The liberal fiasco in Pakistan – by Suleman Akhtar


Related article: Selective ray of hope emanates from Veena Malik to Declan Walsh – by Sana Jokhio

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (Section II, United States Declaration of Independence)

These words, hailed as one of the most monumental and well-crafted sentences in the history of English language, embody the essence of centuries’ long liberal stream nourished during the Renaissance period by some of the most enlightened human intellects i.e. John Locke, Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Declaration of Independence is unparalleled manifestation of the fact that ultimate destination of all enlightened streaks for the good of mankind, in last observation, appears only in the form of collective, political silhouette.

In Pakistan, the word ‘liberal’ is most often perceived as entirely contrary to it’s fundamental connotation not only by conservatives but self proclaimed liberals themselves. There’s a dire need to look into pages of human history to cast aside all the ambiguities related to this term.

Goose and Gridiron, where the Grand Lodge of England was founded

All the words related to this term i.e. liberal, liberty, libertarian, and libertine trace their history to the Latin ‘liber’ meaning ‘free’. Most fundamental definition of liberalism is ‘tenet of freedom and equal rights’ that further encompasses myriad ideas of human rights, capitalism, free and fair elections, liberal democracy, separation of church and state, religious freedom, welfare state, freedom of speech, press and assembly etc depending upon state of affairs. Though liberal currents may be traced back to some of Greek philosophers and Sophists but modern liberal streaks extract their fundaments from ‘Age of Enlightenment’. That era, aka Age of Reason, marked with avowing of reason as the primary source of legitimacy and authority against irrational beliefs of absolute monarchy, organized religion, divine right of kings, superstitions, serfdom and sway of religion over mighty empires. A wide array of cultural, historical, scientific and philosophical movements may be attributed to that era but, more or less, all of them revolve around the common pivot of freedom and liberty.

Early liberal ideas, emanated from Renaissance period, unequivocally challenged the social as well as political structure of Europe and ultimately led to the ‘Glorious Revolution’ –Revolution of 1688 that overthrew King James II of England- and ‘Atlantic Revolutions’ –A wave of eighteenth century revolutions associated with Atlantic history. Basic conceptions, that paved way for uprisings, were predominately consisted of ideas like social justice, social contract and consent of the governed.  These terms mainly refer that ‘people give up sovereignty to a government and other authority in order to maintain social order through rule of law and government’s legitimacy and moral right to use state power is only justified and legal when derived from the people or society over which that power is exercised’. John Locke suggested the idea in these words:

Title page of two treatises of government

MEN being, as has been said, by nature, all free, equal, and independent, no one can be put out of this estate, and subjected to the political power of another, without his own consent. The only way whereby any one divests himself of his natural liberty, and puts on the bonds of civil society, is by agreeing with other men to join and unite into a community for their comfortable, safe, and peaceable living one amongst another, in a secure enjoyment of their properties, and a greater security against any, that are not of it. This any number of men may do, because it injures not the freedom of the rest; they are left as they were in the liberty of the state of nature.”(Second Treatise of Civil Government, chapter8 section95)

Classical liberalism, earlier form of liberalism, encircles the ideas of free market, limited role of governments, ultimate individual freedom and laissez-faire capitalism. These ideas draw on the economics of Adam Smith, a psychological understanding of individual liberty, natural law and a belief in progress. Cores of this doctrine suggest that human nature is egoistic, coldly calculating, essentially inert and atomistic; hence incorporating the assumptions that only motivation for labor is either the possibility of great reward or fear of hunger, society is no more than the sum of it’s individuals, individuals should be free to pursue their self interests without restraints from society, poor urban conditions are inevitable and starvation would help limit population growth.

Nonetheless, by the end of nineteenth century, the principles of classical liberalism were challenged by downturns in economic growth, growing perceptions of evils of poverty, unemployment and agitation of organized labor. The ideal of the self-made individual seemed increasingly implausible. These hardships led to the materialization of a new belief in liberalism, known as modern or social liberalism marked with ideas of multiparty democracy, social market economy, legitimate role for the state in addressing economic and social issues, human rights, welfare state and progressive taxation. Under social liberalism the good of the community is viewed as harmonious with the freedom of individual. In the United States, the Great Depression led to the development of modern liberalism with introduction of ‘New Deal’ and Keynesian economic model. Most of the prevalent liberal governments around the world are modern liberal to their core. In 1975, roughly 40 countries around the world were characterized as liberal democracies, but that number had increased to 80 as of 2008.

