Archive for March, 2007

Mirror, Mirror …

Posted on March 30, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Yes, our lovely patrons. In the spirit of hailing from the land of a thousand Abbassi chai hotels we announce the opening of a new wordpress location of our chaikhanah here. It serves the same tried and tested chai we make so lovingly. No, don’t worry, LiptonDiCha hasn’t stolen my secret recipe and has no immediate plans of opening his competing chaikhanah around the corner. It is an attempt on our part to subvert the ban on blogspot by the Pakistan government. We will still post here and that location will mirror the content here. Either location has its own rss feed.

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Jamia Hafsa Ninjas on the rampage again

Posted on March 29, 2007. Filed under: Islamabad, Jamia Hafsa Ninjas, Politics, Talibanization, Terrorism |

Ninja, the word conjures up images of trained killers acting as hired guns for their evil masters. Performing sabotage, espionage, and assassinations to subvert civil society. Katanas and throwing stars aside, the ninjas real weapon was fear. They conquered through fear, employing tactics that can only be defined today as terrorism. It took the state a while to gather up the courage to wage a campaign against them and rid society of their menace.

As the sun was setting on Tuesday evening, a gang of ninjas was making final preparations inside their temple with plans to invade a house and abduct four members of the resident family. Those who saw the armed gang leaving the devilishly red Lal Masjid knew something ominous was in the air. Thirty women clad in black from head to toe were backed up by ten of their brothers in arms as the group moved through the creeping shadows.
They moved swiftly …. at times. Mostly though, they ran into each other, and into street poles, and into oncoming traffic. You see, the ninja’s stealthy black burqa costumes are marvels of costume design. A flowing A-line, that allows ease of movement and prevents even educated observers from reading the movements of the ninja. The only drawback is the extremely limited peripheral vision. For all practical purposes the Hafsa ninjas march and fight with tunnel vision. That explains the purpose of the male chaperone’s. They make sure the ninjas don’t succumb to the perils of a journey down the block. Some of the talibs walk in front. These forward observers also serve as beacons for the ninjas to follow and stay on path. Other talibs form the rear guard and a couple are posted on the flanks. This arrangement work well to keep the flock together. The talibs are not as efficient as, …. ehhhh … say sheep dogs. We have all marvelled at the ability of a couple of dogs to flock hundreds of sheep. But then again the sheep have a better sense of their surroundings and possibly better developed civic and common senses. The Hafsa ninjas compensate for these with overtly developed senses of moral superiority and religious fanaticism.
Residents of nearby sector G-6 cowered in fear as the gang of armed ninjas swept through the streets and converged on the target house. There were four people in the house. The matron of the family, her daughter, her daughter-in-law, and her grand daughter of only six months. These poor women didn’t know what hit them. Within moments the ninjas had overpowered the residents. The beaten and scared women were then hurriedly marched back down the block to, Lal Masjid, the ninja’s temple-cum-fortress.
The word of the ninja attack and abductions spread through the city like fire. The government has so far been reluctant to confront the lawless Hafsa ninja. These ninja have their own vision of what the law of the land should be. Something the call the law of the Hasba. They have previously stared down the government on a couple of occasions. First, when they forced the government to back down on their illegal land grabs and later when they occupied a children’s public library for weeks. The writ if the government eroded further when taliban from Lal Masjid grabbed a couple of police men from the street and held them hostage.
The question now is how long before the government and people of Pakistan realize our freedoms and society are worth defending against the menace of Hafsa, Hasba, Burka, Durka et al.
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Talaash-e-gumshuda sehvum

Posted on March 20, 2007. Filed under: Chief Justice of Pakistan |

Police officer who led attack on Geo TV goes missing

I did not start off on this blog to carry the mantle of finding the missing people in Pakistan. That was a challenge taken upon by our chief justice. His bravery in the face of the unscrupulous agencies of the government of Pakistan was admirable. No one in Pakistan had ever dared question them or their authority. On the one hand our CJ earned the gratitude of the relatives of the missing and the praises of the interested observers. On the other hand his activism in the cause of human rights in Pakistan earned him the scorn of the government and its long arms and big mouths. This was a man they needed to shut up if they are to continue the abhorrent masquerade that their rule has been for nearly a decade. And they did try shutting him up, and failing that they are now going to try to discredit him and roll back his agenda of enforcing answerability.

