The Ultimate BBM Conversation (between two very angry Pakistanis)

The Time: 21.02hrs, Sep 1, hours after the Yaum-e-Ali bombings in Lahore and sniper attacks in Karachi

The Actors: Two Good Friends – one in Lahore, one in Karachi (lets call them LHR and KHI)

The Situation: KHI realizes that he needs to check on how his bud LHR is doing…after all the shootings in Karachi paled in comparison to the havoc in Lahore…

KHI: Hope all is well bud…

LHR: Yeah, thx, all well

KHI: Good stuff

KHI: 😦

KHI: But I’m still worried

LHR: Yea…time running out

KHI: That is the scariest shit I’ve heard all day…But you’re right

LHR: This country is plenty resilient man…but this is getting too much…it’s a non stop tsunami of depressing shit…

KHI: yup…

LHR: This govt is fuckd up but we cnt make them martyrs, nor can we have ganja brothers Sharifov stepping in…

KHI: Agreed…But when the fuck will the powers that be hit the tipping point dude…What the fuck are they waiting for…Eid?

LHR: Something’s gotta give…

KHI: I thought the floods would do it. In a weird, fucked up way I hoped the floods would cause it all to change now…

LHR: The powers that be are stuck knee deep in floods…literally…plus counterinsurgency…

KHI: That aint no fucking excuse…This army is trained to fight military AND political battles, simultaneously…so what are they waiting for…

LHR: If that happens, I just don’t know how sustainable and effective it will be though…

KHI: Yeah…so what do we do? Wait it out and let the “the answer to democracy is more democracy” bullshit/theorem kick in?

LHR: Dunno…That wont work…We aint got time…but ‘drop’ scene of some kind abt to happen…

KHI: Yup. Agreed. There is no clear way. Literally

LHR: Fucking joker in the pack is the CJP

KHI: Agreed.

LHR: The fucking problem is that this awaam will be voting in Bilawal’s grandson in 30 years time. Its messed up!

KHI: Unless you give them a 1984 style Orwellian treatment…a fucking big dose of brand new mega-nationalism

LHR: Can it work in this day and age?

KHI: Guess not

LHR: Jeez man Mush shd have Tianemenned the lawyer’s asses. Its been downhill since March 9

KHI: Yeah I sometimes wonder where Mush got his commando wings from!! Fucking Vermont? Fucking Maine?!

LHR: Hehe…Maybe Red Bull!

KHI: Hahaha…Good shit…

LHR: Talk later…

KHI: Later mate…

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THIS JUST IN: “Confidential” Email Claiming Zardari’s “New Buy”

For those who obsessed with the  information business, I’m sure you’ve received one of these…

from x@mobilink.blackberry.com
reply-to x@mobilink.blackberry.com
to Wajahat <x@x.com>
date x August 2010 x:x
subject Note
mailed-by srs.bis.eu.blackberry.com

“the source is considered reliable …. so far he has not given wrong news …….but one cannot be 100% certain

The media gossip in London and reverberating around the wire is that
the mystery buyer of 1 Hyde Park, Knightsbridge, London could be non
other than Asif Ali Zardari. A whopping 140 million pounds was paid
for this vast brand new penthouse property in the heart of fashionable
Knightsbridge.

Collection of the sale proceeds of Surrey Mansion and  participation in this auction and prior viewing was the main reason for his visit to London. The final bid was made by mobile phone from inside a bullet proof car parked outside the auction house.


This is a small reminder to the sick people in Pakistan, who were against the throwing of the shoe to a “Respected President of Pakistan abroad”!!!

They are purblind to the realities of the damage this man called Zardari has done to the nation.

Please read this assessment by Ayaz Amir. Declassify after checking your sources.”


*** This Message Has Been Sent Using BlackBerry Internet Service from Mobilink ***

Flood Relief ’10: Read This – It Will Be Help Enough

Hey You

Thanks for visiting my blog. You’ll find a bit on almost everything under the sun (the Pakistani sun, that is) here. But don’t read anything political today. Just read this.

I am taking a step back from political commentary for a new initiative:  “Fight The Flood”

FTF is the only blog of its kind so far: it aims to focus Pakistan’s flood relief efforts on a single platform.

Why? Because there is confusion.

There so many individuals and organizations involved in the relief effort, and they are doing so much, that it has become increasingly difficult for a random, concerned person to decide where, how and when they can help.

