Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lahore, we say, is Pakistan's Heart ...

...and yesterday, Mrs Clinton heard it straight from the heart.

And one has to give Hilary C credit for actually getting out and about and right into the heart of Pakistan. But winning it over will be easier said than done, never mind the hopeful noises one hears in the US media--be it corporate, public, or alternative. (See here, for example.) The US, after all, is coming right out of a complete and utter defeat on the propaganda, sorry, PR, sorry, Public Diplomacy front on the Kerry Lugar Bill. (In case, you don't follow what I mean, please ask. Or, if you understand Urdu, check out last Sunday's discussion on ABN Chicago, or the upcoming pilot podcast of Taraqqi Pasand Media.) Of course, "the other side" is helped in no small measure by the fact that any discussion between the American Establishment and the Pakistani People degenerates very fast into rapidfire mutual recriminations.

The New York Times actually has a very good round-up in their article, of her PR challenge. Readers of this blog and my other writings and radio appearances (here on general background and here on Mrs. Clinton's last foray into lecturing Pakistanis, for example) will remember me pointing out how Pakistanis feel. But all we usually get is a person in a business suit behind a podium and "the average Pakistani" screaming at their television. So, beyond the "I Told You So"s, it was heartwarming to see, as the article says, an American official go face-to-face with "an audience so uniformly suspicious and immune to her star power as the polite, but unsmiling, university students who challenged her at Government College University in Lahore". Yeh cheez! as we say in Pakistan; that's what I am talking about!

[Photo: Clinton at Badshahi Masjid, Lahore--Reuters photo with NY Times article quoted]

Word on Pakistan

A friend of mine wondered (on Facebook) about not getting word from me about the situation in Pakistan. Here's my response:

For the Lahoris, the operative word is ...


For us Karachiites, it's a test of moral fiber; namely of whether, or how badly, we give in to schadenfreude now that the shoe is on the other foot.

For the rest of us; well, the message is just the same as it has been for years--except, maybe, prefaced with an "I told you so."

Over the last few years, besides my own blog and podcast, I have done half a dozen appearances on NPR stations in SF and NY and I can't find anything that wasn't covered then. And not just by me.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pity the Nation: Allah, Army, and ... Awab?

Dr. Awab Alvi, someone I really respect and have no qualms about referring to as Pakistan's pre-eminent blogger, and one of the best in the world just posted this on his social network statuses:
Pakistan Army kicks out Rehman Malik from GHQ > < my comments - throw him out of the country for all I say
Really Awab?!! I am no fan of corrupt politicians or Rehman Malik. But are our memories so short that the military showing insubordination to the civilian government is now a GOOD thing? No wonder Imran Khan can get away with saying that li'il old him (old enough to remember three military dictators, if not more) was just so nice a guy that he "was conned" (his words) by Musharraf's sweet nothings when he came to power. What was all that about the rule of law and restoring ... what was it we were all agitating about just a year or two ago?


Here are some comments from Rana Faisal on Awab's original post on his blog:

This is something we shouldn’t be proud of.

By the constitution of Pakistan Military works under civilian government. And Rehman Malik is the federal minister for interior. This treatment of Army is not acceptable at all. Army clearly let down both president and prime minister by not allowing him to enter, if simply because of the fact that he was not important to them.

Army should stay in its limits. It is a disciplined institution and should set an example and on the contrary they cross the line all the time and we “the naive common citizens” are always chanting slogans, long live army.

Why are we not questioning how did the terrorist manage to get in and hostage the highest military men inside the GHQ?


Why official notification informing GHQ by IG punjab was ignored which clearly stated that armed terrorist in army uniform will attack GHQ?

I am not defending Rehman Malik. If he is incapable, American agent or not competent enough to visit GHQ, he shouldn’t have been on the post of federal interior minister in the first place.

Why our army only reacts when it comes to their institution? and not something goes really wrong in other areas?

Musharraf sacked 3 most influential general highest in the hierarchy of army at that time in one go, on the orders or Americans and nobody made any noise, agitated, and if NS sacked Musharraf after Karamat, though by law he has the authority, toppling his government by Musharraf became justified?