Coming back to ‘land of the pure’, pseudo-liberals – most appropriate term one finds in lexicon – mostly have nothing to do with the quintessence of liberalism. Whilst, professing merely one’s own individual liberty from the constraints of society, one doesn’t qualify the standards of a liberal but a self-centered individual who just pursue his/her well-being. Mocking the religious beliefs of others is not necessarily the emblem of liberalism. To assert on the liquidation of all pluralistic cultural as well as social traits cannot escalate an individual from braggart to liberal. To castigate the nasty popular politics of country doesn’t transform an apathetic person into flag-bearer of liberalism. All of the viewers of a fashion show do not inevitably earn the label of liberal –I beg my pardon sirs, this is not liberalism but narcissism.

On the other hand, a religious/spiritual person; who endeavors for the common-good of his/her clan by actively participating in social/political/economic process, who regards the divergent religious beliefs, who recognizes the cultural/racial/ethnic identities of others, who is the part of electoral process of country, deserves the label of a ‘liberal’ vis-à-vis his/her counterpart.

Take, for an instance, the recent encounter of TV/Film actress Veena Malik with a religious scholar on a television show that was unnecessarily escalated to the self-presumed war between conservatism and liberalism, whilst completely neglecting the fact that that was only a part of popular stream of media broadcasting. Veena Malik is no liberal; she would have done the other way around had she got paid for covering her head with veil, also she doesn’t represent the majority of inhabitants of this region who extract the social values not necessarily from religious beliefs but also from their rich culture -irrespective of religious beliefs i.e. Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism- that is hallmark of this piece of earth [read: subcontinent]. Those, who consider her as black-mark on their national pride are, ultimate ignoramuses but, on the other hand, to hold her as goddess of liberalism is not more than utter idiocy.

Let’s talk about the murder, the callous murder of Salman Taseer that shook the so-called liberals and awoke them to the escalating peril of Islamofascism. The reason, as evident, is that they, finally, feel it an intensifying danger for their lifestyles. Now they perceive fundamentalism as an existential threat that may harm their very beingness. Here, I’m not of the view that only this class of society is responsible for haunting fiasco but I do have solemn belief in my apprehension that so-called-cultivated-class shares proportionate blame for having been so apathetic. History of humankind endorses the fact that no fundamental change in the social fabric has ever been achieved albeit by collective political struggle. How, on earth, a vigil of a handful of people may prove helpful doing away with the venom of extremism running through the arteries of society? Aren’t they being self-centered, again, by isolating themselves from the popular masses-orientated politics? Isn’t the time has, already, come to align oneself with the right side of political divide in order to counter the frankenstein’s monsters?

Political parties emanate from the very fabrication of society and rightly epitomize all the idiosyncrasies of persistent social structure. One may justly criticize the present PPP lead coalition government for ill-governance, substandard performance, involvement of some of its officials in bribery; but on the other hand one cannot neglect the fact that these maladies are earmark of our tarnished society. This isn’t some kind of hidden truth that the PPP is the only liberal party that holds sway over the people of all five provinces. Again, one may argue and criticize the vows of some of it’s officials about preservation of Blasphemy Laws but, as a matter of fact, these are apolitical liberals who have allowed these conservative elements to induce the party by having been so indifferent.

This seems so comfortable to lambaste the labyrinthine political scenario of an almost ungovernable state where security-establishment and religious/ethnic pressure groups hold undeniable influence over the political government. Ground realities of this part of region are entirely different from those discussed in luxurious drawing-rooms. Mainstream political parties extract their vote-bank from the poorer half of society on the basis of, mostly, economic issues. In general, a voter wants to live peacefully with substantial amount of household items and has nothing to do with the issues of liberalism or conservatism. Point is, why not support the party and utilize it’s electoral power for the sake of common-good and to cast aside the specter of extremism, in spite of decrying rhetorically. This, at this turbulent point of our history, is the only workable solution to extricate ourselves from this horrifying chaos. Elseways, as they say, there wouldn’t be our tale in the tales of nations.


