Silencing LUMS, Resilencing Balochistan


*Originally posted on the Dawn Blog. Unedited version below:

“Learn about the history, complications, human rights abuses, and the struggle for justice that has been going on in Balochistan.”

Such was the description of an event that was to be held at the Lahore University of Management Sciences today.

Highly-anticipated, Unsilencing Balochistan was scheduled to have a panel including Mama Qadeer (Chairman, Voice for Missing Baloch Persons), Farzana Majeed (General Secretary, Voice for Missing Baloch Persons), columnist and activist M. M. Ali Talpur, academic Professor Aasim Sajjad Akhtar, Director HRCP I. A. Rehman and activist Sajjad Changhezi. The session was to be moderated by Chief Editor of the Daily Times, Rashid Rahman.

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However, yesterday students, staff and faculty at LUMS were abruptly emailed a brief, one-liner by Ali Khan, Chair of the Humanities and Social Sciences Department:

“The scheduled talk has been cancelled.”

While the reasons were clear to the wise, it was still difficult to imagine the stomp of boots within a private academic institution’s premises resonating among its decisions and activities.

Yet a ‘direct order’ by a certain ‘institution of the state’ was conveyed to Ali Khan demanding that the talk on Balochistan be cancelled immediately.

To the utmost furore of the students, Unsilencing Balochistan had become re-silenced even before it could be heard.

It says much about that state of affairs in a country when a discussion in a private university located in modern, urban provincial capital poses a threat to the state; when a few whispers from thousands of strangled voices of suffering and struggle raised to shatter the deathly silence shake the towering walls, overshadowing the state and society, of the corridors of power in the country.

Whispers put to immediate hush shriek of a culture of coercion and injustice, of power and subjugation.

The forced cancellation of the talk at LUMS is but merely a slight brush of the all-pervasive hold that has Balochistan gripped for decades; littered its streets and roads with mutilated bodies, left it with craters for graves and vanished many into thin air.

More importantly, the event’s cancellation is a blatant pursuit of the monopolization of discourse and narratives in Pakistan by the all-mighty and powerful. A pursuit, that is not new, which has previously and continues to subordinate education to certain agendas by the perversion of textbooks in Pakistan through distortions, lies, fabrications and obfuscations.

In the case of the Baloch and Balochistan, the monopolization is so complete, and its absorption so widespread, that challenging or contradicting it has now become a ‘threat’ and abhorrent to ‘the state’. It is a narrative of the sardars, the BLA and the naïve Baloch – manipulated by all to resent and dissent against the utopia that is Pakistan which has been ceaselessly kind and generous to the people of the province.

This narrative does all but exclude the greatest violator of Baloch rights – the Pakistani state and its institutions.

Umair Javed, who also teaches at LUMS, was quick to point out that none of the speakers who were to speak at the event were linked to either of the actors upon which the dominant narrative regarding Balochistan is centered; and that the state’s side of the story on the issue has been fed to us for over 60 years.

People on Twitter were prompt in stating that talks and discussions at LUMS don’t and cannot bring change; they are insignificant. Fair enough. However, then what was so significant and alarming about a discussion within the university that called for its cancellation? It was the persisting monopoly of narrative that the talk at LUMS seemed set to challenge – a narrative that is a product of the carefully-constructed dominant discourse which brands any dissent or dispute to be anti-Pakistan, anti-state ‘propaganda’; a narrative that conflates certain institutions with the country itself, to criticise whom is to malign Pakistan; a narrative that strangles the people for it seeks to strangle their voice. This fight of narratives and discourses is not trivial but a crucial battle in the struggle for a genuine democracy in Pakistan.

And the cancellation is yet another alarming reminder of the necessity to reclaim the discourse in Pakistan, to wrench it away from the hands of the powerful to the people.

Balochistan is bleeding.

And silence in its bruised and bloodied face is very much an accomplice.

And it must be remembered that only the aggressor would stifle and silence the cries and wails of its victims; for it exposes him. And the forced cancellation of the talk sputters the same.

As the cancellation is an assault on freedom of expression, freedom of speech, academic freedom and thoughts; it is an indicator of the palpable limits to the widely-hailed freedom of expression in Pakistan which is only allowed to run rampant upon political actors and groups. It stems from the stream of logic that accepts that a democratically-elected prime minister can be sent to the gallows, another can be humiliated and sent into exile but a military dictator cannot be tried. No, never.

Thus, the ‪#‎ShameOnLUMS‬ trend which absurdly holds the university at fault for planning such an ‘anti-Pakistan’ event and justifies the subsequent cancellation. The social media trend is but sharply reflective of the pervasive absorption of the dominant narrative regarding Balochistan, which includes conflation of an institution of the state with the state itself, and the consequent acceptance of limitations to academic freedom and discussion in Pakistan – a stark legacy of decades of dictatorships and authoritarianism that is pulsating strong even during an ostensibly democratic period; indicative of where true power lies even today

In a time such as this, the invaluable and timeless words of the great Eqbal Ahmad draw us back to them.

