Dr Ayesha Siddiqa is one the most brilliant academic of Pakistan. Daughter of noted Urdu novelist and recipient of prestigious Adam Gee Award for literature Jamila Hashmi she rose to popular fame with the publication of her book “Military Incorporated” a brilliant theoretical contribution on Pakistan Army. She also stands out for distancing her self from anti government rhetoric of most liberal intellegentsia of Pakistan. She has frequently drawn attention to Pakistan’s collaboration with Islamist militancy. She along with Hassan Askari Rizvi was first to point out the principle contradiction in present bourgeois state set up. The conflict between  President Zardari and GHQ. Amongst the liberal academics she was also first to question the Lawyers Movement’s intentions and changing nature of Judicial activism in Pakistan referring  to it as “Judicial populism”. Yet the  persistent capitulation by president Asif Ali Zardari and his failure to give face to liberal and progressive political legacy of PPP has forced almost all of his well wishers to question their perspective. General Zia’s railway minister is Mr Zardari’s prime minister , son of Zia’s governor has  just left the government in an embarrassing situation. The unfortunate irony is that he was not stopped when he was changing the direction of Pakistan’s foreign policy to the favour of Pakistan Army. The conflict exploded in form of Raymond Davies incident. His prime minister publicly declared Zulficar Ali Bhutto’s socialist educational policy as wrong. PPP’s secretary information Fauzia Wahab criticized very core of Bhutto’s economic policy and lectured every one of privatization and economic liberalism and that when even Sarkozi was forced to condemn it after Global Financial Crisis. When Salman Taseer was murdered in cold blood in Islamabad his home minister who had long ties of Begum Shafiqa Zia and Chaudharies of Gujrat commented “I would personally shoot a blasphemer” . This despite the fact that Benazir Bhutto was strongly against Blasphemy law and so far  we believed that Mr Zardari was too. His Law minister , one reputed to enjoy his trust   pledged  to support the infamous ziaist Blasphemy Law even if costed him his life. His home minister Mr Rehman Malik also speaks language of IsI when it comes to Balochistan. He too is reputed to be a Zardari’s partisan. Yet another his  confidant is Mr Jamshaid Dasti who has strong ties with Sipah e Sahaba. It’s a total right-wing regime on whose top is sitting Chairperson of Pakistan Peoples Party , the largest socialist Party of Pakistan which is member of Socialist International as well. One simply fails to understand where is party’s co-chairman? Why there is a complete capitulation to right? Why all of chairman’s confidants  are Ziaist? I have frequently drawn parallels from history Zardari should start looking at pictures of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of 1977. He too became hostage to “loyalists”. Those who were sitting on his right and left during negotiations with PNA. Those too were his most vulgar of partisans those who led him to capitulate to right. Those were first to ditch him after 5th July. Zardari should always remember Kosar Niazi

Shaheryar Ali

By Ayesha Siddiqa ( with thanks: Express Tribune)

ayesha.siddiqa@tribune.com.pk

Rehman Malik has yet again scattered his pearls of illogic by saying that the interior ministry was planning to impose restrictions on artists, journalists and students on scholarships travelling to India. They will now have to seek a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the ministry. Initially, it sounded as if he meant everyone visiting India. It seems so reminiscent of the Zia days. More important, I wonder what the president has to say in his defence when he had reminded a year ago some civil society members that, they were constantly pestering him to revoke the blasphemy law and improve relations with India. Creating space in the religious discourse and improving relations with regional states is critical for Pakistan’s own growth and development. Since the end of the 1980s, every government seems to have realised this logic. Or was it a different Asif Zardari than this one who seems to have gone in hiding and so allows his interior minister to shoot himself and the entire nation in the foot? Or is it that the president is too scared to implement what he had reminded the civil society members of? We know that his party is completely divided on supporting Taseer and may be in a greater fix on improving ties with India. Such restrictions on artists , students and journalists are ridiculous and give the country an image of a state with an iron curtain just like the one that the former Soviet Union had during the days of the Cold War. Everyone has the right to travel around freely. Unless the government employs these people, they are private citizens who sell certain services and it gives the country a good name when they perform abroad. The government may or may not have any contribution in training these artists or making them famous. In any case, why should the government care about its citizens making a fool of themselves while they are abroad when it has no qualms about great names like Mehdi Hassan living a life of poverty and in ill-health. Let’s be honest, it was only after Rahat Fateh Ali made his way to a bigger market in Bollywood that he got noticed in Pakistan and outside. Why such a show of aimless ego when the government doesn’t care about the thousands of Pakistanis that travel or live abroad? Or will Rehman Malik impose a condition on all Pakistanis travelling abroad to seek an NOC just because some are found to be involved in crimes in other countries? After all, people may or may not engage in activities in the future that would eventually put them in trouble or embarrass them. But they do not necessarily become the government’s responsibility. In any case, if Mr Malik is so peeved about the state’s honour and wants to regulate the behaviour and personal lives of citizens, he may also look into disciplining the numerous militant organisations that create trouble abroad. This might help the state’s image more than anything else. The interior ministry does not even have the infrastructure and system to impose such a law. Such restrictions at best will ensure that Pakistani artists don’t get invited abroad. The interior minister is possibly trying to make the establishment happy. But then, isn’t he supposed to take his cue from Asif Zardari? Or is it that the president himself has changed the way he used to think about peace and stability in the region and changing relations with neighbours? I am also reminded of Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s first visit to the UK as a foreign minister. The Pakistani high commissioner gathered a few individuals from think tanks and some journalists for a dinner meeting with the foreign minister. Later in the evening, the foreign minister rose to give his speech. He passionately spoke about his desire to make his first trip to India and improve relations with them. It all sounded good except that the defence, air and naval attaches sitting on my table did not see eye to eye with him. Clearly, their brief was different from Qureshi’s. It was not too long before he also started following the brief from the GHQ rather than from his party’s leadership. Now it appears that other ministers have gone the same route. A similar restriction was introduced under Zia’s rule which was fought back and removed through the efforts of Benazir Bhutto. It would help if someone saw the illogic of the above decision. Published in The Express Tribune, March 6th, 2011.

