Tagged with " politics"
Jan 6, 2012 - published work, TTP, USA, Waziristan    7 Comments

More equal than others in death

In the wake of the cross-border Nato attack in November that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in Salala, the whole country was up in arms against the aggression of the allied forces. From the political parties to lawyers associations, from banned militant outfits to student organisations, from the head of the armed forces to the aunties in drawing room; everyone thought it fitting to lambast the US — especially since most people cannot really distinguish between the US and Nato — for attacking Pakistan’s sovereignty, its land and its people. As if protest of the people living in the country was not enough, Altaf Bhai decided to join in the condemnation of NATO forces all the way from London.

A few weeks later, 15 Frontier Constabulary personnel who were captured in Tank on December 23rd were taken to Waziristan by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and killed after a dozen days. Unlike the deaths in Salala, no one is mourning the loss of lives of these 15 men because we do not cry at the atrocities committed by our so called strategic assets – the TTP – who not only claim these deaths with impunity, they justify it as an act of revenge.  We only lament, or maybe we are pushed into lamenting for those who are killed by foreigners – be it individuals (victims of Raymond Davis) or troops (victims of Salala bombings in November) to get maximum political and material leverage out of it. It’s a slur on national integrity if soldiers die in cross border skirmishes, but if the strategic assets – or more likely the strategic liabilities – murder a group of soldiers in cold blood, it only merits a brief press release with no mention of the names of those who died. 

The victims of Waziristan will also not be grieved because there were no officers and gentlemen amongst them. They were ordinary soldiers; and we do not mourn the deaths of mere soldiers who die in the line of duty by their compatriots. 

Did any political party called for protest against this act of barbarism? No.

Have we seen the footage of flag covered coffins set in manicured gardens for all to pay respect to the dead on the tv to fan the public anger? No.

Has there been funeral prayers for the victims of Waziristan where who‘s who of the country offered condolences and vowed to avenge their deaths? No.

Did lawyers boycott their activities? No, it was business as usual for them. 
Were distressed family members, wailing mothers and fathers with slumped shoulders interviewed to fan public outrage against this barbaric act? No.

Did anyone ask the TTP for qisas for the families of the 15 victims? No.

Were there any TV anchors frothing at the mouth, dishing out sermons dripping with moral outrage calling people to stand up against the effrontery of TTP? No, the debate on TV was about memogate and contempt of court notices dished out to PPP leadership. We sure have our priorities right. 
Why bother, when there is no financial compensation to be had, where no effigy-burning rallies can be organized for political gains, and no other nation is to be blamed. It is known that some animals are more equal than others in the animal farm called Pakistan, but what is now being learned is that some animals are more equal in death as well.

First published in The Express Tribune, this is the unedited version.

Oct 14, 2011 - Uncategorized    7 Comments

Our parliamentarians and other animals

The first time I noticed Abid Sher Ali was when he made Farrah Dogar the most famous/notorious high schooler in Pakistan. As the chair of National Assembly’s standing committee on education, he went anal about her being awarded a few extra points in her high school marks sheet and provided fodder to reams of newsprints and hours of “analysis” on television about state of education, corruption of judiciary and abuse of power. He even went after the employees of FBISE for accommodating CJ Dogar’s request. Now I am all in favour of meritocracy and rule of law but my heart went out for the 18 year old girl who was made a laughing stock on national and satellite tv for point scoring with her father, former CJ of Supreme Court of Pakistan. I also was kinda pissed about selective amnesia plaguing Mr. Abid Sher Ali when he forgot about Ms. Mariam Nawaz (D/o of former almost Ameer-ul-Momineen janab Baray Mian Sahab) being awarded extra points to get in medical college. 
Apart from vowing to take Justice Dogar to cleaners repeatedly, Mr Abid Sher Ali – a thorough gentleman – also has a penchant for getting loud and obnoxious with ladies of other political parties. His emotional outbursts against Speaker Fehmida Mirza and Ms. Sharmila Farooqui are well documented. But everything that has happened in the past was actually leading up to this momentof perfect mayhem when he wanted to get physical in the hallowed environs of the parliament with another parliamentarian. He first wanted to punch and then tried to throw a bunch of parliamentary directories at an MQM legislator Mr. Sajid Ahmed; unfortunately, another PML-N MNA intervened and stopped him.
Peace and sobriety are indeed much desired traits but I so wanted him to throw some kick ass punches at MQM’s Sajid Ahmed for disrupting the tirade of Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. Imagine how MQM would have reacted if it actually happened? They probably would have sued Mr. Sher Ali for every imaginable grievance and more. Imagine the number of hours of tv debate it would have generated! Imagine how many experts on constitutional decorum would have sprung! Regrettably, he was stopped from taking the parliamentary proceedings to the next level and we are stuck with making fun of “Dr.” Rehman Malik and his apple/banana jokes which are kinda stale now.