Mush kept quite though he knew everything which he declared as a reason to topple NS government but he didn’t react and did military coup till the time it came to him and he was sacked

Stop treating army like a sacred cow, they are the last resort but so far they have their fare share in the mess we have around? If Rehman Malik is incompetent, Hussain Huqqani behaving like American ambassador in Pakistan Embassy of US, why they highest post men in army are silent about it and don’t they have the capacity and power to correct the government when something goes wrong?

But they only act when it comes to their institution and that is what we need to understand. It is time to question our army and stop treating them like a sacred cow. Think logically

Let me clarify neither i am a fan of Rehman M, Zardari and his cronies, Nawaz & the gang or anyone else.

And for Rehman Malik any day i can debate that he is the most incompetent man for the job so please don’t bother to ask me questions about why am i defending politician.

My sole purpose is constitution is supreme, if today we let Army abuse their powers tomorrow some individuals will abuse army and laugh at all of us and than we will not have any right to question them. So let the institutions be independent and work under constitution.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Quick further thoughts on Obama and The Nobel

My own first reaction was rather startled, but I actually think he HAS changed the direction of a few things. See for example this. And he also most definintely seems to be changing the direction of nuclear policy, bringing up the little matter of the long-neglected treaty commitment of nuclear powers to de-weaponize--something that a lot of Pakistanis and Indians pointed to as rank hypocrisy when they were being asked not to test their deterrent.

On the Nobel, of course, I think Ali Eteraz spoke for a lot people from the wrong side of the global tracks when he described the Nobel Peace Prize as "not a real award," adding that "It is mostly Euro-centric bloviation. Kissinger got it. Arafat got it. Now shut up and enjoy the word play."

I personally feel that the Committe does like to influence the global conversation, and they seem to be throwing their weight behind what Obama is starting to do, so as Eteraz puts it, "if we can have pre-emptive war we can have pre-emptive peace."

Friday, October 09, 2009

Memo to Nobel Committee: Larsha Pekhawr thay kamisthor ma la raora ...

And if you'll let me go beyond the 140-character limit:

Larsha Pekhawr thay kamisthor ma la raora;
Thaza thaza dha guluna darai salor ma la raora

It's a Pushtu song from Pakistan:

When you go to Peshawar; bring me back a nice shirt
Fresh flowers, too; bring me back three or four

Here's a modern remid of the original Pakistani movie version:

And here's a slightly Urdu'ized version closer to what us "Children of Zia" (Gen X and Y in Pakistan) grew up listening to--which includes an Urdu adaptation:

That song covers Peshawar and Bajaur; here's one that sings the same paen to Nangarhar:

Now you're wondering if I have finally completely and utterly lost it; why am I taking you on a tour of the Pukhtun YouTube on a day when the Nobel Committee has thrown its weight behind the world's hopes and aspirations that my brother Barack Hussein will save the planet. Maybe you're thinking I should just belt out a lusty "Ya Qurban!" like the good pro-Western liberal Pakistani (and thus 15% Pukhtun) that I am (see this for example) and get with the program.

Thing is, it is this morning, also, that my friend Zainab Jeewanjee tells us:
After months of consideration on how to deal with our escalating engagement in the AF-Pak region, Obama’s administration has decided:
“the Taliban cannot be eliminated as a political or military movement”
See, I am just one of those people cursed with a memory and some knowledge of history beyond the last US presidential election cycle. I can't but think back to the fact that after the US was finished tangling with the last "transcendtal challenge", we Pakistanis--and, as we found out on 9/11/01, the rest of the world--were left holding the bag full of Islamic fundamentalism, violence and hate. And just a few decades before that, Obama's role model FDR took what Lawrence of Arabia had--not two decades previous--described as "a fanatical Moslem heresy" and made the deal that gave them and their neo-purist attitudes the dominant position in Muslim hearts and minds, never mind the world economy, that they hold today.

So, now, you tell me, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Committee, what DO I, an American taxpayer and a Pakistani citizen do besides grab a rabab and, like pensive Pukhtuns across the ages, pray that the poetry does its work.