Desperately needed: Good news from Pakistan

Five Rupees has a very good post on how respectable western media sometimes reports pieces of fictions in the garb of factual reports and then later on, different media release the same news and after a while it becomes a fact because everyone is saying it.

Anyway, this post is about Dr. Aurangzeb Hafi from Pakistan winning Global Thematic Merit Icon of the Decade prize that got reported in our local newspaper and simultaneously by its English sister publication. The news, as it turned out,  was total crap but what makes it worth your while are the comments on the English paper’s website.

Below is what the local paper Express reported

The English version in Express Tribune (which is produced in collaboration with International Herald Tribune) reproduced a shorter translation of the above news here:

Pakistani scientist Professor Aurangzeb Hafi has been named one of the ten Global Thematic Merit Icons of the Decade.

According to a press release by PRweb UK, His inclusion in the high profile list was due to:

Multi-disciplinary research eruditions coupled with philosophical transcendentalism along with an unswerving conviction and solidarity towards the child-disability centered issues, extensively endorsed in Tsunami catastrophic management services.

Dr Hafi had earned great honour for Pakistan by developing ‘Magneto-Agricultural Development Model and Sectorial Magnetic Model’ which would have an impact on the fields of agriculture, environmental and medical sciences, space biology, magnetobotanics, magnetohydrodynamics and multidisciplinary sciences.

Hafi along with psychologist Stephen Soldz have also been nominated as the Thematic Merit “Persons of the Decade”.

The list has been released by The Decade Merit Scrutinum, endorsed by The Sovereign Military Order Of Malta. The full list includes:

1- Psychologist Stephen Soldz
2- Prince Charles
3- Julian Assange
4- Nelson Mandela
5- Professor Emeritus Michel Chossudovsky
6- Professor Ali Shalal
7- Professor Auarangzeb Hafi
8- Lt Cmdr Charles Swift
9- Dr Guy Peter Manners(Late)
10- Dr Leonid Mikhailovich Roshal

The press release in its entirety is available on Yahoo.

One of the readers of Tribune wrote to the awarding institution and got back this in reply which he posted in comments section:

Dear Mr Khan,
Thank you very much for sending me this link.
As you correctly wrote, this has nothing to do with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
We will take immediate action to understand who is behind this.
Thank you once again.
Best regards
Eugenio Ajroldi di Robbiate
Communications manager
Sovereign Military Order of Malta
Via Condotti, 68 – 00187 Rome

After this episode, probably the newspaper decided to their own fact verification, and posted the similar email as an update as this update was not there when I first read the email in the comments section.

More importantly, the Express Tribune website still hosts the telephone interview of the Doctor Aurangzeb Hafi that their news team took during their live news coverage

But we Pakistanis are sometimes so desperate for good news from  our country that we accept any hoax hook, line and sinker. Below are a few choice comments from Express Tribune website

I salute to this great pakistani & his victory

Hats off to Prof Dr. HAFI. At least one Pakistani has earned fame in these days of all kinds of bankruptcy.

this iz him nation needs not mumtaz qadri!

great! such news are sooooooooooo rare. it is so good to hear something good about Pakistan. i almost dreaded that i would never hear one.

This is how a Muslim bearded guy act like. A proud Muslim and Pakistan.

And then our so called Elite class whine that Mullahs just sit in Madrassahs. Good job Mr. Hafi. It’s indeed a shock for those who are suffering from Mullah phobia

I have to admit that when I first read the news, I could not get it. So googled his name but nothing came up except for one blog/website by the name of Pakistani Housewife and reading it was like reading a fan page of Dr. Aurangzeb Hafi. Some selected items

In 2004 Dr Aurangzeb hafi was contesting or the prestigious international title “Man of the Year 2003 in Interdisciplinary Sciences” has rejected the “unofficial” offer that he accept British citizenship to be a winner. He also turned down the offer of two million pounds sterling (or Rs210 million) for providing the original manuscript of his magnetosectorial model, on the basis of which he has joined the race, saying the invention was a trust of his country which he would not like to barter for personal gains.

