February 16, 2023

The hate is entrenched

Imran Khan (Image: Dawn.com)
I remember having a conversation with a friend a while back. It was about the filth that Imran Khan has mainstreamed. The uncouth language, the harebrained takes, the perversion, the duplicity. This friend of mine came back with the mother of all Teflon-esque responses; he said that it didn’t matter how Imran Khan talks, or how he behaves, or the degrading language he mainstreams, because that language is used in Punjab anyway. It was in that moment that I realized that the damage has already been done. Rational thought and argument has all but vanished from our citizenry. It is only vileness and hate that remains.

Twitter is a prime example of this exact phenomenon. Go to any tweet that offers some criticality of Imran Khan. You will not find decent discourse under it. What you will find instead is vileness, name calling, grudges and hate. Just today for example, Talat Hussain posted the letter that Imran Khan has penned to Arif Alvi asking that an inquiry be initiated against General Bajwa. Instead of taking the content of the tweet and the letter on its merit, the loafers of the cult of Imran came crawling out of the woodwork to attack Talat Hussain. They did not debate the merits or the contents of the letter. No. They just spewed their hate. 

Amongst this garbage, someone put up a response saying Talat Hussain is a journalist who’s been exposing Bajwa, Saqib Nisar and Niazi, and that he wished all pro Pakistan politicians would gather together under one banner. A perfectly innocent suggestion. But even that was not spared. He was attacked based on his looks and asked: why do you have a woman’s ponytail on your head?

Often I am told by the cultists that Nawaz Sharif and his lackeys use degrading and defamatory language against Imran Khan too. I agree. There are certainly those in the corridors of the high castles that use derogatory language. But they don’t do it the way Imran Khan does it, or has done. For example, in Nawaz Sharif’s hard hitting recorded video about the 2018 election rigging, you will notice that he keeps using the term General Bajwa “sahib”, and he refers to him using the respectful title of “آپ”. Yet again there are those who counter this by saying so what? So what does it matter if Imran Khan uses derogatory language? So what if he uses boys locker room talk? So what if he uses sexist, misogynist tropes? At least he isn’t “corrupt”.

Facts don’t matter to the cult of Imran, so it is useless to state that Imran Khan is corrupt, and not just financially at that; he’s also morally and ethically corrupt. The extent of the corruption that prevailed under him and by him includes: laundering of hundreds of millions by his cronies including Farah Gogi, Usman Buzdar, Malik Riaz, Jehangir Tareen, Bushra Bibi; legalizing the corrupt and forceful seizure of land for housing societies; looking the other way when journalists were picked up, shot, beaten, disappeared. Pretending to make riyasat-e-Medina all the while legalizing the illegal Hyatt Towers in Islamabad, where he was presented with two flats. His corruption has had such far reaching consequences that they have corrupted the minds of the brainwashed generation. He has fed them fodder and eroded their critical thinking skills. The damage has been devastating, and the hate he has filled in those crevices is now entrenched. Remember when Naeem ul Haq slapped Daniyal Aziz on TV and Imran Khan’s response was “why didn’t you punch him instead?” There is hatred where there was disagreement. He has divided a nation that cannot afford such division and hate. 

Imran Khan is not the promised messiah. He certainly presented himself as one, and he along with the super king Bajwa was able to brainwash a lot of the people desperately looking for a savior into believing that he is one. But he is not. Leaders — corrupt or not — are supposed to lead. And when a leader is a text book narcissist, a hypocrite, a master of deceit, a grade A sexist and misogynist, a pervert, morally and ethically corrupt, he legitimizes this perversion in his followers.

Imran Khan is a 70 year old boomer. You can’t teach him to mend his ways. He is part of that classic privileged, elitist bad boy club who got away with everything. He’ll get away with this too. But the damage he has unleashed is permanent. It will take a new generation (and one that needs to be taught love, empathy and kindness, all of which we cannot because it has been systematically drilled out of us) to right this broken and hollow ship. Until then, the troll army of the grand charlatan will keep spreading their lies, filth and deceit around.