However, with the chief justice under house arrest, the least I can do is jot down my feelings here and hope someone reads and agrees. Another person of interest in this thriller has gone missing. The ghayab (missing) person is the police officer who allegedly led the attack on offices of the Geo television network in Islamabad.

This revelation about the missing inspector came direct from the mouth of the president himself. El presidente was trying to kiss up to the Geo TV Network in the aftermath of the attacks on Geo during the course of their reporting of the current judicial and constitutional crisis in Pakistan. The announcement came during a protracted appearance on the now un-banned Kamran Khan show amid contrived apologies and promises of swift justice and all.

Even with the president himself issuing the APB (all points bulletin), most observers in Pakistan are going to take this development with an extra pinch of salt. No one believes the junior police officer acted out of his own volition. We have a history sprinkled with the corpses of junior police officers who are killed off after they have served the illegal purposes of their political bosses.

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Ikhtitam ul Haq

Posted on March 20, 2007. Filed under: Cricket |

The sad end of Inzamam’s cricket career

The picture says it all. Head bowed in embarrassment, visibly shaken and looking like a man who has just lost the most important battle of his life. The cricketing career of Inzamam-ul-Haq comes to an end. The saga that began with a young man full of raw talent and devil may care attitude on the cricketing pitch ends with a grown man struggling to find the will to fight. A sad end to the career of yet another Sub- Continental cricketing giant.The match that hurried Inzi into retirement will forever be recorded as the biggest upset in the world cup history. A make shift team of part time players, playing without central contracts or huge endorsement checks humbled a team considered the most talented team on paper.

Lets talk about the two Inzis we have come to love and hate over the last 15 years. Inzi the batsman and Inzi the captain. As a batsman he had his shortcomings but one thing is undisputed. He was a very talented batsman. Making over 20,000 runs in International cricket is no small feat. As of today there are only three batsmen in the history of the game who have scored over 20,000 international runs, Tendulkar, Lara and Inzi; with Dravid and Ponting very close to the target. An elite group of players that everyone who ever dreams of wielding the willow professionally tries to emulate. A large number of his test centuries have come in a winning cause for Pakistan. His ratio of centuries in wins is only second to the god of cricket, Don Bradman. No one can steal away his place as one of the greatest batsmen Pakistan ever produced.

Now comes Inzi the captain. Elevated to the post of captaincy based on seniority, an old Pakistani tradition. His captaincy can only be summarized as a mixture of mediocre successes and embarrassing failures. As a captain his lack of vision and absence of motivation was evident for the whole cricketing world to see. His look in the field told the spectators and viewers that he didn’t want to be there. No words of encouragement for the bowlers and fielders. No tips and tricks to pressurize the batsmen. No show of anger for poor performance. Hard to believe that a person who had played under the captaincy of Imran Khan would not pick some morsels of wisdom from the most successful captain in Pakistan’s history. With all his shortcomings, he did in fact had one thing common with Imran. His strong likes and dislikes for certain players but for very different reasons. Imran went to extremes to keep the players he supported, Qadir, Wasim and Inzi himself. Inzamam kept the players he liked based on personal preference first and talent second. It was made clear in the news that Mushtaq’s appointment as the bowling coach for the World Cup was made on Inzamam’s insistence. A bowling team with one full time and one part time leg spinner who were both far from automatic selection in the playing eleven was coached by a former leggie. The whole world saw it as a stupid move but Pakistani team stuck with the plan and paid dearly in South Africa and the Caribbean.

The one thing that I personally have an issue with is the shot of religion that was given to every member of the team in large quantity. Rumors were common that the team is pressurized to pray together since it was considered the sure shot method of gluing the team. The motto “ if you want to play together , pray together” became a butt of jokes everywhere. Every time Inzi appeared before the camera or a microphone, we were given a heavy dose of religion. Apparently it was supposed to make Pakistani team the best in the world. No bright bulb in the “tablighi ijtamah” also known as net practice pointed out the absence of religion in other teams who were a lot more successful in the cricket ground without having God to take credit for their success and blame for their failure. No genius ever pointed out to them that religion has nothing to do with cricket. The Pakistani team that won the cup in 92 was made up of drinkers, gamblers, pot smokers and playboys.

