Posted on 07 March 2012 by Tea Server
Posted on 04 March 2012 by Tea Server
Posted on 02 March 2012 by Tea Server
Difa-e-Pakistan is an Urdu word meaning Defense of Pakistan. Difa-e-Pakistan Council means a council willing to/responsible for defending Pakistan. The semantics dictate that the said council should comprise of representatives of the armed forces, the para-military forces, domestic law enforcement agencies, defense ministry and foreign ministry. In fact, the esteemed council that has come to the fore recently consists of none of the above. In the words of the journalist Ejaz Haider, it’s a “circus”.
Much has been written about this mysterious group over the last few weeks by people much more well-read and experienced than myself, thus I would restrict myself to a basic understanding of this group and the online presence of DPC.
The website of DPC lists 36 parties as part of the council. It includes single-digit member parties like Muslim League Zia, Mohsinan e Pakistan, suspicious-named organizations like Pakistan Water Movement, Tehreek e Ittehad, Christian Community( of where?), Sikh Community, Hindu Community Lahore and notorious people like a certain General® Hameed Gul, Hafiz Saeed, Malik Ishaq, Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman Khalil, Ahmad Ludhyanwi and last but not the least, representative of Imran Khan, Chaudary Ijaz.
General Hameed Gul, a former spymaster of Pakistan, was responsible for forming IJI(Islami Jamhuri Ittehad-Islamic democratic front) a similar group of religious organizations in 1988 to compete against Pakistan Peoples Party, turned against U.S when the funding for ISI was stopped, was an architect of starting insurgency in Occupied Kashmir, was removed from his position by Benazir Bhutto in 1989. Hafiz Saeed was a teacher of Islamic Studies at University of Engineering and Technology in the 1980s when he and a fellow Professor Zaffar Iqbal formed a new organization which came to be known as Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the pious). It was directly funded by Saudi money and collected donations across Pakistan. It was mainly involved in sending fighters trained by them to Kashmir for targeting Indian Military personnel and cantonments. It was declared a Terrorist Organization by both the United States and United Nations. Most Recently it was involved in the November 2008 Attacks on Mumbai.
Malik Ishaq is the leader and founder of Al Qaeda-linked Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. He remained in jail for 14 years facing a number of cases at the antiterrorism court in Lahore charging him with hundreds of murders. He was released from Jail on July 15 because “evidence against him gradually decayed and disappeared”. Molana Fazl ur Rehman Khaleel is a founder of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen(HuM) and current leader of Ansar-ul-Umma, which is accused of being a front organization of the banned HuM. Khalil was a signatory of Osama bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa called the International Front Against Jews and Crusaders. Regarding the sudden arrival of this bunch, investigative journalist Mujahid Hussain wrote, “In November 2011, the ISI Chief asked the Lashkar e Taiba and Jaish e Mohammad to speed up their campaign against India and to mobilize Islamists across the country on the platform of Difa e Pakistan, so that a clear signal could be sent to the international community. Fellow travelers such as Shaikh Rasheed and Hamid Gull were reactivated. A real estate tycoon in Islamabad and some rich businessmen of Karachi were asked to offer inducements. Also, The Sunni Tehreek is being propped up by the ISI as a fully fledged political party and has been tasked to garner the Barelvi vote.”
Traditionally, the parties that make up this pot-pourri are not known to be very modern or having an Internet presence. The interesting thing is that the council as a whole is more efficient in its online presence than the sum of all its constituents combined. This paradigm shift can be witnessed as DPC has its own website where all the speeches from their rallies are available and latest news related to their concerning issues are updated continuously, they have their own facebook page with 1459 Likes(till now) and a twitter account with 306 followers.
All of this fanfare is despite the fact that they are a “banned” organization(If you believe Interior Minister Rehman Malik).
The Facebook page of Difa e Pakistan Council tells us that
“Difa-e-Pakistan Council is an Umbrella Organization of more than 40 Religious and Political Organizations destined for the Defense of Pakistan and envisions the great nation as the Fortress of Islam.” It also informs us that “DPC Does not endorse the understandings and manifestos of organizations and entities that come under the umbrella of DPC. “Difa-e-Pakistan” is a single point cause to defend Pakistan by all threats it faces internally and externally.”
Upon a little digging, it is visible that the bigwigs of the council are not much involved in the Internet crusade rather it is a new batch of “Jihadis” or Internet warriors that are controlling the accounts of the council online. One particular ally is the hyper-nationalist website “Pakistan ka Khuda Hafiz”(Translation:- May God Protect Pakistan). The people behind PKKH website are Ahmad Qureshi, Shireen Mazari, Gen Hameed Gul and Maria Butt(fashion designer and recent convert to this ideology courtesy a Mr. Zaid Hamid). Ahmad Qureshi, Shireen Mazari and Zaid Hamid share a particular vision about Pakistan. They are fiercely Anti-American, Anti-India, Pro-Khilafat(Caliphate), Pro-Taliban and use the jargon of Islam to lure people towards their own agendas. They do not like democracy or politicians as a whole, and harbor sympathy towards Pakistan Army. They are known to be stooges of Military establishment and have always advocated a military solution to all problems. Just to keep things in perspective, the following words were posted by “Syed Zaid Zaman Hamid [Official]” page very recently, explaining their philosophy in full,
“If the politicians are for sale and hostile powers are ready to buy them, to hell with this democracy. Let the country be ruled by a Benevolent dictator on the model of Khilafat e Rashida! Till that time, army and ISI must make sure that these treacherous politicians do not sell the country to hostile powers”.
Thus, while the Jalsas(meetings/processions) of DPC are being filled by banned militant organizations, the Internet front is being held by Neo-Jihadis who are followers of Zaid Hamid, completing an “unholy alliance”. They oppose the MFN-status being awarded to India(without an iota of understanding about the WTO) and have a jingoistic attitude towards the rest of the world.
For the record, this is not the first time that establishment-backed forces have been joined together at a platform. It has happened previously in the 1970 elections, in the aforementioned 1990 elections when IJI was formed and in the wake of 9/11 when a similar-sounding “Afghan Defense Council” was formed which paved the way to formation of MMA(Mutahidda Majlis e Amal) in 2002.
The irony of this “internet war” is that most of the constituent parties have strong views about “Pictures” being Un-Islamic and they have, in the past, opposed Television and Radio, even Loudspeakers. The hypocrisy of it all cannot be ignored when the same people use loudspeakers all the time, to deliver hate-filled sermons, use Television for their own propaganda and now they have resorted to the internet, to attract the younger generation. These people are against the tenet of “Freedom of Speech” but they themselves are abusing their freedom of speech to spew hatred and bigotry. The focus of their efforts is to reach out to the Urban Middle class population of Pakistan which has got no clue about their own identity courtesy a paradox that is our “Religious Nation State”. Textbooks of Pakistan are filled with lies that cause narrowing of young minds from an early age, hatred against other religions is evident and ideologies are thrust upon immature minds resulting in a paranoid mental state. The textbooks re-enforce the image of this country not as envisioned by Jinnah but the one envisioned by General Zia(who can be considered Godfather of all the parties that today constitute DPC).
All hope, though, is not lost regarding the situation in Pakistan. The fact that almost 6 million Pakistanis using Facebook and only about 1400 like the DPC page and only about 1 lac people like the Official Zaid Hamid Page (where he has tried to re-invent himself as Syed) offers hope to the moderate factions of the society. It is the responsibility of the moderate elements of civil society to coalesce and try to control these elements from going out of control by raising awareness and educating people. People should be educated about their role in a democracy. Efforts such as being done by Centre for Civic Education, PILDAT, Pakistan Youth Alliance, Teach for Pakistan and Youth Parliaments should be highlighted. Media has to play a very important role in this regard as well. They have to give equal representation to progressive forces and avoid excessive coverage of the trouble-makers. Government of Pakistan should also play its role by introducing necessary changes in the curricula (as has been proposed by SDPI) and taking effective measures against the “banned” organizations. This is a long war and it is not going to be easy.
Posted on 28 February 2012 by Tea Server
Below is an article by a Syrian journalist who has put light on the lives people of Syria are living in fear. Bashar al Asad like his father is a tyrant and he seems to be the modern version of Nazi leadership. People should raise their voices all over the world and support the freedom and justice loving people in any manner they can.
Confessions of an ‘agent’ in Syria–>DAWN News Article
by Maryam Hasan (Pen name)
Whether it’s a call on my phone or at the door, I feel scared to death. I mentally prepare myself for the worst, assuming that “they” are here to take me.
But then, when I find a friend at the door or a homeless compatriot asking for food, I realise that it is not my day yet, it is someone else’s.
Despite being unusually lucky, my nightmares don’t end. I rather prepare myself to deal with a situation when Bashar’s sleuths would come to pick me up for writing about the misery of Syrian taxpayers and democracy-lovers.
Regardless of our terrible conditions, we do greet each other daily with ‘sabah al-khair’ or good morning but with little hope for the same.
