Shaheryar Ali

091028125531_mast_fm226Today is the third day of censorship being imposed on the BBC in Pakistan BBC news goes on air throughout Pakistan via a series of privately owned FM networks. With the explosion of private TV channels in Pakistan, the standards of journalism have a suffered a great deal. An ideological media fuelled by militant Islamism and Pakistani nationalism is on an ideological crusade in Pakistan whose first victim has been “objective reporting”.

Pluralism and democracy has been completely lacking in the local free media of Pakistan. All the news papers and TV channels have exactly same editorial policy. One gets the feeling he or she is reading sameBBC-Urdu news again and again. Most of it is objectively incorrect. Most of this media has been fiercely loyal to the policies of Pakistan’s ruling oligarchy. It may take sides on different issues which represent the interests of different factions of oligarchy depending on the Right wing and Pakistani Nationalist dominated press’s opinion of whose “patriot” and whose not but when it comes to broad general interest of the oligarchy inform of the ideological boundaries of state, the media is wholly partisan without any significant exception. The mania against India, denial on state involvement in nuclear proliferation and Islamic fascism, denial of existence of anti colonial struggles like those in Balochistan and Pakistani occupied Kashmir [written and Azad Kashmir or Free Kashmir in all Pakistani media] are to quote few examples where all Pakistani media has exactly same opinion to express, the opinion of Pakistani ruling elite and its state institution

Censorship_Press_Obey2Pakistani authorities always had a problem with the BBC. From the day BBC had collaborated with the local FM radios to increase its coverage in Pakistan; it is being opposed by Pakistani authorities in one way or another. There is usual bureaucratic red tape which always comes in handy when Pakistan wants to censor the BBC. This contract is incomplete and this rule has been violated bla bla bla. The real reason is that Pakistani authorities are fearful of objective reporting. Being a Lefti I am no fan of BBC, but unfortunately the standards of journalism have been deteriorated to such an extant in Pakistan that BBC appears to be the most objective news source in Pakistan. That’s a pity but that’s a fact!

The real crime of BBC is not what is officially being cited, i.e. violations of laws and procedures because if “Rule of Law” was such an important issue in Pakistan, it would have checked the local news channels as well. According to the society for Alternative Media in Pakistan, all news channels in Pakistan are in violence of PEMRA law through which they were granted licenses. None of them have deposited amount fixed in law of their annual income in treasury which they were bound to do so. These news channels do not go off air because they are doing state propaganda to a vulgar extant. BBC does that too, but it tries to maintain at least an illusion of objectivity, even that is not acceptable to Pakistan. The crimes of BBC are:

 

Reporting on Balochistan:  The coverage of BBC Urdu service on Balochistan cannot be called pro-people or pro-Bloch by any means, its crime is that its “reports” about Balochistan: Which no one else does in Pakistan. It tells that people are dying, some people are demanding freedom. Its will give opinion of the resistance as well that of government.

Coverage of Divergent views on Judiciary, Army, Nuclear Issues and Taliban: This along with the views of state institutions and other parties

 

Like laws apply differently to two chief justices who broke the law and took oaths of loyalty to same military dictator, depending on whom Jamate Islami and the Right supports, Laws apply differently to BBC and Geo in Pakistan. What’s going on Pakistan against BBC is a hideous press censorship. Even more hideous is the role of Pakistani media which cries foul every time it’s touched but is silent on the continuous censorship of Baloch press and the BBC. Same goes to most Pakistani bloggers, the stalwarts of secularism and Jinnah’s vision who also don’t see anything which is on the wrong side of this Post-colonial state. None wrote any thing against continuous harassment, closure and censorship of Baloch press and now of BBC.

We have not learned anything

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From the BBC

“The news regarding our respected chief is propaganda by our enemies,” he said.

“We know what our enemies want to achieve – it’s the joint policy of the [Pakistani intelligence service] ISI and FBI – they want our chief to come out in the open so they can achieve their target.”

A close associate of Pakistan’s most wanted man, Baitullah Mehsud, who was reportedly killed in a US drone attack, has told the BBC he is alive.

Commander Hakimullah Mehsud said reports of the Taliban leader’s death three days ago in an attack on a house in South Waziristan were “ridiculous”.

