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Ghuttan

January 6, 2011

I’m really not sure what I want to say right now. Many excellent blog posts and op-eds have been written in the wake of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer’s assassination, and I don’t know what I can add to that. What I mainly feel alternates between anger and an odd feeling of suffocation.

Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, at least for me, was terribly upsetting. At the same time, she herself and her assassination were larger than life. She was killed because some believed her to be part of a great American conspiracy or it was the result of some grand establishment conspiracy. Either way, these are things that I doubt I’m going to be the recipient of in my life.

Salmaan Taseer’s assassination, on the other hand, hits a lot closer to home. He wasn’t said to be a part of some international conspiracy, and from the surface of it there is no establishment involvement in his murder. The Governor was killed because he voiced his opinion. That’s it. Until now I’d taken it as a given. We’re part of a fairly free country, where we at least have the right to say what we want to say. I’m afraid that no longer holds true; and that’s probably where the suffocation comes from.

Hours can be spent dissecting what led to the Governor’s murder. Religious parties exploiting the religious sentiment of people, the media giving outsize coverage to religious parties and organizations, the political abandonment of the Governor, and large sections of the media out and out supporting the stance of the religious parties, have all contributed to the murder.

Not only did these sections disagree with the Governor’s stance on a need for amending the blasphemy laws, they went so far as to lie about what he had said. Misconstrue, misinterpret, mislabel, these are weasel words that do not accurately state what actually happened. These people LIED. They said that the Governor said things he never did, they said he himself had committed blasphemy, and the media allowed for this to be aired all over.

In the aftermath of the assassination, great jubilation has been seen across the country. As though the Governor was on a one man mission to destroy the Islamic fabric of the nation. Much is being said of the illiteracy that pervades our society and allows for people to be radicalized. This is absolute rot. Another great lie. Look at the Facebook warriors that have set up pages in support of the murderer Mumtaz Hussain Qadri. These people are doctors, lawyers, engineers, businessmen, students. A group of 200 lawyers of the Islamabad bar have offered their services free of cost to the assassin and showered him with flowers when he arrived for his arraignment.

All these people would have been considered moderate in the great myth of the ‘silent moderate majority’ that we have perpetuated for so long.

I’m afraid these people still are moderate. When society veers so far rightwards, those that only support murder in the name of religion without committing it themselves surely are moderate.

Since the assassination, the media has been at pains to try and appear ‘objective’ regarding this sordid episode. In doing so, they have trotted out one of the oldest, and most pernicious lies that pervades our society. That there are two extremes in Pakistan, the religious extremist and the liberal extremist. That these two powers at odds with one another are causing such deep polarization that our society may not be able to survive. This, too, is rubbish. How do you define a liberal extremist? A person with placards and candles arguing for the individual liberty? THIS is the liberal extremist? THESE are the people you’re comparing murderers and inciters of violence to? Bullshit.

On top of this fallacious dichotomy being trotted out by the media and politicians, many are going to lengths to somehow prove that the Governor brought his death upon himself.

“These issues are sensitive!”

“They should be discussed behind closed doors!”

“We have been saying this for ages!”

“If you say it out loud, people will get angry!”

This is merely another method through which they wish to stifle any alternative discourse in Pakistan. The only thing that can be discussed in public is that which fits within their narrow ideological agenda. Everything else should be done behind closed doors. Once it’s brought out in the open, then they can bring out their hordes to protest and shut the country down.

These hordes include the Facebook warriors and celebrators that are unknowingly signing their own death warrants. Today, it’s the blasphemy laws that can’t be discussed in the open. As liberals continue to maintain their silence, for fear of death, the notion of what is liberal will continue to change. Tomorrow, not covering your hair in public and arguing over the Islamic injunction behind this will be reason enough to kill. “How dare you incite our religious sentiment?” Sometime later, being seen in public at the time of prayer and not praying will be considered a great liberal viewpoint. Arguing for your personal choice will be hurting their religious sentiment. I hope the Facebook warriors and all other celebrators of the murder are ready to lose their beloved musicians, films, television shows, or whatever else they hold dear. Because they will come for them too.

Too much space has been ceded. Too much PUBLIC space has been ceded. This debate cannot go underground. It must not be behind closed doors. We don’t have guns, and we don’t have bombs, and we don’t even want to kill anyone. We just want to talk it out.

Unfortunately, that’s enough for them to want to kill us.

Well. FUCK. THAT. SHIT.

63 Comments leave one →
  1. January 6, 2011 8:09 am

    Brilliant post. We can’t give up.

  2. January 6, 2011 8:13 am

    Yes KK, someone has to stand up and say, FUCK THAT SHIT. Thanks for writing this post.

    Zindagi Jaan-e-jahaan baar-e-garaan honay lagi
    Ab tau khwaabon ke safar mein bhi thakan honay lagi!

  3. January 6, 2011 8:14 am

    great post…. till last man standing .

  4. Fizza permalink
    January 6, 2011 8:17 am

    Love the last para!

  5. January 6, 2011 8:25 am

    Of course as long as there are some moderates or liberals in Pakistan they should continue trying to raise their voices in such a manner that they aren’t killed for it, but how can a presumably intelligent person think that a majoritarian state which enshrines religion in its constitution (and has done it since nearly day one) can ever have any space for alternative discourse. It is the idea at the very beginning that is problematic, no amount of disconnected platforms like English blogs and Twitter will change anything.

  6. January 6, 2011 8:29 am

    Classic.

    This deserves wall space in a museum where future Pakistanis will visit and say, “If only our forefathers listened to this dude…”

  7. Shahid permalink
    January 6, 2011 9:02 am

    Surreal post.

  8. January 6, 2011 9:23 am

    Kudos on you KK that you can still write…Im in a Ghalib state of mind.
    Dard-e- dil likhoo kab tak jaoon un ko dikhlaoo Ungliyan figar apnee khama-khoon-chuka apna
    these assholes could give anyone carpal tunnel syndrome writing about the misery they have visited upon us over the years

  9. Zeeshan H permalink
    January 6, 2011 10:00 am

    @Zeeshan – the Pakistan we’re heading towards won’t have any museums…

  10. January 6, 2011 10:05 am

    Nice one no Doubt :)

  11. January 6, 2011 10:36 am

    Excellent Post! Very-well said! Fuck that fucking shit it is!!

