After an interesting discussion with fellow blogger and friend Rabia Shakoor of Grand Trunk Road , i thought that this theoretical piece will be helpful in understanding the concept of Banality of Evil which i have been continuously utilizing in my work on Fascism, Racism, esp lynching and Bengali and Balochi genocides. Rabia raises an important issue of “deniability”. I have utilized the concept of “silence” in this regards. The theoretician talks about “normalization”. This essentially is illusionary. All these in one way or another lead to deniability. The point of further research will be how conscious is this denial?. Is it delusional? Opinions exist on the subject. Levinas for example doesn’t consider it unconscious. In a symposium on forgiveness in Paris he said “Its difficult to forgive some Germans , its difficult to forgive Heidegger”. Hannah Arendt on the other hand herself the victim of Holocaust has defended Heidegger. She had a relationship with him as well. Was Heidegger conscious of what he was doing? Was it routine? or Was he indifferent to all of it , or was he in denial. These are still unsolved issues. Wasnt the complicity of Heidegger in purging German academy it self an example of Banality of evil? or was the great philosopher genuinely unable to understand what was going around him??
From the book Triumph of the Market
by Edward S. Herman
The concept of the banality of evil came into prominence following the publication of Hannah Arendt’s 1963 book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, which was based on the trial of Adolph Eichmann in Jerusalem. Arendt’s thesis was that people who carry out unspeakable crimes, like Eichmann, a top administrator in the machinery of the Nazi death camps, may not be crazy fanatics at all, but rather ordinary individuals who simply accept the premises of their state and participate in any ongoing enterprise with the energy of good bureaucrats.
Normalizing the Unthinkable
Doing terrible things in an organized and systematic way rests on “normalization.” This is the process whereby ugly, degrading, murderous, and unspeakable acts become routine and are accepted as “the way things are done.” There is usually a division of labor in doing and rationalizing the unthinkable, with the direct brutalizing and killing done by one set of individuals; others keeping the machinery of death (sanitation, food supply) in order; still others producing the implements of killing, or working on improving technology (a better crematory gas, a longer burning and more adhesive napalm, bomb fragments that penetrate flesh in hard-to-trace patterns). It is the function of defense intellectuals and other experts, and the mainstream media, to normalize the unthinkable for the general public. The late Herman Kahn spent a lifetime making nuclear war palatable (On Thermonuclear War, Thinking About the Unthinkable), and this strangelovian phoney got very good press. ~
In an excellent article entitled “Normalizing the unthinkable,” in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists of March 1984, Lisa Peattie described how in the Nazi death camps work was “normalized” for the long-term prisoners as well as regular personnel: “[P]rison plumbers laid the water pipe in the crematorium and prison electricians wired the fences. The camp managers maintained standards and orderly process. The cobblestones which paved the crematorium yard at Auschwitz had to be perfectly scrubbed.” Peattie focused on the parallel between routinization in the death camps and the preparations for nuclear war, where the “unthinkable” is organized and prepared for in a division of labor participated in by people at many levels. Distance from execution helps render responsibility hazy. “Adolph Eichmann was a thoroughly responsible person, according to his understanding of responsibility. For him, it was clear that the heads of state set policy. His role was to implement, and fortunately, he felt, it was never part of his job actually to have to kill anyone.”
Peattie noted that the head of MlT’s main military research lab in the 1960s argued that “their concern was development, not use, of technology.” Just as in the death camps, in weapons labs and production facilities, resources are allocated on the basis of effective participation in the larger system, workers derive support from interactions with others in the mutual effort, and complicity is obscured by the routineness of the work, interdependence, and distance from the results.
Peattie also pointed out how, given the unparalleled disaster that would follow nuclear war, “resort is made to rendering the system playfully, via models and games.” There is also a vocabulary developed to help render the unthinkable palatable: “incidents,” “vulnerability indexes,” “weapons impacts,” and “resource availability.” She doesn’t mention it, but our old friend “collateral damage,” used in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, came out of the nukespeak tradition.
Slavery and Racism as Routine
When I was a boy, and an ardent baseball fan, I never questioned, or even noticed, that there were no Black baseball players in the big leagues. That was the way it was; racism was so routine that it took years of incidents, movement actions, reading, and real-world traumas to overturn my own deeply imbedded bias. Historically, this was a country in which human slavery was firmly institutionalized and routinized, with abolitionists in the pre-civil war years looked upon as violent extremists by the dominant elites and masses alike in the North.
The rationalizations for slavery were remarkable. A set of intellectuals arose in the South before 1860 that not only defended slavery, but argued its moral superiority on the grounds of its service to the slaves, to the disadvantage of the enslaving Whites! Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man, … is a superb account of how U.S. science at the highest levels constructed and maintained a “scientific” case for racism over many decades by mainly innocent and not consciously contrived scientific charlataury. The ability to put aside cultural blinders is rare. And it appears that what money and power demand, science and technology will provide, however outrageous the end.
Mainstream history has also successfully put Black slavery and oppression in a tolerable light. A powerful article by the late Nathan I. Huggins, “The Deforming Mirror of Truth: Slavery and the Master Narrative of American History, ” in the Winter 1991 issue of the Radical History Review, shows well how the “master narrative” in historiography has normalized Black slavery and post-1865 racism. Slavery was a “tragic error” (like the Vietnam War), rather than a rational and institutional choice; it has been marginalized as an aside or tangent, rather than recognized as a central and integral feature of U.S. history; and it has been portrayed as an error in process of rectification in a progressive evolution, rather than a terrible permanent scar that helps explain the Southern Strategy, the current attack on affirmative action, and the enlarging Black ghetto disaster of today.
