Tag Archives: role

The rise of people’s media

– By Manzoor Chandio, Karachi, Sindh

A piece of news or information is no more the property of the so-called ministries of information or media barons. New technologies have set free the information from official controls and ‘mainstream media’ newsrooms.

Often called liberating technologies, the cell phone, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. have assumed the role of new modes of disseminating information. They have allowed every citizen to become a publisher or a journalist. Today the first source of information is a mobile, instead of newspapers or TV channels, where one receives breaking news. ….

Read more → Manzoor Chandio’s Blog

Devastation in Sindh and the Role of the Media: A Journalist’s Anguish

– by Aijaz Ahmed

… The media houses either from Karachi, Lahore or elsewhere, rushed whenever a calamity hits the catchment area of the Establishment i.e certain part of KPK, Kashmir or Punjab, but unfortunately when 70% of Sindh is devastated or destroyed nobody bothered because these poor Sindhis don’t matter in decision making, and additionally negative campaign is started to stop the international help without which the loss can not be recovered. …

Read more → Indus Herald

MQM: a neo fascist organization

– By: Farooq Tariq

I started visiting Karachi in the mid-1990s after the Labor Party established a group there. Whenever I came to speak to a public meeting, comrades advised me to avoid verbal attacks on the MQM. “We have to live here” was the usual justification.

After the National Trade Union Federation was formed in 1998, I was one of the key speakers at the annual May Day rallies in Karachi. And whenever I ignored the advice and called the MQM a neo-fascist organization, I received maximum applause. It seemed that among the Karachi working class there was tremendous antagonism against the MQM, but not many were prepared to speak publically against this organization.

On 10th September 2011, speaking on GEO television, Mustafa Kamal, the former mayor of Karachi, responded to the criticism of some who talked to Hamid Mir by commenting, in coded language, of retaliation against those who dare to be critical. He falsely compared Bangladesh’s struggle for independence struggle with the situation of Karachi. One was a struggle by an exploited nationality against the atrocious treatment of the West Pakistan civilian and military establishment while in Karachi today there is a struggle to break the shackles of the neo-fascists, who have attempted to strangle working people for over three decades.

I distinctly remember 12 May 2007, when I was going to speak at a peasant rally in Punjab. I received several calls from Karachi, one from Azra Perveen, a female activist of the Labour Party. She had been part of a group organized by LPP to go to a rally at the airport and welcome the chief justice. Shots rang out while buses were still arriving. The main victims were ANP activists, whose bus had to stop and let the passengers rush to find safe places. Azra, whose white dress was drenched in blood, was forced to hide behind a pole as she tried to help the wounded.

I tried to contact Eidhi, the BBC and other media to aid activists encircled by MQM thugs. Earlier in the morning, I was informed that all the transport arranged by LPP had been withdrawn on the instructions of the MQM. No one was willing to risk their transport. In fact the previous day, even commercial painters refused to prepare the LPP banners because of the fear of retaliation by MQM. Nevertheless brave activists of the LPP, ANP and some other parties attempted to get the airport. They found containers blocking the roads and were fired on at several places.

On 10th September 2011 night, I was very angry to hear Mustafa Kamal denying that the MQM played a role in shedding blood in May 2007. Earlier in the press conference from his exile cage, Altaf Hussain, the “leader” accepted the MQM the “negligence” by the local chapter of MQM. And what a negligence, over 50 were killed, chief justice was unable to come out from the airport, all the main roads were blocked by the heavy containers and so on. This was an act of fascism. MQM believes in fascist philosophy that means the physical elimination of political opponents.

It was no accident that when Benazir Bhutto visited our bookstall in Lahore in 1992, she bought all fifty copies of a bookletFASCISM What It Is and How To Fight It.” The booklet was written by Leon Trotsky and translated in Urdu by Dr. Khalid Javed Jan. Benazir Bhutto must have felt the need to arm the activists of PPP with this booklet. And what a historical paradox that her husband Asif Ali Zardari is trying his best to go along with this terrorist organization instead of fighting it in an effort to win a “peace” in Karachi and other cities of Sindh.

You cannot have peace by compromising with the fascists. That is a lesson evident from studying the political history of the fascism. All the social democrats and even the communists who tried to compromise with Hitler, Mussolini, and Franc, the fascist leaders of Germany, Italy and Spain, became their victims. Fascists are not democrats. They do not believe in democracy. For them democracy is just an opportunity to spread their influence.

What is fascism? It is a system of government characterized by rigid one-party dictatorship, forcible suppression of the opposition, private economic enterprise under centralized governmental control, belligerent nationalism, racism, and militarism. It is a mass movement, with its leaders employing a great deal of socialist demagogy. Its base is the petty bourgeoisie, the middle class.

The capital of Sindh, Karachi has been in the grip of a one-party dictatorship for long time. The MQM talks of revolution, instead of Socialist demagogy. It has always had close links with the military establishment; they always make efforts to smooth over any differences. The MQM gave full support to General Musharaf.

MQM has always used the race issue to unite the groups around it. Racism may be defined as the hatred of one person or group by another because of skin, color, language, customs, place of birth or any other factor. This reveals the belief that one is less than human establishes an unequal power relationship that is perpetuated through wars, slavery, the formation of nations, and legal codes.

In order to popularize its message, the MQM propagated the “discriminated” attitude of the Sindhis, Punjabis, Pushtoons and Baluchs against Urdu-speaking migrants. It uses the racist card to divide the working class in Karachi, the main industrial city of Sindh, Pakistan. MQM members make jokes about the native Balucies and Sindhies, revealing a contemptuous attitude that these people are not “civilized” enough to be equal to other people.

When journalist Hamid Mir asked a question Hyder Abbas Rizvi, a MQM representative of MQM, why the party pressurized the AAJ television channel to sack Nusarat Javed, one of the channel’s main anchor people who was sacked during a programme when he was criticizing MQM fascist tactics, , he responded by denying the charges, stating that no one from MQM called the AAJ owners. That may be so, but the sheer fear of MQM retaliation might have forced the owners to sack this reputed journalist.

What had Nusrat Javed said? He simply reacted to the three-hour press conference by Altaf Hussain, the chief of MQM by stating the whole nation was kept hostage for five hours. Yet the MQM representative slyly remarked that the MQM did not force the media to broad the entire conference but only gave out a press release announcing the conference. Yet it is the fear of retaliation by MQM that forced all the media to carry the entire the press conference live for over 5 hours.

Recent developments have forced the neo-fascist MQM retreat from their ambitious plan to expand nationally. All their sloganeering against feudalism is rolled back to their original political stand that to maintain their base among the Muhajirs, taking refuge in Karachi.