  12. wusat permalink
    January 6, 2011 11:35 am

    After reading it I feel a bit less suffocated…God bless u

  13. Kishore permalink
    January 6, 2011 12:07 pm

    Wow. That was painful and disconcerting. Please move people, brother, and please don’t stop. Please don’t let your country become one of those.

  14. Mudassir permalink
    January 6, 2011 12:47 pm

    The amount of negative replies(zero), shows me that the only people reading you are the people who already agree with you. No, I am not implying that you’re a demagogue, but the fact that you are unfortunately preaching to a silent choir.

    Pacifism is dead. Nobody listens to the man avoiding conflict. Violence is the only way get heard in this world. So get your guns and your bombs. Go out, kill, maim and rape. MAKE SOME NOISE!

  15. January 6, 2011 1:04 pm

    judging by the hordes of psychos who’ve descended on my blog in defense of murder i concluded Pakistan has some serious serious fucking problems. there are reasons why certain country will always be called third world.
    here’s a classic from the psycho rabble [“one should also kill all those people who support salman taseer”]
    it was refreshing, almost surreal to read an entire article and all comments without running into some mouth frothing madman…by Pakistanis at that! there must still be hope

    p.s. why are all these mouth frothing lunatics always men? food for thought

  16. Mr Green permalink
    January 6, 2011 3:04 pm

    Great Article… but I think it’s too late for Pakistan now. These supposed Muslims really think Allah is not watching them….???? I’m ashamed to be associated with Pakistan.

  17. January 6, 2011 3:51 pm

    Brilliant.

    • shehar permalink
      February 13, 2011 12:54 pm

      ur coments r fine i agree with u

  18. Hamza Shafqaat permalink
    January 6, 2011 4:43 pm

    Incredible post..

  19. Ayesha~Hasan permalink
    January 6, 2011 4:44 pm

    Great post!

  20. amnamela permalink
    January 6, 2011 5:34 pm

    Oh, the clincher!

  21. January 6, 2011 6:31 pm

    Wow!! Man you just kicked some royal dashes in this blog post man….
    For me it opened up alot of my mind to what this shit is all about…..

    Thank you..

  22. Mulla Nafs-e-Zakkiya permalink
    January 6, 2011 7:12 pm

    Balance! and long term planning is needed to deal with issues of this nature. In my humble opinion here are the few possible scenario’s to this killing.
    I will list all of them and see which one makes more sense.

    a) A lone gunman of his own security team with religious sentiment kills him and Rehman Malik sab is the first man on national tv to put words into the mouth of the killer.

    b) Mian Nawaz Shareef offered his political hand in help to zardari and asked for removal of Salman Taseer as governor to which Salman Taseer resisted and asked a price as high as PM, Gillani is asking for leaving the PM seat with out major resistance. Rumored price is 150 million us dollars in south African banking system. Which ISI is not willing to pay at the moment. Gov Salman Taseer wanted 80 million us dollars and was heard cursing Nawaz Shareef openly for this wealing dealing.

    c) Salman Taseer was a ultra liberal and a non practicing Muslim born of German mother and had married a Sikh lady, which is all good but does indicate a mind set which is not conducive to Islamic lifestyle, which is fine and creates no issues unless until one is going to go after molvi-mafia.

    d) Islam is now the new Russia, for the west, they use the Islamic image as the new dragon to scare their kids from and there are millions of Muslims willing to do this for money and emotional heroics. Muslims do not care about their image or loss, they are just happy that they are entangled with some big super power. This is their core ideology.

    e)No other Islamic society has this kind of namoos law, only Pakistani molvis crafted this, and I myself saw this in action, one of our masjid committee wanted to remove one of our homosexual imams, the masjid committee had hired an imam who later on was molesting boys but there was no evidence so the masjid committee decided to call him a ghustak e rasool by pointing out the fact that on his business card the imam had written the word Mufti above the word Muhammad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. This was the case they built against him and he willingly stepped away after hearing that things were going in this direction. So similar situation here….story kuch hoti hai ban kuch jati hai..

    f) No one is paying attention to Mau-lana FazluRehman sab who openly said that we will raise the dead…by conduting namoos e risalat rallies all over Pakistan and will harrass American interests.

    g) The lone gunman is hired by ISI to injure or incapacitate the governor but the looser gunman hits point blank and instead kills making the governor an ibrat ka nishan, which now media will help spin into a debate between a nation of people who no matter what are still a nation. The stupid ugly madar pidar azad media will never high light the price wars behind the scene and keep calling Muslim mind set into picture and then paying their own respect to gods of Islam aka molvis.

    h) In the sunnah of the Holy prophet it is written that he smashed 360 idols of his time who were the molvis of his time having kabza on the kaaba, same was done by AtaTurk, he used this sunnah to crush the movlis of his time and then every one lived happily ever after….if we are sunni’s shouldn’t we do the same…..and i am sure exactly 360 molivs need to be smashed! but perhaps I am a sunni and Prophet s.a.w was also merciful and forgiving and I will forgive but plan on mind crafting the public towards the real deals going on behind the doors to which falls victims like the killer qatil qadri.

    All these scenarios have to be kept in mind, now there is no newspaper proof of the price negotiations between these but all those who have relatives in the government, you must listen to them.

    Mulla!

  23. January 6, 2011 8:56 pm

    Black bird,

    The way you end your piece shows what is wrong with the enslaved Pakistani mind: it has lost its independence of thought and merely mimics trashy ideas, obscenities and all, imported from its American masters.

    The “educated” people who are lionising the murderer Qadri are, at heart, little different from you lot: their lifestyles are just as conditioned as yours are by American trash. The only difference is that while you strut around proudly showing off your subservience to your American masters, the Qadri-lovers are full of self-loathing for that very subservience. Their reaction to Punjab Governor’s assassination is simply a stupid of way of making an empty gesture of defiance against the American influence in Pakistan.

    • Anand permalink
      January 6, 2011 10:26 pm

      Boy, you really pwned Kala Kawa with that brilliant piece of hyperbolic, ad-hominem-laced, rant, didn’t you?!!!