Pakistan cricket is at the bottom right now. As a matter of fact we had hit the bottom some time ago and then started digging. It is time to shed the tradition of appointing the captain on seniority alone. Captaincy should only be given based on merit. The team should be given a strict message as far as physical appearance is concerned. We can do without the models of “best of Taliban” calendar playing for our national team and representing our country as ambassadors in the whole world. PCB should spend some money on getting the team members a little help in spoken English and in management. Lets make sure that we don’t have another great player again bowing out from the world of cricket with his head pointed at the ground.

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Talaash-e-gumshuda dovum

Posted on March 20, 2007. Filed under: Chief Justice of Pakistan |

Justice Bhagwandas found in Lucknow, India

Residents of Islamabad were awaken from their slumber yesterday with the local mosques blaring an update on the sub-continent wide search for our beloved judge Rana Bhagwandas on their loud speakers. He has been located. Yes, lets rejoice, serve everyone mithai, breakout in a little shimmy.

Times of India has reported locating Pakistan Supreme Court Judge Rana Bhagwandas who is visiting on an annual pilgrimage. I think it was my cajoling the Indian media and Intelligence agencies that finally prompted the successful search. And both groups now vie for space and credit in the TOI news article linked above. I was only doing my duty. Still, I humbly accept the nations gratitude for having played a part in finding the missing person. More than what the government of Pakistan did.

Iftikhar Gilani at the Daily Times is speculating an early return. I certainly hope so. He is the man of the hour. He is the one who can extricate the nation from this abyss of a constitutional crisis that Generalissimo Mushy and cronies pushed us into. But no pressure, Sir. Just do your duty to the satisfaction of your conscience.

The return of the judge to the country, and the processes of the apex court will bring forth further problems, discussions, theories, what not. At least the man on the street is getting a few new lessons on our constitution. We and legal eagles of our government will learn our constitution together. I bet, I can score 11 more marks than Wassi Duffer. And I am still failing.

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A Killer Match

Posted on March 19, 2007. Filed under: Cricket |

Obituary: Bob Woolmer

Yesterday, millions of Pakistani cricket fans saw Bob Woolmer put his head on the table after Shoaib Malik was caught. You could see the agony of watching the Pakistani team falling apart on his face. While watching the game with my friends I made a comment that he is probably taking a mental inventory of all his possessions in Pakistan that need to be shipped out before he reaches back. This morning (U.S.A Pacific time) when I read the sad news of his demise I could not help but re run that clip in my head.

I was preparing to write something else today but changed my mind. I want to take some time and thank Bob for his service to Pakistani cricket.

“As fanatic fans of cricket we welcomed the news when you were appointed the head coach of Pakistani cricket team. In the next few months we saw improvement in the performance and fighting spirit of the team. The zenith came when a team heavy on young talent drew the test series in India and won the ODI series. We beat India and England at home and won against Sri Lanka and drew against West Indies aboard. Things were looking good for the world cup. Then came the away tours of England and South Africa. We saw the team crumble and started asking for your head to roll. It was a natural response of a volatile fan base and being good Pakistanis that we are, we were fast to reach the conclusion that if everything else is great then the only thing that is stopping us from reaching the top must be the coach. Lets face it , we had the best bunch of individual performers and as everyone says the best team on paper. They were becoming religious and even praying together. By God’s grace they were even starting to look alike. Instead of one Inzi, we were going to get to the field with 11 Inzis. Most of the team even performed Umra and started dropping Allah’s name in every sentence that came out of their mouths. We even left everything on Allah. Our team’s fitness, bowling, batting and even fielding. Well that didn’t go very well.

