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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.
12 comments

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

—–o—–x—–o—–x—–o—–x—–o—–x—–o—–x—–o—–x—–o—–x–

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!

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Nationalism? How silly. 9 January 2007

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

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

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

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

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.

1947 14 August 2006

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

minar.jpgAnd now for something positive: Adil Najam has posted some historic video        footage from 1947 on his site; we may not be independent, but it’s good to remind ourselves of what could have been, and what could still be, Insha Allah.

“National” “Independence” Day?! 14 August 2006

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Land of the pure...and the not so pure, Refutations.
1 comment so far

Dr. Muhammad Iqbal (1877 – 1938) on Wataniat:

Ho qaid-e-maqami toh nateejah hai tabahaee
Rah bahar main azad-e-watan soorat-e-maahee

Hai tark-e-watan sunnat-e-mahboob-e-ilahee
Dai tu bhi nabuwwat ki sadaqat pah gawahaee

Guftar-e-siyasat main watan aur hi kuch hai
Irshad-e-nabuwwat main watan aur hi kuch hai

Aqwam-e-jahan main hai raqabat toh isi sai
Taskheer hai maqsood-e-tijarat toh isi sai

Khali hai sadaqat sai siyasat toh isi sai
Kamzor ka ghar hota hai gharat toh isi sai

Aqwam main makhlooq-e-khuda bat-ti hai is sai
Aaumeat islam ki jar kat-ti hai is sai

And my favourite…

Yah but kah tarasheeda tahzeeb-e-nawi hai
Gharat gar-e-kashana-e-deen-e-nabawi hai
 
Bazar tira tawheed ki quwwat sai qawi hai
Islam tera dais hai, tu mustafawi hai!

Nazzara-e-dairina zamanay ko dikha dai
Ai mustafawi khak main iss but ko mila dai!

As with so much else…the Allama was remarkably insightful…

A glimpse into Musharraf’s Pakistan… 16 July 2006

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

Some things don’t need any further comment….

On September 6, 1965, Major Muhammad Taj and his unit were directed to get to the Khokhara Par border in Tharparkar district. Their assignment was to recapture Shakarbu ranger post some six miles away which had been occupied by the Indian army. They arrived at dawn to find activity on the Indian side. Major Taj attacked with a mobile force consisting of 16 men with MGs and RRs. The post was captured. Soon after, a rapid advance was made on the post by two Indian tanks accompanied by two rifle companies. Taj and his men opened fire, and L/Naik Khushi Muhammad took out on both tanks. Taj engaged the advancing Indians with mortar and machnegun fire, forcing them to withdraw, leaving behind a number of dead and two wrecked tanks. For this action, Taj was awarded Sitara-e-Jurat and Khushi Muhammad the Tamgha-e-Jurat.

Lt Colonel Muhammad Taj won his second SJ in 1971, in recognition of his performance in Dhaka during military action and the subsequent march to Rajshahi, fighting a number of battles en route. He crossed the Brahmaputra river, with its rapid flow, under the most adverse circumstances to capture Nagarban where battles were fought against the Mukti Bahini and defecting East Pakistan Regiment rangers.

This twice decorated officer retired from the army as a brigadier, and for many years has been living peacefully in his home (his castle?) in Islamabad. Peacefully, that is, until nine days ago. Why — is explained in a letter sent by Brigadier Taj to President General Pervez Musharraf on July 2 :

“Last night, an ISI major in plainclothes who called himself Tipu, with some 10 men also in plainclothes, armed with automatic weapons, entered my house and beat me, my daughter-in-law and my two grandsons.

“They kidnapped us and took us away to a deserted location where they threatened us with death if my grandson did not cooperate with them in identifying the children who had been involved in a playground incident with the relatives of a senior ISI officer.

“I told them that I was not aware of the incident but could ask the people in the neighbourhood to identity the children involved. We were brought to Faizabad in a convoy of at least five vehicles where the major proceeded to threaten the residents, and beat up and kidnapped another two boys. My daughter-in-law and grandsons were sent away to an undisclosed location by the major. In the meantime, a crowd of local residents gathered, freed me and took the major into custody. The Islamabad police, who had been called by the residents, arrived and took the major away.” Brigadier Taj went to the I-9 police station, filed an FIR, and then another ISI officer (also in plainclothes) appeared. Taj explained the situation to him, and the officer, a Colonel Nisar, ordered the release of Taj’s daughter-in-law and grandsons. They were dropped at a deserted location near his house in Sector I-8/4 an hour or so later. All three had torn clothes and were bruised and battered.

