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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Perfectlymadebirds Epic: dOvemaster Series One.

Margolis on Pakistan - The Real

alphabet soup: casualties of the war

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

From inside Israel's Ketziot prison - RealNews

Free Karim - Another Appeal

In Pakistan the priorities are different, if not skewed. But B-P is also read all over the world. Hence I take this liberty to paste this Free Karim Appeal. If you can, help!


Dear friends, as the dates for our worldwide rallies near, we desperately need your help!

In order to influence the Egyptian government to free Kareem, and to have their officials know that the world has not forgotten about this young man, we are organizing our 3rd worldwide rally to mark Kareem's one year imprisonment. We want to send this message to the Egyptian authorities: One year is enough! Free Kareem Amer now!

For this rally to be as meaningful and effective as possible, we need as many cities as we can get to be involved in organizing a rally for Kareem Amer on Friday, the 9th of November.

So far we have the following 10 cities confirmed:
  • Washington DC, USA
  • London, UK
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Bucharest, Romania
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Rome, Italy
  • Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • Athens, Greece
We need at least 10 more cities involved for this rally to play a bigger role for Egypt as well as the international media. We need to get this message across to the Egyptian government for the sake of Kareem who did nothing wrong to be imprisoned and treated like this.

If you are interested in organizing a rally in front of your local Egyptian embassy, please contact us to have us confirm your involvement. It is a simple process; all you have to do is gather a group of people (can be as small as 2 and as big as 100) in front of the Egyptian embassy in a city near you, and take a few photos/videos of yourself protesting so that we can cover it worldwide. We strongly encourage you to hand in a one-page document that expresses your concerns for Kareem and reasons why he should be freed. It can include copies of our current petitions as well.

For more information please visit

Thank you! If your city is not yet listed here, please help us and Kareem by getting involved!

Esra'a Al Shafei
Free Kareem Coalition, Director
Tel: +973 397 55 355

Sayonara Swat - Anjum Niaz

Here is one major reason for the unpopularity (or hatred) for the federal government - the inaccessibility and unavailability of Law & Order for the ordinary citizen. (Others being provision of basic services and necessities of life.) It speaks volume when a semi-literate 'mullah' is revered more than the all powerful Faujis and their political cohorts. Anjum may well be right - the cancer is spreading - hope it is not terminal and can be arrested. Adieu Swat!

'Maulana Radio' the 32-year-old radical cleric Fazlullah is spared crimination from the former heir to the ruler of Swat, Miangul Aurangzeb. Instead, the Prince, as he once was known ritualistically targets General Musharraf for the rise of Islamic extremism in his former state -- the land of eternal loveliness and vivid emerald mines. Recently he ordered three men to be lashed in public. Their crime: they had abducted two young girls. "They were recovered in two days and returned to their gratified parents. This is quick justice," says Aurangzeb who while not praising the medieval act of punishment meted out to the kidnappers, nonetheless compares the justice that our government dispenses. "Had it been the police, the recovered girls would first have been violated by them and then left to fend for themselves."

[for more click on the heading]

Monday, October 29, 2007

The man who invented the blockbuster - Andrew Wilson

With reported worldwide sales of 750m, Harold Robbins sold more books than JK Rowling, earned and spent $50m during his lifetime, and was as much a part of the sexual and social revolution as the pill, Playboy and pot. His 1961 novel The Carpetbaggers – loosely based on the life of Howard Hughes – was estimated to be the fourth most read book in history, and his legion of fans included Pablo Picasso, James Baldwin, Mario Puzo and Camille Paglia. He has been immortalised in an episode of Fawlty Towers and namechecked in the 1988 film DOA, starring Dennis Quaid, and more recently in a song by Sleeper.

Famous for his ability to exploit the racy, headline-grabbing lives of well-known personalities, Robbins was dubbed the “godfather of the airport novel”. His style was basic – infantile, even – yet he knew how to tell a good yarn. “Do I think of myself as a literary man?” he once said. “Hell, no. I’m a storyteller. Literature follows the storytellers. Just look at how Dumas and Dickens are still being read today. What I write about sex and violence reflects contemporary America. You know, if there was no such thing as the written word, I would be telling stories at street corners.”

[for more click on the heading]

Top Writing Tips from BBC

  • Read, read, and read! This is one of the best ways to improve your writing. You get inspiration, ideas, insights; you discover new words and new writing styles which will help you to shape and improve your own writing.
  • Write, write, and write! Often people feel that their words have to flow and sound right as soon as they hit the page. If all writers did this nothing would ever get published. Don't wait for the plots, the words and the lines to shape themselves perfectly in your head before you start writing. You can shape your ideas once they are on the paper. Think of yourself as a sculptor - you need a vision but you also need something to sculpt with. If you don't get something down on paper then you haven't got any raw materials to work with.
  • Use the right tools. Dictionaries, thesauri, and reference books are essential tools for writers. They help you make sure that your writing is accurate and clear. They can also help spark your imagination - discovering a new word or a trivial fact could be the beginning of a story.

More Writing Tips and Tools

The Poet by Ralph Waldo Emerson

The poet is the sayer, the namer, and represents beauty. He is a sovereign, and stands on the centre. For the world is not painted or adorned, but is from the beginning beautiful; and God has not made some beautiful things, but Beauty is the creator of the universe. Therefore the poet is not any permissive potentate, but is emperor in his own right. Criticism is infested with a cant of materialism, which assumes that manual skill and activity is the first merit of all men, and disparages such as say and do not, overlooking the fact that some man, namely poets, are natural sayers, sent into the world to the end of expression, and confounds them with those whose province is action but who quit it to imitate the sayers. But Homer's words are as costly and admirable to Homer as Agamemnon's victories are to Agamemnon. The poet does not wait for the hero or the sage, but, as they act and think primarily, so he writes primarily what will and must be spoken, reckoning the others though primaries also, yet, in respect to him, secondaries and servants; as sitters or models in the studio of a painter, or as assistants who bring building-material to an architect.

Writing and Publishing FAQ

Sunday, October 28, 2007

My Sunday Morning Walk Down Pakistani Media - October 28, 2007


And in any war, we need to use all our resources. But above all, we need political will. Currently, there is so much muddled thinking that we do not even accept the idea that in this war against the dark forces that confront us, we need unity in our ranks. Indeed, to judge from our columnists and TV discussions, we are in real danger of allowing the enemy into the gates while we go on saying ‘Yes, but…’ The ‘yes, but…’ syndrome- Irfan Hussain

One day in 1973, soon after Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, president of Pakistan and its first civilian martial law administrator, had decided to step down and anoint himself as the democratically elected prime minister of Pakistan, news had it that he was casting his eye around for a suitable person to appoint as his president. His mind’s eye had alighted upon Begum Shahnawaz, Iqi’s sister. I rang Iqi immediately to ask him whether she was still alive as I had not heard of her for decades. Yes, but very long in the tooth, I was told. Then it could be true, I said, that Zulfikar intends to install her in the presidential palace. Yes, yes, yes, pal, very true, very true, very true.

She qualifies, she cannot see, she cannot hear, she cannot speak. She qualifies, she qualifies, she qualifies. Musings on a Saturday morning - Ardeshir Cowasjee

Irwin caps the passage by saying: “So perhaps it is now time to reconsider the possible influence of the Arabian Nights on the poetry of William Blake and the fiction of Evelyn Waugh...”. Apparently, the influence is traceable to writers placed as far and wide in time and space as Dickens, Andre Brink and Mishima Yukio — of course, I haven’t read the last two.