The US said on Friday it was increasingly confident its forces had managed to kill Mr Mehsud.

Neither side has provided evidence to back up their claims so far.

Pakistan’s foreign minister said on Friday he was “pretty certain” Baitullah Mehsud had been killed.

The White House described Baitullah Mehsud as "a murderous thug"

The White House described Baitullah Mehsud as "a murderous thug"

But Commander Hakimullah Mehsud – who some analysts suggest may be positioning himself to succeed Baitullah Mehsud – told the BBC the reports of his death were the work of US and Pakistani intelligence agencies.

“The news regarding our respected chief is propaganda by our enemies,” he said.

“We know what our enemies want to achieve – it’s the joint policy of the [Pakistani intelligence service] ISI and FBI – they want our chief to come out in the open so they can achieve their target.”

He said the Pakistani leader had decided to adopt the tactics of Osama bin Laden and stay silent. He said he would issue a message in the next few days.

‘Safer’

The missile fired by the US drone hit the home of the Taliban chief’s father-in-law, Malik Ikramuddin, in the Zangarha area, 15km (9 miles) north-east of Ladha, at around 0100 on Wednesday (1900 GMT Tuesday).

On Friday, another of Baitullah Mehsud’s aides told the Associated Press by telephone that his leader had been killed along with his second wife in the attack.

The White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, described Baitullah Mehsud as “a murderous thug”, saying the Pakistani people would be safer if he was dead.

“There seems to be a growing consensus among credible observers that he is indeed dead,” he told reporters.

South Waziristan is a stronghold of the Taliban chief, who declared himself leader in late 2007, grouping together some 13 factions in the northwest of the country.

Believed to command as many as 20,000 pro-Taliban militants, he came to worldwide attention in the aftermath of the 2007 Red Mosque siege in Islamabad – in which the security forces confronted and forcibly ejected militant students who were mostly loyal to him.

He has been blamed by both Pakistan and the US for a series of suicide bomb attacks in the country, as well as suicide attacks on Western forces across the border in Afghanistan

Tehrik-e- Taliban Pakistan has also denied the news of Mehsood’s death, see the story at BBC Urdu. Please also see this analysis by Haroon Rashid

Its Shameful the way Pakistani media has destroyed the Objectivity. Shame on those pro establishment pseudo secular clowns who are calling a “unconfirmed” new “Confirmed”. We dont know weather he is dead or Alive, we will only believe when we will see an evidence.

SA

Couldnt resist the temptation, i have been long writing that Pakistan’s Army’s operation in Swat is just a PR exercise to improve their standing Amongst the people of Pakistan. Dr Samina Ahmad of International Crisis Group had also repeatedly warned people about this. She warned people against beating Army’s drum and the need to limit Army’s role in humanitarian activities in Swat. After killing innocent people and displacing 2.5 million people, creating ethnic hatred in Sindh between Pashtuns and Sindhis and providing safe escape to Taliban and spreading them all over Pakistan, in guise of operation: The notorious Taliban leader Mullah Fazalullah today contacted BBC. Yet another monster Muslim Khan the spokesman of Taliban also talked to the BBC. Not only they are well but they are running their Sharia Justice. They have “pardoned” 5 politicians and threatened others. The legendary Taliban radio was also heard in Swat again according to reports The secular clowns who were beating Army’s drum and cursing anyone who tried to point out that Army is main supporter of Taliban. Even  if thats not the case [suppose], these “patriots” [read establishment stooges] should worry about the professional capabilities of Pak Army who could kill a single Taliban top leader and couldnt block a FM radio Now keep cursing India, Gandhi and ANP. Welcome to Reality l FACT:  During the  Swat operation  , one of the most glorified military operation of Pakistan Army, Not a single Top Taliban leader was either arrested or killed. the estimated number of Taliban in region was approx 6000. 2.5 to 3 million people were displaced whose life has been ruined. Long Live “Jinnah’s” Pakistan

13 fell today at Kerbala-e-Tehran after Yazid threatened the freedom fighters in the sermon. Like the Mullahs who gave fatawa against Hossein on orders of Yazid, the Mullahs of Iran have started killing the freedom fighters. Today people burned down a mosque in Tehran, the capital of Islamic Republic of Iran, the message is clear to the Mullahs any thing which becomes home of reaction against revolution will be burned to ashes. The betrayal of the reformist leadership is becoming clear by the moment but victory is inevitable later if not sooner. The sacred moment when the symbol of ignorance and blind faith was burned it lighted a new epoch of  change in Iran as Iqbal said

Sultani e Jamhoor ka aata he zamana

Jo naqash-e-kuhan tum ku nazer aye mita do

[Epoch of people's rule is inevitable demolish every symbol of  past]

Freedom will come to Iran , Khamenei weather you like it or not.

