Browsing "PPP"
Apr 28, 2013 - PPP, PTI, Punjab, religion, terrorism    2 Comments

NOT the victims of a drone attack

This is a request to those who are free to conduct election campaign for their political parties before the country goes to poll on May 11 2013. Most of you are lamenting the drone attacks on Pakistani soil and vow to change the situation as soon as you assume power. Some of you are outright Taliban sympathizers and believe that a dialogue with them would yield desired results. A few of you have openly associated with terrorist outfits and have even sought their blessing before the elections. Even though it pains me to see you succumb to them, I wont criticize your diplomacy because a country like this indeed ask for the survival of the fittest and pragmatism demands that you maintain cordial relations with those obscurantist forces if you want to survive.

However, I would request you guys – the leaders of the political parties who are not under attack and are free to run their election campaigns – to take a few minutes out during the many jalsas and corner meetings that you address and show some empathy with the Pakistanis who are under attack from Taliban. They might not have been victims of a drone attack but they too have lost their loved ones, livelihoods and limbs in similarly gruesome acts of violence. The tragedy is that they are attacked by their countrymen hence rhetoric against their killers may not win you votes, television slot and space in international media. You might also be afraid of the Taliban and wonder that if you voice grievance against their ways, you may join these parties who are under attack. Your reluctance makes sense in the short run but what if they come after you once they get rid of these heathens? Fear that future when you may need help but there won’t be anyone left to stand beside you.

Think about your countrymen who may or may not vote for you and have an ideology which is different from yours but they are a part of this country that you call home and they contribute to its society and economy as much as you do, if not more. They need your support to survive right now, who knows they might end up voting for you in future elections if they manage to stay alive. Think about them, because if they perish, you may not even get to enjoy the election process in future.

Regards,

A concerned citizen

 

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These children have lost their father on a bomb attack on MQM’s election office in Bufferzone Karachi. – Photo taken from Twitter TL

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Another kid mourning the loss of his father after attacks on MQM election offices. Photo – AFP

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A victim of bomb attack on ANP’s election office in Orangi Town, Karachi. Photo – AP

ANP Orangi AP

Another family has lost a loved one after the Orangi Town attack on ANP’s election office. Photo – AP

 

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A young victim of terrorist attack in Abbas Town last month – Photo credit AP

 

Residents stand among rubble and debris at the site of April 24th bomb attack in Quetta, the blast was one of the series of attack on Hazara Community. Photo – Reuters

PS: There are far more gruesome photographs of children who have lost their eyes & limbs and dismembered torsos of men who have lost their lives. I did not post those picture because the point here is to invoke empathy for those who are fighting this war against TTP and nothing else.

 

The other martyrs



Martyrs are valued anywhere in the world because of their valour, courage and bravery. In Pakistan, they are valued because they help in setting the public image right, secure votes and feed our national sadism that responds only to death, misery and destruction.

Let us start with political parties. Most political parties, barring various factions of the Muslim League, boast about their ‘shaheeds’. Everyone mourns the death of their party members but is perhaps secretly thrilled by it as well because we, as a nation, practice politics on the basis of the number of shaheeds per party. The Pakistan People’s Party, with the ‘shahadat’ of two former heads of the government, is at the top of the food chain and has won elections by asking their voters to atone for their leaders’ death by voting them into the assemblies. Others do it to lesser degrees of success. Case in point: every transgression of the ANP’s leadership is countered by tales of personal losses incurred by people like Mian Iftikhar Hussain. Mian Iftikhar’s loss of his only son and nephew to terrorism is extremely tragic but it cannot counter the irresponsible behavior of people such as Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour who announced a bounty for the man behind the anti-Islam video, for short-term political gains.

The armed forces also need martyrs to feed the bogey of the ‘other’ and justify their existence as well as the huge drain they are on the country’s meager resources. Ever since the war against home-grown terrorists began, nothing worked as well for them as coffins shrouded with the national flag, images of children left behind by the fathers, mothers mourning deaths of their sons and father stoically professing that they would be happy and proud if they lose their other son for the country.