The case of the MQM exposes the failure of Pakistani state to address the question of racism and fascism. In fact, the Pakistani state is deeply rooted in religious bigotry and racist superiority where some nationalities are dominant and others are oppressed. It has tried to impose the Urdu language on the Bengalis as early as 1948. Sindhies have had to wage a struggle for their linguistic rights. The emergence of the MQM in the mid-1980, with the help of the military dictator General Zia Ul Haq was mainly based on the supposed superiority of the Urdu language. Different institutions of the state played vital role in bringing this monster up in the air and the MQM has very cleverly used this attitude against all other local, indigenous and other languages.

Today the MQM-PPP alliance reveals a crisis of bourgeoisie democracy. The PPP government is facing one of the most real crises it has faced so far during the three and half year of power. It is both the crisis of the system and the leadership. The so-called clever, smart, witty, intelligent, gifted and chic leadership of Asif Ali Zaradari has to confront one of his most trusted handpicked Zulfiqar Mirza. The crisis has weakened the grip of PPP leadership from its own apparatus. It has weakened their basis in Sindh. That is a result of their policies of conciliations with the neo-fascists MQM. You can never gain by allying with your own enemies.

The working class must not have any illusions in Zulfiqar Mirza’s fight against the fascists. He wants to reap the anger of the working people of Sindh against MQM and put it back to PPP or to the military establishment but he cannot wage a serious fight against the fascists.

What is the way forward? It is revealed in the current struggle of the workers at Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) for jobs and against privatization. Here we see the MQM and the PPP united to crush the heroic struggle of the KESC trade union with state repression. We must support this struggle and demand an immediate release of the workers, organizing strike support actions. Building the working-class movement in Karachi is the answer to the present crisis.

It is with the present political scenario that the forces of the Left can expose the real nature of the neo-fascist forces and the danger it presents for the working class in Pakistan. At different times religious fundamentalists or the neo-fascist MQM have been promoted by state institutions and bourgeoisie in order to divide and conquer and thus maintain rotten capitalism. Both, along their master, deserve rejection by the working people of Pakistan.

About the writer – Farooq Tariq is spokesperson of the Labour Party Pakistan

Courtesy: → SocialistPakistan, September 12, 2011

via → Indus Herald

Sindhis should rethink their priorities before it is too late!

by Khalid Hashmani, McLean, Virginia

The Sindhi political analysts and thinkers in Sindh continue to provide further insight into thinking of educated and middle class Sindhis who live in Sindh. These should help Sindhi Diaspora to better understand the ground realities in order to chalk out their actions about their supporting role in awakening of Sindhi society. Indeed, only the determined resolve and courageous actions by masses of Sindh would bring about enough changes to thwart the ill designs of internal and external anti-Sindh forces. Yesterday, I have shared my review on Naseer Memon’s article published in Sindhi daily Kawish on August 13, 2011 under the title “PPP’s recent decision to revive Local Government Ordinance 2001 is violation of its own manifesto‏”. Today, I am reviewing an article by Zulfiqar Halepoto that was published yesterday (13 August 2011) in Sindhi daily Awami Awaz. I am currently reviewing Jami Chandio’s article “PPP & a New Sindh” that was published in Sindhi daily Ibrat on 13-14th August, 2011. The purpose of these reviews is to provide a compilation of what Sindhis in Sindh so that Diaspora Sindhis can assess the need and formulate their actions in support of Sindh interests.

Zulfiqar Halepoto articulates the need for “paradigm shift” in Sindh where one political party has been looked upon as the only capable force that can protect their interests and Sindh’s integrity. Where once PPP leaders were honored and welcomed in their communities, most Sindhis are angry and hold PPP responsible for many of their problems.

According to Zulfiqar Halepoto, people of Sindh overwhelmingly voted for PPP in 2008 with the following four expectations:

1. The government of Sindh will be formed without the participation of those that had ruled Sindh for the several years in immediate past. During that time, the Sindhi interests suffered the most as the regimes became oblivious of the collective interests of Sindh and focused on only their personal gains. Sindhis expected PPP to adhere to its pledge not to share power with MQM and dissipate impression that in order to have peace and prosperity of the people of Sindh, MQM must be made a part of the government.

2. The PPP government will find the killers of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and bring them to justice.

3. The PPP government will bring about the required constitutional and administrative changes that the dictatorial regime had brought to weaken native Sindhis and allow only one ethnic group to control Sindh’s larger cities.

4. The governance in Sindh that had suffered greatly in the last 12 years under the regimes that violated Sindhi Rights on all fronts will end. Sindh’s government would be an example of an exemplary governance in Pakistan ensuring welfare of all those who live in Sindh.

Unfortunately, the government of PPP has gone even beyond the status quo and has made sufferings of Sindhis much worse. Sindhis often express that they are now lost and wonder who will protect their interests? PPP thinks that Sindh vote bank is in their pocket and they are not afraid of any backlash from their actions that regularize injustices of previous regimes and further compromising on Sindhi Rights. Like the previous regime headed by a Sindh Chief Minister, PPP too has surrendered its power to MQM whose discriminatory policies against all groups of Sindh not only continues unabated but has worsened. There is an increasing feeling among the people of Sindh that PPP has become part of problem and looking at it as a solution provider is a big mistake!? Most Sindhis think it would be far easier to wedge struggle against a dictator and racist political parties without PPP’s presence.

It would seem to me that PPP had been, at minimum, a silent partners of those who do not wish Sindh & Sindhi identity to survive in Pakistan. These forces want Sindhis should leave their mother tongue and centuries old culture of peace & communal harmoney and to adapt the language of minority as their first language.

Sindhis are angry with PPP and with themselves for misplacing their trust and hopes in PPP. Sindhis do not understand why a PPP which won 90 seats in Sindh would forget their voters within a span of less than three years. Sindhis are disappointed that on the pretext of saving their regime at the center, they have been continually ignoring aspirations and hopes of Sindhis. Instead of creating more opportunities for Sindhis, doors for Sindhis continue to shut, particularly in those areas where they are controlled by MQM. People of Sindh can no longer tolerate this situation and a determined movement towards forming a genuine unity of Sindh on the point that “protection of interests of Sindh is their first priority” is fast spreading among Sindhis living in villages, towns, and cities.

