Cross posting documentary made on me & PYA by Al-Jazeera English, highlighting some of the work we do.
Posted in From Other Blogs, Politics, Published Work, TV/Press Interviews, tagged anti america-ism in Pakistan, Council on Foreign Relations, Pakistan USA relationship, siege of mecca, Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi on February 8, 2012 | 2 Comments »
First published Council on Foreign Relations website
It was November 1979. Anti-American outrage filled the streets of Pakistan. Several U.S. facilities were attacked across the country. A mob in Islamabad nearly burned the U.S. embassy to the ground. The chant “Kill the American infidels!” echoed in the air in response to the siege of Mecca’s grand mosque, Islam’s holiest site.
Pakistani crowds angered by the unprecedented events unfolding in Mecca concluded that such a plot could only be orchestrated by Americans. It turned out they were wrong. The homegrown radical group in Saudi Arabia that led the bloody siege had no link with the United States.
While the U.S.-Pakistani relationship has experienced many changes in the decades since, miscalculations of ground realities on both sides and anti-American sentiment have remained.
The majority of people in Pakistan admire the way Americans live—almost every Pakistani family has a member settled in the United States—but a glaring majority hates the impact of U.S. policies in Pakistan. The United States is considered by many to be the “great Satan.” Every U.S. political move in Pakistan is interpreted as an effort to destabilize Pakistan or to fight a war against Islam. Aggressive rhetoric on the Pakistani side—at times reflecting an unrealistic worldview and at times responding justifiably to belligerent U.S. action—molds mass perceptions.
A few months ago, I was in Kot Addu in the south of Pakistan’s Punjab province filming recent flood damage in the area with a British filmmaker named Oliver. He was confronted by a local who, after pushing Oliver, scanned the sky and shouted “drone, drone” as if Oliver’s tripod and camera were the equipment that maneuvers drones. Bear in mind that south Punjab has never had a drone attack and is very far from the area where drone attacks take place.
For me, this incident highlights an important fact for U.S.-Pakistani relations. The general public in Pakistan cannot be expected to understand the complicated nature of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship. When something goes wrong in Pakistan, the public relies on their interpretation of the events at face value. In the case of drone attacks, for example, the United States must consider this effect and act more responsibly.
Many of my American friends ask the same question: “Why do they hate us?” By way of explanation, the discourse rampant in Pakistani streets is closest to what most Muslim-majority communities feel. The invasion of Iraq, decades-long support for oppressive governments, bias in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, the killing of thousands of innocent Muslims, recurring stories of torture and abuse of prisoners—all have combined to generate suspicion of the United States within Pakistan. When Pakistanis find evidence that the United States applies its values of democracy and human rights selectively depending on its interests (the Raymond Davis episode and “collateral damage” from drone attacks being prime examples), for many, suspicion turns to hate.
Finally, solidifying this ill will is the lack of understanding between the two countries on a human level. People-to-people, civil society-based contact and interaction is scarce, and misconceptions are aided by a U.S. media that does not propagate alternative opinions from within U.S. society. The result is the image of the United States as a monolithic society.
Disagreement is a trait of democratic society and should be considered a strength rather than a weakness. If on-the-ground dissent in the United States can be understood in Pakistan, and communication between the United States and regions that “hate” the United States is given importance in the international media, the United States’ monolithic, negative image will become less rampant in Pakistan and other Muslim-majority communities. This will not only benefit the image of the United States worldwide, but will give “conspiracy theorists” reason to look within before pointing the finger at the United States.
Posted in From Other Blogs, General Utterances, Published Work, TV/Press Interviews, tagged ali abbas PYA, dawn blog, extremism in Pakistan, Karachi, Lieutenant Yaser Abbas, PNS Mehran attack, Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi, Syed Yaser Abbas Shaheed, terrorism on October 12, 2011 | 1 Comment »
The night of Sunday, May 22, 2011, will be remembered as one of the most haunting nights in the history of Pakistan. While Pakistan was still reeling from the killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on May 2, the 16-hour operation against terrorists at PNS Mehran served to add salt to the wounds of the nation.
At 10:40 pm I received a message from some course mates while having dinner together that a “P3-C Orion has been hit”. I tweeted this instantly, seeking confirmation from the media as I did not know whether the aircraft was hit in the air or on ground. This was the first and last message I would hear from my friends, who were now engaged in the operation.