    • faraz permalink
      January 7, 2011 12:39 am

      Mullahs got tens of billions of dollors during the so-called Afghan jihad. They recruited children from poor families, indoctrinated them and had them killed in Afghanistan. The petro dollors funding the jihadi and madrassa network are generated in Western oil companies. What have these mullahs to do with imperialism. These fascists mullahs just want political power using religion. They cant challenge anyone intellectually, all they know is fascism under the veneer of religion.

      Imam Abu Hanifa said that a non-muslim cant be killed for Blasphemy. And most of Pakistanis follow the Hanafi sect. If you have a normal functioning Grey matter, then how can you ignore this irony?

      • January 7, 2011 11:33 am

        Looks like you are barking up the wrong tree. Let me quote what I have said elsewhere:

        “So far as I can see, the late Mr Taseer spoke only about the way that the blasphemy law was misused in Pakistan. For example, unprincipled people have used it to “teach a lesson” to their supposed enemies. If we do nothing about this misuse of the law then we will be guilty of committing a gustakhi گستاخی against Rasul-Allah, Rehmatul-lil-aalameen for the simple reason that we are letting people use the name of Rasul-Allah to settle personal scores. This is all that Governor Taseer was trying to do – to prevent people from misusing the law.

        Qadri has committed an unpardonable sin by murdering a fellow Muslim.”

        “In Pakistan today a system of apartheid operates, two parallel worlds of ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. The former, living in their ivory towers away from ordinary Pakistanis, have arrogated to themselves such fancy titles as “liberal” and “humanist” whereas the ugly reality is that these people are the worst sort of oppressors who are mercilessly fleecing the poorest of Pakistanis and denying them equal opportunities in life by erecting a thick wall of English which ordinary people cannot penetrate. Behind that sky-high wall of English these shameless followers of the worst aspects of American culture wallow in obscene luxury.

        As for the blasphemy law, ordinary people need to be informed of all the issues in a language that they can understand. Therefore, the fake humanists need to step down from their ivory towers and speak to people in Urdu or in the language of the region they belong to. A babble of voices in English may win the brainwashed Pakistanis a pat or two on the back from their foreign friends but it is entirely useless in saving Asia Bibi from the intolerable situation she finds herself in.

        The tragedy of Pakistan is that it is being destroyed by two equally evil opposing forces: the USA-worshippers and the army of foolish mullahs who have distorted our Deen into a religion of weird ideas and rituals.”

      • Assad Khan permalink
        January 7, 2011 3:15 pm

        Sakib, you again go on a diatribe where you claim that the linguistic divide is what separates those who oppose ‘american influence’ and those who oppose the mullahs. frankly speaking as far as i have seen it is the educated middle class that seems to be rejoicing rather than any other thing. Talking about socio-economic divides dont you think its odd that the lowest income group usually vote for progressive political parties?

    • January 7, 2011 7:44 pm

      Assad Khan,

      You are reading things into my posts which are not there. Perhaps our poor understanding of English is the reason for my inability to get my message through to you. This is what happens when we choose to become eternal “natives”, trampling our own language underfoot and imposing a foreign language on ourselves which 95% of the population of Pakistan does not understand.

      Let me quote from another of my posts, this time in Urdu. I hope you will be able to read it.

      جناب ، رسول کریم کی شان میں اصل گستاخی یہ ہے کے رسول الله کا نام استعمال کر کے اپنے دشمنوں سے جی بھر کے بدلے لئے جائیں . پاکستان میں مروج غیر اسلامی معاشرے کی روشنی میں یہ ضروری ہے کے ہم ایسے قوانین بنائیں جنہیں حریص اور خود غرض لوگ رسول الله کے نام کی آڑ میں اپنے ذاتی فائدے کے لئے استمعال نہ کر سکیں. مرحوم سلمان تاثیر کو قانون بہتر بنانے کے لئے اپنی جان سے ہاتھ دھونا پڑے ! ہم کب تک جہالت کی بدترین شکل کو “اسلام” کہتے رہیں گے ؟

      As for the reasoning that underlies what you term my “diatribe”, please click on the link below and read the article AND all the comments that follow.

      http://sakibahmad.blogspot.com/2010/01/punjab-governments-own-goal.html

      • Sindhyar permalink
        January 8, 2011 2:42 am

        So what is in your view this American influence on which this whole battle is being fought? can you please enumerate the examples?

      • January 8, 2011 2:20 pm

        Sindhyar,

        I have written extensively on the subject that you mention. However, it is a time consuming, tedious task to re-invent the wheel. May I please ask you to:

        * First of all click on the link I gave above and read the article and comments
        * Secondly, read my current and immediately preceding blog posts (click on my name).
        * If your appetite is whetted, you may wish to work back to earlier blogs

        At the end of it, if you have any specific questions, please fire away.

      • Sindhyar permalink
        January 12, 2011 1:16 am

        I see – yes – I have read your article – and I think very interesting and thoughtful.
        Please forgive my laziness in not reading all your articles to find other relevant ones on the topic. I really don’t expect you to do any tedious job, but quoting from your work or even deeplinking would be appreciated, if anything relevant has already been said but not addressed by me.

        As I see you have made Three basic arguments
        First: Pakistan is highly influenced by Americans because of American interest in the area.
        Second: That Pakistanis allow this influence because we have this inferiority complex about Americans. This is evident from the importance that we place on English
        Three: This importance on English language has been counter-productive and have led to regression in our overall state.

        Now I don’t dispute these observations on face value but I do feel you do simplify the issue, as it could be when one fixates all the problems on single cause.

