Nawab Imran Khan’s declared plan to shut down the capital unless his demands are met has been responded with severe displeasure by the Board of the Chinese-Pakistan Economic Company (CPEC). On Tuesday, that displeasure was demonstrated in a rare visit from Chinese Viceroy Sun Weidong at Khan’s Bani Gala palace.
The Chinese Viceroy left no room for misinterpretation as he explained that the Board of CPEC would not allow their investment of tens of billions to be threatened by the antics of a minor provincial chief. With a deeply bowed head, Nawab Khan apologised for the misunderstanding and assured the Chinese official that it was all just a bit of fun and “its planned siege of the city was not meant to derail the present government, the system or create chaos in the country.” While some peasants may be thrashed as part of the drama, the Nawab promised the Viceroy “there would absolutely be no threat to the diplomatic corps.”
Having given his assurance that next month’s protest was never intended to be more than a cheap stage drama, Nawab Kahn stood outside his palace and watched the Viceroy’s caravan drive away. “Sir,” his Secretary Shah Mehmood Qureshi began to say. “Shut up!” responded the Nawab. “Get out! All of you get out!”
“Yes, my Lord,” they whispered and left Khan standing alone on the front steps as a light rain began to fall. As they sat drinking tea in silence, they could hear the Nawab unleash a tirade of obscenities in the distance. Qureshi looked up at his colleague Shireen Mazari who met his eye with a mischievous grin.
I don’t usually agree with Shireen Mazari on political matters, but I have always admired her as a strong woman. She has always handled herself and managed to keep up with the boys in our political arena which is not known for its politeness. This is why it was all the more shocking to me when none other than Shireen Mazari herself was reduced to tears on the floor of the National Assembly after suffering a humiliating treatment by Khawaja Asif. After being held to account in the media for treating a woman in such a manner, the Defence Minister finally issued an apology. However, he did not apologise to Shireen Mazari, he apologised to the National Assembly. Many people are commenting on Khawaja Asif’s terrible behaviour, but I believe he is not the only one to blame. Was his attack really a surprise? Not because Mazari deserved it. Never. It was not a surprise because it is only another symptom of the epidemic of woman hating in this country.
How much do we have to hate women to burn them alive? This was not an accident. Women are set on fire in this country like trash. It happens more often than we are willing to admit. When women are not set on fire, they are raped. Even school girls are not safe from rapists. Rapes are even recorded and shared for entertainment. Incidents of violence against women are soaring in the land of the pure. Even those who are supposed to protect us are involved. Is it any surprise? Our clerics teach that treating women like dogs is the will of Allah.
Khawaja Asif’s attack on Shireen Mazari is inexcusable. He is a government minister who behaved worse than an illiterate street urchin. It is no surprise to me, though. I am old enough now that it is what I expect from most men. Khawaja Asif’s apology tells everything you need to know. He did not apologise to the victim of his attack, because one does not apologise to a woman. He didn’t even say that his behaviour was wrong. He said it was ‘improper for a political worker’. Until we accept that such behaviour is not only improper for politicians, but for any man, how can we as women expect to be treated as fully human, much less full citizens?
Indian Prim Minister Narenda Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore added to the celebrations of the week. Nawaz did not greet his Indian counterpart as part of a high level diplomatic mission, and yet it was exactly the type of diplomatic ice breaker that has been so desperately needed. Even Imran Khan was found appreciating the event, terming it ‘a positive step’.
Not everyone was pleased, though, as certain media personalities took to social media to make their own opinions known.
For the common man, improved relations between the two nuclear powers is an obvious benefit. Besides reducing the obvious chances of violence, improved relations also promises to improve economic opportunities and tourism. For certain media talking heads, though, improved relations are obviously very threatening. Perhaps this is because their own economic success depends largely on continued tensions and an easy enemy to demonise. Is it possible that certain individuals are willing to put their own wealth and fame above the good of their own country? Would someone who puts their own greed before their country be correctly called a ‘patriot’?
Obviously this may be taking things a bit too far. However if these individuals are not acting for their own self interest, whose interests are they so desperate to protect? Perhaps the better question is who is it that gains the most money and power from having poor relations between our two nations? Some will point to religious groups and their private funders who find themselves with more power when they can convince the people that Islam is under threat. There are others who will note that it is not only religious groups that play the ‘fortress of Islam’ card to continually increase their funding and authority.
Probably we will never know what causes some to feel so threatened and scared of peace between Pakistan and India. Never mind them, though. There have always been those who have tried to sabotage Pakistan’s relations to their own benefit. Some will dismiss the visit between the two Prime Ministers by saying that it didn’t accomplish anything. This is not entire accurate, however. It did accomplish one thing which was flushing out certain individuals and making them show their true face.
The image has already been seen countless times around the world. Observer Research Foundation Chairman Sudheendra Kulkarni sitting with his face blackened with ink next to former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri at the latter’s book launch in Mumabai. Kulkarni suffered the attack by hyper-nationalist Shiv Sena thugs who were against the Pakistani book event being held in India. While the world was shocked by the image, there were many here in Pakistan who jumped at the opportunity to advance a hyper-nationalistic narrative of their own.
The image of Sudheendra Kulkarni’s blackened face is a humiliation for India, but it should also be a chilling warning for us in Pakistan also. Have we forgotten about the campaigns to ban Indian media within our borders? What about the fact that not only Indian media, but even Malala’s book launch was also canceled due to security threats. Some books never even see the light of day in this country if they are deemed against the national interest, even when they are written by a former DG-ISI! Most telling, though, our own hyper-nationalists give the exact same message as Shiv Sena to ban Pakistanis from holding book events in India in the first place.
This is the true blackened face of hyper-nationalism. It is not really about promoting or protecting the country you love. It is about gaining power through threats and intimidation. It is about oppressing your own people to build your own illegitimate power over them even more than punishing anyone else. Foreign threats? These are just a convenient bogey for hyper-nationalist keyboard warriors. Shiv Sena in India and groups like Difa-e-Pakistan here are two sides of the same coin. They shout about foreign enemies, but they are really only trying to threaten and intimidate their own people. Why? Because if we stopped hating each other, those hyper-nationalist hate groups would be out of business.
There is no difference between Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut and Pakistani mouthpieces like Ahmed Quraishi. They even give the same statements, only wrapped in different flags. We should stop listening to all of them.
PTI spokesperson Shireen Mazari leads anti-American demonstration
The latest drone attack is noteworthy for a few reasons. First, it took place in Khyber Pakhtunkwa. As far as I remember, every other drone strike till date has taken place in FATA where it was always explained that there was no other way to reach terrorists due to the difficult landscape. The geographical expansion of drone strikes, even if it is an anomaly, is important though. We know that the CIA informs the ISI every month of the areas they intend to strike, so the question must be asked whether the military knew that the American ‘flight boxes’ had been expanded and chose to do nothing to stop it, or whether the military was once again caught sleeping as it was when American helicopters flew into Abbottabad?