Thoughts by Bahadar Ali

June 12, 2017

Pakistan: Yet another challenge

Filed under: Political — bkhan @ 12:22 am

Pakistan’s eternal predicament while aping Saudi Arabia influenced foreign policy is a constant one legged race. Pakistan has long been walking on a thin ice to keep Saudis happy and simultaneously trying to stay away from keeping Iranians unhappy. That fragile balance turned into an imbalance during Trump’s recent visit. And while just the damage from it was being assessed, now Qatar front has been opened. Another fork has been laid down of which Pakistan could choose only one prong – disassociate itself with Qatar now. Neutrality apparently seems is not a choice here again because we ourselves already have set the precedent in Iranian scenario. So question would be raised, if you could cut-off with Iran why not with Qatar now? Process in the KSA led Middle East has been emphatically laid out, “My way or highway”. Obviously Qatar is not as significant as Iran but basic idea remains the same. Now next precarious trajectory that is going to be drawn in the complex Middle Eastern political web, is the fate of Turkey because it has already earned the wrath of Saudi Arabia by putting its weight behind Qatar. By extension of prevailing circumstances soon Pakistan would be dealing with the same nuisance-ridden situation again. Stay put with Turkey or reconsider those relations too?
In this political algebra, one side of the equation has always been a constant factor, Saudi Arabia. The other side keeps on changing and thus causing a consistent enigma for all those who regard Saudi Arabia at the driving seat and set their destination with it accordingly. There are no easy answers to this riddle. But Pakistan has to made its decision at some point. One thing is apparent that our foreign policy apparatus is not smart enough to keep running with the hare while hunting with the hound. Neither we can trick the powerful countries nor we can keep on estranging ourselves with our erstwhile friendly states one by one. For Saudi Arabia it is entirely different matter. The whole world has seen the spectacle when they tamed the otherwise seemingly incorrigible Trump with the power of their wealth. No matter what they do, there would always be no shortage of leverage for them. If somebody refutes the potency of money, one should gladly do that but “48 Laws of Power” tells us entirely and opposite tale. Meaning by Saudi Arabia can ‘afford’ to do that, but others, especially Pakistan is not endowed with this much of a luck.

Back in the days of Soviet-US cold war, smaller and weaker states often had to confront similar situations. The shifting of alliances and pacts of those days, would keep these states consistently on the wrong foot. Those were the days when Non Aligned Movement was launched. It was a diplomatic movement that profoundly expressed the state of weariness from that game of influences set by the two super powers of that time. How effective that movement was, is beyond the scope of this article but it worked. Though for sometime, but message was loud and clear, “We are not your proxies!”.

The word, sovereignty, is not just a noun that has been added to our constitution for a feel-good factor. It has its meanings and a hope that lies within it. The first step is to shun the tunnel-vision policy that lately has been fit on our otherwise perfectly peripheral vision enabled eyes. Pakistan was doing fine rather thriving even before Saudi Arabia has got control over its oil in 60s and long before UAE even surfaced on the world map. It is only that we got ourselves addicted to some sort of “Easy Money” scheme, which, also, time has proved otherwise. But this addiction has lately made us to walk and talk in circles.
We are untiringly keep on praising ourselves as a nuclear power wielding country. The nuclear power status has its nuisance value in the world politics. Sometime it is brute power and clout that manifests itself without much effort but sometimes state apparatus has to magnify its prowess. We are the former. However this requires diplomatic salesmanship but unfortunately we relinquished this area at the mercy of powerful neighbors long time ago. Our foreign office needs to work and work hard, that we no longer should be treated as a hockey-puck whenever and whoever chooses to put in. The real scenario should have been that others should woe us and not the otherwise and the one who wants to walkaway from us must have the idea who they are walking away from. But as the maxim goes, nobody gives respect it has to be earned. But do we look at it, this way at all?

If no satisfactory solution still shows up then at least beside watching Indian movies also please do watch their foreign policy. Don’t we think that they also face the same situations when perpetually belligerent Middle East takes its funky somersaults? Yes, they do. They also have millions of people working in these oil-rich countries and who earns them billions of dollar of remittances. Then how come they always walk steadfastly on these slippery slopes? Answer lies in the hard work and vision. They work hard, read the situation even before it happens and take corrective measures unlike us who are always awaken from deep slumber and get caught off guard. Always.

