“When children start committing suicide, it means we are doing something fundamentally wrong in the society.” ~ Sadhguru
Hitchhiking a few months ago from Europe to Pakistan, I stopped in Tbilisi — the capital of Georgia — where I met two Chinese travellers in the hostel I booked myself in.
The duo could barely contain their excitement when I told them I was from Pakistan. We conversed about everything under the sun — our trips, future plans, and of course, the friendly relations between Pakistan and China.
And so, predictably, we came to a point where we decided to visit each other’s country.
I was, however, disappointed to learn that my Chinese friends could not visit Pakistan because in order to acquire a tourist visa, they needed an invitation from a travel agent in Pakistan. To top this, they were required to pay a sum of $300 for the invite.
“What sort of friendship is this? Where you can’t even allow your friends into your country without such an exorbitant amount and a sponsor?” remarked my Chinese friends.
Embarrassed, I checked the website of the Pakistani Embassy in Beijing which said, Pakistan Embassy does not receive any visa and processing fee from Chinese nationals”.
Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1236765/
Pakistani poet and author Fatima Bhutto responds to President Obama’s speech announcing the death of Osama bin Laden, arguing that Obama appeared to ignore suffering caused by America’s ongoing war on terrorism. “In perhaps the grossest pronouncement of triumphalism,” says Bhutto, “we were told that we were either with President Obama in celebratory euphoria, or not.”
In the Opening Address at the 2011 Sydney Writers Festival, Fatima Bhutto, scion of the Pakistani political dynasty, addresses the current state of her country. Her talk focuses on Pakistan’s love/hate relationship with the United States and, in this way, reminds us of their parallel “nervous breakdowns.”
Pakistan is, at once, a country plagued by natural disasters, endemic political corruption, religious fundamentalism and is claimed by many to be the central headquarters of Islamist terrorism. Bhutto sees this condition Pakistan suffers as a plain result of crippling conspiracy-theorizing and manifesting as paranoiac nuclear armament.
But Bhutto finds not all the fault lies at home. She speaks to the West’s hypocrisy with regards to its aggressive “freedom fighting”, including its ever-mounting use of Drone strikes under Obama’s presidency and the civilian casualties which are beyond measure. – Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Fatima Bhutto is an Afghan-born Pakistani poet and writer. She studied at Columbia University and the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. Bhutto is the granddaughter of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and niece of Benazir Bhutto. She graduated from Columbia University in 2004, majoring in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, and from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in 2005 with a Masters in South Asian Government and Politics. Her books include Whispers of the Desert, 8.50 am 8 October 2005 and, most recently, Songs of Blood and Sword. She is a regular contributor to the New Statesman, The Daily Beast and The Guardian. For More details, please click this link » Youtube
By Ayaz Amir
The beliefs I grew up with lie exhausted if not dead. The world has moved on. We grew up in a different world and this world, the one around us, has altogether different landmarks.
Guys like me, fed on a diet of half-baked and little-understood Bolshevism, pined for some kind of a socialist utopia. ‘The East was Red’ was one of our favourite slogans and we stirred to such symbols as Che Guevara’s cigar-chomping photographs. Imperialism was a term much in vogue in our discussions and images of the Vietnam War moved us greatly – which should give you an idea of how antiquated and long-gone-by that world was.
With those beliefs gone all that people of my type are left with are their prejudices…quirky humours, old-fashioned likes and dislikes. I hate the mayhem on our roads caused by the proliferation of motor cars. And Centaurus shopping – to which my daughter dragged me the other evening because she wanted to get something from the Mango store there – comes close to my vision of hell.
My vision of hell is not of hell-fire. It is of a place choked by motorcars, rickshaws and motorbikes, the air thick with exhaust fumes and of pavements run over by cheap merchandise. Some weeks ago I walked down Shah Alam Market in Lahore. Wrestled through would be the more apt description. Before that I had driven through Brandreth Road where the merchants park their cars three abreast in front of their shops. Imagine what is left of the road. That road and Shah Alam Market in rush hour would be anyone’s idea of hell. All our inner cities are now like that.
Bhabra Bazar in Rawalpindi is where I occasionally go to pick up the odd candlestick, silver serving dishes, brass lamps…things like that. From there I walked to City Saddar Road and back. It was a nightmare, a walk through the suburbia of hell.
Our inner cities, the old quarters of all our cities from Peshawar to Multan, and from there to inner Sindh, could have been so vibrant, so full of colour and life. We have destroyed them, utterly. And given them over to the unchallenged rule of the Qingchi rickshaw and the Chinese-made motorbike, on which three passengers or four or even five is the norm.
