Saturday, January 4, 2014

Did the ‘fastest man of Asia’ run in vain?

CHAKWAL: At a distance of 40km in north-east of Chakwal city, lies Jand Awan village. Life in this sleepy village moves on as it does in any remote hamlet.
The road which leads to the village is in a shambles, particularly when one passes through Kaliyal village.
Jand Awan is known as the village of Lt-Gen (retired) Abdul Majeed Malik, who has remained MNA five times. Today his nephew, Maj (retired) Tahir Iqbal, represents his constituency in the National Assembly.
However very few outside this village know that in the village graveyard rests a man who was known as the ‘Fastest Man of Asia’.
Abdul Khaliq, who died on March 10, 1988 in Rawalpindi, was the sole athlete from Pakistan who raised his country’s flag high on the tracks during Melbourne Olympics (1956) and Rome Olympics (1960).
Khaliq won 100 gold medals in the national games, 26 gold medals and 23 silver medals in international games.
Be it the Asian Games of 1954 in Manila, Asian Games in Tokyo 1958 or the first Indo-Pak Meet 1956 in New Delhi, Abdul Khaliq not only grabbed the gold medal but also set new records.

Khaliq’s tremendous win in Asian Games 1954 (Manila) left a new record in the history of athletics as he finished in 10.6 seconds which forced the chief guest, Jawaharlal Nehru, to declare him ‘The Flying Bird of Asia’.
The recent Indian movie, Bhag Milkha Bhag besides paying tribute to India’s legendry athlete Milkha Singh also brought Khaliq to the limelight.
President Ayub Khan organised Indo-Pak Meet in 1960 in Lahore where Milkha Singh defeated Khaliq but for certain reasons.
Haunted by the memories of partition, Milkha Singh refused to contest in Pakistan. However, he was convinced by Nehru and according to columnist Javed Chaudhry, Milkha Singh did not run but flew in the race.
Several reasons are being given for Milkha’s victory, and one of them was that Khaliq was a sprinter of 100 metres while Milkha was a man of 200 metres. The debacle in Lahore was of 200 metres.
Khaliq was born on March 23, 1933, and became a famous player of Kabaddi in the area.
Once in a match, his performance was witnessed by Brig C.H.B. Rodham who was the head of Pakistan Army Sports Control Board at that time.
Rodham got Khaliq recruited in Army’s Boys Company whose task was to prepare the best athletes, and Khaliq proved his knacks.
He was among the prisoners of 1971 war and was respected by Indian authorities during his imprisonment.
The then Indian prime minister, Indira Gandhi, even decided to release him but Khaliq refused saying he would like to be released with his countrymen,” says Abdul Malik, Khaliq’s brother.
The craze for athletics seems to run in the family. Khaliq’s brother and three sons hold master degrees in physical education.
The younger brother, Abdul Malik, stood with his elder brother Khaliq in every match of athletics as he himself was also a known athlete in the ranks of army while the younger brother Master Altaf, who holds a master degree in physical education, has served as assistant education officer in the education department.
Khaliq has four sons. The eldest, Ghulam Abbas, after serving in the army is now working as a postmaster in the village while Mohammad Ashfaq, who was also a famous athlete in the army, died as the tractor he was driving turned over him near his village. The third son, Mohammad Ejaz, is now serving as a coach of athletics in Pakistan Sports Board while the youngest son, Abdul Razaq, is an instructor of physical education in the village school.
“I respect Milkha Singh a lot as he was a great human being but I felt a pain while watching the movie,” says Abdul Malik.
The sense of this pain is justified as our rulers are still not ready to do anything in honour of our great athlete, Abdul Khaliq.
When asked, Abdul Majeed Malik confessed that he did not do anything for Khaliq. “I realise this but now I would try my best in this regard,” he said while talking to Dawn.
India has immortalised its legend Milkha Singh by making a movie on his life but in Jand Awan village, family members of Khaliq ask, “Has Khaliq run in vain”?

The year that was 2013! A really balanced review of the past year by Inayat Ullah

January 04, 2014
At a citizens’ forum in Lahore, the other day, a dozen or so well-educated citizens discussed at length, how good and bad the year 2013 was for Pakistan. A heated debate continued for about three hours. Most of the participants held the politicians responsible for the state of affairs. A few were overly critical of those at the helm in the centre and the provinces. They focused on rising prices, escalating debt, corruption, lawlessness, poor governance and terrorism. While the rich had become richer, there was no relief for the poor and the deprived. A little easing of the rigours of load-shedding has not been sustained. The rupee remains devalued. There has been no structural reform. There is little hope for an improvement considering that the rulers are essentially interested in protecting their own interests and in seeking to retain power, at any cost. Some were also of the view that our rulers were just stooges of world powers. One or two thought that the democracy practiced in Pakistan was a mockery and there can be no change if this system continued. Illiteracy and feudal culture will not allow a democratic order to flourish here. At least two felt that powerful external forces had already drawn up plans to destabilize Pakistan and taking advantage of regional/sectarian differences and divisions, have chalked out a design to break-up the country. Authentic documents were cited to establish such conspiracies.
One or two differed from the negative narrative stated above. They pointed out the daunting problems and challenges inherited by the new government and it was unfair to expect that all the complex issues relating to energy, economy, law and order, governance and terrorism besetting the country could be solved or resolved in a matter of months. The government needed more time (and a sense of understanding on the part of the opposition and the people at large) to bring about the desired improvements.
For a balanced assessment of what happened in Pakistan in 2013, one has to take notice of vital changes and promising developments.
There were the scheduled elections and a smooth transfer of power from one democratic government to another after completion of the 5-year term.
The army too, has stayed away from active politics and the army chief has mostly followed the civil government’s policies. While credit for this most significant shift, primarily goes to General Kayani, politicians’ conduct too in not tempting the military in promotion of their narrow interests, merits appreciation.
Also, the year saw the higher judiciary led by CJ Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry play a proactive role to take the government to task whenever it went wrong, sometimes exceeding its jurisdiction. Mention may also be made of a stand taken by the court that would never approve of a demand for legitimizing a military take-over as done by the Supreme Court previously, many times.
Meanwhile, the media particularly the TV channels continued to play their role (more vociferous than desirable) to monitor the doings of the government and not sparing even the higher judiciary. In a sense the talk-shows, many a time, went beyond the dictates of propriety and indulged in unwarranted media trials.
2013 saw the retirement of the army chief and the chief justice and a fairly smooth induction of their successors. Then, the new government’s wise approach to let Balochistan and KPK governments be formed by parties other than PML-N and its partners. The new federal government’s determined effort to contain the mayhem in Karachi in cooperation with the Sindh government too was a commendable initiative.
Credit to the government is also due for the speedy steps taken to address the power supply shortages by not only activating the Neelum river and Nandipur hydro-electricity projects but also initiating the setting up of a large nuclear plant at Karachi with Chinese financial support. It will of course take at least 2 to 3 years before the power supply is considerably enhanced. Initially the circular debt was cleared to start up the IPPs.
Last but not the least, in December, the government won the GSP status from the EU parliament. This will mean zero duties on about 90% of our exports resulting in a gain of about 1 billion dollars.
Now the areas where the government could not fulfill promises and expectations:
As mentioned earlier, the lower and poor classes have not been provided any appreciable relief. Because of high inflation, their misery has increased. Although Benazir support programme has been continued and easy loans for the youth for small businesses announced, much will depend on how these will be administered. Also the number of beneficiaries will remain limited. The youth constitute 60% of our population. The numbers of the unemployed are bound to swell with the passing of time. They can easily fall prey to extremist groups and demagogues.
Where government has been found most deficient is the prevailing menace of terrorism. Here the administration’s record is most unsatisfactory. This lapse is all the more damaging as without security and peace there will be no real industrial development and no foreign investment. It took the government three months after the September APC consensus to hold talks with Taliban and it came to a stop when Hakeemullah Mehsud was droned to death. One has, of late, been, hearing statements that holding of talks was in   progress and Maulana Sami-ul-Haq of Akora Khatak is helping the process. The scenario remains murky as attacks by the Taliban and related groups continue against security forces and civilians.
Even the national security policy has yet to be finalized and announced. The Prime Minister would be well advised to fully concentrate on the challenge of the terrorists to the stability and integrity of the country as without its redressal economic revival will remain a distant dream and even the much welcome GSP plus will not give results if security is not ensured.
Another area where government has been found wanting is its relationship with PTI. Pakistan with its pressing problems and challenges cannot afford destabilizing rallies and dharnas at this stage. For the growth and consolidation of democracy (and the economy), it is necessary that party relations remain within acceptable limits and do not result in unnecessary disruption of normal life.
Nawaz and Imran have to meet and seek to resolve differences. Imran should respect PML-N’s mandate and help it address grievances and problems. Agitational politics at this stage is not very much desirable.
Let PML-N have more time and if it fails to act promptly and properly, by all means the issues may be forcefully raised in the National assembly and the Senate and even outside.
Finally, Nawaz should take prompt notice of charges against him, his family and the government. It is imperative that he keeps his own record and that of his party and the government clear of such accusations.

