Literature


Shaheryar Ali

I like to offer my red salute to communist Aitzaz Ahsan and great secular feminist Tahira Abdulla [who in her usual hysteric fiery oratory saluted Jamate Islami for fighting for free judiciary, in the fits of passion she obviously forgot the raped Bengali women, who were molested by her favorite Jamate Islami goons in 71, at the recent SPO conference held in Lahore] for granting us the free judiciary and realizing the maternal instinct of our state.[Riyasat ho gi maa’n ki jesi] Our mother like state soon after the great “Black Revolution” [This is one of the greatest revolutions of the history, last time black colored clothes were linked to a revolutionary movement, it was “Black shirts” of Mussolini The notorious march on Rome by the Black Shirts, snuffed out the week

March on Rome

March on Rome

Liberal government and brought Mussolini to power “constitutionally” in accordance with “Statuto Albertino”. This was from where we first got the word “Fascist”. Now considered an abuse and a pejorative term “Fascist” was the official name of one of the most proud nationalist movement which shook the most advance of human civilization, Europe] killed three of her sons in Balochistan. Not satisfied by her act of maternal mercy, euthanasia is an act of mercy after all; our mother state mutilated their bodies.

Now because our mother state was born a “muslim” with the slogans of La Illaha Illallah and her ancestors included the great Islamic empires, mutilating dead bodies is her family custom. You don’t believe me, of course, Jamate Islami’s text books which most of you have read don’t tell these things, the Naseem Hijazi’s novels you have read also paint a great picture of our mother state’s ancestors. Let’s not forget the PTV plays which fill us with Jihadi passion. Like let’s take one on the great great grandfather of our mother state Muhammed bin Qasim , cute Babar Ali with long hair and mild manners was not shown killing infidel Sindhis was he? Chach Nama speaks of those heinous crimes. Institute of Sindhiology has published it. After the regime change in Damascus , great hero ancestor of ours , Muhammed bin Qasim captured from Sindh [?Multan] , he was sewed in Cow’s hide and sent to Damascus, now you can all imagine what would have reached there.

Banu Qurayza Messacre

Banu Qurayza Messacre

Before our mother state was born, her uncle, great poet Iqbal saw a dream and than gave a prophecy to people in grounds of Allahabad. Uncle Iqbal doubted the genealogy of our mother state. He thought that the empires were not the true ancestors of ours. State of Madina and the rightly guided Caliphs, companions and their disciples were our true ancestors. When I was in school is got my hands on Watt’s account of Bannu Qurayza’s massacre which took place after battle of trench.; One of the most heinous acts of genocide in history. The Jewish tribe was annihilated. The crime was high treason, without making any distinction between culprits, all males were killed, women and children were enslaved Trenches were dug in Medina and men [600-900] were brought tied like goats and slaughtered. For the sake of precision trousers were removed of the growing children and those who had pubic hair were slaughtered too.

Younger children were sold as slaves and women ended up as sexual slaves [Londi]. We feel concerned why Taliban cut people throats and flog women?

I remember the chilly Friday of North Staffordshire’s summer when I had to accompany an Indian friend to the main sunni mosque of the town. After the prayer we met a group of young local lads distributing leaflets to the people coming out of mosque. I still remember the sharp and cold dagger of fear which I felt ripping my spine apart. The leaflet described the Banu Qurayza massacre in detail and urged Muslims to follow the prophet in act of slaughter of the Kaffirs. Most of these lads were the local kids I knew, saw them occasionally in Hope Street on weekend drinking and pursuing some local blond. Now they were in Hizb-ul-Tehrir , reminding muslims of deed of prophets which had been erased from collective consciousness by modern muslim reformists. I

Black flag of Islamic fascism

Black flag of Islamic fascism

remember the night of the same day when I was sitting in a cozy room with my favorite can of lager in hand, when I was introduced to a strikingly handsome local lad who was so polite and handsome that I found my self increasingly distracted by his green eyes, loosing the track of conversation and forgetting to sip my drink. I am a pharmacist, he was telling me. Today I told them that I will not dispense contraceptives and abortion medications. It’s against Islam. I said arnt you glad that we live in a pluralistic society where you can refuse to do things which are against your conscience. A shade of red , made his already pretty face prettier and his voice had a tinge of passionate anger when he spoke of the system of kuffer we are living in , because we have become Eunuchs , these white fags are cowards , we just need to stand up and this country will be ours. These white blond girls can be our slave as Allah has blessed us with these luxuries. He again repeated the incident of Banu Qurayza to shake me out of my defeatist pacifism. This was a lad who a community hero, kind and polite considered an angel at his work place. In those days I had recently written a critical paper on Hannah Arendt’s “Banality of Evil”, I made a note in my mind to retract it as I was looking at a living proof of the validity of the concept. I remember yet another Friday when he took me to the mosque in his NHS hospital. The hospital had converted the Chapel into mosque and one medical consultant was speaking, it was the Friday sermon. “Prophet said “I am the prophet of slaughter”, those who don’t support Jihad in Iraq, those who vote in this system of Kuffer are infidels, and they must have the same fate. Sheik Osama is the lord of ages—-Pluralism and multi-cultureism went terribly wrong.

Othaman and Ali were both married to Muhammed’s daughters and considered most righteous of caliphs. Founder of sunni fascist party Syed Abul Ala Maudaudi has written the detail of Othaman’s style of government, his massive corruption, what was doing to companions like Abu Dhar , Abdullah Bin Masood etc. After his murder, a section of companions revolted against Ali, Muhammed bin Abu Bakar , son of Abu Bakar , first Caliph of Sunnis was governor of Egypt from Ali’s side. Amr bin Aas, yet another companion invaded Egypt and conquered it. Muhammed bin Abu Baker was sewed in donkey’s hide and burned alive on his orders. Now these were the people who learned Islam directly from Muhammed and we are upset why Taliban are hanging people?

Yet another “Black Revolution”, which comes into my mind, is that of the Abbasids. The conquered Persians, slaves of the Arab feudals joined them in flocks; they raised “Black Flags” and stood up. The Umayyad authority was eroding rapidly due to dawa , the crowds cried listening to the stories of Kerbala. The black flags were to mourn the house of Muhammed , to avenge Hussein and Zaid , the Rose , who was crucified and whose body was not allowed to be removed from the cross. Than the day came, black flags entered the city, every Umayyad was murdered and all graves of Umayyad were dug and the remains crucified. People ask why Taliban crucified the body of Pir in Swat. Don’t they know it’s again a family tradition of our Islamic state?

I remember I once read a paper which spoke of evolution of Law in United Kingdom. The priests who spoke latin and wore black robes had monopoly on Law. After reformation, priests had to go and secular priests emerged with the same black robes who called each other “brothers”. Some say black robes to mourn the King became their symbol;

Islam and Secularism MIB

Islam and Secularism MIB

other says it helped them hide daggers in their dresses easily as the times were rough. The lawyers are the priests of the secular world. Rigid and obsessed with abstract texts like their predecessors. I once heard a line in my cultural studies class “Lawyers are the high priests of America”. Last time lawyers had our fate in their hands we ended with partition and one of the worse genocide in histories, 3 lawyers Jinnah , Gandhi and Nehru kept fighting on principles as the lawyers are trained to be and we entered into holocaust which now has a nuclear aspect.

