I’ve written a sort of eye-witness plus hopefulness account at Global Comment. Have a look:
This morning at the Lahore High Court, things looked bleak. There were maybe two hundred people in the entire complex by 11 a.m. Getting to the High Court itself was like playing a game of PacMan – constant blocks, looming riot police, retracing of steps to get as close as possible to the complex. Inside, it seemed that this thing wasn’t going to take off. One rally was stuck in Model Town with Nawaz Sharif. A hundred people were stuck a block away from the court, getting beaten up by the police.
Then they started coming. Lawyers began filtering in from all across the barricaded city; followed by the first batch of protesters from around the block; then the Student Action Committee; the Concerned Citizens of Pakistan; the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam, an Islamic political party; the Tehreek-e-Insaaf, Imran Khan’s party. By 12:30 pm, the premises were filling up and the square in front of the High Court gates was teeming with people shouting slogans and waving flags.
Yesterday: Well, Bush, McCain, Obama: it’s all the same to me. US ground troops landed a helicopter on Pakistani soil, got out, shot a bunch of villagers “indiscriminately” says Dawn, got back into their helicopter and fucked off. (Edit: yesterday it said “indiscriminately” and today I can’t find the source in Dawn.)
The bit in scare quotes are the bit I’m scared of. And the bit that’s disputed. Along with ground troops actually coming in. I googled the story and most US sources or international media are reporting it as if it was definitely Al-Qaeda that was hit. What we have is that 20 people died, most of them women and children. Someone got back from one of the agencies recently, which is what those parts of the northwest are called, like Waziristan. He was corroborating other stories. That the local “Taliban” are just thugs for hire and always have been. And that the locals, from the community, are now putting together militias of their own to fight the thugs and keep them off their land.
Today: The US is claiming it was soldiers that died and there was no ground attack. And it was all coordinated with the Pakistanis. Look here. And at the longer AP report.
Obama, McCain, Bush. They’d all go looking for bin Laden in Pakistan, unilaterally, without worrying about fucking with Pakistani sovereignty or killing innocent Pakistanis just living their lives between one set of bullies and another.
Talk about Black Flag Days. When Zardari is elected president tomorrow, vile stain of a man that he is, find me a ray of fucking sunshine then.
And my question, quite seriously: Who do they think those people WERE in the 60s and 70s, having sex in disco bathrooms, engaging in group marriages and Bob-and-Carol-and-Ted-and-Alice type encounters? All of those people are my age and older now. It’s like they have some idea that all old people just retire and instantly become Baptists, or something. I dunno.
Another old woman and I had a long discussion the other day, about how conservative the young seem to be–and does liberalism mark us as “old”? Odd that ‘stylistic’ liberalism (willingness to try new fashions, music, clubs, vacation spots, foods) is popular with the American young, but NOT idealistic or intellectual liberalism.
My mom belongs to that generation, the hippie dippie liberal all-we-need-is-love generation. She was mostly chilling out during that time, more a thinker than a marcher, and her hippie dippie-ness resided in her associations and conversations rather than anything else. Continue reading →
I was sitting with my prof this afternoon, hesitantly reading Arabic hadith at him and working out what they meant, when a small poinpoint of evil hit me behind the eye. I lost focus on what I was reading or saying, as I usually do in migraine land. Luckily, we had been through the larger part of our work so we both kind of teetered and fell off the precipice of attentive with a sweet little thunk. And that was good. Continue reading →
I’m in Seattle. I wish I wasn’t. Only because, after a long time, we’re having elections in Pakistan again and, regardless of rigging, I wanted to be able to vote.
Why you should vote: I know that there are accusations of rigging and mass rigging and rigging so heinous that you don’t know what to do with yourself. But the more people show up to cast actual votes, the more obvious the ballot stuffing will be. Furthermore, the more people show up, the more eyes there are to witness blatant voter intimidation, repeated voting (where one person votes more than once – illegal) and other more surreptitious activities at the polls. Finally, when you vote, you meet other voters and you get a sense of what people outside of your own class box are interested in for the future of their country.
Vote because if you vote, something might change. Then again, things may stay the same. If you don’t vote, things definitely won’t change. Respect the democratic process and it will inshallah pay off in the end.
Dear Diary, today we had emergency!, no! martial law, no! emergency! declared on us by Gen. Pervez Musharraf, moderate and enlightened president of Pakistan.
Now this is what’s going on: I’m watching CNN IBN via internet streaming because all the private news channels have been suspended. Musharraf will speak via PTV at 11 pm. But he’s declared that the judiciary has overstepped its bounds and so needed to be dismantled. He was afraid that the Supreme Court would reject his candidacy for president in the upcoming election and so, speculation is and I think it’s true, he declared emergency and removed everyone against him would be out of power.