Obviously it is already late to correct the present exacerbated situation, but at this juncture, our best course would be adopt a stern neutral stand, come what may. If we fear for our labor working there and the remittances obviously they need us too, if not now, but they will, not in very distant future. We need to shun the policy of losing our friendly countries one by one. This is a whirlpool that we need to jump out one way or the other, better we should do it now.


July 17, 2016

State Approved Heroes

Filed under: Political — bkhan @ 12:04 pm

In a Hollywood blockbuster Enemy At the Gates, in a depiction of WWII battle scene that was underway in and around Stalingrad, Soviets were facing heavy causalities at the hands of Germans. Rumor was abound that if Stalingrad fell, Soviet Union would fall. Nikita Khrushchev assumes charge of that front. He was facing a stringiest of the challenges as how to to raise the spirits of a badly demoralized army. When one of his public relations officer suggests him that they needed heroes and the projection of those heroes would help raise the desired confidence. Khrushchev in a snarlingly mocked tone asked his officer “Do you see any heroes around?”. Certainly, we are living in strange times, today we also need heroes around. Heroes who we could emulate, cherish and present as role models.

Any country where institutions stay chronically weak and system doesn’t deliver the desired, the need of strong and charismatic individuals grows manifold. They serve as a precedent for others. Obviously Pakistan is a very fertile land in this respect and there has never been any dearth of great individuals who actually left their mark on the country’s timeline. There have been great individuals who earned wide respect among the masses from many walks of life including, politics, military, sports and social service — although theoretically politics is an all encompassing form of social service. However, in our perspective, political heroes have always been marred by the natural political divide and general consensus doesn’t get formed around them easily. Apart from Muhammad Ali Jinnah, for very long time we could just hear the name of PM Liaquat Ali Khan as a consensus political hero; although lately Bhutto’s name is also getting some acceptance.

An interesting phenomenon is the role of school text books. When some personality makes its entry there, it becomes an accepted celebrity and hero of the entire nation. Perhaps this could be attributed to the lack of general reading habits in our nation apart from what we are imparted in our schools. Now the big question arises as to who decides to put in some names in the textbooks while leave others and what yardstick is used in this filtration process? Not so long ago, there was a federal body who would decide the contents of school curriculum especially those of social sciences and literature. That body would consist of state approved educationalists and some senior bureaucrats, who would push their recommendations. Unfortunately, Pakistan went through a series of martial law regimes and during these tenures the role of these committees would be subservient to the dictates of military rulers and their particular ideological alignments. For instance during the Zia-ul-Haq regime the name of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto wasn’t kosher enough to make any mention in the school textbooks. A funny instance was regarding an essay on the Islamic Summit Conference of 1974 in the high school English language textbook. In that essay all the credit for holding that historical conference in Pakistan was given to Mr Fazal Ilahi Chaudhry, the then Bhutto time Pakistani president!

The political expediencies and the short-sighted approach has severely limited the choices to name major highways, bridges, major auditorium and other public monuments. Consequently, if you travel through Pakistan majority of these places of interest would be named after MA Jinnah or Allama Iqbal. There is nothing wrong in naming places after these legends but it also reflects the image of a nation that is facing the severe drought of personalities of note after its inception in 1947.

Another full time preoccupation of our leadership and certain ideological parties is their practiced dichotomy in the process of hero selection. Like any other country Pakistan also had its fair share of left-leaning liberals and right-leaning moderate to conservatives. Given that Pakistan has always been aligned with Capitalist block led by US, it naturally defined its Right that was/is sympathetic to Capitalism. The genesis of this divide goes back to the days of Cold War era, when both Soviets and US would woe many countries to enhance their dominance in the world. Traditionally in Pakistan, a Muslim majority country, the US would apply its bonding based on faith by labeling its foe, Soviets, as godless. Thus we see many great names of literature always kept away from the national narrative. Giants like Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Habib Jalib, Josh Maleeh Abadi, Ibn-e-Insha, Manto, to name a few, were never on the state’s approval list. It is another matter that their work was so powerful that it couldn’t be withheld and would make its way to the public, however the caveat is, the public had to seek their work and wouldn’t be available as those of their counter-parts. And finally now with the invent of Internet many people are discovering their amazing work to this day. It was not only tragic but a sheer intellectual dishonesty.

