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Pakistan – the land of opportunity… 6 February 2007

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Land of the pure...and the not so pure.

Mauritania rejects migrant boat

From the Beeb this morning:

A vessel which broke down with several hundred illegal migrants on board is being refused permission by Mauritania to dock or allow passengers ashore. The ship is thought to be carrying mostly Pakistani migrants.

More here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6330183.stm


Mauritania?! On the Western coast of Africa? How did they get there?? Did their illegal vessel go through the apparently heavily guarded and regulated Suez, or was this small ship able to navigate all the way around the Cape of Good Hope?!

I guess they could have taken a flight to somewhere on mainland Africa and then taken the boat onwards… though hard for them to embark or disembark at a regulated port (ie any international airport) without proper papers. Anyway.

What desperation would drive people, our people, to take huge loans at prohibitive, in fact, murderous terms from loan-sharks, leave their families, their villages and everything they have ever known, to put their lives at the mercy of the high seas 3,000 miles from home just in the hope of setting foot on the promised land that is the European Union?!

And shame on me and on the Pakistani ‘elite’, for beating our chests like baboons at Pakistani “development”, “prosperity”, “khush-haali” and “taraqqi” – what nonsensical piffle. The desperate, the malnourished and the starving millions of Pakistan have not benefitted from the poodle’s “economic miracle“. But let’s be grateful to the Usurer and his Boss; at least we are the world experts in creating meaningless slogans and soulless property developments!

Another rainy day in the desert 5 February 2007

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Everything doesn't need a category....


‘Wonderful’ weather…?!

Dubai has been enjoying some exceptionally wet weather of late, including yesterday. A pain for Brits like me (particularly those who once lived under the perma-grey skies of Central Lancashire, the ‘drizzle capital’ of …ermm… the North-West?), but wonderful for the rain-starved bedouins, I guess. Not that there are many of the latter in Dubai. And to be fair, there are far too many of the former. It almost feels like London, though there are probably more Caucasians here than in most parts of London, so this place is probably too ‘Western’ to be London.

I digress.

Yes, the weather. It has been raining a lot. This year’s rainfall in the UAE has been the heaviest in a decade, according to the Ministry of Environment and Water; which presumably means that instead of the unusual drizzling for half an hour on one December afternoon and 15 minutes on another January morning, it has actually rained properly on more than a dozen separate occasions (for instance, these in November, December and January), sometimes for a whole day or longer – remarkably unusual and decidedly unprecedented.

Not that any of this is a surprise.

As he (sallaallahu ‘alaihi wassalam) said:

The Last Hour will not come . . . till the land of Arabia becomes meadows and rivers.

extract from Sahih Muslim: Book 005, Number 2208



He (s) never told a lie, and He (s) was never told a lie…




Ever heard of JS Mill, Prime Minister? 29 January 2007

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Land of Hope and Glory..., Quotes of the day/week/month.
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How English . . . and how un-Blairite:

If all mankind, minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.

John Stuart Mill, ‘On Liberty

Nationalism? How silly. 9 January 2007

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Iqbaliat, Islam and contemporary society, Land of the pure...and the not so pure.

allama-iqbal.jpgIt is instructive that whilst the concept of the ‘nation state’ as a political or social construct has all but disappeared from Europe, the ‘cradle’ of post medieval nationalism and nationhood, it remains a powerful force in much of the Muslim world, from Egypt to Turkey, and from Pakistan to Malaysia.

This of course, in addition to being inimical to everything Muslims should believe in, and ought to do, is also rather silly. Arbitrary lines in the sand, put there on the whims of our erstwhile colonial masters or representing long-extinct tribal/ethnic affiliations, should not, and cannot, demand fealty from any sane, thinking individual. The ‘rational being’, or even the ‘reasonably sentient being’, should find this absurd: it is perfectly natural, even laudable, to have allegiance to ideas and ideologies, to be loyal to people and to their history, and to love those close to, or similar to, one; but isn’t it absurdly illogical to extend this allegiance, this loyalty and even this love to something as meaningless as a line in the sand, an obscure poem (aka the national anthem) and some random geometric patterns (aka the ‘national flag‘)?

