Let Pakistan Make Its Own Progress

From The New York Times:

By Nadia Naviwala

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts — What do we do about Pakistan? Because I am a Pakistani-American who recently spent several months there, people here are constantly trying to get me to answer that question. One of the most important things I can offer them is a reality check.

 I grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, but my family moved to Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, in the early 1990s. Those were Karachi’s worst years and constitute my earliest memories of terrorism. Political and ethnic violence wracked the city, becoming, as we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan today, an excuse for every type of crime — shootings in mosques, kidnappings, violent break-ins and streetside executions if you belonged to the wrong ethnic group. By 1996, my family gave up on Pakistan and came back to the United States. By 1999, Pervez Musharraf gave up on Pakistan and overthrew the government.

Worse than the violence, for a Pakistani-American child, was that Pakistan was boring. As far as I am concerned, Pizza Hut was the only good thing that happened to Pakistan in those years. Prior to that, there was no American fast food in Karachi, let alone malls or highways. You couldn’t even find a decent candy bar.

 And as I got older, I grew increasingly irked by the conservatism. Pakistan, I felt, was easily the most closed country in the world — traditional dress was mandatory, girls were either stuck at home or harassed in the streets, and I almost never saw a foreigner.

I never imagined that I would see Pakistan the way I saw it this summer, after a mere 14 years. Karachi today looks like any major, cosmopolitan city — movie theaters, restaurants, and cafés full of boys and girls smoking, in jeans, mingling together. More women are finishing college and getting jobs, and they have traded traditional baggy shalwars for trousers and capris. The city has been aggressively transformed by a mayor so impressively capable that he seems misplaced in a culture of corrupt politicians and broken bureaucracies.

 If I sound like a wide-eyed Pakistani-American, it’s because I am. Pakistan today is more open and progressive than Pakistani communities in the United States. My parents’ generation in America has worked hard to preserve the Pakistan they left behind in the 1980’s.

Pakistani-Americans whisper and shake their heads about the wild parties they hear go on in Pakistan today. It’s true: alcohol, although illegal, is everywhere. And when I celebrated Christmas in Karachi this December, it was a Pakistani-American girl I met there who commented disapprovingly. Meanwhile, my Pakistani friends didn’t believe me when I tried to tell them that, having grown up in the United States, I have never met a Muslim who celebrated Christmas.

This is the change we need in Pakistan, but no U.S. policy or aid program could have brought it about. The desire that many Pakistanis have for a more open and liberal society, and the local leaders and businesses that are making it possible, are our best bet for stability and security in the region. Social change, economic growth, political maturity — these are things that crowd out groups like the Taliban and make their rhetoric fall flat. But these things have no formulas and Americans have the least ability to understand or control them — no matter how many policies are pronounced in Washington or billions of dollars poured into Islamabad.

More importantly, progress in Pakistan — strengthening economic growth, governance and liberal values — takes years to realize but only a few American airstrikes or Taliban bombings to destroy. American mistakes in the region have been aggravating public sentiments for years and fueled fundamentalism in the mainstream. In the 1990s, none of my aunts wore burkas. Now, they all do. And Taliban bombings in the cities are leading to a flight of people with means, usually the most progressive and educated, and capital. As we learned from our support for the mujahedeen in the 1980s, the secondary effects of U.S. policy are the most damning.

 How do we harness and support positive trends in Pakistan? If Washington can put good people to work on that question, who will also factor in the limits of American understanding and ground capabilities in Pakistan, they will come to a better question: How can we protect the progress that Pakistanis have already made?

 Instead of fixing “Af-Pak,” the best thing America can do for the region is stop it from getting more fouled up than it already is. So my answer to the question “what do we Americans do?” is to first understand what we have done already: U.S. war policies are inadvertently undermining the social and economic progress that Pakistanis have made over the years.

We need to accept the limits of our capabilities and understanding of realities on the ground. Unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, where the United States and other countries have a huge presence, few Americans travel to Pakistan and U.S. officials are extremely restricted in their movements.

Finally, we need realistic objectives, which will end up looking more like damage control than the magic bullet against the Taliban that everyone is looking for. Pakistan is a different story from Afghanistan — it is far more developed and modern. Afghans may not have the ability to lead themselves out of this mess, but Pakistanis do. After all, Pakistanis are the ones who suffer the most when their cities are bombed and their soldiers killed. If the United States continues to distort the situation through aggressive policy demands, then we are only reinforcing anti-Americanism and the breakdown of Pakistani institutions. What’s worse, if U.S. attention remains fixated on narrow measures of military success, Pakistan will become collateral damage of the Afghan war.

Nadia Naviwala is a student at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a former national security aide in the U.S. Senate. She is currently researching U.S. development assistance in Pakistan.

81 Comments

Filed under liberal Pakistan

81 responses to “Let Pakistan Make Its Own Progress

  1. Tilsim

    This article is confusing in its contradictions:

    “Pakistan today is more open and progressive than Pakistani communities in the United States. ” and then she says, “In the 1990s, none of my aunts wore burkas. Now, they all do. “, laying the blame squarely on “American mistakes in the region”.

    Oh boy, with national security aides to the US senate such as these, God help’em!

  2. Maestro96

    In Mustafa Kamal, Pakistan have a hell of a success story to tell. In MQM, Pakistan has the only secular and middle class representative party. If only MQM can attain a foothold in Punjab, then things will start to get better for Pakistan. It will not be simple but it will be a step in the right direction. I believe that the Military establishment and MQM have made peace and the latter has matured as a party.

  3. AZW

    This is rather too simplistic view of Pakistan from an American expat. She is right about a few things in this article. Many of Pakistani diasporas embrace traditional values in a Western society. In an effort to impart the Islamiat to their next generation, many Pakistani families in the West become even more Muslim than they were back in Pakistan.

    However, the wide eyed description of the alcohol parties and rising liberalism in Pakistan misses one important mark. That Pakistan today is society as segmented as it has ever been. Though a liberal urban landscape appears in the media and in selected segments of the society, is still a distinct minority. And making a case for Pakistani liberalism by quoting these disparate examples is probably a big mistake.

    Alcohol parties or women wearing sleeveless shirts do not define liberalism. Liberalism is about live and let live. It is about democracy and rule of law. It is about treating everyone equally. Left to its own devices, Pakistan has had a rough record in that aspect.

    Pakistanis do want change; they require better governance, democracy and economic progress. The recent signs have been encouraging, and Pakistan has made good inroads towards their ideals during the past 2 years. But it is hardly sufficient to proclaim that all is well and it is the American policy that is causing democracy and liberalism to take a step back in Pakistan. It was only to the year 2006 when more than 50% of the Pakistani population were admirers and supporters of Taliban.

    I don’t for a second believe that US policy in Af-Pak hinders democracy in Pakistan in its present form. It is not after the sustained offensive against them that the weakened Taliban are nowmaking gestures to initiate talks in Afghanistan. Military solution has and will never be the be-all solution; yet is a big step in dealing with a runaway problem that was threatening to overwhelm Pakistan. Taliban were a product of Pakistani miscalculation. And Pakistan needs to deal with this problem working with the US, not without it.

  4. vajra

    It is likely that this is too simplistic a picture, both of the diaspora and of the home country. One is immediately reminded of the exact, the identical situation prevailing a few hundred kilometres to the east. A classic illustration is the movie Bhajji on the Beach. While the Indians settled in the UK come across as being caught in a time-warp, unable to move out of that moment of time when they arrived in the UK, when the women go to the beach, there is a visitor in Bombay on the bus with them, and the contrast is amusing. It fits right in with this article.

    A small, additional point; in the cases of those Indian immigrants who entered the UK not from India but from Uganda for instance, or from Hong Kong, there was a double handicap. In many cases, they or their communities had been caught in a time warp much earlier. So it is those embedded in amber social mores which come across to the UK, not just the norms of that point of time in India, but the norms of that point of time at which they first left India.

    I am not sure that this applies to Pakistani families as well.

  5. sun

    Looks like pakistani diaspora is as confused as people of pakistan.
    Till such time pakistanis or the muslims in general objectively assess their core belief system or ideology and adapt it to the present world system they will be at war with themselves & others.
    Iranians are leading the way, openly questioning their ancestors decision & moving back to zoraster instead of this arabic import.

  6. YLH

    The simplicity of the argument was probably necessary. The average reader of the American print media – even the NYT- can’t handle any more complexity … even this article would have them pulling their hair out.

    The author is an old friend of ours… and is capable of a very nuanced analysis- you don’t get into Kennedy School at Harvard btw if you weren’t…

    I am frankly amused at Sun’s comment. It has no relevance or significance to the article. I guess this is the normal knee jerk response from the Hindutvadi party when it gets insecure about anything in the Western press which might remotely be positive about Pakistan.

  7. Bilal Aslam

    “The simplicity of the argument was probably necessary. The average reader of the American print media – even the NYT- can’t handle any more complexity … even this article would have them pulling their hair out. ”

    How patronizing and unlike you, Yasser. Setting that aside, I found the article contradictory and simplistic as well. It seems like Nadia desperately wants to believe in a liberal, progressive Pakistan, but sadly all evidence is to the contrary.

  8. yasserlatifhamdani

    Dear Bilal,

    Frankly that is my opinion of the American reader in general based on my time spent there.

    It always looks worst when you are outside… and what is more is that Pakistanis are notorious for self deprecation.

    I think the trend identified by Nadia is on the dot. Pakistan has a rising and increasingly globalized middle class (which may at times be dragged kicking and screaming)… at times it gets confused… but that is the painful process of evolution.

    Give democracy a chance…. liberal, progressive Pakistan is right around the corner.

  9. Jman

    Its a shame that we define progress by how short the sleeves on the cool chicks in Karachi are!

    Scratch their minds and I bet none of them you could have an interesting conversation with! These people always existed in Pak btw.

    How have the poor people “progressed” in y0ur opinion?

  10. B. Civilian

    Vajra

    your time-warp is certainly true of pakistani diaspora as well, especialy in the case of uk. north america is slightly different.

    where in pakistan do the families come from is also important. and with what ability in terms of skills to become cosmopolitan. an emigrant from karachi who came across in the 1950’s might know little about present day pakistan but would be no ghetto-dwelling introvert in the west. a mirpuri arriving in the 1960s of course will fit your time-warp description perfectly. emigrants from villages from the more prosperous parts of punjab, on the other hand, arriving in the 1970s/80s/90s would be nearer the emigrant from karachi, rather than from mirpur, in his basic outlook and ability to adapt, even though he wouldn’t have the skills and qualification to escape the ghettos.

