Sunday, 02 October, 2011
the review Illustrated & Designed by Babur Saghir
By Ammar Ali Jaan
around the world including the Pakistani, American, Soviet, Israeli and Saudi intelligence networks. Afghans paid the heaviest price for these adventures both in terms of human lives and the devastation of state institutions while Pakistanis are feeling its impact at the present moment in myriad ways. As they say, wars abroad always come back to haunt domestic politics.
Remembering the CIA-mullah nexus
The pragmatists in our midst would dismiss the narration of this history as a futile exercise since, in their opinion, we need to stop being stuck in the binaries of the past when the CIA and the mullahs were colluding in the region. Yet, we must aggressively insist on retaining this history in our collective memory, for the issue at stake is not whether there has been a reconfiguration of interests in the region amongst the major players, rather whether there has been a clear break in their thinking.
‘Good Taliban, Bad Taliban’
In t h e post 9/11 world, while it w a s certain that the US government will carry out retribution against the attacks owing to public pressure, it refused to re- examine its own criminal role in ruining an entire country. Instead, it was declared an attack on freedom and a rigid binary was created between ‘those with us or against us’ signaling that the whole world had to accept a homogeneous narrative whose contours were being set by Washington. This moment led to a resurgence in the Pak-US relations, with both countries agreeing to wipe out the menace of terrorism, just as they had earlier waged a joint struggle against communism with disastrous results. We were told that we were living in ‘exceptional’ times since we were fighting a shadowy enemy against whom we required powerful intelligence network. Hence, the already bloated powers of secret agencies in our country Continued on page 7
The Star and Gripes
As the US battles those it equated with its ‘founding fathers’ Deviating from the unilateral pattern of the past, Pakistan in Pakistan and invites them to dialogue in Afghanistan, we should this time round genuinely strive to evolve a must lay to rest the ‘Good Taliban, Bad Taliban’ hypothesis consensus on the future of US-Pakistan ties By Hashim bin Rashid
forgotten image has made a comeback, and it was a policy shift by the United States that set the tone for its come back: Jalaludin Haqqani, head of the Haqqani group, addresses the
White House as US President Ronald Reagan watches in awe and admiration. Speaking after the Haqqani head, Ronald Reagan said, “The gentlemen are moral equivalents to the founding fathers of Continued on page 7
By Khawaja Manzar Amin
he sole superpower is in mighty desperate straits these days. It is stuck in the Afghan quicksand and sinking deeper still as it struggles to extricate itself. Its economy is in a shambles
and the Chinese (formerly Jewish) landlord ‘sits on the window sill, the owner’. The bitter lesson has finally sunk in: a decisive military victory is impossible in hostile terrain peopled by fierce and crafty Continued on page 7
2 Palestine’s Diplomatic Intifada 8 The Sikh Jail that wasn’t
i k e Mu l l en’s allegations against the ISI have stirred up a storm in Pakistan’s establishment circles. Various prescriptions have poured in from different quarters. Liberals feel vindicated for they had long been claiming that the intelligence arm was playing a double game. Nationalist types feel their pride has been dented by Mullen’s statement and want the government to stand firmly in defense of the military while ‘pragmatic’ intellectuals reject this ‘either/or’ approach and want to deal with this problem with a sober cost-benefit analysis by both countries before proceeding to articulate their next move. One’s aim here is not to add to this growing chorus of policy prescriptions being offered to both the US and Pakistan states. What one does is to point out are two assumptions that run through each of these analyses: One, that the US and Pakistan nation-states and their ‘strategic objectives’ remain the point of reference in this debate. On this subject, this debate is conducted without reference to the history or character of either the Pakistani or US state, particularly in the events that led to the present crisis. Second, it assumes that foreign policy can be decided by ‘experts’ behind doors without regard for public perception. It is common knowledge that the chief of the Haqqani network, Jalaluddin Haqqani, was not only supported by the US as a mujahideen fighter against the Soviet Union, but was also President Reagan’s guest at the White House. This, of course, was a time when Pakistan and Afghanistan had become a playing field for intelligence agencies from
Palestine’s Diplomatic Intifada
The world gave a resounding verdict on the UN General Assembly floor, as the many standing ovations to Mahmous Abbas testified By Hashim bin Rashid “After 63 years of suffering: enough, enough, enough.” Mahmoud Abbas President of the Palestinian Authority before the UN General Assembly “We will be very generous on the size of a future Palestinian state. But as President Obama said, the border will be different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967.” Benjamin Netanyahu Prime Minster of Israel “I am convinced that there is no shortcut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades.” Barack Obama President of the United States -------------------------------------------he question of Palestine had been forgotten by the world. To a world that engaged in the rhetoric of human rights on a daily basis, Palestine retained no mention. There was, of course, something fundamentally wrong. The Palestinians would resist, the Arabs would resist, but eventually they would return to talks with Israel, with the United States (US) acting as ‘neutral facilitator.’ Of course, no one truly believed the US was neutral, not even the Palestinians. But so long as the contrary was not blatantly manifested before the world, the US could continue to play the impartiality card. And so the Palestinian’s had to play their card. The immediate aims were two. One: to thrust the Palestinian question back into world discourse. Two: to de-centre the US from the negotiations process. And so, on September 2011, the Palestinian President stood before the same creature that had decided their fate six decades ago: the United Nations (UN). And the Palestinian people put their hopes in him.
Before their greatest detractor
The guilt of the West And the West had to consent. Theorist of decolonisation, Aime Cesaire had dissected the European’s guilt in his Discourse on Colonialism. He had said, “what he (the White European) does not forgive Hitler is not the crime in itself, the crime against the white man, it is the inflicting on Europeans of European colonialist procedures which until now were reserved for the Arabs of Algeria, the coolies of India and the Negroes of Africa.” This formed the crux of the West’s guilt. A ‘rational, systematic’ process was initiated to kill the Jews in Hilter’s Germany, and as Hannah Arendt would put it, it was a fulfillment of the potentials within modernity. And so it was that in legitimating Israel (and sanctioning the Palestinian apartheid), the West found its re-dress. It did not learn to undo the processes that had caused its guilt. It just legitimised them, once again, and turned a blind eye.
1917 - Balfour Declaration
PALESTINE-ISRAEL CONFLICT TIMELINE
Sunday, 02 October, 2011
The forum Mahmoud Abbas chose
had been rejected by his predecessors. It was the UN General Assembly – that which Abbas had put his cards in – that had voted to partition Palestine into two states in November 1947. It was not the beginning of the oppression of Palestinians, but it was the legitimisation of it. And, so Abbas, stood before the body that had sanctioned his people’s oppression, to de-legitimise 63 years after it legitimised it. When the Palestinian leadership rejected the 1947 partition plan, a strange mirror to the Pak-India partition process, they were offered a state equal to 44% of their land. Echoing Jinnah’s words, it would be tantamount to have accepted a “moth-eaten” Palestine. However, in September 2011, Abbas stood before the UN General Assembly and asked for a Palestinian state on half of the earlier 44% terrain. Like Pakistan, whom lost half of its terrain, Palestine did too. But unlike Pakistan, Palestine never lost its people. Pakistan did. And that is where the comparisons stop. Having displaced 700,000 Palestinians before 1948, Israel continued to expand its control, pushing the Palestinians into smaller space. To the theatre of the world’s powerful, Israel played victim.
British make this declaration, viewed by Jews and Arabs as promising a “National Home” for the Jews in Palestine.
