Sunday, 26 June , 2011
The agencies that claim to be the people’s protector have brought the State into one of its deepest crises. And it is now in the hands of the torchbearers of truth to stand up and speak
Let there be
The only way to counter attempts by the intelligence agencies to intimidate is to respond: we do not fear!
the intelligence agencies after the protest. A smaller number had special branch officials show up at their homes. The pattern of intelligence agencies stopping citizen groups that claim a stake in the State and civilian supremacy and call for State accountability is continuing. Two: on the other side, a set of pamphlets printed by the Hizbut Tehreer, dated June 3, continue to be distributed freely. The pamphlets call for an internal coup within the Pakistan military by ‘honourable officers.’ The coup call bases itself upon the logics of the army heads and civilian heads being sell outs to America, the Osama bin Laden raid compromising sovereignty and an American threat to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. The pamphlet somewhat conveniently forgets to mention the terrorist threat within Pakistan, militants bred by the military. But this is not an unconsidered omission. The pamphlet is very self-aware of the audience it is speaking to and is careful of not hurting their sympathies for militants. These pamphlets have been distributed at elite cafes in Lahore and Islamabad, elite Lahore university, buses and mosques. In two weeks, the pamphlet has been handed to me at three different locations. The spreading of such clandestine discourse at such a critical period has come almost unopposed. While journalists speaking out, activists protesting have been targeted, the growth of this discourse continues unchecked. In a State where the intelligence agencies clamp down on all that opposes their interests the unchecked spread of this discourse, at a rather opportune and convenient moment, raises questions. It also appears that the distribution of these pamphlets is what is caused the New York Times to question the stability of General Kiyani’s position within the military and raise the alarm of a possible ‘colonels coup.’ While a concrete claim cannot be made, the pattern of the intelligence agencies turning a blind eye to Islamist radicals calling for a coup d’etat continues. Three, it has come to notice that the intelligence agencies arrested alleged ‘CIA informants’ who aided the Osama raid, whom included, interestingly, a military major. However, ISPR has officially denied. And this last week a serving brigadier was arrested
for alleged links with Hizb-ut-Tahrir and four majors were put through questioning. These arrests appear from a strange set of interests that accept the narrative of ‘sovereignty lost’ adopted by the civil-military brass in their Joint Resolution. The State’s relationship with America has come under critique. But there are no takers on the question of the State’s relationship with militants. Muhammad Hanif has taken up the baton in a brave and brilliant piece printed with Newsline, ‘Murshid marwa na dainna,’ through the use of verbal satire. A few journalists have raised their necks, only barely. But there are very few takers. The fear of the deep state and entrenchment within their motives is too strong. Times have changed. Or at least we need to recognize that they have. The agencies that claim to be the people’s protector have brought the State into one of its deepest crises. And it is now in the hands of the torchbearers of truth to stand up and speak. The State, and the Deep State, do not give the appearance of genuine change. The torch bearers of truth shall be targeted again. But this is a moment for them to unite and declare: let there be no fear! And stand up to the consequences.
Illustrated & Designed by Javeria Mirza
his is intended to be a rather small piece, almost irrelevant, almost marginal, almost non-existent. Just the way our eyesores (special agents) would like it to be. Meaningless. But it is motivated by something specific: the realisation that the agencies that pretend to guard the interests of the people of Pakistan, only serve to protect themselves. It also comes with the understanding that these lovelies are now only interested in propagating their love-childs, the products of their illegitimate ‘liason’ with the US of A (yes, yes, one can be funny without being so). There are three incidents to put forth. One: personal. Two: national. Three: (inter)national as examples. Nothing much does either signal really, except furnishing a sense of the transformations in army mentality. One, is to speak about being harassed by agencies over condemning the killing of an innocent by Rangers personnel. On June 12, a protest was taken out outside the Rangers Headquarters by a small group of activists. The group came out to condemn a brutal murder and declared it a reflection of the mentality bred into the army and its affiliates. They came out and asked, very fairly, that each civilian killing by members of the armed forces must be investigated into. For a citizenzy whose security guards have taken over their home directly three times now it was a fair demand to make. The life of each citizen has to be accounted for. And if any institution within the State takes a life it must be willing to face a people’s inquiry. The State of Pakistan has taken the lives of many citizens claiming the necessity to protect itself. This claim to protection, deeper analysts have claimed, has stood to protect the entrenched but particular interests that the State embodies. In the move to a people’s state it is essential to put the State to people’s scrutiny. This protest was one within such a set of claims. It was a group of citizens claiming their stake in the State and asking for it to become accountable. It was a simple demand, a polite demand, just like this article is. And yet a number of the protestors were harassed by