Our cities large and small are spreading horizontally, devouring agricultural land. Look at advertising…the biggest ads are of housing colonies and apartment blocks. Looking at them you could be forgiven for thinking that the only happening enterprise in Pakistan is real estate…or the next best thing, shaadi or wedding halls.
Look at Islamabad. The only place in that growing expanse of a capital, its sides now bursting and spreading in all directions, is one tiny market, Kohsaar Market. There you have two or three places where you can have a cup of coffee…and sit outside a la Paris or something similar. No place to sit outside in Super Market, none whatsoever in Jinnah Super Market.
Read more » The News
See more » http://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/85649-Alone-with-ones-prejudices
SINDH – KARACHI: What the Sindh government could not do with all its resources and powers, a few concerned individuals have managed to accomplish with a little spark of ingenuity and the help of modern technology.
The campaign against ‘ghost teachers’ that has gone viral on Facebook since it started last month has sparked a kind of revolution in the provincial education sector. The campaign has by now exposed hundreds of prominent figures, including journalists, political and social activists and nationalists who were drawing salaries from public schools but never bothered to attend even once.
The major focus of the campaign was on those affiliated with the media. TV channel and newspaper owners were urged to take action against such journalists who were ruining the futures of hundreds of children.
A month on, the campaign has attracted the attention of almost 30 groups of individuals who collect data, including pictures of ‘ghost teachers’ from different areas and share the information on the page under the inscription, ‘He is also a ghost teacher’. The data is then viewed and shared by those subscribed to the page. The remarkable success of the campaign can be gauged from the fact that people from all over Sindh have started posting information on ‘ghost teachers’ on the page.
With the exception of a few, most of the ‘ghost teachers’ are male. They are individuals who are quite prominent in their professions. Interestingly, the moderators of the page claim that the number of female ghost teachers is far higher than their male counterparts.
The profiles are shared from one person to another, and within hours, the accused inevitably finds out that they have been identified. Below the profiles follow a string of comments from users, urging the person to do justice to the profession. The comments are shaming, with the users having carefully picked their words to touch a nerve. ‘Go ghost go’, ‘Don’t destroy the future of our children’ and ‘You are not from among us’ are some of the popular messages to the ghost teachers.
“The first rally for education started in 2012 from Mithi,” recalled one of the senior campaigners, Liaquat Mirani. He is a teacher at a private school and has been threatened several times to stop the campaign. “The campaign has somewhat achieved what millions of rupees spent by the government and donor agencies could not do,” he said, adding that several teachers have started joining their duties after the drive was launched on the social media. “It is a social media revolution.”
Mirani is one of the campaigners who directly shares posts regarding ghost teachers on his personal Facebook profile. He has also asked others to come forward and help him point out those who cheat the nation.
Suhail Memon, who is himself a journalist, is among those who expose ghost teachers on social media. Speaking to The Express Tribune, Memon said that around 40,000 people have been declared ‘ghost teachers’ by the provincial government. “We are also collecting data of how many ghost teachers have been identified on our pages,” he explained.
What they hope to achieve
“Believe me, no one will dare to be absent from schools in the future,” he said. “There will be no compromise on education.” Memon added that the bhatta in the form of salaries taken from the government will not be tolerated. Social media had become the most powerful tool of information in the world. “Its impact is being felt in Sindh now.”
One of the individual campaigners, Shahnawaz Mandhro, remarked that the response was tremendous. “Common people whose complaints were not being entertained by the education department now contact us and share information on ghost teachers,” he said. “The school from where I got my primary education is now closed. It pains me that there is no mechanism to make schools functional again,” he commented.
Interestingly, the provincial education department has requested campaigners to share data with the department, with the promise that guilty teachers would be removed from their jobs after proper scrutiny.
Courtesy: The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2014.
Read more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/793902/no-more-ghosts-facebook-campaign-sparks-revolution-in-education-sector/
By: Anwar Iqbal
He is gone, disappeared among the waves. And I am looking for him. Has he disappeared though? He may have gone to another beach, perhaps on the West Coast, away from Hurricane Sandy.
Moving from one place to another was never a problem for him. He lived out of his suitcase, rather a large bag that he carried with him. He ate little, morsels of bread with coffee in the morning and some bread, with coffee and cheese at night. And he carried these with him too.
I met him at Ocean City, Maryland, where I also watched him playing his guitar. He played well. So when the session ended, he collected about $30, put his guitar back in its case and said: “Enough for the dinner and tomorrow’s breakfast. Now I will go back to the waves, they are calling me.”