1923 - British given Mandate for Palestine
Taking it to the UN So when Abbas stood before the UN, he spoke a new language, a language which remembered the suffering, and did not mince words. Abbas spoke of justice, not peace. Abbas spoke of re-dressing wrongs on the Palestinians, not seeking accommodation with Israel. Abbas spoke of a “colonial military occupation.” Abbas spoke of “ethnic cleansing” and “the brutality of repression and racial discrimination.” Abbas spoke of 63 years of suffering. Abbas spoke a language forgotten in the 1990s by Palestinian leaders, which included himself. In a history where protest has been met with tanks, stones with bullets, missiles with airstrikes, claims to statehood with more Jewish settlements. Twice, the Israeli state expanded its territorial control, and further bounded a growing Palestinian population. Both, 1948 and 1967, were wars against the Arabs. When war seemed like it offered no re-dress, the Palestinian’s launched two Intifadas (or, rebellions). The first between 1987 and 1993, the second starting in 2000. In response, Israel built a security barrier. One that left no doubts about the apartheid. September 2011 was however different. Palestine launched a third Intifada. Only that this one was diplomatic. And so the world was forced to reckon with the question of the Palestinian oppression once again.
Obama reveals the US hand When Palestine played its cards, all eyes turned to the US, not Israel. What Benjamin Netanyahu would say was a given. What Obama had to say was no surprise either. When Obama spoke he ceded, “the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own” and the vision had been delayed too long. But he did not speak of negotiations based on the 1967 war borders, of the need for land swaps, or settlements. Moreover, he actively threatened to veto the Palestinian statehood demand. This was good. This contradicted Washington’s claim to be the main mediator by revealing itself to be Israel’s lawyer. It also set up a confrontation with France and Britain, effectively opening the space
1947 – UN Resolution
With a two-thirds majority international vote, the UN General Assembly passes a Partition Plan dividing the British Mandate of Palestine into two states. The Jewish leadership accepts the plan, but the Arab leadership rejects it.
1949 - Armistice
for Europe to claim a greater role in the mediation process. During his speech to the UN, French president Nicolas Sarkozy openly question the US role in the Isreal-Palestianian talks, calling it “years of failure.” He only uttered the truth, but in so far as norms go, to utter the truth goes against diplomacy’s old adage. This was a product of the power of the Palestinian diplomatic thrust. It had successfully de-centred the US from the politics of Statehood. And as an editorial piece in Al-Jazeera punned, there will be a time during this UN session, when Obama shall ask himself, “This isn’t right.”
The new path So, before we end, we must ask: what has the Palestinian diplomatic intifada achieved? If the aim was to re-negotiate the terms of the debate and to reduce the American role, the move was a success. There is a sense that Israel is not serious about a resolution, and one echoed by none other than former US President Bill Clinton. Clinton held Netanyahu responsible pointing out that Israel’s two critical demands had been met. One: a Palestinian authority willing to be a partner for peace. Two: Arab recognition. Clinton said the Abbas-led Palestianian authority and the declaration of willingness by Arab states, including Saudi Aradia, to both recognise and trade with Israel was fulfillment of these demands. The two critical Palestinian demands have gained credence: one, a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders; two, a freeze on Israeli settlements. But neither Israel nor the US are willing to cede to them. In fact, on the Wednesday after the UN application for statehood was submitted, Israel announced plans to construct 1,100 new homes at the Gilo settlement between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, annexed in 1967. Israeli ministers have threatened Palestine with revoking the Oslo accords (which granted the PA control of parts of the West Bank and Gaza), annexing West Bank settlements and withholding Palestinian tax revenues collected by Israel. The problem is, if it does so, Israel will be left with only the US on its side. And whatever the fate of a UN
Israel and Arab states agree to armistice. Israel gained about 50% more territory than was originally allotted to it by the UN Partition Plan.
1964 - PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) founded.
1967 - 6-day war
Israel destroys the Egyptian forces, conquers and occupies Sinai and Gaza, conquers the West Bank from Jordan, and Golan Heights from Syria. UN resolution 242 calls for Israeli withdrawal.
Security Council vote, bound to be heavily manipulated by the US, a return to the table for talks was always fated. And it is here, where the gains made by Abbas are likely to show.
A compromise demand
by check posts, permits, demolitions, confiscation and harassment from settlers. And it is here that the most critical need to exert pressure on Israel lies: to end its occupation of Palestine and to gain moral legitimacy by doing so.
1982 - Israeli invasion of Lebanon to fight PLO
End of the Second Intifada. Declaration of Principle on Interim SelfGovernment signed
2005 - Violence in Gaza & Disengagement Israeli evacuation of Gaza settlements and four West Bank settlements began on August 15 and was completed August 24.
Palestine will become the 194th member of the UN if its application for statehood succeeds. But what will this mean on the ground? By Harriet Sherwood
If Palestine were to be granted fullmember state status by the UN, all that would change would be a cosmetic change of status from “occupied territories” to “occupied state.” But it would open up the option to ask for international help to ask for international help to end the occupation. It would also define Israel’s borders for the first time since 1949 and hold the potential to halt its expansion. The current state bid, is from all angles, a compromise demand. It demands a minimal political arrangement, ignores the rights of refugees, legitimises the 1948 Israeli occupation of almost 80% of original Palestine and allows it occupancy of illegal post-1967 illegal settlements under cover of the “land swap” device. According to 2010 figures, over 500,000 Jewish settlers occupied 144 settlements dotted across the West Bank and East Jerusalem with no limit set on settlement expansion. All else said, it was clear that Abbas knew what he was doing. His was an attempt to force the world to reckon with the question of Palestine, again, after a peculiarly difficult decade for Palestinians. Faced with a number of embargos, the creation of a wall, food embargos, rocket fire, hunger, internal tussles between Fatah and Hamas and an unrecognised 2004 election, the Palestian cause appeared to fast be losing hope and appeared set to drag on. The UN statehood bid was a calculated and effective bid to keep the Palestinian question a priority, and the UN Security Council debate will mean the question will have been moved up a scale in the world’s priorities. However, whatever critique be offered of Israel, any clamouring for a return to 1948 means a second uprooting, which would be another humanitarian calamity that cannot be accepted. We must recognise that if Palestine has the right to recognition, so does Israel. But that goes hand-in-hand with a critique of Israel. There is also an interesting side question, if Palestine succeeds in its bid to gain statehood (however unlikely). What would it means for other marginalized ethnic groups within UN member states? Kashmir in India, Chechniya in Russia, Kosovo in Bosnia, Kurdistan in Iraq, the Basque region in Spain and Balochistan in Pakistan, could follow the same route eventually. But as far as the question of Palestine itself goes, whatever the result of a UN vote, it will not end the Israeli occupation. The day-to-day lives of Palestinians will continue to be governed
1993 – Oslo Accords
Towards an independent state
What will be the territory of Palestine? Palestine is likely to consist of territory in the West Bank and Gaza, totalling around 6,200 sq km (2,393 sq miles). At the moment the two areas are physically separate, although they could be linked by a sealed road in future. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their new state.Israel, which annexed the east of the city after the 1967 war, rejects any division. The borders have not been decided and will be a matter for negotiation with Israel, which wants to retain its big settlement blocs in the West Bank. Land swaps in compensation are expected to be agreed. The Palestinian population is around 2.6 million in the West Bank, 1.6 million in Gaza and 270,000 in East Jerusalem. Palestinians are overwhelmingly Muslim although there is a small Christian population. There are also around 300,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank and a further 200,000 in East Jerusalem. Israel evacuated settlers from Gaza in 2005. Arabic is the language of Palestine. What are the symbols of the new state? Flag: black, white and green stripes overlaid with a red triangle, adopted as the flag of the Palestinian people in 1964. It was banned by the Israeli government until 1993. Passport: Palestinian Authority passports have been available to people born within its jurisdiction since 1995. However, many Palestinians hold Jordanian passports. Currency: the Israeli shekel, but there is talk of reviving the Palestinian pound. Sport: Palestine has both a men’s and a women’s national football team. Military: Palestine has no army, airforce or navy.
