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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Made in Pakistan - Scenes From 2009, Huma Imtiaz

Made in Pakistan - Scenes From 2009

Huma Imtiaz : A tanker full of water can cost anywhere between Rs 1,200-2,000. According to Samina Waheed, a resident of DHA since 1996, she spends an estimated Rs 10,000 on water tankers per month, a cost that “rises each time one has house guests over or there is a wedding in the house!” Tired of paying money to get her lawn watered, she has now had it paved with tiles. Ayesha Aslam, a resident of Phase IV, says, “It’s an inconvenience to be concerned on a continual basis about whether or not you have running water. Waiting for the tanker to get water to you is another inconvenience, which delays the process further. It’s such a basic necessity, and yet one has to remember you’re privileged to even have running water.” The cost, with the increasing demand of DHA residents for water tankers, has multiplied over the years.

"Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Wednesday reiterated that the 1973 Constitution would be restored to its original form..." He has NOT read the original constitution! Can you imagine what

Jamaat chief Munawwar Hussain's statement is dancing/politicking over the graves.


Taliban claim responsibility for Karachi Ashura bombing, but NOT the looting and burning in the aftermath.

And Salis could have asked more questions, but he did not.

MQM Mustafa Kamal On "Ajj Kamran Khan k Sath" Revealing Facts CCTV FOOTAGE Part 1 & 2, Taalat Hussain

MQM Mustafa Kamal On "Ajj Kamran Khan k Sath" Revealing Facts CCTV FOOTAGE Part 1

MQM Mustafa Kamal On "Ajj Kamran Khan k Sath" Revealing Facts CCTV FOOTAGE Part 2

Live With Talat – 29th December 2009
Wasim Akhtar MQM, Shehla Raza and Atiq Mir in fresh episode of Live with Talat and discusses current issue with Syed Talat Hussain.

Vincent Van Gogh

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cui Bono, who is going for the jugular?


The bearded animals have claimed responsibility for the Karachi bombing. This apprehension is ever present in today's clime. They have struck in Peshawar, Islamabad, Lahore, Multan, so they were bound to attack Karachi.

But what was different here is the violence, looting and burning of private property and shops that it instantly triggered. The chemical used was possibly white phosphorus.

Two things to note here.

1: The TTP has not in the past resorted to such tactics. They usually mobilise a few suicide bombers to cause maximum carnage.

2: The way this spread in the Karachi markets indicated pre-planning.

Cui Bono? Who benefits from this?


The Pir Sahib of SC might take suo moto action to investigate who was behind the extended violence aimed at Pakistan's commercial jugular. Presently he is busy with employees fired in 1990.

Pir Sahib of Raiwind Shareef has his head in the sands as usual, when he is reported as saying that all the constitutional amendments passed by the dictator should be annulled. My beef? dictator should be dictators. And that would include his guru Gen Zi(n)a.

Irfan Hussain need not worry about Spanish 'probes'...they have body scanners now.

Gaza Freedom March

Top Ten of Everything in 2009, The Sidney Awards II, Best Books You Missed,

Millard Sheets

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Tanzil is an amazing website for the Holy Quran.

Just put the mouse on any line and you will find the translation of that line or you can click the translation in the top of the page in the left corner for the entire Surah.

On the left side for this website you can choose Surah (from all 114 Surah). Moreover you can choose any Aayah, can search by the page number and also you can select the Qari whose recitation you want to listen …

[thanks RJ & MMS]

Rumi's Masnavi, part 5: On love, The Toilet That Can Save Our Water and Energy Problems,

"Night Shining" Clouds Getting Brighter

Rumi's Masnavi, part 5: On love Franklin Lewis For Rumi, love is the astrolabe of God's mysteries and the animating force of creation

A man in love, no matter what he says
The smell of love wafts love-ward from his mouth
He speaks of jurisprudence, what emerges?
From mystic poverty a sweet effulgence
He blasphemes, the scent of faith arises
He offers doubts, no doubt we grow more sure
Masnavi 1: 2880-82

The Toilet That Can Save Our Water and Energy Problems
Right-Wing Response to Underpants Bomber Hilariously Hypocritical
Wall Street's 10 Greatest Lies of 2009
Review of the decade Culture
POLITICS: U.S. Intelligence Found Iran Nuke Document Was Forged
The 21st century began in 2002
Rethink Afghanistan named a MVP of 2009
Israel/Palestine And Global Warming, Two Catastrophes In-The-Making: What Do They Have In Common?

The underwear, 2009 was the year of the short story, Egypt blocks travel of Gaza Freedom March activists

The underwear with the explosive worn by alleged Northwest 253
bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is shown in this undated photo. (ABC News)
2009 was the year of the short story - Alice Munro won the Man Booker International, Raymond Carver's widow published a revised edition of What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, and fine collections appeared from old hands and debutantes. This year proved that reports of the short story's death have been greatly exaggerated 2009 has proved that rumours of the death of the short story – so often forecast that almost every review of almost every collection seems duty-bound to repeat and thus propagate it – are greatly exaggerated. The consensus running through the end-of-year reviews is that it's been a vintage year for short fiction, and I agree. I come here to praise the short story, not to bury it.

