An Unfortunate Mindset

You know there is a very fine line, thin and almost obscure, which connects the mindset which deems it ok to insult someone in public by calling them names – especially when the person in question is of the opposite gender – and the mindset which is ok with ‘light beating’ of wives to be ok for things which are not ‘acceptable’ in terms of their behavior.

This very thin line of connection whilst cannot be seen so easily and to the naked eye is actually one of many big problems with us. And it’s a problem not just in one way or one level. Multiple ways. It’s an entire thought process or school of thought if you will which isn’t really the produce of a well-researched and intellectual think tank or anything of that sort. Just the opposite. Fueled by an ignorant and ancient mindset which refuses to embrace good for humanity and wants to continue ruling with their veil of ignorance on top of everyone to stay in their positions of power and influence. I am sure it won’t require any rocket science to guess who I am referring to.

But that’s one of the things. We are ok dissecting and discussing it in drawing rooms and condemning it as if it was the most natural thing to come to us. Whereas upon closer introspection you might find that one some levels you are just as ignorant. Ok maybe not ‘just as ignorant’ but definitely more ignorant than you would like to admit.

Khawaja Asif’s remarks in the Parliament against Shireen Mazari were uncalled for, unbecoming and definitely not something that should be part of the nation’s parliament much less coming from a federal minister for crying out loud. It was not the first time from Khawaja Asif and definitely not the first time in the history of the country. There have been many incidents in the past involving women parliamentarians of all parties. Benazir Bhutto too had to face such ridicule.

It is sad that such things happen. But these things happen not just here – they happen in other parts of the world as well. So this is actually a bigger problem world over especially with the whole ceiling on women’s achievements and growth and success etc. Till we as a whole get out of this need to differentiate between genders in the professional realm – things will remain the same.

This discrimination and mindset world over is there but perhaps most parts of the world have become a bit more subtle and sophisticated so they don’t tend to boil over like it still does here. It was also unbecoming of people chiming in with ‘Keep quite aunty’ etc. It was also unbecoming of others present there not doing enough to control the situation and try and make amends immediately. Surely this is not something which cannot transcend different political party lines. Respect and all?

Sadly it doesn’t. It is this very mindset which will perhaps condemn the light beating issue of the CII (the wonderful people that they are) but will actually internally agree with them and then well who knows what happens in their households. It is the same ignorant and ‘jaahil’ soch that thinks it is ok to go around beating the weaker sex. As is the case. It is the same mindset which then goes on to connect with other problems like honor killing and all. The one which would most likely look down upon the victim of a rape and take out their flaws and faults which led to the crime rather than look at the perpetrator.

It is the mindset which thinks it’s a man’s world and only men are allowed to be kings and rulers and have every single inch of power available in this world. And that anything else is here to be man’s objects of desire, use and rejection. It is unfortunate that such a mindset occupies the parliament of our country. It is unfortunate that such a mindset is allowed to spew negativity towards development. It is unfortunate that we have not done enough to battle this mindset.

It is this mindset which has for years continued being an obstacle towards girls education. It is this mindset which has given liberty to elements like TTP and the like to go about attacking and murdering innocents, destroying structures and lives, vanquishing dreams and hopes. It is this mindset which is unfortunate and which hasn’t been dealt with where it needs to be dealt with the most – in the mind. The military operation has beat the TTP in the background. But the social fabric of our society is still suffering.

The ‘Tali-Bang’

So let’s see if we can get this straight – ‘Taali do haathon say bajti hay’ hence you need two parties to be mutually working towards the goal of a ‘peaceful’ dialogue process. But what is happening here is that the government is doing the taali for that process and the militants are bringing a Bang instead. And hence we establish how to do the ‘Tali-Bang’. That was just a lame way of saying that the Taliban is not an entity that you go and have a dialogue with. There is no basis for the government or the armed forces to be holding a dialogue with the Taliban.

