Of Bullet-Proof Shields and Tests of Courage


*First posted on PakTea House.

There are usually, if not always, a certain set of characteristics and qualities that a people expect their leader to have. Amongst the numerous of honesty, integrity and dignity that Pakistanis seek in a leader, is also bravery.

With the elections approaching fast, the idea of bravery seems to have been accorded quite a role with populism at play.

A certain notion has been developed in political rhetoric plus social media and political discourse that equates bullet-proof shields and security for protection to ‘cowardice‘.

931286_157861574389201_218288170_nA number of statements and acts have sprung forth from different political sides either proudly proclaiming their pluck and fearlesness, that they declare only to be existing for the Creator; getting a security measure chucked publicly to testify that or pointing its continuance at rivals’ rallies to ’prove’ their chicken-heartedness.

Imran Khan who initially did the above-mentioned, had to resort to shielded containers at some jalsas, reportedly even Nawaz Sharif also ordered the removal of his bullet-proof shield at the jalsa in Jarranwala.

In recent years, Pakistan has been consumed into an abyss that has swallowed over 40,000 including countless political leaders and representatives. From the late Benazir Bhutto to Bashir Bilour, the onslaught has only expanded and continues to swell.

Extremism and terrorism have breached every inch of the country and the lives of its inhabitants.

With blasts ripping through different areas of the country, attacks on various candidates of different parties, their processions, offices and rallies, these elections have witnessed the resurrection of the electoral field in Pakistan as a bloody battleground.

nawaz-PHOTO-INP-640x480Keeping the present in mind, the notion of abandoning security by any political leader as a testament to his ‘bravery’ not only falls nothing short of absurd, but constitutes sheer recklessness.

This country can neither afford more bodies to bury nor more tragedies caused to orchestrate further instability, which is being referred to as the main means to subvert the link of completion in Pakistan’s first transfer of power from a democratically-elected government to another: the elections itself.

In these times, bravery does not lie in the removal of bullet-proof shields but the vocal, wholehearted and practical espousing of a hardline stance against all kinds, types, forms of terrorism, radicalism, extremism and terrorists; their wholehearted condemnation which doesn’t slip into selectivity; the involvement of public presentations of proper policies and plans designed to purge the country of this menace; pressure of demands on different national institutions such as the judiciary and the Election Commission for trying, barring and excluding extremists and terrorists from participating in all types of activities be it hate-mongering or elections instead of keeping mum over instances such as the recent (reported) allowance given to 55 candidates from Punjab, who belong to 10 different sectarian groups, to contest the electoral race.

For too long, the demonstration of this genuine valor has been staved off through its substitution by hollow and superficial displays of bravery.

And it must be realized today that the real test of courage lies not in the removal of bullet-proof shields but in the embrace of this sincere audacity for what truly is, Pakistan’s fight for its soul.

~ Hafsa Khawaja

An Open Letter to PTI Supporters


Dear Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s supporters,

This is something that I’ve wanted to write about for long.

I’m not a supporter of PTI but I am miffed at many of you who are, and no, this is not another in the long list of posts written by victims of the trolls. This is about the general, average PTI supporter that I have come across. (Now, now. You may say these are just a handful, but what matters is, they are still there).

With the rise of PTI there has been inevitable and palpable rise in your numbers; its supporters, their visibility and their displays of support to the party.

There is nothing at fault with this, it is only vital to the cultivation of a democratic culture of political choice, participation and support in a developing democracy like Pakistan.

Talking of democracy, and this is where my problem with you appears.

Urban PTI supporters, by their sheer force of numbers and assertions of party support, have created, consciously or unconsciously, an environment of fear, uneasiness and reluctance for others to openly declare or admit their differing political choice of another party.

This reluctance and uneasiness lies in your attitude, which may exist in segments of other parties too, but I have personally found it to be greater in prevalence in PTI’s supporters.

There is an air of self-righteousness about many of you, which seems to stem from your support for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

Here is a revelation: every single citizen of Pakistan has the prosperity and progress of Pakistan in both his heart and mind when chosing a political party to support. Supporting a different party does not make him to be a Pakistani who wants it any less than the supporter of another party, which in your case, is PTI. It does not make him an unintelligent individual who must, and must, be voting for the other party on the basis of ignorance, ethnicity, religion, sect or biraderi.

Nor do you, by the virtue of being a PTI supporter, become a better, more patriotic or a more wise Pakistani than others.

At7dZfJCAAINElJAnother question that I have and continue to frequently face from you is “Why don’t you support the change?”
“The change” has been converted, by you, into one that is synonymous with Imran Khan.

