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Political-Imran-Khan-23-March-Jalsa-at-Minar-e-Pakistan-Lahore-2077

To many it came as an unbelievable shock. For some it was an eye opener while for the rest it was a mere revelation and demonstration of the bitter reality that refused to blink and stared right back into the face.

To me and many others who had seen the environment deteriorate and the institutions, state and system ( if any ) to crumble to an extent whereby the echoes of a failed state were beginning to make regular noises, all the indicators were nose-diving whilst there was a continous hue and cry and red flags raised by the think tank and various experts, it was a prospect of a possible vibrant new beginning. It was at that point that sucked in by the state of chaos and uncertainty, the middle and affluent educated urban class was jolted to come out of its slumber and hibernation to wake-up to reality.

Whether the deck had hit the rock bottom, the only survival lied in the prospect of a change. Ignorance or avoidance wasn’t a choice any more. For survival, action was the only option. When the grounds of Minar-e-Pakistan were swamped and swarmed by the families, women, children, old and young by an electrified crowd of hundreds of thousands that cut across entire cross-section of society on Oct 30th, 2011 it was a flash point. It marked the eruption of lava from within that had been boiling for decades. Many of us who had been pulled to the venue by the mere realization of need of the hour had nothing to do with the active politics and were hence participating in our maiden political rally _ what emerged as a result was an unusually rich and unprecedented demographic, cultural and social mix that glued together into a cohesive whole for a selfless and common cause. Every soul was charged up and every one, young or old, man or woman, wanted to be counted.

For some it raised the alarm bells but for most it brought heaps of hope. It was a clear sign of a living nation who refused to budge and, if not over-emphasized, signaled a rude and rebellious awakening of a nation willing to stand and fight for its survival and rights that was put to a tranquil sleep for the loot and plunder to go on unabated.

Whilst the volcano had exploded, the aftermath and repercussions had to be enormous. The jaw dropping event and a series of others that followed shortly sent shock waves through the circles at helm. Sooner than later, it came as a bitter realization that non deliverance wasn’t an option any longer. Thus thoroughly threatened and under enormous pressure, the provincial government that had been sitting on its haunches for nearly four years ran into a state of panic that accounted for many of the gimmicks and questionable projects and initiatives that were forced down our throats while the elections were fast approaching.

But the winds of change continued to blow setting unprecedented examples and unsettling the competition that found itself more and more at loss with each shift. What we saw progressively was rise and formulation of a party structure from bottom to top on purely democratic principles; a mini revolution in this part of the globe in itself.

So when the captain stood in the shadow of the Minar-e-Pakistan once again on March 23rd, not alone but accompanied by thousands of elected representatives of his political party belonging to all walks of life, some of them hailing from very humble backgrounds, facing an endless ocean of people and waves of fluttering national as well as green and red party flags and declared with a beaming smile that the ‘change’ had arrived, he was stating the obvious. Below the stage, the emotionally charged crowd roared in frenzy waving flags and chanting slogans in sheer passion. Many of us were those who had ridiculed his intent and motives when he had started his unorthodox political movement as a novice in the same city about sixteen years ago. But it was his sincerity to the tune of devotion, determination, boldness, truthfulness, enormous love for his homeland and leadership qualities that convinced us to part ways with political inertness and rally under his flag. Most of all it was his consistency and habit of winning against all odds repeatedly and belief in himself, his God and the youth of his country that made the nation absorb new rays of hope.

Battling against the inertia, status quo and traditional politics the movement of justice continues its dynamic journey unabated. A mere morsel that began to roll down the hill many years ago gradually assumes the giant proportions of a snow ball that takes everything along in its fold. The challenge and erosion it poses to its competition is immense and grows with its dynamism and continuity progressively. Innovative and setting ever higher standards for the nation to guage, with a towering and gifted leader at the tip with a character to fill potential leadership void that has existed, it promises a better future to Pakistan and its citizens. It is a gradual process that demands decades for its materialization and consolidation. But the signs of challenge and evolution are significant. The will and determination is there. It is for the same reason that awash with rain, as if baptized and cleansed, amidst the soaring and unwavering tides of fluttering flags when the tsunami of impassioned enthusiasts listened to its leader, every soul and mortal stood its ground soaking up all the energy and verve in the air to imbibe the currents of the impending and inevitable change.

