Take a different route this time

September 23, 2015

muslimsAREA 14/8

Over the years, Eid ul Azha has become an occasion to show off—the bigger the sacrificial animal and the more elaborate and extravagant the sacrifice the better the Muslim—or so it is believed. It has become apparent that the understanding of religion and the spirit of sacrifice or giving to the less fortunate is superficial. The meat may satiate hunger for a while but does little for the betterment of the poor and while it is an Abrahamic tradition that should ideally be practiced on the festival, we must also look towards ensuring that if we have the resources, we contribute by providing more than just food to the hungry. How about keeping expenditures on the sacrificial process limited to a reasonable level and using that extra money on things that will change the life of the needy? How about contributing by funding a child’s education or helping a person in need set up a source of livelihood? Not only will such measures touch lives, they will provide peace of mind—we can sleep well at night knowing that we have contributed in some shape or form to help the less fortunate.

This Eid, let’s be more sensitive to the needs of the less affluent and try to help them in ways other than just feeding them. Let’s understand the root of their afflictions and try to provide solutions that will enable them to become productive members of society and lead happy and fulfilling lives. Religion has for too long been treated in a shallow manner. Let’s look for redemption by taking routes that aren’t travelled all that often. We might be surprised.

Social Awakening in Pakistan

September 15, 2015

Ayesha-MumtazA young lady associated with the Punjab administration decided to do her job honestly and to the best of her ability. The results were startling. Suddenly there were graphic reports of donkey meat, pork and even meat of dead animals being sold  and supplied to eateries. There were also reports of unhygienic conditions in restaurant and hotel kitchens—not just roadside eateries but also the five star types. Lahorites were aghast but they should not have been surprised. The profit margins for these haram meat sellers are enormous and not just for them but also for those buying and using this meat. Think of the vast roughs cooked and served at weddings, the barbeque joints and the nihari sellers and you will get the picture. The checking spree has spread to other towns in Punjab. Let us hope that there is permanence in these arrangements. The more positive dimension is that people are either giving up meat or becoming very choosy about what they are getting and from where they are getting it.

On the heels of this phenomenon come reports of raids on ‘factories’ engaged in producing fake toiletries, fake cosmetics and fake medicines. The trick is to create a shortage and then unleash a fake product that is then quickly snapped up. The packaging is exactly like the original. Condiments, cooking oils and other products are included in this scam creating a serious health hazard. So far not much has been done to stop this rampant activity but at least the public is being made aware of what is being sold to them.

There is another dimension to this nefarious activity. There are no arrangements for refrigerated transfer of meat and vegetables. One well known supermarket unloads all produce in the parking lot where it is sorted out in the heat by sweating workers and then hand carried to the air conditioned premises where the unsuspecting customers are waiting. There is also the scene where beverages in plastic bottles are left in the sun for hours creating carcinogens within them — no wonder the incidence of cancer is rising in Pakistan. You will not find a single drug store or pharmacy that stores medicines in temperature controlled environments so even the genuine product losses its efficacy very quickly in the hot summers.

The well heeled have an answer. During their annual or biannual jaunts abroad they stock up on medicines, toiletries, cosmetics and even groceries so that they do not have to buy anything locally. Sad but true. The brunt of the negative impact is thus borne by those who do not have an alternative. A good move by the government could be oversight of pharmacies and those selling edibles and insistence that they improve storage and transportation systems. There is the problem of the energy shortage and the cost of energy — after all how can you run generators and still hope to make a profit. A vicious circle if ever there was one. Switch to home grown vegetables, fresh fruit, nuts, cereals etc but then you need money to buy these at exorbitant costs!!! What should one do and where should one go?


Fairs Strange Logic

June 19, 2015

ChristineBy now Ms Christine Fair has more or less branded herself as India’s champion. Whether this is out of a new love for India and Indians or some other more pragmatic reason is something to wonder about but her agenda is clear. Promote India and twist logic to prove its lily white innocence, counter anything even faintly critical of India and bad mouth Pakistan every which way to please the Indians and their lobbyists. With such an image it is hard to imagine US policy makers or anyone else for that matter taking her seriously not withstanding her scholarly credentials. In fact her recent writings targeting Pakistan signal a come down and tarnish her image especially because in the background somewhere is a refused visa to visit or work in Pakistan — as is the case with some others attacking Pakistan. Just because you give aid or have a relationship does not mean unquestioned access — the Raymond Davis fiasco proved that.

