Saturday, 26 May 2012

On Prophecies and their veracity

(an abridged version was published in Pakistan Today on 23rd May,2012)

Prophecies and their veracity

A lecture titled “A Longer view on dreams and prophecy” was organized by Lahore University of Management Sciences at the start of April, 2012. In that lecture, Professor of South Asian History, Manan Ahmed spoke at length about various aspects of prophecies.

Professor Manan explained the significance and methodology of prophecies. Prophecy is always in the past, but it is applied in the present. Another aspect of prophecies is that they appear at times of crisis, to 'rationalize' those crises and to point towards a better future.

Professor Manan gave example of Qudratullah Shahab's book 'Shahab Nama', the last 2 chapters of which, contained prophecies. Similar rhetoric was used by Shahab's contemporaries, Wasif Ali Wasif,Ashfaq Ahmad and Bano Qudsia.

Prophecies of Shah Naimatullah Wali, which have been used by Zaid Hamid recently, were published first after 1857(end of Mughal Empire),then 1948(Serious problems faced by the new nation), then 1974,1975((Loss of East Pakistan), 1988 and then 2008.

Interestingly, such prophecies are not only propagated by Zaid hamid but also spread via columnists such as Javed Chohdary, Haroon Rasheed and Amir Hashim khakwani.

Other examples of famous prophecies at the times of crisis include the time when Tatars invaded the Muslim territories. The “sages” of those time started saying that the Tatars were actually “Yajooj Majooj” and that the day of judgment was approaching soon.

The prophecy I want to discuss in this post is the one allegedly made by Molana Abul Kalam Azad, the famous Congress Leader and Ideologue. That prophecy was recently highlighted in the show Khabar Naak and in Kamran Khan show.

The long prophecy is based on an alleged interview of Abul Kalam Azad when he visited Lahore in March 1946, conducted by Shorash Kashmiri. In that interview, Abul Kalam Azad said,

“I feel that right from its inception, Pakistan will face some very serious problems:

1. The incompetent political leadership will pave the way for military dictatorship as it has happened in many Muslim countries.

2. The heavy burden of foreign debt.

3. Absence of friendly relationship with neighbors and the possibility of armed conflict.

4. Internal unrest and regional conflicts.

5. The loot of national wealth by the neo-rich and industrialists of Pakistan.

6. The dissatisfaction and alienation of the youth from religion and the collapse of the theory of Pakistan.” (The complete interview can be read here).

Previously, this interview was published in an Indian magazine named “Covert” with the headline, “Maulana Abul Kalam Azad: The Man Who Knew The Future Of Pakistan Before Its Creation” catapulting Mr. Azad’s status from a senior politician to that of a modern day Nostradamus.  Based on some analytical evidence, I shall try to prove that the interview never actually happened and the whole “prophecy” is a work of fiction created by Mr. Shorish himself.

1. The interview is supposed to have taken place in March 1946 when Abul Kalam Azad was visiting Lahore for negotiations about a possible Congress-Unionist Party coalition which ultimately led to All India Muslim League being left out of power despite being the majority party.

2. Shorash Kashmiri was a committed member of Majlis e Ahrar, founded by Ataullah Shah Bokhari, a firebrand speaker and religious scholar. Majlis e Ahrar was famously against the formation of Pakistan. It should be kept in mind that Shorash was a famous for his oratory skills and as a political worker, not as a serious journalist. This interview was not published by Shorash Kashmiri until 1969, when he joined Awami League, which was at that time quite anti-Pakistan in its outlook.

3. On the topic of  Pakistan and creation of Pakistan/division of India, Abul Kalam Azad wrote a whole book, titled “India wins Freedom” which was published in 1958 while Azad was alive. This particular “prophecy” is not mentioned or even hinted about in the book devoted to this topic. Some people assume that the re-print of the book which occurred in 1989 and included additional pages, contain anything related to this, which is completely wrong.

4. The publication of this interview in the Indian magazine “Covert” was a blatant attempt at glorification of Azad and historical revisionism. The aim was to degrade Mr. Jinnah by painting him as short-sighted while simultaneously increasing the stature of Abdul Kalam Azad at his expense.

( Please Note that this post is about the prophecy of Azad that I have mentioned above and not his views about partition of India and formation of Pakistan.)

Monday, 21 May 2012

Hello, its Goebbels Speaking

Hello, Its Goebbels

Joseph Goebbles was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealous oratory and anti-Semitism.

