Saturday, April 30, 2011

Video: In Four Minutes, The Story Of Kashmir Genocide

Forget the decades-old history of the Indian invasion and occupation of Kashmir, and the UN resolutions asking New Delhi to vacate the region. Here, in less than four minutes, you can cover this decades-old tragedy.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Why Pak Media Ignored Anti-CIA Sit-In?

While there are many hardworking journalists in the Pakistani media, this media is yet to develop a sense of perception, which means looking into the future beyond the immediate headlines of the day.

When PPP and PMLN were running for elections in March 2008, Pakistani media refused to ask these two parties any tough questions about their long record of failed politics. The media gave these two parties an easy time. Journalists were focused on only one thing: the exit of Musharraf. While that was a worthy story, the media failed in its duty to check the record of those whom it was promoting as alternatives.

The same thing happens in the case of PTI's sit-in in Peshawar. For the first time since 2002, ordinary Pakistanis come out of their homes and block NATO supply line. This was a major story. But our media generally ignored it. Why? Because PTI boycotted the 2008 elections and the party is not in the parliament and wields no power. Many of our media men and women depend on maintaining good relations with some politicians either because of bias or for indirect benefit or gain. So everyone in the media is focused on what the politicians in parliament are saying. No one is interested in PTI or the drones because, well, PTI can't offer journalists favors because it is not in power.

That's why most of the Pakistani media ignored the sit-in in Peshawar on the first day, on 23 April.

But everyone in our media sat up and noticed when elected politician and those parties that are considered to be well established, participated in the second day of the sit-in. The parties did this because of the tremendous response that PTI generated among ordinary Pakisanis, and everyone wanted a piece of the pie.

This is realistic and unfortunate aspect of our media. But I hope our media will drw some lessons from its coverage of the sit-in.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

We Support Imran's Anti-CIA Sit-In

I am not a member of Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or Pakistan Justice Movement. But I endorse Imran Khan's courageous stand on rogue CIA operations inside Pakistan that have resulted in the displacement and murder of millions of Pakistanis.

And I particularly salute the courage of all PTI young men and women who are descending on Peshawar for the sit-in against CIA drone attacks and the complicit Pakistani government.

We should also remember all those who are not membes or supporters of PTI but answered Imran Khan's call for this sit-in out of compassion for the women and children who have been killed by the hundreds by these CIA drones.

One of the great ideas someone came up with on my Facebook page was to post the following paragraph on our pages. Those who are members of the pages of the US embassy in Islamabad and consulates in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Hyderabad should post this on those pages:
"This weekend, we join together in prayer for the hundreds of Pakistani innocent men, women and children killed by illegal CIA operations in Pakistan. We hold United States responsible for creating conditions for insurgencies in Balochistan, FATA & displacement millions of Pakistanis. We support PTI's sit-in in Peshawar against CIA drones."


Monday, April 18, 2011

This Businessman Corrected Bush On Fascism

Nasser al-Kharafi, 67, a Kuwaiti businessman, died in Cairo Sunday night and was buried earlier today, Tuesday, in his native Kuwait. He was the third richest Arab.  Forbes magazine placed him among the wealthiest businessmen in the Arab world. He was ranked 77 on the world’s list of billionaires in 2011 with an estimated wealth of $10.4 billion.

His father started out a small trader in Kuwait who ran a business that included Iraq, Iraq, Gulf region and India. Today, the Kharafi group has businesses and factories across the Middle East, with seven billion US dollars invested in Egypt alone. Jordan's King Abdullah II once said to him, 'Your investments in Jordan equal the US aid we receive.'

There are two reasons I mention him here. One is that I know some members of his family, close and distant relatives. And second is his person, the man behind all this wealth.

I have closely known three of his relatives. Surprisingly, all of them have shared the same personality traits as the deceased. He has been described as humble, honest, opinionated and principled.

