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Friday, October 31, 2008

tristich: joke

gaze by moin

painting by moin

god's jokes
can be funny
but you aren't

i joked with god
got struck dead
he had the last laugh

lookin' for joke?

hum say kiya mazaaq
hum thehray aashiq
puranay aapkay

bush the pinnochio
with tongue planted
spoke of lasting peace

late into the night
we accost
the object of their joke

don't joke with me
she said grimly
we had twins!

Ayaz Amir Losing the Race

Sometimes Ayaz Amir (thinks) runs so far ahead of his thoughts he ends up losing the race to reason. Make it Reason for added emphasis. In this excerpt he praises the people of Pakistan and their sanguine intelligence. If ...

If the people made the right decision in 1947, one may wonder why they forgot the lesson in 1970 and repeated their mistake? Or repeat it again in 2008?

If the people are fickle (in that they do not learn from their past mistakes), why must he blame the leadership for failing the nation? And let us not forget, as a opinion maker (of sorts) he comes under the umbrella of leader too.

Ayaz Amir saheb, it is the people's fault!... (fool me once, shame on you, fool me again, shame on me)

As for Ali Ahmed Kurd, congradulations on his election victory. and with prayers (caveat: my prayers are like the prayers of millions of other pakistanis about Kashmir) that he may succeed where Aitezaz Ahsan failed.

It may sound like a tall claim to make but the people of Pakistan have never failed their country. Time and again they have showed that they are capable of the right decisions: whether in 1947, 1970 or, as most recently, in 2008. They are not to be blamed if time and again it's the leadership which has failed the nation.

We are witnessing the same phenomenon again. The people voted for change on Feb 18. They voted for Musharraf's ouster, the restoration of the Musharraf-purged judiciary and an end to Pakistan's clammy embrace of American policy. They certainly did not vote for Pakistan's return to the IMF. If the people of Pakistan have been disappointed, if their expectations have not been met, if they present the spectacle of a demoralised nation, it is not because their judgement on Feb 18 was wrong but because it is no one's fault except perhaps of our stars that we have a governing elite about whose blazing incompetence nothing more needs to be proven, so self-evident a truth is this now taken to be.

The Psychology of "The War on Terror" and Other Terms for Counterterrorism - By Arie W. Kruglanski, Martha Crenshaw, Jerrold M. Post and Jeff Victorof

On the eve of our national election, we realize that one challenging issue facing the next president is how to address terrorism and the options for counterterrorism. As psychological research has made clear, what he and his administration say about these issues will influence how the public thinks about them—and will affect our national and international policy. [For more on the power of words, see “When Words Decide,” by Barry Schwartz; Scientific American Mind, August/September 2007.]

Since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001, the Bush administration has used a battle metaphor: the “global war on terrorism” and the “war on terror.” Such descriptive terms simplify complex realities, making them more mentally manageable. But they do not adequately represent the complexities of the problem, resulting in selective perception of the facts, and they may reflect the views of only a few key policy makers. Nevertheless, they can guide national decision making. The wars that began in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 clearly demonstrate that the concept of a war to combat a method of violence used by nonstate agents is more than rhetoric.

  • Since the attacks on September 11, 2001, the Bush administration has used a war metaphor to define counterterrorism strategy. Such a description may simplify a complex reality, making it more mentally manageable, but it may also oversimplify and distort reality.
  • Metaphors can guide national decision making. The wars that began in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 clearly demonstrate that the concept of a war to combat a method of violence used by nonstate agents is more than rhetoric.
  • Viewing counterterrorism through the lens of law enforcement may yield more tightly focused tactics that are less costly than war and less likely to provoke resentment and backlash.
  • Relating counterterrorism to disease containment or prejudice reduction shifts the focus to the psychological underpinnings of terrorism and, in doing so, may suggest successful long-term strategies that chip away at the motivations of terrorists.

Did the Raid Into Syria Signal the Death of International Law? By Robert Dreyfuss,

A parallel new Bush doctrine is emerging, in the last days of the soon-to-be-ancient regime, and it needs to be strangled in its crib. Like the original Bush doctrine -- the one that Sarah Palin couldn't name, which called for preventive military action against emerging threats -- this one also casts international law aside by insisting that the United States has an inherent right to cross international borders in "hot pursuit" of anyone it doesn't like.

They're already applying it to Pakistan, and this week Syria was the target. Is Iran next?

Let's take Pakistan first. Though a nominal ally, Pakistan has been the subject of at least nineteen aerial attacks by CIA-controlled drone aircraft, killing scores of Pakistanis and some Afghans in tribal areas controlled by pro-Taliban forces. The New York Times listed, and mapped, all 19 such attacks in a recent piece describing Predator attacks across the Afghan border, all since August. The Times notes that inside the government, the U.S. Special Operations command and other advocates are pushing for a more aggressive use of such units, including efforts to kidnap and interrogate suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders. Though President Bush signed an order in July allowing U.S. commando teams to move into Pakistan itself, with or without Islamabad's permission, such raids have occurred only once, on September 3....

Audio Slideshow: Photos compete for the Prix Pictet

A major new global prize celebrating the work of both professional and amateur photographers has been awarded in Paris.

The Prix Pictet is the first competition of its type to focus on the global issue of 'sustainability' - and, this year in particular, on water.

The winner of 100,000 Swiss francs (£53,000) is the Canadian photographer Benoit Aquim.

Here - the head of the Prix Pictet jury, Francis Hodgson, shows off Aquim's work and images from some of the 17 other photographers who made the shortlist.

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There are no captions with this slideshow.
All photographs courtesy Prix Pictet 2008.

Music: Memory of Light by Dave Hewson.
Slideshow production by Paul Kerley.

Imlah leads TS Eliot prize shortlist

Mick Imlah is the bookies' favourite to add the TS Eliot prize for poetry to the Forward prize he won earlier this month, after his first collection for 20 years made the shortlist for Britain's richest poetry award. If he were to fulfil Ladbrokes's prediction, he would be only the second poet to pull off this "double" and win both of Britain's top poetry awards, following Sean O'Brien's sweep with The Drowned Book last year.

The shortlist in full is:

Moniza Alvi for Europa
Peter Bennet for The Glass Swarm
Ciaran Carson for For All We Know
Robert Crawford for Full Volume
Maura Dooley for Life Under Water
Mark Doty for Theories and Apparitions
Jen Hadfield for Nigh-No-Place
Mick Imlah for The Lost Leader
Glyn Maxwell for Hide Now
Stephen Romer for Yellow Studio

IMF aid: no point whining : Dr Meekal Aziz Ahmed

I am not singling out Meekal Ahmed. Am using his thoughts as representative of all other well meaning commentators. Which brings me to the Hamid Mir drama with Shaukat Tareen of plan a-z fame, where Mir managed to wrangle out some numbers from Tareen. (some 6-8 billion immediately and 8-12 in the next 12-18 months if memory serves.)

Which in turn brings me to this: if Asif Zardari and the brothers Sharipov bring in their (alleged) wealth (11 billion for Godlie and 13 for Sharipovs) then we could throw away the kashkol
(begging bowl) and merrily sing jeeway, jeeway Pakistan.
Mr Tareen's plan a, b, and c finally seems to have ended up as plan f with the IMF, something most observers could have told him a long time ago would happen. No donor, multilateral or bilateral, and no friend, will commit to giving Pakistan money without a clearly articulated programme of some sort. I don't know why that was so difficult to understand. Hopefully donors will come forward now because an IMF programme has to be "fully financed" before it can be presented to the executive board of the organisation for approval. The commitments have to be there, and they have to be firm commitments. There can be no "financing gap."

In Karachi: Urdu version of Becket’s play being staged

In a clever and unique endeavour, the Tehrik-e-Niswan has adapted Samuel Beckett’s timeless tragicomedy, Waiting For Godot, into Urdu. The play, which will hit the stage from October 31 (today) at the Arts Council, has not only been translated, but has also been laced with local socio-political humour - that too to great effect.

The play, titled ‘Insha Ka Intazar’, is written and directed by Anwer Jafri and has been modified to some extent in that it will be performed in one act as opposed to the two in Beckett’s original, and that the male duo of Estragon and Vladimir are replaced by a male-female combo of Karmu and Zulekha.

However, the purists can rest assured that the cleverness, nuances, and subtleties of the play remain intact despite the drastic effect of a linguistic change from English to Urdu. The poignancy of the thrust (which Beckett always maintained was for the audience to decipher using their own perception) is not only sustained but, in fact, is emphasised bearing in mind that the local audience will be able to relate to it more given its smartly-incorporated domestic flavour.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Poessay: Takht, Takhta and Takhti

Cut Out,Close To,Closed,Togetherness,Moving Up,Close-up,Communication,Ideas,Concepts,Single Object,White,Abstract,Backgrounds,Black,Glass,Glass,Ink,inkpot,Letter,Pen,Pencil,Table,Writing,Author,Antique,Japanese Script,Calligraphy,handscript,Old,Paper,Retro Revival,Old-fashioned

A writer friend is writing another book. One morning she said she is heading out of her house to the Borders to write - a change of surroundings.

