Self criticism in a time of war

In a recent discussion on social media, the point was made that right now is not the time for self-criticism because we are in a state of war. This reply came after posting a story in the international press about thousands of Pakistani citizens being illegally killed by police who were even ‘happy to admit the practice’. The point was taken, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about this.

My first thought was, okay, if now is not the time for self-criticism, when is it? We are in a time of war and we don’t want to demoralise the nation or parrot our enemies propaganda. Okay. But when things are going well, we are also told that it is not the time for self-criticism because then we are demoralising the nation when we should be projecting ‘Pak Positive’ topics and building ourselves up. For many people, there is never a good time for self-criticism. For many people, we should never talk about our problems and just hope that one day we will wake up and they will have magically disappeared. This is the mindset that has allowed our problems to continue and fester like sores that could be easily healed if we just gave them the small amount of attention that they need.

My second thought was about parroting our enemies propaganda. This is a common reply: Why you are sounding like India?

Let me give another way to think about this:

If talking about our problems sounds like Indian propaganda, shouldn’t we be working to solve those problems and therefore taking away India’s talking points?

This is one of our biggest weak points. All nations have problems. In America, the Black Lives Matter has pulled the veil off of America’s racism and exposed the violence of police forces. No one is telling Americans not to talk about this problem. In Pakistan, we are always told not to talk about our problems, but this doesn’t make the problems disappear. All it does is make us look like we are unwilling or unable to do anything about them. That is handing Indian extremists the biggest propaganda point.

Modi’s extremist regime has fulfilled all the predictions of Quaid-e-Azam about what India would become over time. Can there be any doubt that Modi has been a gift to Pakistan since he has so obviously given evidence for Pakistan’s case in the world? We have been given an opportunity, but we can easily waste it if we play into Modi’s hands by ignoring our problems instead of solving them.

In a time of war, the first order should be not to supply the enemy with any ammunition. Stating the obvious is not handing India anything. Ignoring the obvious is. Therefore, I believe it is not only wise, it is a patriotic duty at this time to face and solve the national crises so that our enemies can not use them as weapons against us.

Kashmir uprising a distraction from local atrocities?

wani-beesThe latest Kashmir uprising has united Pakistan unlike anything before. Whole nation has come together and is ready to sacrifice for the liberation of Kashmir from Indian oppression. Even APS massacre was not able to keep the nation united like Indian abuses in Kashmir has. In his speech at the UN, PM Nawaz Sharif noted the abuses being faced by Kashmiri people and even offered to provide a dossier documenting these brutalities. Kashmir has been the top news story for months, and social media has become filled with Burhan Wannabees. But there is another place where Muslims are being abused and even killed in much larger numbers, so why nobody is rising up to defend them?

Human Rights Watch has released a new report documenting that thousands of Pakistanis are being murdered by police in fake encounters. Such atrocities come as a surprise only because our media does not celebrate them like atrocities in Kashmir. However, if Burhan Wani being killed by Indian security forces makes him a martyr for Kashmir, how can we not give the same title to Pakistanis illegally killed by Pakistani security forces? Social media is filled with Burhan Wannabees, but no one is seen wearing a mask of Aftab Ahmed who was tortured to death by Pakistan Rangers.

Kashmiri people are facing horrible abuses by Indian security forces, and we have declared that we will even gladly die in a nuclear war to free them, but we will do not even notice when our own fellow citizens are facing the same abuses and even worse? I am not saying that social media’s keyboard commandoes should be rallying behind a ‘Karachi Intifada’, but I am saying that we should stop to think why are so passionate about abuses somewhere else and so dispassionate about the same, and even worse abuses at home.

Pak pigeons, RAW milk, and a need for real patriots to step forward

Spy Pigeon

As tensions grow worse between Pakistan and India, Indian security forces have intercepted a Pakistani spy pigeon. I should say “another” Pakistani spy pigeon, as this is not the first time India’s premiere intelligence agency has accused its neighbor of Pakistani birds of invading Indian airspace, though it is unclear whether DNA tests were used to confirm the pigeon’s nationality, or if they were carrying some Pakistani candies also.