From these recent discoveries I have learnt two things: one, that I urgently need to get an education; two, that we may do well — and I speak here not of boors like myself but those who I have heard discuss literature rather passionately — to perhaps read Alif layla wa layla, apply our critical faculties to it and trace its influence, which now seems to me to be immense, on non-Arab literatures and, more specifically, on magical realism, the sexy in-thing. Confessions of a boor — Ejaz Haider

[it goes to ejaz's credit that not once did he mention harry potter. did i write 'credit'? oh well....t]

How does Musharraf regain his credibility? His problems are mostly of his own making....Why do we fall for America’s bullying with such sickening regularity? The skies wouldn’t have fallen had Musharraf not done this perfidious deal. Neither would American bombs have started raining from the sky. Musharraf can make his popularity skyrocket by doing three things. One, show America some spine and tell it that it can push us so far and no further. Two, fire a shot across US Battleship Benazir’s bow to ally the notion that she has already been anointed. Three, enough of living in the past. Time to break out into the future by giving a general amnesty except to those who have committed heinous crimes like treason, murder, rape and grand larceny. Clean the slate and give us a chance to start afresh. By doing these three things, Musharraf can regain his credibility.Starting Again - Humayun Gauhar

Logically, the blame for the mounting number of dead (with the severely wounded still dying) and the hundreds hurt and maimed, has to be fairly and squarely laid on the shoulders of the men and women of the PPP who organised the fiesta, rounding up from all over the country - from north to south and east to west - the impoverished, unemployed, illiterate awam, transporting them into Karachi, and paying them, with no organisational plans in their collective heads. A swarm was brought in and let loose.
This is not 1986, this is a whole new world, in which death and destruction lurk around each and every corner.Like no other country on earth - Amina Jilani

We, the remnants of the Raj, in the twilight years of our lives, are bewildered by the attitude of our children towards their homeland. They seek refuge abroad, in spite of the fact that they are treated with contempt and looked down upon wherever they go. We are afraid to question them. They will only turn around and tell us: "You deserve the rulers you have because you were a docile lot. We'd rather be immigrants than hypocrites." memoirs: Remnants of the Raj- Why are we bewildered by so many things in the twilight years of our lives? - By Shamima Aftab Ahmed

[a very sobering memoirs - you will have to scroll down the link -t]

The literati may or may not be aware that after examining more than two billion words the editors of the Oxford English dictionary have decided to do away with the hyphen. The short dash will now be amputated. The hyphen, that is to say the sign (-), which has been used to join words syntactically for centuries (as in roly-poly; pick-me-up) to indicate the division of a word, will not be seen in the Shorter Oxford dictionary.Zia Mohyeddin column - Hyphens & hiccups

[you will have to scroll down the link - can someone suggest to zia sahib to collect his columns in a book form? t]

there may be more later. please pass them on to interested friends. also if you come across an interesting read please pass them on. you will get a credit if i use them here. thanks

Saturday, October 27, 2007

smoke signals

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we have come
a long way since
smoke signals
pigeon couriers
riding messengers
teletype ticker
internet and
wireless cellular

and forget the feel
of a nib, the taste
of licking a stamp

as communication
becomes easier
we come closer
and move farther
and farther apart

image credit photbucket

Narendra Modi and the Tehelka Expose -Amrita Rajan

Last week, Gujarat's Chief Minister Narendra Modi was unusually reticent when quizzed by Karan Thapar about the riots that broke out in his state in 2002. He asked for a glass of water, mumbled something about wanting to remain friends and promptly walked off The Devil's Advocate, Thapar's show on CNN IBN.

A puzzled Mr. Thapar, who reportedly spent an hour trying in vain to convince his suddenly recalcitrant subject to return to the table, commented that he must have touched a raw nerve somewhere because he didn't understand this reaction. Not only did Mr. Modi's usually react to such questions with brash defiance, but the interview was going to be far from a one-topic smash job.

Then this week, Tehelka, an investigative online newspaper set up by Tarun Tejpal whose previous expose of corruption in the ranks of the NDA became the foundation of the sting operation culture you'll currently find presiding over Indian news channels, came out with the explosive results of a long running investigation. Caught on camera were several members of the Sangh Parivar in Gujarat (RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal and BJP) openly discussing their heinous acts in 2002 and identifying Mr. Modi as their godfather.

I wonder if this is what precipitated his departure from Devil's Advocate?

The report, with its accompanying videos, make sickening reading. Men laugh and casually discuss how they dismembered bodies, set people on fire, raped women, ripped fetuses out of pregnant women's bellies with the full knowledge and sanction of the state and police. The link above is not for the faint hearted.

[to read the rest of this click on the heading]

Sadequain — An artist and muralist par-excellence - By Ali Adil Khan

I must write to Ali and appreciate his efforts.

He missed one Sadequain that gave travellers immense pleasure. This was in the passenger lobby of the old Karachi Int'l Airport (think it is called the old terminal or terminal 1 now). This was hung overlooking the lobby and if memory serves right was about 45' x 7'. This mural was removed and whispers tell me by an ex MD of PIA.


Sadequain — An artist and muralist par-excellence

By Ali Adil Khan

Niilofur Farrukh’s review of public murals titled ‘Art without social barriers’ in the July 14th issue of Gallery prompted me to build on her thoughts, as she touched on Sadequain’s achievements as an artist and muralist par-excellence of Pakistan.

Her very detailed and articulate descriptions of the colossal mural in the turbine hall of Mangla Dam and the ceilings of Lahore Museum and Karachi’s Frere Hall reminded me of visiting those sites as a teenager some 25 years ago and wondering about the man behind such marvel creations. While I never got to meet Sadequain in person (a great loss and regret on my part), my admiration for him and his work has never seized to end and multiplied many folds since.

Sadequain loved to work on a large scale and may well have painted more square feet than Michelangelo. I wanted to pickup from where Niilofur left, provide the mammoth dimensions of Sadequain’s murals and highlight the work that he has done and left outside of Pakistan. I have used as reference the excellent documentation of Sadequain’s work by S. Amjad Ali in his book titled Painters of Pakistan.

In 1955, Sadequain painted his first mural in Jinnah Hospital, Karachi. However in my research, I failed to find the dimensions, title and condition of the mural. Working feverishly from August-October 1961, Sadequain completed a mural for State Bank of Pakistan spreading 8 feet x 60 feet titled ‘Treasures of Time’. This mural is Sadequain’s towering masterpiece of his ‘Blue and Ochre’ period. It celebrates the intellectual achievements of man, and highlights 46 major figures divided into five main sections. It is said that in between 1962-63 during his visits to Paris, he completed a mural for the PIA office there. Again, I was unable to find the dimensions, title, condition and whereabouts of that mural.

One feature of Sadequain’s metamorphic skill, an aspect of the vitality of his art, was his unbelievable creative strength and energy. In 1967, Sadequain painted the 180 feet x 23 feet wall of the turbine hall of Mangla Dam in less than 3 months. Titled ‘Saga of Labour’, the artist illustrates the age of progress and industrialisation by beginning with a man using his muscles to break stones and concluding with man using his brain to mechanise, build and develop.

After the Mangla mural, in the same year Sadequain painted four murals in Lahore, two for the Punjab University Auditorium, one for the University Library and one for the Punjab Public Library titled ‘Quest for Knowledge’. Again, the dimensions and state of condition of the murals are not available.

In 1968, Sadequain continued to be prolific and held monthly shows in Karachi at the unfinished auditorium of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs. During this period he produced murals ranging from 18 feet x 6 feet to 28 feet x 4 feet on the 1965 war with titles such as ‘Shaheed’, ‘Confrontation’ and ‘Triumph’. Whereabouts of these is also not available.