Today we realize that you did all you could to make champions out of this sorry bunch of wannabes. You could only teach them the skills to overcome their shortcomings. The final application was their job. You could teach them the virtues of teamwork but it was their job to become a cohesive and fighting unit. You could tell them what they meant to the Pakistani citizens but you could not teach them the basics of responsibility. You Sir, did your job admirably. They on the other hand screwed it up for you and the public that had elevated them to the thrones of celebrity.

You gave your life with dignity and honor before being put through the hell that was sure to come in the next few days. Pakistani citizens and cricket fans were sharpening their swords, myself included. Unfortunately it took your death to make us realize that it was never your fault. The rot of the team had started long before you took reign of it. You were just the watchman on duty when that grown tree fell. You could not bear the pain of watching your team humiliated by a bunch of amateur cricketers.

May you enjoy your days playing with Bradman, Grace, Laker, Nawab Pataudi Sr., Abdul H. Kardar and Fazal Mehmood. Enjoy talking about the great game with the great players. You didn’t deserve to be dragged in the cesspool of politics and corruption that is the Pakistani cricket. We hope that your untimely departure from this world will make a few higher ups in PCB shake with embarrassment. Ah! What silly bunch of hopefuls we are.

Bon Voyage my friend. May all your cover drives be effortless and all you straight drives pure.”

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Sheikh Rashid’s Prayer

Posted on March 17, 2007. Filed under: Chief Justice of Pakistan, Humour, Politics, Sheikh Rashid |

“ Oh Allah, how humble I feel before your grace today. My knees are shaking, my head unable to erect and my eyes unable to shut off tears. Today I bow to your infinite wisdom, for it is only you who gives and takes away all worldly things; fortune, fame and hair.

There were days when I was the minister of information. My nation was fortunate to watch my rugged Kashmiri looks everyday on T.V and newspapers. My manly voice made many a women shake, for I was the liaison between the government and the people of Pakistan. Main mouthpiece they called me, a distinction I wore with honor and pride. I was “the man” of the government. You tested my skills with many in swinging yorkers, the nationwide agitation of MMA, Kalabagh Dam and Taliban to name a few, but I flicked them with no more than a small movement of my tongue straight to the boundary. Every night when I came home (sometimes even my own home) I used to unwind by turning the T.V on and watching myself on the screen. It not only soothed me but my servant tells me that it soothed millions of people in Pakistan as well. I will always be thankful to you for choosing me to become your gift to Pakistan.

I had held many other portfolios before Information ministry. Most important of them probably my assignment as the minister of culture. I had the film industry under me, both literally and figuratively. I am thankful to you for that but Information ministry always felt like my real calling. I was made to do that.

Then that awful day came when I was told that I would no longer be the information minister of Pakistan. I felt as if my life had come crashing down. I was angry, I was hopeless and I felt cheated. How can I be replaced? Have they found another Kashmiri to take my place? Whose voice will keep the men informed and women dreaming after I left? I had questions and concerns regarding the serious mistake the government had made.

I thought complaining to you then thought better of it. How can a mere mortal complain to you Almighty? My Pir told me that I could in fact complain to you. If it is okay for Alama Iqbal to do so then it must be okay for me since Alama and myself are both Kashmiris by your grace. I could not argue with that logic even though I had a lot of practice arguing against logic from my previous job. I came to you, I complained, I cried. I even begged for a good appointment next. I went to my Pir and told him that I had complained to you. In response he said that there must be some divine logic behind the decision. Now I am a very, very intelligent person but I could not see how there could be a silver lining behind this cloud. I was humiliated especially when other cabinet members started mocking me in cabinet meetings by making the sounds of whistling train engine. It was over for me. I knew that you didn’t listen to my begging and praying.

Then came March 9th, 2007. A day that will forever live in infamy. General sacked the Chief Justice. All the mouthpieces of the government were busy explaining the constitutionality of the decision and trying to justify the actions. A little voice inside told me that maybe this is the divine reasoning my Pir Sahib was talking about, but being very, very intelligent I shrugged it off. Now being so very, very intelligent I knew that this thing will be over soon. No one would care and the issue will die during the weekend. Boy o boy was I wrong!