Read Full Article Here: Fairs Strange Logic

Zardari: Screaming with fear

June 18, 2015

zardari-nawazMuch is being read into the recent so called ‘macho’ speech of the Co Chairman of the PPP. Some analysts are calling it some kind of a gauntlet thrown at the ‘establishment’ which they think and hope will be picked up so that fireworks can start. The media loves fireworks because it rakes in the moolah and these days that is the most important consideration. More experienced and savvy people know that the outburst by the Co Chairman was neither a speech nor a gauntlet — it was a sad and pathetic spectacle. It was the response much like the one a cornered rat makes as a last ditch effort to evade a fate that looks inevitable.

Read Full Article Here: Zardari: Screaming with fear

RAW antics

June 11, 2015


In an article titled ‘Why Does Pakistan Accuse Indian Spies of Terrorism’ Mr Michael Kugelman of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC comes out strongly in support of India’s intelligence agency RAW and blames Pakistan’s military for the whole business of blaming a fresh smelling rose like RAW for foul and rotten deeds. The motivation for Pakistan’s military to do this according to Mr Kugelman is that it wants to shore up its popularity within Pakistan.


The short answer to the question ‘Mr Kugelman asks in the title of his article is that the Indian spies are being accused of doing exactly what they are doing — nothing more and nothing else. They have been doing it for a very long time and periodically had to be reminded that they need to back off whenever they went too far — Pakistan does that effectively. There would be no problems if RAW was brought under control and the Indian mindset towards Pakistan changed. This is not about to happen — not with the ultra nationalists fanatic Hindu backed Modi government in power.

Read complete article: RAW antics

The darkness within

June 5, 2015


Karachi-bus-firing-Ismaili-terrorismSaad Aziz’s confession with regards to his involvement in perhaps the most high profile target killing incidents (Safoora chowk massacre and Sabeen Mehmood’s murder) in recent times seemed like a convenient all-in-one package that helped the state seal the controversial cases. Speculating the odd timing and circumstances behind the confession is a rather futile exercise. However, what is of greater concern is that the general public found it hard to digest that an IBA graduate could be complicit in such activities. In the aftermath of this revelation, a plethora of opinion pieces were published dubbing the rise of educated terrorists as a new era in the history of terrorism. It has been almost a decade and half since Pakistan became embroiled in the War on Terror. Today, Pakistan is considered the 8th most dangerous country on the planet. It is ironic and deeply worrying that academic research on religious extremism and violence in Pakistan remains in dearth. There is a lack of awareness about the fact that while terrorism can be tackled with the use of force, extremism cannot.  This has resulted in stale and short sighted defense policy which has and continues to prove to be an efficacious long term solution. Moreover, whatever research does exist, is either focused solely on statistics or is completely theoretical in nature detached from the on-ground reality.

 Educated individuals from the middle class falling prey to the scourge of militancy is by no means a new phenomenon. For instance, the mastermind of the Parade Lane attack of 2009 was a student at the International Islamic University. Furthermore, one of the key people of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in Islamabad is a student at the National Defense University. There are a couple of other examples as well, but the crux of the matter is that there exists this misconception that radicalism and militancy is all a matter of poverty and illiteracy.

The radical and extremist narrative has been ingrained in our mindset over the years. Be it our homes, mosques, schools, or even the air we breathe; it is present all around. Taking the example of the rising sectarian violence in the country; beyond the usual suspects, there is another ignored factor at work behind the plight of minorities in Pakistan, and that is the significance of public opinion. The hard fact is that hatred towards non-Muslims is now the default attitude of a significant number of Pakistanis. They may not condone attacks and violence against these communities, but they fully endorse the basic doctrinal core that fuels the hatred against non-Muslims.

According to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2012, 41 percent of regular Pakistanis do not even believe that Shiites are true Muslims. In addition, militant organizations have recognized this shift in attitudes and used it to justify attacks on the grounds that Shiites are the enemies of Islam. Also, the prevalence of this anti-Shia sentiment has given religious and political groups an opportunity to exploit and demand that they, like Ahmadis before them, also be recognized by the state as non-Muslims.

Though there is consensus in the country that terrorism is a major issue that needs to be addressed and we can see that the required measures are being put into place, there has hardly been any initiative with regards to tacking the phenomenon of extremism. There is a dire need to realize that an ideological reorientation is what is required. This extremist mindset that has been institutionalized needs to be countered through radical reform of the education curriculum (schools and seminaries), and a change in narrative needs to be brought about in our homes, mosques and public spaces. Because reactionary measures that are taken by the heads of state might curb terrorism in the short-run, but the extremist ideology will soon become an extension of ourselves.

Christine Fair’s suffering from writers block or mental block?