Towards the end of 1970, it is documented that Sadequain painted a large mural that he donated to the Naval Headquarters in Karachi and was later shifted to the Pakistan embassy in Istanbul, Turkey. In April 1972, he painted the magnificent ‘Sura Yaseen’ from the Holy Quran on 240 feet long wooden panels and donated it to the Lahore Museum, where it is still displayed. In the first half of 1973, he completed the ceiling of the Lahore Museum titled ‘Evolution of Mankind’.

In 1976 Sadequain painted two large murals, each 56 feet x 12 feet, illustrating some versus of Iqbal for the Sports Complex site for the Asian Games in Islamabad. The mural depicted the struggle of the nations of Asia and Africa. In 1979, Sadequain painted a large calligraphic mural in Abu Dhabi. The dimensions and condition of the painting are unknown.

From November 1981 to December 1982 Sadequain visited India and during this time made huge murals, first at the Aligarh Muslim University in copper cut-outs and then calligraphic and figurative murals at the National Geophysical Research Institute in Hyderabad and later at the Banaras Hindu University. Finally he executed in very large size the 99 names of Allah in the Indian Institute of Islamic Research at New Delhi.

In early 1986, Sadequain began work on painting the gigantic 140 feet x 70 feet ceiling of Frere Hall. This huge mural was titled ‘Al-ardh-o-was-samawat’ (the Earth and the Heavens) and unfortunately was left incomplete due to Sadequain’s untimely death.

There must be many more unaccounted murals and large size paintings that Sadequain must have executed during his travels to Europe, North America and Middle East. I am aware of a few such at the Pakistan High Commission in Ottawa that require preservation and restoration.

Sadequain is undoubtedly one of the greatest artists of the last century that South Asia has produced and the World is now coming to recognise him. There is a dire need to take stock of Sadequain’s works in private, public and corporate collections, and in different locations of the Pakistan Foreign Office and retrieve, restore and preserve them for future generations.

Well-known private collectors of Sadequain’s works in Pakistan should seriously consider entrusting their collections (either on loan or as bequeaths) to the National Art Gallery and museums for restoration and safekeeping in the interest of preserving a national treasure. Examples of such generosity can be commonly seen in national art galleries and museums across Europe and North America, where large collections of national and international art and antiquities have been build from generous gifts and donations of private collectors.

An example of such is a recent teamwork between myself, an heir of a local collector and a Canadian museum, whereby a rare large 5 feet x 3 feet canvas by Sadequain from his Cobweb Series executed in 1968 was retrieved from a basement of a home and made available to be acquired by the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto. In the end, it was a win-win for all as the masterpiece stayed in Canada and will be exhibited in the spring of 2008 at the opening of ROM’s new Christopher Ondatjee South Asian Gallery to be cherished by a growing South Asian community of Toronto.

This happened because of the generous donation of the current owner, Mustafa Siddiqui, son of the late Dr Iqbal Siddiqui, a renowned scientist who had acquired the work from Ali Imam’s Indus Gallery in the late ‘60s and brought it to Canada.

Ali Adil Khan is an avid collector of South Asian art and antiquities and is the director of Artists Without Borders, MOSAIC and South Asian Gallery of Art (SAGA) located in Toronto.

Benazir sends ‘defamation’ notice to Arbab - By Amir Wasim

This is good news, if true as reported. Now the forces that allege the Chairperson for life and her estranged husband is a crook through and through can battle it out legally.

Why has no one fired off an FIR yet against he Chairperson for life naming her and her party cohorts directly responsible for the death of over 140 innocent bystanders?

ISLAMABAD, Oct 26: Pakistan People’s Party chairperson Benazir Bhutto has sent a legal notice to Sindh Chief Minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim demanding cash compensation of Rs100 million for allegedly defaming her by “levelling baseless, malicious, concocted and fabricated allegations” against her. The legal notice has been issued through her counsel Senator Farooq Naek. The chief minister, while talking to reporters after a cabinet meeting on Oct 24, had alleged that Ms Bhutto had plundered national wealth of around Rs90 billion and that she must return the amount. The notice says that the “wild and false allegation” was aimed at “character assassination of a formidable people’s leader risking her life to save Pakistan by saving democracy and bringing change through Awami Raj”. It says the “false and fabricated allegation” has “disreputed and defamed” the reputation of Ms Bhutto.

Fed govt allowing CDGK into cantt areas

i said to myself 'about time' when i read this:

Fed govt allowing CDGK into cantt areas

By Razzak Abro

KARACHI: The federal government has finally agreed to extend the city government’s access to city areas under the federal government’s jurisdiction, including those of the cantonment boards, in order to remove administrative complications in running civic affairs.

Sindh Chief Secretary Ejaz Ahmed Qureshi hinted at this while talking to Daily Times at his office on Friday. According to him, the federal government showed its willingness to do this during a high-level meeting held recently in Islamabad.

After the homework is done, he said, all the federal government-run bodies will hand over local tax tasks to the CDGK in their areas, and the CDGK will also be responsible for civic facilities in those areas.

This has been an important issue for a long time in the city and has cropped up especially during the monsoon disasters and infrastructure tragedies when the various civic agencies bickered with each other over jurisdiction and hence responsibility while the people of Karachi suffered. According to the CDGK authorities, most of the city areas [see pie chart] are under the jurisdiction of federal government bodies, such as the cantonment boards, Pakistan Railways, Karachi Port Trust, Civil Aviation Authority, DHA, etc. Both the current and former city nazims, Syed Mustafa Kamal of the MQM and Naimatullah Khan of the Jamaat-e-Islami, have been demanding more control for the CDGK so that the city is under one agency’s command. Kamal and the naib nazim Nasreen Jalil have pointed out several times that the CDGK actually just controls 30 percent of the city but is expected and held accountable by the public for the entire 100 percent. Part of the problem is that the cantonment boards and other land-governing agencies maintain a lower public profile than the CDGK and are less accessible to the public.


Militants behead law-enforcement men in public - By Hameedullah Khan

Did they say "Bismillah... or Aoozobillah.." before beheading fellow muslims? That is what I would like to learn.

I call Mushy and Co. occupying army ...have been calling it this for many years.


Do these minor functionaries deserve being branded "sons of Bush" for following orders?

What kind of Muslim is he who kills/maims/injures a fellow Muslim this way?

Do we follow the same Allah?

Do we read the same Book?

Why are we silent?

Are we convincing ourselves of our impotence?

Why are we of Faith have become so faithless?

