Party.”

Those are the key questions: how to reform or even if the Communist Party can reach consensus over which model it follows. ….

Read more » NPR

Imran Khan: the 12th man rises…

by Omar Ali
Pakistan’s greatest cricketing hero and second most successful philanthropist entered politics 15 years ago, promising a progressive, Islamic, modern, corruption-free Pakistan. His position as the most successful captain in Pakistan’s cricket history, the founder of Pakistan’s finest cancer hospital (providing free modern cancer care to thousands) provided him instant cachet, but for a long time he was unable to convert this personal popularity into votes in actual elections. With a political platform heavy on slogans (particularly against corruption) but short on specifics and without any obvious connection to already existing grass-roots politics, he remained little more than a fixture on the talk-show circuit for a very long time. Brief flirtation with Pervez Musharraf also set him back, as did a tendency to spout fables about Jirgas and hobnob with jihadi ideologues like Hamid Gul. But his biggest problem was his failure to create a team that could carry his party forward. The Pakistani Tehreek e Insaf was a one man show, with Imran Khan its only impressive asset. Even in parties dominated by one strong leader, there are other leaders in the wings and a semi-coherent ideology that delivers a section of the vote-bank on ideological grounds alone. Imran had no visible team and no clear ideology beyond a promise to “eradicate corruption”.

He did seem to genuinely believe in the formulaic slogans and historical framework of the 6th grade “ideology of Pakistan” he learned in Aitcheson college. He has some vague notion of “the two nation theory” (basically, “we are not Indians”) and an even vaguer “respect” for Quaid E Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah and the Allama Iqbal, twin icons of Pakistan’s history. But like his middle class fans, it is a superficial and shallow belief system, with little to show beyond a few empty slogans like “Pakistan first”, “Islamic welfare state” and “we are all Pakistanis now, so we are no longer Punjabis, Sindhis, Pakhtoons or Balochis”. Behind the automatic repetitions of such slogans there does lurk an odor of “one folk, one party, one leader” fascism (as it does behind all crude nationalisms) but this is not to imply that Imran Khan is consciously thinking of leading a fascist takeover of Pakistan. His commitment to some notion of democracy seems genuine enough, though his priority (and this is not unusual among middle class nationalists) is nationalism, not democracy; in a crisis, he can easily convince himself that we may have to kill democracy to save the country. In any case, lacking organization and experience and without a good grasp of actual grass-roots politics, he was easily brushed aside by older established political parties.

Continue reading Imran Khan: the 12th man rises…

Imran Khan Factor

– Pakistani first and last

By: Humayun Gauhar

My last article left me depressed me in the writing of it. I ended by asking: “Is there anything positive?” Yes there are, but they get submerged in the negative that outnumber and outweigh them. It depressed some others too in the reading of it. Unpleasant truths always hurt, and none more so than to their purveyor. It is an unpopular but necessary thing to do if one is to transform negative to positive. Someone has to take the jump: who better than one who can walk the plank. Else it’s betraying a God-given ability. Such abilities come with a purpose. Like Iqbal said: Mujhay hai hukm-e-azan, La Ilaha il Allah –“I have been ordained to speak the Truth: ‘There is no god but God’.”

Those who take unpleasant truths seriously have a chance of correction. Those who take refuge in misplaced patriotism stand still. Instead, they question the truth’s purveyor or take comfort in making comparisons to those worse off. They forget that it is the message that is important, not the messenger. Such people are typical ostriches – if I don’t see something, it doesn’t exist.

Look at the scorecard of the political match in Lahore last Sunday. Winner (by default): Asif Zardari: Loser: Nawaz Sharif. Man of the Match: Imran Khan. ‘The Imran Factor’ has burst into the national political equation and drawing room chatter – positive for many, an unpleasant truth for some. Why? Because whatever his detractors might say, Imran has been telling the truth for 15 years.

Continue reading Imran Khan Factor