Desi in DC

April 25, 2009

Buner and the Talibans

According to the Dawn today, the Taliban decided to pull out of Buner. Please don’t take this as a sign of victory, or that the Taliban are now going to live according to the terms of the accord and just stay and rule in Swat.

I remember reading an article 8 to 10 years ago, again in the dawn. the person, a foreign journalist, had been following the “jihadis” as they were then called. She wrote about how there was a generation of young men who had seen nothing but war, who had been trained in nothing but war. They had fought the Russians initially, then they had fought amongst themselves, they later fought in Bosnia and occasionally entered Kashmir and fought there.  These men would now be in their 30s and 40s. they stay have a couple of decade of fight left inside them. They also have a new generation of men that they have trained. They fight in the name of religion, but know only that which has been taught to them, rather then gain their own understanding of religion.

The taliban is a similar breed, if not the same breed of men. Please don’t underestimate them. If they have retreated back to Swat, its only because under the current circumstances it made more sense to retreat. they will look for an opportunity and strike once again when the guard is down. Or maybe they will instill their writ and Swat and practice it till it becomes acceptable to people thinking it is the writ of the land and then they will expand.

We have to prevent this from happening. Were we not taught, that is you see an injustice happen, fight against it. If you cannot fight against it at least speak up against it. I think  most of us can at the minimum speak up against it.

April 22, 2009

MQM, the talibans and Buner

Who thought there would be a day when I would support the MQM. Growing up in a family with strong supporters, I had the tendency to move the other way. Today after reading the Dawnregarding parliaments shameful reaction to the Nizam’s Adl and Sufi Mohhamad (SM) and his followers, I have to respect the party and thank them for their stance.  At Karachi Univeristy, while the APMSO was involved in all the activities that made us dislike student political parties with their phaddas and fights, they were also the party the girls went too when they  had “guy” trouble in the form of stalking and teasing.

Let’s just say that the girls were not bothered again.

Although I am a 90% optimist and have always believed that Pakistan can come out of everything, and that things will pass, I also don’t believe in just sitting back and not doing anything. I think the people of Pakistan need to be more vocal about their desires. Why is it that a bunch of extremely vocal “Talibans” can aspire to control the country and the silent majority just stay silent? If all its going to take is a “dozen” individual to invite SM into Buner, I would say to everyone please don’t keep sleeping. We saw the way the movement to restore the Chief justice succeeded, we need a similar one to ensure that Pakistan remains the relatively secular, moderately religious state that it is and that these people go back to where they belong- ie Afghanistan.

After all wasn’t it in my Islamiat class that I learnt that the Prophet (PBUH) said we should adopt the middle path ie moderation.

September 27, 2008

US Elections; the North West and Pakistan

Who would have thought that I would say this but after yesterday’s US presidential debate it seems maybe McCain may be better for Pakistan. I disagree with most of his policies except his foreign policy stance related to Pakistan, In Obama’s case his domestic policies make sense but his foreign policy views on Pakistan show his lack of experience..

When will US policy makers realize what a number of US Academics and South Asian experts have been trying to tell them, you cannot look at the north of Pakistan and think its a simple problem that the Pakistani’s don’t want to do anything about. On the contrary its an extremely difficult situation that may require the best minds who know the area to come up with a possible solution that “may” work.  if you look at Pakistan’s statistics you will note that there has been a massive spike in the number of suicide bombings all over the country. As was typical during the cold war, it seems the War on T has done the same, the war turf had moved from the country’s at war to that of ours. It is the Pakistanis who have been losing their lives. Let someone at least recognize that we too have lost thousands of innocent lives due to no fault of our own.

At the same time as Pakistanis we can’t sit and accept the increasing impact that the  right wingers seem to think they are having on our country. Shutting down girls schools, threatening media shops and barber stores, if we don’t do something about this now the situation will only get worse. A number of tribal elders who have tried to help their communities by standing up to these guys have already been killed. We cannot let their deaths be in vain.

We’ll realize too late that the demographics of our country have changed. It is important that for once instead of having a reactionary policy ( ie reacting after the effect) we need to have both an offensive as well as a precautionary policy. It may already be a little late for that and we may already be in the reactionary stage but we still need to make the effort.  We have been complacent for too long and have accepted this violence for too long, its time we stepped up and protected our cities so that our children can be free to go where they wish without us worrying about potential suicide bombings…

November 27, 2007

The People of Swat

Filed under: Islam,Muslims,NWFP,Pakistan,Peace building,Politics,Swat,Uncategorized — dcdesi @ 7:45 pm

DAWN News reports that the Pakistani Military has reported Big Gains in the Swat Valley. The report also stated that the Military has taken control of  the FM radio Station being run by Maulvi Fazlullah.