When I hear stories of torture and disfigured bodies of the missing Syrians and journalists alike, my only prayer to Allah remains, “I am ready for it but ease it on me and my people please.”
We write with pen names and log on the Internet using proxies, thinking we are safe. The reality is otherwise. My missing journalist friends and bloggers had no time to say bye to their loved ones inside the very home they were abducted from. Al-mokhabarat or intelligence agents, just plucked them away, mostly in the dark of the night.
They may discover me sooner or later but I make it a point to erase all my cell phone logs of call and text messages, clear my browser history and empty my laptop’s trash bin. Thinking that I might have forgotten something, sometimes I repeat the act many times a night.
Of late, my personal fear of being kidnapped by government sleuths has been overshadowed by a big, bloodier development. Every day, I see uploaded YouTube videos of the best of Soviet and Russian arsenal knocking down bustling neighborhoods first in Dara’a, then Hama and now Homs.
While I still fear the footsteps of sleuths on my door, I am not being searched as minutely as before.
Instead of looking out for activists and undercover journalists, Bashar’s military is wiping out entire cities from world maps, over suspicions of treason against the Alawite regime.
What started as massacre has duly transformed into genocide. My editors abroad insist on sending my stories with real names, concrete evidence and versions from both sides. I have been in double jeopardy since the first eight months of the uprising when the world only knew about Tahrir square kind of protests.
I, sometimes, wonder if the top-notch media watchdog bodies really know what a faceless and nameless journalist in Syria goes through, at the hands of sleuths as well as the very editors known as gatekeepers.
When making a phone call can risk not only yours and your families’ lives but also the person answering the phone, calling a government source is simply suicidal. Even the most naïve journalist here knows that cellular and landline phone companies are not only owned by the regime’s front-men but also bugged and monitored.
Simultaneously, Syria is a busy place for journalists where one cannot choose which story angle to focus on any given day i.e. massacres in Homs, protests in Damascus and Idlib, Russian FM’s visit to Bashar, or statements from Washington echoing only fake promises.
But in the end the choice won’t be mine! The media company decides which one suits its agenda and its geopolitical context. Mostly, the easy bet is to bank on the wire service, ignoring the at-risk on-ground journalist who for them is a mere ‘stringer’!
I felt proud of my profession when I first saw stories by foreign journalists covering Syria from their high risk abodes and makeshift media centers. Though the world would not have believed a Syrian journalist like me for the Bab Amar massacre or siege of Homs but I hope they won’t ignore the outsiders’ testimony.
The natural but tragic death of Anthony Shadid, a Lebanon-born journalist for The New York Times, weighed very heavy on Syrian people’s hearts and the battered country’s image. Syria was referred to as home of death.
Besides dozens if not hundreds of slain Syrian journalists, the uprising has claimed two French media-men, and the one and only Marie Colvin died in more familiar way. Their heartrending deaths came in solidarity with local fellow professionals whose names and faces may be known when the tyrant falls and conscience rules in Syria.
Unluckily, I have many pen names for it is hard to write with a real one. Death of Marie Colvin was personally embarrassing to me. Should I still use pen names when my star colleagues are writing with their warm blood?
I am a single woman with no liabilities except a widowed mother and siblings. One simple story with my real name appearing on an Arabic language blog or English-language website has greater probability of leading sleuths to my home.
Now even my family rarely knows which pen name I use and where in the world, my work publishes. Not that I don’t trust my family but the regime’s four decades of fear can easily cause a Freudian slip.
A year ago, I proudly showed off my byline in international dailies but now we are writing for our lives and not for pride.
I rarely get internet access good enough to open my emails and send my stories in time. I must admit that overall depressing conditions too result in my missing deadlines. Ironically, stories featuring Syrians’ bloodbath are never stale and the desk accepts them more often.
When I work on my laptop, my siblings and mother spy on me to see what I am doing or writing. My eldest sister advised me last September, “I can’t stop a journalist from writing but she should not forget the fate her younger brothers may face if they (mokhabarat) find out.”
One of my university fellows was picked up for writing a blog about a missing seven-year-old in Dara’a. Her brother went to a police station to lodge a report but never returned home. Three weeks later, their mother was asked to receive her son’s body from the same police office. She not only got the body of her 20-year-old son but also discovered the disfigured corpse of her blogger daughter.
Earlier, I hoped to change the world’s opinion with my writings but now, I am only recording testimonies of massacres and detailing current history.
Long after they have taken me to die in their dark cells, my stories will serve as credible evidence to try Bashar and his advisors for crimes against humanity.
Like journalism, we are learning survival techniques on our own, the hard way. Whenever a couple of us sit together away from our parents and the listening walls, we talk about the best ways in dealing with the worst.
I usually tell my colleagues, “Why do you think they would wait for us to admit or defend ourselves. Our charge-sheets are already there with no room for defense or discussion . . . Agents we are! . . . Agents of change!”
Maryam Hasan is a young journalist, whose family struggled against Hafiz Al-Assad’s tyrannical rule and policies. She is using a pen-name due to security reasons.
Posted on 28 February 2012 by Tea Server
By George Packer for The New Yorker
President Kennedy’s 1960 speech on religious freedom makes Rick Santorum “throw up.” “What kind of country do we live in that says only people of nonfaith can come into the public square and make their case?” Santorum says. It’s a central part of his campaign strategy to distort such things as a Kennedy speech, or an Obama speech, to whip up outrage at the supposed war on religious people in America. Here’s what Kennedy said:
I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute; where no Catholic prelate would tell the President—should he be Catholic—how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference, and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him, or the people who might elect him… I believe in a President whose religious views are his own private affair.
Kennedy said much more, but this is the strongest passage of that famous campaign speech to a group of ministers in Houston, in which he argued that the election of a Catholic President who believed in the Constitution shouldn’t concern any American who believed in the Constitution—and, Santorum says, “That makes me throw up.” Santorum’s rhetorical eloquence is about equal to his analytical skill. Kennedy had nothing to say against believers entering public life, or believers bringing their religious conscience to bear on public policy. He spoke against any move to make religion official. The Constitution speaks against this, too—Article VI establishes an oath to the Constitution as the basis for public office, and explicitly prohibits a religious test, while the First Amendment forbids the official establishment of religion and protects its free practice. Santorum claims to be a constitutionalist, but that’s just rhetoric and opportunism. Santorum believes in a religious test—that may be all he believes in. (Mitt Romney believes in a religious test of a slimy, halfway, Romneyesque variety: in 2007, he reportedly dismissed the idea of appointing a Muslim to his Cabinet, saying, “Based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a Cabinet position would be justified.” So does Newt Gingrich, who has made atheist-baiting a central part of his political business.)
Kennedy seemed to have someone like Santorum in mind when he warned, “For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been—and may someday be again—a Jew, or a Quaker, or a Unitarian, or a Baptist. It was Virginia’s harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that led to Jefferson’s statute of religious freedom. Today, I may be the victim, but tomorrow it may be you—until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped apart at a time of great national peril.” In 1960, it would have been hard to imagine how thoroughly religious sectarianism and intolerance would infect American politics, and especially one major party. The outcry over Obama’s policy on health insurance and contraception has almost nothing to do with that part of the First Amendment about the right to free religious practice, which is under no threat in this country. It is all about a modern conservative Kulturkampf that will not accept the other part of the religion clause, which prohibits any official religion.
Santorum, like most conservatives these days, says he is a constitutionalist. Jefferson wrote, and Madison worked to pass, the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, which held that “all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.” Jefferson included an even stronger phrase that was eventually struck out by amendment: “the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction.” Presumably, all of this originalist nonsense makes Rick Santorum heave, gag, vomit, and puke.
What makes me throw up is the story of Hamza Kashgari. It’s a shame that every American doesn’t know his name. He’s a young, slender, philosophical-minded columnist and blogger from Saudi Arabia who, earlier this month, dared to tweet phrases of an imagined conversation with the Prophet Mohammad: “I have loved things about you and I have hated things about you and there is a lot I don’t understand about you…I loved the rebel in you…I will not pray for you.” Within twenty-four hours, more than thirty thousand furious replies had been posted on Twitter. Within a few days, more than twenty thousand people had signed on to a Facebook page called “Saudi People Want Punishment for Hamza Kashgari.” (So much for Arab liberation by social media.) One commenter wrote, “The only choice is for Kashgari to be killed and crucified in order to be a lesson to other secularists.”
Kashgari backed down, apologized profusely, and continued to be attacked. He went into hiding. Clerics and government officials threatened him with execution for blasphemy. He fled to Malaysia, hoping to continue to fly to New Zealand, where he would ask for asylum. But Malaysian officials, behaving against law and decency, had him detained at the airport and sent back to Saudi Arabia, where he was promptly arrested. Since mid-February there’s been no word of Kashgari. The Saudis have said they will put him on trial. What a pity there’s no First Amendment to protect him.
If only he had more powerful friends—if only Christopher Hitchens were still alive—Hamza Kashgari would be called the Saudi Rushdie. There would be a worldwide campaign to pressure the Saudis into releasing him. The United States would offer him asylum and quietly push our friends the Saudis into letting him go. But we’ve come to expect these things from our friends the Saudis.