 The writer is an ex-federal secretary and ambassador, and a freelance political and international relations analyst.

Dignity on sale

January 04, 2014
It was indeed a sad day in the history of Pakistan when our Federal Finance Munshi (or is it Minister?) Ishaq Dar claimed that his government will be able to bring down the dollar to Rs 98 mark, a level where it used to be available few months back. Since then, I have become hysterical with bouts of laughter not coming to an end. As most of the buying and selling at the highest level is conducted with the exchange of dollars, hence the news of bringing it down has shattered the peace of mind of the people at the top. But the real issue at hand is our people being labeled in the world as individuals who are ready to sell everything when it comes to their personal interests. How far this is true is debatable, but certainly our actions have given vent to this assertion.
American attorney, Robert F Horan who prosecuted Aimal Kansi wanted in the USA for killing two CIA officials in an interview to a local TV channel said “these people” (read Pakistani’s) could sell their mothers for $ 20,000, why were millions of dollars given to them to facilitate the arrest of Kansi?” He went on to say "Pakistanis will sell their mothers for a dollar”. According to The Los Angeles Times report, federal agents paid $ 3.5 million to informants (his friends who were protecting him during his fugitive period)  in Pakistan to help catch Kansi. Blaming Robert F Horan for the insensitive remarks was understandable, but ever thought about the "friends" who took money to betray him. May be $ 3.5 million was too high a price to let go. It is said that every human being has a price; just the buying price for each varies.
When it comes to selling human beings, the contributions of our Ex-President Musharraf were unmatched, as per his own claims. In his book "In the Line of Fire" he claimed that CIA paid for 369 Al-Qaeda suspects from a fund that was meant for individuals, not foreign governments, who helped apprehend terrorists. He writes “Many members of al-Qaeda fled Afghanistan and crossed the border into Pakistan" and then added "We have played cat and mouse with them. …We have captured 689 and handed over 369 to the United States. We have earned bounties totaling millions of dollars. Those who habitually accuse us of ‘not doing enough’ in the war on terror should simply ask the CIA how much prize money it has paid to the Government of Pakistan”. Were we not fighting for a just cause? Never realized, that "money" was the only driving force behind these captures.
General Pervez Musharraf in subsequent years went ahead with another "philosophy" suggesting that “crying rape” was an easy way to "be a millionaire" and to get to Canada. In his own words, "you must understand the environment in Pakistan. This has become a money-making concern. A lot of people say if you want to go abroad and get a visa for Canada or citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped". This was a moral slap on the face of every Pakistani. With the exception of few NGO’s, silence was the answer from the majority of the lot.
As if our misfortunes pertaining to our reputation as a “sellable commodity” were not enough, the case of the killing of Shahzeb Khan by Shahrukh Jatoi surfaced. Shahzeb Khan was killed in Karachi DHA Phase-V by Shahrukh Jatoi on Dec 25, 2012. According to the reports, Shahzeb’s father forgave the killers by accepting more than Rs 350 million and by accepting properties in different countries of the world. In addition, the family got an Australian visa as a compensation for death to forgive Shahrukh Jatoi who was awarded death sentence in the case. Selling one's dead son is another dimension of the cruel face of our society.
Every day we sell our conscience in many pathetic ways. Selling of body parts is not new. There are gangs of organized institutionalized outfits which are involved in this heinous trade. We have gone to the lowest levels of human existence for we now also do not spare the dead. The moment a fresh body is buried in the graveyard, a price tag is set to grab whatever can be sold in the market. May it be bones or the hair of the dead used for artificial hair extensions, the buying and selling goes on with ferocious insensitivity. So why do we feel so insulted when someone tells us that we can sell our mothers for few dollars? The starting point is to look inwards and address the rot taking place within our shameful existence.

The writer is a PhD in Information Technology, alumni of King’s College London and a social activist. He has authored two books titled Understanding Telecommunications and Living in the Grave and several research papers.The writer prefers to avoid human interaction and finds peace & happiness being alone, in silence with his own self. 

Tweets at:@drirfanzafar

Don’t wanna play this game!