May 28, 2015


Ms Fair’s articles no longer make waves. They are so tiring and boring and the topic is always the same — Pakistan. This time the title of her latest is — Honor our Fallen By Getting Real on Pakistan — and sadly she honors no one, certainly not the fallen, by yet another tirade against Pakistan. One wonders what she teaches her students as assistant professor at the prestigious Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service — could not be diplomacy for sure! She is no credit to the institution that has chosen to employ her in spite of her obsession driven single track warped thinking on US Foreign Policy and Pakistan. Sad but true.

Christine Fair

This time her motivation comes through in the part where she suggests a way forward for the US — a misnomer if ever there was one because what she is suggesting is a recipe for disaster and a negation of all the hard work done and sacrifices made by the State Department, the Pentagon and the White House. She says that — ‘the US must take advantage of our diminished troop presence in Afghanistan to wean itself off of the poisoned Pakistani teat. India is the most important partner in South Asia’ — thereby implying that the teat sucking US should now latch on to the Indian teat that she has discovered, no doubt to her advantage, is not poisoned. She suggests a throwback to the old policy of playing India and Pakistan against each other — an utterly useless idea in the present scenario.

Fair lists the count of the American fallen but fails to even mention the hundreds of thousands of the Pakistani, Afghan and Iraqi fallen. She does not mention the women and children killed in bombings and atrocities. Surely an assistant professor should know that the Drone strikes that kill and cripple innocents (including American hostages) and the atrocities like the ones at Abu Ghraib and in Afghanistan serve as recruiting posters for Al Qaida, the Taliban and the IS. How do the Afghans feel when American troops urinate on their fallen, or when drug crazed sergeants kick down doors and wantonly kill Afghan women and children. Pakistan even if it wants to, and it does not, needs to do nothing because the hatred is spawned by blundering Bushes and Blairs and those who do their bidding.

Also read: Fair’s Unfair Affair With Pakistan

Fair the assistant professor, mentions the weapon and funds given and sold to Pakistan and the GAO audit that oversees these funds. Again she forgets to mention how much goes back to Washington through lobbyists, contractors and middle men. Enough has been highlighted in the US media about corruption right at the origin of these sales and aid funds. She forgets that Pakistan has been a US ally for more than six decades and has helped US many times and continues to do so. Today Pakistan does not want to fight a war with anyone except with the terrorists and insurgents created by past policies in which the US was complicit. The US understands that in an asymmetrical situation like the one between Pakistan and India it is dangerous to let one side have total conventional superiority especially when there are unresolved issues because then the focus shifts to nuclear weapons. So what the US is giving to Pakistan is well considered and is meant to give it capacity to deter and the capacity to counter terrorism,

Fair cannot get over the OBL episode but she conveniently ignores how Arabs lived, trained, travelled and planned right in Washington and then hijacked commercial flights to carry out 911. She also forgets, what no Pakistani will ever forget, the murdering antics of the US contractor Raymond Davis and the subsequent senseless killing of Pakistani soldiers and civilians by air attacks and a Drone strike. While blaming Pakistan for duplicity she forgets who called Raymond Davis a US diplomat. The US and Pakistan have been in contact at all levels long enough to forge and amend policies without half baked ideas being preferred by delusional assistant professors. Like declaring Pakistan a hostile state and following a policy of ‘containment’ towards it (an old hackneyed idea) yet keeping it in the IMET program and giving it support for counter terrorism. Who is confused and whose new India oriented ambitions are outrunning her talents?

Ms Fair and those who are her fans and students need to understand some realities. Pakistan today does not want conflict with India and will do nothing to trigger it. Pakistan is not carrying out subversive activities within India nor is it sponsoring any such activity from its soil. India is doing this in Baluchistan, FATA and Karachi and the Indian Defence Minister has owned up to such a policy in his recent statement about countering terror with terror. Pakistan, the US and Afghanistan have converging interests that are the basis for their current cooperative policies. The US and Pakistan discuss concerns and interests and this process is institutionalized with no room for doubts on intentions. Pakistan has its nuclear assets under full control and the US knows this and Pakistan conforms to all international norms. The Afghan Taliban (once compared to US’ founding fathers by a US President) are fighting to rid their country of foreign presence and both Afghanistan and Pakistan with US and Chinese support are helping to bring about peace in Afghanistan. India needs to come on board and Ms fair might want to work in that direction with her sponsors. The stakes for Pakistan are very high and it is now a facilitator for peace and stability in the region — US policy makers understand this fully. Ms Fair unfortunately does not nor does she want to.


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