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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pakistan's Spin Zone

Original Article: Newsline Magazine
Date Published: Jan 25, 2012

Welcome to our spin zone, where we make things believable all day long. Often we may defy conventional intelligence, but it works well for our collective national psyche. This is where "breaking news" is 'broken' in such a way that it can never be 'fixed.' And here, Pakistanis, in general, buy the spin and live happily ever after.

Ever heard this one? Only if the late Benazir Bhutto didn't stand up, poke her head out of her SUV's sunroof and wave at the crowd, then the former prime minister would have survived that attack. Remember the story about the lever on the SUV's sunroof that gave her the head trauma and which was deemed to have caused her death? Forget about the video footage of the ruthless man pulling the trigger just a few feet away. Or the bomb blast. How dare she go out in the open to meet other human beings when she was forewarned by "militants" in October 2007 in Karachi?

How about our real "Lion of Punjab," Salmaan Taseer? Only if he kept his views and convictions to himself and had not been so vocal about the plight of minorities, he would be tweeting as usual. Never mind that infamous TV anchor, asking him pointed questions and making him out to be an enemy of Islam, and later on, all and sundry joining in to create the false impression that Governor Taseer was being blasphemous. How about the so-called religious leaders giving fiery sermons and declaring him a "munafiq" and a "blasphemer?"

Another fallen hero is the late Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti. But if he had refrained from carrying the message of Governor Taseer about being considerate towards our minorities, then he too would have still been alive. Forget about the fact that the late Bhatti was marked for death because he was a Christian, a PPP minorities minister and showed solidarity with a helpless lady, who till this day is behind bars.

Saleem Shahzad would be giving us insightful stories as usual, only if he would have not vowed to get to the bottom of PNS Mehran incident. It was all his fault. The people knew very well and were told that "certain extremists" were behind the attack on our naval base. Adding insult to injury was the fact that he was abducted when he was on his way to participate in a television interview to provide his professional opinion. But it was his own fault after all: why didn't he just keep all the investigative reporting confined to his laptop?

What about the Sialkot brothers? Mughees and Munib, who were brutally murdered by an angry and ruthless mob, invited the wrath upon themselves. Both brothers were of 'shady character' and were accused of stealing. No wonder they received the 'speedy justice' by the crowd, right on the spot.

There was no Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad. He died a long time ago and was buried somewhere in Afghanistan. This was all malicious propaganda aimed at maligning Pakistan. Well the evidence to the contrary and the wives of the fallen leader came from the same compound. Some of our dear anchors denied it all outright and gave it the opposite spin, as usual.

It must be clear as day to almost everyone by now that we have a prevalent spin that we get to hear, see and read. It's either the victim's fault, or there is a malicious conspiracy being hatched by our enemies. We sell this spin through our 'free' and often mindless media, all day long. People buy that spin like suckers.

After all, it's always the victim's fault to expect civility and fairness from our society. We have reached the depth of decay. Rather than showing sympathy towards the victim, we invent the "if only factor," to provide the masses a whitewash: we tell the nation "we are perfect," "we never make mistakes" and it's always "someone else's fault." The whole world is conspiring against us. The whole world is afraid of the only 'righteous' and 'truly Islamic' nation in the world. We are the citadel, the unshakable, the valiant, following the righteous path of God.

When discerning minds challenge the rhetorical spin, they are often labelled as foreign agents, stooges, beyghairat and, above all, traitors. If people buy the lame spin, then they are deemed model citizens. If they think otherwise, they are enemies of the state.

Sadly, even many so-called educated people who have seen the rest of the world get sucked into this whole imaginary narrative. This begs a very serious question: how do you change a rotten status quo? What can you do when the 'enlightened' ones are brainwashed and believe there is an outside evil force conspiring against the one and only Pakistan.