Alice Munro won the Man Booker International, Raymond Carver's widow published a revised edition of What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, and fine collections appeared from old hands and debutantes. This year proved that reports of the short story's death have been greatly exaggerated

Why I want to march in Gaza On 29 December, I will attempt to cross into the Gaza Strip along with 1,300 other peace and justice activists from 43 countries. Some of us have traveled to Gaza previously. It will be my third visit since the Israeli invasion, which destroyed or damaged more than 50,000 homes and 90 percent of private industry. Pam Rasmussen comments for The Electronic Intifada.
[Pakistani newspapers were not published today- Ashura]

Marc Chagall

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tom Friedman Talking Doll Won’t Stop Talking!

[thanks RJ]

The Things He Carried, Video: Gaza War Crimes, In history, farce and tragedy often come in pairs

The Things He Carried - Airport security in America is a sham—“security theater” designed to make travelers feel better and catch stupid terrorists. Smart ones can get through security with fake boarding passes and all manner of prohibited items—as our correspondent did with ease.

Video: Gaza War Crimes

In history, farce and tragedy often come in pairs - Take the two events as examples that came towards the fag end of this year. One was the indictment by an inquiry commission of a former prime minister and self-proclaimed charioteer of Indian nationalism. He, along with 68 others was found culpable of razing the Babri Masjid in 1992. In other words they had organised the mobs to tear the Indian constitution to shreds. Much of the media treated it as a minor aberration, a speck of dust merely, and no more, on democracy’s fair name. It was further claimed that Messrs L.K. Advani and A.B. Vajpayee were unjustly dragged in it. It didn’t matter that TV coverage of that event proved otherwise. Then came the last stages of the Mumbai terror trial in which Kasab, the main accused in captivity, denied any role he had previously admitted to having played in inflicting the gruesome attack. Now he claims that he had travelled from his native Pakistan to act in movies in Mumbai! That’s how he was picked up by police a day before the November 26 attack. He claims he was framed.
Several of India’s leading national newspapers and TV channels have been exposed as having widely and repeatedly published and telecast falsehoods about the accused in the Parliament attack. The coverage brought India and Pakistan to the brink of nuclear war. A few years later, when the trial was completed, the Supreme Court acquitted two of the four accused. A third was convicted on a separate set of charges altogether. Mohammad Afzal continues to be on death row even though the Supreme Court held that it had found no evidence to prove that he was a member of a terrorist group. However the judgement went on to say that “in order to satisfy the collective conscience of society” it was sentencing him to death. In modern society, it is the mass media that fashions the collective conscience of society. It is the mass media that is deciding which injustices society should tolerate and which it should not.

Benazir's poem?, Aaker Patel, Shaheen Sehbai's "should"

Anjum Niaz: Two years today when Benazir Bhutto returned to Larkana. Only to be interred alongside her loved ones. Her poem written in exile is parsed by ‘deep throat’ exclusively for us.
I to my people want to go
I came in the winter of repression
I pray to return in different times
Like the joy of a seasonal rain
The people’s support I will reclaim.

Writing about the unending holiday seasons in India Aaker writes: The month also has Eidul-Fitr and Ganesh Chaturthi, on which we pacify the god of obstacles. This is Ganesh with his elephant head, whose idol we bring home and later immerse in water amid dancing and singing. The festival is quite recent, and was made popular in the 1890s by Bal Gangadhar Tilak. [It has been said that BGT was influenced by the Ashura as a unifying symbol for the Muslims~t]

I was amused by the righteous indignation of Shaheen Sehbai. He has also gone to the same school as Hamid Mir - instead of reporting and analysing news, they are increasingly advising.

To wit:

Mian Nawaz Sharif should...
The Supreme Court should ...
The prime minister should ...

Pablo Picasso

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Have Americans Traded Freedom For Security? Andy Borowitz: Airline Terror Suspect Says He Follows bin Laden, But Just on Twitter,

Change is coming to Islam, Hypochristan,

Change is coming to Islam - The 'war on terror' had a devastating impact both on the external realities of Muslim societies as well as on Muslim consciousnesses. It changed not only the course of history in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan but also served as a springboard for the revival of the Taliban and the emergence of new militant groups such as the Jemaah Islamiya in Indonesia
and the radical Shabab in the Horn of Africa. It also laid the foundation for home-grown al-Qaida-inspired terrorism in Europe and America. The hatred of America in the Muslim world, a direct consequence of the 'war on terror' , also became an ideal substitute, in certain circles, for introspection and reflexive thought on the economic, social and political problems of many Muslim countries.

The world is vanishing from Americans’ awareness. - If you get your news from the sources most Americans do, you will not know that India recently test-fired the Agni II, an intermediate-range, nuclear-capable ballistic missile. Nor will you know the test’s results, which were reported all over the subcontinent but not in America. You will probably be unaware of Sergei Magnitsky’s death in a Moscow prison, or of who he was; the news was barely reported in the United States. You will not know that former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic’s trial for war crimes and genocide was suspended, since that doesn’t appear to have been reported in the U.S. at all. Stories from Iraq and Afghanistan combined have accounted for less than 5 percent of the news hole this year, according to Pew Research. Aside from China and Iran, which make occasional cameos, the rest of the world is disappearing from American consciousness, as the New York Times’s list of the ten most e-mailed articles routinely confirms. Top stories at last glimpse: “Catching Tuna and Hanging On for the Ride”; “Payback Time: Wave of Debt Payments Facing U.S. Government”; “Why Exercise Makes You Less Anxious”; and seven other domestic items...

