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Lama or Llama 30 April 2006

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Refutations, World gone mad... or is it just me?.
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A gem from the 'Dalai Lama':

"This new terrorism has been brewing for many years. Much of it is caused by jealousy and frustration at the West because it looks so highly developed and successful on television"

So nothing to do with the West invading other countries, bombing and killing innocent civilians and pursuing a neo-imperialist foreign policy? No? Oh okay. What about the grinding poverty imposed on 'the South' by the West's unfair trade practices and unfairer usurious economic system? Not that either? Oh well..must be the TV programmes then, not enough channels or something.

This Lama guy already appears to have attained his 'nirvana'… i.e. become senile / demented. Maybe that's what he does all day – watch TV – so he thinks the 'terrorists' do the same. Now there's a thought – do they have The Bold and the Beautiful in the Afghan caves? hmm.. that would explain some of the annoyance and pent-up frustration those terrorist types exhibit – wouldn't you be a tad upset if you had to watch that trash all day, every day? 

And there are fools who go to this Lama for 'enlightenment'? 


Mind your language . . . 30 April 2006

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

This blog entry consists almost entirely of edited excerpts from some comments recently on knicq bhai's excellent blog – so apologies if you have already been to knicq's blog and read all this there. In any case, he was here first so only fitting that he leads the way – one is merely following in his exalted footsteps, after all…


The issue is language…and its impact on culture. Many of us lament that the "mawdern" Pakistani young seem to have no affinity for Urdu and thus for "Eastern" culture and "morals" (whatever all that may mean) and there is an all-pervasive trend of aping the 'Gora-saab', of importing and implementing the worst excesses of Western society – now all that may, or may not, be true – let's leave that for another day, shall we? Today, let's talk about something more fundamental – what does being a Pakistani actually entail anyway? Is it to be obsessed with bhaands, maraasis, naach gaana and the taoos-o-rubab offered by Hindustan? Is it to ape every aspect of Hinduism in the name of cultural crossovers? If that is what Pakistan is all about, then why bother with this country? In fact, why go to the trouble, and the not inconsiderable sacrifice, to create and protect this land, when it is merely Hindustan-lite?

These are weighty questions indeed, and ones with which our country must grapple, so it can come to terms with itself and its place in the world. Let's take the specific issue of language – is it really that important for a Pakistani to be au fait with Urdu? What if someone is like me, i.e. somewhat badzouq and not exactly Allah’s gift to Urdu adab aur shaistagee? Why is this such an important part of being a Pakistani – surely, what is far more important, is to be loyal to, and be a passionate believer in, the ideology of Pakistan? And that ideology surely is not dependent upon this language? Surely, it is no mere aberration that the Founder of this country could barely speak any Urdu? Surely, it is not a trivial fact that at Partition, the overwhelming majority of the people of this land could not speak or understand a word of Urdu, and were wonderful Muslims and Pakistanis nonetheless – in fact, it was when the ideology of Pakistan was subverted by self-seeking politicians and generals, and when the true meaning of this land was forgotten, nay denied, that we actually lost that non-Urdu speaking majority. So the crucial fact is perhaps not language, but ideology – in my view, the latter should drive the society and one’s world view, and not be shaped by events.

One could argue that the preference for language (not language per se) is merely a part of the wider overarching culture of the society, and all rational choices at the societal level which shape its culture should be derived from the ideology of that society. If so, language ceases to be a be-all and end-all of ethnic identification, and becomes a by-product of one’s world-view.