The only silver lining is social media and some independent publications that remain brave, the ones that provide an alternative, honest view on the nation. Theirs is a very reasonable attempt to start to treat this mental epidemic, a way to challenge the authenticity of the widely peddled narrative. The road is long and the challenges monumental. Sadly, no one can make this spin zone go bankrupt. It seems as if the deepest pockets fund it. And it would be wise to ponder who has the deepest pockets in our otherwise destitute nation.
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The Quaid Incarnations

Original Article: Daily Times
Date: Published Jan 29, 2012

Is it me, or has someone else noticed this as well? There is a sudden rise of patriots, all of them sharing a very serious agenda: 'Save Pakistan'. One has to ask these gifted sons and daughters of the land, what is the issue here? By the grace of the Almighty, the Pakistan we have right now has been standing firm for almost 64 plus years. There are no known threats or warnings from the neighbouring countries. Life may not be a piece of cake for its citizens, but somehow, people are managing. What is so grave, what is so out of hand or control that everyone feels the existence of Pakistan is in utter jeopardy? But growing up, we have been hearing this common theme, 'Pakistan is going through its most difficult period in history.'

Well, again by the mercy of the powers above and beyond this sinful world, we know that Pakistan is moving forward. The naysayers and doomsday prophets have been betting on its implosion and destruction since its inception. Nothing new has emerged from those quarters ever. Despite all the ill-wishers and haters, it has survived and one has the highest hopes that it will survive in the future as well.

One does not have to be a genius to determine what its real problem is. The nation is held together by its commonality, be it the geographic link or the heritage. Faith can never be the sole basis for a nation to bind together. Reason: the variation and diversity in beliefs and the rituals in any particular faith. The most common misconception is that it is a fortress of the Muslim majority of South Asia. It would be rather unfortunate to limit ourselves to this commonly peddled, highly misconstrued and meanly marketed ideology. Perhaps the founding fathers had the benefit of a Muslim majority in mind when seeking independence from the British Raj. But nowhere did they envision that it will be a country for Muslims and Muslims only. Again, plain and simple, because people of all faiths shared this land from the Indus to Khyber. If the Quaid was so shortsighted, he would have not permitted any minority to reside in this 'promised land'.

Looking at him and his immediate companions who came from different sects of Islam, one can safely deduce what kind of Pakistan he had in mind. These were people from all walks of life, both rich and poor, who felt his calling and accomplished something extraordinary, against seemingly insurmountable odds. These were determined and motivated people who were destined to make history. Looking back, one can only feel the pain, anguish and anxiety they must have endured to deliver such a gift to all of us.

Even the Quaid, who was one of the most sophisticated and exemplary leaders, was not spared. He was awarded the 'honour' by a certain group of people, who called him 'Kafir-e-Azam' (The Great Apostate). The same group of people ridiculed him and wrote off this state even prior to its birth. They gave it a few months or a year worth of lifespan. They called him a British stooge, and chastised him for speaking the national language with an anglicised accent. One is just bewildered to grasp the pettiness of our folks. Despite all their accusations and harshest criticism, these people get to enjoy this land because of the iron-willed Quaid.

Today we are at this crossroads, this quagmire and this crisis, if you will, because we have totally lost the real basis for our freedom. The Quaid himself was one of the most liberal persons around who left his own daughter behind, all because she disagreed with him and opted for a life partner in India. Today, being a liberal is almost equated to being a non-Muslim by some faithfuls in this country.

Take inspiration from the 'Madr-e-Millat' (Mother of the Nation), Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah. Being a single lady and Mr Jinnah's sister, she accompanied and assisted him every step of the way. Begum Rana Liaquat Ali Khan comes to mind as well. How graceful and uplifting these people were, who defined our purpose of existence in this area. These were the people united for a meaningful purpose. Not solely because of their faith. Nor was it only for their faith.

Today we hear people claiming to be the 'incarnation' of such great people. Nothing can be farther from the truth. These people have a fairly limited vision, which mostly gravitates around 'faith'. Regretfully, they use faith to further their nefarious agenda. People in our land can be swayed easily, so long as one gives them the mantra of the 'evil forces endangering their faith'. How absurd is this logic? How can a faith, which has persevered and prospered in 1,400 plus years, ever be in any kind of danger? Above all, how could these misguided individuals ever play the role of the Divine when the Divine Himself has given the glad tidings to His Messenger (PBUH) about the ultimate victory of this faith?