For 12 years we have been entrenched in a war / conflict that has been inherited as a collaborated result of the American operations in Afghanistan and the prequel creation of the Taliban back in the Soviet Conflict. For 12 years we have faced drone attacks, terrorist attacks, suicide bombings, civilian casualties, armed forces casualties and countless other acts which will on any soil qualify as an act against the writ of the State and government of the country, against the Sovereignty of the country. Yet some of the more ‘sharp’ minded individuals in our leadership apparatus are convinced that the solution is a dialogue, a dialogue with an entity which continues to target innocents and armed forces personal. And it doesn’t end with the TTP. There is your LeJ, LeT etc etc. All carrying out different aspects of the same mindless killing plan. The TTP wages its war against the security forces and cries Jihad against the infidel American forces and the infidel American supporter. The LeJ cries infidel on all minorities and burns, kills, bombs their houses. Just yesterday we bore witness to a scathing attack on a church in Peshawer killing around 80 people (women and children included) and injuring countless more.

Earlier this year the LeJ carried out a series of attacks on the Hazara community in Quetta. Attacks were carried out on the Abbasi town Shia Community in Karachi. Homes of a Christian community were burned down in Lahore. All mentioned events are from this year alone which have resulted in the loss of almost a thousand lives.

The TTP’s most recent attack on the armed forces came last week in which a General was also killed. This was a day after some modalities of the ‘Peaceful’ dialogue process were shared.

The countless incidents of the TTP, LeJ and the likes’ various attacks on the armed forces, civilian populations and minorities can be listed. The where and the how many is not meant to be the discussion point. The point is there needs to be action taken against these groups. The point is no way that these groups should be sat down with for a dialogue. Why? It doesn’t make sense to hold a ‘dialogue’ with cold blooded murders slurring the name of our religion and constantly challenging the writ of the state and its security apparatus not to mention targeting innocent lives.

This is something that I was and still am against in Imran Khan and PTI’s mandate. I don’t agree with their approach. And please let’s come out of any corners and admit and condemn what is wrong.

So what is the approach then? What is the solution? The only thing that comes to my mind is that an extensive operation has to be carried out by the armed forces – either head on or covert. But that’s the only way. Admit that there will be casualties. There will be collateral damage. But it is necessary. It has to be done. Will it work? I don’t know because honestly that’s where the will of the army comes in. They need to be heavily inclined to carry this out. But the more one thinks about it, the armed forces will probably not be inclined towards an all out operation. It will contribute towards a the Taliban’s methodology of recruitment using the whole ‘your own country is attacking you’ to lure more and more recruits. Secondly the Army for all its credibility and what not, does seem to give that sense of still having some deeply entrenched need not to severe ties completely with their previous employees. I mean after all they were used by us for the Soviet Conflict jointly with the US and then later on Kashmir. Let’s not make two ways about it. The mercenaries have been utilized by our armed forces for their gain where they saw fit. And one gets the feeling that they haven’t outlived their use in the minds of the security think tank. Especially when you take into consideration the fact that the army has and always will remain quite India Centric on one end and a little bit of America centric on the other. I am sure otherwise that as was done in Swat a similar operation is quite possible by our military. And covert hits are also possible through our intelligence. It is not beyond our capability.

As a colleague of mine pointed out that once the army option is exhausted above in terms of the do’s and don’ts and the want to do’s – there comes the civilian government and leadership. They will not make the call. They cannot make the call because they have ties and some coalitions with the clergy. With clergy driven parties. So no – they won’t. Imran Khan has never given the indication of wanting to take action against them and has rather stuck to the ‘Dialogue’ process so he gets ruled out. PML-N needs the clergy driven and religious driven parties to work with. They are not ordering the hit.

The clergy simply cannot back an operation which will engage people who are supposedly doing what they are doing in the name of Islam and Allah. That puts them in the most awkward of positions.

No matter how much one can wrack their brains there is no solution in the head which comes which makes any sense. A solution which has a murderer coming over for dinner is not any sense for me. These people have destroyed the social fabric of this country. They have pushed us more towards two different extremes rather than a moderation, a balance. But for the life of us there just doesn’t seem to be any way that can be fathomed which will give us a solution. Not any time soon and not from anyone but the armed forces who need in their heads the various entities and mercenaries for their ‘immortal’ enemies. For what is their use if there are no enemies and no borders to defend? Right?

So what do we do? What is the solution? What is the way forward? What is going to happen?

No one knows. So we continue with the Tali and they continue with the Bang.

Naya Pakistan?