The State, and the Deep State, do not give the appearance of genuine change. The torch bearers of truth shall be targeted again. But this is a moment for them to unite and declare: let there be no fear! And stand up to the consequences
2 Peeling the freefall onion 4 Lahore and Dilly in a day
By Hashim bin Rashid
Peeling the freefall onion After going through Freefall, one can feel enlightened about the reasons of the meltdown and also the solutions By Mazhar Farid Chishti
oseph Stiglitz, currently on the faculty of the Colombia Business School, is a distinguished economist. He owes his fame not just to being the 2001 Economics Noble Laureate but due to his criticism of modern-day economic and political policies. His books are deemed to be massively important economic as well as political document. His books one after another like, Globalization and its Discontents, The Roaring Nineties, Making Globalization Work and the Three Trillion Dollar War, were all critically acclaimed. Freefall was no exception. This latest Stiglitz offering is an extremely important book after the great crash of 2008. No book covers the inbuilt reasons for the meltdown, the political drama, the ignorance and greed of a powerful group, the invisible hands, its aftermath, and where to go from there. After going through Freefall, one can feel enlightened about the reasons of the meltdown and also the solutions. “When the world economy went into freefall in 2008, so did our beliefs. Long-standing views about economics, about America, and about heroes have also been in freefall”. On February 15, 1999 Time magazine ran pictures of Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and Treasury Sectary Robert Rubin on its cover, giving the duo credit for
the boom of the 1990s. In popular perception, they were super gods. In 2000, the best-selling investigative journalist Bob Woodward wrote Maestro, a hagiography of Greenspan. To see the link between the crisis and these beliefs, one has to unknot what happened. How did the largest economy in the world go into freefall? What policies and what events triggered the great downturn of 2008? If we can’t agree on the answers to these questions, we can’t agree on what to do, either to get out of the crisis or to prevent the next one. This book argues that the problems are more deep-seated. Over the last twenty-five years this is supposedly self-regulating apparatus. Financial
Our modern society requires that government takes on a large role: from setting the rules and enforcing them, to providing infrastructure, to financing research, providing education, health and a variety of forms of social protection
Title: Freefall: Free Markets and the Sinking of the Global Economy Author: Joseph Stiglitz Publisher: ALLEN LANE an imprint of PENGUIN BOOKS Price: Rs1500; Year of Publication: 2010
system has repeatedly been rescued by the government. From the system survival we draw the wrong lessons that it was working on its own. Indeed, economic system hadn’t been
Of fiction and poetry
02 - 03
Sunday, 26 June, 2011
Living on the ’periphery’, writers like Shafi Hamdam and Syed Qasim Jalal don’t seem to receive their d recognized literary circles as well as the media
By Syed Afsar Sajid
hafi Hamdam’s collection of short stories Insan Aur Parinday and Syed Qasim Jalal’s verse collection Soore-Israfil are the subject of this review. Both are seasoned writers in their own right but living on the ’periphery’ of major literary centres like Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi, such writers don’t seem to receive their due share of attention from the recognized literary circles, as also the media, of these centres.
Insan Aur Parinday Shafi Hamdam is a versatile writer.
He is basically a fiction writer of both Urdu and Punjabi but over the years he has also diverted himself to writing poetry, inshaiya, pen-sketches and literary criticism in Urdu. Insan Aur Parinday is his latest collection of Urdu short stories numbering twenty-two. Noted short story writer Mansha Yad has written its ‘foreword’ while distinguished litterateurs Dr. Anwar Sadeed and Hanif Bawa have contributed to its flap. They are unanimous in their appreciation of Shafi Hamdam’s art as a short story writer. Mansha Yad thinks that Hamdam he is a realist in fiction while Dr. Sadeed is of the view that Hamdam’s fiction is focused on the contemporary human environment. Fiction writer Hanif Bawa opines that Hamdam writes in a homely style with little pretence to philosophizing and that his themes revolve around the pleasures and pains of the common man. As a fiction writer, Hamdam’s art rests on his intimate knowledge of and insight into the human psyche coupled with an embracing imagination. The
symbolic interpretation of the title of the collection is compatible with the general theme of his stories signifying the ironic paradox of the modern human progress viz., man’s capacity to ‘fly’ into and explore the space but his tragic failure to secure and ameliorate his lot on this earth. In fact the birds in his stories symbolize the author’s yearning for a life of pristine freedom, hope and love. Pyasi Rooh, Kitni Pukki, Kitna Katcha, Daldal May Phansa Hua Admi, Qabl Az Waqt, Qabr, Aurat Aur Ansoo, Baba Bohrwala, Raushni Ka Daira and Insan Aur Parinday are Hamdam’s representative stories fully reflective of the expanse of his art. At times, however, there is a tendency in him to overstretch the artistic bounds of what is termed as the ‘suspension of disbelief’ in the literary jargon. By and large he seems to stand on a tangible footing as a short story writer vis-a-vis his peers and contemporaries.