  11. Sadia Hussain

    Politics and religion cannot coexist as it is not only insulting to the religion which is solely a spiritual subject but also politics is not divine the code of ethics are poles apart. Pakistan was not foreseen as a theocratic state and its charter derives its roots from progression not suppression. What we see now in Karachi, Lahore or Islamabad is reflective of the urban culture and this is no evolution as Pakistan urban centers pre-Zia were even more liberal then what we see today!

    I agree with the argument that development should not be dictated rather it needs to be facilitated and tailored as per the requirements of local cultures

  12. Mansoor Khalid

    A very debatable subject indeed. We must know that at times when we try to help anyone, we must not OVER-Do it because it might just backfire on you.

  13. DCMediagirl

    YLH: I wouldn’t jump to too many conclusions about the nuanced analytical abilities of Ivy League students. George W. Bush graduated from both Yale and Harvard, demonstrating that it’s possible to end up with a degree from an august institution even if you have a brain the size of a pea. There are plenty of legacy students attending those institutions who drive the collective IQ of the student body down.

  14. yasserlatifhamdani

    Well my conclusions are based on my personal interaction with the author who I have known since 2003.

  15. DCMediagirl

    I wasn’t referring to the author. I was referring to your comment about admission to the Kennedy School. As an Ivy League alum I’m merely suggesting not to buy toooo much into the hype….

  16. Mustafa Shaban

    @AZW: you are right about the article being way too simplistic. But the western media like YLH said, doesnt like to get into the complexity of things.

    It is very true that liberalism in confused with westernization and western culture, both are not the same.

    @sun: your comment doesnt make sense and is irrelevant and false. Muslims are well integrated into todays world and lay a major contributing role in many areas. Your views regarding Iranians is shocking, iranians are extremely committed to Islam. They have made advances in science and technology as well as spirituality. Just visit the cemeteries and religious sites and you will know what I am talking about. They have gone forward in the secular education as well as religious education.

    @DC Media girl: G. Bush is a part of the very powerful Bush family which does not only have his father and grandfather in politics, but his cousins and extended family holding large shares in many corporations in different sectors. The Bush family is one of the most powerful families in US and being elitists they would have access to high level universities even if they dont meet the requirements. However at the same time you are right when you say that the standard of education is going down, US faces an education crises as its standards fall.

  17. PMA

    sun (March 17, 2010 at 8:32 am):

    “Iranians are openly questioning their ancestors decision & moving back to zoraster [Zoroaster] instead of this Arabic import.”

    Sun, I could very well understand your opposition to “this Arabic import”. You are probably against the other ‘western import’ to your country as well. But do you have a way to back your above statement regarding Iranians, or you are simply tossing cow-chips up in the air?

  18. PMA

    YLH (March 17, 2010 at 10:08 am):

    “The simplicity of the argument was probably necessary. The average reader of the American print media – even the NYT – can’t handle any more complexity.….even this article would have them pulling their hair out…..The author is an old friend of ours…..and is capable of a very nuanced analysis – you don’t get into Kennedy School at Harvard btw if you weren’t…”

    Yasser, please come back to the USA and pickup were you left at Rutger as undergrad. We miss you here so much.

  19. DCMediagirl

    @Musatafa Shaban: There must be a problem with my English today. I am well aware of the Bush family’s prominence. My point was not that the American educational system is poor – which it is, but that’s a whole other conversation – but that legacy students are being admitted to and graduating from Ivy League schools on a regular basis despite lack of intellectual firepower, and that an Ivy League degree isn’t necessarily the gold standard many think it is.

  20. Mustafa Shaban

    @DC Media Girl: You are right, srry misunderstood you first time.

  21. Midfield Dynamo

    It is a pity that Pakistani’s are celebrating Christmas, not because I have anything against the reverence that Christians have for this holiday, but that Pakistani’s are only celebrating because it gives them an excuse to have dance parties, get drunk and indulge in hooliganism. This is nothing to be proud of……
    The state of affairs that we have landed ourselves in leaves us with little reason or time to celebrate, unless it is some form of escapism. It is of course mostly an indulgence of the affluent, the middle class just gets sucked into its wake. It is the affluent that need to exercise restraint, in order to firstly not tempt the less fortunate into digression and secondly to invest that precious time and money for the cultural and financial nourishment of this godforsaken country.
    Your advice to the American government to desist from over aggression bears merit not only for the salvation of Pakistan, but for USA as well. After all the Soviet Union met its end over here and the way things are going it seems that history is repeating itself. None of this absolves Pakistan of its responsibility to put its house in order, manage religious fundamentalism, enforce zero tolerance to terrorism both within and cross border and regain economic stability. On the issue of terrorism India will have to contribute in resolving the Kashmir dispute, without which there will always be a reason for its resurgence. Also meddling in the Baluchistan insurgency India is not really helping the international effort against terrorism.

  22. Ali Abbas

    @Tilsim, agreed with you wrt the contradictions.

    @AZW wrote: “Alcohol parties or women wearing sleeveless shirts do not define liberalism. Liberalism is about live and let live. It is about democracy and rule of law. It is about treating everyone equally”

    In complete agreement. I don’t understand. why we define liberalism with dress, diet and lifestyle and not adherance to a tolerant philosophy.

    Furthermore, the “cosmopolitan” lifestyle that Nadia describes is enjoyed by a tiny upper class segment and not the overwhelming majority of this city of 20 million people.

    Nadia equates American airstrikes with Taliban attacks in harming the country. I don’t know if she realizes that these airstrikes have killed the very Taliban leaders that have brought such devastation to ordinary Pakistanis. And that it is largely American aid that has saved the economy from complete collapse since quite some time.

  23. AZW

    Ali:

    Good points. Let me expand on this thought here.

    I never get tired of religious fundos equating liberalism with immodesty and western way of life. Our resident extremist, Mr. Kashifiat never ceases to invoke in his passionate pleas against the waywardness and western filth that liberals seem to bring in with their ideology. While Kashifiat understanding is based on passion first and reason later, I believe it is this imperfect understanding of liberal democracy in the masses that causes so much confusion and distrust about liberalism. From not so savvy Qazi Hussains, to so called progressives like Imran Khan and Hamid Mir, we never cease to hear the chorus of liberal fascists and so on.

    The pseudo democratic leaders like Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto or Ayub Khan do not represent the liberal democracy. Liberal democracy requires rule of law. It requires every human being to be equal. I will take a step further and say that same is true for pure capitalism; it cannot exist in the long run without checks and regulatory institutions to ensure that the investors have their rights to pursue profits within the legal boundaries. This will be a discussion for another day though, but let’s stick to the liberal democracy, and the imperfect form that is prevalent in Pakistan.

    Indeed Pakistan and other Muslim countries engage in a peculiar type of religious politics. The invariably first target of a religiously mandated government is women. Walls are erected around them, their modesty becomes the first visible sign of the Islamicness of a society. Whether most of them like it or not, a religious or semi religious government in the Muslim world looks to enforce Islam by segregating the sexes first and foremost.

    Interestingly, I read about the same phenomenon happening in the early 18th century India. After the austere Aurangzeb reign ended, the Indian Muslim society relaxed. The social values took a U-turn as people found the relaxed attitudes of the subsequent kings refreshing. The strict enforced modesty and religiously mandated decades of his rule were followed by lax emperors. Songs, dances and revelry flourished, that many religious figures of that era came to deplore.

    This gave rise to another clergy mandated revival movement by the likes of Shah Wali Ullah and others, who wanted to put the society on the right path with their own reformation of the Muslim society.

    This cyclical flow between more Islam and less Islam has been with us for centuries. And now while the religious right deplores the present waywardness of the society, the secular intelligentsia needs to take a step back and do a reality check. Are we going to let the liberalism defined just by how the society can party? Is liberalism just desegregation of sexes?

    Anyone who consumes alcohol in Pakistan goes against the law of the land. These parties should be condemned, not made an example of the progressiveness of the society. While no one argues against desegregation of sexes that the religious right loves to enforce, this is not what our ideals are about. They are about protection of law to everyone; from women to poor to minorities. It is about fair society that deals effectively with those who think they are above the law. If we fail to do that, another cycle of fundamentalism will hit us sometime in the future, harkening to the same message of waywardness and corruption, and condemning us to another decade of misery garbed under the message of religious salvation.

  24. Tilsim

    @AZW and Ali Abbas

    In complete agreement. It’s no use the pot calling the kettle black. Pakistanis should be much more balanced in their assessment of the role that the US has played recently in helping to clear up the Taliban mess that they are jointly responsible for creating alongside Pakistan’s establishment. For sure, the loss of innocent life anywhere is terrible but without US’s intervention, the Taliban/extremist challenge was appearing to overwhelm Pakistan. It’s important to make this point too to any Aunty who choses to don the burka as a result of frustration with US drone attacks. Sic.

  25. Hayyer

    Midfield Dynamo:
    “On the issue of terrorism India will have to contribute in resolving the Kashmir dispute, without which there will always be a reason for its resurgence. Also meddling in the Baluchistan insurgency India is not really helping the international effort against terrorism”
    The Kashmir dispute existed for decades before there was terrorism and continue to exist long after terrorism has disappeared, which is not unlikely, even in Pakistan.
    Kashmir needs to be solved for its own sake, not because of the hortations of Syed Salahuddin and the LeT. The LeT, at least proclaims that its goals and methods are not limited to the resolution of the Kashmir problem in favour of Pakistan. From India’s point of view it is inconceivable that anything can be conceded to the activities of the Jamaat ul Dawa wa Irshad’s .
    The terrror weapon in ISI’s arsenal, as far as India is concerned, is likely to remain a low yield device. It probably encourages Indian hawks to stand their ground, and to that extent postpones a reconciliation between India and Pakistan. It may be at best a self serving device for the PA because it helps delay a solution.
    I must qualify here that the original Kashmiri uprising led by the JKLF petered out within a couple of years. Those who survive from it like Yaseen Malik, are peaceniks. The terror thing is controlled exogenously.

