Hyper-active imagination in Pakistani political rumor mill

There comes a time in every idealist’s life wherein he has to decide whether to stay true to his cause or give in to commercial interests. Learning from a post by pseudo-journalist Ali K Chishti wherein he tagged his post about an ISI assassin who used to carry his ISI badge with him(absurd! I know) with totally unrelated but sexual words (Punjabi Girls, Sex, Mujra) most probably to get more visitors to his site and fearful of my dwindling visitor numbers I have decided to do the Faustian bargain for getting more hits. But only for one post now. However, unlike Chishti, tags in my post will be related as each word would have been mentioned in the article.

The quotes below are based on first hand account of a friend who is a Karachi based senior banker from his one day visit to Islamabad and Lahore to meet senior banking professionals and corporate head honchos there. In his own words Pakistanis have a “hyper active imagination”.

Don’t judge me for posting these as I am just a messenger. Moreover, do keep in mind that these are just baseless yet delicious (or disgusting _ based on your perspective) rumors. I have tried to keep editing to minimum to keep the original flavor so any mistakes (grammatical or idiomatic) should be attributed to original narrator. As I said, I am just a messenger.

1. President Zardari and Bilawal Zardari Bhutto regularly engage in Ménage à trois with Pakistan’s ex-Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.

An unknown Bangladeshi online English-language magazine reported about an affair between Bilawal and Khar. The news went viral overnight and Khar was forced to issue a strong denial about it. It was assumed that ISI planted story to discredit Khar for she was making some ripples in foreign policy area (an area where army traditionally keeps a strong control behind the scenes) and when this rumor got traction, ISPR was forced to issue a clarification that ISI wasn’t behind it. Finally, editor of the online newspaper that broke the news was arrested to avoid creating any more controversies.

2. Sharmila Farooqi is Mr. Zardari’s keep, and she got engaged to someone (adviser to the President) in Presidency for her to have a legit reason to stay there.

3. Yusuf Raza Gilani routinely offers his wife, sister and daughters to get political mileage. He once offered his wife to a senior banker for a loan write off to one of his business entities, the senior banker said, kay mera standard itna kharaab nahin (translation: my standards are not that low).

On this I asked my friend that did the respective senior banker who was offered the wife tell this to you himself. He replied,

Nope, his friend. The guy who told me is Senior Executive Vice President and no. 3 in a bank, and he said, roozi per betha hoon, jhoot nahin bolon gaa (interpretation: he sweared that I am sitting on my livelihood (job) and will not risk it by spreading false rumors)

4. Yusuf Raza Gilani’s son (Ali Musa Gilani) is going steady with Bukhtwar Bhutto, and it was she who stood up to his father for Gilani to be given his place back Pakistan People’s Party

My friend summarized the above items in these words

Generally speaking every one on who’s who list of Islamabad (Pakistan’s Capitol Hill) is screwing either daughter or wife of some other guy on the same list

5. CEO of GEO TV has Sana Bucha’s blue tapes with him, and they would soon be leaked.

GEO TV used a similar tactic earlier. When their high ratings garnering religious anchor and a fake doctorate Aamir Liaquat Hussain had moved over to ARY TV channel, they released compilations of him using expletives when he thought the camera was off (of the time when he used to work at GEO TV).

This should have been the downfall of Aamir Liaquat. Yet to give you a flavor how things work in Pakistan, after this scandalous recording came to life, he was rehired by GEO TV. Commercial interests trumpeting moral superiority, if any. GEO TV even launched a celebratory campaign to announce Dr. Aamir’s coming back to their network

Coming back to the original rumor, Sana Bucha had left GEO TV earlier. She has since been fired or resigned from Dunya News as well. Probably a black mailing game played by GEO TV.

6. When Makhdoom Amin Fahim threatened to leave PPP, Zardari trapped him by depsoiting cash in Amin Fahim’s account, and then tipping off NAB so that he comes running to Mr. Zardari to keep him out of jail.

Enjoy. Now keep those hits coming.

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Hajj – Pakistani Politicians and Military

Two jokes that I recently received over Blackberry Messenger

Joke 1

Three politicians cannot perform Hajj:
1) Asif zardari, as he cannot throw stones on himself
2) Altaf hussain, as Hajj cannot be performed on telephone
3) Nawaz sharif, as he cannot shave off his head after spending 10 million rupees on hair implant. Also he is not allowed to take stuffed tigers with him on Hajj.
 
