Who is the dumbest of them all?

I have been an ardent supporter of democracy to the extent that I am even supporting the present democratic setup. I believe unless the system runs it course the garbage will not be sifted, the politicians will not learn to pay for their mistakes through the ballot box and we will not get new leadership that pays attention to its constituencies.

But the present leadership through it actions as well as constant streams of bullshit from its mouth sometimes makes me question my beliefs but more than that my sanity. This government has turned out to be the stupidest and dumbest in the history of Pakistan. Had I been a conspiracy theorist I would say that they are acting this way to achieve some ulterior objective which is so ghastly that it confounds me. How can any one be so dumb?

1. Despite the statement by David Cameron, Zardari takes a foreign trip to France and UK. I would really like to know from an insider what was he REALLY doing there. It was a personal trip at national exchequer where he even meets Sarkozy. It may have had something to do with the submarine kickback case in France in which Sarkozy is being investigated for using the kickback proceeds to finance presidential campaign of his predecessor. If it was a foreign policy trip, why was son and daughters accompanying him in casual wear. In the videos showing his arrival on airports, why isn’t he afforded official protocol?

2. In Wall Street Journal, US officials say that they really had to push on Zardari to go back otherwise he felt no compulsion to go back to spearhead the flood crisis. True he is not the Chief Executive after the 18th amendment. But what could be more important to be with your country men, who elected you President, in this time of crisis?

3. When a foreign policy trip is planned, the foreign minister goes along. But if he remains behind,  he should at least be able to tell the nation what is so important during flooding that the president had to leave without him. So where was the foreign minister and what did he say? He was at a fashion show (like the Karachi Fashion Week last year was the proverbial middle finger to Talibans _ I am paraphrasing the organizer and participants but this is what they said_ this fashion show would have been the finger to floods) and what does the dumbass say when people ask him about floods and Zardari trip : this is not the place to ask such questions. Please approach the foreign office.

4. GEO TV which was out in full force blaming Zardari for taking a trip during the national crisis, what was it showing during that time? Nadia Khan hosting a fashion model talent show finale for four hours. Thats what I can kettle calling the pot black.

5. We all know that the magnitude of this disaster is huge. Army and civilians and NGOs are trying their best to reach everyone but its difficult in the wide area to reach all of them. Hence, the religious charities are helping people wherever they can and reaching out to them. Even Musharraf was smart enough not to ban charities despite immense US pressure after earthquake as he knew that the charities were doing huge humanitarian and relief work. However, our interior minister says today that such charities will not be allowed to work and people working for them will be arrested. People are dying of aid not reaching them and we need each and every bit of help we can get. Save lives now and worry about the propaganda of charities later.

6. We were worried that world does not trust you, that we will misuse aid. Gilani is on record saying that we will give record of each penny of aid last week, (most humiliating statement a Prime Minister of a country can give in times of crisis). The opposition reaches out to the government and says that if the people are not giving aid to government doubting its credibility lets make a transparent commission so that people trust us. PM agrees to it and makes an announcement. Yesterday he goes back on his words as according to DAWN they are making a different committee as implementing the agreed upon commission would be construed as accepting opposition’s advice. So they make something called NDMC with the same usual culprits which the people have shown distrust in. Is this the time to play such politics?

Not a big fan of Shahbaz Sharif (a dictator in democratic clothing) but he has since stopped making statements (which were raising controversies) and is focused on relief work in his province. I hope that PPP leadership takes a leaf out of his book but then their coteries would advise against it as it would be following the opposition.

So my question again? How dumb can one party collectively be? Isn’t there a single sane person in PPP?

Of Scientists and Mohajirs

Just finished reading The Space Race by Deborah Cadbury. A delightful and fast paced coverage of race between US and Russians to reach the moon. The book traces development in rocket technology through the dual autobiography of the designers on both sides of the cold war.

By the end of world war II, the Germans were way ahead of everyone in rocket technology with their V-2 missiles. They were lead by their engineer Wernher von Braun. His ambition was not to  develop missiles as war weapons rather using the missile development as a springboard to achieve his childhood dream of reaching for the stars/space. If the path to space and learning and fine tuning technology passed through developing missiles of Third Reich through forced labor/concentration camps, he had no qualms about it.