February 5, 2023

The death of Pervez Musharraf

Pervez Musharraf
This is not a eulogy. I grew up in the era of Musharraf. I was a teenager, living in a privileged bubble watching as the country flush with American dollars boomed; metaphorically and literally. Pakistan had recently discovered the concept of marking up land values, and the terrorists had discovered that you can brainwash young men and women to blow themselves up. And such was my existence. The closest I’ve come to this boom was when my family migrated from a trusty old Suzuki Khyber, to the status symbol of the newly minted middle class, the Corolla GLi; and when the parade lane suicide bombing took away the lives of friends and people I had known; and that one time when I luckily missed being caught in the middle of a suicide bombing by 15 minutes (the attack on the then Surgeon General of Pakistan, Lt Gen Mushtaq Ahmed Baig).

I remember Musharraf’s fists of power in the air as he was informed of the carnage that unfolded in Karachi. And I remember when he said Pakistan has now embarked on an era of enlightened moderation. Privilege has this uncanny habit of making you blind to the pain, misery and suffering that surrounds you. Because it doesn’t affect you and bother you. It affects and bothers others. And who cares about others when you’re privileged?

It was only later that I recognized what a poisonous and treasonous snake the man who had said “Pakistan first!” actually was. Because if he had actually put Pakistan first, he wouldn’t have tried to play with its destiny like a man flipping a house for quick money does. Selling people for dollars to satiate the American appetite of goriness; filling the country and its institutions with holier than thou army officers who had no business or knowledge running those institutions; repurposing the law of the land and landing jiujitsu chops on it to make himself the tall and high lord of the country. I believe he thought he was doing the right thing. I believe he thought he knew what Pakistan needed, and I believe he thought he knew how to do it. Back then there were only 140 million of us, and the sad reality is that one man, no matter how perfect (let alone a treasonous snake), cannot, will not and has not ever been able to fix the mess. If it takes a village to raise a child, you can bet it was going to take a lot more people than one Pervez Musharraf to raise Pakistan.

But perhaps the most iconic and stunning blunder of his era—and the example that perfectly encapsulates that he believed himself to be the Napoleon Bonaparte of our times—was before he booted Nawaz Sharif from office. It was the wild, incomprehensible idea to turn the Line of Control into an active war zone. There was no need for that. Absolutely none. But Musharraf’s stupidity was such that he decided to take Kargil by himself; without informing his Prime Minister, without informing his own corps commanders, or the services chiefs of the branches of our military. We saw this film play out before, in 1965. When another tiny IQ man fancying himself as the liberator of Kashmir didn’t inform the Air Force of his folly to invade Kashmir. Anyway, the Indian response to Musharraf’s wet dream was swift, dramatic, and intense. It got so bad, that the same chief who had decided he would take Kargil and kill India’s aspirations of ever accessing Kashmir again, had to publicly deny that the soldiers who’s dead bodies were freezing in the mountains of Kargil were his. The shamelessness of it all should’ve made Musharraf rethink his rhetoric, but a narcissist never questions his antics. He only finds blame. It was the Indian Army that buried the men Musharraf had sent in to take Kashmir from them.

Musharraf was a larger than life personality. But he was a dictator who thought he knew better, just like the narcissists before him, and the narcissists after him. Just like all his predecessors and his successors, he too sought to place blame on anyone but himself. But history is not kind to those who are immoral and unprincipled. Because ultimately, the populist rhetoric wears off and the only thing left is you, your morality, your humanity, and your principles. And when the whole basis of your legacy is based on subversion, abrogation and treason, you cannot hope to be remembered fondly.

Farewell Musharraf. 

January 21, 2023

The bullies need to be bullied

The faces of the bullies
I am not a pacifist. I believe that when someone slaps one cheek, you do not offer them the other; you load up your fist, and conk one back. I also believe that up until that first slap, you should do everything to avoid confrontation. But once that confrontation has begun, you do not hold back.

There are reasons for why I believe this. But we’ll get to those in a minute. I’m writing this out today because of the incident that took place at the Scarsdale International school in Lahore. Three girls, ganged up on one, beating her, harassing her, scarring her, whilst her peers stood around, laughing, joking and making videos. In fact, one of the bullies who got on top of her was making a video herself. Clearly, they wanted this to get out. Idiots.

So when news broke that those three girls have been nominated in an FIR, and then have subsequently gotten pre-arrest bails, the liberal wing of Twitter went into meltdown mode. ‘You don’t bully bullies!’ they said, as if the teens in the video would learn their lesson because someone on Twitter was advocating compassion on their behalf. There was even a tweet that said ‘you should condemn this behavior, but police should not be involved.’ I’m sorry, but what?