With “Fight The Flood”, you can now choose from a wide and organized range of local, national and global

1) Relief Initiatives

2) Donor Forums, Directories and Addresses

3) Volunteer Positions

So all you have to do to do your bit is visit FTF, choose a cause, a donor agency, or a relief activity, and just do it!

I hope we can all get a little less political and little more charitable for the time being.

Thanks for reading this.

Best

Wajahat S. Khan

“Hot or Not” – A Leadership Index

Listing the Who’s Who of contemporary Pakistan isn’t difficult. Thanks to decades of systematic “elitist” education, entrenched “baradari” politics, circular “khandani” business networking, and “society-specific” (the new-age version for class/caste) familial practices, those “who matter” are dated/married/ related to or have worked/served with “everyone else who matters” as well.

In this modern jungle of highbrow society and below-the-belt politics, where “everyone knows someone” and all the players are A-Listers, the ‘Real Elites’ need to be separated from the dispensable and irrelevant: behold, our qualified analysis of this Islamic Republic’s “Most (Un) Important Leaders” – or in jet-setter lingo – the “Politically Hot or Not”…

First up, Asif Ali Zardari: Hot. In fact, the President is too hot to handle. Even though his PR advisors are probably double agents for the PML-N (his recent trip to Europe is case in point enough – why else would he go?), AAZ is the “Lord and Master” of a party which has been constructed around the cult of lords and masters. The PPP loves “personalities”, and AAZ exudes a ‘yaaron ka yar’ charisma that they find irresistible. He is no ZAB or BB, but Zardari’s got game – no-holds-barred, Machiavellian game. Also, his serving time as well as being a single-dad who’s raising the Bhutto scions might not rub off on everyone, but most jiyalas agree that he’s “worked hard” to get where he is. A veritable “survivor”, the Prez might be a lot of things, but he is not (Un)Important.

Next: Yusuf Raza Gilani – Not Hot. The PM of Pakistan aptly lives up to his title (isn’t it in the “PM” that we are most tired and ready to pass out?). During 2009, Gilani enjoyed brief popularity when the press lauded him as a “middle of the road” premier with “pragmatic” policies. Gilani was the Dusk Warrior – one who could negotiate between the dazzling spotlight of Parliamentary politicking and the dark depths of the Establishment’s ego.  But what was the Prime Minister’s “moderation” last year is perceived today as “mediocrity”. Though Gilani is no John Doe – he couldn’t have come this far by being a nobody – one gets the feeling that Pakistani democracy won’t suffer a major brain drain if aliens were to suddenly abduct him.

Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani – Hot. Even though the “Soldier’s Soldier” wears four stars, he gets five stars on our hotness scale. Kayani is War General, Spymaster, Chief Diplomat, Political Operator and Grand-Strategist all rolled into one, somber Chain-Smoker. Everyone, everywhere wants to know the “Golfer-in-Chief”. The Gates/Mullen Pentagon is enchanted; the Clinton/Holbrooke State Department doesn’t have an option; the CIA/DIA boys are policy-less without him; CENTCOM wants to give him another star; the Indians are nervous as they’re now dealing with a real-life ISI man versus the semi-imaginary ones of the past; and the Chinese, well, them having the COAS visit the PRC on an official trip the week of his tenure’s extension announcement is reason enough to believe that General Kayani is the hottest thing in Beijing since chop-sticks were invented.

But another four-star warrior, General Tariq Majid, is not hot. Even though being Chairman of the Joint-Chiefs makes him the most senior soldier of the land, the difference between him and Kayani is that the latter’s four-stars come with direct control over half a million men, the world’s premier intelligence apparatus and hot-button access to our “strategic assets”, aka nuclear weapons. Majid’s four stars come with some brass polish, and that’s about it.

To reiterate – being “Hot or Not” in Pakistani politics is a game of “Value Addition”. Shah Mahmood Qureshi, bespoken and well attired, runs a Foreign Office that is, unfortunately, not allowed to make a lot of foreign policy. Thus, he is not hot. Nawaz Sharif – contradictive and opportunistic, the classic example of a provincial mind operating at a global level, much thanks to patronage and fate – is very hot. That’s because he’s capable of making political hay in all sorts of circumstances – lawyers marching and rivers flooding are like sunshine for the Royal of Raiwind.

