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Uneasy Unload

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During the run-up to Election 2013, the phrase ‘baba ta easy load ka’ (send baba some easy load) had become the bane of the ANP’s existence. Talk about the 800 martyrs of ANP and the response would be: “yes, but baba ta easy load ka”. Mention the party’s defiance against the TTP and the response would be: “true, but baba ta easy load ka”.

The ANP’s fact-finding mission, which was tasked with investigating the reason for the party’s electoral defeat, declared ‘baba’ – Azam Khan Hoti – as one of the main culprits.

In response Hoti came out lashing at the ANP’s top leadership, as he alleged that Asfandyar Khan received a whooping $350 million bribe from the US.

It would have been better for Hoti Sahib had he stopped there and spoken of some secret Swiss accounts. But instead he used a very morbid yet poetic analogy to suggest that the blood of the ANP’s 800 martyrs is being used as oil in the lamps of Asfandyar’s hotels in Malaysia and palaces in Dubai.

While the analogy was good enough to be played repeatedly on all news channels, it also increased the burden of proof for Hoti. He is absolutely right in saying that such transfers of money don’t come with receipts. But then he must also know that property ownership does not come without title deeds. If there are hotels and palaces, then they must have names and addresses.

These allegations have been around for a while now, and Hoti could have finally substantiated these with evidence. But instead, he simply repeated what has already been said. The credibility of these allegations then can be judged from the fact that even a former close confidant of Asfandyar Khan does not have any evidence to prove them.

Given this fact, it is surprising to see the level of acceptance these allegations are finding among workers of the ANP’s opposition parties. It is very likely that if ‘Easy Load’ baba decided to join any of their parties he would face stiff opposition from these same workers – because of his lack of credibility.

An amount of $350 million is not given for nothing. The ANP would have been worth such a price tag had its stance on the war on terror been contrary to that of the United States. It would have made sense to buy the ANP had it been screaming about blocking Nato supply routes, or calling the war on terror to be ‘someone else’s war’ or referring to the Taliban as ‘our people’.

But it did none of that, and that is because the ANP’s war against this madness started way before 9/11. At a time when the Haqqani network was gracing the lawns of the White House, and John Rambo was shooting down Russian helicopters with arrows. For the ANP this is an existential war, and not an adventure in a far-off land that comes with a cut-and-run option. It is the US that woke up to this threat in 2001. Bacha Khan and Wali Khan had forewarned about these dangers two decades before that, when the US was nurturing these very monsters.

If the ANP was opposing these extremists when the US was supporting them, then why would the ANP change its stance just because the US had a change of heart? It was the ANP’s war way before it became the United States’ war.

However, if one has to look for some incumbency induced pro-US mood swings then one shouldn’t look beyond the PML-N, the PTI and the Jamaat-e-Islami.

The ‘pro-negotiations’ Nawaz Sharif is now tilting heavily towards ‘other options’, given the 779 deaths since he took office. Amazingly, it is an epiphany that did not dawn upon him while Pakistan was raking up 40,000 deaths during the last ten years.

The principled PTI, the one that was convinced about foreign aid being a curse for Pakistan, is now building a Naya Pakhtunkhwa with funds from donors belonging to the Nato alliance.

The feisty Jamaat-e-Islami, the one that used to dharna-block Nato supply routes, had until recently switched to blocking any resolution that asked for banning Nato supplies from passing through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

All one has to do is to wear a conspiracy-laden fez and ask why these hawks of five months ago are now suddenly cooing like pigeons? For starters one could consider the proximity of US embassy to both the PM House as well as Bani Gala.

The plot would thicken by also pondering upon those post-victory trips to the west; Nawaz Sharif meeting Obama, Imran Khan hobnobbing with British royalty and Sirajul Haq roaming around Europe. And with this overwhelming evidence about contacts with the CIA and the MI5, all one has to do is to throw in a neat little figure of $350 million per party and it should all start making ‘sense’.

