Sunday, June 28, 2009


Tribute to a more tolerant Pakistan and PIA.(circa. 1960s)

RE DIRECTION TO BRADISTAN CALLING-ARCHIVESalso see Social & Cultural Activities in bradistan

Monday, November 03, 2008

War on Terror in Tribal Areas:Radio Shariah and MTV Pakistan

War on Terror(part3):
Radio Shariah and MTV Pakistan

In 1990s FM radios proclaiming shariah laws in vast areas of north western province andTribal border regions of Afghanistan became the law of the land. Moving the clock forward another decade , year 2001 same Taliban and their Saudi Arabian financer/mastermind sheikh Usama Bin Laden(UBL) –who had since turned against his mentors- opposed American foreign interference in Saudi Arabia after first gulf war ( the suffering of Palestine and threat of globalisation in religious and political conflicts of muslim countries)

Taliban and Bin laden converted Afghanistan Radio shariah and Jehadi CDs and DVD into global Islamist propaganda tool targeting the naïve 2nd generation Asians of racism hit Netherlands, Germany ,Denmark and UK. UBL got a larger willing and almost captive audience in disenfranchised Arab youth of poverty stricken back streets in Saudi Arabia, Yemen Libya, Syria and Jordan all tribal despotic Muslim statesThese conflicts and resulting political instability gave rise to political terrorism and al-Qaeda became a global terrorist outfit of loosely connected and controlled splinter cells.

one of these cells committed the biggest terrorist attacks on American soil in form of 9/11 aeroplanes exploding into world trade center New York and Pentagon. USA like a wounded tiger and hungry predator unleashed its full ferocity on Afghanistan, one of the poorest countries in the world.Pakistan still struggling with millions of refugees from first afghan war became a staging ground for second jehad against the jehadists themselves, also known as War on Terror.

This time the new military dictator parvez musharraf with American bestseller biography “In the Line of Fire”, unlike extremist Zia ul Haq, is a secularist Neo liberal whose early life was spent in Turkey and who professes his admiration for “militant Secularism” governance by constitutional Army of Turkish Republic.The fight against jehadis became point of convergence for American neo conservatives and Pakistan military junta headed by musharraf –after the betrayal of Taliban regime by Pakistani military intelligence dumping the notion of pan Islamic “strategic depth” partnership with ex jehadis- dollar started flowing for Pakistani military bureaucracy.

In addition to doctrine of “pre-emptive strike” another social engineering term “enlightened moderation” was coined to change the fabric of Pakistan society once again. Halliburton and Texan oil dollars lined the deep pockets of Pakistani generals and turn coat neo-liberal intellectuals.Pakistani expatriate returning to the safety of Pakistan due to witch-hunts against muslim community in America after 9/11,brought much needed foreign exchange for middle class consumerism boom.
Investment in real estate , western style supermarket and shopping malls increased thousands of percent, stocks and shares of a sleepy Karachi stock exchange market sky rocketed, private media channels with liberal song and dance sequences opened their doors , Young urban professionals dancing their hearts out at five star devils dens (according to the pious orthodox clan) near the former red light district of Lahore and karachi.

Pakistani elite and army generals got generous grants from USA for their (Un)Holy Services, dedicated Voice of America TV shows in urdu language propaganda for Pakistani masses , freedom(sugar coated as Your World) radio broadcasts for muslim lower middle and working class masses in Iraq ,Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan.

Winning the “Hearts and Minds” of Pakistani university professors and students with generous study trips to USA for American Culture and History. Fulbright scholarships to students who are not half as bright academically.Technology savvy guys from Silicon Valley California opened outsourcing and software technology companies. Pakistan call centres calling the touchstones of American mortgage and cellular phone markets.

IMF, World Bank and American Corporations Investing in Pakistan financial sector to provide consumer retail credit and loans, credit cards and car finances exploded in market capitalisation. Indian professionals mixing freely with Pakistani counterparts in cross border tourism(not terrorism) which upto now was a Taboo.American Accent, McDonald’s and KFC , American Visa lottery Green Card and High skilled Software Engineer Jobs in silicon valley are the new status symbols.
The metropolis cities in Pakistan Karachi Lahore and Islamabad are fast becoming clones of American philosophy of “white Gold Burger”, sex before marriage and gay relationships in soap operas of TV entertainment are becoming acceptable in upper echelons of society. Economic and residential apartheid with gated communities of bahria and marina towns, American school system coupled with newest franchise of MTV Pakistan.