        If I may include some other issues

        One: It was Pakistan that chose to look towards America and embrace it as its partner in the cold war. Observe Liaquat Ali Khan’s snubbing of Russians to go to USA. Recently Cowasjee quoted an American Ambassador’s diaries where the
        Ambassador spoke of his meeting with Quaid. Here Quaid hinted towards possible Russian influence in the region and Pakistan’s readiness to join in the fight against Bolsheviks.
        As you correctly point out, Jinnah was a western educated Anglicized ‘pukka’ sahib. He was politically liberal, and economically capitalist – observe his personal relations with industrialists as well as own investments in large companies. He may have
        had tendencies of what we would call social democrat. Thus for him the western industrial powers were the way to go – incidentally he admired Ata Turk (joking called that by his daughter) and obviously had similar visions for Pakistan
        To say that historically we have been tied up and given no other choice is an attempt to lower one’s own role in this relationship

        Now as to Pakistani ‘sacrifices’ in US’s adventures – Frankly I see them as investments made by first General Zia, then by General Musharaff and now continued by current government.
        Now I won’t say they are sound or ethical investments but thats what these people and their advisers have seen. Pakistan stills sends cost of its operations to America as invoices and along with that sends a shopping list of toys for boys
        an comical (if you can call it that) incident narrated in Woodward’s book highlights leaves no doubt about this. One of the items in the list is a submarine or similarly aquatic vehicle. Americans reject that specific item with the objection that
        they have no amount of water where Pakistanis are fighting Al Qaida and so the required vehicle is unnecessary.
        When we talk about the dire consequences of not following the Americans diktat – it really means consequences suffered by us financially

        Second: When you are under financial patronage of someone – being acquiescent to them is least you would accept. Because we are not so much reliant on American Aid, we obviously do our best not to unnecessarily anger them
        On very few issues does Pakistan show some spine, India is one of them – otherwise on issues that have little or nothing do with ideology chapter in Pakistan Studies, Pakistani leaders are happy to show deference to cheque writer.

        Third: About the language – May I make two observations. First is that as you yourself say. majority of Pakistanis don’t speak English and they actually live their whole lives without speaking the language. Many of the country’s schools are
        Urdu/regional language medium and people have only subject of English to pass. This would explain why so many people fail the English paper in Punjab University – it has to do with very little English than much of it.
        Now should we abandon the language altogether? we can – However it has been proven that people who have ability to speak more than one language are likely to have more developed brains than those who don’t
        Personally I have found being able to speak different languages a boon (though I didn’t think that at the time) – I actually rue the fact I wasn’t taught more of them! Languages open the door a whole new prospective that you don’t otherwise have
        Further while you can have all your government work related and personal work done without having to do anything with English

        However if you are in an office of responsibility, English does become important – this is because of practical reasons but also due to other factor you mention – that of the perception English speakers are seen more educated than other.
        I myself always believed that this too be stupid as well however it was a friend who didn’t speak a word of English once made an observation that made alot of sense to me. He said it wasn’t just because someone speaks English that
        there is perception that he knows something – It also has to do with the understanding that this person went to a private school and had privileged education – and if you trace this back – earlier perception was that people who went to
        school at all spoke English (in the British era). Thus as quite often, a co-relation our mind makes to one thing or the other. Red apple would taste better, green bananas aren’t ripe yet – Levis jeans would be better made so on – this is also
        true for people who speak English – the perception is hard to debunk because many of English speaking people have gone to best schools money can buy – it is of course another debate how much they know about subject that aren’t their
        specialisation
        also I remember arguing with a British person about the problem of having to learn English – in addition to other regional languages. he said something that i thought was quite interesting. He said see we can communicate because you know the language
        otherwise we’d never have this conversation – You have broader horizon – you can speak to around 2.5 bn people in the world just by knowing the two languages you do! its half the number for me!

        FYI: Amount of people learning to speak English in south Korea is astonishing – number is also rising high for China, as its Business leader realise they need to learn the language to speak to their investors etc

        Finally I hear alot that we are influence by America- fact as we are letting ourselves to be influence otherwise nation states can’t influence another, without weaker one assenting to it – There is always a harder road to take – which includes paying off our debts – paying larger taxes etc – take a wild guess, as a nation, what road we want to choose?

    • January 10, 2011 3:09 pm

      Sakib

      i may not always agree with you, but i really enjoy your writing, and you get some really good ideas across.

      just one things that i wanted to comment on. when you speak of trashy american ideals being the root of our current malaise, you do ignore that pakistan is not unique in that situation. countries from france to the faroe islands are increasingly being exposed to a globalised culture, which due to america’s position as a global hegemon, means that a lot of that cultural impulse contains american products. however, labelling those as purely american makes it a testy political situation, when in reality it is the age old story of ideas travelling along the routes of invasion and commerce. in fact, pakistan is not enslaved to ‘american’ interests alone. there is just as much a whole sale adaptation of gulf-arab ideals which have also travelled across the highways of commerce and violence.

      i know from your other blogs that you are not necessarily in disagreement of this claim, but what you are suggesting here is that we create an intrinsic and original culture. to start with, that cannot occur in a vacuum. if we observe the countries which have tried to take down american hegemony, we see that their inspiration arises out of history as much as ideology.

      iranians are proud of their persian past, the chinese are proud of their erstwhile dynasties, and use these mythologies to justify their present impetus for global power playing.

      now i personally feel that pakistan would be better off trying to avoid this global domination bullshit. but even if we are to see it as a consequence or inevitability, the first step would also be recognizing some ground realities. as i have mentioned to you before, there is an inherent fallacy in blaming english as the root cause of our elitist division. there is no statistical evidence, and little anecdotal evidence to suggest that urdu is spoken by the vast majority of pakistanis. moreover, urdu itself has a storied past of being used to decimate local languages and histories – the insecurity of punjabi, seraiki, sindhi speakers is not due to english alone, much as that thesis would fit in with our agendas. that is not to say that your conclusion of the elites insulating themselves from society is incorrect – in fact the observation is spot on.

      my point is that empathy is not down to languages and culture. it has to arrive from self-reflection. but i completely agree with you that once we can empathise, the process of communication would require speaking in as many languages as we can, and urdu is the most obvious of that starting point.

      and as for saying ‘fuck that shit’ it is a reflection of not american values, but a product of a world with globalized markets, the immediacy and instantaneous nature of the internet, a restructuring of traditional constructs, and the primacy of being glib over being verbose in contemporary lingo.

      to put it simply, i’m bored at work and typing away.

      • January 11, 2011 2:43 pm

        KK,

        You and I are products of two very different backgrounds, and our respective experiences in life, I imagine, have been quite different too. Our personalities and our views have been shaped by what we have gone through in life. It is simply not possible to change our convictions and our prejudices through a brief discussion based on the cleverness of the mind. The last time we tried, the attempt ended in abject failure.

