For years Pakistan supported radical elements in Afghanistan, first the loose alliance of the mujahedeen against the Soviets and then the Taliban. We called them our strategic assets and turned a blind eye to their atrocities in Afghanistan, because as long as they were on the other side of the border, why should we worry? Post 9-11; Pakistan decided to side with the US against its former allies and the chickens came home to roost in 2004, the year in which the Afghan War spilled over into Pakistan with a wave of suicide bombings. Unfortunately, 8 years and hundreds of Pakistani martyrs later, we still refuse to believe that this war is very much our own.
It’s common to see people arguing about Pakistan’s role in the War on Terror. Some maintain that the Taliban are going after Pakistanis just because we sided with the US, that this is not our war and that the Taliban and Al Qaida, if left alone by us will stop targeting our countrymen. I don’t understand how people justify this argument in light of what happened in Swat; because the attempt of the TTP to set up a shadow government in the region was certainly more than just revenge against Pakistan for siding with the US. The Taliban were already running a parallel justice system in the area, enforcing their own version of Shariat and had the army not intervened, we might now have been recognizing the independent Caliphate of Swat.
Everyone agrees that the Americans should withdraw from Afghanistan, but it’s silly to think that all problems will magically disappear as soon as they leave. The US may or may not come to an agreement with the Taliban before withdrawing, but it’s highly improbable that any peace treaty will carry much weight with either the Taliban or the heavily armed warlords after the Americans leave; in all probability, a civil war like the one after the Soviet War will follow the American departure. There’s a lot of talk about preparing the Afghan army for an eventual takeover, but I think it’s pretty clear to everybody that the only thing propping up the Afghan Government is the presence of American troop. Take that away and the house of cards collapses.
It is naive to think that the TTP will just disband when the Americans leave, or that they will just pack up their bags and march over to Afghanistan. There can be no doubts that the Taliban and Al Qaida wish to export their version of Islam to neighboring countries, in any case they do want to expand their influence and frankly, Pakistan is ripe for the picking. Even now, the state is hard pressed to exert any control in the tribal areas, indeed, sometimes one wonders if they are a part of the country at all and also, many Pakistanis are receptive to the Taliban ideology. In addition to this, they say that Al Qaida has infiltrated the Pakistani military. If that’s true, as it seems to be in light of the attack on the Mehran Base last year, we can hardly expect Al Qaida to give up everything and just leave Pakistan alone after the US withdraws. Considering the current instability of the country and the growing power of extremist religious organizations, the Taliban and Al Qaida are a very real threat to Pakistan. And unless we wish to be ruled from Kabul, we must fight, regardless of whose war it is.
Tuesday, 12 June 2012
These days everyone loves talking about how Pakistan is the victim of a so called “4th Generation War”, with the US, Israel, India, <Insert dubious anti-Muslim enemy here) etc as the aggressors. These pseudo-intellectuals say the US and India plan to invade Pakistan from the West and the East respectively take away our nuclear arsenal and cut up the country into little parts. Understandably, these gentlemen hate everyone who does not subscribe to their viewpoint and especially the media, which they love to call the “fifth column of the enemy”. The most prominent of the aforementioned gentlemen is Mr (or should I say Khalifa?) Zaid Hamid, but much has already been said about him and I don’t want to waste my time on a guy, who if he had his way would have us declare war on the entire world.
Back to the 4th Generation War; at this very moment, hundreds of Cyber Jihadis are doing their duty as faithful soldiers of the Khalifa Zaid, updating statuses and sharing links. It is to them that Pakistan owes its existence and I sometimes wonder if this evil Zionist government is using load-shedding as a tool to thwart the efforts of patriotic Cyber Warriors. Anyways, enough with the jokes; when this band of patriots (mostly 15-30 years old) is asked exactly WHY the US wants to destroy Pakistan, they are ready with a detailed answer. They will tell you that the US is afraid of the Muslims, that we are the only Muslim Nuclear power, that the Zionists, afraid of our “Muslim Bomb” wish to cut up Pakistan into little pieces and that the sole purpose of the Afghanistan War is to attack and destroy Pakistan (9/11 was an inside job of course, say the Cyber Jihadis, ignoring all evidence to the contrary). They will then explain further that a multitude of hostile intelligence agencies are behind every problem in Pakistan ranging from violence in Quetta and Karachi to shoes getting stolen after Juma prayers! Indeed, after listening to them, one wonders that if foreign intelligence agencies are carrying out terrorist activities with such impunity, wouldn’t it be better to just disband our own security agencies and save on the expenses?