Another realization knock: change is a very subjective word. What may constitute  change for you, may not constitute change for me. Imran Khan is the torch-bearer of change for you, and with all due respect and my admiration for him as a cricketer and a philanthropist, I do not subscribe to his political ideology. And if I state this as a reason for ‘not supporting the change’, it is best that you accept it.

And in contrast to what many of you tend to turn to as a course, it gives you absolutely no right to corner, mock, intimidate or question another party’s supporter for having a political choice dissimilar to your’s.

No voter is accountable to any other voter for his own political choices; he is neither bound to justify those to him nor is he obliged to feel awkward or uncomfortable for having a political party that seems to have lowered in mainstream popularity or in your/his eyes.

10733-jalsa-1332599040-946-640x480

As supporters of PTI, you have been at the forefront of canvassing for your party’s candidates and convincing others to vote PTI. What you must realize is that there is a difference between convincing and forceful political proselytizing.

If I haven’t asked to be ‘convinced‘, and don’t push you to support my party and have already made up my mind, kindly cease the over-assertive attempts at my conversion from your high horse.

Everyone has the provision of a single privilege, by which he exercises his prerogative of a voter’ one person has only one vote; and to you, your vote, to me, mine.

I wholeheartedly respect your political pick, you respect mine.

At the end of the day, you must realize that you are not doing anyone a favor by this attitude which you have adopted. Especially not your own party.

What you must realize is that difference of political opinion and choice is a natural composition of the political landscape of any country wishing to espouse democracy, and as we inch towards its establishment, it will be the sooner the better that we all come to accept and adapt to it with tolerance and respect.

Here’s wishing these elections help and heal Pakistan, and we begin to mature ourselves as citizens, party supporters, voter and above all, Pakistanis.

With regards,

Another party’s voter,

Hafsa Khawaja.

Pakistan’s ‘Supreme’ Quagmire


*Published on Borderline Green.

After spending 4 years, 2 months and 26 days in office as Pakistan’s 24th Prime Minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani was removed from power on 19th June 2012 by an order of the Supreme Court that proved to be crescendo in the on-going stand-off between the government and judiciary.

The background to the case lay in the overturning of the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance in 2009 by the Supreme Court. The Musharraf-issued NRO  basically provided a cover of insulation from being tried and convicted for  politicians and bureaucrats by offering them amnesty in all cases of any crime or corruption that they were involved in or may have committed.

Its dissolution meant that all the cases of the NRO Beneficiaries were now revived; on top of which was President Zardari who faced the Swiss Cases worth $60 milliom. In relation to this, the Supreme Court directed the Prime Minister to write a letter to the Swiss Authorities to commence with the proceedings associated with their reopening; which the PM refused citing the presidential immunity Zardari enjoyed from prosecution. Gilani’s defiance of the order was construed as contempt of court and his disqualification was the result.

The discourse that took Pakistan after the verdict of Gilani’s disqualification and subsequent dismissal, centered not on disagreement about whether cases of corruption against Zardari should be reinstated but on the judiciary’s conduct; which appears to be increasingly engaging in judicial activism, inevitably encroaching upon the parliamentary and political space.

The binaries created by this discourse, on one hand lead to those who support the judiciary’s decisions and those who disapprove of the direction they feel the judiciary has chosen.

Pakistan’s history of chaos and disorder consigned the establishment of accountability to the bin; giving rise to a culture where exploitation, abuse of authority, lawlessness, chaos and a states within the state have thrived.

The country’s two principal organizations: the National Accountability Bureau and the Federal Investigative Agency with the respective aims of ‘the responsibility of elimination of corruption through a holistic approach of awareness, prevention and enforcement’and ‘to serve and assist the nation to get justice through an effective law enforcement’ have been pervaded by a systematic politicization; disabling their organizational and regulative capacity and impeding a proper pursuit of accomplishing the basis of their formation by proffering a virtual immunity and amnesty to those in positions of power from being made answerable and treated accordingly.

In these circumstances, the susceptibility of a certain void of regulatory apparatus for ensuring the accountability of those in government or in power is natural and visible.

After the success of the momentous Movement for the Restoration of the Judiciary, the judiciary emerged to fill this void; an institution with the capability and focus to bring all within the loop (or noose) of justice.

And as news of scandals, scams and stories of personal aggrandizement of this PPP Government and its members kept stacking upon each other; public frustration and desperation waxed.