His name was Johnnie, Johnnie what, he never told me but he did tell me that he was a Vietnam veteran. I met him on the beach when one of my sons wandered away. He saw him far from us, brought him back and said: “You are from India, right? I know you people, you believe this country is crime free, so you let your children wander away. Let me tell you, it is not crime free. He can be kidnapped from anywhere.”
I told him I was from Pakistan, not India, thanked him and offered him a sandwich. He accepted the offer but put two sandwiches in his bag and said “This means less work and more time for the waves.”
He then said he only works to make enough for breakfast and dinner and never eats lunch. “And who pays your bills?” I asked. “No bills, I do not own or rent anything.”
He said he had a friend in Ocean City, and was living in his basement. But there are places where he does not have a friend and in such places, he has to work a little more to pay for sleeping somewhere. For him working a little more is playing his guitar a little more.
We became friends when I told him I was a war correspondent. “In Vietnam?” he asked. “No, in Afghanistan, during the Soviet occupation,” I said. “Do you sing?” he asked. “No,” I said. “Then what do you do? Those who have seen wars always do something other than what they do for a living, like singing, painting, writing poetry,” he explained.
I said I love poetry. Although I am not a poet, I do sometimes write a little poem. He asked me to read a poem about my war experience. I said I did not have one with me but I had one about terrorism in my cell phone and could read it out for him. He agreed.
“No, no, this is not how it happens, when crops of pain are reaped. Nobody beats drums, when village youths return home in body bags. Women do not dance, people mourn, they do not rejoice,” I read the poem.
“Their coffins are brought home, drenched in tears. No, no, this is not how it happens. You cannot sow seeds of hate and hope for flowers. When a storm lands, when a fire rages, homes burn, people cry. They do not rejoice, cities of pain do not thrive, flowers do not grow in fields of hate. No, no, this is not how it happens,” I finished.
He asked me if I wrote it in English. I said no, in my language, Urdu. He copied the English version in his diary and then asked me to recite some lines in Urdu. I did. He noted them too.
“You gave me a lot of work,” he said and disappeared.
Are these the words of the all powerful …
Rajiv Chandrashekaran’s new book (which I have not yet read, but have seen some excerpts and discussions on TV) seems to confirm that higher management levels of the US government are indeed seriously broken.
Breaking my recent moratorium on comments about subjects that I do not know very well, I will take this opportunity to burnish my Cassandra credentials. I have been saying for years that Amrika bahadur’s blundering effort in Afghanistan (especially above the military unit level…where the US army is second to none) are overflowing with so much fraud, chicanery and incompetence that if the American taxpayers knew about it even they would be shocked. Whatever the accuracy of various claims and whatever the bias introduced by Chandrashekaran’s liberal education or Washington Post insider status, the book does remind us that America is not really the evil superpower of Jihadi (or Hindutvadi for that matter) myth. Its a superpower closer to what William Burroughs may have imagined. Small men doing petty things and scared of being overshadowed or outfoxed by other small men..and wasting taxpayer money like there is no tomorrow.
Of course, to avoid any accidental identification with the Tariq Ali brigade, I would add that I am very well aware of the fact that the small men running Russia are ten times more thuggish, the ones in China are 8 times more corrupt and the ones in Pakistan, well, better left unsaid. ….
Read more » Brown Pundits
Via – Twitter
“The day will come when men will recognize woman as his peer, not only at the fireside, but in councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race. ” -Susan B. Anthony
“Men rule because women let them. Male misogyny is real enough, and it has dreadful consequences, but female misogyny is what keeps women out of power.” – Germaine Greer
There is a tendency to compare women with snails. Some people in UK say, ‘A snail could crawl the entire length of the Great Wall of China in 212 years, just slightly longer than the 200 years it will take for women to be equally represented in Parliament.’ Women are not like snails. But male-dominated systems try to make them like snails.
Today women constitute 19 percent of the members of parliaments around the world. Women have been deprived of equal access to education, health care, capital,decision making powers in the political, social, and business sectors only because they are women. The number of women in politics is now growing but the speed is very slow. But we need a gender balance in political institutions. The introduction of quota systems for women represents a qualitative jump into a policy of exact goals. Many people are against quotas for women. But there are many people who believe that:
By: Amar Jalil
Sufism (Sindhiyat) is neither a religion, nor it is a doctrine, a myth, a cult, or dogma. Sufism can neither be taught, nor it can be explained in concrete terms. Like fragrance Sufism is felt. It surrounds. It overwhelms. It encompasses us in serenity. Sufism Touches inner cords of our existence . It ultimately liberates human to embark upon his/her search for ultimate truth.
Courtesy: adopted from Facebook wall
Can Liberal Democracy Survive the Decline of the Middle Class?