(fast forward to late after noon)

Hello from Borders...

That set off this digression: I wrote her - I've written...poems planes, in waiting rooms, in kitchens, in name it...but never in a book store

why not? it's quiet, the coffee is decent, everyone around is reading....i find it quite inspiring. u should try it sometime...

Guess amidst all the great writing, the decrepit weak little words dare not descend down from the yonder...ho sakhta hay woh sharma jaatay hoN...I mused...but it might work for others

that's right. but with wireless internet i can actually work here...sometimes i get bad cabin fever at home...

Wireless internet? know where my mind wanders off to? is the wooden slate rural desi pre schoolers use to learn to write alphabets on...usually a wooden board about 8x12 inch on which they practiced writing with wooden qalams...

why does your mind wander there?

Am intrigued with the irony of primitive and the wireless hi-tech...anyways...mind works in strange ways...I thought of takhti because some years back at The Art Gallery of Mississauga at the Mississaugua Convention Centre there was an exhibition-tribute to Zahoor ul Akhlaq who was murdered in Lahore the year before along with his very gifted dancer-daughter, Jehanara...his wife Sheherzad Alam who is a talented potter in her own right organised this tribute exhibition.

She handed out a takhti to all the invited participant artists...asking them to write or paint their thoughts on the takhti...later those takhtis were exhibited at the Centre.

Ah hah...well it's nice to chat while i am there! that could be a poem...the takhti in the time of wi fi...


the takhti in the time of wi fi

shahinshah ka takht
mayyat ka takhta
bachchay ki takhti
ik laf'z kay phair say
kahaaN say kahaaN
baat nikal jati hay

hazrat pehlay hee farma ga'aye haiN
aankh jo dekhtee hay lub per aa sakhta nahiN...
oos daur maiN thi takhtee
is daur maiN hay PC
likha takthi per phir mita dya
idhar PC kay gali koochON maiN
mudfun rehtay haiN hazaraha raaz

haan ik baat hay
takhti ka daur lOtay ga nahiN
PC ka daur aaj ka daur hay
aanay wali kal ka bhee shayad

peepul ka darakht, chatai, takhti, qalam-dawat
bijli, thanda kamra, keyboard, PC, internet
kahaan woh duniya jo beet ga'ayee
kahan yeh duniya jo beet ja'aye gi

waq't kay taarON say bandhay yeh rishtay
yaad kay saharay zinda haiN, rahaiN gay


the takhti in the time of wi fi

wood makes a fine throne
table in the morgue
an innocent's child's takhti...

the poet has written
seeing is believeing
but he also laments

what he sees is unbelievable

there were sixty seconds
in the minute then
but they went by s l o w l y
the takhti words were wiped clean
but the PC words haunt an eternity

the yellow stickie
a straddler of the takhti era

- under the peepul tree, mat, breeze and takhti
not to forget the zee nib, ink and pot
now the climate controlled room
PC, keyboard and wi-fi
that time passed us by and with the same certainty
we can say this time too shall pass by


Niilofer Farrukh, art historian and writer who covered this event

More shocks for shattered Pakistan By Syed Saleem Shahzad

General David Petraeus, who takes charge of US Central Command on Friday with overall responsibility for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is due in Pakistan on the same day.

He is expected to push the "surge" doctrine he applied with some success in Iraq in terms of which on the one hand conflict is escalated, while on the other segments of the insurgency are engaged in an attempt to isolate hardliners.

Asia Times Online has learned that a plan has been prepared for a new Taliban organization separate from Taliban leader Mullah Omar but loyal to the cause of the Afghan resistance.

United States and Pakistani intelligence tried this ploy in 2003 with the creation of the Jaishul Muslim; it was a failure. (See Tribes, traditions and two tragedies Asia Times Online, Sep 12, 2003.) The idea was that the Jaishul Muslim would control some of the warlords and tribes siding with Mullah Omar by bringing them into its fold, especially in southern and southeastern Afghanistan. They would then push for a peace settlement.

This never happened as almost all the Jaishul Muslim commanders, financed by the US Central Intelligence Agency, rejoined the Taliban. (See Stoking Afghanistan's resistance Asia Times Online, Oct 22, 2003.)

Anand is world champion Rakesh Rao

BONN: Viswanathan Anand is the world chess champion again. The Indian maestro won the 12-game world chess championship match against Vladimir Kramnik of Russia 6.5-4.5 with one game to spare on Wednesday. Playing with white, Anand drew the 11th game at the Art and Exhibition Hall here to retain his title.

The 24–move deadlock was enough to give Anand the title that he had first won in 2000. Anand had taken a decisive three-point lead before the 10th game in which Kramnik fought back dramatically to win and extend the match.

RETAINS TITLE: Viswanathan Anand retained his world title after drawing the eleventh game of the world chess championship against the Russian challenger Vladimir Kramnik in Bonn on Wednesday. The decisive game lasted 24 moves before Kramnik, requiring a victory to stay afloat, accepted a draw. Anand won by 6.5 points to 4.5.

Selective Reading By Intizar Husain

Our scholars, mostly those associated with Urdu and sitting in foreign universities, seem very keen to introduce Urdu literature to the readership in the West. With this aim in view they are often seen engaged in translating works of fiction and poetry from Urdu into English.

Foremost among such scholars is Prof Mohammad Umar Memon of Wisconsin University. He has translated many work of contemporary Urdu fiction, and has, to his credit, a number of such collections published in the US.

Apart from a number of collections of individual writers he also has to his credit miscellanies, like ‘The Tale of the Old Fisherman’ and ‘Domains of Fear and Desire’, which include selections from different contemporary short story writers of Urdu.

He also brings out every year a special issue of Urdu Studies, a journal published under the aegis of his university’s department of languages and cultures of Asia. Moazzam Sheikh, a resident of Canada, has brought out a collection of contemporary short stories of Pakistan under the title ‘A Letter from India’. Recently, Prof Asaduddin of Jamia Milliya compiled a collection of selected short stories, which has been published by Penguin under the title ‘The Penguin Book of Classic Urdu Stories’.

Neo Cons Last Flurries

Neo-conservatives and hawks within the Bush administration have long clamored for expanding Middle Eastern conflicts into Syria, which was named as one of the three countries in Bush's famous "axis of evil".

Indeed, Bush's neo-conservative deputy national security adviser, Elliott Abrams, told Israeli officials during a high-level meeting that the US would not object if Israel extended its 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon into Syria.

But if the cross-border attack was an attempt by hawks to lure Syria into a war, it appears to have failed; Syria has engaged in a measured response, although it did call the act of aggression "a dangerous violation of the Syrian sovereignty and the UN principles and conventions", in its letter to the UN.

Syria's press attache in London, Jihad Makdissi, told the British Broadcasting Corporation that the US should have approach Syria first.

"If they have any proof of any insurgency, instead of applying the law of the jungle and penetrating, unprovoked, a sovereign country, they should come to the Syrians first and share this information," he said.

Fasi Zaka: Dr Atta-ur-Rehman

Recently Dr Tariq Rehman wrote an eloquent defence of the HEC and the point that really struck home was his incredulousness at the opportune critics who seems to have jumped out of the woodwork after Musharraf went, not before when it would have been more courageous to voice dissent. Dr Tariq Rehman made reference to Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy who had been a regular and sometimes harsh opponent of the on-goings at the HEC. And I agree with Dr Tariq Rehman's assessment that the integrity of Dr Hoodbhoy in beyond question generally, and also because he critiqued at a time when the HEC was universally lauded. On a personal note, I always found Dr Hoodbhoy to be a useful counterbalance to the HEC at that time, and really appreciate his recent piece where he did not gloat at the current reassessment of Dr Ata-ur-Rehman.

Between the articles of Dr Tariq Rehman and Dr Hoodbhoy, I feel there is very little that is not covered. But, nonetheless this article serves to highlight one hidden assumption that seems to be held against Dr Ata-ur-Rehman which I do not believe to be true.

Ink Paper Think By Sehba Sarwar

Fawzia Afzal-Khan, Professor of English at Montclair State University, has authored four books and numerous articles. Also a trained vocalist in Indian Classical music, she often performs in New York with her band, Neither East Nor West.

What have you recently published? What are you working on now?