If this sounds preposterous then Azam Khan’s claims should sound twice as crazy. The U-turns of the PML-N, PTI and JI can be explained in the context of their empty election promises; peace in 90 days, breaking the IMF kashkol, saying no to foreign aid, negotiations the ‘only’ solution etc. With the votes securely bagged these parties are now gradually switching to the policies of the last five years, especially on the war on terror.

It is yet to be seen whether the chest thumping over Hakeemullah’s death is just playing to the galleries or something more. But one thing is for sure: by considering options other than negotiations these parties have vindicated the stance of the ANP and the PPP, a stance that included the Swat agreement as well as a block on Nato supplies. It is time to accept that maybe, just maybe, negotiations never were an option – a lesson we should have learnt from the failure of the Swat agreement and many others – and that this has always been our own war and not someone else’s.

And once that realisation sinks in, then it is easy to see that foreign money is not needed as an incentive to fight one’s own war. Because when the threat is to one’s existence and there is no option of flight, then the only option left is to fight.

Published in The News on 6th November 2013.

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Written by Imran Khan

February 23, 2014 at 5:47 am

Posted in Uncategorized

طالبان کی وینا ملک

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Written by Imran Khan

September 14, 2013 at 10:48 pm

Posted in Taliban

NA-1: The Tsunami Breaker

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By the morning of May 12th, PTI’s tsunami had officially swept through Peshawar valley. This was a victory that was mostly at the expense of the ANP, thus prompting many to declare it to be a spent force, the strongest proof of which was the routing of Ghulam Ahmad Bilour on NA-1 and that too with a mammoth margin of 66 thousand votes. But yet, just two months later, Ghulam Bilour has reclaimed his seat.

So what happened exactly?

One explanation paints the PTI as being alone against an alliance of ANP, PPP, and JUI-F and thus overwhelmed by its experienced opposition. But then that is factually incorrect as PTI had its own set of allies, including the Jamat I Islami (JI) and Qaumi Watan Party (QWP). Furthermore, the local leadership of PML-N had also announced its support for PTI. The strength of these two alliances can be assessed from their performance during the recent general elections. On May 11th, PPP and JUI-F had a total of 11,859 votes while JI, QWP and PML-N had 12,977 votes for NA-1. Based on these numbers, PTI actually had a stronger rather than a weaker electoral alliance when compared with ANP.

The selection of Gul Bacha is another reason cited for PTI’s defeat, as he was a “non-entity”. But then just two months ago another non-entity by the name of Javed Nasim defeated Haroon Bilour on PK-3. It should be mentioned here that this is the constituency of Bashir Bilour Shaheed, one that he managed to maintain even during MMA’s whitewash of 2002. But yet despite Bashir Bilour’s martyrdom, PK-3 preferred a non-entity to his son, perhaps because the non-entity came with the name of PTI; a name that generated trust and hope.

In my opinion PTI’s defeat in NA-1 is a weakening of its ability to generate trust. It was this particular ability that allowed PTI to sweep Peshawar valley with mere non-entities. But now that trust is being squandered because of the immature behavior of its leadership and more importantly through the inability of KP government to deliver on its promises.

The immaturity of PTI’s leadership was evident in the way it dealt with Samad Mursalin. This is the same Samad Mursalin who ran from PF-2 (now PK-2, a sub constituency of NA-1) on a PTI ticket in 1997. He was the face of PTI in Peshawar city back in the 90s. One would expect that considering Samad’s long time association, Imran Khan himself would try to defuse the situation, by convincing Samad in person.

However, it appears that Imran Khan was actually avoiding Samad, and that too in the most ridiculous of manners. Apparently when Samad tried meeting with Imran Khan at the CM house Peshawar, he was tricked into going into a waiting room and then was locked inside along with his workers. They were allowed to leave only after Imran Khan had left the premises. Samad’s angry press conference after this incident was reported in the national as well as local press.

Subsequently, the provincial leadership made a few half-hearted attempts, but then publicly announced the cancellation of Samad’s membership right before election. And just for extra measure called him a “back stabber” in an official statement. Samad’s reaction to this childish behavior needs to be seen as more of a response to an insult rather than a breach of loyalty.