Here is our esteemed parliamentarian Mr. Abid Sher Ali in all his violent glory; may he get even more inventive with insults and go from strength to strength.
PS: The title is borrowed from Gerald Durrell’sautobiography My Family And Other Animals. No disrespect is intended towards either Gerald Durrell’s family or the animals they have housed. 
PPS: Here is an awesome montage of the glorious moments by Dunya Tv. 

PPPS: I know this post is about Abid Sher Ali and I should have pasted his photo but who can resist a beaming Dr Rehman Malik in academic robes and rosy cheeks. 

Oct 7, 2011 - Punjab    15 Comments

And the propaganda lives on

Who said propaganda died with Dr Goebbels?
This is one picture that is doing rounds on social networking websites these days. The premise of the photograph  is that Mian Nawaz Shareef is meeting Dengue victims with a mask on his face while Imran Khan – the sher jawan of Pakistan (at 59 with wrinkles to match those on Mick Jagger’s face, he is anything but sher jawan) is this fearless man who is meeting common people without security or either the armoured guards or a mask. 
Now we all know that Mian sahib is not the most awami leader in Pakistan but then we are all in the know that Khan Sahib too does not suffer aam janta or dissenting voice all that gladly. Looks like Pujnab will be the fiercest battle ground in next elections. The establishment’s PR machinery is hard at work in establishing Imran Khan as the messiah who will deliver; no one seems to care as to what will be delivered by the erstwhile Kaptaan at this point in time.
Sep 27, 2011 - rant, religion    17 Comments

Imran Khan’s spiritual experiences and my nani’s psychic abilities

Though I have no intention of either buying or reading Imran Khan’s book “Pakistan – A personal History” the translated excerpts published in the Sunday Magzine of Daily Express are pure gold and a highly recommended read (could not find the link despite looking for ages – their website is a total nightmare btw). Among other godlike protestations of greatness from the book, Express carried a boxed piece titled “Roohani Tajurbat” which details Imran Khan’s spiritual experiences.
As Imran Khan was uber awesome at everything, he was an early starter in experimenting with spiritual experiences as well and has had his very first spiritual experience at age 14 – and no, I am not talking about that kind of experiences. Khan saab recalls that he was going through a period of doubt when his mother’s pirni paid them a visit.  Imran Khan did not finish the requisite Nazra Quran lessons (every Muslim child must finish Quran at least once under the guidance of a quran teacher who can teach them how to recite Quran in Arabic). Although most Muslims can read and recite Quran, they cannot understand the language, but I digress. Anyways, the pirini ji who had not even looked at Khan – she observed purdah with a 14 year old boy as well – told Khan’s mother that her child has not finished his nazra lessons. The pirni ji, who did not trust the 14 year old Khan enough to not observe purdah with him, then told his mother that she should not worry about it. According to the aforementioned pirni ji, even though Khan was adept at lying to his parents at the ripe old age of 14 (he not only lied about finishing the recitation lessons of Quran, he even got the man of God – the Nazra teacher to lie on his behalf), he still is a “naik rooh” (pure soul) and will eventually turn out to be a great guy (if Pirni ji was that great a psychic, she should have known what a ‘legen – wait for it – dary’ play boy this naik rooh turned out to be, but I digress again).
This is not the only “spiritual” incident the excerpts in Express’ Sunday Magazine carried. Everyone he had met only predicted greatness and more greatness for the great Immy K. Let me reiterate that I have not read the book but if the excerpts are anything to go by, I wonder why any sane person would ever want to spend their hard earned money on narcissist ranting of a man who is probably sad and lonely and was probably high as a kite when he wrote that book.
My dear departed nani made similar predictions about me, but do I ever take them seriously – only when I am high on cough syrup. Do I plan to write them all in an autobiography, hell no. But then, I am an ordinary person who sadly has no illusions of grandeur, either about herself or her Nani’s psychic abilities.
As I could not find the link, I decided to take a picture of the said piece
Oh and before I sign off, let me just say this. Roohani tajurbat, my %&^(*@#*&!
Jun 10, 2011 - published work    No Comments