March 13th, 2007 started normally. I woke up, stared at myself in the mirror for an hour like I do everyday. Had my usual breakfast of a dozen puris and went to the office. What happened between 11.45 A.M and 2 P.M made my jaw drop. First time in my life my mouth was open so wide without having food near it. The screams of divine reasoning, divine reasoning, divine reasoning rang in my mind. My knees buckled and I dropped on the floor. All I could recite was I am glad I am not the information minister over and over again. How could I have defended that in the media? I was humbled my lord, by your divine intervention designed to save my dignity or whatever I have left of it. Just as I was about to stand up after three days of thanking you profusely I heard the news of GEO office been raided and vandalized by the police. Oh lord seems like another three days of thanks are due.

I am planning on wearing a torn black jacket to the next cabinet meeting to mock Mr. Durrani who used to make fun of me with the whistle. Now I would love to see what you have in the box for him. As for me, I will never find enough courage to complain to you again. Even if I am granted the ministry of religious affairs.”

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Long Arms of Wasi Zafar

Posted on March 16, 2007. Filed under: Chief Justice of Pakistan |

A wise man once said that the character of a nation is defined by its leaders. If that is true then we must be the most vulgar and ignorant people on the face of this planet. Everyone who heard our Minister of Law arguing with a journalist on VOA radio would agree with me. In a few words of broken English, he was able to convey to the whole world the nature of the people who elected him and of the government who made him the guardian of the law of the land.

The whole episode began with the minister’s inability to comprehend a simple phrase “long arms of the law” and with his infinite wisdom, he was somehow able to turn it into a sexual reference. If this is not a good ad campaign for the advancement of education in Pakistan then I don’t know what is. Just imagine billboards on major highways stating “ save your children from becoming ministers, send them to school”.

I am seriously considering starting an NGO whose sole purpose will be to provide English tutoring services to the ministers. At one stage we may extend this service to the Pakistani cricket team.

For now we must shake our heads in disgust but after the blood starts flowing through our brains due to violent shaking, we must think for a while. Is this the best we can do? Is this guy capable of representing Pakistan in international seminars on Law and Justice? What kind of jokes does he leave behind when he meets foreign dignitaries?

Would someone please inform the village in Faisalabad that is missing its idiot of the whereabouts of Wasi Zafar?
I should not have said that. God knows I am in no mood to meet his “Long Arms”.

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Posted on March 16, 2007. Filed under: Chief Justice of Pakistan |

Where in the world is Justice Rana Bhagwandas

This man is missing. The various long arms and big mouths of the government of Pakistan are declaring complete ignorance of the whereabouts of a 64 year old Pakistani citizen. And no ordinary citizen this one. The missing in this case is the honourable judge Justice Rana Bhagwandas, who just happens to be the second most senior judge on the supreme court of Pakistan. Family, friends, and coworkers seem to have no firm idea where their beloved is. The media have picked up on the plight of those concerned about the safety and the whereabouts of the missing person. Sadly this is not the first time someone has completely disappeared off the face of Pakistan, leaving family and friends waiting in the dark, never to be heard from again. And this is not the first time that the government, with its 17 police and secret agencies feigns ignorance of the whereabouts of the missing person. All the kings’ donkeys and all the kings’ men are unable to locate the missing old man.

Lately, the Supreme Court had become the place to seek help in locating these missing persons. But with its maverick Chief Justice, the champion of Pakistan’s‘ missing people, himself under house arrest, it does not seem available to look into the matter.

Here is what we do know. Justice Bhagwandas, took leave and went on a trip to India. He held meetings at the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi. None of their justices is missing so far. But from there on, the trail of our justice has gone cold. He left for his hotel and presumably onwards to Lucknow. There have been some indications of him calling his wife from a PCO (public call office) in Lucknow. Apparently his cell phone does not answer. Why? Two theories: He forgot his cell phone charger in Pakistan. Or, he gave up his cell phone to street crime in New Delhi. Delhi-Karachi, Karachi-Delhi. Same brown skins, same ghatya crimes. But lets digress.

The matter of the Pakistani Justice of Supreme Court gone missing, in the back drop of the current constitutional crisis, is also a big news story in India. Alas, not big enough. The multitudes of Indian cable news channels, tehelkas, tamashas, dhamakas, et al, have either been unable or unwilling to find the judge.