2000 –Camp David summit
This summit between Barak, and Arafat, aimed at reaching a “final status” agreement, fails after Arafat refuses to accept a proposal drafted by the US and Israeli negotiators
2000 - Start of Second Intifada
Palestinians initiate riots after Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount, which is also the location of the Haram as Sharif holy to Muslims.
2008 - Operation Cast Lead
Israel launches a full scale invasion of the Gaza Strip in response to rocket attacks by Palestinian armed groups. Some 1400 Palestinians are killed, many of them civilians
How is Palestine governed? There are two separate de facto governments in the West Bank and Gaza, under a president elected by all the Palestinian people. There is also an elected legislative council. In the West Bank, the authority, dominated by the Fatah political faction, is the official administrative body. Established in 1994 under the Oslo accords, its jurisdiction runs only in the main cities of the West Bank. Hamas is in charge of the Gaza Strip after fighting a bloody battle for control against Fatah in 2007, after winning elections 18 months before. The Palestinian president is Mahmoud Abbas, and the prime minister in the West Bank is Salam Fayyad. In Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh is the de facto prime minister. Earlier this year, following a reconciliation agreement with Hamas, which has since faltered, Abbas promised elections next year. Does Palestine already have most of the institutions of state? There is a legislative council and local authorities, and ministries of finance, health, education, transport, agriculture, interior, justice, labour, culture, social affairs etc. The West Bank and Gaza have separate security forces and judicial systems. There is a Palestinian stock exchange in Nablus. Where does its money come from? Most of the authority’s income comes from international donors, although it also raises money from taxes and customs. Under the Oslo accords, Israel collects around £69m each month in customs duties which it then forwards to the authority. Employees pay taxes, although much employment is on a cash basis. Most of the West Bank’s trade is with Israel, although some goods are exported to Europe. Exports from the West Bank were estimated to be worth around
$850m (£541m) last year. Exports from Gaza have ceased, with rare exceptions, since Israel imposed a blockade more than four years ago. The EU contributes around $700m a year, and the US $600m. In April, the International Monetary Fund said the authority was “now able to conduct the sound economic policies expected of a future well-functioning Palestinian state, given its solid track record in reforms and institution-building in the public finance and financial areas.” Gaza’s funding is opaque. According to Israeli and western intelligence, money is channelled from Iran and Islamist supporters in the Arab world. Will state recognition change the situation on the ground? No, is the short answer. Almost everything will be the same. The lives of Palestinians will continue to be dominated by the Israeli occupation and control over their territory. But it may strengthen their position in future talks. What about Gaza? Gaza is hardly mentioned in all the current debate about a Palestinian state. Mahmoud Abbas is the elected president of all Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza, but the current geographic and political separation make a unified state difficult. Hamas disapproves of the authority’s approach to the UN, saying it reflects a “path of compromise” instead of resistance. Haniyeh has said: “We support establishing a Palestinian state on any part of Palestinian land without giving up an inch of Palestine or recognising Israel.” I want to visit the new state of Palestine. How do I get there? The West Bank’s only entry and exit points are overland via Israel and Jordan. It has no airport and is landlocked. It is practically impossible for ordinary visitors to get into Gaza. It has two strictlycontrolled exit and entry points by land to Israel and Egypt. Israel maintains a naval blockade off Gaza’s coast preventing the movement of sea traffic.
2004 – International Court of Justice rules that the Israeli separation barrier violates international law and must be removed
2011- Palestine Papers
Al Jazeera releases The Palestine Papers, revealing a trove of documents, e-mails and minutes of meetings, shedding light on 10 years of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Straight from the diplo
In the wake of the recent murder of Burhanuddin Rabbani, this is an important insider’s account of the past tw By Natasha Shahid Kunwar “In the entire subcontinent, nothing like this work has been written or ‘even attempted’, matching the breadth of its sweep and the depth of its analyses.[…] Unlike almost all writers in South Asia, the author’s commitment to the truth consistently prevails over patriotic impulses.” – A.G. Noorani, Frontline, India
I Designed by Sana Ahmed
t is not every day that a critic like A.G. Noorani gives such a well-pronounced thumbs-up to any book, let alone one on such a globally beaten up subject. The leftist lawyer, Advocate of the Supreme Court of India, is known for his “supreme” argumentative skills – and for the lack of ease with which he is impressed. Therefore, the generosity of positive evaluation that he has granted the book in consideration does come across as rather overboard. That is, until we have seen the work for ourselves. For, to this reviewer, Riaz Mohammad Khan’s, “Afghanistan and Pakistan:
‘A cross between Gandhi and Guy Fawkes’
Sunday, 02 October, 2011
04 - 05
Conflict, Extremism and Resistance to Modernity” – the successor of the author’s first work, “Untying the Afghan Knot: Negotiating Soviet Withdrawal” (1991), that left off where this new release picks up – has earned every bit of the critical praise it has received. A highly informing read cover to cover, and heavy not only in extent but also in content, the book follows the format of a standard work of research, fulfilling the due requirements of efficient referencing. However, this book is not just that. “Afghanistan and Pakistan” is a unique fusion of an academic research work and a firsthand account. While most books are either one or the other – and some are neither, with due respect – this particular book achieves the rare feat of bringing the both together. That is, if we do not fall for the author’s word, who denies it being an extensively researched work. But with such an impressive quality and quantity of sources consulted, Riaz Khan must be displaying some of his famed humility when he thus remarks in the Introduction to the book: “the
oo late. Don’t worry Jem – you come across as you always wanted to – Joan of Arc,” was the response I got from my ex-husband, Imran Khan, when I asked if it would be possible to read his memoirs before they were published. Imran and I have remained on very good terms. He even uses my mother’s house as a London base when he’s in the UK. Still, hearing that there was a chapter in Pakistan: A Personal History entitled “My Marriage”, was, I’ll admit, unsettling. I wrestled an advance copy, a brick of a book, from my sons (to whom it had been dedicated, as well as to “the youth of Pakistan”). Imran is featured on the front, looking moodily into the middle distance with backcombed, boy-band hair. (And before any Pakistanis get their shalwars in a twist about my irreverence, Imran has an excellent sense of humour and enjoys a tease, by me or a comb). It is hard to over-estimate the importance of hair in Pakistan – a symbol of tantalising female sexuality, referred to in the Koran as an adornment that must be covered, and of male virility and power. An American-Pakistani hair transplant specialist recently moved his practice to Islamabad and after the summer re-
cess, the entire National Assembly reappeared with follicular explosions on their heads. I’m agog for the new Lollywood (Lahore’s Bollywood) blockbuster, Kaptaan, about Imran’s life and his marriage – to be released later this year – in which I am played by a Pakistani actress with a suitably big, blonde bouffant. Fortunately, the My Marriage chapter only contains a couple of pages on that subject, starting with our Mills & Boon-style first encounter – “I was particularly impressed by her strong value system” – and ending sadly. Typically Imran doesn’t dwell on this failure. The rest of the chapter, like the rest of the book and Imran’s life, is consumed by Pakistan and politics. At times, it reads like a manifesto, which in a way it is. Imran will be fighting elections next year. After 15 years in opposition and with a more robust and independent media and judiciary, for the first time I predict success. More importantly though, so do the most recent polls, with both YouGov and Pew declaring him Pakistan’s most popular candidate to lead Pakistan after the next elections. I agreed to interview him for the Independent’s Woodstock Literary Festival. Since I live up the road and he’s been busy on his book tour, it seemed like a good chance to catch up with him, talk to him about the book in which I appear, and confront him about his comment last week to The Sunday Times’ Camilla Long that “honeymoons are overrated”. His party announced the event on Twitter: “Jemima Khan In conversion (sic) with Imran Khan.” Been there, done that. We conversed at Woodstock. Imran talked convincingly about Islam and its compatibility with democracy and also of the corruption of the ruling elite, the breakdown of the rule of law, of women’s rights, the Taliban and