What followed is a thumping public thirst for accountability, which some see to be slaked by the judiciary’s recent course of actively taking on the government head on and thus, has invited a swarm of petitions to be filed at the Supreme Court that target what is perceived as governmental maladministration and misrule. 

This is where the strand of contention ascends into sight: is the judiciary the right institution for making the government answerable?

Tausif Kamal, an Attorney at Law in Houston pens in his article in Daily Times:

‘The basic function of our SC is to hear, adjudicate and interpret the law on actual cases or disputes between two adversaries that comes before it on appeal. Such appellate jurisdiction and application of law is the court’s primary duty. Its original jurisdiction should be rare and limited to hearing cases between two provinces, or where one province and/or the federal government is a party.’

It is clear, that the primary function of the judiciary isn’t holding the government responsible or keeping the ‘state’s excesses’ in check. The term ‘excesses of the state’ being broad enough to vary and differ between people. Is it one that is defined by the dictates of the law, the popularity and moral standing of the government with the people? And who defines it? How and when is it subject to the suo moto? About which, to quote Tausif Kamal again :

‘Article 184 (3), which incredibly bestows on the apex court almost limitless and unbridled powers of original jurisdiction. Enabling it to adjudicate on its own whim and fancy any matter under the sun in the name of ‘public importance’ or ‘fundamental rights’, it gives rise to the overuse of suo motu.’

To many, Gilani’s removal has been a ‘judicial coup’ with the judiciary greatly overstepping its domain. After all, the three main means of dismissing an individual from the Prime Minister’s secretariat are laid through the Parliament, Election Commission and the people itself which can be availed by the motions of a vote of no-confidence, disqualification and voting in the next elections, respectively.

The debate that the ‘historic’ decision of the Supreme Court has stirred has also provided fodder for debate that revolves around the lengths that the Supreme Court can stride about to oversee the government’s dealings and matters, the suo moto as an instrument for witting or unwitting immersion in judicial activism of sorts (Despite international praise for Pakistan’s higher judiciary, international calls have also been made to form a distinct, fair criteria that guides the use of suo moto) and in current instances of the government’s refusal to obey the judicial orders (regardless of the reasons); the extent that the Lords of the Supreme Court can go to rein in its deviance from compliance and the removal of an elected Prime Minister as a  of the Supreme Court.

Dr. Mohamed Taqi writes:

‘The post-March 2009 judiciary arrived at the helm with a sense of entitlement and populist vigour, which it felt it had earned for inspiring and leading its own restoration movement. Frequent references, in several recent verdicts, by several judges to the Supreme Court of Pakistan to being “the people’s court” rather than a constitutional court indicated that the justices were operating under the influence of what they perceived was popular support received during the restoration movement. The restored judiciary had come to the bench after contracting the messiah complex! The misplaced assumption of being the new saviors has put the judiciary in a unique situation where it has on occasion been at odds with both the civilians and the military and appears to be acting not just as a proxy, at least in its own mind, but a power player.’

By proclaiming itself to be the ‘people’s court’, it is reckoned that it intends to be a representative of the public sentiment rather than, or more than, an exponent and upholder of the law and legal system because to be both is mutually exclusive.

To become the ’true representatives’ of the people is the sole prerogative of the Parliament and the penchant for making assertions of being the ‘real representatives’ of the people by state pillars such as the media and judiciary contravenes to their distinguishable reasons of existence.

Their separate roles, institutional duties and professional ethics command that they remain detached from such populism and matters invalidating their ambition to advocate the people’s will and view. The judiciary and Supreme Court in particular are required to be objective and egalitarian.

The judiciary and dispensation of justice is not governed by vox populi but by the laws and constitution.

By assuming or borrowing the charge of another instituition or organ Pakistan will only be mired into a din of further confusion and conflict in which any possibility of accountability and transparency will be the only casualties; and polarise the state organs that need to be brought together in agreement at present, more than ever, for a stable, democratically-viable Pakistan.

As Babar Sattar says in his must-read article ‘Legal Eye: On Picking Sides’ on this very issue:

‘We need an independent judiciary, a functional parliament, a performing executive, a strong army, an uncensored media and a vibrant civil society. None of this is expendable if Pakistan is to thrive.’

Any espousal of the functions of another institution, for whatever lofty reason and possible short-term relief, hamstring that institution to evolve, shed its failings and ability to develop to overcome its defunctness and shortcomings.

The settlement to this ‘supreme’ quagmire of Pakistan, rests in the exclusive practice of the segregate authority that the state organs are vested with, while strictly dwelling within the confines of their legal, constitutional turfs.