Stagnating wages and growing inequality will soon threaten the stability of contemporary liberal democracies and dethrone democratic ideology as it is now understood. What is needed is a new populist ideology that offers a realistic path to healthy middle-class societies and robust democracies.
Something strange is going on in the world today. The global financial crisis that began in 2008 and the ongoing crisis of the euro are both products of the model of lightly regulated financial capitalism that emerged over the past three decades. Yet despite widespread anger at Wall Street bailouts, there has been no great upsurge of left-wing American populism in response. It is conceivable that the Occupy Wall Street movement will gain traction, but the most dynamic recent populist movement to date has been the right-wing Tea Party, whose main target is the regulatory state that seeks to protect ordinary people from financial speculators. Something similar is true in Europe as well, where the left is anemic and right-wing populist parties are on the move.
There are several reasons for this lack of left-wing mobilization, but chief among them is a failure in the realm of ideas. For the past generation, the ideological high ground on economic issues has been held by a libertarian right. The left has not been able to make a plausible case for an agenda other than a return to an unaffordable form of old-fashioned social democracy. This absence of a plausible progressive counternarrative is unhealthy, because competition is good for intellectual debate just as it is for economic activity. And serious intellectual debate is urgently needed, since the current form of globalized capitalism is eroding the middle-class social base on which liberal democracy rests.
THE DEMOCRATIC WAVE
Social forces and conditions do not simply “determine” ideologies, as Karl Marx once maintained, but ideas do not become powerful unless they speak to the concerns of large numbers of ordinary people. Liberal democracy is the default ideology around much of the world today in part because it responds to and is facilitated by certain socioeconomic structures. Changes in those structures may have ideological consequences, just as ideological changes may have socioeconomic consequences…
Read more »Foreign Affairs
Marxist political advice and its discontents
By Omar Ali
Professor Vijay Prashad is the George and Martha Kellner professor of history at Trinity college. He is also a prominent left wing activist. The two roles have different requirements. Here he tries to bridge the gap.
Someone had commented on 3quarksdaily.com that this is “Another bucketload of gormless Marxist verbiage around a central anti-semitic core: forget the mountains of corpses and the decades of torture and oppression – Assad’s main crime is defined as “neoliberalism … and a practice of accommodation with both the US and Israel.”
That triggered the following comment (i have edited the original slightly for clarity) from me: The real problem with neomarxist verbiage is not double standards or selective outrage, its the unbridgeable gap between being a professor and being an actor on the ground in a civil war in a faraway country.
Vijay Prashad as a professor in a first world University may eventually contribute to changing the way X or Y issue is framed in the mind of the elite, and that in turn will eventually have some impact somewhere in actual daily politics and political struggles but those are big “eventually-s”. Some professors are OK with that and focus on doing their research and writing their books and teaching their students in the hope that their analysis will eventually “trickle down”. But that (for obvious reasons) is not very satisfying for most of us. Hence the need to suggest practical courses of action in today’s clash, to pick sides, to “organize a relief column”. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your estimate of said professor’s wisdom and insight) this aspect of a professor’s work has near-zero real world relevance.
I don’t know how to fix this problem, but it does seem to be a real problem. Most right wingers are almost by definition closer to the ruling elites so maybe they dont feel the pain as much, but left wing professors are in a painful bind here..to have no opinion on proximate politics and wars seems silly, but to have an opinion that arises logically from their theoretical framework is frequently sillier, and any honest and good man may end up in Professor Prashad’s position. Its a real dilemma.
In an attempt to pre-empt misunderstandings, let me add:
1. My question is not about the details of his analysis.
2. Its about this scenario. Lets say Vijay is Vladimir Lenin. Well, in that case he is not only a theoretician (though he would like to believe that his superior understanding of theory informs his practice), he is an organizer, a rebel, a leader, a politician with day to day decision to make. Very fine nuances and very involved calculations will come into play. Many of those calculations will be very cynical. All of them will be locally bound by existing circumstances. Theory will have to give way again and again. But Vijay (probably not even in his own mind, but I don’t know him personally, so I cannot say for sure) is not Lenin. He is a professor. He does research, he writes books. He has theories. And he is part of a broader left wing academic current that has its own internal dynamics very far from the ground in Syria. I am saying I don’t expect him to say things that are too useful as guides to action.
3. What do you think?
Courtesy: Brown Pundits
By Batool Zehra
KARACHI: Our Lady of Alice Bhatti may be Mohammed Hanif’s latest novel, but A Case of Exploding Mangoes is still what gets him all the attention. On the first day of the third annual Karachi Literature Festival on Saturday, “the rockstar of Pakistani literature” as moderator Bina Shah described him, faced a hall packed with fans, hanging on to every word of his witty, self-deprecating humour.