Taliban in Long March

Taliban in Long March

Our great secular, democratic and progressive lawyers started a movement to make us enter into the utopia of modernism by boycotting the general election. “Justice”, “Justice” and “Justice” they cried, and made “Justice” the main issue of our national agenda. The prophets of democracy and constitution boycotted the parliament and refused to accept a constitutional amendment to solve the “justice” crisis. The stalwarts of legacy of Muhammed Ali Jinnah , started a long march with dherna [sit in] , the former was legacy of Communism and later was the tactic of Gandhi. Muhammed Ali Jinnah whom these people converted into an idol for their struggle never did a long march or dherna against the British, he preferred to deliver speeches in parliament and argue cases in courts. He never refused to plead a case in colonial courts saying “these courts are illegitimate”. That’s what Bhagat Singh [communist] and congressites use to do. Our lawyers were following him boycotting parliaments and courts. It was Gandhi which did a long march against the British, the famous “salt march” as it has become immortalized in history.

They wanted the court and justice of their liking and they got it by power. The prophets of constitutionalism actually got the “principle of power” approved they encouraged civil disobedience and snuffed out the illusion of state’s power. The dawn of justice came with the shameful collaboration with ISI , CIA and General Kiyani. One of the greatest ironies of history will be that a movement which was called nationalist and democratic resulted in re-establishing the principle of Army intervention in civil-political matters and encouragement of direct foreign involvement in Pakistani internal affairs.

a_nation_will_come-fromeastJustice is what Sufi Muhammed cries, he also wants his own justice, his own courts, his own law just as our lawyers wanted. Our lawyers forced the government by power of Army and civil disobedience of Punjabi bureaucracy. Sufi Muhammed has forced ANP with guns and inactivity and failure of Pak Army in Swat.

It’s the same principle at work here which our secular progressives established. The principle of power. Black is the color of flags of Sufi Muhammed and Black is the colour of his turban. For 2 years lawyers in the black robes dictated the national agenda. When the greatest looming threat to Pakistan was Islamic Fascism, Benazir Bhutto had fallen a victim to state agencies and its collaborators Islamic fascists, these secular priests created a smoke screen that greatest issue infront of Pakistan was restoration of Justice Iftikhar. They played in hands of Jamate Islami and PML-N who on their  shoulders demolished the Anti-Taliban agenda. These secular priests became the spoke persons of Ajmal Kasab and re-rehabilitated Pakistan Army and ISI and re-established their authority over democratic regime. Once they completely destroyed the credibility of the two parties who could fight Islamic fascism and Army, they started lamenting their concessions to victors.

They havnt said a single word against Army-ISI establishment who failed to fight the menace in Swat. All their guns are towards ANP and PPP. One wonders if PPP and ANP are such a great supporters of Islamic fascism why these two parties are the only parties being murdered by Taliban?. Why even after Nizam e Adal , ANP people are being murdered? Why Islamic fascism havnt striked Aitzaz Ahsan? Or Iftikhar Chaudhry or our English speaking bloggers whose only job is to defend ISI and condemn PPP and ANP?

Women in Black

Women in Black

They have cut the roots of the tree and now lament the lack of fruit. Before putting shame on PPP and ANP why don’t they say shame on the Army who couldnt block the FM station of Sufi or why General Shuja Pasha personally met Sufi in jail and brought him out? Why our glorious Army failed to defeat militants?

So, what tanks ANP has to fight? Hundreds of ANP activists have been murdered in Pakhtoonkhawa , when ANP was desperately giving SOS signals our secular priests were marching with PML-N and Jamate Islami who were telling the people Taliban are Patriots. So now enjoy the fruits of patriotism. The free judiciary released Evil of Red Mosque, yet another evil in black robes, The black Burqa . The great Supreme Court also re-affirmed the death penalty for Blasphemy, I once again salute Aitzaz Ahsan and Tahira Abdulla who restored democracy and justice through stick of General Kiyani and also restored our national sovereignty through Hillary Clinton and ambassador Holbrooke. My friend Raza Rumi called it “night bitten dawn”, so as Abbas Ather but this dawn is black. Black is this Dawn, or should I say Mirza Baidil Dehlvi is more appropriate who said “The night has passed but Dawn has not come”. Viva La Revolution, the Black Revolution———

Notes:

Illustration 1: The massacre of the Banu Qurayza. Detail from miniature painting The Prophet, Ali, and the Companions at the Massacre of the Prisoners of the Jewish Tribe of Beni Qurayzah, illustration of a 19th century text by Muhammad Rafi Bazil. Manuscript (17 folio 108b) now housed in the British Library. [With thanks Wiki]

Iluustration 2: Saying of Prophet Muhammed which forms the basis of alliance between Pakistan Army and Anti-India section of Islamic fascism . Translation : narrated by Hazrat Abdullah bin Masood (RA) that Prophet (SAW) said: “A Nation will come from the east with black flags and they will ask for some “Khair” (because of them being needy) but the people will not give them, then, they will fight and win over those people (who did not give them what they asked). Now the people will give them what they asked for but they will not accept it until they will hand it over to a person from my progeny who will fill this earth with justice just as it was previously filled with oppression and tyranny. So if anyone of you finds this nation (i.e. from the east with black flags) then you must join them even if you have to crawl over ice. This along with others is cited as evidence for alleged “Gizwa-e-Hind”. Islamic fascists of all creeds have therefor used Black Flags. Sufi Muhammed entered Swat with Black flags

3. Two verses form the inspiration for this post by great communist poet Zaheer Kashmiri which means “ Neither prophet hood nor the book has come from the sky , only thing which has come from sky is darkness—“ Second is by famous socialist poet Ahmad Faraz

Sub rasoolo’n ki kitaben taaq pur rakh du Faraz

Nafrato’n ke ye sahefe, ummer bhar dekhe ga kon

[Put all the scriptures of these prophets in the closet, who will read these texts of hate all his life]

AAGN001278I recently discovered
a very interesting blog, its called (mass)think!. The blog is a
treasure for those who are concerned with “radical philosophy”. Avant-garde
works regarding Marxism, Post-structuralist theory, radical feminism and Gender
theory are available to read and learn, on the top of it are the Aesthetics and
Arts which illuminate ones being. This story written by Ryan and Aless on
(mass)think! Which can be reached here
is important because it aesthetically deconstructs the romantic discourse of
love in western tradition of metaphysics and aesthetics which pre-conceives
essentialist notion of gender as spirit of love. The relationship between myth and
knowledge and its ramifications on culture manifest through the title “Romio
and Julio”. This in turn establishes a non essentialist, non temporal link between
the pre-modern and the post modern. Those who are interested in contemporary approaches
to textuality and narrativity will find it to be a treat. With Judith Butler’s contribution
into non essentialist understanding of Gender and sexuality as primarily “performative”,
the story is interplay of logic, rhetoric, passions and desire. Enjoy

Shaheryar Ali

Romeo and Julio

Ryan and Aless, (Mass)think!

“Let’s leave. Tonight.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Do you have any idea how
much it kills me whenever you get jealous of me? Talking to a girl, or talking
about them? Don’t you think I see? Don’t you think I saw just now—And that
wasn’t even a friend!”

“You don’t know what you’re
talking about.”

“I can’t have any more of it.
I won’t have any more! I wanna be with you. I wanna try it. So let’s go. Leave.
Just go for it!”