And then their are the names who were in the good books of this selective ‘hero-making’ enterprise. It is beyond ethics to name such people but many of them erstwhile ‘leftist’ had to change their orientation to be acknowledged by the state. Legendary Edhi, who was simply a social worker, and in his own words inspired by the socialist literature. He rose to the prominence for his untiring humanitarian work and got his fame just like when moon shines, nobody needs to tell it. But what could be more tragic that when an acceptance had to be given to his work by the state, without his approval, the prefix of Maulana was added to his name. Because these were the ways of life then and certainly still in wide practice.

Question to ponder on is why it is not acceptable to us that a person who rises to the top of his trade because of his sheer hard work and can serve as a role model for the general public has to go through the state imposed filtration process to be declared as a hero? It is high time to shun this practice. We lost so many good people in the past based to this narrow minded approach. What could be more painful than the fact that world recognized two Pakistani individuals and considered them worthy of highest human achievement award, the Nobel prize — but we didn’t. One of them physicist par excellence Dr Abdus Salam died in exile and second, the child wonder, Malala Yusufzai is already in exile. Acknowledging them heroes is a far cry, there have been so much baseless stories weaved around them that general public simply considers them state-enemy. Dr Salam is no more, but his work is alive. Why can’t his mention grace our school curriculum, so that when a school going child grows into an effective member of the society, he/she should be proud of Dr Salam as a great Pakistani scientist and not to be concerned with his beliefs. Malala is serving an icon for millions of school going girls across the globe, why can she not be projected as a role model in her home country. Just imagine how much that would do to the uplift of our female population. It is high time to revisit our priorities that should be focused on the message and not who is saying it.

Tailpiece: Please note in this write-up, I couldn’t possibly include the names of all of the great people who have served and are serving Pakistan in various leading capacities. By not mentoring their name shouldn’t be read as a belittling effort to their work, it is just beyond the scope and permissible length of an article. There are some honorable omission of people who have performed their military honor and sacrificed their lives and countless name of great intellectuals, sports personalities and people belonging to many other faculties of the society. Objective was to appeal a practice to provide a fair and proportionate mention of all the great people who could serve as a role model for masses.

June 7, 2016

Our Unlimited Capacity to Hate

Filed under: Political — bkhan @ 11:55 am

24 have been convicted in the Indian-Gujarat Muslim massacre of 2002. The prosecution has sought death penalty for the convicted Hindu fanatics. The convicts were charged of all the heinous crimes, a human dictionary of crime can define. They were responsible for hacking and burning 69 Muslims who were taking shelter in a residential complex in the city of Ahmadabad. The details of the atrocities become unnecessary when we look at the very definition of the crime they have committed and now are convicted of it.

Back in 2002, world was appalled at the level of violence perpetrated by the majority against the minority. This is the unfortunate aspect of being living side-by-side with a majority who nobody actually knows what thinks of its minority composition. The grievances of minority generally doesn’t go beyond some whispers and occasional protests but the same is not true in the case of majority. When majority harbors hostile feelings then if that doesn’t gets checked, it results in the form of massacres that the world saw in Gujarat. The mobs that roll-out from the majority have generally no fear of the repercussions and they commit crime to its deadliest level.

The question remains to be asked, why so much hatred? How people who live together and deal among each other on daily basis, their kids attend the same schools, would let go of all those feelings and in a emotionally charged moment gets ready for a carnage of the very same people? The answer falls deep somewhere in our brain. Generally we have empathy for our fellow beings but something called mob psychology turns these feeling upside down in a matter of minutes. This is where the social structure that protects minorities and weak collapses. The rule of the thumb lies in the deep introspection of oneself especially when you are part of the majority. Take a step forward and try to have a deep look at your alignment and observe it from an angle as if you are not part of that alignment, how would you feel.

But if we look at the Gujarat massacre, the society elders not only didn’t play their role rather they encouraged the violence by turning a blind eye to it. The then Chief Minister of Gujarat Narinder Modi has been reported as saying “Let the people vent out their anger”. That venting caused hundreds to loose their lives in the most brutal manner one can imagine. The state police didn’t intervene for almost five days. Mobs and goons had all the freedom to kill, burn, hurt, rape anyone ( read Muslims) at their whim and fancy. It resemble the story-line of movie “The Purge”, although movie depictions are imaginative but the true ‘Purge’ went on in Gujarat for five consecutive days. Imagine the situation of a mother protecting herself and her child running away from thousands but then gasoline is thrown at her and she is torched to death along with her infant. Wasn’t it somehow to excessive to permit this kind of ‘venting’?

