Afghanistan and our future

By Shafqat Mahmood

The Taliban are crumbling faster than cardboard shanties in the path of a storm. Promises of fierce ground battles, that churned the blood of many a chest thumper in Pakistan, are now drifting helplessly in the dust laden Afghan wind. It is not over yet, not by a long shot, but what remains is a mopping up operation. Scattered over rural Afghanistan, the Taliban residue and their foreign volunteers will be picked off slowly but surely.

It is sad in a way although I have no love for the Taliban or what they stood for. Much of this could have been avoided if they were less cocky or more rational or more ready to be a part of the world. If they were all these things, though, they would not be Taliban. People who are ready to blow up ancient Buddhist statutes because they are idols or whip women because their ankles are showing or force every man to keep a six-inch long beard, do not live in the same world as you and I.

A particularly poignant moment for me as Kabul fell, was the playing of music from a truck mounted loudspeaker. If the ordinary and trivial becomes special and significant, there is something terribly wrong with the world. And there was a lot wrong with the Taliban’s world. The image of young Afghans queuing up to get their beards trimmed makes this point more eloquently than a thousand or a million words.

The liberators of Kabul are not the Dad’s Army either. Within their ranks are some of the most blood thirsty tyrants ever encountered in the tragic Afghan history. Yet it is a sign of the times that many ordinary Afghans let out a collective sigh of relief when the Taliban departed. So let no one mourn the Taliban. They are not synonymous with the Afghans. They were freaks of history and will hopefully be consigned to that special place where other such oddities are kept.

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Imran holds Altaf ‘directly responsible’ for Zarah’s killing

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LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf Chief Imran Khan Sunday strongly condemning the killing of PTI Sindh Vice President Zarah Shahid Hussain in Karachi said that he is “shocked” and “deeply saddened”.

On his Twitter account, Imran Khan wrote “I am shocked & deeply saddened by the brutal killing of Zara Shahid Hussain, Zara apa to us, in Karachi tonite. A targeted act of terror!”

He held Altaf Hussain “directly responsible” for the murder, saying that the MQM chief had openly threatened the PTI leaders and workers.

“I hold Altaf Hussain directly responsible for the murder as he had openly threatened PTI workers and leaders through public broadcasts.”

He also held British Government responsible in the murder of the PTI Sindh senior vice president, saying that he had already “warned” the British government about Altaf’s “open threats” to kill PTI workers.

“I also hold the British Govt responsible as I had warned them abt Br citizen Altaf Hussain after his open threats to kill PTI workers”, he said.

Addressing the participants of the sit-in in Lahore by telephone, Khan announced that the party would also protest the killing of the woman leader in London.

“You have laid foundation of New Pakistan, be firm as I will announce future course of action today, I congratulate you for fighting for your rights,” Khan, who has been recuperating at the Shaukat Khanam Hospital said.

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The Three Heroines of Guatemala: The Judge, the Attorney General and the Nobel Peace Laureate

Former Guatemalan President Efrain Rios Montt was hauled off to prison last Friday. It was a historic moment, the first time in history that a former leader of a country was tried for genocide in a national court. More than three decades after he seized power in a coup in Guatemala, unleashing a U.S.-backed campaign of slaughter against his own people, the 86-year-old stood trial, charged with genocide and crimes against humanity. He was given an 80-year prison sentence. The case was inspired and pursued by three brave Guatemalan women: the judge, the attorney general and the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

“My brother Patrocinio was burnt to death in the Ixil region. We never found his remains,” Rigoberta Menchu told me after Rios Montt’s verdict was announced. She detailed the systematic slaughter of her family: “As for my mother, we never found her remains, either. … If her remains weren’t eaten by wild animals after having been tortured brutally and humiliated, then her remains are probably in a mass grave close to the Ixil region. … My father was also burned alive in the embassy of Spain [in Guatemala City] on January 30th, 1980.”

Rigoberta Menchu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992, “in recognition of her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples.” She continued telling me about her family’s destruction: “In 1983, my brother Victor Menchu was also shot dead. His wife had her throat slit, and he was fleeing with his three children. Victor was jailed in the little town, but his three children were kept in a military bunker. My two nieces died of hunger in this military base, and my brother Victor was shot. We still have not found his remains.”

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Altaf Hussain’s call for Separation of Karachi – By Saeed Qureshi

The MQM chief Altaf Hussain‘s conditional call for separating Karachi city from Pakistan comes closer to the independence of Singapore from Malaysia in 1965. The Singapore separation from Malaysia that it willingly joined in 1963, was the result of extreme strife, unbridgeable disagreements and ethnic bitterness between the Chinese origin population and the native Malayans mostly Muslims. Is it also the blue print of Jinnahpur that was later swept under the carpet?

Altaf Hussain the fiery and unbridled chief of MQM has enslaved or indoctrinated his Muhajir community, mostly settled in Karachi city after their migration from India in 1947. By his rigid and merciless authoritarianism, instead of integrating, he has isolated his community from the mainstream populace of Pakistan. MQM is basically a movement for the sake of Muhajirs as an ethnic entity and not for the Pakistani nation.

Since its formation in 1984 as Muhajir Qaumi Movement and later renamed as Muttahida Qaumi Movement in 1997, the imprint of MQM in the minds of the people is that of a kind of mafia or an entity of roughnecks or extortionists. It is believed that the special death and terror squads within MQM kill, kidnap and torture their rivals including the critics from within the MQM fold.

There has been also a prevailing impression that has gained ground, that the extortions or the obnoxious “Parchi system” was first started by MQM to raise funds for the organization to become financially robust for carrying out its political and apolitical activities. Undoubtedly Altaf Hussain has proven to be a great and unassailable master and unbending and strict lord of his party.

He can summon the multitudes of Urdu speaking Pakistanis and Muhajirs within a matter of hours and with one call. They all gather at a venue with their heads down and hands motionless unless raised to cheer or clap for the scathing tirade of their great master. They sit rather motionless for hours together listening to his long, dreary and high pitched discourses as if they have been bewitched or mesmerized. There is a gossip that anyone who does not clap or come to the assemblage is dealt with vindictively.

Several pioneering cohorts and companions are alleged to have lost their lives in all these years ostensibly due to their opposition of the ruthless leader with symptoms of indiscretion. Their names are in the public knowledge.

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Pakistan adopts Chinese rival GPS satellite system

BEIJING – Pakistan is set to become the fifth Asian country to use China’s domestic satellite navigation system which was launched as a rival to the US global positioning system, a report said Saturday.

The Beidou, or Compass, system started providing services to civilians in the region in December and is expected to provide global coverage by 2020. It also has military applications.

Thailand, China, Laos and Brunei already use the Chinese system, which currently consists of 16 operational satellites, with 30 more due to join the system, according to English-language China Daily.

Huang Lei, international business director of BDStar Navigation, which promotes Beidou, told the newspaper that the company would build a network of stations in Pakistan to enhance the location accuracy of Beidou. He said building the network would cost tens of millions of dollars.

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