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Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Death Trap In Rawalpindi

Original Daily Times Article
Published on December 29, 2011

My birthplace, Rawalpindi, has a strange notoriety: it has been extremely unlucky for the prime ministers of Pakistan. Liaquat Ali Khan became a victim of Syed Akbar's bullet back in 1951, in what was then known as Company Bagh. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was murdered in 1979, at Rawalpindi Central Jail. I use the term 'murdered', although he was supposedly sentenced to death by the Lahore High Court, and the Supreme Court had upheld that verdict, for obvious reasons. It is commonly termed as a 'judicial murder'. His daughter, twice elected prime minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto became a victim of an assassin's bullet four years back in December 2007. What a strange coincidence that she died at the same Company Bagh, now known as Liaquat Bagh. Boy what a death trap that Company Bagh is.
Benazir was an amazing and remarkable person. She was a tigress from the inside; she had the unyielding spirit to fight, which of course she had inherited from her parents. She stood firm in front of her critics and it would be not an exaggeration to say that many men in our republic were afraid of her zestful Bhutto spirit. Simply put, she was the man! My neighbourhood convenience store owner, an Afghan, just left me speechless at her death. Mind you he is not so academically well versed but he said, "Saab, what kind of men are these who would hit a woman, and that too from the rear?"
Each year around this time, we have ceremonies where she is remembered and eulogised and rightfully so. But rarely do we want to reflect upon what went wrong so terribly in our republic that popular leaders had to pay the highest price, i.e. their lives. Sadly, the entire South Asian region is marred with examples of political assassinations. It is a shocking reminder that as nations we have not matured to understand the implications of such horrific incidents, and in Pakistan in particular, where we brush such things aside and tend to move on.
We always hear the age-old bickering of the people, 'Our country never had a good leader, and that is the reason why we are in such a pathetic state.' They are absolutely right because we kill our elected leaders and expect some Superman to descend from the heavens to eradicate our miseries. Leadership requires patience, perseverance and above all continuity. Regretfully, all these are commodities that we do not possess. No wonder we look at the khakis as our 'saviours' and want them to rescue us. We fail to understand that democracy is the only way to go. Look around the world and you will get the answer.
BB was her father's daughter in every sense and respect, who staunchly believed that the people are able to decide their own destiny. No matter who they are, what social sphere they belong to, they have a voice and a choice. She was meant to fulfil his unfinished mission. If it would have been anyone else, given the treatment the Bhutto family received from Zia, they would have left politics for good. She was a real fighter, who shattered all the myths surrounding a lady becoming a prime minister of this beleaguered nation. Given the fact the humiliation Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah had to face at the behest of another dictator, Ayub Khan, BB's commitment was unwavering, exemplary and commendable.
Ironically, we do not appreciate our leaders when they are alive and tend to glorify them after their death. The same people who are acknowledging her political acumen now were the same people who made her life miserable when she was alive. She was called 'corrupt', 'inept', 'unfit' and 'incompetent', and was totally dogged by accusations and slurs. But as they say, we are dead from the inside; no wonder we only give reverence to the dead.
What a lady of substance, who knew that death was looming and yet did not stray from what she truly believed in. In her final days, she was ridiculed for signing a 'deal' with a tinpot dictator. To the critics, a question is warranted. What other options did she have? Live in exile forever or take a chance? She took one and ended up in a life of eternity.
That begs another question. How come Baitullah Mehsud knew that she was going to become the prime minister of Pakistan again and issued a threat to her? She had not even made it to Pakistan when such a threat was up in the air. Something somewhere does not make sense to a layperson like me. Besides, Musharraf was still supposedly going to be the president under that 'deal'. He was the one who was actually leading the war on terror, so why was BB being singled out?
People will come up with all kinds of excuses. They will come up with all kinds of spin. The facts remain there and one day they will be unearthed. Who did Syed Akbar, the killer of Liaquat Ali Khan, truly work for? Why was there a coup against Zulfikar Ali Bhutto when the agreement of holding fresh elections in 1977 was almost done? Who laid that death trap for Benazir at Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi? Until then, let's enjoy our slumber and wait for the angels to descend from the heavens to lead us and get us out of this abyss.
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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Letter From Garhi Khuda Bux

Dear Asif,

A week or so back, when your PK 01 touched the Mauripur Air Base, many hearts sank. The detractors, opponents, adversaries, and some so called friends, were shell shocked. The Pundits and Analysts on TV screens, who had written you off, were cursing their words. Each time they made the prediction, that you are finished, you have emerged and proved them absolutely wrong. Yes, they felt the same about me.

But this has never been new to you. They paint you as this villain, who has no conscience or morals. You are loathed, chastised and humiliated with all kinds of abuse and slurs. Amazingly, all of this would be enough for any other person, to call it quits. But they fail to understand, you are made up of a different mettle. When you came to the folds of the my Bhutto family you knew that you married a cause.

