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Articles on this Page
- 10/08/14--05:22: _Geography is indest...
- 10/10/14--13:44: _A huge win for the ...
- 10/16/14--09:11: _High Court Upholds ...
- 10/20/14--23:40: _"we are muslims"
- 10/24/14--09:15: _Hazara Genocide: Ar...
- 10/27/14--16:09: _Pankaj Mishra and h...
- 11/03/14--22:01: _The Tragedy of Imra...
- 11/04/14--09:51: _Islamicate civiliza...
- 11/08/14--22:50: _Burnt Offering: The...
- 11/23/14--22:55: _Furious Confusions
- 12/07/14--19:52: _Pankaj Mishra's Ten...
- 12/08/14--07:19: _A Strategic Corpora...
- 12/09/14--04:17: _Was Nigel Farage ri...
- 12/09/14--09:06: _The Taliban REALLY ...
- 12/09/14--09:17: _Tariq Ali on the Af...
- 12/10/14--05:07: _A Gay Kiss in Madri...
- 12/12/14--03:00: _Banana skins, ice s...
- 12/12/14--03:29: _Incomplete without ...
- 12/14/14--14:37: _Turning 30
- 12/16/14--21:14: _Massacre of the Inn...
- 10/08/14--05:22: Geography is indestructible
- 10/10/14--13:44: A huge win for the Ummah today
- 10/16/14--09:11: High Court Upholds Death Sentence on Aasia Bibi
- 10/20/14--23:40: "we are muslims"
- 10/24/14--09:15: Hazara Genocide: Are the police just stupid or is there more to it?
- 10/27/14--16:09: Pankaj Mishra and his discontents...
- 11/03/14--22:01: The Tragedy of Imran Khan and the Insafian Revolution
- 11/04/14--09:51: Islamicate civilization: It will get worse before it gets better...
- 11/08/14--22:50: Burnt Offering: The Martyrdom of Shama and Shahzad Masih
- 11/23/14--22:55: Furious Confusions
- 12/07/14--19:52: Pankaj Mishra's Tendentious Little Book
- 12/08/14--07:19: A Strategic Corporal in Faisalabad
- 12/09/14--04:17: Was Nigel Farage right in blaming immigrants?
- Immigration is not a qualified evil but nor is it a blessing. It's the idea of who would you like as your neighbours and who would you want in your house. Ideally one would like to live with one's relatives (or at best close friends) but as we say in Farsi, Doori Doosti (friends from afar).
- The fact of the matter is that one should be somewhat in favour of one's closer connections and citizens. However the metropolitan elite is the middle class (from a financial perspective) living the high life (from a social perspective). The metropolitan elite, being inherently middle class, seeks to disadvantage those who are similarly aspirational. Therefore the interests in importing vaste hordes of unqualified immigrants, who won't pose a threat this generation or the next.
- Immigrants cannot be parasitical either in seeking welfare or in perpetuating their cross-generational interests. The idea of immigrants is ultimately to integrate into the wider society (or a certain class). In no way does that qualify as assimilation (I don't drink and don't plan too, seeing it as a death-instinct made manifest in the Wasps).
- I was told that as an immigrant I can't have sympathies for UKIP. I identify as an BritPak Baha'i and I don't seek to change British society, merely enhance it where I see sub-optimality. For instance I'm planning to host the Lahori festival of Basant in May Bank holiday, Iranian Christmas (Yalda) around my 30th birthday celebrations and Eid-e-Ridvan (the 12th day of the declaration of Baha'u'llah of his Mission to the World).
- In no way do I feel offended or underminded by the traditional Season Greetings, in fact I wish everyone I meet a Happy Christmas and New Year (I feel Merry Christmas is a vulgar Americanism but I could be wrong but it does seem rather common).
- 12/09/14--09:06: The Taliban REALLY Don't Like Music
- 12/09/14--09:17: Tariq Ali on the Afghan Resistance
- 12/10/14--05:07: A Gay Kiss in Madrid and a troll in Silicon Valley
- 12/12/14--03:00: Banana skins, ice showers and amnesty
- 12/12/14--03:29: Incomplete without the feet
- 12/14/14--14:37: Turning 30
- 12/16/14--21:14: Massacre of the Innocents: Death Comes Again to Peshawar
As Malala becomes the youngest ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize
Setting new records of shamelessness and spinelessness, the Lahore High Court has upheld the death sentence awarded to Aasia bibi for "blasphemy".
For years now, the lower courts in Pakistan have taken the route of automatic award of death sentence in blasphemy cases. Lower court judges feel that they have no security and why should they put their life on the line for a Christian or an Ahmedi (and of course, for apostates they themelves almost certainly feel a death sentence is justified, so no conscience issues there)? They expect that the case will go to the High court and high court judges will either keep it in limbo forever or hear it and throw out the death penalty (helped, no doubt, by the transparent lack of due process at the lower court level..so in a way the lower court judge is doing the accused a service by giving zero time to their defence and pronouncing sentence on the flimsiest of grounds).
Well, no more.
Christians and Ahmedis in Pakistan now face a legal situation whose closest parallel may be in the Jim Crow South, where Black defendants were frequently found guilty on the flimsiest of grounds and if acquited, faced mob justice and public lynching. But while the Jim Crow South has moved on (a lot, though not all the way), the situation in Pakistan is headed in the opposite direction.
A poor woman has been in prison for 4 years and now faces the very real prospect of execution for what is basically the crime of being "uppity".
Btw, this does shed light on what is clearly the weakest part of Ben Affleck's ignorant but well-meaning liberal account of the Muslim world: the fact that the core Islamic world (really, everyone except Muslim countries that have been hit hard by communism, as in the Soviet Stans and in Xinjiang) is COMPLETELY illiberal when it comes to apostasy and blasphemy. Illiberal views on these issues are not fringe views in the Muslim world. Blasphemers are to be punished, usually by death. This is a MAJORITY view, supported by ALL major Islamic sects and their theologians. The notion that apostates are to be killed has a little less support, but is still the majority view in many countries and is again the clear consensus among orthodox Sunni theologians (I have little detailed knowledge of Shia theology, so I am leaving them out of it...they may believe exactly this as well). Based on these two memes, criticism of Islamists becomes a problem in all these countries and "reform from above", enforced by Westernized rulers (like Ataturk) is always in danger because the religious establishment has never accepted it and the population continues to honor classical beliefs in principle (without knowing them too well, thanks to secularized education) and so is always available to be "reformed" back to those classical beliefs when circumstances change (as they have been changing in Turkey).
And so on.
Its not as hunky dory as Affleck and his fans may wish to believe.
For more, see this article about blasphemy laws. http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2010/11/blasphemy-law-the-shape-of-things-to-come.html
Also note that while Aasia bibi cannot get out of jail no matter what, this guy apparently had no problem joining the Mujahideen after being imprisoned in Croatia and deported to Pakistan for being a Jihadist
This is true, there is a hot war going on right now in Kashmir and all the familiar arguments (pro-war, pro-peace) are being re-hashed. It is time to examine them anew.
We have ex President/General Musharrafnoting that the path to freedom in Kashmir involves inciting Kashmiri Muslims to launch an intifada. He is confident that the inherent strength in the "we are muslims" argument will (finally) lead to the vanquishing of a half-million strong Indian army.
Short response: Our opinion is that the only feasible way forward in Kashmir is to bring Indian civil society on-side by impressing on the moral arguments about self-rule. For that two things (at the minimum) need to happen. First, there has to be a popular consensus in India that meaningful peace is possible with Pakistan. As of now, only Pranay Sharma (see below) and a few committed leftists believe in this. Any Pak incitement will only lead to more Kashmiri deaths (and a rise in popularity of Modi).
Second, moral arguments are not convincingly made by (or on behalf of) people who do not have any inherent faith in them. Large sections of Kashmiri muslims rejoiced when the Pandits left. The argument is simple: get rid of the people (minorities) and the land is yours to enjoy for all times. As originally battle-tested by the proponents of the two nation theory, this winner-takes-all argument has been a winning one all across South Asia. Today in Hindu majority Telangana, the man in charge compares himself favorably to Hitler (see link below) and wants to chase away all Andhra people (also Hindu majority and Telugu speaking).
Thus to win the argument Kashmiri muslims (and their well-wishers such as Musharraf and a Hindu Brahmin like Vishal Bharadwaj) have to stipulate that suppression of the weak by the strong is wrong. But Musharraf is not making that argument. He is claiming that victory will come from Pak army fighting outside-in, even as the Intifada fights inside out. This "we are muslims" dream helped in the birth of Pakistan and (seemingly) helps hold Pakistan together even now. But it will not help liberate Kashmir.
Next, Bruce Riedel worries about a cross-border nuclear war and Pranay Sharma frets about Modi using "Pakistan card" to consolidate his power.
It is interesting (and typical) to see how differently the two analysts read the same situation, while "neocon" Riedel points out that not responding to Pakistan's misadventures will encourage them to attack even more, "aman ki asha" Sharma is worried that a robust response from India will invite backlash from Pak (we think both predictions are correct, an ideological response holds constant regardless of the counter-response).
India has a no-first strike policy on nuclear weapons. Thus the only way a nuclear war happens is if Pakistan initiates a strike. Two things are for sure. First this will not happen without Chinese authorization and that seems unlikely. After all India CAN launch a nuclear missile on Beijing (it is a bit closer to home than MARS). Doomsday scenarios are fun to discuss but beyond the recycled concerns we doubt there is anything fresh to ponder upon.
Second, if Pakistan does strike it will be also the end of Pakistan as a nation. We know that the Pak army has a long history of being irresponsible, but we doubt they are suicidal.
Former president General Pervez Musharraf on Thursday said Pakistan needs to incite those fighting in Kashmir, India Today reported.
“We have source (in Kashmir) besides the (Pakistan) army…People in Kashmir are fighting against (India). We just need to incite them,” Musharraf told a TV channel.
Musharraf, who assumed power in 1999 soon after the Kargil conflict as hostilities erupted between Indian and Pakistani troops in the area, claimed that the Pakistan army is ready for war with India. But he cautioned India against any misadventure.