My most recent publications include Shattering the Stereotypes: Muslim Women Speak Out (Interlink Books, 2005), and A Critical Stage: The Role of Secular Alternative Theatre in Pakistan (Seagull Books, 2005), my critical/scholarly book on Pakistani parallel theatre and the women’s movement. Presently, I am finishing up my memoir. I have received a favourable response from Syracuse University Press and am looking forward to bringing it to the production stage soon. Women Unlimited Press may buy the South Asian rights for it. That will be great!

What are your writing habits? Your work style? Work impediments?

Well... since I work in so many different genres...non-fiction, drama, poetry, scholarly criticism etc — I cannot say I have very uniform writing habits. I write poetry mostly when inspired, rather than as a craft I practice at steady times during each work day... the journalistic writing is often in response to particular events and so I have to clear my desk of all other commitments when something happens which I feel the need to respond to in writing. Sometimes I have long-term projects I have to finish or continue working on over many years — those I usually take up on a regular basis over the summers when I have time off from teaching... and some scholarly commitments I take on and then complete when the deadline is looming. So I would say that my habits vary depending upon the type of project and the time of year.....

Spike Lee: Seismic Shift

Lee's own mission is to upend the Hollywood myth-making apparatus that has mostly ignored the contributions of the one million African-Americans who served in the second world war. It's the reason he launched his bitter war of words with Clint Eastwood at this year's Cannes film festival, berating the film-maker over the paucity of black faces in his 2006 double bill, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima. It's also why Miracle opens with an old, embittered black veteran watching stone-faced as John Wayne parades through the 1962 drama The Longest Day on his television.

"It is not a mistake that this film begins with Wayne. This is the Hollywood bullshit mythology that excludes one million people," says Lee. "You look at John Wayne - what did he represent? In the second world war films, John Wayne is kicking Nazi ass, and in the Pacific he's kicking Japanese ass. And if it's a western, he's killing the savage Indian. This film is a rebuttal to the same mythology that demeans other people. We have to change this shit. We cannot continue putting out these lies again and again. Young people growing up have no idea that this stuff even happened."

Jim Holt on how philosophers have explained our sense of humour

How many kinds of joke are there? There are classic jokes. ("Who was that lady I saw you with last night?" "That was no lady, that was my wife.") There are political jokes, such as Ronald Reagan's definition of liberalism: "If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. If it stops moving, subsidise it." The Iraq war has spawned an entire new category of neocon jokes: "How many neocons does it take to screw in a light bulb? None - President Bush has announced that in three months the light bulb will be able to change itself."

There are nice jokes that can be told in any drawing room. ("What does a snail say when riding on the back of a turtle?" "Whee!") And there are naughty jokes, such as the one about the woman who flies into Boston eager to enjoy a plate of the fish for which that city is famous. "Where can I get scrod?" she asks the driver as she gets into the cab. "Gee," he replies, "I've never heard it put in the pluperfect subjective before." Or the one about the successful diet Bill Clinton went on: "He's lost so much weight, now he can see his intern." And there are jokes that are inadvertent as well as jokes that are deliberate - and some that are, paradoxically, both at the same time, such as the London newspaper headline during the second world war: "British Push Bottles Up Germans".

Could any theory make sense of even this small sampling? There are three competing traditions, all a bit mouldy, that purport to explain how humour works. The "superiority theory" - propounded in various forms by Plato, Hobbes and Bergson - locates the essence of humour in the "sudden glory" (Hobbes) we feel when, say, we see Bill Gates get hit in the face with a custard pie. According to this theory, all humour is at root mockery and derision, all laughter a slightly spiritualised snarl.

The "incongruity theory", held by Pascal, Kant and Schopenhauer, says that humour arises when the decorous and logical abruptly dissolves into the low and absurd. "Do you believe in clubs for small children?" WC Fields is asked. "Only when kindness fails," he replies.

Why either of these perceptions - superiority or incongruity - should call forth a bout of cackling and chest heaving remains far from obvious. It is an advantage of the third theory, the "relief theory", that it at least tries to explain the causal link between humour and laughter. In Freud's version, the laughable - ideally a naughty joke - liberates the laughter from inhibitions about forbidden thoughts and feelings. The result is a discharge of nervous energy - a noisy outburst that, not incidentally, serves to distract the inner censor from what is going on.....

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

'We're not going to win this war' By China Hand

The US is going to be in Afghanistan for years to come. The only thing that's going to change in Afghanistan is the objectives. The Afghan adventure is expensive, onerous, and unpopular, and most of the 40 or so countries participating in the International Security Assistance Force and the host of NGOs trying to better the lives of the downtrodden Afghani people would like to see a new policy. Specifically, one that separates the existential goal of crushing al-Qaeda from the strictly local issue of what political grouping gets to run the failed state of Afghanistan, and tries to slice and dice and co-opt the insurgency instead of pursuing the impossible goal of crushing the Taliban's entrenched power in Afghanistan's mountains and countryside.

Breakthrough US deal by Google to sell book content online

It took a multimillion dollar lawsuit, two years of tense negotiations, and an awful lot of scanning. But yesterday the publishing world stood on the threshold of a digital era after a US deal paved the way to transform publishing.

The agreement between Google and the US book industry means that internet users will soon be able to choose from and buy millions of titles, many out of print, or read them on a page-by-page basis.

The service invites comparison to the iTunes revolution, and was hailed by the internet search giant, the American Association of Publishers, and the Authors' Guild as a key moment in the evolution of electronic publishing.

Google's co-founder, Sergey Brin, called the $125m deal a "great leap". Paul Aiken, executive director of the guild, called it "the biggest book deal in US publishing history". Once approved by a federal court in Manhattan, the deal will offer access to a library of millions of titles.

The New York Times' Biggest Screw-up Since They Sold the War in Iraq By Mark Ames

You may not have noticed it, but a couple of weeks ago, the New York Times slipped in a story that completely contradicted a narrative that it had been building up for two straight months, one that was leading America into another war-a so-called "New Cold War." The article exposed the awful authoritarian reality of Georgia's so-called democracy, painting a dark picture of President Mikhail Saakashvili's rule that repudiated the fairy tale that the Times and everyone else in the major media had been pushing ever since war broke out in South Ossetia in early August. That fairy tale went like this: Russia (evil) invaded Georgia (good) for no reason whatsoever except that Georgia was free. Putin hates freedom, and Saakashvili is the "democratically elected leader" of a "small, democratic country."

Maleeha Lodhi: As America votes Pakistanis cast a wary eye

The first ingredient for others to respect you is self respect. If we do not respect our self, it'd be an uphill task to expect others to respect us. In this context Maleeha Lodhi is preaching from La La Land:

For most Pakistanis however, the litmus test of the next American administration will be whether it is prepared to treat Pakistan with respect. In the final analysis this intangible may count for as much as finding the right mix of trade and aid that goes beyond advancing America's own interest. If there is a consensus in Pakistan about future dealings with the US, it is that the advent of a new Administration will offer a window of opportunity for Islamabad to recalibrate relations with Washington on the basis of national honour, respect and reciprocity. If the new American president could understand that, it would be a major step forward for such a critical relationship.

Over 100 dead in Balochistan quake

QUETTA: More than 100 people have been killed in an earthquake in struck parts of Balochistan whereas scores of people still trapped under the rubbles.

Dozend of injured are under treatment as government has imposed emergency in all the hospitals of the province.

Pishin, Ziarat, Qila Abdullah, Chaman, Loralai, Sibbi, Mastung are hit badly areas. Several houses and buildings have been collapsed.

According to geological survey of Pakistan, the epicenter of the quake was in Chiltan mountains. Ziarat is the worst hit area where 10 people were killed after land sliding whereas four people were killed in Khanozai. Death toll in different parts of Balchistan has reached to 33. Ten bodies had recovered from the rubbles and shifted to hospital in Ziarat.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Talks with Taliban agreed -- with strings

All this talk about talking with Talibans by the jirgagai at Islamabad, by Gen "Betrayus" of the US is all hogwash - strike hogwash with wet dreams!

The Talibans do not care. Read this again. The Talibans do not give a ducking camel's tail who wants to talk with them.

They are single minded in their drive, and ambition.

Afghanistan, their country, should be rid of all foreigners. Once they achieve this goal there would be no puppets left to talk with.

How Cries of Voter Fraud Cover Up GOP Elections Theft

Contrary to Mr. McCain's assertions, the real threat to democracy is from the GOP itself. ACORN has served as a good distraction from Republican efforts to steal the vote from hundreds of thousands of legitimate voters, a genuine threat that has received almost no media attention.

They're stealing your vote, but you can steal it back. Here are some steps you should take to protect your vote. First, avoid the November 4th minefield. Voters, wherever possible, should vote early and in person. Where feasible, avoid mailing in your ballot, many are rejected for flimsy reasons, and first time voters in many states must include a photocopy of ID. However, if you have a mail-in ballot, don't throw it away. Follow directions, use the correct postage (that's an error that cost a hundred thousand votes last time) and, if possible, walk it in to your elections office.