I hope the news is true. I know for some people it seems that the government is targeting its own people, and I know for the people of Swat its not easy having to leave their houses not knowing whether they will have survived the heavy military firing etc. But its equally important to remember the wider picture. It is these poor people of swat who have had to deal with M F. It is these people who have had to shut down their girls schools, barbars and local musicians have found themselves out of business after receiving threats. Tourism, the mainstay of the region has almost disapeared due to the prevailing conditions.

I am a peacebuilder, I am not supposed to condone violence, but in this instance the army has my support. Watching some group control and impose its values for quite a few months now has been enough for me to want and support the military action.

I just hope that the government clears up the mess once and for all so that the “taliban” don’t oppress the area again and the people of swat don’t need to suffer endlessly. I hope the people of Swat are soon able to return to their lives without fear of bomb threats.

Over and Out

November 18, 2007

Madrasa Reforms- Part2

When Madrasa Reforms part 1 article got published, one of the response that we received asked do you know how expensive it is for the government to board hundreds of students and provide two square meals a day..and how do we address that?

following is the response I wrote back.
I wrote the article since the government has been speaking about madrasa reforms for the last few years and nothing seems to have been done. My concern is primarily due to the long term effects of this education. The madrasa system in Pakistan has become extensive in the last 2 decades and we have started to see the effects in Pakistan in the last few years. In Indonesia the government was providing partial support to the pesantrans, the remainder was coming from private sources similar to those providing support to madrasas in Pakistan. It is up to the government to make the change. If there is no choice of religious education without some secular education, then funds will accommodate as well.

Why is it that the Punjab government can implement free primary education, but we are unable to do so for the rest of the country? Other provinces need to receive similar support, but at the same time the provinces need to show a similar commitment to education.

My only response to the government official is that drops of water make an ocean. If we can identify areas where “extremism” is more rampant (for the moment, these areas include but are not limited to bordering Afghanistan, FATA areas and the province of NWFP), we should start with making changes in the system here and then with more sources try and move to the other provinces as well. We acknowledge that the problem cannot be solved in one day. It took 15 years and more to create the problem and will require a similar amount of time to resolve it, but we need to start somewhere to possibly reach a solution someday. If we keep looking at the situation in a complex manner which is what it is, we will never come up with a solution. In order to reach a solution, we need to simplify it and take it one step at a time.

You have NGO’s like the Zindagi trust who are attempting to make a difference, one school at a time, and frankly that is the approach that we also need to take. Please read the book “Three Cups of Tea”, building peace one school at a time to see what I mean.

November 8, 2007

of Lawyers, Kalam and emergency

Back online after staying away for a few days. Protests in Pakistan still continue. According to the latest news the lawyers are planning on switching their protests from out in the streets to the working of the courts. The lahore jails have become so overcrowded that the homes where political leaders were being kept under house arrest have been declared as subjails. Furthermore the factory at landikotal was also shut down to create more room.. refer to urdu press for more details

I guess the Jail bharo movement seems to be succesfull. The students of FAST and LUMS seem to have joined the protest and youtube is filled with videos coming out of PK.

Our TV channels were not to be left behind. Most channels especially GEO, ARY and DAWN have posted links on their websites where people can see live streaming.

BUt the one news, which has brought hope has nothing to do with the emergency. It is a news from KALAM that dawn reported. It seems that the tribal elders had called a jirga and then informed the “local taliban” that they were not interested in having the militants control their area and just basically asked them to get out.

good for you! the people of Kalam. I thank you from the depths of my soul heart…Now if we can get the “taliban” out of the other areas then the poor people of swat will be able to lead their own lives without fear of bomblasts and threats and the government will no longer have an excuse to continue with this “emergency”. So the question is.. is it still being called that or have accepted that it is a martial law.

so is a martial law in any other name still a martial law??

I am still wanting to be an optimist and may even wait and see if uncle musharaff plans on living up to his promises of holding elections in February. I guess the situation will hopefully be a lot clearer in the coming weeks.

over and out

a confused citizen of Pakistan.

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