Desi in DC

August 23, 2008


Filed under: Pakistan,Politics,Uncategorized — dcdesi @ 4:51 am

I am still speechless after reading the headlines about our prospective president. Will return to write more once I regain my ability to write..

On a brighter front, news channels in the US are constantly raising Sen Biden’s name as Obama’s potential VP. He is one person who understands foreign policy and the world is very much in need of such a person. Why can’t we have decent political leadership in Pakistan? how long will it take for us to cultivate and grow such leaders? how long will it take for our people to move beyond names and recognize individuals for what they do, rather then forgive all crimes just because they happen to carry a certain name? Whenever I raise these questions I cannot help but remember  Faiz’s poetry ” lazim hai keh hum bhi dekhaingay“.


August 19, 2008

Au Revoir Musharaff

Filed under: Uncategorized — dcdesi @ 2:02 pm

Why do I write Au revoir, well b/c I don’t believe ( or at least want to believe) its good bye Its more of a ’till we meet again’.

A number of people that I have spoken too, agree that his resignation was needed, not because of what he had done, but because of what our politicians were not doing. Since the time they have come into power, the new government has used the issue of the judges and the president as an excuse to not get any work done.  I hope this allows them to concentrate on what they were elected to do in the first place.

Secondly, Musharaff deserves a decent farewell. Mr Sharif may say what he may, but he seems to have a really short memory. The only reason why he is alive, is b/c Musharaff did not want to follow Zia’s footsteps. Every good turn needs to be remembered.  Furthermore, the Sharif’s may not have a soft spot for him, but many of the country’s citizens still do, especially now since he is no longer president, and their number one conflict with him was his unwillingness to let go of power.

So what happens next? The country is now in the hands of Zardari and the Sharifs. Lets see what they pull this time. We’ve survived them before and we can do it again. As I said in one of my previous blogs we’ve been through many difficult times and have pulled through. We will do the same again..

God bless the country and take care of it.

August 15, 2008

In Memory of Nicole Dial

As I was wading my way though the numerous junk and forwarded mails in my gmail account today, I came across an email from an SFCG listserve; the title of the email ‘in memory of Nicole Dial”. The name sounded familiar, i just couldn’t associate the word in memory of with the girl I had known while interning for Search for Common Ground. Nicole shared a room with my direct supervisors, she was young, always laughing, always cracking jokes. I didn’t know her too well, just the encounters I had whenever I came into her office looking for my supervisors. She was one of the lucky few who had been able to start a career in a field that the rest of us were struggling to get into.

I open my email, dreading what I may find there. Nicole was killed in Afghanistan on August 13th. She was killed by the Taliban who fired at a vehicle carrying Nicole and three other female aid workers. They said the workers were spies.

Nicole is not a spy. She was never a spy. Having worked with aid workers in different parts of Indonesia, Philippines, Pakistan and the US, I can easily say that most of them are in this field b/c they genuinely believe they want to help people. They are tired of the corporate world, and strongly believe that life will be much more fulfilling if they are able to help improve someone else’s life. They are if nothing else optimists and idealists that are hoping for a better world. These workers have been amongst the nicest people that I have met in the West. They are extremely well informed about what is happening in the world, and the mess created by the powers that be within their own countries. Many of them have entered this field in an attempt to right the wrongs committed by their own governments. They aim to help rather then control.

Killing innocent human beings can never be justified. Killing women can never be justified. Killing someone who has come to your house to help you out can also never be justified. Killing Nicole and the numerous other aid workers can never be justified.

The Taliban, in the name of my faith, are practicing a sort of Islam that resembles Islam less and looks more similar to the historical rural Afghan culture that has nothing to do with religion. They have killed aid workers because they were spies. The taliban have killed their own people for associating with the aid workers. They have taken a step further and attacked local health workers in both Pakistan and Afghanistan for daring to give polio drops to their children. They have crippled many young children by encouraging their parents to say no to vaccinations. All in the name of Islam. All with the help of threats and use of force and coercion.

What happened to the teachings of “you shall not convert by the power of your sword”? What happened to God is the most forgiving and the most merciful? That God would forgive us for our sins against him, but not for our sins against other beings unless we gained their forgiveness first.

I am sorry Nicole. As a Muslim, I too am responsible for speaking against the wrongs that I see being practiced. I too should have spoken up before….

August 10, 2008

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Filed under: Desi,Muslims,Pakistan,Politics,Uncategorized — dcdesi @ 1:26 pm

The Pakistani media for the last few days has been covering a lot of information on the Afia Siddiqui case. Who is she? What did she do? whose story is right?  I remember reading about her disappearence 5 years ago along with her three children. I remember hearing her name again and again when the issue of the “missing people” was raised in Pakistan.  There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that she had been picked up by “authorities”, It was just that no one knew where she was, which country had her and if the children were still with her…

Imagine not knowing where your loved ones are, including your infant nephew/ grandchild..Having nieces and nephews myself, I know if they would get sick we would worry, run out of the gate for a second we would panic.. this is soo much worse..

The Asian Human Rights Commision in its report stated that ‘on July 6, 2008 a British journalist, Yvonne Ridley, called for help for a Pakistani woman she believes has been held in isolation by the Americans in their Bagram detention centre in Afghanistan, for over four years. “I call her the ‘grey lady’ because she is almost a ghost, a spectre whose cries and screams continues to haunt those who heard her,” Ms Ridley said at a press conference.”

The British Lord Nazir has also aked questions about this Prisoner number 650. She according to him had received a horrendous treatment including constant rape by the authorities who held her.

Afia Siddiqui in her statement said that she was held in Bagram by the US. “According to her lawyer, Elaine Whitfield Sharp, “We do know she was at Bagram for a long time. It was a long time. According to my client she was there for years and she was held in American custody; her treatment was horrendous.” [Web: ]

It is interesting to note that a  day after I started receiving emails about prisoner number 650 from concerned citizens [ and the emails had already started circulating a few dyas before then], was the day when the news broke in the US media [CNN August 4th] about how a Pakistani female terrorist had finally been arrested by the US in Afghanistan and that she was wanted on charges of attacking US military Officers on July 18th.  Timings I must admit were quite convenient.  The CNN story now makes me question every single news item that I read on their website. What is the truth, how much spin is there in that story etc etc, is it really even true?

I have  respect for the US judge who was brought in for her bail hearing. According to the Dawn Article The judge expressed surprise at the quick extradition of Ms Siddiqui from Afghanistan to New York noting that in such a short period one could not extradite a person from Bronx (a New York Borough) to Manhattan. Interestingly that statement by the US judge never got reported in any of the US media sites that I went too. According to the NY times Siddiqui was brought to on Monday and brought for her hearing on Tuesday. It is also noteworthy that at the moment she is currently not being charged for any of her alledged actions that happened 5 years ago. The charge is for her alledged actions that took place after she spent 5 years and prison and was constantly abused.

I guess the old adage innocent until proven guilty no longer applies, at least not to Afia Siddiqui and the other remaining “missing people”.

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