Hypochristan - Who are we to point fingers? Who are we to cast the first stone? And all this rap about akhlaq; for heaven’s sake, forget about the high and the mighty, how many of us educated, middle-class folks can call ourselves spotless? Take a small example: How many of us are willing to show any decency to, say, a lowly paid traffic cop? How many of us do not have that instinctive thought of bribing our way out of a traffic violation, or out of any other crime (petty or otherwise)?

Taking Zardari to the Cleaners, Legal eye; Part II, How can the world expect Pakistan to do more than what it is already doing? Who is tricking whom A

Maxim Cartoon

Taking Zardari to the Cleaners - The time has now come for him to show whether or not he can be a leader for democracy. Or at least show a sign; some sign; any sign. He has to show some proactive decision making prowess other than sporadic acts of frustration or anger – a dismissed secretary here, a reappointed chairman there – every once in a while. His calls have been more reactive; attempts to show that he is independent rather than signs of a bigger vision.

Legal eye; Part II - The real concern behind criticism of the Supreme Court's mention of Articles 62(f) and 225 is not that the court transcended its constitutional authority to decide what it did. But that it might make relevant once again operative provisions of the Constitution introduced by Ziaul Haq that have not been allowed to inflict much harm on our constitutional jurisprudence due to progressive judicial interpretations. Unfortunately this fear will continue to lurk so long as we continue to retain and tolerate Zia's toxic concoctions within our fundamental law. And the progressive elements within Pakistan who believe that morality and religion doesn't mix well with interpretation of law will remain at the mercy of the composition and outlook of our superior judiciary. Articles 2A, 62(d),(e),(f),(g),(h) and many others do not belong in the Constitution and are not amenable to judicially enforceable standards.

Babar Sattar analysis has to be read in conjunction with I A Rehman`s posted earlier --t

How can the world expect Pakistan to do more than what it is already doing? - - Total Pakistani fatalities in terrorist violence from 2003 to 2009 now stand at 24,624 -- compare that with 1,477 coalition deaths in the Operation Enduring Freedom. For the record, 43 countries have contributed troops to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) but Pakistan by itself has done more -- and sacrificed more -- than all those 43 countries combined. Clearly, counterinsurgency strategy (COIN) east of the Durand Line has been far more successful than COIN undertaken west of Durand.

Lucky Ghazi and three strong women

Who is tricking whom Ansar Abbasi? -- The shrewd Punjab bureaucracy has tricked the otherwise smart Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif into offering average “redundant” state lands for sale but cleverly saving the sprawling residences of provincial secretaries, top bureaucrats, commissioners, DCOs, regional and district police officers, and other district officers.

Ansar, Shahbaz is no spring chicken, and you have already labelled the Punjab bureacracy as with this story who is pulling wool over the reader?

Pablo Picasso


Forward from Beena Sarwar

Please join us where ever in the world you are
Friday, January 1, 2010
2:30pm - 5:30pm

Solidarity day to be observed on Ist of January. Rallies planned in Abbottabad, Haripur, Mardan, Karak, Swabi, D.I.Khan, Peshawar, Mingora, Lahore, Gujranwala, Multan, Bahawalpur, Faisalabad, Sialkot, Badin, Jamshoro, Larkana, Sukkur, Hyderabad, Karachi, Loralai, Quetta and Islamabad

Working together for an end to intolerance, violence, injustice. and equal opportunities for all. Citizens across the nation come together on the 1st day of 2010 to usher in a decade of peace, justice, equity and tolerance. More than a hundred organisations across Pakistan including the youth, students, concerned citizens, media, lawyers, labour, NGO's and academics come together to express their resolve to struggle for the right to 'a life of dignity'.

Join us.... for neither can we afford the luxury of indifference nor a lack of expression of the values that we hold so close to our hearts. Let our resolve find expression. We are one and we are all equals.Solidarity Day marks the beginning of a journey of building trust between citizens and the strengthening of democratic values and institutions.

For more details, contact Ali Asghar Khan <>

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Pause, sirs, and ponder

Pause, sirs, and ponder - The NRO was such an easy target that a single shot (Articles 4, 8 and 25 of the constitution) was enough to demolish it. A fusillade from heavy cannons (Articles 62 (f), 63 (i and p), 89, 175, and 227) has created problems.

The clauses of Articles 62 and 63 cited now constitute part of Ziaul Haq�s arbitrary amendments. They have never been debated by a representative assembly and have been consistently denounced by democratic opinion....whose revival in its original form is the battle cry of all democratic parties, is like quoting a PCO judge�s ruling before today�s independent judiciary.

Now, the debate over certain parts of a national constitution being outside parliament�s authority to amend them has been going on in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh for over 40 years (Indian Supreme Court verdicts of 1967, 1973 and 1975; Pakistan Supreme Court verdicts of 1963, 1997 and 2000). Professor Conrad, the German scholar who has done much to promote this principle, has succinctly put it thus: 'Any amending body organised within the statutory scheme, howsoever verbally unlimited its power, cannot by its very structure change the fundamental pillars supporting its constitutional authority.'

In any case the issue before the Supreme Court was not an amendment to the constitution that would have attracted the basic features theory. The issue before it was an ordinary presidential ordinance. By invoking Article 227 in the present case the Supreme Court seems to have put Islamic injunctions in command of the whole constitution. Quite a few lawyers argue that this amounts to overruling the court�s judgments in the Hakim Khan (1992) and Kaneez Fatima (1993) cases.

[thanks Beena]

An Argumentative Arab Enlightener.