Shaheryar Ali

Today Federal Minister for minorities Mr Shahbaz Bhatti was murdered in Federal capital of the Islamic Republic. He was murdered in cold blood by the band of fascist thugs known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan who were swift to claim responsibility. Mr Bhatti was a life long activist for minority rights and a vocal opponent of the infamous “Qanoon-e-Toheen-e-Risalat” (Blasphemy Law). A progressive who along with Salman Taseer and Sherry Rehman was on forefront of introducing secular pro-minority agenda on national level and within PPP.

The murder is linked with that of Governor Taseer and now Sherry Rehman is the person most under threat. These murders are result of the organic crisis of Islamic Republic. A governor was murdered by his own security guards and now a federal minister is shot dead when he was leaving to attend cabinet meeting.   Federal minister was “without security”. In these kind of situations when factions of state and their proxies are in a state of chaotic warfare many murders are destined to occur and destined to remain un-resolved. Since the “Black Revolution” right wing was able to re-assert itself in the power struggle within Pakistani state. Musharraf’s purges had led to weakening of hardcore Islamist cadre in Pakistan Army; the traditional bastion of power of Pakistani Right. This had significantly weakened their power within state. This loss was compensated by Lawyers Movement who gave Pakistani right a new power center through which they can dictate their agenda. The restoration of hardcore right wing judges meant that every initiative by Zardari regime to curb Islamofascism be made ineffective. This was visible soon after their restoration when we saw statements from honorable judges who pledged their support to Blasphemy laws, Islamic statutes of constitution, the objective resolution.

Every single terrorist caught has been set free by our free judiciary. United Nation sanctions against Punjabi Taliban were made ineffective by Khawja Sharif’s court. The court has never taken notice of Taliban atrocities throughout Pakistan. When in Karachi the allies of Lawyers movement pledged to “kill anyone who mourns Salman Taseer’s murder” no action was taken. When it was said that every such person should “write his will” and “buy his kafan” no suomoto action was taken. Bars are conducting functions in support of assassin of Governor Taseer and those organizing it are those who use to chant “chief tere jaa’n nisar—–“. It simply means that it’s a “license to kill”.  Secular clowns who didn’t listened to anyone when they were marching with General Hameed Gul and Qazi Hussain Ahmad that what will be the result of radicalization of the poorly educated lawyers.  From Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan to Murderer Qadri this is what Bar has to offer to Jinnah’s Pakistan. When judges pledge support for such laws, Lawyers turn a assassin into a hero and government exist merely as ghost who doesn’t even controls Islamabad this happens what is happening.

With Rehman Malik and Babar Awan controlling Law and home ministries we can be sure that no secular man or woman will either get security or the public prosecution will ever build a case to send these thugs to gallows. With assassination of Governor Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti it has been confirmed. Sherry Rehman should be under no illusion her life is in serious danger, I strongly appeal to her that she should immediately leave the country. Don’t believe any assurances either of government or Americans. Dangers are that every progressive voice will be silenced. You have a responsibility to your life as well as to next generations to protect the progressive legacy of PPP. You can be more effective in advocacy for minorities abroad.  I am sure you will listen to voices of reason and leave.

 

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