Almost two months have come to pass since the election and already there seems to be a familiar cycle resuming. A unfortunate ‘same old same old’ seems to be ringing in the air. It almost seems that given a couple of more months and all the naysayers and pessimists/uber realists will be lined up to have their chance at telling us all ‘We told you so!’ An unusually absent Prime Minister, a somewhat sheepish sounding and directionally unsound looking government and the lack of anything big in terms of an action or step have all given more substance to these thoughts than anything else.

On top of that – the nagging issues still remain the same, almost as if they have maintained their status quo after the much anticipated and talked about historic election. And we as a nation seem to have almost gone back to our previous mode. Sleep. It may be too soon to say that ‘I was wrong’ but signs of it are showing quite evidently thus far.

Moreover the nagging issues remain as mentioned. The power outs, politicking, terrorist attacks, sectarian attacks, protests, strikes etc etc. Realistically the power issue isn’t one which was ever going to be fixed over night. But then again a plan or concrete vision on how to go about tackling it doesn’t seem to have come about strongly enough. The politicking remains. And will remain ever so a part of the DNA make up and structure of all things Pakistan for some time to come. (and to a degree are part of most countries). The terrorist attacks continue and the one thing that I did have an issue with over the PTI is the way they would come off as Taliban Apologists more than anything else. They attacked innocents, they took responsibility for the attacks, they murdered people- there is no room for negotiations here. I think it is quite clear what has to be done. Condemn them in clear and strong words for what they are and take action against them. Same goes for the LeJ – the hate organization has restarted their attacks on the Hazara Shia community with the latest one being over the weekend in Quetta. The state must take action against them. They openly claim these attacks and nothing is done to haul them in. The MQM continues to bring Karachi to a complete stop as before. And now with London being extremely active over the Imran Farooqui murder case and Altaf Hussain’s residence being investigated by the Scotland Yard there seems to be some more days of strikes and more ahead.

The problem is … I could go on and on about all that is going on but that would just take up unnecessary space. Where is the change? There doesn’t seem to be any change coming from the government in the way things are being done or managed. It all seems a repackaged version of the same. And also the country, the nation, the people seem to be conveniently going back to sleep. And the prime minister. Mian saaaaab – kithay ho???

Election Fever 2013

‘Imran Khan will do a clean sweep’ ‘PPP is nowhere to be seen, Zardari must have something up his sleeve’ ‘Nawaz Shariff kay vote tou tootay hee tootay, balkay saath may zardari kay aur MQM kay bhee tootay’ ‘Sir Imran Khan aa raha hay aap bas dekhtay jaye’ ‘PML-N will win, Imran will gather no more than 20 seats’ ‘PPP will form a coalition with PTI, the whole objective was to destroy the N vote bank’ ‘IK is revealing his extreme rightist colors, he is a closet Taliban I tell you’ ‘Imran will win, the fortunes of this country will change’

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Yep, that’s pretty much all that’s been there on everybody’s discussion agenda. Elections. Just 4 days to go now. Come May 11th and this country will for sure witness history. The first time that civilian governments would transfer power democratically and as per the constitution in the history of Pakistan. It is a momentous occasion also because apart from the old stalwart parties, Imran Khan’s PTI has been grabbing everyone’s attention, and in a huge way. No longer is it just PML-N or PPP that are the major players in the political arena. PTI has arrived. Whether they will be able to cash in the votes from their meteoric rise of the past 1.5 years is yet to be seen and anybody’s guess. The calculated guesswork leads us to believe that Imran Khan will definitely manage a dent if nothing else. As noted by Cyril Almeida in his column in Dawn yesterday; even if he hasn’t really managed to get the non-voter (the guy who wants a fair and established system which is progressive and authentic) to come out and vote as much as he would have wanted to, he has in the process given rise to the non-voter inside every voter (the guy who votes for the party that has taken ‘care’ of his or his area’s specific needs but in some part of his heart also wishes for the same things as the non-voter). He has given people hope that there could really be a new way of doing things. A better way. The right way.

Everyone is excited, everyone is hopeful. Some are supporting the ‘Naya Pakistan’. If social media was to be the deciding factor then Imran Khan would have most definitely Some are going for the established parties (who weren’t apparently hand in pocket with the last regime for the last 5 years).

The logical mind is saying PML-N will win. The logical mind is also saying that no party will win with clear majority thou and another coalition setup is inadvertent. Now that has raised speculations and given space to more drawing room electoral analysis. I think the fervor of election day/night that has been missing in the 90’s is coming back for people with this election. The last one of course was not quite the same being a couple of months after Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.