We strongly protest on crackdown on BBC in Iran by Mullahs. These evil tactics will not stop people. For solidarity we are publishing a report by the BBC on Iran

Long Live the People of Iran

Long Live Iranian Revolution

Shaheryar Ali

Freedom craving ‘fuelling Iran unrest’

By Hugh Sykes
BBC News

Supporters of the leading reformist candidate in Iran's presidential elections, Mir Hossein Mousavi, during a election campaign rally on 23 May

The Iranian leadership is falling into the same trap that their arch-enemy the Shah of Iran fell into in the 1970s.

They are not listening to the people.

After a meeting with Shah Reza Pahlavi, the US ambassador William Sullivan complained: “The king will not listen.”

Soon afterwards, the king had to leave the country, and Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile in triumph.

Khomeini’s successor as Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, claimed at Friday prayers at Tehran university that “foreign agents” were behind efforts to stage a velvet revolution.

Change

Having spent 10 days in Iran for the 12 June election, that accusation sounds to me like a classic case of blaming the messenger.

We want the freedom to talk, and the freedom to think. We want freedom for our spirit, ok? That’s not very much to ask
Supporter of defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi

There is a velvet rebellion taking place. It is not a revolution yet – but it could evolve into one if the Supreme Leader and his associates do not listen to the people.

I heard with my own ears dozens of peaceful, young Iranians saying they wanted change.

Sixty percent of the population are under 30 years old. They have no memory of the Islamic revolution in 1979. Many of them use the internet and watch satellite TV. Their window on the wider world is irreversibly open.

Many of them simply want peaceful change – and in particular an end to the strict laws that govern personal behaviour in Iran.

Double lives

They want to be able to sing and dance. They wonder why the Iranian leadership continue to ban such expressions of human joy – a ban very similar to the rules imposed on Afghanistan during the Taliban regime.

Iranian woman on the internet

Many young Iranians have a wide window on the world

And of course Iranians do sing and dance. I have been to several parties where the dancing was intense. And so was the drinking, though alcohol is also illegal.

Prohibition does not work. Many Iranians simply lead double lives.

An article in a magazine – available at Tehran news stands when I was there last year – carried the headline: “We are all hypocrites now.”

Many women only cover their heads because they would be arrested if they did not.

Several women I met openly complained about the religious “guidance” police enforcing the female dress code of the chador, or the hijab and “manto” coat.

One young student told me: “I like the hijab. My friend doesn’t like it. I should be free to choose to wear it, and she should be free to choose not to.”

Another woman said: “The hijab is not really the problem. The real problem is that men and women are human beings – they are the same, and they should have equal freedoms.”

Embarrassed

Most of the Iranians I spoke to – even supporters of the president – lamented Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s economic performance over the past four years, especially his failure to control inflation.

Others – including two former Ahmadinejad supporters – told me they could not vote for a man who used a live TV debate to level “undignified” accusations of corruption against former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and his family.

Supporters of Iran's incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Ahmadinejad does not command such support among all Iranians

And others – a significant number – told me they were embarrassed by Mr Ahmadinejad’s goading of the West – especially his hysterical tirades against Israel.

One man referred to a phrase that is often associated with Mr Ahmadinejad, though its exact translation has been disputed.

“Talk about ‘wiping Israel off the map’ is simply not rational. It is not rational,” he repeated several times.

There is widespread opposition to Zionism in Iran – but at the same time most Iranians vehemently deny that they are anti-Semitic.

Two men separately volunteered that they “like and respect” Jewish people. One pointed out that more than 30,000 Jews happily live in Iran, many of them resisting pressure from the Jewish Agency to move to Israel.

The antique dealers who cluster along a small street off Ferdowsi Avenue in central Teheran are nearly all Iranian Jews.