Making some “Hot or Not” decisions is easy: for example, the PCB’s Ijaz Butt is simply not hot (everyone develops the temper of a red-blooded Trotsky whenever our Cricket Czar holds a press conference). Other verdicts, like who’s the hottest in a collection of frumpy “not-hots” – our four Chief Ministers – are difficult to ascertain: Qaim Ali Shah’s missing backbone, Aslam Raisani’s “Fake or real, at least it’s a degree” logic, Amir Hoti’s “War? What war?” defensiveness and Shahbaz Sharif’s “It’s still the 90’s” approach to running Punjab make it all so confusing…speaking of which, I’m feeling kind of dizzy. After all, it’s always hot in MQM’s Karachi…

Target Killing A Pixilated Hercules

Aug 4

1632hrs: Breaking News – Explosion heard in Saddar, Peshawar. No idea about casualties. The networks scream. The red tickers go berserk. Reporters yell with reports that are incoherent. We know that it was a car-bomb.

1744hrs: An hour has passed. A man by the name of Sifwat Ghayur is our (now deceased) protagonist. The former Intelligence Bureau veteran, CCPO Peshawar and till very recently, Commandant of the battle hardy FC is reported dead. Welcome to target killing, Peshawar style.

Then, a hero is born. Media is the mother, rhetoric the midwife.

Shots of Ghayur, younger than I thought he would be, with hair that was a little too long for a cop and a body too well built for a government official, is making the rounds on every channel.

The accolades begin: Ghayur was incorruptible. He was tipped to become the IG of his province. Ghayur never took pressure from ministers and seniors to deviate from duty. He had arrested around 150 A-list terrorists. Once, in the middle of a heated gun-battle, he preferred to give his bulletproof vest to one of his men (this much is even shown in archived footage) instead of wearing it for his own protection. He always led from the front.

1755: Soft drink and telecom commercials finally wrap up the story of the afternoon. As I consume low-rate cell phone plans and high-calories that are supposedly accompanied with an invisible virility, I obsess over the last moments of Ghayur, caught on CCTV…

The footage shows Ghayur’s black sedan stop near a street corner. For the first few seconds, there is nothing but regular activity around him. Then, a hefty biker in shalwar kameez snakes his way around the curb and in front of his car.

He angles his bike in front of the sedan, three or four feet away, and puts his foot down to park his machine.

He touches something in front of his body, but it’s not visible.

Then, the white explosion.

I imagine Ghayur’s last moments. Being a go-getter, maybe he was driving himself. He didn’t seem like a backseat kind of cop. Most probably, he was in the passenger seat. Maybe he was smoking a cigarette, observing his dilapidated city’s downtown street. Perhaps he was on the phone – with his boss maybe, updating him on the latest, or even his wife, telling her he would be home soon. On the other hand, he was a good-looking man, of the modern alpha-male variety. What were the chances of him having a mistress he was text-messaging? Being a first-among-equals type of workaholic, maybe our protagonist was talking strategy with his driver, or even cracking a joke about how traffic is going to get really crazy once Ramadan rolls around?

Did Ghayur’s police instincts kick in, perhaps at the last moment, before he knew it was too late? Did he feel the heat of the blast first, or was it the impact of glass, metal and decompressed air that greeted him? Maybe it was like the Scorsese movie, where a car-bomb’s victim actually sees the flames come out of the air-conditioner vents before the vehicle totally explodes. Scorsese used slow-motion to build up that moment from his classic, Casino. Was it the same for our hero, or was it all over quickly?

The explosion puts it all to rest. No bulletproof jacket could have helped our man.

The news cycle wears itself out. It’s back to a traveling president and a flooding river.

Still, Peshawar’s top cop lives on – but only as a pixilated Hercules.

“Gangistan”

It’s official – Pakistan is going through a mid-life crisis. The bad-boy of international geo-politics has outlived its younger years, working hard and playing harder, and the decades of naughtiness are finally beginning to show.

The diagnosis is complicated, but one any street hustler will easily understand. Having lost his founder-father – henceforth, ‘Daddy’ – at an early age, Pakistan – henceforth, ‘Pak’ – drifted into a vicious cycle common in most juvenile offenders: bad friends and bad habits.

As Daddy had left little inheritance, chronic outspending beyond his means led our poor protagonist to develop a dependence on scoring hits by borrowing from whoever was willing to lend. The streets were rough in those days. A loud, brash white boy by the name of Yank was the big player on the Westside of town. He was hitting his prime just around the time Pak entered the market. Surfacing after the fall of his passive-aggressive yet urbane predecessor, a snob called Brit, Yank serviced the Westside and beyond with an affable air.