But would a mere ticket allocation explain this defeat? Many claim an unofficial victory for PTI by saying that the sum total of Samad’s and Gul Bacha’s votes is more than that of the ANP. However, this claim is factually incorrect, as according to ECP; Samad received a total of 1,707 votes, while Gul Bacha received 28,911. Their total of 30,681 votes is still less than that of ANP at 34,386 votes. So even if there were no splits, PTI still would have either lost this seat or managed a very close win.

Surely this massive reduction of 66,000 votes and that too within a span of two months cant only be associated with the selection of a wrong candidate. A constituency of 320,000 registered voters must have had other issues that affected its voting decision.

In my opinion this is where PTI’s performance comes into play, and 83 days is more than enough of a time to assess promises that were made to be fulfilled within 90 days. It is very clear that PTI has been unable to meet the standards of governance and conduct which it demanded of previous Government and which it promised to its voters.

But besides not being able to meet its own set standards, PTI is also struggling to match up with its predecessors. This is especially true when it comes to the issue of terrorism, an issue that is central to the terror ridden constituency of NA-1, whose Qissa Khawani bazar has been a preferred target of the Taliban.

It is no coincidence that after the arrival of PTI’s government, there has been a sudden increase in Taliban’s extortion activities in Peshawar. This has mainly affected the business community a substantial proportion of which is based in the inner city, an area that falls under NA-1.

The Government’s response has largely been ineffective as there are reports of a demoralized police force, with some officials blaming the PTI government for a lack of resolve in fighting the TTP. This lack is evident in the inability of PTI’s government to even condemn the Taliban.

On talk shows it has become a joke to get an unconditional condemnation of the TTP from KP’s ministers, with both opposition leaders as well as anchors daring PTI leaders to do so. Shaukat Yousafzai, on Nasim Zehra’s show, went to the extent of saying that he had not heard about TTP’s threats to the ANP, PPP and MQM and therefore will not condemn them.

While such wisdom buys safety for PTI’s leadership, it is also costing them the trust of the people who came out in droves to vote for PTI. It is very likely that the tsunami that began in Peshawar valley could very well end here as well and from the looks of it, the process for that might have already started.

Published in The News on the 27th of August 2013.

Written by Imran Khan

August 27, 2013 at 4:33 am

Posted in ANP, Democracy, Pakhtunkhwa, PTI, Taliban

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The Lesser Khakis

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In the aftermath of D.I.Khan’s jail break, Pakhtunkhwa’s minister for Revenue and Estate, Ali Amin Khan Gandapur visited the jail. Talking to reporters he expressed his frustration with both the army and police for being unable to thwart this attack.

He began by pointing out that despite the presence of two brigades in D.I.Khan cantonment, the army did not engage the terrorists. On this, the minister decently expressed some “tahafuzaat” (reservations).

But then he turned his attention towards the police, and out come accolades such as “Nikamay”, “Nikhatu”, and “Buzdil”. The good minister seemed disgusted with the fact that only 5 policemen were martyred. As body counts of “at least 50 if not 100” are decent estimates of bravery.

This disgust for the police and respectful grumbles for army is something not particular to Mr. Gandapur. It reflects the mindset of this nation. From political talk shows to comedy stage shows, castigation and ridicule of our police is the norm.

Those justifying this discrimination, do it by declaring Police to be corrupt, and therefore less respectable than army. But scandals like NLC refute the myth of an incorruptible army. Furthermore, our three military dictatorships can be accredited with most if not all of the problems we face today. Effects of Police bribery seems puny when compared with this.

But blaming the army as a whole is deemed offensive, because an institution should not be blamed for the deeds of some individuals. After all, Zia ul Haq and Major Aziz Bhatti Shaheed were two completely different people. One was a traitor, while the other a martyr.

And I agree, while no institution should be above accountability, generalizations based on uniforms are unfair. Our army is composed of far too many patriots than those who exploit the leverage associated with their uniform. The ultimate proof of their patriotism is a willingness to embrace martyrdom and a long list of those who already have.

But then how is our police any different? Has it not offered its own martyrs? Pakhtunkhwa’s Police, alone has a list of more than 1000 in the last 10 years, add to it those from other provinces and you have many more.