     January 04, 2014


I have made a promise to myself more than to my readers and that is not to write about politics or religion. Not that I am not a patriotic or a non-believer, I just find politics very hypocrite and unfair and religion being too personal to allow another person to interfere or judge my faith. I think I have decided to write about random things and/or situations that I personally learned a lot from, in the hope of passing on the message to people all over the world. And also because I love talking about myself; I mean what could be more interesting than me?!
Today, I will talk about a personality trait that, I personally believe, all Pakistanis are born with (!). And that is the act of judging people around us. This is a phenomenon that all Pakistanis are incorporated with. But the sad part is that the majority of our people are not even aware of it, it is like a built-in program of their life, like a habit just like eating, drinking, etc. As a result, we are not even aware of its negative impact not only on people around us in the society but on ourselves as well as an individual. I was no different few years ago too, just like any other Pakistani. And then I moved out of Pakistan and realized how wrong and unfair I have been in my life, with others. It took me a while to get rid of this nasty habit but boy, once it was gone, life became so pretty!
I absolutely do not want to preach anyone through this article of mine, but only want to share one of my many personal experiences which enabled me to see the world in a different and better way. Acknowledging and accepting and then correcting a bad trait are, in my opinion, a real achievement of an individual. It would be foolish to believe that we, as a person, are flawless or even perfect. And trust me: a lot of people among us tend to do that! I will give a few examples of this act which I was able to recognize in my own personality, and then later on work on them. When I started going to school in Pakistan, it was an English medium one, and at that point in time, my English wasn’t that good (not that it is any better now!), reason being I had lived my childhood and some important teen years of my life in France. Once I started attending school in Pakistan at a rather tender age when my mentality formation was at its peak, I became aware of certain classes, some unreasonable protocols, and of course money power. Suddenly, the brand of my car that used to pick and drop me at school became more significant than the words of my books. Suddenly, the clothes I used to wear outside school with my class fellows became more important than what my religious belief preached me. I was introduced to arrogance. I was introduced to the judging act. And then, just like a miracle, life hit me. Hard. And boy, how grateful I am for that! It hit me through more personal experiences, small little things that might not be significant for others, but I tend to read a lot into little tiny things and I cherish the impact they have on my mind and by extension on my life.
I am absolutely not implying that I hated that part of my life at that point in time. I was the lucky one I believe, I was able to learn from, making it as the referral point I managed to become a better person. One of my achievements which I am really proud of today is how I learned to respect people around me. It is not only through my words that I do so, but through my actions, my behavior, and my approach towards them.
Every single person around us, no matter what social background he/she comes from, deserves our best behavior, our best words and our best attitude. Why wouldn’t he? Who decides who is better than whom anyway? In my opinion, judging others is a disease inside our bodies, our minds. One needs to get rid of it as soon as possible, through proper approach. We need to construct ourselves as a society, as a human being by getting disease free. I know the transition period is not easy, it’s rather tricky more than anything else. But definitely not impossible. As I mentioned earlier, I was one of the lucky ones as I got away from Pakistan and got away from a very judgmental society. This made it simple if not easy, I admit. But I’ve started noticing that the youth of today is bringing this change: live and let live. And why not? Don’t we have enough worries of our own than to worry what our neighbor’s daughter is doing out so late at night, dressed in a particular way?! I mean, come on guys! Let’s start worrying what our life would look like in the next five years and let’s try to work hard towards our goals. Life is way too short, so let’s not waste it by thinking and assuming the worst of other people around us. Judging others never gave me anything concrete in return. All I gained was mere headache! Boy, I gave a lot of business to Panadol manufacturers! Again, I repeat, I am not here to preach anyone, everyone who reads this article I am sure is a responsible individual. But if it makes slight sense to anyone of you out there, then why not give it a shot? I mean, what do you have to lose, right?

 The writer is a PhD French literature. She's now a professor of French settled in Canada

Truth and Remorse by Brig Samson Simon

January 04, 2014

Truth is the first casualty in war, but not due to any conscientious effort. The fog of war, lack of accurate information, limitations of judgement, fear and cognitive constructs thereof eclipse reality. Planning for the unforeseen, most dangerous and most likely is factorised. No plan works to perfection. Stereotype soldiers have a propensity at rigidity and err in applying timely and effective modifications. Such soldiers, with impregnable walls of exclusivity around them dry up from inside and regress. Soldiers, who evolve as they grow, apply correction courses and turn out to be good leaders. Pakistan’s military leaders were no different. General (Retired) Pervez Musharraf despite his initial sparks turned out to be no different.
USA produced over 31 soldier presidents amongst them great names like George Washington, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ulysses S. Grant, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and Abraham Lincoln to name a few. Only Richard Nixon erred. But then USA has some of the best institutional support mechanisms of the world, rallying a team that backs statesmen. Pakistan has none.
Pakistan lacks such a framework for both its military and civilian leader. The seesaw culture has produced opportunist, self-centred and family lineages of individuals who have patronised institutional corruption and social decay. Military or civilian, these leaders build a   megalomaniac aura around themselves at the cost of the state and people.
Pakistan’s never produced a leader who displayed traits of statesmanship. Military dictators lacked insight and foresight and were predisposed to see in black and white around their indispensable self. Despite judicial legitimacies and constitutional indemnities, military rulers lost their plots sans military corporate. Positive socio-economic indicators of their initial tenures notwithstanding, they fell prey to short term expediencies with long term ramifications. The wall of military corporatism and a select coterie of ambitious generals were invariably replaced by a group of evergreen advisors and sycophants who helped create grandiose narcissism of splendid isolation. Built around an autocratic self and absence of inclusiveness, this evolution ultimately overtook legal, democratic, moral or interpersonal commitments and, hence, the delusional impetus of indispensability.
General (Retired) Pervez Musharraf self-belief that he has returned home to deliver is one such effect of delusionary impetus. Abandoned by fair weather friends and advisors, Musharraf is finally realising that he is neither indispensable nor impervious. Earlier, his concentric advisors pushed him to pursue drives like belief, aggression, lofty and imitated emotional expressions of compassion, sympathy, sociability, patriotism and morality to no effect. His political comfort zone alien to his soldiering career was treacherous. His dream of being indispensable to a vulnerable country he loved was fading away. This must have been his thought train on way to the court and later AFIC. Sick, he was finally going home.
In many aspects, General Musharraf’s coup was popular. Some of his fiercest critics could not hide their glee. Many politicians who were not from the traditional stock came out openly in his support. Even Benazir Bhutto tacitly endorsed the coup against a party that left no space for others. As airwaves swept, his popularity grew with his short lived Jinnahist mantle. The rising public approval took its first brunt with an ill-conceived referendum. His omnipotent nightmares of legitimacy were addressed by the Supreme Court. Rather than become a true reformist, he collected a ragtag of have-nots to forge his political constituency that failed and betrayed him. After the initial surge of his reformist agenda that bore fruit, he was moving into isolation, haunted by his legitimacy rationale. It haunts him even today.
Musharraf’s edifice was built on a house of sand. His advisors were small men unworthy of trust. His re-appointed media czar never had the motivation of creating a sustainable media perception. His ISPR spokesman stuttered and lacked wisdom. Fake personal loyalties replaced professionalism. Old time pals of yore resurfaced. Tariq Aziz was given extensions but was effectively elbowed out in economic decision making by Shaukat Aziz and Waqar Masood, the incumbent Secretary Finance. Lt. General Hamid Javed was picked from oblivion to become his chief advisor and extended. There were other circles of advisors that revolved around his social contacts, bridge parties and admirers. Loyalists with loud mouths were sidelined. Extended horses never had the steam and gusto. They were stereotypes who had nothing to offer.
Perhaps, the worst was his handpicked Finance and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. The military establishment was never in favour of him but was overruled by Tariq Aziz. The then DGMO Maj Gen Shahid Aziz himself a staunch Jinnahist never trusted him. Economic policies he framed were detrimental to Pakistan’s long term economic security. Between 1999 and 2002, Pakistan witnessed an economic revival mainly due to the Central Bank policies and money changers.
But there were Trojans at work. IPPs with tax exemptions had recovered investments and begun remitting profits and outsourcing costs abroad. New energy manipulators had arrived. To ensure their windfalls, the supply of petrol, oil and lubricants had to be cartelised. PSO was reorganised to create a floating threat of a circular serpent that could devour the entire national wealth. Lt General (Retired) Shahid Aziz read the plot but was ignored. Small time entrepreneurs in the manufacturing sector were diverted to consumer led cheap imports.  Consumerism with its euphemism of trickle down was the easiest method to gobble unsterilised foreign exchange. Remittances were grabbed back through rising import bills and consumerism. At a time when rupee needed appreciation, it was devalued. By 2007, when President Musharraf was preoccupied with the judiciary and elections, the bubble was ready to be deflated through the circular debt window. The rising inflation, resurgence of sugar and wheat cartels, energy crises and power failures created an anti-Musharraf sentiment. No government since 2007 has had the courage to look into this monster and rein it in. PSO remains the holiest of holy cow being groomed for privatisation.
At the other end are the rich ruling elites of this country with eyes on getting richer. Systemic reforms are anathema because they counter their financial interests. The land of abundance will continue to be sucked by elites while Musharraf’s trial offers a good diversion from problems the government is shy of addressing. It also gives them an opportunity to put their nemesis in a negative frame to widen the civil-military divide. Musharraf is a fodder to brew ascendency akin to Memogate. Despite calls of caution and rationality from most parties in the opposition, this indirect confrontational approach is a manifestation of the megalomaniac self. How many gates will Pakistan survive?
Treason in Pakistan’s constitution begs a new definition to include other methods of subverting a state than what Musharraf did in 2007. Truth and contrition is a much saner option towards making amends in history. If skeletons have to be undressed, it must be so, through the entire course of Pakistan’s opportunist constitutionalism. Otherwise, this entire exercise will turn out to be an ill-conceived witch hunt.