“India should not be under the illusion that Pakistan will not hit back,” he warned.
“In Kashmir, we can fight with the (Indian) army from both the front and back…We are Muslims. We will not show the other cheek when we are slapped. We can respond tit for tat,” he said, while commenting on the recent firing along the Line of Control and working boundary.
At least 12 people have been killed since India resorted to ‘unprovoked’ firing on the border.
“Modi is anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan. He has not changed. The problem is with us… We are running to attend his (Modi) inauguration, we should keep our dignity.”
Let us be absolutely clear on this: the only person who has no dignity left over Kashmir is Ex-P/G Musharraf. He has been exposed as a person who was betraying his allies in the West and (specifically looking at Kargil) betraying his own (Muslim) troops.
The argument that democracy (even if imperfectly) should come to all corners of South Asia (and the near-abroad) is a powerful one.
But then Pakistan as the worst case offender should repair the democracy deficit urgently and teach big brother a "peaceful lesson" in how democracy works, starting with (muslim) people in "Azad Kashmir". Unfortunately there is not a chance of that happening anytime soon, not in Pakistan, but also not in Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Iran, Afghanistan, and China. And we will be very surprised if Ex-P/G Musharraf will ever come to a position where his opinion counts for anything, except as a measure of what his fellow citizens think (and dream).
India and Pakistan have fought four wars since 1947 and had several crises that went to the brink of war. Both tested nuclear weapons in 1998. Now tensions are escalating between the two again.
It began in May, when a heavily armed squad of Pakistani terrorists from Lashkar e Tayyiba (Army of the Pure) attacked India’s consulate in Herat, in western Afghanistan. They planned to massacre Indian diplomats on the eve of the inauguration of India’s new Hindu nationalist prime minister, Narendra Modi. The consulate’s security forces killed the LeT terrorists first, preventing a crisis.
Since LeT is a proxy of Pakistan's military intelligence service known as the ISI, Indian intelligence officials assume the Herat attack was coordinated with higher-ups in Pakistan. They assume another LeT attack is only a matter of time. They are probably right on both counts.
This summer, clashes between Indian and Pakistani troops have escalated along the ceasefire line in Kashmir. Called “the Line of Control,” the Kashmiri front line this year has witnessed the worst exchanges of artillery and small arms fire in a decade, displacing hundreds of civilians on both sides. More than 20 have died in the crossfire already this month. Modi has ordered his army commanders to strike back hard at the Line of Control to demonstrate Indian resolve.
Although Modi made a big gesture in May when he invited his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, to his inauguration, since then Modi has canceled routine diplomatic talks with Pakistan on Kashmir and signaled a tough line toward terrorism. He also appointed a very experienced intelligence chief, Ajit Doval as his national security adviser. Doval is known as a hard-liner on terrorism—and on Pakistan.
Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party strongly criticized his predecessor, Manmohan Singh, for what it saw as a weak response to LeT’s attack on Mumbai in 2008. No military action was taken after 10 LeT terrorists, armed and trained by the ISI, killed and wounded hundreds of innocents, including six American dead.
In 2001, a previous BJP government mobilized the Indian military for months after a Pakistan-based terror attack on the Indian parliament. The two countries were eyeball to eyeball in a tense standoff for almost a year. Two years before that, the two countries fought a war in Kashmir around the town of Kargil.
In the 1999 Kargil War, the Pakistani army crossed the LOC to seize mountain heights controlling a key highway in Kashmir. BJP Prime Minister Atal Vajpayee responded with airstrikes and ground forces. The Indian navy prepared to blockade Karachi, Pakistan’s major port and its critical choke point for importing oil. A blockade would have rapidly cut off Pakistan from oil supplies. The Indian navy was so eager to strike it had to be restrained by the high command.
The Pakistanis began losing the fight at Kargil. Then they put their nuclear forces on high alert. President Bill Clinton pressured Nawaz Sharif (the prime minister then and now) into backing down at a crucial summit at Blair House on July 4, 1999. If Clinton had not persuaded Sharif to withdraw behind the LOC, the war would have escalated further, perhaps to a nuclear exchange.
Kargil is a good paradigm for what a future crisis might look like. A BJP government is not likely to turn the other cheek. It cannot afford to let terror attacks go unpunished. That would encourage more.
The difference between the Kargil War and today is that both India and Pakistan now have far more nuclear weapons and delivery systems than 15 years ago. Pakistan is developing tactical nuclear weapons and has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world. China provides Pakistan with its nuclear reactors. India has missiles that can reach all of Pakistan and even to Beijing. The escalatory ladder is far more terrifying than it was on the eve of the millennium.
For retreating in 1999, Sharif was overthrown in a coup by the army commander, Pervez Musharraf, who had planned the Kargil War. Now Musharraf is calling for Sharif to stand up to Modi and not be pushed around by India. The main opposition party leader, Bilawal Bhutto, has called for a tough line defending Kashmiri Muslim rights, promising to take “every inch” of Kashmir for Pakistan if he is elected prime minister in the future. Sharif is under pressure from another party leader, Imran Khan, to resign. The politics on both sides in South Asia leave little room for compromise or dialogue.
America is seen in South Asia as a power in decline, a perception fueled by the Afghan War. U.S. influence in New Delhi and Islamabad is low. A Clinton-like intervention to halt an escalation will be a tough act to follow. But the consequences of a nuclear exchange are almost too horrible to contemplate.
The hype notwithstanding, Narendra Modi’s ‘tough’ line on Pakistan, as reflected in the fortnight-long firing across the Line of Control and the International Border by Indian and Pakistani soldiers, sets a dangerous precedent.
A flag meeting that could have ended the firing between the rival troops earlier than it did was put off because of India. Officials in New Delhi justify the Indian stand to argue that it was to prevent Pakistan from embarking on similar ‘adventurism’ in the future. In the process, however, this also opens up space for India’s own ‘adventurism’ which it can adopt in dealing with other smaller neighbours as well.
To his myriad supporters, Modi’s hard stand against Pakistan is something that was long needed. In Modi they see an Indian leader who has finally decided to set the parameters of engaging with Pakistan in a manner that is both effective and couched in terms that the neighbour can well understand.
However, despite the prevailing mood of belligerence in the country, especially among the prime minister’s admirers, the Modi government’s policy of how to deal with Pakistan raises some serious concerns.
There are clear indications that much of India’s tough response was fashioned by Modi to shore up his image domestically, especially before the crucial assembly elections in Maharastra and Haryana. According to a report in the Economic Times, during the entire period of firing at the border, Modi did not convene a single meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). The decision to escalate the Indian response to the Pakistani firing was taken solely by the Indian prime minister and his national security advisor Ajit Doval, a former Intelligence Bureau chief.
Modi decided to refer to the developments at the border and the tough stand his government took several times during his campaigns in Maharashtra and Haryana. This clearly shows that irrespective of the death of several people, including hapless civilians living near the border areas, the prime minister continued with his tough line to raise his own stock and brighten the chances of his party’s victory in the two assembly elections.
But the willingness to adopt such a stand and to use Pakistan to build his own image can have negative implications. One, its success may encourage him to play the Pakistan card every time he finds himself in a spot and needs to boost his image with his countrymen at home. Two, Pakistan can play this game of brinkmanship as well in future, with dangerous consequences.
Whether or not it results in a war between the two nuclear-armed countries, heightened tension between the hostile neighbors will surely scare off potential investors from India and derail India’s project of economic development.
More importantly, a tough, confrontational line drastically reduces the diplomatic space to resolve differences through peaceful negotiations between the two countries. The precedent Modi is setting can also send a negative signal to India’s smaller neighbors in South Asia. If they continue to feel nervous about India, they may end up moving closer to China—the other big power in the region. And surely the Indian leadership would not desire a possible scenario where India gets isolated in South Asia. For the sake of its own development and growth, India needs a peaceful neighborhood, particularly in South Asia.
The Indian prime minister will therefore have to go back from where he started—by reaching out to India’s immediate neighbours. A policy that not only ensures a peaceful neighbourhood but also allows the space for others to grow and develop with India may turn out to be much more effective in dealing with neighbours. Modi may as well show his strength by taking the ‘tough’ political decision to reach out to Pakistan and resume his engagement with the recalcitrant neighbour.
Suffice to say the Congress govt followed Sharma's prescription and lost respect on the international stage and politically at home. Sharma makes the economic point that investments in India will suffer in case of escalation in conflicts but then where were these investments in the peacetime of 2009-2014?
Also, as is clear from the recent state elections in Maharashtra and Haryana, Modi will keep winning due to a complete vacuum in the opposition ranks. Congress is finished, Mayawati also looks finished. Modi has been accepted as an OBC (Shudra) leader by Indians drawing from all sections of society. India is also an OBC nation by a large majority...thus we have a truly strange situation where powerful OBC communities like Yadavs in Uttar Pradesh, Marathas in Maharashtra, and Jats in Haryana opposing Modi (and he will still win).
As far as the muslims are concerned the in-fighting between the "secular" parties have left them without any sure source of political patronage. The understandable reaction has been to vote for "communal" parties like AIMIM headed by the odious Akbaruddin Owaisi. Unfortunately, this will lead to even more marginalization. Strategically, it would make much more sense for muslims to vote for the BJP and make it bend to minority demands (this is starting to happen in some strange places....in Kerala and in West Bengal).
It is early days yet but Modi is transforming into Indira Gandhi (it is a good thing that he has no sons to hand over the baton when the time comes). The weakness of Man Mohan Singh was that the public knew that he was a puppet. So yes, India will not turn the "other cheek" as the provocations keep coming...and Pakistan becomes more and more isolated as a nation with no friends.
Finally, Pranay Sharma knows this well: small neighbors of India seem to be working much better with Modi than the small neighbors of China. Not to mention how the Iran-Pak border has become hot as well as Iranian soldiers violate borders and shoot down Sunni insurgents. It also seems that Afghanistan will not remain passive if ISI continues with the "incite muslims" strategy.
So all in all, even the strongest opponents of Modi are only peddling weak arguments. We have to look harder for better leaders and better arguments (since we are pro-peace after all) but right now all we see is Modi all around us (even if with a broom and a dusting-pan).