Rehman Malik is not alone …

For those who flinch every time Rehman Malik makes an outrageous statement like terrorists being some kind of celestial beings in Star Wars (or was it Star Trek) sartorial finery, flinch no more as other government officials make gaffes at par with his proclamations. We already have Donald Rumsfield’s ‘Known unknowns” and the latest one to join ranks with Malik sahib is Foreign and Commonwealth office (FCO).
Yes, as part of their counter terrorism activity, the FCO has commissioned an anti terror cartoon film (what an oxymoron) “Wish you Waziristan.” The film’s target audience is young Muslim wanna be terrorist boys. I just wonder how receptive a wanna be radical boy – someone already inclined towards violence – would be in an animated story about perils of jehad in the wilderness of Waziristan.
Although the makers of the film claim that they have been working on it for past two years – it was commissioned by Labour government back in 2009 – it is quite obvious the film has used all possible clichés and popular references on the topic. The first overly simplistic cliché is that those who face racism will become terrorists. It is like Dr. Phil declaring that Osama Bin laden became a terrorist mastermind because he was the 17th child and did not get love and attention from his father. So if you are suffering from the 17th child syndrome or have latent anger over childhood insults, chances are, you will end up in Waziristan trying to blow up random shit.  The failed bombing in Waziristan and the use of the word Bro are all from Chris Morris’ hilarious jehad satire Four Lions. Wish you Waziristan (I cringe every time I type this name) film-makers should know that when you are working on a serious project, your point of reference should never be a satire.
The film has two main characters, a young boy of Pakistani origins (he has relatives in Pakistan) with jehadi tendencies names Abu and his younger- not-interested-in-jehad-but-accompanying-big-bro-because-that’s-what-you-do brother. If they had researched it properly, they would have known that desi boys are not named Abu. The inspiration for the name is obviously someone like Abu Hamza a.k.a Maulvi Hook who is an Arab.
Though the film deals with the issue of racism, it makes a mandatory reference to a Muslim/Pathan jihadist’s inappropriate touching – in the guise of body search – of a teenager.
The FCO has been accused of wasting tax payers’ money on this film. I am sure whosoever came up with this idea must have had some linkages with Pakistani bureaucracy as they too come up with one asinine idea after another. Just like we declared 2007, the year everything went haywire in Pakistan, the year of tourism, FCO came up with this gem. While we spent a fortune on ads printed in Urdu newspaper promoting tourism, this film is made at a relatively low cost of £33,000. Looks like our former colonial masters are not as good at the art of squandering public money on frivolous pursuits.

Originally published in Dawn

Jun 8, 2011 - religion, women    14 Comments

Because concubines are all halal

Every now and then, a woman politician in a Muslim country will rise and say things more misogynist than  most vile male chauvinists, to score points with their counterparts who want women off the roads, schools and public space in general.
Last year it was our polygamy champion Ms Samina Khawar Hayat (since then she has gained notoriety for breaking lotas on Tv shows) who wanted men to marry multiple times to bring honor to many unmarried women and to satisfy their superior libido. This year, it is Salwa al Mutairi, a wannabe parliamentarian from Kuwait who wants men to have  …. sex slaves or concubines which is a slightly less offensive term.
If you are thinking I am high on something, I am not. Ms Mutairi really wants to bring the 10th century back, where ownership of sex slaves was rather a cool thing.
Before one could ask her where would one get women who would willingly want to be concubines? She came up with a solution. She thinks prisoners from war-torn countries, like Chechnya, would make perfect concubines. Sudan, Somalia and Liberia are also war torn countries but Ms Mutairi, who I believe is not just a misogynist but also a closet racist only want white Caucasian Chechen women to provide recreation to her countrymen.
She is rather casual about it and suggested that offices could be open to facilitate the sex trade like any other recruitment agency. She seriously believes that there is no shame in owning people in 21st century as it is in conformity with Sharia law.Her point of reference was caliph Haroun-ul-Rasheed who apparently had 2,000 concubines at his service when he died.
Samina Hayat and Salwa al Mutairi are not the two exceptions, there are many women who hold similar views because the common narrative – be it religious or political – is designed by men and it suits them to keep women thinking that they are nothing but sexual beings created to serve the male libido. Unless that norm is challenged, there will be more such women who would suggest such misogynist legislation to gain support of the men – who are the real power holders – in their societies.