We’ve come to expect these things from the Muslim world. We expect Afghans to riot for days and kill Americans and each other because a few NATO soldiers were stupid enough to burn copies of the Koran along with other objects discarded from a prison outside Kabul. Yes, those soldiers were colossally, destructively insensitive. Yes, we should know by now. Yes, the reaction has a lot to do with ten years of war and occupation and civilian deaths and marines urinating on Taliban corpses. Still, can we have a little outrage at the outrage? Can we reaffirm that human lives are more sacred than books? Can we point out that every time something like this happens, there’s a manufactured and whipped-up quality to much of the hysteria, which has its own cold political calculation (not unlike the jihad against secularists by Sean Hannity and other Salafist mouthpieces)?
Saudi Arabia needs an absolute separation of religion and state so that Hamza Kashgari can say things that other people don’t like without having to flee for his life. Afghanistan needs it, too, and so does Pakistan, so that mob violence and political assassination can’t enjoy the encouragement of religious authorities and the tolerance or acquiescence of government officials. And America needs it so that our Presidents’ religious views remain their own private affairs, and Rick Santorum and his party can’t impose dominion of one narrow, sectarian, Bible-based idea of the public good over a vast, pluralist, heterodox, freedom-loving democracy.
Filed under: Democracy, Freedoms, Hate Crime, Islam, Muslims, Mysticism, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sufism, United States, US Commission on International Religious Freedom Tagged: Afghanistan, American Muslims, Baptist, Catholic President, Commonwealth of Virginia, Constitution, First Amendment, Hamza Kashgari, JFK, Kabul, Kennedy Speech, Malaysia, Mitt Romney, New Zealand, Newt Gingrich, Obama Speech, Pakistan, President John F Kennedy, Quaker, Rick Santorum, Saudi Arabia, Unitarian, US Constitution
Posted on 25 February 2012 by Tea Server
Some 70 years later it remains relevant and sadly so.
Too many of the themes that Chaplin points to are painfully obvious in Pakistan at the moment.
The following is a mash up of the speech over Star Wars and music by Hans Zimmer.
And the original:
Text of the speech:
Posted on 24 February 2012 by Tea Server
By Damayanti Datta for India Today
On February 7, three Karnataka ministers were captured on television poring over a phone screen, watching a woman in a petticoat gyrating wildly. They lost their jobs for watching pornography in the sacred precincts of the Legislative Assembly. The incident is a high-profile sample of a definitive reality: porn is pervasive through the Internet across India, easily and freely available, not just to leery politicians but to children and adults in millions of ordinary homes.
It is a sign of the times that the most famous international porn star has Indian roots and was on Indian television. Sunny Leone, 30, appeared on the reality show Big Boss 5 and has now launched a clothes-on Bollywood career. Her fake breasts, that won the 2010 fame Award for Favourite Breasts in Los Angeles, have brought her the honour of being named among the 50 Most Desirable Women by the nation’s biggest daily this month.
The organised $12 billion (Rs.60,000 crore) American adult entertainment industry, to which Leone belongs, has bred explicit images beyond the limits of imagination. And they are free. Fuelled by the Internet and facilitated by high-speed data service, pornography, born in dozens of studio lofts around the world, has entered teenagers’ mobile phones with the force and sweep of a dangerous flood. It threatens to swamp conventional notions of morality, raise tensions in bedrooms, lure children into a world they do not understand, and initiate a culture that threatens the mores of family life as we know it.
The writing is on the wall. Google Trends show the search volume index for the word ‘porn’ has doubled in India between 2010 and 2012. With instant Net connectivity and flexible payment options, online porn is increasingly affordable, accessible and acceptable. Seven Indian cities are among the top 10 in the world on porn search, reports Google Trends, 2011. One out of five mobile users in India wants adult content on his 3G-enabled phone, according to an 2011 IMRB Survey. Over 47 per cent students discuss porn every day, says a public school survey by Max Hospital in Delhi. Porn tops the list of cyber crimes in India, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.
Rape, penetration, oral, anal, lesbian, gay or group porn are yesterday’s news. There is now a hectic crossover of porn subcultures on the World Wide Web. Consider MILF (or Mothers I Like to F***) porn. “Check out the most notorious hot, mature moms going crazy and getting f****d by young studs,” invites one of the 40,600,000 MILF websites. “A hot and sexy bride is getting raped brutally,” says a ‘ravished bride’ porn site. There is ‘pregnant porn’ (“Are you ready to see these moms-to-be in action?). There is ‘incest porn’ that welcomes you to sites with “xxx videos full of mother and son, dad and daughter”. Child porn blends with ‘teen porn’, promising “fascinating porn actions starring our young models”.
New jargon and innovative formats, borrowed from foreign cultures, are trendy on the web. For the uninitiated, chikan (“to grope” in Japanese) porn is all about public molestation in trains. ‘Bukkake’ parties involve repeated ejaculation on a woman by several men. Shemale and futanari porn mean “live action” with transsexuals. Anime and manga refer to Japanese formats of sexually-explicit comics and animation. A new focus is the service sector, with “shy massage girls” seducing clients, doctors and “hot babes in nurse uniforms” getting wild. In ‘corporate porn’ “busty secretaries” go down on their knees to pleasure their boss.
Sunny Leone (or Karen Malhotra) takes credit for the ‘pornification’ of India. “My presence on Bigg Boss has empowered a lot of people to be open about their sexuality,” she tells India Today. One of the richest adult actresses in the industry, with her SunLust Pictures in Los Angeles reporting a top line of over $1 million (Rs.5 crore), she is now getting ready to debut in filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt’s Jism 2, playing a professional body double. The most-searched Google celebrity-powered by India, Bangladesh and Pakistan-she has 1,47,326 Twitter followers.
Leone’s success indicates the greater acceptability of porn in daily life. Internet is the new tool, exploding every embarrassing sexual adventure of public personalities and making every lurid detail an item of private consumption. Coming after the midwife Bhanwri Devi’s sex cds with Rajasthan politician Mahipal Maderna in November 2011, public reaction to the Karnataka fiasco has ranged from indignation to amusement, but not shock: if political parties engaged in a morality-in-politics war, social activist Anna Hazare demanded the ministers be sent to jail and media professional Pritish Nandy summed up Bollywood’s reaction by calling them the “3 idiots”.
“A porn star doesn’t automatically mean prostitute,” says Leone, now seeking respectability. She talks about her parents’ initial shock turning into respect, how they taught her to be a “good person”, years of hard work, restrained personal life, professionalism and lack of regrets. Like the girl-next-door, she tweets how she is learning Hindi, cooking sabzi and massaging hair oil. Her endeavour will not be too difficult. Young adults, who grew up with cable TV, DVD players and the Internet, have been exposed to much more adult material than their parents. As filmmaker Pooja Bhatt points out, “Young people don’t respond negatively to Sunny because they have already logged on to her website.”
She is not wrong. Even school students discuss porn. Dr Samir Parikh, chief psychiatrist, Max Healthcare, calls it “risky indulgences”. In a survey on 1,000 children from top public schools in Delhi in 2010, he found 47 per cent boys and 29 per cent girls visiting porn sites and talking about it in school. “I understand sexual inquisitiveness and peer pressure around sexuality, but pornography on the Internet is fake, unreal, often violent and downright perverted,” he says. “Moreover, a new technology in young hands could lead to irresponsible behaviour and ruin their lives.” He obviously has in mind the stream of MMS scandals that have hit campuses across the country since 2004, when two Class XI students of a school in Delhi created a sensation. In many of these cases, either one partner was not aware of being filmed or did not anticipate the videos would get circulated-as in May 2011 when JNU student Janardan Kumar, 22, made a video of the girl he was intimate with and used it to blackmail her after being rejected.
Campus porn is a thriving subterranean culture. Try talking to students in various campuses of Delhi: “Have you ever heard of MMS videos of students being circulated on the campus?”
Diksha Singh, 20: “Every couple of months there is a fresh case. It’s so common, I don’t even blink.”
Raghav Verma, 19: “All the time. It’s shocking to see a classmate’s intimate details on video camera.”
Mehak Suri, 18: “My ex-boyfriend tried that with me, and when it didn’t work he sent me threatening emails and messages.”
Amaira Kapoor, 20: “You will be surprised to know how many cases go unreported and unaccounted for.”
Sakshi Wakhlu, 21: “A year ago, one girl got high, went with a group of boys and had sex with them. The men came back and talked.”
The arrival of smartphones is changing the country’s porn landscape further. India has the lowest penetration of smartphones, 10 per cent, among the youth globally. But with email, social networking, chatting, messaging and gaming, it is a device every youth craves for. And now there are even porn applications. Imagine a ‘pocket’ girlfriend or boyfriend, who can strip, talk dirty, make sexual noises. “These are some of the ‘apps’ that can be downloaded on smartphones,” says Pranesh Prakash, programme manager with Bangalore-based think-tank Centre for Internet and Society. “App download data shows the popularity of sex-themed apps on smartphones, apart from the adults-only stores,” he says. Age restrictions for applications? Mostly a pop-up asking if one is over 17. With over 50 per cent of all Internet users in the country accessing the web via mobile phones already, as estimated by TRAI, smartphones are the future of anytime-anywhere porn.
