JUST IN: Pak FM confirms contact w/ US for negotiating w/ Israel (Translated Transcript of Presser here)

– “There is no moral or legal basis for this action”
– “The flotilla was in international waters and the action looks like it was a against international law”
– “We are very concerned about Talat Hussein and his team”
– “I talked to TH’s wife earlier today and promised that we will raise this issue internationally”
– “We are raising this issue in embassies in Cairo, Ankara and Aman embassies”
– “Our first priority is to turn international opinion against this action and to stop further aggression from Israel, while ensuring the safety of Pakistani citizens”
– “I have been in touch with US Ambassador Anne Paterson and asked for US support to contact Tel Aviv and help with securing the three Pakistanis”
– “This is a critical and serious issue, and beyond religion. 300 peace activists from 40 countries were in international waters, trying to get through to starving and hungry Palestinians. In the eight ships, there were not just Muslim activists, but several citizens from several other countries”
– “We will also work with the Arab League for this, as well as the OIC.”
– “I think the OIC Secretary General should hold an emergency session so we can all move forward together on this”
– “I also think that the UN needs to get involved and needs to be approached.”
– “I have tried to get in touch with the Turkish Foreign Minister, but have not been able to do so as he is traveling.”
– “I am going to keep on trying to get in touch w/ the Turks, as they are a brother nation and am sure can help.”
– “As far as Pakistan’s position on Israel is concerned, it is clear. We stand by our official position on the Palestinian issue”
– “But our first priority, is to ensure the safety of the three Pakistanis”
– “Our ambassador in Ankara is in touch with Turkish authorities. I am in constant touch with”

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I am an Ahmadi

I am an Ahmadi. There are four million of me in Pakistan. This Islamic Republic is the only state in the world which has officially declared me to to be a non-Muslim. Why? It’s simple. I am an Ahmadi.

Ordinances have been passed against me. Acts and Constitutional Amendments have been drafted around me. Shortly after the heart and soul of our nation was ripped into two, a country reeling to define and defend its own identity unleashed itself upon me. In 1974, a parliament I had voted for adopted a law that outlawed me.

The rest of you were given a different story. Unlike you, I was not a “a person who believes in the finality of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH”. But nobody really asked me what I  believed in. Why? Because I am different. Because I don’t matter. Because I am an Ahmadi.

A powerful man who killed another powerful man in the name of the law did worse to me. In 1984, the General of an Army I support, pay for and even serve under passed another law: now I could not call myself a Muslim at all, or even “pose as Muslim”.

You might have noted the affects of that yesterday. As my attackers unleashed their wrath, television networks I watch and love got the location of the bloodshed all wrong. What I call a mosque, they insisted on calling a “place of worship”. That’s alright, though. It’s not their fault. I’m used to the special treatment. After all, I am an Ahmadi.

But I wish things were different. I wish I was like you. I wish I was a Sunni, a Shia, a Punjabi, a Pakhtoon, a Baloch, a Sindhi, a Memon, a Gujrati, a Siraiki, a Makrani. If I was any of those, or even anyone else, I would have been called a martyr or “shaheed” in the papers today. My family would have liked that. They would have even written it on my grave, like you do for your loved ones. But all that doesn’t matter. It’s what comes after the grave that really matters. And in my case, I’ve been reassured by you that not much good awaits me there.

But you can’t blame me for wishing. I wish I could give you a hug this Eid. I wish I could say “Asalamalaikum” and “Eid Mubarak” to you as well. I wish I could read to you the history of my people and even have you sample my food.  But I can’t. That could cost me three years of prison time.

Finally, I also wish my attackers had chosen another date. For you, yesterday was a day to remember. After all, it was twelve years ago that you unleashed your might upon the world by reducing a mountain to ashes. You had invented the weapon to counter all weapons. Your detractors were scared, your enemies terrified. For causing yesterday’s incident to dampen your re-living that moment of pride, I apologize. Please accept my condolences.

But you don’t have to. You’ve got other things to do. Why waste your time with me? After all, I am an Ahmadi.

