Pakistan: A Deficit of Dignity

M. Shahid Alam

Pakistan’s rulers and ruling elites may well be thinking that the wave of people’s indignation that started in Tunisia and is now working its way through Egypt, Jordan and Yemen will never reach them. Perhaps, they are telling each other, ‘We are safe: we are a democracy.’

The Arabs who are pouring into the streets of Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Yemen are not protesting only against their dictatorships. Simultaneously, they are also protesting against governments that have sold their dignity and bartered the honor of their country. Nearly, all the Arab rulers are self-castrated eunuchs in the courts of foreign powers, who have turned their own countries into police states, and who jail, maim, torture and kill their own people to please their masters.

The Arabs are venting their anger against elites who have stymied their energies by turning their societies into prisons. In complicity with foreign powers, these elites have ruled by fear, blocking the forward movement of their people because this movement collides with the imperialist ambitions of Israel and the United States.

It is true that Pakistan has had ‘elected’ governments alternating with military dictatorships. Increasingly, however, these governments, whether civilian or military, have differed little from each other. The priority for both is to keep their power and US-doled perks by doing the bidding of the United States and Israel.

Starting in the early 1990s, Pakistan hurriedly embraced the neoliberal paradigm that emanated from Washington. Hastily, successive ministers of finance and privatization – all of them IMF appointees – went about dismantling Pakistan’s industries, selling off for a song its state-owned enterprises, and empowering Pakistan’s elites to engage in unchecked consumerism.

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People Power in the Middle East

M. Shahid Alam

From his weekly perch at CNN, Fareed Zakaria, speculated last Sunday (or the Sunday before) whether George Bush could take credit for the events that were unfolding in Tunisia, whether this was the late fruit of the neoconservative project to bring ‘democracy’ to the Middle East.

It is quite extraordinary watching Zakaria – a Muslim born and raised in India, and scion of a leading political family – mimic with such facility the language of America’s ruling classes, and show scarce a trace of empathy for the world’s oppressed, despite his propinquity to them by reason of history and geography. He does have a bias for India, but here too he only shows a concern for India’s strategic interests, not the interests of its subjugated classes, minorities and ethnicities. This I offer only as an aside about how easy it is for members of the upper classes in countries like India, Pakistan or Egypt to slip into an American skin whenever that dissimulation offers greater personal advantages.

As a cover for deepening US control over the Middle East – here is the latest civilizing mission for you – the neoconservatives in the Bush administration argued that the Islamic world produces ‘terrorists’ because it lives under autocracies. To solve the ‘terrorist’ problem, therefore, the US would have to bring democracy to the Middle East. This demagoguery only reveals the bankruptcy of America’s political class. It is a shame when the President of the United States and his neoconservative puppet-masters peddle such absurdities without being greeted by squeals of laughter – and shouted down as hypocritical, as farcical.

Who has been the leading ally and sponsor these past decades of nearly all the despotisms in the Middle East – those of royal pedigree and others seeking to become royalties?

Regardless, the real plan of United States failed miserably. It was dispatched to its grave by a people’s resistance in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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Popular Committee Leader: “My Next Letter Will Likely Be Written From Inside A Prison Cell”

Mohammad Khatib, Jawaher Abu Rahmah, Abdallah Abu Rahmah, Jonathan Pollak
Mohammad Khatib, Jawaher Abu Rahmah, Abdallah Abu Rahmah, Jonathan Pollak

New Year’s greetings from Mohammad Khatib, one of the remaining Bil’in popular committee leaders:

At the threshold of the New Year, I write to wish you a new year of freedom and liberation. This has been an unbelievable year for me in both highs and lows. A year during which I have witnessed how, despite repression, ordinary people all across Palestine take to the streets for freedom.

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Jody McIntyre exposes the BBC’s disabilities

This is what passes for journalism on the BBC.  Here is Jody McIntyre, a disabled youth, a wonderful human being, who was assaulted by the police at a student protest. And what does the BBC do? It spends over eight minutes fearlessly interrogating the wheelchair-bound youth with cerebral palsy, prodding him to explain how he invited the attack by ‘provoking’ the police. McIntyre demonstrates that he may be physically impaired, but he is a moral giant. The BBC on the other hand is disabled both morally and ethically.