Fann alQalam - the Art of the Pen - by Soraya Syed

I was surprised to discover that Al-Ghazzali not only played a part in Thomas Aquinas’ theology and Dante’s inferno but his Autobiography contributed to Cartesian philosophy. But perhaps the most intriguing discovery of all was that of Professor Hamidullah who suggested that Charles Darwin, a keen student of Arabic, is said to have read Ibn Mishkawayh’s writings. This historian, administrator and philosopher who lived in the 11th century had proposed a theory where by everything evolved in to something higher which ended in an apex whereby the Saints and the Prophets were the perfect manifestations of this evolutionary process. To think that Ibn Mishkawayh had a small part to play in the birth of modern materialism: the creative process can have unexpected results!

An Argumentative Arab Enlightener - Al-Azm is a phenomenon in the Arab world. There are few intellectuals who criticise their region of origin as sharply as he does. The Six-Day War, the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, the discussion on Edward Said's book Orientalism, the Iraq War and Islamist fundamentalism: he has barely missed a chance to dive headfirst into a debate over the past 40 years.

Ziauddin Sardar on Travel in the Muslim World - Tell us about your first book recommendation, The Travels of Ibn Battutah.

Ibn Battutah, whose name can be translated as Son of a Duck, is my hero and is regarded as “the traveller of Islam”. He left his native city of Tangier in 1325 at the age of 21 with the intention of performing the pilgrimage to Mecca. But he continued beyond Mecca. Travelling by horse, mule, ox wagon, junk, dhow and on foot, he covered over 75,000 miles and visited over 40 countries. Wherever he went, he found it easy to get employment as a jurist, or a courtier or an ambassador. His journeys involve swashbuckling adventures and chases with concubines in toe. He is a riveting read. The interesting thing with Ibn Battutah is that travel for him was not just going from one place to another; it was living in a place. Wherever he went, he made his home. He had a house, he married and he got a job. This allowed him to learn about the place by living as a part of it. Then he would move on. It wasn’t until he returned to Morocco in his ripe old age, that he wrote down all his adventure. It’s got a wonderful title in full, The Precious Gift for Lookers into the Marvels of Cities and Wonders of travels

Karzai's Cronies, Kamran Pasha: How the Story of Christmas Saved Islam

[thanks kamla]

Karzai's Cronies: Meet the unsavory characters surrounding the Afghan president and his new government. [thanks kamla]

Kamran Pasha: How the Story of Christmas Saved Islam - The history of Christianity's relationship with Islam has not always been so cordial. From the Crusades to the horrors of September 11th, both communities have committed atrocities against the other. And yet it was not so at the beginning. And perhaps it will not be so at the end.

David Brooks Picks The Best Long-Form Magazine Journalism Of 2009

Muslims meet in Toronto to balance faith, community - Close to 17,000 Muslims came to Metro Toronto's Convention Centre today, Christmas Day, to learn about their religion and being a Muslim in today's world.

Farhat Taj, Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, Masooda Bano, Zafar Hilaly, Unwarranted activism? Legal eye(Part I), Read this two excerpts from the News and smi

Maxim Cartoon

analysis: Tormenting of the tribes �Farhat Taj - The two key words missing in this rebuttal is politcal agent. The government largesse was channeled to the locals through the political agent to the local chieftain. Collective punishment was customary. [The various taliban groups assassinated or eliminated these elders, but that is another story].

analysis: Forced or volitional? �Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur - Reiteration of Musharraf and Rehman Malik�s theory of volitional disappearances by one who as a tribal chief and chief of Sarawan is under moral obligation to protect the rights of any Baloch who has been wronged is beyond comprehension. Aslam Raisani�s statement has added insult to a grievous injury. He has forfeited his moral right to represent the Baloch people either as a chief or a chief minister.

Masooda Bano - The state of education and health sectors remains deplorable. The government has not even announced major reforms plans for these sectors, forget about the actual implementation process. The employment problems, inflation, inaccessibility of basic food items, etc., are making the people critical of the government whether or not the media spins anti-government stories...If PPP�s leadership responded to criticisim by implementing a real programme of development, it would have to worry much less about what journalists are saying about it.

Zafar Hilaly - He has dared the Supreme Court to remove him and in the process warned off the army and Nawaz Sharif. Neither, it seems, feels it politic to take him on, at least for now; of course, it helps that neither of the other two contenders for power get on...How, then, did Mr Zardari � an ethnic Baloch, a lacklustre speaker with as much charisma as a pregnant llama and who, but for the fact that he was Benazir Bhutto�s husband would not have stood out more than the proverbial pimple on the hindquarters of an elephant � prevail in Sindhi affections?

Unwarranted activism? Legal eye(Part I)

SC gets certified lists of top bureaucrats

Read this two excerpts from the News and smile:

1: With the only exception of President Asif Ali Zardari, every mighty beneficiary of the now defunct National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) including Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Minister of State Tariq Anis, Ambassador Husain Haqqani, PPP Secretary General Jehangir Badr, Salman Faruqui and Intelligence Bureau Director Riaz Sheikh has been formally put on the Exit Control List (ECL) by the Interior Ministry, shows a notification, a copy of which is available with The News.
2: KARACHI: President Asif Ali Zardari left for Dubai on Friday morning but surprisingly also took Interior Minister Rehman Malik with him, who, until recently, was said to be on the ECL. It is not yet officially known if his name has been removed from the list.

