Altaf Hussain : Coming to terms with mortality

Yesterday Altaf Bhai made a statement (and here) that he may be martyred by none other than foreign powerful forces. For a person who has sought asylum and comfort in the west and has spent his life blaming (rightly or wrongly) punjabis, sindhis, pathans, haqiqi, army and ISI, dissident groups for the ills facing his people, it construes an absolute U-turn from past policies to point finger towards west most probably US considering his latest outburst where he said that he would have ended all relations with US (according to a ticker on GEO though I cannot find the news now).

Normally, he would have asked his workers to keep an eye on their sworn enemies i.e., Pakistanis of non-mohajir origin _pathans, punjabis etc (the usual suspects) after he is martyred so that his followers carry forward his mission. However, before his impending martyrdom he is pointing fingers at US. What gives?

For those who do not live in Karachi or have not lived in Karachi, they cannot assume the magnitude of this statement. Had he been killed before making such a statement, it would have consolidated his followers against pathans, punjabis etc and would have lead to worst rioting this city would have ever seen (and it has seen more than its share). However, after this statement, his followers would be like a ship without a rudder for two reasons :

  1. Mainly because he has not groomed a successor and it may result in territorial fights amongst various MQM MPAs for control over land and bhatta and
  2. forever groomed and trained to consider non-Mohajir Pakistanis as enemies and the suddenly to have distant US as a very abstract enemy may not be a strong enough concept to keep MQM followers from disintegrating into various factions.

Any ideas or conspiracy theories on this change of heart? One theory that comes to mind after the news emanating from the west that Imran Farooq was murdered by MQM as he was about to join Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League and lend it his full vocal support is that Altaf Hussain does not want MQM to give support to Musharraf. There could be two reasons:

  1. He may have been asked to play second fiddle to Musharraf which Altaf bhai’s ego would not want to do or
  2. being used to extracting benefits and promises on account of his large number of seats in provincial and national assembly, Musharraf and his (apparently western) backers are not willing to concede the requested gains to MQM for their support.

Hence, the powerful forces in west may have decided that Altaf has become too big for his shoes and its better to take him out and Altaf Hussain realized that his time on this earth is up.

Revolution in Pakistan

Maj. Agha H. Amin has written a wonderful post on the recent buzz about revolution in Pakistan. You may not agree with all of it but it makes some pretty good points. I am reproducing it in full below without any comments.

Lately an idea that Pakistan is on the brink of a revolution been floated by some politicians.
While politicians make statements as a habit , anything predicting revolution needs to be supported by a clear sense of history,a detailed study of the anatomy of a revolution and a deep study of history , done with fanatical and utmost devotion to the idea of reading history for historys sake.

A revolution is not a dinner party as someone said ! It is not a political rally but a grand and traumatic event of history which occurs rarely and when it does destroys the vast bulk of a country both morally and materially.

It is worth examining how and why revolutions have succeeded :–

1-The French Revolution , whose success had a great deal to do with the Paris mob.Note that many countries in Europe had far greater poverty than France.It was the series of diasastorous wars of France , high political awareness and above all the ruthless and troublesome mob that made the French Revolution a success.In Pakistan we have no Islamabad or Rawalpindi mob , anywhere near the Paris mob ! That is why Pakistans elite shifted the capital to Punjab in late 1950s ! In Asia we have a parallel in Iran in shape of the Bazaar mob identified by political analysts.

2-A major condition of revolution is that it takes place in a countrys political heartland.In this case Pakistans political heartland is the tract in between Lahore-Islamabad-Faisalabad-Sahiwal.The Punjabis politically have been traditionally placid and categoried as lotus eaters in pre partition India.They are emotional at personal level but politically difficult to stir or manipulate.In 1977 I met a Pathan brigadier , who later became a generL .He was disgusted that while 300 killings in Karachi by security forces no affect on the army , a mere two killed in Anarkali severely affected the military with some three brigadiers resigning and many majors and colonels following suit ! In the present case the Punjabi heartland defined above is unaffected.Even the floods have affected only the Seraiki belt in Pakistan or the Sindhis and Baloch ! There was a reason why the capital was shifted from Karachi to Islamabad in 1958.The fact remains that the political heartland of Pakistan is still the beneficiary of resources and the peculiar agro-industrial system of Pakistan .The planned procession from Lahore to Islamabad to restore the chief justice thus succeeded because it was a Punjabi affair in the political heartland .Nawaz Sharif although a Kashmiri did succeed in galvanizing the politically inert Punjabis ! Even the Chief Justice Iftikhar although he had supporters Pakistan wide was restored in the final analysis because he belonged to Pakistans political heartland and had supporters there !

