Tag Archives: Rhetoric

Marx’s Revenge: How Class Struggle Is Shaping the World

Even business journals are recognizing it. Since this piece originates with a business publication, you will obviously find some things that may startle you. If so, disregard..or better, explore and see what the other side thinks. —Eds.

By , Business Time

Or so we thought. With the global economy in a protracted crisis, and workers around the world burdened by joblessness, debt and stagnant incomes, Marx’s biting critique of capitalism — that the system is inherently unjust and self-destructive — cannot be so easily dismissed. Marx theorized that the capitalist system would inevitably impoverish the masses as the world’s wealth became concentrated in the hands of a greedy few, causing economic crises and heightened conflict between the rich and working classes. “Accumulation of wealth at one pole is at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation, at the opposite pole,” Marx wrote.

A growing dossier of evidence suggests that he may have been right. It is sadly all too easy to find statistics that show the rich are getting richer while the middle class and poor are not. A September study from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in Washington noted that the median annual earnings of a full-time, male worker in the U.S. in 2011, at $48,202, were smaller than in 1973. Between 1983 and 2010, 74% of the gains in wealth in the U.S. went to the richest 5%, while the bottom 60% suffered a decline, the EPI calculated. No wonder some have given the 19th century German philosopher a second look. In China, the Marxist country that turned its back on Marx, Yu Rongjun was inspired by world events to pen a musical based on Marx’s classic Das Kapital. “You can find reality matches what is described in the book,” says the playwright.

Continue reading Marx’s Revenge: How Class Struggle Is Shaping the World

Times of troubles

By: Shamshad Ahmad

Looking at the dynamics of contemporary international relations, one is reminded of the ancient Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times,” which could perhaps never have been more relevant than to our times at this critical juncture. We are passing through interesting and critical times which according to the so-called predictions of the Nostradamus Code could also be categorised as “time of troubles.” These are indeed times of trouble. More so for the world’s Muslims now representing more than one fourth of humanity.

Continue reading Times of troubles

Sindh after the ‘Love for Sindh’ rally

By Haider Nizamani

The killing of Sindhi political activists in Karachi on May 22 by masked gunmen laid bare the fault lines that may define the future political landscape of Sindh. That the violence against peaceful demonstrators was not followed by attacks on Urdu speakers in various towns of Sindh shows the perpetrators of violence are still on the fringes.

Politicians issued customary condemnations and formed committees. Some spoke of creating a new province in Sindh, while others vowed never to let that happen. It needs a deeper understanding of the issue by Sindh’s politicians and intelligentsia to tone down the rhetoric that emphasizes differences between Sindhi and Urdu speakers.

Sindh can easily do without antics such as Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s statement that Nawaz Sharif is responsible for the killings carried out by trained snipers in Karachi. The allegation is a dangerous mix of political expediency, incompetence and insensitivity that neither helps us understand the dynamics of politics in Sindh nor instils confidence about the government’s ability to apprehend the real culprits behind the killings.

What happened in Karachi on May 22 indicates enduring features of the city’s politics, but this time it can have repercussions well beyond the metropolis. It was yet another proof of an increasing trend of instantaneously resorting to violence to make a political point.

The rally was called Mohabat-e-Sindh (Love for Sindh) and the participants were unarmed. The stated objective of the rally was opposing the demand for dividing Sindh on linguistic lines and expressing solidarity with the people of Lyari, Karachi’s predominantly Baloch locality. Groups that do not carry weapons are an easy target in Karachi’s violence-ridden political milieu. The message is loud and clear: get armed or get out. The space for nonviolent political expression is fast shrinking. In that way, the attacks on late Benazir Bhutto’s rally in October 2007 and the violence against the supporters of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry on May 12, 2007 were not very different from the May 22 Napier Road incident.

The level of political mistrust between Sindhi and Urdu speaking communities is also very high. Ignoring this reality by meaningless rhetorical statements of an imagined unity will not resolve the problem. What is required is a higher degree of political acumen to bring the two communities together because their fate is conjoined whether they like it or not.