This election season has also been marred by terrorist attacks which has led to fingers being pointed at PTI and PML-N being pro Taliban hence not being the victims of bomb attacks and grave security threats which are causing other parties problems in being able to campaign. On ground you don’t really see anyone other than Imran Khan and the Shariff brothers. And all their respective cronies. You do tend to feel for others and for a moment think that ‘Waqai may elections tou lagta hay sirf Punjab may ho rahain hain’. But to Kaptaan’s credit he did go to other provinces as well. Where the attacks are taking place. MQM did hold a rally in Lahore. MQM has also complained but they are doing their door to door campaigning (slightly scary that!). PPP have unleashed Rehman Malik (although maybe somebody forgot to tell them that they have to try and win the election, not lose it).

Another throwback to the elections of the 90’s is the politicians and their campaign speeches. The assaulting the opponent in the most hilarious of manners possible. The most ridiculous speeches and jokes and taunts. Yahan Mian sahib ko himmat pakarnay ko kaha ja raha hay tou wahan Zardari kay B Team kay Kaptaan ka ilzaam lagay ja raha hay. Pakistani politics dramatization at it’s best.

Bottom line – 5 days to go. This is indeed a historic moment for the country. It is definitely down to the nation to make this historic moment turn out to be a good turning point for the nation as well. We all have the power to vote. Let’s make sure we exercise it properly. And not let it go to waste. We all have a responsibility towards the ‘Naya’ Pakistan that Imran Khan is selling in his campaign. Even if he does come to power – it is us who have to BE the change in order to BRING the change.

Pakistan Zindabad! Cheers Open-mouthed smile (And don’t forget to vote on the 11th – 11th May isn’t a holiday, it’s a day for change).

And The Attacks Pile On…

More than 50 people killed, scores injured, 200 apartments destroyed, 150 shops flattened, burial ceremony of people killed in blast also saw some cross fire. The abbas town blast in Karachi is in addition to almost 200 people killed in 2 blasts in Quetta in the previous 2 months. All targeting the Shia community. There have been dharnas. Everyone knows who is behind these attacks because the barbarians responsible for these inhuman acts have oh so proudly claimed responsibility. Their leader has been arrested. But that’s it. What more has been done? What has the state done to address the concerns of the Shia community?

This is an extremely sensitive time for people across the country. As it is we have constantly seen terrorism and such attacks gaining momentum over the last 12 years. Target killings, suicide bombings, base attacks etc etc. But this year, with the 3rd month just starting and already the death toll from targeted bombings of the Shia community has reached 250 people. This is in addition to other target killings and terrorist attacks.

What exactly is the state doing ? People were already expecting the period between the elections to be bad. But this is becoming an extremely sensitive situation because just one community is seemingly being targeted. And what is more is that the state is seemingly incapable of taking action against those responsible. As I am writing this blog I can see news clips of Rehman Malik talking to the media about how there is information of Karachi being pulled into a war zone. And that he had stated before hand that there will be targeted bombings and massacres in Quetta and Karachi. My QUESTION TO THE ESTEEMED MR. REHMAN MALIK: WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU DOING? You are the bloody interior minister. There is absolutely no justification nor any reprise in saying that I had said that these would happen. Why the hell was action not taken to stop these? If there was information from the intelligent services or various intelligent agencies in the country about attacks then why was that information not acted upon?

If there was information and still these attacks were not prevented then the state has failed. If the perpetrators are known and still no effective action is taken against them then the state has failed. If the citizens of this nation continue to live in fear over safety and security of their day to day lives then the state has failed. Failing to realize the sensitivity of a situation where a community’s residential hub has been bombed and the leaders enjoying parties instead of taking notice of the incident then the state has failed. The state has failed the people. The state has failed the nation. The establishment has failed to give confidence that there is any control left. What is the motive here? To delay the elections? Maybe. Who knows. I don’t care. All I care about is answers as to why these attacks are never prevented.

And the esteemed Mr. Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Choudhry. If you could please use your judicial powers and instinctive nature to come down hard on those responsible for ensuring the safety and security of the people of this country in the same manner that you made the life of the government miserable over the Swiss letter than that would really be appreciated.