And then she reproduced some eulogies that I reproduce below:

“Dr. Hafi is to be acknowledged as a pioneer in Magnetohydrodynamics. His contributions for the advancement of Biomagnetism speak for themselves. Little wonder that we would regard Pakistan as the center of excellence in Biomagnetics Congratulations for being so far sighted for the advancement of Biomagnetism.”
(M.F. Barnothy ——–Chief: Biomagnetic Research Center. Director: World Biomagnetics Association, University of Illinois————-New York)

“Most senior scholars I have met usually specialize in one particular area. Sir Aurangzeb Hafi, however, has developed expertise in almost every area.”
(H.M Khurshid———-Ph.D., Ex. Senior Research Methodologist: The United Nations University)

“Prof. Hafi is the most dedicated researcher, one who would hammer at a point and make you accept it.”
(Richard F. Bakemeier ——- Ph.D., D. Psych———-USA)

This was a hoax but who benefited and how I could not fathom. Some commentators on Express Tribune website were pointing towards the hoax but in their desire for good news from Pakistan, most people were not heeding to it. One of those comments where the commentator refuses to believe the such news could be fake:

hi everyone
there are also some other people in this award, not only aurangzeb hafi. I do not know about dr Hafi but i surely know about prince charles, stephen soldz, nelson madndela, julian asange,

if hafi is fake all other must be fake also.
so be wise and stop propaganda against people of great honor and spent your time in healthy activities.

Someone also tried to create a fake wikipedia entry of him and this is what the wikipedia website says

This article is about a living person and appears to have no references. If no references are found and added within a ten-day grace period it may be deleted. This is to help prevent incorrect material remaining.

Dr. Hafi has a website Sir Aurangzeb (I wonder who awarded him the title Sir) and he has also uploaded a CV on it. Apart from the English mistakes that such a learned person has made in his CV one thing that  stands out in his carrier [sic] related activities:

Director Retarded Children Guild Research Syndicate Berbly, Sri Lanka

Who uses “retarded” anymore and then use it in the name of a research syndicate whatever that means.

Anyway, I had a good laugh and I hope you did too.

Pakistan “Army Drama”

The title of the news in DAWN was Pakistan army drama to show human face of war. However, later on DAWN decided to take the news (I don’t know why) but God bless Google which keeps track of such things through cached pages. You can find the cached copy of the news here.

In case the above link does not work, try reading the cache version on Google

A friend of mine highlighted the fact that, there is an actual phrase “army drama” in the title of DAWN article and wondered how did it happen? I said may be it is a case of Freudian slip.

The news item goes on to say that the “multi million” dollar drama is an effort from Pakistan Army to win the battles of hearts and mind and to show the valour of Pakistani soldiers. As if dramas could win the hearts and mind of people. I think rather than spending billions in Iraq and Afghanistan on people, war lords and corrupt leaders, US should make dramas showing brave American soldiers laying down their lives for safety of Iraqi/Afghani people and this would help in winning Iraqs/Afghanis hearts and minds.

I don’t think so any of us doubt the bravery with which our foot soldiers lay down their lives in this wasteful exercise when it has been clearly stated by Ashfaq Pervez Kyani that this war is only till US leaves the region and then we will be pals with the Talibans.

Working so closely with US has an adverse impact on our army. It now thinks like US rather wants to repeat their mistakes. Making this drama is akin to pro-war propaganda of US during vietnam era. No body doubted the bravery of American soldier fighting in the Vietnam war. But it was a wrong war that resulted in so many lives being wasted.

Spending “multi million dollars” on a drama to win hearts and minds is such a shameful waste of money. But what is shameless is getting the sons of this soil killed for a war that GHQ does not even want to win.

America’s War on Terror

There was a time that a healthy skepticism to US fed propaganda was considered OK. Now if anyone says anything against it, he or she is considered fundo, pseudo-intellectual, out-of-touch etc. The most recent article that has been receiving such criticism is Imran Khan’s in Guardian where he rightly called the current war on terror in Afghanistan as America’s war.