The writer is a retired officer of Pakistan Army and a political economist.

Yasser Arafat 'was not poisoned' - leaked French report

The BBC's Christian Fraser in Paris: "It is unlikely we will ever get a definitive answer"
A team of French scientists probing the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 2004 do not believe he was poisoned, according to leaks from their report.
They have reportedly concluded he died after a "generalised infection".
A previous report by Swiss scientists said tests on his body showed "unexpected high activity" of polonium.
This "moderately" supported the theory, long believed by many Palestinians, that he was poisoned, the report said.
Arafat's widow, Suha Arafat, told reporters in Paris she was "upset by these contradictions by the best European experts on the matter."
Arafat, who led the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) for 35 years and became the first president of the Palestinian Authority in 1996, fell violently ill in October 2004 at his compound.
Two weeks later he was flown to a French military hospital in Paris, where he died on 11 November 2004, aged 75.
Mr Arafat's official medical records say he died from a stroke resulting from a blood disorder. French doctors were not able at the time to determine what had caused the disorder.
His body was exhumed for testing last year amid continuing claims he was murdered. Many Palestinians have accused Israel of being behind his death, something which Israel has always denied.
The latest reported findings were "not a surprise", Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said.
Tawfiq Tirawi, head of the Palestinian Authority's inquiry into the death, told AFP: "We need to study the report. We can't take a position on it until we've looked at it."
A Palestinian artist works on a mural depicting late Palestinian leader Yasser ArafatMr Arafat remains an icon for many Palestinians
Conflicting findings
In July 2012, an al-Jazeera documentary reported that scientists at the Swiss Institute of Radiation Physics had found "significant" traces of a highly radioactive and toxic material on personal effects given to Mr Arafat's widow Suha after his death, including his trademark keffiyeh scarf.
Mrs Arafat asked the Palestinian Authority to authorise the exhumation of his remains in order "to reveal the truth".
The Palestinian Authority granted French investigators and a team of Swiss scientists permission for the exhumation and to take samples for testing.
Russia also sent experts, and samples were sent to its Federal Medico-Biological Agency.

Swiss scientists' findings

  • Experts at the Vaudois University Hospital Centre (CHUV) in Lausanne, Switzerland, conducted tests on samples taken from Yasser Arafat's exhumed body in November 2012
  • The Swiss report said there were "unexpectedly high levels of polonium-210 and lead-210 activity" found in specimens taken from Arafat's ribs, pelvis and soil that absorbed his bodily fluids
  • It noted a lack of adequate biological specimens, particularly soft tissues, and the eight years between death and the investigation, rendering detection subject to uncertainties
  • But it concluded results "moderately support the proposition that the death was the consequence of poisoning with polonium-210"
Mrs Arafat also filed a civil suit at a court in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, alleging that her husband was murdered by an unnamed "perpetrator X". French prosecutors began a murder inquiry in August 2012.
Last month, a forensic expert said that the levels of radioactive polonium found in Mr Arafat's remains by the Swiss scientists were 18 to 36 times higher than normal.
However, they said their findings could not categorically prove the theory that he was poisoned.
The Swiss scientists had stressed that they had been unable to reach a more definitive conclusion because of the time that had elapsed since Arafat's death, the limited samples available and the confused "chain of custody" of some of the specimens.
In November, Palestinian officials said the third report, by Russian experts, did not give "sufficient evidence" to support the decision that Mr Arafat was poisoned. However, experts who reviewed the document for al-Jazeera - which said it had obtained a copy - cast doubt on its findings.
Also on Tuesday, Mr Tirawi said he would soon name the people he believed were responsible for Mr Arafat's death.
"I promise that the next press conference will be the last and will cast into the light of day everyone who perpetrated, took part in or conspired in the matter," he told Palestine Today television, Reuters reports.

Finanical Nightmare in Pakistan

Weddings in Pakistan: Down with the dowry, enough with the spending!