At the same time by emphatic mention of the word Hindu shouldn’t bring anyone the hurt feelings but sadly in Gujarat, this was the case. It is also true the kind of anger later shown by the Indian society in general should also be taken into account. All the commissions formed for the investigation of this unfortunate human history event were chiefly composed of Hindus and the extremely critical remarks passed on by the judges against the Moodi Administration. These remarks and decisions are now part of the judicial and journalistic history of India.

But out of that unfortunate events, some strange coincidences also took place. Narinder Moodi who became the most criticized person across India and the world, after Gujarat carnage also turned out to be an implicit winner of the situation. As they say, there is nothing called as negative publicity. Narinder Moodi was mentioned so excessively in the years that ensued Gujarat massacre, he became a household name although for the wrong reasons. Though initially known for his hard-line Hindu credentials he somehow maneuvered the situation to his advantage and eventually became the unopposed candidate for the BJP leadership. A position that landed him to be in the slot of Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy. But frankly, it scares me too.

May 17, 2016

Perturbed PEMRA: Udaari to Blame Or…

Filed under: Political — bkhan @ 1:35 pm

Saadat Hassan Manto, the prolific and gifted writer that he was, always protested to his detractors who would allege him for his ‘immoral’ depiction of the society around him. He always took pride in terming himself as the mirror of the life, the way he would see around him. He used to say, “if society has an ugly face, it is not my job to chastise it. Don’t expect that I would sugar-coat the filth to make it digestible for the public at large. I am a writer not a politician, it is their job to fix it”.

A similar issue is surfing up in one of the popular Urdu drama being aired these days with the name “Udaari”. The main theme points to the curse of sexual abuse of minors, that is certainly not uncommon in the Pakistani society ( or for that matter around the world ). No doubt it is disturbing to watch the innuendos, metaphors and sexual solicitation used to abuse a minor girl by the main villainous character. It is filmed in the rural settings where suggestively it is easy given the high degree of prevalent patriarchal attitudes of life.

The Pakistani Media Regulatory Authority ( PEMRA ) has took note of this ‘careless’ depiction of one of the frequented aberration. Yes, it is an aberration but certainly not an anomaly. Everyone knows, it happens. Burying the head in sand is another matter, for which we have no dearth of this and many other accounts. As I mentioned earlier it is an uneasy watch. It gives goose-bums simply to fathom what is being presented.

No doubt it is an uncomfortable truth. But the social scientists never discouraged to bring society vices to the front. The fabric of society never gets weak when the hidden ugliness is courageously discussed and presented. It makes them stronger and more aware. Rather than shooting the messenger, the core issue needs to be addressed. Child molestation always destroyed the lives of the victims and compromised the future of those subjected to these heinous acts while the perpetrators of such crime would go scott-free because of the sealed lips. The sheepish behavior emboldens the criminal and attaches no moral guilt while the victim gets stigmatized.

I am of the view that instead of stabbing the truth, PEMRA should vouch for such daring people who are not afraid to speak the truth. It is our choice to uplift our face or break the mirror. Mirror seldom lies!

April 25, 2016

Polio Vaccination: Panacea for the World, Curse in Pakistan!

Filed under: Political — bkhan @ 12:40 pm

There was another blow to the Polio vaccination campaign when six policemen were killed in the line of duty while guarding the health workers administering polio vaccine to the toddlers in Karachi. Appointing policemen to secure health workers, itself speaks volumes about the sorry state of affairs where Pakistani state stands today. A country that already can be spotted at the tail of all human welfare indexes, this is another unfortunate stigma that makes us feel further miserable among the rest of the world.