When told that Forbes was predicting he would soon rival Bill Gates in his wealth, Nasser al Kharafi smiled and said 'This is the last thing on my mind.' And he was not being humble. He died in Egypt, away from his home in Kuwait, because he noticed some of the people in his business delegation visiting factories and offices in the region were too exhausted to coninue the trip. So he stayed overnight in Cairo for their sake.

While a shrewd and successful businessman, he was also a generous giver. In the tradition of the Arab Islamic culture, he wouldn't divulge his largesse, but he has been known to have spent generously on the poor in the region, and was very proud that his companies provided job opportunities to 100,000 people across the Middle East. He was against stashing his wealth in western banks.

Although he was a Muslim from the Sunni sect and understood the politics behind Iran's support for the Lebanese militia, Hezbollah, yet he publicly supported the militia on the sole criterion that the militia raised arms against Israel when no one dared to. He wrote eloquently in Arab media defending his position of supporting Hezbollah despite the many political differences between Arab governments and the government of Iran.

His last opinion piece in Arabic, titled, 'Life Of Pride Or Death With Honor' , published last month, contained an open letter to the leader of Lebanese Shia militia Hassan Nasrallah. It reflected his thinking. Here is a translated excerpt:

"How can we not support you when you are confronting the arrogance of the Israeli military machine. Thanks to your strong will and the heroism of the resistance fighters, the weakness and hollowness of Israeli military has been exposed (...) Your excellency Hassan Nasrallah, I know that you do not differentiate between Sunnis and Shias. The yardstick of Allah is piety, good deeds and the jihad in the name of Allah. There are those in our Ummah who are trying to divide Muslims to weaken the Ummah and weaken their hearts in the service of the Zionist enemy. What they don't understand is that our enemy does not differentiate between us. The enemy is attacking Sunni Muslims in proud Gaza day and night, killing its women and children, just as the enemy attacks the Shia Muslims in the dear south Lebanon, and is threatening war against Muslim Iran. But our people don't know this, whether they are nationalists or Islamists. That's what hurts us."

He was known for his bold opinions. In 2006, he asked the American president George W. Bush to clarify the concept of fascism when the US president claimed that, "Islamic fascism is the root cause of the crisis in the region."

In an open letter he wrote to President Bush, al Kharafi said, "We, along with other people in the whole world, are standing united with you in your rejection of fascism. But the grim pictures of the Lebanese victims who died due to the Israeli aggression on Lebanon are showing us the opposite. We, therefore, believe that there is a misunderstanding on who should be accused of fascism."

As any opinionated man, he had many critics in the region. But his hallmark was his smile and his firm and warm handshake. He reminded many of the legendary Arab traits of being resolute, honest but at the same time forgiving to those who attack his person, and capable of winning over enemies by his forthcoming handshake and smile.

People can agree or disagree with Nasser al Kharafi's political opinions. But what can't be denied is that this was a man that embodied what a businessman should be. He would often ask about the number of new job opportunities his new business ventures would create and this question would be at the top, right there with other commercial considerations.

Such a behavior would have never endeared him to the world's famous business journals, but that's the kind of businessman he was.

That's why I mention him here today. May his soul rest in peace.

P.S.  The International Islamic Charity Organization, based in Kuwait City, issued a statement late yesterday condoling al Kharafi's demise. In the statement we learn for the first time that Nasser al Kharafi donated generously for the victims of Pakistan's floods last year. He made a personal donation, another on behalf of Kharafi Group, and exorted other members of the Kharafi family to do the same. At the time of making these donations he ensured that no word of it is made public.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Lenin In Pakistan

Lenin in Pakistan? And Castro too. And Che Guevara.

Believe it or not, right in the heart of Pakistan. These pictures were taken last week at the 8th congress of the Communist Party of Pakistan [yes, we have one, too], headquartered in Hyderabad, Sindh.