The society as a whole fails to realise that the money spent on weddings would be better invested in improving living standards, education, health and the overall well-being of the family.
An often ignored reality that has plagued Pakistani society is that getting married is a financial nightmare.
Marriage in our country is an occasion for insane displays of spending on outrageously lavish valimasmehndi banquets, jewellery, give-aways, dowry and similar acts. What is interesting and downright appalling is that all classes of society are guilty of this madness.
Our upper-class uses the occasion to show how wealthy they are. The middle-class, as always torn between the echelons of society, tries its best to spend as much as it can and register itself within the upper-class so as to feel accomplished. The poor take out the money from their children’s education, health and everyday basics of life to cover nonsensical marriage expenses.
It is not hard to find instances in Pakistan where a poor family saves money for years to marry off a daughter, when only a portion of this money would have been sufficient to send the kids to school, buy them books and invest in their future.
Recently, I did a small survey in my native village and compiled statistics of the expenses incurred on recent weddings in the village.
What I found was an astonishing trend.
A family, where the combined income of father and son was Rs60,000 spent more than Rs800,000 on dowry, clothes, give-aways and various functions related to their daughter’s wedding.
In another instance, a poor farmer in the village married his daughter to another farmer’s son and bore wedding expenses of Rs150,000 – most of which was borrowed from relatives or contributed by someone well-off.
Another old man married his son who was a taxi-driver to another man’s daughter – of similar financial stature – and bought gold worth Rs150,000 for the bride. He incurred additional expenses on arranging the ‘customary’ functions. The money was again borrowed from relatives and friends.
The social behaviour exhibited in these examples reflects a bizarre and anomalous condition in our society – all in the name of traditions and customs. Spending such huge amounts of money on a wedding just does not make sense in a country with poverty figures such as ours.
Marriage – the commencement of a new and beautiful relationship – is unfortunately often marred in Pakistan either by the scary repercussions of a family’s self-esteem blown away with the burden of donations or by going bankrupt and plunging themselves into financial debts.
The reasons behind our irrational spending on marriages are obvious.
Long established traditions of wedding functions and obligations of giving jewellery, dowry and give-aways has created a standard on which each family tries to excel more than it actually can. People fear being mocked by society if they fail to spend ‘enough’. More often than not, this forces them to spend more than the resources they have.
The society as a whole fails to realise that the money spent on weddings would be better invested in improving living standards, education, health and the overall well-being of the family.
Just imagine the on-going benefits if the same money that a poor father spends on his son’s wedding was spent on starting a business for the son or if the son saved the money for occasions such as childbirth, health care and children’s education.
The irony is that although most people do realise that this behaviour is a social anomaly, we all seem resigned to it and no one bothers to fix it. Everyone talks about the problem but no one actually does anything to help society put an end to it. There may be the occasional sermon in a mosque on not having extravagant weddings and the elderly in the family do tell their children to be humble in their lifestyle, but very little is actually done beyond the verbal discussion.
In effect, our society seems paralysed without any clue on how to change this terrible system.
So what we ought to do if we all realise that the spending trend in our weddings is nonsensical?
I think that the first step should be to try and gradually avoid some of the expenses that make our weddings such a financial ordeal.
For starters there is at least, one certain expense that the men in this society can actually refuse only if they could muster up the courage – a rebellious stance to completely refuse dowry from the bride’s family irrespective of how much they insist.
Who else, other than the man getting married, is in a better position to stand up against the heinous practice of dowry?
After all, with the custom so deeply entrenched in our society, neither the girl nor her family could ever propose a dowry-free marriage. It is the guy who is the receiver of dowry and hence, it is only him who can take a stern stance against it.
Putting an end to the custom of dowry might prove to be the first step in cutting down other wedding expenses.
Think about it.
If a man stands his ground against receiving dowry, then the bride and her family would also have to be rational enough when demanding jewellery from the groom’s side. This will help save money for matters of far greater importance than outrageous functions, jewellery and furniture for the groom’s entire family.
Having said that, it is unfortunately not that easy to change long-standing traditions in reality. In effect, this will entail standing against both the families because everyone here is tied up in notions of trends, traditions and social pressures, and no one in either family would agree to a dowry-free marriage. The classic argument is,
“Hum apni khushi se day rahay hain” 
(We’re giving it out of our own happiness)
“Hum tou thora bohat day rahay hain apni beti ko”
(We’re just giving a little bit to our daughter)
Giving less dowry is of no good either as it doesn’t act upon the message that there was no dowry required in the first place.
The snake of dowry is still alive but just fed less.
The idea is complex but fairly executable. If we don’t start today, this anomalous social behaviour will keep haunting us and our coming generations. All that is required is for both the families to sacrifice their social harmony temporarily for the sake of the greater good. The rich and the educated men, particularly, bear more responsibility as they are the ones who set the example. There is no message to be followed if a poor family spends no money on a marriage. A message is only given when you have a lot to spend and you choose not to.
The fear of the backlash from the families in the beginning is undeniable. But believe it or not, once the dust is settled, everyone around us will appreciate us for sparing them the money they were about to waste on things that do not essentially matter.
Imagine the day when all you need for a marriage is a happy couple and two happy families without the fear of arranging dowry or any money for their joyous day.
In an age where most of us dream about a changed society, very few take tiny but pragmatic steps to bring about and be a part of that change.

Salman Taseer - should be remembered?

Why should we remember Salman Taseer?

Salman Taseer was certainly not a leader of the masses. He didn’t have the charisma of Bhutto or the populist support of Benazir. He was, however, a man who believed in a liberal Pakistan. PHOTO: FILE
January 4 and 5 are two days that every PPP (Pakistan Peoples Party) supporter will remember, but for two very different reasons. January 5 is the birthday of their enigmatic party founder Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. January 4, on the other hand, remains one of the darkest days in our history of political murders – a day that is, surprisingly, not spoken of enough.
January 4, 2011, was the day when the serving Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, was shot dead by his guard, because the guard was in disagreement with Taseer’s opposition to the blasphemy law. Salman Taseer’s assassin was a man called Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, reportedly a member of Dawat-e-Islami.

Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, Salman Taseer’s assassin. Photo: AFP
Murder of any kind is unacceptable. It is the most heinous of crimes known to man. However, murdering in the name of religion takes the crime to a whole new twisted and sick level. It exposes the fragility of religion and how it can be used to brainwash individuals into mindless submission to laws that, they believe, are superior to basic principles of humanity.
Taseer’s assassination was a classic example of this.
Taseer had the courage to stand up for a woman from a religious minority, who was imprisoned because of a particular law. This said law, the blasphemy law as commonly known, is a small drop in the ever expanding ocean of fundamentalism in Pakistan.