study is not based on rigorous or extensive research and in that sense cannot claim to be a work of scholarship.” I daresay this self-inflicted prosecution is hereby overruled. Spread over seven chapters as a whole, the content of the book is neatly categorized into three parts namely, “The Afghanistan Context: The Continuing Conflict” – holding the first four chapters – “The Pakistan Context and the Challenge of Extremism” – containing the fifth and sixth chapters – and, lastly, the third part, “Perspectives and Options”, with the solitary chapter entitled, “Conclusions”. The first three chapters in the first part proceed chronologically, divided by period and labeled according to the period’s highlight: 19891995,the nameless span of time between the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in ‘89 and the arrival of the Taliban in ‘95; 1995-2001,the bracket of time in which the
Afghanistan and Pakistan Pages: 385; Price: Rs. 995 Published by: Oxford University Press Year: 2011
even of cricket. The audience, judging by comments overheard afterwards, was duly converted. Of India, he smiled: “Since we can’t change our neighbours, we will have to live with them in a civilised way.” On accusations of being too soft on the Taliban, he gesticulated crossly: “Anyone who opposes the war on terror is called a Taliban sympathiser. The reason I wrote this book was to explain what the Taliban is – in Pakistan, it is a war of resistance, not religious ideology.” It is feudalism and hereditary politics, with parties like the PPP being handed down from father to son like heirlooms, which are the scourge of Pakistani politics, he boomed, in that way that used to startle small children. I made him promise that our oldest son would never be bequeathed PTI, his political party. Corruption was Pakistan’s other main challenge, he said. He would not work with other mainstream parties because the leaders of those parties are, without exception, corrupt. He has been offered and turned down prominent roles with all the major parties for that reason. His party is, after all, called, “Pakistan’s Movement for Justice”. Imran has always been unfailingly, unfathomably confident. The greatest lesson he has learned from cricket? “Never to give up, to fight to the end.” For the benefit of my gambling brothers, he said, a bet on his party’s victory was worth a punt. At the World Cup in 1992, he had told his friends to take advantage of the 50-1 odds. He knew Pakistan would win. They ignored him, he said, to their everlasting regret. He has no doubt that he will also win the next election. I wasn’t always so confident about his chances of success, as he describes in his book. As he became more preoccupied by politics and mostly absent, but not discernibly more successful, I worried that the sacrifices – not seeing his boys grow up – would not be worth it. He
writes in his memoir: “[She] used to ask me how long I would keep pursuing politics without succeeding, at what point would I decide it was futile. But I couldn’t answer, simply because a dream has no time-frame.” I asked him if he worried for his safety, as we all do, especially his sons. A fortune-teller once told him that he would be assassinated if he went into politics. He has no fear of death, he said. I knew he would. Does he fear then not being able to be effective in government? Many former leaders of Pakistan have had noble intentions at the start but have been forced to compromise. “Successful people compromise for their goals, they do not compromise on their goals.” If it’s not personal enrichment or power for power’s sake that you’re aiming for, then there’s no need for compromise, was his point. I did not ask about Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. It’s not safe to give an opinion these days and I worried – perhaps unnecessarily – about an unjudicious answer. He’s learnt from past mistakes and has become notably savvier politically in recent years. I asked him whether, in that case, he would repeal the Hudood Ordinance, the controversial law which often results in female rape victims being sent to prison for adultery or fornication. “My party’s view is that it should be repealed completely and debated in Parliament. That has never happened – the law was passed by Zia al Haq – and that is why there are anomalies in it.” Finally I asked him if he would like to see the implementation of Sharia law in Pakistan, especially given that he had told our son, when he was two, that his Action Man only had one arm because he’d been stealing so it had been cut off. The audience laughed. He shot me a look. As we’d stepped up on the podium an hour earlier, he had whispered a warning: “Don’t crack jokes, don’t mimic me, keep it serious, OK Jem?” “Too late,” I replied, “but don’t worry, you’ll come across as you always wanted – a cross between Gandhi and Guy Fawkes.” –Courtesy Independent
wo decades in this conflict-ridden region Taliban ruled Afghanistan, and Post9/11. The fourth and last chapter of the part is entitled “The External Powers: Interests and Concerns”, whereby the author exercises his analytical cells and evaluates each of the foreign entities whose sight the back of the Afghani head has sensed, including the likes of Saudi Arabia, India, Russia, China and the Central Asian Republics. Albeit, the usual suspects of Pakistan and the US feature most heavily throughout the chapter. The second part – that concerning the Pakistani end of the Afghan-Pak equation – is divided into two chapters: the first is the usual, reflecting upon the challenge of religious extremism that the country has faced due both to its rowdy neighbor and its internal congestion, while the second is a more keenly named, “Pakistan: A Case of Intellectual Crisis and Weak Governance”. It is the latter chapter that takes the cake for most analysts and deservingly so, for it is this chapter out of all the rest, that holds truest to defining the kind of “Resistance to Modernity” that Pakistan – as a government, a people, as well as a “think tank” – has shown. On a different level, it is also the chapter in which the author has let his pen flow and the result is a collection of clear reflections on the history of Pakistani thought: “The intellectual and psychological environment that surrounds this discourse not only sustains and tolerates religious extremism and obscurantism; it
Some might remember Riaz Mohammad Khan for his role-play during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, while others might not recognize his name at all. Whichever category we might fall in, we can rest assured of being informed by the most reliable source when it comes to the dynamics of PakAfghan relations
is resistant to modernizing currents in the society. To understand this environment and how it developed over the years requires revisiting the past to look into the thinking, circumstances, and colonial experience of the Muslims of colonial British India that affected Pakistan’s genesis and conditioned the subsequent search for its identity and role in the contemporary world.” And, needless to say, Khan proceeds to do just that. In the last part of the book – as is shown by the name it has been given – Riaz Khan concludes the analysis and proposes his solution to the region’s problems in a vein that is reminiscent of the former President of Pakistan, General Musharaf’s slogan of “enlightened moderation”. Although the advice given is much the usual, with the age-old prescriptions of an increase in religious tolerance and the easy availability of education reoffered to the ailing body of Pakistan, the author can at least be credited with acknowledging the lack of originality in his recommendations and presenting them in a new light: “Society would
have to become open and receptive to contemporary modernizing influences, without fear that such a course would move it away from its moral and religious moorings. This may sound like a plateful of platitudes, but it underscores the enormity of the intellectual and leadership challenge.” Age-old, but set in a different context and more gracefully presented – at the latter end of a work like this, even clichés can sound refreshing. Three cheers to Riaz Mohammad Khan for this – and more.