While famously speaking against the brutal army action in East Pakistan in 1971, and how uncanny to find striking relevance, sewn deep in his words for East Pakistan, to Balochistan, he wrote:

“I do not know if my position would at all contribute to a humane settlement. Given the fact that our government is neither accountable to the public nor sensitive to the opinion of mankind, our protest may have no effect until this regime has exhausted all its assets and taken the country down the road to moral, political, and economic bankruptcy.

 However, lack of success does not justify the crime of silence in the face of criminal, arbitrary power.”

And as the crime of silence reigns today; and if voices are a threat, then speak, nay, scream we shall.

@

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

Pakistan’s Image Insecurity and The ‘Aal Iz Well’ Syndrome


As written before:

‘Since the onset of Pakistan’s engagement in the War on Terror, the country nosedived in its entirety; politically, socially and economically. Not only was this unfortunate plunge a harbinger of possibly, the worst of times for it but heralded the introduction of a gamut of negative stereotypes in relation to Pakistan and its citizens.

Largely owing to the almost-routinely involvement of Pakistan or any individual with even a faint connection to it in incidents or reports of terrorism, the spread of these stereotypes fixed its image as ‘The most dangerous place on Earth’’

This particular instance had consequential effects on both sides; of the Pakistanis and the rest of the world.

Concerning the latter, [ for most of them ] Pakistan’s picture became what was a hodge-podge of stereotypes and words such ranging from terrorism, terrorists to poverty, illiteracy and bloodshed.

For the Pakistanis, grivieances were nurtured of being portrayed in the single shade of negativity in international media, an obejction or grouse justifed at times, while many ventured and are venturing to show the ‘real’ image [ As said in the Pakistani lingo ] and positive angle of their country.

With each passing day, as the worsening of Pakistan’s state ensured its quick descent into chaos with degeneration in every quarter of the country – certain approaches developed amongst the people – one of them associated with ‘insecurity of image’, after being swung onto a somewhat defensive edge by the quick spin of events involving the country.

This evolved into an attitude relating to ‘Hear no evil, Speak no evil, See no Evil’ [ Which in some interpretations, ‘is used to refer to those who deal with impropriety by looking the other way, refusing to acknowledge it, or feigning ignorance.’ ]. Many Pakistanis chose to shut their ears, close their eyes and sew their lips to silence when it came to the ills in the society and country. This has eventually lead to a self-concoted national ignorance, that has inevitably given birth to a sociteal conspiracy of silence.


As the numbers who chose to immerse themselves in this practise grew, a culture of shame, conspiracy theories, denialism and dogmatism flourished with it due to which any pinching incidents or facts that proffered chances for clamant introspection were tossed away by the dismissive wave of a hand after much nugatory tub-thumping and dramatic statements on the media by individuals.

With the PTA reporting over 22 million Pakistani internet users, which is about 12% of the total 180 million population, this concept and societal mindset slid onto the virtual world.

Plenty of these Pakistanis have been vociferating their opinion that no news regarding the country should be posted or discussed on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter [ where many have friends from other countries ] that sharpens the features of the poor picture that lots hold globally of Pakistan. This is the extent of the ‘image insecurity’.

One wonders how would the prevention of posting unfavourable Pakistanis news [ Say, cases of the treatment of minorities here, rape victims etc ] on these sites from reaching a handful of foreign people help in this digital age and era of electronic media where even a minor happenings are broadcasted or published through hundreds of channels and sites to millions all around the world within split seconds of their occurance.

Also, as of yet Pakistan has, in fact – no image at all. And it is food for thought, that if social networking sites could be tools for revolution, can’t they be instruments to stir a societal change? It is defined, that societies are the footing for nations that inhabit countries. Any change within the society will affect the nation which will inevitably reform/rebuild Pakistan’s perception positively that will come in its ripple effect.

But for that, the bizarre approach needs to abandoned. Pakistanis must shed the guise of ignorance and keeping mum while being cognizant about plagues and cultural malaises.

The people must be made aware of the innumberable and untold stories and issues stinging the core of Pakistan’s culture, society, politics and nation. They must be awakened from this sleep of dormancy that has been prolonged for too long a time, 64 years.

Debate should be initiated about them at all forums [ The internet, the streets, national media or at homes ] after this.
One of the reasons for the palpable and glaringly low tolerance in Pakistan is the absence of debate and arguments among people, which has helped to foster and instill a proclivity in each person for sheer insularity and unwillingness to hear opposing views – that if heard, are answered by profiling [ labelling someone as a RAW/MOSSAD/CIA Agent or a ‘liberal facist’ ] , judgements and fatwas rather than refuted by facts.

The stimulation of discussions will so, instill gradually a sense of open-mindedness along with stirring people to comprehend the situations, think, measure their words and then freely express their opinions.