The area in German where the missile technology research and production facility was located  was to be handed over to Russia after World War II end. However US with the help of British intelligence were able to extract most of the German engineers including von Braun as well as plans, blue prints, under development missiles and their spare parts to US for mastering the technology. By the time Russians arrived, it was swept clean of most traces of technology and know how.

Russinas were not to be under estimated. The Russians tried very hard to find and encourage the engineers or technicians that were left behind to join them. However, the masterminds had travelled to US as such the Russian progress in missile development was very slow. Then came in Korolev, the Russian chief designer who had earlier endured years of slave labor in cold Russian jail just because his colleagues had become jealous of him and told the russian security services that he harbored ill will towards mother land.

Korolev also had a childhood dream of reaching for space. However, despite being tortured for years in jail for no fault of his, he had no ill will towards his country despite the fact the country was responsible for ruining his health, family relations and reputation and worked his ass of for developing the rocket technology for his country.

Arrival of Korolev in Germany added fire to the Russian efforts. For fear of defection or spying by western nations, Russians shifted the left behind german technicians, engineers, etc to Russia in a facility outside Moscow.

Contrary to the belief that the governments of Russia and US were interested in reaching for the moon, the truth is quite different. No one was interested in the science of space except for the two dreamers von Braun and Korolev.

The Russian government was almost bankrupt from fighting Germans and they did not have funds to throw away at dreams. However, Korolev fighting red tape had convinced the Russian civilian and military leaders that the rocket can also take a lethal payload and would try squeeze pennies (or Rubles) out of government for development of rockets. There was lot of politics, infighting for funds, professional jealousies and failed attempts before Russia could finally launch a satellite into space called Sputnik.

Till that time, US did not trust von Braun and his team on account of being Germans. They had just brought him over so that Russians or others could not get their hands on them. However, when America woke up to realize that they have slept under a Russian moon (Sputnik), their efforts picked up pace.

However, its not that doors of US Treasury had been opened for rocket development. It had been more than a decade since the Germans were brought over yet they were not allowed to do much. By this time, large number of members of von Braun team had already left for private sector because nothing had moved in more than a decade they had spent on US soil. Even after Sputnik it was not an easy ride. Despite being years ahead in know how, the Germans were not trusted and the US government introduced a competition with Navy and Airforce having their own development programs with the government saying that final go ahead will go to just one program. Fighting the distrust, red tape von Braun had to work really hard to get his rocket designs approved and tested. There were no trust for the Germans as of yet.

When Russia put a man in space, i.e. Yuri Gagarin, it further dawned on America that they are being left behind in development. President Kennedy opened the flood gates of money by saying that they will put a man in space by the end of decade (70s). Now US was talking. A multi billion dollar industry complex developed around the space program of which US has reaped benefits till this day of infrastructure, technology and know how.

On the Russian side, things were bad as many other contendors had come up for Chief Designer post setting up competing rocket development platforms and fighting Korolev for the government funds. Moreover, the Russian government had become more interested in winning the propaganda war by putting first satellite in space, first animal in space, first human in space, first women in space, first space walk, first space docking etc. Falling ill due to over work and the effects of torture he had received earlier in life in Russian jails catching up with him, Korolev died and with him his dream and  the Russian program, never regaining the momentum.

With the Apollo, Americans were finally successful in putting the man on space and winning the space race. von Braunhad finally realized his dream.


What the book showed that human vision and ingenuity can overcome adversity and lack of resources. Germany was almost bankrupt by the end of war and the war had bankrupted Russia. However, the ingenious dreamers overcame them with their perseverence, hardwork and commitment.

Similar is the story of Pakistan’s nuclear program. For a country that was demoralized after losing its half, lacked resources, had no precision engineering setup, had always been on the brink of bankruptcy and holding out for international aid, for A.Q. Khan to make it into an atomic power is an achievement. Even if he stole the plan as a lot detractors claim, the know how, the technology, the infrastructure required to develop a bomb, refine uranium could only have come when he and his team put in his sweat and blood to achieve that dream.

Pakistan has blue prints for JF-17 striker plane. Lets see how many planes we make without a leader or a visionary to at the helm. So far we are just assembling and what I have heard from my sources in Air Force, we will keep on assembling. The setup required to design, build, test, maintain and manufacture is just not there and there is no visionary in our armed forces who has a dream of it.