33 responses to “The liberal fiasco in Pakistan – by Suleman Akhtar”

  1. “Those, who consider Veena Malik as black-mark on their national pride are, ultimate ignoramuses but, on the other hand, to hold her as goddess of liberalism is no more than utter idiocy.”

    Excellent!

  2. Thank you, Suleman, for writing this thought provoking post.

    Am reposting a few of my Tweets relevant to this topic:

    When I read Declan Walsh’s free promotion of Sherry Rehman (as was fed to him by Mosharraf Zaidi and other members of the Fake Civil Society (FCS opportunists and flatterers) that currently surround him at Twitter)), he describes Veena Malik as “Amid the gloom there is some hope…”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/23/sherry-rehman-pakistan-blasphemy

    AbdulNishapuri Abdul Nishapuri

    After Imran Khan and Justice Iftikhar, the FCS’s new hero: Veena Malik. According to Declan Walsh, a ray of hope! Other chatterers nod.

    Honesty, do a quick search on those heroe-ising Veena. Most of them were heroe-ising CJ Iftikhar Ch in the past

    Shame on you, Declan Walsh, and your feeders, for recycling lies about Pakistan politics and society to the UK audience.

    It is not the PPP and ANP who have offered most sacrifices in the war on religious fanaticism, it is Veena Malik who is the ray of hope!

    It is not the Baloch nationalists who R fighting for their rights, it is Veena Malik who is the ray of hope in Pakistan!

    It is not the Shias of Parachinar who R fighting against GHQ’s good Taliban, it is Veena Malik who is the ray of hope in Pakistan!

    http://pakistanblogzine.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/some-gems-from-declan-walshs-article-promoting-sherry-rehman/

  3. The Liberal Opportunists Clubs (FCS) currently scavenging on Veena Malik vs Mufti will never say that it is the GHQ Jihad Enterprise NOT mullahs which is the core problem.

    Hypocrites writing against Meher Bokhari, Kamran Shahid, Hamid Mir will never criticize the media owners & the ISPR as it may hurt their own personal and strategic interests.

  4. A rubbish article. It started so well with defining liberalism and then turned 180 degress opposite. Only a Paki could have done than :). PPP+ANP+ MQM coalision is semi secular goverment and we support it, Taseer was PPP’s governor in Punjab and a sane secular voice for which he was murdered by religiousity brigade which also wants to vulgarise Veena Malik. There has been no ……attempt as yet to secularise school curriculam, hence Qadri Taliban mentality will continue to rule. PPP has so far failed against military insistance to keep same hindu/india hatred based despite US pressure. Corruption which is haulmark of Islam and Muslim states also continues unabated. We are on path to being footnote in history, despite PPP.

  5. Woman’s virtue is Islam’s greatest invention. This psyche which glorifies men’s philandering behaviour by equating it with being “stud like” and demeans any bold expression of female sexuality as “sluttish’ In a reality show like Big Boss, the more outrageous you are, the higher are the chances of your continuity in the future episodes. These programs thrive on controversy and therefore Veena Malik’s bold behaviour has to be seen in this light rather than through this hypocritical honour paradigm.

  6. Princess Veena Malik is symbol of freedom, dignity and courage against mullah’s hostility to liberty and radical chauvinist media’s obsession with religiousity by soft peddling terrorism and extremism, by targetting minorities, women and children and by projecting Aafia & Qadri as national heroes, which is hostility to liberty.

  7. Epicenter of terrorism, Pakistan is for the ISI and by the ISI. Army consumes most foreign aid as well as 30% of GDP directly or indirectly. It made school curriculam India/Hindu hatred centered to justify their rule even when not in power. Hatred has taken root in our psyche and we have become Taliban mentally, killing our minorities, women and sane voices. Qadri and Aafia are icons and Veena & Taseer villians.

  8. There is much US $billion pressure on Pakistan Army/ISI to act against it’s own created Taliban in N Waziristan this spring/summer. These are ISI tactics to divert attention. Soon there will be ISI/LeT carnage in India too, that will give excuse to divert troops to Indian border and NW action will be shelved. This could lead to war with India.

  9. Its seems you were going well with the meaning of “”Libertarianism”” ….but once you started referring Pakistani Liberals, you seen to have diluted the meaning of “Liberal”.

