Islamic radicalization in Balochistan

Excellent article by Malik Siraj Akbar about troubling developments in his hometown of Panjgur:

Baloch nationalists in Panjgur have lost to the Mullah and pro-establishment nationalists. The level of nationalistic awareness has embarrassingly declined. A town once known for its liberal writers, intellectuals and committed nationalists is gradually derailing. Not many people truly realize in the area how much you lose when you shut a library. It is the society that becomes the biggest loser when cricket/football tournaments and Balochi musical programs stop taking place.

The only “good news” I heard about Panjgur was about the allotment of a huge area in Khudabadan town by the government to the Tabligee Jammat (the group of Islamic preachers) to conduct a huge congregation of the Islamic preachers in the town.

“You see we have become very lucky by now,” boastfully mentioned the young boy sitting beside me on the bus on my way back to Quetta, “Allah has chosen by His blessings the town of Panjgur for this august annual gathering. Every year, around two hundred thousand Muslims come from Iran, Afghanistan and all over Pakistan to cogitate about the fate of the Muslim Ummah.”
“Has the government allotted land for any libraries in the area,” I inquired.
“What are they?” he asked back.
“Oh sorry. You don’t kno them. Are there any universities in the area for the students?” I tried to find out.
“No. There are no transportation facilities. Who will come and go to a university?” he replied.
“Has the government provided the town with a railway track by now?” I asked again.
“No. No one takes interest in the development of the area,” he added.
“Any industrial units?” I went on.
“No. They are an agent of distraction. If you have a lot of money around you then you will never think about your life hereafter. We are glad we don’t’ have them,” he explained.
“So who makes arrangements for a mammoth religious gathering in this tiny town,” I asked.
“Allah!” he retorted.

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Hindavi

I was planning a blog post but I spent the whole weekend goofing off which was not hard to do considering I spent about 8 hours glued to my chair watching really bad online streams of the India/Pakistan cricket match. The rest of the weekend I spent reading Hindavi poetry and realizing that there is absolutely no resource on the internet or at my university library to learn Hindavi vocabulary for an Urdu speaker. It’s really frustrating because that would be enormously helpful when one is reading a poem by Kabir and just needs the definition of a few unfamiliar words. I found some really good resources for Amir Khusro and Kabir’s poetry. Here’s a link to a collection of Kabir’s poetry in Nastaliq script which is useful if you can’t read Hindi. This is a very famous one:

chakki
Chalti chakki dekh kay diya Kabira roay
Doi paatan kay beech mein sabut bacha na koay

Looking at the grinding stones, Kabir laments
In the duel of wheels, nothing stays intact.

What actually got me started were listening to some beautiful recordings of Abida Parveen singing Kabir’s poetry, specifically this one (If you’re going to click on just one link on this post, please click on that one). I found the words for it on this forum

Bhalaa Hua Meri Mataki Phooti Rey,
Main To Paania Bharan Se Chchooti Rey

Translation:
Ah sweet delight!
Now my clay jar has shattered,
Finally I am free from this water filling business

After that, I read some riddles attributed to Amir Khusro. Here’s a pretty one, and not too difficult1

thaal

Ek thaal motiyon se bhara, sab ke sir par ondha dhara,
Chaaron oar woh thaali phiray, moti us say ek na girey.

Its a giant saucer full of pearls, kept upside down on everyone’s head; In all four corners the saucer moves – not a single pearl ever falling down

Anyway, a few months ago I heard this recording of Rashid Khan singing a lovely little song which, I believe, is by Amir Khusro although I could not find it anywhere. The best I could do was this:

kahu kaise sakhi mohe laaj lage
mohe pee ki nazariya maar gayi
maine laaj ka ghoonghat khol diyo
piya jeet gaye main haar gayi

The strange thing about readiing or listening to Hindavi is that I sometimes have no idea what a particular verse is about for a long time but I feel like I know what it means, even if I don’t. An example is this video of Naheed Akhtar singing the very famous Naina milaike also attributed to Amir Khusro. I think it’s because Urdu and Hindi grammar originated from Hindavi (and its predecessor Khariboli) so despite the unfamiliar vocabulary the basic sound of the language is oddly familiar to an Urdu speaker. Not only that but it sounds incredibly comfortable and colloquial. After reading a bit of Hindavi poetry, Urdu poetry seems a bit more contrived in comparison almost as if the poet is supplementing his ordinary speech with a thesaurus of Persian in hand. Anyway, given the origins of Urdu that’s a fairly obvious point but it did get me thinking about how the lack of easily available information on Hindavi as a language distinct from both Hindi and Urdu is probably because Hindavi was such a victim of identity politics amidst the Hindi-Urdu controversy. (Hindustani — the language that Gandhi unsuccessfully put forward as a candidate for a national language — is essentially Hindavi).