Read more: The Express Tribune, February 12th, 2012
Jan Švankmajer born 4th September 1934 is a Czech surrealist artist and filmmaker. His work spans several media. He is known for his surreal animations and features, which have greatly influenced other artists such as Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam, the Brothers Quay, and many others.
I gave a talk called ‘Beyond the sacred’, on the changing character of ideas of the sacred and of blasphemy, at a conference on blasphemy organised this weekend by the Centre for Inquiry at London’s Conway Hall on Saturday. Here is a transcript. To talk about blasphemy is also to talk about the idea of the sacred. To see something as blasphemous is to see it in some way as violating a sacred space. In recent years, both the notion of blasphemy and that of the sacred have transformed. What I want to explore here is the nature of that transformation, and what it means for free speech.
For believers, the idea of the sacred is key to moral life. ….
Read more » Kenan Malik
Haqqani vision of a tolerant nation integrated into the world community aligns with Pakistani and US interests
By Farahnaz Ispahani
As US-Pakistani relations plunge to new depths, Americans need to look beyond media reports on tactical issues such as aid and counterterrorism. The direction Pakistan takes will be of great strategic significance to the world.
The manner in which my husband, former Pakistani ambassador Hussain Haqqani, is being treated in our homeland reflects the shrinking political space ….
Read more » gulfnews.com
The Historic Task of the Pakistani Bourgeoisie
by Omar Ali
“In order to lay the material foundation of socialism, the bourgeois democratic revolution had to be completed.”
This sort of sentence could be heard in tea shops in Pakistan 50 years ago but now that the task is almost complete (OK, not exactly, since the bourgeoisie has had to use the military academy rather than the universities to carry out its great aims, but why quibble over mere details?) the phrase “historic task of the bourgeoisie” is now available to us to be reused in some new context. I propose one here: the historic task of the Pakistani bourgeoisie today is to defang the two-nation theory (TNT). You may complain “how the mighty have fallen”, but I am serious. The military academy being what it is, it has built up the modern Pakistani nation state based on an intellectually limited and dangerously confrontational theory of nationalism. The charter state of the Pakistani bourgeoisie is the Delhi Sultanate, but that conception lacks sufficient connection with either history or geography. Bangladesh opted out of this inadequate theory within 25 years, though its trouble may not be over yet. West Pakistan, now renamed “Pakistan” to obviate the memory of past losses, is now a geographically and economically viable nation state, but the military has failed to update the TNT and in fact, made a rather determined effort to complete the project using “militant proxies” in the 1990s. That project suffered a setback after Western imperialism (aka the military’s old paymasters) announced that free-lance Islamist militias were to be terminated with extreme prejudice. Somewhat to the surprise of the state department, the Pakistani elite seems to have taken its TNT commitment seriously enough to try and retain some militant options even while accepting “aid” to assist in their elimination. But these are temporary setbacks. The ideology in question is not compatible with regional peace or global capitalism and needs to be updated and brought in line with current requirements. This is now the great task of our under-prepared bourgeoisie. …
Read more » 3quarksDaily
By Khalid Hashmani
As relationship between Pakistan and the USA moves downwards, Washington DC is once again seeing a flurry of seminars, discussions and briefings organized by various Think-tank and academic institutions. One such event was focused on astonishing expansion of Karachi. The event was inspired by a recent book called “Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi” written by Steve Inskeep of NPR’s Morning Edition. Using this book as a backdrop, Global Economy and Development and Metropolitan Policy at Brookings Institution organized a discussion on November 29 with Steve Inskeep. Other panelists included Stephen Cohen, Alan Berube, and Shuja Nawaz. Johannes Linn moderated the discussion. One highlight of the discussion was a rebuttal by a Sindhi-American that “Karachi is the heart of Sindh and Sindhis will never allow separation of Karachi from Sindh” when panelist Shuja Nawaz stated that a proposal to make Karachi as a separate province along with creating other provinces. (Full audio and details at http://www.brookings.edu/events/2011/1129_instant_city.aspx).