At the polling station, should you find yourself one of the 2.7 million purged, or your ID rejected, then do your best to resist a "provisional" ballot--one third of which are not counted. Return with proper ID, or call 1-800-OUR VOTE for legal assistance. And never just walk away discouraged. That's just what they want you to do.

The Washington Post Undercounts Iraq Deaths Paper's feature low-balls Iraqi casualties

The Washington Post's weekly Saturday feature on "Iraq War Casualties" has consistently listed a "maximum count" of Iraqi civilian deaths that is dramatically lower than the likely civilian death tolls assessed through surveys of the Iraqi public.

In the most recent edition of this feature (10/25/08) which the Post has been publishing as a chart in the Saturday newspaper since August 2, the Post offers a "maximum count" of 96,719 Iraqi civilian deaths. Yet as the Post itself acknowledged in a footnote to its chart on June 15, 2007, there are studies that put the Iraqi death toll much higher: A 2006 survey by Iraqi physicians and overseen by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health estimated over 600,000 killed at the time.

The source the Post cites for its "maximum count" of Iraqi civilian deaths is based on casualty reports from the group Iraq Body Count, which bases its figures on violent civilian deaths that are reported in media outlets and, when possible, by other NGO and official sources. While the group's figures represent a serious effort to document reported Iraq deaths, they are much lower than the death tolls assessed through surveys of the Iraqi public--the standard method for assessing casualties of large-scale wars or disasters.

Poem of the week: Hummingbird Mark Roper's lightness of touch captures the poise and beauty of this peculiar bird

Poise is the essence of this week's poem, Mark Roper's Hummingbird. It shows in its technique - and perhaps it is the poem's fundamental subject. Poise, a lovely word, is related to the Old French pois, meaning weight, and originally from the Latin, pendere. The bird is dizzyingly poised between rapid movement and stillness, and the poet weighs his words to create a language light and suggestive enough to encapsulate that quality of suspension, while tough enough to convey a miniature story.

One of the great strokes of combined luck and misfortune for contemporary poets (and the most perilous and interesting challenge to technical poise) is that poetic structure has expanded to include the representational. The 20th century form-quakes have left us with a vacant building site. If you want to write about a motorway, you can still build a sonnet around it. But you could also invent a poem that resembled a motorway (well, a very small stretch of one). The third possibility: you may negotiate an area between the two – which is what I think Mark Roper does, to some degree, in Hummingbird.

A hummingbird

A hummingbird hovers over a flower in Montevideo. Photograph: Miguel Rojo/AFP/Getty Images

Of course, the poem isn't bird-shaped. But it seems to contain hummingbird construction principles at its core. There is economy (many of the words are monosyllables) and focus. As the bird goes "from shelf/ to shelf of air," so the poem moves purposefully from stanza to stanza. The structure is secured by firm syntax, arranged according to the trope, parison. "Not just" is repeated at the opening of four consecutive stanzas, forming moments of grammatical stasis, which are also launching pads from which the narrative pushes forward......



Not just how
it hung so still
in the quick of its wings,
all gem and temper
anchored in air;

not just the way
it moved from shelf
to shelf of air,
up down, here there,
without moving;

not just how it flicked
its tongue's thread
through each butter-yellow
foxglove flower
for its fix of sugar;

not just the vest's
electric emerald,
the scarf's scarlet,
not just the fury
of its berry-sized heart,

but also how the bird
would soon be found
in a tree nearby,
quiet as moss at the end
of a bare branch,

wings closed around
its sweetening being,
and then how light
might touch its throat
and make it glow,

as if it were the tip
of a cigarette
on the lip of a world,
whose face,

in the lake's hush
and the stir of leaves,
might appear
for a moment

US shows it is ready to take the war across boundaries

Haan, yeh tou theek hay, but what if.....!

Won't heavens tremble and fall if...IF...other nations take their fight to the pursuit of those they deem terrorists? Like Cheney or Bush? Can what is good for the goose be good for the gander too?

The US commando attack inside Syrian territory appears to amplify an emerging message to countries giving safe passage to terrorists: Take action, or America will.

A Washington military official said special forces conducted the raid in Syria to target the network of al Qaida-linked foreign fighters moving through Syria to help fight in the war in Iraq.

Syria said troops in four helicopters attacked a building and killed eight people, including four children.

"We are taking matters into our own hands," the official said.

Although the flow of foreign fighters from Syria to Iraq has been declining, Americans have been unable to shut down the network in the area struck because Syria was out of the military's reach.

The move appears to echo one taken recently in America's other current war. President Bush in July secretly approved military raids inside anti-terror ally Pakistan, which has been unwilling or unable to stem the flow of militants hiding in Pakistan and waging cross-border raids into Afghanistan....

(Not Quite) 101 Things Sarah Palin Should Know About the World

Reza Aslan

Iran is not al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is not Hamas. Hamas is not Hezbollah. Hezbollah is not the Taliban ...

Author of No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam (New York: Random House, 2005)

Parag Khanna

To understand the Russia that you can “see from your backyard” (as Tina Fey memorably put it), learn Chinese. The Russian Far East that is America’s neighbor might in the coming decades have a larger Chinese than Russian population as they populate and farm in the thawing Siberian countryside.

Senior research fellow in the American Strategy Program and director of the Global Governance Initiative at the New America Foundation, and author of The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order (New York: Random House, 2008)

Monday, October 27, 2008

A G Noorani: The Great Betrayal

First, the published material in McGrath’s book – Jennings was recommended to Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah in July 1947 by a member of the Viceroy Lord Mountbatten’s staff as an expert to assert in the drafting of the Constitution of Pakistan. It was felt, though, that his advice may not be available. Seven years later, in July 1954 he visited Karachi at the invitation from the drafting committee of the Constituent Assembly. He had taken leave from his post as Vice-Chancellor.

By October 1954, the Draft Constitution was ready. McGrath records, “The approved clauses of the Basic Principles Committee Report were drafted into a formal constitutional document by the drafting committee, and on October 15 sent for printing to the Government Printing Office, which published the document under the title ‘The Draft Constitution of Pakistan, Confidential.’ This document was submitted to Jennings who made extensive, but minor changes on the draft. December 25 - the anniversary of Jinnah’s birthday - had been announced earlier by Prime Minister Mohammed Ali Bogra as the date the new constitution was to go into effect. After seven years of bargaining and drafting, the Assembly had completed its mission of giving the country a constitution. Two weeks after the assembly approved the constitution, Chief Justice Munir, addressing the Lahore Bar Association, spoke of the new constitution in terms which reflected no negative opinion on his part.”

The Islamic Constitution of the Republic of Pakistan “the final version of the constitution, containing Jennings’ revisions, was published by the Government Printing Office” by the Manager Government Printing Office, McGrath records. He adds, “It contained the printed notation preceding the text of the Constitution: To be introduced in the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan.”

Transcript of Michael Moore on Larry King

King: Let's say Obama promises tax cuts for 95 percent of the people. How do you do that and solve health care and all the other problems that need to be paid for?

Moore: Are you asking me if I were drawing up the next budget?

OK. Here's what you do. You end the war in Iraq. That's $10 billion a month that we're spending that could be spent on repairing our roads, building bridges, building schools, increasing our workforce of nurses -- all the things that we really need in this country. We could start by taking the money away from this war and the money away from crazy Pentagon ideas that haven't done us any good and have only hurt us. That's one really good place to begin to find the money that needs to happen.

But the thing about health care, you bring that up. You don't have to go and print money like they're doing to pay off the rich in this big, you know, theft that's going on right now in Wall Street. Health care actually will pay for itself, if the government ran it, if it was non-profit. Remember, so much of our health care problem is because the health insurance companies have to make a huge profit. And they build that profit in. And that's why we pay more for health care than any other country on this planet.

So if we actually did it the way that every other civilized country does it, it would not cost anywhere near what it costs right now. There actually would be a savings.

Andy Worthington: The Collapse of Omar Khadr’s Guantánamo Trial

Hardly a day goes by without some extraordinary news from the Military Commissions, the system of “terror trials” conceived in the Office of the Vice President in November 2001, and their days now seem to be as numbered as those of the Bush administration itself.

Following the outspoken resignation of former prosecutor Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld and the Pentagon’s desperate decision to drop charges against five prisoners to prevent Vandeveld from testifying for the defense, the latest news to rock the Commissions is that the trial of Omar Khadr — a supposedly flagship case, along with that of the Yemeni Salim Hamdan, who received a surprisingly light sentence after a trial this summer — has been delayed until after the administration leaves office.