Things we learned from the Wikileaks Pakistan cables

Most people do not know that the Baboons living in South Africa barter their food. They exchange a banana for a bag of crisps they steal from an unsuspecting tourist. Just like those baboons, Pakistan’s rent seeking elite barters power and privilege. Unlike baboons, who barter among themselves, our political elite barters with an alien foreign force and when they are not bartering with that alien foreign force they want it to play the guarantor; at least that is what latest Wikileaks Pakistan Papers tell us.
While the newspaper reading drawing room analyst types (that’s almost all of us) already knew or suspected whatever goes in the corridors of power, we learned a few new things from the cables. Take this particular cable from 2009 for example, US considers PML (Q) to be the asli tay vadi PML because they have been referred to as plain and simple PML – with no ABCD affixed to it. PML-N, on the other hand, was referred to as such which must have rankled Khadim-e-Ala Punjab a lot. If the pattern of his belligerence is consistent, he must be reciting Habib Jalib’s Main Naheen Manta in his Raiwind mansion since the cables came out.
Some people are drawn to adventure and some are destined to play with fire. In Pakistan,  anyone who takes over the president’s office is predestined to become obsessed with Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry or so says wikileaks.
If Pakistani political circles were an American high school, then CJ Iftekhar Chaudhry would have been the fat geeky nerd who would not be touched with a barge pole and all cool kids would stay away from him. US Ambassador Anne Patterson very clearly stated that “no leader in Pakistan really wants an activist and unpredictable Chief Justice.” Poor CJ, if he had to attend a prom, no one would have agreed to go out with him.
The cables also reiterated what we already knew – that PML-Q (yes, I continue to use this moniker because I am not a US diplomat) is the biggest mercenary of them all and would switch sides for a provincial chief minister ship, a senate chairmanship or to get the party leader’s son (as it eventually happened) out of trouble.
Anyone who thought that MQM is a small time party interested only in naddi nalay ki siasat (read elected local government bodies) had another think coming, Amreekis do consult them in matters of governments and coalitions. Apparently Altaf Bhai is as thick with the US envoys as the rest of them and wanted to know which way Ms. Patterson and her bosses move before coming out to support the presidential throne.
What we also learned from the cables is that no matter how many speeches Farooq Sattar would give in the parliament and take part in legislative processes, he would always be called the “in country” leader of MQM and not just the leader. We also learned that stormy relationship of MQM and PML-N is as apparent to the Americans as it is obvious to us.
The cables, sent out by the US embassy in Pakistan, lamented the fact that the US had no leverage over Mian Nawaz Shareef. If only they knew about a certain Ms. Kim Barker and her influence over Mian sahib, things would have been much easier for them. All they needed to do was to convince Ms Barker to accept that iPhone and viola, things could have been different.  
We also learned that General Kayani is as adventurous towards Afghanistan as his predecessors and wanted “tactical Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) to cover wide regions such as the whole of Afghanistan and Pakistan through remotely stationed operations rooms.” Seriously, Kayani sahib is not really a mean guy, he just wants to play Battlefield or Mortal Kombat through UAVs across Afghanistan and Pakistan. So what if it costs us peace in the region, the big boys would get to play the ultimate game.
PS: The cables were classified by Anne W. Patterson, for reasons 1.4 (b)(d)or reasons 2.8 (c). I would seriously like to know what those reasons were. 
Originally written for Dawn.com 
May 16, 2011 - Saudi consulate    8 Comments

Is it the same Pakistan I grew up in?