Interestingly , he did not (or has not yet) cite Swat, Chaman and the general unrest (unrest!) in the Frontier as the reason for the state of emergency. It would seem more credible to do that. Swat has been in an uproar and many Pakistanis have died on both sides. There are perpetual military operations in the Frontier, in Chaman, in Swat, in Waziristan and anywhere in between. Surely, there is a state of emergency in those areas. But instead, there’s a somewhat petulant complaint against the judiciary and an act that is the equivalent of yelling “mein nahi khelta!”, taking your marbles and going home.
Or send your friends home and lobbing their own marbles after them. Grenad-shaped.
For regular updates, I have found no place better than Pakistan Politics. I don’t know who runs it but will attempt to find out. In the meantime, they are my heroes, being so excited about giving news quickly that they misspell half the stuff they’re typing.
I’m at my computer for a good while. If anyone finds an internet link to what Pakistan Politics is calling the performance of “meray azeez hum watanon”, let me know. I don’t have a TV and my radio is having issues too.
I promised Ponni in Delhi that I’d have a manuscript ready for publication by 31 December 2007. In aid of that, I’ve finally put together the list of poems. These are poems I consider publishable. I haven’t put them all together to see what the page count is. I’ll probably have to cut some out. Those that know or recognize these poems will be able to help me with that cutting. If you don’t know where it is check out my DeviantART page, where you should be able to see most of them. If you can’t, it’s because they’re mature content. Meaning I cussed or said “cunt” or something. Continue reading →
I’m going to take this down in a couple of days, but I feel like sharing today. And I guess I’m looking for some feedback. This site gets more traffic than the main poetry site. So here it is.
any given Sunday in your church – see me
taking communion in whatever has
become of us – nights flowing to morning
like water to water again – any
given Sunday of remembrance and your
church – and your altar – and your vaulted
love of man – see me
I am small – my knees rub
the earth, I look for Mary and her bright heart -
pincushion heart – to toe the line row the boat
home – our lady of perpetual
holding – water, flooding – mother – mary – mother -
mary, see me
- given a Sunday to love and no days off -
communion for dead hearts in live
hands, wet mouths in wet mouths – bombers
flying over looking for an earth to land -
your – church -
in communion with -
soft earth -
flow to morning
like wine is wine
mother sunday mother remembrance see me
Everyone knows by now what Barack Obama said about Pakistan. He said that he’d act on actionable intelligence and invade Pakistan to root out Al-Qaeda members if Musharraf refused to do so. In response, we all think, to being called a big baby by Hillary Clinton. “Naive” was the term, I believe.
Here’s my thing: Obama can say whatever the hell he likes. If he actually manages to clamber his way up to the presidency – an unlikely outcome, despite his huge coffers – he’ll become more staid and adhere to “conventional wisdom” a lot more. He has only to gain from the tough stance. You think he didn’t know he’d get hooted from all sides? But, as this memo thing suggests, he benefits from playing the part of the new guard of American politics. And so his defenders, like this Harvard prof that Ali Eteraz quoted, will jump to his, you know, defense.
So, one: I don’t think Obama is any more likely to invade Pakistan than any other American presidential hopeful because the presidency is more than the president. And if the powers that be decide that Musharraf should be toppled, he will be toppled. It’s as simple as that. A monkey could sit in office and be just as likely to do so as JFK, if that’s what the power brokers decided was a good plan.
Two: Obama might be a great candidate domestically for Americans on the left. But I don’t know that there’s a candidate internationally that’s going to do us in Pakistan any good. Sure, it would have been better if we’d had Kerry than Bush. But I don’t know that history would be that much different if Bush had never been elected in the first place. A little different. But not that much different.
Three, and here I’m addressing the Harvard lady’s issues in particular: The northwest of Pakistan has been shot up. They’re fighting back because, aside from being staunch Muslims of an extremist nature, they are also a) tribals who like their tribal autonomy and b) people who hate, I mean hate, the military. Given these circumstances, what is the likelihood that Musharraf is ever going to get warm and fuzzy about them? And if American troops wander in? It’ll be a blood bath on both sides.
So the idea that Musharraf would refuse to hand over terrorists is ludicrous because a) if he could get his hands on them, he’d garrote them himself and, much more importantly, b) terrorists watch television. Osama has enough sense to come in out of the cold and if everyone thinks he’s in Waziristan, he’s going to get the hell out. Imagine: everyone’s saying, “Oh we know where he is, he’s in the mountains in Pakistan, he’s in Waziristan, we should just go get him;” and he’s sitting there, what, eating twinkies and saying, “Fair cop, guv” while he waits for them to show up at his door?
It’s the time for outlandish suggestions in American politics. Some turkey (and I’ll hopefully come back with what turkey and what he said) suggested that the best way for America to become safer and win the war on terror is to bomb Mecca and Medina, God forbid. So it’s all pretty out there. Barack Obama may be a liberal’s dream, but only in the US. Out here, America is still the biggest and it’ll still take care of its own and be selectively interested in the welfare of everyone else’s.