It really got me thinking about the impact that Kabir and Khusro’s decisions to compose poetry in Hindavi had and the fact that they were conscious decisions — not Sanskrit, or Persian, but a language that people actually spoke. I read this essay by T. Vijayendra which describes the similar impact that Wali Dakhni’s poetry (in Dakhni) had on the “poetry establishment” in Delhi in 1700:

When Wali Dakhni (also known as Wali Aurangabadi and Wali Gujarati), a famous poet of Dakhni visited Delhi in 1700, he astonished the poets of Delhi with his ghazals. He drew wide applause from the Persian-speaking poets, some of who, after listening to Wali, also adopted the language of the people, ‘Urdu’, as the medium of their poetic expressions. Prominent poets — Shah Hatem, Shah Abro and Mir Taqi Mir — were among his admirers.

At that time in Delhi, the court poets were composing in Persian and Arabic. For others, Braj and Awadhi were the languages of literary and religious expressions. The spoken language of all was Khari Boli. When the poets listened to Wali in Dakhni language (which is also a variant of Khari Boli) they were struck by the fact that the spoken language of the people was capable of such rich literary expression.


1 the answer to the riddle is: the night sky

Interview with Arif Jamal

I’m reading Shadow War by Arif Jamal. I found an interesting interview he did with the Asia Times in 2001. Well worth reading.

Update:
Here’s a youtube video of what looks like a really interesting panel with Steve Coll, Arif Jamal and Basharat Peer:

And here’s an NPR interview with Ahmed Rashid, Arif Jamal and Siddhart Varadarajan of the Hindu.

(Note: I haven’t watched/listened to these yet, there’s a limit to how much slackdom I can practice at work!)

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed Detention Order Expiration Watch

Just a few days ago Rehman Malik was complaining that Pakistan needed more evidence in order to charge Hafiz Muhmmad Saeed presumably to avoid a repeat of June when Saeed was released from house arrest due to lack of evidence.

Today we see that Saeed is back under house arrest. His lawyers are already declaring their intention to challenge the legality of the arrest in the courts.

Now hopefully between Friday and today, some more ‘evidence’ has been produced or this might be be the beginning of yet another Hafiz Muhammad Saeed detention order expiration watch.

big things happening at the Ruet-e-Hilal committee

I almost had a heart attack today looking at this picture of the Ruet-e-Hilal committee.



Not because of the accompanying article which describes yet another ridiculous controversy (once again, the upstart Qasim Ali Khan mosque Ruet-e-Hilal committee has gone rogue and apparently things are so bad that some kind of peace talks have been scheduled between it and the Zonal NWFP Ruet-e-Hilal committee) but because that appears to be a telescope in front of Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman! In previous years, they always managed to sight the moon with the delicate combination of a theodolite and a cell phone:

Having previously been impressed by Mufti Muneeb ur Rehman’s effortless, rainman-like ability to give the exact amount of dates, raisins or dried cottage cheese required for Fitrana, my initial thought was that this was a bold innovation on his part. But a bit of googling revealed this Saudi Supreme Court ruling giving them the green light to use telescopes with the caveat that all telescopes used for moon sighting should be registered with the Saudi Supreme Court beforehand where presumably they will be thoroughly inspected for any potentially haraam elements (like, e.g. a folded up print-out of this webpage)

A review of a review of Aatish Taseer's book

There’s an interesting review of Aatish Taseer’s Stranger to History up at the Newsline website by Shimaila Matri Dawood. It’s an extremely negative review. The reviewer gets into it with this rather startling statement: “The problem with entwining the personal with the political, however, is that the former always influences the latter.” Ya don’t say? Isn’t that, well, the point of the book? Anyway, then there’s the obligatory reference to Huntingdon’s “Clash of Civilizations” (which has to win the award for book most infrequently read and most frequently referenced to mean whatever negative thing you want it to).

But really, the heart of the reviewer’s gripe with Taseer is all the way in the last paragraph:

It is just as unfortunate that all moderate Muslims, as well as their more radicalised counterparts, have been tainted by one sweeping brush – making them in Aatish’s and the non-informed reader’s, eyes, just two sides of the same coin.