One martyr who does not get either the same amount of reverence or the same coverage in our media is the much-maligned policeman; the policeman, who gets killed every time a group of terrorist or miscreants want to play hooky with the security of the country. In the battle for Islamabad’s red zone last week, Islamabad police came out most harmed — apart from the country’s image, that is. Not only did policemen suffer injuries — 55 policemen were wounded on September 20 alone in Islamabad — but the mob also set fire to their check posts and vehicles, destroying their records and valuable public property, which was paid for by taxpayers. The religious parties and organizations that are fed on the populist rhetoric wanted blood and wanted to march all the way to the US consulate, but it was the capital police that stopped them and perhaps helped the government in averting an international crisis. One can only shudder to think what would have happened had the mob reached the consulate. The very next day, three policemen lost their lives in Karachi when a similar mob was busy looting and burning the city, while many others got injured.

Policemen form the first line of defense against terrorism and many have lost their lives or limbs fighting them with old, outdated and inadequate weapons. They are asked to fire tear gas without proper safety equipment, sent to deal with deadly opponents under prepared and paid a lot less than other security agencies with inadequate pension plans and medical insurance. On top of that, they face public ridicule every day. Though their services are generally below par and there is much to be done to improve their performance, it is time we start honoring our police force for doing what they are doing right.

First published in The Express Tribune

A slap — and then some

If you happen to live in Pakistan and have access to any kind of media, mainstream or otherwise, you would know the step by step details of Waheeda Shah’s slapping of a polling officer roughly two weeks ago. The commotion that followed the incident may be justified but if looked closely, every episode in this murky saga including the initial slap truly reflects the society we live in and is
nothing out of ordinary.


A well heeled feudal woman slapped a government servant to show her might. She did it because she knew that she can get away with it. Had that slap was not recorded by the television cameras in all its violent glory, she definitely would have gotten away with it – something that happens every day in this country.


The media rightly reported the incident as an act of violence and desecration of the election process but then went on to add dramatic music and some crafty edits to make it look like a case of repeated slaps. Our esteemed media turned a grave violation of law into a caricature which is quite the routine.


Pakistani police also stayed true to its character in this sorry tale. Waheeda Shah slapped the poling officer right in front of a senior police official – a DSP – who did nothing to stop the aggression of a powerful and connected feudal.


Under duress, an FIR was registered against Waheeda Shah, but instead of booking her for assault on another human being which carries harsher punishment, she was charged with ‘disorderly conduct at polling station’, an offence punishable with just three months imprisonment, a fine of Rs 1,000 or both.


When a PPP candidate is involved in shenanigans of the worst kind, how can Pakistani judicial activism be far behind? The Supreme Court of Pakistan also decides to jumps into the fray and takes suo moto notice against Ms. Shah because, let’s admit it,  her slap is the biggest issue threatening the core of the country. Incidents like genocide of Hazara Community  in Quetta and brutal killings of Shias in Kohistan do not merit the same response. Just like the country it represents, the apex court has its priorities straight.


Some women rights activists on social media  criticized Supreme Court’s decision to take suo moto action and said that higher judiciary’s judicial activism is directed to women alone because they are easy preys, be it credit card theft case of Shumaila Rana of PML-N, possession of alcohol; case of Atiqa Odho of APML or PPP’s Waheeda Shah’s misconduct during elections.


After ECP disqualified the election of PS 53 Tando Muhammed Khan, PPP should have graciously accepted defeat and vowed to get their act together before general elections. But as Pakistani we never learn from mistakes and PPP officials also supported their candidate with Agha Siraj Durrani refusing to buy the rumpus that followed the incident saying that Shah had “only slapped the staff!”

As if the whole brouhaha surrounding the incident was not enough, Raja Riaz of PPP decided to add his voice to the commotion. He first denied Shah’s assault on the presiding officer and said she was just “pressed.”He then defended Shah’s act of violence as the grief of a traumatized widow and then blamed the victim in true Pakistani fashion for rigging the elections.  Waheeda Shah and her act of aggression is not unique, Pakistan has turned into this Orwellian nightmare where might is not always right, it wins in the end as well. 
First published in The Express Tribune,this is the unedited version.

Because jumping the ship is en vogue

In an innovative move yesterday, PPP co-chair and President of Pakistan Mr Asif Ali Zardari announced that he is switching parties and has now joined Mr Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf.

While the general public is baffled and speculators are speculating about the probable reasons behind this unprecedented move – no party chair has ever voluntarily vacated his position and decided to move to another party as a junior member – this scribe managed a few precious quotes from the erstwhile PPP co-chair, who at the time of the interview was vacationing in Scotland with his children.

