The Sharif Showdown Begins

The stakes for the Long March are finally all on the table.

The Pakistan Supreme Court – put in place by Musharraf – has declared the Sharif brothers ineligible to stand in elections. As a direct result, Shahbaz Sharif is out as Chief Minister of Punjab.

Nawaz Sharif in a press conference declared that Zardari offered them a deal – drop the CJ issue and Shahbaz Sharif can continue to hold office. Protests are planned for all of Punjab.

Long March is scheduled for March 12-16th to Islamabad. Its main aim is to restore the Judiciary of Iftikhar Chaudhry which was dismissed by General Musharraf. Along with the Lawyer’s Movement, the three major opposition parties – PML-N, JI, TeI – are going to participate.

More soon.

Sunday Reading for Slumdogs


“It’s a very Masala film”. Those kids are too damn cute, btw.

Just in time for Oscars, we saw the “controversial” crowd-pleaser last night. I loved it. Boyle & Tandan tip their hats to Company, Maqbool and Salaam Bombay in visual and thematic cues but I thought Trainspotting may have been the biggest influence. You should go read moacir’s excellent write-up.

  • I have written here, before, of my love for Alberto Manguel’s wondrous writing. His essay The exile’s library, Guardian is just beautiful. “The story of the tireless wanderer haunted my dreams. I didn’t feel his fate as a curse; I thought how wonderful it would be to travel alone and endlessly, to visit every country in the world and to meet all sorts of extraordinary people; above all, to be able to read any book that fell into your hands.”
  • Nick Cohen’s The sordid legacy of the end of the empire fills you up on “Sir” Allen Stanford and his fake empire. “In June last year Sir Allen landed on the sacred turf of Lord’s in a black helicopter bearing a crateful of dollars. The bills turned out to be replicas rather than the real McCoy, but the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) did not smell a rat. Sir Allen then appeared to make good on his promise to inject tens of millions into the game. He invited the England team to a high-stakes tournament in Antigua, a country he seemed to own.” Pathetic, ECB, pathetic.
  • Eric Hobsbawm’s reflections on Victor Kiernan and Joseph Needham are a must-read.
  • “An airstrike by the United States-led military coalition killed 13 civilians and 3 militants last Tuesday in western Afghanistan, not “up to 15 militants” as was initially claimed by American forces, military officials here said Saturday.” – U.S. Concedes Afghan Attack Mainly Killed Civilians
  • Finally, the wonderful Harper’s Index is now on-line. Here is what they have indexed on Islam. Sample:
    – “(12/98) Chances that a U.S. film with male Arab or Muslim characters depicts them as greedy, violent, or dishonest: 19 in 20
    – (2/98) Chance that an American Muslim is of Arab descent: 1 in 5
    And, also: Pakistan.
    – (6/88) Percentage of all those killed or injured in terrorist bombings worldwide last year who were Pakistani: 45

Reading Swat

Increasingly, I am convinced that the discourse on Pakistan within the United States needs some major intervention. My fear, or maybe paranoia, is that Pakistan is en-route to be declared “mentally incapacitated” by United States aka “failed state”. The impact of such a declaration (whether stated or not) would be that US will need to put a “care-taker” in charge of the mess. The rising frequency of the drone attacks, the extension of missile strikes, the troop “surge” in Afghanistan read as concrete steps towards a radically intrusive strategy towards Pakistan. I will have more to say on this. But I wanted, for the moment to simply bring to your attention some recent writings on Swat.
Continue reading “Reading Swat”