Is there any doubt left that this is America’s war? One may find some justification for attacking Afghanistan post 9/11 but attacking Iraq under the same premise was a war crime as to date they haven’t found any evidence of weapons of mass destruction nor a link between al qaeda and saddam’s regime and the western media might say that Iraqis are better off but the daily bombing and killings in Iraq have made them worse off that during than Saddam’s time. Moreover, since we tend to forget, in the last ten years of Saddam thousands of people died not because of his policies but US sanctions on supplying food and medicine to Iraq. I am not justifying Saddam’s rule here just recalling a bit of historical facts which in the current media frenzy we all seem to forget.

US had a hard time convincing its European and NATO allies to come to Iraq and in the end US went in with its poodle UK only based on a “sexed up” dossier that was presented to UK parliament. Even Musharraf had agreed to send Pakistani troops to Iraq and it was only the protests by our religious parties in the Assembly (their own will or backdoor pushing by Army who knows) that we didn’t send our men to get killed in Iraq. [for the naives, google the news and you shall see]. Anyway, the men we saved by not going on an adventure in Iraq, we are killing in war with Talibans.

Regarding calling America’s war in Afghanistan “our war” is a mistake only the liberal elite and ex-military idiots of this country make. Because our Chief of Army Kiyani does not consider this war “our war” and he is just wasting our men and resources till Americans leave and they will leave so that he can against implement the Pakistan Army’s plan of “strategic depth”.

I am not making this up. Here is General Kyani (the end savior of liberals) in Washington Post.

The two countries’ “frames of reference” regarding regional security “can never be the same,” he said, according to news accounts. Calling Pakistan America’s “most bullied ally,” Kayani said that the “real aim of U.S. strategy is to de-nuclearize Pakistan.”

The above article is to be read in full to realize the the double face of our army which is getting our people killed on both sides (Army and the people it is fighting).

Now if General Kiyani talks like this, no wonder the man on the street is right to believe that US is after our nuclear weapons.

So if I get it straight, Kiyani is fighting as long as US is there and will change strategy once US leaves the scene. To me it clearly seems the case that Pakistan Army believes that it is America’s war on terror and will make a U-turn as soon as US leaves.

Barelvis, Salman Taseer and misguided policies

What is most surprising in the current scenario, a subject which has not been touched, is that the killer of Salman Taseer belong to Barelvi school of thought, which is thought to be moderate, tolerant and relatively pluralistic compared to the other two schools in Pakistan i.e., Deobandis and Ahl-e-hadeeth. Its the latter two that are deemed puritanical and have provided the major cannon fodder for Talibans and Afghan Jihad.

During the Afghan Jihad, the west as well as our local establishment supported and funded Deobandis, a misguided policy which translated into 9/11. Subsequently, the west and our local establishment changed track and started promoting* Barelvis to act as counter weight to influence of Deobandis/Jihadis, another misguided policy which has brought home the recent assassination. Though the liberals had never supported Deobandis, they are guilty of putting the weight behind Barelvis due to their rich pluralistic culture.

Even our local social and cultural critic Nadeem F. Paracha has been consistently promoting Barelvi school as tolerant due to influences of sufism.

The so-called Barelvi Islam that became the mainstay belief of a majority of Muslims in the subcontinent (from the nineteenth century onwards), was, as a movement, the reassuring enshrinement of the traditional hybrid-Sufism that prevailed among the Muslims due to the long periods of interaction between Sufi Islam and Hinduism.

This hybrid-Sufism, or Barlevi Islam, became the folk religion of the rural peasants, the urban proletariat and the semi-urban petty-bourgeoisie of the country. It incorporated the anti-clergy elements of Sufism, the jurisprudence doctrines of the more flexible Sunni Hanafi fiqh and, as had been the traditional practice of popular folk Islam of the region, fused these with the concept of overt religious reverence of divine concepts and people, and the accommodating forms of worship found in various shades of Hinduism.