Police constables across Pakistan man check points knowing very well that the next driver might be a suicide bomber. Many of us today owe our lives to a split second decision of some brave police martyr who chose country over life. How is this display of patriotism any different from that of the soldiers who man our borders?

Names like Malik Saad Shaheed, Sifwat Ghayur Shaheed, Fayyaz Ahmad Sumbal Shaheed and many others are no less in stature than names like Major Raja Aziz Bhatti Shaheed, Sawar Muhammad Hussain Shaheed, and Sher Khan Shaheed. Both groups were the sons of this soil, who died with their boots on and presented Pakistan with the ultimate sacrifice. But yet, there is no Noor Jehan to sing for the martyrs of our Police and no national day to celebrate their sacrifice.

On the 8th of August a bombing in Balochistan wiped out some of its top police officials, an attack which in its magnitude seems similar to the one on Malik Saad Shaheed that decimated the top brass of Pakhtunkhwa police, a loss from which the province is yet to recover.

But Pakistan, as a whole, did not care on that blood soaked eve. Instead what came to the fore was the face of Mufti Muneeb and the joys of eating vermicelli. The headline news on PTV at 10 pm began with the Eid announcement, followed by the PM getting a briefing on the LoC situation and then came the news about the 38 martyrs of Quetta. Private news channels were no different.

Any self-respecting nation would have flown its flag half-mast to honor this sacrifice. Instead these martyrs were honored with the cancellation of PM’s “Eid Milan party”, and that alone was deemed as sufficient.

Are we so blind to realize that these men were targeted because of their uniform, a uniform they donned to defend this thankless mob of 180 million? But, forget the rest of Pakistan, even Quetta reverberated with joyous aerial firing on the eve of this massacre.

The aftermath of D.I.Khan’s jailbreak has also been marred by the same bias that underestimates the abilities and courage of our police. Its analysis usually starts with the Taliban arrival at the gates of the jail, ignoring their journey from Waziristan to D.I.Khan and back. By beginning from the gates of the jail, this version conveniently cites “low morale”, “cowardice” and a lack of training as probable reasons of failure. All of which implicate the police.

While there is no doubt that police morale has been lowered due to the inane policies of the current KP government, and that it can definitely do with better equipment and training. But using these excuses for the D.I.Khan incident is a bit of a stretch.

The terrorists originated from Waziristan and went back there unchallenged. If cowardice and low morale is to explain police reluctance to engage, then the same should explain the reluctance at several army checkpoints as well as that of the two brigades present in DI Khan cantt.

It does not make sense to say that thousands of uniformed men from both the police and army had a simultaneous and sudden attack of cowardice. It is possible that these men might have been ordered to stand down, and it is essential that this possibility be investigated. Making a scapegoat of the police will only demoralize them further.

Nations honor and celebrate their martyrs. It is one of those things that differentiates a nation from a mob. This Eid, Pakistan acted like a mob, a shameless and thankless mob. It is high time that we start acting like a nation because acting like one is essential for surviving as one.

 Published in The News on 15th of August 2013, under the title “Police: how many should die?”

Written by Imran Khan

August 15, 2013 at 5:02 am

Martyrs or Vermicelli?

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There is one thing that you have to give credit to the Taliban for, which is that their brutality can exceed the wildest imagination of most fiction writers.

Consider the recent attack in Quetta. 38 people butchered of which 19 were police officials. The attack was on a funeral, which too was arranged for by the Taliban. For that they attacked an SHO who had taken out his children for Eid shopping. The children were injured but their father was dead. An eid gift from the bearded Talib uncle. Ramzan, children, funeral, and all of that planned to the finest detail, can one be more heartless?

These 20 police officials did not have any personal enmity with the Taliban. Their sole crime was to wear their uniform, the one that they had donned to defend the likes of you and me.

In other words, these men were killed in the name of Pakistan. And the motive most probably was to send a message to us Pakistanis.

But the vilest of villains might just have met their match, in the form of the most indifferent of victims. Turns out TTP’s thunder was stolen by Mufti Muneeb and his promise of vermicelli. Because what mattered to Pakistanis on the eve of 8th of August was if they will be waking up for sehri or will there be vermicelli for breakfast? Shaheed gai bhaar main.