Karachi could lead growth of Pakistan
Steve Inskeep, a reporter for more than twenty years has been a frequent visitor to Karachi and other parts of South Asia. His interest in Karachi intensified after he attended the trial of killers of journalist Daniel Pearl in the city. In 1947, Karachi’s population was only 400,000 lived in Karachi; most of who proudly identified themselves as Sindhis. The UN population figures show Karachi’s population to be around 13.1 million. The population growth has been astonishingly high with migrants coming from other provinces and neighboring countries. Every imaginable problem of instant urbanization can be seen in Karachi. Steve gave an example of person who migrated from Swat some years ago. Originally, he came to Karachi for better education but ended up opening an import-export wholesale business. The rampant corruption touches every aspect of life. A place where already rich politicians, political parties, military and civilian officials, and gangsters become super rich by using their influence to take over large pieces of land including parks, schools, playgrounds, or any land or condemned building and then sell the land in small parcels at huge profits. A city that has become as ungovernable as the central government and sees constant interference from Pakistan’s military and other semi-organized groups. Unlike other mega cities in India like Mumbai where economic growth is impressive, Karachi remains stagnated under the weight of unhealthy competitive interests, ethnic rivalries, and religious differences. In concluding his presentation, Steve said if there is a way that Pakistan could get back to the path of economic growth, Karachi will lead the way that growth. In an answer to a question, Steve talked about Karachi could follow the footsteps of Hong Kong and become a big commercial center in South Asia if Pakistan gets its act together and manages its relationship with India more cooperatively.
In some ways Karachi-Sindh is like Los Angles and New York
– The village was small and the entire community was tied together like a family, with common cultural values and traditions evolved over hundreds, if not thousands of years. They were farmers and knew very well as to how to work in the fields and love and sing together, but had poor understanding of the political realities of their times.
One day, they saw the sunset as one community but at the dawn, realized that the village is divided by an invisible line created not by Hindus and Muslims, but by few British advisors called Radcliffe commission. And so was the territory of 88 million people of the subcontinent. ….
Read more » ValueVersity
We are asking everyone to come out and demonstrate Saturday, to bring friends, relatives, workmates, and everyone who cares about democracy and the objectives of the Occupy Movement, which is to oppose the gross wealth being accumulated by the rich and powerful 1% at the expense of the 99% – the rest of the population whose wages and incomes have fallen dramatically, many of whom are unemployed and under-employed, many of whom are poor and very poor, and many more who are youth and whose lives and futures have been dramatically altered by the insatiable greed of the most powerful corporations and the richest people in the world.
Join the rally at the corner of Jarvis and King at 1:30 pm, Saturday, to march & distribute People’s Voice, and our statement in support of the Occupy movement.
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org to help, or for more info.
Comradely and in Solidarity!
– by Omar Ali
Pakistan’s predicament continues to draw comment from all over the world; in the Western (and Westoxicated Eastern) Left, the narrative remains straightforward(to such a degree that one is tempted to share an essay by Trotsky that Tariq Ali may have missed): US imperialism is to blame. In this story, US imperialism “used” poor helpless clueless Pakistan for its own evil ends, then “abandoned” them (it’s very bad when the imperialists go into a third world country, it’s also very bad when they leave) and they have now returned to finish off the job. I have written in the past about my disagreements with this Eurocentric and softly racist narrative and have little to add to it. In any case, no one in authority in either the imperialist powers or Pakistan is paying too much attention to the Guardian or the further reaches of the Left. But even among those who matter (for better and for worse), there seems to be no agreement about what is going on and what comes next. Everyone has their theories, ranging from “lets attack Pakistan” to “let’s throw more money at them” and everything in between. I don’t know what comes next eith
er, but I have been thinking for a few days about an outcome that many in the Pakistani pro-military webring think is around the corner: What if we win?
The fact that the US/NATO are in trouble in Afghanistan is no longer news. The fact that Pakistan is about to “win” may not be as obvious to many outsiders (or even to many Pakistanis). but “strategic victory” in Afghanistan is now taken for granted by the Paknationalists. And one should take them seriously, since their theories are not only a product of GHQ, they are also the basis GHQ’s own decision making. The circle goes like this: psyops operators create the theory in the morning. It’s taken up by the paknationalist media through the day and is on GEO TV by nightfall. The generals hear it on the evening news and excitedly call up their friends: did you see what everyone is saying!
– What does it mean for Pakistan to “win” in Afghanistan?
Most of my Pakistani friends think it’s a zero-sum game: what is bad for the US is good for Pakistan. Though some analysts have attempted warn that it may not be a glorious victory, but this kind of “negative thinking” is not the dominant mode in Pakistan. Even Pakistanis who expect some trouble are generally happy with the thought that the Americans will be escaping from the Kabul embassy hanging on to rope ladders. I disagree, and I disagree because I think that this defeat will not be fatal for the US, but it is very likely to be terrible for Pakistan. The US, while chastened and shocked (as after Vietnam?) will not be seriously wounded by defeat in Afghanistan; What happens to the economy at home will be far more critical than what happens in Afghanistan and Pakistan, neither of which have a big role in the economy, and the role they do have is entirely negative. The US will be better off getting out of Afghanistan. Pakistan will not escape that lightly.