Profits end Jobs in Death
Normalization of the unthinkable comes easily when money, status, power, and jobs are at stake. Companies and workers can always be found to manufacture poison gases, napalm, or instruments of torture, and intellectuals will be dredged up to justify their production and use. The rationalizations are hoary with age: government knows best, ours is a strictly defensive effort, or, if it wasn’t me somebody else would do it. There is also the retreat to ignorance, real, cultivated, or feigned. Consumer ignorance of process is important. Dr. Samuel Johnson avowed that we would kill a cow rather than forego eating meat, but visits to slaughterhouses have made quite a few people into vegetarians. A cover story of Newsweek some years ago, illustrating U.S. consumption of meat by showing livestock walking into a human mouth, elicited many protests-people don’t like to be reminded that steaks are obtained from slaughtered animals; they like to imagine that they are manufactured in factories, possibly out of biomass.
The bureaucratization of the use of animals for human ends is a large and controversial subject, but the potential for abuse is continuously realized as stock raisers, slaughterhouses, trappers, the Pentagon, the Animal Damage Control Agency, chemical, medical and cosmetic researchers, and academic entrepreneurs search for ways to improve the bottom line or fill in niches of “knowledge” that somebody will pay for. At the University of Pennsylvania a few years ago there was a Head Injury Lab, funded by the government, in which baboons were subjected to head injuries in the alleged interest of helping us (i.e., creatures with souls, the culmination of the evolutionary process, and the realization of the purpose of the cosmos). The lab was invaded by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who among other things took away some records and films. The documentary which PETA made out of these materials, which showed these intelligent creatures having their heads smashed and rendered into zombies, also gave clear evidence that official rules of treatment of lab animals were violated, and, most important, that the participants’ attitudes toward the animals were insensitive and ugly. It was not hard to think of death camps watching the documentary of this lab in action. Yet the scientific community at Penn not only defends the use of animals against outside critics with passion and apparent unanimity, but has never to my knowledge admitted in public that the Head Injury Lab got out of hand.
In building weapons, contractors and the Pentagon have become quite sophisticated in spreading business over many states, to reach a critical mass of jobs, profits and legislators/media by congressional district to maximize the lobbying base for funding. Jobs are jobs, whether building schools or Peacekeeper Missiles or cutting down thousand-year-old redwood trees. I was slightly nauseated during the Vietnam War era by Boeing ads soliciting workers for its helicopter plant, touting itself as an “equal opportunity employer (EOE).” Maybe the Dachau camp management was also an EOE, for jobs that needed to be done and for which there was an effective demand.
Normalizing Shooting Human Fish in the Persian Gulf Barrel
Imperial Democracy in Iraq
In the Persian Gulf War of 1991 Uncle Sam was an EOE, and our boys and girls over there were doing their assigned jobs, repelling naked aggression in another Operation Just Cause. The war was forced upon us by Saddam Hussein’s rejection of the UN’s and “allies” insistence that he disgorge Kuwait, much as Bush “plainly” did not want war (Anthony Lewis).
Having made it Operation Just Cause No. 17, and a game with winners and losers, we could reasonably root for us-the moral force-to win. We were also defending Kuwait, and if once again the party being “saved” was “destroyed,” well, this was not our fault. Besides, there is the “principle,” of non-aggression, to which we are utterly devoted.
The media could thus focus on our brave boys, girls, generals, and officials to tell us all about their plans, moves, reactions, and miscellaneous thoughts. We could watch them in action as they took off, landed, ate, joked, and expressed their feelings on the enemy, weather, and folks back home in the Big PX. They were part of an extended family, doing a dirty job, but with clean bombs and with the moral certainty of a just cause.
The point was not often made that the enemy was relatively defenseless, and in somewhat the same position as the “natives” colonized, exterminated, and enslaved by the West in past centuries by virtue of muskets and machine guns … Our technical superiority reflected our moral superiority. If it all seemed like shooting human fish in a barrel, one must keep in mind that we were dealing with lesser creatures (grasshoppers, two-legged animals, cockroaches), people who don’t value life as much as we do, who allowed “another Hitler” to rule over them, and who stood in our way.
One of the effects of high-tech warfare, as well as the exclusive focus on “our” casualties, plus censorship (official and self), is that the public is spared the sight of burning flesh. That enemy casualties were given great prominence during the Vietnam War is one of the great, and now institutionalized, myths of that era. Morley Safer’s showing a GI applying a cigarette lighter to a Vietnamese thatched hut is used and referred to repeatedly as illustrating media boldness at that time because other cases would be hard to find. It caused CBS and Safer a lot of trouble (and he has been trying to make up for this sin ever since). Enormous government pressure and flak from other sources caused the media to provide grisly photos of enemy victims only with the greatest caution, and very infrequently, especially in light of the grisly reality. Capital intensive warfare in itself makes for distancing the public from the slaughter of mere gooks and Arabs. This is helpful in normalizing the unspeakable and unthinkable.
On February 5, 1991, the Philadelphia Inquirer carried an Associated Press dispatch by Alexander Higgins, “Marriage finds new expression in gulf: Honey, pass the bombs.” It is a little romance of a newly married couple, located at an air base in Saudi Arabia-and therefore regrettably obliged to sleep in separate tents-whose function is to load bombs on A-10 attack jets. It is a personal interest story, of two people and their relationship, with a job to do, in an unromantic setting. A fine study in the routinization of violence, of the banality of evil and the ways it is impressed on the public.