Link (1): tribune.com.pk/pakistan-needs-to-incite-those-fighting-in-kashmir-musharraf
Link (2): dailybeast.com/icymi-india-pakistan-head-for-nuke-war
Link (3): outlookindia.com/printarticle.aspx?292284
Link (4): firstpost.com/kcr-can-even-be-hitlers-grandfather-to-stop-injustice-telangana
As the systematic genocide against the Shia Hazara community in Balochistan continues unabated, Mohammed Hanif has a good piece on his interactions with "law enforcement" in Quetta.
Some choice quotes:
"“Hazaras, you know, are our ladla babies,” said one of Quetta’s senior most police officer earlier this month. “We’ll do anything to protect them.” He was giving an off the record briefing and went into some detail about the number of security cordons he had thrown around the Hazara community in Quetta, particularly Hazara town. And what about their movement? Students, traders, office workers? Students going to the university, according to the police officer, got a police escort. The problems of food delivery were discussed. “Even the vegetable vendors get police escort,” he said triumphantly. And then like a true philosopher of law and order he went on to explain: “Do you know the basic problem with Hazaras? They look different; because of their features, they are easily identifiable.”
On Thursday, when eight of those pampered babies, with different features, were gunned down while buying fruit and vegetables, Quetta’s police was quick to absolve themselves. “We offered them escort, and they just didn’t tell us.”
Forget about the details, just look at the strategy: a well armed, organized group has declared war on Shias in general and Hazaras in particular (because they are so easy to identify; one reason racism works more effectively than most other forms of discrimination: the enemy is color coded or otherwise easily identifiable). This armed group runs countless madressas in which they teach their anti-Shia ideology. They have an organized militant wing that carries out assassinations and bombings. The police, charged with stopping this campaign and protecting Pakistani citizens, throws up ever higher walls around the Hazara community and wrings their hands when some terrorist either gets across the wall or some Hazara gets slaughtered wandering outside their prison.
Does this make any sense?
What about tracking down and capturing (or killing) the killers? After all, they do not drop out of the sky and disappear under the earth, they live in and around Quetta. They meet somewhere. They plan their attacks. They make their bombs. They buy guns and ammunition. They have bases and hideouts.
And the police strategy is to build more walls around the Hazaras?
Are the policemen just stupid or is there more to this policy?
What do you think?
I think they are stupid, but no more than any other subcontinental police force. Mostly "there is more to it"... First and foremost there is a dual government in Balochistan, with the army running it's own regime and the so-called elected provincial govt twiddling their thumbs and looking for ways to make money doing so; Secondly, the army has other priorities when it comes to Jihadists, so an all out operation is inconceivable. Good jihadis must be protected while bad ones are hunted. It has never worked, but hell, this is the army that has been trying the same tricks in Kashmir for 65 years and "it has never worked" is not a problem for them; next year will be different. Armies from Madina Saani will conquer India and Khorasan and together with China we will rule the world, etc etc..you know the drill.
Is there any way to change this?
Or do we wait for the Hazaras to either die or leave?
Before I go on, let me say that India hypernationalism is at least as real as Pakistani or American or Chinese hypernationalism and can be almost equally crazy. Like those hypernationalisms, it is mostly held in check by real-life constraints and need not trigger world war three, but world war three is not inconceivable. Shit happens. So I do not mean to imply that all is well and will forever remain well in the Indian subcontinent with the BJP in power (and of course anyone who says all was well before the BJP came to power must be joking). But I do think some of the doom and gloom is overdone and a lot of it is just hyperventilation that provides no good analysis as to why this phenomena has grown, what it may become, and what can be done to moderate or counter it's possible excesses...in short, i dont think there is nothing to fear, but I do think that the Pankajist worldview is neither an adequate analysis, nor a rational prescription for it's cure.
1. Westernization has been and forever will be a disaster for non-Western nations. The apparent weakness of "Eastern" nations is actually strength; a sign of moral superiority, closer to nature, deeply rooted, psychologically sound, more humane etc etc. Gandhi had some such beliefs. Of course Gandhi also believed that if we stick to our (moral) strengths, we can “defeat” the apparently stronger West. But this defeat will not look like the usual victory and defeat looks in war. Valid or not, this would be a relatively consistent (and very attractive) set of beliefs. But many elements of this system are anathema for the Left (like Gandhi's embrace of the people's ancient religon and religious myths, his lack of interest in physical strength, and his un-Marxist view of history), so Pankaj cannot comfortably take a Gandhian position against the West (though he can say patronizing nice things about it).
2. Westernization has been and forever will be a disaster for non-Western nations. They must find their own unique way forward. They have unique cultures and cultural strengths and these are embedded in their language, their culture, their myths, their religions… and they must build from these, etc. But this is what a lot of the Hindu right is saying, so it certainly cannot be Pankaj’s choice either.
3. Or Pankaj can drop the whole Eurocentric post-Marxist framework and start from scratch. He might then find that "Westernization" is not so exclusively Western. A lot of it is just progress in human knowledge (always incomplete and prone to errors) and any individual or group can acquire and make use of past discoveries in human knowledge, whether they happen to have been made in Europe or Central Asia or Japan, and build on those.... that maybe the flaws we see in the West are not that foreign either, but are human characteristics, and their larger organized expressions (armies, conquests, wars, colonization, cultural and literal genocides, megalomaniacs, liars) are not really some unique and novel Western invention.... If strength and scientific progress are diseases, then we are all prone to falling victim to their allure....and so on. But that would be such a departure from the postcolonialist postmodern post-marxist universe in which Pankaj operates, its not really a choice either. What if his audience no longer buys his op-eds?
It’s a tough place to be in. Hence the confusion.
btw, he started with Naipaul, betting that his audience would have little or no clue about Naipaul's actual views about Indian history and the rise of the BJP. I think this move shows Pankaj is not dumb and he sometimes takes risks. Those are worthy qualities ;)
Or it may mean that Naipaul's earlier expression of admiration for Pankaj (as a literary critic) has created a soft spot. Human nature being what it is...
I initially posted these thoughts as a facebook comment and asked some questions on 3quarksdaily (where Pankaj's article was up on the blog). One of the responses (from someone named Sundar) was as follows:
I doubt if I fit the profile of Pankaj's intended readership, but here goes:
I think the Indian left (and Pankaj in particular) has become irrelevant. The Left parties have been decimated even in their citadel of West Bengal, where they had unleashed a reign of terror for 25 years. (If you think that is an exaggeration, you should learn more about life in Rural West Bengal). It is another matter that the TMC is continuing their tactics.
Intellectually, the left has been in shock since their utopias of Russia and China have moved on. Hence their desperate attempt to use any issue they can get their hands on: Environment, Caste etc. Their last gasp was their infiltration of the centrist Congress party via Sonia Gandhi's unconstitutional NAC.
They are terrified that Modi has put together a workable coalition of various caste groups which aims to control parliament for the foreseeable future. They don't know how to deal with Modi: he comes from the very groups that they claim to represent. But he represents a new kind of India, one which does not want handouts from elite controlled parties.
Whether Modi's electoral coalition will hold in the next Lok Sabha elections, I don't know. But if it does, the India left's worst nightmare will come to pass: A world where they are simply irrelevant. A Bourgeois India that hasn't heard of Pankaj Mishra and his ilk. And doesn't care.
My answer had some more questions, which I will post here in the hope that someone will attempt some answers:
I think you are right, though out of loyalty to my youthful ideals and deference to my friends /peer group I would assign a less positive valence to this decline and fall... Anyway, follow up questions : since higher education and public intellectuals in India share (consciously and unconsciously) many of the historic assumptions, ideals, paradigms etc of the Left, what does the
future hold in that area? Will they modify their beliefs and carry on? Will there be a circling of the wagons and a vicious fight with the newly powerful right, followed by an auto da fe? Will the crazier Hindutva historians replace our familiar Marxist intellectuals as most of my friends seem to fear? And will all this play any role in "real life"?
Inquiring minds want to know :)
Finally, a word from my better half (who has higher IQ and EQ): I must not just criticize Mishra. I must also say what he would be good at; so here goes: I think he would be an excellent literary critic if he could just give up his urge to push his (fashionable, but ultimately irrelevant) political agenda in every thing he writes. I know,"the personal is political" and all that, but comrade, that too may just be fashionable claptrap. Take a deep breath. Let go...
PS: Given the current political conflicts within India (with which I have only an outsider's connection), it is inevitable that an attack on Pankaj will get positive responses from his supposed ideological opponents in the BJP (I say "supposed" because Pankaj actually shares their emotional antipathy towards the West and has some sympathy for their counterparts in other Asian countries, just not in India itself). Just to keep things clear, I am mostly Left-of-Center in my politics and extremely left of center on most social issues (though somewhat right of center on state intervention in social issues, whatever). I do hope a left-of-center alternative survives and thrives in Indian politics, not just because my own inclinations (mostly) lie that way but because the total dominance of any one ideology is always a problem. Best to have some balance and some competition. Finally, I do realize that all who identify as leftists are not as Eurocentric/Europhobic and confused as Pankaj.