This is a bitter blow for the government, which has been pushing to prosecute Khadr for war crimes since 2005. Its first attempt failed, when the Supreme Court ruled that the whole enterprise was illegal, but after the Commissions were bandaged up by Congress and resumed their ghoulish existence in 2007, Khadr was once more put forward for trial....

Afghanistan: The killing fields John Sweeney

On 13 January 1842, a sharp-eyed sentry in Jalalabad saw the more-dead-than-alive figure of the British army surgeon Dr William Brydon crossing the plain, struggling to stay on his pony. He had a bad head wound and was bleeding from the hand. When eventually the pony was taken into a stable, it lay down and died.

Roughly 16,000 British troops and camp followers hadn't made it from Kabul - one of the most terrible defeats of British military might in the 19th century, commemorated in Lady Elizabeth Butler's painting Remnants of an Army. Brydon was the sole survivor. The massacre of Lord Elphinstone's army prompted a series of revenge attacks by the British, which developed into wars. In 1849, 1850 and 1851, huge numbers of British troops swarmed into Afghanistan, butchered and then bolted. And still the Afghans fought back.

In 1860 the British took Peking but a few years later they were back in Afghanistan's borderlands with 12,500 troops - more than the army needed in order to subdue the Chinese capital - and still the Afghans fought back. In 1878 came the Battle of Sangin. The British had immense advantages in material - better guns, better communications, better everything - but still the Afghans fought back. On 17 January 1880 a small and extremely emaciated Talib, or religious student, approached a group of British Royal Engineers in Kandahar and tried to stab Sergeant Miller to death. This incident was the first recorded suicide attack in Kandahar. The Afghans were fighting back, asymmetrically.


In 1893 the Amir of Afghanistan, a "cunning rogue" named Abdur Rahman, talked sweetly with the British but also wrote a book in which he attacked the infidel and called for jihad, using exactly the same extracts of the Quran as Osama Bin Laden did a century later. The Afghans were fighting back, ideologically.


Butcher and Bolt: Two Hundred Years of Foreign Engagement in Afghanistan- David Loyn

Hutchinson, 351pp, £18.99

Butcher and Bolt challenges such rigidity of thinking. Loyn rubbishes the Americans' supernatural belief in technology above all things, and points out that the Taliban have one and a half million recruits in Pakistan's madrasas, just over the border. It is a bleak conclusion to a book that should be a must-read for every politician who sends our squaddies into Afghanistan - but one based fairly and squarely on the weight of history.

BOOKS: Colonial collection Shakti Kak

THE book under review is an anthology of writings by women of English, Scottish, Welsh, American and Canadian origins who lived in India during 1820-1920. It was a period when the Indian subcontinent was increasingly being subjugated as a British colo ny. The book is divided into various sections, ranging from “nautch girls”, “ayahs”, to “health”, “education”, “social reform”, “purdah” and other social issues.

The earlier writings excerpted include those of Mary Martha Sherwood, an army wife, Emily Eden, sister of the Governor-General of the time, Anne Katharine Elwood, wife of an army officer, Marianne Postans, wife of an army official of the East India Company, Julia Maitland, wife of a senior merchant with the East India Company, Fanny Parks, wife of a Company official, and Emma Roberts, an intellectual.

Mary Carpenter, social reformer, Saleni Armstrong Hopkins, a medical missionary, Mary Frances Billington, a journalist, Christina Sinclair Bremner, a traveller, and Flora Annie Steel, a novelist, are among some of the women who lived in or visited the subcontinent in the middle and later part of the 19th century. Also included in the anthology are later writers who wrote towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, including Annie Besant, Margaret Noble (better known as Sister Nivedita), Katherine Mayo and Maud Diver.

The writings provide an interesting insight into these women’s perception of “natives” and their social customs. Popularly addressed as memsahibs, they had varied interests and several of them were active in public life. They were part of the “civilising” process supposedly initiated through the colonial enterprise as the empire took control of the subcontinent. In this process, “natives” were “civilised” through intervention in the areas of personal laws, health care, education and, of course, proselytisation.

These women from varied backgrounds were in the colonies as wives, journalists, missionaries, travellers and writers. Their writings are in the form of letters, travelogues, memoirs, diaries and novels. A study of these source materials brings out the manner in which these women writers integrated the issues of gender, race, class and, in the Indian context, caste...

Finally The Coveted Endorsement for McCain: Al Qaeda!

The tape from Osama might come later. For now this report will have to do~t:

The Post today reports that Al Qaeda has endorsed John McCain for president. With seemingly impeccable logic, the cave dwellers -- actually, more likely, Quetta-squatters -- say that by electing McCain, the United States will commit itself to an extension of President Bush's blunders and thus exhaust itself militarily and financially.

Of course, Al Qaeda says that the way it can assist McCain is through a terrorist act that will rally Americans to his side.

Saying that McCain will continue the "failing march of his predecessor," Al Qaeda added:

"Al-Qaeda will have to support McCain in the coming election. ... [We] will push the Americans deliberately to vote for McCain so that he takes revenge for them against al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda then will succeed in exhausting America."

The quotes came from an AQ-linked website called al-Hesbah and were written by Muhammad Haafid, a longtime contributor to the site.

Lahore Laments: Ahmad Rafay Alam

In modern Lahore this water tank symbolises just how far the city has come its mult-cultural, multi-religious background of less than a century ago. It’s true we hardly spare a conservationist’s thought for monumentally important things like the Fort or the Badshahi Mosque. But this isn’t about conservation. It’s about plurality. At the time of Partition it is reported that there were over a dozen cremation grounds in Lahore. Now there are none. Sikh temples and shrines have been allowed to decay until, only recently, a thaw in relations between East and West Punjab has shown some the potential and importance of restoring Nankana Sahib and providing it with a direct four-lane dual carriageway all the from Wagah Border. But that’s another story.

The Ganga Ram tank is thought of by many as a waste of space and a public service utility that has become redundant with the introduction of water and sanitation works. This is the attitude that, more often than not, fails to recognise the historical relevance of non-Muslim heritage. It is wrong. If immediate steps to reclaim the Ganga Ram tank are not taken, the people and city of Lahore will lose yet another one of its treasures. It is as important to the city of Lahore as the Shalimar Gardens, and as militancy and conservative Islam threaten the free spirit of Lahore, the preservation of the Ganga Ram water tank may be the measure to save us from ruin.....

Ansar Burney bags Mother Teresa award

Noted Pakistani human rights activist Ansar Burney has received numerous awards and accolades. But this was special. "Yeh dil se dilko jodne wala award hai (this is an award to join hearts)," remarked Burney, after receiving the 3rd annual Mother Teresa Memorial (International) Awards for Social Justice at a glittering function at Sahara Star Hotel on Sunday. TOI's Teach India campaign was among the recipients of the award. The award has been instituted by the Harmony Foundation.

Burney, who has been instrumental in the release of around seven lakh prisoners around the world, including Indian Kashmir Singh who spent 35 years on death row in a Pakistani prison, became a bit emotional while recalling his fight for the innocents. "They issued fatwa from the mosques against me. My family members were scared to go out for quite some time as they felt threatened. But I remained committed to the cause," he said. "If to save one innocent life, I have to die 10 times, I will not flinch," he said.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

David Frum Pleading for Minimising the Losses

David Frum, is a Canadian, son of famed broadcaster-journalist Barbara Frum, he moved south and served with George Bush briefly before being eased out. He had a share in coining the "axis of evil" speech. Notice the use of "our" in the excerpt"

In these last days before the vote, Republicans need to face some strategic realities. Our resources are limited, and our message is failing. We cannot fight on all fronts. We are cannibalizing races that we must win and probably can win in order to help a national campaign that is almost certainly lost. In these final 10 days, our goal should be: senators first.

A beaten party needs a base from which to recover. In 1993, our Republican base was found in the states and the cities. We had the governorships of California, Michigan and Wisconsin in 1993, and Rudy Giuliani won the New York mayor's race later that year. The reform we delivered at the state and local levels contrasted acutely with the shambles of President Clinton's first two years -- and helped us win both houses of Congress in 1994.

Wajahat Ali: Actor/Comedian Aasif Mandvi

It has been a long journey for actor and comedian Aasif Mandvi. Ending up in New York by way of Tampa, Florida and Bradford, England (where he lived from age 1 to his teens), the India-born Mandvi eventually found himself in the middle of one of America's edgiest comedy shows, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Not bad for someone who struggled through the 90's against race stereotypes in the acting world before he went out on his own and created Sakina's Restaurant, an Obie-award winning play which caught the eye of many on Broadway and Hollywood. Despite ending up on a show that builds on his stand-up comedy experience, he has also found himself acting in prime time TV (ER, CSI, The Sopranos, Law & Order) and feature films alongside Hugh Grant (Music & Lyrics) and, most recently, Ricky Gervais (Ghost Town). Throughout his career, Mandvi has both transcended his ethnicity and religion and appropriated it, all without compromising his talent or credibility. Associate Editor Wajahat Ali caught up with Mandvi to find out more about his early days, what life is like at The Daily Show, and how Muslims can take control of the way they are portrayed in mainstream entertainment media.