The government of India, rightly suspicious of visitors from Pakistan, keeps a close watch on them during their travel all the way up to departure from India. The recent tragedy of the fire bombing of the Samjhota express shows the extent of this control on tourists. The passengers were locked into the train and unable to escape the inferno. The locks are apparently meant to keep the tourists from slipping away in the newly shining India. Surely, they must know if the judge is still in India and if yes, where in. The alternate scenario where they might have lost track of a 64 year old man does not shine a complimenting light on their sleuthing skills. And that does not bode well for an India wary of so called ISI-trained terrorists slipping across the border. Lets just hope they are lying to us and their own citizenry.

Pakistan itself requires government employees to give out all kinds of details when they visit abroad. Here is a senior justice of our supreme court, protocol and all. It would be safe to assume that High Commission of Pakistan in India would be aware of this visit and have means to contact His Honour should there be need. But no. Not only do they not know where he is. BBC Urdu service reported the Pakistan High Commission declaring they only came to know about the judges’ visit from reports in Indian newspapers. Read the Urdu here. An English transcript of this is at Darveshs blog. The height of ridiculousness.

There is another theory, that the judge is not so much missing as in hiding. As in self seclusion. Was he approached with the governments’ plans, and given the choices of being a party to this coup or staying away from the mess chose the later option. He had to have been, given the way his absence is unfolding. He turns 65, the age for retirement, in December. He might have seen two choices before himself. Earn a blackmark on his judicial record at the twilight ofhis long and distinguished career, for history to judge him, or try to avoid the mess. There did exist a third option. That of standing upto the dictator. And that choice still exists before His Honour.

Issuing this Talaash-e-gumshuda (missing person) alert on the internet seems our only chance at finding our justice. Anyone with knowledge of the whereabouts of the judge is encouraged to contact us, the media, and lastly the government.

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Torn Jacket of the Chief Justice

Posted on March 14, 2007. Filed under: Chief Justice of Pakistan, Islamabad, Politics |

I feel as if I was stripped naked today in broad daylight on a busy road. I want to crawl into a dark hole, put my head on my knees and mourn the death of my dignity and honor. If you are a Pakistani and you don’t feel the same way today then either you have already lost your dignity long time ago or you are so senseless that small matters of national embarrassment don’t bother you the least bit.Of course I am talking about the blatant disregard of the constitution by our esteem president regarding the sacking and subsequent dishonoring of the Chief Justice of Pakistan. In any civilized society, the judiciary is extended utmost respect since it is the flag carrier of human rights, equality and justice. Whether it is a matter of punishing a pick pocket or defining the laws of the land in the light of the constitution, judiciary is the last venue for a common man to have a say. Every great nation and ancient civilization elevated its judiciary to the highest levels of honor to guarantee the basic rights of its citizens. Looking at the history of judiciary in Pakistan, one is surprised to see how it has been used as a tool for politicians to achieve their political goals and to advance their agenda.We can write pages upon pages trying to cover the history of judicial misconduct in Pakistan and how it was misused by the governments and politicians, but that is best left for another day. Today I just want to write about the treatment of his honor Justice Iftikhar by the government of Pakistan. The top judge of the nation is being treated like a criminal, manhandled by the police and forced under house arrest on some charges that have not even been released to the public. No matter what the charges are, the chief of judiciary should be given more respect than that. The prestige and dignity of the post of CJ of Pakistan (that he still constitutionally hold) should not be compromised under any circumstances.In next few days, we might find out more about the charges and the ruling of SJC on this case. Right now though the whole episode looks like a part of the larger conspiracy that may have a long lasting impact on Pakistan. Until then I will remain in my dark hole and pray that my nation will find an ounce of conscience so things like this are never repeated. I invite all of you to mourn with me, or at least the ones who feel that the torn jacket of the Chief Justice is more than an ungainly disarrangement of threads. It is a tear in the basic cloth of our society and represents how uncivil we are in this civilized world.

I am either a self hating Pakistani or someone who loves Pakistan so much that every spot on the honor of my society feels like a personal attack on me. I am yet to find out the answer.

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