Will Pakistan Become a Theocracy? III

talibothra

I.

Dear NYT editorial page,

Let’s talk.

I know you are really into this ____ miles from Islamabad schtick. It is a good schtick. Mainly because your dwindling readership cannot actually place Islamabad on a map. Nor do they have any sense of its physicality. Can you name a prominent landmark in Islamabad? Do you know what the terrain looks like? Precisely because it is an indeterminate space, you can project on it the Mothra Flies Towards Tokyo scenario that seems to be moving so much copy lately.

You begin your editorial with a telling sentence:

“If the Indian Army advanced within 60 miles of Islamabad, you can bet Pakistan’s army would be fully mobilized and defending the country in pitched battles.”

I bet your readers would know that India has a standing army of nearly 1.2 million. If even half of those were to show up in Pakistan, it would indeed be the Game Over scenario with which you begin. Ok, we are now talking doomsday. What’s next?

“Yet when the Taliban got that close to the capital on Friday, pushing into the key district of Buner, Pakistani authorities sent only several hundred poorly equipped and underpaid constabulary forces.”

Oh, man! the “Taliban”! I guess reading those two sentences together we are to assume that the “Taliban” are 1. A country’s army and 2. HUGE. Maybe 1.2 million huge! So you are absolutely right that some several hundred poor old constables (constables!) are gonna get crushed.

How is it that the “Taliban” which are only estimated to be 10,000 to 15,000 in Afghanistan became a million strong in Pakistan? Oh, I know. It is because Pakistan is a nuclear state. And when the small Talibaby crawled over the Durand Line, it was exposed to the shameful rays generated by the nuclear test. And it became TALIBOTHRA! Huge! And now it Flies Towards Islamabad.

Clearly the dumb-as-bricks “most Pakistanis” “do not fully understand the mortal threat” of the TALIBOTHRA. How could they? It isn’t like they have played host to these millions of Afghan refugees since 1979. It isn’t like their army was explicitly told and funded to train and equip them for over a decade. No, “most Pakistanis” know less about TALIBOTHRA then the editorial staff of New York Times. And it knows best.

What it knows not is that the TALIBOTHRA in Pakistan (after the nuclear rays) amounts to 10,000 or so fighters. The standing Pakistani army is over half a million. That’s sheer numbers. 10,000 against 500,000 makes no sense outside of Zack Snyder’s feverish imagination (and he’d be rooting for the 10k, just saying).

So, why so afraid NYT? What’s really bothering you? Is it that there is a civilian government cutting deals with religious nuts? Is that the problem? Does the history of that region’s constitutional freedoms mean nothing to you? And if your argument is that the human rights violations are too fundamentally egregious, is a military assault and a guerilla war amid civilian populations, your only recommendation? But, that’s not really your concern, is it, dear NYT editorial page. Don’t be shy, just say it:

“And — most frightening of all — if the army cannot or will not defend its own territory against the militants, how can anyone be sure it will protect Pakistan’s 60 or so nuclear weapons?”

Ah, the weapons, the weapons. They need to be protected. Do I detect a hint of contradiction here? I mean, how can you trust General Kayani to protect the weapons if you cannot trust him to fight TALIBOTHRA? Tsk. I think you missed a real chance in your conclusion there. Instead of the weak-chinned “oh-we-have-two-bills-on-the-hill” shite, you’d have been the real America-Fuck-Yeah!, you should have asked for an outright invasion of Pakistan. Only the American Force can protect the nukes, put the “weak civilian leaders” in their place, and take out TALIBOTHRA!

Yes!

II.

Dear Hanif,

It is always good to read you in print. I am delighted to see that you have managed to coordinate your op-ed so nicely with the Zeitgeist (including the quaint “constabulary force” though, your TALIBOTHRA is ten miles further out). However, is it really the case that your city of 18 million (Karachi, that is) will fall? Or do you think Lahore (pop. 12 million) will fall? You go on and on about the closed girls schools (they have reopened) and the out of work barbers and all, you nonchalantly dismiss every bit of evidence against your own alarmist thesis. Allow me to string those pearls:

Sure, thousands have turned up at anti-Taliban rallies

Yes, the Taliban routinely place near the bottom of opinion polls, and in elections they garner less than 10 percent of the vote.

I am no Taliban-supporter, neither do I wish to see the civilians suffer under their tyranny. But, I must ask you, how is it that you can write 1500 words on the TALIBOTHRA but nothing on the political and military frameworks needed to discuss the future of Pakistan. Is the fact that the TALIBOTHRA can cause civil distress in Sialkot by sending a letter more pertinent than the state’s inability to provide basic security to its people? If the people’s will is exhausted (I guess besides the thousands in the streets) then why is the army’s will exhausted? You, of all people, possess the insights to render those complexities for the audience of the WaPo. You could have also cited a couple of “typical middle-class liberal Pakistani” in your piece? Surely they exist out there in the 160 million strong? Not even a couple? But, you say that your nation is “preparing to surrender”. Fine. Walk me through that. Tell me what it means. Will it be like when General Zod makes the President of United States bow to him? (I don’t have the patience to photoshop a Taliban head onto Zod’s body but I hope you have seen Superman II) But, seriously. What do you mean when you say your nation will surrender. How do you square that with the fact that 1. Taliban are very small band 2. They are an ethnic group already at contretemps with the vast majority of the population 3. There is a functioning state in front of them.

So, given that you are expressing concerns about a gun-powered revolution, how do you actually see this playing out? Because all you cite are _cultural_markers. Will the hundreds of thousands of army personnel disappear? Will the political parties disappear? What will happen. Help me understand your existential threat.

Because the only thing I see your oped doing is contributing to the hysteria that is sweeping this here nation. Read the comments on your op-ed. Tell me what can you say to the incessant hate generated against Pakistanis and Muslims. Do you not bear responsibility for that? You may say: oh, but I am saying what I see. Which is exactly why I ask you: tell me what you see. Where and how do you see TALIBOTHRA taking over Pakistan.

Now, if you’d like to have a discussion about the religious conservatism in the middle class, we can have that discussion. It is a valid discussion. And it speaks directly towards the inherent contradiction at the heart of the Pakistan project (an Islamic Republic of Pakistan, after all). I am happy to speak about how we can promote secular, humanist values to counter the ill-effects of sunnification rampant since Zia. But, I cannot grant you that TALIBOTHRA = religious conservatism. That is the type of bullshit analogy that serves no other purpose than to demonize. You can read my earlier piece in this series to get a sense of where I am coming from.

I await your response.

III.

For a less jaundiced reading of this “mysterious hysteria”, I urge you to read Juan Cole’s Pakistan Crisis and Social Statistics.

Previously: I, II.

update: Nice fisking of the Perlez/Buner story at Global Security.

Published by

sepoy

what is the vertiginous chapati saying to me?

78 thoughts on “Will Pakistan Become a Theocracy? III”

  1. Well, you know that Talibothra is immune to swine flu since it doesn’t eat pork, so it has a predatory advantage. EVERYBODY PANIC!