At 12:54 am my social media feed read: My junior Lt Yaser and guards in his Squad are in the operation theater, the doctors are not confirming their condition, but saying that they have been shot – O negative blood is needed at PNS Rahat.
Just a few minutes later, we learnt that our brave junior had breathed his last. A couple of my close friends had also been shot.
I remember playing cricket with Yaser; he was an amazing athlete and one of the brightest students at the College of Aeronautical Engineering, Risalpur.
His course mate Abdullah talks about his personality:
“I haven’t known a more genuine person. The academy really puts you to test and only a fortunate few come out victorious. Lt. Syed Yaser Abbas represented the best of his kind and always managed to pass with flying colors. As per tradition, we called him ‘Naval Yaser’ (since he was part of the Pakistan Navy). Yaser was very close to me. Any person who has been at a boot-camp, will realise that when we call our course mates, our brothers, we mean it in the truest sense.
Ever since the PNS attack, I have endlessly recalled and relived the memorable times I have spent with Yaser – teasing seniors, late night gatherings, group study sessions, sitting on the roof-top chatting until late night, watching T20 world cup matches, mast qalandar sessions and the MOHA, CS gaming sessions – the list is endless. Yaser would also be early to bed the night before an exam, while we crammed but somehow he still managed to get better grades than us. He was also the one in the group who always had a bag of eatables on hand.
Yaser’s most distinctive feature was perhaps his loud, hearty laugh that could be heard long before anyone saw him coming. He always insisted he was an introvert back home, but we never really got to see that side of him. He was always joking and fooling around.
Spontaneity was his forte. Yaser executed unplanned, last-minute trips with ease. He never shied away from helping anyone who asked for his help. Even if you asked him at 3 am to come over, there he would be with his car.
All of us had been, in the last four months, planning a reunion. Just a day before the PNS Mehran attack, Yaser told me, he probably wouldn’t be able to make it for the reunion because his leaves had been postponed. He asked that we carry on without him, to which I replied that we could wait until he was granted leave. Who would have known then, that he would be the cause of our much-awaited reunion. May Allah bless his soul.”
And much like the proverbial teaching in the military: no guts, no glory – his bravery, courage and sacrifice will be remembered for a long time to come.
Written on the walls of College of Aeronautical Engineering are the words ‘The Few, The Proud’. Yaser is most certainly among the few who have made his college and everyone who knew him proud by being nominated for the Nishan-e-Haider.
With the media coverage Yaser has received, he may be known to many as the face of the PNS Mehran attack, but there are tens of thousands of young men like him who have died fighting for their country.
Terrorist sympathisers are quick to point out that it is the US who has brought their war into Pakistan among other defenses for these heinous attacks of terrorism. In the face of haunting attacks such as that on PNS Mehran, even the thought of a terrorist sympathiser among us is appalling.
I believe nothing can be more tragic for a nation, which is still confused about who their real heroes are.
– interview on Channel News Asia
100 days have passed since the worst humanitarian crisis in modern history ravaged 1/3rd of Pakistan. We tried to contribute in our humble capacities; We had young men and men leaving work, studies and families to reach out to affected compatriots. We saw mothers crying and hugging children not of their wombs like they were their own, we saw fathers saving lives of children they did not have any blood relation to, we saw boys shedding tears and lending a helping hand to sisters, we saw sisters bringing water to brothers not related to them.
Irrespective of ethnicity, language, regionalism and religion– Pakistanis reached out to their affected compatriots. Irrespective of whys, what’s, when’s and how’s – We saw Pakistaniat during 2005 earthquake, Swat IDP crisis, Baluchistan earthquake and once again during 2010 flood relief efforts.
During our 35 deliveries so far, in 27 different locations — We once again felt Pakistaniat from Karachi to Khyber and beyond. From Canada & Australia to USA, UK and Japan – we saw humanity bonded. We thank the generous donors, who listened to our plight and gave us the opportunity to serve our country, with over 36 Million PKR (420,000 USD) raised and disbursed so far. We thank 100 odd young relief workers, who volunteered their time and energies with us. This by the way, is not the end, but the start of the tedious and more energy consuming efforts to rehabilitate millions who are still desperate for our help.
