Parveen Rehman and the growing might of Land Mafia

March 15, 2013

By Zara Zulfiqar

No militants, no ethnic drama, Parveen Rehman’s death was a consequence of the land mafia politics that has consumed Karachi to the core. Parveen, an architect by profession, switched her field under the guidance of her mentor since, Akhter Hameed Khan, the founder of Orangi Pilot Project. Since 1982 Rehman had worked her way up the ladder at OPP, uplifting slum communities using microfinance, minimizing the need for World Bank loans building bridges between the government and the community.

The nature of violence in Pakistan, and especially Karachi has been labeled ethnic and political one after the other. According to Parveen Rehman the bloodshed was not ethnic, but land related. A bold social worker, though media shy, she openly criticized the establishment, and the police forces for being party to the land mafia. Drug mafia armed the people. The news of a pathan firing spreads like fire in the media, but seldom do people ask: who armed them? The drug mafia disappears when they sniff an operation and ambiguous claims of ethnic and sectarian differences fill the empty spaces.

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An American goes to Pakistan: The Raymond Davis Case

February 7, 2011

By Shemrez

The Government of Pakistan, its electronic media and its people, have been captivated by the case of one Raymond Allen Davis, an ‘American’ allegedly using a pseudonym and a ‘diplomatic passport’ to come to Pakistan and shoot two Pakistanis in Lahore in broad daylight. The incident happened apparently in self-defense, and in addition to conspiracy-prone Pakistani society, a few questions remained unanswered which led to more and more sensationalism, and concealment of important facts.

First, there should be no doubt by now that ‘Davis’ is a US DoD contractor. His name seems more of a pseudonym because of General Raymond Gilbert Davis, a US Marines General who fought in World War II and retired from the post of Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps on March 31, 1972, after more than 33 years with the Marines. There is also Raymond Davis Jr., a chemist and physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2002. This only rings a bell if one remembers the CIA Station Chief in Islamabad who got ratted out; Jonathan Banks, apparently another pseudonym, because web searches for the name yield websites related only to an American TV/film actor.

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When Will We See the Next Mass Murder?

September 7, 2010

By Jeff Gates

(Special to Opinion Maker) Here’s a news flash for Tel Aviv: it’s not a sign of respect when the bulk of humanity views you as psychopathic. Pakistan, in particular, should be concerned.

The concerns of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are misplaced. The legitimacy of Israel is no longer threatened. It’s already lost. Long gone. Kaput.

Nation states are shared states of mind. The mindset in Iceland differs from India. Israel is the most unlike of all. Founded by extremists and terrorists, it’s been downhill ever since.

Psychopaths want to be loved. That’s why they’re so charming, albeit only superficially. They’re also pathological liars, egocentric, callous and remorseless.

Those qualities have long been familiar to Israel’s neighbors, particularly the Palestinians. After WWII, Harry Truman was charmed into treating this extremist enclave as an ally.

That decision may well go down in history as America’s greatest mistake.

Though we’ve served for 62 years as Israel’s patron, pocketbook and apologist, the respect and affection has flowed in only one direction.

Psychopaths should not be confused with megalomaniacs. The mental states are quite different. Megalomaniacs seek to be feared, not loved. Control is the common trait.

That not-so-subtle distinction matters, at least for those of us who are not dual citizens.

For instance, it’s now known that Israel and its advocates fixed the intelligence that took us to war in Iraq. That fact is no longer in dispute.

That fact alone confirms the split personality evident in the shared state of mind we call Israel. Those who share that state charmed us into committing our blood and treasure for goals long sought by Israel. That’s the psychopath component.

The megalomaniac component felt they had a right to make us fearful. As Chosen (by a god of their own choosing), devotees of this shared mindset truly believe it’s their right to deceive. Those complicit see themselves as “of us but above us.”

When we dispatched our military to pursue their goals, Americans were killed and maimed as we borrowed our way into a fiscal morass from which there’s no clear route to recovery.

Score another victory for the U.S.-Israel special relationship.

Why Don’t Americans Get It?

