Entries Tagged 'exile' ↓

Fuck Off Out of My Country

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.

“He tried to kill my daddy!”

A while ago, Asif Ali Zardari was interviewed by the BBC about what would eventually happen regarding the restoration of the judiciary. Zardari equivocated in his sleazy fashion, saying that, because he wants the “majesty of law” restored, “we” will come up with a plan that does not allow for the abuse of power that Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s SC was able to get away with. When asked what he meant, Zardari lost his shit, essentially, and said

I have come to power… People’s Party has come to power. We have lost our leader to politics, the fourth leader we’re losing to politics, we intend to \change the system… so that no other Asif Zardari stays in prison under trial for 8 years and Mr. Iftikhar Chaudhry does not say, I have not read the case so I can hear the case … in that case i was languishing in prison for two years and i went to Chaudhry Iftikhar five times. The judiciary has killed my father in law, they admit judicious murder

Sound familiar? Yeah. To me too.

یعنی انہوں نے صاف کہہ دیا ے کہ کسی صورت افتخار چودھری کو اپنے عہدہ پر بحال نہیں کیا جائے گاـ یا چیف جائے گا یا اسکا اقتدارـ تو اگر تیرہ سے اٹھائیس اور اٹھائیس سے سو بندہ بھی بینچ پر لانا پڑا یا آئین میں ترمیمیں کر کر کہ اس کا بھوسہ بنانا پڑا تو سب جائز ہےـ بس زرداری صاحب کو انکا انتقام حاصل ہوـ

اس طرح تو پھر بش نے بڑا تھیک کام کیا کہ صدام ٓحسین پر غصہ ہے تو عراق پر بم گرا دوـ آصف زرداری کو چودھری افتخار نے جیل میں ڈالا تو پاکستان کی عدلیہ کو آئین میں لپیٹ کر گنگا میں بہا دوـ

مجھے معلوم ہے کہ پرانی بات ہو گئی ہےـ لیکن بات بجا ہےـ ڈوگر کی عدلیہ میڈیا کا نوٹس لے کر اس سے ڈانٹ کھا کر نوٹنکی بنتی جا رہی ہےـ زندہ بادـ

Grad School Sucks All Badness

Because I just enjoy everything way too much and I’m too damn smart, man!

Continue reading →

Wheat Shortage and General Economic Crisis

There’s a massive wheat shortage in Pakistan. In case you were unaware, here are some (very few) links alerting to the situation. Most are in Urdu.

سندھ سے آٹا غائب

آٹے بجلی کا بحران

روزنامہ وقت: بحرانوں کا میگاڈیبارٹمنٹل سٹور

میرا پاکستان: مٹی پاؤ

Pakistan Army Guards Grain


I’ve been trying to figure out what I think about Benazir Bhutto’s death. I woke up in Austin, TX, to this news and it’s almost all I’ve been doing. “Doing” what, I’m not sure. Just watching and reading the news, I suppose. I really wish I was home.

All I have is a couple of unconnected observations:

  • I have no idea what “the terrorists” would gain from the death of Benazir. I don’t think it was any kind of religion-based concern that killed her.
  • On the other hand, if it was a suicide attack, I don’t know how a non-religious concern recruits someone to kill themselves for a non-religious cause.
  • Related to all this, does anyone know if the suicide bomber of Benazir’s Karachi welcome was ever identified?
  • Mariam pointed out that Benazir was Musharraf best bet, so the idea that he would have engineered this is perhaps something that should be considered with a grain or two of salt.
  • On yet another hand, Benazir goes, elections are stopped, Musharraf declares emergency/martial law again and he doesn’t have to pretend to respect the constitution or do anything for democracy in the country.
  • Any non-Musharraf military motivation is absolutely beyond me to speculate on. I have absolutely no idea about Kiyani doing anything with a different agenda than Musharraf’s. Anyone with insigh, please help me out.

One thing is absolutely undeniable: Killing Pakistanis is not something that anyone has a problem with. Not the military, not the political parties, not various religious concerns. No one. We always complain that American military policy is premised on the notion that an American life is worth more than any other life in the world. Well, we don’t think anything of Pakistani lives either.

