Monday, March 30, 2009

Pakistani Reply to Obama Strategy Announcement

I have not seen this stated so clearly:
"We do not want any more VOA-TV type propaganda that, in its condescending way creates more enemies than friends. We want a proper dialogue with the US and the West over what its goals are and whether these are our goals as well. Whether we like it or not, the battle for a safer America cannot be won if the people of Pakistan are not convinced. This is the stark reality, no matter how many drone attacks are carried out on the one hand and assistance is given to our government on the other.

It was true of the Musharraf government and is becoming increasingly true of the Zardari government too. The people of Pakistan are not seen as stakeholders in the battle against militants and extremism. It is too often said that while the West talks to our leaders, Al Qaeda and the Taliban talk to the people. Sadly, this is an issue President Obama has not addressed."
[Full article at: The author is "Editor Reporting" in Karachi for Pakistan's largest English-language daily]

Obama's Afghanistan Strategy Breaks Old Ground

The heading above, taken directly from the article at:,8599,1888257,00.html

brought a smile to my face for its cuteness. But the point it makes is serious.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Nigeria's Opposition Parties to Unite, Pakistani Parties agree to

I like both the news linked to below, and the one about PML-N and PPP in Pakistan agreeing (again) to implement the Charter of Democracy. These are both major countries on their respective continents, and stability in them is good for the whole world. It is by these evolutionary steps, this push and pull, check and balance that body politics mature.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

To Non-Pakistani Muslims--and Others--Commenting on Pakistan

There's an Urdu couplet that Madeline Albright reputedly quoted in her congratulatory message to IK Gujral when he became Prime Minister:
Eh mauj-e-saba, un ko bhi zara, dho chaar thhapaiRay halkay say
Kuch log abhi saahil pay khaRay, toofaan ka nazaaray kar thay hain

Oh, morning breeze, to them, too, a few pats, but gently;
For some folks, yet, stand on the shore, being entertained by the storm
There's been several non-Pakistani Muslims expressing academic opinions of the type: "We see Pakistan is melting down; now why would that be?" or "Look what Swat and other mistakes have wrought!" 

Any "We told you so"s or "Look, they be f****ed" reactions within the Muslim community (in any direction) are ... I can't use the word I am looking for, so let's just say "ill-adviced" and "naive". Whether it is Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt, or minority communities like those in India or the West; we're all in this together. Too long we've pointed to each other and said either that the "other" is medieval-minded and stuck in the past, unfit for the modern world (either because a) we're too bidah-ridden and need to get pure again or b) that Islam is not fit for the modern world)--or that this or that country is failing or so on. To paraphrase someone I don't quite agree with, either politically or tactically, right now, we are stuck between the twin jaws of neo-colonial domination via a comprador class on the one hand, and neo-purist fanatics on the other. The difference between Santa Clara California and Swat Pakistan; between Hyderabad India and Brighton in the UK is one of degree--or generational. Nothing more, nothing less.

And I speak of Muslims because they are part of communities that overlap--overlap, I say, mind you--with Pakistan. But the rest of the world is no less inter-linked. The West--the US and the British in particular--has been involved in how that region of the world has taken shape over the last century or two generally, and the last few decades specifically. Britain played off groups against each other; the US too often has sided with "our SOB"s (a choice list of Pakistani fundamentalists from the House of Saud to Ziaul Haq to Gubuddin Hekmatyar, but not limited to them, come to mind). And just like us Pakistanis, India--both the Indian establishment and Indian Muslims--have, for too long, been happy to play with fire (Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind, anyone?), or ignore the fire (till very recently Indian Muslims have pooh-poohed my saying that the difference in influence by neo-purist fanatics in India and Pakistan is one of degree). I am on the record,too, on British Muslim--and "mainstream"--leadership. [Addition, PM, Tuesday March 3, 2009: And the same goes for American Muslims--including, quite frankly, a lot of Pakistani-Americans and other diaspora Pakistanis.] I could go on. 

I will return you to your regularly-scheduled programming in a minute. But for now, just think about this. Then let's talk if you really care to.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

More updates on Situation in Lahore

Graphic from the Sydney Morning Herald. Read the AAP report on their site here.

Oddly enough, the Metroblog for Lahore doesn't seem to have anything to say about the attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers. But one can find some updates from local folks at the following URL (the #lahore hashtag for Twitter, which consolidates posts about that city):

PS: As an update, a better way to follow twitter updates about and from Lahore is to follow the twitter search:

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Live Reports: Attack on Sri Lankan Team in Lahore

For updates on the attack on Sri Lankan team in Pakistan; as usual the Teeth Maestro is on it, twittering live from Pakistan:

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Anyone paying attention to this? (Somalia...and Bangladesh?)

You know, we all need to be paying more attention to Somalia (and, while I am at it, Bangladesh, but I will come to that another time). For example y'all saw the headlines about the recent news about a new President taking over in Somalia. And then of his coming to an agreement with "Islamist" "rebels". (Okay, so, yes, there's much to be said about how "real" the "presidency" is and all that.)

But there's talk about ministers handing over to other ministers (okay, so the VOA might not be the best place for objective news)--something that I don't think Somalia's had since a Somali classmate of mine in Freshman year at college in Karachi told me "A civil war started today in my country."

But what really struck me was why was it ONLY the CNN article that carried this paragraph:
However, Ahmed told a news conference he won't agree to a strict interpretation of the law,which forbids girls from attending school, requires veils for women and beards for men, and bans music and television.
I mean, with all that angst about deals with Islamism (yes, I use that word; take me up on it) isn't that what it's about? Shouldn't we be paying attention to this? Being supportive of this kidn of thing if that really plays out as the quote promises rather than groping at "moderate Islamists"? [Something I need to pick on, too.]

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