President Asif Zardari has played Sindh as “Sindh card” whenever his rule faced a threat from opposition and the Pakistani security establishment. The “Sindhi Topi Day” was also a part of that gimmickry. It is said that most people in Pakistan think that regardless of what happens, Sindhis will continue to support PPP? This myth is now to great extent shattered as people of Sindh are able to see through the politics of exploitation of Sindhis by internal and external forces. Some non-Sindhi Pakistanis are noticing that a change is brewing among Sindh. Sindhis are now condemning the decisions of PPP that are counter to the interests of Sindh. They are also realizing that Sindhis are not against the integrity of Pakistan and that main demand is to secure equitable rights in Pakistan and preserve their identity, culture, and language.

The anger of Sindh is lost on other political parties in Pakistan as most are now taking steps to seek support of Sindhis. Awami National Party, Jamat-e-Islami, and Sunni Tahrik are now supporting Sindhi demand for cancellation of former dictator Musharraf’s undemocratic, black, repressive, & discriminatory Local Government Ordinance. MQM is staying silent about the demands of Sindhis. On other side, Sindhis have notice support of Pir Pagaro on this issue. However, Sindhis have not forgiven for his pro-Kala Bagh stand and his support of General Musharraf’s policies that hurt the interests of Sindh.

The Sindhi nationalist parties are remain divided. Although most Sindhis respect those nationalist parties for their their stand on the interests of Sindh, some of these political parties are likely to keep themselves away from the upcoming elections. Their divergent views including the separatist leaning of some have kept their voter bank constrained.

Zulfiqar Halepoto urges Sindhis to look at all aspects of this complicated situation, weigh all options before jumping on any bandwagon. Sindhis should think and formulate strategy, long-term plans and be ready to effectively respond to any tactical challenges. One should look at the success of Pakhoons, who have more than one credible options for exercising their vote. Without a fundamental change in the political landscape of Sindh, Sindhis still only have two serious options – Muslim League and PPP. The Sindh chapters of these two parties are dominated by anti-Sindh waderas, who together with MQM and anti-Sindhi business owners will continue to damage the interests of Sindh.

It is imperative that Sindh nationalist parties create a formidable political party or group that will become a credible second alternative for Sindhis. If this is achieved, it will be an important paradigm jump for Sindhis that will likely bring about a positive development for not only Sindh but also for Pakistan.

Courtesy: → Sindh e-lists/ e-groups, August 14, 2011.

Same dirty Politics with Old Formulas!! Pakistan judiciary needs rational approach, judiciary should not do partisan decisions or specific to one party or group. Accountability should be across the board and for every one.

Courtesy: → Duniya Tv News (Cross Fire with Meher Bokhari, 27th July 2011)

via → ZemTvYouTube

Zulfiqar Mirza and the role of media?

Sadly, almost all anchors of major news channels seemed to add fuel to fire. The questions, mostly, were instigating the participants to repeat the same mistake as committed by Mr. Zulfiqar Mirza, the anchors should have acted responsibly. Critical questions could have been avoided. Controversial personalities shouldn’t have been telecast on National TV channels.

Courtesy: Aaj Tv News (Bolta Pakistan with Mushtaq Minhas and Nusrat Javaid – 14th july 2011 part- 3)

via → ZemTv →  YouTube

Military monopoly challenged

by Dr Manzur Ejaz

Excerpt;

Pakistan’s socio-political system has reached a critical stage where the competition or confrontation between institutions is leading to an inevitable but unexpected change. An overwhelmingly agrarian Pakistani society has evolved into a multi-layered complex body where new urban middle classes have matured enough to play a role. If the dominant institutions of the military and political elites do not rapidly adjust to the changing reality, an unprecedented and disastrous situation can develop.

Whatever way we cut it, the incidents of the last month compelled the military to come to parliament and explain itself to the legislators and the public. Despite the chiding posture of General Shuja Pasha, this was a new development. But then, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani issued a long rebuttal, a public criticism, after the 139th Corps Commander’s Conference. In this comprehensive statement, he reasserted the military’s monopoly over defining the ideology and policy of the state of Pakistan. If one dissects General Kayani’s statement, part of it is the military’s claim to define the country as an ‘Islamic’ state and other parts are operational policies as to how the country is going to be run.

What General Kayani and the army do not realise is that the military’s monopoly over the Pakistani state was the product of a set of historical factors that have substantially changed. Now, other institutions of the state are maturing to the level that a new inter-institutional balance has to evolve or the state will wither away. …

… In the last decade, the media, as an institution, was rising and having an impact on different sectors of society. The movement for the restoration of the independent judiciary also showed that a vital branch of the state was gaining enough maturity. The way the PML-N acted as an opposition party was also another sign of the strengthening of democratic forces. Despite the incompetent PPP government and its non-cooperation with the judiciary or with the genuine political opposition, it is becoming clearer that a realignment of institutional balance is underway. Therefore, the military is facing other sets of forces that are different from the 70s. In this situation, the military can unleash ruthlessness to suppress the emerging forces or concede to them as a fait accompli. Maybe the military has read the tea leaves as an ex-COAS, General Jehangir Karamat maintains, but it has yet to be seen how far the military can withdraw itself from civilian affairs.

To read complete article: Wichaar

US House panel OKs defense bill, limits Pakistan aid

WASHINGTON: The House Appropriations Committee has approved a defense spending bill that imposes limits on US aid to Pakistan and creates a special bipartisan group to review the US role in Afghanistan.

The panel gave the go-ahead to the bill on a voice vote Tuesday. The legislation would provide $530 billion for the Defense Department and $119 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill is $9 billion less than President Barack Obama requested.

The bill would withhold 75 per cent of the $1.1 billion in US aid to Pakistan until the administration reports to Congress on how it would spend the money. Reflecting the frustration with Pakistan’s effort in battling terrorism, the committee adopted an amendment that gives Congress even more power to review the spending.

Courtesy: DAWN.COM

Asma Jahangir on Pakistan Army Generals in Cross Fire program

Wow!!! What a brave woman. Asma Jahangir giving her straight forward opinion about the political role of Pakistan Army generals in Duniya News program ‘Cross Fire’ with Mehar Bukhari. Pakistani generals have looted the country since 1958. People are living in poverty and they have all the luxuary of life. Their children go to the best schools and poor have no access to schools. THis is all done on poor Pakistan’s budget. The language of the talk show is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy: Duniya News (Cross Fire with Mehar Bukhari), You Tube

G. M. Syed’s Birth Day in Jail, Living With Enemies, Palijo’s Ideology, Life in Jail

Notes From My Memory, Part VIII: G. M. Laghari, Syed’s Birth Day in Jail, Living With Enemies, Palijo’s Ideology, Life in Jail

By Mir Thebo

Excerpt:

…. Living with ideological enemies: It is very difficult to live with an ideological enemy in one compound especially when there is just no way to avoid or escape him. And what do you do if that ‘ideological enemy’ is Rasool Bux Palijo who is always eager to pinch you with sharp and dreadful remarks? When we were in jail together (1968), as I mentioned in my previous note, R. B. Palijo came with the idea on 17th January to celebrate G. M. Syed’s Birth Day! I thought it was his ploy to criticize and condemn us [Communist Party (CP)] on the national question. Palijo arranged a birthday cake and some refreshments for the day. We all sat together including two muhajir comrades and paid rich tributes to Saaeen G. M. Syed.