“You have a girlfriend.”

“So? I’ll break up with her.”

“You’re crazy . . .”

“So what? Isn’t that,
according to you, the hallmark of love? Its inexplicability, its irrationality
. . .”

“You’re not even gay.”

“Wasn’t it you who told me
that sexuality is but a performance, that it’s just a convenient, how did you
call it, ‘molar’ way to represent in collectivity the everyday actions we
perform, that in truth we are all polymorphously perverse, capable of anything,
capable of connecting to everything, that over the years we’ve just been
rigidified by social codes that normalize us so we forget our multiple
potentialities and become the boring, monomaniac machines that we are?”

“You
don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“So you’re saying all those
late-night phone calls, all those conversations . . . All those theories were
not meant to convince me? Make me believe?”

“I . . . simply articulated
what I believed . . .”

“Look, I don’t know if I’m
gay—but as you said, it doesn’t matter. I know what I feel for you. I know, at
the end of the night, I wanna call you. I know, at the end of the day, despite
all the other people around me, I wanna come home to you . . . Wasn’t it you
who said that we’re all capable of anything? Everything? Of being both sexes.
Of being all the sexes! It doesn’t matter what we do now, who we sleep with. It
matters who we can do what with. How we feel. My body parts can learn. In fact,
they’re able. They just need to be awakened. And they will. My heart knows . .
.”

“What are you saying?”

“I wanna try it, see if my
parts can resonate with yours. There is no other person that I admire, no other
person that I . . .—I’m not gonna let the way I’ve been sexually trained to
hinder what I feel for you, limit me—most of all, hurt you . . .”

“It’s crazy. I’m leaving
tomorrow. I got a job . . .”

“So? Forget it. F**k it! I’m
leaving my girlfriend.”

“I . . .”

“Leave your commitments.
Let’s just go! Leave. Leave everything behind . . . Isn’t that what people do?
For love . . .”

“No, no . . . I’m not this
disturbed anymore. A year ago, I might have done this—”

. [kiss] . .

“I know what you feel. I felt
what you want. What do you say?”

“Yes, yes . . . Let’s go . .
.”

This letter was written to the editor of PTH and my dear friend Raza Rumi. He was kind enough to publish an edited version of this letter.

The basic aim of this letter was to highlight the fact that intellectual and progressive history shows that Fascist, Far-Right and Conservatives have over time built a highly offensive system of “witch-hunt” against those who have stood up for equality. The stereotype was to brand every one who stood up against the system as “Communist”, “Jew” or “Homosexual”. More often all these were part of a wider “stereotype” which in United States where even Liberals were called “commies”. Hilliary Clinton for examples states in her autobiography how she was slandered as a “commie” in deep south. Pinko is one such derogatory term used by American Right against progressive and civil right activist many of those lost their life and honor during McCarthy era. “Pinko-fag” is a term one often hears in USA while talking to bigots. The point of the letter was should a publication which claims itself to be progressive and secular-humanist and liberal allow language of American Right especially one associated with hate crimes during McCarthy era. Weather we should rise above “Niggers”,”Pinkos””commies” and “fagots” or we should celebrate one of the greatest “witch-hunting” by keep associating with it. Its neither about “communism” nor about “homosexuality” , any one who has read history knows McCarthy and Red Scare targeted people who were not all communists. Arthur Miller is perhaps the only writer who has  truly captured the mania of Red Scare and witch hunt in his remarkable and celebrated classic Play “The Crucible”. Its my failure , my personal failure that i couldn’t convey to my friend that i only didnt wanted to live in a “Salem”

Shaheryar Ali

Dear Raza Rumi,

After reading one of the articles on Pak Tea House I have been forced to write this letter of protest to you. The reasons are my great personal attachment to you and Pak Tea House Blog-zine I have always considered you not only a dear friend but also a mentor and spiritual companion in my quest for truth. The importance Pak Tea House has in my life is clear from this simple fact that I wrote my first ever “public article” for this internet publication. I am neither a professional writer nor I intend to be one I like some other people who can be called “dysfunctional neurotics” or “impractical Romantics” etc write only for one reason to voice our conscientious opinion. We neither claim “neutrality” or “impartiality” nor do we believe in “hegemonizing” the opinion. Our commitment to our values could be judged from the fact that the first target of our criticism is “Self”, in my case you are aware that I have always targeted intellectual expression of the “my self”, my country, my religion, my gender and my sexuality. I have been vocal critic of the things which according to the essentialist point of view are very nature of my being. I have been a vocal critic of Pakistani nationalism, despite the fact that I grew up with green flag on my chest and that I love this soil more than anything else in my life, I was born in a muslim family and have a deep emotional attachment to holy family, sufi mystics and other Islamic traditions but I have also been a passionate supporter of those who want to subject Islam to a libertarian critique. I am classified biologically as a “Male” who have XY genotype, but I reject the essentialist notion of Gender in line of philosophers like Bulleh Shah “Kanjri ban.ne meri izzet na ghati , mein ten ach ke yaar manana” Jacques Derrida , Michel Foucault and Judith Butler. I am a “homosexual” but I reject the modern “Gay” label and associate my self with “Queer Movement”

The reasons for elaborating my intellectual history are to show our firm commitment to “Freedom of Expression” and “Right to Dissent”. Having said that, I come to the issue at hand; Mr Yassir Latif Hamdani’s latest article which has been written in response to a critical piece by “Freethinker” . I was shocked to read it. Now , its not that I have no expectations from Mr Hamdani when it comes to petty offenses, the reasons of my shock and outrage are that such a violently bigoted “hate speech” has been allowed at Pak Tea House. I here want to make one thing perfectly clear that Mr Hamdani’s right to express himself remains inalienable and non negotiable. The debate of “Freedom of expression” and “Hate Speech” is an ongoing debate and this letter is not the proper medium to revise it. Pak Tea House Blog is not a “free-publication”, it exercises an “editorial control” which means that it recognizes “Offence factor” or “The Harm Factor” and regulates speech which it considers either harmful or offensive. When Pak Tea House is exercising editorial control, it becomes a matter of “intellectual freedom”, how that control is being asserted. The generally accepted Progressive/Liberal position is to fight bigotry, racism, sexism, homophobia, and gender discrimination at “social level”, at work place, offices, schools, churches, mosques and publications. The point is raising of consciousness at mass level to bring about “social –change”. The consensus is of protecting the “marginalized” groups, blacks, Jews, gays, transgender, etc for this the progressive establishments adopt “Affirmative actions” and “Pluralistic settings”. The issue of “state regulation” of this offensive speech is controversial amongst Left/Liberal/Civil Rights lobbies and activists. The more advance positions have been to resist any “state control” even if it seems to be protecting “marginalized community”. Because state control has the potential of being abused. This can be elaborated by the position of “American Civil Liberties Union”, which may occasionally plead for a “Neo Nazi” hate mongerer when he has been detained by authority but it will at social level fight hate mongering. It itself will never use its platform to spread hate; will never use offensive bigoted language. Noam Chomsky will sign a petition condemning removal from services of a French Professor who is Holocaust denier but he himself vehemently oppose anti Semitism, holocaust denial and will never use his website or articles to engage in “hate-mongering”. In this way issue of “freedom of expression” and “Hate mongering” are put in perspective. It’s fought at social level, at intellectual level, in streets but state is not allowed to restrict speech.