Goebbels earned a Ph.D. from Heidelberg University in 1921, writing his doctoral thesis on 19th century romantic drama)

Its me, Dr. Goebbels, writing from my grave, where I am turning with agony upon getting the news of a flowery diatribe launched by a pen-warrior, a key-board jihadi, with penchant for the word “paladin”. See, this is what happens when instead of making them learn by experience, you force your children to cram the SAT word lists, the whole “Word Smart” books and their likes. Just like a rotten apple causing explosive diarrhea, that cramming can lead to an emotional outburst from the yet-green mind of the average Pakistani Child. My advisors told me that exactly Nine hundred and Eleven SAT words were used in the beautiful blog written by the author. I, for one would have jumped upon the bandwagon to find the “hidden meaning” of the number 911 but since my untimely death, that mantle has been handed over to Zion Hamid and Shahid Masood. The writer has shown extremely good skills of copy/pasting from a thesaurus and he should be hired in the first instance by an Urdu newspaper as soon as he turns 18. It is easy to ride on the high horse, on the pulpit, if you allow me to delve into similar verbosity shown by the amiable writer, and pass silly judgements on people without coming up with any facts or agreeable data. This trend is not new and will never cease to exist. In our time, with the mighty Nazi Party at the helm, we cut out all voices of dissent and under the guidance of the supreme leader--a hero of war--reached the technological and sociological heights that were unparalleled by comparison in that era. We were self-sufficient, hard working, hated our neighbours with a passion, believed that we are the best nation in the world and sent the dissenters to camps where we used their labour for the greater good. Sounds familiar? Oh, I digress.

Despite my poor English language skills and scant interest in the happening of far off countries like Pakistan, I still keep tabs on major players in the news arena. Express Tribune as a Pakistani newspaper is one of the few that I am interested in. It is not exactly “Der Angriff” in terms of propaganda-spewing but it certainly has an agenda: An agenda to cater to the English-reading population of Pakistan and to project a progressive image of the country. While my opinion on this matter does not mean much to you dear reader, I have one simple Question, Who doesn’t have an agenda? Name one newspaper in the world without an “agenda”. The rhetoric against Express Tribune is a spin-off of the video created by the modern day crusaders at Pakistan Cyber Force(How I wish we had developed Internet in our time.!!!). 

While the whole blog peiece was a piece of art and I would highly recommend the Lahore Museum to store its manuscript,
the most enlightening parts were
Today Imran Khan is like a classic hero who has emerged as a paladin of nationalism, baptised in the waters of public opinion, made great and filled with courage”


He who is conscientious enough to prefer steep heights of truthfulness, selflessness, patriotic spiritedness over the primrose path of least resistance, of timid appeasement, of petty self seeking, always gets pilloried by the forces of status quo and inertia, so goes another law of history. Imran Khan has committed no crime, violated no law, breached no trust, betrayed no cause, wrecked no chariot-merely that he was guilty of sticking to his guns and having the courage of his convictions, courageous and cognizant enough to chart a different course, sing a different tune, and write a different script” and

Granted that these writers always ran low on writer’s ink and that logic and profundity were never their forte, but have they become so sterile, jaded and pathetically predictable as to be unable to write a single article without hurling mud at a celebrated national hero? History is replete with examples of once high and mighty writers, eventually running out of ideas and becoming clichéd and banal towards the fag end of their careers, but what to talk about the desultory and vapid ways of these writers who seems to have met their waterloo even before a Toulon?”

I am tempted to ask the amicable writer (Did you notice how I  changed the words, while saying the exact same thing ?) about his knowledge about the Great Khan beyond watching Television Anchors swooning over the “change” initially(and later eating a humble pie) and posts on his party’s official Facebook page but I won’t. It would be cruel of me to remind the young gun of all the “turn-coats” becoming the faces for the “Change” promised by the 59(or is it 60?) year old leader of the youth. I will not invite inevitable curses and trolling by the party faithful by suggesting a change in temperament with regards to the party and its “supreme leader”. I would also not waste your and my time advising the previously apolitical youth to read “actual books” or to attend “actual protests” if they want a political education. Why should they come out of their schools, colleges, coffee houses and air-conditioned cars(Glass Houses?) to find nothing but dismay? This would all be in vain. Nobody changes parties or opinions after debating their merits and de-merits. Proponents of such deluded mind-set should look at how democrats/Republicans in the United States and Conservatives/Labor Supporters in the United Kingdom always vote for their respective parties. As the last man standing for the once-great Nazi party, I see potential in the uprising of the youth of Pakistan. 