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Are we eventually not back to the square one? The ever so familiar situation repeating itself every so often _ the civil military stand off and the government and judiciary finding themselves at loggerheads yet again feeding ample fodder to the insatiable milling machine of media thankfully to sensationalize and spice things up to their liking, churning out conspiracy theories by creating an unnecessary hype at times while acting irresponsibly by neglecting the imperative developments and details at others to mislead ( read to keep informed) the public at large but to keep their business and entertainment (talk) shows going round the clock. 

The history is perhaps tired of repeating itself over and over again but we are not. While the cynical circular spectrum of events continue to go round and round statically with no linear development over the six decades, interestingly the question remains who is actually at fault? 

Was the judiciary at fault when ZAB riding the crest of a mammoth tide of popularism was hanged? Certainly! Was the judiciary at fault when the over zealous Sultan Muhammad Nawaz Sharif stormed the supreme court overwhelmed by his lust of power? Certainly not! Is the judiciary at fault now when it is taking government to task over a couple of security and political issues? Anybody’s guess! 

More? Was it democratically elected Nawaz Sharif at fault when he dismissed the then COAS Musharraf or was the military takeover a logical reaction to Sharif’s voracious desire for omnipotence while undermining the freedom of various state institutions? 

While it appears deceptively simple to single out Army as the most criminal force and factor in the equation that has arguably rooted out seeds of democratic culture that have been sown time and again but haven’t the democratic institutions failed time and again and caved in owing to their intrinsic weakness, imbalance, disharmony and reckless measures? I am certainly not for khakis to step in or marching boots to trample the constitution at their own free will. There are far too many lessons to learn from the autocratic Islamic revolution led by Hazarat General Muhammad Zia ul Haq and later, in stark contrast, the radiant era of “Renaissance” unleashed by enlightened moderator Mush__ both reminding us of the ages of darkness ironically in one way or the other. But the fact remains that unlike the rest, Military is the only disciplined and organized institution of the state with supposedly far less public dealing and external influence. In all fairness, doesn’t Military get more than its due share of blame for the failure of state or democratic process or institutions? Again, even if for the argument’s sake, Military is the mother of all ills, isn’t failure of a major state institution to understand its due role and to overstep its limits or jurisdiction blatantly time and again be deemed as the failure of democracy or system itself? 

If so, this brings us back to the million dollar question, how in the world do the tenets of western democracy offer the best solution to our typical political, social and economic problems that have failed to grab roots in sixty four years?

 If going to the polls with 35 million bogus registered votes every now and then and casting our vote in the favour of the candidate solely on the basis of birardari or “kinship” as Anatol Lieven ( Pakistan a hard country) puts it earns us the licence to be a democratic state, who are we fooling by expecting a change to take place simply by sticking to this ritual? Not to undermine our society, but have we got the literacy, awareness, religious and social freedom and justice, tradition and maturity to inculcate that culture of expression of freedom, tolerance, mutual respect, equal rights for all human beings that constitute the spirit of democracy together?   

If not, then why are we obsessed with the secular models of western democracy that will never work for us or has never gained roots in the sixty four years of the existence ofPakistanas a state? 

My dear friends and intellectuals who cannot see beyond the dazzling virtues of democracy and exist as if only to keep on harping about it, let us be honest and analyze is democracy the only system that has brought about change coupled with social and economic upliftment round the globe or region? We may snub China for poor human rights standings but what has brought about that magnificent rise in its economic power and splendour? Democracy? Why forget the Asian tigersSingapore? While the state has remained a kingdom with no natural resources of its own (even the drinking water is to be imported from the neighbouring Malaysia), who can deny the remarkable turn around in its stature and economic fate that has earned it the informal title of the ‘Most orderly state” in the world just in a few decades? 

Call it our mindset but name a single mainstream political party that has nurtured democratic culture within its rank and file. Does passing the leadership on to the next generation or the memebers of the family like personal fiefdom or heritage does not negate the spirit of the democracy itself? Or is it perfectly cool to build on a monarchy of  Sharifs, Bhuttos, Zardaris & Madaris while harping about democratic traditions and process?

To cut it short, there may well be countless virtues and democracy may still be the best form of governance but what good is it if it does not deliver but rather dis-enfranchise the masses to the point where the state is brought to the brink of its existential threat?

To me, democracy is after all a means or mode to deliver! 