Anjum Niaz: Ah Faiz!

Agha Nasir’s book event was at the Pakistan Academy of Letters whose guardian is the polite Iftifkhar Arif (one hears the PPP wants its own man there now, and hopes it’s not some philistine). The book is a revelation. A juxtaposition of Faiz’s poetry and humanism. It casts the great poet in the centre and names the dramatis personae that came into his life and then exited the stage. The raconteur does not call his book a book of research or a critique. Instead, he calls it a labour of love, a “debt that he owed” to their friendship. Indeed, Agha Nasir has paid his ultimate tribute to his friendship in telling the world why, where, when, which, what, and how Faiz’s 100 best poems got written.

The author has framed his narration with a dignified charm. Agha Nasir scanned Faiz’s letters, correspondence and family papers. He went to his daughters Salima and Moneeza in Lahore to corroborate anecdotes he had collected from various sources. He dug deep to unearth gems that lay hidden and would have never come to light had he himself not excavated. Once the facts were in place, checked and rechecked, the book was born. And it was launched.

Yusuf Jamal was the chief speaker. “Who is this old man trying to imitate you?” asked Yusuf’s bride on their wedding day. But first, who is this Yusuf Jamal? Iftikhar Arif introduced him to us. He is a Faiz clone. He even recites Faiz’s verses in the same tone, tenor and verve.

But his bride, a St Joseph’s English-medium graduate, thought it was Faiz who was “imitating” her bridegroom while reciting poetry on their wedding night which according to Yusuf Jamal “stretched into the late hours.” His bride was rightly piqued for being upstaged by that “old man” on the most important occasion of her life!

Faiz’s poetry was inspired by the women he loved. Mujh se pehli se mohabbat mere mahboob na maang is one of them. It was written in honour of Dr Rasheed Jehan whom he had met while a lecturer at the MAO college in Amritsar. She gave him the Communist Party manifesto, gently nudging him to rise above himself and his amour to look at the larger picture around him depicting deprivation, exploitation and poverty. This became the turning point for the young Faiz. His poetry and his thinking changed forever.

Masood Mufti, another civil servant like Yusuf Jamal, is well known in the world of Urdu literature. He was a POW during the 1971 war. He like Faiz is a humanist who feels the pain of fellow humans. But he also wants change. He wants ordinary Pakistanis to be in charge of their destinies and not corrupt leaders who promise change but are dictators, even in civilian clothing.

He shared his innermost fears and hopes with us, as did Kishwar Naheed, the ever young-at-heart feminist. She spoke of the days when she’d visit Faiz in jail at Lahore. He lived in sub-human conditions. He’d always be smiling; never complaining.

Robert Fisk's World: Financial doom and gloom is everywhere – except Lebanon

Lebanon, of course, has no oil – or has it? Back in 1976, when Ghassan Tueni was minister of petroleum, most of the world's oil conglomerates showed interest to explore parcels of sea-bed off the coast between Batroun and the northern city of Tripoli. But the day Lebanon was to open offices for the bids in Tripoli, fighting broke out there between Syria and the Palestinians, embracing the very area where staff would be working. Then in 1980, Lebanese economist Marwan Iskander suggested to then President Elias Sarkis that the exploration bids should be opened again. Iskander offered a large Cuban cigar when he told me the Sarkis story. For some reason, all Lebanese smoke cigars when they are talking about financial folly.

"When I made my suggestion, Sarkis turned to me and said: 'Look Marwan, the Lebanese are crazy without oil. If we get oil, they'll go out of their minds! Anyway, if we did find oil, the Syrians are not going to allow us to export it.'" Today, the Syrians have – politically – returned to Lebanon and the Siniora government is in no hurry to discover oil reserves under the Mediterranean.

But the Lebanese may have a commodity as wealthy as oil: it is the only country in the world that has 35-40 per cent of its population working abroad, and they are sending home about $7.5bn a year. Lebanon has also received $1.3bn of its $7.6bn Paris aid commitments – which will total $7.6bn after Lebanese government reforms. Not to be mentioned, by the way, is the estimated $1bn which the Hizbollah militia receives from Iran each year. So much for America's ability to "staunch the flow of money to terrorist organisations".

Aaker Patel: Observations about the urban Indian

The urban Indian's behaviour unfolds from his cultural values. The first value of the Indian is his belief that the world is zero-sum, where there is no gain without loss. Each man looks out for his best interest, and there is no understanding of a collective good. This makes the Indian an opportunist.Because they do not understand collective good, Indians will litter if they are not policed.

The second value of the Indian is his tolerance. Few other nations in the world have been as accepting of the foreigner and his religion as India. The Parsis, persecuted by Arabs who defeated Persia under Caliph Abu Bakr (RA) in AD 627, found prosperity in India. His tolerance comes from a belief in relativism: that there is no one truth, which he believes, is an essential part of the Hindu religion.

The third is his value of his culture. This is seen in received terms. He does not engage with it or try to understand its nuance. Someone, somewhere has done or is doing something wise, which is to be followed. Indians earnestly recite a classic prayer -- say the Gayatri Mantra -- but will not know what it means. Indians revere Gandhi and Nehru but do not read their works and cannot really say what they stood for or against. Honouring something and holding it to respect is good enough.

The fourth value is his inclination towards the communitarian or the collective. The correct word is actually communal, but in India it is understood negatively to mean religious bigotry. Indians operate by consensus. The smallest unit of consensus is the family. Families agree through living together. Parents and grandparents are cared for better than in most cultures and kept within the family. Dissent is unacceptable. The political party, a larger unit of consensus, is undemocratic in India and its leaders not elected internally. The Congress is run by what is called a coterie. Many leaders -- Bal Thackeray is one -- are elected 'for life'. Because he inclines towards the collective, the Indian's individualism is low. Individualism cannot exist without respect for the individualism of the other. Harmony is two disparate views engaging without friction.

Like Osama Abu Nidal also worked for the US

Iraqi secret police believed that the notorious Palestinian assassin Abu Nidal was working for the Americans as well as Egypt and Kuwait when they interrogated him in Baghdad only months before the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. Hitherto secret documents which are now in the hands of The Independent -- written by Saddam Hussein's brutal security services for Saddam's eyes only -- state that he had been "colluding" with the Americans and, with the help of the Egyptians and Kuwaitis, was trying to find evidence linking Saddam and al-Qa'ida.

President George Bush was to use claims of a relationship with al-Qa'ida as one of the reasons for his 2003 invasion, along with Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction. Western reports were to dismiss Iraq's claim that Abu Nidal committed suicide in August 2002, suggesting that Saddam's own security services murdered him when his presence became an embarrassment for them. The secret papers from Iraq suggest that he did indeed kill himself after confessing to the "treacherous crime of spying against this righteous country".

The final hours of Abu Nidal, the mercenary whose assassinations and murderous attacks in 20 countries over more than a quarter of a century killed or wounded more than 900 civilians, are revealed in the set of intelligence reports drawn up for Saddam's "presidency intelligence office" in September of 2002. The documents state that Egyptian and Kuwaiti intelligence officers had asked Abu Nidal, whose real name was Khalil al-Banna, to spy for them "with the knowledge of their American counterparts". Five days after his death, Iraq's head of intelligence, Taher Jalil Habbush, told a press conference in Baghdad that Abu Nidal had committed suicide after Iraqi agents arrived at the apartment where he was hiding in the city, but the secret reports make it clear that the notorious Palestinian had undergone a long series of interrogations prior to his violent demise. The records of these sessions were never intended to be made public and were written by Iraqi "Special Intelligence Unit M4" for Saddam. While Abu Nidal may have lied to his interrogators -- torture is not mentioned in the reports -- the documents appear to be a frank internal account of what the Iraqis believed his mission in Iraq to be. The papers name a Kuwaiti major, a member of the ruling Kuwaiti al-Sabbah family, as his "handler" and state that he was also tasked to "perform terrorist acts inside and outside Iraq". His presence in the country "would provide the Americans with the pretext that Iraq was harboring terrorist organizations," the reports say.....


Ghazi Salahuddin asks: Is the lawyers' movement dead?

t's (Sarah Palin immitation): Betcha!


Nation: Army Chief endorses anti-terror resolution

t: endorses? in a democracy he obeys the will of the people


Nation: Daring decisions needed for country's future: Shahbaz

t: Read Rauf Klasra's expose posted earlier

Rauf Klasra: The More Things Change...