  2. I think we (the chattering bloggerati) may be guilty of swinging too quickly from one extreme to another. One day no one in Pakistan is ready to fight the taliban, the next day the taliban are not a threat to a strong and determinedly anti-taliban Pakistan. The real story is hard to follow…
    Personally, I think the state is stronger than the doomsday scenarios suggest, but not strong enough to “solve the problem” whenever it likes. My prediction is that we will be skirting uncomfortably close to disaster for the foreseeable future, but with a little luck, will continue to have a semi-functional state in Punjab and Sindh. But I dont think the pak army (for all this talk of “mehsud is a minor irritant”) is capable of retaking the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan EVEN If it wanted to. Which also means that terrorism directed from that emirate is going to be with us for many years to come. My reasons for saying so:
    1. The “good taliban” to which the army is still so attached are the ones fighting NATO forces in Afghanistan. NATO is in no mood to just get up and leave Afghanistan at this time. That means there will be a war on that side of the border for at least a few years. In that war, the good taliban are going to use FATA as their safe haven. US drones are going to target them and if you go to “danger room” at “wired.com”, you can find out what a vast drone armada is being assembled for this purpose. Saleem Shahzad (or his sources/bosses in the intelligence agencies) must know that NATO will not simply ignore these sanctuaries. And if they think they can convince their “good taliban” to move to afghanistan and fight entirely from there, then again they are mistaken. In this situation, sustained efforts to destabilize pakistan and force the army to get the drone war to stop are unavoidable.
    2. The Americans may have had premature panic attacks over buner, but they have been around in this world for a long time too. The idea that they will keep paying the pak army’s expenses while the “good taliban” are left unmolested and continue to fight them in Afghanistan seems rather optimistic to me. certainly, they are willing to tolerate some “local adjustments” but not at the price of leaving their main enemies unmolested.
    3. Jihadi Islam may be a minority sect in Islam, but they are not just an instrument that the “secular” army uses to fight its wars in afghanistan and India and turns on and off as needed. The true believers are true believers. They want that version of Islam everywhere and they certainly want it in all of Pakistan. They are far-sighted enough to compromise with unvieled women from “crisis cell” for a few years, but they are not giving up their ambitions. Public opinion in the english speaking classes may have finally swung against them (why was it ever in their favor? doesnt that tell you something disturbing about the English speaking peoples of Pakistan?) but there is a very real lack of ISLAMIC intellectual ammunition against jihadi islam. That vocabulary is rather limited. Its limitations will eventually be overcome (I have always argued that “in the long run” Jihadi Islam is not compatible with minimum coexistence in the modern world and will have to be pushed into a fringe role by “mainstream islam”, but that non-jihadi mainstream islam is still mostly confined to the imagination of Muslim MBAs in Harvard, its not the version you get in any islamiyat text yet), but until then, the jihadis have the intellectual advantage and I think the news of the jihadi’s demise is premature at this point.

  3. What on earth has happened to Vir Sanghvi? By “hit back” it is clear what is proposed: it is an appeal for covert terrorist operations — Sanghvi doesn’t seem to realize that these sorts of solutions undermine the self-congratulatory liberalism he wishes to anoint himself with. Liberalism is a slender reed, and cannot bear the weight of complacency.

    Even as an empirical matter, Sanghvi problematically assumes that the recent problems are due to the “strong” pakistan, and that an enfeebled Pakistan would be better — but one could just as easily say that events like the Mumbai attacks, the many voices with which the Pakistani establishment speaks, etc., are all evidence of the enfeebled Pakistan, not the strong one — IMO, the weaker the civilian Pakistani state, the harder it will be to prevent future attacks like Mumbai.

    The broader problem, of course, and to be fair to Sanghvi, is that the many Indian liberals feel let down in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, on the theory that if after years of the peace process etc., there have been no practical advantages in terms of the militant organizations, collusive elements in the military-intelligence establishment, then what is the point? It is easy to pooh pooh this concern, but it does present a practical problem: because it is undeniably the case that such steps have not been taken, or simply cannot be taken. Whatever else this means for Pakistan, it does put the pro-peace contingent in India on a sticky wicket.

  4. Sepoy: I think you are being a bit unfair to Hanif’s piece. As I read that op-ed, its focus is on the cultural aspects of the situation, specifically what he sees as the middle class’ blindness/naivete/etc. with respect to the Taliban ideology, and perhaps even its witting or unwitting promotion of that ideology. I do not think he is peddling hysteria about the coming MILITARY victory of the Taliban. Perhaps your point is that the “meaning” of the Hanif piece will be determined by the backdrop of all these other pieces about the country that are appearing, and perhaps Hanif should have been more careful, but I do think a distinction can and ought to be drawn.

    1. Quizman: Ah, the hubris of an American journalist randomly partitioning a foreign state. It’s like 2005 all over again.

      But surprisingly close to our TALIBOTHRA script. So thanks for the link.

  5. This umbrella organization “Taliban” [1] has indeed becoming a catch-all phrase. I suspect a lot of the rhetoric regarding “Talibanization of Karachi” stems from the ethnic tensions in Karachi and “Talibanization” is at least partly a sort of racist expression against Karachi’s Pashtun as this BBC piece seems to suggest [2]. This isn’t to say that there aren’t any Taliban militants in Karachi, but only to say that this threat scenario might have become a political tool for parties and some “culture-warriors” of Karachi, and that a Taliban take over of Pakistan or for that matter Karachi is over-blown. [3]

    “and in elections they garner less than 10 percent of the vote.” I didn’t know that Taliban have contested in elections or may be Hanif means that the political parties that are largely supported by conservative or fundamentalist voters, are the same as Taliban. His piece indeed blurs the lines and thus contributes to propelling hysteria. Militant = Violent Extremist = Extremist = Fundamentalist = Conservative = Terrorist (Add Pakistani/Muslim to this list of popular contemporary synonyms if you live outside Pakistan [4] )

    If I may use the words of Mahmood Mamdani outside the context of Darfur, “This voyeuristic approach accompanies a moralistic discourse whose effect is both to obscure the politics of the violence and position the reader as a virtuous, not just a concerned observer.” … “Journalism gives us a simple moral world, where a group of perpetrators face a group of victims, but where neither history nor motivation is thinkable because both are outside history and context. Even when newspapers highlight violence as a social phenomenon, they fail to understand the forces that shape the agency of the perpetrator. Instead, they look for a clear and uncomplicated moral that describes the victim as untainted and the perpetrator as simply evil.” [5]

    A columnist doesn’t need to be familiar with or student of anthropology, politics, history, international relations; etc. He/She doesn’t need to be a scholar at all or cite any substantial sources. Yet a sensationalist/alarmist columnist would get a greater readership than a scholar would since fear sells, never mind that fear mongering may make the threat look a lot bigger than it really is.

