Sunday, November 14, 2010

Self Imposed War

Published in Pak Observer on 14-11-2010
Published in Frontier Post on 14-11-2010

Pakistan has been the subject of intense scrutiny among the international powers for its role in the so-called war on terror. While Balochistan is burning under the flag of liberation, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is under the fiercest war ever fought in this area. The collateral damage, as said by our Government, has also expanded to the other two provinces as was experienced in the Thursday’s blast on CID’s office in Karachi and many other attacks both in Karachi and Lahore.

It all changed after the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) debacle, when Pakistani troops ran over their own brothers on the behest of the then dictator Pervez Musharraf, Musharraf declared Lal Masjid people as defiant of writ of the state and rebellions but the irony is that after all the bloodshed of innocent kids and youngsters including girls (these girls were not ordinary ones, they had the Quran memorized in their hearts), Pakistani government released the Imam of the Masjid who started all this and even renovated the mosque. Only the name of mosque was changed but people still call it as Lal Masjid. One wonders why all this bloodshed was done when everything could have been settled so easily. Now it is the same Imam, once a rebellion and stockpiling weapons in his mosque and now delivers khutba (sermon) to a grand audience every Friday.

After this bloodshed, phenomenon of suicide blast on public places and general masses came on the horizon and wreaked havoc. Before that, these kinds of attacks were minimal and only targeted VVIP places or personalities. This provided a stimulus to the militants, fighting against Pakistan army on different fronts, and our enemies including our neighbors, with whom we have a hope for peace, took it as an advantage and took the insurgency to another level. We experienced attacks on almost every important place in this country from Marriott Hotel to ISI office in Peshawar, from Data Darbar and other Shrines to Cinema Houses.

Pakistani army is one of the best army in the world. There aren’t many armies who can control this king of insurgency, even the Russians, Americans and its allied forces are unable to control what is happening in Afghanistan, but when Pakistan Army put their foot on the gas, we secured Swat in a couple of weeks. Now Swat valley is open for general public and tourists but sadly the flood has closed the doors to Swat. The question is not about the strength of an army’s resolve to fight or to test its arsenal; it is about going to the war with a reason and having the whole country behind the armed forces. Our forces did secure Swat but the militants from Waziristan and other places have crept up and started to unfold their disappointment on the government in the form of suicide attacks.

One wonders, what was the reason we went to war? We never had any problem with tribal leaders. There was no issue of establishing the writ of the state in this area because we never had any writ in these areas since independence. They always had their own laws with a symbol of Pakistani Government in the form of political agents. Then what was the issue which made them hostile against their own state.

During the cold war, we bred them and taught them how to fight and armed them with all sorts of ammunition. We supported them for long enough and then we turned our backs on them and I can say that will full guarantee that if anyone would have been in their place would have done the same. Our alienation with them gave our arch rival a golden opportunity to disintegrate us and is still doing whatever she can.

Of course, our financial and ideological master United States compelled us to go to war against these people and how can we not adhere them. They have the supposed tendency to take us back to stone-age. Sometimes I feel that if we are so vulnerable that a state which is entangled with so many crises, stuck in two wars, can bomb us to stone-age then of what use is our military spending and budget? Why do we every year shine our tanks and missiles on 23rd March? Why do we broaden our chest when we say we are a nuclear state?

When we say that we had no other way to follow what US wanted us to then why do we call it our own war? Certainly this is not our war. What have we got in this war? A petty amount of cash from United States coupled with drone attacks? We are hired contractors who are fighting their own people and are highly underpaid and we don’t even have the audacity to ask them to increase our remuneration. The position, in which Pakistan is, if there was any other country with strong institutions and ideology, would have benefited a lot from this situation. Only the leverage of NATO supply trucks can easily end our disastrous economic run.

The old cliché of United States of winning the hearts and minds has proved to be counter-productive and it is their policies which are forcing the people to take up arms against their own countries. Even the students of Britain have started demonstrations against their own inhumane fee structure. The public disapproval of G-20 summit has said it all.