In my opinion we probably told the TTP to try harder. The bond of the word “Pakistani” is not that strong to make strangers ache for each other. The people that they did impact were the immediate family and friends of the deceased and those are a pretty small proportion of the Pakistani population.

I mean we could actually calculate an estimate of the people that the Taliban did affect in their last ten years of carnage. A rough estimate of TTP related deaths stands at around 40,000. Lets assume a family size of 7, and they have actually affected about 280,000 immediate family members. Throw in a circle of friends and extended family of around 14, and that’s another 560,000. Add these up and it’s a total of 840,000, add in a few suffering from Pakistaniat and we have a nice total of around 1 million affectees.

In proportionate terms that is nothing, as it is only 0.5% of Pakistan. If the TTP thinks its hurting the 180 million strong Pakistani nation by bombing and decapitating an insignificant minority then they are being deluded.

To many, our ability to not care about such incidents represents defiance and it somehow shows our “resilience”. I agree that we cannot give up on our way of life by succumbing to terror. But did we really show our defiance this Eid?

Defiance would have begun with a complete official focus on the incident. The Prime Minister, President, Federal Interior Minister, CM Balochistan and Governor should have all reached out to Balochistan police in every way possible. Making sure that the enemy knows that the elected symbols of state stand by its uniformed defenders. Our flag should have flown half-mast for the entirety of Eid, and our PM should have announced that this Eid be dedicated to the martyrs of Quetta.

Our clergy should have made a point in mentioning this incident in the two khutbas that day and castigated those who use Islam in such actions. Duas should have been dedicated to these martyrs and also to the families that they have left behind.

Our media should have focused on the sacrifice that our police is rendering, with the aim to galvanize this nation into honoring its defenders. It would have made these martyrs household names for the nation to cherish.

And with all that, we could have eaten our vermicelli, worn news clothes, and hugged each other Eid Mubarik. In doing so, we would have sent a strong message of resilience and defiance, that we still remember those who sacrificed their lives for us but we are not going to give up on our way of life. We are grateful to our martyrs and we will bring their murderers to justice.

But was it this way?

Well, not even close.

The Government’s response was pathetic at best. Nawaz Sharif, fresh from his umrah trip, simply sent his condolences and said that his Government is committed to eliminating terrorism. As usual, this “promise for future action” failed to name the Tehreek I Taliban Pakistan who had proudly taken responsibility of the incident. While the flag flew full mast on his office, the PM sahib was gracious enough to cancel an “Eid Milan party”.

Our Interior Minister saw it fit to spend Eid with his family rather than to rush to Quetta like he did after the Balochistan Medical Complex (BMC) attack. He showed up in Quetta on the 11th, i.e. 3 days after the blast to give this statementI pay tribute to the martyrs and the deceased who have lost their lives in the recent attacks and we want to assure everyone that an investigation is underway.” I wonder if someone could tell Chaudhry Sb, that the guilty have admitted to their guilt for the 100th time now. What exactly would he be investigating?

One wonders what happened to the Chaudhry sb, who only a month ago lashed out this strongly at the security agencies for the BMC attack? He has been awfully silent after that outburst.

And if you thought that the straight shooters of the nationalist government of Balochistan would come to the fore and reply to the TTP, then that too would be a pretty high expectation. When IG Balochistan did his press conference, there was no one from the federal or the provincial government by his side.

This was such a contrast to this press conference after the BMC attack, in which Nawaz Sharif was flanked by Mahmood Khan Achakzai, Mir Hasil Bizenjo and accompanied by DG ISI and DG IB. Where were these same people after this recent massacre? Didn’t they promise us the world after BMC?

This Friday gave our clergy that rare opportunity to give two khutbas. From what I could gather on twitter as well as from relatives and friends, almost every other mosque had nimazis chanting “ameen” for success of “Mujahideen”. Conveniently forgotten was the fact that the “success” of Mujahideen was in splattering the innards of these very nimazis on the floors of their mosques.  And that the sole hurdle to that success was dressed in a police uniform and standing guard outside, ready to sacrifice his own life for the safety of those who were praying for his death.