One thing von Braun complained of was that he and his team was never trusted. Despite giving all his knowledge, dreams and know how and adopting the country, he was never considered their own, a son of the soil. In 1982, when US had made full use of them, they declassified the documents about his team’s concentration camp crimes and started proceeding against them. von Braun was dead but his trusted associate Arthur Rudolph had to gave up his citizenship and move back to Germany.

How does it feel to not belong to a place after living in that country for 40 years and giving your dreams to it and taking up citizenship? I have an idea. I had a chance to see the teaser of Abdul Qadir Khan’s interview to Mazhar Abbas on ARY News where he replies to Mazhar Abbas’s question that why he was sidelined after the atomic blasts. He replied, “I have never been considered son of soil. I am still considered a Mohajir.”


I could fees his pain. I belong to the so called Mohajir community though I prefer the label Ahl-e-Zuban. Since I grew up in Middle East (one does not get a nationality in middle east no matter how long you live there and to them you are not sindi, punjabi and mohajir etc, you are a Pakistani as everyone treats all Pakistanis the same) till 8th grade, we (me and my brothers) thought we are Sindhis because Karachi is in Sind. My father always said that you are a Pakistani and nothing else.

Anyway, upon reaching puberty we realized that we belong to the Mohajir community (though puberty had nothing to do with realization). However, though I never referred to myself as Mohajir (always saying Ahle-Zubaan or “Urdu-speaking”_its ironic how an English word “Urdu speaking” is denoted to tell people that you speak Urdu) but I really hated when I was adressed or labelled as Hindustani (the preferred term of Mohajirs for describing themselves). For someone who grew up as a Pakistani and nothing else finding one day that he is a Hindustani is like one day your parents telling you that they are your foster parents and then introducing you to your real parents which you don’t know or want to know. At least Mohajir tells you that you have immigrated to a new place, calling yourself Hindustani is not even accepting that.

With time I found out other labels such as matarwas, makkarh (used by Sindis because like a makkarh (wild ant) Mohajirs eat everything even the feet of cattles (payas) which Sindis don’t).

When I was studying in University, I went to visit my school friend who now lived in Lahore. I was sitting with his extended family and then issue of where I come from came up. His cousin called me a Hindustorha. I was shocked at the derogatory term. Though I was hearing the term for the first time, yet the derogation in the term made me feel that I was stripped of my identity, my roots in an instant. I felt nauseous. It took me almost a minute to regain my composure. After that I was OK.

Some of our family members after migration had settled in Punjab and they have assimilated there. For all practical purposes they are Punjabis. However, the families that came to reside in Sind are still mohajir, hindustani, hindustorha, matarwa, makkarh etc.

I don’t want to engage in blame games over here. Just some events in the book reminded me of the above so decided to share it.


Its a wonderful book and reads like a thriller. When I wanted to skip a few pages as I wanted to buy a new book (my wife says that I spend way too much money on books and should not buy new books unless I have finished old ones) I could not as the way author has written it kept me hooked.

I wish someone writes a similar book on heroic achievements of our scientists in bringing this poor resource lacking nation in the list of atomic nations.

We could have achieved so much more, if we can make atomic bomb we can also make other things from computer chips to nuclear power plants if we put our mind to it, however, the rulers of this country have no interest in advancement of any sciences and unless there is an incentive of making money and kickbacks, the government (civilian or military) is not interested.


It has been a long time since I posted anything humorous. Here I have two videos from youtube that I can really say made me ROFLOL.

The first one is by Australian pranksters wherein The Chasers try at being a bonehead_people making funny faces behind camera. The amazing aspect is that he does this in an award show. As Barney would say, it is “legendary”.

The second one is a prank from US tv channel Syfy where they scare the babysitter guy into believing that a ghost is contacting him.

If you enjoyed the above, you will like this one which I posted earlier where a radio show host in US ends capturing a cheating husband for his wife here.

The creeping Talibanization?