Sellers of the Week Fiction
1. Our Lady of Alice Bhatti by Mohammad Hanif (New Arrival) 2. Master of the Game by Sidney Sheldon 3. Aleph by Paulo Coehlo (New Arrival) 4. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin 5.The Artist of Disappearance by Anita Desai 6. Crave (A Novel of the Fallen Angels) by J.R. Ward 7. Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew by Shehan Karunatilaka 8. The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood 9. Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella 10. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
1. Arrival City: How the Largest Migration in History Is Reshaping Our World by Doug Saunders 2. Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11 by Syed Saleem Shahzad 3. The Great Caliphs: The Golden Age of the ‘Abbasid Empire’ by Amira K. Bennison 4. Shi’ism: A Religion of Protest by Hamid Dabashi 5. The Sultan’s Shadow by Christiane Bird 6. The 9/11 Wars by Jason Burke 7. Framing Muslims: Stereotyping and Representation after 9/11 by Peter Morey and Amina Yaqin 8. The State of Islam: Culture and Cold War Politics in Pakistan by Saadia Toor 9. Pakistan: A Hard Country by Anatol Lieven 10. The Convert: A Tale of Exile and Extremism by Deborah Baker
1. The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan 2. Young Samurai: The Ring of Water by Chris Bradford 3. The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Night Fall by L.J. Smith 4. Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz 5. Boys Don’t Cry by Malorie Blackman 6. Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code by Eoin Colfer 7. Fallen by Lauren Kate 8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney 9. My Sister Jodie by Jacqueline Wilson 10. Alone on a Wide Wide Sea by Michael Morpurgo
Interesting and informative The elaborately drawn minutes serve to depict the participants’ concern about the progressive literary tradition and its impact on contemporary Urdu literature By Syed Afsar Sajid
known publishing house, Book Home, Lahore, has brought out two interesting but informative books in succession this year viz., Roodad-e-Anjuman and Cheen. Cheen The People’s Republic of China is our most trusted friend in the world comity. Here are some interesting facts about it. With a population of over 1.3 billion, it is the most populous state on the globe – spread over an area of about 9.6 million square kilometers. Ranked as the world’s second largest (and the fastest growing) economy, it is also the world’s largest exporter and second largest importer of miscellaneous goods. As a single party state governed by the Communist Party of China, it comprises 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four directly controlled municipalities and two highly autonomous special administrative regions (SARs) – Hong Kong and Macau. Heir to the world’s earliest civilization flourishing in the fertile basin of the Yellow River flowing across the North China Plain, China’s political system was based on hereditary monarchical dynasties dating from 2000 BC up to 1911 when the ‘Republic of China’ was founded by the Chinese Nationalist Party named Kuomintang (KMT). The event was followed by a period of political instability and civil war that led to the division of the country into two rival political camps viz., the Kuomintang
and the Communists. The hostilities came to a halt in 1949 when the latter won the civil war and founded the People’s Republic of China in mainland China while the KMT-led faction of government shrunk to Taiwan and a few outlying minor islands. Today PRC is a world superpower with a potential nuclear capability at its command. It is also a permanent member of the UN Security Council since 1971. In this book, Muhammad Aslam Janjua, a widely travelled writer and columnist, has attempted to highlight the economic and technological advancement of China by an implicit comparison with the situation as now obtaining in the South Asian region, more specifically in the IndoPak sub-continent. It is divided into seven chapters dealing separately with the prospects of the ongoing reconstruction activity in modern China, the organic structure of its polity, its political system, the historical background of the current socio-political scenario in the subcontinent, a glimpse of the British rule in India, lack of national will and political harmony in the region, and an assessment of the prevailing instability in Asia. The bottom-line of the study is that we should derive inspiration from and emulate the example of our great neighbour and friend China (PRC) as a role model in areas covering science, technology and socio-economic reform.
Hameed Akhtar, a veteran progressive writer of Urdu, has compiled this book based on the minutes of the weekly meetings
of the Indian Progressive Writers’ Riaz, Majeed Amjad, Jaffar Tahir, Association (Anjuman Taraqqi Pasand Farigh Bukhari, Khatir Ghaznavi, Musannefin), Bombay Chapter, held Munir Niazi, Wazir Agha and during the year 1946-47. The bulk of Ahmad Faraz are but a few eminent these minutes had been recorded by personifications of the progressive the compiler himself in his capacity as literary tradition in Urdu. The elaborately drawn minutes secretary of the Anjuman. The progressive writers’ serve to depict the participants’ about the progressive movement in India had its roots in concern the publication of Angare, a collection literary tradition and its impact on of short stories by Ahmed Ali, Sajjad the contemporary literature of Urdu. Zaheer, Rashid Jahan and Mahmuduz The discussion does not preclude Zafar in 1932 and its proscription its wide influence on the literature by the Indian government in 1933. The movement was antiimperialistic and left-oriented with an exclusive focus on social concern in literature. The inaugural meeting of the Anjuman was held by its pioneers in Lucknow in 1936. Urdu fiction and poetry were the major beneficiaries of the literary change ushered by the movement. Krishan Chandra, Saadat Hassan Manto, Rajinder Singh Bedi, Ahmed Ali, Mahmuduz Zafar, Rashid Jahan. Sajjad Zaheer, Razia Sajjad Zaheer, Shahid Latif, Ismat Chughtai, Ghulam Abbas, Kh. Ahmad Abbas, Mulk Raj Anand, Aziz Ahmed, Zoe Ansari, Hameed Akhtar, Mumtaz Hussain, Safdar Meer, Qur’at-ulAin Haider, Abdullah Hussein, Josh Malihabadi, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Meeraji, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, Saghar Nizami, Firaq Gorakhpuri, Makhdoom Mohyuddin, M. D. Taseer, Ali Sardar Jafri, Kaifi Title: Roodad-e-Anjuman Azmi, Sahir Ludhianvi, Majrooh Compiler: Hameed Akhtar Sultanpuri, Israrul Haq Majaz, Publisher: Book Home, 46-Mozang Jan Nisar Akhtar, Akhtarul Eiman, Habib Jalib, Mustafa Zaidi, Qateel Road, Lahore Shifai, Ahmad Rahi, Zaheer Pages: 208; Price: Rs.400/Kashmiri, Zahoor Nazar, Ahmad
of the regional languages in the Sub-continent either. Moulvi Abdul Haq, Munshi Prem Chand, Dr. Abid Hussain, M. D. Taseer and Faiz Ahmed Faiz were amongst the signatories to the manifesto (1936) of the Anjuman Taraqqi Pasand Musannefin whereas Maulana Hasrat Mohani participated in its inaugural meeting. The compiler has dedicated the book to Khatir Ghaznavi from whose archives he claims to have retrieved its contents.
Title: Cheen – Pur Aman Taraqqi Ki Nai Shahrahain Author: Muhammad Aslam Janjua Publisher: Book Home, 46-Mozang Road, Lahore Pages: 176; Price: Rs.340/-
‘LEFT’ – OVERS
Confused right-wing reformists and liberal progressives offer half-baked solutions for Pakistan’s future while a feeble left functions in the background trying to recover from years of reppression
06 - 07
Sunday, 02 October, 2011
By Ammar Aziz
urs is a country brimming with right wing crusaders, superrich ‘progressives’, delusional liberals and various other sorts of self-claiming messiahs. All of these people who talk about reforms, peace, poverty eradication and the nation’s prosperity claim to have their own unique solution for Pakistan’s deep-rooted problems. They either lay claim to representing the ‘true vision of Jinnah’s Pakistan’ and or remain fixated on history, harping on endlessly about the rich cultural diversity of the region going all the way back to the Indus Valley Civilisation. Despite their ideological differences, they stand united, or at least claim to stand united, against Islamic fundamentalism but not necessarily against US imperialism. They have their own interpretation of democracy and some even idealise the US model of free-market economy. Take, for instance, Imran Khan who fits well in the first category of the ‘right wing rebels’. Struggling desperately to register himself as the ‘coming man’ in the Pakistani political scenario and a youth icon by starting an Obama-like campaign of ‘hope’, he has proved to be a highly
and revisionist progressives I mentioned before. After the break-up of the Soviet Union, a majority of our small left-wing became a part of the NGO culture in Pakistan. Their NGOs have mutated into massive family businesses. Despite their very political past, the founders of these NGOs now declare themselves as apolitical. They are all funded by foreign organisations on the issues of the emancipation of women, abolition of child labour, worker’s rights, education and poverty alleviation. This work, in actuality, can only be seen in their presentations for the foreign donors. They love to be known as ‘civil society’ and can sometimes be seen organising candlelit vigils on selective issues. During the Cold War era, they always stood with the Socialist bloc against imperialism. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, they took a U-turn on these political and ideological commitments. Presently, they advocate the US’s ‘progressive role’ against the rising terror of militant Islam. It would be no surprise to see them transform themselves yet again in the event of the expected fall of the Wall Street in the near future.