The body of the governor of Punjab province Salmaan Taseer is carried out of a hospital after he was shot dead in Islamabad January 4, 2011. Photo: AFP
Who was that woman?
Most of us would have probably forgotten her name because she has fallen in the background of idiotic and irrelevant arguments, such as that over the wall at Bilawal House.
Her name was Aasia Bibi.
Belonging to a village near Sheikhupura in Punjab, where hers was the only Christian family, she got into an argument over drinking water at work. Her fellow Muslim workers did not approve of a Christian drinking from the same cup as them. Emotions soared, her co-workers targeted her religion and she targeted theirs. First the local cleric and then the police was involved, and soon Aasia was imprisoned. Because Pakistan’s Sharia system considers a non-Muslim’s testimony to carry half the weight of a Muslim’s, she had difficulty defending herself in court and was finally sentenced to death by a judge in Sheikhupura; thus becoming the first woman in our history condemned to death on blasphemy charges.
As expected, protests ensued across the country.
The religious-right in the country displayed its ever-present knack for savagery, demanding that Aasia be hanged and even offering a bounty for anyone who would kill her. Some foamed at their mouths, beards wet with saliva, Arabic accents strong and eyes red. Others shook their heads in disgust and spoke up.
Salman Taseer was one of them.
What did he get in return?
Death from 27 bullets – by his own guard.

Policemen secure the site of a fatal attack on Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab, by his bodyguard in Islamabad on January 4, 2011. Photo: AFP
A lesson needs to be learnt here. One that we have struggled to learn ever since Ziaul Haq’s religious bigotry completely altered the course of our country. Religious fanaticism cannot, and should not, be tolerated at any cost. The misuse of religion is the single reason this country has gone to the dogs and turned into a hotbed of extremism and terrorism.
If we had learned to accept religion as a personal matter, kept it separate from the state and not introduced laws promoting prejudice and hatred, we would have been in a much better shape. People need to speak up – the larger, the better.
There can be no neutrals here.
Being neutral is worse than sympathising with the fanatics.
This country needs more people like Salman Taseer. More people like Shahbaz Bhatti. Political affiliations need to be kept aside and affiliations based on common sense need to be brought to the fore front, especially on issues like these.

A portrait of the assassinated governor of Punjab Salman Taseer is displayed during a Sunday service at the Cathedral Church of the Resurrection in Lahore. Photo: Reuters
Salman Taseer was certainly not a leader of the masses. He didn’t have the charisma of Bhutto or the populist support of Benazir. He was, however, a man who believed in a liberal Pakistan. He believed in a country where freedom of speech was not frowned upon and where religious extremism was not ripe. However, such a country is a far cry from the Pakistan of today.
His political and business achievements or shortcomings all fall in the backdrop of his stance on this issue. A courageous man who spoke sense and stood against extremism as everyone else was surrounded by an ugly haze. It is because of these reasons that Salman Taseer should be remembered.
He was the voice of a liberal Pakistan.
He was the voice of a courageous Pakistan.

Mathira is not at Fault.. We are Perverts??

Stop hating on Mathira, Pakistan!

If you think about it, it is not Mathira who is raunchy and obscene. It is the majority of our population that is perverted and mentally sick. PHOTO: FILE
Mathira is a young and talented icon of Pakistan and I do not understand why the people of this country love to hate her. Last year the uproar was on her modelling in the Josh condom advertisement and the latest ruckus is over her latest song Jhootha.
I really do not think that there is any need to get so worked up over Jhootha. In fact, even the critics found nothing wrong with the song except perhaps, the age of Arbaz Khan. The audience has even gone so far as to comment that Arbaz is yet to reach puberty but little do they know that the onset of puberty occurs at the age of 12. There have even been negative remarks about his height and weight which is frankly just uncalled for.
In July 2013, Mathira appeared in a condom advert which in my opinion was a public service message to encourage the use of condoms in a country struggling with population control. But how did our society react? They conveniently and quite expectedly, labelled the ad and her as ‘vulgar’.
Take a moment and think about it.
Pakistan – quite literally a ticking time bomb when it comes to our explosive population growth rates – is in dire need of family planning. And that is exactly what condoms do. They offer a family planning solution which is less expensive and is considered to have fewer side effects in comparison to alternatives like birth control pills and intrauterine devices (IUDs). In addition, condoms offer ‘safe sex’ against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and other major diseases including Hepatitis B and C as well as HIV/AIDS.
So, the way I see it, Mathira brought the issue out in the open, tried to create awareness in the population and offered a solution through the advertisement. But what did this blind nation do in return? They called her vulgar.
If you think about it, it is not Mathira who is raunchy and obscene. It is us, the majority of our population, who are perverted. This is evidenced by the fact that between 2004 and 2012, Google search engine trending showed that Pakistan topped the world in searching for pornography, outranking every other country in the world in searches-per-person for certain sex-related content. Then, our government took notice and banned over 1, 000 top porn sites in Pakistan.
And this is the reason why perverted Pakistanis dislike Mathira because as much as they may try not to, they equate everything with porn; and openly, porn cannot be accepted. She is a super model with style and charisma that threatens their mentality of labelling anyone different or daring as ‘racy’ or ‘vulgar’.
Pakistani men can watch porn but Mathira tries to impart sex education to people and they term her ‘vulgar’.
I remember when Mathira used to host a late-night programme on Vibe TV called Love Indicator. She once received a live call from a man who made some negative comment about her dressing and her body. Instead of getting flustered or cutting the call short, she boldly told the caller said that he needed to go home to his wife. She pointed out that live shows were not the place to solve his problems.
So, again I ask you, who is vulgar – the caller for unnecessarily passing lewd remarks or Mathira for putting him in his place and indicating to others that neither she nor other women should be treated with such disrespect?
Coming to the video, I would argue that we don’t seem to have a problem looking at a video of semi-clad women from the West dancing about young boys like Justin Beiber. Apparently in that case there seems to be nothing wrong and that doesn’t ‘directly’ affect our culture, but when it’s our own women, we will leave no stone unturned to make sure she is derided. Both were run on television were they not? The audience is still the same, is it not? Then why this hypocrisy?
The video was directed by Arbaz Khan’s brother, which in effect shows that he did in fact have a guardian looking over him throughout the making of this video. If his parents and older siblings seem to have no problem with the content of the video, who are we to make a judgment call?
Unfortunately, throughout her career to date, people have questioned her morals and ethics. However, I think that she is doing a service to society by fighting against taboos and stigmas all on her own. In the face of such harsh criticism, she has taken it upon herself to tackle taboo subjects such as sexuality, love, family planning, HIV/Aids and educate the masses about them so that they refrain from learning the wrong things from the wrong sources such as the internet and pornography sites.
What adds to the hypocrisy is that it is mostly the male members of our society who view inappropriate content on the internet and it is these very males, most of the time, who then miss no chance to mock and insult people like Mathira who are actually trying to make a difference in society. It is quite obvious that chauvinistic males are threatened by the likes of Mathira and the work that she is doing for society.
I fail to understand how it is okay for the people of this country to watch pornography and inappropriate content but try to educate them about sex – health, safety and precautions – and they term the person ‘immoral’ and ‘obscene’. This narrow-minded nation has a panacea in Mathira, if only they would open their eyes.
Hats off to you Mathira, you are truly Pakistan’s superwoman and we, the mentally sound, will keep on supporting you in your cause.