Nothing about this “state” is legit. Never was. Its founding traces to a multi-decade reign of terror built on a phony historical foundation. Even the most dull-witted now question how Israel came into being. And why the U.S. ever deemed it special.

Americans are learning to fear Israel-as they should. A few of us remain charmed-despite the facts. For the True Believer, facts are likely to remain irrelevant.

Those familiar with the facts know better. Thus the fast-growing concern that troublesome behavior patterns are emerging once again.

Those most knowledgeable are deeply concerned about recent events.

On August 26th, a leaked memo from the Central Intelligence Agency cited American Jews as exporters of terrorism. Then came the news on August 30th from Sephardi chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef who urged that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas “vanish from our world” and that “God strike (Palestinians) down with a plague.”

Neither story gained traction in mainstream U.S. media. Instead, news coverage was reserved for August 31st when four Israelis were shot dead in the West Bank.

The most lethal attack in four years-blamed on Hamas-occurred just hours before Netanyahu’s scheduled meeting with Hamas leaders and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The timing revived memories of the many well-timed “incidents” during the reign of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. No one dares suggest that Tel Aviv may be the source of this latest incident. Yet consider just a few of the many precedents:

On April 12, 2002, at the same moment Secretary of State Colin Powell was meeting with Ariel Sharon, a suicide bombing occurred in Israel, killing 8 and injuring 22.

On May 10, 2002, at the same moment President Bush was meeting with Ariel Sharon, a suicide bombing occurred in Israel.

On June 11, 2003, on the same day Ariel Sharon visited the White House, a suicide bombing killed 17 and wounded 100 on a bus in Jerusalem.

On November 11, 2003, while the president of Italy was visiting the U.S., Italy suffered its greatest wartime casualties since WWII when 19 Italians were killed in Iraq.

On November 20, 2003, while President Bush was visiting Prime Minister Tony Blair in London, the British envoy to Istanbul was among 27 killed by a blast.

On November 30, 2003, while the president of Spain was visiting the U.S., seven Spanish intelligence officers were killed in Iraq.

The Source of Terror

What happens to Israel’s fast-fading legitimacy if the fear of terrorism-all of it-traces back to those long known for their expertise at waging war “by way of deception.” That’s the founding credo of the Mossad, Israel’s foreign operations directorate infamous for its worldwide expertise as an agent provocateur.

Would a state founded by terrorists resort to terror to sustain a narrative essential to its survival? Would Tel Aviv again deceive the U.S. to pursue its expansionist goals?

Zionist media mogul Haim Saban spoke candidly when, in the May 10th issue of The New Yorker, he boasted of “three ways to be influential in American politics:” make donations to political parties, establish think tanks and control media outlets.

His only omission: terror.

Was this dual citizen conceding how the U.S. was induced to war-for Israel?

Was he describing how Zionists shape U.S. policy-in plain sight?

Was he describing how psychopaths wage war on the U.S.-from within?

Was he divulging how megalomaniacs influence U.S. decision-making-with fear?

Americans have long been charmed by this “special” relationship. Now it’s time to be fearful. When a mental state of this malevolent sort becomes transparent and its operatives apparent, that’s when “psycho-megalomania” becomes its most dangerous.

Will we see another terrorist attack? You can bet on it. The only question is: When?

Special days are often chosen for special events. Will the next mass murder be on Rosh Hashanah (September 8th)? How about the ninth anniversary of September 11th? Or Yom Kippur on September 17th?

Will the next incident be nuclear or conventional? Will it be staged in the U.S. or the E.U.?

And most important of all: will it be blamed on Hezbollah or Hamas? Or will the “Pakistan Taliban” be portrayed as the requisite Evil Doer responsible for the next mass murder?

Stay tuned.

A Vietnam veteran, Jeff Gates is a widely acclaimed author, attorney, investment banker, educator and consultant to government, corporate and union leaders worldwide. He served for seven years as counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance. He is widely published in the trade, popular and academic press. His latest book is Guilt by Association: How Deception and Self-Deceit Took America to War. His previous books include Democracy at Risk: Rescuing Main Street From Wall Street and The Ownership Solution: Toward a Shared Capitalism for the 21st Century. Topical commentaries appear on the Criminal State website.