His letter ends : “I am 80 years old now and can only look to you, Sir, as the President of Pakistan and the Chief of the Pakistan Army that I also proudly served, to restore my dignity as an ex-army officer and protect my basic rights as a citizen of Pakistan, and to order immediate action against all officials involved in this criminal act.”

There were many witnesses to the incident that took place on the night of July 1. Three houses on Street 86, I-8/4 were targeted by armed men in two separate cavalcades of double-cabined vehicles. From one house, an ailing teenager awaiting heart surgery was dragged out of his house, thrown on to the street, beaten and then thrown into one of the vehicles. His mother tried to come to his aid but she was pushed aside, her clothes torn, and she also was loaded into a vehicle. Brigadier Taj was slapped, pushed, roughed up, and pushed into one of the double cabins, and the cavalcades sped away.

The mother and her sons were taken to the G-9 office of the ISI while Brigadier Taj was taken to Faizabad to identify the other teenagers involved. Two other boys were picked up and sent to an agency ‘safe house.’

What has happened since then? Well, on July 6, the Director-General of the Inter Services Public Relations, Major-General Shaukat Sultan expressed his ‘regrets’ over the incident. In his own words : “The incident is most unfortunate and extremely regrettable. This has been taken note of at the highest level. I assure you we are very concerned about the incident and action will be taken.” Strong words from a strong man!

Major ‘Tipu’ is supposedly a Pakistan Military Academy-trained man. What sort of men does this proud institution spawn, and who teaches them what?

Source 

And yes, I know the above is not a ‘proper‘ update and probably would not meet knicq and orchid’s exacting standards; I also acknowledge that the above is mere anecdotal evidence, no more, and in a land of 160 million, one elderly man’s plight counts for little, however heroic and venerated that man might have been. However, sometimes, one has to cut through the shocking statistics and the mind-numbing numbers; the staggering illiteracy rates, the large number of suicides, the crimes, the poverty, the helplessness… all that is rendered almost sterile in bland economic facts. Sometimes, one has to cut through all that, and glimpse life at the purely personal level; maybe because we can only empathise with people we can relate to, and not with empty statistics (or with statisticians for that matter!). And it is at that personal level that we get to see the true and shocking reality of the military junta, where Musharraf’s crimes against Islam, against Pakistan and against humanity really hit home…

Super Pak? 30 May 2006

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Howzzat!! (aka the 'Honourable Game'), Land of the pure...and the not so pure.
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Trust Niamat (aka AE) to come up with something rather heart-warming even whilst dissecting Muralitharan's action and the ongoing Eng v SL series:

Finally, I want to bring attention to Umpiring. In current times, with hundreds of cameras, amazing slow high-definition that shows the most incredible details, and then all this 'hawk-eye' technology that tells us exactly where the ball would hit the stumps in LBW decisions, the pressure on the Umpires to continually get it right is incredible.

Step up Super Pak.

Aleem Dar has taken the Umpiring world by storm – it's almost as if he has cameras showing him replays in his eyes! The amount of decisions that he has got right has been phenomenal, not to say that the other umpires are not being equally proficient, but it's great to know that Dar Saab is now the greatest Umpire in the game, and for a country that doesn't have a clue about justice, impartiality, equality and respect for the law, the world's greatest judge in cricket is our very own Aleem Dar.

I found the last sentence wonderfully poignant.

  • A Laptop – $ XX
  • An internet connection and card – $ YY
  • Reading Abu Eesa after a gap of 4 weeks – priceless.

I have been travelling (just work) for the past few weeks, and been snowed under with various other things – hence the paucity of activity here, which I am sure was noticed by both of my 2.4 readers. :-) Back now, so both of you can expect some serious updates over the next few days, Insha Allah.

Mind your language . . . 30 April 2006

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

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?