Continue reading Sindh after the ‘Love for Sindh’ rally

Pakistan – The Missplaced Assumptions of Military Gaurdians

By: Manzur Ejaz, Wichaar.com

The other day a very respectable political analyst made a surprising claim that Pakistan’s military is the only institution genuinely concerned about prevailing conditions of the country. Clearly he was specifically referring to dead-locked Pak-US relations where political parties, numbed or scared by anti-America populism, cannot come together to find a viable solution. One can assume that such sentiments must have been communicated to him by the highest level of the core state. However, the problem is that the fearsome anti-US jinni was created by the military and now it wants the civilians to put it back in the bottle.

Continue reading Pakistan – The Missplaced Assumptions of Military Gaurdians

Saroop Ijaz on Imran Khan and the 19/90 days promise. Lying or stupid?

The lies and triangulations of Imran Khan

By Saroop Ijaz

When the educated, prudent Imran Khan supporter is asked for her views on the unbelievably grand proclamation of the ‘dear leader’ stating that he will uproot corruption in 19 days and eradicate terrorism in 90 days, there are always two slants, often one after the other. The devotee will inevitably begin by arguing how Imran Khan will unquestionably and quite breezily achieve the said objectives in the self-stipulated time period. If the line of reasoning is further pursued (or reasoning used at all), they will gingerly and sheepishly concede that statements might not be susceptible to literal implementation, but making an invigorated comeback, state that he is better than everyone else and has built a cancer hospital and who else could they vote for etc? At this point a smirk breaks out on the face of the PTI foot-soldier; to them it is the clincher. The best argument for Imran Khan is something which can be vaguely phrased as some notion of the ‘lesser evil’. There is some difficulty in grasping the concept of how the subsequent quantitative judgment about less or more is precisely made, once the qualitative determination of ‘evilness’ has been reached.

Let me be plain on the matter, the proclamations of Imran Khan on corruption and terrorism and the arbitrary, flashy deadlines are untrue on their face. They require no elaborate refutation, and a child of 10 having average intelligence should see through them, unless of course they have uncritical love blinding them. This brings us to the question of motive, here again an unflattering binary is unavoidable; either he is lying by design or he does not possess the fortitude to understand and realize what he says. At a core level, it is a choice between deceit and self-deceit. I do not think Imran Khan is fantastically intelligent, but he is decent by cricketer/politician standard. Hence, because he is not severely mentally handicapped, it is safe to say that he does know what he promises is not only undoable, it is impossible that he will get anywhere close to these deadlines in the best of circumstances. The blatant misrepresentations cannot be attributed to Spartan simple-mindedness or childlike innocence; it is done with complete knowledge. Therefore, even to put it at its mildest, Imran Khan is deliberately and consciously lying.

Continue reading Saroop Ijaz on Imran Khan and the 19/90 days promise. Lying or stupid?

Pakistan : Gathering of Jihadis linked to al-Qaeda in Islamabad demands holy war against US – chanting “death to America”

Gathering demands holy war against US

Excerpts;

Islamabad – Pakistanis poured onto Islamabad’s streets on Monday, chanting “death to America” and demanding holy war at a rally whipped up by right-wing, religious and banned organisations linked to al-Qaeda.

It was the latest show of support for Defence of Pakistan, a coalition of around 40 parties chaired by a cleric dubbed the father of the Taliban that include organisations blacklisted at home and abroad as terror groups. ….

…. “Today, we have gathered here to raise a voice of protest against US intervention in Pakistan,” chairperson Maulana Sami ul-Haq, who runs an extremist madrassa that educated several Taliban leaders, said.

Also present was member Hamid Gul, who headed Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency during the 1980s US and Pakistani-sponsored war against Soviet troops in Afghanistan.

His membership has helped fuel suspicions that Pakistan’s security establishment is backing the coalition as a means of exerting pressure on the weak government and whipping up rhetoric against the unpopular US alliance. ….

….. “Death to America” and “America deserves one treatment: Jihad, jihad” shouted the crowd in a bustling commercial area, an AFP reporter said. ….