When my turn came to speak, I compared Syed with other historical personalities like Dr. Sun Yat Sen, (Chinese nationalist leader, who played a great role in 1911 Chinese nationalist revolution, which overthrew the Qing dynasty in China), Jawahar Lal Nehru and Khan Ghaffar Khan. When Palijo’s turn came, he brutally attacked my comparison of Syed with those leaders and said, ‘Syed is far above than these leaders. Mir has tried to minimize G. M. Syed’s stature and his role.’ In rhetorical manner, he continued: ‘G. M. Syed is equivalent to Marx, Lenin and Mao’. He said: ‘these people don’t know how great G. M. Syed is’. I was flabbergasted by Palijo’s remarks. We knew how Palijo used Syed’s personality for his own narrow political interests. He himself knew very well the place of Syed. But, alas, that has been Palijo’s style all along.

R. B. Palijo’s political ideology: For political purposes, Palijo used Mao Tse-Tung whose little red book was

compulsory for every Chinese to carry during the cultural revolution (1966 to 1976) otherwise one will be labeled as counter revolutionary or an agent of the enemy. Thousands of people were persecuted especially the writers, intellectuals and middle class people. They were ruthlessly taken from their homes in the cities and were uprooted and sent to far-flung rural areas. They were humiliated under the guidance of the so-called vigilant party committees and people were forced to confess that they were anti-party and reactionary to bring them to shame in the public. Same thing was practiced in the Soviet Union during the Stalin period. They called it ‘The Great Purge’ to purify the party and the society.

Palijo found it easy to convince his workers through this sacred red book that all are enemies except his party people and that he can expel any leader or worker in the name of the great cause or the party. The same practice was common in our party too. It was actually a common practice in 3rd. world countries. Therefore almost all parties were divided in many groups and during that period Euro Communism emerged. The Western European parties denounced the Soviet system of one party rule and the dictatorship of the proletariat and the concept of democratic socialism and multi-party system emerged. New ideas emerged in 1980s in the Soviet Union too. They were called Glasnost and Perestroika (openness and restructuring) and M. Gorbachev declared a famous quote for the liberals that ‘Man is above the Ideology, the ideology is not above the man’. Those who are still Marxists and glorify the former USSR, consider Gorbachev the traitor and the one who brought down the grand empire of the UNION OF THE SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLIC.

Palijo brought Mao’s thoughts to his workers and Sindhi peasants and mixed it with Sindhi nationalism and formulated the idea of a Chinese model revolution in Sindh and repeatedly told his innocent workers the famous quote of Mao that “all political power comes from the barrel of the gun”. But Mao’s revolution was typical Chinese revolution. Mao didn’t copy the Russian model and he was against Russia. Both the communist powers even went to a war in 1969 over some piece of land along one of the longest international borders between the two countries although they both believed in the ideology that in future states will wither away and only universal communism will prevail. More funny thing is that it was America, the big capitalist enemy, who stopped Russians from attacking Chinese nuclear installations and Russians backed off (US journalist Harrison Salisbury reported that Soviet sources implied a possible first strike against the Lop Nur basin nuclear test site; and military documents of the time indicate that the USSR had more nuclear-attack plans against China than against the US. The United States warned the USSR against launching a nuclear strike against China. WIKI). Mao didn’t use even Marx very much. He brought the revolution in his own way as he convinced Chinese people how to fulfill difficult task through this old Chinese saying, ‘The foolish old man who moves the mountain’. ….

To read complete article: Indus Herald

U.S. women jump in to save Sindh, Balochistan from genocide

by Ahmar Mustikhan

Women in the United States have taken up the cudgels to stop the on-going genocide in Balochistan and extrajudicial killings in Sindh.

Jane Wesiner a staunch supporter of an independent Balochistan spoke with Senator John F. Kerry, who is chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and asked him to support the idea of a free country for the stateless Baloch people in southwest Asia.

Balochistan, which is named after the Baloch people, was a free country before the British set foot in the region in 1839, but left it divided by the time colonialism ended in Indian subcontinent in August 1947.

Weisner, who is affiliated with the American Friends of Balochistan, said she spoke personally to Senator Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Forigien Affairs Committee, Thursday about Pakistan’s role in hiding bin Laden.

“More importantly I asked him to personally look into the systematic genocide of the Baloch. I spoke to him about the geopolitical advantages of a free and independent Balochistan

Continue reading on Examiner.com: U.S. women jump in to save Sindh, Balochistan from genocide – Baltimore Foreign Policy | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/foreign-policy-in-baltimore/u-s-women-jump-to-save-balochistan-from-genocide-contact-lawmakers?fb_comment=33154981#ixzz1MLsZN8cG

Ali Nawaz Memon : Sindhi Middle Class has Little Chance of Political Power

Ali Nawaz Memon describes exactly the political structure existed of today, and his concern supports the worst fears of today or tomorrow of the future power sharing and role of middle class, feudals, bureaucrats, and ethnic groups, his analysis depicts what Sindh is facing today but what about when things change … The language of the video clip is Sindhi.

You Tube

Nawaz Sharif refuses to attend Army briefing

ISLAMABAD: PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif refused to attend Friday’s in-camera joint session of the parliament in protest against the increasing role of the ISI and army in politics.

During Friday’s in-house session,the army chief is due to brief the legislators on the U.S. strike in the Garrison city of Abbottabad and answer their questions.

The military command is said to be taking this parliamentary briefing a lot more seriously than the one it had given about the Swat operation two years ago.

Although Sharif is not a legislator, he was especially invited by the Prime Minister to attend Friday’s briefing. However, the PML-N chief said he declined the invitation, adding that Pakistan will not be able to progress unless the role of the ISI and Army is restricted.

As mentioned in a previous report published in The Express Tribune, the military command is expecting a barrage of sharp questions from the political leadership, most notably the opposition led by PML-N’s Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, during the course of the briefing.

Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan gave a fiery speech this Tuesday, accusing both the military and civilian leaders of incompetence and deceiving the Pakistani people, demanding an independent national commission to investigate the events of May 2, when a US special forces unit killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a ‘black’ operation in Abbottabad.