Needless to say, Yank had learnt from Brit’s mistakes: establishing a high-society presence and sending your own boys to the do the deal was now old school – high risk with high overheard was a no-go for our new-age entrepreneur. Instead, Yank reached out to whoever could afford him, thanks to the novel concept of the ‘sign on’. He made his new customers endorse pieces of paper called ‘Treaties’, assuring them that he would ‘have their back’ in case anything bad went down. This was a winner with now thoroughly complex and complicated Pak – with serious Freudian-centric Daddy issues, Pak didn’t mind a far-off stranger selling him mediocre product at high-rates – at least someone ‘had his back’.

During this formative phase, Pak thus developed an appetite for whatever goodie was on the table: aid and aircraft, tube-wells and tanks, it didn’t matter. Without discrimination, Pak could smoke, shoot, sniff, snort, rip, cut, and even eat whatever feel-good product the Westside churned out. Brimming with the delusions of a venerable narcotic fiend, Pak started to imagine himself as bigger and stronger than he actually was, and one fine day in ‘65, decided to take on his nemesis and stepbrother, bad ol’ Indy.

This hostility was not out of nowhere. Indy and Pak had issues that went way back. At least that was what Pak’s Daddy had told him when he was a toddler. The story was too simple to forget: Pak’s mother, Hind, a woman gifted with extraordinary talents and beauty, had married two different men who courted her: Mos and N-Du. A powerful and eclectic woman, she thought such a lack of marital Puritanism was kosher, as long as she kept everyone fed and happy. But Pak’s Daddy said that because they had two different ancestors, Mos and N-Du’s kids could never live together. They needed their own turf. Thus, Pak and Indy came about.

What Daddy never told Pak was that Hind, an extraordinary mother, raised the scions of Mos and N-Du to the best of her abilities. Legend goes that they all lived as one – except for the formal stuff they had to do from time to time for the sake of ‘keeping it real’. Meanwhile, free-loving Mother Hind kept on hooking up with different wooers, old and new, whoever suited her needs – Guru, Zorast, Eesa, it didn’t matter. If they were good to her, she gave them babies.

Enter Brit, and the story takes a twist. As mentioned earlier, being a passive-aggressive smooth-talker, Brit seduced and raped Hind simultaneously. One of the immediate effects of his shacking up with Mother Hind was the systematic beleaguering of all of her children and his takeover of her assets. This happened for a while, till Brit fell old and weak (he had barely survived the beating of a lifetime from another Westsider, an upstart called Gerry), and let Hind’s eldest two, the successors of Mos and N-Du, figure their stuff out on their own.

All those years of being beleaguered and disenfranchised kicked in, and Pak and Indy were born in trauma, each fighting for Hind’s tit of sustenance. One mother, two fathers: without Brit refereeing, the neighbourhood got smaller, especially for Pak. Obviously, the binging started as soon as Daddy was gone.

Anyway, to wrap up Pak’s mid-life crisis tale, it was that drug-induced gangbang in ‘65 that led him to find a new supplier – a quite, mysterious Eastsider who went by the initials PRC, or as Pak liked to call him, Mean Cheen. As Yank hadn’t lived up to his Treaty and failed to bail Pak out in the Troubles of ‘65, Pak and Mean Cheen hit it off, big time.

But as any drug fiend with a rap-sheet and a rough family history will tell you, there is ‘no getting off the good stuff’. Pak missed Yank’s wares, and knowing this weakness – whenever he had an odd-job to outsource in that part of town – Yank would hire Pak and pay with the latter’s favorite: more goodies.

They say that the job that really got Pak was the Kabul Heist. Pak used too much variety, too quickly and too long. Yank’s goodies were mixed with Saud’s stash, Mean Cheen’s tech was ripped with Af-Goon’s finest white stuff, the Poppy. And the chrome – also known as the Kalashinkov, which means ‘Bad News’ in street talk -became a permanent part of Pak’s gear. While ’65 was an exercise in delusion, followed by a self-inflicted fire in ’71 that burnt down half of his crib, the perpetually high-and-happy wave that Pak started riding in the ‘80s has now evolved into a chronic, self-induced cancer for our protagonist.

Indeed, these are tough times. What were once Pak’s bearded toy-soldiers are now his ghouls. Worse, Pak feels, and is, surrounded. Yank and Brit, both of who always have other ideas, have subjected his sidekick, Af-Goon, to a hostile-takeover. Indy, who stayed clean and sparred alone during the early years, is now dealing himself, slinging for whoever can afford his wares, and he has a lot of takers. And good old Mean Cheen, being a martial-art-disciplined type Eastside boy, is loyal, but sensible enough to stay clear of poor, hurting Pak.