consider themselves the ‘progressive force’ of the country. Some of them may actually be progressive but they like the tag of liberalism without really knowing what the term implies. Liberalism is based on the sanctity of private property. According to John Locke, who is known as the father of liberalism, it is the possession of property that gives humans their freedom and it is their natural right to acquire property. This results in an inevitable love story of liberalism and capitalism. Apart from this theoretical debate, our liberals keep diverting their position from various political issues. They usually confuse the antiimperialist stand of the Left with the anti-American agenda of the Right. They fail to understand the difference between anti-imperialism and antiAmericanism. They lose no opportunity to portray Jinnah as a secular leader. Many of them embraced Musharraf as an ‘enlightened and moderate’ saviour. They sought his patronage when they wanted state-support for cultural activities and ‘freedom of expression’ in the form of a mushrooming private
Our liberals also consider themselves to be the ‘progressive force’ of the country. Some of them may actually be progressive but they like the tag of liberalism without really knowing what the term implies revisionists a similar the Left that it is separate
and liberals lay claim. However, also believes inconceivable to justice from economic justice for everyone. Economic justice
inevitably m e a n s eradicating oppression of one class over the other. Unlike liberals and the right wing, the leftists clearly acknowledge the essential role of economics in any political structure. It does not mean that the liberals deny the role of free-market in order to maintain the system they advocate; it only means that they
confused politician. W i t h absolutely n o ideological c l a r i t y , his party constantly s h i f t s
between being a nationalist patriotic party and a reformist democratic party. Imran Khan adopts an antiestablishment, anti-feudal position but at the same time takes pride in tribal customs while betraying a soft corner towards Islamic fundamentalists. His support among the youth is nothing short of a cult and this hero-worship is the outcome of his career as a legendary cricketer and activism as a philanthropist. In short, he is anything but a threat for the ruling elite and the establishment. Other people in this category include Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, a senior member of the traditionally conservative PML-N, who even wrote a book titled, Haan Main Baaghi Hoon (Yes, I am a rebel). Who are they rebelling against? That is still a mystery. Pakistan’s former leftists and elitist intelligentsia are those rich ‘humanists’
from the conservative reformers and the liberal progressives? The Left believes in justice – social and economic. But the right-wingers,
Pakistan’s liberals also come in the category of self-proclaimed liberators. I do not call Pakistani liberals delusional because of their westernised lifestyle, English language and urban centric activism like many others; my criticism hails from the philosophical foundations of liberalism. Many believe that liberals are progressives. No, they are not. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. This misunderstanding started evolving after the official declaration of the ‘end of history’ and has grown more rapidly in the post-9/11 world when distinction between the Left and Right became increasingly muddled. For instance, during the last US election campaign, the media portrayed Obama as a leftist. This is no less than a joke for those aware of fundamental tenets of leftism. But unfortunately, not a lot of people know that. Our liberals also
media. They can never talk openly about the shady activities of the CIA, the ISI and Pakistan’s armed forces. More recently, they have found a wider audience, being active on the social media and blogosphere. Nonetheless, their narrative about the political chaos in Pakistan stays as perplexing as their liberal identity. The narrative of the Left is badly missing in Pakistan but not without reason. Our state embarked on a witch hunt against the ‘godless communists’ very early on in the history of our state. Many were killed and jailed during military dictatorships. Those who survived either changed their views or left the country. However, a small section of ideologically committed leftists continues to wage its struggle in the country. Unfortunately, it is too small to make its presence felt. How is that small group different
know that to lessen the inequalities that exist under capitalism, it is essential to change it and replace it with a something else. With more precision, leftists understand that capitalism is the central cause of social miseries, while liberals, rightwingers, revisionist reformists and all such people, tend to believe that if capitalism cannot cure the inequalities, it can surely help lessen them. This belief persists despite the historical evidence to the contrary. Pakistan’s Left needs to separate itself from this messy political situation – which may be called as an ‘ideological crisis’ – and reorganise to struggle for a secular, economically just and a people’s Pakistan. The writer is an independent filmmaker and left-wing political activist. He can be reached on twitter at http://twitter.com/ammar_aziz
Making a radical break from page 1
were given a further boost, with the blessings of the United States, to operate with impunity against alleged terrorists. In the next few years, we saw a rapid increase in the activities of secret agencies across the country. Alleged Islamists were abducted by security agencies and taken to undisclosed locations. An entire parallel legal system was created for those ‘terrorists’ in places such as Guantanamo Bay where they were brutally tortured and kept in isolation. The US was given clandestine permission to carry out assassinations in the tribal region without any accountability. Many liberals were overjoyed since in their perception, wiping out of these terrorists seemed to be the only way forward towards a ‘secular’ society.
’Normalising’ state transgression
Yet, what we often forget is that once the state is empowered to operate beyond the bounds of legality, it does not limit its violence to Islamists. The key feature that normalised such transgression by the
state is a perpetual state of emergency, the discourse of ‘national security’ and ‘fire fighting’ that were utilized to frame all major issues in Pakistani politics. Today the belated (after a decade of fighting) allegation of Pakistan support for the Haqqani network is being used to target Pakistan as a rogue state while our otherwise subservient rulers are hitting back by pointing out that the US is also implicated by maintaining connections
with the Haqqanis. While the ruling elites in both the US and Pakistan are engaging in this black comedy, it would be pertinent to take a step back and see what this entire issue means for the common man. It would be fair to suggest that the Haqqani network is an abstract entity for a common Pakistani who is bogged down in the effort to making ends meet. The rising inflation, unemployment, unplanned urbanization etc. are increasing the constraints on a fragile domestic order. Yet, in almost all spheres of our lives, entities that remain both abstract and outside the purview of accountability shape our daily lives. For example, in terms of economic policy, the International Financial Institutions play an increasingly important role in our economy without any
Our political culture is filled with cynical backdoor deals amongst politicians, secret agencies and Washington, thus keeping many crucial decisions out of public scrutiny
accountability to the masses. Our political culture is filled with cynical backdoor deals amongst politicians, agencies and Washington, thus keeping many crucial decisions away from public scrutiny. Our foreign policy is manipulated by elites and ‘outsiders’ without any open debate or input by the masses.
No satisfactory answers
This is one of the main reasons why our people are so prone to conspiracy theories and credulous towards rumours. The ‘free flow of information’ has never been our forte. Issues such as the Raymond Davis affair, the raid against Osama Bin Laden or the current controversy over the Haqqani network are manifestations of a much deeper issue of the marginalisation of the common man. Thus, it is no longer sufficient to work within the binary of supporting this agency or that network or finding a common ground to protect ‘mutual interests’ but to insist on a radical break from the status quo. It is here that we understand the importance of recounting this history.
