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Guilty by Domicile

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By declaring that there are no Punjabi Taliban, the Chief Minister (CM) of Punjab basically refused to acknowledge the ethnicity of accomplished terrorists such as Qari Zafar and Usman Punjabi.  Many interpreted that statement as; “only Pathans can be Taliban”, but the clarification came very quickly, as the CM asserted that ethnicities shouldn’t be labeled with terrorism; be it Pathan or Punjabi. Fair enough, but then that didn’t seem to be the case as Punjab’s Minister for Law Rana Sanaullah commented on the abduction of Dr. Warren Weinstein.

Mr. Sanaullah describes the incident as a result of a collusion between Mr. Weinstein’s staff and the abductors. Plausible theory, but to support it the Minister doesn’t mention any links of the accused to terrorist outfits such as Lashkar I Jhangvi or Sipah I Sahaba, instead he simply mentions their domiciles, as being from Swabi, Charsadda and FATA is enough to prove their crime. Forget about the non Pashtun guard, it was the ethnicity of the Pashtun staff that had to be suspected and highlighted, because it just makes good mathematical sense i.e. Pathan=Taliban.

But this guilt by domicile wasn’t limited to KP, an American passport generated yet another epiphany i.e. American=CIA Spy. It was bewildering to hear the Minister equate Dr. Weinstein to Raymond Davis; because, just two minutes earlier in the same interview, he made the claim that the Government of Punjab had offered Dr. Weinstein a police escort. Makes one wonder if Raymond Davis was made a similar offer, or was Dr. Weinstein actually different?

Dr. Warren Weinstein, who headed the Pakistan Initiative for Strategic Development and Competitiveness (PISDAC) project, is a very well known figure within Pakistan’s aid and development community. Under the PISDAC project, Dr. Weinstein oversaw strategic interventions in the Dairy, Gems & Jewelry, and Marble & Granite sectors in Pakistan, resulting in the establishment of companies such as Pakistan Stone Development Company (PASDEC), and the Pakistan Dairy Development Company. The project provided technical assistance in modernizing dairy and marble production while improving marketing in Gems & Jewelry. The overall positive impact of that intervention on Pakistan’s economy is estimated to be around $67 Million.

The details of Dr. Weinstein’s contribution to Pakistan’s economy, including PISDAC and other projects, are easily available in the form of downloadable documents. Given the current office of Mr. Sanaullah and the resulting importance of his opinion, he should encourage his staff to use Google to keep him updated, as it is very disappointing to see a serving minister be so ill informed on such a sensitive issue.

Another document that the good Minister needs to be made aware of is the PEW survey for 2010. According to this, the Taliban enjoy an approval of 22% in Punjab against 7% in KP, 6% in Baluchistan, and 5% in Sindh. There may or may not be Punjabi Taliban, but approximately 1/4th of Punjab is predicted to “approve” of the Taliban. Coupling these stats with CM Punjab’s olive branch to the Taliban, could lead one to generalize about the average Punjabi as being a terrorist. But of course saying so would be an ignorant generalization, one as ignorant as that done about any other nationality or ethnicity.

Ingratitude goes against our national ethos, and we are showing exactly that by baselessly maligning the name of Dr. Weinstein; a person who has dedicated 7 years of his life to serving Pakistan. There are many other ways to justify the incompetence of Punjab’s security apparatus, but a mixture of racist generalizations and unsubstantiated allegations is certainly the most shameless way to go about it.

An edited version of the article appeared in the Express Tribune under the title “Dr. Weinstein is no CIA agent” on the 27th of August 2011

Written by Imran Khan

August 26, 2011 at 6:14 pm

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