3-Defeat in war is one great cause of revolution.Revolutions took place in countries defeated in long bloody wars like Russia in 1917 , Germany in 1918 (although this one failed) and Turkey in 1919-23.This happens because the miltary the principal coercive weapon of the elite loses its coercive value or mutinies and joins the revolutionaries.In Pakistan this condition is still distant.The military is intact and retains its coercive value and respect albeit devalued in the masses in at least the majority Punjab and parts of NWFP , Sindh and Pashtun districts of Balochistan.

4-Extreme repression as in Iran in shape of long monarchy and ruthless agencies like SAVAK.This is not the case in Pakistan either.

5-Long drawn civil war spread over two to three decades as happened in China in 1911-49.This too is still an initial stage in Pakistan although it is the closest parallel keeping in view the internal wars in Balochistan and FATA/NWFP and many parts of Punjab and Sindh.

6-The most important pre -requisite of a revolution is a main stream political group that sees revolution as a political startegy or a select group of fanatics who sees revolution or a violent coup meant to carry out a ruthless revolution as a modus operandi.Pakistans mainstream political parties consist of landlords and industrialists and businessmen and do not fall in this category.MQM is a regional party and Tehreek i Insaaf lacks that fanatical zeal and organisation.The closest parallel here are the Islamic extremists but their success also seems a decade or half a decade away.
6-A progressive revolution spearheaded by the military and particularly the younger or mid level element.Not impossible but at least five to ten years away and that too if the army goes through a viloent conventional or a protracted civil war.

Seen in this context the pakistani revolution seems a far cry !

More likely in case of Pakistan would be anarchy and a slow slide into Balkanisation , if Pakistan continues its non state proxy wars sponsored by state elements in its neighbouring countries.

Pakistans salvation lies in better organisation and reform rather than a revolution ! A revolution ina ll probability will break Pakistan into pieces because it is a multi ethnic country.

In the end ethnicity matters ! The Muslims of Delhi and Punjab were saved by English East India Company from Afghans and Marathas in 1803 and 1849.The Bengali Muslims from Pakistan Army by the Indian Army in 1971 ! It would be no surprise if the Indian Army carries out another rescue mission in the future , if the Pakistani state continues to be stupid and Machiavellian in dealing with Balochistan and FATA.

As one with a military background I can state that the Pakistani military regards the MQM and Altaf as an Indian proxy , although both the impressions I think are fallacious ! But so was Mujib regarded in 1971 , although he wanted Bengali rights usurped by West Pakistanis from 1947 till 1988.

As they say only good things happen with the bad and bad things happen with the good !

Thus revolution in Pakistan is a utopian and unrealistic hope !

Introducing secularism in Pakistan for dummies

The English press, opinion pieces, blogposts, comments are going nuts over secularism saying that our cause of all our ills is too much religion or religion in the mainstream resulting in creation of Talibans and their efforts to impose Sharia over night. So what is the solution of the Secularoons (if I may call them as such): impose secularism overnight by whatever mean i.e., revolution of masses, martial law, striking off all religious references from constitution in an instant.

You know from my various writings that I am a right wing person (loosely defined as someone not believing in secularism in Pakistan) however looking at the frustration and desperation of the Secularoons I have decided to offer them some words of advice or pearls of wisdom.

I have mentioned it earlier however it is worth mentioning again that its the secularoons own fault that we and they are in this rut. It all can be summarized in one sentence

It’s the education, stupid

They need to ask themselves is where did we go wrong as the country did not become right wing over night. Religion has slowly crept into it and now,  in addition to middle classes, infects significant numbers in upper classes (the funding for extremism comes from here) and lower classes (the workers, suicide bombers come from here).