The word according to Hamid Mir

Ansel Adams

Friday, December 25, 2009

Nicholas D. Kristof: A Most Meaningful Gift Idea, Kuldip Nayyar, Cyril Almeida and Ahsan, Harris Khalique, Ayaz Amir

Maxim Cartoon

Nicholas D. Kristof: A Most Meaningful Gift Idea A needed and laudable column...strangely missing from his recommendations is Edhi and Mortenson's foundations!

Kuldip Nayyar - Advani has said that with Sushma Swaraj as his successor in the Lok Sabha and Arun Jaitley as the opposition leader in the Rajya Sabha, “a new chapter” has begun. A change of personalities does not usher a new chapter, a change of policies does. The BJP has given no evidence to suggest that it has jettisoned its communal agenda or that it has distanced itself from the fanatic Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Cyril Almeida's response to the volleys of Kurd and Gilani. And another lame response by Iijaz Ahsan.

Change of guards ceremony at Quaid’s mausoleum

Harris Khalique - The dilapidated Quaid-e-Azam House Museum in Karachi, which I visited last week with a colleague, is a reflection of what importance Jinnah really enjoys. Neither there is water to maintain the lawn nor does the building structure is lit up in the night. Remember, we do have resources to build lush green parks by the sea in posh neighbourhoods and maintain a palatial Governor's House in the vicinity.

Ayaz Amir - Zardari has a past. But who in the current pantheon -- politician, tycoon or even jurisprudential giant -- is without some kind of a past or the other? All their lordships in the Supreme Court once-upon-a-time were counted as PCO judges, taking oath at the altar of Musharraf's first PCO. But no one is saying that because of that they should commit hara-kiri. On the contrary, the nation is wishing them well and urging them to do their best in the performance of their duties (although, at the same time, earnestly wishing that their lordships would refrain from the temptation of fixing the prices of such things as sugar and petroleum).

Holiday Dinner at the Karzai Clan, MIDEAST: Israel Declares War on Peace NGOs

Max Ernst

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A burial ground of cultures, Not just hot air – Himal Southasian zindabad,

Jawed Naqvi's laments in A burial ground of cultures:

*It is difficult of course to say whether hosting a reception at the haveli was a quirkier aberration of the arriving mores than the grabbing of precious land from a vulnerable Mumbai waqf board for a song, to build a tycoon’s house on it. How then shall we account for the fact that the Urdu poet’s small mausoleum in the Nizamuddin district of New Delhi built privately by a Parsi moviemaker, who deified the legendary Ghalib, is today cluttered with animal refuse.
* If filth and squalor is a natural state of being for most of those who live in the vicinity of the Ghalib shrine — and they happen to be Muslims, who can read or write his script but not quite keep up with his profoundly eclectic worldview — then we have to step back and see what has happened elsewhere. Mir Taqi Mir’s grave lies under a railway track in Lucknow. Wali Dakhani’s shrine in Ahmedabad was razed as an expression of resurgent cultural nationalism. A metalled road now passes over it.

What was Wali’s crime?

Kucha e aar ain Kaasi hai,
Jogiya dilwahin’n ka baasi hai,

he declared.” (“My beloved belongs to the sacred Hindu city of Kashi, and that’s where my hermit heart is headed to seek its abode.”) It was the same cultural nationalism egged on by India’s new politico-corporate elite that vandalised the old grave of classical music guru Ustad Fayyaz Khan in Baroda.


Not just hot air – Himal Southasian zindabadLink

(thanks Beena)

Moyers, Moore and Maddow are the Most Influential Progressives - The three M's -- Bill Moyers, Michael Moore and Rachel Maddow -- scored highest in a recent AlterNet survey* asking more than 5,000 readers to rate the most influential progressive media figures. Moyers, who scored 67.5, and Moore, with a 66.2 score, were very close. Maddow was a tad behind at 63.5. Noam Chomsky, still the left's leading intellectual, placed fourth at 57.6, followed by Paul Krugman at 53.4. Krugman's incisive column in the New York Times has been a must-read for several years among a broad swath of liberals and progressives. The sixth-place slot was taken by Maddow's MSNBC cohort, Keith Olbermann (51.7), whose bombastic style, while certainly different than Rachel's, clearly has its fans. Next in line, and finishing off the top 10, were Amy Goodman (49.7), Arianna Huffington (49.4), Naomi Klein (47.7), and former Labor Secretary and Berkeley professor Robert Reich (31.1).

THE ROVING EYE : Beijing plays Pipelineistan, Halwaphobia, The SC hiccups

THE ROVING EYE : Beijing plays Pipelineistan - China may also count on a South Asia option. China spent $200 million on the first phase of construction of the deepwater port of Gwadar in Balochistan. It wanted - and it got from Islamabad - "sovereign guarantees to the port's facilities". Gwadar is only 400km from Hormuz. From Gwadar, China can easily monitor traffic in the strait. But Gwadar is infinitely more crucial as the pivot of the virtual Pipelineistan war between TAPI and IPI. TAPI is the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline, which will never be built as long as a US/NATO foreign occupation is fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. IPI is the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline, also known as the “peace pipeline” (TAPI would be the "war pipeline" then?). Iran and Pakistan have already agreed to build it, much to Washington's distress.
- Maxim Cartoon

Power getting to him? Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has directed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to provide the whole record of TV talk shows on the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) in the aftermath of December 16, 2009 apex court verdict.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday advised the government to consider appointment of eunuchs for the recovery of loans from defaulters.A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was hearing a petition of Dr Aslam Khaki.