  26. Ali Abbas

    @AZW, while the rule of law is very important and not just for the “”bloody civilians” and selective politicians, but for everyone, I think a truly liberal society should encourage and tolerate free thought and a pluralityof opinions. I agree with much of your analysis regarding the ebb and flow of values. However, even after Aurangzeb and actually with Akbar and Dara Shikoh, there was a modicum of liberalism, in that different viewpoints were tolerated and an attempt was made to embrace diversity.

  27. The cultural references in this article seem to be distracting some Pakistani readers from its central points. A few reminders and clarifications–

    The motivating question of the piece is “what should we Americans do?” about Pakistan. It is a message for American policy makers and thinkers– my current classmates and former colleagues– who are worried about Pakistan and are constantly discussing and formulating potential policies towards the country, without ever having been there.

    Pakistan is too often seen simplistically through the prisms of Afghanistan, Taliban, and nukes. The piece tries to challenge that image and show that Pakistanis have been negotiating these issues pretty well on their own, and that U.S. war policies are in some way responsible for fundamentalism, anti-Americanism, and violence that they were designed to counter. Hence, “the secondary effects of U.S. policy are the most damning.” Instead, the things that Pakistan needs, “social change, economic growth, and political maturity,” are things that U.S. policy is least able to effect in the current situation.

    The prescription is not that Pakistan should be liberal (narrowly-interpreted) but that openness, choice, and development are good things. The celebration of Christmas shows that Pakistan is not as intolerant, fundamentalist, anti-American, and Taliban-infested as many Americans would perceive them to be. And the discussion of “trousers” and “capris” shows not that Pakistan is adopting western dress, but fusing it with its own.

    The references to liberal attitudes in Karachi is not meant to promote westernization but to demonstrate that the largest Muslim city in the world “looks like any major, cosmopolitan city” today.

    It’s true that some of the choices described in the piece are only open to a small part of the population in places like Karachi. But the larger point is that this group has grown and entered the mainstream over the past decade. (Yes, I have debated this latter point with my Pakistani friends.)

    Also, through the reactions to this piece, I’ve realized that people tend to over-identify liberalism with the elite in Pakistan. Many liberals these days are not elites, and many elites are conservative. Also, liberal and open attitudes might be a feature of Pakistani society more than people realize. A good example, again, is Christmas. Many people assumed I meant elite parties, but what surprised me more is hearing Jingle Bells on the radio, seeing Santa caps sold on the streets, and the more conservative ends of my family telling me it was just a fun holiday and wondering why I was so surprised.

    Finally, there is a personal element. What is described here is my own surprise at what I’ve seen in Pakistan. Like many Pakistani-Americans, I had given up on the country and spent time in many other places instead– mostly Turkey, Bosnia, and Lebanon, but also Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia. I was able to travel, work, and research in these countries freely, and finally wanted to experience Pakistan in the same way. I loved it, and wanted to convey to American and Pakistani-American audiences that Pakistan is not the hopeless case that it is too often made out to be.

    Also, setting Pakistan against many other majority Muslim countries, rather than just the U.S., helped me accept things that Pakistanis usually complain about, but it almost made me critical of things that Pakistanis usually accept. That discussion is beyond the scope of this article, but what I’ve described in the article sets Pakistan against other majority Muslim countries today, as much as my background as a Pakistani-American.

    For the record, the piece has raised as many strongly positive reactions as negative ones among Pakistanis, particularly amongst my friends who were tired about hearing constant talk about security and the Taliban in Pakistan. But I am responding to the negative comments because they raise points worth discussing, although perhaps in a separate piece.

    For now, I would encourage people to focus on the policy aspects of this piece and to try to get more diverse and informed Pakistani voices heard in the mainstream American press.

  28. ylh

    ” particularly amongst my friends who were tired about hearing constant talk about security and the Taliban in Pakistan.”

    Precisely. Unfortunately the tendency is for people to expect only voices 1. Which is self deprecating. 2. Which is fundamentalist.

    Even the positive voice about Pakistan has to champion off base characters..

  29. rex minor

    The author’s comments are like a fresh air flowing into the poluted arena.There is more anti-Americanism in the world than at any other time. Pakistanis are not the exception. This is solely due to the US foreign policy.

    The US has now targeted the Asian sub-continent for destabilisation and control of the areas around China. We are witnessing the revival of the cold war.
    Pakistan area, prior to partition, consisted of an cosmopolitan and open society which was more liberal than currently.
    From Peshawar to Karachi the people were free to practice their stye of life and religion unpurturbed.

    Pakistan would need a long time to shrug off the misguided influence of the military and the clergy.

  30. Majumdar

    Rex sahib,

    The US has now targeted the Asian sub-continent for destabilisation and control of the areas around China.

    That seems a bit contradictory to me. If USA wishes to encircle China it wud make more sense to bolster the countries sorrounding it- India for eg, even Pakistan. Destabilising other countries only makes China the paramount power in Asia, which it almost is.

    Regards

  31. B. Civilian

    which it almost is

    at least partly because the countries around it are either unstable to varying degrees, or affected by instability in the vicinity more directly than china is.

  32. Mustafa Shaban

    @Majumdar: No its not contradictory becuase the countries around China need China and they are all allies of China. They need to be destabalized in order to weaken Chinese influence, install curropt governments that will actually allow US and NATO to plant military bases on land and deploy aircraft carriers, submarines, and attacks ships in the bodies of water surrounding China. The only exceptionn is India becuase India considers itself a rival of China rather than a neighbour and hence US and Israel are doing everything they can to arm India with modern weapons.

    Rexminor is absolutely right about anti american policy views in the world. Politicians and intellectuals around the world recognize the US agenda to create a unipolar world based on Anglo-American policy and objectives. You should just see the statements of Chinese and Russian politicians, they are furious.

    @AZW: I agree with your view of liberalism, hwever I find IK as a true liberal. I dont think anyone understands liberalism as well as he does. Other politicians in Pakistan are mostly uneducated and curropt.

    Also there is alwayz talk that the Army could not have defeated TTP without the aid of the Americans which I believe is absolutely wrong, all the US could do is use drone attacks which killed 708 civilians and only 14 Al Qaeda, whereas Pak Army crushed a insurgency of 15,000 strong and has liberated many areas in Pakistan from TTP influence. Actually Drone attacks and american intervention feul the insurgents as they find greater justification to commit thier crimes.

  33. Mustafa Shaban

    @YLH: You asked me what is my view on Zaid Hamid these dayz. Its the same. Why do you ask?

  34. PMA

    Nadia, The Author (March 18, 2010 at 1:45 pm):

    It is good that you have come aboard and explained some of your points and positions; otherwise we were reminded that:

    “The simplicity of the argument was probably necessary [because] the average reader of the American print media can’t handle any more complexity”…. and …. “even this article would have them pulling their hair out”.

    I certainly hope that you as “The Author” do not hold a similar patronising view of your readers. If your article was initially written exclusively for a certain American audience then I understand where you are going with it. But it did not ‘cut’ with the regulars of PTH. In that sense, perhaps this article was wrongly posted here. No offence to you however. I wish you good luck and hope that you succeed in your efforts. Incidentally; any relation to Humza?

    Many regards.

  35. rex minor

    @Mujamdar
    Sir, I would agree with you but the neo-conservatives in the US are calling the shots. I could not explain their rationale better than Mustafa Shaban.
    Regards,
    PS
    Could you imagine a world with several super powers?

  36. ylh

    Dear PMA,

    I (and other brother moderators) decide what is posted rightly and what is not.

    That is all I have to say.

    Thank you,

    YLH

  37. A hopeful and positive outlook. Why not look at just the positive change even if it is not complete, or full grounded in society…. its still something. Although attire is not a representation of progress as one of the commentators mentioned, it is an indicator of allowance. Of tolerating what is not tolerated. This gives ways to tolerating thoughts, ideas and so forth. I think the answer to the question that most people in Pakistan have about their future is already there, in their concern and impulse to figure something out. Vali Nasr’s book “Rise of the Muslim Middle Class ” answers a lot. Good read.

  38. AZW

    Nadia:

    First of all welcome to PTH. Though I do not agree with many parts of your article, it is always good to hear another opinion on this forum.

    The rising openness in the society is always a welcome step. I believe it is largely a consequence of Pakistan`s failed experiments with Islamizing the society, and seeing firsthand the disaster of courting the religious right politically and militarily to wage proxy wars.

    I will not argue against the fact that democracy even in its imperfect form is taking a welcome shape in Pakistan. Press is generally quite free, small businesses are doing quite well and indeed there is a rising middle class in Pakistan taking shape.

    However, a lot of perceptions abroad are shaped by the news of violence and bombings in Pakistan. Some of us here even on this forum have lost our loved ones in those bombings. Before we can declare all the perceptions about Pakistan being an unsafe country, maybe we need to pause and realize that we have been named one of the most dangerous states in the world a few years in a row by respected journals and political commentators in East and West. And that just ten short months ago, the rabidly Islamic extremist group had taken over the Swat Valley, FATA and was in the process of invading Buner and the plains of NWFP.

    I frequently visit Pakistan and I am also struck by the openness the society has embraced lately. However a few more days in Pakistan put to rest any of the immediate wide-eyed observations. Poverty runs abounds, slums of Karachi are still hotbed of religious extremism and the parts of Punjab are still teeming with religious extremism that was at one time tacitly approved by the state.

    None of the above observations are meant to disparage my country; but the recent gains against the extremism have been small and are bound to disappear if we think that Christmas jingles on the FM radios or women walking around in jeans shows that society is embracing liberal policies. There is 28% of population living below the absolute poverty level, only 0.7% of population graduates from undergraduate degree each year in Pakistan, and the population adds 3.4MM souls each year. With dwindling water resources and economy that is at best moving forward rather gingerly, these stats are bound to cause alarm among all of us.

    I find it rather simplistic to quote the anecdotal evidence of an open society to make an argument that US should stop meddling in Pakistan`s affairs. Here is a problem: US did not declare Jihad against the Taliban. Taliban`s guests did that against the US while they enjoyed Taliban`s hospitality. I would be very interested in getting to know what were the other options for US when Afghanistan had become terrorist central of the world. The fact that Pakistan turned a blind eye to its neighbour in the pursuit of strategic assets is a failure of Pakistan`s policy more than anything else. That Pakistan faced an existential threat from its own creation is also hard to argue. That Pakistan and US share a very common enemy right was as true 10 years ago as it is now.