May the Shadow of Fuhrer remain upon us forever, 

Yours Faithfully,

Jospeh Goebbels

Magdeburg Cemetry   

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Its not the Corruption, stupid

(an abridged version was published in Pakistan Today on 18th May, 2012)

It’s not the corruption, stupid

The mantra of corruption and eliminating corruption has gained increasing popularity after the historic Lahore “Jalsa” by Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf. The politicians of that party and the supporters have raised hue and cry over the issue of corruption by the politicians and bureaucrats. This, interestingly, is not a new phenomenon. There has been an undercurrent in the socio-political discourse about this issue and for the last 30 years, corruption is hailed as the root cause of most of our problems. Their solution to this problem seems to be a “technocratic” government, a model which has been tried at least twice in this country and failed to change anything.  I beg to differ with this point of view and I want to explain why do I think that? (Spoiler Alert: I am not on the payroll of any party).

To start with, I would like to quote some facts and figures.
According to Pakistan Public Opinion survey 2009, 45% people said that the single most important issue facing Pakistan was Inflation, 26% said it was Unemployment, 17% said it was Terrorism, 15% said it was Electricity and water, 10% said it was poverty and only 8% said it was Corruption.

This does not mean corruption does not exist on a large scale in our country. Unfortunately, the only corruption being highlighted is the one done by the elected representatives of the people while the other institutions keep on looting this country without a second thought. As Mohammad Haneef once wrote, “Pakistan's army is as corrupt as the politicians from whom it wants to save the country. It's just better at paperwork.” Corruption is deep-rooted in our society and eliminating it would require more than sloganeering or a single regime change.

Columnist Umair Javed, explained how Corruption is now an intrinsic part of our society and why the current discourse against corruption is based on forgetting a few basic tenets,

“Whilst I generally agree to the harmful effects of corruption in so far as it induces low levels of efficiency, wastage of scarce resources and promotion of incompetence in merit-based situations, I am more concerned with this fetish of treating corruption as an alien disease. If the premise of their solutions relies on the extraneous nature of the problem itself, then the situation can be made a lot more interesting and complex if the primary assumption is discarded and a new one is set in place, i.e. corruption is not alien to the system, it is an inherent code of practice that has evolved over time in certain parts of the world, primarily from the experience of the public realm undergoing certain forms of social organization and re-organization such as colonialism, kinship associational modes and a cultural continuity of sorts that has synthesized these varying social experiences.”

We need to understand the dynamics behind corrupt practices and how ordinary people are equally responsible for a corrupt society than a politician or a bureaucrat. Bringing an end to corruption will take at least a generation which would be brought up on the agenda of honesty and belief in hard work rather than nepotism and paying your way out of trouble.

We may love to hate them but we should learn some lessons in this regard from our neighbors, India. Last year Anna Hazare in created a stir in the Indian society and media by launching a crusade against “the corrupt practices” of politicians. It was idealistic, utopian and ultimately failed to reap any rewards.
 Pankaj Mishra, wrote the following about that movement in the NewYork Times,
“Led by Anna Hazare, the movement was presented by sections of the media as a long overdue political awakening of the middle class, even as India’s second freedom struggle.
With a mostly urban constituency in mind, Hazare’s vision was narrowly focused on the alleged misdeeds of elected officials—above all those in the ruling National Congress Party, which has traditionally sought votes from the Indian poor—and bureaucrats. Among other things, he called for the establishment of an unelected anticorruption agency, which, lavishly budgeted, would have extraordinarily wide powers of surveillance, policing, and prosecution—and, by implication, make the state more efficient and technocratic and less encumbered by the
unruly and lengthy processes of parliamentary democracy.”