Debates might also commence into finding solutions for the problems they are based on and individual efforts may be encouraged to apply those. Joint efforts may also be made. And the more the pandemonium and clamor of the people is, the more it is bound to reach the corridors of power and ensure decisive action.

There is an idiom in Urdu; Kabotar ka billi ko dekh kar ankhein band kar lena.
‘The shutting of eyes by the pigeon as he spots the cat’.

Some expound it as one’s turning away after seeing a difficulty. This might just be what the aforementioned Pakistanis are doing.

By averting one’s gaze from a problem [ Not accepting the existence of or talking about it ], it does not dissolve it. It needs to be faced. Pakistanis need to yield the need to identify conundrums, national dilemmas and social contaminations for only when they are recognized as problems, does one seek a remedy to be extricated from them.

The lean line separating resilience from indifference also needs to be accentuated and compreheneded. Pakistanis have begun to dwell more into the realm of the latter than the former. To be struck by bomb attacks, blasts and natural calamities and again get back and continue life with the same vigour is resilience but to see myriad cases of rape, discrimination against minorities, a selective genocide against the Baloch and yet remain silent – is shameful apathy.

Being lulled into a state of false security and satisfaction by not raising your voice against wrongdoings, thus they are not brought into the light of scrutiny and attention as they derserve to be, will only stoke the fire of such perversions and injustices for those committing it would certainly be basking in the knowledge of the nation’s propensity to remain indifferent towards them.

And as Sana Saleem wrote in one of her ever-brilliant articles;

‘The mindset that believes that acknowledging our issues is threatening to our ‘image’. What good is an image, other than deceiving ourselves, is another question altogether.’

Pakistanis have acquiesced with whatever has swept the country for too long and it has cost them too much.

Or as Ayaz Amir penned in his thought-provoking and must-read ‘Woes of an Ostrich Republic’;

‘Islam is not the state religion of Pakistan, denial is. And our national emblem should be the ostrich, given our proclivity to bury our heads in the sand and not see the landscape around us as it is.’

It will be nugatory to tart up Pakistan’s image for the world and act for them and for ourselves [ in betrayal of reality and as an ode to denialism ] as if everything is ‘Aal Iz Well’ while succumbing to the death-knell of destruction in the country due to national apathetic torpor that binds us in bondage of inertia relating to the situations in the country.

~ Hafsa Khawaja

The Problem Isn’t With Pakistan’s Name Mr.Hitchens!


Dear Mr. Hitchens,

It was only some weeks back that I came to stumble upon an excerpt from an old piece of yours, which was basically an ‘analysis’ of yours [ and that too, quite a typical one considering it was related wholly to Pakistan] on the origin and meaning of the word Pakistan, by which you imply that all the reasons that make it a menace for the world today, have always stood as the cause and aim behind its very creation.

Although, knowing your eager inclination for sparing no opportunity to bash the country, I should’ve ignored the piece but your absolute  insolence of going to the extent of reasoning Pakistan’s existence as some vile plot on the basis of your twisted perceptions, made it perfectly beckoning for me to straighten them out for you and those who read it.

In your words;

‘The very name “Pakistan” inscribes the nature of the problem. It is not a real country or nation but an acronym devised in the 1930s by a Muslim propagandist for partition named Chaudhary Rahmat Ali. It stands for Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir, and Indus-Sind. The stan suffix merely means “land.” In the Urdu language, the resulting acronym means “land of the pure.”

To start with, Pakistan was intended to be, is and will always be the name of a country and a nation.

The British Imperialist Government in India never regarded it as a homogenous nation.

Lord Morley wrote to Lord Minto ‘Not one whit more than you do I think it desirable or possible, or even conceivable, to adapt English political institutions to the nations that inhabit India.’

It may be significant to remind you of the dispatch from the Government of India that described the ‘Brightest Jewel in the British Crown’ as ‘essentially a congeries of widely separated classes, races and communities and divergences of interests and hereditary sediment.’ And this was back in 1892.

Pakistan was never intended to be an ‘acronym’ or an adjective for anything else. Now, it is up to you, whether you choose to accept reality or not as you clearly seem to deny it here.

 

The manner in which you have mentioned Chaudhri Rehmat Ali, as some kind of unlettere or ignorant who blindly instigated a dangerous ‘propaganda’ – is deplorably exasperating.

You have plainly reduced all figures of the Pakistan Movement as mere ‘propogandists’ but must it be reminded to you that propagandas do not result into separate countries?
Mr. Hitchens, Pakistan was an ideology, not a propaganda.

An ideology that was never inevitable but was made inevitable by a series of events.

Yes, Pakistan’s creation was largely based on religious demographics that played a great role in the history of the subcontinent. And that, I might as well like to think of as the cause behind your evident penchant for penning down your antagonism and bias towards it, wherever and whenever possible – taking into account that those religious demographics were directly tied to Islam which you opine : ‘The real axis of evil is Christianity, Judaism, and Islam”.