This principle has been violated at PTH. Mr. Hamdani’s article is titled “Brownies for Pinkos: Freethinking Paki Style”. Being a philosophy student “language” is my obsession and “etymology” my Passion Now this “Pinkos” have a very special significance for us “Commies”, “fags”, “sissies” whose genders is so “indeterminate” that we be addressed as “His/Her”. The term is literally drenched in blood. First appearing in Time Magazine, in 1926. Reference sources will talk bout its contemporary use as a “derogatory term used for those with sympathies with “communism”. A little detail will shed more light: The politics of colour. Those who used and popularized this term are those who saw “communism” in every emancipatory movement. But for “communist” the favored term was “Red”. I will remind you of the Spanish Civil War where General Franco and his “patriotic nationalists” read “Fascists” gave the Slogan “Better Dead than Red”. For them “Red” was every one who was on other side, poets, intellectuals, liberals, Anarchists, Socialists, Trotskyites. And than it all had a complete package “Jews, Fags Commies”. Communism was a “Jewish conspiracy” and their method to destroy a nation was to spread evil, atheism and homosexuality. By making the honour loving brave men of the nation “Homosexuals” the Jews/commies were destroying the nation. You remember Lorca, the Spanish poet, who Neruda laments in his poem on Spain. In Andalusia when he was captured the great patriotic men of Catholic non violent morality tortured him. He was asked to bow and say he was a “communist”. He was shot. Two shots were fired on his butt because he was a “Homosexual sissy” as well.

Now leave these Reds or commies aside, let’s come to Pinkos. Now in United States, those sissies who were not communists because they criticized USSR and totalitarianism but because they use to talk about “Peace”, “non violence”, ”Civil Rights” those long haired, hippies, sociopaths, they had to be commies so they coined the term “Pinkos”. Pink being the lighter shade of “Red” of communism and Pink also the colour of Gay Liberation. Of course who could forget Adolf Hitler the great made us wear “Pink Triangles” before killing us in Gas chambers? Now for American Right the Liberals were all commies and fags. A complete stereotype was created.

The great Time Magazine who coined this term used it in a specific perspective. Joseph J Firebaugh in his “Vocabulary of Time Magazine” says “Term has been used along with “Parlor Pink” for people with Left sympathies with a special implication of “effeteness”.

Now this “effeteness”, the Latin root of this word is “effetus”, fetus, fruitful, “More at Feminine” Impotent, sissy, faggy, Fruit” is yet another term for us “sissy boys” in American High schools.

From Time Magazine we come to Wall Street Journal , they used this term in 1920 , they talked about the “complete package” used the word “Pink” while describing supporter of progressive politician La Follete:

“Visionaries, ne’er do wells, parlor pinks, reds, hyphenates [Americans with divided allegiance], soft handed agriculturalists and working men who have never seen a shovel” so coming to point “Sissy Lefties”

Speaking of bigotry how could we forget another hero of Mr Hamdani , Richard Nixon , who using the same bigoted and sexist line , used this during Senate campaign against Helen Douglas , its one of the most infamous usage of this word “She is Pink right Down to her underwear”. The term was used most frequently during the worse times of United State History known as “The Red Scare” and McCarthy Era” where many Pinkos were tortured, killed, their lives ruined. Ku Klux Klan burned many long haired pinko sissies who stood up for Black Rights

The great Term was also being used In Apartheid South Africa, the ANC after all was “commie” and “Pinko” How many “Pinkos” were murdered and tortured there I leave it to you.

The real assault on the “Pink” happened in Germany with Homosexuals being killed en mass during Holocaust .They were asked to wear “Pink Triangles” to assert their “homosexuality” and “sissy-ness”.

Now let’s come to “Paki”. The great Pakistani “Patriot” Mr Hamdani uses this overtly “Racist” word. “Paki” has been declared by courts in UK to be “racist”. Just 2 days back Prince Harry made a public apology for using this term. Yahoo News says:

LONDON (AFP) – Britain’s Prince Harry apologised Sunday for any offence caused after a self-filmed video was released showing him calling an army colleague a Paki and telling another he looked like a “raghead”. Politicians condemned his remarks and welcomed his apology, but Muslim youth organisation the Ramadan Foundation said the comments were “sickening”. The Ministry of Defence said it would not tolerate “inappropriate behaviour” and Harry’s commanding officer would look into his remarks. Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper said the clips, posted on its website, were made in 2006 when the prince was still an officer cadet. footage begins as Harry is waiting with his platoon in an airport departure lounge for a flight to a training exercise in Cyprus. Touring the room with a video camera as his colleagues snooze, he spots a colleague of South Asian ethnic origin and says: “Anybody else around here?… Ah, our little Paki friend, Ahmed.“”Paki” is a racist term for Pakistanis or other South Asians.

Harry’s office issued an apology, but insisted the prince had used the term without malice. “Prince Harry fully understands how offensive this term can be, and is extremely sorry for any offence his words might cause,” a spokesman said. Cabinet minister John Denham condemned Harry’s language, saying: “People have changed their attitudes, people realise how offensive it is and I think the fact he has apologised so quickly shows that he’s recognised it.” David Cameron, leader of the main opposition Conservatives, said Harry’s comments were “completely unacceptable” and it was “right” he had apologised, but did not call for him to be reprimanded” Sun, 11 Jan, 2009

This is the normal response to “bigotry” which I feel PTH has failed to show. What I want to remind here is all this fuss is created in UK where this remark “Paki” was uttered by Prince Harry for a friend in a situation which could be dismissed as a “joke”. Prince also pretends to call Queen in the video. But all this was not enough to let him off the hook. What is more important is that all this “did not happen because the person who was called “Paki” complained. He never did. He never was offended. This is also not about “discrimination” because the person who was called “Paki” was a cadet at Sandhurst academy, he Mr Ahmad Raza Khan was Prince Harry’s colleague and friend and was one of the best cadets and was presented with “Overseas Sword” by Queen Elizabeth herself in 2006 for being the best cadet. So there was no question of “legal discrimination”, even than British Society forced Prince Harry to apologize publicly. It was all about Language.

I don’t want to go into the academic merits of Mr Hamdani’s article and his Gandhi bashing. What I find ironic is a man who builds this case on the premise that Gandhi was a “sexist”, “Racist” “fascist” and “castist” thus masking his bigotry and communalism in Liberal ethos and impeccable English will use terminology as overtly sexist, racist and homophobic as “Pinkos” and “Paki”?? The most outrageous part is the nauseously sexist assault on “free thinker”, Knowing very well “freethinke’s” views on Gender and sexuality [His blog] and also knowing “free thinker” is a boy , even than he writes “Freethinker wants to prove “himself/herself” a freethinker” This “him/her shit goes on. Now my dear friend he has seen “freethinker’s” blog, he knows where he is hitting. Freethinker , my self and many others consider the essentialist notion of Gender a very oppressive social construct. The modern discipline of Gender theory is based on this concept. The whole discipline is of course of “pinkos”, feminists n faggots. Its no wonder the traditional Vanguard of all reaction in west Pope Benedict had recently condemned the whole academic discipline of Gender theory. It all may sound not very appealing to you but my dear friend people like us who grew up struggling with issues of gender and sexuality, who have been bullied at schools for being “sissy” and “fags” pushed to the point of suicide and nervous break down this is the matter of our life and death our freedom and liberty. What respectability English language grants to bigotry. This “Pinkos” and “Paki” , “Him/Her” is not very different to us than “Hijra”, “khusra” etc. Cant our ideas be vehemently criticized without judging us for who we sleep with, how we talk and walk and do we wear lipstick? I asked Mr Omair Raza to write for PTH, I was under impression that discussions will be on issues and ideas and not on our race, religion, gender and sexuality.