When President Zardari was told that his move to PTI is being viewed with suspicion, he was astounded. “I don’t know why there is such a brouhaha over my membership in Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, it is but natural that Imran and I should come together. We have so much in common we could practically be BFFs, like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.” When asked to elaborate, he pointed out that both he and Khan had lived it up in their youth, unlike some other politicians who spent their younger days politicking and working on their public personas. “We are two single dudes whose children live away from home; we get lonely in the evenings and can now keep each other company, watch Capital Talk together and mock Hamid Mir’s hair, mustache and sartorial choices. Besides, both of us were astute enough to marry way above our station.”

When asked about the future of Pakistan People’s Party, Mr Zardari said that the party was left to Bilawal by his mother; Mr Zardari himself was just the caretaker waiting for Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to grow up and take over the reins. “Now that Bilawal and Aseefa are all grown up and geared to go, I have to step aside and let them take the lead, that’s what any good father would do,” said the president.

PTI chairman Imran Khan, also vacationing in the United Kingdom with his children, welcomed Mr. Zardari’s move to his party and said that Mr Zardari’s modesty is the perfect foil for his posturing. “I can point fingers and accuse every one of all kinds of misdeeds,” said Mr Khan, “and Mr. Zardari will go and placate everyone afterwards.” When asked whether or not Zardari’s inclusion in his party goes against the PTI rhetoric – such as the stance against hereditary politics – Khan said that no member of Zardari’s clan has ever been part of PTI; Zardari is the first person to have joined the party. “As his children hold key positions in a rival party, chances of them jumping in are slim,” Imran Khan added.

While both the leaders appear to be at peace with each other, naysayers are pointing out that Mr. Zardari had no intention of joining PTI, but a recent attack by NATO forces on Bilawal House made him change his mind. He would have let it go as collateral damage in the Global War Against Terror, but he changed his mind when he found out that Secretary Clinton had denied any knowledge of the existence of either Bilawal Bhutto Zardari or Bilawal House.

While Imran Khan seems happy with the stag-party-in-progress, another former jiyala (who was also a member of General Zia’s Majlis-e-Shura) does not seem too happy with the development. Shah Mehmood Qureshi thought he would be the only jiyala to cross over party lines and believes Mr Zardari will spoil his camaraderie with Mr. Khan.

“I thought it would be a party of good-looking men only,” Shah Mehmood Qureshi said. “Granted that Mr Zardari’s new teeth have made his smile the brightest one in Pakistan, but he still has to catch up with me when it comes to being called a good-looking man.” When it was pointed out to the former foreign minister that his party is not limited to good looking men – it has Shireen Mizari in a senior position – he declined to comment. Sources close to Mr. Qureshi later said that he was shocked when he found out that Shireen Mizari was not a good looking man.


First published in The Friday Times  

PS: Before anyone lynches me, let me point out that it is a spoof and Mr. President is still very much a jiyala.

Dr Babar Awan – What’s not to like?

The twittervesre is outraged at Dr Babar Awan, not because he had one of his usual bouts of tweeting with caps lock on, but because he was awarded the post of Vice President of Pakistan People’s Party. I can’t understand the animosity his appointment has garnered. Not only is he an educated man, he is also an astute lawyer, a good orator, a TV presenter par excellence, a  writer and man who speaks the language of our masters (no silly, everyone speaks English, he is fluent in Arabic). Seriously; what’s not to like? 

One can be a little perturbed at this development because how can a political party have a vice president when it does not have a president – Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Daddy Zardari share the chairmanship of the party – but this much anger on an appointment is a little misplaced. 

The appointment of the good doctor is quite befitting; after all, who else could have matched his towering personality and his innumerable accomplishments. The cynics think that party has other stalwarts who could have been better suited for the job, but no one comes even close. Named after the Mughal king, Zaheer-ud-din Babar, the new Vice President is a man amongst men. Aitezaz Ahsan and Sherry Rehman may have written an odd book or two about Indus River and Kashmiri shawls, but the esteemed barrister has authored several books. It is besides the point that no one seems to know the titles of the books and what those books are about. Unfortunately, a hurried Google search about his penmanship yielded no conclusive results. 

