The Producers: Has Lollywood become Pindiwood?

MaalikCanadian director Ashir Azeem’s new film ‘Maalik’ is being met with great controversy as many are asking what is going on with this film. Why is ISPR making movies? What is this narrative we are pushing? Who is paying for this?

Supporters of these films will quickly point out that if Hollywood works with the American military what is wrong with Pakistan military helping make authentic war films. The answer is that there is nothing wrong with the Army consulting on films to help make sure they are authentic. The problem comes when the Army goes from advising on authenticity to controlling the strings and using films as pro-war propaganda. This is a problem that even Americans question, so why can’t we question it also?

However there is also a big difference between the relationship between American and Pakistani military films which is that in America the movie producers pay the military for their help.

“The rule of thumb for us is that there’s no additional cost to the US government,” says Strub. “So if they’re filming typical flight operations on an aircraft carrier, we wouldn’t charge. But if you wanted to control the aircraft, then we would charge exactly what it costs the squadron.” These costs vary: from $1,000 an hour for a tank, to more than $25,000 for an F-15 jet fighter.

Who paid for all of the soldiers and equipment used in Maalik? Did this come from the military budget? If so, why is Army spending so much making movies when it is also once again demanding that it does not have enough funds? How do movies help the defense of the realm?

There is also the issue that the film is enflaming ethnic divisions by projecting certain ethnicities as corrupt, some as target killers, and others as ‘saviours’. This becomes obvious as the ‘heroes’ of the story are Punjabi and the ‘villains’ are Sindhi. Is it coincidence that this film is released while Rangers are conducting Karachi operation?

Privately, some analysts are also expressing concern that the rise of Mumtaz Qadri phenomenon is being driven from certain quarters who are trying to counter the influence of out of control Deobandi groups by building up Barelvi groups as an alternative. However, this clever game is having the result of militantising Barelvis and creating a society that is quickly becoming even more radicalised, not less.

The biggest question, though, is why the military is being involved in making action films while the nation faces serious threats from enemies within and without. There is also a growing feeling of unease with the problematic narrative that is being promoted as can be seen from reactions on social media. This is the obvious point that those behind such efforts are missing. ‘Maalik’ is actually dividing the country, not uniting it. The military has a critical role to play in defence of the country. Making poorly-conceived action movies is not part of it.

Demanding land rights is not terrorism

By Farooq Tariq

Army's anti-farmer operations in OkaraA massive repression of the peaceful peasant movement, the Anjuman Mozareen Punjab (AMP), is underway. Most of its leadership has been arrested under false anti-terrorist laws. Dozens of members are missing, while over 50 remain behind bars. All have been declared “terrorists” by the Okara district police, working hand in hand with the Military Farms administration, which mainly serves military officers.

The source of the problem is that while 14000 acres of land in the Okara district is owned by the Punjab government, it is occupied by the Military Farms administration. Since 2001, the tenants of the Military farms have refused to turn over half of their crops (bitai), which they and their families had been paying for over 90 years. How could ordinary people dare to say no to the military officers? That is their real “crime”; their demand of their land rights.

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Former DG-ISPR says Army has been covering up corruption problem for years

Major General Rashid QureshiEveryone knows that officers are honest and politicians are corrupt, but what if I told you that military officers might be just as corrupt as their civilian counterparts? You would say I am crazy, of course. But what if DG-ISPR told you? Now will you listen?

This is exactly what has happened in the fallout of six high-ranking officers being forced to retire due to fault. Explaining the shock felt within the military and the unusual silence from Army’s media wing, former DG-ISPR Maj-Gen (r) Rashid Qureshi said that corruption has been a problem in the military since long but the institution has kept an official policy of hiding it from the public.

“The policy of the armed forces is that matters related to the personnel of armed forces are dealt with, and remain within, the institution.”

The Major General’s statement was corroborated by former Judge Advocate General (JAG) Army Brigadier (r) Wasaf Khan Niazi:

“I have conducted several court martial proceedings and dealt with the removal cases of a number of officers but none of them appeared in the press.”

By forcing six high-ranking officers to retire due to fault for their role in corruption, Gen Raheel has shown what he meant by ‘across the board accountability’. It is commonly accepted that Gen Raheel’s move was a brilliant political strategy to force political parties to clean their houses. However questions are now being raised about the extent of corruption within the military itself, and whether this move by COAS was a publicity stunt or whether there will be a full and independent inquiry into military corruption and how the institution has been covering it up for decades.

Gen Raheel shows telling uncomfortable truths is patriotic

Ayesha Siddiqa Military IncCorruption within the ranks has been an open secret since I can remember. Entire books have been written on the topic, but little has ever been done because pointing out any corruption or faults in Army, especially officers, has been rejected as ‘demoralising’ our forces and ‘defaming’ sensitive institutions. Now, though, history has been made as no less than Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif has confirmed that at least six high-ranking military officers were involved in corruption and inquiries are ongoing against even more.

Details are still coming to light, but one point is very clear: Unless we are prepared to start accusing Gen Raheel as a RAW agent, we must admit that noting the faults of national institutions, even sensitive ones, is a patriotic duty.

It was not long ago that Ayesha Siddiqa who has written extensively about corruption in the ranks was termed a RAW agent in the Green Book, the official journal of GHQ. I do not expect an apology or a correction, though this would not be unwarranted given Gen Raheel’s actions. The need of the hour is to start recognising that the real patriots are those like Ayesha Siddiqa and Gen Raheel who have the courage to tell uncomfortable truths in order to make the nation stronger.

Imran Khan’s Sheer Hypocrisy Laid Bare

He is known as ‘U-Turn Khan’ because of his habit of quickly changing positions to suit himself such as his strong stance against drones when America was using them to his silent approval when Pakistan using them. However there is another element of Imran Khan’s personality that is not just changing positions, he also has different standards for himself and everyone else. In other words it is sheer hypocrisy.

This hypocrisy is making waves on social media since he has declared that offshore accounts are only for crooks…except he has a difference standard for his friend Aleem Khan.

Imran Khan offshore accounts for other people       CgeP-LBXIAArHnK

This is not the only incident, obviously, but just one example of Imran Khan’s true personality. There is also the time that Imran Khan blasted everyone for being not Pakistani enough, accusing the “Pakistani westernised elite who ape their former colonial masters” by wearing western clothes instead of shalwar kameez?

Imran Khan aping his colonial masters CgbToZHWwAER-w1

Imran Khan is a stage managed opportunist who changes his position to suit his ambitions. That is commonly known. But he is also a common hypocrite who criticises other people for not being ‘pure’ enough while holding himself, and his friends, to completely different standards.