Speaking of security agencies, it should be mentioned that this group of patriots we are talking about is highly protective of the Pakistan Army and blind to any fault in it. If provoked with rational evidence of the mistakes made by the army or the intelligence agencies, they will respond by labeling you a Zionist.
A friend once told me that the US is behind bomb attacks in Pakistan because if there was no terrorism in Pakistan, people would demand that Pakistan pull out of the war. Guess what? They are still demanding that Pakistan pull out! And anyways, since when has public opinion had any effect on those in power in Pakistan? Even setting this aside, it is a rather stupid way of keeping an ally in a war and would be disastrous in the long run for very obvious reasons. And one more thing: if our government is Zionist (as conspiracy theorists claim), then why the need for bomb attacks to keep Pakistan in the war? Aren’t Zionists supposed to be united or something?
Moving on, my question to all such people is: Assuming that the US wants to destroy Pakistan, why is it making it so hard for itself? Yes, why is the US going about it in such a difficult, roundabout way? Let’s take a quick look at our economy: GDP stands at $210 Billion, growth at a mere 2.6% and our national debt is a whooping $61 Billion The consistent load shedding, upwards of 12 hours/day alone is enough to completely cripple the Pakistani economy (and indeed it has). So instead of using a complex strategy to destroy the Pakistani ideology and “corrupting” the youth to destroy Pakistan, wouldn’t it be easier for US to just go all out against the Pakistani economy? Think about it; as of 2011, Pakistani exports are around $25.3 Billion, out of which almost 50% are to the so called enemies of Pakistan (US, EU, India, Afghanistan, UAE etc). Our imports on the other hand are around $35.5 Billon and our biggest (import) partners are China, UAE and Saudi Arabia. Now, according to warriors of the Caliph Zaid Hamid, the US is at this very moment waging war against Pakistan, so I wonder why the US and their allies don’t just embargo Pakistan. I know what you are thinking; that it would be a international fiasco, that the war in Afghanistan would be jeopardized and all that, but remember, according to many pseudo-analysts, the war in Afghanistan is just a cover up or rather a preparation for an eventual war in Pakistan. So, by their reasoning, if Pakistan can be destroyed in some other way, there is no need for a war in Afghanistan.
Other than that, consider the remittances by overseas Pakistani, the lifeblood of our fragile economy. Total remittances in 2011 stood at around $10.8 Billion and out of these, remittances from “Zionist” countries were as follows: $2 Billion from the US, $1.3 Billion from the UK, $0.3 Billion from the EU and $0.4 Billion from other Zionist nations. Which means that Pakistanis sent home $4 Billion from enemy countries in 2011. Just take out these $4 Billion and the Pakistani economy will collapse due to balance of payment deficits.
Another thing I often think about is why in the world does our sworn enemy; the Zionist USA keeps selling arms to us. And sophisticated weaponry at that, such as F-16s… Plus, why does the IMF bails us out every time our incompetent government drives the economy into a ditch?
It is not very difficult for the US, if it were, for some reason hell bent upon destroying Pakistan to push the Pakistani economy beyond the point of no return. In any case, it’s easier than staging 9/11 and then fighting a 10 year war with all its complexities just to destroy a country like Pakistan. Money makes the world go round; without it there can be no armed forces, no missile defense no nothing. And in the end, if the conspiracy theorists are right and America has spent $500 Billion plus in Afghanistan just to cut up Pakistan, then I think American policy makers must be the most mentally-challenged group of people to ever walk the Earth.
Friday, 8 June 2012
There’s a lot of speculation going on about the Arsalan Iftikhar case and I think that some people have forgotten that it’s just that: speculation and nothing more. Some are demanding that the Chief Justice resign, while others are already beginning to question his integrity. Indeed, listening to some anchor persons and members of the public, one would think that Arsalan Iftikhar has already been convicted and his father proven to be corrupt.