Our frenzied preoccupation with political upheavals of making or breaking of the governments and guessing the political futures of individuals and parties has blind sided us from the very basics of any human society make-ups. We are one of the isolated few where polio virus is still thriving, potentially exposing our future generations to be physically handicapped. And while the rest of the world has overcome this lethal illness long time ago, some elements of our society have hijacked the idea of very treatment of it. Instead to quarantine the virus, they choose to quarantine its cure, the polio vaccination. Their lopsided logic ( read craziness) termed this vaccine as another Western conspiracy against our next generation.Their twisted logic blames this vaccine for a reduced potential of human procreation in the children exposed to it. Totally disregarding the fact that we are already an over populous nation of 200 million and growing at geometric rate. Given few more decades and we are just short of becoming third largest population of the world. Both vaccinated and non-vaccinated are already contributing to it vigorously, so there should be no fear that it can make anyone impotent.

A lot can be blamed on the illiteracy in this regard and our governments chronicle apathy towards educating the general public about this and other vital issues. Simply appealing public through media announcements for co-operation with vaccinating campaigns or making some religious figure as the iconic-vanguard wouldn’t help. The religious fraternity is mostly culpable for spreading confusion in public as they are the first one, as always, where they found wrong with these polio drives too. They speak one thing in a public and other to their followers. The misguided bigots who are killing the poor foot-soldiers of these campaigns are inspired by the religious decrees from some of the clerics within our country. They forget, or at least nobody told them the fact that the very health workers are trying to save their kids from getting crippled. This should be the mission of everyone to educate the general public and wash away any misconception that prevail about the vaccination.
In a nutshell, a polio vaccine is nothing but a liquidized doze of dead polio virus. When the kids are administered this doze their natural immune system kicks into action and produces antibodies around the deactivated virus. This simple process achieves the objective and an immunity shield gets produced by the body. In future when these kids even if get exposed to actual polio virus strains, they remain safe because their body already had build immunity around this. Thus it saves a human being from getting permanently disabled in their life time. It is simply a proactive medical process. This simple message can be disseminated to the general public to dispel any mystery that shrouds this type of treatment. However, often it is observed that instead of addressing this root cause a statistical information barrage from various health organizations is released which essentially serves no purpose.
The situation stays alarming, when the rest of the world is zero polio zone long time now, according to WHO, the latest kid who has been paralyzed by Polio virus in Pakistan was on March 22, 2016. Thus another human life has been condemned to the misery only because of not enough persuasion to the general public and huge dissuasion against the Polio vaccination campaign. The level of compounding of ignorance and illiteracy touched its worst whereby in Muzaffar Garh in 2012 when a local cleric incited Jihad again the polio workers and that too through the loud speakers of the grand mosque of the town. This resulting in suspension of the campaign in the area. This case pertains to the ‘fully-governed’ Pakistan, rest we could imagine the situation in FATA and other semi-governed areas.
Instead of bulldozing polio campaign through media, the same energy and resources can be used in persuasion techniques by applying rational discourse. People need to be engaged by providing examples of worlds largest populations like India and China, where there is universal immunization but it didn’t impact their potential to grow populations or other Islamic countries especially Saudi Arabia etc. It seems an over emphasis but imagine the impact on Pakistan if it doesn’t stay polio free in the near future. We may be unable to quarantine the polio virus but rest of the world would quarantine us for sure.

Another sad aspect is the plight of poor polio workers who do their extremely hazardous job under tough weather conditions for a paltry payment. There have been more polio workers killed than the kids paralyzed with polio virus. A state cannot be expressed in more agonized way where even the basic health shield providers need their own security and divisions of police guard them and in the process get itself killed. It is high time for the state to revisit its priorities’ check-list. Bigotry is a hard phenomena to root out soon but any bigotry that is interfering with the delivery of basic health care should not be tolerated at all.

April 13, 2016

Panama Papers – Not A Big Deal?

Filed under: Political — bkhan @ 6:33 am
Before the reality escapes us here again, let us be very clear about one thing-all this noise is destined to subside and our curiosity would soon cave in to some other ‘more’ interesting scandal. Unfortunately, this is how the chronology of such events in Pakistan dictates us to treat this brand new Panama Leaks scandal as well. The bitter and ultimate reality of such episodes is pushing the government’s authority further into oblivion, resulting into even more weak government and its control on affairs. Aping the Western governments and individuals, to resign on a moral guilt that gets associated with such scandals is an alien concept in our political discourse.