Ahhhh, the old “broad brush stroke” argument. How I hate thee, broad brush stroke argument, the security blanket of the un-self-critical and the perpetually outraged.

Now, I’m a big fan of Aatish Taseer’s writings… his essay Travels with the Mango King is not only a fascinating account of a Sindhi landlord but a great take on Pakistani society in general. But I understand exactly why Aatish Taseer crawls under the skin of people like Dawood. Passages like this one:

The lieutenant, who had been sitting quietly on the edge of the veranda, now whispered slyly to me that he was a Rajput. This was another reference to the Hindu caste system, in this case a high caste. But the lieutenant didn’t know he spoke of caste. When I said to him that Islam, with its strong ideas of equality, forbade notions of caste, he became defensive and said that this was a matter of good and bad families.

“If you can have Rajputs, then you can have choodas,” I said, using the derogatory word for “low caste.”

“Of course you can have choodas,” the lieutenant replied.

“Would you let your daughter marry one?”

“Never.”

Ouch. I can feel at least 25% of my Pakistani elitist brain rising up in righteous indignation. And right after that, this, which to me is one of most profound paragraphs on Pakistani society’s rejection of its sub-continental history that I’ve ever read:

On the one hand, there was the rejection of India that made Pakistan possible, and on the other, India was overwhelmingly at play in the deepest affiliations of Pakistanis, sometimes without their knowing it. It made Pakistan a place in which everything just existed because it did, eroded haphazardly by inevitable change. The country’s roots, like some fearsome plumbing network, could never be examined to explain why something was the way it was, why the lieutenant, perhaps centuries after conversion, still thought of himself as a Rajput. And though I, with deep connections on both sides, could see the commonalities, they were not to be celebrated: we spoke instead of difference.

I think it would be unnatural for any society to embrace this kind of brutally honest criticism of its structure and interactions. In a way, it’s far more difficult for people from the ‘Mango King’s’ and Salmaan Taseer’s social class to accept Aatish Taseer’s work because, well, the reviewer is wrong — Taseer isn’t using a ‘broad brush stroke’ that covers rich and poor, extremist and ‘liberal’. He’s using a very narrow brush, specifically to describe the hypocrisies and confusion of his father’s social class and way of thinking:

He speaks of Salmaan Taseer as “my father, who drank Scotch every evening, never fasted or prayed, even ate pork, and once famously said, ‘It was only when I was in jail, and all they gave me to read was the Quran – and I read it back to front several times that I realised there was nothing in it for me.’” Aatish questions, “What made him [Salmaan Taseer] Muslim despite his lack of faith?” In the concluding part of his book, Aatish reveals the answer. “I had begun my journey asking why my father was Muslim and this was why. I felt sure that none of Islam’s once powerful imperatives existed within him, but he was a Muslim because he doubted the Holocaust, hated America and Israel, thought Hindus were weak and cowardly, and because the glories of the Islamic past excited him. The faith decayed within him, ceased to be dynamic, ceased to provide moral guidance, became nothing but a deep, unreachable historical and political identity. It was significant because in the end this was the moderate Muslim, and it was too little moderation, and in the wrong areas.”

Anyway, I don’t want to be too harsh on the reviewer, so I’ll stop at that excerpt. I do think she has a point when it comes to Aatish Taseer’s rather shabby treatment of his half-siblings. But as Salinger said, being related to a writer is not something that anyone should aspire to.

Over at Yes and No there is a very interesting post about the justification of brutality through moral reasoning:

Observing his case, I noticed that one strange characteristic of the Islamist mind (or perhaps it is the tribalistic mind, the primitive mind, or just the violent mind) is that it ceases its moral reasoning after a goal has been decided, such that the means to accomplish that goal are treated in a frighteningly amoral way. Once stealing is declared wrong — as it should be — chopping off hands is an act considered amorally, as if psychopathy kicks inexplicably at some point. It does not matter that mutilating another person is much more immoral than stealing could ever hope to be, as long as it accomplishes the goal it seems justified.

This process is illustrated by the horrible events preceding the death of Fanish Masih. A man is accused of throwing a chapter of the Quran into a drain, and a church is burned and a mob descends on his village, burns a church and forces thirty families to flee. When the police show up, do they consider the terrible injustices that have been perpetrated on this man and his community? No — they arrest him. The entire weight of the law and the moral outrage of the muslim community have decided that no punishment is too harsh for the (alleged) crime of blasphemy.

