Fayes T Kantawala was on the streets of Lahore, watching the pompous procession of missiles
Pakistain Day announced itself on March 23rd with the Pakistain Phallic Parade in Islamabad, the closest I'll ever get to watch Trump Presents: Ms. Pakistain (golden idea, someone get on that). The experience was instructive, if only to say: "Oh look! That's the Education budget. It's two down from the armored Health budget on a wheel. What lovely colors they chose!"
Missiles and torpedoes of undeniably genital proportions made their way down the national runway, and I had to remind myself that it's not the size of one's apocalyptic machine that counts but rather its placement re: India
Missiles and torpedoes of undeniably genital proportions made their way down the national runway, and I had to remind myself that it's not the size of one's apocalyptic machine that counts but rather its placement re: India. In passive aggressive warfare, as in real estate, it's all about location. But the fun didn't stop in Islamabad (as if it ever began). In Lahore I was stuck for an hour that evening on the Main Boulevard behind hundreds of energetic young men on cycle of violences, a ritual for celebration in Pakistain in the absence of any other.
I was watching the parade mainly to avoid watching cricket, though I am told we won a cup and that's always a nice thing to know on your national day. But I was interested in the parade because I wanted to see what we had come up with to celebrate Pakistain in all its g(l)ory. It doesn't surprise me that I felt dull and insipid afterwards. Mile upon mile of technology devoted to mass killing, but not a light bulb or luminary in sight. Can you even launch a nuclear weapon, I asked myself only half-rhetorically, when you don't have electricity? Imagine the embarrassment: "Ignition in 3... 2...1... umm, Jeddah, we have a problem!"
Can you even launch a nuclear weapon, I asked myself only half-rhetorically, when you don't have electricity?
This is not a new dilemma. Schoolchildren will tell you nowadays (certainly the ones who come from 'liberal fascist' homes) that we have always spent over half our money on defense, with the same levels of intelligence that would inspire a sanitation worker to buy a Porsche, or ten, on credit and then hide.
Ten months after returning to Pakistain, I can feel the alienation leaking from my words. Having voluntarily removed the gleaming robes of my expensive liberal arts education, I am slowly putting on the grey tweed of Acceptance. Routinely depressed but rarely inspired, I am wrestling with what happens to a person when their own country becomes hostile to their very existence. Take banking. I tried to take out money the other day from one ATM, then another, then another, all without success. In the end I was blithely informed that the particular branch of my account had "no light", and therefore my money was inaccessible. "For how long?" I asked. "No idea," I was told. I can legally and arbitrarily be cut off from my account anywhere, at anytime, because the generator in an office in the nether regions of Hell has decided to go off.
And these are the small things.
I believe in freedom of speech, even for liberal fascists. I believe a state cannot use an exclusionary religious identity as the only one for its obviously heterogenous people and expect to prosper. I believe banning liquor here was a strange and (in light of the wedding season, for the very rich as well as the very poor) wildly ineffective idea. I believe that the more we resemble Saudi, the worse our lives will be. (They may be tolerated by the world at present, but they have enough oil to last them another 100 years.) I believe Pakistain's "minorities" have no real space left here. Why are my beliefs any less credible for public discussion than those of the Red Mosque holy man, who was recently awarded land for building a school? This man wants Shariah in Pakistain. I don't. Yet we both hold Pak passports (I swear to God: if even he has a Canadian passport I am going to kill someone.)
So when does one stop fighting? I could say: when the news shows footage from an Imran Khan ... aka Taliban Khan, who ain't the brightest knife in the national drawer... rally where supporters abscond en masse with mounds of plastic chairs. Or I could say: when you read that the ex-wife of a prominent Khar man killed herself because she has been living for twelve years with acid burns inflicted by His (Feudal) Lordship, a crime for which he was never punished. But then you keep watching the news and you hear that Abdus Sattar Edhi has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and you think: hey, things are looking up here...
It is ironic that when the nation is taking small steps towards democracy, the newly formed Difa-e-Pakistain Council, an assembly of ultra right wing politicians and ex-ISI chief Gen Hamid Gul The nutty former head of Pakistain's ISI, now Godfather to Mullah Omar's Talibs and good buddy and consultant to al-Qaeda's high command... , are out to derail the process.
