Friday, February 29, 2008

Viewpoint - Mr. Zardari & Mr. Sharif, The Audacity of Hope

Mr. Zardari & Mr. Sharif – The Audacity of Hope

Their new friendship might not be good for the democracy.

[Text by mayank Austen Soofi]

Marvel at the audacity of hope in Pakistan. But be warned: the hope is not tenable. Mr. Musharraf is out of favour in his own country but not in Pentagon. Mr. Sharif has not won the largest number of seats but he may still want to be king. Mr. Zardari…well, Mr. Zardarai!

He has trimmed his feudal moustache and is talking the right talk but how long would he remain this way? Besides, would Pakistan Army never march out of its barracks again? And, don’t forget the suicide-happy volunteers of the Pakistani Taliban.

Should we still feel sunny?

Perhaps.

They say Mr. Musharraf is almost history. That Pakistan Army would tame its basic instincts. That Mr. Zardari and Mr. Sharif’s grand coalition would carry Pakistan into the much-coveted category of being just another modern, developed, and boring nation.

Hello, read again.

Mr. Zardari and Mr. Sharif?

A democracy needs rivals. It needs at least two political parties with dissimilar ideologies. It needs at least two leaders with conflicting visions. It needs electoral enemies. It needs general elections. One leader wins, the other loses. One becomes the Prime Minister, the other serves as the Shadow Prime Minister. One should be a Sharif, the other a Bhutto (sorry, Zardari).

In Pakistan, Mr. Zardari’s Pakistan People Party is considered a natural rival of Mr. Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League. For instance, PPP is perceived to be moderate; PML (N) tilts towards Islamic conservatism. While these both might share the same vision about Pakistan’s future, on-the-surface perceptions do matter in politics.

The only way for democracy to blossom in our country is by letting these two parties to remain rivals. For the sake of stability, they should always present themselves as the two leading choices for us Pakistanis.

However, these are strange times. Mr. Sharif and Mr. Zardari should never have agreed to share power. But Pakistan is in emergency ward (sotospeak) and there are immediate goals to obtain: Mr. Musharraf to be disposed; the army to be disciplined; the terrorism to be countered. So, it’s OK for the rivals to shake hands. But once the sky clears, it would be wise for both PPP and PML(N) to part ways.

Pakistan Paindabad.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Musing - Losing East Pakistan

Musing - Losing East Pakistan

A young Pakistani do a remembrance of things past.

[By Hassan Masud; A Lahore native, he is pursuing engineering in Materials and Metallurgy at Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology, Topi, near Islamabad]

A tribute to all those who lost their lives in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) in 1971 due to the civil war that killed more than a million fellow Pakistanis.

How often is it when we do things;
Before which we neither reflect nor think.
How often is it when we do things;
That neither we want nor anyone else.

How often is it when we do things;
That hurt us more than they hurt others.
How often is it when we do things;
That ruin us more than they ruin others.

How often is it when we do things;
That stab our very own back.
How often is it when we do things;
That turn sour once we taste them for being sweet.

How often is it when we do things;
That we more than often cannot clean afterwards.
How often is it when we do things;
That we regret we ever did.

How often is it when we do things;
That our morale calls dirty and vile.
How often is it when we do things;
We still do them for whatever they are.

How often is it when we do things;
Which we know can never be worse.
How often is it when we do things;
Without flinching, cringing or shrinking away.

How often is it when we actually think of what we have done;
To us, to others and to all there ever have been.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pakistan Elections – The Morning After

Pakistan Elections – The Morning After

Life goes on after the landmark mandate.

[By Mayank Austen Soofi; picture of the Peshawar chaikhana by Roving Light]

All those who don’t want Pakistan to thrive must be in mass depression. General elections have taken place. Not much rigging was reported. Not many died. And results were comforting.

Mr. Musharraf’s pets suffered a humiliating defeat. Mr. Nawaz Sharief’s party performed impressively in Punjab, his home state. The late Ms. Benazir Bhutto’s PPP did well in all provinces, proving that she was loved by many, and despised by some, throughout Pakistan. These happy moments are well deserved by a nation that has seen too much grief for too long.

For election news and analysis, Pakistan Paindabad urges you to take recourse to newspaper websites and opinionated blogs. However, if you feel there is life beyond the news of the moment, stay on. Here are snippets of Pakistani life compiled from newspapers immediately following the election razzmatazz.

Death by Love

LAHORE: Three youngsters committed suicide in separate incidents in the city, after their parents refused to let them marry the girls of their choice. Two of them took their lives by swallowing poisonous pills, while the third one shot himself dead.

Reality Check

The labour force survey data of the government shows that unemployment rates rose sharply from 6.1 per cent in 1999 to 8.3 per cent in 2004. Therefore the nature and composition of GDP growth during this period could not be expected to have substantially reduced poverty.

Most Welcome

KARACHI, Feb 19: The Karachi University Botanical Garden (KUBG) is set to open to the public once a week in the first week of March. Inaugurated last year, the garden is the first of its kind in Pakistan, representing over 2,000 exotic and indigenous plant species.

Murder He Lost

TOBA TEK SINGH, Feb 19: Mian Tahir Pervaiz Anjum, an independent candidate who lost the Feb 18 polls at PP-86, on Tuesday courted arrest before Sadar police in murder case of a union council naib nazim.

Election Nostalgia

LAHORE: With visas issued to hundreds of election observers and journalists, it was hard for ordinary Pakistanis to vote without tripping over a foreigner.