The dismissal of the Balochistan government in 1973

The dismissal of the Balochistan provincial government by Bhutto in February 1973 set the stage for the 4 year long military action in Balochistan that ultimately contributed to Bhutto’s downfall and had enormous repercussions for Balochistan – Islamabad relations to this day. It’s useful to look at the events leading up to the dismissal of the government and examine the causes and whether it was avoidable.

In the general elections of 1970, the PPP, while winning a majority in Sindh and Punjab, did not win a single National Assembly seat from Balochistan. Bhutto thus had to contend with a NAP-JUI alliance in both Balochistan and NWFP and these two parties formed the basis of the opposition for the purposes of pushing through his proposed constitution. Balochistan had only become a full-fledged province in 1970 and so the NAP-JUI government was the first provincial representative government in Pakistan’s history.

In March 1972, Bhutto was able to work out an accord with the NAP-JUI which, among other things, guaranteed the convening of the provincial assemblies and that, while the governors of the provinces would be appointed from the center, this would be done with consultation with the NAP-JUI.

Initially Bhutto tried to appoint a loyalist Ghaus Bakhsh Raisani to the position of governor, but this was not approved by the provincial government. The next governor appointed by the centre in April 1972 was the well-respected Baloch nationalist leader Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo. Bizenjo had earned respect for his principled opposition to One Unit and martial law and had spent time in jail during Ayub’s regime. He was known for his conciliatory approach to politics. Atuallah Mengal became the chief minister. The other main Baloch political leader in the government was Khair Bakhsh Marri who headed the NAP in the provincial assembly. At this time, Nawab Akbar Bugti was aligned with Bhutto and against the provincial government. Marri and Mengal were both leftist in their political inclinations and the new provincial government set about on an ambitious agenda of reforms. A large number of the local police and bureaucracy and intelligentsia was dominated by Punjabis. This issue was somewhat neutralized when the chief minister of Punjab Ghulam Mustafa Khar made the decision to recall many Punjabi bureaucrats and police servicemen to Punjab.

The issue of Punjabi bureaucracy illustrates the difficulty faced by the provincial government – on the one hand,it was resentful of the over-representation of Punjabis in the civil service and professional class, on the other hand the fact that Balochistan was so poorly developed necessitated the presence of outsiders.

Another point of contention between the province and the center was when provincial government decided to establish its own rural police called the Dehi Muhafiz. This was done in part to fill the vacuum left by the abolishment of the Civil Armed Force by the federal government and in part due to the perceived non-cooperation of the police which was under the Interior ministry headed by Abdul Qayyum Khan, a lifelong enemy of the NAP and Wali Khan.

It is not surprising why the actions of the provincial government, while by no means particularly aggressive (for example, it chose Urdu over Balochi as the official provincial language), were regarded with suspicion by the centre. For one thing, the Bhutto government was closely aligned with the Shah of Iran and the Shah was deeply suspicious of any political autonomy given to Balochistan since he had just spent a decade suppressing secessionist movements in Iranian Balochistan. Iraq, allied with the USSR, had a history of supporting Baloch separatism in Iran in response to Iran’s support of Kurd separatists in Iraq. So the US, too, was suspicious of the political empowerment of the Pakistani Baloch. The Pakistani army, fresh from its defeat in East Pakistan, was deeply suspicious of the Baloch nationalists and moves like the establishment of the provincial rural police only added to this suspicion.

In September 1972, the central government actually accused the NAP leaders of what was called the “London Conspiracy” with Mujibur Rehman – allegedly they had plotted to divide Pakistan up into four states. The government never provided any evidence for these claims beyond the physical presence of the leaders in London.

By early 1973, a law and order situation had arisen in Patfeeder and Lasbela districts of Balochistan. The provincial government sent the Dehi Muhafiz to handle the situation and the central government allegedly (although it later denied it) sent its own armed forces that actually ended up skirmishing with the Dehi Muhafiz. According the Adeel Khan, the essentially provincial issues of local law and order faced by the NAP government were exacerbated by the high-handed interference of the central government and thus magnified, dooming the provincial government to failure. As the threat of India on the Eastern border diminished, the army’s heavy-handedness in dealing with Balochistan, after a brief period of respite in early 1972, increased.