The Star and Gripes
‘Good Taliban, Bad Taliban’ from page 1
America.” That was the 1980s. Jalaluddin Haqqani, now into his 70s, was a feared commander who drew awe amongst Taliban fighters and Western leaders during the Cold War and played a key part in its final frontier. This is the same period, when it is well-known known that the ISI developed a working relationship with the Haqqanis and other Taliban groups. The Haqqanis of course were its favourites, but this was one of the few occasions where their admiration was substantiated by the US too. Infamous congressman Charlie Wilson had also described Jalaludin as “goodness personified.” The 80s was the golden period of CIA, ISI, Taliban interlocking. Disagreements existed but under an agenda that all three shared: to eliminate the Soviets. The 90s, however, began to change the relationship. First, the US abandoned the Taliban, who were to soon take Kabul. Second, Pakistan developed strong relations with theTaliban-led Kabul. Third, the US imposed sanctions on Pakistan after the 1998 nuclear tests, and Pakistan chose to rely on the Taliban, and the Haqqanis chiefly, as a back up. To the US, the Haqqanis and the Taliban, were irrelevant for the most part, except for some flirting by Bill Clinton with the intent of eliminating Osama bin Laden. The 2000s, however, was when the Haqqani network turned on the US. Having left the Afghans to the Taliban without any moral qualms in the 90s, it coupled the human rights narrative into overtly ‘revenge’ war against Afghanistan for 9/11. It was, here, when the Haqqanis and the Taliban turned on the US. Pakistan in the meanwhile chose to walk the tight rope. Pakistan, under a military general, chose to play both cards. There were elements within that thought the US would leave, and would leave the Taliban to Pakistan again. In the world of strategy, it was a sensible thing, overtly. The Taliban would become the Pakistan problem soon enough, as it did in the 1990s, and serving and retired military generals overtly supported the ‘Good Taliban, Bad Taliban’ thesis. And there was no overt Taliban threat to Pakistan then, as the military would state. However, the Pakistan military and its intelligence got it horribly wrong. But not as a question of wrong in terms of balancing relations with the US, but in terms of managing internal peace. After 2006, the lens of the Taliban turned to Pakistan. They brought a sophisticated system to Pakistan. The early FATA entry was marked by a systematic elimination of the Malik system. This constituted a fissure in the social fabric of the region, a social fabric whose erosion called for a re-negotiation of leadership within these communities. At that point, it was said, the Taliban would word these killings within class
from page 1
During this entire period, the response of the government and military has been to mobilise a collective radicalisation in the name of the sovereignty of the nation. A radicalisation that has not allowed us to ask questions about the extent of the links, the damage done by the links, of our intelligence agencies with the Haqqanis and the Taliban
discourse. The elimination of an existing oppressor. They also took charge of local mines. FM radio channels appeared and the campaign to impose Shariah gained strength, culminating in the brutal tale of Swat. Again, this was a process that put together the army brass on the dialogue table with the Taliban, and it was eventually claimed the Pakistani side would backtrack. In the same move, when it became clear the Taliban had been underestimated, a military operation was launched after a flogging video was famously released. A video, officials at the NDU admitted to releasing at a particular time to gain middle-class support for the Swat operation. A tactical shift was taking place within the military. It was beginning to perceive the Taliban as a threat to it. A direct military operation was launched, and in a way, Pakistan lost the bulk of the Taliban after. The Haqqanis, however, were always perceived differently. Exarmy men had written in a new English newspaper in support of the group, when the original clamouring for a North Waziristan operation had begun in 2011. Brigadier Shaukat Qadir had gone on record on June 3 to state, “The US is, at best, a dubious and devious ally, only when our interests meet. Surely, the US could say the same about Pakistan, equally accurately! Haqqani, on the other hand, is not merely a reliable ally, but a friend of Pakistan.” This earlier reference, put in great context in the original article, was completely ignored. The brigadier perhaps was assuming collective amnesia to remain dominant again. The trouble was, that when the 2001 Afghan war was launched by the US, the military establishment had a clear feeling: it had to retake Kabul. It would also make sense given that the general spiel of the Karzai government has been opposed to the existing set up, but the trouble lay in how deep the connections the ISI was maintaining with the Haqqanis and other Taliban groups. And whether it was using them to spring operations in Afghanistan? That the Haqqanis have taken refuge in North Waziristan in the past is not a question. They have. Both a news report quoting Sirajuddin Haqqani carried by news agency Reuters and an interview by senior journalist Rahimullah Yousafzai claim origin in the same region. Both separated by two years, with Rahimullah being the earlier. In the Reuters interview, dated the 24th of September 2011, Sirajuddin warns the US of “more losses in
Through a serious analysis of the genealogy of our current predicament, we can analyse both the players and the structural forces that have shaped our historical present. It would then allow us to move away from the constant rhetoric of ‘fire fighting’ which characterises the power of the state and enables its abuse. Instead, we can insist on a greater emphasis on critiquing these existing categories and paradigms of domestic politics and international politics and articulate alternatives that are more democratic, inclusive and just. Such a project would entail working on changing the terms of the discourse in this country and building grassroots movements to challenge the lopsided power structure. That the task of democratisation would be anything but smooth for peripheral regions such as ours was never in doubt. Yet, this difficult road remains the only alternative since any hopes of bringing peace and prosperity to the region through the failed collusions and covert strategies is no longer a viable option.
North Waziristan than Afghanistan,” an obvious illusion to his presence there. During this entire period, the response of the government and military has been to mobilise a collective radicalisation in the name of the sovereignty of the nation. A radicalisation that has not allowed us to ask questions about the extent of the links, the damage done by the links, of our intelligence agencies with the Haqqanis and the Taliban. It also does not allow us to take more than an artificial glance on the photo of Jalluluddin Haqqani at the White House and conclude he is a CIA agent. The Taliban did turn on Pakistan, even if the Haqqanis did not. And even if such is true, the end of the ‘strategic depth’ policy is in order. Enough strategic assets have turned on Pakistan already for us to bear a US onslaught for sheltering another one. Shunning the ‘Good Taliban, Bad Taliban’ thesis today is more important that uniting against the US. And this is just the opposite of what we can expect the Prime Minister’s All-Parties Conference to achieve.
fighters. It could have discovered this elementary fact at much lesser cost from a primer on Afghanistan’s history, with particular reference to the Soviet invasion of the 1980s and the British Raj’s Afghan Wars. But it chose not to in that vengeful post 9/11 mood or madness. And so, it ignored the basic fact that though Afghanistan can be conquered, but not all of it, and never for long in either case. To top it all, there is a presidential election coming up next year. So, the flailing beast, desperately in need of a sacrificial lamb, has ‘honoured’ its erstwhile slavish ally with this dubious distinction. It’s accusing finger points in only one direction, the high road that leads to Islamabad, a case of the proverbial sour grapes? Ever since the end of World War II, the USA has donned the mantle of global nuisance number one and an international pest. We had been taught (courtesy control of the world’s influential media in the hands of you know who) that the Soviets were, if not the untermenschen (sub-humans or barbarians) made out by the Germans, godless communists still, wanting to implement their faith by force worldwide, technologically inferior to the west but a huge threat to the status quo everywhere. This was in sharp contrast to the angelic Americans who relied only on the force of their faith, basically claiming God, democratic principles, human rights, democracy and moral values as their monopoly. And so, the Cold War 1 was born. Proxy wars in Greece, Korea, Vietnam, the Congo, Lebanon, Angola, Mozambique and in Latin America followed, and a still-divided Korea, pitting people of the same stock against each other, is its living legacy. Now the US, perhaps tiring of the Islamic fundamentalist bogey, intends to launch Cold War II against a menacing rising power, China, using India as the proxy. But China, with its 3,000 year old culture, work ethic, galloping economy and the gift of reverse engineering will no doubt prove a worthier adversary than the Soviets for the US, perhaps even the cause of the latter’s relegation to a second rate power. The American leaders revealed their true colours after the demise of the Soviet Union, when their country became the global cock of the walk. They embraced a doctrine of preemptive action, and embarked on a campaign of destructive wars, resulting in the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians and the complete destruction of Iraq’s infrastructure. Now it seems it is seeking pastures anew, in the neighbourhood. The government of Pakistan must not buckle under the fear of the bully’s whiplash and blackmail. Deviating from the unilateral pattern of the past, it should genuinely strive to evolve a consensus on the future of US-Pakistan ties with all the national political forces, including the ‘political actors’ (whoever they may be) which reflects the sentiments of the 180 million people of Pakistan. In any case, it has to end the appeasement, the ‘base spaniel-fawning and low crooked courtesies’ that have characterized its relationship, spanning decades, with its increasingly rude and arrogant ‘ally’ and cry, ‘Enough’. It should also be remembered that the so-called American culture of an Eve-like primitive state is totally alien to our environment and values, that the Carl Levins (Chairman, Senate Armed Services Committee), the Dianne Feinsteins (Chairman Senate Intelligence Committee), both vociferous Pakistan-haters, and others of the tribe such as Bruce Reidal (ex-CIA, security specialist) have a disproportionate say in American policymaking and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.
