The Not-So-Lone Gunman

By Khaled Ahmed

On Aug. 15, the same day that interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan presented his government’s national-security policy to Parliament, 51-year-old Mohammad Sikandar drove his wife and two children to Islamabad for an hours-long, made-for-TV showdown with police in the middle of the road that leads to Parliament.

Sikandar, the son of a land-records functionary in Hafizabad, Punjab, was armed with a Kalashnikov and a submachine gun. He made his demands—forwarded on a piece of paper by his wife, who was not opposed to what he was doing—known to a police officer. Sikandar called for disbanding the elected government currently in power and for imposing a truly Islamic system on Pakistan. If his demands could not be met, Sikandar said he wished to be killed and buried at sea—like Osama bin Laden.

Semiliterate Sikandar mouthed the myths created by the state of Pakistan back at it. He aped the terrorists at the unconscious level, adopting their appeals to the broken pledges of the ideological state, and clearly embraced the rhetoric of religious parties who accept the status quo with strong, clearly expressed reservations of the “incomplete state.” He also resorted to the line adopted by Al Qaeda after its top leader’s death—and supported by Pakistan—that bin Laden’s murder was wrong. He added to it the universally accepted “truism” in the country that the state of Pakistan is a “slave” of America.

His father-in-law told the media that Sikandar was mentally disturbed—“had psychological problems”—but was not linked to any religious organization. This could be said about most Pakistanis because the collective mind has been molded by the state to justify its stance until it looks abnormal to any objective observer. (An objective observer has to be either a foreigner or a Pakistani who has “sold himself to foreign powers.”)

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The invisible partition of Sindh

By Tahir Mehdi

Are all Pathans stupid? It can’t be. Then why are they normally the butt of every other joke? Is there something sinister behind this stereotyping? Since most of these jokes are community creations, I would rather not look for a ‘well-hatched’ conspiracy theory.

But then why are Pathans portrayed the way they are? I recalled all the Pathans that I have ever interacted with, one by one, from my college days, from my professional life, from my neighborhood, my social circles, Facebook friends. The identification parade told me that some of them did live up to the stereotype, but there is no indication of an abnormally high tendency for joke-worthiness among Pathans.

All communities carry all colors and characteristics, and it is the competing and conflicting interests of various communities that make them exaggerate and twist some of those. I have used this formulation to explain away all the community stereotypes that we frequently encounter. While I still may not mind laughing at a Pathan joke, this explanation helps me guard against letting this fun convert into a discriminatory attitude. But let me admit, that I have struggled with the stereotype of a Sindhi far longer. Are Sindhis docile, smug and the least entrepreneurial people? Most of my friends think so. One joked that if a Sindhi has to go to even the railway station in his hometown, he falls homesick and immediately starts calling himself a pardesi! This proved to be a tough test for my formula to fight off such stereotypes.

I decided to hold an identification parade for all the Sindhis that I had ever interacted with – my college fellows, colleagues, neighbours, friends and all. That’s when I realised all the Sindhis I knew could be counted on the fingers of one hand. Had I not attended a college that had a quota for students from all provinces and areas of Pakistan, I am sure I would have befriended none. I then decided to look into the statistics.

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Bitcoin Boom? US fears digital currency may hit dollar demand

The US is becoming increasingly concerned over virtual currencies, launching broad investigations into Bitcoin and the likes. The online currency has won official recognition with a US federal judge ruling it is real money. A Texas man, being tried for laundering billions of dollars using the Bitcoin system, challenged the court by saying bitcoins were virtual and couldn’t be the basis for a fraud charge. He failed. RT’s Peter Oliver went to meet those who have no doubt bitcoin has real value.

Courtesy: – RT