As one intellectual put it, probably very accurately, “Islamabad is a city thirteen miles away from Pakistan”.The gulf between the lower, middle, working classes and the upper class has increased enormously. Globalisation, anarchy, terrorism, extremism and enforced capitalism have hit Pakistan very hard. The social fabric of the traditional joint family structure which acted as social security safety net for poor is crumbing.

The divide between rich and poor is giving rise to conditions similar to latin American neo liberal economic policies of recession and currency inflations. Pakistan is fast transforming into an African failed state currently ranked 3rd most dangerous country .street crime and religious persecution by red mosque gang. Rape and killing of women and religious minorities are daily news and common place, which don’t raise any eyebrows any more.Mobile phone snatching ,ransom and hostage taking, target killing mafias and gangs are the hallmark of Pakistani youth culture Happy Birthday Mullah Diesel and MTV Pakistan with love from Radio Shariah

Part1:Holy United Kingdoms of Heaven Vs. Godless Evil Empire

We pick the story of Pakistan in 1979 under a brutal military dictatorship, like previous military dictatorship in 1958 and 1969 this one also had the full backing and patronage of American Republican and British Tory administration.

But the similarity ends there, in 1958 the liberal dictator Ayub Khan was a American yes man who went onto to write his biography aptly titled “Friends, not masters” its entirely upto historians to change the place of comma in the title to convey the right meaning.In 1969 the perpetually DRUNK Army Dictator Yahya Khan gained the notoriety as the “Butcher of Bengal” with Pakistani Army killing and raping the population of East Pakistan as a punishment for demanding independence for Bangladesh.

In 1979 it was the brutal execution of an elected prime minister and draconian islamisation of country by army dictator Zia ul Haq( after 6 years under populist Islamic socialist prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto), All under the watchful eye of United states of America, maggie Thatcher and American imperial viceroy the ambassador in Pakistan who decides the fate of commoners and government functionaries in fight against communism.

Latter day Terrorists Gulbadin Hikmatyar and Usama Bin Laden were the guests of Honour in Washington and London State Dinners hosted by Reagen and Thatcher, treated like rock star celebrities by American and British Embassies in Pakistan.

Zia Ul Haq the islamist dictator started islamisation of democratic institution of the country. Lynching , cutting of hands, rape law penalising only women victims Became part of Islamic shariat law introduced by dictatorial brand of Saudi Arabian waahabi jurisprudence injected into Pakistan’s body politic. Restriction on freedom of speech, cinema and TV became the norm, all political activity was banned while religious clerics were encouraged in all spheres of life.

Interpreting civil & criminal law ,lifestyle and choice of religion and marriage according to their own puritanical mindset.Parts of Pakistan became narcotics factories to supply chain the drug trade from golden crescent pakistan to europe supervised by military intelligence in order to finance crusader jihadis against communist Soviet Evil Empire.

Part2: God Bless America and Proud to be Pakistani

Russian Invasion of Afghanistan enabled military to recruit willing partners(the religious party cadre) for religious war against Godless soviet empire, all with the help from Reagan Administration. Arab youth armed with wahabi ideology and latest American arsenal flocked to Pakistan ,under the banner of office for jehad and service for martyrs’ families osama bin laden started recruiting second generation asian and arab immigrants from the streets of Dearborn Michigan ,new jersey, new York and Birmingham Luton and east end of London under full knowledge and logistical support of CIA and MI6.