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There is that young promising bright girl who makes it to the hot seat of the plagiarized illustration of ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’– Junaid Jamshed’s faithful mullah compliant Islamic version_ Alif Laam Meem. She runs through the early rounds quickly until the poor girl is disastrously stuck by the revelation, no less challenging than the laurels of the restlessly wandering and now eternally and peacefully asleep Columbus, that she has been asked to discover the God forsakenly unknown place of Congo somewhere on the globe. Stunned, the girl wisely decides to opt for ‘Shoora’. As it turns out nearly three quarters of the house overwhelmed with excitement, momentarily passes the verdict, to somehow, relocate the state in question from Africa to Asia. The girl confidently and proudly announces to go with the ‘majority’ only to be shocked at how she has been let down by the ‘overwhelming majority’.

This was just a game that she unfortunately lost but are we losing something by blindly going with the ‘majority’ in Pakistan for years?

Let us now visit a class of physics or mathematics with a mix of average and above average students with a couple of exceptional ones like any representative group or class. The professor comes up with a tricky numeric and logical problem. ‘Majority’ is unable to see through it offering a unique but wrong answer while only a handful get to analyze it properly to give the proper solution.

Now who is specifically right here? The mediocre majority?

A strong counter argument to the later case may well lie in the statement that the real life analytical problems are not a quiz of mathematics or science but have diverse solutions with no one right answer to an issue or a problem.

True my dear friends but who has to unravel those ‘right answers’ in a democratic state? The representatives of the people? Elected by whom? Masses mired in guts of feudalism, ethnicity, sectarianism and bradarism? They may well be adjudged as ‘aware’ but what percentage can be assumed as truly educated and is prepared to see beyond the basic survival needs of bread and butter or thana kachahri? When the much trumpeted ‘freedom to choose’ gets so myopic, coerced, insensitive and selfish at the very core what representation do we expect to emerge over and over again and what improvement do we expect out of it?

Are we not living in a fool’s paradise if we expect any change to spring out of the rotten electoral system?

For these apparent underlying reasons, those who see the current version of democracy as a self-correcting and self- cleansing mechanism should rest assured that we are conveniently tied up only in an endless vicious cycle.

Let us just glance at the structures and ranks and file of our political parties. How many of them can claim to be democratic in their spirit ? Not PML (N) that proudly elected NS as its president after a fierce and sapping electoral battle and is now resorting to infighting for the aspiring members are lobbying NOT to be elected but handpicked by the party leadership. But then why do we clamour and tend to forget that the party draws its roots and strength from the ashes of a mard-e-momin?

PPP? It has more Ps than democratic dimensions. We hope and pray that our endearing jaan nasheen Bilawal Bhutto Zardari descends from the skies safely to take the reigns of the party leadership one fine morning as soon as he turns twenty five.

MQM ? Duh! PTI…maybe. I am not sure. The only political party that may boast of being truly democratic in its organizational structure turns out be JI that we insist does not represent the mainstream populace!

While all these political parties continue to thrive by virtue of their sheer undemocratic character weaved round the presence of a singular monumental individual, living or dead (half dead in some cases), can we conclude that our eastern loyalist (or perhaps sycophant behaviour and mindset; thanks to our existence as colonial slaves for centuries) invariably breeds an inherent and subliminal desire to bow our heads before an authoritative monarch?

So de we have something wrong with our democracy, national psyche, awareness or political parties?

Whatever, that may well be but I can’t believe that there is something NOT seriously wrong in this equation. Perhaps we can not single that out and perhaps its a complicated mix of more than one destabilizing factors. But the point and discussion remains that a blind and unquestionable trust and faith in the tenets of western democracy is not working for us. A tide of socialism has come and lapsed. Its violent and raging currents swept the likes of mighty super power USSR in its wake. Whereas, the recent spate of crisis has shaken the foundations of the power centres of the west grounded firmly into democratic traditions backed by vested interests and unruly corporate and capitalist mafias. Where does this crumbling ultimately lead to is anybody’s guess!?

Returning to the point, democracy may well be the ultimate solution to all our blistering issues; Maybe not! What needs to be done is to walk out of this shell and paradigm and approach the question with an un-predisposed and open mindset, taking all the variables and stakes into account and forge a solution that comes out as the best remedial fit for our unique and diverse social, cultural, religious, economic and demographic demands.