In reality though, with this kind of evidence, the case cannot stand in any fair court in the world. Allegations are not proof and at the moment, there isn’t much more. It would do us good to remember that a journalist (no matter how senior) claiming that a person X received money from a person Y does not constitute evidence against person X; it’s a mere allegation that needs to be backed up by evidence, which, at least at this time does not exist.
Coming to the second point, I don’t see why the Chief Justice should resign merely because of allegations against his son. In fact, I’d say that the way he has handled the matter up till now, summoning his son and Malik Riaz (who did not show up) to court is highly symbolic , a victory for justice in Pakistan. For the first time in the history of Pakistan, the Chief Justice’s own son was summoned to the court by his own father and if that’s not fair, I don’t know what is. After complaints, the CJP also removed himself from the three-member bench hearing the case. I don’t understand what else his skeptics would have him do; surely they do not expect him to hang his son without any evidence?!
Innocent until proven guilty, so goes the maxim, according to which the courts of our country and that of all other civilized nations function. The time may well come when solid evidence is presented against Arsalan, but until then, it’s unfair to point fingers at him or his father, the Chief Justice of Pakistan, whose reputation, by the way is as untainted as anyone’s in the country.
Friday, 1 June 2012
In “A Closer look at sexual harassment laws” published in the Express Tribune blogs on May 29, Fouzia Saeed pointed out that much has been accomplished since the President signed the sexual harassment laws in 2010. According to the author lauded the speed with which the laws were drafted and passed and pointed out that over 1000 cases have been dealt with so far. Anyways, going through the comments section, I was alarmed to see that instead of recognizing the problem and the work being done to overcome it, some people actually seemed to be trying to justify harassment in the name of Islam!
The very first was a gentleman who began by claiming that Western societies had more crime than Eastern (read Islamic) ones and then moved on to say that he wanted an Islamic state and not a secular one. He was seconded by another gentleman who declared that women had no business outside the house. Another user proclaimed that most women are pathetic and dress “exotically” (whatever that means); therefore, men are automatically attracted to them. And then he went on a rant about women wanting to control men etc.
So in their version of a so called Islamic society, these gentlemen’s answer to sexual harassment would be to ban women from leaving their homes? That’s like banning people from defending their property against robbers! Would a truly Islamic society turn a blind eye to the harassment of women just because they are unaccompanied by a mehram instead of punishing those responsible? Because now we are talking about a very basic human right: the right to security. Islam recognizes this right and I really can’t really get my head around the idea that Muhammad (PBUH) would have let someone get away with assaulting a woman just because she was uncovered or unaccompanied!
No Pakistan is rife with such problems because before there can be any cure, you must admit the existence of the disease. And in our country, some people are so blinded by prejudice and so accustomed to thinking of women as disposable objects that they either deny the existence of the problem outright or worse, attempt to transfer the blame to women! But let’s get this straight, women are NOT objects, they are human beings and deserve to be respected as such.
Finally, to the men who are “automatically attracted” to skimpy clothing, Islam commands you to lower your gaze! Its funny really, how in our male-dominated society, only Islamic laws are twisted to maintain male-dominance while all parts of Islam dealing with the rights of women are conveniently ignored. And even if Islam had nothing so ay about it, get a grip on yourself guys! Are you perpetually drunk? Or under the influence of other drugs? If the answer is No, then get hold of yourself!
Summing it up, women getting harassed just because some perverts cannot control their feelings is unacceptable; it must stop and if these animals (for creatures with minds so weak can hardly be called men) cannot control themselves, they must be punished. The argument that women themselves are responsible for all violence or harassment is outdated and has no basis at all in Islam. Simply put, it’s not women’s fault!
So let’s get this straight: women are harassed just because some perverts can’t control their “feelings”? Somebody please explain this to me because I just can’t see what kind of reasoning is behind this argument.
P.S. Here's the link to the article I mentioned.
Tuesday, 29 May 2012
Recently, on a trip to India, Mrs. Clinton claimed that Al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri is holed up in Pakistan and her statement was immediately countered by Twitter users kicking off the #ShutUpClinton trend. Local twitter users told her to Mrs. Clinton to shut up, made fun of US foreign policy and abused some more. And in fact, if you think about it, this is about as Pakistani as it gets; someone says something you don’t like, tell them to shut up!