Here’s the thing: If justice wasn’t such a scam in Pakistan, nobody would give that video a second glance. And I don’t mean the Star Plus like indulgences of our high lords; I mean the justice that we practice in everyday life. The one that the great pied piper of Bani Gala keeps referencing. But the brutality, the bullying, the injustice, the lack of consequences all prick the conscience. That’s where the anger and need for retaliation comes from.

Learned liberals on Twitter are horrified. “Minors being violent in schools need to be suspended and expelled, not thrown into jails!” But let’s map out this logic. Suspending the bullies for a few days, heck even expelling them isn’t some kind of “punishment,” because you’ve forgone the greater social nuance at play here. They’ll go back, or go to some other elitist school. That’s not a consequence. It’s also not punishment because their parents clearly don’t give a shit. If they had, their kids would’ve worried about the consequences of their actions, instead of making videos about them and giggling like low functioning sociopaths. These elitist pricks have grown up in environments where casual bullying is a feature of daily life, not a disappointment. So clearly, it’s not the school or the parents that are going to do anything to fix the bullies. 

This is why there is such a large public reaction. It’s all of our frustrations being channeled into one incident. It’s got all the hallmarks; the bullies are being defended because oh no, they’re teens! On top of their teen-ness, they’re also elite. So the expectation is that they will of course get away with it. But what about the bullied? Imagine the humiliation and suffering of having your face plastered all over the internet as you’re being beaten, and then imagine no one coming to your rescue. Meanwhile everybody’s out there using imported western ideology to counsel the bullies, or let the school deal with them. Fuck that.  

In this particular case, it appears (although I can’t be sure) that the bullies have ended up bullying a fellow elite child. The entire school has been sealed, and an FIR was filed against the bullies. And that is excellent. The bullies need to suffer the consequences of their actions. Make it so real for them, they shiver when they think of even looking at someone with ill intent. Love and compassion works in societies where justice is easy, immediate and plenty. It doesn’t work in societies like ours where we have to fight and condemn for scraps of it. But who am I kidding; even in this instance, the bullies won. They got their pre-arrest bails and are enjoying their days sipping their cokes whilst mummy and daddy fight tooth and nail to keep them from suffering what they actually deserve.

January 15, 2023

The moral depravity of the civilized world

A vast swathe of Pakistan has been submerged under water due to the recent floods. Credit photo: AP Photo/Zahid Hussain

33 million. It is about the same number of people who call Canada their home. It is 10% of the population of the United States. 

33 million people. Humans. Old and young. Men and women. Children. 

33 million lives.

33 million stories.

Sounds so random doesn’t it? 33 million. But it isn’t. That is the number of men, women and children who are starving, afflicted, sleeping on the side of roads that haven’t been washed away. It is the number of men, women, children who had a house, a home, family, friends, pets, relationships who now don’t even have access to clean drinking water. It is the number of men, women and children who are frying under the open skies in the bright unrelenting sun, whilst malaria, dengue, dysentery, fungal infections have a field day. 

33 million.

It is the number of men, women and children who have been abandoned, to fend for themselves, to fight for morsels at the feet of the ever self aggrandizing and self declared magnanimous governments and nonprofits of the world. It is the number of people who have become invisible to any and all. Maybe they should have been one of the Notre Dames, burning high into the sky. Maybe then the world would wake up and take stock. But no. Malnourished brown folk from the global south, often accused of being uncivilized, often hated and reviled for their faith, are invisible. Their pain is invisible. Their suffering is invisible.

I’ve seen this fact quoted out and about often. Pakistan is responsible for less than 1% of global warming emissions, and yet it is in the top 10 countries most at risk due to global warming. But it isn’t at risk anymore. The catastrophe has arrived. It is here. It is now. When the floods stop one day, we will suffer droughts. Our plains will turn to deserts, our water will evaporate, our livestock which has been washed away will become famished and die. Our food chains will perish. And as invisible as we are, what will we do then?

The West has set out on a path of irreversible destruction to our planet. In their quest for putting money and profits above all else, they have deliberately ensured that the “collective and greater good” becomes a pejorative term. Because it is now an “us” vs “them”, instead of “all and everyone.” The flood waters will recede, but ruins are just beginning to form.

Pakistan, a poor country, drowning under increasingly furious flood waters, has been abandoned.