Joke 2
Reasons why Army Generals cannot perform Hajj
1 – orders from Americans have not been received yet
2 – batmen are not trained to perform Hajj yet
3 – militant groups have not started “Hajj for hire” services yet
4 – military rules do not allow for such extensive mixing with “bloody civilians
5 – they are not allowed to perform haj with a stick in hand.
 

ISPR Press Release : What a joke

After four days of utter silence to the nation yet some interviews to BBC in English with such statements as “we are good, but we are not God” ISPR comes out with a press release in English mainly for the consumption of the international media. Bloody civilians who were shocked that by diverting resources from health, education and infrastructure, this what our security establishment had to show for itself may find little comfort in reading it.

Without further ado, the Press Release:

It was highlighted that the achievements of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), against Al Qaeda and its terrorist affiliates, have no parallel in Pakistan.

In Pakistan? Isn’t that what ISI IS supposed to do? It would have been really shameful if any other international organization came even close to matching ISI achievements in Pakistan.

COAS made it very clear that any similar action, violating the sovereignty of Pakistan, will warrant a review on the level of military / intelligence cooperation with the United States.

Can’t we at least threaten to shut all cooperation? Is this the best threat we could throw at them?

The Corps Commanders were informed about the decision to reduce the strength of US military personnel in Pakistan to the minimum essential

As my friend Jafar said, did the military personnel IN Pakistan do the action? How many CIA guys were thrown out after Raymond Davis saga?

As regards the possibility of similar hostile action against our strategic assets, the Forum reaffirmed that, unlike an undefended civilian compound, our strategic assets are well protected and an elaborate defensive mechanism is in place.

Acha? As if this civilian compound was located near the border in a deserted area. The compound was located well inside Pakistani territory near the military academy Kakul in Abbotabad and the infiltrators were in our airspace for more than an hour and according to our air marshal by the time our F-16s reach there, they had already left in helicopters.

The Forum, taking serious note of the assertions made by Indian military leadership about conducting similar operations, made it very clear that any misadventure of this kind will be responded to very strongly. There should be no doubt about it.

Misadventure of this kind from Indians will be responded to very strongly. However, when Americans do it, it will just warrant a review of our cooperation.

The Forum reiterated the resolve to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan and to fight the menace of terrorism, with the support and help of the people of Pakistan.

What do they have to show for the support that people gave them so far? With big chunk of budget and foreign aid routed to military at the expense of health, education and infrastructure, if we couldn’t even detect the trespassing helicopters and our multimillion dollar f-16s took more than an hour to respond to the threat, the bhookay nangay awaam of Pakistan have been taken for a ride by their security establishment.

=UPDATE=

After this joke of a Press Release which Express Tribune rightly said was CRAFTED on the fourth day of incident, Indian defence ministry replied within half an hour with a statement saying just “ROFL”

=Honorable Mention=

Award for best analysis goes to Tazeen who said something to the effect of that this is the highest point of Presidency that such a huge blunder happens in Pakistan and no one is blaming the President.

=DIRTY TRICKS=

ISPR is back to its old tactics and have started feeding the media to transfer blame to civilian leadership. Ansar Abbasi printed a piece on hikers from western countries taking a trip near Kahuta who were later released by Interior Ministry on having diplomatic immunity. Electronic media was again repeating the stale news that New York embassy issued passport to 7,000 Americans without getting green light from ISI. Does this mean that Osama Bin Laden and other foreigners roaming around in the country have all been green lighted by ISI?

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?

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.

[UPDATE]

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.

Watch out Mr. President

From Dawn

LARKANA: President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday said that they will not take revenge for the murder of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Who does he think he is helping by not bringing the killers and murderers on trial? This is the third prime minister that has been killed in this country and he believes that he is doing the nation a favor by letting the murderers go.

Justice delayed is justice denied. Rather in this case, by not bringing the murderers to the book (Zardari has claimed on numerous occasions that he knows the culprits) Zardari is keeping the door open for future prime ministers as well as civilian president (watch out Mr. Zardari) to be killed without any fear of getting caught or punished. He is not doing anyone any favors least of all himself.

Despite the fact  that two people who stood to gain the most by Benazir Bhutto’s murder were Zardari and Musharraf, I like to believe that he is a bereaved widower. However,  by making such statements he is not helping his case.

UPDATE: Someone posted an SMS that she got

Bilawal to Zardari, “dad its been 2.5 years since we became maskeen, when would we catch the murderers?”


Zardari,”Maskeen to pehlay hi ho, qatil pakarwa kar yateem bhi hona chahtay ho?”