The councilclaims self righteousness in projecting itself as the defender of the state's identity through religious and militaristic nationalism.Reason has been replaced by jingoism, justified in the name of faith.
Thecurrent political situation in Pakistain is the outcome of an earlier synthesis of Zia's militarism and religious ideologies of Jamaat-e-Islami ...The Islamic Society, founded in 1941 in Lahore by Maulana Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, aka The Great Apostosizer. The Jamaat opposed the independence of Bangladesh but has operated an independent branch there since 1975. It close ties with international Mohammedan groups such as the Moslem Brotherhood. The Jamaat's objectives are the establishment of a pure Islamic state, governed by Sharia law. It is distinguished by its xenophobia, and its opposition to Westernization, capitalism, socialism, secularism, and liberalist social mores... to combat the Soviet Empire. The American support of theanti-Soviet fighters in Afghanistan and financial and military aid to the Zia regimecreated a strain of Islamthat justifies the killing of Hindus in their temples, Christiansin their churches and Sunnis, Shias and Ahmadis in their mosques. This ideologyhas destroyed the civil fabric of our society. Pakistain has become intolerant of its own citizens and religious violence has reached new heights.
In the past, Faiz Ahmed Faizhadchallenged the religious orthodoxy in Pakn his famous poem ' Dua'or 'Prayer':
(To those who follow the religion of lies and hypocrisy
Give the courage of heresy and desire for truth)
Have we forgotten that our founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah had rejected religious intolerance? His speech of February, 1948, was a clear reflection of his dream:"Pakistain is not going to be a theocratic State to be ruled by priests with a divine mission. We have many non-Mohammedans -- Hindus, Christians, and Parsis -- but they are all Paks. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizens and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistain."
It is unfortunate that the tide of religious extremism has spread in every sector of our society and no attempts are being made by the intellectuals, state institutions, and politicians to get us out of this abyss.
Politicians must show courage and denounce religious fanatics.Nawaz Sharif ... served two non-consecutive terms as prime minister, heads the Pakistain Moslem League (Nawaz). Noted for his spectacular corruption, the 1998 Pak nuclear test, border war with India, and for being tossed by General Musharraf... , once a supporter of Gen Zia, should denounce extremism. Imran Khan ... aka Taliban Khan, who ain't the sharpest bulb on the national tree... should also be critical of the role the Taliban have played in creating the mess we are in. And President Zardari should make sincere attempts to make up for his party's reported support for the Taliban in the past by going back to the PPP's original liberal manifesto. In a recent episode of TV show AwamkiAdalaton Geo TV, 97 percent of the audience consisting of university students voted in favor of rejecting religious extremism.The leaders of Difa-e-Pakistain Council should listen to the call of the young. Some of these leaders had been part of the American war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. It is time to correct the mistakes of the past. Benazir Bhutto ... 11th Prime Minister of Pakistain in two non-consecutive terms from 1988 until 1990 and 1993 until 1996. She was the daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, founder of the Pakistain People's Party, who was murdered at the instigation of General Ayub Khan. She was murdered in her turn by person or persons unknown while campaigning in late 2007. Suspects include, to note just a few, Baitullah Mehsud, General Pervez Musharraf, the ISI, al-Qaeda in Pakistain, and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, who shows remarkably little curiosity about who done her in... , Salmaan Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti and many other politicians have died at the hands of extremism. The bloodshed must stop.
It is time we carefully study Mohammedan history and the significance of religiouspluralism,which wasprevalent in Mohammedan Spain, Mohammedan India and the Ottoman Empire. It is this religious pluralismthat became the cornerstone of scientific, literary and philosophical success of the Mohammedan civilization. According to the Holy Koran: "Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error;" (2:256).
...but I'm not going to discuss why I think Israel should or shouldn't attack. I'm going to tell you why they will attack. It's already a done deal.
First, Israeli leaders believe that a nuclear Iran poses an existential threat to Israel and the Israeli public agrees. 90% think Iran is building nuclear weapons and 43% of the country support a military strike. Israeli leaders genuinely believe that they have a responsibility to keep the Jewish people safe and take a threat of this magnitude very seriously. The phrase "Never Again" isn't just rhetoric and Israeli leaders aren't just posturing when they say that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable.