Moving on, you write ‘It can be easily seen that this very name expresses expansionist tendencies and also conceals discriminatory ones. Kashmir, for example, is part of India.
The Afghans are Muslim but not part of Pakistan.
Most of Punjab is also in India. Interestingly, too, there is no B in this cobbled-together name, despite the fact that the country originally included the eastern part of Bengal (now Bangladesh, after fighting a war of independence against genocidal Pakistani repression) and still includes Baluchistan, a restive and neglected province that has been fighting a low-level secessionist struggle for decades.
The P comes first only because Pakistan is essentially the property of the Punjabi military caste. As I once wrote, the country’s name “might as easily be rendered as ‘Akpistan’ or ‘Kapistan,’ depending on whether the battle to take over Afghanistan or Kashmir is to the fore
.

You Sir, need to enroll in a school as soon as possible and one that teaches the history of this country for your understanding of it is even poorer than that of a 10-year old Pakistani child.

To state that Kashmir is part of India is a shameful travesty of history, facts and an insult to the thousands of martyrs of this Asian Palestine so I reiterate, that you seriously contemplate over my suggestion above.

The word ‘Afghania’ was used for Pakistan’s province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa [Previously known as North West Frontier Province ] and not Afghanistan as you seem to have fatuously believed so.

Startling, you are quite correct on the two counts of Bangladesh and Balochistan.

Indeed, it is an undeniable truth that the birth of Bangladesh was made inevitable by the behavior and actions of the governments of those time and an accumulation of political, cultural, social and economic reasons along with the military operation that was unsuccessfully carried out there when it was East Pakistan. And about Balochistan, the very campaign of atrocities that was executed in East Pakistan in ’71 by the Army is being repeated there.

As I deem that you may have not studied this quote of Chaudhri Rehmat Ali, I post it here:

“Pakistan’ is both a Persian and an Urdu word. It is composed of letters taken from the names of all our South Asian homelands; that is, Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir, Sindh and Balochistan. It means the land of the Pure. It symbolizes the religious beliefs and the ethnical stocks of our people; and it stands for all the territorial constituents of our original Fatherland. It has no other origin and no other meaning; and it does not admit of any other interpretation.”

Oh and just for your imperative enlightenment, the ‘TAN’ in Pakistan is taken from Balochis-TAN.

 

Pardon me Mr. Hitchens for all the neck-craning you must be doing from reading this letter, but now that I have written this far, I might just seize the opportunity and address you on your latest piece on Pakistan.

Although I should have known better of what your article must be comprising, bearing in mind it began with the praise of Salman Rushdie’s judgments and opinions on Pakistan yet I felt compelled to read it after all the ‘praise’ you had elicited from many Pakistanis for it.

For your comfort and my sanity, I will be skipping on refuting much of your inane comments in it.

One of the lines in ‘From Abbottabad to Worse’, that had me much in shock was :

‘Everybody knew that the Taliban was originally an instrument for Pakistani colonization of Afghanistan’

I wonder who this ‘everybody’ is. For all one remembers, wasn’t it Reagan who said “These gentlemen are the moral equivalents of America’s founding fathers.” after his meeting with the Taliban that took part in the Soviet War in Afghanistan.

Maybe, this ‘everybody’ should accept that these Taliban were the illegitimate child, a Frankenstein created by the West and thrusted to the Pakistani Hitler of that time, Zia-ul-Haq, for nurturing and breeding more to combat the Russians in the War.

It was at that point in history, that Pakistan was prepared as the hot-bed of terrorism and the USA’s part in it can certainly not be overlooked.

 

Surely, the USA is a prisoner of shame. The ‘betrayal’ that you speak of, by the puissant in Pakistan is more painful for the people of that land than any other nation and it is none other than America itself who is also responsible for this. By its incessant and brazen support and assistance to the military dictatorships in the country, which have spanned almost four decades in its 64-year old history and uprooted the plinth layed by Jinnah for the state through myriad actions intended to solely to consolidate their power and strengthen the military along with sowing all the seeds that have reaped today, from Ayub to Musharraf – the military establishment’s dead hand became unimaginably great in the affairs of the state, controlling the rudder of the ship even as civilian captains came and went.

This was, what gave them the audacity to play double games and ‘decieve’ its own allies. This was, what gave them the liberty to execute an idea as dirty as the ‘Strategic Depth’ doctrine.

Yet through all this ‘betrayal’, the games and the and reactions to it by the US, it was only the Pakistani masses who suffered from it. Either in the form of drone attacks, Raymond Daviss’ or global censuring.

Oh and Mr.Hitchens, I marvel at your ignorance! This land has much, much to be proud of.

 

At the end of this letter I lend you some honest advise that you leave the task of analysing the world’s problems, whining over them and instead listen over and over again to Pakistan’s Coke Studio, throw up the vitriol inside of you that you fill your pen with before writing to be finally relieved of the pain of knowing a wretched country like ours exists and troubles and distresses you so much – because the problem isn’t with Pakistan’s name, its with your hate-sricken mind, Mr. Hitchens.