Capitalist Democracy

Parvez Musharaf ka Muqadma

Intekhabi Bohran

Friday, January 3, 2014

Chief Teray Jan Nisar

Musharraf ka Bhala, Hakoomat ki Kher by Talat Hussain

Naye Halaat ma Purani Yaad by Nusrat Javed

اس کالم میں یہ واقعہ میں دو بار لکھ چکا ہوں۔ آج پھر دہرانے کی ضرورت محسوس کر رہا ہوں۔ ہوا یوں کہ 2010ء کے ابتدائی مہینوں میں پیپلز پارٹی اور پاکستان مسلم لیگ (نواز) کے درمیان افتخار چوہدری کو بحال نہ کرنے کی وجہ سے اختلافات سنگین تر ہونا شروع ہو چکے تھے۔ صدر زرداری نے معاملات کو کسی صورت قابو میں رکھنے کے لیے بطور صدر رائے ونڈ جا کر نواز شریف سے اچانک تنہائی میں ایک لمبی ملاقات کر ڈالی۔ اس ملاقات کے عین دوسرے روز میری آصف علی زرداری سے دوپہر کے کھانے پر ملاقات کئی دن پہلے طے ہو چکی تھی۔ اس ملاقات کے لیے ایوان صدر جاتے ہوئے میں بہت شاداں محسوس کرتا رہا۔ بطور رپورٹر طے کر لیا کہ زرداری صاحب سے اپنی ملاقات کے دوران سارا فوکس یہ جاننے پر رکھوں گا کہ تنہائی میں ان کے اور نواز شریف صاحب کے درمیان کیا باتیں ہوئیں۔ ایوانِ صدر پہنچ جانے کے بعد ’’موگابو‘‘ یہ جان کر مزید خوش ہوا کہ میرے اور ان کی ملاقات کے درمیان کوئی تیسرا شخص موجود نہیں ہو گا۔
’’دوٹکے کا رپورٹر‘‘ وفورِ جذبات میں لیکن یہ بھول چکا تھا کہ صدر بن جانے کے بعد آصف علی زرداری نے اپنی زبان پر تالے لگا لیے تھے۔ آپ کے ’’معصوم‘‘ سوالات کو بھی وہ مسکرا کر ٹال دیتے اور ساری گفتگو کا رُخ ایسے موضوعات پر مرکوز رکھتے جن میں ہماری لوک شاعری کا تذکرہ ہوتا اور ماحولیات کا خیال رکھتے ہوئے فصلوں سے زیادہ پیداوار حاصل کرنے کے منصوبے بھی بتائے جاتے۔ ان سے ملاقات خواہ کتنی بھی طویل ہو جاتی گھر لوٹتے ہوئے کسی ’’ٹھوس خبر‘‘ کے حوالے سے میں ایک فقرہ بھی یاد نہ کر پاتا۔
ہماری یہ ملاقات جس کا میں ذکر کر رہا ہوں شروع ہوئی تو واضح ہو گیا کہ زرداری کسی صورت نواز شریف کے ساتھ اپنی ملاقات کے بارے میں کچھ بیان کرنے کو ہرگز تیار نہیں۔ میرے بیٹھنے اور حال احوال پوچھنے کے فوراَ بعد انھوں نے چین کی معجزہ نما اقتصادی ترقی کے بارے میں ایک بہت ہی لمبی تقریر فرمانا شروع کر دی۔ پھر دادو سے شروع ہونے والے اس طویل و عریض رقبے کا ذکر شروع کر دیا جہاں ان کے خیال میں چینی اپنی ٹیکنالوجی کی بدولت نقد آور فصلیں اُگا سکتے ہیں۔ ان کی بڑی خواہش تھی کہ اگر چینی اس امر پر تیار ہو جائیں تو وہ سندھ کی ہاری خواتین کو بے نظیر انکم اسکیم کے تحت زمینیں آباد کرنے کے اس منصوبے کا حصہ دار بنا سکیں۔
میں منافقانہ ہوں ہاں کرتے ہوئے ان کے خواب مصنوعی گرم جوشی سے سنتا رہا۔ آصف علی زرداری مگر Street Smart ہیں۔ سامنے بیٹھے شخص کا چہرہ فوراَ پڑھ لیتے ہیں۔ میرے دلی جذبات انھوں نے محسوس کر لیے اور سوال کر ڈالا کہ میں اتنا بیزار کیوں دکھائی دے رہا ہوں۔ چونکہ بڑے اشتیاق سے اس ملاقات کے لیے گیا تھا اس لیے ڈھیٹ بن کر جواباَ یہ بیان کرنے پر مجبور ہو گیا کہ ذات کا رپورٹر ہوں۔ صدرِ پاکستان سے تنہائی میں ملاقات کروں تو یہ سوچنے پر مجبور ہو جاتا ہوں کہ اپنے ’’دھندے‘‘ کے حوالے سے میں ان ’’قیمتی لمحات‘‘ سے کیا حاصل کر پایا ہوں۔ جواباَ انھوں نے ایک زور دار قہقہ لگایا اور بڑی فراخ دلی سے پوچھ ڈالا کہ اس دن کی ملاقات سے کیا حاصل کرنا چاہ رہا ہوں۔ میں نے نواز شریف سے ان کی رائے ونڈ والی ملاقات کا ذکر کر ڈالا۔ وہ تھوڑی دیر کو چپ ہو گئے۔ پھر چھت کو دیکھنا شروع کر دیا۔ کافی طویل محسوس ہوتے وقفے کے بعد انھوں نے بڑی سادگی سے پوچھا ’’تم نے نوٹس کیا کہ نواز شریف سے ملاقات کے دوران میں نے سندھی ٹوپی پہنی ہوئی تھی‘‘۔
میں نے نوٹس تو نہیں لیا تھا۔ مگر یاد آ گیا تو زور دار ہاں سے جواب دیا۔ میرے جواب کے بعد زرداری صاحب نے انکشاف کیا کہ تنہائی میں ان سے ملاقات کے دوران نواز شریف بار بار ایک ہی فقرہ دہراتے رہے اور وہ یہ کہ ’’تسی پرویز مشرف نوں گارڈ آف آنر دے کے کیوں بھیج دتّا۔ اوہدا ٹرائل ہونا چاہیے دا سی‘‘ بالآخر بقولِ آصف علی زرداری انھوں نے نواز شریف کو اپنے سر پر پہنی سندھی ٹوپی اُنگلی کے اشارے سے دکھائی اور کہا کہ ’’ہم لوگ پہلے ہی بہت لاشیں دے چکے ہیں۔ اب مزید پنگے لینے کی ہمت نہیں رہی‘‘۔ یہ اعتراف کرنے کے بعد آصف علی زرداری نے بقول ان کے بڑے خلوص سے نواز شریف کو سمجھانے کی کوشش کی کہ وہ پاکستان کے آبادی کے لحاظ سے سب سے بڑے صوبے سے تعلق رکھنے والے رہنما ہیں۔ عوام میں ان کی مقبولیت بھی مسلّم ہے اور آیندہ انتخابات تک شاید وہ کہیں زیادہ مضبوط ہوجائے گی۔ ہو سکتا ہے وہ ایک بار پھر بھاری اکثریت کے ساتھ پاکستان کے وزیر اعظم بن جائیں۔ ایسا ہو گیا تو نواز شریف صاحب جنرل مشرف کا ٹرائل ضرور کریں اور آصف زرداری کا یہ خیال بھی تھا کہ ’’آزاد عدلیہ‘‘ کی وجہ سے شاید وہ یہ کام ان سے زیادہ بہتر صورت کر پائیں گے۔
بہرحال اس سال مئی 2013ء میں نواز شریف اس ملک کے تیسری بار ایک بھاری اکثریت کے ساتھ وزیر اعظم بن گئے۔ دریں اثناء جنرل مشرف بھی وطن لوٹ آئے اور پھر 3 نومبر 2007ء کے حوالے سے غداری وغیرہ کا کیس بھی ان کے خلاف بن گیا۔ اس کیس کی باقاعدہ سماعت شروع ہو جانے کے پہلے دن سے جو کچھ دیکھنے میں آ رہا ہے، اس کے بارے میں اپنی زبان نہ ہی کھولوں تو بہتر ہے۔ بس اتنی خواہش ضرور ہے کہ آصف علی زرداری سے آیندہ چند دنوں میں آمنے سامنے والی ملاقات ہو جائے۔ میں ان کی خدمت میں عرض کروں گا تو صرف اتنا کہ پاکستان کا صدر منتخب ہو جانے کے بعد انھوں نے نواز شریف کو جنرل مشرف کے حوالے سے رائے ونڈ میں جو کچھ سمجھانے کی کوشش کی تھی اسے یعنی اپنی بات کو مزید موثر بنانے کے لیے انھیں سندھی ٹوپی پہننے کی ضرورت نہ تھی۔ ہمارے ہاں کچھ معاملات واقعتاً ایسے ہیں جہاں ’’ہم ہوئے کہ تم ہوئے‘‘ سب ’’اسی زلف‘‘ کی پابندی میں جکڑے محسوس کرتے ہیں۔