The threshold of what can be called ‘pornography’ is shifting. Mainstream and hardcore entertainment are coming closer. The Dirty Picture, biopic of south siren Silk Smitha, raked in Rs.50 crore in its very first week in December 2011, with its noisy orgasms, titillating cleavage and fiery dialogues. It’s also hard to draw the line between porn and art in raunchy item numbers, from Sheila ki Jawani to Munni Badnam Hui. “What heroines do in films today is what vamps did yesterday,” says filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt. Some item numbers are more obscene than nudity, he feels. “People tell me, how can someone who made Saaransh, Arth and Zakhm, make films like Jism and Murder” he adds. “I say, get off the high horse.”
Kolkata certainly is getting off the high horse. A city with the least taste for pornography, going by India Today Sex Surveys, is also one of the top seekers of porn online, reports Google Trends. Leone’s CDs are bestsellers here. Teenage boys creep up and ask, “Sunny Leone ka CD chahiye?” (Want Sunny Leone’s CDs?), at Chandni Chowk market in central Kolkata, the city’s piracy hub. Step inside the dingy alleys between shops selling electronic goods, and piles of pirated blue film come out of hiding-Rs.120 for just a CD and Rs.250 for one with Leone on the cover. Ask too many questions and they show you the door. The police are their friends, although motorcycles stand ready for sudden crackdowns. “Sunny’s CD is selling like hot cakes, 200 a day,” says one. Leone is not pleased. “If you are stealing my movies in Kolkata, that is flipping horrible,” she has tweeted. But who cares? A 33-year-old customer puts away her CD in his plastic bag with quiet satisfaction. “I will have to watch when the wife is not looking,” he grins.
If a married man watches porn,is it considered cheating??
My husband secretly watches porn. Why are men like this? He knows I hate porn.
My husband watches porn alone. He refuses to watch it with me.
My husband watches porn very often. Should I be worried?
I feel insulted whenever my boyfriend watches porn.
There are 2,690,000 such postings on Google, from wives and girlfriends globally, on a range of sites on the web-health, marriage, empowerment, agony.
Watching porn alone is a rising trend among men, thanks to the Internet. Check out India Today Sex Surveys: in 2009, with video as the most popular porn format, just 10 per cent men out of 2,661 watched porn alone. This year, with smarter access and gadgets, it zoomed to 44 per cent. “It is usually a sign of cybersex addiction,” says Dr Vijay Nagaswami, Chennai-based expert on sexual psychotherapy. “Compulsive pornwatchers often become dysfunctional. They stay up late for online porn to get active on instant messengers, webcams, demand more private time, neglect family, work and normal sexual activity.”
Even five years back, it was difficult to get locals to dub foreign porn films in Gujarati. But now, mobile shop owners in Ahmedabad do brisk business in porn, supplying primarily to youngsters. They download content on hard discs and then transfer those to the memory cards of eager youngsters-Rs.100 to Rs.200 for a 30-minute film. “It’s good business. Sometimes I get more than six customers, all boys,” says Rajesh Patel, a porn-provider.
It’s good business in Chennai, too. In a small shop opposite the high court in Burma Bazaar, the hub of pirated movies in Chennai, Ramu is doing his puja. He throws flowers at the gods, and looks at his customer. “English, Tamil also.” His voice goes an octave lower, “Triple.” Who cares for storylines? Many of these films are shot in the city or taken off the Net. Ramu sells at least 100 discs a day, mostly to distributors. The CDs are mostly of Indian couples having sex, sometimes verging on rape. “This business can’t be hit by recession,” Ramu says. “People will always buy porn.”
The buzz is, although the Karnataka ministers claimed they were watching clips of a real-life gang-rape at a rave party, they were either watching Indonesian hardcore ‘abik’ porn or model Poonam Pandey’s YouTube video, Bathroom Secrets. But what do most Indians watch? Google Trends indicates that the average Indian pornwatcher opts for more tame keywords, ‘sex’ and ‘how to kiss’, the most. New research by computational neuroscientists Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam from Boston University, US, on a billion porn and erotic web searches across the world, shows that the five most popular porn sites for men are webcam or video sites featuring anonymous graphic sex, with a monthly traffic of 7-16 million visitors. For women, the most popular is the “erotic” site fanfiction.net, which gets over 1.5 million visitors a month and has more than two million stories, 50 per cent being “romance”.
How big is pornography in India? Of the 500 top Indian websites this month ranked by the leading global web information company Alexa, at least 24 are porn sites. Nearly a dozen porn sites are more popular than some leading news sites and that of the Bombay Stock Exchange. Leone, one of the top five global porn stars, says 80 per cent of her web traffic and 60 per cent of her “high six figures” revenue come from India. The content, she says, is “everything and above”. “I can sell anything you want as long as you have a credit card.”
The only other major-league porn actor of Indian origin in the US, Priya Anjali Rai, also says she has a lot of fans in India, but not many paying customers. Adopted from New Delhi by American parents and brought up in Arizona, Rai keeps her Indian name for her work: “That’s what makes me different from everybody else.” Both Leone and Rai insist they only do “vanilla” porn, “boy-girl stuff”. The US, specifically the Los Angeles area, has the biggest porn industry in the world, followed by London and Budapest, estimated between $4 billion (Rs.20,000 crore) and $15 billion (Rs.75,000 crore) annually. Top porn stars easily earn a quarter of a million dollars annually.
Those who think production and distribution of pornography in India are not allowed, think again. “A lot of amateur videos are being produced,” says Namita Malhotra, author of Porn: Law, Video and Technology. “They have been there for long. But now from print they have gone digital. Amateur videos are a new phenomenon,” says a lawyer associated with Alternative Law Forum in Bangalore. “It’s unorganised,” says a Bangalore-based photographer involved with the porn industry. There are a few big houses who run multi-crore businesses. The small players use small video cameras so that they can be seen on mobile phones. “Ever since the mms scandal, we make false scandal videos, called kaand,” the photographer says. “It’s normal sex. Not like those foreign videos where they use horses and 10 men at the same time.” Do they go online? Sometimes they are sold, but always with the permission of the model, “No force,” he insists. “The money is good, so that we don’t tell anyone.” His best moment? When a model asked him to shoot her in different ways, to try to create a scandal and get noticed.
Has the battle against porn been lost? Anti-porn feminists in the US have admitted defeat. India is not quite there. Despite the hyper-sexualised climate, ministers do get thrown out over porn. To cyber law expert and senior associate of SNG & Partners Rahul Sud, India is on the right track. “Personal consumption of porn has never been an offence,” he points out. “Child pornography, publishing and transmitting are.” Press Council of India Chairperson Justice Markandey Katju has rolled out the red carpet for Leone, but not before comparing her to history’s “fallen women”, Amrapali or Mary Magdalene.
Does Leone care? She is busy stretching, bending and sweating. Not in a girl-boy-girl orgy online but on a Bikram Yoga mat in Hollywood. “OMG, I’m so tired,” she tweets. She has the same vital statistics as Marilyn Monroe, 36-24-34, and she is determined to look her best for those semi-nude scenes in Jism 2. “We Indians are proud of you!,” tweets one of her admirers. “Thank you,” she tweets back. She has every reason to be grateful.
- With Indira Kannan, Nishat Bari, Kiran Tare, Gunjeet Sra, Shravya Jain, Avantika Sharma, Lakshmi Kumaraswami, Uday Mahurkar and Tithi Sarkar contributing.
Pakistanis for Peace Editor’s Note- The porn phenomena is not isolated to just India in the subcontinent. Across the border, Pakistan was recently ranked as first in the world in terms of pornographic Google searches. This is a result of two conservative societies where sex is a taboo. One can only hope that these ancient and slow changing cultures can adapt to the new realities regarding sex.
Filed under: Bangladesh, Democracy, Desi, Freedoms, India, Mumbai, Pakistan Tagged: Banaglore, Bangladesh, Big Boss, Bollywood, California Porn Industry, Chandni Chowk, Chennai, Delhi, Google Trends, India, Jism 2, Karen Malhotra, Los Angeles, Mahesh Bhatt, Mahipal Maderna, MILF, Mumbai, Pakistan, Porn, Porn Industry, Pornification, Sex, SunLust Pictures, Sunny Leone
Posted on 23 February 2012 by Tea Server
By Stephen Magagnini for The Sacremento Bee
KARACHI, Pakistan — On a moonlit Thursday night in February, a television network executive hosted an elegant affair for journalists and diplomats at his villa above the Arabian Sea.
Karachi’s privileged dined on lamb, shrimp, chicken, mutton and fettuccine in mushroom sauce, and were surprised by a quartet of wandering minstrels, soulful Sufi poets who serenade for their supper, uncorking ballads about love.