After all the above mentioned points, I should also mention what in my humble opinion is the biggest problem facing Pakistan. It’s the population explosion and  the aspect that makes it more alarming is that it is not considered among the top Five or Ten challenges facing Pakistan. None of the major political parties in Pakistan has focused its policies or plans on how to control the population problem
With more than 180 million people, Pakistan has nearly six times the population of Afghanistan (or Iraq), twice the population of Iran, and almost two-thirds the population of the entire Arab world put together. Rapid increase in population has led to decrease in the efficiency of the infrastructure that was established for lesser number of people. It has also led to a gross income disparity, decrease in natural resources, youth bulge and unemployment on massive scales.
To some extent, hypocrisy is also one of our biggest problems and it has been given no attention as well. A 59 year old leader of the youth, flying to a city on a private jet to lead a rally demanding a change in status quo, how much more cliched can it get. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The great Ghairat Debate

(published in Express Tribune today)

In the last one week, two article have appeared in this very newspaper on the subject of Ghairat/Beghayrat. The first one, penned by nuclear physicist and prominent progressive Dr. Parvez Hoodbhoy and the second by a journalist, Miss Maria Waqar. Dr Hoodbhoy was of the view that ghairat/honour and “fake nationalism”(the one that can be witnessed by our chest-thumping TV anchors and Baloongras on twitter)) was one of the cornerstones of fascist societies like Nazi Germany and that as societies moved from tribalism to modernism and now post-modernism, the notions of “ghairat” are anachronistic and will not do us much good. Miss Maria Waqar, on the other hand, opined that Nazi Germany was not a tribal society by any means, rather a very modern and “civilized” one. She also mentioned that just like we want to blame honour and “tribal values” for the crimes of Nazis, we should blame the notions of “Liberty and Freedom” for the destruction heaped upon Iraq and Afghanistan by the mighty United States.

In my humble opinion, Dr Hoodbhoy is closer to reality in calling out for a review of what we have gained(mostly we have lost) from this false bravado and where does our “honour” lie according to other nations of the world. I would also like to present another facet of this issue that has not been discussed till now.

Ghairat is an Urdu word that is usualy translated as “Honour/Pride”. But the problem with translation is that every word in a particular language has its own etymology and while translating, the word may lose its original meaning. There is no universal definition of Ghairat, it roughly means the sense of belonging or entitlement to certain customs. If a person goes against those customs, he/she is considered to have defiled Ghairat. This concept is a key element of a tribal society. In subcontinent, people generally are very touchy about their “Ghairat” and they can kill someone who defiles their Ghairat. This usually leads to “honour-killings” and the victims in all cases are women.
Pakistani society, even after so much urbanization in last 30 years, remains a tribal and patriarchial society. In Pakistan, honour of a man lies between the legs of women of his family(to borrow an Arabic Expression). Any attempt to break the shackles of this system can lead to death. Thus, it is not surprising that Human Rights Commission reported 675 women to have been killed in the name of honor in the the first 9 months of 2011 while in 2010 791 women were “honour-killed”. It should als be considered that Human Rights Commission has only accounted those women whose cases were reported and the actual numbers can be much higher than that. It is not clear if this number includes the 577 “honor-killings” during 2011 that took place in the Sindh province alone.A modern democratic state is supposed to safeguard the rights of its citizens(both male and female) and Criminal Law Amendment Act of 2004, which amended sections 299, 302 and 325 of the Pakistan Penal Code, specified the criminalisation of offences “committed in the name or on the pretext of honour” and mentions “karo-kari, siyah kari or similar other customs and practices” in this context. The question, then, is how many arrests or prosecutions in courts of law have been made. This is where the state’s performance has been extremely poor.
Regarding the other ghairat, namely “Qaumi Ghairat” or “National honour” I would like to quote Sadiq Saleem, who echoed the exact sentiment that I have on this issue, in a local newspaper three years ago,

“Every few years Pakistanis go through angry phases of self-righteous indignation over the country’s dependence on foreign aid. The ‘Ghairat’ (national honour) lobby, led by Islamist political parties, retired generals and the newly empowered right wing conspiracy theorists serving as television anchors have worked up the nation once again in the “honour is more important than aid” slogan mongering.
Notwithstanding the evolution of our indigenous defence capabilities, much of our military equipment still comes from the US or from China. Pakistan needs aid and no amount of hyper nationalist chest-thumping can change the fact that with huge unavoidable defence expenditure, growing unproductive population and a bloated government we have no option but to seek aid for development.
The ‘Ghairat’ lobby, always eager to mobilize street protests of the “Go America Go” variety, never runs a campaign to get the nation to pay taxes. Ditto for the industrialists and traders that support the various factions of the Pakistan Muslim League and the landowners that are incharge of the Pakistan People’s Party. Few Pakistanis know we have a tax-to-GDP ratio of 8%, even below Ghana, which collects 15% of its GDP as revenue.”

