Tag Archives: policy

Faiz Ahmad Faiz and reiterating Pakistan’s plural culture

Posted by Raza Rumi

Today is the 26th death anniversary of Faiz Ahmed Faiz whose life and works are national assets. Faiz was a torchbearer of the glorious traditions set by great Urdu poets such as Ghalib and Iqbal. Faiz distinguished himself as a proponent of a revolutionary vision, which blended the romance of classical Urdu poetry with the idealism of revolutionary struggles. Faiz’s political ideology provided modern Urdu verse an unprecedented political and romantic expression. Faiz brought Pakistan international acclaim and the world bestowed on him the highest honours, including the Lenin Peace Prize (1962). He has also left a corpus of essays, editorials and commentaries from his years in journalism. This body of work still needs to be fully assessed for its literary dimensions. Faiz’s literary career coincided with the emergence of Pakistan and its unfortunate history of political instability and militarisation, which isolated its majority Eastern wing and resulted in its break-up in 1971. His famous poem ‘Yeh Daagh Daagh Ujala’ remains an apt comment on the creation of a ‘moth-eaten’ Pakistan, which continues to grapple with issues of identity. The Pakistani state treated him shoddily as he remained under arrest for extended periods or in exile.

The decade of the 1970s witnessed a change when Bhutto appointed him as Chairman of the National Council of the Arts. Faiz authored Pakistan’s Culture Policy of [early 1970s], which was partially implemented. This new cultural discourse broke the hegemony of the Continue reading

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Saving a drowning country needs an ideological shift

Nasima Zehra Awan’s passionate post for the Pak Tea House

You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques……..Religion is not the business of the State”.   Thus spoke Jinnah, whilst addressing the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947.

Sixty three years later, this is what our honorable Chief Justice has to say: “Parliament with Unlimited Powers can secularize state” (Source:  DAWN,Monday August 16, 2010)
Won’t that be a good thing, judge saheb!

At a time when our country is intellectually and morally bankrupt because of its moorings as a national security state built on the toxic teachings of Maududi, isn’t secularism the way to get out of this mess.  Instead of spending tens of billions to support a failed national security state, “a fortress of Islam” if you will, wouldn’t Pakistan have been better off with sustained representative governments that could have gone past the Kalabagh dam issue and built provincial consensus for half a dozen other dams that could have greatly reduced
the current catastrophe.
Unfortunately for Pakistan, this Judiciary, like most of its predecessors follows the ethos of the bureaucracy-security establishment, not the parliament or gasp, the principles of law and constitutionalism.  That would entail that
they ditch the prevailing sentiment, nay, control of Jamaat Islami at all the Bar Councils and actually allow the elected representatives of the people to draft and discuss legislation that would make Pakistan a functional state in the 21st century, not an faux Ommayad Caliphate of the 8th century!

The Judges and their media supporters and urban elite cheerleaders are obsessed with going after the elected leaders of one party and folk singers; the two actually have the same political powers in Pakistan today.  The dare not go
after Jihadi sectarian leaders who have rendered Pakistan into a wasteland.  The damages incurred by these Jihadis;  thousands of Pakistanis killed including the targeting of professionals belonging to minority sects and religions, the tens of billions of destroyed property and lost investment is incalculable.  These are the fruits that the State of Pakistan, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has reaped by constructing itself in the vision of Maududi and Qutb.

However, in the chauvinist and elitest debates about corruption, there is NO mention of the billions that are taken at every budget without audit, the tens of billions taken from foreign powers who are subsequently vilified by the same and the trillions that are made by using the country as a corporate and real estate business entity.  After all, how will this debate start while we continuously see ourselves not as a modern, democratic and secular state but as the
realization of the Islamist neurosis of failed ideologues who see a warped view of religion and not shared human values, as the basis for a functional society. Continue reading

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Wikileaks and our fantasies

Raza Rumi

The Wikileaks’ damning half-truths pertain to the anti-war movement within the US. This has caused embarrassment to the US war architects and stirred the military industrial complex and its cousin, the corporate and embedded media. Similarly, what has been said about the role of Pakistan and its globally famed Inter Services Agency (ISI) is not something that is really a revelation and is more or less an open secret. Three important questions need to be considered before Wikileaks can be taken seriously.