    Second, the 1990s was a decade when US almost completely stepped back from Af-Pak, only to see Pakistan make a royal mess of its neighbour. It was a Pakistani Premier who was on the first flight to Washington after the failed Kargil excursion, not US jumping in to meddle in Pakistani affairs. As much as I want Pakistan to be economically and militarily independent, I cannot help but feel that our confused ideology (another topic that has been discussed to death here at PTH) has not helped us create a stellar past. That even though US does not read Pakistan very well all the times, Pakistan needs US. It needs US support (that it is getting from US) militarily and monetarily to quell the Taliban uprising. Pakistan needs an economic aid in righting its weakened economy. The day when we are politically and economically independent, I would be more than happy to say that we have proven ourselves to be the mature and responsible nations among the comity of nations, and no foreign intervention is welcomed. Until that day, I cannot just wish for US to just melt away, since my society has shown pockets of increased liberalism. I believe Pakistan will come calling for US itself in the future, if the history is any good indication.

  39. What?

    “The references to liberal attitudes in Karachi is not meant to promote westernization but to demonstrate that the largest Muslim city in the world ‘looks like any major, cosmopolitan city’ today.”

    You mean like Paris or London? I don’t think so.

    You ask the readers to focus on the policy aspects of your NYT piece. There are no policy aspects. Your article reads like an abstract for a classroom thesis – all summary, no specifics. If you want the U.S. to stop the aid and leave Pakistan alone then say so. As an American I for one don’t want my tax dollars flushed down a rathole (a.k.a., stolen by a bunch of kleptocrats). But if I knew the money would be used for the good then no problem. And why don’t you write something about the role of the Pak media in promoting anti-Americanism and paranoia?

  40. rex minor

    @AZW
    You state that;
    . the US has not declared Jehad against the Talibans. Taliban’s guest did that against the US while they enjoyed the hospitality,
    and
    .that even though the US does not read Pakistan very well all the times , Pakistan needs the US. It needs US support militarily and monetarily to quell the Taliban uprising.
    I am really surprised to read your comments. Pakistan received its independance in 1947, and here is an intellectual who as yet not come to grips with the word ‘independence’. I know that the Pakistan army has not shed its colonial structure and have proven more than once that it is not in a position to defend adequately its borders. But as an outsider I was unaware that even the education system of the colonial days has not been reformed.

    The sick man of the world today is the United States of America. The country’s manufacturing base has been damaged and instead it has been sinking in a consumption spree over a long period.
    They have an army which costs them an estimated one trillion dollars annualy. They owe its creditors namely China and the Saudis around two trillion dollars. They are currently printing green dollars like their green cards and proliferating it beyond their borders around the world.
    How could any one ever think of relying on the US support for the welfare of an almost bankrupt country. I thought there are institutions such as IMF to aid the world weaker economies? The US has not been able to give a proper life support to Haiti, one of its beloved project and the source of cheap labour.
    The US interventions into the independen Islamic States such as Iraq and Afghanistan, is a part of the “Grand Slam” operation plan. The plan was developed by the neo- conservitives of the US ‘thinktank’ to destabilise and then establish US bases within or near the energy rich countries with a view to sorround China. It is not a secret that China is heading to become the next Super Power of the 21st century.

    Let me assure you that Pashtoons are not terrorists and infact were great pals of the good old George. Their leaders were frequent visitors to his ranch in Texas simply because the US was a great source of help for them in defeating the Russians.
    It is not a secret that many volunteers from different parts of the world came to Afghanistan to aid the Pashtoons against the Russians.

    The Pashtoons have not taken any action against any foreign country but have always tried to defend their land against the foreign invaders. The drama currently being played in their land on both sides of the border is not new. They are going defeat the US and the Nato Armies as they have proven their metal over centuries. Pakistan Army is not a match. The Swat and Waziristan drama is nothing but the smoke Screen to justify the so called aid from the US. No independant reporters were allowed to witness the Army Operaions. What we are watching in the sub-continent is not a terrorism but resistance of Pashtoons against the foreigners. The violence in the street of Pakistan city would disappear as soon as Pakistan Army stops their intrusion into the Pashtoon land. And Afghanistan would return to normality if Karzai is allowed to obtain support from the Pashtoon opposition. Their declaed demand is that the Americans stop military operations and agree to leave the country. Pakistan Army is currently not in favour of this process and according to the outgoing UN chief in Afghanistan is preveting reconciliation with the so called Afghan Talibans who were in communication with theKarzai Govt. and the UN.
    I sicerely hope that you would be fair in your judgements on Pashtoons and not simply kowtow the US and Pakistan army spins.

  41. Mustafa Shaban

    @rexminor: Fantastic analysis. Agree with most of what you say. Except for your view on Pakistan internal war. There is not such a resistance in Pakistan as the Pashtoons are not against Pakistan. The TTP are not pashtoons but are foreing terrorists from uzbekistan, and other arab and central asian countries and very few pakistanis. They are also foreign backed. If Pashtoon were angry they would attack military units, they would not attack innocent civilians, blow up mosques and cut heads of innocent people. The ”Punjabi” Taliban and ”Pashtoon” Taliban does not exist. This is al hype from US and some section of Pakistan media because they want to divide the nation based on province and ethinicity. Divide and Rule. There may be some Pashtoons fighting the Army, but they only fight the Army , not kill innocent civilians. There is a reaction to military operations but doesnt turn Pashtoons into barbarians, just makes them more militant. Your view is similar to Imran Khan’s view, hence his call to stop military action and resume dialogue in order to bring the Pashtoons to our side and isolate the real terrorists who are foreign and foriegn backed. I agree with him to a certain extent but not completely. In some areas it was necesssary for the Army to take action due to the brutality of the TTP and how they were killing many civilians. You are right when you say that the Pakistani elite are obsessed with dollars and that is why they want this war to continue and spread.

  42. Mustafa Shaban

    @rexminor: You usually talk about US/NATO surrounding China, which is very true but do not forget that US and NATO also are surrounding Russia and Iran. They also have a major problem with both these countries as they are obstacles to Anglo-American domination. Zbginew Brezinski says in his book The Grand Chessboard that the most dangerous thing for American dominance in Asia would be any partnership between Russia , China and Iran and that is exactly what is happening right now. This is demonstrated by CSTO and SCO alliances, which are counters to NATO. The Central Asian states are also slowly becoming pro Russia which scares the Americans as this trend signals the end of thier domination in that region and also thier ability to build pipelines that would avoid coming to China, Russia and Iran.

  43. AZW

    Rex Minor:

    If patriotism and <independent sovereignty terms are only defined by a narrow vision of standing behind the state even when the state takes herself to gallows following shallow policies, then I am not that patriot. I firmly want Pakistan to suceed, but I also believe that burying my head in the sand, and conjuring conspiracy theories to justify our failings will keep at it for another next few futile decades.

    But let’s focus on your arm chair comments about the state of the US economy, non stop printing greenbacks and that they owe their creditors in China and Saudi Arabia some two trillion dollars. I want to focus here because an international investor does not care about emotional logic. Anyone buying US treasuries in large sizes is expressing the following points of view with literally putting his money where his mouth is (and not just putting the mouth at PTH, where you, rather disappointingly get away with the most loony of the theories).

    For your benefit, I have developed this trivia quiz specifically for you to test the knowledge behind the financial economics that cause you to proclaim such grand statements. I will answer all of them later, but it is your respnsibility to back up your comments. Mustafa Shaban, feel free to join in with your answers as well.

    1) China holds 900BB dollars worth of US securities. Oil Exporting nations together (and that includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar) include a total of 220BB of the US public debt. That sums up to 1.12Trillion Dollars. Where did you come up with the 2 trillion dollars figure for these two countries. 900BB dollars is no chump change for many people. Or is it just a rounding error to make your claims?

    By the way, since we are talking big numbers here, even the combined figure of 1.12 Trillion Dollars of debt held by China and Gulf Countries form less than 12% of the total outstanding debt by US (9.85Trillion at the beginning of 2009).

    2) US printing non stop green dollars for the past two and a half years should result in a menace called inflation. You see, in economy, this is a zero sum game. An action will have a consequence. Imprudence catches up, later if not sooner. Tell me why US economy is running at sub 2% yearly inflation for the past 10+ years. Also tell why inflation is actually inching down, with their core inflation almost touching the 1% mark. Also tell me if US inflationary green back printing press is so bad, why is the economic world more concerned about deflation than inflation?

    3) And let’s ask a basic question: If US fiscal and monetary policies are so bad, why are the foreign investors stupid enough to buy the 10yr treasury that pays nothing but principal and a fixed coupon at a measly yield of 3.65%. That’s correct, 3.65% per year for 10 years. The investor takes the following risks to get this yield per year a) US inflation risk (if inflation rises, the coupon that the US bonds pays remains fixed) b) FX risk (if US dollar tanks by more than 3.65% per year, an Asian or Eruopean gets zero return in his own currency), and c) US sovereign credit risk (i.e. US may stop honouring its obligation).

    So here are the three simple questions. The only difference between them and your rhetoric is that these stats don’t care of passionate rhetoric. They only look for a rationale that makes sense. If it makes sense then the investors all across the world invest their money based on their best interests. No one is putting a gun to Chinese or Saudis or Russians or European heads to get them to buy these treasuries. If they don’t like them, the prices of treasuries will drop until they start yielding levels that will make them interesting for foreign investors. The fact that US bonds have hovered in these broad ranges for the past 10 years show that there is something consistent about the US economy that makes everyone buy their debt at these prices.

    Your job is to tell us why you are right and all of the above are wrong.

    I will wait for you and Mustafa Shaban’s reply.

  44. vajra

    @AZW

    I will wait for you and Mustafa Shaban’s reply.

    Huh.

    Have you heard of memory overflow?

  45. Gorki

    Dear AZW:

    Love your post.
    If you ever want to take on another client willing to pay for your time and advice on the financial matters, let me know….
    In the meantime, am eagerly waiting to hear from rex and Mustapha even as I supress the urge to raise my own hand in the air and try to get your attention shouting me, me, me, ………😉

    Regards

  46. Ganpat Ram

    None of this matters, as long as the Hindus are tough enough to defend themselves.

    They cannot depend on the US, which now has nothing but credit cards.