Upon ending, a reported remark by the American Chief Justice Roberts as the US Supreme Court upheld Obama’s Healthcare Law, would sum up the case in Pakistan well:

“It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.”

~ Hafsa Khawaja

Lifting Jinnah and His Life From Distortion: A Factual Rebuttal To PTI’s Story


NOTE: On account of all the presumptions and accusations being cast through comments which assume my leanings with a certain party, this is to clarify, that this post comes from someone purely non-partisan: neither a PPP, PML-N, JUI-F, MQM nor a PTI supporter. An independent observer of Pakistani politics.

_______________________

Lately, a message is being posted and circulated by supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, that attempts to strike some semblance between Imran Khan and M. A Jinnah.

While a strong liking may be taken to it by those politically aligned with PTI, but to those who are just reasonably au fait with history and Jinnah’s life, it is seen as an obnoxious distortion of and selective display of facts; which must be set straight.

In a sincere effort to put together a relatively, factually accurate rebuttal; this post relies heavily on excerpts from the magnum opus on Jinnah: Stanley Wolpert’s ‘Jinnah of Pakistan’.

And so it commences:

1. Contrary to what the altered versions of this viral post/status say, Jinnah never in his life, attended Cambridge University or any other university, leave alone having been enlisted in a ‘Hall of Fame’ of some educational institution in England. He only completed his legal education there. How someone could so callously come up with such a fallacy is beyond logic.

[1]

*Mamad was what Jinnah was lovingly called in his family.

[2]

Jinnah was later enrolled at Sindh Madressa-tul-Islam.

At a young age, his aunt Manabai took him with her to Bombay, (where uncertainty casts doubt on whether he attended Muslim Anjuman-I-Islam over there or Gokul Das Tej Primary School).  After which, he was brought back to his parents who registered him at the exclusive Karachi Christian Mission High on Lawrence Road.

[3]

In that period, the flourishing business of Jinnah Poonja (the Quaid’s father) had come to be associated with Douglas Graham and Company, whose General Manager Sir Freidrick Croft who ‘obviously liked Mamad and thinking highly of his potential to recommend the young man for an apprenticeship to his home office in London in 1892’.

[4]
After his travel to London, it was on April 25th 1893, that Jinnah ‘petitioned’ Lincoln’s Inn  and was granted permission to be excused the Latin portion of the Preliminary Examination, which he passed on May 25th .

Wolpert pertinently states:

‘Had he procrastinated he might not have been able to complete his legal apprenticeship, for the next year a number of prerequisites were added and the process of professional legal certification was substantially prolonged.’

While in England, Jinnah was influenced and fascinated by the fresh British liberalism and it was there, that he was presented with a glance in the fascinating world of politics. He often visited Hyde Park and the visitor’s gallery at Westminister’s House of Commons.

[5]
Courtesy: Doc Kazi on FlickrDue to a rather dramatic turn of events (paronomasia intended: Jinnah had developed a passion for theatre in London, and had sent a letter to his father to allow him to participate in it – only to be reprimanded and summoned back) Jinnah had to return back to British India after applying for a ‘certificate’ from Lincolns’ Inn:


|2|. Nothing more could be more further from the truth than the view that Jinnah ’suffered severely at the start of his legal career’ .

Upon his return, the realization of his mother’s death and his father’s sinking business, which had been subject to the whims and vagaries of time, dawned upon him dealing him a dark stroke but eventually, Jinnah did climb up the ladder professionally and out of this sombre chasm.

[6]

 

      

|3|. The ‘Flower of Bombay‘ that blossomed in  Jinnah‘s heart had converted to Islam becoming Maryam from Ruttie, three days before their marriage on Friday April 19th, 1918. [7]

And although Ruttie and Jinnah’s story was a Shakespearan tragedy, and their marriage eventually withered but they did not divorce.

Penned in an article on her at Dawn:

‘Her health continued to deteriorate; from 1926 through 1928 she was restricted mostly to bed.

Accompanied by her mother, Ruttie went to England in 1928 and later to Paris where she was admitted at a clinic in Champs Elysee. She was in a semi-comatose condition there …

Mohammad Ali Jinnah went to Paris and stood by her side, even eating the same food she was given. Ruttie’s health improved and she moved to Bombay where it took a turn for the worse again.’

An outstanding video comprising painstakingly compiled quotes and excerpts, weaves a silent narration of this entire so beautiful, yet so heartbreaking tragic love story.


    

|4|. As Jinnah and his wife had never divorced, the idea perpetuated by PTI’s page that Dina Jinnah’s custody was awarded to her mother by a judge, is naturally overturned.