Indian “intelligence” is not the only one being challenged in these tense times. Our own Defence Minister has accused Indian border forces of carrying out cross-border targeted attacks against Pakistani buffaloes.

Such nonsense provide a light hearted relief at a much needed time, but the real need of the day are people with the courage to step forward and stand up to the hyper-nationalists who are beating the war drum. As usual, these hyper-nationalist warmongers hide behind a mask of patriotism and fake “pro-Army” slogans while what they are proposing is that our soldiers get killed in order to boost their own pride and egos. Notice how many of the loudest “patriots’ are always chomping at the bit for war from their computer keyboards in the US, UK, or UAE. Even those who are in Pakistan declare they are ready to sacrifice…from their accounting desk.

War with India will not be a one-sided affair where Indian forces simply run, or lay down and die. Our soldiers are willing to sacrifice their lives, but it is an offer that should not be taken lightly. It should only be as a last resort, not a means to make you feel good. Real patriots are those who appreciate their soldiers sacrifice enough not to waste it satisfy their own egos.

Worse, the easy talk of nuclear war is the very definition of insanity. Do you think angels will cover Pakistan with their wings? No, what will take place will be devastating.

Let us laugh at the jokers telling stories about spy pigeons and martyred buffaloes, but we must also realise that war is no joking matter.

CENSORED: The Myth We Believe In

The following op-ed was originally published by The Nation on 17th Sept. It was quickly deleted from the newspaper’s website due to unknown orders from unknown offices. We are re-posting the piece in accordance with Articles 19 and 19(A) of the Constitution which guarantee “the right to freedom of speech and expression, and…freedom of the press” as well as “the right to have access to information in all matters of public importance”.

Gen Raheel

In Pakistan your patriotism is gauged by your love for the uniform. Not just any uniform though. Not blue, not white nor the greys. The respect is deeply attached to the Khaki tone. If you worship the cloth you are a true Pakistani, if not you’re simply a traitor.

Choosing sides is fairly easy when it comes to the skirmishes involving the khakis. One fairly common battle is the khaki vs the sherwanis. Everyone knows who wins these. The Sherwanis’ squeaky attempt at going head to head with the former has been a sore retelling throughout our history. The dabs of corruption and opportunism give an outrageous edge to the Khaki’s who manage to woo the crowd. Not much good happens when the crowd sides with the Khaki’s alone. However, the support is not up for debate. It never has been; as far as the unsaid laws of this country go.

There are other battles as well; or at least there should be. The Khaki has been a bully dominating a playground that was made for others to play in. Take the real estate for example. Retired khakis who have only retired officially but maintain their kahki ego and influence, monopolise some of the most lucrative endeavors in the real estate business. Somehow, the field in question is a money minting machine if you’re a khaki. Besides a certain rarity (who himself has often exhibited himself as an accessory to the Khakis), those who don’t wear the color usually don’t prosper as much. Why this happens is a matter of perspective. The ex-Chief’s brother and his adventures give some insight. The Ferrari crash too, clears the picture. And then there is so much more. There are the banks. There are the factories. And indeed, so much more.

The khakis have managed to maintain dominance in the setting of other uniforms as well. The mammoth budget directed to the uniforms out of our tax money has the lion share go to the them. No other uniform ever protests this. Then there is the obvious usurping of power sectors that the other uniforms -thankfully so- don’t even dream to venture into. The populace has believed in the myth the Khakis want them to believe in. In times of despair or political frustration, the chief in Khaki is looked upon. As time has taught the nation of Pakistan, these expectations are never really a good idea.

No one dares challenge the might of the Khakis. Those who do simply don’t exist. The rules of the game in this country dictates it as so. However, someone just did. A person bearing the grey uniform did what he was paid to do. The khakis didn’t like that. Figures of an elite force were called in to help their khaki brothers. The greys were beaten. There are pictures and first and second person accounts. The beating was not the end for the greys were then forcefully kept at Attock fort.