War on terror has spread so much terror around the world and will continue to spread if we don’t open our eyes. Our leaders and foreign policy makers have huge amounts of wealth and gigantic bungalows but there is no one to tell them that they are of no use if the state in which they live in is under insurgency. In this war OF terror, we have forgotten our brothers in Kashmir and have absolutely abandoned them. Pakistani army, which was born and bred to fight against India, has deviated from its objective. We have to realize the heavy price we are paying for this war. How much more casualties do we have to suffer for someone else’ war? We have to get rid of this self-imposed war and streamline our direction.

We have taken many u-turns but this u-turn of getting rid of this war could prove to be decisive for this country and the larger Muslim world.

(Writer is a student of international relations and a Government employee at Planning Commission)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Night is the Darkest Before Dawn

Published in
Published in Frontier Post on 28-12-2009

Milan Kundera, a French and Czech novelist once said that “Optimism is the opium of the people”. Optimism is the only thing that has kept this nation on its feet. If it wasn’t optimism, we would have figured in the League of Nations, which are booked in the text books of history for the students to read and comment. Such is the effect of this opium that the people who are deprived of their basic needs like food, security and shelter are still hoping that someone will pull a rabbit out of the hat someday.

We are infected with many countless problems. We have a nuclear bomb but there is always an acute crisis of food commodities like rice, sugar and wheat which are considered as basic human necessities. Today everyone can make a phonecall from his cellular but can’t get gas to fire his stove. People have a fan to get rid of the stiff summer but have no electricity to make it running. These internal problems apart, we live in a country where our government demands huge amounts of taxes from us but is not able to protect us from the terrorists.

A common man is living in a rule which is unable to provide him basic necessities. The internal security situation of Pakistan has gone from bad to worse in the last couple of years. People are uncertain when they leave home that whether they will be able to come back or not. Imagine what happens to a father who does hard work all day long, fights with transporter over nominal fares, gets hammered by his employer every now and then on petty issues and when he comes back to home at night and discovers that he has lost his kid in a terrorist attack for whom he did all he can to make him to good person, to give him a good life ahead.

It is such a misery that our rulers just don’t understand all this. They don’t have any affiliation with a common man living from hand to mouth. These rulers, who have their children studying in the elite universities abroad, running large enterprises in the foreign don’t know the agony of its elector.

It is ironic that politicians who are elected and bureaucrats who are paid to "serve" the people often end up as civil masters instead of being civil servants. They place their own administrative convenience above citizens' needs.

The system which is implemented on us totally contradicts the ideology of a common man. Democracy, which was ploughed in the field of capitalism, has ruled over majority of the world but none of them was able to bring any harmony between its people. Capitalist system, as its name suggest, only runs upon the desire of the one who has the capital in its hand.

All these problems look scary and dreadful, but people are still living in a hope. People of Pakistan believe that one stroke of luck can turn their fortunes around. Judicial crisis showed us that this nation can stand for anything which they consider as something based on truth and justice. As a citizen of Pakistan, which is the fifth largest army having modern ammunition in its arsenal, one of the best agricultural state, having the best intellectuals serving in the biggest corporations of this globe, we believe that one day our misery will end and we will one day stand as the best and prosperous nation. We still believe that, if needed, we can counter any challenge only if our leadership is sincere and the system which is produced from our ideology i.e. the Islamic ideology.

Pakistan has a lost a lot in this war on terror. This war has brought all the problems to Pakistan. We are in a complete dark situation but NIGHT IS THE DARKEST BEFORE DAWN. One day we will triumph.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Identity Crisis

Published in Frontier Post on 13-10-2010

Last week I was able to attend a concert organized by US consulate in Pakistan. The concert was in memory of the famous Wall Street Journal Journalist Daniel Pearl, who was killed in Karachi in 2002. Being a student of International Relations in a university having a campus in Islamabad, I was able to attend the mesmerizing event with the help of my university administration but I had to give in my mobile before entering the premises because of the security of US diplomats.