    1: http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0416/p06s10-wosc.html?page=2
    2: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7884222.stm
    3: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7886460.stm
    4: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/apr/25/terrorism-islam-police
    5: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n05/mamd01_.html

  6. “Now, if you’d like to have a discussion about the religious conservatism in the middle class, we can have that discussion. It is a valid discussion. And it speaks directly towards the inherent contradiction at the heart of the Pakistan project (an Islamic Republic of Pakistan, after all). I am happy to speak about how we can promote secular, humanist values to counter the ill-effects of sunnification rampant since Zia.”

    Can we have this discussion on CM with or without Hanif? And then see where it fits in with all this talibothra hype? Maybe it’s a bit of a stretch, but I think the religious conservatism of the middle classes is something that is probably not unique to Pakistan in a South Asian context.

  7. It is a complicated situation, and the US is the only paranoid entity here…India is pretty hysterical about the growing jihadi Islamic rancour (events like Mumbai shootings don’t help). Nuclear weapons or not, an unstable Pakistan – an unstable any place – cannot be wished, or intellectualized away. Jihadi religion – Islam, Christianity or Hindu – mixed with poverty, and illetracy is as potent as any nuclear weapon, only slower. No matter what NYT or any Aamerican media says, clearly Pakistan, in Zardari’s limited potential, has a problem.

  8. Hanif’s piece in Wapo seems to be a much edited version of his oped in the Hindustan Times. http://www.indianexpress.com/news/they-make-a-desolation-and-call-it-peace/452010/0

    The main thing that worries me about this description and I find that reflected in Facebook status messages and blogposts of some friends from Pakistan (20 something college students and young professionals) in the attitude that the taliban video or the entire Taliban itself is a Western (or Hindu Zionist) conspiracy to destablize and invade Pakistan. Or alternately, argue that the Maulanas in Swat are a sort of democratic people’s movement representing (as opposed to hijacking) the demands of the people.

    Sanghvi has been going on this theme for a while http://blogs.hindustantimes.com/counterpoint/2009/03/12/the-same-people-surely-not/. He wrote a piece which challenged the notion that Indians and Pakistanis “are the same people yaar”. What was reassuring is that when this was being circulated on a bunch of egroups, people who are otherwise hawkish or have voted for the BJP shot back annoyed emails saying that they had more in common with middle class Pakistanis than a lot of their own countrymen.

  9. “…the entire Taliban itself is a Western (or Hindu Zionist) conspiracy to destablize and invade Pakistan.”

    I hope some one more knowledgeable than I is going to respond to this. Red, I understand you to mean that considering covert intervention by one power in the affairs of another is conspiracy theory, that nations do not use of destabilization as a tool of foreign policy. IMO: One must disregard a major part of the historical record of international activity by national polities since the 1500’s (and most likely before), in order to consider destabilization nothing more than ‘conspiracy theory’.

  10. Well, CM, I read a slightly more well-researched piece of work to understand the situation in Pakistan, Ahmed Rashid’s ‘Descent into Chaos’. While the Taliban is probably not going to take over Pakistan, the country does find itself in a fine mess.

    I mean in the long term, are Pakistanis in Punjab and Sindh okay with the NWFP (or atleast a large chunk of it) not under the government’s control ? Particularly since it is crucial to maintaining the link with Afghanistan and China (Karakoram Highway is quite close by).

    Are the people in Pakistan comfortable in the knowledge that some in their army and intelligence value their links with these non-state actors more than their allegiance to the nation ? I dont think so.

    These are serious and challenging questions that Pakistan has to resolve if the country wants to get on with its future. A decade or so ago Pakistans involvement in Kashmir did have India on the ropes in that state, now the situation seems very different. Although by no means is the status of Kashmir resolved, Pak has lost a lot of its power and credibility there. The same seems to be true in Afghanistan, where there is a (still weak) pro-India state taking shape. Pakistan is losing the geo-strategic game in South and Central Asia, and it wont be able to make up ground until it deals with the Taliban.

    Your leaders made the fundamental mistake of seeking parity with India by seeking the help of other powers like America and China, who never had great reason to be concerned the well-being of Pakistanis in general.

    So the danger isnt really of Pakistan becoming a theocracy but getting stuck in a long battle with the Talibs like Sri Lanka did with the LTTE.

  11. Ah, the hubris of an American journalist randomly partitioning a foreign state. It’s like 2005 all over again.

    How’s that different from columnists all over the world attempting to partition the west bank, gaza or the golan from Israel?

    Has someone written a piece on the similarities between israel and pakistan yet

    let’s see the checklist here:

    20th century experiments in nation creation? check

    nation defined by religiousity? check

    Army committing atrocities on neighboring states(bangladesh, lebanon)? check

    Active insurgency? check

    oscillating relationship with the current and former superpower? check

    Disputed borders (Durand line, occupied territories)? Check

    Will someone write this book and sell a million copies? cmon people

  12. Re: “How’s that different from columnists all over the world attempting to partition the west bank, gaza or the golan from Israel?”

    Actually, even under Israeli law the West Bank and Gaza are NOT part of Israel — they are simply occupied by it. [Most of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal even under Israeli law]. The Golan Heights were, I concede, annexed by Israel — although that annexation is illegal under international law, it does mean that the Golan constitutes part of Israel under Israeli law.

    More broadly, it is not a case of columnists attempting to foist these “solutions” onto Israel: even many right-of-center Israelis have long recognized that the Golan will have to be given up if peace with Syria is to be obtained. Certainly the Israeli center and left is reconciled to that possibility as a theoretical matter, and even right-of-center politicians like Ariel Sharon were reconciled with that by the end of his life. On the West Bank and Gaza, you forget that the Israeli state has accepted, as part of the Oslo process, the idea that the West Bank and Gaza will be the future Palestinian state (it is unclear whether the new government intends to renege on those commitments). Thus the occupied territories are not an instance of “disputed borders”, even under Israeli law (maybe Jerusalem is, since that has been annexed, albeit international law does not, if I recall correctly, recognize the annexation of East Jerusalem; but the West Bank and Gaza have not been annexed by Israel and there is no dispute, whether under Israeli or any other law, that they are occupied.

    The above is not merely an idle debate: the crucial difference is that in the Israel example, whatever territorial issues are or are not on the table are debated within Israeli society, and x or y solution has this or that constituency to support or oppose it. Whereas, when one speaks of “solutions” like the partition-Iraq-into-three notion that was big a few years ago, or the sort of thing the Slate article seems to plug (at least in a de facto, if not a de jure) way, the “solutions” don’t have any meaningful political reality on the ground in the areas concerned — they exist in the minds of people at think tanks, in op-ed pages, etc. Only a colonial privilege could ever make these “solutions” reality, or even advance them in any serious way. Thus the comparison with Israel/West Bank/Gaza is inapposite. [A better example would be if columnists in the West, in the mainstream media, kept advocating a ONE-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, despite the fact that hardly any Israeli Jew that I am aware of would support such an outcome. But of course they do not: advocacy of the ONE-state solution is a rather fringe preoccupation in the West, and is not deemed an acceptable solution by any Western government, or mainstream media outlet (at least in the US or the UK, or Canada, the markets I am more familiar with)].