Inability to resign and allow transparency in this matter lies deep down somewhere in our roots about certain insecurities that we grow up with. It is the same set of insecurities whereby we fail to observe a waiting queue at a bus stop fearing that if we miss the bus there may be no second bus coming. Our political class is the most paranoid and some of this paranoia is not ill-found given the history of toppling of civilian-political governments that most of the time is followed by a selective set of accountability against the individual who gets routed out of power. Although, as it is said, the glory of even a single day should suffice the craving of an ambitious individual and given Mian Nawaz Sharif and his family’s presence in the power for roughly three decades, it is an opportunity for them to be on the higher moral pedestal by stepping down and try to come clean out of it. Highly unlikely though, on both counts!

In the Capitalistic world the concept of commissions and kickbacks is the legalized form to cover up the inherit means of corruption that are built into this system. In the established democracies of Western Europe and North America observing the role of corporations and rich individuals’ contributions to the political parties is an accepted mean of securing the potential business favors that are rewarded down the road by the elected governments points to the same trend. But the scope and magnitude of stashing money in off-shore corporations, as revealed through the Panama-Leaks, simply cannot be shrugged off as a norm-of-the-game.It is a well-thought out means of deception and tax evasion by the political and business elite of the world. The primary onus of this mega scandal falls on the shoulders of politicians in power, who expect their public to pay its full taxes. Even if this process may not be illegal it certainly lays a moral turpitude on the political class who are supposed to lead from front. With this precedent in-place, the only example that they have set, is to discover the means to evade taxes. And as majority is not as deep-pocketed, they are deprived to utilize these tax-havens, which results in frustration and lack of respect for the system.

The Pakistani political scene in this regard, is even more interesting in the sense that opposition parties are demanding in chorus for an inquiry into the matter and settling in nothing less than stepping down of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Their moral-fiber is dished out in the form of a noble cause to get back the ‘looted’ money of the Pakistani nation. However, if read between the lines, it is simply a new dimension to the existing power struggle primarily between PTI and Nawaz League. Because apparently it lacks the sincerity of the cause given their obsession with only putting government into the spotlight and conveniently looking on the other side when the names of other Pakistani individuals who made up to this ‘role-of-honor’ are concerned. Obviously it is their prerogative to apply different yard-sticks when dealing with this scenario because as a head of state, Nawaz Sharif cannot escape to bear the major burden of this blame.
The way Nawaz Sharif quickly reacted to this development by addressing the nation, is an open gesture that the ruling family would fight this to the tooth and nail. By establishing a judicial commission and that too by a retired judge, shows the attitude that they don’t weigh this issue too much.

Another dimension to this issue is the public reaction to this affair. For most of the public it is just another of the scandals that they keep on hearing and witnessing during the civilian power set ups. The public seems unmoved by this new development given the cynicism that has been attached with frequent tales of corruption and scandals told to them in the past. For them it is just another tale that would fade away like many others of the past, although this one is unlike any of the others. It is an international scandal that shows the dishonesty and insecurities of the super rich around the world. In Pakistan, all the opposition can achieve through it to create further perception issue for the Nawaz family, which frankly is not a big deal there.

So far the most interesting interpretation, from a section of public is to term this as wrath of God against Nawaz Sharif for his apparent actions and promises of making Pakistan a liberal country and a punishment for his ‘un-Islamic’ deeds. Well this is a prevalent mode of thinking where even earthquakes are also attributed to the increasing magnitude of our sins. But for Nawaz Sharif, sin or not, this scandal would leave some permanent scars on his political careers, although not sufficient enough to unseat him.

March 30, 2016

Another Tragedy- Another Knee-jerk Reaction

Filed under: Political — bkhan @ 1:01 pm

On 16th Dec 2014, after school going kids were slaughtered by the barbarians, the present government, entire political class and military devised a National Action Plan ( NAP ), that was aimed at flushing out all terrorists, their sympathizers and the hate-mongers. Why always the dust of time covers the national tragedies? Some of them simply shouldn’t be compromised. The NAP lost its steam soon after some initial break-throughs and decline in country-wide terrorist activities without realizing that terrorist have simply went under-ground and postponed their activities, for the time being. They are war hardened and very committed, it was a naive approach to loose the interest and cut the zeal that was displayed in the initial days of APS tragedy.