A friend recently returned from US. He said that right wings (he used the term ‘conservatives’) are coming back very strongly in US. Every where you go, it is Sarah Palin and Glen Beck. Even Newt Gingrich is back in the news. The recession may turn out to be Obama’s undoing and is tilting the US nation towards the right. The right wing media is trying to assert itself aggressively. [Since I am not in US, I cannot vouch for it, but this is how my friend reported it]. From the financial press, I can see that they prefer Democrats over Republicans but the Wall Streeters are not a representation rather hold opposite views than main street.

How about Pakistan. Is it turning right wing? Before I get into that, little bit about what brought this up. Ramzan is here and greetings are being sent to everyone like Ramzan Mubarak, Ramadan Kareem, Ramadan Mubarak etc. The English blogosphere of Pakistan is going nuts over it.

Some have an issue with ‘Ramadan’ saying that we should stick with Urdu ‘Ramzan’ and thwart the wave of creeping talibanization. Personally I could not care less. The Arabs have different dialects and there are different pronunciations amongst them but ‘Ramadan’ is the dominant one. The bloggers/journalists/columnists state that we should stick to pronouncing it Ramzan which is localized or Urduized. What I find ironic is that these bloggers prefer English over Urdu everyday but if there is a tinge of religion/islam anywhere, they feel possessive Urdu. They never complained when pronunciation were becoming Anglicized in Urdu. Moreover, the same bloggers look down upon Urduized/localized pronunciation of “Amreeka” always delineating it in inverted commas. For their information, the native English speakers pronounce it Ramadan.

Then someone recently said to me that why are people wasting so much money and time on greeting each other Ramzan Mubarik. The millions being spent on sending SMS which adds to the coffer of telecom companies and the corrupt government through taxes could have been better used on flood relief. One blogger called wishing ramzan greeting as religious obsessive compulsive disorder. I agree with the first part that better use of money is flood relief work but again I don’t find these bloggers/commentators complain when happy new year or happy valentines day is sent around and millions are wasted or everyone religiously updates their status on such dates when the latter is mainly a commercial day started by Hallmark and the likes to sell their cards and merchandise.

Recently I read an article by Mosharraf Zaidi wherein he talks about the current crisis in Pakistan. His concluding remarks were

Pakistan may be lucky to have a decidedly non-extremist MQM ruling Karachi–but in urban Punjab, over the next decade, the absence of that seat will almost certainly be addressed by a right-of-centre political force. How far to the right is anybody’s guess.

I had commented on something along the following lines which the author deleted later on:

What is your definition of extremists: someone who is right of centre? If the May 12 massacre is not enough to render MQM extremists, then killing of almost 60 pathans in the 4 days of target killing Karachi would justify some sort of extremism. May be MQM is not extremist because it did not target ANP office holders in revenge of their office holder rather indiscriminately targeted roti walas, sabzi walas, bus and truck drivers etc. May be that is what makes them “decidedly non-extremists”.

To the question which way Pakistan is turning, I would say that those belonging to and those who follow Urdu newspapers/media are right wing or right of centre whereas English media which includes newspapers/bloggers and followers of the same are ‘decidedly’ left wing.

And if the western media is to be believed, the relief work being done by banned/islamist organizations is opening the way of talibanization/right winging of large number of population.

NOTE: The definition of right-left wing spectrum in Pakistan is quite different from the one used in US.

The Funeral

Ramzan has arrived with the usual prescription in the English blogosphere of Pakistan that we should thwart efforts to Arabicize Urdu by pronouncing the month as Ramzan instead of the new found enthusiasm for pronouncing it Ramadan. Personally I don’t care how you pronounce it because I have learnt the hard way you can’t define the direction a language takes. What I have an objection to is that the same bloggers feel differently about “Amreeka” always surrounding it in inverted commas. Why the double standards? Anyway, evolution of language as well as culture is a separate topic on which I can write paragraphs and paragraphs. The above debate reminded me of an essay I wrote about death of Urdu which I am reproducing below.

Around ten years ago I was proud of the fact that I can carry a whole conversation in Urdu without using a word of English. Now it seems like wishful thinking.

I don’t belong to an “educated” family_there are no writers, thinkers, engineers or doctors among our parents or earlier generation. We traced our roots to Haryana and Saharanpur in India but unlike people from Aligarh, Lucknow, Delhi or even Hyderabad, we were people of modest education and did not boast a culture or history. Despite such humble roots, it was our false pride that our family including parents, uncles, aunts, and cousins can speak flawless Urdu. We mainly spoke in simple Urdu occasionally dabbling into high Urdu but were nonetheless proud of it. We used to criticize each other when English words crept into our conversations.