On the south side of this city of 18 million, a group of Afghan refugees, who scrape out a living collecting cardboard and other recyclables in a slum straddling a swamp of open sewage, were mopping up gravy with roti – Pakistani bread.
About 900 Afghans live in this fetid slum, down the street from poor Pakistanis and water buffalo. They earn about $60 a month and survive on bottled water, chewing tobacco and roti.
“We’re happy in Pakistan,” said 33-year-old Shaezhad, leader of a cardboard collection station. “We get food and respect.”
At the party across town, talk-show hosts and other Pakistani elites blew cigarette smoke into the faces of U.S. journalists, criticizing U.S. foreign policy and the toll the war in Afghanistan has taken on their country.
Many Pakistanis resent American aggression in the region and want more respect from U.S. policymakers, but they don’t hold individual Americans responsible. Yet everywhere we went, we were held to answer for U.S. wars and Americans’ deep misunderstanding of Pakistan.
“You are arrogant, playing video games with our lives,” Abdul Moiz Jaferii, political analyst for CNBC Pakistan, said over lunch one day in Karachi. He was referring to U.S. drone attacks that have killed Pakistani and Afghan civilians.
“And we hate America because the U.S. has always been the biggest, closest ally of the military dictators. You have done nothing to help democracy.”
The impact of the war in Afghanistan has permeated nearly every pore of this country of 180 million. More than 2 million Afghan refugees have fled to Pakistan, and some have brought a culture of violence. Since 9/11, 35,000 Pakistanis have been killed in terrorist attacks by suicide bombers and other war-related violence, according to Pakistan’s intelligence agency. The victims include 6,000 soldiers and 29,000 civilians.
The unpredictable violence and the kidnapping of foreign workers have created a climate of fear in this country. We weren’t allowed to visit villages outside urban areas, where 40 percent of Pakistanis live. Two shotgun-wielding security guards protected our buses in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. We entered our hotels through metal detectors and were rarely allowed to interact with average citizens in public places.
Pakistan – strategically located between Afghanistan, India, China and Iran and influenced by Saudi Arabia – remains an enigma to many Americans, who aren’t sure whether it’s friend or foe, democracy or military dictatorship.
Pakistan has provided critical support to NATO troops in the Afghan war – drones are launched from here, NATO supplies are sent through this country, and Pakistani troops have helped recapture terrorist strongholds along the volatile Afghan border.
But distrust of the United States in the wake of deadly drone attacks and the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers in a cross-border battle in November is such that rather than calling for more U.S. aid to build needed power plants, schools and hospitals, a growing number of Pakistanis want nothing to do with the United States. The government of Punjab – Pakistan’s most powerful state with about 90 million people – has decided to reject U.S. aid.
The killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. Navy SEALs in Abbottabad in the heart of this country embarrassed and angered the Pakistan military and made Americans question why bin Laden was allowed to live in essentially a resort town. Some U.S. politicians have called for an end to the $18 billion in financial aid pledged since 9/11.
An Islamic republic?
Some of the world’s largest, most beautiful mosques are here, and to celebrate the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday on Feb. 4, 10,000 people named Muhammad gathered in prayer in Karachi.
We saw few women wearing hijabs, or head coverings, except those at Islamabad’s Faisal Mosque, which can hold 10,000 people for Juma, or Friday prayer.
Professional women drive cars, dress like their counterparts in U.S. cities and run government ministries, clinics and newsrooms. Women, who constitute 52 percent of the population, are increasingly getting advanced degrees. There’s a Pakistani proverb: “Every girl who goes to university gets a husband.”
Despite Islam’s ban on liquor, at a party in Islamabad guests of both sexes repaired to a speakeasy in the basement to drink wine or Johnny Walker Black and smoke cigars.
Though most marriages are still arranged, as many as 20 percent are “love marriages,” said Samina Parvez, director general of the government’s external publicity agency. “The divorce rate is also increasing – it’s about 10 or 15 percent,” Parvez said. “The majority of us are not practicing Muslims.”
Kamoran Sani, sales and marketing director for the Sheraton Hotel in Karachi, declared, “What you’ve heard about the Islamic Republic of Pakistan’s a big farce. There are orgies, voyeurs’ lounges, raves.”
A diverse nation
Pakistan didn’t become a nation until the British sliced India into Muslim and Hindu majority states in 1947. Pakistan – an Urdu acronym for Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir, Sindh province and Baluchistan (“stan” means nation) – varies wildly from region to region.
“There is no such thing as Pakistan,” Jaferii said. “First comes your family, then your clan, third your region, fourth your province – the nation comes a distant fifth.”
Much of rural Pakistan is a feudal society dating back to the 13th century. Mullahs, or religious leaders, still invoke blasphemy laws exacting punishment against those accused of insulting Islam. Last year, the governor of Punjab was killed by his bodyguard for criticizing the law as he sought a pardon for a Christian woman sentenced to death.
But Pakistan has tremendous religious and ethnic diversity. Muslims include Sunnis, Shiites, Ismaelis, Ahmadis and Sufis – each practicing their own brand of Islam. At Lahore University of Management Sciences, I chatted with Muslims, Hindus and Christians who were all friends.
From the Sufi love poems to Pashtun folk songs about social justice, music plays a key role in Pakistani identity.
In the center of Karachi there’s a Catholic church – St. Patrick’s Cathedral, built by the Jesuits in 1931. There’s a Jewish cemetery. Sikhs worship throughout Pakistan. The ancient city of Taxila was occupied by Alexander the Great and reflects Persian, Moghul, Buddhist and Christian traditions.
Sixty percent of Pakistan’s population is under age 30; half is under age 20. Half the kids haven’t been to school, and fifth-grade students are reading at a second-grade level, said Nadeem ul-Haq, deputy chairman of the government’s planning commission.
“We have 2 million kids a year entering the labor force. What are these kids going to do?” ul-Haq said. There is no building boom to provide jobs, and foreign investments have been scared away by terrorism.
“Entrepreneurship is the key thing we need to focus on,” he said. “Overseas Pakistanis have been very entrepreneurial, sending back $13 billion a year to their poorer relatives.”
From 7-Elevens to Silicon Valley firms and venture capital funds, ex-pat Pakistanis are thriving in the United States. The 500,000 Pakistanis in the United States, including 100,000 in California, send $100 million a year to charities in Pakistan, said Ahson Rabbani, CEO of I-Care, which connects donors with 30 nonprofits.
In Northern California, Pakistanis raised more than $100,000 for Pakistani flood relief efforts spearheaded by cricket star Imran Khan, who may lead the country if his party wins the next election. Khan has gained credibility by building a cancer hospital for the poor in honor of his late mother. His party includes a women’s wing that has direct access to him.
Philanthropy is playing a growing role in Pakistan, financing schools in poor villages and slums. The Citizens Foundation is educating 100,000 students.
“I mentored six girls,” said Karachi journalist Samia Saleem. “One was 13 and said she didn’t want to get married – she wants to be a teacher.”
Ali Shah Haider, 17, wants to be a commercial pilot. “I sleep from 2 p.m. until 4:30 p.m., then go to work at the textile factory from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. to support my family – there are 12 of us. I do my homework between shifts.”
A nation’s dreams
Though life seems cheap in Pakistan, the people are upbeat survivors who often describe life as bo hat acha, which means “great!” in Urdu, their main language.
Last year 1,575 people were killed in Karachi, where 2 million weapons are in circulation, said Francisco Quinones of Arcis International Security. A doctor was killed in Karachi the day before we landed. Violence has been blamed on the Taliban, rival political gangs, Sunni and Shia militants, rogue security forces, and Afghan refugees.
Some refugees have been recruited by the Taliban. Others like Shaezhad, who collects recyclables in the slums of Karachi, are glad to be alive under the green and white crescent flag of this country.
Still, he wants to go home to Afghanistan. “We want our land back, we want to live with respect and we want employment.”
Azhar Abbas, the managing director of Geo TV news who hosted the party in Karachi, said that “democracy is taking hold” in his Pakistan despite the violence many here believe followed the U.S. war on terror.
The business editor of daily newspaper the News, Amir Zia, said the United States can still play a positive role in Pakistan. “If Americans pull out without getting the job done, the Islamic extremists will say it’s a victory and will become much more organized.”
But at the National Defense University, business and technology expert Bilal Munshi called Pakistan “a psychologically scarred nation suffering from a mass form of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).”
If the 4 million young people entering the workforce each year get jobs, “we will be a power … but if they don’t see a future they’re going to pick up the gun, and you’re going to be in real trouble.”
The U.S. can help develop Pakistani schools, Bilal said, “but don’t interfere in our internal affairs – let us do things our way.”
