Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The World is a Circular Firing Squad

There's a line in one of the greatest "Bollywood" classics, written by the scions of a couple of the greatest South Asian literary families—sons of Urdu poets, to be precise—and delivered by a minor but unforgettable character, "Soorma Bhopali" that goes "Yahaan hamaaree kya zaroorath hai; yahaan tho waisay hee aap kay naam ka warrant nikla huwa hai." [Who needs me? There's already a warrant out for your arrest.]

And that's the thought that's being going through my head as South Asia spirals downwards, some folks caution against jumping to conclusions, and others rally for peace. And I include the arguments over "Islamists did it. No, wait! Let's not jump to conclusions; it could be home grown! …" in that.

How is it realistic to look at everything as either-or? The mess South Asia is in--not to mention the rest of the world--there's enough blame to go around. Neo-purist fanatics (our Islamist/Jihadists; their Sanghis; our--speaking from North America—Christian and Jewish fanatics); civilizing imperialists; ethnic militants (Sena, MQM, racists of white and other hue); everybody's jingoistic nationalists; everybody's military-industrial-intelligence complexes…all feed off each other. In some cases, they work with each other. Just for example, Is it too much of a stretch to believe that what is happening in Karachi (in case either of you missed it) is being helped along by Indian Intelligence (and who knows who else) as a counterpoint to what they see as Pakistani Intelligence "doing Mumbai"? From where I sit, what's happening in the NW of Pakistan also has elements of a turf battle.

And as we all participate in this circular firing squad—including the agonizing over Muslims being targeted or profiled—the folks I list above make leaps and bounds in the struggle for the hearts and minds of their respective target constituencies…

And PS: how many noticed there were riots in the prettiest town in Africa's largest nation, too? Rally anyone?

Cross-posted on the iFaqeer, Wadiblog,, Pak Tea House, Urdu ke Naam, Doodpatti (by Tohfay) blogs.
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Monday, December 01, 2008

South Asia on Fire...

As I have said before, I am not a Marxist, but do now identify as a progressive. But it has to be said. The last time Mumbai had a tragedy like this, it was the Pakistani Left that came out with the sanest statement I could find. And now they seem to have done it again:
CMKP Strongly Condemns the Terrorist Violence in Mumbai
CMKP strongly condemns the barbaric and heinous acts of planned murder and destruction carried out by terrorists in Mumbai India. We express our sincerest condolence with all the people who fell victim to this savage crime.

We also salute the entire Indian Left that is doing its utmost to reign in reprisals by Hindu fundamentalist forces against the Muslims of India.
Read the rest at:
The other thing worth reading, I think, is Sandip Roy's piece, "Guns and bombs in booming India", in Salon over the weekend. It is very, very trenchant and could have been written--should have been written--about a lot of what's happening in Pakistan--or off the coast of Somalia today. In a globalized world, the issue of who is at the table and who feels left out and aggrieved is now globalized. This is not to diminish or dismiss the role of ideologies, nationalist jingoism, or political manipulation--of which there has been much in all the comments, news, and reaction about the Mumbai tragedy (a lot of people are making a lot of noise about Pakistan being a big factor in the story--but where are the people that know Pakistan first hand and can discuss it on the talk shows, amongst the experts and on NPR, one wonders). But as Sandip puts it:
I don't know who the young man in the Versace t-shirt was. But I can't shake his image – a gunman in five-star Mumbai.

He might be an Islamic militant from Pakistan or Britain. He might be a frustrated small city boy shut out of the IT economy. He might be a village boy who trained in a terror camp somewhere.

Whatever his motive, his message was loud and clear.

Pay attention to me, he and his young partners said to booming India.

And then these mysterious young men pulled the trigger.

Sandip says "India"; I'd say we all need to listen to that message.