And surrounded by a crowd in a bazaar, another Ahmadinejad opponent said for all to hear: “I believe our uranium enrichment is not only for peaceful purposes. It is bringing us nothing but trouble. And we should stop it.”

What so many Iranians want now is very simple. It’s freedom.

A man in a crowd supporting the main reformist candidate in the election, Mir Hossein Mousavi, said: “We want the freedom to talk, and the freedom to think. We want freedom for our spirit, ok? That’s not very much to ask.”

Violence

Since the election demonstrations began a week ago, the official line has been that “provocateurs” were stirring the violence.

The only people I saw “stirring” violence were the riot police and the volunteer basiji militia.

The day after the election, I watched a small crowd of unarmed, and very courteous Mousavi supporters being charged by baton-wielding riot police.

A few minutes later, I was in a larger crowd of Mousavi supporters who were demonstrating entirely peacefully when they were attacked by Basiji militia driving motorcycles and wildly swinging wooden batons at anyone in their path.

I saw who was stirring the violence on the streets of Tehran. It was not the unarmed demonstrators.

Another accusation from the Iranian leadership is that British “meddling” is behind some of the vote-rigging protests.

You can’t prove a negative, but my sense is that the British are doing all they can to avoid meddling.

When the UK (and America) interfered before, conspiring to overthrow the democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq in 1953, the law of unintended consequences came fully into play.

The blowback from that case of meddling is still being felt more than half a century later.

The 1953 coup led to more than two decades of repression under the Shah, and sowed the seeds of the Islamic revolution that sent Mohammed Reza Pahlavi into ignominious exile 26 years later.

I doubt the British want to risk anything like that happening again.

Shaheryar Ali

Violent riots have erupted in Baloch areas of Balochistan as well as in Karachi after mutilated bodies of 3 Baloch nationalist leaders who were kidnapped by Pakistani agencies from the office of their lawyer were discovered near the Baloch city of Turbat.

One policeman has been killed in Khuzdar , 3 have been injured in Quetta, the violent riots took place in Quetta, Mand, Khuzdar, Gawadar, Karachi, Kushmor, Mastong and other cities. Dozens of cars have been set alight. , banks and offices including those of UNHCR have been ransacked.

Shuda e rah e wafa

Shuda e rah e wafa

What has happened? Almost 6 days old mutilated bodies of 3 well respected Baloch patriots were discovered today. Mr Gulam Muhammed Baloch was president of Baloch National Movement, Mr Sher Muhammed Bugti was a leader of Baloch Republican Party and Mr Lala Munir was also a famous political activist. All 3 of them were kidnapped in broad day light from the office of their lawyer Mr Ali Kachkol . Speaking to BBC Mr Kachkol said “All 3 of them were sitting in my office because I was their lawyer and had just secured their bail when agency people stormed my office. They came in cars which they parked outside of my office. They had ropes in their hands; they tied those leaders like animals and took them away. I told them that you can’t arrest them like that because they are on bail. But they asked me to keep my mouth shut. BBC: Did you saw them? Yea I saw them, they were in my office, and they were so relaxed one of them polished his shoe there. They also arrested one fellow lawyer of mine but later released him when he told them that he was a lawyer Responded the lawyer. BBC: Did you inform the authorities? Yes I went to the police station and gave a written application to authorities to launch FIR against the Chiefs of ISI, IB and MI , but the police refused to note my FIR. I wrote to higher courts but none took any action. Mr Ali responded. BBC: Balochistan high court took notice of the killing today. Yes they took notice when they have been murdered. If they would have taken notice earlier their lives could have been spared.” Ali Kachkol advocate.

Listening to these lines on BBC Urdu “shub nama” my mind went numb. The farcical drama which pro-ISI political parties and a section of opportunist de-generated left conducted for more than year of “restoration of Justice” stood in front of me as a monstrous deviation which was carried out to eclipse the real issues. These extra judicial murders in Balochistan and criminal attitude of higher judiciary in protecting the rights of these people who couldn’t get their FIR registered is a sharp slap on the faces of Ali Ahmad Kurd and Aitzaz Ahsan. Baloch political parties should arrange a sit in front of Ali Ahmad Kurd’s home and demand that he take this case to Mr Iftikhar Chaudhary who is doing Umra in Saudi Arabia and get FIR registered against Major General Shujja Pasha and Major General Asif of ISI and MI respectively.