  10. You Said…””Whilst, professing merely one’s own individual liberty from the constraints of society, one doesn’t qualify the standards of a liberal but a self-centered individual who just pursue his/her well-being. Mocking the religious beliefs of others is not necessarily the emblem of liberalism.””
    ———————————————————
    I will like to quote my favorite line of Ayn Rand to point out the logical fallacy that you made in this sentence. “”I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.””
    When you speak of Society deciding what is good and what is bad for you, it is more and same like religion deciding what is moral and what is immoral. In a free society, you are free to do what ever you like until it physically harms an other individual or ‘Curbs his liberty’. in a free society “”Prostitution””, “”alcohol””, Nude beaches, Drugs are all legal. In a free society you should be able to debate, discuss and mock at others opinion.

  11. You Said…””Veena Malik is no liberal; she would have done the other way around had she got paid for covering her head with veil, also she doesn’t represent the majority of inhabitants of this region who extract the social values not necessarily from religious beliefs but also from their rich culture -irrespective of religious beliefs””
    ———————————————————
    Totally confusing again. Veena Malik is free to wear a bikini as well as a veil. What she wears totally depends on her will. and why should she represent the Majority. Was she paid for that?? Here what the Mullah did was totally wrong, you cannot victimize and pass a fatwa against a individual, just on how she chooses to conduct.
    Rich Culture and the Indian Subcontinent?? Are you kidding?? May be it was once, maybe 1200 years a go…….but not now any more…..

  12. “Define your terms if you want to talk to me,” so said a famous Greek philosopher. And it’s always useful to go back to the basics, the definitions, to understand the complex political malaise that beset a certain society like Pakistan’s. Suleman, in the context of our so-called liberals, you have done exactly that. And well done!

    Pakistan’s FCS – I’m beginning to like this term – is more fake than it’s civil, and can hardly be called society. Their smugness in the face of being dubbed as silent majority, their mute acceptance of the perils of organized religion, their hypocritical chatter against the ‘system’ [read status quo] and, not in the least, their total apathy, bordering on ridicule, towards mainstream politics are major factors that continue to feed the forces of chaos and muddle the already complex socio-political scenario, egged on by the Establishment, the Deep State.

    This, their role, can best be summed up in a popular Punjabi phrase that goes something like this: “So busy in their idleness!”

    My take-out:
    <>

  13. And the liberals you have criticized in your column, has every right to be called a LIBERAL….Actually they are LIBERTARIAN REBELS.
    In a society where most individuals are doctrined by a CULT and an authoritarian ideology, YOU LOSE YOUR BASIC RIGHT TO BE FREE, WHERE EVERYTHING IS RULED BY A CULT. Here the cult acts as an defacto oppressive Government.
    And who said that “”Liberalism is not a political position””…Its a political position, which encircles the ideas of free market, limited role of governments, ultimate individual freedom and laissez-faire capitalism, as rightly said by you. In the case of Pakistan RELIGION IS THE DEFACTO GOVERNMENT, a government more authoritarian and oppressive than the communist regimes led by Stalin, Polpot, Kim Jong….
    The pakistani liberals will shape history, and they will have to fight, if needed even violently, to overthrow this REGIME.

  14. My take-out:

    “To castigate the nasty popular politics of country doesn’t transform an apathetic person into flag-bearer of liberalism. All of the viewers of a fashion show do not inevitably earn the label of liberal – I beg my pardon sirs, this is not liberalism but narcissism.”

  15. Why are not Fozia Wahab or Sharmila Farooqi a hero of liberalism or feminism in Pakistan? Why not Marvi Memon or Nilofar Bakhtiar? They too give tough time to Molvis.

  16. Egypt ministers resign. US started a war on Islam after defeating communism. It was not about oil as ‘losers’ and uneducated termed it. It is about democracy for which US opened a window by hanging Saddam and installing a democracy in Iraq and has taken up in worst Taliban state in Afghanistan. Kuwait since allowed women to vote, Saudis allowing 50% municipal posts filled by elections. Tunis now and within days in Egypt. It is start of fall of Islam vs democracy, same as what happened to communism. It will take 15 more years.