With this sort of bigotry being allowed what happens that we loose our intellectual freedom, let me give you an example. The techniques by which Mr Gandhi becomes “castist”, “sexists”,” fascist” and “racist” , every known man in history could be shown to be. I for example if uses this methodology could write about Voltaire being racist. If Hindu nationalists want to write on PTH about Prophet of Islam, with respect to Islam and Woman emancipation and sexuality, we all know the age of Hazrat Ayesha mentioned in reputed Islamic texts when the marriage was consumed. Jesus can be demonstrated to be a virulent racist and hate mongerer . What moral justification we have to “control” this hate speech and not control one which favors Pakistani muslim stra8 guy’s bigotry against other marginalized groups??

What should I expect after my post on Homosexuality at PTH that a fellow writer writes “Brownies for Commie Fagot”??

There is a responsibility to protect marginalized groups at work place, clubs etc United Nations has recently passed a resolution to end discrimination against Homosexuals and Transgender people. Criticism and racist –sexist slandering are two very different things. I have been taught to stand up to and oppose bigotry and that I will do. I only expected that PTH editorial policy would have followed normal protective mechanisms against racist and sexist offenses. If PTH chooses to keep allowing racist/sexist and derogatory language in general especially to be used by Writers against fellow writers merely for intellectual difference, I will be forced to consider it as “Abuse” and in that case will not be able to keep associating my self with PTH. My mother taught me that one can criticize Malcom X’s violence without calling him “Nigger” and I think our views can be criticized without us being “Pinkos” “Pakis” and “commies”

I am sure you will understand my pain. At the personal level I am feeling very uneasy after writing this knowing that you personally are not for all this, I want to apologize for any pain and letdown my letter may have caused you. But Raza I will be not be a party to Abuse.

I am waiting for your reply and action. I thank you and Pak Tea House for giving me chance to write and for grooming my thought. For that I will always be in debt.

Yours Faithfully

Sherry

[Shaheryar Ali]

Shaheryar Ali

“Not a famous man” Ralph Russell called himself in his autobiography “Findings, Keepings: Life, Communism and everything“. It’s quite an understatement. Anyone who loves Urdu and has any interest in the literary movements in Indian subcontinent knows Ralph Russell. He was one of those rare men who become legends in their life time. Ralph Russell spent all his life serving Urdu language. He popularized it , built structures and mechanisms of teaching Urdu in Europe especially in the UK. He has been called the “Baba e Urdu of Britain”. He developed friendships with great Urdu poets and writers. He wrote books introducing the classic Urdu poets , introducing their thought and craft to the western audience.

Ralph Russel’s life is an inspiration. His struggle, his commitment to humaniyy and the oppressed and his continuous unrelenless opposition to colonialism, imperialism , capitalism and wars. In that he can be compared to likes of Eric Hobsbawm, perhaps the greatest of historians of our times. Just like him Russell remained till his death “an unrepented communist”

Just like every progressive Russell started his quest by adopting “Atheism”, which led to “humanism” than to Socialism and Communism. The opposition to poverty, war, oppression, colonialism,censorship, imperialism bound him to communism for life. He was sharply critical of the degeneration of Communism in Soviet Union and China. He never accepted their adoption of totaliterianism which is anathema to Marxist thought.

His love affair with Urdu is yet another fascinating story. At the age of just 16 years he joined Communist Party .In his 20s he was drafted in Army in 1940 and was sent to India where he learned “Urdu” , the language of the Army , as he calls it to spread the message of communist Party in India. During this time he spread the thought of revolution in sepoys and the village boys he met and was successful in setting up branches in Army sepoys who even gave “subs” to CPI. There he translated the classical Marxist-leninist literature in Urdu.

On his return he studied at SOAS, the traditional “den of communists” in London . He took degrees in Urdu and Sansikrat. Now for the first time he came accross the “Urdu literature”. He later went to Ali Garh Moslem University and there he met and befriended great Urdu writers. He frequently travelled to India and Pakistan and kept contact with any body who was anybody in Urdu Literature. His biography , the first part is fascinating account of his early struggle. Even as a young school lad he fought with the “school establishment”, this fight continued till his long war with “SOAS university establishment”

The second and third parts of his biography are named “Losses and Gains” and “Some day”. These deal with his time in UK and the development of British welfare state by Labour Party after the war. The nationalization, the Mccarthyism and red scare, Revolutions of 68 , cold war , disintigration of USSR and his battles with SOAS establishment. His scholarly work , his efforts to built mechanisms for Urdu teaching in UK and his efforts in introducing teaching of Urdu in British schools.

Russell in colaboration with his close friend Khurshid Mir introduced 3 of classical urdu poets to west. Mir, Sauda and Mir Hassan, in the book “Three Mughal Poets”. He translated Ghalib into English and introduced his poetry to west. He also gave an anthology of urdu literature.

Perhaphs his greatest contribution is his effort in developing courses for teaching urdu and his efforts to introduce Urdu into British school. By doing so he helped preserve not only a language but a whole culture and civilzation in British immigrant population.

He all his life remained critical to the colonial and imperialist mindset of Europeans. In SOAS he always struggled for “academic freedom” and against the racial and oriental biases of University establishment. He published it as “Oriental despotism: A report on School of Oriental and Africamn Studies , University of London”

This great man passed away peacefully on 14/9/2008. He was born in 1918.

“I was born in 1918. I became a communist at the age of 16 and am still content to call myself one despite the traumatic experiences from 1946 onwards of the corruption and eventual collapse of the communist movement and the Soviet Union, because I still hold to the humanist values which made me a communist. I believe that true communism is not only consistent with these values but is a logical development from them”

Ralph Russell

Of the three great systems of exclusion governing discourse — prohibited words, the division of madness and the will to truth ———” Foucault

The non-existence of women is the most important problem that has plagued the discourse in the Muslim countries. “Representational discourse” is in itself a discourse of exclusion, the “woman” and “woman hood” are representational entities, the Woman has always been be represented in the discourse , she never had her own voice. The famous existential philosopher Simone de Beauvior whilst writing her seminal feminist work “The second Sex” reached the conclusion : “No Human is born a Woman”.

In fundamentalist ‘Islamic’ context this representational discourse acquired a legal status where woman was judged to be unworthy of testimony. De-humanization of woman reached its peak under the USA sponsored Islamization of the Muslim world. General Muhammed Zia ul Haq and the theologians brought the “Law of Evidence” according to which the testimony of the woman was to be considered half of that of man. The traditional reading of Islam brought about the concept of “Naqis ul Aqal” “semi compos mentis” for the Woman. An animal which is not capable of making independent decisions, is source of Sin and lust and hence must be covered in a black veil, to protect the piety of Men, whose place is within the 4 walls of the house and who cant leave it without a male relative escorting her.