To read complete report » news 24

http://www.news24.com/World/News/Gathering-demands-holy-war-against-US-20120220

Marvi Sirmed remembers the day they killed Benazir Bhutto

BAAGHI: Remembering Benazir Bhutto, personally! – By Marvi Sirmed

One wonders what potent challenge she posed to the establishment that they had to invest all their might, money and resources to gather all the opposing political parties on one platform against BB’s PPP

“Is she okay?” I was screaming at the top of my voice on the phone with my husband while madly driving towards General Hospital, Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007. “It is over, Marvi,” my husband cried and the line disconnected. Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, twice prime minister of Pakistan, had paid the highest price anyone could ever pay for continuing to engage with people and carrying on with the democratic process.

It has been four years since BB, as she was commonly called, has left us but there has not been a single moment in the crisis-ridden politics of Pakistan that she was not missed. Without going into the achievements and failures of her governments, I just want to remember her as she was — a strong leader with a political vision not paralleled by any living politician. The struggle that she chose for herself when she was just 23 years of age was not an ordinary one. At a broader level it entailed dealing with an all-powerful military dictator, being imprisoned and later exiled, losing family, organising the most popular political party of the country during the worst times of persecution, etc.

At a personal level it posed many additional challenges to a young Pinky. Her being a woman never hindered her; so much so that when the forces opposing her tried to use her biology against her, she turned it around. When she was expecting Bilawal, they announced elections around the dates they thought she would be in maternity. I cannot forget her coming to the political rallies with her intravenous drip in her hands. She later wrote in her book, Daughter of the East: An Autobiography, that Begum Nusrat Bhutto, her mother, had advised her to never let her physiological issues come in her way. When she was expecting Bakhtawar during her premiership, the crisis was once again carefully chosen to coincide with the dates of her delivery. She did not make herself absent from her office for more than 48 hours.

All through her political life, she struggled against the hegemony of the oppressive deep state that used every jape that they could, and from right-wing rhetoric that was nauseatingly misogynist and anti-people. From scandalous attacks on her character, assaulting family, facilitating all odd political characters of the country that had only one common thread among them — hatred of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Bhuttos — the establishment put to use every antic. What they could not do was separate BB and the people. When I was growing up, I did not understand the love people had for her. I was in high school when BB came to power for the first time. I did not even pass my higher secondary when her government was dismissed on charges of corruption. Like every youngster, I hated corruption but was amazed to see people from the lowest of the lower strata who were crazy for BB and her PPP. In an industrial exhibition in Lahore, I met an artisan woman selling her handmade fans. She had woven BB’s picture on one of the hand-fans. She broke into tears while telling me how every cruel oppressor in this country has joined hands to bring BB down.

At the Lok Virsa last year, I met a family from southern Punjab who had brought their snakes and were showing snake tricks to earn meagre money. One of their children was wearing a locket bearing BB’s picture. The woman of the family was swearing against Musharraf, the army, feudals and extremists who had snatched their beloved leader. The anger in her voice was so intense that I for once thought she must be a blood relative of BB. She was not.

I recall women of my own family when BB took oath as the prime minister in 1988. My family, being a landholding Punjabi orthodox religious family, has been strongly against a progressive and socialist Bhutto. The men in our family frequently borrowed right-wing arguments against a woman head of the government being un-Islamic, while equally conservative and religious women including my grandmother vociferously confronted the argument. It was amazing to see these women drawing power from a woman prime minister with whose political views they did not even agree. Our village women, very conservative in religious and cultural views and who were made to believe that the PPP was an anti-religion party, could not help loving BB. Women, I can still remember, got new dreams of playing a powerful role in society.

Her struggle did not end when her party came to office in 1988. Seeking office was incomplete without power, which still rested with the all-powerful establishment that had delayed nominating her as prime minister despite her party’s clear majority. They did never rest after that. One wonders what potent challenge she posed to them that they had to invest all their might, money and resources to gather all the opposing political parties on one platform against BB’s PPP. Her clear-headed vision that led the country throughout the years of crisis distinguished her from the rest of the lot who started appearing pygmies in front of her.