(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Information Clearing House has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Information Clearing House endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)
Book Cover BoE
Aatish Taseer. [With thanks: Prospect]
My parents met in Delhi in March 1980. My Pakistani father was in India promoting a book he had written on his political mentor, the Pakistani leader, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. My mother, a young Indian journalist, was sent to interview him. Their affair began that evening. My father took my mother’s number, they had dinner at a Chinese restaurant and for a little over a week they disappeared together. My parents met at a time when they had both become politically involved in their respective countries. The state of emergency that Mrs Gandhi declared in 1975 had come and gone—she had returned to power and the terrorism in Punjab that would take her life was about to begin. In Pakistan the year before (the same year as the Iranian revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan), Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the great hope of Pakistani democracy, had been hanged. And now, General Zia, the military dictator, was settling into the blackest decade Pakistan would know. My father had loved Bhutto. He had heard him speak for the first time as a student in London in the 1960s and was moved to his depths. The events of 1979 then ushered in a time both of uncertainty and possibility. Bhutto’s daughter, Benazir, had entered politics; Zia had to be fought; and for this man of 36, touched by unusual idealism, his biography of Bhutto became his political entry point. My parents’ affair lasted little more than a week before my father left for Lahore, where he already had a wife and three small children. A month later, my mother discovered she was pregnant. For a young woman from an old Sikh family to become pregnant out of marriage by a visiting Pakistani was then (and now) an enormous scandal. During the week when she was considering an abortion, my father called unexpectedly from Dubai. She told him what had happened.
“What are you going to do?” he asked.
“What do you think I’m going to do?” she replied.
My father asked her what could be done to change her mind. She replied that they would at least have to pretend to be married and so they tentatively agreed to continue their relationship for as long as it was possible.
But by 1982 the relationship was over. My mother had begun work as a political journalist in Delhi and my father was fighting Zia in Pakistan. What I heard of him over the next two decades came only from my mother. We followed his progress across the border, through multiple imprisonments in the 1980s, to the restoration of democracy and Benazir Bhutto’s victory in 1988, to the failed governments of the 1990s, and his eventual switch from politics to business.
In 2002, aged 21, I made a journey to Lahore to seek out my father, Salmaan Taseer. For a few years our relationship flourished, then fell apart. The reason for the latest distance between us was an article I wrote in these pages in 2005, after the London bombings. In response, my father wrote me a letter—the first he’d ever written—in which he accused me of prejudice, of lacking even “superficial knowledge of the Pakistani ethos,” and of blackening his name. That letter was the origin of my book Stranger to History, an account of a journey I made from Istanbul to Pakistan, in the hope of understanding the silence between us. It is a discovery of his faith, his country and the story of our shared but fractured history.
At the end of my journey I was, by chance, together with my father in Lahore on the night Benazir Bhutto was killed. I found to my surprise that the wheels of power in Pakistan had turned once more and my father, who had spent his youth fighting the military, had re-entered politics and was now a minister in General Musharraf’s government. Here was a lesson about life in Pakistan, for the compromises men had to make. But it was not ultimately in the drawing rooms of Lahore or Karachi that I came closest to understanding Pakistani society, but rather in the time I spent with a young feudal landlord, known as the Mango King, in rural Sindh.
Pakistan, a land of over 170m people, remains largely rural. People have often said to me, “You will never know the soul of Pakistan till you know feudal Pakistan.” Charged by the desire to see this feudal life, I asked a Pakistani newspaper publisher if he could help. He was a heavy man in a white salwar kameez, with short greying hair and moustache. My mother had put us in touch, and he did for me what I would have liked my father to have done: insist on my connection to Pakistan. By arousing my interest in the cultural bonds that exist between the two countries and in speaking to me of my paternal grandfather, an Urdu poet, the publisher gave me the other side of the romance of an undivided India on which my maternal grandfather and my mother had raised me.
We sat in his grand old Karachi house. He lay on a very high bed, smoking and making phone calls to people who might help me. Boxes and stacks of books lay on the floor. After a few hours of messages left, phone calls returned, lists made, lectures on safety and heat, the publisher looked up at me, scribbling as he spoke. “Can you leave tonight?”
“Yes,” I stammered. “I can leave tonight.”
I packed my bags in the early evening. I was to leave with Hameed Mahesari, the Mango King, and travel to his lands in the Sindh interior. It was well past midnight when a white car, with heavily tinted windows, drew up. As I approached, a passenger door opened, but no one stepped out. Instead, cold, air-conditioned air infused with a faint smell of cigarettes drifted out. I put my head into the car and saw a young man in the back seat, with a black moustache, fair skin and a handsome, slightly puffy face. He peered at me through a dense haze of smoke and gestured to me to get in.
The chauffeur drove off as soon as I shut the door. I turned to the Mango King, who lit another cigarette. He smoked continuously, slowly and deeply, looking out at the deserted streets. I could tell from his eyes and the thickness in his voice that he had been drinking.
“In the city I am a different person,” he said abruptly, “and, you’ll see, in the village I am a different person. One has to adjust. It gets pretty nasty,” he added. “People steal water. Typical vadhera.” A vadhera, or landlord, was what Hameed had become after his father died; his family were among the largest producers of mangoes in the country. “But things won’t change for another 50 years. There will still be feudalism.” I saw that he was drinking from a hip flask.