The concert was full of Rock & Sufi music and held the audience to their feet. I, while enjoying the stampede of sounds in the gigantic auditorium of Pakistan National Council of the Arts, was hit with a jolt. My mind was struck to a standstill when I saw the portrait of smiling Daniel Pearl on the stage. I immediately understood what it means to be an American or a citizen of First World Country. Even after your death you are remembered as much as they can.

On my right side, I had a friend whose wife and kids both were US nationals. I was plunged into an identity crisis. Till then I was a 22 year old student of International Relations and a Government Employee who was a staunch critique of US’ policies and ideologies. Now there I am, sitting among the audience having US diplomats, senior Pakistani Govt. officials and the children of our so-called elite class celebrating life and music as the slogan on the stage was reflecting. I was unable to differentiate myself and the question for me was WHO REALLY I AM?

I was a great example of paradox at that time. Recalling the book ‘The Way of the World’ written by Ron Suskind in which he narrates the story of an Afghan Student, who through a student exchange program goes to US and lives with an American family. That student, Ibrahim Frotan faces the dilemma of his own identity and gets himself entangled into the clash of civilizations. My condition was almost the same like that of Ibrahim. I was strongly in opposition to these values and that night I was a part of it. Paradox!

While moving with the tunes and rhythm of the music, I was wondering who am I? A Muslim who like every other Muslim is angry over the US’ policies and oppression or the one who is helping them to achieve their agenda by setting up the stalls at the main entrance promoting brain-drain and cultural exchange.

Clouded by the identity crisis, I just came to know about the value of human life and suddenly another question rang into my mind. If Dani Pearl is still remembered even after 8 years of his murder then why can’t the senior US diplomats sitting in the audience glance on the case of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui? Isn’t she a human? Doesn’t she have a family like Daniel Pearl? I learned the rule of quid pro quo in international relations but I wasn’t experiencing the same here.

Sitting shell-shocked in the auditorium while my other university fellows were dancing and singing along, I could easily have been spotted out due to my vague expressions. I remember during the introductory remarks from the guests, the Chief Guest Additional Secretary Ministry of Culture, Pakistan responded to the fact pointed out by the Wall Street Journalist that Pakistan is the most deadly country for journalists by saying that Pakistan is a place full of love and harmony, there was a strong meaningful roar from the crowd.

The evening of celebration of life and music was nearing its end and I was still quizzed in the auditorium when I heard Meesha Shafi singing a very popular Sufi track ‘Alif Allah’ and the response of the audience gave me all the answers to my fuzziness.

We are people, who for all our problems are still strongly attached to our ideology. The standing ovation from US diplomats said it all. It was a night, organized to pay tribute to Daniel Pearl in a country where he was murdered and in the same country which has been labeled as terrorist a lot of times, was rocked by performers who were Muslims. Muslims, whose ancestors rocked the world and lead this whole world to peace and humanity. I got my answer.

No matter whatever crisis we are in, the bond of Islam keeps us united which was further elaborated when they sand ‘Bijli aaye ya na aaye, Dhol Bajay ga’ meaning whether electricity comes or not, the drum will be banged and later the slogans from the audience for the country which was created in the name of Islam ended my identity crisis. I was a Muslim and still am who really thinks that we will stand up again lead this world with our own ideology.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ideologies and New World Order

It is must for an ideology to make itself stable and prosper and also propagate itself to other part of the world. This is the ideology which has made the countries superpower. The Muslims ruled this world just because of its ideology and the system implemented on them, which obviously was emanated from Islam. Same goes with the once mighty U.S.S.R. and the still mighty but entangled with crisis all over United States of America.

Witnessing the history of the world, we can easily resolve that for a country to be a worldpower, it should have a system which matches the ideology of its people. Like in United States, the system and law guarantees personal freedom that is aligned with the ideas of the people on which the system is implemented.

History of the world is testament of the fact that it wasn’t the natural resources or education alone which helped them to establish their hegemony over the world. The Great Britain, a very tiny empire had no natural resources or any other significant component which could lead to power except for their ideas and military capability and they ruled the world.

Looking into the current state of affairs, the world has no longer been a unipolar one. After the Afghan and Iraq wars and the economic meltdown all over the world, bulging out from United States of America, US has started to lose its grip over the world. United States, once drenched with mighty power is now declining to its very end. People from within have started to raise their fears against the system and policies of the state.