Finally in February 1973, Bhutto abruptly dismissed the provincial government. The dismissal was justified by the claim that a large cache of weapons had been discovered in the Iraqi embassy in Islamabad, en route to Balochistan to be used to arm Baloch nationalist militias. This claim became the basis of the infamous Hyderabad tribunal from 1975- 1979 and which led to the banning of the National Awami Party in 1975, on the basis that it was acting against the interests of Pakistan. Nawab Akbar Bugti played a significant role in making accusations against the NAP politicians, claiming, among other things that Mengal and Wali Khan had shared with him their “free Balochistan” plan in early 1973. Mengal, Bizenjo, Wali Khan and Marri were all imprisoned for several years.

Why did Bhutto take this step and was there any justification for it? According to Ataullah Mengal, the dismissal of the government was directly related to Bhutto’s inability to share power from the centre, especially with a party that he distrusted as much as the NAP. Dr. Mubashir Hasan, a PPP minister, in his book The Mirage of Power claims that the dismissal was a consequence more of the Army and bureaucracy’s suspicion of the NAP-JUI government and that Bhutto’s hand was forced. Pro-establishment politicians like Abdul Qayyum Khan were said to have played in a role in driving a wedge between the PPP and the NAP.

Others argue that Bhutto’s hands were tied by his loyalty to the Shah of Iran. Indeed in the subsequent military operation in Balochistan from 1973-1977, key help was provided by Iran in the form of US manufactured Cobra helicopters that were crucial in fighting the Baloch guerillas in the mountainous terrain.

The argument that Bhutto’s hands were tied, however, does not hold much water when the events of the Liaquat Bagh public meeting held on 23 March 1973 are taken into consideration. The NAP and other opposition party members (under the collective banner of the United Democratic Front) held a rally to protest the dismissal of the Balochistan government and were fired upon by the paramilitary federal security force. Wali Khan narrowly escaped death and over a dozen party workers were killed. Mubashir Hasan quotes Bhutto, describing how he got a consensus on the Constitution as saying the following:

While putting on a facade of conciliation I was firm in my belief that the violent threat had to be faced courageously at the right moment. The right movement came on the 23rd of March 1973. I had no doubt in my mind that the ground had to be held no matter what the cost. So much so that some of the so-called militant leaders of my party were expressing their doubts on whether 23rd of March should be made the decisive day for a show of strength. Firmness and flexibility were combined to bring about the unanimous approval of the constitution. If the classical attitude of the opposition is gauged, if the historical position of the NAP and the statements of their leaders are scrutinized it would appear that the consensus on the Constitution was a miracle. It was not a miracle, all it needed was clear thinking, steady nerves, correct strategy, a sense of anticipation and the collaboration of my principle colleagues.

This quote neatly illustrates both Bhutto’s brilliant political instincts and his unscrupulousness. Given this statement, it is very, very difficult to believe the argument that Bhutto’s ‘hands were tied’ in his dealings with the NAP. One of Bhutto’s gifts as a politician was his ability to gain politically, in tandem with the military elite’s own goals. I believe that the dismissal of the Balochistan government was as much a consequence of Bhutto’s distrust of the NAP and his desire to see it neutralized as a voice in the opposition as it was an action taken by the military.

The military action that followed the dismissal of the Balochistan government lasted until 1977 and due to its brutality succeeded in uniting all factions of the Baloch nationalists against the government of Pakistan. Even Akbar Bugti, who initially supported the operation and who was made governor of Balochistan following Bizenjo’s dismissal, resigned in 1974 as a result of his disagreement with the centre on the military operation in Balochistan.

So the first representative provincial government of Balochistan lasted only 10 months in an ill-fated tenure against almost impossible odds – a hostile military and hostility from several foreign powers. Bhutto had an opportunity to manage this difficult balance in a way that would not have alienated the Baloch politicians but chose to gain politically by first coercing the NAP to support his constitution and then ultimately neutralizing the threat it posed through the Hyderabad Tribunal. The dismissal of the government led to a long and bloody military action in the province which would have been entirely avoidable through political compromise. Mubashir Hasan rightly claims that the the Pakistani army as an institution is, when crude political intrigue fails, unable to deal with domestic unrest with anything other than brute force. However, Hasan’s analysis is equally applicable to the short-sighted and heavy-handed behavior of Bhutto towards the provincial government.