Oh, and about the Hindutvadis, I think there are some obvious problem areas in their quest to become the leaders of resurgent and powerful India: I am saying nothing original if I say that the "Muslim question" is one of them. In my case, the concern is not that they will try to "Indianize" Islam well beyond what current Indian Muslim leaders would consider desirable... I think that is the eventual fate of Indian Islam and I see no great reason to abhor that possibility. My concern is that they will mess up the "soft landing" that is the "desirable option" in this process. i.e. I think a soft landing is possible (and desirable) but the way the BJP has evolved, they may not be the best people to achieve it. More on that some other day, but I do want to add that to me this is not a specifically "Muslim" concern. It is an Indian concern. In numbers, in solidarity, in civilizational consciousness, in cultural contribution, etc Indian Muslims are not an insignificant component of India. A "hard landing" would hurt everyone and the outcome is by no means guaranteed to be in the Hindutvadi's favor. Softer approaches would work better for everyone, not just for the Muslims. Fascist tendencies and mob action are other obvious problems but are by no means a BJP monopoly (see West Bengal for details) but a BJP-specific (much less serious) area of concern is the large mass of pseudoscientific nonsense that has accreted around the crazier edges of the Hindutva brand. While I think the actual "real world" significance of that mass of craziness is sometimes exaggerated by liberal/Westernized/agnostic/atheist observers, it is not necessary trivial. I quote Prime Minister sahib: "We worship Lord Ganesh. There must have been some plastic surgeon at that time who got an elephant’s head on the body of a human being and began the practice of plastic surgery - See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/pm-takes-leaf-from-batra-book-mahabharat-genetics-lord-ganesha-surgery/99/#sthash.mRlrMYpm.dpuf "
I really dont think modern Indian medicine will be easily derailed by such flights of fancy, but ....There. That should do it :)
by Omar Ali
First published at 3quarksdaily.com
At about 6 pm on Sunday evening, a young suicide bomber (said to be 18 years old) blew himself up in a crowd returning from the testosterone-heavy flag lowering ceremony held every evening at the India-Pakistan border at Wagah, near Lahore.
Presumably this young man (a true believer, since a fake believer would find it hard to explode in such circumstances) had wanted to target the ceremony itself (usually watched by up to 5000 people every day, most of them visitors from out of town) but the military had received prior intelligence that something like this may happen and there were 6 checkpoints and he was unable to get to the ceremony, so he waited around the shops about 500 yards away from the parade site and exploded when he felt he had enough bodies around him to make it worth his while.
About 60 innocent people died. Many of them women and children. Including 8 women from the same poor family from a village in central Punjab who were visiting relatives in Lahore and decided to go to the parade (whether as entertainment, or as patriotic theater, or both). The bombing was instantly claimed by more than one Jihadist organization but it is possible that Ehsanullah Ehsan’s claim will turn out to be true. He said it was a reaction against the military’s recent anti-terrorist operation (operation Zarb e Azb: “blow of the sword of the prophet”), that his group wants "an Islamic system of government" and that they would attack infidel regimes on both sides of the Indian-Pakistani border.
The Indian authorities decided to suspend their side of the parade for the next three days. But on Monday evening, the Pakistani side decided to hold their parade as usual and a crowd was on hand. Cynics have pointed out that most of the “crowd” looked like soldiers in civilian clothes, but that is not fair. The “show of resilience” meme is a very ancient and well-developed meme and has solid credentials and should not be easily dismissed. I personally wish both India and Pakistan end this ridiculous ceremony someday (soon), but on this particular occasion a show of resilience was the smart move. But then, the respected corps commander of the Pakistani army corps in Lahore, General Naveed Zaman (an outstanding officer, himself on the Taliban’s hit list for his role in various anti-terrorist operations) made a statement and beat his chest a bit about how we are a brave nation, we are back the next day and “look, on the Indian side it’s like a snake has sniffed them”, the implication being, they are cowards, they didn’t show up, but look at us, we are back and we are strong.
This is par for the course for the Pakistani army (whose propaganda software was designed and built for only one enemy, and whose soldiers are motivated to attack Jihadi terrorists by being told that the Jihadists are all Indian agents, I am not kidding) but is still telling: the day after one of the biggest massacres of civilians by a Jihadist terrorist bomber (there being no other kinds in our area these days, though the Tamil Tigers showed that a Tamil Hindu version is indeed possible, and in fact preceded the adoption of this particular weapon by Islamist terrorists) the senior army officer in the region could only taunt the Indians across Eastern border.
Meanwhile, in Nigeria, the Boko Haram terrorists announced that most of the 276 girls they kidnapped have been “converted to Islam” and married off. So the matter is settled.
And in Iraq, the “Islamic State” has been buying and selling captured Yezidi girls as slaves in the best medieval Arab tradition. In the video below, the young men of IS can be seen joking about the topic (the translation is by Jenan Moussa, an Arab journalist, not by MEMRI, so discerning viewers can view it without violating any of the standard guidelines):
Boko Haram has also gone ahead and blown up some Shias in Nigeria as they commemorated Moharram, while their fans have apparently shot a Shia in the face in, of all places, Sydney.
My point is this: the Salafist-Jihadist meme, so carefully nurtured and brought together in the Afghan-Pakistan border region by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the US in the 1980s, is now global and will soon come to your neighborhood if your neighborhood happens to be in the core Islamicate territories of the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia, Londonistan or Mississauga. Many different narratives about this phenomenon are in the market, ranging from Neocon propaganda and Fox News to Islamist apologetics and Marxist “class-based analysis”. For Western and Westernized liberals of a particular disposition, there are also “commentators” like Pankaj Mishra, who can be relied upon to press all the politically correct buttons without committing to anything resembling a coherent description, prediction or prescription. I would like to add some random thoughts to this mélange:
1. We are all human beings. And in the great Eurasian landmass, we have been mixing, biologically and culturally, for thousands of years. It is not possible that a relatively recent religious movement (Islam) has somehow significantly altered the biology of the people involved. This is a trivial observation, but some people on both sides of the liberal-conservative divide seem to have some misapprehensions about this, so it is worth reiterating. Going beyond that, I would add that even as a cultural phenomenon, Islam is not from some other planet. It evolved within pre-existing cultures, borrowing and altering already existing cultural memes. Much of “Islamic history” is the history of an initial (very successful and very extensive) Arab conquest, followed by some further conquests (primarily in Central Asia and India) by Islamicized Turkic invaders. Only in Indonesia and Malaysia did the initial wave arrive as traders and the subsequent conquests and conversions were almost entirely the work of local converts. This makes early South East Asian Islam a bit of an outlier, but that is another story. Only by disregarding most of history can we regard these conquests (and their associated missionary activities) as somehow completely unique. There are some peculiar features of Islamicate civilization, but not as many as its fans or its detractors would like to claim.
2. That being said, Islamicate civilization developed a remarkable degree of consensus on it’s core doctrines in the Islamic heartland. Even Shias and Sunnis converged on similarities in daily life and communal attitudes towards non-Muslims, towards women, towards apostasy, towards blasphemy, towards the notion of holy war. While agreeing with Razib Khan’s views about the relative unimportance of theology in general, I think modern life and the recent experience of colonization, decolonization and its associated psychopathologies have led to an unusual situation in the Islamicate world: while the pressures that cause religious revivalist movements or “fundamentalist” movements may be similar in non-Muslim communities (hence Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist identity-based semi-fascist fundamentalist movements), the material that is available to these movements and the historical background of the religions involved, makes it difficult to associate a detailed “shariah” with any of those movements. Sikhs can ban tobacco and kill blasphemers and traitors, Buddhist mobs can kill Muslims without compunction in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, Hindu nationalists ban beef and carry out pogroms, but the notion of a Sikh state or a Hindu state or a Buddhist state is mostly the notion of a state where their co-religionists hold sway (or even hold exclusive title), but lacks consensus on any well developed legal code or even theology. This is not the case with Islam.
3. There is such a legal and theological framework in Islam and it has wide support in principle. In principle is, of course, not the same as in practice. Most Muslims know as much about Muslim theology as Christians know about Christian theology, which means they know very little. But because of widespread beliefs about blasphemy and apostasy, this “in principle” support translates into an inability to frontally challenge those who come armed with more detailed Islamic knowledge. For example, most Pakistanis may have no idea that classical Islamic law permits slave girls to be captured, used for sex (without marriage) and bought and sold as desired. If and when IS comes to Pakistan and wants to talk about buying and selling slave girls, most people will probably be shocked. It is possible that most people will initially even find some way to say this is wrong. But it is also my guess that when face to face with an IS ideologue, most people will be unable to argue for too long. Because he will have classical Islamic texts on his side and his opponent will have nothing beyond his human intuition of fairness and good behavior. Intuition will not stand against argument. And there will probably be no argument for too long because to argue too much would cross over into the zone of blasphemy. And most people (except maybe for the tiny sliver educated in Western or Western-style universities and out of touch with their own traditions almost completely) believe that blasphemers should be punished, and at least for the most extreme kinds of blasphemy, the punishment should be death. This, by the way, is just a simple empirical fact, easily checked if you step out among the people in that region.
4. Whenever the existing state order (in almost all cases, the product of recent Russian or West European colonization, so somewhat suspect in any case) falls apart, the next common denominator tends to be Islamist. And among those Islamists, the ways of the golden age are not some distant myth. Those books are still around, still honored, still relevant, still protected against criticism by blasphemy and apostasy memes. And those books include rules for holy war, for slave holding,for female legal inequality etc. that are no longer fashionable in the modern world. That is just how things happen to be.
5. The ruling elites in most Islamicate countries are not Islamist in practice and may not be so in principle either. But having taken the path of least resistance (or having received their Islam from Karen Armstrong or post-Marxist theorists) they have acquiesced in the glorification of medieval Islamicate norms, not as past history but as guides to present behavior. They will now be (literally in many cases) hoist on their own petard.
6. Elements of the ruling elite (especially in South Asia, where penetration of Western postcolonialist/postmodern/post-Marxist garbage has been most extensive within the elite) are vigorously opposed to many of these medieval norms, but have disappeared into an alternate universe where only White people have agency and therefore only White people are responsible for all events. This has effectively taken them out of the equation for now. They remain mostly harmless, but the opportunity cost of their withdrawal into la la land is not insignificant.