In mid eighties, our close knit family started expanding rapidly as the new generation reached marriageable age. From early nineties onwards, their kids reached school going age. To get ahead in this world, they needed to be educated in the best schools. The world had changed since we went to school. In our time, at least in the schools that we went to, best education meant that you studied in English medium following the same curriculum as Urdu medium kids with the difference that our books were in English. There were people who sent their kids to O and A levels but they were few and not everyone could afford it. We did meet convent educated kids in high school and university but they had not forgotten their roots and could talk in Urdu.

Now English medium meant that the kids had to be taught to speak in English from early age. Urdu medium is dead anyway or might be available in poorer areas. Though as a family we use Urdu at home when communicating with our little cousins and nephews/nieces, but now there are a lot of English words in our conversation. Thankfully our cousins/nephews/nieces also criticize each other when someone has to resort to English but only if he/she has to speak a whole sentence in English to convey his or her message. At least, they still have some sense of their mother tongue. However, I think we are holding them back by asking them to still love and talk in Urdu.

Ten years ago, I joined the corporate world and despite my best efforts, English started creeping into my sentences. After ten years of speaking in English/Urdu, now I am more comfortable carrying out a whole conversation in English. It is rare that I am lost for words in English in a conversation but it happens more frequently when I talk in Urdu.

When I was getting married around two years ago, I asked my mother that my wedding invitation card should be printed in Urdu. She granted my wish happily. The invitation on the card was from my parents inviting everyone to the wedding of their Noor-e-Nazar (light of their eyes). I was shocked. I said that though the word is fine but my friends would make fun of me and they did. The addressed me as Noor-e-Nazar Sahab or Mr. Noor-e-Nazar from then on for a while. I asked my mother that you should have referred to me as noor-e-chashm (means the same) as most of my friends would not have comprehended it considering it some form of Urdu salutation. But my mom had reserved this word for saluting the bride-to-be and no one made fun of her (my wife) as I had predicted because no one understood the word (not that it was very sophisticated Urdu).

But the worst part was yet to come. My younger sister who had studied under Cambridge system and can speak flawless Urdu had 20 cards printed in English for inviting her friends because she was ashamed of sending out Urdu cards. My friends, all claiming to be Mohajirs and ‘Urdu speaking’ (some would not even know the meaning of Ahl-e-Zaban) were also surprised (and not pleasantly) to receive wedding invitations in Urdu. But most of all, except my father-in-law who appreciated the gesture, my soon-to-be wife and her family were shocked to receive the cards considering us some backward and un-educated people (but it was too late to call of the marriage 🙂 )

A few months ago, there was ruckus in NWFP/Pukhtunkhwa assembly over the status of Urdu. When the ‘Ahl-e-zabaan’ are not proud of speaking it (when talking to their kids and family) except when making a political statement or appear on TV, I don’t know why we have that brouhaha in NWFP/pukhtunkhwa assembly over this issue. The sole purpose appears to gain political mileage.

Slight digression: I am surprised that all those assholes and dickheads (please excuse my French) that cry their voices hoarse on TV, Magazines and blogs when it comes to dearth of such cultural events as dancing(aka mujras), singing, kite flying and what goes in the name of sufism at Urs(s) could never find even a word of support for the rich heritage that is dying right in front of their eyes otherwise known as URDU.

John Ailya had said

urdu ka janaza hai, zara dhoom se nikley

However, even that seems like too much to ask.

Destinations : Getting ready for Martial Law [updated]

The way the media campaign is being orchestrated right now against Zardari and in praise of  Army, I honestly believe ground is being set for Martial Law. To borrow a phrase from FiveRupees on the situation, Zardari is the favorite punching bag of the nation at the moment. The following links give an excellent analysis of the situation. There may be overlaps as all are discussing the same situation but each one has something to add.

From BBC

Criticism of Zardari hides a political game:

And indeed, the current anti-Zardari campaign in the media started before the floods hit the headlines.

The criticism began after British Prime Minister David Cameron made remarks in India on 28 July where he accused some in Pakistan of “looking both ways”, exporting terror to neighbouring countries.