Now, after this fresh episode of carnage, we can feel the emphasis again on ‘intensifying’ operation against the such elements. This essentially meant that we lost the appetite before and now because scores of people have been killed again, we are going to renew our NAP commitments. It is unfortunate but should it be assumed that for a contentious operation people need to die on equal intervals otherwise, we relax? It is utter lack of professionalism and height of bad governance. In the countries where the welfare of the people is primordial point, all resources are appropriated first to secure their lives.
It is not enough to just root our the active terrorists in the field, if you kill one, there would be ten more there to replace him. The full focus should on the sweeping reforms regarding the origins and nurseries of such religion-based terrorism. The national narrative regarding the NAP is absent from the social media. This is the platform where narrow mindedness and hate-mongers roam free. They dominate this scene. If someone wants to deny, it is there choice but the major radicalization is carried through the use of social media. Now it is understandable that no single government can regulate all aspects of social media, but this is very much doable to counter the hate-driven narrative being funneled through it, to the gullible minds and impressionable teens. When the federal government has the resources to control the electronic and print media by filling it with govt-friendly commentaries, a fraction of those resources can be channelized to this unbridled cyber-space. A counter narrative needs to be build with full force. This is the only way by which you can cut the future supply-lines of ‘wanna-be’ militants.
The system of mosques and madaris, certainly needs to be regulated by the government. Every single resident of each of the neighborhoods of Pakistan, knows who are the people who openly vouch for the extremist’s cause. There is no need to pick them up or kill them in cold-blood, rather they need to be cautioned and told to follow the line. In some cases the same elements can be effectively used to counter the very same ideals that they previously advocate for. Unfortunately, the national media, is also not immune to their sympathizers, if government doesn’t know about them, then I must say, they have no right to govern, in the first place.
Extremism was spread very systematically in the nook and corners of Pakistan with all the precision techniques that are applied in making it an effective and heart-luring propaganda. The same amount of effort is required to undo its potency. The only sliver lining is that this could be done much faster, given the new means of dissemination of information are available now.
All of the above, could only be done when there is utmost sincerity to the cause is felt otherwise nothing would be achieved. And we would only see the knee-jerk kind of reactionary statements and actions that fizzle out soon when the news disappears from the media and goes to the sleep-mode only when awkwardly awaken by the follow-up tragedy.

March 3, 2016

Shirmeen’s Crime

Filed under: Political — bkhan @ 12:30 pm

All kind of curses have already been funneled down to the work of Shirmeen Obaid Chinoy. And her alleged crime is that she has presented a negative image of Pakistan. And what is that negative image? It is about the loathsome ‘honor-killing’ act and she put her camera to work and brought forward it to the world. We don’t want to hear the truth and believe in sweeping all the filth under the rug. If someone is still unsure, just today a’ghiratmand’ brother in Sahiwal killed her two sisters for the same non-sense.

But I am not here to defend what the filmmaker has done. Let us see what other documentary has been nominated for this year’s Oscar. And it turns out to be short-film with the name “Spotlight”. This documentary focuses on the child molestation by the church pastors in Boston. And it tells all. The kind of appreciation this movie has got in US media is phenomenal. Actually it is being played in the theaters across the US and other wide world.
Now just imagine, a movie made by Americans, against American pastors who raped the American children in a city non other than Boston, where MIT is located. Nobody thought that the director or producers have defamed United States rather public has welcomed the fact to know what kind of gruesome crimes are being committed in their country. It is distasteful, gross and sickening crime that has been displayed with all the details. But nobody hates the makers of this movie. Nobody call them traitors as we do.
The confident nations encourage individuals to bring out the dark aspects of their society where government or its intuitions cannot see or too lazy to act. It works as a catalyst and law enforcers then uproot the crime so that coming generation need not to deal with it. In order to fix the society ills, first you have to acknowledged their presence only then you can take measures to fix those.
I request all the people who have been poised by the negative propaganda barraged against Shirmeen’s work should open their eyes and be thankful to her that she is bringing out the social ills from our society. If someone thinks that she is highlighting the negative aspects of the society, nobody has stopped others to bring up the positive aspects of our country. All they have to do is to work on it.