Things are just heading towards a boiling point. Even the most ardent patriots or people who want to stay on this country have long been having second thoughts as to whether their ‘loyalty’ to their country by staying on is not misguided. That maybe they should get out before it is too late. I can’t blame them. I have long held the view that I want to stay here and contribute in whatever way I can. I can’t be so sure of my resolve maybe a year down the road anymore.

Things are bad. They are about to get worst (or so said the Interior minister).

If anyone has seen the movie Blood Diamond then they would be able to identify the term TIA from that movie. ‘This Is Africa’. A term which was used in the movie a couple of times in reference to the relentless unrest and constant chaos, war, bloodshed in Africa. The movie also had a dialogue that said ‘Sometimes I wonder if God would ever forgive us for all the things that we have done to each other. Then I take a look around and I figure God left this place a long time back’. Just saying.

Blood, Killings & Genocide

‘15 people victims of target killings today’

‘TTP claims responsibility of attack on security outpost in North Waziristan’

‘Blast in orangi town claims two lives, injures 18’

‘Two unidentified gunmen opened fire on a car in Johar and killed a man and his driver on the spot’

Blood. These are more or less the average news headlines on a daily basis. Target killings are rampant in Karachi. We continue to be embroiled in a war with a virus like enemy in the north. No one has any idea about the incidents that never make it to the news room or the papers. The rural mess is separate (honor killings and what not). Then of course we have the missing persons thing in Balochistan. The tragedy in all of this is unfortunately not just the fact that there is a loss of human life on a daily basis being reported in the newspapers or the media. And not natural causes. The tragedy is that it has been happening for such a long time now that we have become immune to it. It does not shake us. It is normal. It is nothing out of the ordinary and let’s be honest, our lives haven’t stopped.

However there is an incident every now and then which is horrible enough to shake us out of this immune slumber. A month ago Hazara Shia’s were targeted in Quetta on a day which saw more than 100 people die as a result of terror attacks, target killings and other such incidents. 80+ people died in bomb attacks in Quetta targeting Hazara Shias. It sparked enough of an outrage in the country to get people to start protesting. Some brave people sat by the dead refusing to bury them until some serious notice is taken of the situation in Balochistan. And this was in early January when winters were also at a harsh peak this year. After 3-4 days of sit in protests not just in Quetta but in various cities of Pakistan the government took ‘serious’ notice of the situation and then took action. The CM was dismissed and governor’s rule was established in the province. One thought that ‘wow…the sit in paid off. Those people struggled and achieved something’. A month to that day and the horror has returned. On Saturday, 16th February 84 people (including women and children) lost their lives to yet another bombing. The banned LeJ have claimed responsibility of the attach and have apparently also sent out a warning to all Shia’s living in Balochistan.

Where the hell is the government in all of this? Why is a banned outfit like LeJ so comfortably moving around? Why is it that even after they have claimed responsibility of these attacks is there no action taking place? What golden eggs are being laid by our intelligence? Police? Army? Rangers? Security Agencies? Where is our mainstream media? The social media is screaming for justice (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and covering the various sit in protests against the ‘Shia Genocide’. I salute the people who have raised their voices on the streets and have made an effort to be heard. We must demand of our government and the other establishments responsible for the security and law and order situation of the country.

It is extremely sad and disheartening to see that people are getting more and more immune to this daily dose of violence and loss of life. Life keeps going on. I know it does go on and the world doesn’t come to a stop but what world are we living in really if it doesn’t do anything when on average 10-12 people are reported to have been killed on a daily basis. And that is just the reported figure.

Coming back to the Quetta killings and the Shia Genocide – roughly around 400 Shia killings took place last year. This year within just 50 days of 2013 around 200 Shia people have been killed. One person’s sentiment on social media: ‘The world ignored Rwanda till it got to a point where they just couldn’t anymore. Is that what we are waiting for with the Shia population in Pakistan?’ The placards being used in the protests say ‘ Stop Shia Killing. Am I next? ‘

One image puts the state of our slumber quite appropriately:

 

We must demand justice. We must demand action on part of the government and the security establishment. We must demand the basic rights of humanity. We must now be shaken out of our immunity and slumber and keep raising our voices. Not just for the Shia Community. Not just for the Hazaras. But overall – for humanity.