Is it just me or are there others who are facing the same dilemma as I do? Am I living in the same Pakistan that I have always lived in or is it some other country?
Now don’t get me wrong, it is the same country where rapists are released by the superior courts, where an enormous number of children are still out of school, electricity, rather lack of it, continues to wreak havoc with our lives and livelihoods and Aapa Firdous is still rocking the corridors of Islamabad (I am such a fangirl, I had to make a reference to her highness) but something is different. A couple of incidents that happened in past week changed things how they have been since forever. I saw things that I never thought I would see in my lifetime.
The first one is of course the appearance of DG ISI in front of the parliament for the in camera session where he actually took responsibility for leaking information, god-awful intelligence gathering, general bad performance and offered to resign. Resign!!! A serving general, no less than a DG ISI, appearing before that parliament (read them bloody civvies) and offered to resign!!! Who would’ve thought we would see a day when it would happen and it did. Granted the circumstances were extenuating, but still, that fact that it actually happened is kinda unbelievable.
Apart from Pak fauj, the other holy cow in Pakistan is Saudi Arabia. So what if they have been funding outfits involved in gross acts of terrorism in Pakistan? Who cares if they treat most of Pakistan like their personal fiefdoms and come here to hunt under age brides and Hobara Bustards and support the rent seeking elite? They are Khadim-e-harmain shareefain – a title that House of Saud bestowed upon themselves to seek legitimacy for all their wrong doings – and get away with anything! In past one week, the Saudi consulate has been attacked twice and a security officer of the Saudi consulate has been shot dead earlier today and no religious party took to streets blaming it all on Amreeka! I mean seriously!

Are things finally changing or is this yet another mirage?


And who would’ve thought they would see placards denouncing the corps commanders and likens them with jackals!
Feb 23, 2011 - Uncategorized    8 Comments

Things I see in Islamabad …

If you happen to be/live in Islamabad, you will see banners thanking PM Yousuf Raza Gillani for retaining Senator Babar Awan (of Monticello University fame) as a federal minister.

A couple of days later, you see more banners thanking the PM for retaining Aapa Firdous as a minister and these banners are from PPP, Islamabad.

But if these are banners from PPP Islamabad, why are they just favouring the two Awans and not other PPP stalwarts?

PS: Reading the word “Sher Jawan” with Senator Babar Awan’s name makes one wary of both the “shers” and “jawani”. 

Jan 29, 2011 - Salmaan Taseer    9 Comments

MQM’s identity crisis

This is a brief rant but I have to get it off my chest.
What is wrong with MQM? Is the party suffering from a serious identity crisis? If there is one party that is swinging from this end of the pendulum to the other, it has got to be MQM. Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t it the party which was most vocal against the Ahmadi killings last year? Was it not the party that (ostensibly) kicked out Amir Liaquat for making anti Ahmadi remarks on TV? Even though their voters are not all secular (come on, how many people living in Gulistan-e-Jauhar  or Lines Area or even Clifton for that matter, would know what secular actually means, this is Pakistan after all) the party was careful about creating an unambiguous secular voice.
Come 2010 and something spooked them. After years of presenting a secular image, they decided to hijack what used to be Jamat-i-Islami and Tehreek-i-Insaaf’s pet project. They took out a rally demanding the release of Qaum ki Beti Dr Aafia Siddiqui. An MQM insider told me that the reason they took on Aafia Siddiqui (albeit half heartedly) was to counter ANP. Some quarters in Karachi believe that ANP has taken money from Uncle Sam to stay quite about drone attacks in KPK and FATA. In exchange, Uncle Sam would fund their “activities” in Karachi, no matter how questionable they are. According to the same insider, MQM has not shifted ideologically by taking on the case of Aafia Siddiqui, nor did it jump into the popular politics bandwagon for the sake of it, the party just wanted to remind Uncle Sam that they too can play a role in further demonizing them if need be. To an observer, it looks like MQM does not want to leave anything for their opponents to get political mileage from. If an issue can be milked to garner public support – no matter how far removed it is from the political ideology of the party – it will be used. Aafia Siddiqui is one such case.  
Come 2011 and MQM is seriously losing the plot. Yesterday, an MQM Senator refused to offer fateha prayers for slain governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer. Senior MQM leader Haider Abbas Rizvi said that it was the senator’s personal position and had nothing to do with party’s stance on the tragic death of Gover Taseer but he should know that it is sending a different signal to people. As if that was not enough, Altaf Bhai went ahead and asked for Qaum ki beti Aafia Siddiqui to be repatriated to Pakistan in exchange of diplomatic immunity for Raymond Davis, an American who killed two Pakistani citizens on Pakistani soil.
From bonfide secular credentials to using Aafia Siddiqui for popular political rhetoric, the party has taken a 180 degrees turn. If they continue the way they are going, it will be difficult to point out an MQM from Jamat-i-Islamis and Tehreek-i-Insaafs of the world. If MQM is resorting to using Aafia Siddiqui, it means things are as gloomy as they can be for secular politics in Pakistan.