Of course, I am not really saying anything new above (there’s a surprise!) or adding to the sum-total of human understanding, but sometimes, it helps to re-state the bleedin’ obvious by regurgitating, reheating or repeating that which has already been said before, and in this, as in most other cases, the most relevant 20th century Urdu-speaking person to turn to is the ‘Allama himself.

There. If that exciting, enticing and alluring paragraph does not get all the 2.4 readers interested in this post, nothing will. :-)

Without further twitterings from me, here’s Dr Iqbal on ‘Wataniat‘ ie the nation-state as a political construct.

Iss daur main may aur hai, jaam aur hai, jum aur

Saaqi ne bina ki rawish-e-lutf-o-sitam aur

Muslim nai bhi ta’ameer kia, apna harum aur

Tahzeeb ke azar ne trishwai sanam aur

In taza khudaon main baRa sab se watan hai

Jo pairhan iss ka hai, woh mazhab ka kafan hai

Yeh but keh tarasheeda-e-tahzeeb-i-navi hai

Gharat gar-e-khashan-e-deen-i-nabawi hai

Baazu tira tawheed ki quwwat se qawi hai

Islam tira dais he, tu Mustafawi hai!

Nazzara-e-deerana zamanay ko dikha dai

Ai Mustafawi, khaak main iss but to mila dai

Ho qaid-maqaami to nateeja hai tabahi

Rah bahar main azad-e-watan, soorat-e-maahi

Hai tark-e-watan sunnat-e-Mahboob-e-Ilaahi

Dai tu bhi nabuwwat ki sadaqat peh gawahi

Guftaar-e-siyasat main watan aur hi kuch hai

Irshaad-e-nabuwwat main watan aur hi kuch hai

Aqwaam-e-jahan main hai raqabat, to issi sai

Taskheer hai maqsood-e-tijarat, to issi sai

Khaali hai sadaqat sai siyasat, to issi sai

Kamzor ka ghar hota hai gharat, to issi sai

Aqwam main makhlooq-e-khuda bat-ti hai iss sai

Qaumeat islam ki jaR kat-ti hai iss sai

Some things never change…. 8 January 2007

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Land of Hope and Glory..., Quotes of the day/week/month.

Aah… England.

And a double aah…Orwell.

So we get Orwell on England….

England Your England:

“When you come back to England from any foreign country, you have immediately the sensation of breathing a different air. Even in the first few minutes dozens of small things conspire to give you this feeling. The beer is bitterer, the coins are heavier, the grass is greener, the advertisements are more blatant. The crowds in the big towns, with their mild knobby faces, their bad teeth and gentle manners, are different from a European crowd. Then the vastness of England swallows you up, and you lose for a while your feeling that the whole nation has a single identifiable character. Are there really such things as nations? Are we not forty-six million individuals, all different? And the diversity of it, the chaos! The clatter of clogs in the Lancashire mill towns, the to-and-fro of the lorries on the Great North Road, the queues outside the Labour Exchanges, the rattle of pin-tables in the Soho pubs, the old maids hiking to Holy Communion through the mists of the autumn morning – all these are not only fragments, but characteristic fragments, of the English scene. How can one make a pattern out of this muddle?”

The Road to Wigan Pier:

“There is no doubt about the Englishman’s inbred conviction that those who live to the south of him are his inferiors; even our foreign policy is governed by it to some extent. . . “

And for extra credit, here’s something about a place that really has not changed. London in the words of a newly arrived immigrant from Eastern Europe:

On binge-drinking:

“On Saturday nights, a half-million workers, male and female, together with their children, flood the city like a sea, flocking especially in certain sections and celebrate the Sabbath all night until five in the morning … They stuff themselves and drink like animals … They all race against time to drink themselves insensate. The wives do not lag behind their husbands but get drunk with them; the children run and crawl among them…”

On London’s cosmopolitan nature:

“You look at these hundreds of thousands, these millions of people humbly streaming here from all over the face of the earth…It is like a biblical picture, something out of Babylon, a prophecy from the Apocalypse coming to pass before your eyes.”

