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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Baithak Desi Apr 19: Back to 90s?, New Koran?, Temple Renovation, M Shaam, Moeed Pirzada,

Seems like a repeat of 90s is in the offing. Karachi was rocked by violence, kidnapping, extra judicial killings.

There are a few factors that are different today.

* In the 90s both the PPP and PML-N were the majority parties at the centre
* The electronic media was in infancy then. Today it is much freer.
* The citizen bloggers were non existent then
* Cell phones and video cams proliferate today
* The scourge of suicide bombers was not in evidence in this region then
* MQM is not the only organized street level party today.

If this trial balloon is not deflated, the urban Sindhis are in for violence. What is the cause for this? Read this by Tariq Butt with my comments in parenthesis.

ISLAMABAD: The Sindh Police, under its new chief Dr Shoaib Suddle, are(sic) putting its act together to launch a "low intensity operation" against terrorists, kidnappers, extortionists and miscreants.... "Without the absolute intelligence support, no operation will meet success in Karachi. There will be no point in doing a patchy work because it encourages terrorists," a police official, who was recently transferred to Karachi after 12 years, told The News. (probably Rana Anwar - Tariq did not name him) "Unless the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is comprehensively associated with any such difficult drive, we can't go the whole yard and take the troublemakers head-on. This premier outfit has all the resources and high-tech required for such a drive, which would do wonders in such operations," he said. (backgrounder: the infamous Lyari Gang War culprits allegedly have the support of Agencies) During his recent visit to Islamabad, the officer showed to this correspondent a huge bundle of documents, wrapped in a shopping bag, giving graphic details of those who had been resorting to killings and creating anarchy and chaos in Karachi. The officer said that recording of landline and cell phones of the suspected lot would have to be done for the success of the operation but the police were in no position to do so. He said that not only the assistance of the ISI but also the help of the Military Intelligence and the Karachi Corps Headquarters would be exceedingly necessary and vital in the operation as before. (Is this trial balloon for Lyari? And if it is why would the Agencies give up a milking cow?) The official said no doubt the terrorists were well armed and had large arsenals that they had assembled over the past decade, it was not a big deal to crack down on them if there were complete preparations and clarity of mind as to what was to be achieved. (Notice the use of "terrorist"?) Another official said that the Karachi Police would now no longer sit silently waiting for all the main players of the government, including the intelligence agencies, to come out with their opinion that the troublemakers had to be dealt with severely in Karachi before it was too late. (Interesting - when allegedly the KP itself was involved in some of these crimes) Sindh Police planning ‘low intensity operation’ - Tariq Butt.

And up north, having tried force they now talk about negotiating: Army alters strategy, turns to negotiations

Since the effort, time and money is in short supply, this group of "ulemas" decided to take the shorter course: The organization Muslims Against Sharia is creating a new Koran with the violent verses removed. How legitimate and wise is this action? There is an effort in Turkey, for instance, to also revise Islamic texts. What real hope can these acts offer to bring Islam into the modern and democratic world? To discuss this issue with us today, Frontpage Symposium has assembled a distinguished panel. Symposium: A New Koran? [thanks YA]

In recent days, Pakistani newspapers have accused the U.S. of beginning to target Pakistan in its War on Terror. In an April 14, 2008 editorial, the right-wing Pakistan daily Roznama Nawa-i-Waqt accused U.S. President George W. Bush of "directly targeting" Pakistan, and said that the U.S. was giving Pakistan priority even over Iran on its list of military targets. The Islamist paper Roznama Jasarat wrote in an editorial, also on April 14, 2008, that the threat of a U.S. attack on Pakistan has arrived, and that the roots of the internal and external dangers currently facing Pakistan lie in its role as the ally of the U.S. in the War on Terror. Also, the Peshawar-based Urdu-language newspaper Roznama Mashriq accused the U.S. of spreading unjustified anti-Pakistan propaganda. All these editorials came in response to statements attributed to George W. Bush in an interview with ABC News, regarding the possibility of a 9/11-like attack on the U.S. being planned on Pakistani soil. [1] The following are excerpts from the three editorials. Pakistani Newspapers Accuse U.S. Of Targeting Pakistan [thanks YA] [note: this is from MEMRI]

One of Karachi’s most revered Hindu temples, the ancient Shri Punch Mukhi Hanuman Mandir located in Soldier Bazar, is expected to be renovated in what is seen as a step being taken after possibly several hundred years. The aesthetically designed temple is a heritage landmark of Karachi, where the statue of Lord “Punch Mukhi” Hanuman appears naturally in a stone surface. This statue is believed to be much older, claim worshippers. While this is a significant event, there are not enough funds to make it happen. The government is not helping and this puts the burden on the small middle and lower income Hindu community in the city to chip in money for a project that has international significance. Work on the temple is expected to start soon, informed a member of the temple committee. “Over the past few years the number of devotees has increased so we need to expand the temple. Historic Hindu temple to be renovated after several hundred years

[In Mata: Meem, Alif, Tay, Alif I mentioned reading "mata" in Urdu. It was in this temple]

Mahmud Shaam's letter to Zardari (in Urdu)

So when Naeem Bokhari, a senior Supreme court advocate, was thrashed inside a court room, the lawyers, the media and the civil society brigades justified it by citing his unsavoury act of writing a letter against the former Chief Justice. When Arbab Raheem, the former Chief Minister of Sindh was thrashed inside the Sindh Assembly many in the media reminded the public that he being what he was deserved this. And when Sher Afghan, the former minister in the Musharraf-Aziz government was attacked by lawyers in Lahore, prominent TV anchors were showing clips of his utterances in favour of Musharraf to prove that the old man deserved it. In a media driven and controlled by popular and often pedestrian national moods, it is no wonder that no one had the time to reflect that Jagdeesh Kumar’s lifeless torso was not merely that of a ‘man of no importance’ but was the battered face of the state of Pakistan. And while the demons of the majoritarianism were dancing naked, the rule of law was begging for the media’s suo motu notice. Ladies and gentlemen, there are issues beyond the restoration of judiciary! Murder, media and intolerance —Moeed Pirzada



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