Capitalism in United States is nearing its conclusion. The people in US have lost their homes and jobs on a massive scale due to its fragile capitalist system. Capitalism, as its name reveals, is a system formulated to protect the one who has the capital. The price United States paying for the love of capitalism is as heavy as it could get. While the American dream has become a nightmare, it still is trying to export its ideas to the outer world, eventually leading to en masse disapproval of their system. General public of United States has lost its trust on this system it is inevitable that the US is reaching its end after reaching its pinnacle.

Many people and analysts have suggested that the New World Order is in place or on its horizon. China and Russia (both socialists) have started to assert their power in the international arena. China is expanding economically and both militarily while Russia is countering US in every aspect, be it dealing with Iran or an attack on Georgia. While these socialist giants establish their power, there is another force rising: the rising wave of Islam or the Political Islam. Islamic World, under the oppression from colonialists and imperialists are looking for an alternative and perhaps going back to the basics is the panacea for their ills.

Think tanks in US and other countries have already started raising their fears regarding Political Islam and every day we hear senior US government officials talking about Political Islam and its threat to Capitalism. Islam may prove to be the final nail in the coffin of capitalism.

The role of so-called superpower in the world is now up for grabs. 20th Century and the naught of 21st has seen the very high of socialism and capitalism and also its decline very quickly. Only the Islamic ideology was the one which longed for much longer and paid the dividends to the humanity like expansion in technology, education and arts. It sound very romantic that Islam would again come back on the front stage, especially when the Muslim World is at crossroads but there is one good thing about the crossroad is that it always has a right path.

Be it Islam or Socialism, it is evident that the New World Order will be according to the ideologies as it always has been.

(Writer is a Government Employee and a Student of International Relations)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

What Happened in these Five Years?

Published in The Frontier Post on 24-08-2010

Five years ago, Pakistan suffered an earthquake of gigantic magnitude which jolted whole of the country. The earthquake brought a great loss to the affectees who not only lost their loved ones but also lost all their lifelong savings and accumulations. Their rehabilitation was not less than a daunting task and still there are some families who haven’t recovered from the tragic loss.

Biggest problem after a natural disaster is the displacement of the people and their rehabilitation. During the earthquake, it was the zealousness of the people of Pakistan which made it possible to resettle all these people and help their brethren in any manner they can. This time around, the instance is different, although people have started to respond lately but it isn’t the same as it was witnessed before. The enthusiasm of the people during the earthquake is not available to the people this time.

The monsoon rain has wreaked havoc all over Pakistan. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Southern Punjab are the main targets of the ever coming flood and is still doing the damage all across the country. The loss has been terrible and is touted as the biggest ever tragedy in almost a century. Question marks have been raised over the response from the general public over the donations and efforts in the rehabilitation of the affectees.

Analysts have found it as a tough nut to crack as to why the people don’t have the same zeal as they had before, even though the disaster is much worse than the earthquake in 2005. It takes a careful understanding to figure out that what has happened in all these years that people are reluctant to open their hearts to their brothers.

If we analyze the economic and social situation of the country during the earthquakes, we observe a major transmutation. People at that time were not hit hard by the wave of suicide bombs and felt secured in the markets, whereas today the situation is 180 degree to that. Economic conditions at that time were not as worse as they are now today. The country never went in darkness due to load-shedding at that time.

All these problems combine and tell us about the overall psychological situation of the people. General public has had enough and are literally fed up of this situation. Pakistan is one of the country where there are more donors than any one else in the world but the inflation has tied the hands of the people.

Another significant factor was that the youth was mobilized during the earthquakes and this time we don’t see anyone focusing on the youth. Politicians are worried about their own crops and are ready to sacrifice the life of their voters to save their own fields.

Pakistan has never witnessed such a catastrophe in its 63 year old history. People have lost their homes, sitting in the open sky and are vulnerable to all kinds of diseases. Their loss cannot be measured by an aerial view, which our executives usually do to monitor the conditions.