“Zina” (or fornication) became the ultimate focus of the project that aimed to suppress women’s sexuality with the fear of stones and lashes. “Chador or Char divari” became the official state doctrine for “woman” with approval from Mansoora! [Pakistan's self-styled Vatican, headquarter of the Jamate Islami]

The Progressive left led a heroic struggle against the Neo Fascist Zia ul Haq, resulting in one of the most brutal crackdown against them, hangings, torture,murders,exiles, lashes—. Fahmida Riaz , Kishwar Naheed stood up against this tyranny , the result was the emergence of a radical feminist discourse that was modernist and progressive and which challenged the Islamist discourse on woman.

Fehmida Riaz is a true artist who never compromised , she was victimized by Zia ul Haq and his political Son Nawaz Sharif but she stood firm. Chador aur Char Divari is one of the most important poems ever written in Urdu. It traces the origins of Islamist exclusionist discourse and de constructs it. It asserts the “humanity” of woman , her independent will and voice and her challenge to the tyrants.

Translation follows

Four Walls and a Black Veil
What shall I do, Sire, with this black veil?
Why do you bestow on me this great favour?
I am not in mourning that I should wear it
To show the world my grief.
Nor am I sick That I should hide my shame
In its dark folds. S
Stamp my forehead with this Dismal seal?
If I am not too impudent, Sire
If you assure my life, may I tell you, Most humbly:
There lies, in your perfumed chamber, A corpse that stinks.
It begs for pity. Cover that shroudless corpse.
Not me. Its stench is everywhere. It cries for seclusion.
Listen to the heart-rending screams
Of those still naked beneath the veil.
You must know them well, these maids:
The hostage women of vanquished peoples,
Halal for a night, exiled at dawn;
The slave girls who carried your blessed seed
And brought forth children of half status only, yet
Was it not honour enough for them?
The wives who wait their precious turns
To pay homage to the conjugal couch;
The hapless, cowering girl-child
Whose blood will stain your gray beard red.

Life has no more tears to shed; it shed them all
In that fragrant chamber where, for ages now,
This sacrificial drama has played
And replayed. Please, Sire, bring it down.
The curtain. Now. You need it to cover the corpse.
I am not on this earth merely as a signet
Of your great lust.

These four walls and this black veil—
Let them bless the rotting remains.
I have spread my sails
In the open wind, on the wide seas,
And by my side a man stands,
A companion who won my trust

An exceptionally bold critique of the traditional values about woman
in Islamic societies, A historicist reading of the poem
can lead to accusation of Blasphemy!.Another of the crime
which was being done by Islamist regimes all over was the destruction
and denial of woman's sexuality. She was being ordered to lie
passively beneath the man, her husband as a religious duty. 
The woman who denies the advances of her husband was the subject
of curses by the Angeles of God,  the Aroused man
was like a solider of God with sword in hand, any
expression of sexuality by her was Sin ,her perfume could destroy
the piety of Men,her voice can make them mad and put them on
path of Sin and lust.Any awareness of sexuality could make her a
"Rebel out of control". In Arab world the mutilation of female
children in name of "circumcision" is the politics of orgasmic
control.By doing so these women are deprived of "sexual pleasure"
for ever, making them just an instrument for pleasure of the male.
Any pleasure on behalf of her is a Sin."Modesty" and "Asexuality"
were another of Islamists doctrines,challenged by Fehmida Riaz.
French Kiss is a lovely poem by Riaz, an expression of 
female sexuality and her humanity.

 

Deep Kiss

Deep myrrh-scented kiss,
deep with the tongue, suffused
with the musky perfume
of the wine of love: I'm reeling
with intoxication, languid
to the point of numbness,
yet with a mind so roused
an eye flies open
in every cell.

And you! Sucking my breath,
my life, from its deepest,
most ancient abode.

Kiss.
Wet, warm, dark.
Pitch black!
Like a moonless night,
when rain comes flooding in.

A glint of runaway time
fleeing in the wilderness of my soul
seems to be drawing closer.

I sway across a shadowy bridge.
It's about to end, I think,
somewhere ahead,
there is light.

Breaking the Silence----Fahmida Riaz

Shaheryar Ali

The great Arab poet Adunis was declined the Nobel Prize in 2005, 2006 and 2007. I fail to understand how can he be ignored. He is one of  my favorite poets. “The Funeral of New York” is one of his poems

The Funeral of New York

1971, Adunis

Picture the earth as a pear
or breast.
Between such fruits and death
survives an engineering trick:
New York,
Call it a city on four legs
heading for murder
while the drowned already moan
in the distance.
New York is a woman
holding, according to history,
a rag called liberty with one hand
and strangling the earth with the other.

As i sip the wine from my glass , i re call this poem by Aga Shahid Ali. Yet another poet that i like

I See Chile in My Rearview Mirror
by Agha Shahid Ali
By dark the world is once again intact,

Or so the mirrors, wiped clean, try to reason. . .

                                       --James Merrill

This dream of water--what does it harbor?

I see Argentina and Paraguay

under a curfew of glass, their colors

breaking, like oil. The night in Uruguay



is black salt. I'm driving toward Utah,

keeping the entire hemisphere in view--

Colombia vermilion, Brazil blue tar,

some countries wiped clean of color: Peru



is titanium white. And always oceans 

that hide in mirrors: when beveled edges

arrest tides or this world's destinations

forsake ships. There's Sedona, Nogales



far behind. Once I went through a mirror--

from there too the world, so intact, resembled

only itself. When I returned I tore

the skin off the glass. The sea was unsealed



by dark, and I saw ships sink off the coast 

of a wounded republic. Now from a blur

of tanks in Santiago, a white horse

gallops, riderless, chased by drunk soldiers



in a jeep; they're firing into the moon.

And as I keep driving in the desert,

someone is running to catch the last bus, men

hanging on to its sides. And he's missed it.



He is running again; crescents of steel 

fall from the sky. And here the rocks

are under fog, the cedars a temple,

Sedona carved by the wind into gods--



each shadow their worshiper. The siren

empties Santiago; he watches

--from a hush of windows--blindfolded men

blurred in gleaming vans. The horse vanishes



into a dream. I'm passing skeletal

figures carved in 700 B.C.

Whoever deciphers these canyon walls

remains forsaken, alone with history,



no harbor for his dream. And what else will

this mirror now reason, filled with water?

I see Peru without rain, Brazil

without forests--and here in Utah a dagger



of sunlight: it's splitting--it's the summer

solstice--the quartz center of a spiral.

Did the Anasazi know the darker 

answer also--given now in crystal



by the mirrored continent? The solstice,

but of winter? A beam stabs the window,

diamonds him, a funeral in his eyes.

In the lit stadium of Santiago,



this is the shortest day. He's taken there.

Those about to die are looking at him, 

his eyes the ledger of the disappeared.

What will the mirror try now? I'm driving,



still north, always followed by that country,

its floors ice, its citizens so lovesick

that the ground--sheer glass--of every city

is torn up. They demand the republic



give back, jeweled, their every reflection.

They dig till dawn but find only corpses.

He has returned to this dream for his bones. 

The waters darken. The continent vanishes.