    Aside: there is a connection between Israel and Pakistan, but in the historical sense — Chaudhury Rehmat Ali is known to have modeled his idea on Zionism — and hence in the philosophical sense — both countries were conceived as homelands for religious communities, yet not religious states per se (i.e. communal identity was conceived as an ethnicity as opposed to a conventional religion) — but not in any sense that has relevance to Pakistan’s relations today with the U.S., the Taliban, and so on.

  13. Q, I think Israel avoids using terms like annexation wrt the Golan hieghts even though it has passed legislation extending civil and military control over the region. I can’t see it being given up though; Israel has done a huge amount to try and inculcate a consciouness amongst its population that the golan heights belongs to them; I remember a piece on an Israeli tourism ministry brochure advertising Israelis to go and visit the Golan hieghts and esitmates that something like 20% of Israeli Jews have done so. There is a clear ideological move to establish the inalienability of the land with the state of ISrael. I can’t see it being given up like the Sinai.

    As for the settlements, I think Israeli law has become more ambiguous over recent years; now there is a move to claim that such lands were iether state owned or vacant and so can be taken for settlement building. There is little chance that the major settlements will be given up and polling on two-state solutions indicates that amongst Israelis there is little support to abandon the major settlements to a Palestinian state. Israeli state policy indicates that whatever the legal niceties the policy on the ground tends to be maximalist with the intention that it will not be reversed.

    Aside: there is a connection between Israel and Pakistan, but in the historical sense — Chaudhury Rehmat Ali is known to have modeled his idea on Zionism — and hence in the philosophical sense — both countries were conceived as homelands for religious communities, yet not religious states per se (i.e. communal identity was conceived as an ethnicity as opposed to a conventional religion)

    Another ironic similarity is that Zionism was the national project of Ashkenazi Jews, not Mizrahi Jews; who number in equal numbers in the state. Indeed, Ashkenazis are a minority within their own state and had to absord large numbers of Mizrahi Jews from Arab countries who had not history or linkages with the Zionist movement. A parallel with the way that most parts of Pakistan were not the epicentre of the Pakistan movement which was in the United Provinces.

  14. Re TALIBROTHRA – I can’t help but recall a grinning Zardari on the Channel 4 news yasterday saying “It is not as if a lone Taliban can stroll over and put his finger on the the button” before refusing to meet Gordy Brown LOL!

    Well that settles it for me. And thanks for ruining the image of my favourite Godzilla monster after the big green lizard himself. Could you not have used another figure like Rodan or Ghidorah instead of ruining my childhood memories :D

  15. i think what is alarming is not the army’s inaction towards the taliban etc but rather the attitude of educated, literate pakistanis towards them. i mean, when we talk of a weak state etc etc it becomes understandable why the taliban insurgency is so effective. but what baffles the mind is how everyone and their mother believes that the whole thing is a conspiracy. WTF?!?

    in fact, most people qualify this statement with the claim that the media is in on the grand conspiracy. as a member of the pakistani media, i can assure you that it is largely incompetent and reactionary. it’s not a good thing, but it does ensure that it does not have the ability to orchestrate a grand conspiracy. it can barely get its campaigns going properly.

    yet for most people, there is this huge mega-Grand Game underway that is being planned to get them. it’s quite frightening, this apathy.

    on aside, sometimes i wonder if 30-40 years from now, college kids would wear baitullah mehsud t-shirts, and intellectuals will decry how this movement was derailed and dismantled by the bourgeois and the army etc – i mean aren’t there parallels to be drawn between the leftist movements of then and the talibans of now? or is that too stupid?

  16. “sav: sure, we should do it on CM.”

    Yay! But I’m not too sure where to start, rather ignorant on the issue except for a few bits knowledge here and there. Maya Shatzmiller has a really great anthology of non-Muslim minorities in Muslim countries and she has included a really insightful piece by Richard C. Martin on the construction of minorities in Islamic law and ‘custom’ and a piece on The effects of Zia’s policies on Pakistani Christian communities. These two alone suggest that it is a lot more complicated than much of the recent hype. In the Pakistani Christian case, there’s always the stigma of Caste status that contributes to the way many are treated in society. Other minority groups are treated with great ambiguity in society ranging from ignoring them or sometimes “vigilante” violence. However, this is really linked to zia and bhutto’s policies and parts of Martin’s essay can’t apply for all time to the pakistani middle classes. I always hear about the ‘secular’ culture of Pakistan urban society in the 1950’s and 1960’s, but I don’t know where to put it (contextually).

    http://www.amazon.com/Nationalism-Minority-Identities-Societies-Conflict/dp/0773528482/ref=sr_1_2/190-0056694-6864073?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1240918928&sr=1-2

    If you’re connected to a university library system, it’s available electronically through “ebrary”.

  17. bhai, i desperatley hope that you are right and i am wrong. as a lazy, working hack i always find it difficult to write a piece to explain/defend something i wrote earlier but since you asked for a response i’ll try and give some random examples, and still hope that you are right, that the whole thing about pakistan turning into a theocracy is nothing but an editorial trick. I wasn’t aware of the hysteria in that nation there and the Zeitgest . I was only responding to the hysteria and Zeitgest here: in Jang, Daily Express, Nawai Waqt op-eds and Geo current affairs shows. I think you should occasionally quote them to prove your point, otherwise we feel left out.
    i tried to answer some of the points you and others have raised in a Q&A with the post:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2009/04/24/DI2009042403107.html

    Ok, again being lazy, I’ll just confine myself to some stories on BBCURDU.com today:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2009/04/090427_pashto_singer_killed_uk.shtml
    (please note, not by Taliban but by her own brothers)
    ok, ok I know Pathan tradion and all that( never say that to a pathan woman though).
    let’s move to our cultural capital Laahore:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/entertainment/2009/04/090427_naseebo_lal_uk.shtml

    again nothing to do with Taliban, actually our very own free-as-can-be judiciary. those still mourning iqbal bano, should spare a thought for Naseebo Lal.

    and if you want to see how it all ties up nicely, a must read from my friend and the most clear-headed reporter working in Pakistan Hai Kakar:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2009/04/090428_comm_malakand_zee.shtml
    Some people might say that we are already living in a theocracy, except that the two percent as Altaf Bhai would put it, who can afford to live in their own little liberal islands.

    we can say anything we want to, and we should, about hacks, about those who hate them, about taliban, about not-quite-Taliban, but when we start using throwaway expressions about ‘out of work barbers’ or threatening letters to schools (conflict of interest declaration: have a son who goes to school) or girls schools reopening (have met a lot of girls who did don’t go to school anymore because their schools are, well not there anymore), i begin to wonder…
    do share your thoughts about creating a more humanist secular society. as you probably know we haven’t heard about that for a while

    1. Hanif Sahib, thanks for the links. What they show are the conservative elements gaining strength. I do take your point that the ordinary Pakistani (however we can determine who she is) may be complacent. I do understand that the logic of an Islamic state can over-determine what is unfolding or about to unfold. I surely see your point about the many small defeats to a more tolerant public sphere.