On religion and veiled women:

“One night, in the crowd of lost women and profligates, I was stopped by a woman making her way hurriedly through the crowd. She was dressed all in black, and her hat hid her face almost completely.”

The woman pressed a piece of paper into his hand which said, in French, “I am the resurrection and the life“.

“I learned later that it was Catholic propaganda, as usual poking its nose everywhere … There is an abundance of these propagandists, men and women. It is subtle, calculating propaganda.”

But no, the above was not written last week by a Polish plumber or a Bulgarian engineer or even a Latvian nurse. It was written by Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky in 1862, almost 150 years ago.

Plus ça change

‘Sporting’ wickets?! 4 December 2006

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Howzzat!! (aka the 'Honourable Game').
1 comment so far

It’s a well known and accepted fact that pitches in Australia, with the exception of WACA (Perth), are generally excellent for batting, in general – just check out Ponting, Hayden and Gilchrist’s average over the years! Or for that matter, Dravid, Tendulkar and Sehwag’s exploits a few seasons back. :-)  Sure, the SCG track (Sydney) helps the odd twirler later on, the Gabba (Brisbane) gets some cracks sometimes, but in general, these are pitches with true, consistent bounce and batting is generally as easy as at St John’s (Antigua) or Qaddafi (Lahore).

So do the Aussies get half the flak for these pitches that the curators and administrators (eg Mr. Bashir and the PCB) in the sub-continent get for very similar tracks? Of course not. Just as Australian players can get away with harrassing and insulting the umpire, abusing and sledging their opponents and even cheating without drawing any sanctions, it seems their curators and groundsmen are similary ‘above’ the law. I don’t  hear any calls for “sporting” tracks for the Ashes, or pitches that help both the batsmen and the bowlers.

A flat-track in Australia, such as the one for the current Adelaide Test (and also at the Gabba for the first Test) is accepted without an eyebrow being raised. Dull attritional cricket apparently makes for intriguing viewing, we are told, whilst the same stuff in Pakistan or India is called boring! Idiots like Sanjay Manjrekar couldn’t shut up about the current Karachi test pitch (Pak v WI), even though we had an exciting, interesting and conclusive match there – what about the Adelaide pitch then, Sanjay? Care to check out the scorecards for South Australia’s home matches for the last few seasons?!

hmm… is this a case of double-standards? Or just the usual bare-faced hypocrisy? :-)

Hey, quit this Pommie Bashing! 25 November 2006

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Howzzat!! (aka the 'Honourable Game').

Hmmm seems ’tis the season for England bashing! In reality, some of the bashing is excessively harsh on England – the series is only two days old so a long way to go. In any case, Australia are the better team, playing in conditions well suited to them, so of course they should, and will, win. England are accused of being obsessed by the Ashes, but are they really? Hardly, they had a very good summer against Pakistan when they comfortably won the Tests and drew the ODIs – yes, the Ashes is the most important cricket trophy for them, but they still managed to turn out a very credible Test performance against the Pakistanis!

In any case, England’s Ashes obsession is nothing close to the Australians – in England, Ashes ranks way below other “key sporting events” in the public consciousness, whether it be the Soccer World Cup, the European Championships, the FA Cup, the UEFA Champions League, Royal Ascot, Rugby Union World Cup, Wimbledon, even the Boat Race. Ashes is not even available on normal, terrestrial TV – all of the others I have listed are, and many have blanket wall-to-wall coverage on all times whereas for cricket, even for most important cricket like the Ashes, only some in England can see delayed and very brief highlights whilst the rest can’t even see that without stumping up a fat wad of cash for good ole Uncle Rupert.