The result was an Indian/Pakistani Muslim polity repulsed by the dogma of puritanical strains of the religion, open to the idea of modern reinterpretation of Islamic law, permissive in its sociology, and largely non-political in essence. At the same time, Barlevi Islam is criticised for being willingly embroiled in superstition and doctrinal ‘innovations.’

Though being populist and agrarian in its world view, Barlevi Islam did not negatively react to Ahmed’s modern Islamic reform. What’s more, it was the constant failure of the political exponents of puritanical Islamic thought to penetrate the thick veneer of Barlevi Islam surrounding the rural and urban masses of Pakistan that in turn facilitated the moderate Aligarh Muslim thought and tradition within the Pakistani state to continue deflecting theocratic maneuvers in the country’s overall political polity.

Most of the times it had been Barelvi ulemas that give government sponsored anti-terrorism/anti-jehad statements. I am actually surprised (but should not be) that a Barelvi committed this act. For the record, Barelvis are no Taliban sympathisers and were actually being promoted as counterweight to jehadis and hardliners in Pakistan. Allama Dr. Sarfaraz Naeemi who was murdered in 2009 in Lahore for giving anti Taliban statement was a Barelvi.

So how did the policy go wrong? Well, by funding Barelvis to promoting LOVE for Muhammad to counter the HATRED promoted by jehadis, another genie was unleashed that will be much harder to put back in the bottle. In their love of Prophet, they have gone so far that they are not willing to listen to anything.

As a friend of mine said to me and even mentioned in Nadeem Paracha’s post, in Punjab and in rural areas these Barelvis are as pervasive as air. With respect to silent majority one may claim that they are not Taliban sympathisers and one may be right but when it comes to unconditional love for Muhammad, the silent majority very much supports the assassination.

What is surprising in this scenario is that what we call the extremist minority (deobandis/jehadis/ahl-e-hadeeth) had issued no (or at least it has not been widely reported) statements against amending blasphemy laws. All the opposition has come from so-called tolerant, liberal, sufi-influenced Barelvi corners and these are actually the silent majority of country.

Before we are done paying the price of supporting deobandis/ jihadis for Afghan war, we are saddled with starting to pay the price of another misguided policy.

*RAND Corporation’s “Building moderate muslim networks” is freely available over the net, the harbinger of such policies.

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PS: Despite its appearance to the contrary, this post is not a criticism Barelvi school of thought.

Salman Taseer had it coming

Though the act of killing Salman Taseer is deplorable and should be condemned in strongest words but one should not be surprised that he was taken out. His party which despite being in power does not care about bringing to justice the killers of its leader Benazir Bhutto (not carrying out post-mortem, delaying the investigation, not releasing the reports etc.) presents its members as an easy target because everyone knows that they are so morally bankrupt that death of their members is an opportunity to garner sympathy votes and a few more seats in the parliament. May be next time Zardari can also take a picture of Salman Taseer along with Benazir Bhutto when he makes an address to UN.

Had such a statement been uttered by an MQM leader, the would-be killer would have thought twice before attacking because not only he would have been taken out by MQM whenever given a chance but they might also take out his whole family or even his clan.

This is a straight forward case of murder / an act of terrorism. If the government read PPP is really serious about sending out a message, get him sentenced to death and executed through the courts. We have introduced with gusto anti-terrorism courts, in-camera hearings; get him through those and send out a message to the masses.

Only time will tell how PPP/government handles this situation.

UPDATE:
As I said, PPP has only itself to blame. This is what our interior minister and PPP stalwart Rehman Malik had to say according to NYTimes
The Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, went as far as to say he would shoot any blasphemer himself.
Err, yeah, but, hmmm…

Salman Taseer’s tweets

Salman Taseer’s foot firmly in mouth tweets as reported by Foreign Policy magazine:

On Saturday, he tweeted this ill-conceived joke:

“One of first politicians to condemn mad Florida pastor Terry Jones was Sara Palin who said ‘it was inhuman to burn a Korean’! God bless USA”

Apparently not everyone got it, because he later tweeted:

“I’m amazed that the simplistic pathetic remarks to my JOKE that Sarah Palin can’t tell difference between a KOREAN and QORAN! Humour?”