Hospital Blues

MIRPURKHAS, Feb 19: The decision of the Mirpurkhas district government not to renew contract of at least 19 doctors has generated a crisis -like situation for the administration of Mirpurkahs Civil Hospital.

Lest You Forget

KOHAT, Feb 19: Security forces killed a militant and arrested two others after an attack on a military convoy in the Shee Kallay area of Darra Adamkhel near the Kohat tunnel on Tuesday, officials said.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Mourning Benazir Bhutto - Shehr-i-Qatl ke Log

Mourning Benazir Bhutto - Shehr-i-Qatl ke Log

To mark the end of the 40-day mourning period of Ms. Benazir Bhutto’s death, Pakistan Paindabad leaves the readers with this poem originally published in the blogsite Pak Tea House. The English translation follows the original.

[This poem was composed by Mr. Raza Rumi on January 9, 2008, in Rawalpindi's Liaqat Baagh, the site of Ms. Bhutto's assasination; picture by Emilio Morenatti]

Alam kay iss jazeeray mein
Jahan sab per ujar gaye
Aur saari musafitan be-nishaan ho gayee
Teri tasveer neechay gulab mehaktay hain
Ham, teray qaatil, teray qasoorwar
Doshee thehray

Aye Rehbar-i-ba-kamaal, tasveeer-i-bemisaal
Tu ne roshnee ko ik naya ma’ani diya tha
Apnay nangay pairon ko ghaseetee
Aur apnay nangay sar ko dhanptay
Kiya kiya dishnam na saha that u ne?
Aur is shehr-i-qatl ke neem murda log
Tujh pe hairaan thay

Yeh qatl meray saray manzaron ka hai
Yeh ant meray tamam khawabon ka hua
Tu manon gulabon talay pataal ki nazr hui
Go ik lehad se mehkay ga yeh alam
Magar ham sharminda, apnay aansoo-on se lartay
Apnay khawabon ka sauda haathon mein uthaiye
Tajrubay, tajziyae aur nohay parhtay rahian ge
Is ghao se ristaay rahain ge sab rastay

Ab chand gul nahee ho ga
Jaltee rahe gi har shama-i-lahed-benazir
Aur hota rahay ga yazeed yun-hee be tauqir
Bus ik ist’ada hai tujh se
Jo yeh shehr-e yazeed na kar saka
Tu who kamal bhee kar dey
Muaaf kar de un ko
Jo tujhe ma’af na kar sakay
Aur sar-e-rahay farat tujhe dhakail kar
Aaj azurdagee ki dhund mein liptay
Apnay chaak gareebanon mein
Dilon ko dhoondtay hain

People of this Murderous City
[Translated by Mr. Raza Rumi]

In this island of grief
Where all journeys stand directionless
Fragrant Roses adorn your image
And, We, your murderers, impotent accomplices,
Cast guilty shadows across this barren land

O, the gifted leader, that inimitable image
You had given a new meaning to resplendence
Dragging your worn feet
and covering your bare head
You had borne invective upon invective
And the half-dead people of this city
gaped at your strength

This was the murder of all my visions
And all my dreams cracked
as you entered hades*,
beneath the weight of roses

Though a grave shall unfold its fragrance
We the ashamed,
fighting our tears
holding the placards of our dreams
Will analyse, compose elegies

And the bleeding wound shall scar
all the paths
The moon shall keep waxing
As the illumining candles of your tomb
reveal an endlessly humiliated Yazeed**

There is just a little request
Enact another wonder
what the city of Yazeed could not do
Forgive those
Who could not forgive you
and pushed you over the edge of Euphrates***

And today,
locked in the mist of wistfulness
gripping their torn shirts
they search for their forsaken hearts

* the underworld kingdom in Greek mythology inhabited by the souls of the dead.
** Yazeed (645 - 683), the second Umayyad ruler who established monarchy and killed Husain and his family members, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad who had challenged the principle of rule without the consent of the ruled.
*** The location of the legendary battle of Karbala.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Xclusive - Who is General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani?



Is Mr. Kayani the right guy for Pakistan Army?

[Text by Mayank Austen Soofi]

General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani replaced Mr. Pervez Musharraf as army chief on November 28, 2007. The former director of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, Mr. Kayani has also served Mrs. Benazir Bhutto as her deputy military secretary during her first stint as prime minister. Pakistan Paindabad sit down to address concerns that you want to ask but don’t know whom to ask.

Age?

55

Westernized?

Yes. Educated in US of A. Chain smoker. Polo player.

Fully westernized?

Can’t say. We don’t know if he drinks whisky or keep pomeranians like Mr. Musharraf.

Feudal lord?

No. He is an accomplished gentleman of inferior birth--born in a ‘lower-class family’ as the son of a junior officer. But don’t take anything for granted. After all Mr. Kayani’s first name Ashfaq means “noble prince” in Persian.

Similarities with Mr. Musharraf?

Both have one wife, one daughter, and one son. And they share the same first name.

Favors army’s interference in politics?

Perhaps not. Early in 2008, he issued a directive banning serving officers from taking part in political activities. But considering the ways of Pakistani politicians, military interference is frequently seen by many as permissible, desirable and successful - when it is sincerely meant!

Will he do a Musharraf against Mr. Musharraf?

Not likely. He was the man whom Mr. Musharraf chose to head an enquiry commission that investigated a botched assassination attempt against him in Rawalpindi. The investigations led to conviction of 11 men and consequently Mr. Musharraf’s everlasting trust in Mr. Kayani.

In all, is Mr. Kayani a good guy?

Uhmmm…after having much praised or much blamed anybody, one is generally sensible of something just the reverse soon afterwards. Good luck Pakistan.