Compare this with the Aussies’ Ashes obsession – where that is undoubtedly the most important sporting event in their most important sport – this in a country which is perhaps, per capita, the most successful in the most number of sports, yet is still fixated on a two inch urn. The Ashes has a very special place in their culture, and everyone, from the Prime Minister in Canberra down to the road-sweeper outside the Wolloongabba will be focused on one thing, and one thing only, for the next few weeks, and that will be Pommie bashing – that’s how it was in Douglas Jardine’s days and that is how it still is.  It would be a national calamity there if home Ashes were ever taken off Channel 9 and free-to-air terrestrial TV there and a tragedy of unprecedented proportions if Ricky actually managed to lose the Ashes twice in a row, given the personnel at his disposal. In national surveys, overwhelming majorities of Australians always confirm the Ashes as being the single-most important sporting event for them, in any sport, anywhere. Hence, if anyone is obsessed with the Ashes, its the Aussies – and frankly, why ever not – its a free world!

As for the oft-repeated mantra that England “don’t have bottle” or “are simply no good”, then, I am not so sure. After all, this same England side did beat us Pakistanis fair and square in the summer in the Tests, and to the surprise of many, even managed to draw the ODIs, this despite Pakistan having full use of its fabled and famed first-choice pace attack. Of course, us neutrals can prattle on for hours or even days about how England are woeful or the Aussies are past-it, but probably better to rely on the views of someone who is actually there.

I quote below from two posts by Seamer on WAT – this chap’s an experienced cricket follower. And he was at the Gabba for both of the first two days. He is a Queensland local, and as is the wont for residents of that state, is a staunch Aussie in every way, shape and form. He is also not someone who is averse to a bit of Pommie bashing. The views quoted below thus have added relevance, coming as they do from a strong Aussie supporter:

Post 1

A great two days for an Aussie fan. Glad i was there for them. I am not too keen to make series predictions yet though – i still think the series will be close, though there is little doubt Aus will go 1-0 up at the Gabba.

It was really bad toss for England to lose. A dry hard wicket that is already starting to crack up both down and across the wicket. There is still plenty of runs there, but batting will get progressively harder each hour the test goes on.

Anderson and Harmison failed to put the ball in the right spots and consistantly bowled too short or too full. Flintoff of course was superb and contrary to what others are saying, so was Hoggard. Giles tossed it up and to his credit bowled in a quite attacking fashion but he, Panaser or any other finger spinner was always destined to struggle on the Gabba

Flintoff is tactically inept IMO. So is Ponting too i suppose, so both teams cancel each other out in the captaincy stakes at least.

The hot, humid weather was brutal, but i was surprised at the level of England fitness. They bowled and fielded well for the entire innings. Hoggart’s effort to nail both Ponting and Gilchrist in his 29th over is an example of the tenacity showed by most of the English team (with the exception of Harmison – i would be absolutely ashamed of myself if i was him)

My conclusion is England are definately up for the challenge – England teams from bygone years would have broken but this lot did not. Despite the seemingly one sided state of affairs, England actually looked good from my perspective from the sidelines. Australia can be well pleased of their efforts too and there can be no doubt they are hungry and keen for revenge.

This series might well live up to the hype yet.

Post 2

Yes there are many reasons why the Aussies will be highly motivated. Revenge for sure, all the barbs at there age, and home ground advantage. They will take some beating.

But i am just saying that while on the surface England look like they are playing poorly, they are not. They were generally sharp in the field, and Flintoff, Hoggard and to a lesser degree Giles, bowled really well through the entire innings under very difficult conditions. Jones was awesome behind the stumps too.

I have been watching Gabba test for over a decade and this was the first time in ages that the opposition did’nt get mentally broken. They were bested, but not broken. They have earned my respect after watching them the last two days in any case. Drop Anderson, have Harmison find form and win some tosses and game on IMO.

So all in all, yes, England will probably lose the Ashes this time. But not because they are woeful, but because this is a truly special Australian team, playing together perhaps for the last time, in its own back-yard. These southern hemisphere types generally don’t need any additional motivation, but here, we can add in the sheer humiliation of being the first team to lose the Ashes for 18 odd years – the “Dad’s Army” of Antipodean cricketers would like to set the record straight. Two of them in particular: Warne & McGrath. All-time greats, both of them; would they really even countenance ending their glorious careers by losing to the Poms twice in a row, and this time, in their own back-yard?

Think about it.

Free Speech in Pakistan? You’re serious? 20 November 2006

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Hypocrisy, Land of the pure...and the not so pure.