First some clarifications: I am not talking about loss of US aid or the loss of vast sums of money that the US pays Pakistani contractors for supplying and sustaining their mission in Afghanistan. First of all, the US and NATO will need Pakistani help to get out safely and may pay more in defeat than they ever did in “victory”. And even when the taps are eventually turned off, the stoppage of US aid is not necessarily fatal. It’s a 200 billion dollar economy and while the poor may suffer some more as the upper classes squeeze them harder to make up for lost dollars, life is likely to go on. Severe sanctions are a more serious issue, but it’s possible that China can prevent those. There will, of course, be the inevitable military coup (most likely a “hidden” one, in which a civilian caretaker regime is installed by the army) and that will itself lead to a temporary improvement in administration in the core region; In short, all will not be doom and gloom if the Western tap does get turned off, especially if the turning off is gradual and if China can be convinced to help the upper classes out a little more. The real problems will lie elsewhere.
First of all, this “victory” will not lead to instant peace in Afghanistan. Even the paknationalists think Afghanistan will erupt in open civil war. Naturally, that’s a war they expect “their side” to win, but keep in mind that the Taliban, with full Pakistani support and little overt intervention on the other side, still could not conquer all of Afghanistan prior to 2001. After 10 years of western support, and with Iran, India and Russia already working on future scenarios, it is hard to see how the Taliban could easily roll back into Northern or Western Afghanistan. The civil war in Afghanistan will not be brief or decisive, and it will suck Pakistan into all kinds of trouble. Even in the best case scenario, it will be very tough. In the worst case scenario, Pakistan may collapse before the last American takes off from the embassy roof. The risks in case of “victory” are enormous.
Secondly, the jihadis will want their peace dividend within Pakistan too. Imran Khan and his admirers are waiting for the day when the Americans leave and we can talk to “our people” as brothers, but the brothers are not just fighting for America to leave.
They had an agenda before America arrived in 2001 and they have not given up on it. Neither have their friends in the security services. The jihadi faction of the deep state did not train half a million jihadis just to needle India. Pakistan itself will have to be cleansed of undesirables. The first in line will excite little sympathy; Zardari’s cronies, ANP diehards and Baloch nationalists will be “sorted out” soon after the coup, to cheers from Imran Khan supporters wearng Microsoft T-shirts. Neither will the Ahmedis get much sympathy. But the Salafists will not spare Shias and that will mean problems with Iran and with the remaining Shia population within Pakistan. Next the westernized elite will be asked to join the glorious Islamic revolution. Most will choose to accept and may even think that the jihadis are only looking for public expressions of piety, but they will soon find out that the Jihadis are serious. And that they had no idea what was cooking under the radar in half a million madrasahs and an impoverished, disenfranchised and much abused population of desperately poor people. While the burger-jihadis are working on their Microsoft certification and jerking off to Imran Khan and Shahid Afridi speeches on youtube, the rest of the country has neither water, not electricity nor basic law and order. The revolution will not stop at public piety. Until one day, the red death will reach the innermost sanctum: GHQ itself will be invited to reform. At that point, as defense housing society plots are redistributed, the victory will become very bittersweet indeed.
Does this mean that the ruling elite in Pakistan will in fact bite the bullet and help the US out just to save themselves? After all, the US intervention did provide the elite with a chance to give up their dangerous jihadi policy and switch to some alternative route to capitalism. But in spite of Chinese hints that they may be better off taking this road, the “Indian threat” meme has overwhelmed all other considerations and they do not seem to possess the vocabulary to try anything different. Revising their strategic doctrine may have seemed logical, but that logic has not made it past their mental defenses. This is a genuine mess. The kind where nobody is sure what will happen next.
A joke from the nineties (originally a Khalsa joke, but recycled and put to many uses since then) suddenly seems prescient; Prime minister Nawaz Sharif in those days was portrayed as something of a simpleton, getting by on the advice of his shrewd father (Abba ji). Here is the joke:
Nawaz Sharif: Abba ji, the economy is in terrible shape and nothing is working. What can we do now?
Abba ji: Son, there is only one solution. Start a war with America. They will bomb the country and utterly destroy it. Then they will occupy us and launch a Marshall plan and we will be rebuilt with their money. Look how rich Japan and Germany have become after losing a war to America.
Nawaz Sharif: But Abba ji, what if we win?