7. As the Bill Maher-Ben Affleck affair has shown, Western Liberals are generally clueless about Islamic history and the status of (most of) the Islamicate world with regard to issues like freedom of religion, freedom of speech, feminism and suchlike. This is NOT to endorse a particular Whiggish vision of history as the only valid path, with every community situated somewhere along the timeline from barbarian to Western liberal democracy. But it is to emphasize that opting out of this linear timeline is one thing, pretending that everyone is already at point X on the timeline while paying lip-service to multiculturalism is another. If Ben Affleck thinks that Western standards of “liberal democracy” (however defined and whether regarded as an endpoint or not) are not to be applied to everyone on the globe and that these standards are being used to demonize and colonize those who hold to different values and models, then he has a leg to stand on. But he (or others like him) seem to lose this admirable level of “nuance” when they get to specifics. Instead of saying that Pakistani Muslims do not permit free speech when it comes to X, Y and Z and who are we to comment or interfere(especially when we are just using this commentary to justify our invasion of this or that country), they are saying “there is no real difference in free speech norms between X and the US”, which is patently absurd. Other liberals (too numerous to list) will look at history as if European powers have real histories (with colonization, oppression, invasions, decimations etc, also with progress, emancipation, democracy, etc.) and everyone else lived on some other static planet with no history, no past and no future. I don’t have to go into detail, Wikipedia can solve this issue for anyone these days, but it is still surprising how few people will bother to even read Wikipedia before brandishing absurdities in this matter. The opportunity cost for this (loss of some Western liberals) is perhaps insignificant in real life, but since I tend to interact with some of these (very nice) people, I obsessively comment about them. Hence this comment.
8. More after I get some feedback; many or most of these comments are very likely to be misinterpreted by many people. This is partly because I am not a good enough writer, but partly because all of us use various heuristics to slot every commentator into pre-existing boxes. To see a little of where I am coming from, some of the following articles may be helpful. Thank you.
Shama and Shahzad Masih were poor Christians who lived in the small village of Chak 59 in the Tehsil (subdivision) of Kot Radha Kishan near Lahore. It is not a remote area (though some orientalist in the BBC has managed to describe it as such), being a well developed center of the leather industry lcoated only 60 kilometers from the provincial capital of Lahore on a major national highway (and is the home of 2 former prime ministers of Pakistan!). Like many other poor people in their village, they worked as modern-day slaves in the local brick kiln. This, by the way, is not an exaggerated or poetic description of their employment status; bonded labor in brick kilns in India and Pakistan is internationally recognized as a type of modern slavery and involves many of the abuses known to us from books and movies about slaves in the days of yore.
The young couple had 4 children: Solomon (8) and Zeeshan (5) had been given to an uncle for adoption, probably due to the parent's poverty. Sonia (4) and Poonam (18mths) lived with them and Shama was pregnant again with her fifth child. Her father-in-law had died recently and a few days later Shama cleaned out his room and disposed of his old papers by burning them. He had been an "amil" (a folk healer) who used various religious texts in his amulets and suchlike, and the burnt papers apparently included some with arabic writing on them. Shama, who was illiterate and so could not read them in any case, burnt the lot and threw the remains on a nearby garbage heap.What happened next is best described in this report from World Watch Monitor (corroborated to me by a friend in the police as the best description of the event):
"On Sunday, Shama burned them all and threw the ashes on a garbage heap outside their quarters. Shama never meant any disrespect to Islam as she was totally illiterate and had no idea what the amulets contained," she said. "A few people recognized partially burned pages in the ash and raised a cry that Shama had burned the Qur’an."
Shahzad Masih and his five brothers worked for many years at the brick kiln, owned by Yousuf Gujjar. Parveen said Shahzad and his brothers went to Gujjar to resolve the matter after the situation got tense in the village. "Gujjar on the one hand assured us that nothing would happen, and on the other hand asked his accountant not to let Shahzad and Shama flee the village without paying back their bond money", (taken from them as an ‘advance’ against their employment and wages).
By Monday night, some Muslim neighbors had informed the police of the alleged desecration and warned of a possible attack on the Christian couple, Parveen said. "That night I had Shahzad and Shama sleep in my home so that if the police arrested them, at least we would know."At about 6 a.m. when Shahzad and Shama went back to their own home in order to prepare for work, an angry mob began pouring into their quarters. Sensing the danger all the Christians fled except Shama’s sister Yasmeen (married to Shahzad’s brother Fiaz Masih).Yasmeen said they were still preparing breakfast when a few more people knocked at their door and enquired about Shama.
"They entered the house and one of the men dragged Shama out. Shama had their youngest daughter Poonam in her arms. That man snatched Poonam and threw her on the floor…So brick kiln guard Muhammad Akram rescued Shama and took her to the kiln office (only a few yards away from their house) and locked her in there, to save her from the attackers."
"By then, the number of mobsters was very small, but we could hear announcements being made from mosque loudspeakers in nearby villages - that a Christian woman had desecrated the Qur’an".Yasmeen said people from five surrounding villages – Chak 60, Rosey, Pailan, Nawan Pindi and Hatnian – were gathered together by the residents of Chak 59 and their brick kiln coworkers."
Soon thousands of men armed with clubs, hatchets and axes loaded onto tractors and trolleys began pouring in.(The guard) Akram had locked the main kiln office door from the outside, but the angry protestors broke in anyway. But they failed to break the iron door of the office inside, and Shama and Shahzad must have locked it from inside."The angry protestors then climbed on to the roof, and broke it in, "as if it was made of wood, straw and mud" said Yasmeen.She says these men then opened the door from inside and brought the couple into the open, where the highly-charged protestors were ready to attack.
"They beat them with wooden clubs on their heads, and hatchets, before they were both tied to a tractor and pulled out onto a road which was under construction, covered with crushed stones.""I think they were unconscious, but still breathing, but the mob was still not willing to leave them alone," said Yasmeen. "They took some petrol from a tractor and doused their bodies and threw them in the kiln. Then I lost hope and fled with my children from there."
Another relative, Parvaiz Shehzad, who also lives in Clarkabad, said that Muslims of neighboring villages "were very much jealous of Christians". The village is named after Robert Clark (1825–1900), the first Anglican missionary to Pakistan. Parvaiz Shehzad said it was the first village in the district that had electricity, a bank, a post office and a high school."Most educated people of surrounding villages had studied in in Clarkabad…Strife between the Christian villagers and Muslim villagers has been a common feature in recent years".As Shehzad and Shama were of Clarkabad, he claims jealousy came into play.
The dead woman’s sister Yasmeen says that during the entire violent attack, a police van was present, but because they were so few, the police did not take charge. "Some men asked them to fire into the air to quell the protestors, because the mob had no weapons to fire back…Shama and her husband might have survived if the police had taken timely action."
Heavy contingents of police did arrive at the scene after the crowd had killed the couple. A local media reports that the police have arrested at least 42 people in connection with the case.The police themselves filed the case and lodged the First Information Report (FIR), [no. 475/14], registered in Kot Radha Kishan Police Station. The FIR states that 500 to 600 men tortured the Christian couple. The FIR identifies 60 men by name and says that:"the incident took place after the above-nominated persons gathered a crowd of people and roused their passion though false announcements from the mosque (loudspeakers) of desecration of the Qur’an."...
Another eyewitness reports that when the young couple, beaten to near death, were put into the fire, a large heavy iron sheet was put on top of them to hold them down; as if the crowd wanted to make sure that they would burn. As if there was ever any doubt. As if there could be a different ending after a mob had arrived to defend the honor of Allah and his prophet. As if this was not 2014 in Kot Radha Kishan ("stronghold of Radha and Krishna"). As if this was not Kalyug...
Several pictures of the couple have surfaced. We do not know if it was Shahzad or Shama who chose the backgrounds. (Note: I hv been told (and agree after looking again at the pictures) that it is not the same girl in all the pictures, some are with a cousin or niece of Shahzad, not with his wife Salma; this will no doubt become clearer with time; In any case, there seems to be no doubt about the picture of their last remains)
Yes, many thousands were killed in equally gruesome ways in 1947, in 1971, in 1984, in 2002; India, as Naipaul said, is a wounded civilization. But just look at these pictures...the contrast between the idyllic scenes depicted in the photographer's backgrounds and the actual life of the poor couple was already harsh when they took went to the photographer in Clarkabad; the contrast between these beautiful, hopeful faces and their terrified, screaming last hour on earth is unbearable and unimaginable. Too painful for words. After such knowledge, what forgiveness?
Someone took a picture of the remains after the good people of Kot Radha Kishan had finished with the couple.
The government of chief minister Shahbaz Sharif has acted with some speed and 40 or so people have been arrested for this atrocity. The Prime Minister has expressed shock, condemned the incident, and promised to bring the guilty to book. Multiple organizations within Pakistan have condemned this murder and I have no doubt that millions of Pakistanis are shocked to the core. I also believe that both the chief minister and the prime minister are entirely sincere in their concern. They are not inhuman bastards and they are not dumb. They see this is a terrible atrocity and they know how ugly it looks to the rest of the world. But their best intentions will not prevent the next incident and the fact that the blasphemy law itself has been openly questioned in Pakistan after this incident will not lead to any change in the law.
Why not? Because the law runs deep and has real support among the people and, perhaps more to the point, serves real purposes for sections of the ruling elite. (the follow is modified from an earlier article I wrote about the blasphemy law)
A blasphemy law was part of the 19th century Indian Penal code as section 295 (this fact has allowed many a postmarxist to begin any discussion of blasphemy laws with the phrase "colonial era law", God be praised).
Here is section 295 of the Indian Penal Code of 1860: Injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class.—Whoever destroys, damages or defiles any place of worship, or any object held sacred by any class of persons with the intention of thereby insulting the religion of any class of persons or with the knowledge that any class of persons is likely to consider such destruction, damage or defilement as an insult to their religion, shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
This seems like an eminently sensible law and cannot really be blamed for all the evils that came later. But in the 1920s there was a famous case in Lahore where a Hindu publisher was arrested by the colonial authorities after Muslims agitated against him for having published a book called Rangila Rasul ("merry prophet"). But the court in Lahore (quite properly) found him innocent because there was no law on the books against just publishing a book, no matter how offensive it may be to some religious group. Fearing future communal discord from such provocations, the British then had the legislative assembly add section 295A to the law in order to criminalize deliberate attempts to "outrage the religious feelings of any community"). This section states:
Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizens of India, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise], insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 4[three years], or with fine, or with both.
But even with this new and expanded article 295A in place, prosecutions for blasphemy were few and far between until, in the 1980s, General Zia added two new sections to the law in Pakistan and really set the ball rolling. These infamous sections are labelled 295B and 295C.
295-B: Defiling the copy of Holy Qur’an. Whoever wilfully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Qur’an or of an extract there from or uses it in any derogatory manner for any unlawful purpose shall be punishable with imprisonment for life.
