Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Tariq Ali' s " The Leopard and the Fox"-a Pakistani Tragedy

Like Agusto Pinochet and American interference in chile, CIA, Ronald Regan General Zia Ul Haq and Afghan Jehadis played a dangerous game with the destiny of Pakistan.
Tariq Ali’s Book “The Leopard and the Fox- a Pakistani Tragedy” sheds light on role of Thatcher Government and BBC in extending a lifeline to Brutal Dictator General Zia Ul Haq, Is the Blair Government following the same Path of Destruction?

Click on the multimedia link to see the interview

I was born in the year when Popular leader prime minister Zulfikar Bhutto was hanged by military dictator Zia in a military Coup, same year Russian forces occupied Afghanistan, later in life these two events helped explain a lot of politics for me, like most of Pakistanis born in dictatorship my childhood was being fearful of zia and yet fascinated by his proclamations of his brand of Islamisation, which turned out to be nightmarish for large population of poor masses (hangings, lynching and stoning to death), but the islamisation did not effect the military and land lord elite of country.

Pakistan, the country of many contrasts, is a multiethnic multicultural country, different provinces speaking different languages and cultures and lifestyles from tribal to feudal from urban ghettos to posh modern localities.

Up to 1960s Bengalis were the majority population with east Bengal called the eastern Pakistan, Most of the political parties in East were left leaning like NAP- whose leader was a Muslim cleric but also a life long socialist, political parties like Muslim league of west (current) Pakistan were pro American depending heavily on their feudal structure and American assistance for their power, this authoritarian rule and military operation resulted in independence of Bangladesh.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto belonged to feudal sindhi family, whose father was the prime minister of princely state of Jonagarh in undivided British India, a proverbial silver spoon upbringing and education at Eton ,Oxford and Berkeley , on his return became the youngest and most talented federal minister under Field Marshal Ayub Khan’s military regime, but he challenged the dictator, resigned and led a popular uprising against military dictatorship, military misadventure followed and Pakistan lost its eastern wing to Indian aggression(read war of independence ) which became independent country Bangladesh.
Like every surrender army handed over the power of the remaining West Pakistan to the man of the moment (with90% votes) Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Bhutto with his slogan “Islam is our religion and Socialism is our economy” started rebuilding Pakistan, Land reforms; labour reforms education reforms were initiated. Bhutto signed peace treaty with India and Bangladesh and freed 95 thousand Pakistani Prisoners of war from Indian jails.
Most significantly he coined the idea of Muslim Socialism and in 1974 hosted a grand summit of Islamic countries with economic and political ties among the Islamic countries improving and gulf countries using oil embargo as a political tool, alarm bells started ringing in Washington DC.
Bhutto signed economic treaties with Soviet Union and China for infrastructural projects like Steel Mills, Heavy Mechanical Complex and Karakorum high way. But Bhutto’s biggest crime in American eyes was “Islamic Bomb” the desire to acquire nuclear technology by a Muslim country. In 1976 after French backed out of reprocessing plant for power generation. Henry Kissinger then American secretary of state threaten Bhutto that “we will make an example for Muslim leaders so that nobody dare to disobey us”
1970s under the liberal prime minister zulfiqar ali Bhutto were also a time of celebrating the cultural diversity of remaining Pakistani tribes languages and cultures with song dance and a thriving film industry. by the end of his term in office social, religious conservatives were up in arms against his policies, they wanted to bring Islamic khalafa system of governance, the unrest helped General Zia ul Haq and army seize power and try and kill elected prime minister in a trail smelling of vendetta , Dictator Zia needed a power base or political constituency, he found willing partners in religious clerics, harsh religious interpretation doctrines and punishments were forced in constitution through presidential power of the military ruler.
Russian invasion of Afghanistan
Bhutto was overthrown by a military dictator with help and funds from CIA in1977, a case was fabricated against him and was hanged on 4 April 1979.
The War in Afghanistan saw the flow of dollars to jehadis and chief among them was general zia ul haq who overthrew Bhutto, his draconian “islamisation” was the model that Taliban later followed in Afghanistan. Sectarian killings, Drugs, Kalashnikovs and private militias became law of the land
who can forget those dark days when secret police use to visit people and confiscate books on politics and history of Pakistan. these books were publically burnt as being rebellious to the government(dictatorship) of Pakistan. Mention of Bhutto’s name was enough to land someone in jail.I was a 5- 6 yr old then, i still remember nightmares of police and CID knocking at our doors at night or early dawn, because my father was a trade union leader demanding rights for workers. who can forget colony textile mills in multan where police and army fired on peaceful striking workers and killed dozens demanding their rights, the workers were enclosed within factory walls and police snipers were standing on roof tops just like the 1919 jallian wallah bagh massacre the only difference is that general Dyer was imperialist Englishman, while general Zia and his troops killed their fellow pakistani
Journalists stopped writing because newspapers would not publish what they wanted to say. Now as I have grown older, I have learnt about the demonstrations we participated in and the brutalities that came with that participation.
Many people left for England (because of various reasons) at that time and all books were hidden in attics, if there was a dark period in Pakistan history of brain drain and erosion of knowledge it was Zia’s regime.
US and British Administrations Played their part in Brutalisation of Pakistan, Talibanisation that we see today in large parts of the country and Afghanistan