Listening to the BBC reporting was a very painful experience for me, It seemed like Quetta has some how being converted into Dacca of 71. The murdered leader Mr Baloch was a famous poet of Balochi language, he also served as chairman of BSO the most popular and revolutionary Baloch student organization. Other two were also grass root political workers who have worked in masses. Mr Baloch was part of the “peace committee” which was formed to get the release of John Solecki . Mr Baloch gave evidence to the United Nations on Baloch genocide being conducted by state of Pakistan. It’s just like Bengal of 71. “ Hum le ke rahen ge Aazadi—- He Haq Hamara AAzadi” “We will take our freedom , its our basic human right” I could listen to slogans of Baloch activist in front of Karachi Press Club in back ground of BBC’s report.

The main lead on BBC Urdu website is “violent riots erupt through out Balochistan” and the news has photograph of 3 leaders in form of a poster of Baloch resistance with the caption “Heroes of Freedom”.

It was just like 71, Pakistani media and intellectuals have maintained same arrogant denial and apathy which they demonstrated in 71. What was left of hope died out when I listened to the press conference by Mir Hasil Bezinjo . Newly elected into senate of Pakistan Mir Hasil Bezinjo is son of Mir Gus Bezinjo , the most moderate and most pro federation Marxist of NAP. Soft spoken and one of the most refined pro-democracy activist Mr Bezinjo said

“Pakistan Army and its agencies are responsible for this crime. I want to say this loud and clear and Major General Shujja Pasha and Major General Asif , the chiefs of ISI and MI are responsible for these murders. We want the FIR to be registered against them. Time has come for the Baloch nation to unite under one flag, with Pakistani agencies doing this to the Balochs what option we have left if not to take up Arms?”

My torment was still not over , ex chief minister of Balochistan and leader of BNP Mr Akhtar Maingal , one of the most “pro- Punjabi” Baloch leader [He entered into a political alliance with Nawaz Sharif against wishes of many Baloch leaders] was next to be heard on BBC

“Pakistani state and its agencies have brought us to closer to the “point of no return”. This country could no longer remain united. Those who broke the country in 71 are now doing it again——–”

There is now no doubt left in my mind that Balochistan has been reduced to status of a colony, we have the same choice in front of us which we had in 71, to keep our mouths shuts in name of “patriotism” and “national interest” and let this genocide continue as we did in Bengal, or we tell our Baloch brothers that we stand with them in their war of liberation. Its not that long when Punjab sent its sons to Balochistan during the revolution. Punjabi and Sindhi youth fought alongside the Baloch revolutionaries against invading Pakistani Army. Those were the days of Pakistani Left. Najam Sethi and Rashid Rehman were two of those Punjabi revolutionaries who fought in Balochistan during the 70s. Thousands of Balochs remain in state custody, dead or alive no one knows. Baloch women are being abused as sex slaves. Should we all remain silent on that?? Alas Punjabi mothers have stop giving birth to revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh. Its time to raise the flag of resistance and to launch a people’s resistance against the oligarchy. Punjab holds the key. I hope Punjabi mothers once again hear the demands from their sons to colour their shirts with the colours of spring —- “Mera rang de basanti chola mai rang de——”

The revolutionary song   associated with Shaheed Bhagat Singh , i dedicate  it to all Baloch revolutionaries.

Long Live Baloch People

Long Live People of Pakistan

Long live People of India

Shaheryar Ali

Years back when Hindu fascists demolished the historic Babri mosque, many headlines in the Indian press next day were some thing like “A day of National Humiliation”. The Indian media which every one these days in Pakistan seem to be lecturing on “ethics”,” professionalism”, “peace” etc. This was a true act of patriotism on part of India’s media. They were identifying a great distortion which was emerging in India’s secular democracy, the communal fascism which had the potential to destroy the Indian democracy. No concept of democracy is possible without “critical thought”, it’s the criticism which helps democracy evolve and flourish. All prejudices were once laws enshrined in the constitutions. Most of them represented the “national interests” of the states. Colonialism was one such thing, Slavery was another. Individuals challenged their states, faced persecutions and torture but they brought about a change. The societies which become totally non critical about their rulers and elites perish. As the Bombay tragedy unfolded, Pakistani media, state, political parties and even some liberal and ex progressives adopted a line which consisted of criticism of Indian press, media and government. A policy of continuous denial was adopted, in name of patriotism, in name of “support” of the democratic regime, in name of “peace”. What was forgotten was that India and Pakistani democratic regime effectively are hostages of the same enemy. Benazir Bhutto was shot dead by the same elements on which India is pointing fingers too, whose existence we were denying.