295-C: use of derogatory remarks etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet: – who ever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation innuendo, or insinuation, directly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life and shall also be liable for fine.
2. Aasia bibi, the law's most prominent current victim, will not get a reprieve from anyone but she will not be hanged. Instead, she will be held in prison till she dies or is killed by a vigilante in prison. Her immediate family will have to leave the country at some point. The local Christian community will have to clearly show their humble submission in order to be allowed to get on with their lives.
Rushdie went underground and has managed to survive, though some of his translators were not so lucky. But Theo Van Gogh was killed in broad daylight in Amsterdam and Ayan Hirsi Ali was driven underground for producing a supposedly blasphemous movie in liberal Holland. Another blasphemy execution was attempted by textile engineering student Aamir Cheema in Germany. And as expected, Aamir Cheema too has achieved sainthood in Pakistan after he took his own life in a German prison, with his funeral attracting thousands and his grave becoming a popular shrine. A minister in Musharraf's enlightened cabinet wrote more than one op-ed commending such acts and fantasizing about the day Salman Rushdie's skin will be torn from his body with sharp hooks. A fantastically surreal movie has even been made about the execution of Rushdie by Muslim Guerillas who penetrate his secret Zionist hideout and attack him with flying Korans.
I am not kidding.
In 2002 a convicted murderer named Tariq decided to atone for his sins by killing a man accused of blasphemy who happened to be in the same prison in Lahore. Director Syed Noor (known for countless song and dance Lollywood films) produced and directed a movie called aik aur ghazi (one more holy warrior) about this young man and his glorious exploit. It is worth noting that Syed Noor is a "moderate Muslim", but this has not prevented him from glorifying the actions of a vigilante who killed another prisoner because he believed him guilty of blasphemy.
When a poor christian boy was accused of blasphemy in Lahore, the entire colony he lived in was burned to the ground. When a poor Christian woman named Aasia bibi acted "uppity" in front of some Muslim ladies (see details in the video below), she was charged with blasphemy and sentenced to death. These episodes highlights another important aspect of the blasphemy meme: it functions to bully and oppress minorities by threatening them with legalized lynching in exactly the same way as the "uppity nigger" meme was used to bully and oppress black people in the pre-civil-rights South in the United States. The fear of being accused of blasphemy, enforced by periodic horrific lynchings, ensures that Christians, Hindus and Ahmedis never forget their place and act uppity in front of good Muslims, since any indiscretion could lead to a blasphemy accusation and once accused, your goose is cooked.
Aasia Bibi's death sentence was so flagrantly unjust that Salman Taseer (whose own father had provided a funeral bier for Ilm Deen), the then governor of Punjab, was moved to say she should be let go and the blasphemy law should be amended to prevent such misuse. He was killed by his own guard for saying so. His guard was garlanded and showered with rose petals by Pakistani lawyers when he appeared in court and now has at least one mosque named in his honor.
HE has not been hanged. In fact, he is a hero to many and has been handing out new death sentences of his own while in prison; he convinced one of his guards to go and shoot a 70 year old mentally unstable British man who has been sentenced to death on blasphemy charges but not yet exectuted (probably not yet executed because he is British). MNA Sherry Rahman introduced a “private member bill” to amend the law and was herself charged with blasphemy for her pains (though being a member of the ruling elite, she has not yet been brought to trial). Rashed Rahman, a well known human rights lawyer was shot dead because he dared to take up the case of a young university lecturer who is being tried for blasphemy on insanely ridiculous grounds in Multan. Javed Ahmed Ghamdi, a liberal cleric who has tried to present religious arguments against this law (a law that clearly goes well beyond anything written even in most of the medieval compilations of shariah law) has had his assistant killed and is now living in exile in Malaysia. "Respected" Pakistani religious scholars have declared him to be an apostate and an agent of the enemies of Islam. The law is no closer to repeal or even modification.
And just a few weeks ago, the spineless Lahore High Court upheld the death sentence on Aasia Bibi. She may be hanged before the Governor's killer.
In fact. the law is now moving on to fresh pastures. There is a sustained push by anti-Shia groups to use the law against Shias just as it is being used against Ahmedis, Christians and other minorities. The law does not specifically mention the issue of blasphemy against the companions of the prophet (the sahaba), but why not? if you insult any of the companions of the prophet, do you not insult the prophet? Never mind that the companions themselves were frequently at each other's throats, but today the issue is the wedge that will open the way to legal persecution of Shias and help push them into the same position now occupied in daily fear by Christians, Hindus and Ahmedis. Several Shias have already been charged under the law and there is more to come. In fact, on the same day when Shahzad and Shama met their gruesome fate in Kot Radha Kishan, a Shia Zakir was killed in custody in Gujrat. He may have been mentally unstable and had been arrested for brawling in the bazar. In custody, he continues to harangue the police about the calumnies suffered by the Banu Hashim (the family of the prophet) at the hands of some of the companions (the sahaba). This so upset one of the police officers present that he got an axe and decapitated the prisoner inside the police station. The police officer concerned has been arrested and desperate attempts are being made to play down the sectarian dimension of this killing, but all will become clear once the policeman is put on trial. The ASWJ (the main umbrella anti-Shia organization) will protest that he was only defending the honor of the prophet. Punishment will not be easy. "Sweep under the rug" is likely to be the compromise.
In short, while it is indeed true that misuse of the law has become common after General Zia’s time (an intended consequence, as one aim of such laws is to harass and browbeat all potential opposition), the law has deeper roots and liberals who believe that it is possible to make a distinction between true blasphemy and misuse of the law, may find that this line is not easy to draw. The second, and perhaps more potent reason the law will not be repealed is because the law was consciously meant to promote the Islamist project that the deep state (or a powerful section of the deep state) continues to desire in Pakistan. The blasphemy law is a ready-made weapon against all secular opposition to the military-mullah alliance (though some sections of the military now seem to have abandoned that alliance, hence the qualification “section of the deep state”). Secular parties are suspected of being soft on India and are considered a danger to the Kashmir Jihad and other projects dear to the heart of the deep state. At the same time, Islamist parties provide ideological support and manpower for those beloved causes. In this way, the officers of the deep state, even when they are not personally religious, recognize the need for an alliance with religious parties and against secular political forces (Musharraf was a good example). They may have been forced into an uneasy (temporary?) compromise with secular parties by circumstances beyond their control (aka America) but with American withdrawal coming soon, the deep state does not wish to alienate its mullah constituency too much. They will be needed again once the Yankees are gone. Hence too, no repeal at this time.
Post Script: It is likely that in the coming days some of the details of the murder will be revised (though the beating and burning are not in doubt and will not be wished away). About such revisions, it is important to keep in mind that a number of new stories are going to be circulated by interested parties to muddy the waters, spoil the prosecution, confuse the issue and so on. And the "best supported" new stories may not be the most authentic. As Goldhizer noted about hadith authentication, in many cases the best authenticated are the ones most likely to be untrue (the authentication chains being so good precisely because they were invented to look authentic).
Local MPA's will be activated to defend the kiln owners. Local villagers will find ways to play down their own barbarity and play up the "desecration". Clerics will find NGO's behind a new conspiracy to defame Islam.
It has all happened before....
PPS: The All Pakistan Private Schools Association (which may or may not represent too many schools) has observed an "anti-malala day" to condemn her membership in the "Rushdie club". Mashallah.
This was a rolling rant I wrote while reading Pankaj Bhayia's book in 2012. Edited version follows
I have only read 50 pages so far.So I have NOT yet reached the meat of the book. But the intro is starting to set a certain tone. And its not a very encouraging one.
I am not impressed. At all. So Far.
This is very surprising. Are we to believe that a professor at Columbia did not know this very basic outline of colonial history and had "deeply repressed it"? Anyone with any genuine interest in history would know all this in much greater detail already.
And anyway, isnt this very un-poco pomo when you think about it? To label it as “Muslim power”? I thought the pomo thing was to point out that this business of dividing Indian history into Hindu, Muslim and British periods was a British colonial reading of Indian history? Did Pankaj not get the memo?
P-40, para 2. Read it and marvel. Europeans thought Asian were in decline and stagnation while Asians were actually e . And of course, PM puts “ in scare quotes. Then he tells us how Asians really well behind the Europeans in science, technology and organization and the Europeans, because of superior skills many crucial areas, mustered more power than the wealthiest empires in Asia. .a long list of examples of Europe’s extraordinary “pulling ahead” then follows.
What gives?. But the whole book is about relative decline and stagnation and attempts to set that right.
Read the above passage a few times. Think about it. Feel the love...
The "heritage of revolt from the Babis” is just plain bullshit. There is absolutely no evidence implicating the babis in anything Afghani did or thought and the babis in any case are not exactly the revolutionary anti-colonial movement of revolt PM is hinting at. and compare this information with PM’s casual insertion of babis into his narrative (here and earlier). PM, in short, is relying on the ignorance of his Western readers (and Westoxicated Asian readers) to follow him along this path of anti-colonial struggle without too much concern for nuance or historical accuracy. (the Babis are the founders of the Bahais. The furthest thing from an anti-imperialist revolutionary movement (and currently maligned in the Islamic world as imperialist agents, not anti-imperialist revolutionaries).
Oh Lord. The Ottoman section is so confused that I am surprised anyone gets past this drivel. The Ottoman empire is sick; its not sick at all; it has fallen behind; its not really behind; it needs reform; reform is killing it; The claims are contradictory and confused. That anyone read this and kept going and then wrote those laudatory reviews can only mean that “anyone” was just dying to have his or her prejudices massaged and paid no great attention to “mere details”.
OK, two things.
Which makes one wonder; whats with liberals? why are they so taken with this book? A friend on my FB page said its because “he tells us things we didnt know”. Well, some of them are wrong or out of context or just ever so slightly displaced from reality, but the parts that are true..why are they news? People didnt know colonialism involved taking over countries and trying (with varying success) to exploit them? or they didnt know that colonized countries had multiple strands of resistance to colonialism? Or that some countries managed to get pretty far in matching the Europeans in their own game? Whats the “new” revelation here? The few facts are pretty well known. the commentary is cliched and confused, the three exemplars chosen for the book were not very influential, and the tying together seems to be mostly imaginary.