The said incident does not raise many eyebrows. The term ‘bloody civilian’ has been often repeated by men who believe being rude dictates authority. Similarly, the traffic police too have not had to face the anger of a disappointed influential who’ve insisted on not paying their dues. This incident is but a usual affair in our country.

What is interesting however is how the country has reacted. The reaction takes us back to the initial premise of this article whereby one’s patriotism is dictated by having complete faith in the army. There have been ludicrous justifications to the incident. Those who seek to justify the actions of the men involved have just made a mockery out of the institution. ISPR too has brushed this aside with a rather casual term: sad. Now there is supposed to be an internal inquiry of the men involved. Strange, why the said men are not being brought to the civil courts for more transparent proceedings. After all, wasn’t this the expectations the civilians attached to the civilian cases sent in to the military courts?

If this incident is not brushed under the carpet it will make an impact that has been much awaited. However, those found guilty must be held accountable to the public at large as well. With secret proceedings and rulings, not many of us will know what exactly happened with the case. Most of us will forget about it much sooner than we should. Here is to hoping that the ISPR does a better job at this than the tweets it has most recently become fond of. A detailed ruling must be shared with the public. The Khakis are good at making the public believe in their myth; let’s hope they can make the public believe the truth too.

The writer is working as a health economist in a think-tank based  in Islamabad

India jumps to conclusions while NDU analyst explains strategy behind Uri attack

Uri attackAfter the deadliest attack on Indian security forces in Indian occupied Kashmir, Indian officials were quick to jump to conclusions and take the opportunity to blame Pakistan. Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh jumped at the opportunity to term Pakistan as a ‘terrorist state‘ on social media even before the smoke had cleared.

Pakistani anchors close to the establishment quickly responded with conspiracy theories, terming the attack as a ‘false flag’ and accusing Indian Army of killing its own soldiers just to blame Pakistan. Moeed Pirzada posted a long piece in which he asks this very interesting question:

So how does Pakistan or its institutions benefit from an attack on Army base in Uri in the morning of 18th September, which will be immediately blamed on Pakistan, just three days before the UN General Assembly speech of Pakistani Prime Minister where he was supposed to raise Kashmir and the continuous humanitarian violations by the Indian government?

Actually, the answer was given by NDU graduate Salman Javed who is now director of CSCR, a ‘think tank’ under the oversight of Lt Gen (r) Naeem Khalid Lodhi with possible links to national agencies.

Salman Javed with former DG ISI Gen Hamid GulSalman Javed visiting with Lt Gen (r) Hamid Gul

While many were trying to promote the ‘false flag’ conspiracy theory, Salman Javed was doing the opposite. On social media the NDU strategist praised the attack and tried to explain why it was in Pakistan’s interest.

NDU graduate Salman Javed explains Uri attack strategy

On Twitter the NDU strategist clarified that Uri attack was not a ‘false flag’, and was very frustrated that more people were not understanding the strategy behind the attack and asking social media activists to get in touch with actual jihadis fighting on the ground in Kashmir for further clarification.

salman-javed-uri-attack-not-false-flagsalman-javed-uri-attack-strategy-1salman-javed-get-in-touch-with-militantsThere is no doubt that human rights atrocities in Indian occupied Kashmir have become a humiliation for India. Pakistani diplomats preparing to bring this case to the world’s attention at the UN, but India tried to distract attention away by pointing fingers at human rights atrocities taking place in Balochistan. According to this NDU strategist, Uri attack was timed to put attention away from Balochistan and back to Kashmir which is India’s weak point. It is important to note that in this thinking, if Kashmiri jihad is completely justified, so why deny it?

The facts about Uri attack are still coming out, but one thing is certain: This NDU strategist’s answer to Moeed Pirzada’s question, ‘how does Pakistan or its institutions benefit from an attack?’ is much more believable than claiming Indian Army killed its own soldiers.