People are living in the system which is totally against their ideology and is resulting in sheer slump of the nation. We are standing at the crossroads. It is upto us, which way we decide. There is always a good thing about crossroad that there is always an alternative way and an option to choose the right path. It is a responsibility on our shoulders to drive this country to the heights which is expected from it. It is about time we work to have a system based on our Islamic ideology rather than becoming a copycat of west and our neighbours.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Aftermath of the Miscalculations of the Presidency

The Constitution Avenue, in front of the National Assembly still has the traces of the very much remembered Lawyers’ Movement against the then ruler, General Pervez Musharraf and we have a new same sort of movement waiting in the wings. The road blockers, barbed wires are still there which were put by the administration to keep the protestors away from the sacred buildings of the state. Only thing which has changed is that now these hurdles stand there in the name of security measures.

The President’s valentine gift to the judiciary, in the shape of notifications for appointing judges against the will of the Chief Justice brought much controversy. Rumours of emergency were looming around when the apex court ruled out the notifications and kicked in the teeth of the Government. This surely is a great test for the Zardari Administration to stand firm and show it still has the popular support with them which brought them to the Presidency.

The advisors to the President sure as shooting got it all wrong and triggered all the elements which were waiting to have a go at the President alone. This act has got all the guns pointing towards the President. Even though the issue is merely of a constitutional nature but the media and the politicians have grabbed the opportunity to malign the already much maligned regime by making it political.

Presidential camp can argue on the merits of their decision, which of course according to the seniority basis is correct. Another question may arise is that why the CJ wants the judges of his choice, perhaps building his own camp. This certainly doesn’t go well with the Presidency.

The repercussions of this surely will be long lasting as the previous movement had. In fact the previous lawyers’ movement was a launching pad for the removal of the then potentate. The reaction of the lawyers after the decision of the three member bench of the Supreme Court was the same as it was before. Different political parties including the second largest party in the Pakistan has indicated their intentions with full aggression.

Mian Nawaz Sharif in his press conference singled out President Asif Ali Zardari as the root cause of all the problems and called him the biggest threat to democracy. This singling out is a real statement of intent from PML-N. PML-N has been labeled as friendly opposition by many factions but the truth is that it is the PML-N, who has forced the Peoples’ Party to take these unpopular decisions.

What awaits after all this doesn’t differ from the previous situation. There will be mass-protests all around, conspiracies to malign each other. In fact Peoples’ Party has already put their foot on the accelerator and started to show their street power and they are in the mood to counter the opposition both in legal manner and also in the streets. It won’t be very easy for the opposition parties to gather the large numbers especially when the Lawyers’ leadership is scattered and divided unlike before. This time PPP has taken the bull by the horn and are in full mood to answer all the questions put at them. The ball is now in the court of PML-N to respond as PPP has made themselves very clear by showing their anger in the streets. Onus will be on PML-N to respond and it won’t be very easy for them because Nawaz Sharif doesn’t want the Mid-Term elections.

Looking into the activities and engagements of President in the last couple of months, we can easily tell that PPP was planning for all this. President was looking for the support of the masses to tackle the arrows pointed towards him. He visited two of the main provinces of Pakistan i.e. Sindh and Punjab. Gathered large number of masses and showed his stance. This time around PPP will play on the front foot and has employed the maneuver of “Attack is the best form Defense”.

This Royal Rumble between the political parties will affect the masses of Pakistan who are already plagued with load shedding of electricity, gas and shortage of food commodities. Pakistan is already surrounded with uncounted problems. These mass protests will only damage the already lingering economy of Pakistan. Price hike has killed the people of Pakistan and a new turmoil will add to the miseries of the people. These protestations will fend off the international sponsors and donor agencies from further investment as it happened last time around.

It is very difficult to conclude any positives from the current situation. Removal of one person or the old cliché “Minus One” won’t solve the problems. The problem lies in the very core of the system. The prevailing system is full of flaws. A uniform system based upon the ideology of the masses is required to solve our problems. Decisions according to the will of the people can only be taken if the system implemented is embroidered from the thread of their minds.