Rehman Malik may have been awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Karachi University, but Dr Babar Awan is heads and shoulders above his fellow party man. He does not wait for local universities to confer doctorates upon him; he invents a university as delicately named as Monticello – which perhaps reminds one of a high end spaghetti sauce or Thomas Jefferson – and bestow a doctorate upon himself.

Dr Babar Awan is also not a serial party hopper like some other dudes whose final destination seems to be PTI these days. He only jumped the ship once and has been with Pakistan People’s Party since 1990s. Wikipedia reports that his brother is part of a Mutahidda Qaumi Movement in Punjab but that is only to spread brotherhood and good cheer. I don’t see him joining Altaf Bhai any time soon.


Not just politicians, Dr Babar Awan can give TV personalities like Amir Liaquat and Sahir Lodhi a run for money. Unlike Amir Liaquat who carries the show on the basis of sheer verbosity and Sahir Lodhi who only moonlights as a religious presenter in Ramazan and is known more for his dance moves and questionable wardrobe, Dr Awan is a genuine bona fide religious scholar who used to present a show on religious laws on a local tv channel. The ratings of his show were however not available to be compared with the other two gentlemen.


What the naysayers do not get is that vice president ship of a party is a very significant post and cannot be given to just anyone. The reason this important post was given to Dr Babar Awan is that if there ever was a declamation or an oration  contest between vice chairmen and presidents of Pakistani political parties, Pakistan people’s party would not want to lose it to its erstwhile member and the new, asli tay vada and very senior vice chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf. 

A slightly edited version was first published in The Express Tribune 


Dec 26, 2011 - PPP, published work, Social Media    2 Comments

Making fun of North Korea

With Kim Jong-il’s death, it was but expected that the western media and its consumers would jump into mocking everything about North Korea and its dead president. Twitterverse (with its fake twitter profile of Kim Jong-un), Tumblrs and Facebook pages are inundated with links poking fun at the backwardness, insularity and stupidity of North Koreans. Media savvy, English-speaking, hip Pakistanis are taking part in this mock-fest wholeheartedly. This is most fascinating because Pakistan, perhaps, is more like North Korea than most other countries.

North Korea is usually dubbed as one of the poorest countries in the world. Pakistan may not be one of the poorest countries — yet — but it sure is on its way to becoming one with a paltry two per cent growth rate (which in any case is undermined by the high population growth rate), soaring inflation, unprecedented unemployment and never-ending energy crisis.

North Korea is dubbed by mainstream western media as an anachronistic nuclear country whose population lives in abject poverty and where political dissenters are sent to die in concentration camps. We, too, are a country where women are buried alive in the name of tradition; millions do not have access to either clean drinking water or sanitation; and the lesser is said about the bonded labour tilling the land, the better.

If North Korea is the most isolated nation in the world, we, too, are pariahs of sorts. Getting anywhere with our green passport is an ordeal. We have had sanctions levied on us on counts of aiding and abetting terrorism to child labour and what not. If the US has used trade sanctions as leverage to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programme, we have been meted out the same treatment back in 1998 after conducting the nuclear tests.

We mocked the outpouring of grief — which may have been staged and must have appeared contrived to western eyes — but how can we forget how we behaved when one of our own leaders, Benazir Bhutto, died four years ago — with fist-thumping grief, tears, chaos, mayhem and bloodshed.

We scoffed at the leadership succession plan of North Korea, mocking a four-star general in his 20’s. But have we ever stopped to think that we have done something quite similar — made a barely adult teenager, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who was not even a resident of the country, the chairman of the biggest political party of Pakistan.

The malaise of dynasty is not limited to the PPP alone. If Asfandyar Wali is a third generation ANP leader, then Mian Nawaz Sharif is preparing ground to bring in his daughter, Maryam Nawaz , to counter the threat of the PTI and help his party shed the old fuddy-duddy image. And Imran Khan is probably planning to challenge the Election Commission on the issue of the enforcement of the law barring dual nationality holders from contesting elections, to ensure that his progeny be able to do the requisite politicking when their time comes.

Heaping scorn on a malicious dead dictator is fine, but ridiculing an entire nation for their collective bad fortune is just in bad taste. I wish Pakistanis had shown a bigger heart and extended compassion to the North Koreans. After all, who else should have been able to empathise with them like us?

Originally published in The Express Tribune.
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