One of these 'incarnations' has made the tallest claim that he will pursue the dream and vision of the Quaid. He will pick up the mantle right from where the Quaid left off. A pretty, hollow and baseless sound bite. Heavily laced with religiosity and misguided philosophy, the said individual is playing with the emotions of this nation. There are others who were vehemently opposed to the Quaid's existence and his aristocratic lifestyle. They, along with their likes, are championing the cause of the Quaid. What a travesty and irony that the Quaid is being peddled by these low level opportunists who are clueless.

Pakistan is here to stay. It will go through its evolutionary process despite all its shortcomings, all its issues and all its problems. All our mistakes of the past, which are haunting us today, may become part of history in the next few years. This country has immense potential because it has a population of extremely gifted and talented individuals. This generation will be replaced soon by a newer lot. Rudderless we may be, hopeless we are not. We will move forward, as the newer lot will rekindle the real cause. It will embrace the same vision that the Quaid and his companions shared. A nation full of hope and promise — inclusive, respectful and strong to its core because they will witness how the rest of the world emerges as cohesive nations based on shared and common traits.
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The Unholy Troika

Original Article: Viewpoint Online
Published: Jan 27, 2012

Looking back at 2007, people were under the so-called impression, that there was a genuine momentum, seeking the supremacy of the law in Pakistan. Granted that it is a novel concept, a nation that fails to respect, its basic law, called its Constitution, it was a far cry. Some think, that it was more of a "Go Musharraf Go" campaign in reality. It was cleverly dubbed as "struggle for the freedom of judiciary", for a rather obvious reason. The strategy was to really unseat the dictator, who very cunningly usurped powers from an elected Prime Minister and promptly dispatched him to a ten-year-long exile to the Holy Lands. One has to sit in amazement and wonder, how could a citizen of Pakistan, otherwise convicted for a supposedly heinous crime of "hijacking a plane", be awarded a speedy pardon and placed on an equally speeding jet, bound to the brotherly kingdom.

The honorable judiciary did not take any "suo moto" notice of such a fundamental violation of justice. Nor did they take any notice, when many Khaki men of honor, trampled over the 'Constitution of Pakistan'. Again, what a travesty that our Supreme judiciary not only did not live up to the oath of their office at such instances, but aided and abetted in an otherwise illegal act.

The common theme invoked to white wash this otherwise act of treason by the generals was always the 'Doctrine of Necessity'. What a necessity and what a strange solution! At all such occasions, the Khakis were truly at fault. Whatever justification was provided, it was.

Many able commentators have opined on this unique situation and rightly termed it as a deliberate build up of the 'Security State'. The 'Security State' is provided ideological façade through the Muslim League.

Each time Khakis take over, they reinvent the Muslim League. Add a suffix [Quaid, Conventional, Council, Pagara, Junejo, Nawaz, Chatta, and so on…], and then place their surrogates at the helm of the re-invented Muslim League. General Zia-ul-Haq brought a Lahori businessman named Nawaz Sharif to the fore. Needless to say, he came up with a version of Muslim League, denoted by his initial N, as well.

The N League has had made its two stints in the government. One was dismissed by a 'presidential coup' engineered by the Khakis while the other directly conducted by General Pervez Musharraf.
By the way, the N League also has the distinct honor of sending its goons to vandalize the apex court of this nation. All because Mr. Sharif was miffed with the judiciary at one point, while he was in this glorious assumption, that he was the "Ameer ul Momineen."

Amazingly, the same Military that created him at one point, sent Mr. Sharif packing too. All because Mr. Sharif was getting two big for his shoes. He decided to replace General Musharraf. A guy who perhaps was responsible for the "misadventure" in Kargil. Mr. Sharif opted for a fellow Kashmiri, General Butt. Ordinarily, it was within Mr. Sharif's constitutional authority to do so, but he just totally forgot one golden rule. Never bite the hand that once fed you. Hence Mr. Sharif was deposed and incarcerated for acting too smart for his notoriety.