The problem in front of the great Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci in the fascist prison was the “problem of sustenance of capitalism” in Europe despite its great logical contradiction. Why the Revolution was not coming when all the conditions were right? In his famous “prison notebooks”, he takes the question into the realm of ideology. This was the start of analysis of “ways of thinking”. He gave the concept of “cultural Hegemony”. Capitalism Gramsci suggested, maintained control not just through violence and political and economic coercion , but also ideologically , through a “hegemonic culture” in which the values of the bourgeoisie became the ‘common sense‘ values of all. Thus a consensus culture developed in which people in the Working-class identified their own good with the good of the bourgeoisie, and helped to maintain the status quo rather than revolting.

He also made a distinction between the “Political society” (the police, the army, legal system, etc.) which dominates directly and coercively, and civil society (the family, the education system, trade unions, etc.) where leadership is constituted through ideology or by means of consent. Its this “civil society” whose “thoughts” are being “controlled” to suit the masters [If only Pakistanis understood]. In order to understand these thing the “discourse analysis” was developed. “Discourse” is nothing but all “written and verbal communication”. In line of Gramsci and later Foucault we have to understand “discourse” as “institutionalized” way of thinking, or in words of Judith Butler “limits of acceptable” speech. Its these limits which must be subverted in order to reach a true libertarian discourse. The discourse is controlled by means of “exclusion”, no other opinion simply exists. Foucault writes:

“I am supposing that is every society the production of discourse is at once controlled, selected, organised and redistributed according to a certain number of procedures, whose role is to avert its powers and its dangers, to cope with chance events, to evade its ponderous, awesome materiality. In a society such as our own we all know the rules of exclusion. The most obvious and familiar of these concerns what is prohibited

Of the three great systems of exclusion governing discourse — prohibited words, the division of madness and the will to truth ———“

“I believe we must resolve ourselves to accept three decisions which our current thinking rather tends to resist, and which belong to the three groups of function I have just mentioned: to question our will to truth; to restore to discourse its character as an event; to abolish the sovereignty of the signifier…. One can straight away distinguish some of the methodological demands they imply. A principle of reversal, first of all…. Next, then, the principle of discontinuity ….”

I am planning to do all this , i am trying to bring forward the “prohibited voices”, those which have been totally eclipsed in the society by the dominant discourse. This is not “endorsing” one and rejecting “others”, rather, its simply a act of breathing , an act of subversion ,of saying what is not pleasant to hear, Its simply an act of living in the rotten stagnant conformity. “The Bengali Genocide” is one such “absent voice” in Pakistan. We only hear “India -America-Jews divided Pakistan”, the act of liberation and resistance against one of the most brutal fascist militarism is “dismissed” as “sakoot”. The Last encounter is a short story by Kazi Fazalur Rehman , its taken from the anthology of stories from 71 by the name of “Fault lines”

The Last Encounter

By Kazi Fazlur Rahman

Another push by the soldier propelled Rashed into the room. He stumbled. The Pakistani officer standing in front of the table caught hold of him. He ordered the soldier out and untied Rashed’s hands. Then he moved behind the table and sat in the chair facing Rashed.

‘Sit down.’

Rashed blinked. Even the pale light of the winter afternoon was too harsh for his eyes after the long hours being blindfolded.

He rubbed his eyes without seeming to have heard the officer.

The enemy officer was of his age or perhaps a little older. He was fair-complexioned and of rather slight build. Under the broad forehead, his eyes had a hint of blue. And those eyes, Rashed could not help noticing, did not have the taunting look of the captor for the captive. The eyes were tired, and the face heavy with fatigue.

After being asked a second time, Rashed slowly sat down. He touched his right temple, which was covered with congealed blood. With his left hand, he tried to feel if any of his ribs were broken.

‘What’s your name?’
Rashed’s hands froze. But he kept quiet.

‘Are you a student? How many other miscreants were there with you?’

Rashed did not respond. He felt sure that these were the preliminaries before the torture began. This was the moment he had been dreading since regaining consciousness. He knew only too well what there was in store for him. He had seen too many, both dead and dying, who had been tortured by the Pakistanis. Instinctively, he clenched his fists.

‘It won’t be very difficult to make you talk,’ the officer, smiled faintly. ‘Even if I can’t do it myself, I can ask some of my soldiers and razakars to come and help. You surely know how experienced they are in this business and how much they enjoy it.’

‘We may have to spend some time together,’ the officer added after some moments of silence. ‘We should at least get acquainted. My name is Azam — Captain Azam.’

‘I am Rashed,’ Rashed said after a moment of hesitation.

Captain Azam pushed the packet of cigarettes across the table, ‘Have a cigarette. Whether you or I want it or not, we are both fated to be on the same stage for the time being. Once the war is over, each of us will be back in his own world — provided we survive till then. I really wanted to meet a proper mukti — a so-called freedom fighter. Almost all we manage to catch alive seem to be illiterate farm-hands, young schoolboys or old men. You, I think, belong to the right category — if ‘right’ is the proper word!’

He pressed the bell. ‘First, let me get some tea for us. Meanwhile, you may like to have a wash. There’s the bathroom.’

Kadamtali, a rather small river port, had an oil storage depot and lay right on the river routes of oil tankers plying between Chittagong and Dhaka. The guerrillas desperately wanted to disrupt the oil supply. They had damaged a couple of passing tankers and also made an unsuccessful attempt to blow up the depot. The Pakistanis reacted by increasing the size of the army contingent guarding the depot. Fortified bunkers were constructed within the depot perimeters.

A few days earlier, Rashed had received reports that Pakistani soldiers had stopped coming out in the open after sunset. Now was the time, he had decided, to blow up the storage tanks. The plan was simplicity in itself. With grenades in a waterproof plastic bag, he would swim over to the depot landing. The usual heavy December fog would provide adequate cover. From riverbank to the depot it was only about 30 feet or so. He would toss the grenades, run back to the water and jump into it. Balai and Jalal would open fire from safe distances to distract the Pakistanis.

But things had not worked out as planned. The fog had suddenly cleared just as Rashed was getting ready. Nevertheless, he had decided to go ahead. He would have perhaps changed his mind had he only known that on that very day the army contingent had been reinforced by a large group of razakars. They were put on patrol duty outside the depot. After all, their Pakistani masters could not care less if they got killed. These wretches were expendable.

Rashed, after crawling up to the depot fence, had already lobbed the grenades when, the razakars started shooting. Even with their wild marksmanship, the hail of bullets was thick enough to cut off his escape. Meanwhile, the grenades set off a chain reaction of explosions among the oil drums. As he lay prone on the ground, a large metal fragment, possibly a piece of a bursting drum, hit him on the head.

He regained his senses only to gasp from the savage kicks to his head, face and chest. Soon he sank into oblivion again. When he woke up again he found himself blindfolded. His hands and feet had been tied. He was quite surprised that he was still alive. He did not know that only the captain’s intervention had saved him from a slow and extremely painful death.

‘I don’t know how well-informed you are,’ Captain Azam took a sip of tea, ‘but it’s almost all over with the war. It won’t make any difference whether you or I live or die. The Indian army has won this round.’

‘Not the Indian army alone,’ Rashed’s voice rose in protest. ‘It’s the combined allied forces of both India and Bangladesh.’

‘Rubbish! It is the Indian superiority in the numbers of planes, tanks, artillery and soldiers. You Bangalis simply act as their porters,’

‘You lie! Is it because of the Indian army that you dared not come out of the bunkers? How many of your officers and men of the so-called best army in the world, equipped with the latest American and Chinese weapons, died in the last nine months? How many in Dhaka alone? Who killed them? Surely not the Indians!’