“Do you know why Sindhi society is a failure?” Hameed asked, in his abrupt way.
“There’s no middle class. There’s us and there’s them. We had a middle class, but they took off when what happened?” I thought it was a rhetorical question and didn’t answer, but the Mango King’s gaze held me, expecting a reply.
“Partition,” I answered obediently.
“Exactly. But, you know, life goes on, one day to the next. My father trained me to be a farmer.” Hameed spoke in broken, disconnected sentences. After a long silence, he said, “Do you know why religion was invented?”
“Why?” I asked.
“A man can deal with everything but death.”
Hameed lit up again, but this time my eyes focused on a new discomfort: an AK-47 was placed between us, and the ribs of its magazine, its barrel, and bulbous sight shone in the yellow streetlight. I asked why the AK-47 was so popular.
“Three things you have to be able to trust,” Hameed answered. “Your lads, your woman and your weapon. It’ll never jam on you. Anyone can fire it and it’ll never jam.”
I don’t know when I fell asleep, but I woke a few hours later when I felt Hameed touch my hand. It was dawn, and we drove down a deserted country road, amid acres and acres of flat, empty fields.
“The estate begins here,” he said. The car swung left. “This, on both sides, is my estate.”
“How big is it?”
“Six thousand acres.” By the subcontinent’s standards, this was a large holding.
Then after a silence, he straightened his posture and, with pregnant solemnity, announced: “This is my territory.”
We passed several acres of a dense, low crop, then just before the house, like some last battalion of a great regiment or a vanishing tribe of horses, were the mango trees. Hameed stared in dull-eyed wonder at the dark green, almost black canopies, heavy with fruit and dropping low in a curtsy against an immense saffron sky.
When we got out of the car, I saw that Hameed was tall and well-built. His cream salwar kameez partially concealed a new paunch and, like the puffiness of his face, it was unattractive on a man of his looks.
Aatish Taseer and Gabrille Windsor
A few men were stooped in greeting. Hameed waved, then stumbled through a doorway. We entered a walled garden of palms, ashoka trees and buoyant rubber plants. Hameed’s fluttering cream figure lurched down a narrow path that led to a low white bungalow. Darkness and a musty stench from thick, beige carpeting hit us as we entered. I couldn’t make out much in the dim light.
Hameed collapsed into a sofa, and stared vacantly at me, as if only now seeing me. I wondered what he thought I wanted with him. Among pictures of the family, and one of Hameed in a yellow tie, there were many books: a Hitler biography, copies of National Geographic, Frederick Forsyth, Jane’s aircraft almanacs, Animals in Camera and dozens on travel. I felt from the books, and the framed posters of impressionist paintings, a longing for other places.
“Did your father read a lot?” I asked.
“Yes,” Hameed replied. “He was the sort of man you could talk to about anything and he would always have the right answer.” The description suggested a nightmare person, but Hameed hadn’t intended it to sound that way. “I used to read,” he added, “but I don’t get the chance any more.” He showed me a book he’d recently bought. It was a guide to being a gentleman. “It says that a gentleman never adjusts his crotch in public.” Hameed chuckled and then we fell into silence. He sat there, looking neither at me nor at his men, but ahead into the gloom, like a man who had just lost all his money. A servant brought him some water and a new AK-47, this time with a drum magazine. He leant it against the leg of his chair, telling me it was Chinese; more than 100 countries produced them now. He asked me if I’d like to fire one.
“Yes,” I said, surprising myself.
“She wreaks havoc when she opens her mouth,” he smiled mirthlessly. He was prone to theatrical utterances and to clichés like “Different strokes for different folks” or “You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy,” which he said as if they’d never been said before. The idea of firing the gun was forgotten for now.
My fatigue deepened just as the Mango King had a second wind. He ordered wine and offered me dinner. Wine is unusual in the subcontinent, whisky and soda are more standard, but this, like the cigars and brandy, and the guide to being a gentleman, seemed like a recent feudal affectation. I turned down the suggestion of dinner as it was already dawn.
“Yum, yum,” he said, looking at the feast that was now being laid out before us. There were several kinds of meat, rice, lentils, bread and more wine. Hameed rolled up his sleeves to eat and I saw that there were cigarette burns branded into his arm. The cutlery was Christofle, scattered stylishly among the oven-proof crockery and dinner trays.
When I awoke a few hours later, I was lying under a wooden fan. Next to my bed there was a copy of Time magazine and a guide to nightlife in Thailand. The room, despite the air-conditioning, was suffocating. It was about 10am and the house was quiet. I stepped into the drawing room and felt a wave of compressed heat. The room could not have been more badly designed for the fierce temperature beyond its sliding doors. It was low, like a garage, heavy with carpeting and velvety sofas, and without ventilation. I stepped out onto a white tiled courtyard but soon retreated. It was dangerous heat, the worst I’d ever experienced: sharp, unshaded, asphyxiating. It could make you sick if you went unprotected into it. Yet to be back in the room, in its stale air, was hardly better. Outside, buffaloes lay in the shade of trees; I could just make out villages of straw dotted around the Mango King’s lands; and slim, black women, in bright colours, with white bangles all the way up their arms, walked along the edges of mud paths.
After tea, breakfast and a shower, I came into the main room to find that Hameed was up and inspecting weapons. “You can’t get this on licence,” he said cheerfully, as the man brought out an Uzi. Hameed was freshly bathed, his eyes alert, his manner sprightly in a way I wouldn’t have thought possible the night before. The deadened glaze had gone from his eyes and his mind made connections easily. He seemed to sense that I might be a little surprised at the gun parade. “A lot of people in Karachi don’t like farmers,” he said. “They say they’re feudal, but my feeling is that there are good and bad people in every field.”