For those who can read Urdu: read and

...I don't know how to effectively end the and what? bash your head? what good will it do?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Rich Muslims advising poor MusLIMS- Ayesha Ijaz Khan

The Khaled Al Maeena Ayesha Khan mentions in this post has Karachi connections. He is a KU graduate (Int'l Relatins.) ~ t

At the bottom of the article, however, it stated that "The writer is a Saudi socio-political commentator and lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia." I wondered if he was any relation to Mr Khaled Al-Maeena, editor for life of Arab News, Saudi Arabia's most widely read English daily. As a child, I lived in Saudi Arabia and recalled reading Mr Khaled Al-Maeena's patronising editorials on Pakistan. Since the Saudi press was very controlled and he could not dare speak out against his own government, the editor of Arab News had focused his energies on other parts of the world. Pakistan was very high on the list of problem cases and incessant unsolicited advice was offered on how to correct Pakistan's problems. My family having left Saudi Arabia several years ago, occasionally, I still glance at Arab News on-line, and although its focus has rightly shifted inward, with young journalists like Ebithal Mubarik bringing to the fore important issues of forced divorces and gang rapes, as well as the plight of foreign workers within Saudi Arabia, the old guard's attitudes towards developing countries like Pakistan have changed little.

David Corn on Alan Greespan

With members of the House oversight and government reform committee blasting Greenspan for his past decisions that helped pave the way for the current financial crisis, he acknowledged that his libertarian view of markets and the financial world had not worked out so well. "You know," he told the legislators, "that's precisely the reason I was shocked, because I have been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well." While Greenspan did defend his various decisions, he admitted that his faith in the ability of free and loosely-regulated markets to produce the best outcomes had been shaken: "I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms."

In other words, whoops—there goes decades of Ayn Rand down the drain.

The Best Known Secret Never Mentioned in the West

As the Iranian parliamentary elections of March 2008 approached, many Iranians wondered nostalgically: If a reformist had won the 2005 presidential election instead of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, would Iran be in its current dismal state? For Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, a former government spokesperson, Iran's situation is "worse today that it has ever been over the past 50 years." And for many Iranian opposition leaders, as well as much of the Western media and political class, Ahmadinejad is the main culprit of Iran's ills today: censorship, corruption, a failing economy, the prospect of a U.S attack.

But this analysis is incorrect, if only because it exaggerates Ahmadinejad's importance and leaves out of the picture the country's single most powerful figure: Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader. The Iranian constitution endows the supreme leader with tremendous authority over all major state institutions, and Khamenei, who has held the post since 1989, has found many other ways to further increase his influence. Formally or not, the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government all operate under the absolute sovereignty of the supreme leader; Khamenei is the head of state, the commander in chief, and the top ideologue. He also reaches into economic, religious, and cultural affairs through various government councils and organs of repression, such as the Revolutionary Guards, whose commander he himself appoints.

Dominic Lawson: One election player has been overlooked: Osama bin Laden

What could possibly go wrong now for the Democrats? Barack Obama's campaign for the White House has just pulled off a tremendous double whammy: the endorsement of General Colin Powell (formerly George W Bush's Secretary of State) and the rush to the bedside of an ailing grandmother (helpfully demonstrating both Obama's youthfulness and his devotion to family).

Yet even as some bookmakers have begun refusing to take any more bets on an Obama victory, Democratic Party supporters are still all-a-quiver with anxiety. This is not altogether surprising. They had not imagined that dopey George W Bush could ever have beaten Al Gore – but he did. President Bush had also trailed John Kerry in the polls – but again managed to snatch the narrowest of wins in the electoral college.

While Bush's first victory is blamed by Democrats on funny goings-on down in Florida, a different deus ex machina is given as the reason for the Republicans' late rally in 2004: Osama bin Laden. Four days before that election, Al Jazeera broadcast a video tape in which America's most wanted finally took responsibility for the World Trade Centre attacks – and also ridiculed President Bush's response on the day: "It never occurred to us that the Commander-in-Chief of the country would leave 50,000 citizens in the two towers to face those horrors alone because he thought listening to a child discussing her goats was more important."...........

Pretenders all of us By Chan Akya

The Alan: "We are in the midst of a once-in-a century credit tsunami. Central banks and governments are being required to take unprecedented measures. You, importantly, represent those on whose behalf economic policy is made, those who are feeling the brunt of the crisis in their workplaces and homes."

What he meant: "I am really glad it's you not me doing the heavy lifting. Furthermore, my opening with the tsunami reference is designed to make this whole mess seem like an unpredictable seismological event rather than the simple effect of various policy mistakes."

Thanks, but no thanks —Dilip Hiro

Under its $15 billion Masdar global initiative, inaugurated in 2006, Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company is mandated to discover advanced solar technologies. Its photovoltaics and concentrating solar power schemes involve setting up a large polysilicon factory in Abu Dhabi to supply feedstock for the photovoltaic cell and module manufacturing. The Masdar initiative is also funding research in thin-film photovoltaics, spherical photovoltaics, beam-down solar towers and thermal storage for solar power.

During President George Bush’s visit to Abu Dhabi in January, his hosts unveiled a model of Masdar City — the globe’s pioneering zero-carbon, zero-waste, car-less city — scheduled to be ready by late 2009 in the desert sands of the Emirate. The irony of the occasion was lost on Bush, whose presidency has been marked by disdain for reducing global pollution.

At the oil summit in Jeddah in July, Saudi King Abdullah let British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announce that the kingdom had agreed to cooperate financially with Britain to develop and deploy technology for carbon capture. According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the CO2 capture-and-storage system could provide up to 55 percent of the emission reduction needed to avoid the worst effects of global warming.

In sum, the possession of untold riches has not led the Gulf SWFs to become either reckless or short-sighted.

Thanks, but no thanks —Dilip Hiro

With bourses falling worldwide, Gulf SWF managers explored opportunities outside the US. For instance, SAMA Foreign Holdings is in the process of buying agricultural land in Pakistan and Thailand to produce food grains for the Saudi kingdom

An Indonesian example for the US By Ann Marie Murphy

As the United States election season swings into high gear, millions of Americans are following every detail of the presidential campaign. Few, however, are paying attention to Indonesia as it prepares for elections in 2009.

Indonesia may be the world's fourth most populous country, third largest democracy and home to the world's largest community of Muslims, but it is also the most important country Americans know virtually nothing about. They should take notice. Over the past decade, Indonesia has undergone a remarkable political transformation that clearly refutes the proposition that democracy and Islam are incompatible.

Following the overthrow of General Suharto after over three decades in power, Indonesia began a political transition under extremely inauspicious conditions in 1998. The economy shrank 14% that year, the largest single year economic contraction of any economy since the Great Depression. The economic crisis plunged millions into poverty and social violence erupted in parts of the country.

But Indonesia rose from these depths, consolidated democracy, restored economic growth, and resolved major social conflicts. Since then, Indonesia has held two parliamentary elections in 1999 and 2004, which international observers deemed free and fair. In 2004, Indonesia elected its president directly for the first time.

A decentralization program transferred significant powers to local governments and since 2005, there have been over 350 elections for local officials. Voter turnout in Indonesia's local elections averaged 65-70%. (In contrast, only 55% of Americans voted in the 2004 elections.) In Indonesia, 43% of incumbents running for re-election were defeated, while in the US incumbents won over 90% of congressional races.

Zardari bans history, creates a bestseller By Farrukh Dhondy

My friend and comrade Tariq Ali has had his third book on Pakistan The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power banned in that country. The Pakistani regime, for all its democratic crowing, cannot bear too much reality.

In the preface to the book Tariq writes: "Books have a destiny. This is my third study of Pakistan. The first, Pakistan: Military Rule or People’s Power? was written in 1969 and predicted the break-up of the State. It was banned in Pakistan… Just over a decade later I wrote Can Pakistan Survive? The question mark was not unimportant but nonetheless struck a raw nerve in General Zia’s Pakistan, where to even pose the question was unacceptable… Zia attacked both me and the book at a press conference in India, which was helpful and much appreciated by the publisher’s sales department. That book too was banned, but to my delight was shamelessly pirated in many editions in Pakistan. They don’t ban books anymore, or at least not recently, which is a relief and a small step forward".

Tariq spoke too soon. The book hit the shelves and the Zardari government banned it. Cassandra dropped her guard while Troy burned.


The ban on Tariq’s book has been imposed under the aegis of the minister of information, one Sherry Rehman, who was formerly married to a very liberal friend of mine. I went to their wedding at the Bombay Brasserie in London and thought she seemed a liberal sort who would be fan of both, the Rushdie and T Ali schools of thought and not a candidate for the thought-police.


Moreover, a huge moreover, Tariq accuses Zardari of involvement in the murder of his brother-in-law Murtaza Bhutto. Now anyone who has travelled in Pakistan knows that it’s a club and not a country.