    They better end their foolish quarrel with China over the Dalai Lama.

    They better train their young people to shoot.

    Life is getting very serious.

  47. Gorki

    Oh Ganpat…dear Ganpat… (Sigh!)……

    It seems each time you write something; your paucity of ideas and a lack of understanding become ever more apparent.
    “They better end their foolish quarrel with China over the Dalai Lama” The quarrel is less about Dalai Lama and more about the unresolved border issues, try looking up Aksai Chin and Arunanchal Pradesh. Another factor is that as two simultaneously rising powers, some degree of mutual suspicion is not unexpected between India and China. I think it is being handled rather maturely by the current leadership in both countries. Thank you.
    Then you said “They cannot depend on the US, which now has nothing but credit cards, they better train their young people to shoot….”
    Unfortunately, no shooting lessons for you; you too should find some easy to read texts on macro economics and stand in the corner with rex minor and young Mustapha until you get past the basics….
    Besides why do you want to learn to shoot? Didn’t Hayyer Sahib already point out that people like you like to hunt in mob packs?
    I can agree with one last statement you made.
    Life (at least on the PTH) is indeed getting very serious. To get any respect you too will have to demonstrate some grown up ideas and a maturity of in reasoning.
    Burke imitation can take you only so far.

    Regards.

  48. rex minor

    @Mustafa Shaban
    I am looking at the events in your part of the world from the global point of view. You have certainly better view in your neighbourhood and about the so called Pakistan internal war. The situation in Pakistan is very fluid and right now there are many actors in the Afghan/Pak theatre who are on occasion going wild in their actions.

    The notion that foreign terrorists, including uzbeks and Arabs, are operating in the Pashtoon land is misleading and a smoke screen. No one even from the main land of Aghanistan and Pakistan can operate without the permission of local tribes. The Waziris would not even allow a safe passage to any Pashtoon from another tribe. I know it is difficult to accept the reality that the Pashtoons revenge does not recognise any sanctuaries. This is the mistake your interior minister and the army brass made in not adequately safeguarding their civilian residences.
    Let me simply state what I saw on the cable network last night. A Pashtoon father who lost his little son not older than six or seven years the night before by the US military night raid in his village, swore in his own words in front of the Camera that he is going to offer his other four sons(all children under the age of I guess ten years) to OSAMA.
    Mr Shaban there is a war going on against the Pashtoons.

  49. Ayusafzai

    I echo the thoughts of some of the readers above. It is truly sad that liberalism is defined as being only skin deep. Jeans, alcohol, smoking etc are non-issues, and it’s hard to see what the ideals of liberalism such as a stable democracy, tolerance for diversity and the rule of law have anything to do with all of this. Furthermore, does anyone ever think about the suffering masses, who are literally struggling to survive?

  50. AZW

    Ganpat Ram:

    None of this matters, as long as the Hindus are tough enough to defend themselves.

    They cannot depend on the US, which now has nothing but credit cards.

    They better end their foolish quarrel with China over the Dalai Lama.

    They better train their young people to shoot.

    Life is getting very serious.

    This is an irrelevant (Hindus ending their quarrel with Dalai Lama and picking up guns) as well as clueless (US has nothing but credit cards) remark.

    Judging from your last few comments, whatever quality of arguments that you started with, has been deserting you quite quickly indeed. Let’s just hope that you don’t turn vindictive and abusive against many who are seeing through you quite clearly here on this forum.

  51. Mustafa Shaban

    @AZW: rexminor is not cooking up theories but facing realities. His views are completely different from the state govt and political elite. So obviously he is not running behind the state. The things rexminor and me talk about has never been tried in Pakistan, infact our elites do the opposite most of the time, which is why we are in a mess the first place.

    As for the economics part, honestly, I am not expert so I wouldnt know. However I deeply trust well known economic theorists who successfully predicted all economic recessions, and the coming depressions 10-15 years in advance and are highly experienced and recognized though hold different views and perspectives on the economy. They are Gerald Celente, Bob Chapman, Michel Chussodovsky, Richard C Cook, Ellen Brown, Rodrigue Tremblay, Catherine Austin Fitts and many many others who have proven thier excellence in analysis and prediction. The people I follow are either former US government officials, people who have predicted economic trends much in advance, or they have thier online subscription all over the world including each and every US embassy in the world. So I may nt be an expert but I do trust them, unlike some mainstream economists who appear in the corporate media who did not even predict the crash even a month in advance. They more or less have an extremely gloomy image of US economy and also see other countries like China stop buying US debt. People are losing confidence in US economy.

    @rexminor: I understand your point of view and totally respect it (unlike some people) so lets agree to disagree which we can also do unlike some people.

    Also AZW just intellectually punched you, you should punch him back.

  52. rex minor

    dear AZW,
    Like Mr Gorki I love your post too, though I did not understand your opening remarks about the patriotism. I recognise that the nation building task in your country could not get completed because of the military take over in ther sixty’s.
    The military brass though was very sincere but unfortunately had no background education to develope the new generation of Pakistanis as independent people and not as slaves of the colonialists. The military tried to groom Mr Bhuto as a rising politician and in their view had the vision and the charisma to take the masses towards progress. Mr Bhutto did his best and even promised the world that the nation would be prepared to live on grass. It is all history now.
    What surprised me about your remarks was that Pakistan needs the US monetary and military help.. For a citizen and I guess you are a citizen of Pakistan, to state that you need monetary and military support from the US is not comprehensible. This is why I stated that perhaps the Pak education system is at fault. Sir, you are not at fault, and if there is a majority of people like you in the country, then Pakistan has no right to remain an independent nation. Nor, have you the right to possess nukes or pretend to demand from India the plebicite for occupied Kashmir. It is obvious that the US would act as a Banker and demand the collateral for the credit, the Nukes perhaps?
    Now coming back to your tirade defending the Uncle Sam credit worthiness, and asking questions as if I am the famous Ben Binnecki and sitting in front of the US congress, or perhaps sitting in the court answering question of the prosecutor. I recognise that on this forum there are quite a few lawyers who are expert in asking lead questions, which already encompas the answers.

    But let me try to summarise and respond to your opinion in a simple way.

    . The two trillion dollars indebted by the US to the Saudis(not the gulf states) and the Chinese is in addition to the dollar reserves and the treasury bonds these countries hold. You could check with Chinese embassy as well as the Saudis, if they are prepared to give you this information. If I recall Mr Obama did make some reference to this onxce. After all they have the current account with these countries. Mr Obama and his adviser are also trying the million dollar trick of asking the chinese to revalue their currency.
    . Most of the US and the European Banks are now bankrupt. I am sure your financial knowledge must tell you what an insolvent bank is. The Banks have received the Govts. support to continue to operate, the saving accounts of the citizens have also been guaranteed by the respective Govts.
    I guess you know how the Govts. give guarantees? Just print the currency, in case the customers go wild and demand the return of their deposits.
    . The US govt did not support the famous Lehman Bros. which very silently became insolvent, and thereby many thousands of ordinary European citizens lost their savings which they had saved for their retirement. I would reckon that you would have some sympathy for the individual families.
    What is criminal in the print of dollars is that it affects those countries who have dollars as a reserve currency and where this paper is used by the consumers. You are obsessed with the impact of the US financial scandals in the domestic market but not the European markets and the rest of the world.
    . The US capitalist system is different to the social maket oriented capitalist system in Europe. The financial jungle which was created in the US, based on the economy tide has collapsed.
    . There was no transparency and most of the figures were manipulated by the Investment Banks. The Govt. either had no rules and regulations or did not implement them.
    Your reference to inflation, the consumers in the US and most European countries have no monetos to buy and should answer your basic query on minor inflations. Perhaps you should also look at the emloyment situation as well. Your return info on investment is also faulty and you are also ignoring the value of the dollar against the Euro.
    Sory, if you still do not understand as to what is going on in the financial world and have not had the opportunity to listen to the American top independent economistst, then I am afraid you are at the wrong address. Normaly I do not have much patience with the intellectuals who are reluctant to accept the reality or prepared to read different views and the upinions. Perhaps you would care to listen to Farid Zakari the Indian American journalists who is good at recommending latest published books on varying subjects.
    Have a nice day.

  53. rex minor

    @Mustafa Shaban
    You have given more references to AZW for reading than I knew about. I am impressed.
    I am not the citizen of Pakistan nor have I any direct or indirect contacts with the Govt.
    My interest in the forum is simply to add any relevant info on a topic and express my own interpretation of the situation. The purpose is not to exchange punches or convert people to my point of view.
    Regards,

  54. AZW

    Mustafa Shaban:

    Gerald Celente, Michel Chussodovsky. They are discredited even in their own economic communities and are rightfully ridiculed even in Canada (where Michel tries to spread his conspiracy theories). For reference, Mr. Celente thought 2009 would bring food riots in the streets of America, and the forecast is now for 2012. Mr. Chussodovsky horrifies even the leftist of Canadians due to his wild and wooly theories. This gentlemen’s four year old theory if I remember correctly was that Taliban were a plant by the imperialist forces and that Jews planted the 9/11 conspiracy. Needless to say that there is a lot better use of our time than listen to folks like these who are dime a dozen everywhere.

    And while we are at it, if you ever follow noted economists, many of them warned of the overleveraged financial system that caused the great credit crisis of 2008. What however strikes me about you and Rex Minor is that you make your grand theories (conspiracy or otherwise first) and then desperately hunt for something to justify them.

    Rex Minor:

    You are entitled to your opinions. You are not entitled to your own facts“.

    You have not answered a single question posed to you. They are quite straightforward queries, that place your point of view against the world who every day puts its money where its mouth is. The investment world comprises of hard working folks who take informed risks when they find opportunities. They stay away when rewards don’t justify risks. And they glean over the balance sheets and economic fundamentals of sovereign nations (including the US) every day to measure against the price at which that country’s risk is traded. This is quite unlike you or MS, or Chussodovksy or arm chair experts who predict gloom and doom and can’t quote a single stat to back up their theories.

    But you did say something that is interesting. You said that The two trillion dollars indebted by the US to the Saudis(not the gulf states) and the Chinese is in addition to the dollar reserves and the treasury bonds these countries hold. You could check with Chinese embassy as well as the Saudis, if they are prepared to give you this information. If I recall Mr Obama did make some reference to this onxce..