Come to think of it, the N League is the mother of all parties to the right. The rest of the religious and fundamental parties, are just there for the noise value. In reality, none of the others matter much, nor they have the ability to form any government. But clearly present to sing the chorus, as needed.

One was under the impression that Nawaz Sharif would have learnt his lessons by now. But politics is indeed a strange game. Nawaz Sharif who supposedly credits himself, for the restoration of deposed judiciary, seems to be back in action, playing for his former king makers. Fact is that, Mr. Sharif has realized, that he has to sing the Khaki tune to be back in  Islamabad.

Even the people with least amount of sense, can sense the partisanship of the apex court. Not only in the Memogate but even the acquittal of Mr. Sharif says a lot.

But as they say, anything is possible in the land of pure. So long as we have the right-wing parties fronting for the military and the honorable benches supporting their alliance, the possibility of real change is fairly bleak. This unholy troika is truly responsible for the degradation of Pakistan's real political progress.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Our "Cutie" Coup

Original Article; Daily Times\01\19\story_19-1-2012_pg3_3
Date Published; Jan 19, 2012

Let me make a confession. Growing up, I was an avid Punjabi film watcher. There is no other form of entertainment comparable to this. Of course, I am out of touch as I have been away from this great cinematic experience, but I do not miss it one bit. Reason, our great national leaders and the so-called TV anchorpersons (who I purposely ignore), make up for all that is missing from my otherwise dry, mundane and boring life.
People like me, who are in awe of this splendid work of art, know that it is mostly a 'clash of the titans' in a true desi style. You can swap names here and there, but lots of blood and plenty of noise is what you typically bargain for. I would take a Punjabi flick over a TV talk show in a heartbeat. Simple reason: TV talk shows have the noise, but no real action.

In our blessed land called Pakistan, the infamous anchorpersons are supercharged most of the time. They bring panelists with barraks (verbal challenges) and there you have the usual high volume, back and forth. The masses pick up from there on and practice those sound bites, ad nauseam.

Take the recent row between the elected government and the mighty military. What a superb Punjabi flick plot it is; verbal altercation at its best!
It is like both have their daggers drawn at one another, accusing each other for being at fault. The anchorpersons are like the walking talking promoters of this bout. The public has been sucked into all of this day in and day out. Each night they are given an overdose of this bout. It almost seems like there is nothing more important or pressing than this issue for Pakistan. Pakistan has really transformed into 'Talkistan'. I am sure that this is one heck of a conspiracy being crafted in a far away land to numb the minds of our people, with extraordinary details.
Whether Mansoor Ijaz applied for his visa or not, or why former Defence Secretary Lodhi was sacked, whether President Zardari will return from Dubai or vanish, will Prime Minister Gilani's government be able to withstand a no-confidence motion or not — it sure seems like without all of this, people will suffocate to death. Rest assured, the 'independent' television channels are making sure that no one heads off to the other world easily. Thank the heavens for the self-imposed ban; I get to avoid the idiot box completely.
Equally appalling is the enlightened and educated crowd's obsession with 'coups'. Turn on the social media (my refuge from the real one), and you see these urban yuppies almost in 'labour pains' (no offence to my female expectant readers). It seems like all eyes are waiting for a messiah to descend from the earthly heaven nicely tucked in Rawalpindi, and mistakenly called the General Headquarters. Heads rarely roll at that headquarters, though it often seems like a headless quarter.
So in this battle of 'good' and 'bad', mostly the good gets to win. Their usual phat (ultimate blow) comes in the form of a coup. All the noise subsides and our desi thriller comes to its expected grand finale. The yuppies breathe a sigh of relief, as most of the 'bad' guys are generally imprisoned. Some occasionally get bailed; some languish in jail more than the others. Some become the sidekicks of the 'good guys'. Hence the show gets to be recycled over and over again. No amount of 'masala' flicks can come close to this original 'formula flick' from the land of the pure.