The CCP's heydays were the 1970s, when communists and the Soviets were firmly lodged in next-door Afghanistan. The leaders of the CCP at the time entertained thoughts of a communist takeover in Pakistan. But the party never commanded large following in the country, though its rank and file boasted members from across the nation. These days, the CCP conducts peaceful politics and it's base is limited. But its presence is a sign of the colorful and lively political culture in Pakistan where different shades of opinion peacefully coexist, despite the bad repuation Pakistan has cultivated as a hub of religious violence after the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Let's Crush A Baby!

An Indian 'baba', or healer, literally stands on the bodies of little babies claiming that this heals health problems. India also has the highest rate of forced marriages of underage girls, and systematic discrimination against citizens based on caste; women from the lowest caste are routinely raped. Male members of the lower caste are often victims of physical abuse, including death in many cases. These things happen only in India, the world's largest democracy. The mainstream Indian media and the hordes of American and British journalists based in India don't see these glaring little scandals because of an official policy carefully crafted to project India as the next superpower that is being groomed to serve western interests in Asia. But occasionally stories like these do come out, thanks to conscientious Indian citizens working for the rights of those ignored by the Indian government.

I am posting this video not because it makes for good anti-India bashing and because I am from Pakistan and that’s how things go. Not at all. We in Pakistan have many embarrassing problems unique to us. But none that go as far as crushing babies or burying female newborns alive, which is another issue with the highest global incident rate in India.

The reason I am posting this video here is very political. Instead of buying expensive weapons to fight China and maintain 700,000 soldiers in the tiny patch of Kashmir to crush a people’s demand for freedom, the Indian government should share its immense wealth with its poor and end poverty and illiteracy that breeds the horrendous practices of ‘baby crushing’ and female infanticide. Multimillion-dollar adverts on CNN and glossy Indian movies can't hide this reality, but a good sense can.

And imagine how reduced Indian expenditure on weapons and more on ending poverty will affect stability in Asia: Pakistan won't have to keep up with India's arms race, China will be at ease, and everyone will go back to focusing on things that matter.

India doesn't need a stockpile of weapons because no one is going to invade India. But this man in this video certainly needs a good government to teach him a lesson.

Friday, April 8, 2011

President Zardari vs. Jang Group: All Hail The Pakistani Commander-in-Chief

Imagine this: despite one of the world’s top five standing armies and nuclear arsenals, an important strategic location, 170 million in human resource, and great economic potential, and yet Pakistan’s elected democratic rulers are fighting a pitched battle with a media organization. Just a media organization.

This is what President Asif Ali Zardari, the commander-in-chief, is doing in his protracted, proxy battle with the Jang Group, Pakistan’s largest media conglomerate.

How pathetic that a President of such a big country feels threatened by a media group run by a few journalists. Media management is an art that has eluded Pakistan’s political and military rulers. They just don’t get it. So Mr. Zardari’s aides hound the media group in multiple ways: blocking federal government advertisements, ordering the state-run media to produce counter-programs to the popular political talk shows on Jang’s television network, and try to scuttle Jang’s exclusive rights to broadcast sporting events.

The latest move by President Zardari’s government is to shut down Geo Super’s broadcast rights in Pakistan, leaving this subsidiary of Jang’s Geo Network with the expensive option of beaming its programming from a location outside Pakistan.

None of the successive Pakistani governments, including the five governments of President Zardari’s US-backed PPPP, paid any attention to developing a healthy sports culture in the country. The entire Pakistani political and media cultures are structured to provide maximum coverage to boring, divisive and destructive politics. There are no government-maintained sports facilities for the general public anywhere across the length and breadth of this 170-million-plus nation. Those that exist are few, privately-owned, and exclusive.

In fact, you won’t believe it if I tell you that a tennis court next to a commercial market in the F-6 sector of Islamabad is probably the only public tennis facility of its kind anywhere not just in the federal Pakistani capital but also in any one of the five provincial/state capitals.

In other words, if any businessman were to launch a 24/7 sports channel in Pakistan, it would be a losing proposition. You can’t make money from sports in a country that has no sports on the ground. A few dying national sports teams in squash, football, hockey, cricket and others don’t count.