On 31 July, Pakistan’s Geo TV reported that the chief of the ISI intelligence service, Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, had cancelled a scheduled trip to the UK because of Mr Cameron’s remarks, but Mr Zardari was continuing with his planned trip.

Pakistan’s ubiquitous TV news presenters began questioning President Zardari’s patriotism and personal integrity.

One of the best pieces on the topic, from Cafe Pyala:

Burn Baby Burn?

Here’s the other myth that is being perpetuated: that the flood relief efforts that the army is undertaking are somehow divorced from the government’s response, almost, it would seem, in opposition of government directives. Is the army separate from government? Isn’t the military hardware being used in the airlifts and food drops, as well as the soldiers, paid by the government and people of Pakistan? And to take nothing away from the brave work of the jawans who endure hardship and danger to rescue people and provide them food, but why are we being made to feel that the army is doing the people of Pakistan a favour? As if this were not really their job but are doing this only out of the goodness of their hearts?

From The Independent

The man who really matters in Pakistan

Yet, it [the world] has chosen to ignore that the real wielder of power – General Ashfaq Kayani – may be quietly tightening his grip and burnishing the credentials of his ever-ambitious army.

Even before the onset of the catastrophic floods, which prompted Kayani to head to the worst affected areas of the north-west ahead of any other political leader, it was clear that the military was gearing up to expose the government as unfit to look after Pakistan’s interests.

Lastly, Mosharraf Zaidi has this to say about the situation (slightly weaker than above posts but worth reading in full) :

A hyperactive cocktail

The impact of the floods can be captured by the word confidence. Or, rather, lack thereof. Within government, the NDMA doesn’t enjoy the confidence of Interior, which doesn’t enjoy the confidence of the GHQ, which doesn’t enjoy the confidence of the KP provincial government. The people don’t have any confidence in government–no matter what turf issues they might have. International donors don’t have any confidence in the federal government, and little confidence in the provinces. The provinces don’t have the confidence to deal independently with the international donors, or the INGOs. They also don’t have the confidence to cede a reasonable degree of their executive authority to the NDMA.


Mrs. Obama is also facing flak in US media for her travel to Spain when the country is going through economic crisis and even called a modern day Marie Antoinette. From the Independent:

Let them eat tapas?

Unpacking back home in Washington yesterday after a holiday with her daughter Sasha, the first lady found herself in the middle of a political tempest – accused of taking a page out of Marie Antoinette’s book and living it up while the country limps through an economic crisis.

Conservative critics seized on details of her itinerary to paint her – and by extension her husband the President – as at best tone-deaf and at worst feckless.

So its not only our non-chief-executive President who faces criticism for pleasure trips when the country is facing its worst crisis.

Democracy is the best revenge

Some time ago, I wrote a blog post Musharraf (Army) is a genius. Rereading it,  I surprised myself by forgetting the very message I was trying to get across at the time.

When Asif Zardari said “Democracy is the best revenge”, we never stopped to think who he was talking about. If it was the killers of Benazir, then the best revenge would have been bringing her murderers to justice. Now I realize that he was talking about extracting revenge from a country that had given him shame, humiliation, confinement in the previous years.

More importantly, I think he was saying what the army wanted him to say to people of Pakistan, “You wanted democracy? You with your movements for restoration of democracy and judiciary had taken on Musharraf and Army. Well this is what you get for democracy. One of the most corrupt persons in Pakistan”.

Honestly I have to admit that I was pleased rather thrilled to hear that Zardari was pelted with shoes in Brimingham. However, the way whole media enterprise has picked up this story and tried to promote it, prompted me to think that there must be something fishy. Probably the media has been egged on by Army/ISPR to start picking on Zardari.

The worst part is Zardari does not help his case either. By travelling in a time when he should not have, claiming that he is not the chief executive (then why was he meeting chief executives of France and UK) and having his jyalas supporting him with no regard to decorum etc. wherever he made speeches, he has shown that he does not have interest of this country in his heart. The trip was purely personal.

But the question is, does the Army have the interest of the country at heart? Frankly speaking, two cases come to mind that show no they don’t.