Filed under: Afghanistan, American Muslims, Democracy, England, India, Muslims, Nuclear, Pakistan, Pakistan Army, Pakistan Cricket, Pakistani Taliban, Pakistanis, President Obama, Saudi Arabia, Taliban, Tehrik-i-Taliban, terrorism, US Army, US-Pakistan Relations Tagged: Afghan Refugees, Afghanistan, Alexander the Great, Citizens Foundation, Geo Tv, Imran Khan, Karachi, Moghul, NATO, Overseas Pakistanis, Pakistan, Pakistani Americans, Pakistanis, Pashtun, Persian, Punjab, Sikhs, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Taliban, Taxila, United States, Urdu, US-Pakistani relations
Posted on 22 February 2012 by Tea Server
By Reza Sayah for CNN
Pakistani authorities vowed Tuesday to use the international police agency Interpol to arrest former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in connection with the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
“The government is moving for his (Musharraf’s) red notice,” Interior Minister Rehman Malik said, referring to the Interpol’s international arrest warrant.
“We will get him through Interpol to Pakistan.”
Malik made the announcement as part of a progress report of the four-year-long assassination probe that was presented to provincial lawmakers Tuesday in Bhutto’s home province of Sindh. The briefing lasted several hours and was broadcast live on Pakistani TV.
Bhutto was assassinated in a gun-suicide attack in December 2007, shortly after she came back to Pakistan from self imposed exile to take part in the 2008 general elections.
Malik and the head of the investigation team said former Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud plotted the assassination and paid the equivalent of about $4,500 to a network of Islamist militants to carry out the killing.
Using a Power Point presentation, pictures and video to outline the evidence they had gathered, authorities said Mehsud had Bhutto killed because she supported the west’s war against Islamist militants. Investigators said they collected much of their evidence from the accused plotters’ cell phone records before and after the killing.
Last November a Pakistani court charged five alleged Islamist militants with aiding the suicide attacker and two senior police officers for failing to provide adequate security.
Musharraf has also been accused of failing to protect Bhutto. In February 2011 a judge issued an arrest warrant for Musharraf after he didn’t show up to court for questioning.
Musharraf has been in self-imposed exile ever since he left Paksitan in 2008. Last August authorities confiscated his property in Pakistan and froze his bank account. The former military ruler has denied having anything to do with Bhutto’s killing.
In Tuesday’s briefing Malik and investigators said Musharraf rejected Bhutto’s request to use a western private security contractor for protection when she returned to Pakistan. They suggested Musharraf intentionally left Bhutto vulnerable because he felt politically threatened by her return.
“It was the duty of the government to provide the prime minister with protection,” Malik yelled at one point. “Why did you not give security? What was the problem?”
Filed under: Democracy, England, Pakistan, Pakistan Army, Pakistanis, Taliban Tagged: Asif Ali Zardari, Baitullah Mehsud, Benazir Bhutto, Interpol, Pakistan, Pakistanis, Pervez Musharraf, PPP, Sindh, Taliban
Posted on 21 February 2012 by Tea Server
So, the situation of genocide of the Baloch has reached to the point where a bill has been tabled in the US which supports the ‘independence’ of Balochistan! Those fighting the Pakistani state for ‘freedom’ are looking forward to a practical response against the bill and waiting for the action in this regard.
This, however, is not a joke – a bill in the US House of Representatives does not immediately give independence to Balochistan – and may have quite severe repercussions on the land of the Baloch.
Pakistani state has always been blamed to protect on permanent basis the Punjabi interests and exploit the southern units of the ‘federation’ – Sindh and Balochistan – and has been fought back by the Sindhi and Baloch nationalists. How the Punjab started grabbing the country’s reigns was such loud that the first person to present the Pakistan Resolution in the Sindh Assembly, Saeen GM Syed, started campaigning against the exploitation of Sindh which, after the massacre of the Benglis in the then-East Pakistan resulting in the independent Bangladesh, turned into a strong movement of independence of Sindh. The slogan of Jeay Sindh turned out to be Jeay Sindhudesh referring to the proposed independent Sindh to be named, Sindhudesh.
However, in response, the Pakistani state’s infamous ISI has been in action and picking up the nationalists in both the lands, who are often found dead in the wilderness – bullet-riddled and mutilated.
Although this is an everyday story of Balochistan now, Sindh has also been witnessing such ‘kill-and-dump’ cases. Many nationalists have allegedly been abducted by the intelligence agencies of Pakistan and would be suffering in the torture cells.
In Sindh, the Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM) has been worst victim of the intelligence agencies in this regard. Although the members of the Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM), one of the major Sindhi nationalist parties, Jeay Sindh Tehrik (JST) and other parties have been facing no different situation, it’s worse for JSMM because they, unlike the other parties, openly support an armed movement for the freedom of Sindh.
On such case is of Muzaffar Bhutto (Amnesty International), the vice chairman of the party, who abducted by the intelligence agencies at New Saeedabad (Sindh) while travelling with his wife and brother-in-law from Sukkur to Jamshoro. This was not the first time that Mr. Bhutto was picked up by the agencies; he had been in the agencies’ custody extra-judicially from 2006 to 2009 and suffered torture.
BBC Urdu talked to Saima Bhutto, wife of Mr. Bhutto, on her protest in front of the parliament, Islamabad; here’s the video:
Recently, Mr. Noam Chomsky, the renowned American political analyst and activist, has written a letter regarding the enforced disappearances in Sindh and Balohchistan with a special stress on the case of Mr. Bhutto.
Following is the scanned image of the letter:
Many would question the credibility of the letter since it names the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in such cases of ‘involuntary disappearance’.
For this, I contacted Mr. Chomsky on the contacts found on http://goo.gl/AjnqZ. I just wanted to make sure if the letter under discussion was ‘genuine’ and that he really felt concerned about the enforced disappearances of the Sindhi and Baloch nationalists. I wrote an email to him:
Hope this email finds you in good health- I’m ….
The purpose of writing this letter to you is to ask you for your kind confirmation whether the attached (scanned) letter is actually written by you. Since it involves the sensitive issues pertaining to the intelligence agencies of Pakistan, I need your confirmation before publishing it on my blog. I found it being shared on Facebook by some nationalists (not representatives of any Sindhi nationalist political party, though).
I hope you would be able to get a few moments to respond to the email, sir.
Thanking you in advance,
(Dated: Feb 17, 2012)
I was prepared not get any response from him since he must be getting loads of emails everyday — but, to my surprise and excitement, he actually did respond to my email. I received a firm, single-line response from him:
The letter is genuine.
(Dated: Feb 17, 2012)
Feeling confident after receiving a response from The Chomsky, I responded informing him about the worst situation of human rights violation in Sindh and Balochistan and how important it was for the world to take notice of such actions. To this, following was his response (opt not to publish my 2nd email here):
Very pleased to hear that the letter may be of some slight help in overcoming these state crimes and tragedies. It will I’m sure be a hard struggle.
(Dated: Feb 19, 2012)
Before this post, I have blogged the scanned images of the letter written by Congressman Dan Burton to the President of Pakistan, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari. Mr. Burton has also expressed his concern over the human rights violation in the form of the enforced disappearances of Sindhi and Baloch nationalists. Read the letter here.
Posted on 18 February 2012 by Tea Server
By Raza Habib Raja
A few weeks ago I wrote a detailed piece on the reasons as to why democracy in Pakistan and its neighboring India has taken such divergent paths. In my opinion the reasons have to do with history of independence movement, early years after independence, image of the army in both the countries and also the attitude of middleclass in both the countries.
In any society, particularly a modern democratic society, middleclass provides a critical as well as decisive mass. Moreover it’s an extremely important contributor to intelligentsia, media and services sector, particularly critical services such as bureaucracy and armed forces. In our side of the world, the middleclass particularly urban middleclass, eventually is the major determinant of the dominant opinion and even the official policy. This influence is not merely through electorate (where they are always numerically less strong), but through other institutions such as army, judiciary, media and civil bureaucracy as well.
In my opinion, the so called “public” support of army (or at least encouragement of fixing “corrupt” politicians by interfering in the political affairs of the country) is coming from this class.
Of course the liberal (assuming that they exist) oppose this and try to present a case for democracy but at the same time “defense” from the liberal quarters does not go beyond name calling and allegations. For example a typical response would be to brand middleclass as bigoted and authoritarian with naïve understanding of geopolitical culture. Moreover, standard references to disrespect of “unwashed’ masses would be made. And of course this is supplemented by terms like drawing room gossip, reactionary , chattering classes etc.
Defense of democracy has to be realistic and not based on lauding passionate speeches about unwashed masses particularly when politicians apparently care little
themselves about the masses. The central thrust should be to present first a convincing case as to why democracy is a better option compared to armed dictatorship and frankly a very strong case based on historical evidence exists. despite chequered history of democratic regimes. And yes admit the shortcomings of the politicians also as weaknesses of politicians are not necessarily weaknesses of the entire political system.
Spinning facts to absolve politicians of their follies is not the way. Simply assuming that everyone is just bigoted or plagued by bias is also a form of denial. And interpreting everything as a grand conspiracy of the establishment mirrors the general mindset of the Pakistanis who have developed this habit to see everything through the conspiracy paradigm.