SWAT, Oct 26: Militants on Friday publicly executed four law-enforcement personnel in a village, 16km west of Mingora, the district headquarters, and exchanged heavy gunfire with security forces in a nearby sub-district. “It was gruesome,” was how a resident of Shakkardarra described the scene of beheading of the law-enforcement personnel.Requesting anonymity, he told Dawn on phone that masked militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles brought the four men to the village at around 5pm, fires a few shots in the air and then beheaded them. The men, said to be in their mid-20s, had their hands tied together. They were pushed to the ground on the main Matta-Mingora road and had their heads chopped off. “Let this serves as a warning to all those who spy for the government or help the government. All sons of Bush will meet similar fate,” the resident quoted one of the militants announcing shortly before the execution.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Overheard At An Airport Lounge

overheard at an airport lounge

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first person: (slightly inebriated) look at that thing
second person (with a glazed look checking his papers looks up in the direction of the thing and says nothing)
fp: you don't find her attractive?
sp: do i know you?
fp: cheer up bud, (pointing to bar tender) one more for my friend
sp: (mumbles thanks)
fp: aren't you glad at leaving this rat hole?
sp: glad? yes, yes very glad
fp: look, she is smiling in this direction
sp: is that a smile? i can't see through this haze
fp: look at those legs
sp: legs? smile?
fp: cheer up buddy, life is short
sp: i intend to soon as i get on board
fp: i am going to dublin, you?
sp: t.o.
fp: i sell conveyor belts. she crossed her legs. wow!
sp: (grunt)
fp: hey buddy, send her her drink on me
sp: (does his wife know how he behaves in foreign airports?)
fp: and one more for my friend here
sp: thanks. can i make a suggestion, sir?
fp: (getting loud now) anything my friend
sp: go easy on the drinks. they may deny you boarding
fp: screw them. nobody can stop me. hey she is coming over

(leggy woman looks at the second person and says:) can i sit here
sp: (pointing at fp) he sent you the drink
lw: (ignoring the comment repeats) may i sit here
fp: i am jim
lw: thank you jim. may i have a word with your friend here?
fp: sure sure. i sell conveyor belts.
lw: that must be exciting. thank you

(fp scans others in the bar. 15 minutes later the lw's flight is announced and she leaves)

fp: hey bud, did you hit off?
sp: hit off?
fp: did you find her attractive?
sp: attractive? she asked me why i looked distraught...
fp: those legs
sp: ...i told her i missed my flight...
fp: did you find her attractive
sp:... and she told me she was heading east
fp: east, west, west, east, east, west, west....
sp: (he will certainly be denied boarding)
fp: you got her number?
sp: no, not interested
fp: are you gay
sp: no

fp: you must be gay, you did not get her number
sp: (grabbing his papers and bag) i have a flight to catch
fp: you must be gay
sp: (shrug) you can delude. am a poet. good bye

for the inspiration, thanks are due to saks and beady - t

Words On Writing - Alex Boyd

In an essay called Why I Write, George Orwell suggests that all writing is political. To paraphrase, he suggests that even if you avoid directly mentioning political methods or views, the writing is still political simply because it wants and pushes in a certain direction. Even a romance novel pushes for the dreamy, interpersonal world it creates in the mind of the reader, and you can call it political. I’m inclined to agree. All along I’ve had a fuzzy notion that all writing works in some direction, although at the same time I defined political writing more rigidly, as a novel about a revolution, for example.

All writing is a kind of faith. Although there are doubtless exceptions, writing often imposes an order on the events and thoughts that occupy the mind of a writer. It takes those thoughts, even if they are horrible, and transfers them to a more manageable framework, like a fishbowl that we can stand above and look inside. We use narrative as a method of understanding, and after a serious disaster can trust the newspapers to begin the process of turning the event into narrative, not only providing examples of the human drama, but a greater context. We turn on our televisions and watch a space shuttle exploding over and over again while the voices of broadcasters scramble to pull a narrative together, to find out who was involved, why this happened, how it can be prevented in the future. Writing brings things into focus, makes them solid, and it whispers in the ear of possible future. To do that, it must believe in a future. Like wanting to have children and planning to care for them, writing is a statement about hope.

[click on the heading to read the essay in full]

Finding Time - The fast, the bad, the ugly, the alternatives by Rebecca Solnit

THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF MY APOCALYPSE are called Efficiency, Convenience, Profitability, and Security, and in their names, crimes against poetry, pleasure, sociability, and the very largeness of the world are daily, hourly, constantly carried out. These marauding horsemen are deployed by technophiles, advertisers, and profiteers to assault the nameless pleasures and meanings that knit together our lives and expand our horizons.

The problem is partly one of language. The language of commerce has been engineered to describe the overt purpose of a thing, but cannot encompass fringe benefits or peripheral pleasures. It weighs the obvious against what in its terms are incomprehensible. When I drive from here to there, speed, privacy, control, and safety are easy to claim. When I walk, what happens is more vague, more ambiguous—and in many circumstances much richer. I am out in the world. It’s exercise, though not so quantifiably as on a treadmill in a gym with a digital readout. It’s myriad little epiphanies and encounters that knit me more tightly into my place and maybe enhance the place overall. The carbon emissions are essentially nil. Many more benefits are more subjective, more ethereal—and more wordy. You can’t describe them in a few familiar phrases; and if you’re not practiced at describing them, you may not be able to articulate them at all. It is difficult to value what cannot be named. Since someone makes money every time you buy a car or fill it up, there’s a whole commercial language built around getting us to drive; there’s little or no language promoting the free act of walking. Have you not driven a Ford lately?

[to read the essay in full click on the heading]

On the Eve of Destruction

Bush and Cheney
AP photo / Charles Dharapak

By Scott Ritter

Cheney and his cohorts have constructed a never-never land of oversight deniability, claiming immunity from both executive and legislative checks and balances. With an unchallenged ability to classify anything and everything as secret, and then claim that there is no authority inherent in government to oversee that which has been thus classified, the Office of the Vice President has transformed itself into a free republic’s worst nightmare, assuming Caesar-like dictatorial authority over almost every aspect of American national security policy at home and abroad. From torture to illegal wiretapping, to arms control (or lack of it) to Iran, Dick Cheney is the undisputed center of policy power in America today. While there are some who will claim that in this time of post-9/11 crisis such a process of bureaucratic streamlining is essential for the common good, the reality is far different.

[for more click on the heading]

Taliban power grows - Nick Paton Walsh

A 30 minutes drive from the centre of Kabul, and the Taliban is in the ascendant. The insurgency is now encroaching on the capital.

An alliance facing a crisis of resolve in Afghanistan, its leaders suggest, meeting in Holland tomorrow to try and boost their troop commitments.

Robert Gates, US Defence Secretary said: "I am not satisfied that an alliance whose members have over two million soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen cannot find the modest additional resources that have been committed for Afghanistan."

America has 27,000 troops in theatre. 92 dead so far this year, and a record 563 injured.

NATO's other contributors are suffering from heavy casualties and a drop in domestic support.

Key to tomorrow's meeting in Holland are the Dutch, with 1700 troops in Uruzgun - 11 dead in total. They must decide in the coming weeks if they will stay on past 2009, which a 51 per cent majority of Dutch oppose.

Their decision will impact upon Canada, with 2500 troops in Helmand. They've suffered the heaviest casualties this year with 27 dead. Only 14 per cent of Canadians want this mission to carry on past 2009.

[for more click on the heading]

The Islamic Origins Debate Goes Public - Peter von Sivers

A central part of modern secularization has been the de-theologization of the stories of religious origins. Islam is no different, even though this de-theologization tends to be obscured by contemporary fundamentalism. In Islam, the story of origins centers on Mecca, Medina, the prophet Muhammad, the early Muslim community, and the expansion out of Arabia. A few scholars at the end of the nineteenth century and many at the end of the twentieth century raised the question of whether this story should be considered a theology – that is, an apologia or justification – of origins rather than a history as traditionally understood. This article provides a survey of the Islamic origins literature produced by Middle East scholars in the last century.

[thanks YA for this link:) - this is for those who have an interest in it - it is a bit long - click on the heading to read more]

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Freedom Rider: Christian/Jewish Fascism Awareness Week - Margaret Kimberley

Rightwing U.S. Christians and Jews continue to escalate theirFRWoundedChild anti-Muslim jihad, bent on waging endless war against a billion of the world's people. The most frenzied promulgator of fatwas against all things Islamic is professional propagandist David Horowitz, funded to the tune of $15 million by Hard Right corporations and think tanks "to promote a white supremacist, pro-war agenda." Horowitz has declared October 22nd to 26th "Islamo-Fascist Awareness Week," buttressingFRKillMuslims the Bush regime's claim that Muslim fundamentalism - as interpreted by the Christian-Jewish Right - is the moral and historical equivalent of Nazism. Senior columnist Margaret Kimberley suggests a counter-event: "Christian/Jewish Fascism Awareness Week."

Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.Com. Ms. Kimberley' maintains an edifying and frequently updated blog at More of her work is also available at her Black Agenda Report archive page.

[click on the heading to read more]

The Marked People By Harsh Mander

In today’s world, many things have been globalised. One of these is prejudice. In the name of the global war on terrorism, an entire community has been labelled and demonised. Terror attacks, whether in Washington, London or Madrid, are followed by paranoid surveillance, strip searches and prolonged detentions of large numbers of Muslim youth, often without even tenuous evidence or respect for their elementary human rights. The latest to join this global assault on democratic rights — in the wake of the three bomb blasts that hit Hyderabad this year — is the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh. The state Minorities Commission has reported the abduction and illegal detention and torture by the police of a large number of Muslim youth within days of the blasts on August 25, 2007. I have heard from several terrified families of many youth who “disappeared” for several days without legal trace, chilling testimonies similar to those made by youth incarcerated in Cheraiapally Jail before the fact-finding committee established by the Commission.

[This is from memory..Harsh Mander was a civil servant with a conscience who quit the service when he saw the targeted violence in gujrat by modi and his cohorts and wrote a moving article...since then he has found a second calling as a columnist with a conscience...and he heads ActionAid...or used to - khair- to read more click on the heading]

“Thanks Ann, you have united Moslems, Jews, and Christians”. - Ann Coulter: Nuke Them! By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

I have always been able to separate the ordinary Americans from the government. Tonight was the first time that the two became inseparable. For the first time in 21 years I witnessed hate in America – and what an ugly spectacle. Thankfully, I was rescued by that America that I cherish. As I was leaving, I saw more protestors. I joined them and we started chanting. Rabbis, priests, and practicing Moslems were among many who held signs reading: “Thanks Ann, you have united Moslems, Jews, and Christians”. She had. Tonight, as I review the hateful words spoken, the reaction of some in the college that I still love, the signs, the unity, and the warm embrace of the rabbi will chase away the ugly hatred of Ann Coulter and her clan.

[for the rest click on the heading]

Do you know the truth about Lockerbie? - Robert Fisk

After writing about the "ravers" who regularly turn up at lectures to claim that President Bush/the CIA/the Pentagon/Mossad etc perpetrated the crimes against humanity of 11 September, I received a letter this week from Marion Irvine, who feared that members of her family run the risk of being just such "ravers" and "voices heard in the wilderness". Far from it.

For Mrs Irvine was writing about Lockerbie, and, like her, I believe there are many dark and sinister corners to this atrocity. I'm not at all certain that the CIA did not have a scam drugs heist on board and I am not at all sure that the diminutive Libyan agent Megrahi – ultimately convicted on the evidence of the memory of a Maltese tailor – really arranged to plant the bomb on board Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988.

But I take Mrs Irvine's letter doubly seriously because her brother, Bill Cadman, was on board 103 and died in the night over Lockerbie 19 years ago. He was a sound engineer in London and Paris, travelling with his girlfriend Sophie – who, of course, was also killed – to spend Christmas with Sophie's aunt in the United States. Nothing, therefore, could be more eloquent than Mrs Irvine's own letter, which I must quote to you. She strongly doubts, she says, Libya's involvement in the bombing.

[for more click on the heading]

Committee for Open Discussion of Zionism

Our Mission statement

The Committee for Open Discussion of Zionism arises in response to the troubling practice in the United States of suppressing alternative views on Israel/Palestine and Zionism, which is growing more desperate and severe. A major instance of this is the recent effort to force the University of Michigan Press to suppress the distribution of Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine by Professor Joel Kovel and pressuring it to cancel its contract to distribute Pluto Press in the U.S.

The suppression of discussion of Zionism occurs within the context of a broader assault on academic freedom and critical thought; it is a concentrated expression of that assault. We need only look at the tenure battles of Norman Finkelstein (DePaul) and Nadia Abu El-Haj (Barnard), the assault on books written by Mearsheimer and Walt and by former President Jimmy Carter, and the canceling of the play 'My Name is Rachel Corrie' by the New York Theater Workshop.

We believe that such campaigns of suppression are wrong from every angle. They fly in the face of the most cherished constitutional traditions of democracy; they deprive the American public and government of the necessary viewpoints and information to conduct a debate on what are urgent, and certainly the most contentious, issues of policy; and as a result they make impossible a rational and just policy in the Middle East; they therefore promote endless regional war and terrorism and a continuing brutal colonial policy against a displaced population. Suppression of open discussion of Zionism is bad for everyone: for Palestinians, for Jews, for the citizenry of the United States, and indeed for the whole world.

Our goal is to actively confront and expose instances of such suppression, and open a democratic debate that is long overdue.


If you live in the US you can join ANAA. If you live elsewhere, you can still support ANAA Vision if you agree with it. This is an unpaid announcement. I support their intentions and deeds.

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1. To increase awareness about the existence of human rights abuses in Pakistan by educating Pakistanis and the international community about the existing discriminatory laws and practices in Pakistan.

2. To initiate public debate about the means to eradicate discrimination and social injustice against women, minorities and other disenfranchised groups in Pakistan through organization of educational seminars and conferences designed to increase awareness

3. To help improve the human rights situation in Pakistan, an integral concern for the international community through collaboration with national and international groups engaged in the promotion of human rights in Pakistan

4. And to expose the legal, social and psychological obstacles, ostracism and alienation faced by victims of sexual violence in Pakistan and to confront the issue of sexual violence against women through publication of newsletters, research reports and public seminars.

Informed and involved citizens are best protection for human rights. ANAA Voice - Oct 22, 2007 - Vol 1 Issue 5
You can help by
1. Join ANAA Mailing list - 2. forward this weekly update to 5 friends - 3. Become ANAA Member

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

idiots, idiots, everywhere

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adjusting the curtain in the marriot
i wonder who is an idiot?
why generously claim we're all idiots?
even if we are not zantiots, sciots
or if they forgive me, cypriots?
hey t, why bring in cypriots?
wait! i know we are all idiots -
some of the time - that'll make us tempidiots

what of those who qualify as certifidiots
them religio-nationalism oozing fundapatriots
the bush-bin-laden-bin-my-country... type copatriots
yes, they'd also qualify as deludiots
riding imbecile-harnessed chariots
and the multitudes whose vcr clocks
forever blink unadjusted - them vidiots
and the anaRi golfers, pace bowler's divot
that turns the sod on pivot
or the naive villager's heriot
that matches a cyber-malicious kiddiot
and those talkative, hoarding piots
it is such a waste all this talk of idiots
come, let's go visit t s eliot

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Liberals Debate Political Islam

“He gets very emotional. He gets very excited … a lot of spittle around the mouth and so on," says Ian Buruma of Paul Berman, kicking off the latest round of polemical bloodletting between the two liberal intellectuals.

The history of this spat is a bit tedious and more than a bit convoluted, but here it is in a nutshell: In February Buruma, a professor at Bard College, wrote a profile of the Swiss-born Egyptian scholar Tariq Ramadan for The New York Times Magazine. Buruma concluded that Ramadan's "politics offer an alternative to violence, which, in the end, is reason enough to engage with him, critically, but without fear."

Berman found that take dangerously naive and simplistic. In a 28,000 word response that ran across almost an entire issue of The New Republic, Berman delved deep into Ramadan's written work and biography to paint a far more complex -- and menacing -- picture of the controversial and wildly popular scholar of Islam.