Social and cultural conservatism and authoritarian lifestyle suited both the religious clerics as well as American and British conservatives, but it changed the social fabric of Pakistani society beyond recognition.A decade later war in Afghanistan ended soviets disintegrated and Islamist dictator zia ul haq exploded in a suspected bomb in his presidential plane Arnold Raphel was the 18th U.S. ambassador in Pakistan. He died in air crash near Bhawalpur with then Pakistani President Zia ul-Haq and Brigadier General Herbert M. Wassom, chief of the U.S. military group in Pakistan. on August 17, 1988 , leaving behind their inheritance in form of religious extremists and arab jehadist freedom fighters acclimatised to the tribal lifestyle of north west border regions of Afghanistan.These mujahideen -the freedom fighters for Amerian republican Ronald Reagan and Tory Margaret Thatcher-transformed into Taliban to fill in the power vacuum and give stability to a lawless failed state. But they started banning TV, burning schools, assassinating women doctors.some ex mujahideen became war lords trading narcotics opium and heroin, raping women and children getting covert support from Russia, India, Iran and even Pakistan.
(Go to Part3)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Letter from pakistan :Ramchand Pakistani (The Movie)

I intend to write about the movie "ramchand Pakistani” and coming dates of Indian UK and American cinema release for "ramchand pakistani"there were many movies on border crossing between india and pakistan from bollywood (Border, Line of control and refugee sadly all depicting jingoistic Indian ultra Hindu fundamentalism of war years and propaganda) but ramchand is the first film discussing human relationships , pakistani identity with religion and cross border ties , CAN A HINDU BE A PAKISTANI? AND WHY WOULD INDIAN POLICE TORTURE A 8 YEAR OLD HINDU BOY? JUST BECAUSE HE IS A PAKISTANI!

Letter from Pakistan :

I get the sense that the young man who rightly wanted to express his views continues to do so from Bradford. I visited the Bradford University about 4 years ago in October in connection with an international conference on peace and conflict resolution. It was very cold in Bradford but a very pleasant experience.

Thank you also for your interest in the film "Ramchand Pakistani" which was principally filmed in Tharparkar and was adapted from actual events.
Thank you also for referring to the work of Baanhn Beli in the Tharparkar arid region. We are in our 23rd year of voluntary work and will soon be publishing our most recent report on some of our work in the past 2 decades. Baanhn beli works for uplift of all citizens of thar(where majority are untouchable Hindu castes) regardless of religion
When our film began its film Festival journey from the New York Tribeca Film Festival in April-My 2008, BBC World interviewed director Mehreen Jabbar, screened some scenes and described it as "a heart-felt film". Since then it has made good progress.

I presume you have visited the website at

You will be interested to know that The Times/BFI 52nd London International Film Festival has scheduled 2 screenings of our film i.e. on 18th October and 20th October at the National Film Theatre, London and the film has also been nominated for the Sunderland Trophy in the Festival.