That brings us to a related question: does the middleclass hate democracy? The answer cannot be a definite yes because it’s the some apparent outcomes of the democracy in our part of the world which it detests. It does have concerns which periodically surface when democratic rule is again given a chance. One cannot conveniently dismiss every concern by branding it as reactionary or a manifestation of deep rooted insecurity about losing privileges the status quo offers. One can blame armed forces for harboring such insecurities but not the entire middleclass.
For the doubters let me remind that when elections of 2008 took place there was a severe hatred against army and it was expressed by the SAME middleclass. In fact so much so that General Kayani immediately upon assuming command as CNC had to withdraw army officials from various civilian posts. At that time even Zardari had a favorable impression and in fact several polls were revealing that by and large public was in the process of reevaluating their opinion about him. So the notion that middleclass simply hates him for the sake of hating is slightly exaggerated. There is more towards the current surge of hatred against the President.
So then what are the reasons?
In Pakistan, democratic regimes have been short on providing stability. One thing this class really loves is stability which too some extent is an outcome of its pro status quo orientation. Democracy in the developing countries, particularly if it’s not “regulated” tends to bring chaos as coalition building and consensus formation process does not develop quickly. Consequently the romantic love for a strong ruler intensifies each time the politicians indulge in destabilizing and chaotic practices when given a chance. It’s a small wonder that whenever army has intervened directly, there has been a sigh of relief from the middleclass.And historically armed forces have intervened when political chaos was reigning supreme.
However the most persuasive and unfortunately convincing argument is about the quality of governance. The executive has often overstepped its authority and has used mandate as a justification for anything from nepotism to controversial allocations of contracts. Moreover, the justification is also supplemented by the argument that if people do not approve of these “steps”, they will remove the government in the next elections. These repeated acts which use explicit justification of a public mandate, has at times alienated middleclass from the notion of democracy itself. Moreover, one has to understand the some of the interventions (though not all) by the armed forces were actually an outcome of the chaotic situation the politicians had brought.
Obviously the arguments against democracy by this class also constitutes anti feudal sentiments. It is often pointed out that the representatives of the people are actually feudal lords who come to the power through votes and in this way the feudalism is further strengthened. In fact according to some elements of the middleclass, democracy is even more problematic as it creates an umbrella of legitimacy due to mandate.
But then questions arise as to what has given rise to the above issues.
One of the major problems in Pakistan is that it still is an agriculture based society with a strong social patriarchal structure which thrives on contact building. Now this contact building and largely obliging culture comes into full play when political class is in power. People who have voted EXPECT to be given a share in the governance and this in turn has given rise to out of merit job allocations and contracts.
Expecting favours is culturally deep rooted and democracy merely facilitates it as the ruling class is accountable to the voting public. This practice of obliging of course seriously undermines quality of governance. The apparent advantage that Middleclass sees in the military establishments is that these are apparently insulated from such kind of pressures. Moreover majority of the people while growing up have seen military a shade away from normal civilian life even during the martial laws. The disciplined look, insulated from public pressure creates this strong impression that military won’t be obliging the way Politicians are.
Secondly it has to be realized that Parliamentary democracy has evolved in the industrial societies and is functionally geared to address the needs of that kind of society. Western model of universal suffrage also presupposes educated and informed electorate,established social voluntary structures like unions, associations, mature and responsible media and above all a strong tradition of constitutional liberalism which is underpinned by independent courts, separation of powers and strong emphasis on individual liberty.
In the Western world these features evolved before the advent of universal suffrage. Farid Zakria’s excellent book titled as “future of freedom” chronicles the development of constitutional liberalism in various countries of Europe and argues that such development needs to precede democracy for it to be stable, sustainable, and for ensuring that governments remain accountable in every respect. Zakria argues giving historical examples that voters alone cannot make the government accountable without a strongly entrenched tradition of constitutional liberalism.
In fact historically countries where democracy arrived before these traditions have fallen victim to chaos and eventually despotic rule by some strong man. Chaos, if developed would naturally be countered by establishing authority and unquestionable subservience which normally comes with military rule. That of course does not justify Military rule but provides a reason as to why it often takes place and why some people are obsessed with it.
Another issue which has to be kept in mind is that democracy would need independent institutions like Judiciary and Media no matter how “reactionary” these are to ensure that it remains on track. And these institutions do not automatically develop through voting process. The notion which has often proven irrelevant in a country like Pakistan is that voters alone can provide the necessary accountability. This unfortunately is not even true for developed countries. First of all mandate does not necessarily reflect complete will of the people due to principal agent problem and moreover vote received in an election does not necessarily validate every step taken by the Government during its reign. Voters eventually appraise the OVERALL PERFORMANCE of a party, not every step. So therefore claims that if voters do not approve of a particular controversial step, they will vote the party out in the next elections is not a valid argument. For democracy to be effective strong and INDEPENDENT institutions, even if they are “reactionary’ are needed!! Due to this factor, there is a legitimate rationale for judiciary and media to keep a check on the government during the interim period.Independence of these institutions is a prerequisite on these grounds.
And So what is the way out?
First the convincing has to explicitly RECOGINIZE these problems and liberal intelligentsia has to support independent institutions and check and balances. Yes it includes this vulgar media also!! Sorry but even if it is vulgar, it is needed!!And yes STOP defending political class when it merits condemnation and please stop interpreting criticism as merely “reactionary”. Trying to defend incompetence through spinning factual position and branding everything as a grand conspiracy of the establishment will not do. If anything it further insulates the political class from political discipline and questions the credibility of the liberals themselves.
For democracy a culture of accountability has to be there and that culture may even at times evolve through excessive lynching (provided that does not result in army’s intervention!) phase into more mature criticism. Yes at times media is unfair but it is OK if it points to nepotism and poor governance. The argument which should be given is that we should stick with democracy but also strive to cultivate a culture of accountability and strong institutions.
What the stability obsessed crowd should be made to understand is that the solution is not replacing democracy with autocratic rule or judicial rule but by ensuring the mechanism which ensures that chaos does not develop and governments do not become excessive in their conduct. Democracy may not be a perfect system but a modern and
ethnically diverse state needs it. The central thrust has to be on recognizing where democracy is faltering and how to ensure that those areas are strengthened.
Second and the most important argument is ethnic fabric of our country. What is often overlooked by critics of democracy is that for an ethnically diverse country such as Pakistan, lack of democracy will be catastrophic and in fact historically every dictatorship has resulted in increased feeling of marginalization. Democracy is the only workable framework in a modern industrial society which can tap diverse voices and ensure integrity of the state through preservation of diversity through negotiation and renegotiation. Just simple analysis in chronological order can prove the point that after each dictatorship the feeling of depravity and anger has increased. Bangladesh and bloody 1971 episode owed a lot due to lack of consensus building which only democracy could have ensured. Ayub era despite apparent high growth rates delivered a broken Pakistan.
Zia regime instilled hatred in Sindh and Mushrraf a lot of hatred in Baluchistan. An ethnically diverse and now charged up country cannot exist without democracy. Democracy may have proven short on quality governance (for that matter so has dictatorship) but it is the only workable way to ensure that diverse voices are heard and their concerns are properly incorporated in the policy framework.
Third people have to be reminded that every military dictator’s regime ended with some kind of public protest which actually went too long because the dictator was not politically feeling the heat the way a political government would. They even went on suspending courts! Protests went on and eventually far more frustration was felt and of course when the dictatorship ended Pakistan was in a more miserable state.
Fourth, while Military regimes may have provided a façade of stability, there is nothing to support that military dictatorships fared any better in financial corruption. And moreover
systematically the resources were transferred to bolster the army schemes and industries. Of course due to censorship most of the corruption scandals never came to light. It is a fallacy that only politicians are corrupt.
We need to win the battle of minds and address skepticism through concrete, rational and factual defense of democracy. We need to reinforce an obvious truth that a modern industrial society which is so complex needs democracy and the solution is to push for better governance within democracy not substituting it with dictatorship or even through army’s proxies (known as indirect rule).
Posted on 18 February 2012 by Tea Server
By Yaroslav Trofimov, Tom Wright and Adam Entous for The Wall Street Journal
Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday met with Pakistan’s leaders, trying to gain Islamabad’s support for his peace outreach to the Taliban, as U.S. officials worked to keep expectations in check about the strategy’s prospects for yielding direct peace talks with the Islamic militant group.
The Taliban, meanwhile, denied Mr. Karzai’s claim that they have been negotiating with the Afghan government.On the first day of his three-day visit to Pakistan, Mr. Karzai met with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who promised Pakistani cooperation in investigating the September assassination of the chief Afghan peace negotiator and voiced support for an Afghan-led peace process. Pakistan’s Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, who wields considerable influence over the country’s foreign policy, also took part in the talks.
In Islamabad, Mr. Karzai reiterated that respect for the Afghan constitution and for women’s rights remain his “crucial conditions” for any future deal with the Taliban.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who has been skeptical of reconciliation efforts in the past, at a Thursday news conference lauded Mr. Karzai’s remarks—made in a Wall Street Journal interview—about Kabul’s willingness to engage with the Taliban.