PoliceNimaz2

Pakistani media was no less disappointing than the clergy that prayed for the success of our killers. On the day of the bombing, by 9 pm the news had become the second most important news of the day i.e. before the martyrs were even buried. Here is GEO’s 9 pm bulletin and here is Dunya’s. Notice that in Dunya’s bulletin, the story of Quetta attack comes at around 27th minute. It was preceded by reports such as Reshma taunting Meera and interviews of people coming out of aitikaaf.

Media anchors were a mixed bunch on the 8th of August. Talat Hussain, Abdul Malik, Ejaz Haider and Javed Choudhry, canceled their regular Eid shows to cover this incident, and perhaps represented the only concerted and dedicated effort from our electronic media on this issue. Nadeem Malik and Abdul Moiz Jaffri added the incident to their regular topics.

But then we had Mehr Abbasi who was out on the streets talking about Eid shopping. Fareeha Idrees cashed in on the comic value of Sheikh Rasheed which has become so necessary for getting a rating push these days. Mr. Kharra Such, Mubashir Luqman invited two palmists. He actually began the show by claiming that he invites palmists when he has “no other topics to cover”. Asma Sherazi did a “gup shup” eid show to do “khushi key batain” while Moeed Pirzada focused on India Pakistan LoC tension. And then Waseem Badami along with Junaid Jamshed pondered if their “Shaan e Ramzan” show was as good as the show that they were trying to copy.

Talat especially pointed out the absurdity of our media in focusing on Eid shopping and Mufti Muneeb. Ironically, his own program got interrupted to facilitate Mufti Muneeb’s announcement. Watch his show, at around 4:25, when the reporter from Quetta is cut off mid sentence to beam Mufti Muneeb’s announcement live.

The owners of all media channels who make tall claims of bringing about a revolution in this country seemed very reluctant to cancel on their money making plans of fun and masti for the next three days. There were no exceptions. As from the 9th of August, the Quetta incident simply disappeared from all programming and gup shup shows featuring our giggling media anchors came to the fore.

But what takes the cake for me is this cartoon from Roznama Nai Baat on its Quetta edition for the 9th of August. This was on the back page, while the front page carried the news of the Quetta massacre.

Policecartoon

This pretty much sums up what we think of our police. A bunch of corrupt thieves whose sole aim in life is to rip us off of our money. Forget about this being in very bad taste because that would be too much to expect. But the irony is that this concern about corruption, that clearly outweighs the sacrifice of our police martyrs, is coming from a nation that has one of the lowest tax/GDP ratio in the world, i.e. a nation of tax thieves.

If this Eid signified our resilience then we need to redefine this word. We need to redefine it as the ability to not give a damn about tragedies befalling those who are neither friends nor family, the word Pakistani should not matter.

Define it like that, and yes, we might be the most resilient nation in the world.

A salute to our martyrs who have definitely been spared from this particular national trait.

I just wonder how many more of them are left?

Written by Imran Khan

August 12, 2013 at 6:52 am

Dupatta-clad Tabdeeli

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A distinguishing feature of the 2013 elections was the phenomenon of PTI’s “tsunami” jalsas. What made these jalsas different was not only their size, but also the participation of women.

Quite a few of my female friends are staunch PTI supporters. One common streak among them all is that they are strong willed and independent women who are very conscious of as well as reactive to the male chauvinism inherent in our society.

Perhaps it was the association of these women with PTI, that prompted Maulana Fazl ur Rehman, to declare Imran Khan to be an agent of the Jews, who is mandated to corrupt the morality of Pakistan.

But then, Maulana Sahib should reconsider his opinion of PTI. Because a recent statement by Mr. Shaukat Yousafzai, the spokesperson for PTI’s Naya Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, aims to dispel any “jewish conspiracy” notions that the good maulana might have.

In a talk show that was about the role of women parliamentarians, Mr. Yousafzai was asked why a woman could not be made a full-fledged minister in the Naya KP Government? And since PTI is talking about Tabdeeli then wouldn’t it have been better if, off its six ministries, three were given to women?