  17. Egypy, Tunisia, Pakistan, all these countries need an Ata Turk each. Pervez Hoodbhoy can be fast tracked become Pakistan’s Education Minister with free hand to change school curriculum to secular international and NFP or Ghamdi minister of religious affairs to reform Islam.

  18. Lost in the angry shouts of “blasphemy” by the extremists is the fact that even now Islamist parties do not hold a majority in any provincial parliament or the National Assembly. Nor is there any sign that they could muster such a popular majority in any coming elections. But what the Islamists do have is a readiness to call out supporters into the streets and links to a network of radical mosques and madrasahs that can supply that street power on demand. And extremists have a readiness to assassinate. If it is not rolled back, street power could become decisive in the country. If Qadri is murdered today, streets of Pakistan will be flooded like Egypt & Tunisia.

  19. میرا اور وینا پاکستانی لبرلز اور پیپلز پارٹی کا اصلی مکروہ چہرہ ہیں، مفتی صاحب نے اس چہرے کو بےنقاب کر دیا ہے

  20. @Imtiaz & Abhishek. Both of you, I must say, got hold of wrong end of the stick, at first place. What we need here is to critically analyze and observe the state of affairs instead of clinging with self-presumed preposterous dogmas.

    What I alluded to while referring to the ‘Declaration of Independence’ was that the ultimate terminus of all streaks, related to reason and enlightenment, is inevitably a political materialization that always demands for a collective endeavor instead of personal liberty rhetoric. Ideas of ‘social contract’ and ‘consent of the governed’, in reality, lay the basis of a society that can be called a ‘liberal society’ in true sense. A mutual agreement between an individual and state that not only sentinels the common-good but also protects individual rights and liberties.
    Here, you’r confusing ‘libertarianism’ with ‘liberalism’ that, I afraid, are two different terms having hell lot of differences to the core. Libertarianism is lined with the Anarchist and Minarchist distinctions that on the political spectrum differs largely with modern ideas of liberalism.
    “Libertarian Rebels”, I’m unable to comprehend the meaning of this ambiguous term, pardon me for this.
    Adding, Can you please provide me a single persistent example of ‘laissez-faire capitalism’ from modern world ?? Today, Ideas of liberalism take the shape of regulated economy, legitimate role of state, social justice and good of community in syn. with individual liberty. In case of Pakistan, what to expect from the extremely conservative society while being only self-centered individualist?
    Coming back to Veena Malik, yes I’m in total agreement with that she’s free to wear a bikini or whatever she wants to. But, still, this isn’t enough to accredit her as symbol of liberalism. This has nothing to do with being a liberal.
    Nevertheless, there’s no point to discuss the basics of these conceptions if one doesn’t have even a slightest idea of genesis of social as well as political structure of Pakistan.

  21. @Imtiaz.
    You ridicule, “Only a Paki could have done that”
    I take it as a compliment, “Yes, a PAKI has done that and ‘ll do it again and again until salvation comes”

  22. Lets no go into the economic aspects of “Social Contract”. In an ideal society a social contract should only be limited to protection of Individual Property Rights and protection against “violation of Contracts”.

    Such a Contract should at no point infringe a persons natural rights. Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness cannot be infringed at any cost.

  23. Good article but perhaps too long. It would be hard to discuss every concept touched w/o writing another article.

    We need to realize that Pakistan is a conservative country. It is not conservative just because of the influence of religion but due to the social and cultural traditions that prevail in the country. Pakistan is part tribal and part feudal. The middle class morality in the emerging urban areas is just an extension of the old feudal an tribal values. That middle class appears to be heavily influenced by religion; but in reality it is still carrying on with its feudal and tribal roots and just trying to hide it behind the religion. Specifically, in today’s urban Punjab it also hides behind the Muslim victim-hood syndrome that is rooted in the fall of Mughal empire in 1858.

    ANP, PPP or Baloch, or Sindhi or even some Pukhtoon may support secularism because they are up against the Urban Punjab (best represented by the army). Still in their own areas they hardly support any liberal or secular thoughts. Women in the rural areas, barring a few at the lowest end of the society, are not allowed to leave home or when they do they cover themselves up from top to bottom.
    PPP’s support mainly is from the rural areas in both Punjab and Sindh and the party has to respect the values that prevail in its strongest areas.