Little is known of how and where Dina stayed during the years of her parent’s separation and after her mother’s demise.

But Wolpert mentions her at the time of Jinnah being at the peak of his political engagements at the age of 55, which means that the year must either be 1931 or 1932:

[8]

Jinnah also maintained formal correspondence with Dina, even after her marriage to Neville Wadia that he was in opposition to.

A reported picture of Dina and Neville after their marriage.

He addressed her as ‘Mrs. Wadia’ throughout it.
        

|5|. To roughly cram Jinnah’s first few years in politics as a ‘failure’ is not only harsh, but a travesty.

There is nothing that suggests his political penury during the years of 1900s, when he stepped into the domain.

And there is much that can be used in rebuttal of this, but for the sake of brevity, the following excerpts should suffice.

At the beginning of his political career, Jinnah simply remained a keen observer of  and judiciously analyzed the course of events in British India while closely following figures like Dadabhai Naoroji and Sir Pheroze Shah Mehta – on whom he was not unable to leave a favorable impression.

[ 9]

Jinnah had joined the Congress in 1906, and later the Muslim League in 1913.

The belief and notion of a single Indian nation regardless of religion, which recurred in Mehta and Naoroji’s speeches, reverberated strongly in Jinnah’s stance and thoughts; eventually earning him the respected title of ’Ambassador for Hindu-Muslim Unity’ in 1916, after his role in the formation of the historic Lucknow Pact – a common ground for cooperation between the Muslim League and Congress for accomplishing gains in the bid for self-government for British India. (Jinnah presided over the joint party session in Lucknow).

How all that comes down to evolving into failure, is rather a very difficult conundrum.

[10]



|7|.
Exactly to which era of pre-partition history that was intended to indicated towards through the point ‘Won only 1 seat after a decade of struggle’, is unclear but in retrospect the year of Jinnah’s ‘solemn’ involvement and foray into politics, which is largely-accepted to be 1906, should be considered.

After being bestowed with honorary titles such as the ‘Ambassador for Hindu-Muslim Unity’for the result of the culmination of his and others efforts to ensure union between the two parties, four years after 1906, in 1910, he was elected to the Imperial Legislative Council. (Bear in mind, Jinnah was only a member of the Congress at that point in time, neither a party leader nor part of the Muslim League.)

[11]

|8|. The adoption of the ‘Lahore Resolution’, was indeed a most momentous day in subcontinental, and Muslim League history, and in Jinnah’s political life. But how exactly can it be assessed that it was definitely what ’won people’s hearts and minds’ is quite complex and cumbersome to gauge.

So for the purpose of lucidity, it must be assumed that this phrase was meant to imply the complete guarantee and consummate ‘arrival on the political scene’ and success of Muslim League and its future proposals: Pakistan.

Even this is not in perfect accordance with reality, as after his return from London and the fragmentation of the All India Muslim League, Jinnah had diverted all his focus and energies to the strengthening and revamping of the party through critical and massive reorganizing – something which took a toll on his health too.

(‘Towards Lahore’ is an immensely informative chapter centering around this very ’restructuring’ of the AIML in the 1930s)

[12]

The watershed moment at Minto Park on 23rd March 1940, was only a result and culmination of the success of this pivotal political and social rearrangement of AIML.

|9|.There wasn’t really a plethora of or ‘weighty’ parties in Pre-Partition India, if there were any, there were only the Indian Congress and  All India Muslim League. Both, which at the end, owing to a twist in situations, stood completely different – on divided soil.

Bottomline is, nugatory and politically pointless parallels need to be stopped being drawn between the politicians of today and the leaders of yesterday.

Emotionalism, exagerration, lack of realism dipped in populism are what deplorably compose ’appeal’ in Pakistan. But still, at the end of the day, 200 million people do not want to know how similar a party leader is with the founder of the country but what a party has to offer them; socially, politically and economically.

Most importantly, please study history before indulging in an utterly distasteful presentation of ‘facts’. And do leave Jinnah out of it, his ideology and vision for Pakistan has been distorted enough to reach the brink that this state is on – kindly spare his life now.

To quote Stanley Wolpert again:

“Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state. Mohammad Ali Jinnah did all three.”

He was not infallible but there was only one Jinnah in Bombay, in sartorial incomparability, peerless finesse and debonair, political brilliance and realism and only one Jinnah of Pakistan. Let us not make him and his life a casualty in and party to political tactics.

~ Hafsa Khawaja

_______________________________________

References:

[1] Chapter I: Karachi, Page 5.