In advance of its possible theatrical release in the U.K., options for which are being explored.
Shoaib Mansoor’s film debut ‘in the name of God’ comes at a time when Pakistan is plagued by religious insecurities. The movie endeavors to portray the problems plaguing the Muslim world post 9/11.
If directed by any other individual, such a sensitive, introspective story could easily have metamorphosed into a mere show of finger-pointing. However, Shoaib Mansoor is intelligent enough to portray the gray, confused areas of an individual’s interpretation of religion, experienced enough to fairly depict both the religious and not-so-religious factions of Pakistan and perceptive enough to get his message across: that while religion in itself is good, it is often misused as a means to personal gain. Violence, persecution of women and lawlessness are all conveniently excused to have been done ‘in the name of God’.
The movie outlines the story of two brothers, Mansoor and Sarmad, played by Shan and Fawad Khan, ex-EP singer and model-actor, respectively. The movie starts off with the two brothers crooning to guitars while preparing for a concert. Their rehearsal is interrupted by a group of bearded men on motorcycles who destroy the concert stage with sticks. This scene sets the tone of the entire movie: meaningless violence, all in the name of religion.
Sarmad meets up with a Maulana Cleric, expertly played by Rasheed Naz, who begins to preach the rites of Islam to him. Steadily, Sarmad begins to change - much to his family’s consternation. He leaves music, grows a beard, takes off pictures from the walls of his house and tries to persuade his mother to wear Hijab.
Enters Mary, or Maryam, played by Iman Ali, the boys’ cousin who has grown up in London and now wants to marry her white boyfriend. Her father, though himself involved in a live-in relationship with a British woman, is appalled that his future grandchildren may not be Muslim. Meanwhile, Mansoor leaves to study music in Chicago where he falls in love with an American girl. While he is there, the catastrophe of September 11 takes place.
"In Gods Name" is fast-paced and riveting, focusing on a rural Afghan village in one scene, and the polished, urbanized life of Chicago in the other shot; and the boys’ concerned parents in their Lahore home in the third. The acting and dialogue delivery is much better than in any recent Pakistani movie. Iman Ali looks beautiful and heart-rending as the British girl victimized by her father’s double standards.Rasheed Naz gives a stellar performance as the preaching, jihadi maulvi. Naseeruddin Shah’s role in the film is small yet powerful, with unforgettable dialogue.
It is no doubt that ‘in the name of God’ addresses a controversial topic and will be subjected to harsh criticism. The conversation between Sarmad and his family when he quits music may antagonize a large faction of Pakistani society. The movie addresses issues that every Pakistani is aware of: infliction of force upon a woman to establish man’s supremacy over her because ‘women can never equal men’; the marriage between a Muslim and a non-Muslim and the problems associated with it and of course, the suspicions and torture inflicted upon Muslims after 9/11.
In the name of God is a cerebral film that attempts to make Muslims aware of how Islam is misconstrued in order to validate a number of ugly, inhuman crimes. It also tries to explain the dilemma plaguing the Muslim world to the West and that every Muslim is not a gun-wielding maniac.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Red Mosque on the Bradford Moor

The Red Mosque of Bradistan:
This Red mosque, actually a converted old Victorian church, built (originally) in Yorkshire stone is just like the inconspicuous buildings lining the Leeds road Bradford moor, an area famous for posh Asian restaurants competing with wimslow road Manchester for the title of curry capital of the north.
But I am talking about this “red mosque on Bradford moor” which looks like any other mosque in Bradford is no ordinary mosque, certainly not like the RED MOSQUE IN ISLAMABAD. The high security door, wired and reinforced windows are unlike the other mosques in Bradford. Not so long ago, actually just before 9/11 when usama bin laden had not attained his current cult celebrity status, some hot headed young Muslim (born again Tableeghi-read evangelical ) lads used to pump up the music while passing this “Red mosque” their car stereos deafening the street with anthems “ Islam’s hero number one, my leader usa-ma bin laden” just to annoy the gate keeper and the administration of the mosque, but other than that isolated incident this red mosque perfectly integrated into Bradford muslim community, no one can tell the difference between those who visit this “red mosque” or other mainstream mosques in Bradford.

The muslim community does not discriminate against those who worship at this Red mosque. Their common cultural, linguistic reference remains Pakistani Punjabi /mirpuri. their relations ,marriage ceremonies and eid celebrations remain focal point of the community.

Before one might be tempted to think that I am talking about “shia” sect, which is constantly in news in iraq and Pakistan, suffering the attacks perpetrated by “terrorist” clan of wahabi (loyalist Paramilitary of Saudi Royals) and Al qaeda operatives, I am not. its another story how supposedly sworn enemies namely bin laden construction crew and al saud clan with its kick backs of defence deals that stretch from Thatcher to blairite era, can cooperate in iraq and Pakistan to pursue the evil agenda of purifying the muslim world of “infidel” shias and Iranian influence.

Well in bradistan shia are not considered a minority they are part of the mainstream. Contrary to what BNP and NF websites propagate; bradistan is a culturally vibrant, ethnically diverse, and socially more integrated than some other cities of the UK.

Getting back to original discussion about “Red mosque”, which belongs to a religious minority within ethnic minority? Ahmadiyya religious sect, who like the African American “nation of Islam” believe in their own messiah prophet, are being persecuted in their native Pakistan for their non-mainstream religious beliefs. Ahmediya community have found a safe haven in UK and bradistan, the fellow Pakistanis have welcomed them with open hearts despite religious differences. The community now runs a 24 hour satellite channel broadcasting their religious programmes world wide which even the Pakistani government cannot block off airwaves, local community leader Mr Bari Malik a former magistrate is a prominent Pakistani representative in local government and charities in Yorkshire.
While back home in Pakistan they fear prosecution in courts because of performing muslim prayer rituals or identifying themselves with muslim names. Punishments under the anti –ahmadiyya ordinance promulgated by military dictator general zia ul haq in 1984 range from 3 years(for Islamic ritual) to death penalty for blasphemy.