Fear grips Pakistani-Americans

May 6, 2010


WASHINGTON: A Pakistani-American girl, only 12, refused to go to school on Tuesday, saying she fears other students will ask her questions about the suspect held in New York for a failed attempt to bomb Times Square.

Another girl, 11, went to school when her mother persuaded her to but the mother had to go back to school during the lunch break to counsel her. A 53-year old man throttled his laughter at a dinner in a Virginia restaurant as a US television channel identified the suspect as a Pakistani-American. “That’s it. We are cooked,” he remarked. “Sad, very sad,” said Maleeha Lodhi, a former Pakistani ambassador to the US and Britain who is now working on a book in Washington. “It will hurt all Pakistanis, particularly those living in the United States.”

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We are committed to Ram temple: BJP on Babri anniversary

December 7, 2009

On the 17th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday reiterated that building a temple to Lord Ram at the mosque site was a “commitment” and the party would seek a resolution to the issue through negotiation or judicial verdict.

“The Ram temple remains a commitment for us. The BJP will prefer a solution through mutual negotiation or a judicial verdict,” party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad told IANS.

The BJP also trashed the findings of the Liberhan Commission report which probed the Dec 6, 1992, razing.

“The report in itself is redundant, lopsided and a political document,” Prasad added.

The BJP’s comments came as different groups in the Capital organised protest marches while one group held a celebratory march to mark the anniversary.

Staging a protest at the Jantar Mantar near the central business hub of Delhi, members of the All India Babri Masjid Rebuilding Committee (AIBMRC) demanded that the mosque be rebuilt on the disputed site of Ayodhya.

They also submitted a memorandum to President Pratibha Patil to put behind bars those named by the Liberhan Commission report.

Meanwhile, members of the little-known Rashtrawadi Sena marked the day as “Vijay Divas” (victory day) by holding a march in east Delhi.

Bharat Lal Sharma, secretary of the group said: “Our party chief Jai Bhagwan Goyal said this was a historic day which should be celebrated with pomp and show.”

Goyal was one of the 68 people mentioned in the report of the Liberhan Commission, as culpable for “leading the country to the brink of communal discord”.

The report, which was tabled in parliament Nov 24, has indicted members of the Sangh Parivar for demolition of the mosque in Ayodhya.

Sahmat, a group of artists held a discussion with journalists and photographers who were witness to the demolition along with historians to give their perspective. A photo exhibition ‘Hum Sab Ayodhya’ was also organised.

Identity And Religious Conversion

June 1, 2009

By Tomichan Matheikal

“We did not convert because we are poor. If I am poor but accepted by my community, there is no [social] terror in that poverty…. We did not convert for money. We converted because of the society that saw us as lesser, not worthy. We were ‘lower caste’, ‘untouchable’, ‘lowly’. Now we are Christian. Our god wants us. We can walk into his temple. We are worthy. You understand?” [Spoken by a Dalit convert in Orissa. Quoted in Violent Gods by Angana P. Chatterji, Three Essays Collective, Gurgaon, 2009]

The driving force behind religious conversions is, more often than not, a desire to live a “worthy” life, to have an identity that one can be proud of. The caste system being practised even today in Hinduism, despite all governmental efforts to eradicate it, is a major cause of religious conversions in India. Poverty and attendant exploitation is also another cause. But it appears that poverty and exploitation are intertwined with the caste system.

The caste system in India was seen by Dr Ambedkar, principal author of India’s Constitution, as the country’s greatest evil since it treated millions of people as subhuman by the simple fact of their birth. The man who tried his best to replace the discriminatory caste system with an egalitarian society, the Buddha, ended up as yet another god among the millions of deities in India. His teachings were suppressed by the Brahmins who feared that their stranglehold on society would be undermined.

Orissa is a state in India which witnessed much terrible violence in the name of religion and religious conversions. The violence still continues.