He followed up that tweet with this winner:

“My farms rice crop has never been better because of the rains.Almost ready now ,huge robust grain practically no canal water was required”

A bit insensitive, perhaps, given how the vast swaths of the country have been inundated by catastrophic flooding, not to mention the inherently sensitive politics of land ownership in Pakistan? No matter. When criticized by journalist Dean Nelson (@delhidean) of the Daily Telegraph, who asked, “will you give ur crop to farmers whose land was flooded by Sindh landowners?,” Taseer tweeted resignedly: “These r retards i have 2 deal wth.”

Wow! Just wow!

Feeding hands and Frankensteins

Do read the many online Pakistani newspapers and blogs and you will realize that Pakistan has myriad problems for a country otherwise blessed with wealth and resources. The major problems hurting the country’s prospects of growth and development are identified as security and/or political instability and for which everyone blames the politicians. Nobody has the courage and balls to come right out and blame the real culprit i.e., Pakistan Army and putting the blame squarely on its leader Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kyani.

At the moment “terrorism” is the buzz word and educated people blaming politicians, TV anchors, mullahs for it whereas it is a proven fact that the sponsoring agency of terrorists is Pakistan Army. It may be fighting some terrorists e.g. Pakistani Talibans but they are again creation of policies of Pakistan Army.

From Washington Post

While the Obama administration sees the insurgents as an enemy force to be defeated as quickly and directly as possible, Pakistan [Army] has long regarded them as useful proxies in protecting its western flank from inroads by India, its historical adversary.

…[wikileaks] depicted him [Kiyani] as far chummier with the Americans and more deeply involved in Pakistani politics than his carefully crafted domestic persona would suggest. In one cable, sent to Washington by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad last year, he [Kiyani] was quoted as discussing with U.S. officials a possible removal of Pakistan’s president and his preferred replacement.

On the eve of the cable’s publication in November, the normally aloof and soft-spoken general ranted for hours on the subject of irreconcilable U.S.-Pakistan differences in a session with a group of Pakistani journalists.

…Calling Pakistan America’s “most bullied ally,” Kayani said that the “real aim of U.S. strategy is to de-nuclearize Pakistan.” [And people say that TV anchors and general public is a fool to think that US is after our nuclear weapons. If the highest person in the military establishment of the country says such a thing publicly, who else the public is to believe?]

“Nine years into the Afghanistan war, we’re fighting various strands of militancy, and we still have an army chief who considers India the major threat,” said Cyril Almeida, an editor and columnist at the English-language newspaper Dawn. “That’s mind-boggling.”

What is mind boggling is that all these columnists don’t come out and lay the blame on the Army squarely for getting us into this quagmire and keeping us there.

From The News

Qari Saifullah Akhtar, the al-Qaeda-linked ameer of the Harkatul Jehadul Islami (HUJI), has been freed by the Punjab government under mysterious circumstances despite the fact that he is still wanted in several high-profile cases of terrorism.

His most significant target was to blow up the Chashma Nuclear Power Plant at Kundian, Punjab, by using a group of five Americans who had already been convicted by an anti-terrorism court in June 2010 on terrorism charges.

Interestingly, the day the five Americans were convicted, their militant handler, Qari Saifullah, was declared an absconder despite the fact that he had already been arrested from Rawalpindi by that time and was in the custody of the Pakistani security agencies.

Qari Saifullah was kept under protective custody for a few months and as soon as the second Bhutto government was dismissed in 1996, he was set free by the agencies; he went to Afghanistan and was inducted into the cabinet of the Taliban ameer, Mulla Omar, as his adviser on political affairs.

What all this and many other news reports show that the very enemies that Pakistan Army is fighting are supported by it. To use a cliched term, Pakistan Army is simultaneously sponsoring and fighting its Frankensteins or from terrorists perspective Pakistan Army is the hand that feeds them as well as allows them to bite it.

In conclusion, I will not mince words and say it emphatically, Pakistan Army is the enemy number one of Republic of Pakistan.