Although Ahmediya community themselves practice a ultra orthodox set of beliefs and believe in 19th century Punjabi- British civil servant turned messiah- folklore prophet, but at same time gave Pakistani nation some of the most renowned international celebrities, like the only nobel laureate that Pakistan produced Dr Abdul Salam who revolutionised the world of physics by discovering the “weak force theory”.\06\27\story_27-6-2007_pg7_12
Dr Salam and many war heroes who sacrificed their lives for Pakistani defense forces and pakistan’s first foreign minister sir zafarullah khan and their legacies were officially Disowned by the state after enacting that draconian law of religious bigotry. surprise surprise the current “enlightened “ modernist Dictator Pervaiz musharraf could not find time even in past seven years to strike the draconian law off the statute books.

Its Ironical that the head of pro Taliban mma alliance in parliament and opposition leader in pakistan Mualana Fazal ur Rehman undergoing angioplasty after a heart attack insisted on being treated by one of the world’s best heart surgeons Dr Mubashar Ahmed – a Pakistani expatriate , a Ahmadi by religion. Fazal Ul rehman and his late father mufti mehmood were instrumental in forcing the state to declare Ahmadiyya as non muslim, sometimes its takes medical science to tear the layers of discrimination and bigotry , I hope Mualana at least sends a thank you note to his doctor after recovery.
Sometimes at summer melas lads weaving Pakistani flags and wearing their Burberry designer hooded tops chant “proud to be Bradistani

Monday, April 23, 2007



Please stop giving sermons about peace, equality, prosperity and global village when for all intent and purpose these policies are aimed at killing, loot and plunder and If this is a futuristic version of colonialist greed (read white man burden) in modern India , sugar coated theories of “World is Flat”, we do not want it . Thanks but no Thanks.

Nowadays there is a lot of promotion of so called new ideas by a number of thinkers championing market economy, Trade liberalization and globalization,the internet age out sourcing, china sweat shop theories.

All these so called THINKERS (notably among them one former New York times reporter) are sympathetic to neo conservatism - although not as blatantly as Dick Cheney Klan- taking their inspiration and futuristic vision from a world where America will be the perpetual boss, and the evil Kingdoms of thy Lords (Fundamentalist Bush KKK and usa-ma bin laden) shall remain for ever.

The Gurus of Politics and industry quote these new czars of futurology, namely Mr Thomas L Friedman(NYT reporter) and Mr Alvin Toffler( the futurologist),
in their articles and speeches and policies as if these are the new testament gospel for the 21st century.

I can agree with jest of these predictions about the future of internet,global village and media, which no one can deny.
My argument is about the flaw in their theories, whether work from home or prosumer theory (Toffler) or World is Flat (Friedman), my issue is with the arrogance ( criminal negligence) in their assumptions about the world. They do not want understand (for that matter interpret) the dynamics of geo politics, strategic nature of information technology and its relation to the poverty in the third world.
World is flat is essentially a view from fortress America. The "haves” Americans and the way they look at “have nots” of third world. Unfortunately this mentality reflects in “highly intellectual” columns that Mr "well informed" Friedman(being the self claimed middle east analyst) writes about Middle East and Muslim world and his favourite subject “ the terrorists”, as according to him they(terrorist- read muslims) are hell bent on destroying his world and his life style.
These pseudo Intellectuals portray America and Israel as forces of construction and Arabs and Hezbollah as forces of destructive anti americanism. this is the same “US Vs. rest of the World” attitude that neo con philosophy is all about. Professor Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilisation” is one such evil ideology being the bible for right wing white supremacists and their Governments.