How so? Jamaluddin Afghani was a serial impostor who tried to sell his services to every empire of the day (British, Russian, Turkish, Persian, Egyptian, etc) and failed in every one of his harebrained schemes. His efforts had no detectable impact on the rise or fall of the British empire. His attempts at creating some sort of modern Islam, neither Shia nor Sunni and able to meet the Western challenge, have NOT become the dominant form of resistance in the Islamic world. The high-water mark of modern Islamism was around the end of colonial empires. Where is that synthesis now? Even if we imagine that such a synthesis is ABOUT TO EMERGE, how can that effort be said to have ALREADY created modern Asia?
Similarly there were multiple Persian attempts at reform and re-invigoration. Afghani would approve of some of them. All of them would have gone ahead without him. Allama Iqbal attempted an “Islamization by stealthy Europeanization” by retroactively imposing modern philosophical categories on Islamic theological debates (with little substantive success…countless middle class fans in Pakistan think he did something very original and great, but NONE can ever tell you what his philosophy was in any concrete detail..try for yourself…ask any PTI supporter what Allama Iqbal’s vision of modern Islam really was…enjoy the silence), but his admiration of Afghani came AFTER his own work was well underway…i.e. this trend existed independent of Afghani and in any case has now petered out after Saudi money pumped up the more “authentic” return-to-purity version.
Since this apocalyptic vision is already mainstream in the Western Left (now waiting for global warming to finally do what years of revolutionary intellectual effort has failed to accomplish), it is accepted without question by his audience. But out there in the real world, modern civilization is closer to what Marx predicted it would be:
First of all, the view of Akbar the Great as a great syncretic ruler has been around since the 19th century! British historians described him in exactly those terms, as did Nehru and many many Indian nationalists. What dominant narrative? what suppressed history?
PS: another interesting thing about Pankaj: his heroes OUTSIDE India tend to be the same kind of people he cannot stand INSIDE India. Afghani, with his pan-islamist dreams (with a reformed and modernized Islam in place in a Muslim empire that can match the West in scientific and military terms, not just in some airy-fairy spiritual realm) is good, but Savarkar, with similar nationalist-revivalist dreams about Hindu India is not? The same goes for Chinese and Japanese nationalists. It is something to think about...
A strategic corporal is a junior level operator whose actions can have huge strategic and political consequences well above his pay-grade.
A strategic corporal may have struck gold this morning in Faisalabad.
Imran Khan's PTI had given a call to "shut down" the city today. The PMLN leadership had mobilized it's own supporters/toughs to stop the PTI crowd. In the very first confrontation on Monday morning, someone in the PMLN crowd took out a pistol and shot directly at the PTI crowd several times. He has been caught on tape:
I have not yet heard any report of his arrest or even his identification. It is likely that he will turn out to be some low-level member of the PMLN crowd. Though it is still possible that he will turn out to be an agent provocateur, working for some intelligence agency; of course if he really works for an intelligence agency, he may never be caught in the intelligence republic of Ghaibistan. Anyway, we may find out some day. But one thing is already clear: his killing has energised Imran Khan's floundering protest campaign and if current clashes accelerate, it may be the spark that starts a prairie fire. In that sense, the actions of this low-level operative, whether an operative of the PMLN (most likely), the LEJ or an intelligence agency; may have very far-reaching strategic consequences.
What strategic consequences?
1. A prolonged agitation that leads to military intervention (direct, or indirect via intelligence agencies and an engineered national government). Such intervention to be followed by a hard-paknationalist regime and then by carefully managed elections (if we get that far). To be followed by an Imran Khan regime under military supervision?
2. A prolonged agitation that is suppressed by force and that delegitimizes the PMLN regime even if it holds on.
3. A collapse of the state and rearrangement of it's borders and it's fundamental characteristics (least likely in my opinion, but then again, how likely did a breakup seem in early 1970?)
Or do you think this will blow over?
Inquiring minds want to know.
Power Lunch 8 December 2014 Tahreek e Insaf kamyabby DinNews
The fact of the matter is that the establishment (Tory-Lib-Lab) have left Britain in much weaker circumstances since the end of the Thatcherite era,
The kids take it rather well.
Talibs (or as Tariq Ali says, "the Pakhtoon resistance") make sure Pakhtoon kids are not destroyed by the evils of rhythm, harmony or melody. You have to click the link below to see the video.
Comrade Tariq Ali speaks about the Afghan resistance; I am NOT kidding.
Dont say I didnt tell you:
"A pre-revolutionary situation appears to be developing in Pakistan. The proletariat, long suffering under the yoke of neo-colonial exploitation, has begun to stir. Identifying the US as the head of international capital, the working class is ready for a complete overthrow of the oppressive system. In Peshawar, samizdat texts smuggled across the border under the noses of CIA-trained security forces are already circulating in the barrios. Relatively sophisticated elements of the ruling classes, fearful of losing their grip, but unable to rely on American tanks and drones in the dense urban landscape of Peshawar, are trying to pre-empt the revolution by installing a Kerensky-like figure in Islamabad. Others anticipate Thermidor and check the balance in their Swiss accounts, while American “advisers in the fortress-like American embassy still believe that the jackbooted thugs of the puppet Sharif regime will be able to hold off the revolutionary surge.
Meanwhile the young men (and women; contrary to Western stereotypes, women are an important behind-the-scenes component of the Islamist militias now being organized in working class neighborhoods) are moving on from the sometimes simplistic anti-imperialism of the Taliban; Islamic socialists will soon insert class and gender issues into the emerging debate. With the capitalist media increasingly discredited by their association with the White Russian forces in Afghanistan, these new voices may suddenly emerge on Friday to announce to the world a new dawn of hope. Aging revolutionaries across the globe may yet see that light burst forth from a region presented by FOX news and the New York Times as the heart of darkness. But the revolution will need our support as the forces of reaction in London and Washington attempt to land troops on the borders of Islamic soviets under the guise of protecting human rights and bourgeois democracy. Massive civil disobedience in Western capitals will be the only way these interventions can be thwarted. Let us not be found wanting.”
One of the best ways to reach equanimity these days is to unfollow everything. Therefore while I'm still on social media I actually don't follow anything or anyone (instead I look up individual profiles). It suits my own character (if my 30th birthday has 700 invites sent out, it's fairly obvious that I prefer holistic approaches to socialisation and people, intimacy is too often a cover for narrowness).
At any rate the original point of my piece is that I read on twitter about how a gay couple were forced out of Burger King and how apparently Silicon Valley has a star troll (a girl) who won't stop until the white, male patriarchy is dismantled (it's interesting how it's no longer a WASP patriarchy).
Other than that I always remember what Noam Chomsky said that (and I paraphrase) that to preserve the illusion of freedom create intense debate in ever-narrower bands of discussion. Okay I messed up that quote to such an extent that now I've had to go and link it:
“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum....”
Since I only write when I'm riled about something (which oddly enough in my last weekend as a 20-something is getting rarer and rarer- perhaps I'm getting more self-centred) I trawl through the free press (Unz & Taki) to find something that's counter-intuitive and irrational. I don't actually read the mainstream media anymore (except the Daily Telegraph from time to time and when I'm feeling particularly saucy the Daily Mail).
At any rate I must get to my point or at least start getting there. I love freezing fruit and then eating them. Today I had an especially delicious frozen banana, that had it not been frozen would have been thrown 4days ago. We must stop wasting food as we do and incidentally enough I eat fruits (and their skins) with gusto. It explains why even as I approach 30 I'm able to control my waist with some aplomb.
Also usually I find winters in London to be horrendous (I especially used to dread November). However while the winter was not so bad (notwithstanding the night before last when it sound like bombs were going off, the winds were that bad) I must say what has helped are ice showers. After I exercise (I don't step into the shower sweaty, I wait a bit) I turn the water to ice temperature. I make sure that all of my body is subjected to that but what I've realised is that by lowering the temperature of my body in such a dramatic way I'm not as sensitive to the cold as I should be.
Finally on everyone's favourite topic, immigration amnesty. Personally I think deportations are just too harsh but more of the same cannot continue. The West and the developed world must revise their immigration policy so that there is free settlement between first-tier nations (to move from Australia to America) and wealthy Westerners should be encouraged to emigrate to the developing world. They'll get much more bang for the buck and Uganda, with it's evergreen spring temperate climate, would be an ideal location for Western pensioners to settle. It would be bring about a transfer of capital, help demographics in both countries and create necessary cultural links. Our immigration/emigration policy is all wrong as it stands..
I'm turning 30 in an hour and a half.
It's the shift now where the big birthdays are every decade rather than every year, three years or 5yrs (18, 21, 25).
Goodbye to my 20's, it's a brave new world ahead...
ہے زلزلہ زمیں کو گہن میں ہے آفتاب / بارش ہے خون کی چشم فلک اشکبار ہے
ہے عنقریب پھونکے سرافیل صور کو / بس حکم کبریا کا فقط انتظار ہے
The Earth is shaking, the sun eclipsed, the sky is raining blood
The time is nigh when Israfeel will blow his trumpet (to end the world).
All that is awaited is a signal from God... (Mir Anis)
I saw a pair of big black boots coming towards me, this guy was probably hunting for students hiding beneath the benches.
My body was shivering. I saw death so close and I will never forget the black boots approaching me – I felt as though it was death that was approaching me.
I folded my tie and pushed it into my mouth so that I wouldn’t scream. The man with big boots kept on looking for students and pumping bullets into their bodies. I lay as still as I could and closed my eyes, waiting to get shot again.
When I crawled to the next room, it was horrible. I saw the dead body of our office assistant on fire.
She was sitting on the chair with blood dripping from her body as she burned.