So Jang’s sports channel was a money drain. And now that’s gone too.

It probably won’t make a dent in the media’s group’s earnings, and the only victims might by the staff. As for the public, they are left with two options:

One, to watch the recycled faces of Pakistani politicians as they grace dozens of talk shows every night regaling the nation with their absurdities and bad manners, barring of course a distinguished few.

And two, to watch self-styled religious channels where very few truly respectable individuals exist, with proper religious education from renowned Islamic schools. The rest offer multicolored turbans and opinions. I have talked to respectable Egyptian and Saudi men of religion and they are embarrassed by what we in Pakistan have to contribute to religion.

No wonder ours is a fatalistic nation, where doom and gloom abounds and most people have nothing to do after a day’s work except watching political TV.

My advice to Jang Group is simple: hit back. Don’t take the closure of your sports channel lying down.

Jang, with its influential talk shows and newspapers, has a unique ability to influence Pakistani public opinion. What it should do is to DOWNGRADE all politicians affiliated with the ruling coalition and its partners. All of them.

Yes. Downgrade them. How? Simple.

It should stop making them heroes by rotating them on its different talk shows every night, giving them free publicity and valuable airtime. It should do what one of its hosts, Saleem Safi, has admirably done: minimize the appearance of politicians on his show unless relevant to the story of the day and substitute them with other more intelligent Pakistanis.

Only a fraction of the 1,000 or so elected Pakistani politicians bore us every night on TV. There are many Pakistanis who can talk politics with more sense and creativity than many of these elected nincompoops. [Remember this: in Pakistan, the lowest you are in the cultural and intellectual development ladder, the bigger your chances of being elected and becoming Pakistan’s newest ‘democratic warrior’.]

So good for you, Mr. President. Don’t let us interrupt you. Please continue your battle against the media group. We have already wasted the first decade of the 21st century. We have nine to go and we’ll manage that with this kind of ruling elite.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

India Invaded Pakistan In 1971: Know The Facts, And The Enemy

Click to enlarge

Time for some facts on India's 1971 invasion of Pakistan.

First of all, there was no 'Indo-Pakistan war of 1971'.

That's a misleading description.

India INVADED Pakistan in 1971. Use the right words because there is a big difference.

Pakistani history books, official and private, need to be corrected.

There was a full-fledged, one-sided invasion across an international boundary. And it was an unprovoked invasion, preplanned. A foreign country exploited a chaotic election in Pakistan to launch a snap attack without warnings.

Remember: there was no Lashkar-e-Tayyeba in 1971, nor was there an armed freedom struggle in occupied Kashmir. There was no excuse of ‘terrorism’. India invaded Pakistan to hurt and kill as much Pakistanis as possible simply because India saw a good opportunity and seized it.

To this day, India deliberately uses the term ‘India-Pakistan war of 1971’ to avoid admitting what it actually was: an unprovoked invasion of another country. Unfortunately, Pakistanis at all levels continue to use the Indian description for that invasion.

The Indian role in 1971 war is the dirtiest Indian secret. It’s been effectively hidden from the world. The Indians never discuss how they invaded Pakistan in that year. And Pakistanis discuss everything except the foreign invasion across international borders. The reason this invasion remains unknown is because of our inability in Pakistan to show the world what really happened.

This did not start out as a Pakistan-India war. It was a Pakistani election gone bad and political parties resorted to violence to make a point. Elections go bad everywhere and sometimes they get violent. It happened in Pakistan in 1971. India saw an opportunity in internal Pakistani chaos and invaded Pakistan across the international border without any provocation from the Pakistani side.

India exploited the fact that the Pakistani military was not on alert and that we did not have enough soldiers at that time in East Pakistan. Why weren’t there enough Pakistani soldiers to defend the territory against a foreign invasion? East Pakistan was geographically disconnected from the rest of the country. But more importantly Islamabad never thought that India would launch such a brazen attack on Pakistan without any reason, especially when Pakistan was a member in several US-led defense pacts. Pakistani planners miscalculated in believing they could rely on an ally such as the United States for help. [Indian government documents released this month show that Washington not only ditched Pakistan but also secretly told New Delhi it would support India in case China entered the war to help Pakistan.]