Information Technology is transforming the lives, no doubt, but its effects and benefits are yet to reach farmers, peasants, urban poor, tribal and aborigines of our third world countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Australian pacific. The biggest problem is that Technology savvy multinational corporations want to keep this digital divide or technological apartheid between first and Third world, all their efforts and energies are spent-in form of copyrighting bio technology, patent DNA for crops and intellectual property for even the simple student & educational software for third world- on making it harder for the poor to bridge this divide.

Even in India, the blue eyed boy of technology outsourcing industry, the Sparkling clean High tech development centers of Microsoft and IBM with six figure sum salaries exist only in Bangalore, Hyderabad or Mumbai. These visions of future are million miles away from the common man/woman ,the workers and peasants,of India. information technology has changed little in his/her life.
No common man can even dream of getting education or employment for his kids in these Oasis of American consumerism bubble . BPO in india doesnot create a flatter world it only increases the gulf between rich and poor.Merely a modern version of 18th century workhouses or sweat shops.

I have observed the out sourcing industry at very close quarters, unfortunately American corporate greed can be seen at its worst ,with poor Human and employment rights for Indian IT executives (read data entry clerks), which Mr Friedman describes as "equal opportunities" for all, hardly ,let me say.

If this is a vision of colonialist greed for loot and plunder, sugar coated theories - white man burden in modern India- "world is flat" we do not want it, Thanks but no Thanks.
Frank fukayama still advocates -despite "end of history" egg on the face- enforced globalization through Military industrial complexes and multinational corporations in developing counties. I think the fizz has already gone out of the talk about his "change of heart" after the ebarrassing Iraq war fiasco and his flop theories of liberal democracies , with self correcting mechanism much like no-frost refrigerators, They may be a hit in home appliances but not in politics or geo strategics I am sorry.

Toffler or Friedman and many more like Senator Hillary Clinton are blissfully unaware of the miseries and hardships created in this world by American policies of stubbornness in Kyoto, WTO, Third World Agricultural exports and non tariff barriers against Fairer Trade. Giving subsidies to American farmers for producing low grade and high priced surplus agriculture products which kills any chance of survival for poor farmers in third world countries.

World Bank and IMF with Neo con Paul wolfowitz's blessing squeeze the last drop of blood from third world economies -the poorest of the poor suffer heavy indirect taxes on utilities and food items (two of the most basic things for survival)- in order to extract interest on loan and conditionalities are imposed by IMF the shylock in the name of development.

Mr Presidents & Premiers of G-8,Please stop giving sermons about peace, security,terrorism, equality, prosperity and global village when all for intent and purpose the policies are aimed at killing, loot and plunder.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007



Pakistani novelist Mohsin Hamid’s new novel, his second, has hit the No 1 spot on the Barnes & Noble bestseller list. This, according to the New York Times, happened “virtually the moment it was published in this country.”
In an interview with the newspaper, Hamid, who comes from Lahore but lives in London, said that he may now be able to quit his job as a consultant with a branding firm in London. Asked if it is fair to describe the novel as a Muslim’s critique of American values, he replied, “That’s oversimplifying. The novel is a love song to America as much as it is a critique.”

Told by the interviewer that he did not find it “so loving” as it takes place on a single evening at a cafe in Lahore, as a charming, well-educated Pakistani in his 20s recounts his life story to an unnamed American stranger, who seems suspicious of him, Hamid replied, “The American is acting as if the Pakistani man is a Muslim fundamentalist because of how he looks - he has a beard.” The author in real life has a beard.
Told that the Pakistani narrator of the story also brings certain fears and preconceptions to their conversation and in an act of reverse ethnic profiling, he suspects the American to be an undercover agent who might arrest him, the author replied, “Yes. But he could be just as freaked out as the rest of us are in this world when we see an American with that kind of build and imagine he is a CIA agent. The novel is not supposed to have a correct answer. It’s a mirror. It really is just a conversation, and different people will read it in different ways.”