In the global gangland – with his dependencies breaking him and his ghosts haunting him – Pak seems to be in a state that the locals simply call ‘lit up’. On the Westside, Yank has come up with a preppie term that is making the rounds with those college-educated suburban folks: ‘Failed State’.

That’s the rap from Gangistan. Peace out…

Think Like An Indian

The verdict is out: Pakistan’s latest ‘peace talks’ with India were anything but peaceful. Furthermore, insiders say that nobody really ‘talked’ either – rather, everyone ‘talked over’ each other. The ending was a bout between two immaculately dressed foreign ministers – one a verbose South Punjabi and the other an insipid South Indian – and a very cold departure from a very hot Islamabad by some very frigid Hindustanis.

But while Pakistan’s news cycle has quickly adjusted back to fake degrees and the charge of the Hillary brigade, Indian journos have refused to let go of their ‘Agra 2’ – the new version of a similar breakdown in 2001 when then president Musharraf visited the Taj and buried Vajpayee’s charms right next to Shahjahan’s beloved Mumtaz Mahal. Thus, an insight into what our friends on the other side are thinking is key…

Questioning peace, The Himalayan mulls: “While the Indian government is keen to mend fences with Pakistan, it will not compromise on its ‘core concern’, which is the repeated use of terror…India had grown at over 8 per cent after Mumbai and it will continue to grow…‘despite Pakistan’, the clear implication being that Pakistan needs the dialogue process more than India does.”

Blaming Qureshi, the Indian Express recalls: “Qureshi was not happy with an open-ended language like [talks would resume] “at an appropriate time” and wanted India to specify a timeline. India, on its part, said it was in no position to provide a timeframe as the progress and pace…are linked to…the Mumbai attacks investigation….There is also a sense of concern here at the way Qureshi conducted himself…and his ‘petulance’ that left the Indian side…surprised.”

Analysing Pakistan’s establishment, the Hindustan Times alleges: “When the prime ministers…met in Thimpu…Gilani indicated he had the full support of his military…When the foreign ministers of the two countries met in mid-July, the men in khaki were opposed…developments, say sources in both countries, led them to change their minds. The first development was the political resurgence of President Asif Ali Zardari. The Pakistan military has sought to marginalise him…The military’s view about the dialogue with India had shifted from support to strong doubt. One reason, say sources in Pakistan, was the establishment’s view was that a successful dialogue with India would only add another feather to Zardari’s cap.”

But, batting for Pakistan, the Bangalore Mirror cautions: “It’s so easy to blame Pakistan…But if the trust deficit between India and Pakistan has to be seriously addressed…then India should be willing…to accept that ‘composite dialogue’ is not a rhetorical ploy… but a reflection of how all conflicts in South Asia are basically interlinked…Like India in Kashmir, Pakistan has bled profusely in Afghanistan. It has a right to be concerned about the future of that country…Subsequently, India has invested heavily in Kabul…We remain the venal Karzai regime’s main backer. We have four consulates in Afghanistan and have given its government $1.2 billion in aid, a whopping sum for a country that is 99 per cent Muslim and with which we have no common border. We have also put up their new parliament building and chancery, and have helped train the Afghan army. In terms of one nation’s special interests that subvert another nation’s special interests, how is our involvement in Kabul different from that of Pakistan in Kashmir?”

Finally, sounding the doomsday alarm, the Hindustan Times declares: “‘In an unstable Pakistan…government and the army will become even more dependent upon China,’ the New Delhi-based Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses has warned…[The 156-page report] said: ‘…agencies in Pakistan will continue…using terror as a tool of pressure against India…an increasing unstable Pakistan may manifest in several ways – Lebanonisation (being divided into several small pockets) or…even face disintegration…The army will get more aggressive as it finds itself fighting to save Pakistan: and its own identity. This could result in more sabrerattling and brandishing of the nuclear threat…Within Pakistan, the society will get fragmented. The ethnic, linguistic and provincial fault lines may get accentuated. Insurgency in Balochistan might get worse. Sindh and NWFP will not remain unaffected. They will challenge Punjab’s dominance…’”

Thanks for playing ‘Think Like An Indian!’. Your prize: a different perspective. Come back soon.