Amazingly, the yuppies dream of a totally foreign concept called the 'rule of law' — all this while they abhor and detest anything foreign. Though yuppies love all the dollars, dirhams, dinars, etc, that come in the form of donations, they want the 'good guys' to trash the basic law, which they think is a mere piece of paper called the constitution. Ah, let me remind myself again, the good guys always put this 'piece of paper' in abeyance and draft their own, called the 'jungle law', oops, I meant martial law. It has its own unique moral: might, is always right, always has, always will be. The yuppies must be expecting a lot when they moan about no rule of law here. As naïve as I may be, I blame the good guys for that quagmire.

The title of our national blockbuster can be rightly coined as 'Democracy in Trouble'. Yes, I hear and read some yuppies saying to hell with this democracy, just give us a good king. The king will make all the evils go away. His rule will be a landmark and the rest of the world will look up to us in awe. Almost 30 plus years, with these righteous 'kings' and we still have broken roads, dearth of water and power, lack of medical care, unemployment, rampant poverty, and the list goes on. Hopefully you get the picture.

To those who think a coup is the 'be all end all', and to hell with the constitution, I ask a simple question: has any prior coup eradicated any of the problems this nation faces? If the response is in the affirmative, then I rest my case. Do not just ask for a coup then. Order a super size coup. Heck, add jumbo size 'sense' and a gallon of 'sensibility' to the order as well.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

When The Tables Turn

Original Article: Daily Times
Published:  Jan 12, 2012

One can only imagine what kind of emotions our ex-Commando-cum-’self-made’ former President Musharraf may be going through. When Karachi was burning on May 12, 2007, he was addressing a huge crowd of a ‘rent-a-rally’ in Islamabad. He was the king, and his men were around him. Recently, he was addressing perhaps another rally in Karachi, almost sequestered and completely out of touch in Dubai. The crowd was almost non-existent and his message was stale and hollow. The fall can be painful, extremely painful, no question about it.

His bloodless and illegal coup, unseating an elected prime minister, is another subject for another day. Very few would deny that his action was a major blow to the country’s democracy. Yes we are truly an upside down country. People celebrated his illegal act on the streets and looked at the new General, ‘chosen by the Divine’, with a sense of relief. The folks who ridicule the politicians for not fulfilling their campaign promises ought to revisit the newspaper archives that are readily available on line. What promises did our enlightened General make upon hijacking an elected government and what was he able to fulfil.

There is an age old Urdu saying, “Badalta hai rang kaisey kaisey” (the sky goes through many shades), which aptly fits here. Today the same president, who the ‘Yes Men’ looked up to literally, is almost an untouchable by his former cronies. It all depended on the power that he was able to wield at one point. Today he is toothless and powerless, dependent on some who he obliged at one point to lend him some support. A lifeline if you will to survive. Yes, power grabbed by force can be intoxicating and addictive. Once you lose it, there is a void that you strive to fulfil at any cost. It is not wealth, I guess. The former General may have plenty of it — it is the power that no amount of wealth can buy for him now.

It was like yesterday when the ex-General was signing the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) and laying the foundation of a new chapter of reconciliation. Today he has a plethora of cases against him and he is perhaps scrambling to get his SOS messages across to his former friends back home. It is all about power that sometimes misleads you. Sometimes you go astray with the feeling that ‘you are it’ and everything and everyone else is beneath you. But suddenly someone up there pulls the rug from under your feet. You may have worldly things around you, you may have riches tucked away all over the world, but respect, if you lose it once, is hard to regain.

People think that it is the honourable judiciary that brought the former General down. With utmost respect to that branch of this nation, I very respectfully disagree. The same honourable judiciary endorsed his immoral, illegal coup, under the age-old, time-tested, extremely hollow ‘Doctrine of Necessity’. It would have been business as usual, even today, had Musharraf not infringed in the territory of the Lordships. Only when one of their own was sacked, the bench finally abstained from their deep slumber of decades. Yes we hear the thundering noise from the bench that ‘illegal coups’ will not be tolerated any more. My humble and utterly respectful question is, was a ‘coup’ ever legal to begin with? What was the dire necessity that enabled Generals Ayub, Yahya, Zia or Musharraf to trash the will of the people? Why were the Lordships not honest to their own oath and profession? Only and if only the bench would have nullified these illegal acts at those moments, Pakistan would be a much stronger nation.