The Sangh Parivar organisations are opposed to the alleged mass conversions into Christianity of Oriya adivasis (tribal people) and others belonging to the lower castes. Many acts of outrageous violence have been perpetrated on the Christians and thousands of them are displaced from their hometowns. The Hindutva organisations allege that Christian missionaries allure the poor people with money and other enticements. How much water does the allegation hold?

Angana P. Chatterji, from whose book the introductory quote has been taken, has done a commendable job researching into the violence in Orissa. According to her, the adivasis and other lower caste people of Orissa seldom considered themselves Hindus. In her words, “The Paika Bidroha of 1817-1825, the Kol insurrection of 1831-1832, the Kanika agitation of 1921-1922, the Praja Mandal (peasant) Movement of the 1930s and 1940s speak powerfully of Adivasi and subaltern refusal to submit to cultural colonialism and Brahminical imposition” (199). Even in the 1990s there were conflicts between the adivasis and the exponents of Hindutva including Lakshmanananda Saraswati (who claimed to be working for the welfare of the adivasis and the lower caste people of Orissa). For example, the RSS and Lakshmanananda Saraswati opposed the adivasis when they fought for indigenous child rights (359). These Hindutva leaders did not want the adivasis to be organised. They opposed the adivasi struggle for Kuidina (a state for themselves). They tried to suppress the Kandhamal Nari Jagaran Samiti and the Kuidina Ekta Samiti. “They (the RSS and Lakshmanananda Saraswati) are dangerous people,” Chatterji quote some Kui people. “They want to kill our people like animals. They do not understand religious differences. They do not understand our connection to our land. We are neither Christians nor Hindus. We are Adivasi. We worship the Earth. There are Christian Kui’s. The Mission [church] never forced us to convert. Not in Kandhamal, before or after 1947…” (359)

Chatterji exposes the myth that the adivasis considered or were eager to consider themselves Hindus. In May 2006, at a convention attended by about 50,000 adivasis, the Bisu Sendra Tribal Council, which serves the tribal communities in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa, determined to ban Hindu customs and rituals, representations and priests from Adivasi spiritual and religious ceremonies (96).

Not different is the case with the lower caste people. Caste oppression has been a bone of contention for long in Orissa as in other parts of India. In Orissa, says Chatterji, “Dalit students and teachers have been denied employment and entry into schools and community events, and Dalit community members have been assaulted for participating in Hindu religious ceremonies” (69). Chatterji lists a number of incidents to show the disaffection between the people belonging to the higher and lower castes. Such incidents led to the conversion into Buddhism of about 3000 Dalits in Dec 2006.


Poverty also plays its role in this complex issue. Orissa is one of the most backward states in India. In the words of Ramachandra Guha, “In 1999 Orissa overtook – if that is the word – Bihar as India’s poorest state” [India After Gandhi, Picador India, 2007, p.707]. The adivasis and the lower caste people were exploited economically in the attempts to set up various industries. The Utkal Alumina, which brought together Canadian and Norwegian firms with the Aditya Birla Group, led to the displacement of many adivasis from their land. 3000 acres of land cultivated by the adivasis was taken over by the Biju Janata Dal government and given to the industrialists. The same government also acquired land in Kalinganagar at much less than the market rate and handed it over to Tata Steel to build a factory processing iron ore for the Chinese market.

Apart from the capitalist industrialists are other exploiters such as the money-lenders who stand to benefit much by keeping the adivasis and the low caste people poor. All these exploitations have made Orissa a hotbed of Maoists. Christian missionaries also creep in with the intention of helping the poor and the downtrodden.


The solution seems to lie in two factors:

1. Put an end to the discriminatory caste system. This would engender a sense of respectability among the adivasis and the lower castes. Then there would be no need for religious conversion as a means of attaining respectability.

2. Give economic independence to the adivasis and the lower castes. This would put an end to the Maoist violence as well as the charm held out by poverty to Christian missionaries.