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Peace Tourism

The Peace Tourism

Given that Government of Pakistan is concentrating on cultural exchanges, peace cricket tours with India, festivals at shiv mandir in katas raj and kali mandir in hinglaj balouchistan, in addition to opening up of religious tourism for NRIs from europe and America. It’s high time that all indians are allowed free access to Pakistani destinations

Government has decided to celebrate 2007 as visit Pakistan year.Regardless of the debate that whether all stakeholders especially overseas Pakistanis and tour operators were taken into confidence and whether there is any discussion with western governments namely USA,UK and Europeans to ease the negative travel advisories regarding Pakistan.
The worsing law and order in tribal belt of Pushtoon & Baloch Areas and "made in Taliban tag" on world media, has already scared off most of the westerns

but initiative presents a rare opportunity in becoming a beacon of light for peace
Malaysia celebrating its 50th independence anniversary has already started a vigorous TV campaign for a visit Malaysia year 2007,

Indian tourism is already running a highly successful “incredible India” campaign

In Pakistan government initiatives, we have learned through previous experiences, are most of the time riddled with red tape of bureaucracy ,half hearted ,half baked and ill conceived,

but nevertheless it’s a start, keeping our fingers crossed that it will be a success.

Tourism today is one of the biggest industries in the world; it brings employment, opportunities and equality to otherwise less developed areas.

Pakistan is the best kept secret of the Tourism Industry. Its Northern areas, its festivals, its cultural and religious tourism to name a few.INDUS VALLEY & Ghandhara Buddhist CivilisationBasant festival, Performing Arts festival, Truck Art, Chicken Tikka massala cuisine, Buddhist ,Hindu & Sikh Places of pilgrimage , the K-2 and Raka poshi of Pakistan

"Tourism for Peace" Discussion is about how ordinary Pakistanis and indians , and forums like SAFMA, PIPFPDplay a part in defining what is meant by “ Peace Tourism” and brand Pakistan in terms of culture and Tourism Potential of peace initiative between people of India and Pakistan

Given that Government of Pakistan is concentrating on cultural exchanges, peace cricket tours with India, festivals at shiv mandir in katas raj and kali mandir in hinglaj balouchistan, in addition to opening up of religious tourism for NRI (Non Resident Indians) from europe and America. It’s high time that all indians are allowed free access to Pakistani destinations
Indians are not scared of terrorism threats that world media projects about pakistan, they know better, majority of Pakistan is a tranquil destination and peaceful and friendly people nostalgic and reminiscent about communal harmony in pre partition days
Entry visas at arrival for the business, family and Package tourist will the first right step in normalizing the hiccups in peace process and increasing people to people contacts
Millions of Indians will be eager to cross the Wagha Border for a day trip to savour the culinary delights of LAHOREI FOOD STREET and BASANT & other Punjabi FESTIVALS,
this nostalgia and the bond of friendship was shown in Indian cricket tour of Pakistan when thousands of passionate indian cricket fans turned pakistan tour into a festive mood and places like peshawar (birth place of Dalip Kumar and Raj Kapoor and family home of Shah rukh Khan) welcomed Indians with open hearts

Everyone has their own ideas on Pakistani identity ,secular ,religious, urban rural , working ,middle class and elite. PAKISTAN IS A MULTI CULTURAL, MULTI LINGUAL, MULTI RELIGIOUS SOCIETYour “unity in diversity” and "peace for Friendship" are the right slogan for “visit Pakistan 2007” discussion.We would like like to explore avenues of participation and promotion by readers Contributors for Brand Pakistan and how Pakistan tourism can become a permanent spot on indian tourism map.most of the Indians still have family historical links to festivals, cities ,food culture music and Art of Pakistan ,hopefully we can make it a year long exercise updated at regular intervals.

Institutions like the national flag carrier (PIA) already flying to delhi and mumbai can become a calling card for Pakistani tourism and hospitality by increasing cities in flies to in india, private airlines from india and pakistan can share the frequencies in domestic network, the shipping industry in both countries has already joined hands in promoting trade and tourism.

State run Pakistan TV world and global Channels, through their reach in India & Middle East can be the ambassador for brand Pakistan, major Pakistani satellite channels like Indus group, ARY, Geo and Jang Group, AAJ TV are already collabrating with indian film and media industry to bridge the gaps between two enstranged siblings.