The PML-N chief, who demanded a judicial inquiry into the Abbottabad security failure, said he is ready to extend his three-day deadline if the government agrees to consider his demand.

Nawaz Sharif, who came under attack after his brother Shahbaz Sharif secretly, met the army chief, assured that there will no more be such secret meetings in the future.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune

The last rites administered? Not yet! – Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Excerpt:

Since long alarm bells have been ringing in the world about the dubious role that Pakistan has played and this must have confirmed their doubts. They realise that they are up against a state which is delusional about its importance and its possible goals. When Mullen had criticised the ISI, he knew what he was talking about.

With Osama, Pakistan has lost a bargaining chip and the establishment must not be ruing the supposed sovereignty violation – banana republics have no sovereignty – and the egg on face, but the fact that the western purse strings may be tightened. They were out-foxed by the US on this count but then they still hope to play the Haqqani card and continue to prosper.

There always has been much ado in the establishment here about the sanctity of sovereignty and their determination to defend it. This US operation has destroyed many a myth and claim about the preparedness and the determination, which are forever forced down the throats of the people.

Anywhere else in the world, after embarrassment and humiliation on this scale and magnitude, there would have been mass resignations if not mass hara-kiri to remove the stigma, but here the positions seem to have been consolidated and instead of regret, the world is being blamed for an intelligence failure. Moreover, as they recover from embarrassment, warnings flow as if May 2 never happened.

It is also in the name of sovereignty and the writ of the state that the Baloch are regularly abducted and killed, but when it comes to a bigger bully, all are so very apologetic and contrite. Recently, three Sindhi nationalists were burnt to death in an attack in Sanghar, and a few days back nine Marris of the Sherani clan shifting from Hub to Karachi were picked up near the Northern Bypass and are unaccounted for. The Sindhi proverb, “Sher Shah’s hawk only kills the chickens at home” fits this state perfectly.

Here individuals and institutions that excel in bluff and bluster symbolise heroism because values and principles count for naught. In all quests to acquire power and pelf, conscience and compassion are always the first casualties and this makes the acquirers corrupt and cruel. Verily, corrupt and cruel people commit crimes without compunction and are beyond reform.

Read more : Daily Times

Pakistani Military Faces Scrutiny as Unfolding Evidence Suggests Direct Role in Harboring bin Laden

Numerous questions have been raised on how Osama bin Laden could have been living in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad just down the street from Pakistan’s premier military academy. CIA Director Leon Panetta has reportedly said Pakistan was either “knowledgeable or incompetent” when it came to bin Laden’s whereabouts. Some evidence has emerged to indicate that the Pakistani military may have had a direct role in harboring bin Laden. Meanwhile, the Pakistani government is claiming it warned U.S. intelligence two years ago about the compound where bin Laden was killed. We go to Pakistan to speak with Graeme Smith, an award-winning foreign correspondent for The Globe and Mail newspaper in Canada. He was in Abbottabad yesterday investigating the mystery behind the bin Laden compound. [includes rush transcript] ….

Read more : Democracy Now

The hornet is dead, near the nest – Dr Mohammad Taqi

The Pakistani brass was caught red-handed and was not given an option to say no to the operation. But the Pakistani deep state still does not get it, for its ideological sympathies are elsewhere.

Doveryai, no proveryai! This Russian proverb, meaning ‘trust, but verify’, popularised by Vladimir Lenin and later by Ronald Reagan, has not rung truer than in the events surrounding the assassination of Osama bin Laden (OBL) earlier this week. And we may see it applied much more intensely in the months to come.

Phone calls from friends in Abbottabad about an ongoing military action there, were enough to suggest that something big was happening in what the locals had always believed to be an ISI-run facility, but the e-mail news alert from The Wall Street Journal announcing OBL’s death was still a major surprise. Against the norms of punditry, this time one hoped that we were wrong and this was not happening in Pakistan. But it was, and yes, we now stand vindicated: all of us who had been saying and writing for years that the US’s most wanted man was not under the protection of any major Pashtun tribe but was guarded by the clan that has anointed itself as the guardians of Pakistan’s ‘ideological’ and geographical frontiers. It is this same clan that had actually codified in its curriculum that “you are the selected lords; you are the cream of the nation”. Where else could this syllabus have been taught but at the Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul — less than a mile from OBL’s last lair?

There is no polite way of saying it but these masters of Pakistan’s fortunes got egg on their face and that too with the whole world watching. A Peshawarite calling in on a television show said it most aptly: “Koilay ki dallali mein haath to kalay hotay hein per moonh bhi kala hota hai” (Those, whose business is foul, not only get their hands dirty but a blackened face too). But they still have the nerve to say with a straight face that a million-dollar fortress under their nose had been “off their radar”!

Not only that but they also have the gall to mobilise the right-wing media to create the smokescreen of sovereignty yet again while simultaneously playing up their ‘role’ in support of the US action in Abbottabad. The world, however, is not buying that in a cantonment city, the army — which keeps track of every inch of land around its facilities — did not know what was going on in the high-walled compound next to its primary training academy. The paid spin masters will have to do better than this. No matter what President Asif Zardari or his ghostwriter is made to say in op-ed articles in US papers, it is the top brass that is under scrutiny. Using the civilian political leadership as the human shield is not going to work, as the calculus has changed dramatically.

Barack Obama’s token acknowledgment of Pakistan’s non-specific cooperation is being construed by the Pakistani establishment and its minions to imply that the US can be taken for a ride again. It is too early for the specifics to surface but conversations with several sources in Washington and Pakistan point only to the deep mistrust that the US has had vis-à-vis Pakistan. There was no deal initiated by General Shuja Pasha to ‘trade in’ OBL for a bigger Pakistani role in Afghanistan. On the contrary, in response to the chest thumping by the Pakistani security establishment and its ultra right-wing political acolytes, they were confronted with damning evidence about the Haqqani network and possibly the Quetta Shura, while the OBL lead was not shared. The no-fly zone over Pakistan was created through phone calls, minutes after the OBL operation got underway. While the Pakistani brass is clutching at straws like blaming the ‘two Pashtun guards’ for protecting OBL’s compound, it was caught red-handed and was not given an option to say no to the operation. But the Pakistani deep state still does not get it, for its ideological sympathies are elsewhere.