The debate about this issue  does not end here, and it shouldn’t be. Introspection on this issue, both on the “honor killings” aspect and the “qaumi ghairat” aspect should continue until a consensus is developed. We need to make a decision if we want to live in a society where women are supposed to be killed due to our percieved notions or otherwise. We need to decide if we want to continue chest-thumping over issues that we deem “dishonorable” and ignore the facts like an ostrich or otherwise. The choice is ours to make and the time is running out.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

One Year after his death, OBL Lives on

When Osama Bin Laden was killed by U.S Navy SEAL team 6,on 2nd May, 2012,  it was considered a “drama” by 66% of Pakistanis.  Pakistanis in general are not willing to believe in facts and are prone to having trust in Conspiracy theories because they provide feasible explanation of events in a narrow frame of reference.

It has been a whole year since the Abbotabad Operation that killed Osama bin Laden, and a majority of Pakistanis still do not believe it even happened, despite public announcements by Al-Qaeda themselves.

Nicholas Schmidle, winner of  2008 Kurt Schork Awards in International Journalism, wrote a detailed article named “Getting Bin Laden:What happened that night in Abbottabad” in the New Yorker Magazine on 8th August 2011. That article is one of the most comprehensive accounts of the Abbotabad operation till date. Regarding the planning of the operation, the article mentions,

“On March 14th, 2011, Obama called his national-security advisers into the White House Situation Room and reviewed a spreadsheet listing possible courses of action against the Abbottabad compound. Most were variations of either a JSOC raid or an airstrike. At the end of the meeting, Obama instructed McRaven to proceed with planning the raid.”

SEAL Team 6, has been mythologized in the American Media after the opertion and even books have been written about them. Nicholas Schmidle’s article briefly mentions the experience of that very team.

“During the ninety-minute helicopter flight, James and his teammates rehearsed the operation in their heads. Since the autumn of 2001, they had rotated through Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa, at a brutal pace.

The Abbottabad raid was not DEVGRU’s maiden venture into Pakistan, either. The team had surreptitiously entered the country on ten to twelve previous occasions. Most of those missions were forays into North and South Waziristan, where many military and intelligence analysts had thought that bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders were hiding. (Only one such operation—the September, 2008, raid of Angoor Ada, a village in South Waziristan—has been widely reported.) Abbottabad was, by far, the farthest that DEVGRU had ventured into Pakistani territory. It also represented the team’s first serious attempt since late 2001 at killing “Crankshaft”—the target name that the Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC, had given bin Laden.”

An American helicopter was lost while landing. The SEALS after taking care of two of Osama’s guards, found him in a third floor bed room.

“The Americans hurried toward the bedroom door. The first SEAL pushed it open. Two of bin Laden’s wives had placed themselves in front of him. Amal al-Fatah, bin Laden’s fifth wife, was screaming in Arabic. She motioned as if she were going to charge; the SEAL lowered his sights and shot her once, in the calf. Fearing that one or both women were wearing suicide jackets, he stepped forward, wrapped them in a bear hug, and drove them aside. He would almost certainly have been killed had they blown themselves up, but by blanketing them he would have absorbed some of the blast and potentially saved the two SEALs behind him.
A second SEAL stepped into the room and trained the infrared laser of his M4 on bin Laden’s chest. The Al Qaeda chief, who was wearing a tan shalwar kameez and a prayer cap on his head, froze; he was unarmed. “There was never any question of detaining or capturing him—it wasn’t a split-second decision. No one wanted detainees,” the special-operations officer told me. Nine years, seven months, and twenty days after September 11th, an American was a trigger pull from ending bin Laden’s life. The first round, a 5.56-mm. bullet, struck bin Laden in the chest. As he fell backward, the SEAL fired a second round into his head, just above his left eye. On his radio, he reported, “For God and country—Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo.” After a pause, he added, “Geronimo E.K.I.A.”—“enemy killed in action.”( “Geronimo” was the code word to signify that bin Laden had been found)
Hearing this at the White House, Obama pursed his lips, and said solemnly, to no one in particular, “We got him.”.