    First of all, US public debt and foreign obligations are public information. No one needs to go to the Chinese or Saudi Arabian Embassy to get this information. And since I am not going to any embassy lately, and second no information related to this additional American obligation is found in the public information, we will gladly ask Mr. Rex Minor to quote the source of this information and explain what does this two trillion dollars obligation consist of.

    And while you inform us of this remarkable data, do try to answer the last two questions again. Rhetoric seldom counts as solid reasoning.

  55. Gorki

    I think AZW is a better man than I for trying to make sense of the above posted long non-answers to his questions.

    As for me, they remind me of a 1977 bollywood movie, ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’ in which Amitabh Bachchan plays the fool and in one scene jumps out of that giant Easter egg and exclaim his famous nonsensical lines,
    “You see the coefficient of the linear is just a position by the hemoglobin of the atmospheric pressure in the country”.

    In the movie, this hilarious jargon is followed by a collective:
    Whaaaat? from his incredulous listeners.
    My feelings, exactly.😉

    So let me try again.
    Dear Mustapha; rex minor, try to answer a simple question:

    If indeed what you both claim is true and the US govt. is printing more money to stay afloat how come it has not lead to a runaway inflation?

    This is not a trick question, for help in understanding the question look up ‘Weimar republic’ and ‘hyperinflation’.

    And Ganpat Bhai, the question stands for you too, you too are welcome to help the above duo with their homework.

    Regards

  56. Ganpat Ram

    I was of course over-simplifying to make my point that the US is now awash in debt and lacks the economic muscle it used to have in influencing world affairs.

    As for Tibet and the Dalai Lama, India would have done very well not to embitter the chinese by harbouring the Tibetans. It should have asked them to move on to the West years ago.

  57. Ganpat Ram

    AZW:
    It is a tiring busineess to debate with pedants who take you literally when you are using an image to make your point.

  58. Mustafa Shaban

    @AZW: Who do you suggest is a good economist, please suggest some names?
    Me and rexminor are only posting our opinions and are not forcing anyone to listen to us, on the other hand it is actually you that seems desparate to throw us off. Your ideas on Chussodovsky are vague and what you said about shows that you have never looked at him closely. Quote me on thing he said that doesnt make sense, I will prove to you that he has the right idea. He is not discredited but very famous in the intellectual community, even Russia Today and different radio stations host his shows. Your view on conspiracy theories is very vague, just shows you have not even looked at the surface. You make c0mments like ”loony” theories or ”conspiracy” theories but you never give any evidence to counter these theories and prove them wrong.

  59. rex minor

    @AZW,
    I do not want to be rude, and have no intention to compete with your knowledge of published statistics from the wikepedia. You should have the ability of learning before you are able to expand your knowledge. This is the pre-requisite to gain PHD and further qualifications.
    I am not obliged to provide you with the source of my info or the rationale of my interpretations . I did provide you with several tips, but you ignored them like all the clever people do.
    If you want a straight explanation which a student can follow, perhaps you need to ask a direct question to the US treasury dept. or the White House.
    I know it is not easy even for me to interpret the teminology of public debts and non public debts etc. as shown in the Treasury Dept.statistics or to understand the criminal investment underworld of the US. Let me give you a quiz and perhaps you are able to explain how Bernard Madof was able to set up a most popular Investment Company in the US and got away with a billion plus dollars of the investors money without having invested a single dime?
    I do not have grand conspiracy theories, nor am I an adolescent to imagine that things are happening accidentaly. Perhaps for you it is an accident that the Zionists had anything to do with the current financial crash in the world and the break up of Iraq in such a manner that at least an estimated one hundred years would be needed to repair the country. Perhaps I am imagining that the US General of the US fleet for your part of the world and the top diplomat are of jewish origin.
    Have a nice day.
    PS
    You are definitely aware of the US Echelon System and the Googles of this world who are collecting massive info about individuals and this alone has prevented me to provide as minimum as possible info in internet communications to avoid undue involvement of the innocents. Equally I do not wish to obtain an acceptance of my comments by disclosing my identity. Please bo block my input as a scam if you thing it is necessary.

  60. rex minor

    @AZW
    The latest in your part of the world is that the Chinese are moving towards the use of their own currency in their trade with Russia and India. They are also going to set up the regulations for the new Financial world. This is the first of the series of initiatives to say ‘adios’ to the US dollar in world trade. India has already been converting its dollars into gold.

  61. rex minor

    @Ganpat Ram
    For the first time I note that you are genuinely interested to aspire for India to become a voice in the International politics. The acquisition of sea elephants and deadly weapons is unlikely to make India a super power, but the even handed fairness in dealing with its citizens and the foreign world would upgrade the political stature of the country which it deserves. For comparison, please watch the performance of Brazil.
    India needs to improve its relations with the neighbours and not simply concentrate on finanancial enterprise! This business of hindu and muslim is not understood in the outside world. Pakistan in my view lacks diplomacy because they have been subjected to the military rule and the clergy. Indian politicians could moderate their rhetoric to help Pakistan to become a true democratic and secular country.

  62. AZW

    Mustafa Shaban:

    Reading Mr. Chussodovsky where he builds the whole world around a conspiry-laden framework where he is proven wrong again and again (Taliban being an imperial conspiracy, Osama Bin Laden being a CIA agent), I quickly stop wasting my time with fellows like this gentleman. You are most welcome to follow him as much as you want, remain grandly confused with the ideas of grand conspiracies, but no thanks from me.

    Regarding your question about the notable economists; sure here are a few that I have been following actively. Jon Hatzius, Chief Economist of Goldman Sachs kept calling for economy to fall into the recession right when credit crisis started appearing in summer of 2007. David Rosenberg (formerly of Merrill Lynch) has been an economic bear for so long that he is affectionately called David the Bear Rosenberg. Various strategists (specialists who combine economic forecast with market pricing) at Royal Bank of Scotland, Lehman Brothers (ironic isn’t it since one went bankrupt and other almost did) kept saying by 2007 that the over leverage in the system is being underestimated, and there is a higher probability of financial system suffering an equivalent of tsunami.

    I have also been following Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) that was quite accurate throughout the recession in predicting its severity.

    Rex Minor:

    All of the figures I have quoted you were from the US Treasury website. Both Gorki and I have been trying to back up your statement with one simple explanation: Why does the printing of massive amounts of money has not resulted in even a speck of inflation over the past one and a half year. And if US is bankrupt indeed as you would like to imagine, why have hundreds of thousands of investors of all nationalities failed to notice that, and instead treat the debt issued by the US as the safest asset in the world

    There is nothing trick about this simple question. You are being asked to back your statement. Figures being manipulated by Investment Banks does not make any sense. The world financial system now has five or six major centers outside the US across Europe, Asia and Far East. Why have all investment banks manipulating all figures. Remember, they are the ones who will lose the most if they fudge the data about the world economy and balance sheets. I have been trying to tell you something quite simple: there is no free lunch in this world. US cannot wriggle out of its debt problems by devaluing its currency or encouraging higher inflation through a thoughtless monetary policy. On the contrary, an average US citizen and businessman will be the first to notice this irresponsible behaviour. Noticing too many dollars floating around, US business will quickly start raising the prices. Inflation will set in the economy pushing the value of US debt down. US may have succeeded in getting out of its debt problems, but the problems due to high inflation will pale the budget deficit by a million miles. For one thing, noticing the dwindling value of their savings, consumers will flock to hard assets to preserve their wealth. Second, the certainty about the value of money that drives the investment business decision making will collapse, putting the whole market economy into a tailspin. Millions will lose their jobs as businesses will stop pursuing opportunities. They would be more interested in keeping themselves afloat, than worry about expanding at all. As hard earned savings of elder population lose their value by the day, it is the government itself that will have to bear the cost of living of an ageing population that is unemployed, in poor health and has zero savings.

    Of course in your grand statements, none of these minor points ever mattered to you. In your singlehanded simplified ideas about US being bankrupt, and resorting to these measures, you failed to think ahead and see what the other investors are worrying about for the last few years. They realize that Chairman Bernanke and Fed are walking a tight rope. US Fed realizes that in a Great recession that US experienced from December 2007 to the summer of 2009, private spending fell off the cliff. In these conditions, governments come in as lenders and spenders of last resort. And US increasing liquidity in the financial system is simply lubricating the financial cogs since the financial liquidity had started disappearing altogether. Banks were hoarding cash and not lending it out as they simply did not know how long the recession would last. US underwriting obligations of private banks is a realistic decision: Most Banks balance sheets held sound assets, that could not be marked as underlying liquidity to determine their prices was not there. Once the liquidity problem was overcome, the balance sheets started improving quite quickly. Most of the biggest banks have paid back every single dime that Uncle Sam lent to them. US came out of one of the biggest recessions over past 70 years with a jobless rate of less than 10%. Mind you, the theoretical least possible jobless rate is around 4%. Thus the measures by the Fed and US Treasury were quite successful in keeping the damage down. 90.3% of US employable population in the US is employed, and next month we will mostly likely see US adding around 100,000 jobs.

    An international investor analyzes all this information before he makes his decisions and puts his savings and capital to work. An investor realizes that bad times call for stern action and United States immediate concern in Fall of 2008 was to prevent the Great Recession from turning into a Great Depression. Once this is achieved, Fed is beginning to gradually withdraw liquidity programs. Day in and out, US Fed, European Central Banks and Central Banks around the world walk a fine line; they look to keep economic activity robust without sparking inflation. The price of their countries’ debt is a merciless judge of their decisions. The high price that an investor places in a US 10yr bond that pays nothing but a measly 3 and 3 quarters interest rate to cover inflation, FX and credit risk is an affirmation that US economic policies are in better hands. This is sort of a financial democracy where investors are voting for with their hard earned capital. No one is saying that US Fed will not make mistakes in the future. But they have shown themselves to be remarkably fast learners. History will surely judge them later; but Central Bankers are among one of the fewest professions in the world where millions judge their actions day in and day out. And the verdict so far is that Fed is doing a darn fine job guiding the economy out of one of the biggest recessions we will likely ever see in our lifetimes.

  63. Mustafa Shaban

    @AZW: Actually Michel Chussodovsky has been right again and again..look at other people on his team, Rick Rozoff, Paul Craig Roberts (former Reagan official), Mahdi Darius Drezmouya, and other Russian military analysts have correctly predicted Western military trends. Some of them 15-20 years in advance, they have also correctly preditced all the movements that the military was making in order to achieve their dominance in Eurasia. So I think its you who cant understand simple facts not me.