Soor-e-Israfil It is a collection of Syed Qasim
Jalal’s poetry (nazm and ghazal). Prof. Fida-e-Athar has written its preface tracing the poet’s biography and the fundaments of his poetic art. He has dwelt at length on the didactic aspect of his poetry, with a tinge, as it were, of hyperbole. In his ‘foreword’, Dr. Najib Jamal too harps on the same theme but in a more studied and balanced strain. In his ‘introduction’, however, Gohar Malsiyani has thoughtfully reviewed qat’at and rubaiyat included in the book elucidating their technique and context. Qasim Jalal’s tone is mostly hortative in the work being reviewed whence the symbolistic identity of its title. No doubt, life is a fact and its transposition in literature, fictive but this does not invest the literary writer with a licence to fabricate its truth beyond the reader’s recognition or distort its aesthetics beyond his apprehension. The truisms that the book espouses are likely to move all categories of readers but the aesthete, who would look to Faiz, Majeed Amjad and Faraz for his catharsis.
After a long time in Urdu working so well for most Americans before the crisis. Finding root causes is like peeling back an onion. Each explanation gives rise to further questions at a deeper level: perverse incentives may have encouraged shortsighted and risky behavior among bankers, but why did they have such perverse incentives? There is a ready answer: problem in corporate governance, the manners in which incentives and pay get determined. But the important question is why the market didn’t exercise discipline which is considered the beauty of market system. Again the natural answer lies in survival of the fittest, a ruthless solution to the answer. One looks beneath the surface, beyond the financial products, the subprime mortgage, and collateralized debt instruments; this crisis appears so similar to many that have gone before it. Both in the United States and abroad. There was a sure bubble and it broke, bringing devastation in its wake. The bubble was supported by bad bank lending, using a collateral assets whose value has been inflated by the bubble. The new innovations had allowed the banks to hide much of their bad lending, to move it off their balance sheet, to increase their effective leverage making the bubble all greater, and the havoc that it’s bursting brought all the worse. New instruments like CDS (Credit Default Swaps), allegedly for managing risk but in reality as much designed for deceiving regulators, were so complex that they amplified risk. Wall Street bankers believe that individually they had done nothing wrong and market system was fundamentally right. They say government made us do it, though its encouragement of homeownership and lending to the poor. Or the government should have stopped us from doing
it; it was the fault of the regulators. Financial crisis of 2008, has uncovered fundamental flaws in the capitalist system, or at least the peculiar version of capitalism that emerged after the USSR in the United States. Stiglitz finds resemblance of Great Depression of 1930s and supports the ideas of John Maynard Keynes, a commended British economist who at that time was emerged as a savior of capitalism. Keynes said to increase expenditure to stimulate the economy and this meant increasing the deficit. Some called it outright socialism and other saw it precursor to socialism. Further Stiglitz rejected Milton Friedman and his Chicago School of Economist, the supporter of free market system and Neo liberalism in early seventies. Ronald Regan and Margaret Thatcher both were great supporter of Neo Liberalism and implement the system in their home countries. Financial crisis is inevitable in capitalism. In Marx’s words it is creative destruction, a term originally derived from Marxist economic theory which refers to the linked processes of the accumulation and annihilation of wealth under capitalism. Further the term was supported by Joseph Schumpeter in his theory of economic innovation. According to economic historians Charles Kindleberger, financial crises have occurred at roughly ten years intervals for the last four hundred years. What to do and how can we prevent this world from further crises. Few strong recommendations are given. in our modern society requires that government take on a large role: from setting the rules and enforcing them, to providing infrastructure, to financing research, providing education, health and a variety of forms of social protection.