March 6, 2019

The radicalization of the Indian masses

Indian public burns a Pakistani flag
On February 26, 2019 when India crossed the international border and dropped bombs on a hilltop inside Pakistan, a fundamental shift in how Pakistan India relations work took place. Gone was the status quo of restraint and diplomatic threats that India fomented against Pakistan in the aftermath of every unsavoury incident that took place in India. Suddenly, it was replaced with the idea that India could not only teach Pakistan a lesson but that it could do so brazenly, and without threat of reprisal. Clearly, India assumed its social capital in the international comity was established enough to allow it to pull off the kind of daring raids that say, the USA, might be able to pull off. There was only one problem — Indian aggression is a matter of ego and existentialism in Pakistan. The Pakistani military for 70 years has existed to neuter this threat from India. If it does not react or respond to Indian acts of aggression, then why do we even have it?

So on February 27, 2019 Major General Asif Ghafoor got in front of a podium and told India it was time for Pakistan to give it a surprise. On February 28, 2019, in broad daylight, Pakistani warplanes intruded into Indian airspace, identified six targets and dropped bombs around them. The message was clear: we might not have the courage to take on a US invasion, but an Indian invasion would be met with the full might of the Pakistani military.

Analysts from both sides of the border and across the world will dissect the war cries, doctrines, nuclear thresholds, risk appetites and risk capacities aplenty in the aftermath of this escalation. Already we’re seeing them tell us what Modi thinks, what India wants, where Pakistan went wrong, what the next move from both sides will be. But I’m not interested in any of that. Because all of that fails to take into account the most shocking revelation that has come to light during this unfortunate saga: The extreme jingoism teetering on abject fascism across the Indian diaspora.

I have tried finding a reason for it, but I’ve merely ended up scratching my head. Who knew that Indians have this much hatred for Pakistanis? That normal, middle class Indians are willing to impose collective punishment on the people of Pakistan in the form of a doom and gloom war? That they are willing to let their armed forces butcher Pakistanis for the sake of teaching the state of Pakistan a lesson?

For the longest time I believed that the people of India and Pakistan were largely the same; suffering from the same economic corruption, injustice, inequality, vice, ethnic nationalism and social dogma. I believed that due to a shared history, language and culture, the people of India and Pakistan were sympathetic to each other’s plight. They both wanted normalization in relations between the two countries and that it was the governments and establishments of the two countries that fomented this hysteria on either side of the border. The past ten days have proved me wrong.

You see, if India had decided to pursue the dogged but ultimately unsexy route of pressurizing and isolating Pakistan internationally, people like myself would be further emboldened to hold our government accountable today. Why does the state of Pakistan, after all, not arrest Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed? But with Modi’s blood baying, the Indian media’s fascistic approach to win the ratings war and the Indian populace’s extreme jingoism, what’s ended up happening instead is that people like myself have started to reconsider the existential threat India poses for Pakistan. Suddenly, it’s not so much why does the Pakistani establishment tolerate these snakes, but more how do we defend ourselves against this Indian onslaught. Because an onslaught it has been, and one that refuses to subside.

Despite Imran Khan’s unilateral goodwill gesture to release the captured pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, Modi has refused to deescalate. Their media has spun every humiliation suffered by India into a win. Their people have been radicalized beyond measure. Egged on by a hysterical media beating war drums, a populace that will not back down until it has spilled blood, and an establishment that thinks teaching Pakistan is the only solution to save face from the crushing humiliation of losing two fighter jets and a pilot, Modi is looking to teach Pakistan even more lessons.

But see, none of that would be shocking on its own accord. Modi is not a pacifist. He is known as the Butcher of Gujarat after all. What is shocking is the vitriol and hatred that has been on display since February 14, 2019. While Pakistanis make memes, Indians make prophetic death threats. While Pakistanis turn Adnan Sami into a caricature, Indians resort to the worst kind of trolling imaginable. The sense of camaraderie that I, perhaps mistakenly, felt with my Indian compatriots is now gone. It is now Pakistan versus them, and when it’s come to this, how can I choose them?

This has been a heartbreaking episode. Not because India and Pakistan have almost gone to war; not because Kashmir is on fire and we’re completely choosing to ignore the Kashmiri plight for our own selfish reasons again; not because mothers have lost sons because a tiny man with a large ego took oath as the prime minister of India. All those reasons make this a rage inducing interlude.

It has been heartbreaking because I’ve finally realized, that we’re not the same as them.