Buruma held his fire until late last month when he took after Berman and other "such tub-thumpers for Bush's war" as Christopher Hitchens and the French writer Pascal Bruckner in the course of a review of Norman Podhoretz's new book, World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism. Buruma's central point was that he sees no difference between the views of "neo-left" thinkers like Berman and neoconservative thinkers like Podhoretz. (Bruckner and Buruma have tangled before on the related issue of when tolerance for cultural differences becomes tolerance for intolerance.)

Berman has just hit back with a letter to the editor in the latest issue of The New York Review of Books, in which he claims that Buruma is for some reason incapable of seeing the fine distinctions that Berman feels he has drawn between his own position and that of President Bush's.

Berman and Buruma's ongoing spat -- which shows every sign of intensifying in the near future -- speaks to a much larger divide on the left over how to aid the cause of reform in the Muslim world.

Buruma's position is seconded by the New York University historian Tony Judt, most notably in this essay in the London Review of Books -- titled "Bush's Useful Idiots" -- and in this op-ed in The New York Times.

Elements of this debate have been playing out in the pages of The Chronicle Review. Earlier this year Tariq Ramadan made a case for what the West can learn from Islam. In 2004 Ian Buruma sketched out the origins of Occidentalism, which he defined as "a war against a particular idea of the West, which is neither new nor unique to Islamist extremism." And in 2003 Paul Berman implored intellectuals to ask themselves what they are doing to support "liberal values against the totalitarianism of the Muslim world and its defenders in the West."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The United States and Pakistan: Navigating a Complex Relationship By Danielle Pletka

The lady in green and white is friends to high and mighty though am not sure if Danielle Pletka can be considered either/and or both. Ms. Pletka is the V-P of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute one of the intellectual hotbeds of the Neoconzix.

The excerpts are from an article by BBZ's friend.

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Bhutto and Pletka - Washington DC-Feb. 2007

Pakistan is probably one of the most dangerous places in the world. It has teetered between quasi-democracy and autocracy for decades, is home to a significant stock of nuclear weapons, has gone to war three times with its nuclear armed neighbor, and has a small but committed minority of extremists bent on killing the Pakistani President and taking over the country.

The United States government is reluctant to dwell on Pakistan’s parlous state, but we do our friends in the Pakistani government no service with our reticence.
These are problems that need to be faced, and resolved. In addition to the political and security problems, socially, Pakistan is in dire straits. Until its most recent budget, Pakistan was one of only 12 nations that spend less than 2% of GNP on education. (she is on the ball here - compare this with Pakistan's Defense Allocation)

For as long as the United States continues to gloss over Pakistan’s failure to move quickly on reforms, and remains reluctant to confront the government for its willingness to protect AQ Khan, it is making a mistake. For as long as Pakistan fights international terrorists and allows domestic extremists to run free, neither state’s interests will be served. A moderate, Muslim success story in Pakistan is possible. But the necessary reforms will not take place without constant pressure and frank talk from the United States. (and with their "man" in Isloo - read "chairperson for life" for "man")

[to read the article click on the heading]

She is so Eighties

I can only hope Mrs. Bhutto learns fast. Sadly, this latest news report reinforces the belief that she still lives in la la land. Appeals to surrender weapons and negotiate! The terrorists must be having a laugh-riot over this stand-up act. Read for yourself

Benazir urges terrorists to surrender arms KARACHI: Former Prime Minister and PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto Monday called upon the terrorists to surrender arms and in case of some grievances they should opt for negotiations with a view to seek the redressal instead of resorting to terrorist activities to kill the innocent people.

A lesson in humility for the smug West - William Dalrymple

About 100 miles south of Delhi, where I live, lie the ruins of the Mughal capital, Fateh-pur Sikri. This was built by the Emperor Akbar at the end of the 16th century. Here Akbar would listen carefully as philosophers, mystics and holy men of different faiths debated the merits of their different beliefs in what is the earliest known experiment in formal inter-religious dialogue.

Representatives of Muslims (Sunni and Shi’ite as well as Sufi), Hindus (followers of Shiva and Vishnu as well as Hindu atheists), Christians, Jains, Jews, Buddhists and Zoroastrians came together to discuss where they differed and how they could live together.

Muslim rulers are not usually thought of in the West as standard-bearers of freedom of thought; but Akbar was obsessed with exploring the issues of religious truth, and with as open a mind as possible, declaring: “No man should be interfered with on account of religion, and anyone is to be allowed to go over to any religion that pleases him.” He also argued for what he called “the pursuit of reason” rather than “reliance on the marshy land of tradition”.

All this took place when in London, Jesuits were being hung, drawn and quartered outside Tyburn, in Spain and Portu-gal the Inquisition was torturing anyone who defied the dogmas of the Catholic church, and in Rome Giordano Bruno was being burnt at the stake in Campo de’Fiori.

[for more click on the heading]

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Post Bombing Scenario - Narratives (brief) from the hospital - Shahid Fiaz

I do not have a link for the following report. Beena forwarded this. It is worth a read. Made me sadder. Such trust - such blind trust misplaced and wasted on a person who does not entirely deserve it. Or perhaps there is so little hope in other leaders that the innocent and the gullible alike fall for the chairperson for life's machinations . If you please, pass this on. It needs wider readership- t

October 19th suicide attacks on PPP rally in Karachi

The Post Bombing Scenario - Narratives (brief) from the hospital

Shahid Fiaz

October 18th – we will remember it for a long time and for all the wrong reasons. Today is 21st October – the third day of the bombing of PPP rally. The nation is mourning the dead and trying to help the injured.

I went to the Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Collage and Hospital with three other friends to meet the victims of the October 19th bombing (the bombs exploded at 12.13 a.m on the 19th). I must thank to this friend who actually pushed me to join her. I also want to confess that I should have done it on the 19th of October. This friend of mine wanted to help those in need at this point of time so four of us went to the hospital with a limited financial support for the victims.

We talked and listened to around 40 injured persons in the Jinnah Post Graduate Medical College and Hospital in Karachi. It will be interesting for many to note (both for the PPP leadership and other parties) that out of 40 injured all of them come from lower economic strata of the society. They were factory workers, Rickshaw drivers, drivers, peasants, daily wagers, mechanics in workshop, and few students coming from lower middle class families who were educated but unemployed. They represent a group of 'true pakistan' as I met people from all parts of the country. People came down to Karachi from places like Siachen, Chitral, Quetta, Gwadar, and Tribal Areas of NWFP. Sindh and Punjab were better represented for various reasons including the size of the population and better transport and road connections to the port city.

BB (read PPP) should be happy to know that a strong majority of them (98%) having lost their limbs but still chanting "Jia Bhutto". (high time for other political parties to envy PPP and get worried as they don't have this breed of workers– it was phenomenal). One man on the bed who had lost his son in the blast told me that "I can sacrifice my whole family to Bhutto". Another young Rickshaw driver from Orangi Town in Karachi started chanting Jia Bhutto and made V when I along with other friends entered the ward no 14th in the Jinnah hospital. Talking to this man was fascinating. He had a broken leg coupled with other minor injuries but I have never seen a person like him who in such a great pain was not only smiling but showing great courage to fight it pain and dancing on the bed. Jia Bhutto! He said with a broad smile on his face and started moving his body in a dance form…of course he could not move his broken leg – his siblings were as happy as he was and gave him their complete support.