due share of attention from the
Title: Insan Aur Parinday (Afsanay) Author: Shafi Hamdam Publisher: Misal Publishers, Rahim Centre, Aminpur Bazaar, Faisalabad Pages: 144; Price: Rs.220/-
Title: Soor-e-Israfil Author: Syed Qasim Jalal Publisher: Jabran Isha’at Ghar, Urdu Bazaar, Karachi Pages: 216; Price: Rs.200/-
Zameer Naqvi uses all the bits of information to create a beautiful picture which has western art along with references to the sociocultural history of the British Isles By Qudsia Sajjad
igeh Deeda e Tasveer is a travelogue, but it indeed is more and less than a travelogue. The book consists of the impressions author received when he went to Britain to study for a degree in linguistics. To fulfill the conditions of travel writing, author has indeed traveled to Britain, but to un-fulfill those conditions, he stayed back in New Castle for his academic degree. So the book is an excellent showcase for all he saw on the move and all he experienced while staying put as an alien in the UK. Although his tolerance for the UK has ensured that he is no alien. The book comments on the social history of Britain as well as the writer’s personal experiences of a civilization that ruled the subcontinent for well over a hundred years. New ideas on linguistics, profiles of eccentric teachers, Turner’s paintings and the flora and fauna of the British Isles, all of it turns up in the book. The book is a surprise package, beautifully expressed with a command over Urdu language that is surprising, considering that it comes from someone who spent a life time learning and teaching English. For a long time in Urdu, not much has been written which has explained the fascination UK has for mere mortals like us. The book under review accomplishes a merger between the sensibility of English literature and the aesthetic of Urdu language. And in doing this it becomes an enchanting read for all the students of English who fortunately have decent command over Urdu. Zameer Naqvi uses all the bits of information to create a beautiful picture which has western art along with references to the sociocultural history of the British Isles. One of the things that he mentions in the book is George Stevenson, the founder of the railways. With a pet interest in railways, I found the information fascinating. Another beauty of this book is that not a single bit of information is out of place. The detail is well woven into the topic of the book.
Another beauty of this book is that not a single bit of information is out of place. The detail is well woven into the topic of the book
This topic is simply all that a man and a student gets to see in a country like the UK. From his academic adventure in the university to all his cultural adventures in the UK, everything the writer sees, all his experiences go towards making this book an excellent, refreshing re ad. N i g e h Deeda e Tasveer is divided into short chapters based upon Title: Nigah-i-Dida-e-Tasweer the thematic Author: Zamir Hussain Naqvi unity of Publisher: Classic, the Mall, Lahore the writer’s interest. Pages: 297; Price: Rs400 A visit to museums is the topic in one chapter where the author tries to give a bird’s eye view of western traditions in painting. A n o t h e r chapter talks about western music but explains it to the reader in traditional Urdu terms. The effect is simple Ahmed Yusufi in terms of sentence and enlightening. construction. The author’s canvas is full of Unlike the run on sentences English literary references which of decadent Urdu writing styles, due to familiarity gladdened Naqvi writes short, pithy and wellmy heart. He mentions the lake constructed sentences that reflect which inspired Wordsworth to a fine Urdu vocabulary. And his write his famous poem Daffodils sense of humour combines well though Ibne Insha, one of the with a deep understanding of the best Urdu humorous writers, post-colonial phenomena. called this lake a mere dirty pond. An instance of it would be: Naqvi does not reach this height “In a seminar, all answers to the of disdain; for him Wordsworth questions made little sense. The is Wordsworth and daffodils speakers seemed to be implying are daffodils. Written like a true ‘God knows best (because I connoisseur of English literature. don’t)! A mere mortal can only guess.’ Nobody asked the obvious question. ‘How can you justify Naqvi’s style of writing Urdu ruling a country with gunpowder is indeed classy and sophisticated. and shamelessness?’ But the real His wit is gentle, so is his satire. shame is, even I did not ask this Sometimes he bites large chunks question!” out of his own ego with an indulgent Despite Naqvi’s resentment of smile. Towards the lazy native the British Raj, he has made his tendencies the author behaves like peace with this unique heritage. a benevolent uncle. His derision As a teacher of English language, for the sub-continental laziness he has written a book in Urdu, is that of a generous and tolerant and this act is a merger of both spirit. At times his writing style is the languages and the civilizations slightly reminiscent of Mushtaq they represent.