    The Hari in Sindh or the Kissan of Punjab may support the PPP because of the economic and the empowerment message it carries but they surely would not support a PPP or for that matter an ANP that attempts to interfere in the cultural or the social values in their respective goth, chak or village.
    Most of the PPP representatives at the National and in Provincial assemblies come from the rural background and they too would not work with a party that would support a radical program that might impact the stranglehold they have within their constituencies due to the prevailing feudal and tribal values in the areas.

    The middle class upper, lower, or middle, except in Karachi, has moved from the rural areas. Feudal have bought houses in the cities and the first or the second generation of rural middle class too have moved to cities for jobs. They now form the nucleus of religious right or the Muslim victim hood influence in the Pakistani society.
    Even in Karachi, mostly people move from small towns of UP or Bihar or CP. All these states in India were feudalistic, Nawab or Rajas dominated societies and bastions of religious exceptionalism. They lost connection with their roots but have not given up on the Muslim victim-hood or the religious exceptionalness they carried in India.

    Please see the next post for more….

  24. The question is: does anything like liberal or liberalism exist in Pakistan? The simple answer is no. There is no group which can really be called liberal in the classic sense of the concept. (Nothing to do with Classical liberalism which in today’s world is conservatism and shows up mostly in Tea party type crowds.)

    In Pakistan what we have is a small group which is inspired by the Western cultural progress and would like to copy some of the successes of the West in Pakistan. They too balk at the idea of going all western in Pakistan. That class is usually referred to as the Burger class( have close similarities with the so-called civil society). IMO, most of them are out of touch with the realities in Pakistan. They want to see Pakistan look like the US or the UK. They are completely oblivious of collective Pakistani culture even though they benefited from the same semi-feudal privileges.

    The most liberal group in Pakistan, if any, can be the old left but they too are confined to some very limited circles and often make cause with the Nationalist groups in Sindh, Baluchistan, PK and Punjab w/o realizing that the Nationalist groups are fundamentally seeped in the cultural traditions like the other dominant groups in other political parties are.
    Let me say this here that the conservative nature of the Pak society was very well hidden before the 1970. Pakistan appeared a semi-moderate country because in pre-1970 Pakistan, the real Pakistani had no say in the state matters and a west oriented military and civil bureaucracy dominated the political and economic discourse with the help of some feudal. The 1970 elections changed all that. The emerging power of the real Pakistanis and the attacks on the feudal nature of the society led the rulers to look to a group which it particularly did not like but was willing to work with to sustain its hold on the country. We saw an alliance between the mullah and the military and they relied on religion and Muslim victim-hood syndrome to counter the forces that wanted all Pakistanis to participate in the state affairs.

    More later…

  25. @Hoss: Your excellent commentary on travails of Pakistani society holds more weight than the material in article itself. I largely agree with your POV and in total affirmation.

    Nonetheless, If I may add:
    – Feudal and tribal societal values were predominately emblem of the North-West part of subcontinent that later became West Pakistan. One of the key-factors behind inception of Pakistan was to meet the aspiration of Middle-Class of Central India as well as feudal class of this North-West part. After partition this class of society did anything possible, with help of Civil/Military bureaucracy, to keep the inhabitants away from state-affairs by instilling the venom of radicalization through Objective Resolution, One-Unit, Doctrine of necessity; that added to the already conservative values of society.

    – One, while taking into account the urban Middle-Class, cannot take liberty to oversight the irrefutable ramifications of Zia-ul-Haq’s notorious policies of radicalization and de-politicization, that left the long lasting effect on urban Middle-Class of Punjab specifically when the trend of migration from rural to urban areas was at it rife.

    – At this hour of time, when threat is shaping into existential form, this is only the Urban-Politics of country that may prove helpful in doing away with the specter of fundamentalism by building pressure on mainstream liberal political parties. Having said that, one isn’t of the opinion of liquidation of social/cultural/religious traits of Goths, Pinds or Chaks; but of the gradual tarnishing of Military/Mullah sway over the proliferation of radicalization, by establishing a nexus against security-establishment. This wouldn’t be against the consent of a Party candidate from any rural constituency where people want to live in peace. At least, this might prove helpful in blemishing that artificial coating of fundamentalism that is of extrinsic nature, than intrinsic one that lies in the basis of society. But again, this is only possible if this supposed-to-be-cultivated-class casts aside the apolitical attitude.