It all would have started when the secular leaders of this country, mind you they were all secular with the exception of Zia and NS,  never did anything for the education of masses or even for their welfare. When a whole section of society had been ignored, they had no where to go for food, shelter, education, career etc. This is where Madrassas came in. Though one may not agree with the kind of education or career (being a molvi, tableeghi, jihadi) madrassas provided but one has to realize this was the best option available to these people. The people running madrassas worked day and night, raised funds in Pakistan from ordinary people, from government and even from foreign governments. The secular governments in Pakistan were happy as this kept a lot of trouble makers (rather a portion of population) from demanding their rights in education, jobs.

The model was so successful that such madrassas started mushrooming and the governments became happier for they now need not worry about providing education and opportunities to large number of people. Over a period of decades madrassas have produced a critical mass of right wingers.

Religion has also rubbed on to people in the middle classes and upper classes with a result that recently they have established education institutes for middle income and upper income people where again religious education is emphasised  e.g., Generation, Al Huda, Iqra etc.

Fine there have been plethora of Grammar schools and schools opened in last decade which are not religious but they are not secular either. They are for-profit institutions whose job is to help student cram the maximum and move on to next class.

Where have been the secularoons all this time? Except for Citizen Foundation, they have been totally absent. Only thing they worry about is Sharia does not allow mixing of sexes, drinking is prohibited in Islam etc and they can write pages and pages on it. However, when it comes to working on the ground and working towards eliminating creeping religiosity, they are conspicuously absent.

In 6 decades this that this country has been in existence, it has been ruled by Secularoons (politicians, military or bureaucracy) for 4.5 decades and they never really promoted what they believed in through proper channels.

A lot of people blame Zia for bringing in radicalization whereas more learned say that it started in 1950s. Whenever it started, it took some time for religion to take hold. Similarly, it will take some time and effort to release the nation from its  strangle. If you are really serious about introducing secularism in the form that you believe in, stop writing in the limited readership blogs and newspapers, set up schools and education centers for the masses where you teach them your values. It will take 3 to 4 decades to clean this up but Pakistan is not going anywhere. The conditions that we are in, nobody is willing to run over us or rule us (not US and I am sure not even Indians).

Dumb and Dumber Revolutionaries

Altaf Hussain has again called for a revolution and requested Army and “establishment” to side with and support the people in this revolution.

I wanted to do a post on revolution as many on the world wide web (mainly expats and foreign passport holders) are asking for it. However, the stupidity of Altaf Bhai’s comments have stopped me in my tracks.

It was my understanding that when one calls for revolution, it is usually against the established elite. In Pakistan, the power hierarchy is Military (mainly Army) at the top, followed by bureaucracy and then politicians.

It is reported that Fatima Jinnah said to Ayub when the latter talked about eradicating corruption that ice melts from the top i.e., it is the top that initiate/patronize corruption.

However, my question to Altaf Bhai is, if you are asking Army and establishment to side with the revolution, then it is not a revolution at all. The only thing they will do is come down hard on politicians which again Altaf Hussain is a part of.

“Establishment”_as that pathetic anchor Dr. Shahid Masood keeps on asking in his even more pathetic talk show, what is establishment? if not Army and Bureacracy the very institutions that have led the country to this state. Politicians have come and gone (with the exception of Zulfiqar Bhutto and Nawaz in his second tenure politicians never wielded much power) but these two institutions have remained at the helm either at the forefront or behind the scenes and  allowed the situation to get worse.

So how does one justify a call to revolution by the very people who have led us here. And revolution against whom? The very people that Army and bureaucracy have trained.

Cowasjee has this to say about MQM’s latest call

We have no dearth of amateur patriots, they are a veritable swarm. One, sitting in far away London Town from where he leads a political party now in coalition, has issued a patriotic call to his fellow patriots in uniform urging them to come to the rescue of a sinking country and act to eradicate the many corrupt fellow patriots, to eliminate the feudal culture which has dragged this country down to where it is, rid it of powerful pressure groups and the so-called elite — in fact, of all those responsible for the appalling state of affairs in which Pakistan now finds itself.

Not an easy task — where does one start? The odd thing is that the general-rouser has inadvertently pleaded for his own and his party’s removal from the national scene.