        Let me use a roundabout approach. Following Governor Taseer’s assassination, there was a discussion in a British newspaper to which I made contributions. Below are extracts from what I said:

        “The Pakistani society is basically a relic of the colonial system that the British left behind, with one important difference: the white faces have been replaced by darker faces lording over the unfortunate “natives”. The “sahibs” speak in English and they have cleverly imposed that foreign language on the country, which 95% of the population does not understand. Thus, ordinary people are denied access to better jobs and influential posts.”

        [KK, if you were to read Qudratullah Shahab’s “Shahab Nama”, you would discover the depth of the conspiracy by Pakistan’s bureaucracy to prevent Urdu becoming the language of choice for government and commerce]

        “Since the educated “liberals” have isolated themselves from the rest of the population, and they express themselves primarily in English which the vast majority of Pakistanis does not understand, they must shoulder a lot of the blame for whatever views the poor, disenfranchised Pakistanis hold. The fake liberals and humanists need to step down from their ivory towers and speak to people in Urdu or in the language of the region they belong to. A babble of voices in English may win the hypocritical Pakistanis a pat or two on the back from their foreign friends but it is entirely useless in raising the awareness of ordinary Pakistanis.”

        “The tragedy of Pakistan is that it is being destroyed by two equally evil opposing forces: the fake English-spouting “liberals” and the army of foolish mullahs who have distorted Islam into a religion of weird ideas and rals. Superimposed on these two currents is the USA’s murderous spree, which has cheapened human life. The assassination of Governor Taseer is simply a reflection of the sort of violent society that exists in Pakistan today. The causes are complex; it makes little sense to blame it all on ‘fundamentalists’.”

        “As for the Taliban and their ilk, they are akin to sub-human creatures in human form, who get plenty of attention in the world media. Do bear in mind, though, that the Pakistani Taliban are the creation of the American CIA. The USA carries a very heavy responsibility for destroying three countries – Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan – and that fact is insufficiently recognised in the West.”

        “ ……. the Pakistani society is indeed evolving. Perhaps we have to wade through blood and fire before we are properly cleansed.

        What we have in Pakistan and the Middle East is Anti-Islam, a hideous distortion of the Deen that Muhammad Mustafa brought to mankind. So far as we Muslims are concerned it is of the utmost importance to reform our societies. However, as we go about achieving that goal, we cannot shut our eyes to secondary causes, especially in view of the WikiLeaks revelations.”

        KK, it is not a question of “creating an intrinsic and original culture”. We already had a culture and a language to go with it – it is a question of reclaiming our valuable heritage that we have lost to the waves of barbarian onslaughts by the Americans and the crazy followers of anti-Islam. I grew up in Lahore; we spoke Punjabi in our household but we realised that Punjab was only a part of Pakistan and it was the Urdu language, and the noble aspects of our Muslim culture, which gave us a national identity and a sense of pride as a Pakistani. When I observe the sheer crudity of westernised Pakistanis, who can utter the most obscene words and expressions in American English without feeling any sense of shame, I have to hang my head in shame.

        It is good to learn from other nations and be influenced by their positive traits. It has been our misfortune that we have gleefully embraced only the negative aspects. When I see our self-styled liberals frothing at the mouth in self-righteous anger at the “barbarity” of fellow Pakistanis, I mostly shake my head in sorrow. When this show of hypocrisy becomes too much to bear I fire off what people here have described as my “rants” or “diatribes”.

    • January 13, 2011 9:38 pm

      Sindhyar,

      Thank you for reading my article which links economic progress to mass education in the language that people speak. It would have been helpful if you had also read my two most recent blogs [“The end of conspiracy theories” and “Anne Patterson, Queen of Pakistan”] because these deal with the extent of American influence on Pakistan. These two blogs talk about the various Pakistani puppets who were foisted on our country by conspiring foreign powers (principally, the USA) and who faithfully serve the interests of their masters. This is why it is essential to get rid of those puppets.

      Your comments on Quaid-e-Azam are diametrically opposed to my view of him. I assume you picked up your information from books and articles written by foreigners. While I do keep an eye on what foreigners write about us and our history, my views are formed only after I have researched what our own people have written about our past. Quaid-e-Azam’s “English education” and his familiarity with the western way of life proved invaluable in later life when he had been heavily influenced by Iqbal’s thought. In numerous speeches Quaid-e-Azam left people in no doubt that the human values that he espoused were derived from one source alone: ISLAM. I may be wrong but my impression is that he never ever used the term “liberal”. You can read about my views on Quaid-e-Azam by clicking on the following links:

      http://sakibahmad.blogspot.com/2010/08/dialogue-with-giant.html

      http://sakibahmad.blogspot.com/2010/03/pulling-quaid-e-azam-every-which-way.html

      http://sakibahmad.blogspot.com/2010/04/pulling-quaid-e-azam-every-which-way.html

      On the subject of languages, you make a curious observation: “it has been proven that people who have ability to speak more than one language are likely to have more developed brains than those who don’t”. Kindly quote your source. It would have made better sense if you had said that people who studied Maths tended to have more developed brains – though that, too, would be incorrect.

      The thing is, each and every individual is born with inbuilt qualities and talents and we have to create an environment in which a person’s individuality is allowed to develop to its full potential. Some people will be linguists, some will be mathematicians, some carpenters and plumbers, and so on. The one thing common to them all will be the language that they speak to interact with each other. That language is the only one worthy of being used as the medium of instruction for all subjects. The key to the success of the Chinese and the Koreans – both of whom trailed Pakistan economically in the nineteen sixties and seventies – is that they were able to tap the genius of the entire nation by educating their populations in the language that they spoke.

      Now that both China and Korea have moved to the ranks of developed nations they have to worry about competition and selling their products in international markets. It is in the increasingly competitive world of marketing that they require English speakers in large numbers so they can sell the Chinese and Korean products in international markets. These linguists are not responsible for the economic transformation of these countries – they are basically sales people who will help their respective nations grow economically stronger.

      Linguists also sever an extremely important role: that of translating intellectual and scientific developments taking place in other countries so that the local geniuses can benefit from those developments.

      I suggest you travel abroad. Go to France and Germany, for example, and test your quaint theory, which states “English speakers are seen more educated than other”. I concede that this view has taken root in Pakistan, thanks to the efforts of a section of the population, which finds it well nigh impossible to free itself from permanent enslavement to its erstwhile and current masters (respectively, the British and the Americans). As you yourself have pointed out, for a Pakistani to be able to speak English presupposes a pretty expensive and privileged education. We need to end such privileges and introduce a uniform educational system accessible to all.