 ~ With love from Pakistan.

How YOU Can Help The Flood-Hit Pakistanis! [ Living In Other Countries or In Pakistan ]


Pakistan has been hit by the most devastating ever floods leaving thousands killed, millions displaced with 650,000 homes being washed away, countless missing and most living under open skies with no access to even the basic necessities.

“And the worst floods to hit the region in 80 years could get worse, as it is only midway through monsoon season.”

It is said to be the biggest catastrophe in our country’s history.

 

There are many ways to donate for these victims by those living abroad and in Pakistan, following are some organisations who are earnestly working to deliver aid and relief supplies BY HAND to the affectees:

Organisations In Pakistan:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

 Pakistan Youth Alliance:

PYA is already known for its phenomenal work globally and has is immensely popular amongst the people for its credibility [FM91, Geo Tv, Express TV, PCB, Stylo Shoes, AMSA-Pak & many more have donated them trucks of relief goods]. They have teamed up with the affected people who are now rescuing others and providing them relief supplies, they have already been to Nowshera for this purpose along with Rajanpur, Multan and other areas.

Donations can be sent through ;

Bank Account # 871-0
Branch Code : 0281
Swift Code : BP UN PK KA XXX
Bank of Punjab,Troops Welfare Center, GT Road, Nowshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.             

Or :

PYA Chairperson Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi can be messaged to know the separate ways to donate for the flood-victims through PYA based on where one resides.

Also ;               

Updates of their work for flood-relief and other ways to donate to them, for those in other parts of the world are available on their Facebook page.                                                                                                                                              

 

                         

Talat Hussein and Kashif Abbasi’s Journalists’ Fund :

Redoubtable journalists and prominent Tv anchors Kashif Abbassi of ARY and Talat Hussein of AAJ Tv have set up their own fund for the flood-victims.

For donations :

Title of Account: Syed Talat Hussain/ Kashif Abbasi
Account No: 0516616341000689
Bank: Muslim Commercial Bank
Branch: Stock Exchange Branch, Blue Area, Islamabad
Branch Code: 1390
Swift Code: MUCBPKKAA

For further information:
Tel: +92-51-111010010
SMS: +92-347-5023842, +92-301–5473521

Site : http://www.aaj.tv/donations/

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

 

Customs Health Care Society:

As of September, the main problem is to provide shelter to the homeless people. C.H.C.S has taken the lead (and started the first ever 200 single room (14 X 16 Feet) with a rest-roomproject in Noshehra). One house costs only Rs. 1 Lac = 1150 US$.

Donate atleast one home to the shelterless families.

 

For donating :

Account Number : 5448-9 

Bank Code : NBPAPKKa.02L – 1887

National Bank of Pakistan,

Moon Market,

Allama Iqbal Town Branch,

Lahore. 

All donations to the society are exempt from payment of income tax as notified by FBR vide letter No: I & E/145/1082 dated 21.05.2007.

 

Dr. Asif mahmood Jah, President of the Customs Health Care Society can be reached at :
449-Jahanzeb Block,

Allama Iqbal Town,

Lahore,

Pakistan .

Phone: 092 – 042 – 3784 7008,

               092 – 042 – 3783 1655
Cell:       092 – 0333 – 424 2691

E-mail:    asifjahjah@yahoo.com

                                                                                                                                            

 
A team of students have also started organized and successful flood-relief deliveries to different places. They are in need of several items for the victims, volunteers and funds and can be reached at :
                                                                                                                                                                                              
Saad Bin Shahid : +92-343-5788-966 
Facebook : www.facebook.com/sbs.vor
E-mail :  get.1991@yahoo.com
Usman Bahi : +92 – 332 551 – 337 – 6
                                                                                                                                                                                                   
To transfer funds please note the following bank account details:

Donations through bank ;

TITL AC : Muhammad Usman Khan
Allied bank, Westridge 3, Allahabad road,
Rawalpindi, Pakistan

AC # 01-200-1322-9
Branch code # 0755

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Al-Khidmat Foundation :              

http://al-khidmatfoundation.org/donate-here.php              

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

TCF Relief:

 http://www.thecitizensfoundation.org/floodrelief.html      

                                                                                                                                                                

‘Let Us Build Pakistan’: 

LUBP members will be personally going to the flood-hit provinces to deliver aid.

They need funds, volunteers and donations. Help them to save lives by donating.
They can be reached at :

farhadjarral@criticalppp.com
+923333405175
+923332354290

Donations to LUBP are through Western Union:

Farhad Ahmed Jarral : CNIC: 42501-6964334-9
Gujranwala Branch Western Union.
[A consignment number will be given after you donate the money which should be messaged to Farhad Jarral]

 

 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
They are aiming to collect funds and donations as part of their helping campaign for the flood-victims.
 