Man of conviction/s

thanks RJ

Artur Marcowicz

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

This graphic is work of genius

The graphic from the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff looks like a tangled ball of multicolored yarn, or perhaps it is the military's depiction of the all-powerful, all-knowing Flying Spaghetti Monster...

Whatever the case, it documents the complex relationships between Tribal leaders, soldiers, aid workers, drug dealers, militants, ethnic groups, government leaders, etc.

"For some military commanders, the slide is genius," wrote NBC's Richard Engel, "an attempt to show how all things in war – from media bias to ethnic/tribal rivalries – are interconnected and must be taken into consideration. It represents a new approach to war fighting, looking beyond simply killing enemy fighters. It underscores what those fighting wars have long known, that everything matters." [thanks RJ]

Kurd unhappy over SC verdict on NRO, Anjum Niaz,

Speaking during a talk show on “Challenges facing the judiciary”, he said that people had reservations about the verdict handed down by the Supreme Court on petitions challenging the National Reconciliation Ordinance. According to him, the judgment appeared to be based on newspaper headlines and talk shows of private TV channels. Mr Kurd said that an independent judiciary had been restored after a great struggle, adding that the country would become stronger if the judiciary acted in the manner expected by the nation during the struggle. “If it does not happen, it will cause a blow to national security.”
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Chairperson Asma Jehangir also criticised the Supreme Court’s judgment on the NRO and said it appeared to be a decision pronounced by a ‘jirga’. She was of the opinion that the NRO could have been declared null and void by merely declaring it as repugnant to Article 25 of the Constitution, but a Pandora’s box had been opened by the court. Syed Iqbal Haider and Justice (retd) Tariq Mehmood also spoke on the occasion.
Anjum Niaz - Barrister Jawaid Iqbal Jafree does not think so. "Two days ago, the Lahore high Court heard my 11-year-old writ in which I had prayed back in 1997 that assets of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats and their touts, accessories and advocates be frozen and confiscated for national treasury." The barrister from Harvard Law School, who is an artist with several international art exhibitions under his belt, is somewhat of a maverick. His writ petitions are peculiarly penned. I doubt if many in our courts can fathom the double entendres laced with humorous or rhetorical effect they are meant to evoke. Puns and parables aside, he is a lone crusader whose voice against the corrupt has so far been choked. He's unfazed. Happy that his decade-old petition may yet have a ripple effect, he says: "The revival of my writ is causing much concern, because there is no pardon in my books. I am disinterested in paisa, power, pelf or patronage." ...Jafree requested the court to withdraw immunity for VVIPs like Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari and freeze their wealth. "My original writ was way ahead of the present furore. Had the matter not been delayed and time wasted since 2000, today Pakistan would not be the begging-bowl state where philanderers and forex mafia rule, while half the nation goes without two meals a day. I had offered to excavate and extract $20 billion from 200 'top' money-launderers within a year provided there was no interference or intrusion."
The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave a final warning to those who have managed to get their loans written off from financial institutions during the last 38 years and directed the State Bank to furnish a list of loan defaulters right from 1971 to date. “Only one chance will be given to defaulters to return the loans and strict action will be taken against them without any discrimination,” Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry observed while heading a three-member bench of the apex court hearing a suo moto case of Rs 54 billion written-off loans.

The Privatization of War: Scahill reports 121,000 contractors in Afghanistantan

The Privatization of War: Scahill reports 121,000 contractors in Afghanistantan - In an interview with Riz Khan on December 21st, Jeremy Scahill reports that the Obama administration has surpassed the Bush era’s privatization of war, having nearly doubled the number of security contractors in Afghanistan over the past several months. Amongst the contracting firms who remain in Afghanistan is Blackwater (now operating under the name XE) - a firm that Scahill describes as “one of the most powerful private actors in the so called War on Terror.

The So-Called “Concessions” of the Settlement Freeze More articles detailing police brutality and the settler’s struggle against draconian government policy, this past week:

An Islamic view of terrorism, International participation in December 31 Gaza Freedom March tops 1,000

CORRUPTION: The Great Afghan Gem Heist

Karel Appel

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Israeli repression wave targets activists

Jamal Juma' was born in Jerusalem and attended Birzeit University, where he became politically active. Since the first Intifada, he has focused on grassroots activism. He is a founding member of the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees, Palestinian Association for Cultural Exchange and Palestinian Environmental NGO Network. Juma' is since 2002 the coordinator of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign. He has been invited to address numerous civil society and UN conferences, where he has spoken on the issue of Palestine and the Apartheid Wall. His articles and interviews are widely disseminated and translated into several languages. On December 16th, 2009 Jamal Juma' was arrested and is now detained at The Russian Compound in Jerusalem without charge, and without the right to see a lawyer.

Mosharraf Zaidi, More details in the Harris Steel Case, True to his intuition Hamid Mir's proffered advice for President Zardari

Kazi Nazrul Islam Unlike his contemporaries, Nazrul Islam did not imitate Tagore because he had a different sensibility which manifest itself in his poetry and prose writing. Tagore, with his rich family background and sojourns abroad chose Joy (long life) and sang about its eternity, while Nazrul Islam, born in abject poverty turned into a rebel and chose the hard realities around him as his themes.