Paul Richter: Pakistan's man in Washington walks a delicate line

This story filed by Paul Richter for LAT is detailed and interesting for what it omits to mention. He does not mention Haqqani's links with the neo cons and treats his lack of political convictions rather facetiously ~ t

As president of the student union at the University of Karachi in 1979, he enjoyed spending time in the U.S. Consulate's air-conditioned library reading about foreign relations and the United States. When Islamists and other radical students urged him to lead an attack on the facility, he resisted.

Today, he's proud of all that he has absorbed about the United States. He boasts that he once beat officials at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad at American history questions in a game of Trivial Pursuit.....

S Akbar Zaidi: Some Serious Thoughts

Today, the electronic media has made bankers, businessmen, stockbrokers and journalists experts on the intricacies of economic and financial issues of which most know very little. Personal anecdotes, and not even informed opinion, replace any sound academic or general discussion about Pakistan’s economy or about the international financial crisis.

Barring very few exceptions, most supposedly informed guests on these channels cannot distinguish between the capital market, capital investment or the capital account, yet speak with an authority which only reveals their complete ignorance. Stockbrokers hold forth on monetary policy, bankers and MBAs on fiscal policy, and journalists on an assortment of issues ranging from what they think the impact of raising (or lowering) the CRR and SLR would be to the impact of an IMF programme of which they know barely the basics and can claim no understanding.

In the 25 years in which I have taught and done research in economics in Pakistan, I have never seen so many people appearing in the public arena and being called ‘economists’. Most of these self-styled, or increasingly media-styled, economists have hardly written academic papers or books, yet speak with the authority of someone who understands how a complicated and complex social, political and economic system works. Many now call themselves ‘political economists’ which gives them license to talk about anything at all, without having understood what it is that makes up the discipline of political economy.

High journalism — and usually not even that — substitutes for scholarly and academic discussion in the media. Moreover, access to the Internet has made a cut-and-paste job far easier, and for many newspaper readers who do not scan more than just a single column, material which has been developed and debated in very different contexts is recycled as original.

Friday, October 24, 2008

US military training program starts in Pakistan: official

My reaction to this heading?


The last time this mighty machine beat someone was in Honduras during the Reagan era.

Their woes in Iraq, in Afghanistan are not hidden.

God save us from friends.

Finding Hidden Tomb Of Genghis Khan Using Non-Invasive Technologies

According to legend, Genghis Khan lies buried somewhere beneath the dusty steppe of Northeastern Mongolia, entombed in a spot so secretive that anyone who made the mistake of encountering his funeral procession was executed on the spot.

Once he was below ground, his men brought in horses to trample evidence of his grave, and just to be absolutely sure he would never be found, they diverted a river to flow over their leader's final resting place.

What Khan and his followers couldn't have envisioned was that nearly 800 years after his death, scientists at UC San Diego's Center for Interdisciplinary Science in Art, Architecture and Archaeology (CISA3) would be able to locate his tomb using advanced visualization technologies whose origins can be traced back to the time of the Mongolian emperor himself.

"As outrageous as it might sound, we're looking for the tomb of Genghis Khan," says Dr. Albert Yu-Min Lin, an affiliated researcher for CISA3. "Genghis Khan was one of the most exceptional men in all of history, but his life is too often dismissed as being that of a bloodthirsty warrior. Few people in the West know about his legacy — that he united warring tribes of Mongolia and merged them into one, that he introduced the East to the West making explorations like those of Marco Polo possible, that he tried to create a central world currency, that he introduced a written language to the Mongol people and created bridges that we still use today within the realm of international relations...

Johann Hari: Dare we stand up for Muslim women?

It's the smell I remember. Shahnaz's face – what was left of it – reeked of a day-old barbecue, left out in the rain. Her flesh was a mess of charred meat: her skin, the soft flesh of her cheeks, and the bones beneath had been burned away. Her nose was gone. Her lips hung down over her chin like melted wax. Her left eyelid couldn't close, so it watered all the time in an endless stream of tears. Shahnaz – who was 21 years old – had been punished by having acid thrown in her face. Her crime was to be a Muslim woman who wanted to be treated as equal to a man.

Shahnaz loved education – especially science and poetry. But when she got married – at the insistence of her family – her husband ordered her to stop schooling and start breeding. "You are a woman, that is your only job," he said. But she refused. She wanted to work for herself and enrich her mind. So she kept going to school, despite his beatings and ragings and threats. So one day her husband and his brothers carefully gathered up battery acid, pinned her down and hurled it into her face.

She ended up in the Acid Survivors' Foundation in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where I saw her earlier this year. In Bangladesh, acid attacks on "uppity" women are an epidemic, peaking in 2002 with more than 500 women having their faces burned off. Fewer than 10 per cent of the attackers are ever convicted because juries and judges say the women bring it on themselves by wearing "revealing" clothes, or refusing to obey men..............

Sleight of hand - Mustafa El-Feki

The presence of Israel, which refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) while maintaining 200-plus nuclear warheads, puts paid to any attempt to lay down regional rules for peace and security. Israel's regional monopoly of nuclear weapons cannot be regarded solely as a deterrent. It must also be regarded as an instrument of intimidation by means of which Israel seeks to terrorise its neighbours and abuse their rights. Yet in the negotiations between Arab ambassadors and US and Israeli delegates in the IAEA the latter invariably spoke of the risks of Arab nuclear arms, as though there actually were such things, as opposed to the peril Israeli nuclear weapons, which really do exist, represent. On one occasion I threw out a hypothetical question: if the Arabs and Israel reached a peace agreement that provided for permanent collective or unilateral security arrangements would Israel then officially acknowledge its nuclear arms, sign the NPT and agree to IAEA inspections of its nuclear facilities? The answer was both surprising and provocative. Of course not, they said, because there would still be the danger from other non-Arab countries in the region. They were alluding to Iran, of course. I laughed and said: "Yes, and Pakistan, too, and maybe other countries. Israel will never run out of excuses for holding on to its exclusive advantage."

Artist Paritosh Sen dead

KOLKATA: Paritosh Sen, one of the founders of the contemporary Indian art movement, died at a private hospital here on Wednesday following a lung infection, family sources said. He was 90.

The artist, who was admitted to hospital one-and-a half months agp, is survived by his wife. The couple did not have any children.

BBC News

Born on Sept 24, 1918, in Dhaka, Sen was a founder member of the Calcutta Group, an art movement established in 1942 that played a significant role in the birth of Indian modern art.

A contemporary of greats like M F Hussain, Sen was fascinated by the world of nature, colour and movement and fled home to join the Madras Art School headed by Devi Prosad Roy Chowdhury after completing his school education.

Will Parts of Pakistan Resemble This If.....?

Sitting around in a small mud hut in the huge, sandy settlement, he and a group of other Darfuris described the grim conditions there and answered questions from people around the world as part of a BBC laptop link-up.

I went back to see how their lives had changed, and they said the violence and insecurity had only got worse.

"Now when I look to the future it looks very dark," says Khaled.

"This life we are now living is not life. Ten people living in a house which is about 10 metres and we've been like this for five years.

"Nothing is better in Abu Shouk. Everything is getting worse, starting from security. Many NGOs [non-governmental organisations] have left the camp. We have no health service, we need food.

"The rations have been cut, now we have half-rations. So where are people supposed to get money to buy food or health or clothes for their children, or to pay for education?"

Last time I had taken a little blue taxi to the camp, and was able to wander around Abu Shouk uninterrupted.

This time I was forbidden from even entering.....

The Mogambo Guru Minces No Words

And now inflation in the money supply as an "economic good" has, predictably, failed again, and former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan is the filthy bastard who did it to us this time, while his successor Ben Bernanke and his odious, low-IQ "economics PhD"-ilk infesting the nation's universities share the blame for their erroneous active participation and encouragement due to their complete lack of any real insight or intelligence.

As a result of the latest failure of a fiat money that has resulted in ruination, just like all the other experiments with a fiat money have ended in failure for the last 2,000 years, the S&P 500 is now down to where it was in 1997, which is 11 long years ago, which means that everybody who bought the shares of the S&P500 since 1997 has lost money both in nominal terms (since the price of the shares has gone down), but also more in real, inflation-adjusted terms, because in the meantime the US dollar has declined in value by about 60%, meaning that everybody who was stupid enough to think that they would make a profit by "buying and holding" stocks over the long-term has now lost 60% of their buying power! Hahaha! Morons!

Once again, the overwhelming majority of schools that teach economics, or any other scientific discipline for that matter, never even noticed that it is mathematically impossible for the majority of investors to make real, inflation-adjusted money by investing! Everybody puts one dollar into the market and then everybody takes two dollars out? It's insane!