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  • First of all, I seek an apology in advance for resorting to stereotyping and generalization. But then my dear friend this is a reactionary mindset you are so proud to associate yourself with_ stemming out of your psychic need to ridicule anything remotely related to religion & Islam in particular or to mimic or appease the gods who rave in abusing and humiliating the religion.
  • Thus it is your apologetic mindset and twisted logic steeped in prejudice and inferiority complex without substantial knowledge that develops your personality as a pseudo liberal ( Aadha teetar aadha batair)
  • You are not clear in your mind and have a dual personality. Flaunting a spirit of false intellectualism, you complicate the things by living in a haze of contradictions and dichotomy.
  • Your reactionary approach is no less myopic and extremist than that of those sickening fundamentalists who are out to blast everyone & everything around including their innards for the love of seventy two virgins.
  • You hail from an intolerant and ignorant lot who just believe in exploiting the words and deeds originating from the opposing half of the divide or spectrum. You have no solution to offer and being a part of a problem, just add to the polarity and tension with no sense of moderation, fraternity or reconciliation.
  • You don’t practice religion but deem yourself a master at that. Thereby, quote the teachings and commandments out of context or quote them selectively/partially to convey or make convoluted misleading interpretations for your own benefit. That just adds fuel to fire worsening the already fuming & intolerant socio-political landscape. And who does it help? Not you; Not me; Not our country!

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The world we are living in has changed and is transforming at a phenomenal pace. If technology has revolutionized one thing over the years that for sure is communication. Gone are the days when voice of masses, a populist movement or uprising could be hushed or silenced by authority and censorship. Liberation of media, advent of internet and social media in particular has changed the rules of the game altogether. If someone has any doubts, please revisit the events of recent upsurge in Tunisia, Egyptand Middle East. What was the dynamic behind the abrupt change in the region that brought an autocratic rule to its knees within days of the suicide of a young university graduate despite all authority and censorship?

Yes. As much as the followers of strong leadership theories (I being one of them) hate to believe, it was the popular campaign and well co-ordinated effort through social media such as Facebook, twitter, youtube and blogsphere that moblized the educated and impassioned youth to the point that rattled the forces of status quo and shook the foundations of the monarchs and military backed regimes in the entire region. In the event of such a deluge, if leadership gets arbitrary and widespread temporarily, is beyond the discussion but more importantly what we have witnessed lately is the real power and potential of a virtual medium and social marketing in achieving objectives of an uprising or an upheaval when it has the potential to connect and resonate with the aspiration of the masses. Grasp over English language or not, a thin or narrowing tip of pyramid constituting a stream of spearheads has shown to represent and influence an exponential base and human resource at the bottom.

What brings me to resort to such an introduction is an excellent article published in the daily ‘The News’ today (June 18th, 2011; Taking social media by storm by Malik Siraj Akbar). It discusses at length about the similar phenomenon that is brewing in the much neglected but largest province of the country i.e Baluchistan. Arguably one of the least developed areas having low population and even lower literacy rate, the most critical and lethal element remains the relevance. There is no denial that Baluchis today find themselves in utter state of deprivation and negligence. Though this galvanization and resentment against the state is not a nascent development, the recent socio economic events and catastrophes have definitely alienated and disenchanted the Baluchs further.

The gruesome reality and mystery regarding the fate of missing persons remains shrouded. How ruthlessly we dealt with a 79 year old Sardar and Baluch icon, Sardar Nawab Akbar Bugti in particular and other political and national figures sharpened the wedge a great deal and intensified the feeling of unflinching hatred against the state. Baluch nationalistic sentiment is gaining momentum and only gets stronger following each clash with the security forces. It has got to the point where they are resorting to target killings and living in the province for a Punjabi or a non native is a potential life threatening risk. The lukewarm and listless response to the earthquake in Baluchistan a couple of years ago further aggravated the economic woes of the people. So much so, the blogsphere and press talked about deliberate flooding of portions of Baluchistan with allegiance of military and police to safeguard the interests of some Sindhi influential landlords during the devastating floods last year.

Poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, unemployment and deprivation remain the chief concerns of the tribal and gallant Baluchs. Mineral rich Balochistan is brimming with resources like natural gas, copper, coal and recently discovered huge reserves of gold. A long stretch of coastal belt runs along the shores of Makran and Gawadar but unfortunately any plans to develop potential goldmine of port of Gawadar have been jeopardized mainly because of the insecurity and partly owing to the cold war and conflicting interests of giants like America and China in the strategically located province.              
          