Mosharraf Zaidi It is coming from an anti-Americanism that has grown far beyond NWFP, and far beyond the mullah's narrow and restricted space in Pakistani society. The Jamaat is finding it easier to get onto the front page because the only faith it preaches, anti-Americanism, just happens to be the fastest growing faith in Pakistan,

More details in the Harris Steel Case

True to his intuition Hamid Mir's proffered advice for President Zardari

Ridiculous "Study", Films of the Decade, Again?Rumi's Masnavi, part 4: Rumi's Sufism | Franklin Lewis

Ridiculous "Study" Supposedly Finds Widespread Anti-Semitism on Progressive Websites - It's a slanderous report, and just to bring home the point of how dangerous it is to minimize real anti-Semitism by bitching about mean commenters on websites: I'm on various list-servs with proggressives who write about Israel and Palestine -- most Jewish -- and when the report was issued our reaction was: 'what do you have to do to get on this list -- why weren't we included?' When you have progressive Jewish writers looking at charges of anti-Semitism as a badge of courage, it's time to re-think your tactics.

Rumi's Masnavi, part 4: Rumi's Sufism Franklin Lewis Sharia and the external observance of religious rules are only the beginning for the seeker after truth

You attain to knowledge by argument;
You attain a craft or skill by practice;
If voluntary poverty's your choice,
companionship's the way, not hand or tongue.
The knowledge of it passes soul to soul,
not by way of talk or reams of notes.
Its signs are writ upon the seeker's heart,
yet still the seeker cannot ken those signs
until his heart becomes exposed to light
Then God reveals His:
Did We not expose? [Qur'an 94:1]
for We've exposed the chambers of your breast
and placed the exposition in your heart

Masnavi 5: 1062-7

Not every wayfarer who sets out on the path may attain the goal, but for Rumi it is the Sufi path which offers the best potential of attaining to true knowledge. But what exactly does Rumi understand by Sufism and the quest? And how does this mystical way relate to the path of Sharia, or religious law? Neither a separate religion nor a sect of Islam, the Sufi path (tariqa) is rather a mode of religious observance and a method of self-training and purification, the goal of which is to orient the believer to a religiously-informed spirituality of experience.

Rumi's Sufism rests upon traditional practices like prayer and fasting (eg, Masnavi 3:2147-74 and 5: 1749-51), pilgrimage (though the idea of 'interior' pilgrimage, and not the outward ritual of Hajj is emphasised, eg, Masnavi 2: 2231-2251), control of baser impulses, and following the example of the prophet. It also depends upon the companionship, or sohbat, of a guide who has progressed along the path and can initiate the novice, helping him establish a praxis and habitus above and beyond what is found in the sharia (eg, Masnavi 1:722-26, 2687-88). The brotherhood of Rumi's followers, the Mevlevis, established a rule requiring a novice perform three years of service to the community before engaging in the sama, or "spiritual concert" – the stylized motive meditation, or turning ceremony, performed as a group, which earned them the nickname of the "whirling dervishes".

Bilal Qureshi's open letter to Iftikhar Chaudhary, A G Noorani

Chief Justice, Please Initiate Suo Moto Action About These Issues - Here are some my suggestions to you; three issues that many Pakistanis feel deserve your immediate attention:

1. Initiate Suo Moto action against the people who orchestrated an attack on Pakistan’s Supreme Court at the time when the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was about to be disqualified from holding public office. If the issue of NRO, which is insignificant given Pakistan’s other challenges, can be tried and decided with such swiftness, the attack on the Supreme Court that you now chair deserves to be examined as well.

2. Seek and deliver justice to retired Chief Justice Sajad Ali Shah. Otherwise, those Pakistanis who feel your actions in negating the NRO was merely targeted at people from smaller provinces, especially from Sind, will have their fears justified.

3. Institute an independent panel that shall review corruption charges levelled against you by General Musharraf. It will only be fair if an independent body of legal experts, accountability professionals and other law enforcement official reviewed all the facts and evidence against you and make recommendations based on their findings about your suitability as a Chief Justice . Until then you should step aside ...[thanks Beena]

A G Noorani - The author explains that the book “focusses on the activities, recommendations, and policy decisions of three generations of often frustrated U.S. officials as they dealt with the problem in Washington, the United Nations, and the subcontinent. The book also refers more briefly to the efforts of private American citizens and organisations to develop formulas that they hoped could contribute to progress toward a settlement. I have written it from an American perspective. I have reviewed Indian, Pakistani, and British material and exchanged ideas with South Asians in government and outside who are familiar with the Kashmir problem. But I have deliberately focussed primarily on official and non-official U.S. sources to craft my account and reach my conclusions. I have also drawn on my own Kashmir experiences as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer stationed in India and Pakistan in the 1960s and 1970s as well as my work in those years and later in State Department offices responsible for making American policy in the region. In the final chapter, I have recommended approaches to the problem in the context of broader U.S. policies on India and Pakistan and such pressing global issues as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and counterterrorism.”