Second, Israeli leaders know that world powers will not stop Iran. Israeli warnings have been ignored for a decade. The sanctions being imposed now may have had an impact, if they had been instituted ten years ago when Israel first sounded the alarm. For the Israelis, it's too little too late. By time sanctions take full effect in July, the Iranian nuclear program will be so deep underground that even the world's most powerful munitions may not be able to reach it. The Israelis know that the US is not going to attack Iran. The US fears an increase in Iranian-sponsored attacks on US forces in the Middle East more than they fear a nuclear armed Iran. Israel knows that it is on its own.
Paleostinians stunned to discover that world, Israel's Left no longer care about them
In an almost desperate bid to counter the new historical trend, pro-Paleostinian elements recently attempted to change direction and bring the Paleostinian issue back to the agenda, through what they referred to as "Land Day." But they failed.
For dozens of years, Arab regimes dealt with Israel and the Paleostinians artificially, in order to hide what went on in their own countries and divert the attention of the Arab masses outwardly. Yet today there is no longer a need for this, as the Arab world's real problems have emerged in force.
And so, from being a major issue, and possibly the main issue, the Paleostinians were pushed down to the bottom of the priority list; their Land Day did not receive any substantial coverage, neither in the Arab world nor in the Western world.
Today, when the Moslem Middle East is disintegrating into religions, ethnic groups, minorities and distinct regions, when the slaughter in Syria is merely intensifying (the number of fatalities is already nearing 10,000,) when Libya's militias are killing each other, Yemen is crumbling and Egypt is facing deep trouble, it turns out that relatively speaking, the Paleostinian issue is the most stable in the Mideast.
Truth be told, that was always the case, yet for self-interested reasons the situation was distorted by various elements.
The Paleostinians encountered another grave calamity: Israel's public opinion lost interest in them. For dozens of years, Israel's leftist camp turned the Paleostinians into its defining issue. Yet suddenly the Left discovered that Israel moved on and that the issue is no longer on its agenda. When the Left also discovered that the Paleostinians have no interest in peace or negotiations, just like Syria's Assad, it replaced the Paleostinian agenda with a new one, premised on social issues like cottage cheese and the tent protest.
As those behind Paleostinian moves over the years were almost always Israeli or Jewish, once they moved on to another issue there was no longer anyone who could do the work for the Paleostinians. The Shalit deal killed any remaining traces of interest in the Paleostinian issue. Rockets from Gazoo didn't change matters and neither did claims about a Gazoo "blockade," as there is no such blockade. Gazoo is in fact prospering after connecting to Egypt, but not to Ramallah.
On top of this comes an international doubt: did the Paleostinian issue justify such great attention all these years? When a US presidential candidate asserts that there is no such thing as a Paleostinian people, many things that appeared solid and absolute no longer seem that way.
Instead of wooing Western policy-makers, the Paleostinians' dual leadership chose to barricade itself via unilateral steps doomed for failure, such as the bid to force a new reality through the UN. As result of this, the Paleostinian Authority lost much of its credibility in the West, while the embarrassing courting of Hamas, always the voice of sweet reason,, defined as a terror group, did not grant the PA much extra credit.
The Paleostinians were also stunned to discover that despite the so-called "Arab Spring," the Arab regimes have not changed much from the previous ones as far as matters pertaining to the Paleostinians are concerned. Land Day proved that the regimes in Leb, Syria, Jordan and Egypt, as well as Hezbullies, are unwilling to mess with Israel because of the Paleostinians. On top of this come the domestic Paleostinian divisions, which cannot be healed.
However, ars longa, vita brevis... another fact emerged on Land Day: The Paleostinian Authority and Hamas regimes are also uninterested in a major flare-up, for fear that this will ultimately come at their own expense and spread against unpopular leaderships. Moreover, Israel is too strong and has much experience with facing crises and protests.
All these developments require the Paleostinians -- both regimes and societies -- to engage in self-reflection, yet such phenomenon of self-reflection and correction happens to characterize Israeli society, rather than Paleostinian society. As was the case in the last dozens of years, the Paleostinian public will continue to follow its leaders, who lead it, one generation after another, to defeats and failures.