Isn’t it ironic that a democratic government cant even associate itself with marginalized population ( a mere 5% of the total population) of the largest ( that constitutes 44% of total area of Pakistan) but most backward and sparsely populated province of the country?

Although the history of nationalistic unrest and military intervention and use of force to curb such elements dates as far back as independence, the widening chasm and technological revolution demands a grossly varied approach to the issue. There was much propaganda of an impending economic package for Baluchistan by the prime minister but nothing has materialized so far.

Coming back to the point, there are  a number of blogs and forums that represent Baluch nationalists and promote their extreme agenda and hype on the web. Talking of most popular ‘Baluchistan’ page on Facebook alone, considering the low literacy rate, there is a following of close to 6000 individuals which by any standard or stretch of imagination is substantial. The worsening law and order and security situation doesn’t help. Thanks to social media, well organized, energetic and flambuoyant youth are quick to grab bits of news and information and share and disperse them within the community and cyber space within no time.

If the infested and bleeding wounds of Baluch pride and marginalization are not daubed with serious dialogue, concerted and well organized effort and if what the article reveals about the extent of co-ordination and the activity and commitment of Baluchs to use social media as an alternate platform to counter all censorship, we have a mammoth, ominous and worsening political challenge to tackle at our hands.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=53240&Cat=9&dt=6/18/2011

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Thousands of years of human evolution has failed to quench the insatiable thirst of man for a man’s blood. Just like striving for power, is killing and annihilation a basic human instinct? We have learned and groomed and polished ourselves and become civilized. But civilization has taught us one art to perfection. Beyond a shadow of doubt, we have learned and mastered to kill and annihilate with sophistication. 

We are proud to build immense data & information warehouses. And what do we gather? A bare ironic fact. Our immense knowledge, history, experience and learnings have done absolutely nothing to alter the beastly seeds of greed, lust and power ingrained in our genes. Everything pales in the face of this bare truth.

I don’t know if Jagjit’s ghazal has any co-relation to the ramblings and makes any sense here but I felt like embedding it in the same post.

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A sarcasm laced account by Mrs. Delirium

With OBL safely dead and the world a better place to live in, we can safely resume our friendly relations with Uncle Sam.  The place was well not that near to Islamabad and no threat to our nuclear assets. And even if they did breach our sovereignty, they were acting in line with their policy on terrorism and since we are the front line estate against terrorism, well they trusted us to understand. And of course we do! So if the place did happen to be where it was, they couldn’t do much about it, could they? With the ISI having strong links with the Taliban, it is perfectly understandable that they could not trust them.

Summarizing the whole episode, it would not be a bad idea if Uncle Sam were to adopt us altogether. We have behaved like the infant terrible up till now, but if we were to be adopted as its 52nd state. The only difference would be publicly declaring it. No? Like an extramarital affair seeing the light of the altar.

Our army has been wrongly accused of acting as their mercenaries, but once declared, it would be perfectly natural for them to safeguard the honour of their country. Unlimited benefits would entail of course.

1.     Firstly IMF would be history. And our credit ratings would improve. Instead of us going to them, they would be falling over themselves to give us their loans.

  1. Energy, unemployment, lawlessness would be tackled with
  2. We would not have to give up our nuclear programme. It would be a strategic asset rather than a liability. With their (ours) nuclear installations in the region, they can keep China and Iran better at bay.
  3. For professionals and intellectuals, it would be a boon. Our pay_scales and social security would improve. Unemployment would increase regrettably (who would want to work if they are being paid unemployment fund?)
  4. And the best part part is that WE WONT NEED A VISA to go to the land of opportunities.  But knowing Amreekans, they would surely contrive a way out of this. & our Afghan brethren would go crazy getting our Identity cards (those who haven’t already).
  5. For the other side the deal would be far from futile. Instead of spending billions on outsourcing, they would be providing job opportunities to their own, instead of Indians. This would decrease foreign spending and save foreign exchange for them.
  6. They would not have to spend any money on us in the name of Aid and give explanations to skeptic lawmakers about us. It would all be going to the building of their own country.

This alliance is so much more strategic in so many ways and so convenient for both sides. We would not have to pretend to our respective people our actions and they don’t have to ‘pressurize’ us to do any more or less.

 Wonder when the goons at Pentagon realize this.

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