But maybe I am underestimating the corrupt but shrewd ruling elite. Maybe they have enough self-awareness to sneak out of this one? Notice that Pakistan is opening up trade with India. We delayed an American victory in Afghanistan for 10 years because we don’t want Indian influence in Afghanistan. We don’t want Indian influence in Afghanistan because the Indians are our eternal enemies. Now the Americans are threatening us, so we are going to make peace with India to relieve pressure on the economy. When we are friends with India, will we still need to deny them “influence” in Afghanistan? Enquiring minds want to know…
These thoughts about the possible shrewdness of the corrupt elite were rudely interrupted by the following post on the paknationalist webring:http://www.pakistankakhudahafiz.com/2011/10/02/2012-a-scientific-look-at-the-importance-of-the-year-2012-in-view-of-the-historic-events/#comment-124549. This is not a conspiracy site in some basement in Louisiana. This is the site closest to the mindset of our esteemed military elite and the “scientist” being quoted is one of Pakistan’s “nuclear heroes”. Hope may be premature.
Courtesy » Brown Pundits
– A tale of two societies – Dr Haider Shah
Incidents of cruelty and inhumanity occur all over the world. What is worrying in our case is the lack of social interest in following up such stories and making sure that the perpetrators are brought to book and the victims receive justice …
Read more » Daily Times
Book Review: Inside the Pakistan Army: A Woman’s Experience on the Frontline of the War on Terror
by Aparna Pande, Research Fellow, Hudson Institute
…. For any embedded analysis, of the type attempted by Ms. Schofield, the researcher must know enough about the culture, language, history and politics of the country to distinguish plausible perspectives from mere propaganda. Otherwise you end up with simply portraying what the propaganda machine asks you to do, taking away any shred of credibility. It would be akin to writing on the Soviet army during the time of the Soviet Union but under the guidance of the Soviets. Interestingly, Carey Schofield has done that too, and with little impact. Her latest book is not an academic work on the Pakistani army, but a long press release written by a foreigner.
To read complete article → Huffingtonpost
by John Reiman
There will be no breaking the power of the “feudals” in Pakistan, no equality for women in Afghanistan, no establishment of stable democracy in Egypt, no resolving the tribal conflicts in Africa, and no salvation for the 15 million children who die of hunger every year on the basis of capitalism
As they did in the 1950s, once again, the winds of revolution are sweeping the former colonial world. This time, however, these winds are mixed with those of counter-revolution also, and this complication is partly a result of the failure of the previous period to resolve the problems in that part of the world. ….
Read more → ViewPoint
My Life as a Daughter in the Christian Patriarchy Movement — How I Was Taught to Obey Men, Birth 8 Kids and Do Battle Against Secular America
We were raised to fight the enemy, be it Satan or environmentalists and feminists; to come against them in spiritual warfare and at the polls.
By Libby Anne
Deep within America, beyond your typical evangelicals and run of the mill fundamentalists, nurtured within the homeschool movement and growing by the day, are the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements. This is where I grew up.
I learned that women are to be homemakers while men are to be protectors and providers. I was taught that a woman should not have a career, but should rather keep the home and raise the children and submit to her husband, who was her god-given head and authority. I learned that homeschooling is the only godly way to raise children, because to send them to public school is to turn a child over to the government and the secular humanists. I was taught that children must be trained up in the way they should go every minute of every day. I learned that a woman is always under male authority, first her father, then her husband, and perhaps, someday, her son. I was told that children are always a blessing, and that it was imperative to raise up quivers full of warriors for Christ, equipped to take back the culture and restore it to its Christian foundations. …
Read more → butterfliesandwheels
via → AlterNet
The language of the video clip is urdu (Hindi)?
Courtesy: → Duniya News Tv with Hasan Nisar → YouTube
“The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. Instead of altering their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views… which can be very uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that need altering.” –Dr Who
How true is the above quote in regard to prevailing fascist mindset deep rooted in Pakistani society. Yes, fascist tendencies could be found in any society. These are however fringed and alienated from mainstream. Besides, the state, law of land and society itself always remains vigilant about the activities of such fringed elements and never allow them to impose their views on others by use of any coercive tool. It is so because civilized societies are fully aware of the potential of this threat. They have observed and experienced the devastation done by fascist approaches for entire humanity and especially, for the societies that perpetuate such tendencies.
However, the case of Pakistan society vis-à-vis fascism is all together different. Here, fascism is not an isolated phenomenon. Instead, a significant chunk of the entire population including the majority of the urban middle class is now fully inflicted with this disease. The rests are also drifting towards this trend with an unchecked and alarming pace. The urban youth, belonging to upper and lower middle class has developed themselves as brainless zombies, devoid of any reasoning and logic. Their thought patrons are amazingly indistinguishable from each other. Yes, their looks and life style could be different. But they are all equipped with same set of absurd conspiracy theories with an extremely narrow and dangerous worldview. …
Read more → ViewPoint