(A Disclaimer, Albeit Irrelevant: Khan is not an Ahmadi, rather a Pakistani, and proud one at that)

Fauzia Wahab’s Divine Intervention

Deep within Karachi, near the Quaid’s Mazaar, is a place called Kashmir Road. The avenue does not share much in common with its namesake, war-torn region. It is neither green, nor mountainous. And because it is a part of the MQM’s ‘turf’, the local population is not docile enough to be conquered and occupied by foreign intruders.

But a famous Kashmir Road resident, one Fauzia Wahab – proud mother of four and the most in-your-face information secretary the Peoples Party has produced of late –  does have a few war stories of her own. This is one of them:

After a long night on the television talk-show circuit, Wahab makes a call.

Fauzia Wahab: Hello, is this Divine Inc.?

Voice on Other Line: Yes, this is Divine Overnight Delivery, Incorporated. How can I help you?

F.W.: I want a special delivery, and I want it asap

D.O.D: Go ahead. I’m listening.

F.W.: I need some Save-My-Soul Pizza and some Don’t-Fire-Me Breadsticks. But sent to different locations.

D.O.D.: Hmmm, not a typical order. Nowadays, I’m swamped with requests for either 70-Virgin Pies or Cricket Victory Burgers. But if you need this overnight, may I recommend Power-Crisis Wings? I have a lot of those in stock, and they come with free No-Water Sauce…they’re very popular in the summer.

F.W.: Perhaps I did not introduce myself properly. I am Fauzia Wahab, the first bi-lingual female political spokesperson in Pakistan. I have moderated seminars for the President, even for Hillary Clinton, and I’ve defended this government from the media’s onslaught better than any man! Now, I need that soul-saving pizza! As for the Please-Forgive-Me Muffins…

D.O.D.: Excuse me, madam, but I’m a little confused. You want the muffins or the breadsticks…

F.W.: What is this nonsense?! I had heard so much about you, D.O.D.! That you take care of the most special of deliveries! That you know your customers better than they know themselves! I’m very disappointed! To hell with you!

D.O.D.: My apologies. I’m just processing your order. But I have one request…

F.W.: Hah! Typical! A little dressing down and you’re as straight as the Prime Minister’s A.D.C. So, what’s this “request”?

D.O.D.: Please avoid words like “hell”. Simply refrain from all religiously linked expressions, phrases, examples, even metaphors. You see, this line is recorded. Such slips cause complications as the Insightful Service Idealists, our fervent back-office clerks, will take extra time with the paperwork, only delaying your order further. That religion stuff throws them off…

F.W.: Sorry, D.O.D. You’re right. That’s my Achille’s Heel. I was a champion debater once. I could outwit all the boys and girls, on any dais, in any subject. But this new job, these new pressures, uff! Thus, this special delivery! The Save-My-Soul Pizza is headed for all the Mullahs, especially the media savvy ones. And the Don’t-Fire-Me Breadsticks are for Isloo, Oxford and Dubai. And all because I compared the Constitution to the Quran…

D.O.D.: There, you’ve said it again! No religious symbolism! Anyway, I have taken your order. What about method of payment?

F.W.: Oh yes, of course! Well,  I’m a lowly public official, so I was hoping for Bait-ul-Maal credit…

D.O.D.: Ms Wahab! More religion talk?! Not good!

F.W.: Damn! Oops, I mean fine, I will pay for it personally! With a deed. Remorse. Does that work?

D.O.D.: Sure. Thanks for your order. Good night.

And it worked! As Divine Inc started delivering, Fauzia awoke the next morning to be greeted by the following article in the most politically pious newspaper of the land:

“ISLAMABAD – PPP Information Secretary Fauzia Wahab has clarified that her statement comparing the holy Quran and Pakistan’s Constitution has been “misquoted”. Wahab said she had never prioritised the Constitution over the holy Quran. She said being a true Muslim, she believed in the holy Quran and Sunnah as the supreme law. She said she acknowledged Hazrat Umer (RA) as the best reformer in the world. Reiterating all constitutions of the world as secondary to holy Quran, Fauzia said she had never prioritised President Zardari over Hazrat Umer (RA).”

Even for an unfortunately named place like Kashmir Road, it was the happiest of endings…

Fauzia Wahab’s Conversation with G.O.D.