      My quibble with your op-ed is that the “Taliban” do not equal “the conservatives”. One need fought in the military realm. The other in the realm of ideas. When you write of “surrender” or of the “inevitable rise of the Taliban to power”, I am not sure I can make out any differentiation. Since by the op-ed’s rationale, we expect to see Maulana Fazlullah sitting in Zardari’s chair with Mullah Omar’s oil painting installed behind him. I don’t think you mean that. Or maybe you do.

      As for the Zeitgeist, it is hard to miss. NYT, Foreign Affairs, WaPo, Time, Newsweek, random Slate or Salon or HuffPo pieces are all filled with the “Fall of Pakistan”. There is no rational way to deal with hysteria. I certainly have no counter. I mock. But then, some of these recent writing are epic failures of recognizing reality.

  18. I am with Hanif sahib on this one.
    I know I am not a professional academician, but I dont really understand this business of every column writer having to make sure his or her writing does not somehow add to the imperialist plot of the day. That seems like an onerous responsibility, especially since many of us are not in University departments and dont get the daily memo about the imperialist zeitgeist.
    The jihadi threat to Pakistan is certainly one that the Pakistani state can contain (though I do not think the state can win back FATA in the next one year even if it tries, unless it gets help from massive US military participation and even then it wont be easy), but it has proven harder to contain than many people initially thought because the “mainstream” lacks the ideological tools with which to confront them and the army is divided internally about what to do. I dont think the talibothra is about to march into Islamabad, but I assure you there will be extensive terrorism IN punjab before this is settled. How can I prove that? I cannot, but I invite you to get back to me next year to compare notes.

  19. “x miles from islamabad” is the new stock phrase like that old CNN favourite “…who like most Indonesians, only uses one name”

  20. omar: ” I dont think the talibothra is about to march into Islamabad”. Well, that’s about all I am saying. So, I guess that makes the two of us comfortably bridge the ivory tower divide.

  21. According to Dr. Riaz Ahmed “these are designed for the US and Pakistan military so that they attack with full force.”

  22. Dear Hanif Sahib – if you’re going to write op-eds for the Washington Post, surely it makes sense to understand your audience? Especially if you happen to be a journalist and one based for a long time in the West. So excuse me if I find your professed ignorance – bordering on naivete – a little disingenuous. Unfortunately, as Sepoy points out, you fall into many of the same traps as other Pakistani liberal intellectuals (and this is a critique from the left) when you fail to make distinctions between the various groups/ideas/organizations/ideologies/politics that pass under the sign of ‘Islamist’. The issue of the ‘Islamization’ of our middle classes AND much of our elite is an issue that needs to be talked about again and again. And we need to address it openly and figure out how to deal with it. But I’m sure you’ll agree that that purpose is not served by writing op-eds in THE media outlet that is in the forefront of constructing consent for an expansion of a horribly deadly ‘War without end’ which, by the way, isn’t working, except in reverse.

  23. To play devil’s advocate here: Isn’t Mr. Hanif making the point/claim that the “Islamization” of our middle classes is going to make “the Taliban” more likely? i.e. that they won’t NEED to be marching into Islamabad if “we” are becoming/approving/justifying “them” — or at least resisting them less than the alternatives? I think sepoy’s and saadia’s points are well taken indeed, but this aspect the Hanif op-ed is not being addressed. [I concede the point made that the Hanif piece is reducible to the sorts of media pieces critiqued on CM; but I feel that the critique is a bit too glib if it treats the sign called “the Taliban” and “the Islamization of our middle classes” as two phenomena that have no bearing on each other. ]

  24. Hanif Sahib is my hero for taking the gutsy step of moving back to Pakistan, but I wonder how much of his commentary and fear of preaching might be due to a culture shock.

    “As I moved back to Pakistan last month, I was overwhelmed by the all-pervasive religious symbols in public spaces, and the theocratic debates raging in the independent media, as well as in the homes of friends and relatives.
    Graffiti on walls in Karachi, my adopted home city, calls for jihad. Adverts for luxury Umrah pilgrimages are omnipresent.
    And for those who cannot afford to go all the way to Mecca, neighbourhood mosques offer a series of regular lectures and special prayer sessions”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/7715343.stm

    “There are frequent warnings that the Taliban are headed toward Karachi; absurdly so, since they are more than a 1000 miles away. But the preachers are already here: the ones wagging their fingers on TV always tend to precede the ones waving their guns, smashing those TVs and bombing poor barbers.
    I do worry about the preachers.”
    http://www.thenational.ae/article/20080919/REVIEW/556358457/1008

    Q: The likes of Amir Liaqat Hussain are despicable for inciting hate crimes, but to depict conservatives, evangelists, and Taliban to be the same is fear-mongering or “zealotry” of another kind that Hanif will be quick to point out as such if a bearded man puts liberalism, secularization, modernization, westernization, and imperialism in the same nuance free bucket. If Hanif’s thesis is applied to America, America is as much if not more “Talibanized” than Pakistan. Evangelical Christians make up a quarter of US population. Should they be treated or thought of the same way as say Timothy McVeigh?

  25. Why is there hysteria?

    Let’s look at the events of the past year or so: the bombing of the Marriott, the cricket attack which isolated the country , the government relinquishing sovereignty in Swat, and a war that refuses to end in FATA.

    So, what will the next event be? I am beginning to sense we’re seeing a Nepal-Maoist type situation for Pakistan. The militants don’t have the numbers to take the country, but they can cripple the country with repeated terrorist attacks from the outskirts. Thereby bringing down subsequent governments through outside intervention or voters angers.

    At which point they could be brought in the government like Hezbollah is in Lebanon.

    All in all, I can’t wait to see how this plays out

  26. “But, I must ask you, how is it that you can write 1500 words on the TALIBOTHRA but nothing on the political and military frameworks needed to discuss the future of Pakistan.”
    That is an excellent point because without discussing the historical political and military context of this conflict or tragedy, we are not going to be able to secularize Taliban or get the public lined up against the “Taliban”.

    To go back in history and quote Andrew Bacevich, in, The Limits of Power , End of American Exceptionalism.

    In designating March 21, 1984 “Afghanistan Day” for example, Reagan proclaimed “The freedom fighters of Afghanistan are defending principles of independence that form the basis of global security and stability”.