(a surviving student's account)
7 men drove up to the Army Public School in a high security area fo Peshawar. They poured petrol on the car and set it on fire, then entered the school and started shooting people. They were not psychotic loners. They were trained soldiers, fighting for a cause.They were "moral" men. They were following rules and making distinctions. According to their handlers, they had been told not to kill underage children and in this they were following Sharia law (the example of the massacre of the Banu Qurayza was specifically mentioned). They cold-bloodedly went from room to room, shooting school children cowering under their desks (per one journalist, most of the dead had been shot once....in the head). And while students were shot calmly and the assassins may even have confined themselves to older children, some teachers faced a more horrendous fate. A couple of them seem to have been set on fire in front of their students. Whether before or after they were shot is not clear. Perhaps because they were female.
This is not a psychotic loner going nuts and shooting up a kindergarten. It is not even the same as Chechen terrorists taking a school hostage and causing the deaths of hundreds of children in the subsequent firefight and explosions (started accidentally or during the rescue attempt). This is atrocity at the Nazi level. People following orders, systematically and ruthlessly, for many hours. Shooting school kids. Burning teachers.
And proudly accepting responsibility and promising to do more.
They were also talking to their handlers all the time. The last time they called, the terrorist told his handler "we have killed all the children in the auditorium, what do we do next?"
These are the attacker, posing before they go to kill kids
There has been an explosion of outrage in Pakistan. Even Imran Khan managed to condemn the TTP by name (though PTI's offical account still tweeted that "Whoever" did this, did something awful). The Pakistani state has reportedly stuck back already at Taliban targets. The PM and the army chief have promised action (and are likely sincere, as far as that goes). The media has condemned the attack. Social media has been on fire. So far so good.
But within hours, the narrative has already started to fracture. First the media groups managed to invite people like Hamid Gul, Hafiz Saeed and Maulana Abdul Aziz (of Red mosque fame) to comment on this terrorist attack. And they managed to muddle the issue with references to the Indian hand and the eternal enemies of Pakistan (Afghanistan, Jews, America, that sort of thing). And on ARY (the most pro-army of Pakistan's many pro-army channels) the anchors themselves have been leading the charge. Mubasher Lucman, for example, angrily demanded that the first step needed at this time was to ban Indian overflights to Afghanistan! Top Military propagandist Ahmed Qureshi and loonies like Zaid Hamid have been busy blustering about how India will be made to pay for this latest atrocity.
The more things change. .
I wrote a piece three and a half years ago about the Pakistani anti-terror narrative and it's confusions and it is depressing to find that little or nothing needs to be changed in that article. The entire piece, unedited, is pasted at the end of this post.
There is a lot of talk about how this particular horrendous event is SO horrendous that now things really HAVE to change. Maybe. But do keep in mind that this is not the first mass casualty attack. There have been attacks on the Marriot hotel, an Ahmedi mosque, a volleyball match, a meena bazar, a church, even a mosque near GHQ (where the son of a corps commander was among the civilian victims killed in cold blood). And of course there have been countless massacres of Hazara and other Shias. Literally thousands of people have died in these attacks. But until now, there is no evidence that the army has changed it's basic "good terrorist/bad terrorist" policy. Terrorists who kill schoolchildren and shoot up railway stations in Kabul and Mumbai are good. Terrorists who kill children in Pakistan are bad. That policy has not worked for 13 years. It is not going to start working now.
How can we tell that GHQ is really changing policy:
1. Ahmed Qureshi and Zaid Hamid are suddenly out of a job and publicly disowned by the army.
2. Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was sentenced to death years ago for the killing of Daniel Pearl (a terrorist act he may not have committed, though he has surely committed many others). He has not been hanged. In fact there are intermittent reports of him living it up in prison. If he is hanged, that will be a sign of change. Especially since his handler was the famous brigadier Ejaz Shah (a close associate of the father of the double game, Pervez Musharraf himself).
3. Mumbai attackers rapid trial and punishment. Outside of Pakistan, everybody and their aunt knows that a group of ten terrorists from Pakistan landed in Mumbai in 2008 and cold bloodedly killed a 168 innocent people. In a famous picture, one of the attackes is calmly walking down the platform at Mumbai Railway station, shooting random civilians sitting on the platform.
Because of international pressure, the FIA (federal investigation agency) in Pakistan actually carried out a very thorough inquiry in Pakistan and identified several people who arranged things for the killers, who trained them, who sent them on their way. The FIA may not have reached all the way to the top, but they certainly made a case against some of the lower level people involved. But 6 years have passed and the trial of these terrorists has not moved forward. The prosecutor has been shot dead. And the supposed military mastermind (Zaki ur Rahman Lakhvi of the JUD/LET) is living it up in prison, and reportedly even got married and conceived a child in prison. If the army has changed it's mind about terrorism, then the trial of these terrorists has to move forward.
Unless you see some of these happenings, things will go back to "normal" ....
A dissenting note about the double game from a friend on facebook:
no, not a double game any more. they are being played by the taliban now, manipulating the internecine fault-lines inside the ISI and the army. they don't mind a few casualties in the mountains, if that is the price (in fact their foot-soldiers welcome the chance for martyrdom). they have the indomitable resolution of a madman doing god's work, while the army has the emptied ideology of a failed religious state being devoured by corruption. by day the generals pay hollow homage to the motherland and at night send tithes to their new fathers in the mountains, hoping to buy personal protection from the next suicide attack for themselves and their families.
A more sober take from the redoubtable Ahsan Butt on Five Rupees.
POSTSCRIPT: it is not looking good for those who thought some great sea change is coming. The script on the media has changed on PTV and to some extent on GEO, but remains the same on other channels and especially on the army's favorite channels like ARY and Dunya..... Blame India, CIA and the Jews. Invite Hafiz Saeed, Hamid Gul and other similar jokers to fog everything up. Bomb someone in the tribal areas and generate suspiciously exact body counts.
Until the next bombing.
Unfortunately it does look like the song remains the same...
Postscript2: Got some feedback from people focused on the role of Islam in these outrages. I would like to emphasize that while various forms of Islamism are causing problems in many parts of the world, Islam is NOT the proximate cause of the choices made by the Pakistani establishment. Hard Paknationalism is the primary driver. Someone like Musharraf (father of the infamous double-game) was not too bothered about Islam. What caused him to maintain the Taliban and other Jihadist groups was Paknationalism; specifically the "hard paknationalist" belief that we have to defeat India and to do that we need certain force multipliers/strategic-assets/deniable-non-state-actors and the Jihadis are the only people who will do that job. It is this belief that drives the "good-taliban/bad-Taliban" policy and the double games it entails. Commitment to fundamentalist Islam has little or nothing to do with it. (though of course, no Islam, no partition in the first place, so there are other turtles below the first one)...
Postscript3: Lakhvi granted bail by anti-terrorism court. He many not actually walk free if tremendous pressure comes from Uncle Sam, but signals are (or are being misread in Pindi) that Uncle Sam is OK with India-specific terrorists. Lets wait and see...
Postscript 4: Some explanation is needed of two positions that seem contradictory to some people.
1. I seem to imply that the Pakistani establishment is not going to change, at least not soon.
2. I objected to right-wing Indians who wanted to shut down "IndiaStandsWithPakistan" because they felt sympathy for a terrorist-supporting nation was unjustified or naive.
I tried to explain this on twitter with limited success. So trying again:
1. Simple human empathy caused most humans (EVERYWHERE) to feel intense sympathy for the parents of those whose children were so callously and brutally murdered in one of the most awful and bone-chilling atrocities, even in a world filled with atrocities. That simple human empathy is worth preserving and should not be dismissed. Without it, what will be left?
2. Pakistan is a state in crisis. It's core establishment is fracturing. There is a very real constituency for changing course. That constituency is not just in the so-called liberal parties like the PPP, ANP, MQM etc (not to speak of the tiny but culturally significant Marxist and Post-Marxist Left) but even (and sometimes more so) in mainstream civilian parties like the PMLN and even the JUI. The paknationalist hardcore (defined by complete loyalty to the "hard-paknationalist" agenda of permanent war against India, colonization of Afghanistan, dreams of power projection in Central Asia, etc etc) is still in control of key policy areas, but has to FIGHT to stay in control. Among the civilians, they mostly get their way via manipulation of media, pakstudies brainwashing, taking advantage of the foolishness of young PTI supporters and so on. True ideological clarity is limited to a relatively small faction of the army, it's pet journalists and think-tankers and touts like Sheikh Rasheed.
3. That fracture will increase with time anyway (since the Paknationalist hardcore cannot deliver what most pakistanis want: peace and development) but it is helped, not hindered by gestures like "IndiaWithPakistan". I suspect that some understanding of this lay behind the Modi government's willingness to express sympathy and make positive human gestures. Of course, they are also human, so some real human sympathy was probably involved. But beyond that, the cynical calculation is also in favor of such gestures.
4. When and if the hard-Paknationalist establishment spits in their face by doing something like bailing out Zaki Lakhvi, the fact that they made the gesture only goes in their favor. It does not hamper any other action they may or may not take.
5. With Uncle Sam desperate to get out and save face, options are limited. Planning has to be long-term.
Some tweets from yesterday and today in order of time posted:
“Dark house, by which once more I stand
Here in the long unlovely street,
Doors, where my heart was used to beat
So quickly, waiting for a hand,
A hand that can be clasp'd no more -
Behold me, for I cannot sleep,
And like a guilty thing I creep
At earliest morning to the door.
He is not here; but far away
The noise of life begins again,
And ghastly thro' the drizzling rain
On the bald street breaks the blank day.”
― Alfred Tennyson, In Memoriam
My older post from 2011...unedited. Original at 3quarksdaily.com
The Narratives Come Home to Roost
Most countries that exist above the banana-republic level of existence have an identifiable (even if always contested and malleable) national narrative that most (though not all) members of the ruling elite share and to which they contribute. Pakistan is clearly not a banana-republic; it is a populous country with a deep (if not very competent) administration, a very lively political scene, a very large army, the world’s fastest growing nuclear arsenal and a very significant, even if underdeveloped, economy. But when it comes to the national narrative, Pakistan is sui-generis. The “deep state” has promoted a narrative of Muslim separatism, India-hatred and Islamic revival that has gradually grown into such a dangerous concoction that even BFFs China and Saudi Arabia are quietly suggesting that we take another look at things.
see more at http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/MondayMusings.html (scroll down a lot till you see my articles listed)