They can be contacted at:
                                                                                                                                                                                           
Address: 104-C,
                   4th Floor,
                   Main Khayaban-e-Ittehad,
                   Phase II ext,
                   DHA, 
                   Karachi,
                   Pakistan.

                                                                                                                                                                                   

 
Edhi Foundation:

 
They can be easily contacted for donations by those living in Pakistan and those in other countries through  http://www.edhifoundation.com/contact.asp

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

For UAE :

 

Pakistan Association Dubai:

Contact : Anas: 04-3373632, 3377678;

Inayat Rahman: 050-6317131;

Ayub Afridi: 050-4545106;

Khayal Zaman Aurakzai: 050-6287655;

Ghazi Marjan Aurakzai: 050-6469910;

___________________________________________________________________________________________

The list below contains the DIRECT DONATION LINKS for the flood victims of these international organisations:         

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

UNHCR:

http://www.unrefugees.org.au/emergencies/pakistan/

                          

Oxfam [ All Countries ] :

https://secure.oxfamamerica.org/site/Donation2?df_id=4660&4660.donation=form1&JServSessionIdr004=1c376kssr2.app227a

                                                        

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Oxfam [ Only for USA, Europe and U.S.A ] :

https://www.oxfam.org.uk/donate/pakistan-floods/index.php

                                                                                                                                                                                              

Oxfam [ Australia ] :

https://www.oxfam.org.au/donate/current-appeals/pakistan-floods-appeal

                                                                                                                                                                                            

Oxfam [ Germany ] :

https://www.oxfam.de/spenden/form/1

 

Save The Children [ New Zealand ] :

 
https://secure.savethechildren.org/01/web_e_pakistan_flood_10?source=hp_fb_pak10 

 

Global Giving :

http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/redr-pakistan/
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

 

 Relief International :

 
https://ri.org/APF/donate.php

         

Islamic Relief U.S.A :

 
https://www.islamicreliefusa.org/SSLPage.aspx?pid=203

                                                                                                                                                                                    International Rescue Committee [ For U.S.A ] :

 
https://www.theirc.org/donate/help-rescue-lives-pakistan

                                                                                                                                                                                          

Canadian Red Cross :

 
https://secure.e2rm.com/registrant/donate.aspx?EventID=57138&LangPref=en-CA

                                                                                                                                                                                      

Islamic Help [ U.K ] :

 
You can make a cheque/postal order made payable to ‘Islamic Help’ and send it to:
Islamic Help 19 Ombersley Road Balsall Heath Birmingham B12 8UR
Please do not send cash in the post and please do not forget to write your name and address on a piece of paper.

Bank: You can put money directly in their bank account
Name: Islamic Help
Bank: HSBC

Account No: 41687425

Sort Code: 40-42-12

If you are in a country other than the UK, you can go into any bank in the world and quote the following International Bank Account:

 
Number (IBAN) and Branch Identifier Code (BIC)
IBAN: GB 72 MIDL 404212 41687425
BIC: MIDL GB 2155 G


                                                                                                                                                                                              

 Muslim Hands :

http://www.muslimhands.org/en/gb/appeals/pakistan_flood_crisis/

Muslim Aid [ England ] :

 
Send a cheque or postal order made payable to ‘Muslim Aid’, together with a note of your name and address to:

Muslim Aid, P O Box 3, London, E1 1WP
Donate directly to their bank account:
Name of the Muslim Aid Bank: LLOYDS TSB
Address of the Muslim Aid Bank:
LLOYDSTSB BANK PLC
HIGHBURY CORNER
31 HOLLOWAY CORNER
LONDON N7 8JU
SWIFT/BIC/CODE (OUTSIDE UK): LOYDGB 21180

To donate in pound Sterling £:

Name of the account: MUSLIM AID-DONATION AC
Sort code: 30-94-21
Account number: 01436818
Iban (outside UK): GB25 LOYD 3094 2101 436818

To donate in Euros:
 
Name of the account: MUSLIM AID- EURO AC
Sort code: 30-94-21
Account number: 86151365
Iban (outside UK): GB42 LOYD 3094 2186 151365

To donate in Dollars $:

Name of the account: MUSLIM AID-DOLLAR AC
Sort code: 30-94-21
Account number: 12044226
Iban (outside UK): GB75 LOYD 3094 2112 044226

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

For Other Countries :

This post at Chowrangi provides a great deal of information of organisations that can be donated to for the flood-victims for many countries.

 

Donation Camps in Pakistan :

 
1. Pehla Qadam, has setup a camp in cooperation with rotaract club of Karsaz at the Royal Rodale club on Main Khayaban-e-Sehar DHA Phase VI Karachi.

The camp is located right next to the reception of Royal Rodale.

2. Pakistan Peoples Party, Insaf Student Federation and Tehrik e Minhaj ul Quran have setup their camps at Regal Chowk, Lahore.

