The three schools in Peshawar

A letter in Dawn today:
DAWN deserves credit for writing hard-hitting articles on the excesses of our rulers and growing militancy by our homegrown jihadists.

The despicable act of blowing up three English-medium schools in Peshawar Cantonment should have been universally condemned.

These schools are located next to a military police unit and a stone’s throwaway from the Corps Headquarters, and the Governor’s House. It is amazing that a horde of militants drove up, wreaked murder and havoc by throwing grenades and indiscriminate firing with automatic weapons. And neither the police nor the army reacted.

If this is a tactic to release international pressure on Pakistan, then we are playing with fire and further isolating ourselves from the world community. In the process we are also doing a great disservice to our glorious religion which is now being universally regarded as a religion of violence and backwardness, which sadly couldn’t be further from the truth.

Pakistan is facing grave threats and given the quality of our leadership chances are that we will make a further hash of the mess that we find ourselves in.

Imagine our state, no writ of the government beyond the protected lives of our VIPs, growing poverty, no food, water and electricity, and now jihadists trained by our spy agencies stepping up their presence to spread bigotry and provide rough justice because our judicial system has gone the way of the police and other corrupt institutions of the government.

The only glimmer of hope for survival of our nation could have been the education of our rapidly growing population but sadly that has been relegated to the expediency of playing games with international opinion so that Pakistan should be sponsored as a bulwark against terrorism.

The world has seen through us and it is only a matter of time before we get our just desserts.

Haripur, Hazara


best headline ever

PTI to emerge a major political force: Imran. Actually, don’t bother reading the link. It’s just the headline that was funny.


For my part, I am happy to stand by Samuel Johnson when he wrote in his Introduction to the Political State of Great Britain: “It is unpleasing to represent our affairs to our own disadvantage; yet it is necessary to show the evils which we desire to be removed.”

From Irfan Hussain’s latest column in Dawn.

It’s a relief to turn to what he writes after slogging through the hundreds and hundreds of conspiracy loaded comments at sites like that are interesting to be sure, but get very depressing after a while. I am sure that many, if not most, Pakistanis dismiss him as a typical stooge of the West, but to me his stuff has always been pretty sane common sense.

I’m proud of Dawn for having the guts to break the interview with Ajmal Kasab’s father. Amazing that all the much hyped new and free media spends its time analyzing Farah Dogar’s marksheets and the deleterious effects of Bollywood, leaving the real journalism to Dawn.

co-opting of the lawyer’s movement

via Let us build Pakistan, I read this article by Abbas Zaidi that explains exactly how the Lawyer’s movement has been co-opted by the right-wing, or “Zia’s remnants” as Benazir Bhutto called them.

If you take a look at the lawyers´ rallies, the most visible presence is of those fundamentalist religious parties who were carefully nurtured and empowered by General Zia. The most significant of them is Jamat-e-Islami, whose support of Zia´s barbaric misrule was matchless. Jamat-e-Islami was the greatest beneficiary of Zia´s martial law and was given key ministries by him
More examples can be given, but the point is: the lawyers´ movement has been hijacked by those politicians whose very appearance brings extremely painful memories of a time remembered for its barbarities, murders, and total disregard for human rights. These politicians have never been able to form government through fair elections because the people of Pakistan have always rejected them. Benazir Bhutto called them “Zia´s remnants”. Another Zia remnant made his presence felt on 3 November 2008 not through his presence, but through the placards that his supports were carrying in front of Justice Chaudhry´s house. The placard said: “The Act of 3 November Not Acceptable: General Hamid Gul”.

It’s very a interesting issue to me how issues of injustice are always ultimately co-opted by the right wing, making the moderates and liberals who initially supported them end up looking like little more than enablers. A lot of support for the lawyer’s movement has thus been siphoned off to support for the PML(N). Of course, the PML(N) and the Jamaat were busily advocating disengagement from the war on terror, and support for them was siphoned off to support Hameed Gul and co. Little wonder then that Pakistani moderates have been so quiet about the Mumbai attacks.

Richard Watson interviews

I just started reading “The Rise of the British Jihad” by Richard Watson in the current issue of Granta. It’s not available online, but here is a webpage of video interviews of the writer on the subject that is quite interesting.

two good links for Saturday

  • A 2007 Spiegel interview with Solzhenitsyn:

    Solzhenitsyn: If we could all take a sober look at our history, then we would no longer see this nostalgic attitude to the Soviet past that predominates now among the less affected part of our society. Nor would the Eastern European countries and former USSR republics feel the need to see in historical Russia the source of their misfortunes. One should not ascribe the evil deeds of individual leaders or political regimes to an innate fault of the Russian people and their country. One should not attribute this to the “sick psychology” of the Russians, as is often done in the West. All these regimes in Russia could only survive by imposing a bloody terror. We should clearly understand that only the voluntary and conscientious acceptance by a people of its guilt can ensure the healing of a nation. Unremitting reproaches from outside, on the other hand, are counterproductive.

  • John Dolan on Martin Amis & Christopher Hitchens:

    To American readers, the targets of Tory xenophobia can seem bizarre, even comic. For instance, in Lucky Jim, Amis Senior rails against Italian cooking, denouncing olive oil at some length as a vile “butter substitute.” Keith Waterhouse, another Tory writer of that era, devotes half a page in one of his novels to a similar sermon against pizza. This obsession with Italian food, which was just coming into fashion in Britain, suggests an important difference between British and American right-wing writing: While most American conservative rhetoric pays lip service to “melting pot” rhetoric, British writers are openly xenophobic, assailing all foreign influences, whether in cookery or movies. Hitchens, for example, took a bizarre detour in one of his screeds to denounce the unfair presentation of medieval English royalty in Braveheart.

    And unlike most American rightists, British Tories are always defeatists, convinced their cause is lost, paralyzed by nostalgia for an imaginary golden age or fighting a rearguard action in defense of a doomed, yet superior culture. In Lord of the Rings terms, England is Gondor, Mordor is the alien (the Arab/Muslim, at the moment), and without a Frodo-level game-saver, we’re doomed. You can hear this sort of wretched whine even in pop music, as when Morrissey moans, “We are the last truly British people you will ever know.” (Though in an amusing twist, Morrissey later came out of the ethnic closet and admitted he was Irish.)

Sheheryar Ali is right:

As the Bombay tragedy unfolded, Pakistani media, state, political parties and even some liberal and ex progressives adopted a line which consisted of criticism of Indian press, media and government. A policy of continuous denial was adopted, in name of patriotism, in name of “support” of the democratic regime, in name of “peace”. What was forgotten was that India and Pakistani democratic regime effectively are hostages of the same enemy. Benazir Bhutto was shot dead by the same elements on which India is pointing fingers too, whose existence we were denying.

a hindu perspective

In general, Pakistanis are completely oblivious to the Hindu perspective on terrorism.

Pakistani schoolgirls debating about the atomic bomb

It was funny to see how different their real opinions were from their debate opinions! Suppose there were a schoolgirlish debate about the movement to liberate Kashmir. I can well imagine a set of prepared speeches about how India has oppressed the Kashmiris, Pakistan is helping the Kashmiris, etc. Now imagine that some peacenik Indian journalist is filming the whole thing and after the debate asks the girls how on earth they can defend the indefensible, namely the reality of the Kashmir “freedom fighters”. What he asks the girls is spot on: how can the “real” answer be so different from the “debate” answer?