India’s blatant war of aggression was not a chance happening. It was meticulously planned. Two years before the ‘war’, India started secretly recruiting local peasants in areas of East Pakistan adjoining India. In two years, these recruits became foot soldiers for a terrorist militia known as Mukti Bahini that sprung into action as soon as the Indian army began the invasion. Indian soldiers and their terror militia went on a rampage, murdering Pakistanis on linguistic basis [Urdu, Bengali] to feed chaos and pitch Pakistanis against one another. This provided a cover for wanton killings by Indian soldiers because all killings ended up being blamed on Pakistan.

Wrong Pakistani political and military decisions helped the Indian invaders. Here is an excellent brief written by Mr. Mushtaq Sethi that helps in understanding the Indian proxy militia:

“Mukti Bahini were not just another insurgent force: on the contrary, their original core consisted of defectors from the former East Bengal Regiments of the Pakistani Army, who reached the Indian soil and also those Hindus who had fled East Pakistan and crossed over to India and had returned after having received complete training in the art of guerrilla warfare. They were soon reinforced by a considerable number of volunteers, mainly students, then during April and May, Pakistan had purged Bengalis from the armed forces. Many others defected, while those who remained were not trusted. Result was that the combat effectiveness of Pakistani units suffered considerably.  Once in India, together with other volunteers from East Pakistan, they were trained and organized into six new East Bengal Regiments in June 1971. By November 1971, the Mukti Bahini was reinforced by the addition of three artillery batteries as well as a small flying service (operating two AĆ©rospatiale SA.316B Alouette III helicopters, one DeHavilland Canada DHC-3 Otter and a single Douglas DC-3 Dakota transport). They were counting up to 85,000 and their order of battle during the war in December was as follows:
K Force/Brigade, consisting of 10th and 11th East Bengal Regiment and No.3 Field Battery- S Force/Brigade, consisting of 2nd and 4th East Bengal Regiment, and No.1 Field Battery- Z Force/Brigade, consisting of 1st, 3rd, and 8th East Bengal Regiment, and No.2 field Battery.”

The Indian terror militia was dismantled as soon as the war ended with the surrender of the outnumbered Pakistani units. India crowned its invasion with orchestrating a secession, declaring the occupied Pakistani lands an independent country.

If Pakistan does not and cannot trust India, it is because of India’s treacherous unprovoked invasion in 1971. India set many examples later that prove it won’t miss an opportunity to hurt Pakistan when possible. The Indian ruling elite, especially the minority Hindi-speaking bigots in northern India, have wanted to destroy Pakistan since our independence in 1947. They have some strange notion that Pakistani territories somehow belong to them according to their religious history. Some of them cannot forget ten centuries of our rule in the region and have a deep fear and loathing of anything Pakistani. If there is a war in Afghanistan, India would be the first to exploit it to send saboteurs into Pakistan from the Afghan soil. If the European Union decides to allow importing Pakistani textiles, Indian diplomats would spring into action to object. Indian writers, analysts and commentators in the US and anywhere else in the world are the first to launch anti-Pakistan diatribes whenever there is a chance to do it.

It’s a deep seated hate for Pakistan in the north Indian Hindi-speaking belt. And this hatred was at the heart of India’s decision to invade Pakistan in 1971.

Yes, we committed mistakes in our internal politics in 1971 that helped the Indian enemy in its designs. But we have learned those lessons. What is important now is that every Pakistani man and woman understand that our homeland faced a treacherous invasion and a blatant aggression across international borders in that year. Whatever our own mistakes domestically, that cannot justify a blatant war of aggression by a foreign country exploiting our internal situation.

Know the history. And know your enemy.