When the Indian government declared to the world that the attackers came from Pakistan, it was dismissed as “India’s obsession with Pakistan”, we were reminded by our Liberal Intellectuals that “Indians must stop blaming Pakistan for their own policy mistakes, India has 17 insurgencies”.  When India issued details of the terrorist Ajmal Kasab, it was turned into a “joke” by our press, leaders and intellectuals. First we were told “there is no FaridKot” in Pakistan, FareedKot is in Bangladesh” [Daily Jang]. This was too stupid so than we discovered geographical remoteness of FaridKot, some of our great Liberals couldn’t find Faridkot on map, it was mocked. No terrorist factory was discovered at Faridkot. It was a small village where no one has went on Jihad [Daily Jang]. Just like in Kargil when we refused to accept corpses of our dead soldiers, we refused to accept Ajmal Kasab. When some of us were trying to remind Pakistan, about the dangers of politics of denial, fatwas of ideological fanaticism were issued against us. Our government kept denying and United Nations Security Council banned Jammat ut dawa. We raided on all the offices which were denying. Where all these offices in Karachi, Multan, and Lahore did now came from?? RAW planted them over night or was it the work of Mossad?? Even China refused to block the move [A thing which she has done twice before]. If the epicenter of Mumbai attacks didn’t existed in Pakistan as India suggested and on which our blood boiled so fast why we are arresting innocent people than??

The most embarrassing development was the expose published by Dawn today, which now proves that the Terrorist infect is Pakistani from the same Faridkot which we couldn’t find on our map. His father identified him. Now what credibility do  our press, intellectuals, leaders, and government have? Who will now believe on us? Rehman Malik even today said he “wants proofs” from India. What proof is he looking for?

It’s a day of a national humiliation for us. Ajmal Kasab is a Pakistani from Faridkot a fact we kept on denying at every level. But will we learn but alas ‘we still need proof”.

Daily Dawn must be congratulated for this true act of resistance. It has made us all proud they have shown us the cancer which we keep denying. I will not be surprised if the story is retracted, the pressure of state is immense but Truth has come out. Dawn has done a great service to Pakistan, an act of genuine patriotism. Now we must act, not like as we did yesterday when 24 hour notice was given to Jamatuddawa activists to leave their offices along with the record. The police was waiting for “written orders” before they started the crack down. Neither should we act by making Hafiz Saeed a hero as we did showing his press conference and than detaining him in luxury of his home.  Perhaps now Liberal patriots will find the geographical location of FaridKot and will discover it is a recruiting ground for L e T and that FaridKot is not that “remote” either. Its time to clean our house!! Its time to accept and seek foregiveness.

Crackdown hints at Faridkot-Mumbai link

Dawn Special Report


KARACHI, Dec 11: The targeting of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaatud Dawa and the rounding up of the activists belonging to the two jihadi organisations appear to have been triggered by information originating in India following the capture of one of the 10 men who attacked several targets in Mumbai towards the end of last month.

During the course of Dawn’s own investigations last week our reporters were able to locate a family who claimed to be the kin of the arrested young man in Mumbai.

The sole survivor among the 10 attackers was named as Ajmal Kasab and was supposed to belong to the village Faridkot in the Punjab. Media organisations such as the BBC and now the British newspaper Observer have done reports trying to ascertain the veracity of claims appearing in the media that the young man had a home there.

On Friday last, the BBC reported unusual activity in Faridkot near Deepalpur. A BBC correspondent located a house in the village, the then inhabitants of which carried the surname of Kasab (or Qasab as the word is often spelt here). But the residents denied any link with either Ajmal or with any Amir Kasab, the name of Ajmal’s father as reported by some of the media.