The caller has offered to lead an uprising similar to that of the 1789 French Revolution, influenced no doubt by his close proximity to Paris. Naturally, this call to arms has drawn fire from all patriots of the professed ‘democratic’ bend, the generals maintaining a discreet silence.

It seems he was prompted to issue his call by the influx of flood-affected Sindhis into the urban fabric of the province, especially Karachi. With rising levels of education, the population increase rate among his community is levelling off, as is its vote-bank. In the last general elections, his party lost two provincial assembly seats of Karachi to a fellow coalition partner — since the Swat debacle of 2008, the number of Pathans in Karachi has been steadily increasing.

Hence, it is no love for country that Altaf Hussain wants Martial Law. Its to save their vote bank or rather stop it from becoming immaterial due to demographic changes.

DAWN also has another news about how Pakistan Navy is winning hearts and minds in Balochistan.

Pakistan Navy has acquired close to 13,500 acres of land in Turbat and Dasht areas of Kech district in Balochistan’s Makran division to the distress of local landowners and the ire of Baloch political activists, the Herald reports.

The landowners in Turbat have moved an application to the provincial government saying that they were not even informed before their lands were acquired and that the naval authorities paid them nothing in lieu of their lands, says a special report in the magazine’s latest issue that hit the newsstands today (Sunday). “We only became aware [of the acquisition] when the navy started construction and we were stopped from visiting our lands,” says Shabbir Ahmed Dashti, a local landowner. For the last many months the landowners have been running from pillar to post to get their land back or at least get paid for it if there was no way to retrieve it from the navy, says the report.

The Herald investigations reveal that the land was acquired in a clear violation of the Land Acquisition Act. The law “states that any government department that wants to acquire private land for public purposes shall issue a public notification mentioning the land it wants to acquire and ensuring that the notification is posted throughout the area in which that land is situated. The law also provides that anyone including private landowners have the right to object to land acquisition within 30 days of the notification,” the report reads. None of these procedures were adopted in Turbat.

As a result of such land acquisitions, dissatisfaction and even anger towards the state are on the rise in the Makran division, the Herald says. “Graffiti directed against security forces has appeared on the walls of public and private properties in Gwadar, Pasni and Turbat and this year’s Independence Day was observed as a day of protest in some areas of the division. Eyewitness accounts suggest that some angry protesters burned down the national flag as well as emblems of the security forces on August 14 in Gwadar, Punjgur and Kech districts, and instead reportedly hoisted what they call the flag of independent Balochistan on electricity and phone towers,” the report says.

“This is uncharacteristic of people living in Makran region,” it quotes Imam Bukhsh, a Baloch poet living in Gwadar, as saying. “The political leadership of the area has always sought a solution to Balochistan’s issues through parliamentary and constitutional means,” he is reported to have said.

The very institutions (Military, bureaucracy) that are supposed to uphold the law and help in its implementation are the ones breaking it. And Altaf Bhai is dumb enough to call on them to bring out a revolution. He must be totally out of his mind.

Institutional Radicalization : flawed argument

Self styled MQM Professionals Group (whatever that is) representative Ali Chishti (AKC) has written an article Institutional Radicalisation of Public Schools that is making the rounds on internet. This represents my comments on the article which tries to blame right wing elements (as defined in Pakistan) whereas I believe that it lies squarely with left wing or secular (again as defined in Pakistan) elements of the society or ruling class.

AKC claims that ‘radicalization of curriculum was introduced in 1950. However,  fails to mention who introduced it into the curriculum?It cannot be the mullah as the first mullah to actually rule the country came on the scene in 1979 in the form of ‘mard-e-momin’ Zia Ul Haque. Including the founding father Jinnah and whoever followed him in the next 30 years i.e., Liaquat Ali Khan, all Governor Generals and Prime Ministers, Iskander Mirza, Ayub, Yahya and Bhutto were all seculars in their attitudes, actions and beliefs. They might have used religion but that is it, they USED religion. It has always been seculars that unleashed the Frankenstein of religion to elongate their rule or to serve some other purpose into Pakistani society/curriculum yet the blame lies with Mullah.