    @rexminor: Your theories and outlook is awesome, dont let people like AZW let you down , just because a few people call us wierd doesnt mean we are. AZW belongs to a minority, the majority of professionals agree with our analysis.

  64. ylh

    Mustafa pai … Professionals like Zaid Hamid?

  65. rex minor

    @AZW
    You do not give up, do you? Why should you expect a rise in inflation with the credit squeeze?

    Have you still not understood that all, and I repeat all major banks in the US and Europe have gone bankrupt on account of their investments primarily in the US. Those which are still operating were supported by the respective Govts. guarantees and cash injection. They have not yet got rid of their toxic assets. The masses of depositors have not rushed to the Banks(except some in England) to withdraw their money.
    Similarly, if all the creditors were to ask the US to return their investments, the dooms day for the US is at hand. Those investment Banks who have started declaring profits and even granting bonuses to their CEO’s are still carrying toxic papers. After Iceland more European Countries with the name of ‘Pigs’ (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain) are declaring their difficulties for having borrowed from companies such as Gsacs.
    By the way I was surprised to learn from you about the so called experts. Normally I would ask for a fee if I was to advise some one on financial matters. I am a bit surprised that you are still referring to so called experts in the US. My credo has always been that after the departure of the crooks we always witness the imposters arriving on the scene and making the best of the miserable situation;

    . Mr Hussain after George W.
    . Mr Zardari after Parvez….
    . Several books from the experts after they sank their master’s ships.
    Finally be nice and try to understand what has so far been said on this forum and examining the current events. I shall also recommend the appropriarte reading material on the value of the real economy verses the stock exchange value. This could provide some outlook with a new dimension.
    Mr Gorki has very much upset me by showing a narrow way of thinking about the military assault on the minority in India. In the financial matters short thinking is a suicide. I am an outsider, but please be nice to Mustafa Shaban, he is the original maverick one seldom comes across.
    Regards,

  66. vajra

    @Rex Minor

    When you confine yourself to your own thoughts and ruminations, you will never fail to receive a courteous hearing. Your Castilian punctilio ensures that.

    It is a bit too much when you take a scatty, half-witted kid and build him up instead of spanking him and telling him to return to his books. I sincerely wish you wouldn’t do that. You must think about the kid’s future, and about making permanent his muddled and unclear thought processes.

    This is not right of you.

  67. Mustafa Shaban

    @YLH: Well I am not referring to Zaid Hamid, I am talking about authors, Political and Economic Sceince specialists and other intellectuals.

    @vajra: Kid is not a word that suits me so please dont call me that. On the other hand I am fine with my thought process and point of view and in this liberal forum anyone can support it or disagree with it I dont mind and it dusnt matter. I need not be disciplined by anyone. My future is in good hands so please dont worry.

  68. yasserlatifhamdani

    Mustafa,

    Listen to Vajra…I was also 19 when I first started mouthing off on the internet. Granted that you are far more mature than I was but you scare us when you champion people like Zaid Hamid.

    To Vajra you are a kid. Even I am a kid. You don’t need to agree with him but learn to see who is your well wisher and who is just egging you on.

  69. vajra

    @Mustafa Shaban

    I did not mean to offend you by calling you kid. My reason is that I have a child of my own who is older than you. I agree that that is not a sufficiently good reason to use a word that seems to belittle you. Consider it taken back.

    Be sure that only goodwill was behind my earlier message. You are bright and intelligent, and enormously energetic; if only we could wean you away from false prophets!

  70. AZW

    Rex Minor:

    Similarly, if all the creditors were to ask the US to return their investments, the dooms day for the US is at hand

    There is a simple way for the investors to return their US investments without indulging in any theatrics. They enter into a transaction called “Sale”. Don’t like US debt paper, just sell it. No one has ever compelled me to buy any investment I did not like. And if I don’t like it, I either do not buy it or using one of the liquid markets in the world, I sell it. If I don’t like US dollar, I sell it in the FX market and buy Euros, Sterling, Rupee or Brazilian Real, anything that I like. See, anyone in the world can do it any day at any time. And my point is that when every investor treats US obligation as the safest asset in the world, they are all expressing a point of view going dead against anything you have ever uttered about the US economy on this thread and before. I have outlined many reasons why investors treat the US economy with so much respect. Your reply: simply empty statements, side tangents, non statements.

    Your reply is what Gorki aptly equated with Amitabh’s in Amar Akbar Anthony: “You see the coefficient of the linear is just a position by the hemoglobin of the atmospheric pressure in the country”. I just like to state that we are not the proverbial rapt audience here.

  71. Mustafa Shaban

    @vajra: Appreciate the goodwill. I am not angry or anything. Dont worry about it.

  72. Gorki

    Dear rex minor:
    I had written this response earlier but did not post it since I felt it was overly Indian and Sikh specific and did not belong on the PTH but since you brought up my comments again, I am posting it anyway to set right some misconceptions in your mind regarding the unrest in the Indian Punjab in the 1990’s. Regardless of what you have learnt from selective reading, the Indian army attack on the Golden temple, (operation Blue Star) was not an instance of army brutality on the Sikhs. It was more like an operation on the Lal Masjid in Pakistan; an army action to flush out heavily armed militants who had forcibly taken over the holy site and converted it into a veritable fortress.
    Many acts of violence were planned and carried out from within it in those years. As I mentioned before, the victims of this terrorist violence were more often than not the Sikhs themselves. Days before the attack, a Sikh DIG was gunned down by the militants when he went to pray (some say to gather information).
    Neither was this an isolated example. Every day ordinary Sikhs who dared to even mildly question the fundamentalists, were gunned down.
    Fear and intimidation were used to silence even the lawfully elected representatives of the Sikh political parties by the few thousand gunmen,’ the boys’; as they were called. (Even the Sikh political parties did not represent all the Sikhs anyway and usually got about 40%-60% of the Sikh vote.) In such an absence of law and order, terrorists extorted the small time traders to the tune of millions per month. It was in such a setting that an attack was ordered by the GOI after repeated warning to the terrorists.

    Contrary to belief in other countries, the army did very little of the fighting; once the Golden temple was freed, the army was withdrawn within weeks and the rest of the battle was carried out by the Punjab Police; a Sikh force. It did use brutal methods, often torturing and shooting terrorists in cold blood in fake encounters. The terrorists were no less brutal and retaliated against the families of the police officers. Thus by the early nineties, most of this violence was Sikh on Sikh.

    The reason why the tide finally turned against terrorism were many; the most important reason for this was that the Sikh people had been heavily vested in the Indian State and thus this was more of a ‘Sikh Civil war’ (as characterized by DGP Gill) than a revolt against a ‘Hindu rule.’ Thus on one hand many Sikhs did not want to risk their status by joining in a rebellion and on the other, did not genuinely feel discriminated against; not till the Delhi riots of 1984. Even after the riots, many Sikhs in Punjab still preferred the rickety Indian democracy to the arbitrary use of power and the lawlessness of the militants.

    The other reason was that after a energetic but ruthless officer, KPS Gill took over as the head of the police and Beant Singh a committed INC man became the Chief Minister of Punjab they sent a clear signal; either you are with us or against us; thousands of youth were hired as special police officers and thus co-opted the terrorists recruitment. Surrendered militants were turned around but the recalcitrant ones killed, (especially those who had the blood of other police officers on their hands) often in cold blood. This part remains a dark blot on the name of India, along with the Delhi riots till this day, though a few exceptionally ruthless officers were punished later on.
    As a result of all of these factors the Indian army was not politicized and still retains a high degree of respect and affection in the Sikh mind; thought the police force, as corrupt as always, is more feared than respected.
    The reason why I write this on the PTH besides the obvious one of setting the record straight is that although conditions are vastly different in West Punjab yet there are similarities; the Taliban is inspired by religious feelings yet offer nothing but anarchy; in such a situation, the population will instinctively back the state institutions; no matter how rusty but for this to happen the State has to believe in itself; politicians will have to take a stand and the security forces will have to send a clear signal; a line is now drawn in the sand and will not be allowed to be violated.

    Regards.

  73. rex minor

    Dear Mr Gorki,
    I am no one to judge in any way other people’s actions. In my view the military solution for the Golden temple revolt and that in the Lal Masjid, were tragic eposodes and not something to be proud of.
    Your earlier note on this episode gave the impression that the death of a sikh citizen by the sikh military is justified and should be acceptable. I thought these comments were not very human. With regard to the actions of the muslim army in the Lal Masjid and the follow up attacks by the Taliban Pashtoons, I would quote the following from the Quraan;

    No believer shall kill another believer unless it is an accident. Anyone who kills a believer on purpose, his retribution is Hell………..(4-94,95)

    Perhaps I have over reacted. Sorry,
    Regards,

  74. rex minor

    @AZW
    Sorry, I did not think of you simple ‘sale’ solution. I guess I got confused with too many statistics. You are right if the investors have lost their capital it was their mistake in the first place by choosing the wrong stocks.
    Have a nice day.

  75. rex minor

    @Vajra,
    Have you ever thought that every new generation of people are more intelligent and more resourceful than the previous ones. I have realised this with my children and many other youth.
    Those who have the potential do not need counciling but encouragement and motivation. They are the tomorrow leaders. Have trust in my judgement.

  76. vajra

    @Rex Minor

    Your remarks about the precocity of each succeeding generation are quite reasonable; it does seem that children are getting smarter and smarter. As a generalisation of a sort, this is quite harmless. In the case of the individual in question, however, it is difficult to agree.

    He has come to these discussions with a very weak academic and general foundation. His reading seems to be of sensationalist authors, who, regardless of their antecedents, specialise in sinister conspiracy theories which put Muslims as the victims and Jews, international capitalists, and an eclectic collection of villains who spin one diabolical plot after another. I nearly forgot the ubiquitous Indian, scurrying between the conspirators, replenishing their supplies of gunpowder and their strong liquor, dragging in bound and helpless victims for the plotters to practice their vilest surgical instruments on, stoking up fires and blunting sharp instruments in the torture chambers, going out and kidnapping little children and helpless women for the practices of the plotters’ worst excesses………I trust you get the picture.