At the weekend, the Observer in England claimed that it had managed to locate the house everyone was looking for so desperately. Its correspondent said he had got hold of the voters’ roll which had the names of Amir Kasab and his wife, identified as Noor, as well as the numbers on the identity cards the couple carried.

Even though the news stories by both BBC and the Observer made a mention of the LeT, some television channels in Pakistan suggested that a connection between Mumbai and Faridkot could not be established beyond a shadow of doubt.

However, the man who said he was Amir Kasab confirmed to Dawn that the young man whose face had been beamed over the media was his son.

For the next few minutes, the fifty-something man of medium build agonized over the reality that took time sinking in, amid sobs complaining about the raw deal the fate had given him and his family.

“I was in denial for the first couple of days, saying to myself it could not have been my son,” he told Dawn in the courtyard of his house in Faridkot, a village of about 2,500 people just a few kilometres from Deepalpur on the way to Kasur. “Now I have accepted it.

“This is the truth. I have seen the picture in the newspaper. This is my son Ajmal.”

Variously addressed as Azam, Iman, Kamal and Kasav, the young man, apparently in his 20s, is being kept in custody at an undisclosed place in Mumbai.

Indian media reports ‘based on intelligence sources’ said the man was said to be a former Faridkot resident who left home a frustrated teenager about four years ago and went to Lahore.

After his brush with crime and criminals in Lahore, he is said to have run into and joined a religious group during a visit to Rawalpindi.

Along with others, claimed the Indian media, he was trained in fighting. And after a crash course in navigation, said Amir Kasab, a father of three sons and two daughters, Ajmal disappeared from home four years ago.

“He had asked me for new clothes on Eid that I couldn’t provide him. He got angry and left.”

While Amir was talking, Ajmal’s two “sisters and a younger brother” were lurking about. To Amir’s right, on a nearby charpoy, sat their mother, wrapped in a chador and in a world of her own. Her trance was broken as the small picture of Ajmal lying in a Mumbai hospital was shown around. They appeared to have identified their son. The mother shrunk back in her chador but the father said he had no problem in talking about the subject.

Amir Kasab said he had settled in Faridkot after arriving from the nearby Haveli Lakha many years ago. He owned the house and made his earnings by selling pakoras in the streets of the village.

He modestly pointed to a hand-cart in one corner of the courtyard. “This is all I have. I shifted back to the village after doing the same job in Lahore.

“My eldest son, Afzal, is also back after a stint in Lahore. He is out working in the fields.”

Faridkot is far from the urbanites’ idea of a remote village. It is located right off a busy road and bears all the characteristics of a lower-middle class locality in a big city.

It has two middle-level schools, one for girls and the other for boys which Ajmal attended as a young boy. For higher standards, the students have to enroll in schools in Deepalpur which is not as far off as the word remote tends to indicate.

It by no means qualifies as Punjab’s backwaters, which makes the young Ajmal’s graduation to an international “fearmonger” even more difficult to understand. The area can do with cleaner streets and a better sewage system but the brick houses towards the side of the Kasur-Deepalpur road have a more organised look to them than is the case with most Pakistani villages.

The Observer newspaper reports that some locals seeking anonymity say the area is a hunting ground for the recruiters of LeT and provides the organisation with rich pickings.

The approach to Faridkot also points to at least some opportunities for those looking for a job. There are some factories in the surroundings, rice mills et al, interspersed with fertile land. But for the gravity of the situation, with its mellowed and welcoming ambience, the picture could be serene.

It is not and Amir Kasab repeats how little role he has had in the scheme since the day his son walked out on him. He calls the people who snatched Ajmal from him his enemies but has no clue who these enemies are. Asked why he didn’t look for his son all this while, he counters: “What could I do with the few resources that I had?”

Otherwise quite forthcoming in his answers, Amir Kasab, a mild-mannered soul, is a bit agitated at the mention of the link between his son’s actions and money. Indian media has claimed that Ajmal’s handlers had promised him that his family will be compensated with Rs150,000 (one and a half lakh) after the completion of the Mumbai mission.

“I don’t sell my sons,” he retorts.

Journalists visiting Faridkot since Dawn reporters were at the village say the family has moved from their home and some relatives now live in the house. Perhaps fearing a media invasion, nobody is willing to say where the family has gone.

Thanks Daily Dawn : Founded by  M.A. Jinnah

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