I keep trying to think something analytical and rational. But I’m just upset. Anyone else just upset?

Judges Evicted and Forced to Retire

The judges of the Pakistani superior courts who refused to take oath under the Provisional Constitution Order – the one that abrogates the 1973 constitution and removes fundamental rights like free speech, free movement, freedom from unlawful detention – are now being evicted from their homes and forced to retire.

When they would have retired:

  1. Justice Saair Ali: 2008
  2. Justice M A Shahid Siddiqui: 2008
  3. Justice Muhammad Jehangir Arshad: 2008
  4. Justice Khwaja Muhammad Shareef: 2010
  5. Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry: 2012
  6. Justice Mian Saqib Nisar: 2016
  7. Justice Asif Saeed Khos: 2016
  8. Justice Shaikh Azmat Saeed: 2016
  9. Justice Iqbal Hameedurrahman: 2018
  10. Justice Umer Ata Bandiyal: 2020

Source: BBCUrdu.com.

According to the same article, the new judges, the fake judges who took oath under the PCO, are being assigned housing in the judges colony that has been assigned to the rebellious judges, even though there are empty houses in the colony.

This is a systematic evisceration of the judiciary. I’m not sure how it is that we’re allowing this to happen.

A student of mine sent this around last night. It’s part of a much longer email:

What Musharraf did 8 years ago was overthrow a system of democracy via a coup, and on Nov 3rd he imposed martial law. NOT an emergency, it is a Martial Law. In this one month an 2 days his regime,

  • his dictatorial regime has arrested more than 7000 innocent people: even peaceful elderly foriegn peace activists, whose only acitivity was to cordially converse with students. (Look them up under “US Code Pink” on google)
  • Musharraf has worsened the situation in Swat where now people, thanks to the dimwitted military tactics, face the losing end of economic warfare. Which simply means people are going hungry, starving. Previously, his tactics only agitated the militants when he sat on the lal masjid affair for so long that in the ended it exploded. The militants lost their families in that: now they are retaliating
  • He, Musharraf has physically harmed people from all stratas of society. Lawyers are in critical health conditions, activists are swept away into unknown prisons. Lawyers are such a threat in their committed peaceful stance that even their wives are being threatened!! I guess, Musharaff the progressive can see the potential of women!
  • we are now globally considered more dangerous than Iran: the US considers Iran a threat to its nation. We are considered more dangerous…we could be the next Iraq!
  • we have lost billions of dollars in foreign investment. Oh a high growth rate does not mean everyone in the country can now eat more. Food inflation is somewhere new 12%. The poor are starving more than in the last so many years. Karachi Stock Exchange saw what is known as the blackest day where it lost more than $300 billion
  • In his hopefully well founded fear, the great President Musharraf is threatening to arrest students. Students from elite private universities. Professors. Finally the poor people who study years into oblivion to teach ungrateful students are at least making the news!! Why is Musharraf threatened by the people educated in these institutes, those teaching in these institutes.

The mistake President Musharraf made was to grant civil liberties in the first place. To a generation, mine and those after me, who were not used to freedoms being so openly acknowledged as good, this “emergency”, this PCO, this abrogation of the constitution is a huge disappointment. Those who thought he was a nice enough dictator realize now – myself included – that a dictator is a dictator is a dictator, and that’s all there is to it.

Free and Fair Elections


This is the office of Punjab’s Provincial Election Commission, thank you very much. Source: Daily Waqt (Urdu daily).

سی ڈی اے کی ترقی پسند مہم

یہ اسلام آباد کو کیا ہو گیا ہے؟ گولڑا موڑ اور جی ـ ۹ کے درمیان سڑکوں پر قیامت آئی ہوئی ہے! سی ڈی اے نے لگتا ہے کہ باجماعت کوئی پکا نشا کِیا ہوا ہےـ اُس قسم کا نشا جس سے عجیب عجیب سین نظر آنے لگیں ـ کیونکہ جہاں دیکھو، نئی سڑک ـ میرے کھر کے سامنے سے 7 ایونیو گزرا کرتی تھی ـ بلکل سادہ سی سڑک ہے، مارگلہ سے قائدِ اعظم تک جاتی ہے، اور اس کے بعد آبپارہ ـ اب اس سڑک سے اسکا نام چِھن گیا ہے اور اس کے عین ساتھ، کہہ لو دو تین سو گز کے فاصلہ پر دو لین ڈبل روڈ بن گئی ہے، بمع انڈر پاس جو سیدھے آبپارہ جاتی ہےـ اس کا نام 7 ایونیو پڑ گیا ہے اور میری چھوٹی سی سڑک بے نام اور ناکارہ ہو چکی ہےـ اوپر سے مارگلہ پر ان دونوں سڑکوں کے لیے الگ الگ سگنل ہیں ، تاکہ آپ کا سفر رنگ برنکا اور خوشگوار گزرےـ

