Monday, February 14, 2011

A Pakistani Rants Intemperately

Apologies if the following is not too coherent. But I have just had it with people who have no skin in the game—or who think they have not skin in the game—talking down Pakistan and Pakistanis. Here's a rant I just posted on Facebook:

What is pathetic about Pakistan is not Pakistanis in Pakistan, it is those of us (yes, us) who are snug as a bug in a rug in the bosom of corporate America, happy to put out software and hardware used to repress, capture and deliver human beings to torture and worse.

On Pakistani civil society read the quote and, if you care, follow the link to the interview with Amartya Sen. I consciously am quoting a person with a "First World" stamp of importance and an Indian background:

And read on to:

and check in to Pakistan's largest blog aggregator at

My apologies for being so blunt, but only Islamists (not all Muslims), expatriates, Indians (again, not all of them, cf: Amartya Sen above), and people who think CNN is "news" think that Pakistanis are depending on Islamists or the Western and Corporate world to come fix their lives—any more than Arabs were before the last month or two.

By the definition of people who consider Pakistanis a lost cause, as of January 24th, 2011 Egyptians were worse than Pakistanis. We had pushed out a military dictator barely 3 years ago and then forced our elected government to restore a semblance of normalcy to our judiciary—the Egyptians (God bless them; their Youth have redeemed the Muslim and Arab World's honor) hadn't managed anything for nigh onto 60 years. What changed? Not the Egyptians, just the fact that people like Mona Eltahawy and Wael Ghonim (and that's just counting people from our English-speaking circles of technology, online activism, etc.) were not on your radar one day and they were the next. Mona had been talking of what would start on January 25 before that. (Listen to the segment with her at 45 minutes of this.)

In each of the three military dictatorships we've had in Pakistan, we have had people ready to go up against the jackboot (often with a "Made in USA" label on it and manufactured with American corporate technology):
  • In the 2000s, our youth used social media to organize everything from a nation-wide "Long March" to flash mobs against Musharraf's emergency—not long after Silicon Valley's OPEN was lapping up his and his ministers' speeches;
  • in the 80s Asma Jehangir and the women of WAF were being dragged by their hair by Zia's thugs; and
  • in the 60s the sister of our founder herself (the closest thing we have to acknowledging a "Founding Mother") stood as the presidential candidate against our first dictator. (That first presidential campaign, by the way, had such wide-based support that the Jamat-e-Islami—the Muslim Brotherhood's fraternal party in South Asia—had to issue a fatwa saying it was okay to support her as a woman running to be president of the world's 2nd largest Muslim country.)
About today, you ask? Well, Pakistan is boiling and bubbling. Our struggles against three dictators have brought us to where we have now have a rickety form of democracy. And because a lot of us want democracy to evolve in an organic fashion (while keeping the pressure on; like we did with the issue of the judiciary) is what seems like we're not reacting.

But be careful what you ask for. Because of the conditions in the common Pakistani's life, Pakistanis are frustrated and not a bit hot under the collar. And when it comes, the Pakistani Revolution will not be about one man or even one institution. When they explode, it will be about the conditions of their lives, the system that the British left and we compradors have been complicit with, and it will challenge a whole world order. Don't be surprised if it, or it's reaction, touches you in Santa Clara County.

And, if you do want to get involved, check out this little movement (on Facebook, of course) that a couple of kids have started here.

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