 Things identified by the National Disaster Management Authrority that are direly needed to be donated:

 

As Kashif Aziz writes :

“Besides sending cash through below mentioned charity organizations, you can support by providing following commodities. Please do not donate old/expired stuff. Make sure edible items are hygienic and properly packed.

•  Clothing: Clothes of various sizes, Beddings, Shoes
•  Utensils: Jerricans (large plastic cans that hold 20 liters of water or other liquids), Crockry
•  Toiletries: Tissues, Soaps, Dettol (antibacterial cleaners), Towels
•  Food: Rice, Sugar, Flour (Atta), Onions, Potatoes, Cooking oil, Tea, Milk (tetra packs or powder
•  Safe drinking water, Cooked Food.  
                                                                                                                                                                                     

Medicines:

 
1. Water purification tablets.
2. Life saving drugs.
3. Vaccines for malaria, cholera, typhoid, influenza.
4. Pain killers including strong ones like morphine derivatives, tremadol, pethadine, kinz .
5. Antibiotics e.g. Tetnus, Amoxil, Gentamycin.
6. IV Cannulas
7. IV Drip sets
8. IV drips: Normal Saline, Ringerlactate.
9. Local anesthetics (injections)
10. Cotton bandages, cotton.
11. Surgical instruments: e.g. needle holders, forceps, and tweezers.
12. Surgical Materials : Skin staples.”
 

                                                                                                                                                                                               

Food Items That Can Be Given At Camps:

• Rice
• Wheat
• Lentils
• Biscuits
                                                                                                                                                                                               

 

Liquids:

• Mineral Water,
•  Milk Carton (With one month expiry left)
• Juice Cartons (With one month expiry left)

 

First Aid:

• Band Aids
• Dettol
• Pain Killers (Panadol, Ponston)
• Nimcol
• Thermometers
•  Cotton
•  Vicks
                                                                                                                                                                                               

 

Other Items:

• Sleeping Bags
• Foldable Matresses
• Blankets
• Pillows
• Sweaters
• Shawls
• Coats
• Sanitary Napkins for Women
• Pampers for Infants
                                                                                                                                                                                                         

To Donate Goods :

PIA is making deliveries of goods to Pakistan from almost all over the world. To donate any of the above, they can be contacted at :

http://www.piac.com.pk/Flood_Relief/ERP.htm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Text To Help :

 
If not anything, people in Pakistan can donate Rs.10 to the victims by texting ‘D’ to 2471 as part of Express Media’s initiative.

Text “PUKAAR” to 4361 to donate to Imran Khan’s  flood relief efforts. 

People in USA can text ‘SWAT’ to 50555 to donate $10 .

Canadian wireless subscribers:  Text “REDCROSS” to 30333 to donate $10 to the Canadian Red Cross.

___________________________________________________________________________

Please remember, The death toll is rising by the day, these people need YOUR donations and help! Today it is them, tomorrow it can be us.
And those abroad, a little of your money means big here, please donate!

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT THIS!

 

 

 

 
These Pakistanis await your aid !

Regards,
Hafsa Khawaja.

Uncoverings Of The Flood : Balochistan Govt’s Inaction : Are We Nurturing The Deprivation In Balochis?


As posted on LUBP :

“Balochistan has a history of bearing the brunt of feudalism, the chameleionic political scenario and  the extreme natural calamities of flooding and drought, both which blow the remaing normalcy of life there into smithereens.
Latterly, Southern Pakistan has been hit by a wave of torrential rains that have affected the lives of about 50,000 in parts of the province and yet dismayingly the response of the Provincial Government has been nothing more than apathetic :

Tens of thousands of people have been left marooned, countless killed and numerous missing and others rendered homeless as almost six districts of Eastern Balochistan have been struck by wild onrush rains and most villages, towns and districts have either submerged into the flood water or been completely bashed out by them but the people in these zones are yet to be approached by rescue teams or vacated to safer places.

 

Hundreds of people are either stranded, trapped or living under open skies with no access to relief or even the basic necessities of food that they need for survival. These local people have contested the claims of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) of dispatching relief or food supplies to them, refuting them while waiting for the Federal Government to announce any substantial financial assistance for them, those who lost their lives or those who lost their entire belongings, food stock, household goods and valuables in flash floods.

Most of the province has been cut-off from the rest of the country as a result of the explicit damage and destruction of its communication system and the vehicular transport system which links it with the cities around and other human settlements has been suspended or immobilized.

There is also a marked threat of outbreak of epidemics in the flood affected regions as there is a lack of food, clean water and medication leave alone substantial medicine and medical staff which are even unapproachable for easily-treatable cases of snake-bites that have been reported from villages but could not be treated as the rescue teams have not arrived or are short of medical articles such as snake-bite serum.

 

The Wazirabad village of Bakhtiarabad in Lehri Tehsil is the worst-affected area and such is the situation there that dead bodies are decaying for nothing is available for neither the funeral nor the people to bury them.

