Suicidal Silence

silenceProtests are breaking out over killing of Muslims in Myanmar, not just on social media but on the streets. International human rights groups like Amnesty International are taking notice, and even the United Nations has sent an envoy to investigate. Meanwhile, another group of Muslims is being systematically slaughtered, and their plight is being met with silence. I am speaking, obviously, of Pakistani Muslims killed by none other than other Pakistani Muslims.

The most obvious case are the ongoing attacks against Shia. Newspapers in Pakistan carry headlines that read ‘Burmese Muslim losing hope’ and also ‘Hope fades away for Hazaras of Pakistan’. But you will find no protest marches here. Instead, you will find Lashkar-e-Jhangvi chief Malik Ishaq sitting on a stage next to Hamid Gul and Hafiz Saeed spreading messages of militancy and intolerance.

It is not just militants, though, who are preaching these messages. Our electronic media too is a teaching these lessons to the point that none other than al Arabiya is asking ‘is Pakistan’s TV evangelism sprouting a dangerous creed of intolerance’? Even the national heroes among us are erased from history if their personal religious beliefs do not conform to someone else’s standard.

Yesterday, media reported a pair of journalists were beaten for having soft drinks in their car during daytime. According to the reports, the policemen accused them of committing sin by not fasting during Ramazan.

Since when did we have religious police to enforce Sharia? Actually, we don’t. What we have are self-appointed religious police. They aren’t ghazis, they are narcissistic psychopaths whose murderous rampages are given sanction by a public that is too scared, too apathetic, or too complicit. How else does a guard turn his gun on his own ward only to find himself showered with petals by the very people who claim to be guardians of rule of law?

Supreme Court Advocate Feisal Naqvi warns that we are slipping down a dangerous slope, where atrocities are committed, and nobody cares.

We are headed for a stage where even the people who attend fashion shows and rock concerts are becoming increasingly comfortable with the fact that it is okay to kill people either for being non-Muslim or for being the wrong sort of Muslim.

Think I’m wrong? If so, think again. In the last six months alone, we have seen multiple incidents in which people have been killed, in the most brutal of ways, for belonging to the wrong religion or the wrong sect. The one act of terror I have been unable to wipe out from my memory is that of the Balochi Shia pilgrims on their way to Iran. Their bus was stopped at a deserted spot and each of the Shias was then shot at close range and their bodies heaved out of the bus like so many sacks of grain. Of course, we know all of this because one of the murdering bastards used his cellphone to record the massacre and then uploaded the video on YouTube.

And yet, where is the outrage?

Outrage is there, but it is pointed outward. We are outraged by human rights violations in other countries, but not our own. We support ‘self defense’ for occupied people, but we are unwilling to defend ourselves against the occupation of extremism. We brave the hot sun to march against ‘hidden hands’, but we don’t lift a finger against the grip of intolerance that is strangling our culture and society. In our silence, we are dying by our own hand.

Losing Our Moral Credibility

Moral arguments are regularly used to promote positions on a range of issues. Independent Kashmir should be supported not to stick it to India, but because it is a moral imperative to defend the lives and freedom of people who want to be free. Drones should be stopped because they are a violation of sovereignty that is killing innocents. But in order to make a moral argument for a position, one is typically expected to adhere to the same standards.

The British learned this lesson the hard way after years of colonialism left them lacking moral credibility in the world arena. The US is the most recent student to learn the hard lesson after decades of supporting dictators left them suspect in the minds of the new leaders emerging from the Arab Spring. Now, we too may be facing a tough lesson.

The Foreign Office summoned American diplomats to lodge formal complaints about US drones killing Pakistani citizens last month. Over the weekend, though, it was our own diplomats who were summoned, this time by the Afhgan Foreign Minister who lodged a formal complaint about cross-border shelling from our side of the border. This came just after we abstained from a vote to impose sanctions on Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president who is massacring his own people in a last ditch effort to keep an iron grip on power. This failure to support efforts against a murderous regime comes only one year since we saw our troops traveling to Bahrain to support the violent suppression of a popular uprising.

Moral arguments are important. But if we want them to be taken seriously, we have to be willing to avoid the same policies that we are criticising. The UK and the US have learned this lesson the hard way. Why are we following down the same path?

Message ‘Force Multipliers’ Marching Us To Destruction

The US under Bush regime is well known to have cooked the evidence to justify invading Iraq. The Pentagon even used a secret media cell to fool the American people into going along with Bush’s military misadventures.

The inspector general’s office at the Defense Department announced on Friday that it would investigate a Pentagon public affairs program that sought to transform retired military officers who work as television and radio analysts into “message force multipliers” who could be counted on to echo Bush administration talking points about Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo and terrorism in general.

When I read this, I could not help but laugh at how familiar it was. Retired military officers joining the media to peddle propaganda to their own people. Where have I heard of such a thing before? Another sign that we and the Americans are more alike than we choose to believe? There is a difference, though, and an important one.

When Bush’s secret program to use propaganda against his own people was discovered, the American Congress was outraged and took action to stop it.

The House amendment, adopted by voice vote on Thursday night, would make permanent a domestic propaganda ban that until now has been enacted annually in the military authorization bill; the Senate is still working on its version of the bill.

In debating the amendment, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Representative Ike Skelton, Democrat of Missouri, said he was “sorely distressed” about the Pentagon campaign, and Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut, argued that it amounted to nothing more than illegal “domestic propaganda.”

“It is a military-industrial-media complex,” Ms. DeLauro said.

Representative Paul W. Hodes, Democrat of New Hampshire, added: “The American people were spun by Bush administration message multipliers. They were fed administration talking points believing they were getting independent military analysis.”