My last meeting with her was in November 2007 when she calmly heard our criticism on various recent decisions that we thought would give a lease of life to a dictator. How patiently she heard, how diligently she took notes and how sagaciously she responded to every single concern of ours. When she arrived in October 2007, she had changed in many ways. One could see the strength of her resolve seeing a sea of people ready to sacrifice their lives for her. Despite strict security warnings, she would not stop from going to the hospital to visit the survivors of the October 18 terrorist attack on her rally.

Prior to that, she was the only leader among the entire bunch of expedient politicians of Pakistan who spoke openly against terrorists and their apologists. She was the only leader who tried to lead people’s opinion against the militants who had forced the tragedy of Laal Masjid (Red Mosque), instead of criticising the military action against the militants or terming the Laal Masjid militants as ‘innocent students’ like almost every politician did.

The unusual courage she displayed was not without a vision of possible consequences. She knew the price she might have to pay. Nothing deterred her. She went on and lived up to every challenge. And boy, what a life she lived! Salutes to a leader par excellence, to a woman with unfathomable courage and resolve, to a politician of exemplary vision, to a committed democrat who never failed the test of pragmatic and inclusive politics. Rest in peace BB. Pakistan misses you.

The writer is an Islamabad-based commentator on counterterrorism, social and political issues. She can be reached at marvisirmed@me.com and tweets at http://twitter.com/marvisirmed

Courtesy » Daily Times

Delusions of being Islamic

By: Humayun Gauhar

So long as we keep blaming others for our woes, so long we will not realise that the fault is ours for allowing others to take advantage of us. Pakistan pompously professes to be an Islamic Republic but doesn’t know what that means. Which Islam? The Islam of God or one of the 72 versions of the cleric? That is our core problem from which all other problems arise. We don’t know who we are and why we are. This leads to an erosion of self-confidence and self-esteem (except in rhetoric), the lack of which make us in thrall of alien ideologies and their political, economic and social constructs.

This poem on the Holy Quran written some 35 years ago by the ninth President of India, Dr Pandit Shanker Dayal Sharma, says it beautifully. It’s very good because it’s very true. I have translated it myself.

Amal ki kitab thi.

Dua ki kitab bana dia

It was a command for action.

You turned it into a book of prayer.

Samajhne ki kitab thi.

Parhne ki kitab bana dia.

It was a Book to understand.

You read it without understanding.

Zindaon ka dastoor tha.

Murdon ka manshoor bana dia.

It was a code for the living.

You turned it into a manifesto of the dead.

Jo ilm ki kitab thi.

Usay la ilmon ke hath thama dia.

That which was a book of knowledge;

You abdicated to the ignoramus.

Taskheer-e-kayenaat ka dars denay aayi thi.

Sirf madrason ka nisaab bana dia.

It came to give knowledge of Creation.

You abandoned it to the madrassah.

Murda qaumon ko zinda karne aayi thi.

Murdon ko bakhshwane per laga dia.

It came to give life to dead nations.

You used it for seeking mercy for the dead.

Aye Musalmano ye tum nay kia kiya?

O’ Muslims! What have you done?

Please don’t take kneejerk offence. Righteous rage before thinking is a hallmark of the ignoramus. Don’t focus on who says something but on what he says.

Look at the Muslim condition. They remain on the lowest rung of the ladder. The Jews, numbering less than the people who live in Karachi, are on the top rung. Why? Because they educated themselves, used their minds, recognised and understood the real levers of power, bought stakes in them and became the most powerful people in the world. The Muslims, on the other hand, remain mired in ignorance, waiting for divine deliverance without bothering to lift a finger, fooling only themselves by wallowing in their undoubtedly glorious past, deluded in their present illusions. They live on homilies and humbug.

Continue reading Delusions of being Islamic

Like army, like nation – by Nadeem F. Paracha

Excerpt:

The basic socio-political mindset of the Pakistani society is the outcome of various faith-based experiments conducted by the state and the armed forces.

The party

In 1995, sometime in May, an uncle of mine (an ex-army man), was invited to a party of sorts.

The invitation came from a former top-ranking military officer who had also worked for the Pakistan intelligence agency, the ISI. He was in the army with my uncle (who now resides abroad) during the 1960s.

My uncle, who was visiting Pakistan, asked if I was interested in going with him. I agreed.