The book is a surprise package, beautifully expressed with a command over Urdu language that is surprising, considering that it comes from someone who spent a life time learning and teaching English
Sunday, 26 June-02 July, 2011
Pictures by the Author
Lahore and Dilly in remote Loralai are now hopeful again. Since the winter of 2005, things have started to look up
Lahore and Dilly in a day And so it was that Lahore came to be completely deserted and Dilly partly so
By Salman Rashid
t was late afternoon on a November day. The mellow sun sat on the western horizon just above the brown and grey tree-less hills when we fetched up outside Lahore. The place was deserted. The doors set in high mud walls were closed and padlocked, not a soul walked the narrow lanes. The squares of agricultural plots were desiccated with a thick layer of powdery dust upon which stood sere stalks of what would have been corn and what were once handsome, spreading mulberry trees were mere leaf-less skeletons. It was a ghost town we had entered. My friend Dawood decided we should drive on to Dilly. And so, five minutes later we turned off the highway and entered Dilly. Ten minutes between Lahore and Dilly and not even an international border to cross may sound a geographical anomaly. But in Loralai district of Balochistan this is reality. And its origin lies two centuries, perhaps farther, in the past. Dilly was scarcely better. Here too dried outfields lay fallow behind mud walls along which ran desiccated channels where water once flowed; here too were skeletal remains of once handsome trees under whose cooling shade the Dillywallahs would have reposed during the long summer afternoons and here were also a few emaciated goats and donkeys browsing in the dust. We passed by padlocked doors
opening into deserted streets seeking the home of Malik Abdus Samad. He was an elder and one of the better off landowners of the village and with him we had hoped to talk of the old days. Once we could have stopped anywhere we wished to ask directions; now we were hard put to meet with anyone. After a couple of wrong turns and a few knocks on doors that were not padlocked, we fetched up outside the Malik’s home. His sons led us across the high-walled courtyard and into a dimly lit room. Malik Abdus Samad, perhaps in his late fifties, with a full-bearded chubby face lay in a bed under a thick quilt. He was crippled after an accident some months earlier. But he was willing to talk. This part of Loralai had long been renowned for its almonds – and not just one, but three different species. There was also a goodly quantity of mulberry, apricot, pomegranate and some peach to be had. The well-off Loralai land-holder could safely boast of five or six thousand almond trees and a hefty fiscal turnover annually from its crop. So plentiful was the yield of the almond orchards that every autumn traders loaded up their camels and ox-carts with their produce and began the long slog to the markets of Lahore and Delhi. But that is hearsay; what persists in memory is the ox-cart journey to Harnai where they loaded their produce on the train to the plains. And this would have been only after the late 1880s when the railway line was laid. With the proceeds of their almond sales, farmers enlarged their plantations and the new townships that came up near older homesteads were given the names of the ones the farmers traded with: those who took their produce to Lahore called theirs by that name and the group trading with Delhi called their township Dilly
(with a palatal d). The Malik remembered a time before partition when he accompanied his father on the bullock cart laden with their almond crop on the three-day journey to Harnai. There they loaded their precious cargo on the train and rode another two days to Lahore. Sometimes their journey extended all the way to Delhi. But then came the partition of the subcontinent and Lahore was the last limit of their forays. Proceeds were fair and it was a good life that Malik Abdus Samad can look back on. Things went well until the 1980s when the worst drought in human memory hit Loralai together with most other parts of the country. The district being rain-fed, produce began to peter off until there came a spring when the trees just barely broke out in blossom. The farmers did not lose faith hoping that the summer would bring some rain or the next
winter snow on the mountains. The aquifer would be recharged, they hoped, and it would soon be back to business as usual. But that did not happen and the following couple of years saw the orchards start to die off. Today in Dilly and Lahore it is not a rare landowner who will tell you that he lost about eighty percent of his almond trees – Samad being no exception. And the almond tree is the most drought-resistant and least irrigation intensive; other fruit trees being less hardy were completely wiped out. This is the typical scale of loss. The rich were reduced to poverty and the not so well-off simply moved out of the area to seek their fortunes elsewhere. With farming being the only craft they knew, many joined the coal mines of Harnai and Shareg; others went farther afield to the cities of Sindh and Punjab to work as unskilled labourers. And so it was that
Lahore came to be completely deserted and Dilly partly so. Time is that these villages are now peopled only by the elderly, women and children. Young men able of body and mind can only be seen during religious holidays. Lahore and Dilly in remote Loralai are now hopeful again. Since the winter of 2005, things have started to look up. Early that year, the first snow of many years fell on the neighbouring hills and the villages themselves saw some rain. The farmers are now replanting their orchards and some of the younger members are only too glad to be returning home to tend to this growing responsibility. And so life edges slowly back to normal in Lahore and Dilly. –Salman Rashid, rated as the best in the country, is a travel writer and photographer who has travelled all around Pakistan and written about his journeys.
The farmers are now replanting their orchards and some of the younger members are only too glad to be returning home to tend to this growing responsibility. And so life edges slowly back to normal in Lahore and Dilly