Comment gone lengthy… (©: Knicq Enterprises) – in response to Sabizak’s comment on the previous post.

I do agree that many Westerners are of course admirably honest and diligent in their views of Jews and Israel – I have discussed a few of them (eg Finkelstein, Chomsky et al) here previously. However, even these guys are hardly mainstream. The dissenting voices of a few ‘leftwing’ intellectuals (the Ivy League tenured class) may be grudgingly tolerated but are never welcomed. The difficulties encountered by Professor Finkelstein when publishing his books in the US are just one stark reminder of the numerous controls on ‘free speech’. In any case, a few bastions of left-wing or anti-establishment rhetoric do not a country make.

When it comes to the mainstream discourse, even those mild criticisms of Israel are rebuked. The opprobrium and scorn heaped on Mearsheimer and Walt by their peers, by the media and by the wider America society, for stating what most of us outside the US would accept as being a ’statement of the bleedin’ obvious’ is eye-opening. The message is this: whilst its okay for lefties (eg Chomsky) or fascists (eg David Duke) to criticise Zionism, it certainly is not kosher for ‘normal’ folks to do so.

Secondly, I would submit that the reference to Pakistan is somewhat irrelevant here. We (Pakistanis, or Muslims, for that matter) do not claim to be paragons of “free speech” – in fact, our penal code and our society places visible and well-known controls on expression. To berate us for something we never claim to be in the first place seems a trifle harsh – whilst we never claim to be adherents of such dubious notions as ‘free speech’, “they” (ie the Western world as a collective) do! Hence, it is only proper that ‘they’ are held accountable by the standards they themselves proudly cherish and uphold, allegedly.

However, as Pakistan has been mentioned, it would be instructive to explore the issue. Sabizak wrote that in Pakistan, if you “publicly deny the ideology of pakistan”, your fate would not be the envy of many. Is this really borne out by the facts?

Pakistani print and electronic media is replete not only with denials and criticisms of the canard that is the public face of the ideology of Pakistan, but also contain veiled and not so veiled criticisms of many aspects of Islam. Even the recent fiasco that is the so-called “Women’s Protection Bill” was used by many in the ‘liberal intelligentsia’ as a convenient stick to hit Islam and Islamic concepts with, generally in a manner that had little relation to fact or reality. Every evening, loony lefties such as Pervez Hoodbhoy, Mehdi Hasan Rizvi, Samar Mubarak Ali et al fill Pakistani TV screens with semi-demented notions of what Pakistan should be or should not be – and these notions generally do involve robust critiques of Islam and of Pakistan as an Islamic state. Heavens have not fallen and these mouthpieces continue to receive their paychecks from their foreign or local paymasters – doesn’t sound like a particularly repressive environment to me.

I do agree that such criticism and free speech is rare and confined to the Western elite of the country, but that is often the case, even in richer countries. In Pakistan, even mainstream politicos like Iqbal Hiader, Umar Asghar etc openly and blatantly express sentiments that are not only inimical to Islam but often downright blasphemous – that does not seem to impact the vote bank of the political parties these gents caucus with.

Let me clarify – I am not implying that the above is necessarily a good thing or even something to be applauded – my personal view is that it is not – however, the fact that it exists should nonetheless be acknowledged.

Pakistan’s largest selling English language newspaper, The Dawn, is a bastion of ‘left-wing and anti-establishment rhetoric’, and has been for as long as I can remember. The newest decent entrant in the print media market, aka The Daily Times, has made a name for itself with its stridently ‘liberal’ (though not libertarian) and pro-West stances. Najam Sethi, Cowasjee, Dr Lodhi, Irfan Hussain, Khalid Ahmed, Ejaz Haider etc have all made a nice living out of this racket, and there are many more waiting to jump on the gravy train – if criticising Islam and Pakistan wasn’t so lucrative an enterprise, these guys would have been out of business. :-)

So no, being critical of Islam or Pakistan’s ideology in Pakistan is not a one-way ticket to gaol – it is a decision that makes sound commercial sense and is thus the choice made by many of the leading media barons of the country.