Somewhere deep within the heart of Karachi, near the Quaid’s Mazaar, is a place called Kashmir Road. The avenue does not share much in common with its namesake, war-torn region. It is neither green, nor mountainous. It does not house any river systems or glaciers, and because it is a part of the MQM’s ‘turf’, the local population is not docile enough to be conquered and occupied by a mere foreign army.

But a famous Kashmir Road resident, one Fauzia Wahab – proud mother of four and and the most in-your-face information secretary the Peoples Party has produced of late –  does have a few war stories of her own. This is one of them:

After a long night on the television talk-show circuit, Wahab makes a call. This is a recorded transcript:

Fauzia Wahab: Hello, is this G.O.D. Inc?

Voice on Other Line: Yes, this is Guaranteed Overnight Delivery, Incorporated. How can I help you?

F.W.: Well, G.O.D., I wanted a special delivery. It’s a tall order, but I need it asap.

G.O.D.: Go ahead. I’m listening.

F.W.: Well, you see, after what’s happened tonight, I need some Save-My-Soul Pizza and some Don’t-Disown-And-Fire-Me Breadsticks. But I want them sent to different locations.

G.O.D.: Hmmm. That’s not a typical order. These days, I’m swamped with requests for either 70-Virgin Pies or Cricket Victory Burgers. The pies usually head up country, the burgers everywhere else. But if you need this overnight, may I recommend Power-Crisis Wings? They come with free No-Water Sauce. I have a lot of those in stock, ready to be delivered all over…they’re very popular in the summer.

F.W. (in a stern growl that comes much too easily to her, much thanks to her talk-show circuit charms): Am I not being clear, G.O.D.? Perhaps I did not introduce myself properly. My name is Fauzia Wahab, and I am the first bi-lingual female spokesperson to belong to any political party in Pakistan. I often moderate seminars for the President, even when Americans are in attendance. I’ve been defending this government against the media’s onslaught for almost two years now, better than any man in the land, and I need that Save-My-Soul Pizza, AND I NEED IT NOW! As for the the Please-Forgive-Me Muffins…

G.O.D. (taken aback, but retaining composure): Right, sorry Ms Wahab, but I’m a little confused here. Was it the muffins or the breadsticks you were interested in…

F.W. (now engraving her handset with her not-too-short-to-be-prudish-but-not-too-long-to-be-sexy-nails): What is this nonsense! I had heard so much about you, G.O.D.! That you take care of the most special of special deliveries! That you know your customers better than they know themselves!! You are SO overrated! I don’t have time for this! To hell with you, and thanks for nothing!

G.O.D.: My apologies, Ms Wahab. I will just process your order. But I have one request, if you don’t mind.

F.W.: Oh, so G.O.D. actually does work! Hah! Typical! A little dressing down by a proper lady and you’re as straight as that A.D.C. who tails the P.M. everywhere! So what’s this “request”? Chop, chop, I’m on a clock here…

G.O.D.: Avoid using words like “hell” when you’re online. That’s it. Simply refrain from any religiously linked expressions, phrases, examples, even metaphors. I’m only saying that because this is a recorded line. Such slips cause complications as the Insightful Service Idealists, our fervent back-office clerks, will take extra time to do the proper paperwork, only delaying your order further. That religion stuff throws them off, you see…

F.W. (experiencing a sudden, conscience-ridden mood swing coupled with a low, early-Bond era tone): I’m sorry G.O.D. You’re right. That’s my Achille’s Heel. When I was younger, I was a champion debater. I could outwit all the boys and girls, on any dais, in any subject. I was pure of thought and heart. But this new job, these new pressures, uff…That’s why I’m ordering the special delivery tonight. The Save-My-Soul Pizza…Well, you see, that’s headed for all the Muftis, Maulvis and Mullahs I can remember, especially all the media savvy types. And the Don’t-Disown-And-Fire-Me Breadsticks are headed to Isloo, Oxford and Dubai. And all because I compared the Constitution to the Quran…

G.O.D.: There, you’ve done it again, Ms Wahab! Religious symbolism again, tsk tsk! Anyway, I have taken your order. How will you be paying?

F.W. (snapping back into the conversation, as if she was contemplating political existentialism): Oh, yes! Paying, of course! Well, you see, I’m a lowly public official, so I was hoping to apply for that Government Employees Zakat discount…

G.O.D.: You’ve said it again, Ms Wahab! More religion talk! No good!