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Stumbling On The Political Pitch

After 15 long years, Imran Khan has finally come out of the commentary box, so to speak. He says he is finally ready for a real political innings. And now, what was otherwise an aging non-entity of a party called PTI has received a few botox shots via the dissidents of other parties.

Imran Khan, the cricket hero and philanthropist, has become the darling of many TV talk shows as a politician with serious heft. Using this platform, he has been criticising the so-called status quo. In his line of fire have been the usual culprits, the PPP and PML-N. Both, according to him and his followers, have plundered the national wealth. To his followers, he is no less than a messiah in disguise who is ready to relieve

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Our Selective Sense Of Honor

Hardly a few days ago, 24 of our jawans were killed by the NATO attack at Salala. After the attack our entire country went into frenzy and there was condemnation and outrage pouring in from every nook and cranny. Our sovereignty was supposedly under attack and there was a huge hue and cry. Pakistan then sent a unified message to NATO and all others involved that 'enough was enough'. Our national pride and honor was at stake and we would do anything to protect it. This was the dominant theme, and our patriotism was dependent on this perspective.
In Lahore last week, certain front organizations for banned outfits demonstrated their expression of anger towards the incident as well. No holds were barred and these people exercised their right to free speech with plenty of hate speech. Come to think of it, the writ of the armed forces was challenged as well, as these groups vowed to declare their own war against NATO and some other countries. The icing on the cake was the presence of our former Minister of Railways and the Minister of Religious Affairs, at such an auspicious occasion.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fall of Dhaka And a Fall Guy

If hypocrisy was a sport, undoubtedly we Pakistanis would be the world champions. True to the core, till this day we are unmoved by the atrocities we unleashed on our eastern wing and dub it all as a conspiracy. Heck, we do not even want to accept our own mistakes and apologise to the millions of Bangladeshis because how could we possibly be wrong.

Every time December comes, the wounds of a shameful and utterly disgraceful defeat are renewed. The images of helpless Bengalis and their massacre by our 'valiant soldiers' comes to mind. There are certain people who want to put the blame on a so-called controversial individual, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (ZAB). Till this day, these individuals blast a false narrative and consider ZAB responsible for the breakup of united Pakistan.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Lessons That Should Be Learnt From The Fall Of Dhaka

Somehow after over 4 decades, we have not learned much from the fall of Dhaka. A wing of Pakistan was severed and we were busy spinning the "conspiracy theories", much like we are at the present time. This scribe clearly remembers as a young child, what transpired, which led to our shameful surrender.

Back then the mantra was the "Evil Indian" conspiracy and today our boogey man happens to be "Evil Umreeka." We fail to do the honest introspection of what our failures and faults were, which led to the inevitable division.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Of Memogate and Other Scandals

By D. Asghar

It sure seems like late President Nixon must be turning in his grave. He had no idea that the term coined for the demise of his presidency, 'Watergate', will get different twists and names in a faraway country called Pakistan.

The infamous 'Memogate', which involves the infamous Mansoor Ijaz and former ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, has been played over and over in the local and international media. It has been analysed and beaten to death by analysts, pundits, and so-called political leaders alike. It seems a lot has been said and now the matter is supposedly in the hands of our Supreme Court.

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Why Are People So Disgruntled With Democracy

The people of Pakistan have been singing the change mantra so often that by now it has truly lost its significance. When you engage people advocating for a sweeping change, or a revolution (often termed as a 'tsunami' in Pakistan), they are just as clueless as an infant.

The basis for any politically healthy nation is its political foundation. This political foundation is commonly referred to as the constitution or framework that a country has to live up to. There are divergent and conflicting views about this so called change. Many utopian idealists want the elected government to disappear overnight and have fresh, proven, and 'clean as a whistle' patriots to take charge.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Get Well Soon Mr. President

As the details are still sketchy and unknown, but it appears that President Zardari was taken to Dubai. A tweet from a relatively reliable source mentioned, that he may be flying to London soon, for medical reasons.

Of course the usual speculations and rumors are rife about the political scene and the innuendos will continue to trickle in. From what can be deduced, it seems to be something critical, and that's one of the primary reason why the President had to depart immediately.

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Is Boycotting Bonn Conference A Good Idea?

The NATO bombing and killing of Pakistani soldiers was deplorable and extremely unfortunate. It was indeed very sad to see our soldiers lose their precious lives in the ill fated incident at Mohmand. The lives of many were cut short by the rain of continuous fire power. The amount of pain our soldiers endure to fulfill their duty typically goes unnoticed, however, this time their ultimate sacrifice was observed and felt by the rest of the world.

The usual barbs were exchanged between NATO and their Pakistani counterparts, and a chain of steady reactions followed. The arguments and counter arguments, the allegations and the rebuttals were played continuously in the media - shortly after which NATO and the US extended their apologies rather swiftly.

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