The Aim is to bring back the Pakistani and Indians together; foreigners will definitely follow in their footsteps

Monday, January 08, 2007

Article :The lessons of South Africa — Desmond Tutu

Ordinary South Africans also can be proud of themselves, for it was truly their self-discipline, simple decency, and ability to forgive that prevented a bloodbath. In their example is a model for other troubled parts of the world to follow.
South Africa is now beginning to contemplate the retirement of Thabo Mbeki, its second president since the end of the apartheid era. So this is a particularly opportune moment to look back and assess our achievements, note our failures, and perhaps see what elements in our transition to democracy may be applied elsewhere.
This is an exercise we in South Africa are not accustomed to undertaking, for as a people we tend to sell ourselves short. We seem to take for granted remarkable achievements and do not give ourselves enough credit. As a result, we tend to see an invisible cloud behind every ray of sunshine; we seem to think that our achievements have meaning only for ourselves.

The wider world has still not fully appreciated South Africa’s reasonably peaceful transition from repression to democracy. They and we remember the first days of that transfer of power to the black majority, when most people believed we would be overwhelmed by a ghastly racial bloodbath.
It was a desperate time, brief but seared in our memories, when indiscriminate killings on trains, in taxis, and on buses were common, a time of massacres at regular intervals — Sebokeng, Thokoza, Bisho, Boipatong, and the killing fields of KwaZulu Natal, owing to the bloody rivalry between the African National Congress and the ethnic Zulu Inkatha Freedom Party.

There were many occasions when South Africa’s fate appeared touch and go. But catastrophe was avoided. Instead, the world marvelled — indeed, was awed — by the spectacle of long lines of South Africans of every race snaking their way slowly to polling booths on April 27, 1994.
Of course, part of the success of South Africa’s transition success was due to a miracle: the moral colossus that is Nelson Mandela, whose calm and sagacity, and his status as an icon of forgiveness, compassion, magnanimity and reconciliation, make us the envy of every nation on earth. We were blessed that it was he who guided our state through its rebirth. And we must also thank F. W. de Klerk, the last ruler of the dying apartheid regime, who exhibited moral courage by setting in motion our liberating revolution.
But ordinary South Africans also can be proud of themselves, for it was truly their self-discipline, simple decency, and ability to forgive that prevented a bloodbath. In their example is a model for other troubled parts of the world to follow.
We, especially white South Africans, have tended to be dismissive of our Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which allowed those who had committed great crimes under apartheid to confess their acts openly and thus avoid prosecution. Truth, not punishment, was to bring about healing. Almost everywhere in the world, the TRC is regarded highly and considered a benchmark against which other efforts to move from dictatorship to democracy must be judged.

Yes, the TRC was flawed — so are all human enterprises. But it was a remarkable institution, for many had thought that the advent of a black-led government would signal the onset of an orgy of revenge and retribution against whites for all the degradations that black South Africans had suffered from colonial times to the apartheid era.

Instead, the world gaped at the nobility of spirit displayed each and every day before the TRC, as victims of gruesome atrocities forgave their tormentors — and even embraced them on occasion. All South Africans were traumatised by apartheid. The TRC helped to open festering wounds, cleanse them, and pour balm on them to help in healing all of South Africa’s people.

It is easy to take the TRC’s work for granted, until one looks at the Middle East and the chaos of Iraq, where revenge, reprisal, and retaliation are fueling a ghastly, inexorable cycle of violence. Likewise, South Africa was spared the horrors of genocide, as in Rwanda, and the endless conflict that has gripped Sri Lanka, Burundi, Sudan, the Ivory Coast, and many other countries. The harsh truths put before our people by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission drew the poisons from our politics. That is a lesson that other damaged countries can and must benefit from.

The lesson of South Africa’s transition is that no divided country has a future if it insists on going forward without truth and forgiveness. Russia’s transition to democracy began at almost the same time as ours. The Berlin Wall fell in November 1989. Nelson Mandela was released in February 1990. But what is happening in Russia today — rampant organised crime, the conflict with Chechnya, and carnage like the theatre hostage disaster and the Beslan school catastrophe — makes South Africa’s transition to democracy look like a Sunday school picnic. By avoiding the truth of the Soviet past, Russians have stored up trouble for the future.

A crime can never be buried. Political crimes never fade. We have not forgotten what was done to ordinary black people in the name of apartheid. Indeed, by launching the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we know far more about the full horrors of that era than we would had we sought to prosecute people, or tried simply to move on. Literally, the truth has set us free to be at peace with ourselves. Remembrance and forgiveness have allowed our remembered nightmares to be consigned to the past. It is my deepest hope that Iraqis and other peoples haunted by the past can find a way to live in peace with peace of mind. —DT- PS

Archbishop Desmond Tutu is a winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace- Article reproduced courtesy Daily Times