Asked by the interviewer if he, an American, could also be a CIA agent as their conversation, as in the novel, was taking place between an American listener and a Pakistani man with a beard, Hamid answered, “If you had short hair and a bulge in your jacket, I might assume you were.” When told that it was “unsettling” to learn that Hamid’s protagonist felt a rush of genuine pleasure when the World Trade towers were attacked, the author replied, “Some part of him has a desire to see America harmed. In much of the world, there is resentment toward America, and the notion that the superpower could be humiliated or humbled or damaged in this way is something that gives satisfaction.”
Asked if that was how he felt when the twin towers were attacked, Hamid replied, “No. I was devastated. A wall had suddenly come up between my American and Muslim worlds. The novel is my attempt to reconnect those divided worlds.”
When reminded that much like the narrator in ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist,’ Mohsin Hamid grew up in and was educated at Princeton, he replied, “I was one of two or three Pakistanis in the class of ’93, and I didn’t feel homesick for a second. I took two writing workshops with , and I wrote the first draft of my first novel in a long-fiction workshop with , both of whom encouraged me.” He said in answer to another question that from Princeton, he had gone to the Harvard Law School but decided that he did not want to be a lawyer because “it bored the pants off of me”.

Reminded that the only one who speaks in the novel is the Pakistani, while the American is silenced, Hamid answered, “For me, in the world of media, particularly the American media, it’s almost always the other way around.”

When told that no one is silencing him as he goes on a book tour across America and his book has already sold 100,00 copies, the author replied, “But there are not many of us from the Muslim world who are getting heard over here. And the ones who are mostly seem to be speaking in grainy videos from caves.”

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Guest Post : Remembering 10th April 1988, Mass Murder in Pakistan

Mass murder in Rawalpind and Islamabad
Remembering Ojhri
by Tariq Mehmood
19 years ago, on the 10th April 1988 Ojhrii dump in Rawalpindi was blown up. This was a deliberate act of destruction. Hundreds upon hundreds of missiles rained down on Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Over 5000 people were killed. Many, many thousands more were injured.

I was working as a journalist for the Frontier Post and along with a colleague, Imran Munir, went into the camp, early the day after the explosion. Every now and again, a rocket or missile would take off, and land somewhere, causing yet more deaths and destruction.

All manner of rockets and shells were going off. People were sitting around shell shocked. The houses close to Ojhri were reduced to mere shells. I went into one house. A man in his late 20s was sitting amidst shattered glass and broken wood. He was rubbing his hands in the glass. Blood fr om his shredded hands was spreading across the floor. He had a little child’s shoe. He turned to us. I looked into his bloodshot eyes. He said, ‘this is where my son was martyred.’ Imran was about to take a photograph of him, but he lowered the camera. We could not snap him in this position. We stood there for a while, we wanted to lift him up but the man wanted to stay with the memory of his child. Out side his door I saw a dog. It stood in front of us. It was a healthy black and white mongrel. It must once have been a loved pet. I can still see the dogs eyes, filled with unspeakable terror, asking me why? Why? Why? I did not know what to say to the creature. I did not know what had happened. Had I known, I would have sat down and told the dog, that this is the way those that rule, hide one crime by committing another.

Some people I talked to said they saw a missile cut through a buffalo’s stomach. I have found some of my notes from that time. Many people said that the police just ran off, even from major traffic junctions and students took over the posts, directing traffic.

Era of Darkness

This was another dark period of military rule in Pakistan. A time when the military rulers danced to American tunes. This was not the era of ‘Enlightened Moderation’, but that of militant jihadism acceptable to the Americans. This was the era of General Zia’s Raj. This was a time when Pakistan was once again a ‘Front Line state’ and the West, particularly America and its allies were supporting the Mujahidin groups, and when of course Osama Bin Laden America’s most favourite freedom fighter was leading the Western inspired Jihad against the Soviets. Hundreds of millions of dollars were given to the Pakistani military to manage the Jihad in Afghanistan, and hundreds of millions of dollars was also spent on providing weapons and logistical support for the Mujahid groups through Pakistan. Who then were of course freedom fighters.

The weapons were sent mainly by American, but also, by other alleys of the US, including Britain. These where shipped to Karachi and from there taken North. They were stored in dumps all over country. One of the biggest central dumps was Ojhri. This dump was directly controlled by the ISI. It was an open secret that the ISI was not even answerable to the GHQ in Rawalpindi, but directly to General Zia himself.