Thanx God Devyani was not a Pakistani

If Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade was Pakistani, she would be doomed

Indians protest outside the US Embassy in New Delhi against Devyani Khobragade's arrest. PHOTO: REUTERS
Devyani Khobragade is one lucky, lucky lady. 
To say that about someone who is possibly facing 10 years in prison and was arrested publicly in front of her daughter’s school over visa fraud, is a bit of a stretch, but hear me out. 
Khobragade, 39, is an Indian diplomat living in the United States. She is the deputy consul general in New York and currently out on bail.
She is someone Pakistani diplomats should be jealous of.
Not because she allegedly made USD100, 000 per year. Not because she gets to live in New York. But because as soon as she was publicly humiliated by Uncle Sam, the entire Indian bureaucratic community stood by her and showed an impressive amount of defiance to the most powerful country in the world.
Last week, Khobragade was handcuffed and charged with visa fraud. She has also been accused to have underpaid her housemaid. She was stripped and cavity searched and was set in detention with drug addicts.
Somewhere in the distance I can hear Amir Khan frantically scribbling down a script.
Post the Khobragade arrest, the Indian diplomatic community went on a garish lock-down. They were firm and their reactions were pointedly retaliatory to the misconduct.
You cannot treat our diplomats like crap and get away with it, the Indian reaction stated.
The statement was heard loud and clear.
The home minister, vice president, speaker of the parliament, leader of the opposition and national security advisor – all refused to meet the US congressional delegation as a reaction. The concrete barriers in front of the US Embassy in Delhi were removed.
On the other hand, the US State Department issued its statement that diplomatic security had followed standard procedures during the arrest.
The Indian government insisted that it had diplomatic immunity and was publicly humiliated by law enforcement agencies.
The American government heard the message and responded as nicely as it could, given the circumstances. They stated that they would ‘review the arrest’ and understand that it is a ‘sensitive issue for many in India’.
Whether or not Khobragade’s housemaid was employed well under the US minimum wage, whether or not the documents were false, one thing is for sure, India knows that it is next in line to become a global superpower and it will not let anyone forget it.
With an impressive economic growth chart over the last 10 years and a powerful population of 1.2 billion, India is not going to take a leaf out of Pakistan’s book and let America do as it pleases with citizens of a weaker country.
If Devyani Khobargade was a Pakistani, she would either have had to sit in jail and face the sentence or Pakistan would have attempted back-door deals with the US or a compromise brokered by Saudi Arabia. Or worse, if Devyani was stepping on the wrong toes back home, Pakistan would have abandoned their diplomat to her fate and called her a ‘bad seed’.
Unlike the defiance shown by India, our stance would be:
“Please let her go. We promise we will not do it again. Here, want a new area for drone strikes? Come, we have plenty.”
The narrative between India and the United States and Pakistan and the United States is as different as it can possibly be. While India acknowledges and engages in the power that America has, Pakistan fears and serves the American system.
Just like we Pakistanis are gradually losing the ability to think for ourselves, we are also losing the ability to fend for ourselves. Whether it is drone strikes or Osama bin Laden, we have only sputtered half-hearted cries in protest when Americans cross our lines. Our diplomats know and act from the position of subordination. So do our politicians.
And thus, the frustration that steams the ‘Die America Die!’ chant becomes nothing but wall chalking that stray dogs urinate on.
With such fear at hand, Pakistan is in no place to fight, protest or even take intense and credible actions against American blights. In a frighteningly literal sense, the Americans are getting away with murder in Pakistan.
It seems that the international rule book of foreign policy and conventions in pretty Swiss backgrounds have no meaning in real life. Laws and reasons behind protecting a country’s sovereignty, providing humane treatment to international criminals, not invading a country’s airspace – all fail to materialise in a relationship that is precariously harboured between Pakistan and the United States.
Today (irrespective of who is right or wrong in the Devyani Khobragade case) India showed that the relationship between India and the United States is not one of craven submission or fear. But if Pak-US relations were to be defined, the only name that could possibly be given is…
Raymond Allen Davis.