Still squinting through sights he said, “Can you imagine? Even I was kidnapped… I was 12 and when I came back I was 13. It was from 1984 to 1985, for six months. I was chained for the last two. My father wouldn’t pay the ransom. When they called he started abusing them so they only called once. After that, they dealt with my uncle.” The kidnappers had picked him up outside his school in Hyderabad.
His point, it seemed, was not to emphasise the violence in his life but to make clear that he had paid his dues.
Hameed drank heavily; he had suspicious cigarette burns on his arms; he played with guns; and yet what might have seemed like cause for alarm was presented instead as emblematic of the feudal life. The violence he had experienced, and perhaps inflicted, became like a rite of passage.
“Was it traumatic?”
“Yes,” he replied, “but you get used to anything.”
That evening the Mango King suggested I go with him to Mirpur Khas, a nearby town, to meet a lawyer who was working on a case he was fighting. The sun at last was loosening its grip on the day and the land, stunned and silent for many hours, came to life with the screeching of birds and the movement of animals.
Driving out of the Mango King’s gate, I noticed that under the name of the estate, it said, “Veni Vidi Vici.”
“We used to send mangoes to the Queen of England,” Hameed said proudly.
“You should start again.”
“No,” he smiled, “but we send them to Musharraf.”
In the car, the Mango King and his lieutenant discussed feudal revenge. The lieutenant was a muhajjir or immigrant from India. His family came to Pakistan from Jodhpur in Rajasthan after partition. The feudal life needed men like the lieutenant. He was dark and bald, with the aspect of a grand vizier, and after the Mango King’s father died, he served the son as an adviser. They talked about how another feudal owner had killed the Mango King’s friend in an argument over 350 acres. Hameed said that the other landlords still teased the dead man’s son for having been unable to exact revenge.
“Don’t the police ever get involved?”
“Not in these things. The people come to me with their problems and family matters. If you’re the landlord, you’re politician and policeman too. The landowner’s word is law.” Then, pausing for a moment, he said, “In the end, it’s not even about land. It’s about who gets to be head honcho.” He put it well: land at least was stabilising; this was about arbitrary power and Hameed was also vulnerable.
Salman Taseer with Friends
His lieutenant had been back to Jodhpur just once, in 1990, and from the moment he heard I was Indian, he could speak of nothing else. He craned his long neck forward and asked if I saw much difference between India and Pakistan.
“Not much,” I said, meaning to be polite. “There’s more feudalism here.”
“But between human beings, on a human level?”
“No, not really.”
“But there is!” He smiled.
“In Pakistan, the clothes people wear are much better. There’s far less poverty. India makes its own things, its own cars, but then you don’t get Land Cruisers. In India, you get Indian needles. In Pakistan, we get Japanese needles!”
In India you now got Japanese needles too. The lieutenant had visited before economic liberalisation, but that was not the point. What struck me was how this man, who would never come close to owning a Land Cruiser, could talk of such things as core human differences. The poverty around him was as bad as anything I had ever seen, yet he spoke of expensive cars. It was as if the mere fact of difference was what he needed. It hardly mattered what the differences meant: that was taken care of by the inbuilt rejection of India. In the confusion about what Pakistan was meant to be—a secular state for Indian Muslims, a religious state, a military dictatorship, a fiefdom—the rejection of India could become more powerful than the assertion of Pakistan.
“What other differences did you see?” he asked.
“It’s hard to say as there’s so much change within India. There are more differences between the north and the south than there are between north India and Pakistan.”
The lieutenant was not to be put down. He wanted to get something off his chest. “The other difference,” he began, “was that while men here wear flat colours, the men there are fond of floral prints, ladies’ clothes.” Hindus weaker, more feminine, and Muslims stronger, manlier: this was the dull little heart of what the lieutenant wanted to say and a great satisfaction came over his face as he spoke. This was the way he reconnected with the glories of the Islamic past when the martial Muslims ruled the “devious Hindu.”
“Were you scared when they kidnapped you?” I asked Hameed, hoping to hear the rest of the story.
“The first 15 minutes were scary, but then it was all right.”
After four months he had tried to steal a kidnapper’s gun and use it on two of them, but just as he picked it up, the third returned and wrested it from his hands. That was when they chained him as punishment.
I thought he wanted to say more, but his lieutenant interrupted: “Tell me,” he said, “why do you wear a kara?” He was referring to the steel bangle on my wrist.
“My grandmother is a Sikh and wanted me to wear it.”
“Your mother’s Sikh and you’re Muslim.”
“No,” I said, not wishing to annoy him, “my mother’s Sikh and my father’s Muslim.”
“Yes, yes, so you’re Muslim.”
The lieutenant seemed to ask the question in the most basic sense. He could tell I wasn’t a practising Muslim, but he wanted to know if I was Muslim somehow.
“Come on, you’re Muslim. If you’re father’s Pakistani, you’re Muslim.”
“If you say so, but don’t you have to believe certain things to be a Muslim? If I don’t believe, can I still be Muslim?”
He looked at me with fatigue. It was almost as if he wanted to say yes. It was as though, once acquired, this identity based on a testament of faith could not be peeled away, like caste in India. And I felt that if I could know the sanctity of his feeling of difference in relation to non-Muslim India, and the symbolic history that went with it, I would be as Muslim as he was.