Regarding the burial of the dead body of Osama,
“All along, the SEALs had planned to dump bin Laden’s corpse into the sea—a blunt way of ending the bin Laden myth. They had successfully pulled off a similar scheme before. During a DEVGRU helicopter raid inside Somalia in September, 2009, SEALs had killed Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, one of East Africa’s top Al Qaeda leaders; Nabhan’s corpse was then flown to a ship in the Indian Ocean, given proper Muslim rites, and thrown overboard. Before taking that step for bin Laden, however, John Brennan made a call. Brennan, who had been a C.I.A. station chief in Riyadh, phoned a former counterpart in Saudi intelligence. Brennan told the man what had occurred in Abbottabad and informed him of the plan to deposit bin Laden’s remains at sea. As Brennan knew, bin Laden’s relatives were still a prominent family in the Kingdom, and Osama had once been a Saudi citizen. Did the Saudi government have any interest in taking the body? “Your plan sounds like a good one,” the Saudi replied.
At dawn, bin Laden was loaded into the belly of a flip-wing V-22 Osprey, accompanied by a JSOC liaison officer and a security detail of military police. The Osprey flew south, destined for the deck of the U.S.S. Carl Vinson—a thousand-foot-long nuclear-powered aircraft carrier sailing in the Arabian Sea, off the Pakistani coast.
Bin Laden’s body was washed, wrapped in a white burial shroud, weighted, and then slipped inside a bag. The process was done “in strict conformance with Islamic precepts and practices,” Brennan later told reporters. The JSOC liaison, the military-police contingent, and several sailors placed the shrouded body on an open-air elevator, and rode down with it to the lower level, which functions as a hangar for airplanes. From a height of between twenty and twenty-five feet above the waves, they heaved the corpse into the water.”

This story by Nicholas Schmidle was criticized by columnists including Mallary Jean Tenore from Huffington Post, only because it did not provide enough references. Otherwise, the veracity of this account has not been challenged by anyone including the State Department. 

About breaking the news to the Pakistanis, Rob Crilly wrote in The Telegraph,

“The American ambassador's phone rang shortly after 3am.

 It was Salman Bashir, the civil servant who heads Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs: "Mr Ambassador, we have reports of a helicopter crashing in Abbottabad. All our helicopters are accounted for.

 "Do you know anything about it?"

 Cameron Munter, who had already got used to dealing with crises since being sent to Islamabad six months early, kept his reply diplomatically short: "We'll look into it." A note of dawning realisation crept into Mr Bashir's voice. "Mr Ambassador, I didn't wake you did I?"

 The phone conversation – described by an official familiar with the exchange – reveals how Pakistan was kept in the dark even after the raid had ended, and the rapid sense of shock that gripped the country.”

The reaction of Pakistanis regarding the Abbotabad Operation surprised many people, including Art Keller, a CIA officer. In a recent interview, he said,
“[The] reaction of Pakistan arresting people who helped take down terrorist Number One, somebody Pakistan had long promised it wanted as much or more as the US, is what is telling about the whole situation. Shouldn’t they be handing them medals for doing what Pakistan claimed it wanted? Another thing is that the anger both within the Pak Army, and within Pakistan, against the Pak Army, is almost entirely about the fact that they didn’t stop the raid. The shame of Bin Laden being found in an Army stronghold is a distant second, and demands for investigation as to how he could have been found in an Army town without some level of ISI or Army complicity appear to be fading, much to the relief of those institutions.”

A year after that operation, there are no signs of decline in the theory that Osama bin Laden was not killed that day or that he was a “Martyr”, not a terrorist.

The site of Osama’s compound in Abbotabad, which was razed by the Government last year, has become a shrine now. Express Tribune reported on 2nd May,2012 that

“There is some spirituality about this place since water keeps gushing forth without the use of an electric motor,” said Omar Khan, a resident of Abbottabad.
While the source may be a water line fractured during the razing of the compound, it hasn’t stopped some from according it the status of a ‘miracle.’ And for all their efforts to prevent the site from becoming a shrine, people throng to the razed compound to offer fateha – prayers for the deceased.”

Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa, author of the book ‘Military Inc’ and columnist, wrote on the first anniversary of the Abbotabad Operation,

“A year after bin Laden, Pakistan continues on its trajectory of being a hybrid theocracy – pockets of liberalism with small areas where sharia is formally implemented and larger areas where the religious law is informally applied. A year later, there is no alternative discourse that can challenge extremism from amongst us. Bin Laden still lives amongst us and will become ingrained as a myth that will then form part of this society’s history.”