Hillary Clinton’s nuanced diplomatic statements notwithstanding, the mood of the US leadership is almost reflective of the immediate post-9/11 days and was conveyed well by Senator Carl Levin in his remark: “(Pakistan has) a lot of explaining to do … I think the army and the intelligence of Pakistan have plenty of questions that they should be answering.” In a complete paradigm shift, any leverage that the Pakistani junta was hoping to gain from the bravado that started with the Raymond Davis affair has been lost completely. What will follow is a steady demand within the US to hold Pakistan’s feet to the fire. While maintaining a semblance of a working relationship, a very tough line will be adopted in private. The question bound to come up is not just why Pakistan was hanging on to OBL but also if there was any connection of its operatives to the 9/11 tragedy.

From a tactical standpoint, the OBL operation is likely to serve as a template for future action against the jihadist leadership hiding in Pakistan, especially with General David Petraeus assuming his new role in the near future. To get closer to the strategic objective of a certain level of stability within Afghanistan and potentially a political reconciliation there, it is imperative for the US to neutralise the next two key hurdles, i.e. the Quetta Shura and the Haqqani network. Both these entities have so far been able to evade the US’s reach, thanks to the Pakistani security establishment’s patronage.

Members of the Haqqani clan have been roaming freely in the vicinity of Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Peshawar. Khalil Haqqani has conducted several meetings in the previous few months to broker the ‘peace deal’ for the Kurram Agency. It is inconceivable that he could act without the knowledge of the Pakistani security agencies. Similarly, Quetta is home to the Pakistan Army’s XII Corps, ISI regional headquarters, the Balochistan Frontier Corps, an army recruitment centre, the Pakistan Air Force base Samungli and the Pakistan Army’s prestigious Command and Staff College. One wonders if the Pakistani brass would still be able to say that they do not know the whereabouts of Mullah Omar.

A window of opportunity perhaps still exists for Pakistan to make a clean break with the past but its incoherent blame-game and constantly changing story says otherwise. The Pakistani establishment has given the world very little reason to trust it without verifying — unless, of course, another hornet is to be missed hiding near a major nest.

The writer can be reached at mazdaki@me.com

Courtesy: Daily Times

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=201155\story_5-5-2011_pg3_2

Who is Aafia Siddiqui? Guantánamo files reveal her as top al-Qaida operative

Guantánamo files paint Aafia Siddiqui as top al-Qaida operative

Documents claim neuroscientist – jailed in US for attempted murder – aided al-Qaida bombing, poisoning and hijacking plots

by Declan Walsh in Islamabad

Aafia Siddiqui, the Pakistani neuroscientist whose case has become a flashpoint of Pakistani-American tensions, plotted to smuggle explosives into America and offered to manufacture biological weapons, according to the Guantánamo files.

The allegations are a combination of US intelligence analysis and direct testimony by at least three senior al-Qaida figures, including the 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Muhammad. They cannot be independently corroborated and the testimonies were likely to have been extracted under conditions of torture.

Muhammad, known as KSM in intelligence circles, was waterboarded 183 times in the month after his capture in Pakistan in March 2003.

But several of the accounts do overlap, linking Siddiqui, a diminutive 39-year-old mother of three, with some of Osama bin Laden’s most senior lieutenants. They help explain why the FBI placed her on a list of the world’s seven most wanted al-Qaida fugitives in 2004.

Siddiqui disappeared from Karachi in March 2003 only to reappear five years later amid murky circumstances in Ghazni, central Afghanistan. There was an altercation in a police station and the US accused Siddiqui of trying to shoot two soldiers and two FBI agents.

She was sent to the US, tried and last year sentenced to 86 years’ jail. At home in Pakistan she became a cause célèbre widely viewed as an innocent victim of American injustice.

During the recent stand-off over Raymond Davis, the CIA spy who shot two people in Lahore, a chorus of Pakistani politicians demanded the US repatriate Siddiqui in exchange for the American.

The Guántanamo files offer a murky perspective, placing Siddiqui at the heart of an al-Qaida cell based in Karachi between 2002 and 2003. Emboldened by the success of the 9/11 attacks and led by KSM, the cell conspired to mount fresh attacks in the US, on Heathrow airport and inside Pakistan.

According to the files, the cell planned to smuggle explosives into America under the cover of textile exports – 20 and 40ft foot containers filled with women’s and children’s clothes. The explosives would be used to attack “economic targets” inside the US, according to KSM.

The operation would take place through an import-export business run by Saifullah Paracha, a Pakistani businessman who worked as a New York travel agent for 13 years before developing ties to Osama bin Laden. Paracha, 64, is currently in Guantánamo Bay.

According to Paracha’s file, Siddiqui’s role was to “rent houses and provide administrative support for the operation”. As part of this brief she travelled from Pakistan to the US in January 2003 to help renew the American travel papers of Majid Khan, a co-conspirator who had been ordered to bomb petrol stations and water treatment facilities in America.

According to Khan, he provided Siddiqui with money, photos and a completed application for an “asylum travel form” that “looked and functioned like a passport”.

Then, according to Khan’s file, “Siddiqui returned to the US and opened a post office box in detainee’s name, using her driver’s licence information”.

The plot collapsed after Khan was picked up in Pakistan and sent to Guantánamo. A co-conspirator in America, Uzair Paracha, was arrested in possession of the post box key.

Paracha, son of Saifullah Paracha, was sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment in 2006; details of Siddiqui’s role in the plot surfaced during his trial.

Continue reading Who is Aafia Siddiqui? Guantánamo files reveal her as top al-Qaida operative

Arab uprising: What to do with dictators?

By the Monitor’s Editorial Board

Immunity or prosecution for dictators? That tough question hovers over the Arab uprising, just as it has in Latin America, parts of Asia, postcommunist Europe and other places.

In Yemen, international negotiators have reportedly offered amnesty to President Ali Abdullah Saleh as a way to entice him to resign after 32 years in power. Western leaders have hoped, too, that an exit could be found for Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, perhaps by letting him go to Venezuela or places in Africa.

And yet, Egyptian authorities are detaining the deposed Hosni Mubarak for questioning in a military hospital. They want to ask about his role in corruption and the deaths of hundreds of protesters who sought his ouster.

Tunisia’s justice minister, meanwhile, seeks the extradition of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who fled to Saudi Arabia when youthful demonstrators forced him from his 23-year rule in January. Tunis wants him to answer to more than a dozen charges, including murder and drug trafficking. …

Read more: Yahoo New

Let us strengthen Pakistan

Let us Unite to Uphold 18th Amendment including Devolution of HEC

By Khalid Hashmani

As more and more information comes out in the waning days of Higher Education Commission (HEC), most Sindhis are shocked to know that out of ten thousands (10,000) foreign and domestic scholarships that have been distributed by HEC so far, Sindh received only 892 (http://ejang.jang.com.pk/4-7-2011/Karachi/pic.asp?picname=99.gif). This amounts to about one third of the number that Sindh would have received even if the NFC award rules were applied. There is no province/ state or ethnic group anywhere in the world that has suffered as much as Sindhis have when it comes to scholarship opportunities in Pakistan. Instead of defending an institution that has denied Sindhis their due share in educational opportunities for so many years, we should be demanding trial of those officials who were responsible for denying Sindh its due share in scholarships. It is doubtful that an agency of such dreadful performance should even be given a role of standard setting and quality assurance. The Government of Pakistan should seriously consider creating a new agency with proper representation from each province/ state to oversee the jurisdictions that 18th Amendment allows at the federal level.