The people of Pakistan know a place called Siachen but I really don't think that many of us (large majority) have even the vaguest idea of the land and people who live there. About their culture, rituals, festivals and what language they speak. The only reference to Siachen is war on the world's highest altitude (our media and junta take pride in this war and are always boastful of the achievement against ' the enemy' but we never heard about the people there). A young man, who happened to be from Siachen but lives in Karachi, was taking care of two seriously injured youth (Villayat Ali and Akhtar Hussain) from Siachen – their families don't know what had happened to their kids – And most of the leaders landing in the hospital were not even aware of their presence. I was told that Benazir Bhutto had visited the hospital today but she visited only one ward of the hospital – probably due to 'security reasons' but that ward by chance had only the Jannasaran-e-Benazir – the group of people that formed the human shield to save BB. I was also told that BB distributed some token money among the injured but later on I found that even the token money (5000 rupees, less than $ US 100) was given only to the Jannasaran (no comments on this bias). I am sure party will compensate the siblings of the dead and injured!

The brief interviews with the victims of bombing provided some food for thought to all political parties. The findings can also provide a guideline to PPP for survival as the high-spirits and firmly determined cadre of the party will not last forever – especially if there is no Bhutto let me assure you there will be no People's Party!!

All forty activists interviewed from three wards of Jinnah hospital (ward 13, 14, 17) come from the lowest economic strata of society. They were daily wager laborers, gardeners, factory workers, drivers, rickshaw drivers, auto-mechanics, students, unemployed educated
young people, and farmers with small landholdings of 3-4 acres.

(converted from table)
Factory worker: 04 (10 %)
Driver: 07 (17.5 %)
Daily wager: 13 (32.5 %)
Mechanic: 03 (7.5 %)
Kissan/ Farmer: 05 (12.5 %)
Unemployed: 04 (10%)
Students: 05 (10%)

The table above shows a strong base of PPP among the lower income groups but an eye opener also. Daily wagers with bleak or no future make the largest groups of PPP supporters followed by rickshaw drivers and small farmers. Interestingly, all of them were proud workers of the party and some of them refused to accept token money from BB when she paid a visit to hospital on October 21.

However, there is more to the rally and the bombing i.e., ordinary people - which mainstream media tends to ignore because it is not sensational and sexy and no big names attached to such stories. Let's take a look at the few 'short stories' below and find out who is who in the wilderness of politics? Let me also make it clear that narratives of all 40 individuals are similar and I am only narrating few of them.

1. Sajjad, is a 13 years old young boy who is unconscious since October 19th when he was brought to hospital. He is orphan and lives in Baldia Town (a shanty town without basic amenities) with his uncle. His parents died long time ago and know he lives with his uncle (mammon) who himself is a daily wager and a family of his own to feed to. Sajjad has three sisters and he is only the breadwinner of the family. He used to work in a motor garage to contribute his uncles' income who feeds four of them.

I was told that doctors say that Sajjad probably will never be able to work as his has severe injuries in his spine. Even if he survives he would need long-term medical treatment and rest to recover. He went to the rally along with his friend Saddam Hussain who was unfortunate (or fortunate) as he lost his life on deadly October 19 th night and avoided the horrors of prolonged poverty and lack of proper treatment. The worries of his uncle are enormous and quite visible on his withered face as his children will have to share their piece of bread with Sajjad and his sisters now…. Sajjad will live like a handicap, dependent on others which he never wanted to

2. Ghulam Rasool, a man in his late forties was asking everyone if they have seen his son, Nauman Jamali. A 17 years old from NawabShah (Mr. Asif Zardari's hometown) who came to welcome BB and is missing since then. The unfortunate father had seen the lists of the dead and was running from one hospital to the other in search of Nauman who along with other people came to Karachi on night of 17th. He did not tell his family anything about the program as he feared that permission may not be granted by his parents. The father had lodged a complaint, had met the DCO (previously known as deputy commissioner) and was also carrying a reference of Zardari House. All his reference and pleas failed to locate his son. He wanted us to help him but we found ourselves in an utter state of helplessness and referred him to PPP camp meant to facilitate such people. The pain of the father seemed more traumatic than those who had lost
their kids…

To me this man, Qalandar Baksh, seemed quite a character. He was lying on the hospital bed with no one around and saying something about Bhutto family in Sindhi language. I don't quite understand the language so I asked my colleague (Simi) to talk to the man as I do not want him to switch to some alien language. The translation of the conversation makes a 'good read'.

The man in his late 40's had come to the rally along with his family. One of his two sons was killed on the deadly night of bombing and second one was missing since the devastating night of October 18 th. This man appeared to me like a mount-Everest of courage (I sincerely hope he was in his senses). After losing one of his children and other missing he showed his complete confidence in the leadership of Benazir Bhutto. He, with severe injuries on all over his body, chanted in a loud voice "Jia Bhutto" and rest of the injured followed him by repeating Jia Bhutto. I asked him what his party has done for him in the last three days and in the last two tenures when BB ruled the country. He remained composed, content and what he said was so intriguing for me as well as it will for many others"it does not matter what does for me – I am with my party even if it does nothing for me or my children. We will keep on saying Jia Bhutto. We have to payback to Bhutto family which has given great sacrifices for us – they (the bhuttos) lost Bhutto Saheb, Mir Murtaza, and Mir Shahnawaz for the people. My son sacrificed his life. He followed the path of Murtaza and Shahnawaz. I will not hesitate to sacrifice my life and my other son for Bhuttos". Qalandar Baksh runs a roadside tyre-shop and his children were illiterate.

It goes without saying that PPP has a support base that no other political party ever had in Pakistan. They were, among the inured, young, middle aged, old people – Sindhis, Balochis, Punjabis, Gilgitis, Urdu speaking Sindhis, Pashtuns, Hazarwals, Saraikis, and Chitralis but no one had any regrets. They were in high spirits and fully charged to take on any political challenge put up to PPP or more specifically to BB as PPP does not exist beyond the Bhutto's - It's not a party but a cult!

Activists, mostly men, were determined and unshaken and ready to fight back despite their wounded bodies and shaken souls. But women of the injured and badly injured had their side of the stories. They were worried about their livelihood. Almost all of the injured with few exceptions were the sole breadwinner of their families. Those who died and those who survived have families to be fed – "I don't know what will happen to us. My husband is injured and doctors say that it will take few months when he will be able to go to work again. He is factory worker and we don't have any savings. These few months are going to be very hard for us. We will need money not only for our food but for his treatment as well. I am not saying that party is responsible for our misfortune but all of us know that my husband was in the rally because of his party"

One can not but admire and eulogize the spirit of Bhutto cult, nevertheless there are questions and issues that need immediate attention of BB, PPP and PML (Pervez Mushraf League).

138 dead and over 500 injured (most of them seriously) that means over 600 families need immediate attention of the party and state in terms of financial support, compensation, and medical treatment. The small survey shows that 98% of the victims belong to lowest income group and were the sole breadwinner of their families and they still need to be fed.

Fixing of the responsibility is important and there are specialized agencies to work on that – party must take immediate step and scrutinize those among the injured who might need more specialize medical treatment – there is one man in the Jinnah hospital who was in coma on third day of the blasts when visited the hospital. He did not have any attendant.

Though PPP has announced to set up a party fund for the victims but I believe it will take some time when money starts pouring in this kitty – families of the daily wagers can not wait for the fund and need to be compensated on urgent basis.

Government of Sindh compensated the victims of May 12 mayhem – It must repeat its generosity here as well and pay the same amount to each injured and families of those who dead in the suicide attacks.

Finally, one may ask that what is future of such rallies? Ban on political rallies definitely is not a solution and can not be supported but who is going to ensure the safety of ordinary people and how?