[2] Chapter I: Karachi, Page 5, 6 and 7.

[3] Chapter I: Karachi, Page 7.

[4] Chapter I: Karachi, Page 9 and 11.

[5] Chapter I: Karachi, Page 15.

[6] Chapter II: Bombay, Page 16 and 17.

[7] Chapter IV: Lucknow to Bombay, Page 53.

[8] Chapter X: London, Page 130.

[9] Chapter II: Bombay, Page 20.

[10] Chapter II: Bombay, Page 27.

[11] Chapter III: Calcutta, Page 32.

[12] Chapter XI: Towards Lahore, Page 155.

Most pictures courtesy Doc Kazi on Flickr.

* Any factual correction or edit needed in the post, would be highly appreciated if pointed out. Thank you.

Shia Hazaras: Guilty of Being A Minority In Establishment’s Pakistan


*Also published at LUBP.

The Pakistan of today has found itself to be nothing but a wreckage of a country, a carcass of a state and an international outcast.

A tragedy brought upon itself by both; the sharp functioning muscle of the unofficial institutional dictatorship that aggrandized itself under four decades of military authoritarians and the Pakistani nation’s obscene obsession with easy acceptance of the exacerbation, denialism, dogmatism and preposterousness.

The very characteristics have been manifest in wake of the recent unleashing of organized and systematic bloodletting of the peaceful, educated and civilized community of Shia Hazaras in Balochistan by the associates of the Establishment’s ‘Assets’.

Carrying a history replete with persecution and torment, the Shia Hazaras have found little relief and difference between their past in Afghanistan and present in Pakistan; where they are the victims of various sectarian militant groups such as Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, that deem and decry Shi’ites as Non-Muslims. ‘Impure’ creatures that they are determined to completely exterminate from ‘The Land of Pure.’

A question might arise, why is it that blame for this bloodshed is ascribed as such to them.

Amir Mir writes in one excellent article of his on the predicament the Hazara Shia have been placed in and the militant sectarian groups:

‘The SSP and the LeJ, which is considered to be the military wing of the SSP, were once the strategic assets of the state of Pakistan and have linked with al-Qaeda as its ancillary warriors, killing Pakistani citizens and targeting the security forces to dissuade Pakistan from fighting the “war against terror” as a United States ally.

The LeJ today has deep links with al-Qaeda and the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban and is considered to be the most violent terrorist organization operating in Pakistan, with the help of its suicide squad. As with most Sunni Deobandi sectarian and militant groups, almost the entire LeJ leadership is made up of people who have fought in Afghanistan with the backing of the Pakistani security establishment and most of its cadre are drawn from the numerous Sunni madrassas (seminaries) in Pakistan.’

The fact that these terrorist organizations are the ‘ancillary warriors’ of the ‘elements’ that the Establishment cherishes and avails in pursuit of its detrimental ‘Strategic Depth’ policy in Afghanistan (The Policy, to put it simply, is constructed on the Establishment’s compulsive obsession with the theme and idea of India as the arch enemy of Pakistan and envisages a Pro-Pakistan Government in Post-Troop-Withdrawal Afghanistan that counters the Indian influence there and protects ‘Pakistani interests’.) naturally transforms their position to being ‘untouchable’, considering they are part and parcel of the deal – thus the ‘failure of intelligence and the forces’ when it comes to sectarian killings similar to that happening in Balochistan of the Hazaras.

While much has been excellently chosen, written about and posted about the grave issue on LUBP and a few other sites that have proven to challenge the distortions of the mainstream media and welcoming to topics that they either ignore or willingly twist and feed to the people with their vulpine cunning – this post aims to focus on the collective, institutional and national conspiracy of silence that was concocted after the slayings of the Hazara Shias based solely on a sectarian footing.

One can only wonder where the conveniently-free-media is when fatwas, pamphlets and declarations of hate and instigation of murders are circulated around in different parts of the country?

Where does their self-proclaimed ‘patriotism’ and professional magnificence vanish to when it comes to the intentional misrepresentation of the massacres that only helps to reinforce, what those under whose patronage the groups act, want the people to believe?

Why is it that only outrageuously sparse coverage is provided to the victims and their plight but hours of talk shows are wasted on futile discussions?

And the ever-eager-to-take-suo-moto judges? Are the Shia Hazaras Children of a Lesser God in the eyes of a so-called judiciary that is anything but independent, rather just another instrument of the Establishment for furthering their goals and ambitions?