Continue reading Let us strengthen Pakistan

Pak major’s account reveals Jamaat role

Accounts of the occupation force members too bear out how Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh and its paramilitary wings styled Razakar, Al Badr, and Al Shams Bahini worked fervently against the country’s war of independence.

For instance, Siddiq Salik, who was serving the Pakistan army as a major in Bangladesh in 1971, in his book ‘Witness to Surrender’ recounts the anti-liberation role of Jamaat, Muslim League and Nizam-i-Islam.

He observed that Jamaat leaders collaborated with them [Pakistan army] not only to advance their ideals of Pakistan as an Islamic state, but also to wreak vengeance on people they were at enmity with.

Referring to the drives against Bangalee freedom fighters, he wrote, “These operations were only a partial success because the West Pakistani troops neither knew the faces of the suspects nor could they read the lane numbers (in Bengali). …

Read more : BangladeshNews.com.bd

Unrest in the Arab world: Islamabad assures Riyadh of support!

By Qaiser Butt

ISLAMABAD: In the backdrop of the current political uprisings in the Arab world, Pakistan has decided to play a significant role in the region by supporting Saudi Arabia, sources told The Express Tribune.

The decision came following a string of meetings that Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, special emissary of the Saudi king, had with the Pakistani leadership over the weekend.

The Saudi royal family scion met the top political and military leaders ….

Read more : The Express Tribune

An international seminar, ‘Global Sindhis & World Peace’ was held at Mumbai University

MUMBAI UNIVERSITY HOSTS AN INTERNATIONAL SEMINAR

India – Mumbai: “Un-assuming nature and persistence of Dr. Baldev Matlani compels people like us to say yes, whenever he invites us to such literary events”, said Mr. Nanik Rupani, Chairman, Priyadarshni Academy. He further emphasized the importance of organizing such seminars to keep the flame of Sindhi language, burning forever.

Continue reading An international seminar, ‘Global Sindhis & World Peace’ was held at Mumbai University

Maverik mullah & his Jamiat Ulema

by Farooq Sulehria

WikiLeaks reveal Maulana Fazl ur Rehman approached the US embassy in India through Maulana Madni. The embassy was informed: Mr. Rahman “could not speak freely in Pakistan, that he would say one thing in Pakistan and something else in India if asked”…Mr. Madani was also carrying another message on behalf of Mr. Rehman — that he be allowed to play a bigger role in Pakistani politics. Mr. Madani told the U.S. official that because of his known ties to Taliban members, Mr. Rahman had a “bad reputation” in Pakistani politics, but “in reality was more moderate than Musharraf.” …

Read more : ViewPoint

Pakistan – Jinnah’s nightmare

Success and failure

By S. Akbar Zaidi

THE country which was considered to be a basket case in 1971, is today offering a mirror to others on how developing countries can become a development state and is being referred to as the `development surprise` of the 21st century.

At the same time, it has also ensured that democracy is developing as a strong and permanent alternative to military rule, under which it has had many years of painful repression.

That this overwhelmingly Muslim country is also constitutionally and increasingly in practice politically secular is also a lesson for other Muslim majoritarian countries to emulate. The Supreme Court struck down a 31-year-old constitutional amendment and restored the country to its founding status as a secular republic, banning the writings of some radical Islamic ideologues.

The country which in the mid-1960s was heralded as a role model for other developing countries, where the international press had praised its military-led development model no end, stating that it might just reach the levels of development achieved only by the United States, has just appeared as the world`s 10th most failed, or failing, state. On the course towards reaching this rather ignominious distinction, this country has also been called “the most dangerous place in the world”, and a “rogue state with a nuclear arsenal”.

Read more : DAWN

Circus called talk shows

by Mazhar Arif

News reports indicate arrest of Raymond Davis provided an opportunity to the ISI to renegotiate its ‘terms of engagement’ with the CIA. But, ‘independent’ TV channels and Jamaat-e-Islami groomed anchor persons were furious over the elected governments, both federal and provincial, for ‘handing over’ Raymond Davis to Washington …

Read more : View Point

Security establishment has real power so judiciary listens them, President Zardari has no power therefore, his democratically elected government is being punished!

The language of talk show is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy: Aaj TV ((Aaj Ki Khabar with Absaar, guest Faisal Raza Abdi, – 17th March 2011)

via- ZemTVYou Tube

Who sold Pakistan for a few Karors?

Najam Sethi’s analysis is spot on; his conclusion that ISI and other stake holders have done the Secured Release of Raymond Davis.

Courtesy: Geo TV (Aapas Ki Baat with Najam Sethi and and Muneeb Farooq, 16th March 2011)

via- Siasat.pkYou Tube

PAKISTAN IN CRISIS

Ahmed Rashid, Author and Journalist

With the recent assassination of Salman Taseer, governor of the province of Punjab, one of the strongest voices for democracy and secularism in the Pakistan People’s Party has been silenced. The government is in crisis, and the economy has been in freefall since the International Monetary Fund halted its loans to the country last year. Ahmed Rashid warns that the situation in Pakistan is potentially worse than in neighboring Afghanistan. This unrest comes at a crucial time when the United States is seeking increased cooperation with Islamabad on the war in Afghanistan and combating terrorism. What is the future of Pakistan’s partnership with the United States, and what will be Pakistan’s role in defining regional order before NATO pulls out of Afghanistan in 2014? …

Read more : The Chicago Council

ENEMIES OF DEMOCRACY INVITING ARMY & JUDICIARY TO PLAY UNCONSTITUTIONAL ROLE AGAINST ELECTED DEMOCRATIC GOVT.

N’ reaffirms judiciary, army proposal

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (N) on Wednesday said it considered the army and the judiciary major stakeholders in the country’s national affairs as it justified Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s controversial call for inviting representatives of the two institutions at a proposed all-party conference to prepare a broad-based national agenda to steer the country out of crisis.

“Since the country’s constitution has assigned roles to both the judiciary and the army, besides the executive, the call for inviting the army chief and the chief justice for consultation on national issues is not something extra-constitutional,” PML-N spokesman Ahsan Iqbal told a joint news conference with the party’s former information secretary, Siddiqul Farooque, and MNA Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry at the party’s central secretariat here.