The Pakistan factor in the Indian elections

May 7, 2009

Ashraf Engineer exclusively for

People attend a Congress party election rally in Lucknow in April 2009. – Reuters

As India steps into the polling booth, the ghost of Pakistan is peering from around the corner. It lurks in the voter’s mind like a silent poltergeist you don’t see, but that influences events anyway. That said, it would be a mistake to think of this year’s election as a Pakistan-centric election. Yes, terrorism and security matter. But jobs matter more. Youth matters more. Local issues are important. Caste is a game-changing issue.

Phase One – Opens in Indian elections

The first phase of the Lok Sabha (the lower house of parliament) elections ended last week. All indicators show that there are two things uppermost on India’s mind as it pushes the button on the electronic voting machine: the economy and security. It is to the second that Pakistan is now inextricably linked, as far as India is concerned.

Exclusive from Delhi – Predicament of Indian voters

Two barbaric attacks, spaced virtually a generation apart, have shaped Indians’ perception of Pakistan. The first were the March 12, 1993, serial bombings in Mumbai. The second was the more recent terror strike on November 26, 2008. There is a genuine worry that the guy next door is about to blow himself up and some of the embers may land on our house. After all, we share a border that’s 2,308 kilometres long. The Line of Control stretches along 740 kilometres. And Kashmir is a flashpoint.

But there is a change that has come about in the 15 years that separate the two worst terrorist attacks in Indian history. Pakistan matters, but only to an extent. There is a kind of laissez-faire approach to it, almost as if, as one colleague put it, ‘it’s there and you live with it.’ It’s part of the mix in voters’ minds, but not the dominant issue.

The Hindustan Times, Mumbai, conducted two separate surveys to gauge the mood in India’s financial capital. The first one was across demographic sections and age groups. When asked what the most important poll issue is, 35 per cent said it was the economy. Security came second at 31 per cent, followed by stability (19 per cent) and infrastructure (15 per cent). There was also a strong opinion that younger members of parliament were the need of the hour. And an average of 74 per cent said local issues should be a priority for the new MPs.

In the second survey, conducted only in the 18- to 35-year age bracket, the economy mattered to even more people – 45 percent. Security came a distant second at 29 percent. This survey is in a way more critical than the first because, this year, 4.3 crore of the 71.4 crore voters are first-timers. As you can see, Pakistan isn’t top of mind.

Indians have reacted very differently to the November 26 attacks from the way most expected them to. Instead of an across-the-board demand for retribution, Indians have turned the microscope on their own system and the people they elected.

Vir Sanghvi, Hindustan Times’ editorial director, explains this wonderfully well on his website in a post dated April 7: ‘I can think of few societies where an attack – clearly planned and launched by a hostile neighbour – should not result in a desire for war. Instead, India spent its time working out what went wrong and in looking for those who failed in their duty to protect our cities and our civilians.’

Sanghvi explains it this way: ‘Indians are used to terrorism. It no longer shocks us as it once did. Nor are we startled by the recognition that Pakistan might be involved. We have come to accept this as a part of our lives. We are not like the United States before 9/11, secure in some cocoon, believing that nobody can touch us.…’

India has begun asking tough questions of those in power. For weeks after the attack, there were public protests in various cities. TV channels were flooded with images of people demanding more accountability and a greater say in governance. Cyberspace is overflowing with voter-registration campaigns as well as those for responsible voting. Several people who have not had any political experience or affiliation have jumped into the electoral fray, hoping to make a difference, including ABN Amro chairperson and country executive Meera Sanyal in Mumbai and danseuse Mallika Sarabhai in Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat.

The terror attacks were, of course, a catalyst for a sentiment that had been simmering for long. Public resentment against ineffective governance had been a problem for years; November 26 was merely the last straw. It is telling that the outcry that followed wasn’t terror-centric – all sorts of issues were raised, from corruption to infrastructure. So, even if Pakistan can’t claim to dominate mindshare during this election, it has indirectly made a difference. The 26/11 terror, which India is certain arrived from its neighbour’s shore, has strengthened our democracy by awakening the spirit of public participation in governance.

Ashraf Engineer is Associate Editor at the Hindustan Times, Mumbai. He can be reached at He also writes a blog,


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