With the exception of mard-e-momin himself Zia and his protege NS, the ruling elite of Pakistan has always been staunchly secular in its outlook. Even the current rulers and before them Musharraf was secular. Hence in 63 years of history of Pakistan, almost 50 years we are ruled by seculars.

The author then suggests that because our education teaches Kasabs and Tanvirs that we are Muslims first and Pakistani second that is why we are in this situation. Had we been taught to believe that we are Pakistani first, would this not have happened? Barring the fact that religion or Islam is the thin web that is holding the various ethnicities in this country together, what about Balochis where being Pakistani does not even feature I believe 3rd, 4th or 5th down the line. I am not blaming Balochis here. Balochis are very secular and lest anybody forgets they have been fighting the secular ruling elite (civilians as well as army) in their struggle for freedom. What I am implying is that just because they call themselves Muslim first should not be cited as a sign of radicalization. What about Mohajirs because by calling ourselves as such technically we are implying (or rather explicitly stating) that we are Indians first and Pakistani second?

The author even brings up Zaid Hamid when he is way past his shelf life and has been discarded by military establishment as a used condom (could not find a better metaphor). Since the failure of his 23rd march gathering on Minar-e-Pakistan, nobody brings him up anymore with the exception of so called liberal bloggers/columnists to get some point across. Kiani and/or ISI have decided (since the WSJ report that militants are now a bigger threat than India in eyes of ISI) that Zaid Hamid is no longer needed. Surprisingly, the celebrity followers of Zaid Hamid are the ones who have not gone through the radical curriculum of this country_ pop singer Ali Azmat and fashion designer Maria B.

The author starts off by touching upon material in Punjab board textbook which is only taught to the lower classes of the society (the very people that the secular leadership of this country has ignored). Who ever can afford it sends his or her kids to O Levels and A levels. It is just the lower middle classes and lower strata which the state has ignored that are taught such material or taught at madrassas. Regardless of people’s belief about them, Madrassa’s serve an important purpose_a whole strata of the society that has been ignored by the state in terms of welfare, Madrassas caters to them.

During the commando’s era, in the aftermath of Kashmir earthquake in 2005, everyone and the world media observed that  JuD (followed by MQM and JI) was the first one on the ground with the farthest reach when the army and civilian infrastructure were found wanting. There was a vacuum that they filled. Same is the case nowadays with the world media going nuts that why is Falaah-e-insaniyat carrying out relief works or why the aid money should not reach or be diverted to these institutions. Amazingly during both times we have the most secular ruling the country and both times they have left a vacuum that is filled by such charities/institutions.

I am not justifying religious school curriculum or training or their actions. I am saying that there is large vacuum that has been left by the seculars that have ruled this country and these charities/organisations/madrassas have risen to fill it.

I am tired of this secularism debate as if it is the solution of all our ills. As mentioned above, what surprises me most is that this country has been ruled by seculars (politics, bureaucracy,army) throughout its history with the exception of Mard-e-Momin and his protege and we always end up blaming the mullah for its ills. At the moment, the country is being ruled by as secular a coalition can be, and tell me if I am wrong, I have not seen a single step in de-radicalization. However, as recent events show, it has also radicalized the secular Mohajir and Pathan elements in Karachi (no hand of right wingers and talibans and or mullahs here). Both of them are pretty secular and pretty anti-right wing.

Parting thought: How many schools/ educational institutions the secular elite of this country has set up compared to the thousands being set up by religious organizations. Talk is cheap and this is what I have seen the secular crowd do.

I have seen MQM’s power over people in 80s and 90s. They could have done so much i.e., set up universities, schools, hospitals and all they would have needed was to ask people and people of Karachi would have poured their hearts and wallets out. This is the sway MQM/Altaf Hussain held over them. So what did he do. He trained them to be terrorists. Sialkot lynching is nothing compared to what went around in MQM torture cells. Youtube even has video of 90s where an edhi ambulance is running around picking up bodies in gunny bags that have been drilled into with drilling machines and have cigarette burns. The way MQM tortured and killed their secular brothers of Haqiqi, not even Taliban have resorted to such method of slow killing lest anyone forget how barbaric seculars can get.

Again, not justifying Talibans/madrassas/mullahs etc. Just saying that those who push for secularism are the very ones who are to be blamed for getting us to this position.