August 8, 2015

Pakistan: Time to Rise and Shine

Filed under: Political — bkhan @ 12:35 am

The dark and dense curse of terrorism is finally seems to be clearing up from the horizons of Pakistan. Although we are not still out of woods but certainly a solid progress is visible against this curse that was drawn around three decades ago. Indeed it was suffocating and polluted every aspect of the society. It transformed the smiles and chatters of happy faces into long gloomy ovals that would only whisper. Like any other crazy act, this folly was also committed in the name of greater national interest. Unlike other silly acts this was too lethal because it became untouchable and insurmountable as it was packaged in the flimsy garb of twisted interpretation of religion. Underneath it was just naked lust for power of few individuals.

The public of Pakistan was set into a tremendous guilt about its ways of life and was informed rhetorically about their naive understanding of the belief- set they held till then. I was young but I have a vivid memory of that fateful day when Gen Zia announced the facade of referendum on Nov 9th 1984. That referendum revolved around a single point questionnaire- You want the puritinaztion of Pakistan according to the religious values as defined by the dictator- Yes/No. If ‘Yes’ then dictator would march you towards the ill-defined journey of the obscurity by turning the wheel of time backwards. Results: No brainier- 97 percent of the ‘public’ overwhelmingly voted for it through empty polling stations!

Pakistan bled excessively for the next couple of decades. General public had to walk through the jungle-fire that was torched by some insane minds. Amazing and brilliant people were killed in the name of sectarianism. Blood was spilled profusely. And the climax of those god-forsaken years was the unparalleled brutality that was unleashed on the lives of innocent kids of APS Peshawar. It tears me apart to call the killing of poor kids as an opportunity but sure it served like one.

That incident cleared all doubts about the gravity of the situation that Pakistan was facing. Overnight the narrative of statehood got redefined. Even the orthodox cynics who would look every move by the military establishment with suspicion, and rightly so till then, changed their stance and accepted the sincerity of rejuvenated military operation. And the results are already apparent.

Pakistan is resurfacing as a confident nation once again. World is getting out of its negative attitude towards this great nation of 180 million people-barring some extremists. The restaurants of Islamabad are again frequented by the tourists and diplomats who once wouldn’t come out of their enclaves for the fear of their life. The kidnapping for ransom that became an accepted norm of the society has dropped to negligible because most of the kidnappers have been wiped out from the face of earth. The ever competing institutions seemed unified against at least on a single point agenda- terrorism. International investment is next to flow in and some of it is already making inroads.

The changing dynamics of Middle Eastern politics is also going to cast positive impact for Pakistan. Obviously everything is not going to be hunky- dory but certainly state of Pakistan has avoided nose-dive. But history tells us that nation who rise out of ashes, march their travel to glory and stability at geometric rate. Also, another pertinent lesson of history also points to the fact that chaos cannot go on unchecked indefinitely and order always gets restored. Without getting into political jargonsim or affixing stamps of favorites in the political arena, it certainly is beyond any doubt that military establishment and its current skipper are the vanguards of this fresh shape up of the country. It is also true that it was their predecessors who put us in to this morass in the first place but after witnessing the unending run of extremist hordes and their destruction in Iraq and Syria, we sure can value a this strong institution However, a cynical question still intrigues me, if our establishment was capable of fixing of this issue so swiftly why they let us bleed this far?

Nonetheless, I can see a successful, modern and prosperous Pakistan in the years to come.

zara num ho to ye mitti / bari zarkhez hai Saqi.

December 13, 2013

Emancipated Pakistani Supreme Court

Filed under: Political — bkhan @ 12:36 am

The tenure of the most politicized and attention hungry Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, has finally concluded. Hopefully the curtains would be drawn on the soap opera that we have seen over last five years where media and top judge played constant tango. Unfortunately a judge who could have made serious difference in the life of common man, choose to play to the media tunes and established a demand-supply relationship with big media houses.

Those media houses would do the the news angling and projected him as the savior or messiah of public. Reality is totally otherwise. He destroyed the institutions and severely dented the respect of parliament and other institutions in his desire of running a country not judiciary. Everyday newspapers would plant the impression that only one judge is running the country, which was certainly not his job. The campaign was multi-faceted where firstly a particular institution would be ridiculed by certain cronies of top judge in the media and the following day judge would take suo moto only to be painted a hero with even bigger coverage in the days to follow.

A lot of my friends may not understand my utterances but this is reality-which only history would define in detail. The ramifications of his biases would be manifested in distant future; like as we are now witnessing, experiencing and burning through the baggage of Zia-ul-Haq.

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