    This is what late Eqbal Ahmad had to say about consistency of Jihadis purpose and tribal mentality

    “Saudi Arabia is the holy place of Muslims, Mecca and Medina. There had never been foreign troops there. In 1990, during the Gulf War, they went in, in the name of helping Saudi Arabia defeat Saddam Hussein. Osama Bin Laden remained quiet. Saddam was defeated, but the American troops stayed on in the land of the kaba (the sacred site of Islam in Mecca), foreign troops. He wrote letter after letter saying, Why are you here? Get out! You came to help but you have stayed on. Finally he started a jihad against the other occupiers. His mission is to get American troops out of Saudi Arabia. His earlier mission was to get Russian troops out of Afghanistan. See what I was saying earlier about covert operations?

    A second point to be made about him is these are tribal people, people who are really tribal. Being a millionaire doesn’t matter. Their code of ethics is tribal. The tribal code of ethics consists of two words: loyalty and revenge. You are my friend. You keep your word. I am loyal to you. You break your word, I go on my path of revenge. For him, America has broken its word. The loyal friend has betrayed. The one to whom you swore blood loyalty has betrayed you. They’re going to go for you. They’re going to do a lot more.”
    http://www.sangam.org/ANALYSIS/Ahmad.htm

    Now Sec Def Donald Rumsfeld summarized the Washington official mind set in October 2001: ” Either we change the way WE live, or we must change the way THEY live. We choose the later.”

    So wher do we stand with US or Them? Or is there another saner choice!

  27. “These are designed for the US and Pakistan military so that they attack with full force.” The Swat-Sharia deal is bait and the poor Swatis in particular and others in FATA in general have fallen for it. This was all meant to fall – followed by incursions by the Pak Army and the forthcoming horror that will ensue. It seems that U.S Inc. and it’s stooges in Pak Establishment has succeeded in blinding people with the horror of Taliban spreading everywhere and thus the US war on terror can now become a Pakistani peoples war on terror. Besides, the collapse of the Swat accord will actually eliminate any reason against the killing of innocents. Nora kusti you if you like. But, a massacre nevertheless. It means ruthless bombardment of innocent civilians and further disintegration of the society, now the same government which allowed the horrific images of woman flogging on TV channels will strictly prohibit any images of its bombardments killing thousands of women, children and the old. If you don’t believe it then just revisit what happened to Swat and Bajour in Nov 2007, July 2008 and January 2009. (also read Dr Riaz Ahmed’s account posted onto the Peoples Resistance Mailing List).

  28. Jan, Can you enlighten us about the basic reason why the Pak army and the US want to kill thousands and displace millions in Swat? is it part of some plan to get land for future defence societies? what is the point? And isnt this a rather round about way of going about this? Since Fazlullah and Sufi Mohammed are their agents, why not have their agents kill a few hundred random swatis right at the start, then start a grand military operation? Why waste time with this on again off again operation and all kinds of twists and turns?
    Dr. Riaz is frustrated and angry, but not necessarily correct.

  29. “I know you are really into this ____ miles from Islamabad schtick.”

    The BBC has their own take: BBC World has been reporting the number of hours it takes to drive from Islamabad to Buner (they said two).

  30. Hanif’s comment is spot-on It seems like the proprietors and commenters on this site are more immersed in the US political scene than the Pakistani one to the point where they see the rise of the Taliban in Pakistan as merely some kind of stunt being pulled on the NYT and Washington Post reading public by the editorial writers of US newspapers.

  31. “It seems like the proprietors and commenters on this site are more immersed in the US political scene than the Pakistani one to the point where they see the rise of the Taliban in Pakistan as merely some kind of stunt being pulled on the NYT and Washington Post reading public by the editorial writers of US newspapers.”

    Again going back to the political/Military context of Pakistani Scene and yes first reviewing the US Political scene as two are intertwined.
    When Rumsfeld pronounced
    “Either we change the way WE live, or we must change the way THEY live. We choose the later.”
    George W Bush declared “Freedom is on the march”
    Pervaiz Musharraf said ‘ ” You have our unstinted support”
    In this back ground US/NATO forces landed in Afghanistan to act as a Hammer while Pakistan Army advanced to FATA to act as an ANNVIL. Plan was simple, to crush the AQ/Taliban etc in this brilliant strategy. That was some 7-8 years ago. Hence began the occupation of AF-PAK. Now occupations bring along some complications like pointed out in Robert Pape’s well researched book “Dying To Win, The Logic Of Suicide Terrorism”

    Taliban movement which started as few thousands orphans and displaced youth as a result of Russian Occupation of Afghanistan, ( per Ahmad Rashid in his book , Taliban …), have since become the Monster or the Boogey men depending on what prism you use to look at them. It is incredible that Taliban has become such a force real or imagined .If recent past is any guide, we had similar hysteria with Iraq and WMDs, as we are going through Taliban and Pakistan.
    Fast forward to today the Army started action (in Buner/Lower Dir) and got the good news of having emergency help of 200-400 million dollars from US Congress. That is about twice the rate US was paying Army during Musharraf time for the same job. So what happens next as the events is clearly not following the Imperial script. The pesky Lawyers insisting for rule of Law, poor demanding cheap bread, everybody missing electricity for 10s of hours. By uniting public against Taliban the magician keep performing the tricks while we debate the distractions. To give you an example, in Musharraf’s last days in certain cantonment towns the Jawans were told not to go out in uniform because of open public hostility, now Military becomes hero standing up to “TALIBROTHA” while securing US AID at the same time, seems like win win situation albeit for short time.

  32. Hey professor, you need to do a post on what obama said on Pakistan during his speech.

    I’m paraphrasing here, but when asked if he was worried that the taliban might acquire nuclear weapons in Pakistan, he said “The military of Pakistan knows how important keeping it is to keep nuclear bombs from getting into the wrong hands”

    It’s as if he was speaking to 10 generals in Islamabad when he uttered that statement. Is there any doubt that he has a deal in place with the generals in case the taliban advance past a certain point?

    Allow me to quote you Professor: “I care about the war in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I care about a foreign policy that engages with that region. To me, the fact of advisory hawks is not a deterrent. I do not believe that the Hussein White House will be enthralled to a small clique of inspired chickenhawks. I honestly believe that there will be space for dialogue and persuasion, come January.”

    Yes, there will be dialogue, with men in uniforms.

    meet the new boss…

  33. It seems like the proprietors and commenters on this site are more immersed in the US political scene than the Pakistani one to the point where they see the rise of the Taliban in Pakistan as merely some kind of stunt being pulled on the NYT and Washington Post reading public by the editorial writers of US newspapers.

    Two things here; some commenters on this site, like myself, have barely been to the US and know next to nothing about its ‘political scene’ apart from what one sees in the media. Secondly, I don’t think anyone sees the “rise of the Taliban” in these terms but simply that fears that the Taliban can somehow take over a country like Pakistan by themselves are just that – fears. The Army being the strongest institution in Pakistan has a tough time running and holding the country together; the Taliban, by themselves alone, won’t even come close.

  34. I’m a huge chapati fan, and generaly think Hanif is an obnoxious twit. But I’m with Hanif on this. Too many Pakistanis are too sanguine about the hardships and oppression their countrymen face– calling it a conspiracy theory, or “pashtun culture”, or some sort of desire for Islamic courts and justice. It isn’t any of that.