Benazir Bhutto has only herself to blame - Imran Khan

I'm sorry to say this, but the bombing of Benazir Bhutto's cavalcade as she paraded through Karachi on Thursday night was a tragedy almost waiting to happen. You could argue it was inevitable.

Everyone here knew there was going to be a huge crowd turning up to see her return after eight years in self-imposed exile. Everyone also knows that there has been a spate of suicide bombings in Pakistan lately, especially in the frontier region where I am campaigning at the moment.

How was it ever going to be possible to monitor such a large crowd and guarantee that no suicide bombers would infiltrate it?

[for more click on the heading]

Breaking the Taboo: Why We Took On the Israel Lobby - Eric Chinsky

Eric Chinski, the editor of John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt’s provocative new bestseller, asks the authors whether their book is good for the Jews and good for America. This interview originally appeared on the Web site of the publishing house Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Thanks to TruthDig for resurfacing it.

Why did your article "The Israel Lobby," which was published in the London Review of Books in 2006, provoke such heated discussion around the world? James Traub wrote in The New York Times Magazine: " 'The Israel Lobby' slammed into the opinion-making world with a Category 5 force." How would you describe the reaction?

The article received enormous attention because it challenged what had become a taboo issue in mainstream foreign policy circles, namely the impact of the Israel lobby on U.S. Middle East policy. We did not question Israel's legitimacy and explicitly stated that the United States should come to Israel's aid if its survival is at risk, but we did argue that pro-Israel groups in the United States were encouraging policies that were ultimately not in America's national interest. Although the views we expressed are often discussed openly in other democracies -- including Israel itself -- they have rarely been set forth in detail by mainstream figures in the United States. The article was also of great interest to many readers because it has become increasingly obvious that U.S. Middle East policy has gone badly awry. Although a number of groups and individuals either mischaracterized our views or attacked us personally, many other readers agreed that such an examination of the lobby's role was long overdue.

[for more click on the heading]

Bhutto's Bloody Return: A Massacre Foretold By Tariq Ali

The massacre in Karachi had been widely predicted. Benazir Bhutto herself has stated that she was aware of the dangers. The government pleaded with her to delay her return. Jihadi leaders, angered by her slavish support of US foreign policy, had publicly threatened to kill her. She survived but a few hundred people have been killed without reason.Her husband, who decided not to accompany her, has accused Pakistani intelligence of complicity in the attacks. Benazir Bhutto herself has preferred to attack the followers of a dead military dictator.

[for more click on the heading]

Narendra Modi walks out on Karan Thapar

Here is the transcript, read for yourself:

Karan Thapar: Hello and Welcome to Devil's Advocate. Does the Chief Minister of Gujarat have an image problem and can he win another election and become the Chief Minister again? Those are the two key issues I shall explore today in an exclusive interview with the Chief Minister himself Narendra Modi.

Mr Narendra Modi lets start by talking about you. In the six years that you have been the Chief Minister of Gujarat Rajeev Gandhi foundation has declared Gujarat to be the best administered state. India today on the two separate ocassions declared that you are the most efficient Chief Minister and despite that people still call you, to your face, a mass murderer. And they accuse you of being prejudiced against Muslims? Do you have an image problem?

Narendra Modi: I think it's not proper to say that people. There are two or three persons who talk in this terminology and I always say God bless them.

Karan Thapar:You are saying this is the conspiracy of two or three persons only.

Narendra Modi: I have not said so.

Karan Thapar: But you are saying its only two or three people.

Narendra Modi: This is the information I have. It's the people's voice.

Karan Thapar: Can I point out to you that in September 2003 the Supreme Court said that they had lost faith in the Gujarat government. In April 2004 the Chief Justice of Supreme Court said that you were like a modern day Nero who looks the other side when helpless children and innocent women are burned. The Supreme Court seems to have a problem with you.

Narendra Modi: Karan, I have a small request to make. Please go through the Supreme Court judgement. If there is anything in writing, I'll be happy to know everything.

Karan Thapar: There was nothing in writing you are right. It was an observation.

Narendra Modi: if it is in judgement then I'll be happy to give you the answer.

Karan Thapar: But do you mean a criticism by the Chief Justice in court doesn't matter?

Narendra Modi: It's a simple request. Please go through the court judgement. Hand out the sentence you are quoting and let the people know it.

Karan Thapar: Okay. It wasn't just an open comment made by the Chief Justice. In August 2004, the Supreme Court reopened 2100 cases out of a total of 4600 -- almost 40 per cent -- and they did so because they believed that justice hadn't happened in Gujarat.

Narendra Modi: I'll be happy. Ultimately the court of law will take the judgement.

Karan Thapar: But isn’t this the reason that despite the fact India today called you the best Chief Minister, Rajeev Gandhi foundation said Gujarat is the best administered state, people say Modi is prejudiced against the Muslims. This is why I ask you do you have an image problem?

Narendra Modi: Actually I have not spent a single minute on my image and that can also be a reason. I am busy with my work. I am committed to Gujarat. I am dedicated to Gujarat. I never talk about my image. I never spent a single minute for my image and therefore confusions may be there.

Karan Thapar: I'll tell you what the problem is. Even five years after the Gujarat killings of 2002 the ghost of Gujarat still haunts you. why have you not done more to allay that ghost?

Narendra Modi: This I gave it to the media persons like Karan Thapar. Let them enjoy.

Karan Thapar: Can I suggest something to you?

Narendra Modi: I have no problem.

Karan Thapar: Why can't you say that you regret the killings that happened. Why can't you say may be the government should have done more to protect them?

Narendra Modi: What I had to say I have said at that time and you can find out my statements. [he did this - see below - t}

Karan Thapar: Just say it again.

Narendra Modi: Not necessary. I have to talk about in 2007 everything you want to talk about.

Karan Thapar: But by not saying it again, by not letting people hear the message repeatedly you are allowing an image contrary to Gujarat to continue. It's in your hands to change it.

Narendra Modi: I'll have to rest. I need some water.

Karan Thapar: Pani.

Narendra Modi: Dosti bani rahe, bass. I'll be happy. You came here. I am happy and thankful to you. I can't do this interview. It's okay, your things are. Apne ideas hain aap bolte rahiye aap karte rahiye. Three - four questions I've already enjoyed. Nahin please.

Karan Thapar: But Modi Sahab

Narendra Modi: Nahi please, Karan.

Karan Thapar:But Modi Sahab

Narendra Modi: Karan dekho main dostana sambhand rakhna chahta hoon, aap usko koshish kariye.

Karan Thapar: Mujhe ek cheez samjhayee sir. I am not talking about doing anything wrong. I am saying why can't you correct your image?

Narendra Modi: This is not the time. Uske liye aap mujhe 2002 mein mile hote, 2003 mein mile hote. Mein sab kar leta.


Modi admits post-Godhra incidents were wrong
25 Mar 2005, 2337 hrs IST,TNN

NEW DELHI: Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi has for the first time admitted that the post-Godhra communal incidents were wrong.

In a television interview, Modi said "whatever happened at Godhra or thereafter was wrong" and "this sort of happening is not good for any

society". The statement comes at a crucial time. A week ago, Modi was denied visa to visit the US on grounds that he violated "religious freedom". His proposed visit to Britain had sparked protests in the country. Modi in fact cancelled the trip after the Centre pointed out to him the possibility of a security threat.

But Modi said he was unaffected by such international rebuke. On charges that he is anti-Muslim, he said: "I am not against Islam. I am against jihad, against terrorism, against cruelty towards anyone." He went on to say that any Hindu against Islam "is not a true Hindu".,prtpage-1.cms