The disgusting sack of shit conducting the interview is called Ben Brown. Please make sure to register your displeasure: http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/ and please share widely, lest anyone still harbour the belief that the BBC is anything but a state propaganda organ.

UPDATE: Reader Squall has this useful suggestion:

Don’t complain to the BBC. They’re already rejecting complaints about this, and they never agree that they’ve failed to be impartial anyway.

Complain to Ofcom. State that the BBC has broken section 5.1 (Due Impartiality and Due Accuracy in News) of the Broadcasting Code.
https://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/tell-us/specific-programme-epg

Police cavalry charges students in London

Barack Obama will no doubt issue a statement of solidarity soon. (via Lenin’s Tomb) According to Chris Greenwood of the Press Association, the police has made 20 arrests and 43 protesters have been treated at hospital for injuries. Twelve police officers were also injured.

Guardian reports:

At 5.40pm news of the MPs’ historic decision reached the crowds gathered in Whitehall to cries of “Shame!”

Within an hour, the scuffles at police lines that had been erupting all afternoon escalated into more violent confrontations, windows were broken at several buildings including the Treasury and supreme court and in Trafalgar Square

A car carrying Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall was attacked in Argyll Street as they headed for the Royal Variety Performance at the London Palladium, with a window of the vehicle being cracked in the violence. Paint was also thrown and splattered the car. […]

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Israel Broadcasting Authority: “A Large-Scale Security Exercise has Concluded”

The following is a translation of a report by the Israel Broadcasting Authority (radio). These exercises were held three days before the Knesset approved a loyalty oath (to “the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state”) for non-Jews, wishing to become citizens of Israel.

 

A Large-Scale Security Exercise has Concluded

Carmela Menashe | 08.10.10 – 09:43

 

This image is the original image accompanying the article.

 

The exercise simulated facing Hamas terror attacks and Israeli Arab riots, following an agreement with the PA.

Yesterday (Thursday), Security forces completed a large-scale security exercise that simulates dealing with Hamas terror attacks and Israeli Arab riots following the signing of an agreement with the Palestinian Authority. Our correspondent reports that, among other things, the forces trained in extreme scenarios of violent demonstrations in the Arab sector, due to population exchange agreements with the PA.
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“Truth Alone Triumphs”: of David, Goliath, Stones, and Speech

“Azadi” is also the chant whose echoes swirl in the Kashmir Valley with greater resonance each day, from the minarets and playgrounds, boulevards and alleys, schools and courts, despite the crushing screeches of teargas and bullets of the Indian (in)security forces. It is “scriptured” into utterance by each breath of Kashmiri women, children, and men; calligraphed by their blood on their emerald valley; embroidered by their bones in Kashmiri Arabesque on worn cobblestones of the downtown; and papier-mâchéd in paisley tears on the blue of their beloved lakes.

by Huma Dar

“A Defiant Kashmiri woman being frisked by Indian Security Forces.” 2007. Uncredited photograph from a Kashmiri blogger

 

And the night’s sun there in Srinagar?  Guns shoot stars into the sky, the storm of constellations night after night, the infinite that rages on.  It was Id-uz-Zuha: a record of God’s inability, for even He must melt sometimes, to let Ishmael be executed by the hand of his father.  Srinagar was under curfew.  The identity pass may or may not have helped in the crackdown.  Son after son–never to return from the night of torture–was taken away.

… But the reports are true, and without song: mass rapes in the villages, towns left in cinders, neighborhoods torched.  “Power is hideous / like a barber’s hands.”  The rubble of downtown Srinagar stares at me from the Times.

… And that blesséd word with no meaning–who will utter it?  What is it?  Will the women pronounce it, as if scripturing the air, for the first time?  Or the last?

… What is the blesséd word?  Mandelstam gives no clue.  One day the Kashmiris will pronounce that word truly for the first time.  (Excerpt from Agha Shahid Ali’s “The Blesséd Word: A Prologue,” in The Country Without A Post Office,  1997: 16-17)

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