    • January 31, 2011 8:32 am

      American masters.

      So cute.

      Holy shit. Where are my strings?!

  24. January 6, 2011 9:54 pm

    Thank you for expressing my sentiments so eloquently. I felt the same suffocation in the eighties when the original blasphemy law was introduced. It was one of many factors( figurative art & feminism among others) which caused me to leave Pakistan. What I have noticed on my trips back home is that most liberal Pakistanis are just content to protect their personal space and are mostly indifferent t what happens outside that sphere.

    Although I have “left” Pakistan many decades ago I am constantly thinking of how I can make a difference. Here in the US I am actively lobbying for the creation of a virtual schooling system via satellite that would stream classes in all subjects up to university level 24/7 & involve enlightened Pakistani-Americans who want to give back to their native country. The only way to reclaim the ceded space is to actively educate the masses who have been brainwashed for so long.

  25. Anand permalink
    January 6, 2011 10:14 pm

    “I’m afraid these people still are moderate. When society veers so far rightwards, those that only support murder in the name of religion without committing it themselves surely are moderate.”

    If that were an arrow, then it would’ve burrowed really deep into the conscience of those moderates; if they had one, that is.

  26. Venkatesh permalink
    January 7, 2011 5:54 am

    Just for the record, I am an Indian and a non-muslim.

    I dont understand one thing. All this outrage is ok for public discourse but until Pakistan is a secular country, the muslims are pakistan can never understand what diversity means. Please dont tell me that there are various sects within Islam itself in Pakistan and first the pakistanis need to sort these differences out. As long as the state says that one particular god, one particular way of life and one particular messenger of god is superior, you will find a lot of people taking the law into their own hands because in their mind, they are staying true to the principle of the state. This is not happening in Saudi Arabia because that is a monarchy where the king decides “how much” muslims become emotional about islam. But Pakistan wants to be a democracy, an islamic state, a modern state all rolled into one. In simple terms, it cannot work out.

  27. Anonymous permalink
    January 7, 2011 8:16 am

    Well written.. but whats the way forward ?????

  28. January 7, 2011 9:23 am

    Very well written. I cannot help but doubt if the minority liberal voices will be loud enough to be heard and will manage to succeed against the muscle. The only plausible non-violent solution that comes to my mind is an escapist one – that of mass migration.

  29. zohaibmuzaffar permalink
    January 7, 2011 12:37 pm

    brilliant, brilliant……so apt ……..

  30. zohaibmuzaffar permalink
    January 7, 2011 12:42 pm

    its indeed “the clincher”…….

  31. sheharyar rizwan permalink
    January 7, 2011 1:51 pm

    EXCELLENT. WE NEED TO RISE.

  32. Bilal permalink
    January 7, 2011 3:12 pm

    Great post, you should send it as a letter to newspapers, spread the word (maybe not Pakistani papers, we don’t want you dead :) )

  33. waheed khan permalink
    January 7, 2011 8:54 pm

    Excellent work overall!! but i really like the last part, because that’s what’s already happening and these celebrators are not realizing what they are doing..

  34. wusat permalink
    January 7, 2011 10:04 pm

    Historical Determinism…its all quantum mechanics of History

  35. January 11, 2011 3:22 pm

    @ Sakib:

    thanks for the measured response. my last comment was, as i mentioned, a product of boredom as much as a thoughtful response, so my apologies for that.

    i agree with you completely about the issue of ivory towers, and the vastness of the gulf between the haves and have-nots, and how this has contributed to our problems. our insecure nation is without a doubt plagued by conflicts on different fronts – the apathetic elites and the barbaric warriors seeking legitimacy through religion.

    the issue of the urdu language is an intriguing one, and one which i think you and i will have to agree to disagree on. as you mentioned, our backgrounds have been very different. i come from an ‘urdu-speaking’ family, and consequently, i have viewed the language and its use as a political rallying-cry very differently.

    historians ( i believe it was hamza alavi, but i could be wrong hence no sources here) have written that urdu as a language was championed very quickly post-independence by the punjabi elites as a symbol of national unity. this allowed for the powerful people from that area to articulate their material and political dominance on a national scale. on the upside, it also meant that the best poets and writers in the urdu language came disproportionately from the province of punjab in the past 50 or so years.

    but you see, urdu was never the national language of pakistan.

    for starters, it was never the language of the majority, since if you remember, until 1971 that honor went to bengali. yet we all know how that savage event turned out. secondly, the attempted usage, or imposition, of a national language which wasn’t national to begin with (and this stands true for english as much, if not a lot more, for urdu) meant that all minority languages were marginalised. over several generations, urdu has definitely become the language that most urban people in pakistan can understand. but what that has also done is create a feeling of resentment, of loss, of something being taken away which the native speakers can’t always understand, but something they do feel in a sense of hostility.

    the reason i am droning on about urdu is that we can’t see it in a white-washed, ahistorical sense. when i spoke of an intrinsic culture, i was a bit careless with my words. what i meant to say was that we need to arrive at a resolution of our historical schizophrenia. there is no doubt that islam is inextricably woven into our cultural and social fabric. but the islam of this area differs greatly both in history and in cultural understanding from other islamic societies. i don’t want to comment on whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. but my firm belief is that any attempt at seeking to speak honestly about islam would need to recognize that reality, would need to recognize our past (where we were not muslims) and would need to be comfortable with these things. in fact, the attempt to create these faux-narratives of religion and history mean that our insecure populace feels that it needs to kill people to justify the value of its faith.

    the guilt of being converts has led us to purge our history books of all non-islamic references, leading us to a situation where all our official history is geographically situated in agra and dehli and somnath, with no mention of those parts of the country which are actually ours. and this leads to a mutilated sense of self, which manifests itself in deranged murderers being feted as heroes, and deranged liberals calling for death squads.

    if we return to your initial objection regarding the usage of “FUCK THAT SHIT.” having known the author through twitter (how weird does that sound) i know that he is very capable of cursing in urdu and punjabi as well. in fact, the reason he may not have used one of those versions might have been out of a sense of propriety. but cursing is not the sign of a liberal, because i am sure you would not have been applauding if he had merely translated that emotion into urdu and said “LUN PAY” or whatever.

    i believe what you were complaining about was the fact that there is a rush to immediately choose sides, and to feel like there is no hope and humanity across the divide. at least that’s what i think, and i feel that the only way we can resolve our impasse is to display empathy. we need to be empathetic to even the barbarians, to the fiddle playing neros, to our infidel past and all its lessons and glories, to our own understanding of our faith, to each other.

    ultimately, pakistan is a nation. nations rise and fall. they’ve done that for millennia. try as we might, we can’t make this country last forever. our ultimate responsibility lies towards ourselves as humans, and how we act.

    it is a pleasure to respond to you as it gets me to reflect and understand my own stance better, and for that i thank you. also, i’d like to apologize to all those subscribed to the comments for clogging up your internets.