    The Taliban aren’t going to get nukes, but a lot of Pakstanis are going to live even more miserable and insecurely, and that isn’t something to be complacent about. On this blog, or in the pages of the Washington Post.

    (Yes, the Amreekans will misunderstand — but so what. Better a fear of Talibothra than a Chapati-like placidity in the face of a real problem.)

    Jan — Was Riaz saying that the bondage gear manufactured in Pakistan was being made for S/Pak military attack? I do like the thought of that. Marines with whips. Young Talibs from Waziristan in leather bustiers!

  35. Conrad: “The Army being the strongest institution in Pakistan has a tough time running and holding the country together; the Taliban, by themselves alone, won’t even come close.”

    Agreed. I have said that to my scared friends as well, that if neither the government nor the Army can control or “take over” Pakistan, how would the Taliban be able to do that.

  36. “Yes, there will be dialogue, with men in uniforms.

    meet the new boss…”

    “Afghanistan. President Obama has wasted little time in making the Afghanistan War his own. Like his predecessor he vows to defeat the Taliban. Also like his predecessor he has yet to confront the role played by the United States in creating the Taliban in the first place. Washington once took pride in the success it enjoyed funneling arms and assistance to fundamentalist Afghans waging jihad against foreign occupiers. During the administrations of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, this was considered to represent the very acme of clever statecraft. U.S. support for the Afghan mujahideen caused the Soviets fits. Yet it also fed a cancer that, in time, exacted a most grievous toll on Americans themselves — and has U.S. forces today bogged down in a seemingly endless war. ”
    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/04/30-4

  37. It appears that the Indian establishment shares your sceptism of the “Pakistan is falling scenario” and believes it being played up by Islamabad to get more money and arms out of the Americans (weapons of the weak?). In fact an editor suggested on NDTV yesterday that the entire Burner affair was stage managed by the army

    I love desi conspiracy theories! Who needs a gunman on a grassy knoll

  38. “Will Pakistan Become a Theocracy?”

    Here is General Petraeus’s take on this issue

    “They said Petraeus and senior administration officials believe the Pakistani army, led by Chief of Staff Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, is “superior” to the civilian government, led by President Ali Zardari, and could conceivably survive even if Zardari’s government falls to the Taliban. ”

    http://www.thenews.com.pk/updates.asp?id=76351

  39. WHO IS SINCERE WITH SINDH AND SINDHIS?

    When I am composing this letter, a eminent new paper daily Jang is in my hands when I looked at page No.11 of this paper, I am exclaimed and lamented when I saw a advertisement for jobs for several posts of 67 deferential designations from B.PS-1 t0 14 in department namely Institute of Karachi, in the requirements it is clearly mentioned that the candidates bearing Karachi domicile can apply only! I would like to request also for attention to the fact of admissions in Dow Medical University ; where students belonging to the interior Sindh has been denied for their right to study in institutions of their mother land even the Administration of DOW Medical College rejected the orders of CM for admissions of Sindhis & Chief Minister could not dare to take any action against them & Sindhi student are not being allowed to study in DMC, Karachi University and NED University and others several educational institutions. The City government also notified and circulated that notice to all administrations of factories and industries in Karachi in which they directed and restricted to recruit the labors and other employees only with domicile of Karachi. Few days before, one advertisement for jobs in several subjects in the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF URDU UNIVERSITY was published in only Urdu news paper only to keep the people of interior Sindh un aware and far from their right of employment.

    Now a days , an other trick & tactic has been taken the by the Minister of health who belong with Mutahida Qoumi Movement , to through all Sindhi Doctors from hospitals of Karachi and it is argued from him that interior Sindh has need of these specialists. Why Minister of health who belong with Mutahida Qoumi Movement does not know that there are so many other specialist doctors are already serving in other districts of Sindh and only few or some specialist doctors are serving in hospitals of Karachi but we know it is the part of their policy and Sindhi doctors, teachers and other officials are as needles in theirs eyes and now they like to through out them from Karachi even the families of all those doctors and other employees are settled in Karachi and their kids are also studying in schools of Karachi.

    The Ministry of health in hands of MQM from last two eras and in last Government Thousands of Doctors and thousands others related with MQM were appointed unlawfully by former Government without any merit have not been terminated. The MQM unlawfully recruited more than 5000 (five thousands) workers in Water Board and those are all are still enjoying their un lawful jobs and no any quota was given to rural Sindh. The 18000 (Eighteen Thousands) workers of MQM are recruited in Community Police of Karachi and no any employment was given to Sindhis as per their ratio in Karachi. Thousands of MQM Doctors appointed by former Government without any merit have not been terminated. It is not sufficient to keep a Sindhi cap on head and to wear Ajrak but all have to prove their sincerity with Sindh and Sindhi people by their acts. It is quit good to remember Sindhis in bad times but it is so than former to act for their goodness in good to time.

    Now, several questions raised in our minds just like:

    1. Are the doors for jobs and educational institutions in Karachi closed for indigenous people of Sindh, who are masters and owner of this land?

    2. Is the Karachi not a part of Sindh?

    3. Is it not fact that constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan allows only distribution of Civil Services of Sindh only on Rural and Arban basis by ration of 60:40?

    4. Is there any constitutional or administrative policy which allows discriminating people of Sindh in regard of recruitment and admissions in departments and in educational institutions?

    5. Why representation of Sindh is silent in Assemblies and on other forums?

    6. Why all NGOs and Political parties are silent on this fact?

    7. Are hidden agreements in between Political parties, NGOs, Social organizations and Mutahida Qoumi Movement on this fact and due to those agreements they are silent or those all are under fear of MQM?

    8. Is it not a national criminality to keep silence on these national issues?
    9. Are Sindhi members in Assemblies are acting their role which is assigned to them by people Sindh? If not any assembly member asked in public meetings about these facts?

    10. What are our duties and what we have to do in theses situations?

    When I am going to end to compose this letter I received a valued SMS from my friend as “King Napoleon was busy in fighting in Poland, some Russian prisoners were brought before him. The attitude of those prisoners was humiliating towards the King as they said we Russians are far better than you, you fight for wealth and we fight for honor. Napoleon reply has been recorded in history as” every fight for what he doesn’t have””.
    The answers to all these questions and any matters in this regard will be appreciated.

    With Regards
    Jehangir Rahujo, Advocate HC
    President :
    Sindh Dost Welfare Organization &
    Sindh Dost Lawyers Organization.
    Email: rahujo@gmail.com,
    lawyer_rahujo@yahoo.com
    Contact: +92 333 3731993
    Karachi. Dated 26th April, 2009

  40. About Desi conspiracy theories, some may be true!
    Its beginning to look (at a minimum) like a lot of the “massive anti-taliban operation” is a scam. For example, the army is busy showing video of artillery fire all the time. When was the last time the Indian army used heavy artillery in Kashmir? but it looks great on video and the goras are buying it big time. similarly, they claim massive body counts, but never show any bodies. And the media is getting threats and the local people are not as convinced as Petraeus seems to be. The whole thing is beginning to smell to high heaven.
    Of course, the question then is, what is the american angle? are they so dumb they are being made fools? probably not. So what are they aiming for here? any conspiracy theories?