مگر میری سمجھ میں یہ بات نہیں آتی کہ ایک دم سے اس سال سٰ ڈی اے کو کیا سوجھی کہ اسلام آباد کے ساتھ یوں ترقی بالجبر ہو رہی ہے؟ قسم سے دو میٹر کے شہر میں سولہ میٹر سڑک کھینچ دی ہے، گھر ملے نہ ملے، گاڑی پر سیر کرنے میں کوئی دشواری نہیں ہوتی ـ بلکہ اگر آپ کو اپنا گھر نہ ملے، سمجھیں کہ سماج کی بہتری کے لیے اسکو کسی سوپر ہائی وے کی نذر کر کہ گِرا دیو گیا ہےـ

Geo Ordered to Shut Down

At 1:12 a.m. on this Friday night, I’ve just gotten home from a dinner to find on the news that Geo TV’s international broadcast from Dubai is also being shut down. So I turn on the live stream from the channel’s website. And it’s running the same “ad” over and over again: the Geo logo, dramatic newsy music and the repetition of the mantra: “Geo aur jeenay do.”

Live and let live. Continue reading →

Riot Gear: Lahore High Court

At around 8 a.m. today, November 5, ’07, lawyers and civil society gathered in the central courtyard of the Lahore High Court to protest the imposition of martial law, the oath-taking by certain judges of the superior courts under the new Provisional Constitutional Order and the arrests of at least 500 lawyers and citizens since the new coup began on November 3.

When we got there, there were about 100 odd people, perhaps 150, mostly lawyers making a racket in the courtyard and generally talking to each other and any “civilians” that happened to be around. Anyone not wearing a black coat – the lawyer’s uniform – was a civilian in this case.

The slogans shouted were the usual sorts, easy to adapt from one protest to the next: Musharraf kutta haye haye; CPO murdabad; aaeen key dushman murdabad. Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry was lauded as the hero of the moment. Aitizaz Ahsan as well.

Then at around noon we went out towards the gates of the High Court to find them locked from the outside and an army of riot police on the other side of them. Continue reading →

Riot Gear: Cardinal Sins

Ali Eteraz wrote an article for the Guardian a few hours after Emergency/Martial Law was officially imposed. It contained a general survey of the situation and an analysis on a) what was likely and b) what was best for Pakistan. And it was a fairly conservative and cautious analysis.

I don’t mind conservatism. I think caution is good and sensible, especially in a country where getting whooped upside the head for assembling in public is likely and has a long history. The conservative approach – that is to say, the approach that says “do only what is necessary and nothing more, conserve what is established” – has tremendous merit. But the fundamental problem with conservatism in regard to the current Emergency is that the status quo was heading towards further democratization in a somewhat organic fashion. It was organic to the freedom brought about by Musharraf, king of Enlightened Moderation, that the lawyers should come out and protest against the dismissal of the Chief Justice. It was organic to Musharraf’s regime of slow, three-stage democratization that there be freedom of the print and broadcast media. That section 144 has not been in effect in recent months is testament to the fact that Musharraf was, in fact, working towards a democratization, whether he realized it or not. Continue reading →

Riot Gear: State of Emergency and Martial Law

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.

Regurgitation: Pakistan Bans Blogspot

I wrote this article for Chowk on March 5, 2006. Chowk has made its layout even more unreadable than before and, anyway, its more fun if you just read it here. In connection with Don’t Block the Blog, I thought I’d do some cud chewing.

Pakistan Bans Blogspot

You’re not going to believe this.