F.W. : Damn! Oops, I mean fine, I will pay for it personally! With a deed. Remorse. Does that work?

G.O.D.: Sure it does. Thank you for your order. Good night.

And sure enough, it worked! As Guaranteed Overnight Delivery went to work, when Fauzia Wahab awoke the next morning, she was welcomed by the following article in the most politically pious newspaper of the land:

“ISLAMABAD – PPP Information Secretary Fauzia Wahab has clarified that her statement regarding comparison between the holy Quran and Pakistan’s Constitution has been misquoted. In a statement issued from the media cell of the PPP Central Secretariat, she said she had never prioritised the Constitution over the holy Quran. She said being a true Muslim, she believed in the holy Quran and the Sunnah as the supreme law. She said she acknowledged Hazrat Umer (RA) as the best reformer in the world. Fauzia said some people were misquoting her statement in the context that she had prioritised President Zardari over Hazrat Umer (RA). Fauzia said she revered the holy Quran, Sunnah and Hadith of Hazrat Mohammad (PBUH) from the cores of her heart, reiterating that she considered the holy Quran as the supreme law, and all other constitutions of the world were secondary to the holy Quran.”

Even for an unfortunately named place like Kashmir Road, it was the happiest of endings…

Stay Away From The Chicken Korma (and apply for US Citizenship)

So this is the deal.

I have a low tolerance for email forwards. But when a forward is from a friend, suggesting I use a certain catering company instead of another in order TO AVIOID BEING A TARGET OF TERROR, that too with a less than sardonic undertone and an official document to back it all up, I really start questioning the high levels tolerance around these parts for violence, as well as the healing powers of my Pakistani passport…

This is what I received earlier today. It reads like something out of a Tim Burton movie…All I can say is, stay away from the chicken korma…

From: (EDITED OUT)

To: (EDITED OUT)

Sent: Fri May 21 12:50:28 2010

Subject: FW: Warden Notice to U.S. Citizens Concerning Hanif Rajput Caterers

X,Y & Z

PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU USE (CATERERS X) ! LOL….

Regards,

X

XYZ CATERERS

From: “ACS, Islamabad” <ACS_Islamabad@state.gov>

Date: Fri, 21 May 2010 12:35:10 +0500

Subject: Warden Notice to U.S. Citizens Concerning Hanif Rajput Caterers

Warden Notice to U.S. Citizens Concerning Hanif Rajput Caterers

Embassy of the United States of America

Consular Section, Diplomatic Enclave

Ramna 5, Islamabad, Pakistan

May 21, 2010

This Warden Notice is to alert American citizens that the U.S. Embassy is aware of threat information suggesting that terrorist groups may have established links to the Hanif Rajput Caterers firm in Islamabad, Pakistan.  As a precautionary measure, U.S. government personnel in Pakistan have been instructed to avoid using this company.  We have shared this information with appropriate Pakistani government agencies for their action.

The Embassy reiterates its advice to all U.S. citizens to take measures for their safety and security at all times.  These measures include maintaining good situational awareness, avoiding crowds and demonstrations, and keeping a low profile.  U.S. citizens should avoid setting patterns by varying times and routes for all required travel.  U.S. citizens should ensure that their travel documents and visas are valid at all times.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens  living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet website at http://travel.state.gov/ <http://travel.state.gov/> , where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warning for Pakistan, and Country-Specific Information for Pakistan can be found.  Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

U.S. citizens are encouraged to register with the nearest Embassy or Consulate.  Registration can be done online at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ <https://travelregistration.state.gov/> .

Contact information follows for all four posts in Pakistan:

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad is located at Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5; telephone (92-51) 208-0000; Consular Section telephone (92-51) 208-2700; fax (92-51) 282-2632; website http://islamabad.usembassy.gov <http://islamabad.usembassy.gov> .

The U.S. Consulate General in Karachi, located at 8 Abdullah Haroon Road, provides service to U.S. citizens by appointment only.  U.S. citizens requiring assistance should call the consular section in Karachi.  Their telephone is (92-21) 520-4200; after hours (92-21) 520-4400; fax (92-21) 568-0496; website http://karachi.usconsulate.gov/ <http://karachi.usconsulate.gov/> .