“It’s his decision,” the Mango King laughed.
The lieutenant fell into a moody silence. “It’s hotter in India than it is in Pakistan, isn’t it?” he started again.
The Mango King groaned with irritation.
“It’s the same!” I said. “You see too many differences.”
Perhaps sensing that he had created bad feeling with a guest, he said, “Sikhs have a very sweet way of speaking.”
“They speak just like we do!” Hameed snapped, and the lieutenant retreated with a sad, stung expression.
Pakistan’s economic advantage, the manliness of Muslim men, Land Cruisers and Japanese needles, even an imagined better climate: these were the small, daily manifestations that nourished a greater rejection of India, making the idea of Pakistan robust and the lieutenant’s migration worthwhile. Hameed didn’t need the lieutenant’s sense of the Other. He was where his family had always been, sure of himself and, if anything, he felt the lack of the Hindu middle class that had once completed his society.
On the way into town, Hameed explained the legal dispute. It was a complex story in which the laws of the country—British law with Islamic accents—came into conflict with feudal family agreements. Hameed’s aunts had inherited a parcel of land, which they wanted him to inherit, but as his cousins (with whom he’d had gun battles) contested this, a spurious sale was organised, by which the land would come indirectly to Hameed.
The section of town we entered in moonlight had old-fashioned whitewashed buildings. Outside the lawyer’s office there was an open drain from which a vast peepal tree grew, its roots threatening the foundation of both street and building. The man inside the pistachio green room was like a caricature of a small-town lawyer. He was squat and smiling, with dimples and greasy hennaed hair. His office contained a glass-topped desk, green metal filing-cabinets and shelves stacked with volumes of Pakistan Legal Decisions.
He had been briefed about the case and, after offering us tea and soft drinks, he began: “You have two options, either of speaking the truth or… I’ve heard, sir,” he said, a smarmy smile lighting his face, “that it is hard for you to tell a lie.”
Hameed looked at him. “No, there’s no such problem.”
“Another situation is that we don’t tell the truth,” the lawyer said, shaking his head mournfully, as though drawing some pleasure from the foreplay of an illegal act.
“Please leave truth and lies aside,” Hameed said. “Let’s just do what favours us.”
The lawyer, bowing from the waist, grinned. “Are both women educated?”
“Yes, a little.”
The lawyer nodded sadly, feigning gloom.
“What difference does it make?” Hameed barked.
“Because we could say the transaction was a fake,” the lawyer sputtered. “The ladies did not understand what they were doing. We could make the plea that they didn’t know what was in the documents when they signed them.”
“But then wouldn’t I end up looking like a fraud?”
“No,” the lawyer said, “you weren’t present. We can say the ladies never sold the land and received no monies.”
Hameed looked as lost as I was. “Does the judge accept bribes?” he asked. “Can’t we just bribe him?”
“He does in some cases but not others,” the lawyer said, as if delivering an official statement. “But the other party can bribe too so it doesn’t matter.”
“Can’t we give them a little danda?” Hameed said, using the word for “stick” to mean a beating.
The lawyer smiled serenely.
“Can the property be put in my mother’s name?” Hameed asked, then mentioned she was a German national, which created other problems.
“Why don’t you get married?” the lawyer suggested.
“I have to find the right girl,” Hameed laughed. “When I do I’ll get married.”
We stood up to leave and the lawyer rose too, bowing.
Outside, Hameed lit a cigarette. Turning to me, he said bitterly: “Bloody feudal family disputes.” He seemed a little depressed and lonely.
In the car his lieutenant tried to convince him to get married. He said it would strengthen his position.
“If we lose in the court, how soon can they take control of the land?” Hameed asked, thinking aloud.
“We’ll go to a higher court,” the lieutenant said.
“And if we lose there?”
“They can take control of the land, but then we’ll bring it back to the lowest court on some excuse. Whole lifetimes go by and things remain unresolved.”
Hameed fell silent.
“You just get married quickly,” the lieutenant said, trying to arrest the gloom that grew in his master, “and then you’ll have a wife and an heir and at least they won’t be able to say ‘he’s all on his own.’ Your strength will improve greatly.” Strength was the right word: it was all that could make sense of the landscape around the Mango King. In the absence of a credible state, crude power, loose and available, was all there was. “Find a good relationship and get married. Aren’t I right?” the lieutenant asked me.
“Yes,” I said.
“People are scared of my house,” Hameed replied. “Girls run away from it.”
“You know my pool in Karachi, right?”
“Yes,” I said, half expecting him to say it was having its water changed.
“Well, I had a party,” he said, “and a guy drowned in it. And my cousins said that I paid money to the police and to the guy’s family. Can you imagine? You have a party and a guy dies in your pool. It’s terrible. And they say it’s because I’m feudal. I think the guy was on drugs or something.”
That night I sat with the Mango King on his veranda drinking whisky-sodas and talking. Though occasionally I felt his pain, I didn’t understand his world; I didn’t think it was a world that could be made understandable to someone who wasn’t obliged to work by its arbitrary laws; its brutalities were its own.
It was India’s middle class, its growth and energy, more than anything else that set the two countries apart. The power of the middle class in India dismantled the old feudal structures. In Sindh, the cost of realising the purity of the Muslim state was the departure of the Hindu middle class. The muhajjir population that arrived in its place had not been able to replace its social function; the bonds that had held together the diverse society of Muslims and Hindus had not arisen among the co-religionists. And, without its middle class, Sindh was not merely unchanged from 1947, not merely feudal: it was lawless, divided within itself; town and country were divorced from each other; and even men like the Mango King knew insecurity; the society was dismembered.