Speaking of accountability, why is it that it is only reserved for the politicians? Is it not fair if institutions, which consider themselves essential and integral, open themselves up for accountability? People are often disgruntled and show very little respect for politicians. The politicians are termed as plunderers, thieves, crooks and what have you. Fair enough, they share the blame. But have the politicians truly ruled this nation for 64 years all the way? If not, then the ones who have ought to present themselves for scrutiny as well. We can only get stronger if we rectify all the historical wrongs, starting from 1947 onwards.

Getting back to our dear Mr Musharraf, the former king. What a rude awakening for him. There was a time when urban yuppies were flocking his Facebook and Twitter pages. His followers were singing his praises. The numbers were staggering and he was gloating. Today, they have found a new hero. A new Trojan horse, so to speak. Musharraf is a relic of the past for them, a passing fad. He is not cool, hip and suave like ‘Kaptaan’ (captain).

Another revelation is Mr Musharraf’s plan to run from Chitral of all places. No offence, but how many years has Mr Musharraf spent in that hilly area? Is it because he cannot garner enough support and votes to become an MNA from an urban constituency? One can wish him luck on his new endeavour. A humble note to the incumbents: let him come and let him run because giving him a taste of his own medicine would be undemocratic. As far as the cases against him are concerned, let the bench live up to their promise. The force up there is the biggest judge of all. No one ever evades His justice. Never has, never will.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

10 Things You Cannot Deny About Zardari

Original Article: Pak Tea House
Published: Jan 09, 2012

Statutory Warning: For those who would be seething in rage and resort to the usual profanity, and abuse; I would humbly request to refrain from reading the post. This post may not be feasible for your brain cells. :)

Most of Pakistan, loves to hate a man. A man to them who is the "inventor and master of corruption", who has supposedly "robbed" this resourceful nation blind. According to them, he is the reason for all the evils, that plague the promised land of Quaid. Simply speaking, how could someone, who is so villainous, a plunderer, who gets so much disdain, can possibly survive. There are people who are baying for his blood and utter nothing but filth about him. Subject of almost every possible and imaginable form of character assassination, ridicule and remembered in the ugliest terms of any language, spoken or understood in Pakistan.

As much as people hate and loathe him, berate and chastise him, he emerges with a smile. The other thing that irks his opponents is, with every single such instance, he never retaliates, in that fashion and disregards all the petty nonsense. OK, all the haters, abusers, you can deny all you want, but you cannot deny the following 10 things about, the President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari:

1) Ever since he has taken office, he has relinquished the power of his office, rather than usurping or hoarding it.

2) He talks about supremacy of Constitution. He wants the institutions to work within their framework.

3) He is not vindictive, has not followed the politics of enmity.

4) He has tried to forge alliances with all parties across the isle to move this fragile democracy forward. His politics is based on dialogue and not dislodge.

5) AAZ is a statesman of a President. He takes decisions based on consensus of the Parliament and not his personal whims.

6) Despite his endless character assassination, he has not retaliated with low blows or other nonsense.

7) What ever he says he tries to live up to it. Case in point his recent departure to Dubai for medical reasons and his timely return as promised.

8) His mind is much sharper than his adversaries. He comes up surprises and ideas, that no one ever anticipates.
9) He demonstrates patience and practices that in every adversity.

10) He represents a party that strives to build a strong, collective and cohesive federation.

Now with all of this being said, is he perfect? No he is not. Has he made mistakes, Of course a lot. But the bigger question here is who hasn't. With a year or so left in his Presidency, his recent interview on TV with GEO, has been quite an eye opener for many. Like a very famous anchor of TV tweeted that, "AAZ is the most misunderstood politician in Pakistan, and he should appear in media more often."