  26. @Suleman Akber:
    With reference to Veena, was the thailay wala of Algeria, who sparked revolution, a champion of democracy ? Heroes are are like that, so is Taseer and Veena !
    Berlin Wall Mubarak took 4 days into revolt call in army whereas Ben Ali took 27 days. Internet & face book provided opportunity not the leadership. There is no ideology behind it, just masses fed up of poverty, which comes with non production and population implosion in Muslim countries. Next the Iranian regime will fall. Revolution is result of US think tank taking on political Islam after demise of communism. A window of democracy opened in Mideast in Iraq is having planned ripple effect. Hereditary regimes of SA, Kuwait, Syria are next and democracy(people) will triumph.

  27. Bananas by Nadeem F Paracha:
    For long, many Pakistanis have wondered just how do certain Pakistani media men and religious leaders who have turned the obsessive act of badmouthing the US, Jews and liberals into a robust cottage industry, manage to travel so frequently to the US. Well, it seems the days of curiosity in this respect may be coming to an end. According to a front-page story in Dawn last Friday, four US Congressmen have asked Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, to refuse visas to those Pakistanis who are on record praising the killer of former Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer.

    There are reports that the US government is now seriously contemplating refusing visas to a number of Pakistani media personnel, lawyers and religious leaders who have been reported to have condoned the ghastly murder. These also include TV and print journalists and religious leaders who travel regularly to the US (and Europe). Most Pakistanis who were shocked by the jubilant reactions of certain people at Taseer’s assassination have squarely hailed the report of a possible US visa ban on these men and women.

    This hailing has nothing to do with some Pakistanis’ resentment of not being able to visit Disneyland the way all these so-called anti-West media folks, lawyers, politicians or religious leaders have been doing for many years. Instead, the welcoming gesture by them is more about the rather concrete perception that surrounds the ways of these obsessive anti-US charlatans in which they are seen as spreading political and religious hatred and arousing populist political chaos under the cover of being gung-ho patriots and people of faith who are out to warn the Islamic republic of the nefarious designs of Americans, Jews and Hindus.

    But, of course, unknown to most Pakistanis is the startling fact that many such fiery journalists and men/women of faith are regular visitors to the US and European countries. Also, for long, a number of Pakistan’s staunch anti-West defenders of the faith and sovereignty have had close relatives, children and siblings settled in various western countries, while they urge Pakistanis to rise against ‘US slavery’ and to ‘crush America.’

    The question always was, for how long could Pakistanis go on loudly supporting the rising and now almost entirely knee-jerk and rhetorical tide of anti-Americanism while at the same time be the first to join the long queues seen outside American and European visa offices? It is a bizarre sight, but come to think of it, the bizarre, especially in matters of faith and ideology, has certainly become the norm in this country.

    We are quick to use terms like munafiq (hypocrite) for others, but we conveniently refuse to see that each one of us has become a raving, ranting hypocrite — a double-faced act that we then explain away as a reaction against corruption and ‘US imperialism.’ It’s a vicious cycle that denies us the patience and logic to reflect upon our own doings instead of always being on the look out for ‘bad Muslims’, ‘heretics’, foreign agents and media-made punching bags to blame our economic miseries, political chaos and moral confusion on. Worse are those who do so simply to bag cheap and instant applause from morally and intellectually bankrupt sections of society, or from a populace frustrated by living under the booming hammer of economic downturns, wobbly regimes and terrorist attacks. So much change (in the mindset and not just faces) has to be allowed and worked for if this unfortunate country is ever to finally take that turn towards some sort of salvation. And mind you, like it or not, this turn may also mean us having to embrace certain economic, social and political ideas and policies which, today, we are mindlessly rejecting as being western, Orientalist, secular or liberal.