 
 
Over 57,000 people have been affected in Sibi, Lehri, Barkhan.The floods have damaged 90% of the houses, over 50% livestock and agriculture.
And according to the district agriculture and revenue departments these floods have broken the past records of 1978.

 

“In Tambo Tehsil of Nasirabad, more than 30,000 people have been made homeless while crops have been completely washed-out in the canal-irrigated area.

Around 0.2 million people had been affected by floods in six districts of Balochistan where rescue and relief work had been slow and inadequate. Roads, power transmission lines and railway tracks have been destroyed in the district.

Despite the massive destruction, relief work had not started in Tambo tehsil.”

This cataclysm was and is a testing time for both the Balochistan Government and other governmental organs which constitute the body of the provincial government and it is discernible now that there has been a miscarriage from the provincial government’s side in fulfilling their responsibilities.

The Balochistan Health Directorate has failed to discharge medicines to the flood-hit areas and even the districts where emergency has been declared, which has led to some deaths.

The Provincial Government’s response to this cataclysmic inundation has been slow, impassive and lackadaisical.

July to September, are the defined monsoon months of Pakistan and Balochistan has a history of ruinous floods which occurred numerous times including in 70’s, 80’s and the 90’s. One of the main tasks of the management, administration and government are to plan, co-ordinate, manage and ensure the implementation of their decisions.

When it is a well-known fact that the province is at a constant threat of floods in the Monsoon season, why did not the provincial government pre-plan a strategy before the rains to prevent the huge damage that has been inflicted now?

  

The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) had already been predicting strong rainstorms around Pakistan before the floods and still is issuing statements that show the rains are expected to continue along the border areas of western Pakistan.

Now that the officials of the provincial government are reiterating about their involvement in the efforts to help the people but state that the deluge is hindering their completion, why hadn’t they formulated a programme for the prevention of flood damage before-hand?

 

The transport authorities should have prepared alternative routes for the people and the rescue teams to use in case of the areas which were bound to be affected and the transport system there to be washed away too.

Three years before, another flood had occurred, during the reign of President Musharraf and  the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) had revealed that of the 80,000 homes destroyed in the disaster, nearly 60,000 were in Balochistan alone, where some 15 districts were badly or severely affected and the loss was estimated at Rs.10 bn.

At that time, the Musharraf Government was censured and denounced for its listless reaction to the disaster and yet today, under a democratically-elected government: the people of Balochistan face the same stagnant situations that they had previously faced.

 

The response to flooding in the region hasn’t kept pace with the severity of the humanitarian emergency.

The Provincial Government should have devised a plan before Monsoon in coordination with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and The Pakistan Meteorological Department to asses the nature of the rains, the threats they posed to the province and an aerial survey should have been conducted in search of higher areas in Balochistan where camps could have been established and the people could have been moved there with their belongings.

Now that the rains have swept the province, both the Provincial and Federal Government should work-out a project or course of action for the immediate rehabilitation of the people on an emergency basis with huge relief supplies of medicines, goods, blankets, tents, food and other facilities that the Balochis direly need.

Balochistan may make up 48% of the total land of Pakistan but its clustered population has the most surging feeling of deprivation and alienation whose roots aren’t a puzzle to trace considering the policy response to their pleas and predicaments which is nothing more than lip-service or cold and half-hearted efforts such as of today when the region has been shook by a crisis.

We must realize that that the sense of divestiture, virtual separation, disparity and deprivation that the Balochis have today and which many believe are being exploited by foreign elements, has been nurtured by our very own ignorance and misinterpretations of their dilemmas, needs and aspirations.

 

As Benazir Bhutto herself wrote in ‘Daughter of the East’ about East Pakistan:

“From revenues of more than thirty-one billion rupees from East Pakistan’s exports, the minority in West Pakistan had built roads, schools, universities and hospitals for themselves, but had developed little in the East. The army, the largest employer in our poor country, drew 90% of its forces from West Pakistan. 80% of the government jobs were filled by people from the West. No wonder they felt excluded and exploited.”

Although there are differences in Balochistan and East Pakistan, the last line of her writing fits perfectly into the picture of Balochistan today.

 

About 46% of the gas in our country is obtained from Sui in Balochistan. Majority of Pakistanis talk about developing the resources in Balochistan (Thar, Reko Diq etc) and letting the country benefit from them, but have we wondered or ever thought of developing Balochistan itself and equipping the Balochis educationally, politically and socially?

‘Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan’ is indeed a laudable step by the Government but it needs to be implemented. We need to grant them their basic rights and shun being lax in responding to their calls in times of help.

The population of Balochistan forms only 5% to 7% of Pakistan’s total population and it feasible enough to deliver its people the right to education, shelter and all other basic necessities that they rightfully deserve and the Government needs to prioritize the strive for removing the deep-seated feelings of resentment and making the Balochis realize that they are not children of a lesser God but as much vital for Pakistan’s future and as much part of the flesh and soul of this country as those in Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.”

– Hafsa Khawaja