First,  Zardari himself. If he was such a corrupt person, Musharraf (Army) had him under incarceration for 8 years. Could not they bring in a single corruption case to conclusion? If the Army is so sincere, he should have been tried on corruption charges and sentenced to prison never again fit to fight elections. However, what the army does is release him to live amongst his dogs in New York to fight another day or to make use of him when he is needed which is shortly afterwards and he is brought back doodh ka dhula under Army sponsored NRO.

He does what the army expects him to do turning the public opinion in favor of Army (which had reached a low during Musharraf years) as more and more people want Army to step in to relieve them of this corrupt President. I sincerely believe Zardari was a pawn in the great game by Army.

Second, Sufi Mohammad _  father in law of notorious Molvi Fazlullah  in Swat, was under Army lockup. To reign in Fazlullah, they release Sufi Mohammad. The father and son (in laws) duo turned out to be a bigger menace with the Army finally stepping in to throw them out with the gratitude of whole nation and a promise to build a cantonment in the area to prevent future such occurrences.

May be I am thinking too much but all this appear as games orchestrated to bring the Army back on top.

Pakistani hero in Birmingham

As reported on GEO:

A man threw two shoes towards President Asif Ali Zardari when the latter was delivering a speech at Pakistan People’s Party’s convention here on Saturday, an eyewitness said.

However, the shoes failed to reach the stage, sources said.

I wish the shoes had reached Zardari.  In these times when the President is away from the country when he is most needed, it reminds me of the Fleetwood Mac’s song “I need a hero”. I say lets invite the shoe thrower as by engaging in this selfless courageous act, he has conveyed the sentiments of the nation without holding anything back and proven himself  a hero.

Moreover, I have also heard that his throws were better than most of our cricketers. May be he can teach “the boys” a trick or two.

The politics of disaster, terrorism and financial aid

In her book Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein describes  disaster capitalism as politics of using disasters (shocks) to push through unpopular decisions without any opposition. I had earlier written a post on this topic. If she studies Pakistani politics of last ten years, she can write another book on politics of terrorism and financial aid.

In the news yesterday, Pakistan’s ambassador to United Nations stated that if the world does not come forward to help Pakistani’s (read dole out more money and financial aid) in need due to flooding and havoc created by Monsoon rains, it could lead to increase in terrorism.

Don’t we ever get tired of milking the “terrorism” cow? It is surprising that it is almost ten years since Musharraf started milking the cow by his double game after 9/11 and the cow still has not gone dry.

When the Kashmir was hit by the devastating earthquake, the government machinery was found incapable to do anything. Jamat ud Dawa (JoD) were the first ones on the ground. With their jihadist training and rugged terrain experience, they were able to provide relief to areas where no one else could go.

……it [JoD] was certainly making its name heard across the line of control doing earthquake relief – better indeed than the Pakistani army. Where the army could move supplies into the mountainous region only by helicopter, the militants were already there. These hardy guerrilla fighters, experienced at operating in the mountains, cleared their own dead then went to help in the earthquake relief: “only the Mujahideen are helping, from Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaat ud-Dawa…One hour after the quake, they were here. The army only came on the fourth day.”—-openDemocracy

They were followed by MQM and Jamat-e-Islami. These three are persona non grata: JoD because they are jihadis (read terrorists), MQM because of their ethnic based politics and JI for bringing religion into politics.

At that time, there were concerns that Jamat ud Dawa’s relief work in  earthquake affected area would serve as big recruiting opportunity for Jihadis (not because of their hardline preaching but due to extensice welfare activities carried out by them). There was a lot of pressure on Musharraf from US at the time to impose a ban on Jamat ud Dawa. Despite himself wanting to do so but fearing the repercussions from public for stopping welfare activities when they were mostly needed and not having the infrastructure nor resources to take over the extensive relief network of JoD, he didn’t do it. I don’t know whether JoD recruited anyone but they did developed a lot of goodwill (in modern parlance, they won the hearts and minds of local people).

MQM which is mainly a urban Sind based party also made inroads into the heart of people through their welfare activities. It was said at the time that if elections were held in those areas, MQM could easily sweep them whereas winning even a single seat was deemed impossible earlier. It was rather unfortunate that MQM sacrificed all its goodwill just to please Musharraf in May 12 massacre. It was large price to pay for a useless cause. Hence, the two islamists earned the lasting goodwill by their relief work in that disaster.