Afterall, what can be expected of judiciary that releases butchers like Malik Ishaq on grounds of ‘lack of evidence’

The Government too, brazenly watches over the the whole community being pulled down into pools of blood of their own while the Punjab Government gives the very butcher, a montly stipend and their Law Minister proudly courts extremists to garner votes for elections.

Hundreds from amongst the ordinary came marching on the streets and roads against Raymond Davis gunning down two Pakistani citizens and for a dubious ‘Daughter of the Motherland’ but as corpses over corpses pile of the Hazaras, none speak up nor the ‘activists’ hold their famed vigils.

Is the nation only moved and it’s compassion and anger only evoked when America is the proposed guilty party?

It must be made public knowledge to the citizens of Pakistan that these incidents of carnage aimed at the Shia Hazaras are not sporadic as they seem but part of an entire crusade (Note: The Shia Tooris of Parachinar, often slaughtered by the Haqqani Network members and other ‘Assets’ given refuge there) waged by sectarian militant outfits that are best-described as the subsidiaries of major terrorist organizations (in whose name and due to whom, the entire country has been struck by sheer devastation) and are under the auspices of the Establishment.

Which other nation should hold the importance of the lives, security, liberty and interests of the minorities highly than that of a country whose history bears witness that the threats to the interests and protection of the Muslim minority of Pre-Partition India was a central factor in fostering the struggle for its creation?

And today when the generations of that minority are a majority of the country – other minorities: the Shias, Christians, Hindus and Ahmedis are fraught with peril.

It is about time, that the proponents of Jinnah’s vision in this country, if any, come forward against the Establishment on all fronts and also fight for the rights of those whose only crime is being guilty of being a minority.

– Hafsa Khawaja

*Ironically, much of the non-controversial content in this post that concentrated on the lack of attention that the Shia Hazara murders deserved, was sent as three separate letters to the ‘News Post’ of ‘The News’ which they decided not to publish. So much for a free media.

I Am A Traitor. I Am A RAW Agent. I am A Kafir. I Am A Pakistani With An Awakened Conscience.


Winston Churchill once said,

‘’You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.’’

A slightly simplified or altered version of this quote goes:

“A person who has no enemies never stood up for anything or anyone.”

It may be universally true but for Pakistan, I ‘reshape’ the quote to; If you’ve never been called a Kafir, traitor, RAW or MOSSAD Agent, it means you’ve never stood up for anything.

And today I’ll confess what makes me liable to be labelled any of the aforementioned terms on the virtual world.

I am a traitor for I chose to speak.

I am part of the ‘Fifth column of the enemy’ for I question the military establishment, its adventurism, ploys and doctrines that have become our strategic death. I am a RAW Agent for it agonizes me to see the oppression being carried out in Balochistan by no one else but this country’s own security apparatus and agencies and so I clamor against it.

I am a liberal fascist for I refuse to bear the hypocrisy that compels me to vociferate against brutal killings of innocents in Iraq, of Palestinians and other places; but  remain in deliberate oblivion and silence about the persecution and killings of Shias, Hindus, Ahmedis and Christians in Pakistan.

I am a traitor for I  question the silence on murders of the Baloch, Hazara, Tooris & other oppressed groups.
I am a traitor for I challenge questionable customs, traditions, myths and practices that have made this society and many lives rot away for too long.

I am a Kafir for I dare to reclaim my religion from the Mullahs. I am a disbeliever for I admire Abdus Salam and Sir Zafarullah Khan and have the audacity to express my rightful desire for them to be honored by all. I am worthy of being consigned to hell because I do not judge and determine who is a Muslim, to what extent and who isn’t. I am a disbeliever and a damned-to-hell liberal because somewhere in my confabulations there may be secularist undertones.
I am on a payroll for I do not ascribe every happening in my country to external forces or hidden hands and yet vociferate against the greatest of dangers and threats this country faces from within.

I am a traitor for I gladly rip away the locks imposed on my lips by orchestrated  ‘patriotism’ that shuns the voice of  my thoughts from translating into words of concern for what happens in this country of mine.

I am a RAW Agent trying to constantly ruin the country’s image for I draw attention to the misery of minorities in Pakistan in hope of the people realizing the importance of the well-being and freedoms of those to whom the white of our flag is dedicated.

I am a traitor for I chose to speak up. I am a traitor for I am a Pakistani with an awakened conscience.