References:
Mubashir Hasan, The Mirage of Power
Adeel Khan, Politics of Identity: Ethnic Nationalism and the State in Pakistan
Taj Muhammad Breseeg, Baloch Nationalism: Its origin and development
Naudir Bakht, Role of Mr. Ghous Bakhsh Bizenjo in the politics of Balochistan: An Analysis

Look who I found

While looking at the website of the “current” Nawab of Junagadh, on the picture gallery of Dewans (Prime Ministers) of Junagadh:

Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto!

I’ve always found it amazing how huge the jump between generations is, especially concerning the history of Indian muslims. To think that the son of a Dewan of Junagadh would be the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Student politics

Over at Rs. 5 the Cyril Almeida interview comment thread has taken on a life of its own. AKS brought up some good points about the NSF (National Student’s Federation) which reminded me of the first book I ever read about Pakistani politics – The Terrorist Prince by Raja Anwar (a prominent NSF leader) which is one of the most exciting books about Pakistani politics.

Anyway, I found this interesting interview from last year of Raja Anwar about student politics. A couple of things he said really stand out:

TNS: Some people oppose the student unions mainly because of the possibility of violence in educational institutions. Don’t you think this is a valid argument given the free access to arms and intolerance in our society?

RA: I don’t agree with this assumption. We need to understand that universities are a reflection of the society at large. Violence is a social issue which could potentially influence the students as well. But that does not mean that student politics is the cause of violence. Let me put the record straight; it was the state which criminalised the student politics and introduced violence in educational institutions. Concrete examples are the now open secrets about state agencies’ involvement in recruiting students for Jihad in Kashmir and Afghanistan.

and

TNS: Some people do not subscribe to the view that student unions are the nurseries for mainstream political leadership.

RA: I have a number of reasons to believe that student politics and student unions provide an entry point to the middle and lower middle class talent to later participate in national politics. You can see this even in the incumbent parliament. Most of the leadership of all political parties, coming from middle and lower middle class, has made it to the parliament and mainstream politics only through student politics. Therefore, I think that in the presence of feudal and elite-driven parliamentary politics, student unions can give an opportunity to the non-elite classes to send their representatives to the parliament.

One of the main themes of The Terrorist Prince is that progressive/populist Pakistani politics have always ended up being subordinated to the leadership of feudal politicians to their detriment. If you think about it, Anwar’s point about student politics providing an entry into mainstream politics for middle and lower middle class talent is absolutely correct – think of Altaf Hussain, Hussain Haqqani, Javed Hashmi, to name just a few. One may not agree with their politics but there is no denying that they are extremely gifted politicians.

The flip side of this is the complete destruction of our institutions of higher education:

A flashback It’s November 5th, 2003. The first graduating batch of the newly formed Visual Arts Department of the Karachi University is holding its first grand exhibition of the students’ final theses in the STC Hall. The exhibition is in process when all hell breaks lose. A group of Islami Jamiat Talba members have gathered outside to protest against the exhibition, which they termed to be out of line with the university’s code of religious ethics. They fall into heated argument with the administrative staff and around ten activists attack the hall, smashing the items on display. The items mainly include computers, television sets and speakers that the students have used to set up their presentations. The IJT members leave terrified young men and women in their wake; many of them crying as they look at their year’s worth of work shattered into pieces. The bitter taste of what happened almost two years ago lingers in memory. Students whose theses were destroyed incurred nearly a quarter of a million rupees in losses. Their losses were never compensated for by the administration. No action was taken; no complaints were carried through. One student whose presentation was destroyed recalls bitterly, “I was beaten to the bone, threatened and harassed, and saw the fruit of my labour get smashed into pieces in front of my eyes. Nothing happened. I was never compensated and the authorities conveniently advised me to withdraw the charges for my own safety. That’s when I realized trying to get anyone punished was a lost cause.” There is, however, another version to the story. Syed Tausif, Nazim, IJT, KU recalls the incident as follows. “The Visual Arts incident was a classic case of mishandling a situation by the administration. The protests had been planned to be peaceful. We had filed a number of applications against the exhibition with the administration as we thought it had elements that hurt the general student public’s religious sensitivities. But when protesting students gathered to hold a peaceful demonstration, Rangers intervened to force them to disperse. This angered some of the activists and the violence occurred as a reaction, not an act of aggression as it has been portrayed in the media”. Tausif further adds, “Yes, we do regret what happened that day, and we do feel bad for the students whose hard work was destroyed. But we genuinely believe that the administration was responsible for what happened and hence, it should have compensated them for their loss”.