On Keyboard Jihadis

(originally published by Pakistan Today)

The recent wave of popularity of Imran Khan and his likes among teenagers and younger generation is an interesting phenomenon. It is heartening to see the so-called ‘de-politicized’ youth taking active part in political discussions. Before the meteoric rise of Imran Khan’s party, younger people also formed the support of Musharraf on social media and organizations like Hizb ut Tehrir and Brass Tacks of Zaid Hamid also find most of their recruits among the same youth. What has led this generation to turn around, unlike their elders, and gotten them active in the political sense? This should be an important question for sociologists interested in Pakistani Society. Following are a few observations by the author about the “New Youth” based on interactions with many youth groups and people on social media.

Who are they?

Urban kids brought up on heavy doses of state propaganda through textbooks, jingoistic dramas about Kashmir on PTV, dramas like Alpha Bravo Charlie portraying a softer, jolly side of the Armed forces, incessant references to the Afghan war in 1980s as Jihad, endless political intrigues throughout the 90s and the relative calm of the early Musharaf years, the conspiracy mongering and everyone-is-against-us proclamations after 9/11, load shedding and suicide bombs. Their political evolution did not start from student politics or local area politics but from IRC channels to Facebook and Twitter via MSN Messenger.
They have compartmentalized the role of institutions in the country. Army good, politicians bad.

What do they think?

They strongly believe that democracy is un-Islamic and democratic institutions cannot provide solutions to their problems. They extol the military and everything it does and anyone who dares criticize the military on human rights issues is a traitor. Their self righteousness is raised to delusional levels.
They read all kinds of articles on the internet but their minds process everything using a simplistic algorithm: Us versus them (they can mean U.S, Zionists, Israel, India or the West). They do not think there is any difference between Islam and Political Islam. They rationalize the suicide bombings and Taliban rule in Waziristan as being funded by “foreign forces”. They completely believe in the myth that Allama Iqbal was the spiritual father of the country(for further explanation, read pages 9 to 12  of Hasan Jafar Zaidi’s thesis “Emergence of Pakistan”) and Mr. Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan was closer to that of Modern Day Saudi Arabia or Iran rather than that of Modern day Turkey or Bangladesh. They consider secular minded people as the “scum of the earth” and enemies of Pakistan.For them, the concept of ‘Peaceful co-habitation’ is not kosher and is libelous because it negates the “Us versus Them” paradigm.  Internet has offered them the cloak of anonymity and thus they go on abusing their own freedom of speech, inconveniencing anyone who does not agree with their positions. They seek a return to the Islamic model of government implemented by Taliban in Afghanistan or the one favored by our very own, General Zia. They do not know how Zia’s period in power pushed this country back almost 20 years.

Why has this happened?

Nabiha Meher Shaikh in her blog post, “Children of Zia” opined,
“Very few across Pakistan, elite or not, teach critical thinking which is absolutely essential and should be compulsory from an early age. Without the ability to think, education starts to resemble indoctrination. And in a country like ours, where schools have no option but to teach state-sanctioned propaganda under the guise of Pakistan Studies and Islamiyat, which aims to indoctrinate with a linear vision, this becomes even more necessary. One is not allowed to challenge the syllabus and is expected to regurgitate a single perspective – the chosen perspective. If you don’t, you fail and that is not an option most are willing to take. This sends a clear message: difference and diversity will not be tolerated.

By putting profit above quality and by not teaching critical thinking from an early age, we are a part of the problem. What we are breeding is an even more dangerous form of terrorist than the ignorant, brainwashed madrassa students who do not know any better. They were never taught to think unlike those who choose not to and continue to believe in conspiracies, which are trendy and perpetuated by celebrities like Ali Azmat. It is shocking when it comes from a well-dressed, articulate student in a suit attending the top business school in the country; one whose aim in life is to then move abroad, work for a multi-national that he is currently dismissing as an evil Zionist company. I wonder how many future Faisal Shahzads and Dr Aafias are out there.”

Is this a new Phenomenon?
According to cultural critic, Nadeem F Paracha, the slogans and rhetoric of this new urban middle class keyboard-warrior are rehashed version of the same anti-Imperialist rhetoric used by Leftist groups in the 1960s and 70s. The only difference being that after Zia-era indoctrination, Che Guevara and Fidel Castro have been replaced by Osama bin Laden and Anwar al Awlaki.


To sum it up, I would like to quote journalist Xiao Lixin from   her recent  article “False impression of post-80s kids

“If we claim that a whole generation is at fault, then there must be problems with the society in which they have been brought up and in which they live, in which case we need to pinpoint the problems and find solutions.

Young people live in a society that is completely different from the one their parents knew at their age and they have developed a different outlook on life.”