As I write these lines, millions are stranded and vulnerable to disease in the wake of perhaps the greatest natural disaster of recent times. Communities in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are stranded, Sindh is facing the wrath of gods and parts of Muzaffargarh and Kot Addu have been washed away. Citizens across the country are perturbed and doing whatever they can. But the power centres including the free media are busy in point-scoring and blowing their little trumpets as if the devastation was a playground for political mileage.
They say that individual and collective characters are exposed in times of crisis. Indeed the Pakistani ruling classes have exposed themselves for their historical myopia and lack of vision. Political parties are fighting over optics, media perceptions and wasting their energies. TV channels and wise anchors on the other hand are competing who got there first to show the mammoth destruction and who fired more salvos at Asif Zardari. Adding insult to injury, the media remained busy for hours as to the alleged shoe-throwing incident at the president as if that was the topmost priority of this country.
Yet again we are also hearing how the civilian administration failed (and what is new about that) and how the only organised institution, the Pakistan Army, is saving lives. This is propaganda since the army is not something separate from the state. We are proud to have such a disciplined army but the media spin-doctors need to inform the people that it functions through the public exchequer and is an institution under the civilian government. Continue reading
While the gurus of security and international affairs continue to unpack and make sense of the high-profile and much-hyped Pak-US ‘strategic dialogue’, the people of Pakistan continue to ask questions about its direct relevance to their lives. If increased US investment in the energy sector and other poverty alleviation programmes would be outcomes of this exercise, perhaps there may be some hope for an ordinary Pakistani. However, it appears that the process of dialogue has harped on familiar tunes, adding to the sound and fury that defines Pak-US relations.
If anything, the re-emergence of the Pakistan Army’s ascendancy over national affairs has been a direct result of the much touted “strategic” dialogue. The Pakistan Army and its leadership have already taken over the foreign policy and recent developments suggest that their command and control over domestic policies of public interest remains as entrenched as ever. Whether this pertains to the meeting of top bureaucrats presided over by the Chief of the Army Staff, or the capitulation of the civilian government before the obsessively India-centric policy of our military-bureaucratic establishment, we are sure about who is calling the shots in the Land of the Pure. Continue reading
Courtesy Fouzia Saeed
DISSPELLING THE MYTHS ABOUT TALIBAN
Myth: The root cause of Terrorism is extreme poverty and lack of education
Reality: This is not true. There are many countries in the world that suffer from extreme poverty but do not have terrorist groups. Within Pakistan many areas are more poor than Swat, but have not become violent. On the other hand people who have become terrorists are not doing anything to eradicate poverty or provide education. Terrorists merely use the resentment of the marginalized and those resentful of other state actions in the initial phase of their ideological campaign. Once in control, they tax the poor, destroy school buildings and stop girls from going to schools. Most of those who have been killed due to militant attacks are women, peasants and the poor. Continue reading
Isa Daudpota writing for The Friday Times (current issue)
On the rare occasions when courage and perseverance triumph in the face of tragedy and overwhelming odds, the occasion revives your faith in humanity. In the face of such heroic successes, lesser mortals are encouraged to excel in our own small ways. The media should therefore regularly highlight such stories to help reduce our national depression.
The bitter seed of one such heart-warming story was planted in 2002. I have just learnt that Mukhtar Mai, a Pakistani rape victim who waged a legal battle against her attackers and the justice system that sanctioned the crime, will be the subject of a feature Hollywood film. Funding is partly through ARY Digital, an independent Pakistani TV network, which will show this controversial movie nationally. Continue reading
The unedited version of my op-ed published in the NEWS today:
It is time that the vocabulary introduced by the global imperial projects is changed in Pakistan. The infamous and rotten coinage – war on terror – needs to be trashed. It was constructed by an imbecile global leader, whose vision defies basic standards of human intelligence. And, in our case the frontline-state status is a passé title as well. The war has now entered the Pakistani consciousness, has consumed thousands and continues to destabilize the country to a point where its citizenry is insecure and bereft of hope. We have to now protect Pakistanis and Pakistan first. All else is secondary.
The gravity of the situation is however not shared by many. The rugged militants are artfully backed by the ‘urban Taliban’, a term that has emanated from Sindhi intelligentsia. There are political parties and their leaders who downplay the threat to Pakistan, and few journalists and TV anchors brazenly eulogise the Taliban bravery and, believe it or not, ‘sound’ governance. Even some on the residual Left term this extremism as an anti-imperial struggle. We are being reminded that the destruction of private property and daylight murders of innocent civilians are nothing but a ‘reaction’ to our policies and Western diktat. Ironically, a key religious party now train-marching across the country on a was ruling two of the war zoned provinces for nothing less than five years tacitly supporting Army operations as well as legitimizing a military ruler through a constitutional amendment. Continue reading