Folks, people come and go. Like everyone he will too. Disagree with him all you want, but there are certain things that are undeniable and quite irrefutable. I am not a member of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), nor an office bearer. I am just an observer, like many of you, and I disagree with a lot of his moves. But cannot and will not be able to come up with anything, that refutes the items mentioned above.

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Friday, January 6, 2012

The Mission Incomprehensible

Original Daily Times Article
Published on: Jan 05, 2012

Memories may have faded,
but this scribe remembers it all very clearly. The ill-fated crash of then President Ziaul Haq was a major shocker. That summer evening brought in grief and a sense of relief at the same time. Grief for a speedy end to Mr Haq, as he deserved a bit more for putting the country through one of the worst martial laws of all times. What I mean here is that the late general should have served time for his illegal coup, which was absolutely uncalled for. This was trumped by relief that we will never get to see his performances of epic proportions on the national stage anymore.

There were a lot of people who were impacted tremendously by such a catastrophe. Barring Azhar Lodhi sahib, who was wailing like an elderly lady on PTV at Zia's funeral, there was his political descendant called Nawaz Sharif who was struck with a major blow. At that point Mr Sharif had vowed that he will fulfil the mission of the last "Mard-e-Momin and Mard-e-Haq".

What was the mission that Mr Sharif was referring to back then? Where did the late general take us that Mr Sharif wanted to continue on that path? When looking at the rear view mirror, and analysing what transpired back then, one has to be honest and realistic. The jingoistic rants that we hear about the current government bending towards the US ought to be re-examined. Undoubtedly, what the US needed back then, was made possible by the late general. The recipient of the benefits was the same US that our overly charged Right wants to vilify to the core at the present time. Yet they hold the late general in the regard generally reserved for saints and the clergy. Reality check anyone?!!

Getting back to the mission, Mr Sharif tried to follow one for sure. This was right after Ms Bhutto was sworn in as the first female prime minister in the Islamic world in 1988. Simply put, it was making her life as a prime minister a 'mission impossible'. Eventually what then President Ishaq Khan did was nothing short of a coup by dismissing the elected government in 1990. Yes, he was not in khaki uniform and yes he may or may not have used the infamous phrase: "Meray aziz hum-watno" (My dear countrymen), coined for the 'only' honest and the 'most reliable institution'. The impact however was the same, as it started a chain reaction of similar presidential coups in the following years. The ostensible reason behind all of those was 'corruption' and 'nepotism'. Amazingly, every time a general takes over, these two things go into a deep hibernation, and somehow resurface with a big bang, as soon as the 'civvies' regain so-called 'control'.

Now fast-forward a few years from there. The same Ms Bhutto made her return in 2007 under what was touted as the 'deal of the century'. Mr Sharif made a landing from London to Lahore, and he was manhandled at the airport. Within hours he was put on a speeding jet bound for London. Our moderately enlightened general and his equally gifted cronies flashed the 'deal' that Mr Sharif had signed in 2000 prior to being dispatched to the holy land for a decade. Mr Sharif denied any such thing, at least in the press. A few months went by and Mr Sharif resurfaced in Lahore along with his illustrious brother and the rest of their family. I am very poor in mathematics, but that would have been seven and not 10 years, but who is keeping track here.

To put it very mildly, one can only speculate that his emergence was perhaps made possible by the same friends who assisted him in his exile at the Suroor Palace. Mr Sharif repeated the same mantra and denied any new deal with his archrival, Mr Musharraf. One can only wonder whether it was possible or not, but as they say a hunch is just a hunch. All of us were looking forward to the elections of 2008. A cold, ruthless and tragic evening in Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007, changed everything forever.

Mr Sharif made it to the hospital, where Pakistan's two time prime minister succumbed to a brutal gunshot wound. He was distraught and understandably overwhelmed by a sea of emotions. Many of us shared the same state of mind for many days, weeks and months. Shortly after Ms Bhutto's burial, Mr Sharif again vowed to fulfil the unfinished mission of his slain once presumed rival. As they say, time can be quite an enemy or a foe, depending on your circumstances. Here we had another mission that was directly in contrast with the one chalked out by his previous benefactor.