Or maybe you will. Those of us who have grown up in Pakistan, particularly during the Zia years, may well have a conditioned response to such news of censorship: a sudden jolt of shock, followed immediately by ennui, depression and a desire to move to Guam.

Blog*Spot has been banned in Pakistan.

According to BBCUrdu.com, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has instructed all internet service providers to block twelve websites that have republished the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. Among them is one blog on Blog*Spot. In answer to this, all major ISPs (if not all) have blocked the entire domain, blogspot.com, from Pakistan. No one in Pakistan can access any blogs on that domain.

I don’t know what appalls me more: the sheer idiocy of such a blanket ban; the horror that someone thinks they’ve just struck a blow for Islam; or this insidious thought that, in Pakistan, we have no rights, only privileges.

Truly, it’s the role of the Supreme Court I find debilitating. According to the BBC, on March 2, the Supreme Court ordered that all internet content that is insulting and degrading the beliefs of Muslims, and any site publishing the controversial caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, should be blocked from access in Pakistan. Not only that, but it has demanded that the concerned officials explain why such measures are not already in place.

Where do I put my face, as they say.

That the law in Pakistan steps into the social, the domestic and the private with all the aplomb of your stern uncle coming in to give you a right seeing-to, is something we have come to expect. Rape, blasphemy, murder, whatever – the law will explain to you why it can legislate to you on behalf of both man and God.

But I was truly hoping the internet would escape. I was truly hoping that this wasn’t going to be the UAE, where you can’t go on Orkut because it somehow offends morality. I was hoping, in all honestly, that my little world, with my little blog, would remain free and safe, for me. My four friends in Pakistan and six outside would read my blog, we’d agree or argue, and then all go back to the rest of our lives.

This was silly of me. But I wasn’t alone. Noumaan Yaqoob, whose blog was featured on BBCUrdu.com and which seems to have been what alerted the news service of the block in the first place, expressed similar views. He feels that, of all the restrictions on free speech placed in Pakistani law and society, “internet unka torr hai [the internet is their undoing]”. Here’s hoping it’s true.

Meanwhile, through RSS readers such as Bloglines.com, you can still read the articles that are posted on Blog*Spot blogs. In fact, you can actually post to your own blog in the usual manner, by logging into blogger.com, which is a domain that has not been banned. Witness the ridiculousness of that, now.

I don’t expect much of the law. In fact, I don’t expect anything, really, except that which is not good. Censorship has a great history with us. My mother was a journalist in this country for some fifteen years, and worked for The Muslim daily for most of that newspaper’s life. She remembers when Zia came into power and the paper had to go to the censors every evening. She tells me that for a while, whenever a story was censored, The Muslim would run STOP PRESS, and publish the white space. But then, after a while, when nothing looked like changing, reporters stopped reporting and writers stopped writing stories that were likely to get censored. It took the edge off, she said.

What I expect from the law is that it will take the edge off me, or try to. It will reduce all of us citizens to subjects, and in the end, the personality lording over us on a given day will become irrelevant – it will just be the Badshah Salamat of the time. And we will be left to scuttle about, scooping up whatever privilege we can, never assured of any rights.

Because Badshah Salamat isn’t a person. It’s a system. It’s a meena bazaar of power relations and negotiation, where we barter freedom for freedom, service for service, and gouge out a small tract of land in which we can be reasonably secure that we will be who we will be. And all this time, we move through life on the defensive: because we can only be reasonably sure. We can never be certain. We scrape up the privilege, here and there, to speak up, but we have no inalienable right to do so.

The Zia era remains in my mind a period of intense darkness and fear, led by Zia, but painted in the rich shades and nuances of dark by all the other actors – the censors, the police, the intelligence, the editors who gave up printing STOP PRESS, jurists, the lawyers, the ideologues who brought the law so low. The people who tried to take the edge off. And the people who gave up their edge.

Our era, our Enlightened Moderation, has its own set of criminals. The Supreme Court I now list as one of them. The internet service providers of Pakistan are another. Who else goes on the list?

Because we’re Pakistanis and we’re keeping track. Jaza saza, as Faiz Sahb said, sab yahin pe hogi.