‘Lack of success does not justify the crime of silence in the face of criminal, arbitrary power.’ ~ Eqbal Ahmad

~ Hafsa Khawaja

Nawaz Sharif : No Pious Priest Himself


With the unfurling of a series of events since the Judiciary Movement, Nawaz Sharif has surfaced as the ‘Saviour’ of the nation and a torch-bearer of a free judiciary. No doubt, that his popularity was on great rise especially after 16th March 2009 and he has once again come out to lambast the Government, but Mr. Sharif is no righteous priest himself.
Like most politicians and ‘leaders’ of Pakistan, he has no clean slate.

In his tenure as the Prime Minister of Pakistan, he is believed to have received kick-backs for contacts handed out for the Lahore-Islamabad Motorway and the Yellow-Cab Scheme. Also his family business, Ittehad Group also took hefty loans from banks that were never returned. Ittehad had taken huge loans from Bankers Wquity Limited and after the dismissal of the NS Government, he made the group’s chairman, Saeed Sadiq, the secretary of the PML-N Secretariat.

It is also reported that Sharif freezed all his foreign currency accounts after the nuclear tests of 1998. He was accused AND convicted of refusing to pay taxes on a helicopter he had purchased. Nawaz and his brother Shahbaz Sharif were also accused of using Hudaibya Paper Mills to launder money they had made illegally and using it to get a loan from the British-based Investment Funds Limited which they didn’t repay until the Company filed a law-suit in a British Court. In March 1999, when NS was the PM, the brothers were ordered to repay $450 million and when they still didn’t pay, the court ordered that the Sharifs’ four apartments in Park Lane be seized. Sharif claimed that nearly half a billion dollars were paid by an Arab ‘friend’. This very case is currently with NAB and Ishaq Dar, a former finance minister and a top aide of Sharif had testified before NAB in 2000, confirming the charges. The PML-N however says that Dar made the confession under pressure.

One of the most important cases that are against the Sharifs’ today is their non-repayment of huge loans that had once taken. After all, if he askes Zardari to bring back the nation’s money from the Swiss Banks then this money also belongs to the nation and is tantamount to the money in foreign accounts.

Mian Nawaz Sharif today voices his concern for harm to the ‘system’ and democracy and portrays himself to be a man who laid the foundations for a free judiciary, seeming to forget what he did to Ex CJ of Pakistan’s Supreme Court Syed Sajjad Shah and the attack he orchestrated on the SC Buliding in his tenure by PML-N jiyalas.

As Wikipedia contains and I quote :

“The first confrontation by Nawaz Sharif was the establishment of special Courts, which were established in contravention of the Chief Justices judicious advice. These special courts, which were established to benefit the Prime Minister’s allies and supporters, eventually proved to be a humiliating blot on the face of justice in Pakistan. Later on when the Chief Justice wanted to fill the five vacant positions of judges to be able to carry out the business of dispensing justice in a speedy manner, the Prime Minister not only refused to grant the request but went ahead and abolished those vacancies altogether. He had to restore the positions under pressure but refused to fill them up.”

About the attack on the SC :
“Pakistan grappled with its worst-ever constitutional crisis when an unruly mob stormed into the supreme court, forcing Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah to adjourn the contempt of court case against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Hundreds of PML-N supporters and members of its youth wing, the Muslim Students Front (MSF), breached the police cordon around the courthouse when defence lawyer S.M. Zafar was arguing his case. A journalist rushed into the courtroom and warned the bench of an impending attack. Whereupon, the chief justice got up abruptly, thanked Zafar and adjourned the hearing. While judicial members left the courtroom soon after, the mob entered it shouting slogans, and damaged furniture.The unruly mob, led by ruling party member from Punjab Sardar Naseem and Colonel (retired) Mushtaq Tahir Kheli, Sharif’s political secretary, chanted slogans against the chief justice.”

Where was the concern for the system then?

Nawaz Sharif had roared against bringing Musharraf back and facing the courts but one visit to the Saudi Palace had ‘tamed’ the so-called Punjabi lion. Not only did he excuse himself from running for a seat in the Parliament by saying that he wants to give a member of his party a ‘chance’ in his place, which is in accordance with the reported contract he signed with the Saudis which restricts him from running in the elections for 10 years (it ends this year) but his party is no where near the definition of an opposition in the National Assembly, acting as a ‘friendly opposition’ (an oxymoron itself) which many political analysts see as a way to secure their place as the next government. Neither has he spoken about inflation and shortage of gas and sugar with such passion as he speaks about the 17th Amendment and the removal on the ban on third time Priemership.

My intentions behind writing this are not to malign a leader or be part of a smear-campaign but to remind all that Mr.Sharif, no matter how much he might be seen as a saviour and ‘true’ leader of Pakistan, he is once again, from the same seed and breed of politicians.

– Hafsa Khawaja