As such, if the ideology of Pakistan is to be a homeland for Muslims, to provide a place where Islam can be established and practiced in its entirety, then surely it is not out of the realms of reasonableness to suggest that the language of Pakistan should be the one that is most likely to achieve that aim – and then there is only a short deductive leap from that point to believing that this language is Arabic, not Urdu, Pushto, Punjabi, English, Balochi, Brahui, Sindhi, Farsee or Seraiki. Without going into the practical obstacles or the logistical nightmares, can one suggest, merely as a workable hypothesis, that such a move would have had a wonderfully positive impact on our society the past 50 years? Ignorance remains the scourge of our nation, and surely there is no better antidote for that than Qur’an and thus the language of the Qur’an? Would shirk be as rampant today? Would heresies be so widely practiced, even encouraged and celebrated? Would Pakistan still be as obsessed with the Hindustani bhaands and maraasis, and would these pathetic misfits still be the moral reference point for our youth? Perhaps, but it is worth a thought,  at least in our ivory tower :-)

I do not mean to denigrate the efforts of luminaries such as Molvi Abdul Haq (or others who may be more worthy), who did so much to popularise Urdu, but was there another way, perhaps another option that would have served, and strengthened the ideology of Pakistan, stemmed the linguistic resentments of the majority province and fostered a true bond of unity and fraternity? After all, if Mustafa Kemal could forcefully and coercively change the language and the script of the Turks in a generation or so, and thus ask the Turks to sever all ties with their wonderful history and their Muslim heritage, why could we not have made a move in the opposite direction, and reaffirm our Muslim heritage, a move that would have needed little coercion, merely encouragement and organisation?

I defer to no one in my admiration and affection for Urdu; to read it, write it and converse in it is a joy for all whom Allah has blessed with it, but that does not mean one cannot explore alternative scenarios, does it? Or is that too unpatriotic?  

Is this the society we want to live in? 27 April 2006

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in World gone mad... or is it just me?.
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'Interesting' news where an old man was locked up by the police and prevented from saving his own possessions from a fire in his own house – for his own protection, of course.

A retired army captain is suing police for the loss of valuable heirlooms in a fire at his 16th-century manor house.

Edmund Carlisle, 83, who served in the Indian Army in the Second World War, claimed police demanded he left the house, refusing to allow him time to rescue his collection of antique furniture and Victorian oil paintings. When Capt Carlisle objected and tried to remain inside with his wife Rosemary, 82, he said he was wrongly detained in the back of a police van.

I am not a fire expert so I will leave aside the rights and wrongs of the specific issue. However, does this incident raise a wider, and much more important, issue, namely the sometimes mindless and pervasive "health and safety" culture in England today. I think this culture has developed primarily due to the litigious society we have become; when every idiot threatens to sue on the most puerile of reasons, it is not surprising that those in authority end up treading too carefully and losing all sense of perspective.

Whatever happened to the sensible notion that accidents will happen despite the best efforts to avoid them, and that risk is a normal part of life – it cannot be eliminated, so its futile to even attempt it. Yes, by all means, take all sensible steps to mitigate against the obvious risks, eg by wearing seat-belts, locking our homes at night, and so on – but to avoid all risk altogether? What does one do then – live in a plastic bubble?

The same "health and safety" endemic means that beautiful trees are chopped down as acorns may fall on someone's head; that playground swings are removed because a child may fall off, and public swimming pools are closed off. Yes, the mindless muppets running the so-called "public" sector are partly to blame, but so are the common folk who, when faced with any misfortune or accident, look around for someone else to blame. This blame culture is unhelpful and leads to those in authority making sub-optimal decisions. For governments, often the best course of action is not the Blairite call to arms of "Something Must be Done", but the Sir Humphrey/Hacker approach of "masterly inactivity".

There is an even broader issue here, which needs a separate blog entry in its own right – the balance of rights and responsibilities. Where everyone knows their rights, but few care for their responsibilities, it is not a surprise that we end up with the inner cities we do have. In any case, I am not so keen on the "rights" culture so beloved of Eurocrats and lefty loonies – rights, by their very nature, are 'awarded' by someone up high, usually a politician. Much more helpful if instead of this talk of rights for every group imaginable, we revert back to the basic liberties of the subject/citizen; liberties which everyone has and which are inviolable except in clearly defined and well-established circumstances.