The lieutenant, who had been sitting quietly on the edge of the veranda, now whispered slyly to me that he was a Rajput. This was another reference to the Hindu caste system, in this case a high caste. But the lieutenant didn’t know he spoke of caste. When I said to him that Islam, with its strong ideas of equality, forbade notions of caste, he became defensive and said that this was a matter of good and bad families.
“If you can have Rajputs, then you can have choodas,” I said, using the derogatory word for “low caste.”
“Of course you can have choodas,” the lieutenant replied.
“Would you let your daughter marry one?”
“Even if he was Muslim?”
“Even if he was Muslim.”
On the one hand, there was the rejection of India that made Pakistan possible, and on the other, India was overwhelmingly at play in the deepest affiliations of Pakistanis, sometimes without their knowing it. It made Pakistan a place in which everything just existed because it did, eroded haphazardly by inevitable change. The country’s roots, like some fearsome plumbing network, could never be examined to explain why something was the way it was, why the lieutenant, perhaps centuries after conversion, still thought of himself as a Rajput. And though I, with deep connections on both sides, could see the commonalities, they were not to be celebrated: we spoke instead of difference.
Before I went to bed, Hameed came to the end of the story of his kidnapping. Finally, after six months, the kidnappers gave him a bus ticket and released him in the Sindhi town of Sukkur from where he made his way back to his father’s house in Hyderabad. His hair had grown longer and when he got home, the watchman didn’t recognise him. Hameed said no ransom was ever paid.
When he was released they danced in the village. He went to get a passport photo taken, and the man in the shop had baked a cake for him. These were the details that remained with him after two decades. The whisky worked on Hameed, at once deadening his eyes and bringing up unprocessed emotion. He’d gone to get a passport picture because he was going to Germany to see his mother for the first time in 14 years. His separation from her was another secret in the life of the Mango King; I had a feeling it was related to the father who always had the right answer for everything.
The next morning I left the Mango King’s lands for Hyderabad. He was still asleep when I walked out and even at that early hour, the small, musty house was filling with heat.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Justice 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
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———
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]
After abduction, murder and mutilation of the bodies of 3 Baloch leaders, who were part of “friends of Baloch nation” committee working with United Nations for release of thousands of “disappeared Baloch men and women, the violent clashes still continue in Balochistan.
A complete general strike was observed for 3rd day in Balochistan. 9 people have been killed so far. 6 bodies were recovered from suberbs of Quetta who were killed during torture. According to the BBC situation remains very tense in Quetta where one police man was killed last night. There were also reports of 7 rockets being fired in Qalat which targeted FC camp and houses of certain people suspected of being informers of Pakistani agencies. One man was reportedly injured. It must be kept in mind that Frontier Constabulary or the FC has long been implicated by the Baloch leaders for wide spread human rights violations, extra-judicial murders , torture and disappearances. FC has also been accused of committing heinous crimes against Baloch women. In Quetta FC was responsible for a particularly brutal baton charge and tear gassing of the women protestors who were protesting against the murder of 3 Baloch leaders.
One woman commented to the BBC that “look at Pakistanis double standards, whole country was protesting on flogging of an anonymous girl from Swat but here we have been beaten half to death by the FC but no one takes notice. Even United Nations and International community remain silent on the atrocities being committed against the Baloch nation by Pakistani state”.
According to the BBC urdu service the spokesperson of Pro-liberation Baloch Republican Party today accepted responsibility for attacking FC and for killing two Pro-Pakistan individuals. [We condemn acts of violence by Baloch resistance but we have been writing on the post-nationalist and racist turn of the Baloch movement due to policy of discrediting Baloch nationalists by Pakistani establishment]
The Reign of Terror
What is happening in Balochistan is unbelievable. People have been “burned alive” in molten coal tar by Pakistan army. Thousands of Baloch students, intellectuals and political activists have been “disappeared”. Pakistani secret agencies are largely considered responsible for these disappearances. Term of “sexual slavery” was heard after a long time in case of abduction of Zarrina Marri and other women in custody of Pakistani state according to independent and well reputed human rights organizations like Asian Human Rights Commission etc. We have writing on Baloch issue for a long time our writing on these events can be seen here, here, here and here
Wu ayeto ki goad mein bikhri hue Akbar ki laash [Zaidi, Mustafa Mersia e imam]
According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan “the Baloch leaders were forcibly picked up, blindfolded and taken in cars, closely followed by vehicles belonging to the Frontier Corps.” The medical investigations by the doctors at civil hospital Turbat, Balochistan, suggests that all the three were shot dead at close range with Kalashnikov AK47s and their bodies were badly mutilated. The medical report suggests that they were killed one week before the bodies were recovered
“Witness Killing” Asian Human Rights Commission’s Version:
Three Baloch nationalist leaders were killed after their abduction by plain clothes persons in mysterious vehicles that bore no registration plates. They were taken from the chambers of a prominent lawyer and their deaths have raised several questions on the role of state spy agencies, particularly about military intelligence (MI). All three murdered persons, Ghulam Mohammad Baloch, Sher Mohammad Baloch and Lala Muneer Jan Baloch, were earlier kidnapped by the military intelligence agencies during 2006 and 2007 and each of them were disappeared for several months. After their release it was found that they were kept in the different military torture cells and severely tortured. They all were interrogated by the military officers about the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and funding for nationalist movements in the province against military operations.