Do field reports from individual sources, especially disgruntled, anti-Pakistan Afghan nationals constitute ‘evidence’? No. Is there sufficient evidence to substantiate the startling sensational pieces of information? Perhaps not. Is the Pakistan-ISI role central in the Taliban insurgency within Afghanistan? No clear answers can be determined due to the complexity of the Taliban resistance and the involvement of multiple players.<!–more–>

The ‘leaks’ identify that Pakistan, India and Iran are fully involved in the Afghan drama and singling out the ISI is not the whole truth regardless of whatever the western media says. Afghanistan is an occupied and fragmented country, far more layered than the simplified views from Washington, Islamabad or New Delhi. Continue reading

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Fatal obsession

Raza Rumi

It is a matter of public record that the founder of Pakistan had stated that Indo-Pakistan relationship will resemble that of the USA and Canada. Even before the Partition, Jinnah in a 1946 press conference stated, “the two states (Pakistan and India)… will be friends and will go to each other’s rescue in case of danger and will be able to say ‘hands off’ to other nations. We shall then have a Munroe doctrine more solid than America…” This vision along with other pronouncements by Jinnah is buried in the debris of Pakistan’s national security paranoia. The spectre of India and its ‘hegemonic designs’ to use an oft-quoted phrase remain central to Pakistan’s security paradigm.

The unwavering view on India is what explains the context for the discussion paper entitled, The Sun in the Sky: The Relationship between Pakistan’s ISI and Afghan Insurgents -authored by Matt Waldman from the prestigious platform of the London School of Economics. Pakistan’s real power-centre, its security and intelligence apparatus are a self-sustaining reality. Other than the financing, of which plenty comes from the Western Capitals, there is a solid national opinion behind the xenophobic worldview carefully cultivated by a decades’ long well coordinated state policy. The centre of this argument is the ‘Indian threat’ and any conception of Pakistan’s security is linked to the evil designs of the powerful ‘enemy’ across the border. Continue reading

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Filed under India, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, Pakistan, Politics, public policy, south asia, violence, war, Zardari

Whither civilian governance?

Raza Rumi

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

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OBAMA’S LATEST SURGE: A TIGHT BALLOON IN HOT AIR

(A Brace for Bloody Winters)

By Samson Simon Sharaf

The long awaited Obama Speech is over. It is to wait and see the impact of the third surge in a highly destabilized, charged and violent region. The endgame if one dares, is not what Secretary Clinton wants us to believe.

I would describe the new strategy as a tight balloon in hot air that may rapture even before it reaches close to its objectives. The speech makes all the right noises of an establishment given up on the doctrine of ‘Shock and Awe’ that promoted absolutism in distant lands. It recognizes Pakistan’s integrity, sovereignty and welfare of the people. Following intense lobbying between State Department and Pentagon, there appears a lead role for the Pentagon working in tandem with Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) previously headed by General Stanley McChrystal from the Vice President’s Office and the CIA. Continue reading

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Filed under Afghanistan, Army, Obama, Pakistan, Terrorism, USA, violence, war, War On Terror

Finally Waziristan…

Bilal Qureshi

Finally, the operation in Wazristan is under way, thank God. Pakistan is doing a good job of clearing every place that was a safe heaven for the nuts in and around Pakistan. Now, policy makers in Pakistan should not focus on achieving short term military objective. This war is not going to be easy and a lot of people believe that this is a generational issue as for as defeating the Taliban threat.
Obviously the military is going to easily defeat those who are going to take up arms against the army in Wazirstan, or at the very least, it is hoped that the army is going to defeat them. However, after the military moves out, how will the civilian population going to react to the future Talibans interested in making Wazirstan their home again? This is a very important question and I Continue reading

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Filed under Activism, Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Religion, Taliban, Terrorism, War On Terror