    This, it seems, is the sound part of the education; the rest consists of less substantial stuff, of the horrors of the TV expert. He has sat and listened to the outpourings of the most bizarre kind from these experts, some of whose work was exhibited for public exhibition in these columns, to the general dismay of the public, one might add, but consisting of materiel which adolescents and immature young people of this background have been lapping up.

    How can you take comfort in the support of such a youngster? And worse, how can you encourage him? It is more than likely to have an effect on him permanently, unless he is taken off this and re-oriented quickly. It is people like you who should be doing the remonstration and the re-orientation instead of pandering to him so that you have some temporary support. If you do not do this, you are betraying the confidence that he has evidently placed in you. If you have it in you to react in an ethical manner, which should be beyond question or doubt, your duty lies clear before you, and how you react will determine your standing for the future.

  77. rex minor

    @Vagra
    I do not know about the background of people on this forum, you probably do. You are in error if you have the illusion that I need some one’s support and that I am pandering. You are definitely capable of using civil but provocative vocabulary and this is not to your advantage.
    Like many I open the internet window to have a view of the distant world and comment if this adds something. We are all humans and have been educated to converse with each other in a civilised manner. I have noticed that the words which we regard very rude in Europe are commonly used by most of the Pakistanis and Indians alike with ease. Is this the side effect of the americinisation process? This in my view should be admonished by seniors like yourself.
    In my judgement he has something that others do not have. There are no short cuts in life and the experience cannot be taught. I admire those who have the desire to learn. They are the future leaders and they need simply to listen to their own conscious. I would encourage and assist if possible any who has the urge to learn, not copy cat controversial personalities.

  78. Midfield Dynamo

    Well said Vajra “I nearly forgot the ubiquitous Indian, scurrying between the conspirators, replenishing their supplies of gunpowder and their strong liquor…”
    They re now facing an irrevocable threat as a result of this clever tactic.
    History repeats itself, never exactly though.
    and by the way I hope you know the interpretation of Ganpat this side of the border.

  79. Vajra

    @Red Minor

    Since you have elected to offer provocation and to be provoked where it is not called for, let us get some things clear.

    I do not know about the background of people on this forum, you probably do.

    Only one person is in question here, and that person has described himself, his present location, his academic status and so on in his own posts. How is it that you are unaware of this information? And being unaware of it, how is it that you elect to accuse others of possessing some mysterious additional information? It is all open and available to all.

    You are in error if you have the illusion that I need some one’s support and that I am pandering.

    This is the impression created by your own choice of words and your own response to a totally vapid post. Why create an illusion that you need support, and then blame those who perceive it as your needing support? Surely the fault lies in your own choice of words and expressions, and your own turns of phrase.

    You are definitely capable of using civil but provocative vocabulary and this is not to your advantage.

    Do you really need me to point out that you have used vocabulary in the past that has been inflammatory, to say the least, about various nations, their customs, their religion, their cultural habits including their apparel, their military forces and the lack of rootedness in the nations in question, and so on and so forth? Would you like me to draw up a table of examples, or will you at least gracefully acknowledge that you have egregiously insulted a wide variety of opinion yourself, and now are complaining at being called to account? In ever-so-polite language, and at the end, in inexorably insulting terms beyond the fluffy, nursery manners used to disarm people and conceal your intentions?

    Like many I open the internet window to have a view of the distant world and comment if this adds something. We are all humans and have been educated to converse with each other in a civilised manner.

    Please confirm that you agree that we too open the internet window to have a view of the distant world and comment if this adds something.

    Please confirm that you agree that we are humans.

    Please confirm that you believe that we too have been educated to converse with each other in a civilised manner.

    If we are in agreement up to this point, please confirm that your remarks were superfluous and added nothing to the discussion.

    I have noticed that the words which we regard very rude in Europe are commonly used by most of the Pakistanis and Indians alike with ease. Is this the side effect of the americinisation process? This in my view should be admonished by seniors like yourself.

    There exists, on the other hand, the contrary view, that many of us have been subjected to the most bizarre flights of fancy – your thesis that the Pashtoon will take over South Asia and rule as they did before is an example – and that these may be due to your having lost your native courtesy under the corrosive influence of living in Europe in conditions not necessarily conducive to retention of a person’s self-respect and human values.

    You might describe this as the side-effect of an unsuccessful Europeanisation process.

    I must tell you that there have been private exchanges where individuals have expressed great resentment at your language and your aggressive attitudes, and I have been asked point blank where I stand with regard to these matters. Hitherto my stand has been pacific and calming; as a senior, I have discouraged adverse comment about you and your views far beyond the requirement to do so, not least by example.

    In my judgement he has something that others do not have.

    I agree; since you have not named what it is, may I conclude from the trend of our preceding remarks on either side that your judgement and mine agree on degree but differ on polarity.

    There are no short cuts in life and the experience cannot be taught. I admire those who have the desire to learn. They are the future leaders and they need simply to listen to their own conscious. I would encourage and assist if possible any who has the urge to learn, not copy cat controversial personalities.

    I hope that you will agree, on reflection, that this is a difficult passage to parse.

    1. Experience cannot be taught.

    2. The desire to learn is admirable; from the axiom above, apparently the desire to learn is to be directed at something other than experience.

    3. These admirables, these future leaders, need simply to listen to their own conscience; presumably this listening is an adjunct to learning, or constitutes the entire process of learning.

    In which case we have dispensed with experience, we have retained a desire to learn, and we have coupled it to the conscience of the individual.

    4. You will encourage and assist any who have the desire to learn, and not, to coin a phrase coined freshly by you, copy cat controversial personalities.

    Seeing that many wiser than I have been counselling this young man to avoid copy-catting controversial personalities, this is a bit baffling.

    It seems that you are saying that if he stops doing what he does now, to a general uneasiness and a mounting desire to rescue him from the consequences of his own folly, in other words, if he stops doing what we too would like him to stop doing, you will help him.

    As it happens, whether or not he stops doing what we would like him to stop doing, we will help him.

    However, perhaps the celestial design will be revealed shortly. Let us move on.

    Your help apparently will amount to encouraging and assisting him.

    We note that experience cannot be taught, so your encouragement and assistance does not reside in teaching him from your experience.

    The desire to learn (the object being unspecified, this could mean anything from basket-weaving to fashion-design) is available to be nurtured through encouragement and assistance. There we go then. If we persist, and use enough monkeys and enough typewriters, we will produce all of Shakespeare’s works.

    We are left with the requirement to listen to one’s own conscience. Unless you consider yourself a personification of that sublime attribute, sadly absent in contributors to this blog, it is a little puzzling to understand what form your encouragement and assistance will take.

    To be perfectly honest, I am saddened.

    It would have been dignified and proper to acknowledge that you had erred, and that you would in future take corrective action. This would have delighted many.

    If you find it impossible to acknowledge personal error, you could with dignity have preserved a stoic silence, and we should have understood why you were doing so.

    If you are convinced about your infallibility and your constitution does not permit you to maintain a stoic silence, for that matter, even an Epicurean silence, we might have pardoned all past matters for a well-rendered joke, preferably one about cowardly, wife-dominated tribesmen of anonymous provenance who straddle the Durand Line. That would have been interpreted as an apology of unusual and most becoming grace.

    One shall await the next blast of the mountain blizzard with chilled expectations

  80. rex minor

    @vajra
    Your comments have left me cold. I am not with you on any point. Most of it is spanish for me . I still do not know the age of M Shaban nor do I know of your concerns about this guy that you called ‘Kid’-
    Your conclusions about my person from my comments are faulty almost ninty nine and a half percent. This should at least convince you that your judgement about other people is miserable to say the least. Mr vagra , I am not living in your country, freedom of expression in Europe is guaranteed in the constitution. What I have said on this forum is my personal opinion and I am surprised that you found it inflammatory and anti-religion. You must be mixing up my post with that of G vishwas or G ram? I have always been respectful towards peoples religion, no exceptions. If this is the perception I have conveyed then I am sorry. it was not intentional. With regard to the encouragement and assistance for M Shaban, now seriously do not start with your wild imaginations, I do not know the guy or his requirements. But I would in all honesty would be glad to help him if I can.
    Mr Vajra, I do not live in your world and this handicaps me. I reckon you guys are sometimes unfriendly, rude and even provocative and you said that I have been saying inflammatory things upstting people. I tell you what, please do not expect the mountain blizzard as the winter is leaving us now, instead I am going to turn my back like Merlin(something like stow silence) and try to forget the episode like a bad dream.

  81. Vajra

    @Red Minor

    The feelings are mutual. Your ingenuousness is inapt. Any conclusions made about your person merely reflect your sneer about the words that Indians and Pakistanis use possibly being a side-effect of the Americanisation process. These jibes, once made, tend to boomerang. The operative Americanism is: if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

    It is not clear why your personal opinion, freely expressed, should not be found inflammatory or anti-religion. Are we to assume that these come with antidotes built in? Or are your personal opinions delivered ex cathedra, and is infallibility therefore a matter of dogma?

    My personal opinion, delivered consistent with the provisions of my country’s constitution, a constitution known throughout the world, with its faults and warts and shortcomings prominently discussed along with its felicities, its defences and its protections, is that rabble-rousing cannot be conducted within a cloak of child-like innocence without suffering some damage to your credibility.

    Arguing that you do not know our society, whatever that peculiar statement meant, is special pleading; you seem to know whichever society you select to discuss in a selective manner, and seem to license yourself to speak about two armies which are not national armies, without any hint of what a national army is, according to you; you deliver Delphic judgements about the rights and wrongs of police operations conducted against brigands and terrorists who have violated every rule of man or God; you have much to say about what the Pushtoon really stand for, what their inner feelings are, what their immediate plans are, and so on, as if you were standing by their shoulders as they deliberate.

    At times like that, you seem to have a prerogative to speak about our societies with remarkable and comprehensive authority. At times when you are criticised for baseless remarks and irresponsible interpretation, you retire to your cave in Wales wrapped in an impenetrable silence.

    Good for you. You have made your point to the entire satisfaction of your audience of two, yourself and your children’s brigade. Now that the world is won, please rest on your laurels, give us a brief pause to catch our breaths, and take on the rest of the universe in a while. Could my personal liberty to speak my mind extend so far as to suggest to you a resumption of your campaign for the hearts and minds of the universe ten years from now?