‘You can’t win a war by a few stray murders or by throwing a bomb here, planting a mine there. Without the Indian army your ‘Joi Bangla’ would have remained just an empty slogan.’

‘Again, you are wrong. Our victory was inevitable. We would have driven you out on our own. Sure, that would have taken much more time. The process would have been far more painful and the price paid for freedom still higher. Yet, perhaps that would have been better for my country’s future.’

Captain Azam crushed his cigarette in the ashtray. ‘Enough of that. Now tell me how you got involved with this ragtag band of muktis. You don’t look like a miscreant.’

Rashed’s eyes flashed. ‘What would you have done if your brother had been made to dig a grave and then was buried alive in the grave he had dug? Or your sister had been ravaged and mutilated; by a gang of savage beasts in the shape of men?’

‘Yes, I know there have been some excesses. A few such unfortunate things are bound to happen if an army is called upon to suppress a rebellion.’


My days in East Pakistan have convinced me that I should have resisted my father’s wishes. I’m not cut out to be an officer of the Pakistani army.


‘No. This was planned and cool-headed savagery Yahya the drunk, Tikka Khan the butcher and Bhutto the smoothtalking charlatan ordered you to perpetrate all these bestialities in the name of defending Islam and Pakistan. They felt sure that killing and brutality on this massive scale would frighten the Bangalis into silence. But they made a mistake. Yes, brutality within a certain limit may temporarily terrorise a people into inaction. But beyond this limit, it is counterproductive. There are many in our ranks who never bothered about politics or their identities as Bangalis. Your senseless yet systematic brutality made them take up arms.’

‘You see, I don’t really know much about all these things.’ Captain Azam was somewhat apologetic. ‘It’s been only four months since I came from West Pakistan. Anyway, even if the things you allege did really happen, they were under the orders of superior authorities. The ordinary officer or soldier in the field can’t be held responsible for carrying out orders.’

‘Hitler’s generals and soldiers took the same plea. The civilised world refused to accept it. They were found guilty and hanged. Even now those war criminals are being hunted down and brought to justice. And you’re also going to be tried and punished.’

‘You delude yourself. We aren’t going to be tried. Your leaders will forget all about it in their scramble for pomp and power. And if you really want to try anyone, you’ll have to look for the guilty amidst you — the razakars and al-Badars who joined us in the killings, and the Peace Committee members who pointed out to us the villages to be burnt down, the persons to be tortured and murdered. They are the ones who captured the young girls trying to escape and delivered them to our camps.’

‘Yes, I know. Every people fighting a war of liberation has to contend with some quislings. We also have ours. Certainly they’re going to pay dearly for their crimes.’

‘Again you err. Perhaps some small fries will be caught. But the really big ones will manage to have their protectors. They may temporarily disappear only to surface again when the time is ripe. They will be as useful to the new rulers as they were to us.’

The telephone rang before Rashed could speak again. Captain Azam picked up the receiver, listened in silence for a couple of minutes. Then he said, ‘Yes, I understand,’ and put the receiver down.

‘The war is over. General Niazi has just signed the surrender document.’ Captain Azam looked both shocked and relieved.

‘Really? Joi Bangla!’ Rashed jumped up from his chair.
‘Yes, but that doesn’t mean that I am surrendering to you. My orders are to surrender with my men only to the Indian army.’

Rashed made a move towards the door.

‘No. You can’t go. My soldiers and the razakars outside won’t know that the war has ended and they can no longer have the fun of killing a captured mukti. You’re still my prisoner.’

Rashed stopped in this tracks.

‘In a manner, I am also your captive. Still, I carry a weapon. If I shoot you, no one will bother to find out if you were killed before or after the surrender. You better take your seat again.’

Rashed thought for a moment or two and then returned to his chair.

The silence was broken by Captain Azam. ‘The war is over. We don’t have to keep up pretences. Let’s rather talk about ourselves. Are you a student?’

‘Yes. I was.’
‘What were you studying?’
‘English Literature, at Dhaka University.’

‘Strange coincidence! I was also a student of English at Lahore Government College. But I had to join the army before I could get my degree. Mine is a family of soldiers. My grandfather was a non-commissioned officer; my father retired as colonel. And he wanted his only son to become a general. I am afraid he is going to be disappointed. My days in East Pakistan have convinced me that I should have resisted my father’s wishes. I’m not cut out to be an officer of the Pakistani army.’

‘Why?’ Rashed could not help asking.

‘My first posting was in a big outpost near Comilla. Our orders were to go out on daily sorties to raid villages reported to be harbouring guerrillas, Awamis or Hindus.

There was a competition among the officers. Each had to keep a tally of how many houses his men had burnt down, how many persons he had personally killed.

Each evening in the mess, with a glass of whisky in hand, each had to announce the numbers. The one with the highest score would be declared the champion of the day, and glasses would be raised to toast his feat. Some even announced the number of Bangalee women they had raped, not, as they would take pains to explain, to satisfy their carnal desires, but in discharge of their patriotic duty of ensuring a better breed of Pakistanis in this part of the country. Yes, men under me also burnt, killed, and raped. But my personal score was nil on all these counts during the fortnight I was there. And that made me an outcast. I was forced to seek a transfer to a place where I would not have to compete with others to prove my prowess. That’s how I am in Kadamtali.’

There was again a long moment of silence. Then Captain Azam said, ‘But you aren’t saying anything about yourself!’

‘It should be really a quite common story now. I am the eldest of four children in my family. My brother is missing, presumed dead, after the army raided his hostel on the night of March 25. My father, a college teacher, was shot dead for sheltering a wounded pupil. Our home was burnt down. My mother managed to escape with my two sisters. I can only hope that they succeeded in crossing the borders and are in some refugee camp, or that they are dead.’

‘What are you going to do now that the war is over?’
‘I really don’t know. What I know is that I won’t be able to go back to the life of a student.’

‘And I can’t go on being a soldier. But whatever happens, I look forward, to visiting your Bangladesh one day, perhaps years later. I would like to find out what sort of a country it is going to be — a country for which so much blood has been shed.’

A shadow passed over Rashed’s face.

‘I also wish I knew what the future holds in store for my Bangladesh. Sometimes I have more anxieties than hopes. You’ve not only maimed, tortured, and killed. In the process you’ve brutalised our people, both as victims and avengers of brutalities. We have also learnt to kill. Shall we now be killing each other? And we were such a gentle, peace-loving people!’

‘Perhaps you have good reasons to be anxious,’ Captain Azam smiled sadly. ‘However, our officers and soldiers also have learnt to kill unarmed civilians, women and children. They won’t be able to forget the taste of blood. When they go back, they will look for opportunities to kill and inflict pain on their own people. They may not spare even those who let them lose here. And that will be your revenge.’

Slowly, the darkness of the winter night gathered round them.
‘Have you ever read Wilfred Owen’s war poems? ‘Strange Meeting’?’
‘Yes.’
‘Do you remember the last lines ‘Let us sleep now…’?’
‘Yes, that’s what the dead soldier tells his killer when they meet in the afterlife.’
They sat still and silent as the room turned darker.
Captain Azam stood up and switched on the light. ‘Perhaps they would. But will you and I be able to sleep?’

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