Pictures by the Author
The courtyard choked with growth
Sunday, 02 October, 2011
The Sikh Jail that wasn’t
By Salman Rashid
y friend Shahid Nadeem is a collector of half-acentury old radio sets and record changers that still work. He has enough for his home in Islamabad to be declared a small radio museum. He is also a source of odd bits of history of his part of the country. His part being the Potohar region in the vicinity of Mandra, he knows much of the history that was overlooked by the rest of the world. And he also has a seemingly endless supply of folklore. One story from this latter realm was about the jail in Hasola, a few kilometres from his native village of Dhrugi Rajgan. The vice-headmaster of the village school had narrated the yarn, he said. As Shahid’s own greatgrandmother had spoken of an ancestor’s incarceration in a jail run by the Sikhs, the story made some
sense to him. The ancestor Raja Fazal Khan was arrested for not coughing up what the Sikh tax collector thought was the requisite amount and housed in the Hasola jail. Eid came around and Fazal Khan being denied parole to pray in the Dhrugi Rajgan mosque broke out. Climbing the parapet, he leapt out and was lucky to land on a heap of horse dung dumped by the wall of the jail. Through the broken gullies of the surrounding land he sprinted for Dhrugi and arrived just in time, as the congregation was making ready to begin the worship. But even before the ritual was over, a Sikh posse had reclaimed Fazal Khan and reinstalled him in their jail. Impressed with his courage in breaking jail, so the story goes, the Sikhs later favoured Raja Fazal Khan with an endowment of land. According to the headmaster, the building was some two hundred and fifty years old and had been used as a jail by officials of Maharaja Ranjit Singh sent out to control the Rajputs of the Salt Range. This was interesting for this would place the building among some of the oldest surviving edifices. We took the highroad from Sohawa to Chakwal. At village Mulhal Mughlan we turned right (north) to fetch up in Hasola via Dhodha. En route we picked up Tanvir the bearded headmaster who spoke almost nonstop concerning the great age of the jail. He thought it must be the oldest building in the entire region. Shahid parked his car in the schoolyard and we walked through the village to the purported jail. Tanvir had been good enough to have the custodian of the key to the otherwise padlocked building handy. T h e
structure had an elaborate façade with a multicusped arch above the main door; s i m i l a r arches on the ground f l o o r windows a n d somewhat simpler ones on the upper storey. The ventilators above the windows were still affixed with rotting timbers for the shades that had long since bitten the dust. One look and I said the building was less than a hundred years old. The good headmaster scornfully said something about me not knowing what I was talking about. Why, everyone in the village knew it was more than two hundred years old. Indeed, even the kiln that had produced the bricks was the oldest in ‘all India.’ If that was true, then this building was very likely contemporaneous with the ruins of Moen jo Daro, I thought. To the headmaster I pointed out that the brick used in the construction was the one that was introduced to us by the British sometime about the beginning of the 20th century and which is now standard building material. Earlier, the material was the thinner brick that we see in Mughal buildings. I also pointed out that this was clearly a residential building, a pretty elaborate one, and certainly not a prison. That made no sense at all to the good teacher who continued to insist on the antiquity of the ‘jail’. We passed under the door, through the dusty foyer into a courtyard overgrown with brush and trees. To our right was a row of dilapidated rooms and in front a staircase leading to the upper floor. There the rooms followed the same floor plan as the ground. We did not climb the stairs fearing the instability of the roof. As we pottered about in the ruined interior Tanvir carried on about the age of the building until I again mentioned the bricks. He attacked my theory saying everyone and even the village dogs knew that the now-defunct kiln was the oldest in India, so how could
Views of the interior
This was clearly a residential building, a pretty elaborate one, and certainly not a prison. That made no sense at all to the good teacher who continued to insist on the antiquity of the ‘jail’
I be so foolish as to insist on the brick being only about a hundred years old. We bickered a bit and I, losing it, said something about the rot that this man must be teaching his wards. That did not go down well at all and I felt sorry about it. Meanwhile Shahid picked up a brick and said it had English lettering – a practice followed to this day. Nastily I turned on the headmaster and asked him how he expected us to believe that local brick makers were already acquainted with English long before the Brits arrived in the Punjab. I also pointed out some other architectural feature, like the circular ventilators, that were a British introduction. But in his view I was just being foolish when the great age of the building was common knowledge. The English lettering was a minor issue and anyone could have learned to write a couple of letters of the alphabet, he said. We gave up and came back on the street. As we stood there, an elderly and rather sprightly gentleman made an appearance. The master hailed him and asked him about the building. He said it was raised in 1918 and there used to be a marble plaque above the main door that gave out the date and the name Jagat Ram of the owner. The plaque was vandalised only recently and everyone in the village had seen it. Everyone, except obviously the teacher. Mr Ram and his wife Bhag, we were told, had five daughters and a son and they all left the village during the partition riots. The house was locked up after they left. But at some point it was broken open and served as a hostel for the boys of the school. Time passed and since no one paid any heed to the upkeep of a building that had become theirs without any effort or expense,
it began to fall to pieces. It was then vacated, locked up and given over to the elements. The master was somewhat discomfited but now harped on the great antiquity of the kiln that had produced the bricks. Shahid pointed out a knoll a little distance from the houses we were walking past and said there was a vague tradition that the prison was located on top of it. But he knew there was no indication of any construction on it: there couldn’t be, for the knoll was not large enough for a building to sit on it. It appears that the Sikhs probably only had a sort of paddock to confine their prisoners. Fazal Khan might have jumped from the top of the knoll to the dung heap some six or seven metres below to skedaddle to the mosque. With the departure of the Sikhs the paddock was either dismantled or simply permitted to rot and eventually forgotten. But the collective memory of the prison lingered. Tales of people’s confinement in it reached even outsiders like schoolmaster Tanvir. With nothing else that could pass for a prison, men with some claim to erudition assigned that identity to Jagat Ram’s home. With that came the assumption that it must pre-date at least the Sikh period and so the age of two hundred and fifty years. For the learned master it did not matter that the bricks that went in its construction were marked with English lettering. Nor too that the marble plaque above the door, vandalised only shortly before, said the building was raised in 1918. –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.
Published on Sep 30, 2011
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