    • January 20, 2011 10:40 pm

      کراچی کھٹمل

      ہمارے اختلافات بہت زیادہ ہیں ، یہاں ایک لمبی بحث میں پڑنا بےسود ہے- اگر آپ ہماری گفتگو کو مزید آگے بڑھانا ضروری سمجھتے ہیں تو میرا خیال ہے
      کے میرا بلاگ اس مقصد کے لئے زیادہ مناسب ہے

      یہاں ایک ہندو حضرت تشریف لے آے ہیں جو پاکستان میں اسلام ختم کر کے ہندومت رائج کرنے کے خواہاں ہیں – کوئی انھیں سمجھاے کے ہمارے دو عظیم ترین رہنماؤں میں سے ایک کے دادا ہندو تھے اور دوسرا کشمیری برہمنوں کی نسل سے تھا

      ثاقب احمد

  36. Omar permalink
    January 13, 2011 11:55 am

    The fact of the matter is that people with a liberal mindset are a minority in Pakistan. This liberal minority wants to uphold the democratic ideals of freedom and liberty in Pakistan. But in doing so we run into a brutal, fascist majority. Nature, it seems, has a strong sense of irony!

    It is time to carve out a new homeland where we can live freely and without fear of oppression from the majority that is forcing its own religion and culture on us. Oh wait, wasn’t that the Pakistan project?

  37. January 16, 2011 12:30 am

    Great article. Great thoughts. I think our countrymen have move past that level of rationality where they could see the equations of religion, society and the modern world without radical distortions. And Taseer’s assassination is a testimony to that. I’m not gonna say how we can change this or how we can revert the inevitable disaster. I just think that the quality and quantity of literature and rational sentiment such episodes are giving rise to are incredible and possibly the lone weapon for the silent liberals. People like you (author) should carry on. Best of luck!

  38. January 16, 2011 11:59 am

    Are Pakistani liberals experiencing a nightmare situation, feeling dread within, yet unable to change the course of events, slipping into a vortex of terror and confusion ?.

    To a detached indian it looks so flimsy, and the inability of the Pakistanis to save their country almost criminal.

    But, the reason for this situation is the conditioning that Pakis undergo from childhood, shaping his/her thoughts- to be subservient to islam and its monotheistic unforgiving dogmas. This conditioning deprives people of the ability to think and break out of the suffocating clutch of islam.

    Conditioning.

    The solution is in de-conditioning.
    de-programming.

    Are you upto it, Pakistanis ?

    You know, long ago, some of your great great ancestors, along the banks of Saraswati said- tat tvam asi. , aham brahmasmi., and so on. They realized their powers, they realized themselves.
    Do you ?

    This ‘ghuttan’ could be like the bitter peel of a fruit, that gives way to sweetness. sweetness that will come from your own efforts, as you discover yourself.

    namaste

  39. Sindhyar permalink
    January 18, 2011 3:34 am

    sakib,
    as currently i am living in dark ages without proper internet. Sources you seek would come abit late. Human development begins at young age – conventional wisdom that is yet to be debunked tells us that for well developed adult, grooming at childhood is required. Without this, a child remains unable to fulfil thier potential. There maybe a mathematica but without him learning to first learn to add, he is not going to become anytting. This how we waste so much of our youth. Point is learning language requires brain activity which only means greater exercise for it. As i said, learning languages per say is never a disadvantage quite the contrary. But its failure to provide quality education that is main problem for me. As you said we need to concentrate on that. When you start a movement to dismantle english from pakistan, you create a vacuum which urdu in its current state is unable to fulfil. There is so much material that people would be unable to have. You give examples of korda and china . Let me give you example of east europe which remains free from any english influence and yet is poor .. Further, reason why people from these countries want to learn the language is because this way they can interact more. Be that for business or leisure. For getting a leg up in career or just to read lit .. Language may play a posite part in helping them grow but lack of it wasn’t the reason behind thier success. It was careful planning, great execution. All need alot of hare work. still fighting for vote. He talks of habus corpus, individual freedom, freedom of religion speech. All classic liberal ideals
    of couse he was influenced by islam but it certainly not end all
    first he and iqbal are followers of different islamic traditions, second he was member of congress till early twenties. He was ambassador of h m unity and strong believer in secularism till that time al least, you will concede his disenchantment of congress then spread to his total retirementwhen he moved to england in early 30s. He returns in 33. Soon alama dies. Very little time to make someone change his whole thought process. Further we still see him talking of unity.
    Thirdly allama himself had varying thoughts on religion. He is skeptic, heretic, mujahid and nationalist at same time..
    These are complex people with layers of thought behind them. Lets not do injustice to them and make them into linear propaganda tools.

    I think with americans its the fear of fire than fire it self that us pakistanp get enthralled by. America is a selfish imperialist state. They have never quoted contrary. They do what is good for them. Many in pakistan think that being an ally of us would get us some booty. Others thought this but felt we got ‘peanuts ‘ others still feel that being with america is against thier beliefs . We must first give these credible views some space. Now after that . There maybe some moles but see thier quantity would be not as great as you may perceive. As far as propaganda goes. Best propagandist is he who believes in what he says. Yr as i see it, problem isn’t as such we have infiltration. I see that there are dividing lines of people in self delusion. Best way is in middle but people on extreme are not ready to realise it or maybe they think they are already in the middle.