To this question from a former woman parliamentarian, Mr. Yousafzai responded in these exact words  “tabdeeli sirf naam say nahi aati, kay aap sir say dupata uttar kay, TV k aagay baith jaain…” (Tabdeeli does not mean that you take the dupatta off of your head and sit in-front of the TV)

Following this remark he faced a backlash from the host as well as other panelists, all of whom were women. Frustrated with their response Mr. Yousafzai shared another gem “aik tu aap baat nahi sunti hain na, Khawateen main aik yay bara masla hai.” (you are just not listening, and that’s a big problem with women.)

Such sexist taunts and generalizations should not come as a surprise, because they represent a very entrenched mindset in our society. A woman is not supposed to sit in front of a TV camera, and even if she does, she should at the very least have her head covered. Because not covering her head reflects weaker ethos, which somehow makes her argument less credible.

It should not have come as a surprise if the same was uttered by a maulana from the Jamiat Ulema I Islam. Because such statements reflect the message of JUI-F and that is how it won its mandate. JUI-F’s Minar i Pakistan Jalsa, probably did not have even one woman, let alone one without a dupata.

But then the beardless Shaukat Yousafzai did not win on a JUI-F ticket. He won on a ticket of the PTI. A party that, among other things, galvanized Pakistan’s urban centers with images like these:

PTI jalsaDance-in-PTI-Imran-Khan-Rally-Lahore-men-and-women-together Pakistani female of Tehreek-e-insaf

Dupata-less as well as hijabi, this crowd does not seem one that was brought together with the promise of a dupatta clad tabdeeli. But yet its official spokesperson, one who has passed through the apparently stringent sieves of internal party elections as well as KP’s leadership selection, is of the opinion that being on camera and without a dupatta is something to look down upon.

While Mr. Yousafzai’s outburst comes as a surprise, one is shocked at the silence of PTI’s woman leaders. The otherwise very active twitter accounts of Dr. Shireen Mazari and Ms. Fauzia Kasuri are completely silent over this statement from the spokesperson of their “Model Sooba”. One wonders if this is the example that PTI is setting for other provinces to follow, and If yes, then when are these two ladies donning a dupatta before they talk about tabdeeli?

While an apology has come out of the KP government, it is not from the PTI. Instead it comes from a leader of the Qaumi Watan Party, a party previously known as the Pakistan Peoples Party – Sherpao Group. Mr. Sikandar Sherpao, son of Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, has apologized on behalf of his government and promised that statements such as these would not be repeated.

Sikandar Sherpao apology

It surely is ironic, because Mr. Sherpao belongs to that camp of politicians, which the pre election PTI rejected as the “old and corrupt politicians”. Supposedly this lot had so much wrong about them that there was a drastic need for a “tabdeeli”. But comparing the levels of political correctness and decency, this particular tabdeeli seems to be for the worse.

The former CM of Balochistan might have said; Tabdeeli tabdeeli hoti hai… chahay achi ho ya buri.

Seems like one has to be careful about what one wishes for.

Written by Imran Khan

July 27, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Posted in PTI

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Negotiating Season

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The wait for “change” is ruining post election euphoria for many. Some await a Naya Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) while others yearn for a Roshan Pakistan.

While it is certainly too early for bullet trains to be zooming through rural Punjab or for corruption to be eliminated from KP, but one thing has changed for sure; we Pakistanis have agreed that the war against terror is “not our war”. 

In retrospect, perhaps Benazir Bhutto should have paid heed to the warnings of TTP and Bashir Bilour probably should not have made such a huge deal about victims of terror. Because as per our newfound national wisdom, the sacrifice of these two and many others like them was in vain. The solution to terrorism lies not in standing up to terror, but instead in negotiating with terrorists.

To support this point, TTP is often compared to groups like the IRA. The argument is that if the knowledgeable Gora sahib can negotiate with the IRA, then why can’t Pakistan do the same with TTP? 