Claude Monet

Monday, December 21, 2009

Taseer raises Hudaybia case spectre, Esposito exposes Friedman, Uri Avnery, Bird’s Eye View

Taseer raises Hudaybia case spectre Although main leaders of the PPP are cautious not to open a front against the PML-N, Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer has attacked the Sharifs and demanded re-opening of the Hudaybia Paper Mills case and a probe into the $20 million money laundering scam. ‘There are evidences in Hudaybia Mills and the money laundering cases and the courts should hear them,’ Mr Taseer said while talking to reporters after distributing prizes among top scorers in Governor’s Cup Golf Tournament here on Sunday. ‘Mian Shahbaz Sharif’s qualification issue should also be taken up for simultaneously keeping both the provincial assembly seats he (Mr Shahbaz) had won,’ he said.
John L. Esposito: Tom Friedman on Muslims and Terrorism: Getting it Wrong Again Thomas Friedman, in his Dec. 15 column "" repeats and reinforces the same tired, totally incorrect, but commonly-made generalization preached in his July 9, 2005 column, "If it's a Muslim Problem, It Needs a Muslim Solution," that "no major Muslim cleric or religious body has ever issued a fatwa condemning Osama bin Laden." In his most recent column, Friedman continues to assert, despite readily available information to the contrary, that " a "violent, jihadist minority seems to enjoy the most 'legitimacy' in the Muslim world today" and that "Few political and religious leaders dare to speak out against them in public"....."How many fatwas -- religious edicts -- have been issued by the leading bodies of Islam against Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda?" Friedman asks and then answers his own question with "Very few." For a more comprehensive list of statements made by individual leaders and organizations pre and post- 9/11, attacks in Europe and elsewhere, click here.

Uri Avnery: 'Oybama' THIS WEEK I enjoyed an hour of happiness. I was on my way home, after collecting William Polk's new book about Iran. I admire the wisdom of this former State Department official. I was walking on the seaside promenade, when I was seized by a desire to go down to the seashore. I sat down on a chair on the sand, sipped a coffee and smoked an Arab water-pipe, the only smoke I allow myself from time to time. A ray of the mild winter sun painted a golden path on the water, and a lone surfer rode on the white foam of the waves.

Bird’s Eye View Pakistan’s gift from Washington is the usual: food coupons wrapped in a set of demands. Rarely has a wartime alliance been as fraught with tension as the US-Pak war against terror. Roosevelt and Stalin were more compatible. This had nothing to do with personality. They had no confusion about the identity or nature of the enemy. When last reports came in, America was sending Drones to kill Jalaluddin and Sirajuddin Haqqani in their suspected hideouts in North Waziristan. The Pakistan establishment considers them past and future assets, and potential rulers of Afghanistan once American troops begin to depart in 18 months, leaving a crumbling Karzai regime in their wake. A second Drone target was Hafiz Gul Bahadur, who has a truce with the Pak army. The short-term Washington interest is now in open confrontation with the long-term Islamabad perspective. America is engaged in one battle from the air, Pakistan in a separate one on the ground.

Another aspect of the judgment

Another aspect of the judgment: As the heading declares, this is another aspect of the decision handed by the SC. Some excerpts:

* Witch-hunts, rather than the impartial administration of justice, will keep the public amused. The norms of justice will be judged by the level of humiliation meted out to the wrongdoers, rather than strengthening institutions capable of protecting the rights of the people.

* The judgment has also sanctified the constitutional provisions of a dictator that placed a sword over the heads of the parliamentarians. Moreover, it has used the principle of 'closed and past transactions' selectively.

* If the NRO was violative of fundamental rights and illegal ab initio, then whether the parliament enacted it or not it would have eventually been struck down. By affording parliament an opportunity to own up to the NRO appears to be a jeering gesture unbecoming of judicial propriety.

* After all, judges are selected purely on the value of their integrity and skills. Judges who erred in the past seek understanding on the plea that they subsequently suffered and have made amends. Should others also not be given the same opportunity to turn over a new leaf? How will sagacity and non-profligate behaviour be judged? (Asma is pointing to those judges in the present SC who took oath under Musharraf's first PCO - and that insludes Iftikhar Chadhry ~~t)

Siddiqui: Harper acting like an elected dictator, Asif Ezdi, Ayesha Khan, Sharif brothers

Passengers grounded as U.S. digs out from record snowfall

Siddiqui: Harper acting like an elected dictator Consolidating executive power; eviscerating the legislative branch; operating under extreme secrecy (by keeping an iron grip on information, through endless court challenges and censoring/redacting documents); riding the coattails of the military and questioning the patriotism of political opponents; and forcing out public servants who refused to fall in line.

How to Buy a Low-Radiation Cell Phone

Asif Ezdi A nation’s history includes all those past events which have shaped its character. The more recent they are, they more they are likely to have impacted on the present. Pakistan is a country with a long and rich history. Like the history of other nations, ours too had its ups and downs, its triumphs and setbacks. We need to remember all of them. (Asif is so right ~~t)

Ayesha Ijaz Khan Recently I examined a timeline of terrorist activity in Pakistan from 2001. What quickly became apparent was the pattern of violence. Initially, attacks concentrated on the Christian community, when few of us paid heed. This was followed by attacks on Shia Imambargahs. Next, influential community members, who could have curbed terrorist activity by mobilising public opinion, were taken out. This was followed by attacks on politicians who spoke out against terrorism and army officers fighting against it. And now, no Pakistani is safe. A trip to the bazaar or a prayer in a mosque could well end up being a fatal activity.

Sharif brothers clarify news item A spokesman of PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has contradicted the news report appeared in ‘The News’ giving impression as if there are outstanding bank liabilities against Sharif brothers. Clarifying the position, the spokesman said that Sharif brothers were not the defaulters of any of the banks of Pakistan and the issue discussed in The News pertained to the settling of financial liabilities through handing over of valuable properties to the high court under mutual agreement with the banks.