The event was at a military officer’s posh bungalow in Karachi’s Clifton area. Most of the guests (if not all) were former military men. All were articulate, spoke fluent English and wore modern, western clothes.

I was not surprised by this but what did surprise me was a rather schizophrenic aura about the surroundings. Though modern-looking and modern-sounding, the gathering turned out to be a segregated affair.

The men’s wives were placed in a separate room, while the men gathered in a wider sitting area.

By now it become clear to me that I wouldn’t be getting served anything stronger than Pepsi on the rocks!

I scratched my head, thinking that even though I was at a ‘party’ in a posh, stylish bungalow in the posh, stylish Clifton area with all these posh stylish military men and their wives and yet, somehow I felt there very little that was ‘modern’ about the situation.

By modern, I also mean the thinking that was reflected by the male guests on politics, society and religion. Most of the men were also clean-shaven and reeking of expensive cologne, but even while talking about cars, horses and their vacations in Europe, they kept using Arabic expressions such as mashallah, alhamdullila, inshallah, etc.

I tried to strike up some political conversations with a few gentlemen but they expected me to agree with them about how civilian politicians were corrupt, how democracy can be a threat to Pakistan, how civilian leaders do not understand India’s nefarious designs, et al. …

The experiment

The Pakistan Army was once a staunchly secular beast. All across the 1950s and 1960s it was steeped in secular (albeit conservative) traditions and so were its sociological aspects.

In fact, until the late 1960s, Pakistani military men were asked to keep religion a private matter and religious exhibitionism was scorned at as well as reprimanded – mostly during Field Marshal Ayub Khan’s dictatorship (1959-69).

Continue reading Like army, like nation – by Nadeem F. Paracha

When small men cast long shadows – Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Excerpt:

…. “Every dead body that ‘mysteriously’ turns up in Balochistan after ‘mysteriously’ going missing — the last count was 13,000 dead — is another nail in the coffin of any peace and stability in the province. It will not be long before we will be burying the soul of the largest province in this country. Short-sighted hated policies, cruel treatment, what comes close to an illegal occupying force in uniform and the consequent hate-fuelled sentiments of the Baloch people have turned one more part of Pakistan against the centre. Enough with the rhetoric and the cosmetic promises; Balochistan needs a determined political solution, otherwise we can, literally, kiss it goodbye.”

Brutality is the hallmark of small men with large influence. History has never seen or heard of a brutish sage. This is the debilitating cost of being governed by ‘small men’ and therein lies the bane of the rule of small men who cast long shadows. They neutralise virtues and allow vice to prevail and prosper. Their disconnect from reality curtails every opportunity for reform and progress. Woe betide the people ruled by small men.

To read full article : Daily Times

Most of Pakistani diplomats are peeing in their pants, as to what kind of precedent is being set by their government in Lahore!

Sex, Rhetoric And Diplomatic Impunity

Islamabad is hard pressed to withdraw its ‘diplo-basher’. New Delhi is only too relieved.

by Seema Sirohi , Amir Mir

Even at the best of times, he is known to be acerbic and pungent as they come, his anti-India vitriol alarming to the uninitiated. But last month, Pakistan’s UN envoy, Munir Akram, directed his bile at his live-in girlfriend and in the process earned a big, black eye for his country. His dreadful conduct took the wind out of Pakistani sails as Islamabad began its tenure as a non-permanent member of the Security Council—and just as it was gearing to deliver some good rhetorical punches there on behalf of the world’s Muslims.

What could be more un-Islamic than a relationship outside wedlock which under Shariah is punishable by Taliban-style retribution?

Akram’s stars plunged precipitously as New York’s tabloids screamed details of Pakistan’s “diplo-basher” and “abuser”. The US State Department asked Islamabad to withdraw his diplomatic immunity so he could face criminal prosecution as a common man. The Pakistani establishment didn’t know what hit them, struggling, as they were, with other difficult aspects of their tortuous relationship with Uncle Sam—border shootings and bombs dropping from American planes. They didn’t need a new complication from one of their own. The famed corridors of the United Nations were suddenly abuzz with talk of Akram’s physical, not verbal, violence. …

Read more : OutLook