Just to give a few examples, one guy asked for proof of 9-11, while another gloated about how Pakistan was suffocating the US war machine in the Afghanistan. Now there’s plenty of evidence for 9-11 and I wonder how someone can be happy about obstructing the US, and therefore helping the Taliban when the same Taliban are shedding Pakistani blood every day, but these too are probably brainwashed, conspiracy-theorist cyber-soldiers of Caliph Zaid Hamid and can’t convinced by any earthly evidence so no need to waste our time. To be fair though, some people made some legitimate points such as pointing out that Mrs. Clinton was in India to coax them into stopping imports of oil from Iran.
#ShutUpClinton illustrates the real problem in our society: blaming others for our mistakes. From small problems in our daily life to the huge one facing our country, we never seem to be able to accept responsibility; its always someone else’s fault. We blame other people, the government and increasingly, imaginary Anti-Muslim forces but NEVER ourselves.
We spent years telling the world Osama was not in Pakistan and where was he found in the end? That’s right, in Pakistan! And please don’t tell me he wasn’t, because even the Pakistan army accepts that he was (I mention it because for some reason, when it comes to the Pakistan army Caliph’s Zaid’s soldiers can literally see no evil). Anyhow, denying that Osama was in Pakistan, as some people are fond of doing just serves to illustrate my point that we ALWAYS blame someone else. So the world’s most wanted terrorist was living next door to the Pakistan Military Academy and instead of asking what the hell was going on, we close our eyes and pretend nothing’s happened.
Some days back, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) warned in a report that sectarian groups such as Sipah-e-Sahaba, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jundallah have have “grown stronger than ever” and pose a grave threat to Pakistan. Maybe the Intelligence Bureau should be told to shut up too, because they said terrorist groups were getting stronger in Pakistan. As of late, we’ve grown so accustomed to blaming the US for each and every problem faced by Pakistan that we now think of ourselves as absolutely perfect. This attitude is extremely dangerous.
Maybe that’s because it’s much easier to live in denial than to face up to the very complex set of problems facing Pakistan today. It sure is easier to live in a dream, but telling other to shut up won’t make the problem go away and considering the state of our country, I think it’s high time we got our head out of the sand and faced up to reality.
P.S: Danish Siddiqui, commenting on an article in the Express Tribune rightly pointed out that such people should also tell Mumtaz Qadri and other hate-mongers to shut up.
Monday, 28 May 2012
Some people claim that Pakistan’s Defense budget is around 80% of its total budget while patriots often point out that its only 18%! Both are wrong. Pakistan’s total budget for the year 2011 was Rs 2767 Billion and out of this, only Rs 500 Billion were allotted for defense, so on the surface, it does look like the defense budget is only 18% of the total annual budget, but a closer look will reveal that’s not the case.
Military pensions, not included in the defense budget amount to more than 73 billion so we can safely say that the defense budget is actually 573 billion i.e. 20% of the total budget. There’s more however; Pakistan TAX REVENUE is only Rs 1778 billion while the rest is NON-TAX revenue which also includes aid from the US etc. So if we take the defense budget as a percentage of our tax revenues, it’s a whopping 32%!
But that’s not all. We’ve missed two things: the black budget (for the intelligence agencies) and foreign arms purchases. I’ve absolutely no idea about the size of the black budget, but everyone knows that Pakistani intelligence agencies have a huge network and are extremely active so there is no doubt that a large amount of money is spent. In all fairness however, all security agencies which remotely deserve the name of “Intelligence Agency” have black budgets so that’s nothing new.
The other thing is foreign arms purchases. Often, large purchases are done through foreign loans and the interest payments for these loans come under the “Interest on Debt” part of the budget (790 billion) and therefore not included in the defense budget per se.
Whether Pakistan should cut spending on defense or not is an entire debate altogether, but considering everything, I feel it’s wrong to say that Pakistan “doesn’t append a lot” on defense, as young, overly-exited patriots often suggest. In the same vein, it’s wrong to claim that Pakistan spends almost 80% on defense (as a number of people in talk shows are fond of doing).