Compare this with our own country where the ‘military-industrial-media complex’ fills the airwaves daily with planted stories and disinformation targeting not our enemies but our own people, while parliament sits quietly on the side line and says nothing.

I was reminded of this again when I read Kamran Shafi’s direct challenge to ‘the managers/puppeteers/paymasters’ of those ‘who live and do their dirty doings in the shadows’ and ‘egg them on with fake information’. Kamran Shafi, despite having spent 11 years in Army, has found himself in the sights of the ‘military-industrial-media complex’ and is subjected to all manner of threats and abuse, even having his house attacked by faceless gunmen.

Jihadi militants are attacking our security forces with impunity, infiltrating our armed forces to wage a cover war against Pakistan, and openly spreading jihadi propaganda on the front lawn of GHQ. Meanwhile, unknown sums are spent spreading propaganda against honest citizens and beating the drum of intolerance and isolationism.

In 1971, propagandists filled the media with lies to drum up support for the misadventure that dismembered Pakistan.

17 December 1971 Dawn front page

18 December 1971 Dawn headline

After being misled into one disaster, the Americans learned from their mistakes and banned propaganda against their own people. Today our own propagandists are still at it, lying to us about the fight against militants that threatens to finally unravel the fabric of Pakistan for good. Will we learn from our own past mistakes and stop this madness before it’s too late?

Imran Khan isn’t against America. He’s against the Jews who control America.

Controversy erupted yesterday when BBC Urdu published an interview with US Ambassador Cameron Munter in which the American diplomat said that both Nawaz and Imran Khan had privately assured him that if they were brought to power they would lead pro-American governments.

This obviously upset PTI supporters who began a full scale media campaign to prove that Imran Khan is not pro-American. Jahangir Tareen tweeted that “PTI is fiercely nationalistic” while the party’s Vice Dentist repeatedly denied that Munter ever mentioned Imran Khan (he did).

Imran Khan sidestepped the question until a few hours ago when he told reporters that he was “misquoted”, explaining that PTI is neither “pro nor against the US”, but against American policies. This is a common explanation, but it’s also usually a cop out. In Imran Khan’s case, though, there is more to the story.

Imran Khan is always very clear that he is not against the American people, only the policies of America’s government. Now, some say that you can’t separate the two completely because America is a democracy and the government is elected by the people. But Imran Khan knows that things are not that simple. America only looks like a democracy. In reality, though, it is secretly under the control of Israel. He explained this very clearly earlier this year.

He explained this further while talking to Talat Hussain a few weeks ago.

You see, it’s not America that Imran Khan is against. It’s the policies of the global Jew conspiracy against Pakistan’s and Iran’s nuclear programmes. So please, don’t put words in Imran Khan’s mouth. Just tell what he actually believes.

Cross-border attacks and Credibility

Cross border attacks are getting a lot of attention these days. The vicious murder of our soldiers by jihadi militants proves that it’s our war whether we want to admit it or not. Unfortunately, there is increasing evidence that Pakistani jihadi groups are crossing into Afghanistan to target Afghan forces. If allowed to continue, these events will destroy any credibility we have in demanding that our own sovereignty be respected.

We are often told that groups like al Qaeda and Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba are completely unrelated. Al Qaeda is against US, Afghan Taliban is against occupation, and LeT is against occupation of Kashmir. But if LeT is really only interested in liberating Kashmir, what are they doing fighting in Afghanistan? Jihadi fighters loyal to Hafiz Gul Bahadur not only crossed the border into Afghanistan, the dead are being returned to Pakistan for burial after they were killed during a cross border attack.

An Afghan and coalition security force conducted an operation, in Watahpur district, Kunar province, yesterday. The target of the operation was Khatab Shafiq, a Lashkar-e-Taiba leader. Khatab Shafiq was the LeT’s senior leader in Kunar province. He was responsible for several attacks against Afghan and coalition forces, and provided money, weapons and training to insurgents in the region. Khatab Shafiq also established multiple insurgent training camps in eastern Afghanistan, where insurgents learned how to use mortars, rockets and machine guns. Most recently, he was involved with teaching insurgents how to build and emplace improvised explosive devices. During the operation, the security force positively identified Khatab Shafiq among an armed group of insurgents. After determining there were no civilians in the area, the security force engaged the insurgents with a precision airstrike away from all civilian structures. After the strike, the Afghan and coalition security force conducted a follow-on assessment and confirmed Khatab Shafiq, along with multiple other insurgents, had been killed.

Actually, this should come as no surprise. Executive Director Centre for Research and Security Studies Imtiaz Gul noted in his column for Express Tribune last week that the notion of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban has shown to be an illusion as both are working more closely together than has been previously admitted.

Not only are they redrawing common strategies in view of the operational and political hiccups that the US-Nato is facing in Afghanistan, but they are also becoming a source of instability in Pakistan itself. All Pakistani militant forces inimical to the US-Nato presence in Afghanistan, including the al Qaeda, who consider Pakistan as an equal culprit (for the sufferings of Afghans) have ratcheted up violence — delivering the proverbial pinpricks to Pakistani society (including the June 23 murder of nine people in Quetta).

Unfortunately, our military leadership seems to be living on a different planet. COAS issued orders to retaliate against NATO aggression, but has remained silent on the militant groups.

Our leaders are correct to hold the NATO commanders responsible for cross-border attacks against our soldiers. But what is good for the goose is good for the gander. How can we be taken seriously when we demand that militants not be allowed to cross from the Afghan side when there appears to be a steady stream of militants crossing from our side? Credibility is hard won and easily lost. Some may think it makes no difference since the Americans will be leaving soon anyway, but with our credibility in tatters, will we be taken seriously when militants cross another border?