  41. “So what are they aiming for here? any conspiracy theories?”

    Obama admn. rightly considers that George w Bush,s 8 years are responsible for USA’s present woes. By same logic, the current mess in Pakistan can qualify as legacy of a parallel years of Musharraf/Military misrule. No sir, Obama admn. thinks the civilian Govt. Post Musharraf is responsible for everything going bad. It seems clear which direction US policy is taking. No need for conspiracy theory there.

    “After eight years of George W. Bush, the one lesson the Americans had appeared to learn when it comes to Pakistan is that the only viable option here for long-term change for the better is the civilian one. And yet, having vowed to learn from President Bush’s mistakes, the new American set-up is sending out devastating signals against the civilian government and drumming up the ‘safe’ option of the Pakistan Army.

    Whatever the PPP-led federal government’s sins of omission and commission, it must not be forgotten that it has been in power for little over a year and, on the militancy issue, is working in a fractious political climate and with little real control over the country’s national security policy. American impatience will only aggravate its problems.”

    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/16-blow-to-the-government-hs-01

  42. my question is this: Do the americans think Kiyani is colonel Theiu? their man? or do they think the pak army is still playing games, but THEY ARE READY TO GO ALONG for reasons of their own?
    if the first, then they are stuck in vietnam and likely to be equally wrong.
    But if the second, then what are they up to? I think the second question is more interestng, though I am not ruling out that they are dumb enough for one..

  43. Lets start working on separating RELIGION AND POLITICS.Pakistani elite and bourgeois used ISLAM and mullah FOR THEIR POLITICAL GOALS and now we are facing Taliban and mullah together who are going to deny our freedom and rights.

  44. Thanks! I feel better already…(I haven’t laughed this hard for quite some time now
    and the laughter was cathartic). I was beginning to feel like a Loner Ranger, having to
    grapple with those Lethal Editorials all by myself ! Not anymore…(“gai din kay tanha
    tha main anjumin mein”).

    Man, if editorials could kill, NYT would have singlehandedly killed Pakistan ten times over by now.

    Congratulations! You got quoted in Sabrina Tavernise’s confused concoction. Wonder how you are taking it? How do you feel about that dubious distinction?

  45. Blaming and figure pointing and finding scapegoats are a favorite pastime of desi staying in cozy faraway places. Similarly, the ones making most of the noise and beating the loudest drums with scary sounding matam about the bogeymen coming are usually the ones least grounded in the common reality or for that matter about the realities on the ground. Some may have their own axe to grind or may have vested interests to create paranoia and panic. Other use the standard manuals from Pentagon and Pak Army used for propaganda and procedures used before massive attacks or when wanting to cause distraction from more pressing issues. And the game must go on. And all the scheming and planning to create fitna will be futile – no WMD – no cigars just yet!

  46. These weapons of mass destructions were found in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Iraq. If Bush’s term hadn’t ended yet he would still be searching for more WMD. Taliban are leftover Russians and Alexander’s army. That’s why all Afghani’s have blue and green eyes, blond hair and white skin. They look like anyone from Europe, North America, Australia, and South America. Yes Taliban are dangerous and they are radical. They can go to any limit from selling their daughters to killing innocent and in huge numbers.

  47. Pakistan should become a theocracy and a Allah fearing man should form a government and rule with laws ordained in the Holy Quran.

    It worked in the past, why it wouldn’t work now? What has demo-crazy given the world anyways? Human rights? Where are they? I don’t see any in the western world. I see a growing gap between rich and poor. I see groups/lobbies opposing bills that threatens their interests. Development of Technologies being thwarted which challenge automobiles industry, drug industry and so forth. I see double standards everywhere in the western world. Big hue and cry gets raised when a girl receives flogging in Pakistan but nobody mentions anything when a woman is burnt alive on the death bed of her husband (being satti’d). They talk of Islam’s mistreatment of women but ignore how many thousands of women were raped, and then burnt alive in Gujarat in 2000. The Chief Minister of Gujarat supported the perpetrators.

    I feel democracy is a failed system of governance. The rights CAN be withheld if Government’s interests conflict.

    Atleast in Theocracy, the leader will do good out of the fear of Allah(SWT). He will establish a welfare estate where science and technology will be developed for the benefits of humans not to further a political agenda.

  48. Seems like there are other competetors for theocracy as state business, here is SecDef USA

    A March 31, 2003 brief cover-sheet depicted a U.S. tank roaring through the desert with a biblical quote from Ephesians: “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

    http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/05/17-3

  49. Dear Sepoy,

    I searched for your perspective on South Punjab and the specter of Talibanisation there, but wasn’t able to find a post regarding that.

    Ayesha Siddiqa wrote an article about it (http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/columnists/16-ayesha-siddiqa-deadly-social-change-hs-05 ), and Dawn seems to be running a series of posts about seminaries in South Punjab.

    1. South Punjab sees Taliban connection as stigma: http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/provinces/03-south-punjab-sees-taliban-connection-as-stigma-ss-05
    2.”Islamic education: Coming of age?” http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/provinces/03-islamic-education-coming-of-age-ss-02

    Can you point me to a post where you have articulated your perspective on this matter?

  50. “INVISIBLE HISTORY :Afghanistan’s untold story” By Elizabeth Gould and Paul Fitzgerald

    “The second section of “Invisible History” limits its focus to the years between 1970 and 2001. Many readers will find this section more immediately relevant to current events, as it deals almost exclusively with the prelude, battle and aftermath of the Soviet-Afghan war and the shadowed (yet starring) role that the United States played in this tragedy. This is a shameful chapter in US history, and one that remains largely unread. Gould and Fitzgerald provide an almost play-by-play account of the behind-the-scenes machinations of the political figures that helped to orchestrate this most ambitious and expensive of covert operations, whereby the CIA funneled billions of dollars through Pakistan’s primary intelligence agency to recruit, arm and indoctrinate the fractious and fanatical militia forces collectively referred to as “the mujahedin.”

    http://www.truthout.org/053109Y

  51. Talibanisation of Pakistan: End of the Road http://www.rsis.edu.sg/publications/Perspective/RSIS0852009.pdf

    From Steve Walt’s Foreign Policy blog:
    “According to Khuram Iqbal, the Pakistani Taliban have failed to gain popular support, and show no signs of becoming an effective mass movement (akin to Hezbollah in Lebanon). Instead, they are increasingly seen as a narrower terrorist group, reinforced their unpopularity. While they remain a problem to be dealt with, fears that the Pakistani state was on the verge of collapse or that the entire country might be “Talibanized” seem to have been greatly overblown. (Juan Cole: take a bow).”

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