Some people at the time said they thought the day of judgement had arrived.

I have found three eye witness accounts from that time. I only have their names and do not remember much more of them.

‘I was going towards Faizabad when I heard the explosion. There was a huge fire. Many people were running towards it, while the police were running away from it. Missiles started flying in every direction. I saw about 12 young men sheltering under a tree. Then they were all dead. The road going towards the CDA (Capital Development Authority) colony was littered with hands and feet of little children. Such great injustice. The world seemed to have died. Whilst the police ran off, students started directing traffic.’ Bagh Hussain.

‘It was raining missiles and bombs. Everyone was running for their lives. The area was full of explosions and screaming. What the bombs did not destroy the police took.’ Mohammad Ishaque.

‘Four thousand have died. It was like Qiamat. Even when all hell was let loose, when bombs were spread around liked chopped pieces of wood, these people (pointing to policemen) were robbing – such injustice.’

What the people of Rawalpindi and Islamabad did not know was that the reason their world was because someone was trying to cover up a simple fact. American stinger missiles which had been given for fighting in Afghanistan, had found their way into the hands of the Iranians. They were stored in Ojhri dump, and it was pretty obvious that those looking after the dump had sold them on to the Iranians, pocketing the money. A team of American navel investigators was in mid-flight, on its way to Ojhri to investigate. They had entered Pakistani airspace, when the dump was blown up.
Two days after the explosions at Ojhri, General Zia compared what happened to the disasters at Russia’s Chrenobyl and India’s Bhopal. He refused to admit that Ojhri was a transit dump where weapons were destined for Afghanistan. The deed was blamed on foreign agents. But General Zia and those close to him knew full well that this was a lie. This was an inside job.

The foreign Hand theory could not hold ground, as many Pakistani papers at the time questioned. Stinger missiles do not just go off, they had to be primed. Army ammunition dumps, are built in such a manner an explosion should not affect the other. But here were truckloads of the stuff over ground, and much more underground, all going off. By the time the Americans arrived, 5000 people were dead. What was incredible to believe at the time was that even General Zia would not let people know what sort of weapons were stored underground.

We went into the grounds of Ojhri and a senior Pakistan officer, whose rank and name I forget now, saw us. He was holding a small Quran in his hand. He was shaking with anger at what had happened. He explained that in the underground networks, there were so many unexploded munitions, and they had no idea how to defuse them. They were learning by trial and error. Each error cost the life of an army Jawan. Over 1000 died in this process alone.

In the shadow of the horror there was much confusion. Some people thought at the time that India had attacked. Some thought, including some in the military, that this was a cloak under which the US was going to knock out the nuclear plant at Kahota. For those who lost loved ones, 10th April 1988 will for ever be a burning horror. With the death of 17th February 2007 of two workers in Rawalpindi from unexploded munitions from Ojhri dump, the living are reminded about the callousness of the rulers who stored so much weapons in side a major city like Rawalpindi, and then those who colluded to blow it up.

One of the fallouts of Ojhri was that the military dictatorship of General Zia had lost all credibility in the eyes of peoples of Pakistan, in particular the residents of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. General Zia’s regime had become a liability; it could not long be trusted by its foreign masters.

The people of Rawalpindi and Islamabad deserve a full account of who did what in Ojhri. All internal reports should now be published. The citizens of Rawalpindi and especially those who lost their loved ones in the Ojhri disaster deserve a permanent memorial to this crime against humanity. Let us hope the present General’s “Moderate Enlightenment” to acknowledge Ojhri as a crime against humanity and publish a full and frank account of the how and why it happened and promise a memorial to honour the dead.
I used to live with Feica in Peshawar, and he made a cartoon of General Zia’s wife, sitting on a donkey, laden with diamonds, on the way to London. General Saab was very upset and his office let us know of his displeasure. But perhaps General Zia should have listened to the whispers of his masters and the screaming of the streets, and left. In true Pakistani style, General Zia Saab was deaf to the demands of the people to go and did not see how much his masters were also irked by him. As we know, he came and went with a bang.