“What President Karzai’s statement confirmed is that Afghanistan is very much involved in the process of reconciliation and that is extremely helpful and important to determining whether or not we are ultimately going to be able to succeed with reconciliation or not,” Mr. Panetta said. “The news that Afghanistan has joined those reconciliation discussions is important.”
Mr. Panetta said he didn’t know whether additional three-way sessions between the U.S., the Afghan government and the Taliban have been planned.
Another senior Obama administration official remained cautious about whether such confidence-building contacts would translate into direct peace talks, calling the process “complicated and precarious.”
A day after Mr. Karzai told the Journal that Afghan government representatives have had contacts with U.S. and Taliban officials in an attempt to end the 10-year war, the Taliban said they had no intention of negotiating with “the powerless Kabul administration.”
“If someone met the Karzai administration representing the Islamic Emirate, he is an impostor,” said a statement by the Taliban leadership, which calls itself the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The Taliban in the past denied reports of peace talks with the U.S., only to confirm them in recent months.
U.S. officials have confirmed Mr. Karzai’s remarks, saying at least one three-way negotiating session occurred in recent weeks.
Admitting negotiations with Kabul would be fraught will political risks for the insurgent leadership, possibly undermining the morale of Taliban fighters, and weakening the militants’ resolve amid coalition offensives.
The intensity of the conflict already declined dramatically in recent months, Afghan and coalition officials say, though it is unclear whether this drop is due to the spreading news about peace talks, unusually harsh winter weather, or a strategic decision by the Taliban to hold their fire as foreign forces withdraw.
Pakistan, which U.S. officials say provides shelter and support to the Taliban leadership, plays a crucial role in Afghanistan’s peace outreach.
Mr. Karzai’s relations with Pakistan neared a rupture point after the September assassination of former President Burhanuddin Rabbani, the peace negotiator, by purported Taliban peace emissaries. At the time, Afghan officials blamed the killing on Pakistan, something that Pakistani officials denied. Two suspects have since been arrested in Pakistan.
The White House wants to show progress on the reconciliation track before a May summit of North Atlantic Treaty Organization leaders in Chicago. There, NATO leaders are expected to announce plans to shift to a train-and-assist mission in Afghanistan in 2013, giving Mr. Karzai’s security forces the lead role in combat operations before most U.S. and NATO troops pull out at the end of 2014.
Where Pakistan fits into tentative peace talks with the Taliban remains unclear. The U.S. has not kept Islamabad informed about developments in the peace process, Pakistan civilian and military leaders claim.
U.S. and Afghan officials say they are concerned Pakistan might try to undermine peace talks. In January 2010, Pakistan detained a senior Taliban leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. Afghan and U.S. officials claim Pakistan arrested him for contacting the U.S. and Mr. Karzai’s government without Pakistan’s knowledge, a claim denied by Pakistan.
Afghanistan has asked for Pakistan to transfer Mr. Baradar to Kabul, but this hasn’t happened so far. Pakistani officials deny they back the Taliban.
Pakistan will stay on the sidelines in the tentative peace process as long as the U.S. remains distrustful of Islamabad, said Imtiaz Gul, director of the Islamabad-based Center for Research and Security Studies.
“We’re not sure to what extent the U.S. wants Pakistan to play a role,” Mr. Gul said. “The Pakistani role at this moment seems very limited.”
Pakistan’s ability to play a meaningful part in talks has further been hampered by a deterioration in relations with U.S. after an American helicopter strike in November mistakenly killed 26 Pakistani soldiers along the Afghan border.
U.S. officials say they are still trying to hammer out an agreement with Taliban representatives on a sequence of confidence-building measures aimed at laying the ground for any future direct negotiations on ending the war.
In addition to the establishment of a political office for the Taliban in Qatar, the U.S. wants the Taliban to issue a statement distancing itself from international terrorism and to agree to stop fighting in certain areas of the country.
The U.S., in turn, would transfer of up to five Taliban militants held at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Qatar. Key U.S. lawmakers have raised objections to the prospective prisoner transfers.
Officials have identified the five Guantanamo detainees who may be transferred to Qatar as Muhammad Fazl, a former senior Taliban defense official; two former local governors, Khairullah Khairkhwa and Noorullah Nori; former Taliban intelligence official Abdul Haq Wasiq; and top Taliban financier Muhammad Nabi.
Messrs. Haq Wasiq, Fazl and Nori were among the first 20 detainees who arrived at Guantanamo Bay 10 years ago, when the prison was opened on Jan. 11, 2002.
The U.S. has received assurances from Qatar that the five militants, if transferred, won’t be released by the government or handed over to the Taliban. But officials said the men could be freed later as part of a future Afghan-Taliban peace deal.
Filed under: Afghanistan, Democracy, Pakistan, Pakistan Army, Pakistani Taliban, Pakistanis, Peace, President Obama, Taliban, Tehrik-i-Taliban, terrorism, United States, US Army Tagged: Afghan-Taliban Peace, Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, Islamabad, Kabul, Leon Panetta, NATO, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Pakistan, Qatar, Taliban, United States, Washington DC
Posted on 14 February 2012 by Tea Server
By Paul Salahuddin Armstrong Co-Director, Association of British Muslims
I was asked to share my views on Valentine’s Day. Personally, I really don’t see what’s the problem that some people seem to have with this celebration. The fact that it’s a Western, originally Christian festival is in all honesty, completely besides the point. We should celebrate Love everyday!
Many cultures have something similar, a day to celebrate love, to send a message of love to your beloved – a person whom you would like to marry or is already your husband or wife. Seriously, what’s wrong with that? What could possibly be wrong with that?
The only argument I’ve heard against Valentine’s Day, is the same one I hear about every other festival besides the two Eids – it’s not part of Islam. Well, sorry, if that’s the best these people can come up with, it’s a pathetic argument – cars and aeroplanes aren’t technically part of Islam either, but we still use them!
More to the point, a Muslim can celebrate any festival, even the social aspect of those of other religions, as long as this doesn’t mean they end up committing shirk – i.e. worshipping another deity besides God or associating partners with God – and this is the position of the mainstream scholars of Al-Azhar University in Egypt.
Indeed, for the vast majority of people who celebrate it, Valentine’s Day isn’t even that religious, rather it’s just a wonderful opportunity to show loved ones how much you appreciate them – which is something every Muslim should do anyway, even if they do not celebrate Valentine’s Day!
Pakistanis for Peace Editor’s Note- Finally, a Muslim perspective on Valentine’s Day that we can agree with! As compared to many other articles that decry Valentine’s Day as a pagan holiday and it is shirk to celebrate it, Paul has succinctly yet effectively given a great differing Muslim angle on this day as compared to the Orthodox Muslim view.
Filed under: American Muslims, British Muslims, Democracy, Freedoms, Islam, Muslims, United States, US Commission on International Religious Freedom Tagged: American Muslims, Association of British Muslim, British Muslims, February 14, Islam, Islam and Valentine’s Day, Muslim Valentine, Muslims, Muslims in America, Muslims in Europe, Pagan Holidays, paganism, Paul Salahuddin Armstrong, Valentine, Valentine’s Day, Valentine’s Day Muslims
Posted on 13 February 2012 by Tea Server
As Reported by CNN
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani of Pakistan is due to appear Monday before the country’s Supreme Court, which plans to charge him with contempt in relation to a long-running struggle over old corruption cases.
Gilani is locked in a standoff with the Supreme Court justices, who are demanding that he ask the Swiss authorities to revive corruption charges from the previous decade against President Asif Ali Zardari and others.
Gilani has refused the court’s demands and could be jailed for six months if the justices find him in contempt. The court on Friday rejected an appeal by Gilani’s lawyers against the summons to face the contempt charge.
The lawyers have argued that the prime minister has not followed the court’s order because Zardari enjoys immunity in Pakistan and abroad as a president in office.
Gilani said in an interview over the weekend with the satellite news network Al Jazeera that he had an “extremely capable” lawyer and didn’t believe the court would jail him on the contempt charges.
If found guilty of contempt, the prime minister could be forced from office. But his lawyers have said he would keep his position unless electoral officials disqualified him.
Gilani served more than five years in prison between 2001 and 2006 on corruption charges brought by the previous military regime of Gen. Pervez Musharraf — counts he said were also politically motivated.
The corruption cases that the Supreme Court now wants reopened stem from money-laundering charges against Zardari and his late wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. A Swiss court convicted them in absentia in 2003 of laundering millions of dollars.
After Musharraf granted a controversial amnesty in 2007 to Zardari, Bhutto, and thousands of other politicians and bureaucrats, Pakistan asked the Swiss authorities to drop the case. In 2009, the Pakistani Supreme Court ruled the amnesty was unconstitutional and called on the government to take steps to have the cases reopened.
The government has not done so, and the court apparently lost patience. Since Gilani is the head of the government, the court justices view him as responsible.
Filed under: Democracy, Pakistan, Pakistan Army, Pakistanis Tagged: Benazir Bhutto, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, Pakistan, Pakistan Supreme Court, Pervez Musharraf, President Asif Ali Zardari, Swiss Court, Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani