Sunday, October 21, 2012

Malala Yousafzai & Fantasies of Shafqat Mahmood.

The apologists call the shooters animals, barbarians, and what not, but refuse to take the name of those who proudly confessed to have sent the men to execute the school girl. They are a reaction to US drone attacks, they keep saying. But what did Malala have to do with the drones? The media keeps asking. On one channel, a woman JI member, pushed into a corner by a TV anchor who popularised the term ‘liberal fascist’ two years ago, tries to squeeze her way out by calling those accusing her party of cowardice, as liberal fascists. It’s a desperate act. She thinks this might soften the anchor’s stance. It doesn’t. PTI, JI and JUI leaders and their supporters slightly change tact. Now they begin to ask, What about all the other Malalas killed in drone attacks? The ‘liberal fascists’ snicker: This is strange, they say. When the same media was going about decrying the plight of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, none of them were concerned about so many other Aafias rotting in local jails (many of them without trial) and for crimes that were mostly committed by men. They further enquire, How come when for weeks the media covered Dr. Aafia’s case, none of these parties accused it of exaggeration, or of overreacting like they are now? Still feeling cornered and sounding sheepish, some PTI and JI supporters in cyberspace flood Twitter and Facebook with a tragic photograph of a young girl supposedly injured in a drone attack. But within hours the picture is proven to be a shameless forgery. REFERENCE: Smokers’ Corner: From apology to perversity Nadeem F. Paracha

Afghanistan's government has lashed out at Imran Khan after the former Pakistan cricket star, now a politician, said the Taliban were fighting a "holy war" in the country that was justified by Islamic law. Speaking after visiting a hospital in Peshawar where Malala Yousafzai – the 14-year-old activist shot in the head by the Taliban for supporting girls' education – was treated last week, Khan told reporters that insurgents in Afghanistan were fighting a "jihad". Citing a verse from the Qur'an, he said: "It is very clear that whoever is fighting for their freedom is fighting a jihad …"The people who are fighting in Afghanistan against the foreign occupation are fighting a jihad," he added, according to a video of remarks to journalists. Afghan politicians have reacted with disbelief, with one parliamentarian suggesting Khan should be arrested. The Ulema Council, a grouping of senior clerics, declared his comments "unislamic". A Kabul foreign ministry spokesman said Khan was "either profoundly and dangerously ignorant about the reality in Afghanistan, or he has ill will against the Afghan people."Our children are killed on daily basis, civilians killed and our schools, hospitals and infrastructure attacked on a daily basis. To call any of that jihad is profoundly wrong and misguided." REFERENCE: Imran Khan says Taliban's 'holy war' in Afghanistan is justified by Islamic law Pakistani politician's comments at hospital that treated shooting victim Malala Yousafzai outrage Afghanistan's government Jon Boone in Islamabad The Guardian, Sunday 14 October 2012 15.20 BST Imran Khan thanks Bruce Braley By Ahsan Mansoor Monday, December 24, 2007

2012: Mr. Shafqat Mahmood (Information secretary of the PTI) wrote: I have great respect for Farrukh Saleem. He often quotes precise statistics to make his point. But in posing ten questions to Imran Khan he has rushed to conclusions, made vast generalisations and, in one case, indulged in total fabrication. I am not too fond of the rat-a-tat style he usually adopts but just for convenience let me answer his questions point by point. 1. It is a terrible simplification to say that, according to Imran Khan, the militants are taking innocent Pakistani lives because of drone attacks. Imran has always maintained that the issue of militancy is complex, with many factors at play. Some militants are ideologically motivated, others straightforward criminals, while some are reacting to their kith and kin becoming victims of air attacks, military operations, drones – all captured in that terrible word, collateral damage. Drones, according to Imran Khan are a reminder of American aggression to everybody in the tribal areas. They are not the only reason for militancy but contribute mightily to it. 2. By asking Imran Khan for four names to negotiate with among the militants, Farrukh Saleem is asking a trick question and using his journalistic privilege to be ‘cute’. However, I will try to answer him seriously. Why is it so complicated to understand that ‘kill them all’ is no policy? Does it not make sense to wean away as many militants as possible before dealing with the rest through targeted military operations? REFERENCE: Ten distortions Shafqat Mahmood Saturday, October 20, 2012

Mr. Shafqat Mahmood way back in 2001 wrote this on Afghanistan and Taliban Militants.

Nov 16, 2001: Afghanistan and our future by Shafqat Mahmood : The Taliban are crumbling faster than cardboard shanties in the path of a storm. Promises of fierce ground battles, that churned the blood of many a chest thumper in Pakistan, are now drifting helplessly in the dust laden Afghan wind. It is not over yet, not by a long shot, but what remains is a mopping up operation. Scattered over rural Afghanistan, the Taliban residue and their foreign volunteers will be picked off slowly but surely. It is sad in a way although I have no love for the Taliban or what they stood for. Much of this could have been avoided if they were less cocky or more rational or more ready to be a part of the world. If they were all these things, though, they would not be Taliban. People who are ready to blow up ancient Buddhist statutes because they are idols or whip women because their ankles are showing or force every man to keep a six-inch long beard, do not live in the same world as you and I. A particularly poignant moment for me as Kabul fell, was the playing of music from a truck mounted loudspeaker. If the ordinary and trivial becomes special and significant, there is something terribly wrong with the world. And there was a lot wrong with the Taliban's world. The image of young Afghans queuing up to get their beards trimmed makes this point more eloquently than a thousand or a million words. The liberators of Kabul are not the Dad's Army either. Within their ranks are some of the most blood thirsty tyrants ever encountered in the tragic Afghan history. Yet it is a sign of the times that many ordinary Afghans let out a collective sigh of relief when the Taliban departed. So let no one mourn the Taliban. They are not synonymous with the Afghans. They were freaks of history and will hopefully be consigned to that special place where other such oddities are kept. Some of our armchair warriors are not finished though. Retired Generals Hamid Gul and Aslam 'strategic' Beg are calling the Taliban disappearing act a brilliant tactical manoeuvre. Earlier they predicted fierce land battles and now, without an apology, they see the spectre of a long drawn out guerrilla war. Do not forget that one of these gentlemen declared Saddam's 'mother of all battles' as another Vietnam. Having had such a comeuppance, he should have taken an eternal vow of silence.