The PML-N leaders announced that if the government did not stop recruitment in state-owned corporations on ‘political grounds’, their party’s parliamentarians would ‘gherao’ (besiege) these institutions.

The Punjab chief minister told journalists after inaugurating a three-day polio campaign in Lahore on Monday that the deteriorating situation in the country demanded that all stakeholders, including the political leadership, army and the judiciary, sat together and discussed the challenges facing the country.

He also said he had already contacted Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani “on the advice of (party chief) Nawaz Sharif to suggest to him to sit together with the army and the judiciary and discuss a strategy to steer the country out of the current situation”.

Wednesday’s news conference seemed aimed at countering criticism of Mr Sharif’s statement from the federally ruling Pakistan People’s Party and various sections of society and media, with some political observers terming the call as an open invitation to the army for a direct intervention in the country’s political matters.

Read more : DAWN

Robert Fisk

Robert Fisk: The destiny of this pageant lies in the Kingdom of Oil

The Middle East earthquake of the past five weeks has been the most tumultuous, shattering, mind-numbing experience in the history of the region since the fall of the Ottoman empire. For once, “shock and awe” was the right description.

The docile, supine, unregenerative, cringing Arabs of Orientalism have transformed themselves into fighters for the freedom, liberty and dignity which we Westerners have always assumed it was our unique role to play in the world. One after another, our satraps are falling, and the people we paid them to control are making their own history – our right to meddle in their affairs (which we will, of course, continue to exercise) has been diminished for ever.

The tectonic plates continue to shift, with tragic, brave – even blackly humorous – results. Countless are the Arab potentates who always claimed they wanted democracy in the Middle East. King Bashar of Syria is to improve public servants’ pay. King Bouteflika of Algeria has suddenly abandoned the country’s state of emergency. King Hamad of Bahrain has opened the doors of his prisons. King Bashir of Sudan will not stand for president again. King Abdullah of Jordan is studying the idea of a constitutional monarchy. And al-Qa’ida are, well, rather silent.

Who would have believed that the old man in the cave would suddenly have to step outside, dazzled, blinded by the sunlight of freedom rather than the Manichean darkness to which his eyes had become accustomed. Martyrs there were aplenty across the Muslim world – but not an Islamist banner to be seen. The young men and women bringing an end to their torment of dictators were mostly Muslims, but the human spirit was greater than the desire for death. They are Believers, yes – but they got there first, toppling Mubarak while Bin Laden’s henchmen still called for his overthrow on outdated videotapes.

But now a warning. It’s not over. We are experiencing today that warm, slightly clammy feeling before the thunder and lightning break out. Gaddafi’s final horror movie has yet to end, albeit with that terrible mix of farce and blood to which we are accustomed in the Middle East. And his impending doom is, needless to say, throwing into ever-sharper perspective the vile fawning of our own potentates. Berlusconi – who in many respects is already a ghastly mockery of Gaddafi himself – and Sarkozy, and Lord Blair of Isfahan are turning out to look even shabbier than we believed. Those faith-based eyes blessed Gaddafi the murderer. I did write at the time that Blair and Straw had forgotten the “whoops” factor, the reality that this weird light bulb was absolutely bonkers and would undoubtedly perform some other terrible act to shame our masters. And sure enough, every journalist is now going to have to add “Mr Blair’s office did not return our call” to his laptop keyboard.

Everyone is now telling Egypt to follow the “Turkish model” – this seems to involve a pleasant cocktail of democracy and carefully controlled Islam. But if this is true, Egypt’s army will keep an unwanted, undemocratic eye on its people for decades to come. As lawyer Ali Ezzatyar has pointed out, “Egypt’s military leaders have spoken of threats to the “Egyptian way of life”… in a not so subtle reference to threats from the Muslim Brotherhood. This can be seen as a page taken from the Turkish playbook.” The Turkish army turned up as kingmakers four times in modern Turkish history. And who but the Egyptian army, makers of Nasser, constructors of Sadat, got rid of the ex-army general Mubarak when the game was up?

And democracy – the real, unfettered, flawed but brilliant version which we in the West have so far lovingly (and rightly) cultivated for ourselves – is not going, in the Arab world, to rest happy with Israel’s pernicious treatment of Palestinians and its land theft in the West Bank. Now no longer the “only democracy in the Middle East”, Israel argued desperately – in company with Saudi Arabia, for heaven’s sake – that it was necessary to maintain Mubarak’s tyranny. It pressed the Muslim Brotherhood button in Washington and built up the usual Israeli lobby fear quotient to push Obama and La Clinton off the rails yet again. Faced with pro-democracy protesters in the lands of oppression, they duly went on backing the oppressors until it was too late. I love “orderly transition”. The “order” bit says it all. Only Israeli journalist Gideon Levy got it right. “We should be saying ‘Mabrouk Misr!’,” he said. Congratulations, Egypt!

Yet in Bahrain, I had a depressing experience. King Hamad and Crown Prince Salman have been bowing to their 70 per cent (80 per cent?) Shia population, opening prison doors, promising constitutional reforms. So I asked a government official in Manama if this was really possible. Why not have an elected prime minister instead of a member of the Khalifa royal family? He clucked his tongue. “Impossible,” he said. “The GCC would never permit this.” For GCC – the Gulf Co-operation Council – read Saudi Arabia. And here, I am afraid, our tale grows darker.

We pay too little attention to this autocratic band of robber princes; we think they are archaic, illiterate in modern politics, wealthy (yes, “beyond the dreams of Croesus”, etc), and we laughed when King Abdullah offered to make up any fall in bailouts from Washington to the Mubarak regime, and we laugh now when the old king promises $36bn to his citizens to keep their mouths shut. But this is no laughing matter. The Arab revolt which finally threw the Ottomans out of the Arab world started in the deserts of Arabia, its tribesmen trusting Lawrence and McMahon and the rest of our gang. And from Arabia came Wahabism, the deep and inebriating potion – white foam on the top of the black stuff – whose ghastly simplicity appealed to every would-be Islamist and suicide bomber in the Sunni Muslim world. The Saudis fostered Osama bin Laden and al-Qa’ida and the Taliban. Let us not even mention that they provided most of the 9/11 bombers. And the Saudis will now believe they are the only Muslims still in arms against the brightening world. I have an unhappy suspicion that the destiny of this pageant of Middle East history unfolding before us will be decided in the kingdom of oil, holy places and corruption. Watch out. ….

Read more : The Independent.co.uk