    I just cannot understand why so many Pakistanis clamp up when anyone suggests such ideas as solutions in Pakistan, whereas the same Pakistanis are okay living among these same ideas in western countries. But then, are they, really? For example, forget about nuts like Faisal Shahzad or prying puritans like Farhat Hashmi — their topsy-turvy ways are all too obvious — what about those Pakistanis who keep posting hate comments and speeches on the internet from various US cities? How did they get the US visa?
    http://www.dawn.com/2011/01/30/smokers-corner-bananas.html

  28. Hoss..what an excellent analysis…thumbs up…u must start posting in LUBP on regular basis…we need people like u with an objective sense of analysis…

  29. January 31, 2011

    The Veena Malik conundrum

    If Pakistan was a secular country, Veena Malik would not have received as much attention as she has. There is no real middle ground in the spectrum of ideology in Pakistan any more. To say that there are different types of liberals is also somewhat incognitive, you are either a liberal who accepts the rights and freedoms that the left-wing built its foundations on, or you reject it completely. A large majority of so-called liberals are still mowing in between or sitting on the fence, picking and choosing what’s right and wrong on individual merit. They are lost in understanding the very fundamental liberties which form the roots of a secular society.

    These rights and freedoms that come with a secular society can not be challenged by the establishment or the people within. I wish Pakistan was that type of a society. The problem is, the majority in Pakistan is not liberal and reject secularism. They are overwhelmingly right-wing conservatives – just as some of the Southern states of the US. So why is it so hard that in a democratic Pakistan Veena Malik has hurt the sentiments of the majority?

    The ones calling for Veena Malik to be left alone, or aspiring to push their weight behind Veena Malik in newspapers and drooling over words will only be tweeting/writing their English articles to the small minority formed by a trabecular network of likeminded individuals. These voices however, fall on deaf ears when taken in the context that liberals make less than a couple percent of Pakistans 169 million population.

    Bravo!

    Veena Malik’s ostentatious expressions of being victimized by everyone in the media and society, the uncanny histrionics and who can forget the clinical verbal clobbering of Mufti Saheb – she won an Oscar in my mind. Many will hold that moment on TV close to their hearts; rarely have I ever seen as pure a liberal as one can be take on a mullah so furiously. The fact that it took a woman to find that strength has to applauded. However, it is hard to forget that she is an actor by profession & handling herself on camera is her day job. Regardless, her brave conviction and ability to hold her own as a working woman supporting her family in Pakistan is commendable. That been said, she and all other liberals need to step off the popular fallacy that the general public needs to listen to them simply on the basis of their idea of civic virtues. Instead it’s time to listen to the people and and address their sentiments too. The journalists who chose to oppose Veena Malik’s actions are merely voices representing the popular dismay of the general public towards her actions.

    For the life of me, I will never understand why issues like these raise more debate than finding ways to help the ordinary people of Pakistan out of the crisis that has mauled them,. The people are unable to afford basic food, shelter, millions of children are still at risk of diseases and malnutrition after the floods of 2010, communicable diseases are rampant, poverty and crime are rising, public schools are being rented out for other businesses and inflation are the real issues. Millions of ordinary people can’t afford antibiotics to treat a minor ailment, treatment of more serious patients in government hospitals maybe free but I’ll have to write another blog entry on how difficult and painstaking that process is for the average person. All the while private hospitals enjoy lucrative incomes. The social elite can get their botox injections and face lifts from a variety of cosmetic clinics opening up – though none offer any treatment for the callous mind. Where have we gone wrong? Why do we blame the common man living in dire straits for putting all his eggs in conservative basket? If they feel let down by Veena Malik today, it is because their civic virtues stem directly from religion. And if religion is all there is left for those who have no hope, you can’t expect them to accept Veena’s actions in India.

    “I need a roof over my head, an education, and some food please” Still a Flood Victim

    Maybe I am biased, maybe it’s because I think Mohammad Asif is the greatest gift to fast bowling since Glen McGrath, which automatically excludes me from Veena Malik fan club. I could care less if tomorrow she is answerable to the people of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. She is a shrewd woman who knew exactly what she was doing when she made her decisions to performs “tasks” like sleeping with another man in a reality tv show. It would be imprudent to think Miss Malik did not expect the backlash and controversy upon her return home. It is no secret that in the entertainment industry, celebrities thrive on controversy. And when have celebrities not enjoyed revelling in the publicity they receive? Isn’t that how they raise their stocks? Somewhere Veena Malik is signing contracts for future shows and endorsements with a grin on her face – patting her own back at how her carefully conceived plan has swelled into a storm of attention she so desperately needed in her career.

    http://saidcanblog.blogspot.com/2011/01/veena-malik-conundrum.html