    Jinnah – my sources as i said one was cowsjee and book he read. Other were varied from Roedad khan to naidu and importantly his speeches
    i say he was liberal because he talks of women vote when even in brit we have suffrge

    • January 20, 2011 9:55 pm

      Sindhyar,

      I am sorry I have lost you. Let’s end our discussion here.

      I think you may possibly be confusing the teaching of English as a foreign language (which is good) with the use of English as a medium of instruction in teaching establishments (which is shameful). These are two very different things. You might like to read Hafsa Khwaja’s article on the subject by clicking on this link:

      http://hafsakhawaja.wordpress.com/2010/07/09/the-angraizi-complex/

      You mention Iqbal and Jinnah. A simple point to bear in mind is that, like any human being, their development occurred in stages as they experienced the vicissitudes of life and became more complete human beings over a period of years. In my latest blog released today, I have invoked these two heroes of ours again.

      You insist on calling Jinnah “liberal” while he himself never made such a claim, preferring to relate his human values to true Islam (as distinct from mullah’s Islam). Thus, some of his values coincided with those held by western liberals while others clashed ferociously.

      • Sindhyar permalink
        January 24, 2011 4:27 pm

        Let us – If you want to end it

        I do see the language as merely a way tool then anything else. Its coming to a stage that you don’t need English to exist in Pakistan. But the importance given to the English language by society has root in two causes. First the continued dominance in the world affairs of the English speaking countries, first British and now United States. Second that best schooling in the country is given in English. While we can’t do much about the first, though Chinese and Japanese are doing enough to change the world balance. We can however ourselves counter the second. The way to that is provide better education and produce products that are able to destroy the conventional wisdom.
        Once this is done, then the centuries old perception could be dented and people would feel less embarrassed & become less ignorant about their own culture and language.

        As to second- the ability to question the social conventions is very soul of liberalism. Its not a take all or nothing package. You can espouse some of the basic ideals to be called one. Its where the balance of your thought tilts. To me, in Jinnah’s case, its clear, as I said, that he engendered thoughts that were from the Liberal movement. That he didn’t say he was a liberal can have many reasons. One of those can be political. As liberals in the 1930s and 40s were dwindling in whole of Britain (and instead Socialist progressives were gaining )
        Its also true that calling oneself liberal in the sub-continent only has the possibility of alienating your supporters, especially if those are members of Muslim League.

  40. January 25, 2011 5:56 pm

    Dear Sindhyar,

    I hope you will not mind if I ask you whether or not you have read a translation of the Qur’an. If so, by whom?

    The truth is that Al-Quran contains all that is good in liberalism while it protects us from the extremes that many egocentric liberals indulge in. That is why I said that some of Jinnah’s “values coincided with those held by western liberals while others clashed ferociously”. Certainly, he gained enormously from his western education, without which it would not have been possible for a man from a subject race to hold his own against the cream of British society.

    Some people misunderstood my latest blog post and I have had to add a TAILPIECE. Please read it – you are welcome to leave your comments there. Insha Allah, I shall endeavour to give you a full reply.

    As for educating Pakistanis, let me quote from what I have said elsewhere:

    “I have a problem with the convoluted logic of Pakistani ‘liberals’. They owe their ‘good education’ to the graft and the corruption and the sucking-up-to-the-British that their parents and forefathers indulged in. And what has this “education” achieved? It has alienated the tiny “educated” minority from the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis. Not just that – these “fortunate” people are also alienated from their culture and their history. Some even speak Urdu with a deliberately distorted accent!

    Let us start at the beginning and define what we mean by EDUCATION.”

    I long to see Pakistan become self-confident and self-respecting, its citizens proud of our culture, our Deen, our history and our own indigenous solution to the language problem. Countries to look up to are Germany, China, France, etc., not the countries of Eastern Europe. The pre-eminence of the English language in the world is a totally irrelevant issue IN THIS CONTEXT. The importance of English internationally is a self-evident truth – I am not aware of any country in the world which refuses to encourage the teaching of English as a foreign language.

    Right up to the end of the seventies people used to laugh at the Chinese language, which was held to be a principal reason for the backwardness of China. How was it possible for a language to make sense of the scientific and technological advancements if it had no alphabet and required you to recognise two or three thousand symbols to read and write properly? Well, where are those voices now? The simple fact is that children learn most easily in the language that is spoken all around them. English is a foreign language which is being rammed down the throats of hapless Pakistanis. That is why some 95% of the population of Pakistan does not understand this foreign language; and of the remaining 5%, it is only a small minority – mainly the offspring of disagreeable characters who plundered the wealth of Pakistan – that can be said to have mastered it.

  41. January 31, 2011 8:27 am

    What the FUCK is wrong with these people?

    I really don’t have the mental capacity to read douchebag commenters’ lively opinion on ‘liberal’ extremism because I’m angry enough as it is – but I heartily agree with your post… except for the term ‘liberal extremism’ perhaps. I really don’t think there’s any such thing, really. How can you be a liberal extremist? Does that mean you wear a t-shirt that says:

    “I love everybody – you’re next!”

    or

    “Free hugs!”

    ?

    Does that mean we liberal extremists like to walk around naked in a mosque or does that mean we believe in free sex or does that mean we want to kill fundamentalists?

    I seriously doubt there is any liberal out there who would chant slogans to any of the above.

    Being afraid of bullets is not an irrational fear and only nutjobs aren’t afraid of blowing themselves up. Being liberal against a conservative does not necessarily mean you have to come out guns ablazing with a suicide bomb jacket strapped to your heinie. It just means you’re sticking to the philosophy of dialog and freedom of speech and civilized argument.

    And while you’ve written a really articulate, powerful vent, you seem to have missed out on how to tell Liberals to go about fighting for their cause without a body count.

    Come up with something.

    Perhaps more than a vent? And less than a bullet?

  42. Mudassir permalink
    February 4, 2011 10:13 pm

    Subscribing to this comment thread has made me realize that Pakistani ‘Liberals’ are namby-pamby bourgeois cry-babies, Indians are condescending fucks and Mr. Sakib Ahmed as a click-whore trolling the internets to get more clicks for his badly written blog posts or suffers form Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

  43. February 5, 2011 5:16 pm

    Taseer and Qadri both done wrong.

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