The killings are tantamount as ‘witness killings’ as they all were previously disappeared by the army and kept in different military torture cells before being released. Therefore they might have proved dangerous in the probe about disappearances after arrests of political and nationalist activists.
The Leaders were abducted by Agencies in past as well: AHRC statement continues
The Asian Human Rights Commission issued an urgent appeal on the abduction and disappearance of two of the leaders, Mr. Ghulam Mohammad Baloch and Sher Mohammad Baloch. They were abducted when they were holding a meeting for the preparations for a protest demonstration against the murder of Sardar Akbar Khan Bugti, the former chief minister of Balochistan by army personnel at his hide out. The details of their abduction in 2006 can be found on this link http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2006/2119/
The third one, Mr. Lala Muneer Jan Baloch, was also abducted in the month of February 2007 from Balochistan province by plain clothed persons and was kept in different military torture cells for almost eight months. These men were all released after the restoration of Mr. Iftekhar Choudhry, the Chief Justice of Pakistan by the Supreme Court on July 20, 2007, as their cases of disappearance were before the High Court of Sindh.
The military authorities could not find any evidence of their involvement in the so called secessionist movement in Balochistan province. They all were dumped at different places along the road sides bearing severe torture marks on their bodies. They were told before their release by their military captors that if they revealed anything about their captivity in the military torture cells then they will be killed or persons from their families will face the same fate.
Mr. Salim Baloch, vice president of Jamhoori Watan Party of Balochistan, was abducted by plain clothed persons on March 10, 2006, from Karachi, Sindh province, and was kept in military torture cells in the different cities of Pakistan particularly, in the Punjab province, and severely tortured. He was released in the month of December 2006 with the warning that he should not tell about his detention in the military cells. But he was again abducted within 36 hours after he gave his statement about his ordeal of 9 months of torture and illegal detention. In his statement made before the Sindh High Court, Mr. Salim Baloch believed that he would be rearrested by the secret military agencies as he was threatened by the military officers that it would happen if he told about his arrest and torture. Mr. Baloch requested the High Court to provide protection but it paid no attention to his plea. Please see link for the urgent appeal which documents his ordeals, http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2007/2151/
An other case is that of Syed Abid Raza Zaidi, who was abducted by plain clothed persons from Karachi on April 26 and kept in military torture cells to get information on the Nishter Park incident of April 11. He was released in September but again abducted by plain clothed persons for not following the warning of the military authorities. After giving his statement before a panel discussion of Amnesty International and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan at Islamabad he was again abducted from another city of Lahore, Punjab province. Please see the details of the case through this link,
Eliminating Witnesses? The brutal murder of the Baloch leaders is ample proof of the involvement of state agencies in their abduction from the office of the lawyer. In that they all were abducted in the same fashion as others abducted by plain clothed persons in broad daylight in vehicles without registration numbers. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan “the Baloch leaders were forcibly picked up, blindfolded and taken in cars, closely followed by vehicles belonging to the Frontier Corps.” The medical investigations by the doctors at Civil hospital Turbat, Balochistan, suggests that all the three were shot dead at close range with Kalashnikov AK47s and their bodies were badly mutilated. The medical report suggests that they were killed one week before the bodies were recovered.
The three murdered people were members of the government’s committee which was looking into the cases of disappeared persons since 2001 in the province. Mr. Ghulam Mohammad had already given a statement that he saw some persons in the Rawalpindi, Punjab, military centre who had been missing for several years. Their own experiences of disappearances and detention at military torture cells was a problem for the state intelligence agencies. Mr. Ghulam Mohammad was also involved in a dialogue with the persons who abducted Mr. John Solecki, the head of UNHCR mission at Quetta, the capital of Balochistan. He was one of the Baloch nationalist by whose efforts Mr. Solecki was released.
Killing of witnesses threatens the possibility of any justice regarding the large numbers of persons who have disappeared in Pakistan. These recent killings seem to indicate the mobilisation of secret units in order to eliminate those who have knowledge about the maintenance of secret prisons and torture chambers in the country. Particularly those who have taken a keen interest in pursuing justice relating to these matters have been made targets of these killings. It is likely that these killings will be followed by similar actions to others. The knowledge about these murders will also discourage victims and witnesses who want to narrate the human rights abuses they have suffered and to seek justice. The deadening silence imposed in such circumstances will obstruct all attempts to return to a normal situation of rule of law. Now with the intervention of the Supreme Court under the Chief Justice, Iftekhar Choudhry who has been reinstated by popular intervention. On the other hand the terror tactics adopted in this way will act to the advantage of the extremist elements who resort to terrorism
Source: A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
PAKISTAN: Fingers point at state intelligence agencies in the killings of three Baloch nationalist leaders
These are unbelievable things reminiscent of the dark ages of times of Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Russia. Overtly fascist posture has been adopted by Pakistani state. Serious questions arise both for Pakistani people and the International community. Pakistani people must realize that they live in a country whose state is anti-people, they have to seriously re-think their “patriotism”. International community must act to stop this. The people of western democracies must take their governments to courts and stop them from giving a single penny in hands of Pakistani oligarchy. By law states which use “torture” as a policy cannot get public funds. By doing so they will be helping people of Pakistan who are victims of a neo-fascist state apparatus.
People of Pakistan must act on their own to attain democracy and defeat this oligarchy which is committing such heinous crimes.
Credit : Latest Pictures from BBC URDU.Com with thanks