No such luck. The sad part is that some newspapers still bother to give space to his never ending bombast. Others like Qazi Hussain Ahmed also need to pause and do a rethink. If the Taliban were representative of all the Afghans or even of the Pashtuns they would not have crumbled so quickly. The fact is that they were a small slice of Afghani society and had gathered momentum only because of unending conflict and depravity of the warlords. When their true face was revealed most of the Afghans grew to hate them. It must also be remembered that if Afghans hate foreigners on their soil, they must have also grown to hate the Arabs, the Chechens, the Pakistanis and others who had flocked to Osama and the Taliban. It did not require a major calculation for the Afghans to see that at least some of their difficulties were because of the foreigners. It is instructive therefore that the Northern Alliance soldiers make it a point of executing the outsiders, who surrender, but spare the Afghans even if they are Taliban. The heat of the battle may be over but the political headaches have already begun. Putting together a broad based government, which by definition should be majority Pashtun, is not going to be easy. While there are definite problems ahead, some of us are becoming overly anxious about the Afghan government of the future. Yes, it was a mistake of our intelligence not to have a link to non-Taliban forces and I hope we have learnt a lesson. But, it is not the end of the world either. We must have faith in our intrinsic importance for any Afghan government. Most of Southern and Western Afghanistan has already become a common economic market with us. Pakistani goods such as wheat, edible oil, toiletries, POL products, cloth and a host of others are a staple in Afghan markets. Our currency is a legal tender there. This integration of markets is a necessary bond between us and Afghanistan. Geography still dictates that we provide the nearest port to Afghan goods. In fact Afghan transit trade has become a headache for us and a bonanza for Afghan governments. We are also a host to millions of Afghans, whether we like it or not. No future Afghan government can afford to be an enemy of ours. It may not be a bosom buddy but then no Afghan government has ever been one. A businesslike relationship is the best we can hope for and this will happen. We must also have faith in the strength of our armed forces. Internally we may have mixed feelings about them because of their political role but externally we must understand that they can deter any aggression. No Afghan government will risk a conflict with us because they know our strength. So, while there may be a rocky road ahead in the near term, the long-term prospect of coexistence with future Afghan governments is not bad. There is also an apprehension among some people that our love affair with the Americans is about to end. The logic is that after the collapse of the Taliban, we are no longer required. Some even think that we are going to be the next target of American aggression. This is all nonsense. I have no brief for the Americans, and certainly no information, yet is not difficult to see what lies ahead. States come together because of shared interests. I do not see American interest in this region diminishing. Therefore, their interest in us and ours in them will remain.

 The simple fact is that the American are here to stay. They have not gone to all this trouble just to defeat the ragtag Taliban or even to root out Osama. These are valid targets but there is also a long-term strategic/economic objective. Central Asia has the largest untapped reservoir of oil and gas in the world. The best way to transport this to European and American markets is through Afghanistan and Pakistan. To do this, American companies have been trying to build a pipeline for many years now. After Afghanistan has been pacified, this will become a major priority. I do not believe that Americans would have bases either in Pakistan or Afghanistan but they will have some presence in Central Asia. More importantly because of economic and strategic reasons, they will stay engaged with this part of the world. This engagement dictates that they will continue to want a friendly Pakistan. They will also want Pakistan to remain stable and this can only happen if we are economically viable. Therefore, American assistance, and help with the international financial institutions, will remain. When President Bush and Colin Powell and even Tony Blair say that we are here for the long haul, they mean it. They will remain with us not because they love us, but because their economic and strategic interest demands it. Of course, this engagement would have other repercussions; some good, some bad. If the balance has to be towards the good, we will have to play our cards right. No outside power can take us out of our difficulties, if we are not determined to help ourselves. This government has done well to keep the focus on the economy but a fundamental social problem would also have to be addressed. We cannot have three systems of education, deeni madaris, Urdu medium schools and the elite English medium. This will keep dividing our society. We need to have one system of education for everyone. Rich, poor, liberal, orthodox, Shia, Sunni, Wahabi, Punjabi, Sindhi, Baluchi and Pushtun, would all have to be weaved into a common thread of education. Only this will heal the fissures in our society. We also need to sort out the extremists, the sectarian terrorist, the fascists hiding behind religion, and others of such ilk, who destabilise our society. One way to counter them is to rid them and the country of weapons. If we begin to do some of this, we would on the right road. If we are doing right, the help of our friends from abroad will make a difference. Otherwise no amount of aid can do any good. I stick my neck out to say that I am optimistic about the future. I really think that Pakistan came to an important crossroad and took the right decision. If we follow this up with correct policies only good lies ahead. REFERENCE: Afghanistan and our future by Shafqat Mahmood The writer is a former Senator and a former federal and provincial minister Nov 16, 2001

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