But then, is the mere use of terror enough of a reason to make these comparisons? Terrorism is a mean to enforce agendas; and if it isn’t obvious already, TTP’s agenda seems to be “a bit” different.

Unlike most terrorist groups, TTP does not have local demands. Instead they want changes at the national level.  And their demands are such that should be beyond negotiation for any sovereign nation. 

One could consider negotiations if they were demanding a repeal of FCR for instance, or a higher allocation of resources for FATA. But, they want none of that; instead they want a Naya Pakistan of their own, one that meets their standards of Islam. A Pakistan where there is a ban on polio vaccination and modern education, where justice is dispensed in public through whips and axes, where Muharram processions are banned and shrines are bulldozed, and where no one has the right to vote. I might be wrong but Great Britain would have been less prone to negotiations if the IRA wanted something similar.

However, Pakistan’s consensus is on negotiations and one has to respect that. But then negotiations are about concessions, and there is nothing wrong in giving those as long as equal importance is given to the lives, health and future of all Pakistanis. 

If a ban on polio vaccination sounds ridiculous for Raiwind in Lahore, then it should also be unacceptable for Wana in Waziristan. If a ban on female education sounds outrageous for Bani Gala in Islamabad then it should invoke the same response if proposed for Mingora in Swat. The freedoms of FATA and KP should be considered as valuable as those of Islamabad and Punjab.

This is not an unfounded fear, because Malala’s Swat was handed over to the Taliban by the previous government. It was one of their very few decisions for which they had complete support from all major political parties. 

If we assume equality among Pakistanis, then probably the most that we have to offer is an amnesty. But sadly, that is one thing that the TTP is not even asking for. So what recourse do the new Islamabad and new Peshawar have in mind if the TTP does not agree?

It wasn’t long ago that the Chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek I Insaaf lambasted Sufi Muhammad for not keeping his side of the bargain in Swat. But then he also opposed the Swat operation based on his irresolute belief that war is not a solution to anything. 

When one says that there is no war-based solution to this problem, then what exactly does that mean? If the state of Pakistan does not have the recourse of force to assert itself, then does it mean that it is futile to have a standing army and police?

It is very common to criticize the previous Government for failing to provide security, despite using military force. But then why stop at that? Why not also recognize the fact that the Government’s failure in controlling terror is in effect a failure of its implementing arms i.e. our military and security agencies. 

Is it that unfathomable to consider that our war efforts might have been below par? That the reason for failure might not be inevitability but a sub standard performance?

Osama’s presence near Kakul speaks volumes about the efficiency with which this war is being fought, and the meekness of the Abbotabad Commission report simply highlights the difficulties in any oversight of those who are responsible. 

Scrutiny of our security agencies and military is essential in improving our war efforts. But for that our parliament has to be united on this issue. Differences arise when instead of viewing TTP’s bombings as intelligence failures they are presented as a necessary outcome of fighting “someone else’s war”. If it is someone else’s war, then why should we even be bothered about fighting it more efficiently?

For the last 5 years, PML-N and PTI have gained massive political mileage by claiming “negotiations” to be the only solution for the Taliban problem. By declaring the sacrifice of thousands of Pakistanis to be for “someone else’s war”, they have effectively hampered a consensus that should have been a natural outcome of this continuous massacre. 

Their efforts paid off and Pakistan voted for negotiations as a solution to the TTP menace. One would expect these two parties to be raring to go for negotiations now that they are in Government. But ever since taking charge both parties seem to have changed their tune. Leaders of PML-N are now hinting at the use of “other options” besides negotiations, an epiphany that did not dawn upon them during the last 5 years of carnage. While the Chairman of PTI, a self-proclaimed expert on FATA, is suddenly more keen on highlighting the criminal side of TTP.

The time has come for that instant peace promised by PML-N and PTI. If they can deliver peace through negotiations without offering any scapegoats, then hats off to them, their naysayers would be proven wrong. But if they decide to opt for a military solution, then before going down that road they need to apologize to this nation for all the confusion and denial they have spread, an effort for which the TTP should thank them.

Published in The News on the 17th of July, 2013

Written by Imran Khan

July 17, 2013 at 6:48 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

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