The government has  started crying “terrorists” to squeeze more money out of US.  Most of Pakistan army is busy fighting a war with Talibans, it leaves little of them to help out in relief work. The civilian aid agencies are ill equipped and ill trained to solve such a catastrophe. Hence the Jihadis, who can endure hardships for long time, live on the rugged terrain and have proven their resilience by fighting US and Pakistani forces without comparable resources, will come forward  to help the people in need. Who knows, may be the government itself may ask these organizations to help as the disaster has been huge. Though we will be asking US and the world for aid, the final delivery will be done by these jihadis and they will earn the goodwill of the people whether US and rest of the world likes it or not.

From NYTimes quoting DAWN’s Huma Yusuf

Tragedies such as those Pakistanis have borne in the past few days — the plane crash and the ravaging floods — provide governments with the opportunity to demonstrate their capacity for governance. The failure to do so breeds conditions that allow extremism to thrive.

The mantra that good governance is the best antidote to extremism seems cliched. But it bears repeating in Pakistan, where the authorities have proved incapable of learning from history. Few can forget that five years ago, in the wake of the October 2005 earthquake, the government’s failure to cope with immediate relief efforts created a vacuum within which Jamat-ud-Dawa pulled off its greatest publicity stunt.

The extremist organization had the most efficient response teams on the ground, and boasted the most functional and well-stocked relief camps. Its mobile X-ray machines and operating theaters made international headlines. Through their clever use of mobile technology, the group’s volunteers established an unparalleled communications infrastructure that facilitated relief work.

The government and army, meanwhile, fumbled in early relief and reconstruction efforts, as charges of corruption in the distribution of aid and resources were rampant. The consequences of Jamat-ud-Dawa stepping in where the government should have been exercising its authority are obvious today in the support and influence that the organization enjoys.

I am not praising these organizations. I am just pointing out the fact no matter how hard we try, due to our lack of training, equipment, infrastructure, resources, manpower etc, we leave a be a vacuum for these terrorist organizations to fill.

You might wonder, where are the politicians? They are busy in their blame game. Shahbaz Sharif is requesting Zardari to stay home and be there for the people in this tough time. Babar Awan is saying that this IS the time for Zardari to go abroad and raise funds (he should call it begging). Qaim Ali Shah (Sind Chief Minister) is saying that normally Punjab makes Sind beg for every drop of water yet now they have opened floodgates thus drowning Sind. Meanwhile neither the military nor civilians nor the media is highlighting or interested in the plight of Balochis and then we wonder why Balochis are fighting for secession.

Aloof and regardless of what is going on in the rest of country, MQM, PPP and ANP (this is the ruling coalition in Sind) are busy settling score through daily killings in Karachi with 14 killed in just two days.

As a nation, we haven’t fared well either. Till day before yesterday we had ignored all the flood victims.

The pakistan flag was at half-mast on the first day to honour more than 150people who died in an air crash in Islamabad. It should rightly have remained at half-mast as more than twice as many died in monsoon rains. But the rich die in air crashes; the poor perish in monsoon rains. Flags rarely flutter at half‑mast for the poor. —- Guardian correspondent David Hopp

A good analysis of the same topic on five rupees:
The role of class in covering national tragedies or why aren’t the floods in KP getting attention

UPDATE: Christian Science Monitor reports on Jamat ud Dawa helping in flooded areas:

At the JuD aid “camp” on the main road east out of Charsadda, huge pots, used to cook on an industrial scale, were lined up, and the cooked food already had been distributed to the needy. An ambulance, no longer needed to ferry the injured, was being loaded with bundles of second-hand clothing to be given away. JuD also was running a first aid clinic in a building in town belonging to a college, the group said.

The group is operating under the name of Falah-e-Insaniyat but has made little effort to disguise that it’s JuD. Its staff said that it had 2,000 members working for flood relief, across the northwest and south into Punjab province. The uniform vests worn by many of the volunteers bear the badges of both JuD and Falah-e-Insaniyat.
“If the government were doing this work, there would be no need for us,” said Hajji Makbool Shah, a 55-year-old volunteer at the aid camp. “When the floods came, we carried people out on our shoulders to our own ambulances. Where were the government ambulances?”