The late general (may his soul rest in eternal peace) is remembered by all and sundry for sowing the seeds of destruction. One can make a compelling argument that an astute politician would have made a better deal with the Americans when the Soviets came knocking in Afghanistan. By resorting to the homegrown jihadi outfits and the slogans of 'Islam is in danger', he bargained something that is practically irreversible. Only a total change of generation and the underlying mindset can alter our fast approaching implosion.

Ms Bhutto, on the other hand, was claiming that she was the perfect answer to those militants and extremists. She was undoubtedly one of a kind. True to the core, to be so vocal in a society totally transformed by the redefined heresy and legacy of her tormentors. She had no idea that she was perhaps cutting a deal with the angel of death. But even in her final hours, she insisted that our predominant national issue was the menace of extremism.

Two diametrically opposite missions, two totally different paths. One has to ask Mr Sharif which path has he chosen. What mission does he want to accomplish and how? So far it sounds like he is on a totally different mission. It strangely reminds us of the mission of the late 1980s and the early 1990s. Perhaps he is waiting for another figure to leave their unfinished mission behind. So Mr Sharif can make another legendary vow to inherit and accomplish it forthwith.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Stop Insulting Others

GEO News Blog
Published on Jan 02, 2012

Political parties happen to be the prime drivers and catalysts for any real societal change. No wonder dictators and their likes, loathe the very existence of such potent entities. Actively engaged with their workers on a grass root level, they serve as a conduit, portraying the feelings and the pulse of their workers, and the society in general. The rationale behind their existence, is to improve the socio-economic values that are crucial to any society's progress.
Like every year, this year also, the 4th anniversary of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was celebrated across the country with utmost reverence and respect. Her daughters Bakhtawar and Assefa were on a social media website, receiving all the tributes from BB's die-hard fans. And then there were, of course, the haters and dissenters, puking all the bile and abusing not only the girls' father but aiming puns at BB as well.
This ugly badmouthing is not new for us Pakistanis. It is an all-pervasive and deeply embedded notion in the culture of subcontinent. The idea of having a respectful discourse on issues, whether controversial or as innocent as paying a simple tribute to a dead, becomes invariably difficult. One may attribute this to our overall political immaturity or decades of dictatorial regimes, which has snubbed our sense of civility.
As a Punjabi Sufi poet said, which somehow meant, "Do not rejoice the death of your enemies, as your friends are bound to perish too." We are caught in the old and futile traditions of slurs, character assassinations and hate speeches. If everything else fails, we resort to passing sweeping judgments on others with the pure intention of malice. All of this under the pretext of free speech, in the end manifests into sheer violence against each other. Ironically, this 'lot' includes both uneducated and 'enlightened' families. At the end of the day, it rarely has to do with education, but more with being cultured and civil.
Being passionate on social issues is one thing and being cold, heartless and immoral is surely another. If some one alleges President Zardari to be corrupt, what has that possibly got to do with his children paying and receiving respects on behalf of their deceased mother? Even the non-Muslims I have met do not practice such disdainful demeanor. Like every other religion, our religion also teaches us to remember the departed with respect. But we are miles away from practicing the real essence of our faith. Instead of engaging in vicious verbal arguments, if it hurts you so much, go and gather some facts and figures and take those to the judiciary, and that would still be better.
In the meantime, reserve the slurs and abuse for yourself only. You cannot eliminate the difference of opinion, and that's the beauty of democracy. Express yourself, enhance your knowledge, and most importantly, be respectful towards others; their opinions and stands. Hearts can't be won by force; the only viable way is through rational exchange of views. Education in itself is worthless, if it is not applied properly. No matter how much you and I disagree, at the end of the day, accepting such attitudes is, in essence, marching towards the doom. The end in this case, is the collective loss of civility and tolerance from our nation and nothing else.

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