The U.S. Consulate General in Lahore is located at 50- Sharah-E-Abdul Hameed Bin Badees, (Old Empress Road) near Shimla Hill Rotary; telephone (92-42) 603-4000 or 603-4250; fax (92-42) 603-4200; website http://lahore.usconsulate.gov/ <http://lahore.usconsulate.gov/> ; Email address: acslahore@state.gov <mailto:acslahore@state.gov> .

The U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar is located at 11 Hospital Road, Cantonment, Peshawar; telephone (92-91) 526-8800; fax (92-91) 527-6712; website http://peshawar.usconsulate.gov <http://peshawar.usconsulate.gov> .

The Man Who Can Shut It All Down

Independence didn’t come cheap, nor did it come easy. The path to 1947 was neither short or smooth. In fact, the eventual ‘constitutional liberation’ and partition of India took decades of violent and non-violent movements, legal and extra-legal measures, even accessions and assassinations. But it all started with a prude girl, a reputed virgin by the name of Elizabeth.

That’s right. On 31st December of the year 1600, Elizabeth I granted the first Charter to the ‘Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies’ empowering them to ‘lawfully impose…such Pains, Punishments and Penalties…upon and against all Offenders…’ who didn’t let them trade for the Crown. This was arguably the first British ‘law’ geared towards India. By 1683, the Company was empowered to declare war on and to conclude peace with any ruler. Consequently, it was also allowed to raise, arm, train and deploy an army. By 1686 it had its own royal mint. Less than a century after its existence, the Company had become what today’s political scientists would call a Major Non-State Actor, with all the essential and effective powers of a State.

The next century was even more exciting. Now reinvented, the New East India Company spent the 1700s filling the vacuum left by the dead Aurungzeb, finishing off the Dutch and French, fighting legendary battles like Plassey and Buxor, crushing the die-hard Sultans of Mysore, and finally controlling most of India without much resistance. Thus, within two centuries, from Elizabeth’s Charter signing to the death of Tipu Sultan (1799), a mere trading firm had taken over a Subcontinent: a vast polity riddled with internal strife, religious tensions and no central authority had capitulated to an organized gang of armed merchants.

History unfolded. The uprising of 1857 came and went. Britain strengthened its role in the affairs of India, developing and raping the country as only a true colonial master can: simultaneously,  and with methodical design and discrimination.

But you can’t have too much of a good thing. The same Indians the Britons had cloned after themselves to fight their wars and run their bureaucracies, now wanted in. Thus came the Minto-Morley reforms in 1909, which allowed Indians (a very select few) to vote for Indians (a very privileged few). The beginning of the end for the Raj was nigh.

Not really.

It was 1919, and a couple of chaps with the equally complicated names of Montague and Chelmsford decided that Indians (who had fought valiantly for the Empire in the Great War) were finally ready for ‘responsible government’. As our planners happened to be the Secretary of State and the Viceroy of India, respectively, this was not exactly a pipe dream conceived in a London pub. Thus came the Government of India Act of 1919.

For India, it was a legislative revolution, and these were the main stipulations: Two houses of legislature, ‘semi-direct’ elections, and the power to make all the laws for the entire realm of British India.

Well, except some laws. With some rules. And what were these?

Let’s see. Revenue. Religion. Military. And Foreign Affairs. For these four areas, the newly empowered legislators had to check with a man called the Governor-General.

The ‘GG’ was quite the tough guy, at least on paper. He could stop any Bill if he felt it affected the ‘safety or tranquility of British India, or any part thereof’. He could issue an ordinance that would essentially become law. He could veto anything the politicos in the Legislature came up with. In fact, he could even tell the politicians what to debate about and when to go home. And yes, he could shut it all down by dissolving the Legislature.

Sound familiar? It should.

Today,  we have a bicameral system which is limited by unwritten ‘no go’ rules, where our politicos are also unable (or unwilling) to debate and legislate reforms for religion, foreign policy, military affairs, even budgets. Four critical categories of policy-making remain off-limits, despite independence!

But who is our Governor-General? The Man Who Can Shut It All Down?

Three guesses, and here’s a hint. Start by looking for someone with the words ‘Governor’ or ‘General’ attached to his name. Lets start alphabetically….

Also published under the same title with changes in The Express Tribune on May 20, 2010