The youth of Pakistan was once again on the forefront, to deliver help to their countrymen in need. This disaster showed us hope, and like rightly said “From Floods, Pakistan’s New Generation Emerged”.
Lets live up to the spirit of Eid of Sacrifice and own the 7 Million still homeless; the 22 Million who still wait for us..
Re-posted from Coelho’s blog.
A true poet does not bother to be poetical. Nor does a nursery gardener scent his roses. An artist cannot speak about his art any more than a plant can discuss horticulture.
The extreme limit of wisdom, that’s what the public calls madness. The instinct of nearly all societies is to lock up anybody who is truly free. First, society begins by trying to beat you up. If this fails, they try to poison you. If this fails too, they finish by loading honors on your head.
The poet never asks for admiration; he wants to be believed.
Art produces ugly things which frequently become more beautiful with time. Fashion, on the other hand, produces beautiful things which always become ugly with time. Take a commonplace, clean it and polish it, light it so that it produces the same effect of youth and freshness and originality and spontaneity as it did originally, and you have done a poet’s job. The rest is literature.
When a work appears to be ahead of its time, it is only the time that is behind the work.
The actual tragedies of life bear no relation to one’s preconceived ideas. In the event, one is always bewildered by their simplicity, their grandeur of design, and by that element of the bizarre which seems inherent in them. Man seeks to escape himself in myth, and does so by any means at his disposal. Drugs, alcohol, or lies. Unable to withdraw into himself, he disguises himself. Lies and inaccuracy give him a few moments of comfort.
I am a lie who always speaks the truth.
It is autumn and the leaves are falling
All love has died on earth
The wind is weeping with sorrowful tears
My heart will never hope for a new spring again
My tears and my sorrows are all in vain
People are heartless, greedy and wicked…
Love has died!
The world has come to its end, hope has ceased to have a meaning
Cities are being wiped out, shrapnel is making music
Meadows are coloured red with human blood
There are dead people on the streets everywhere
I will say another quiet prayer:
People are sinners, Lord , they make mistakes…
The world has ended!
Gloomy Sunday - the notorious ‘Hungarian Suicide Song’ – alleged to be the defining factor in countless suicides committed across the globe – was written in 1933. Its melody and original lyrics were the creation of Rezső Seress, a self-taught pianist and composer born in Hungary in 1899.
The crushing hopelessness and bitter despair which characterised the two stanza penned by Seress were superseded by the more mournful, melancholic verses of Hungarian poet László Jávor.
When the song came to public attention it quickly earned its reputation as a ‘suicide song’. Reports from Hungary alleged individuals had taken their lives after listening to the haunting melody, or that the lyrics had been left with their last letters.
The popularity of Gloomy Sunday increased greatly through its interpretation by Billie Holiday (1941). In an attempt to alleviate the pessemistic tone a third stanza was added to this version, giving the song a dreamy twist, yet still the suicide reputation remained. Gloomy Sunday was banned from the playlists of major radio broadcasters around the world. The B.B.C. deemed it too depressing for the airwaves
Despite all such bans, Gloomy Sunday continued to be recorded and sold.
People continued to buy the recordings; some committed suicide.
Rezső Seress jumped to his death from his flat in 1968.
The newspapers of the world were quick to report other deaths associated with Seress’ song. One newspaper covered the case of a woman in North London who had been playing a 78 recording of Gloomy Sunday at full volume, infuriating and frightening her neighbors, who had read of the fatalities supposedly caused by the tune. The stylus finally became trapped in a groove, and the same piece of the song played over and over. The neighbors hammered on the woman’s door but there was no answer, so they forced the door open – only to find the woman dead in her chair from an overdose of barbiturates. As the months went by, a steady stream of bizarre and disturbing deaths that were alleged to be connected to Gloomy Sunday persuaded the chiefs at the BBC to ban the seemingly accursed song from the airwaves. Back in France, Rizzo Seress, the man who had composed the controversial song, was also to experience the adverse effects of his creation. He wrote to his ex-fiancée, pleading for reconciliation. But several days later came the most awful, shocking news. Seress learned from the police that his sweetheart had poisoned herself. And by her side, a copy of the sheet music to Gloomy Sunday was found.
Emilie Autumn also refers to this song in her song ‘The Art of Suicide’:
“Life is not like Gloomy Sunday With a second ending when the people are disturbed. Well, they should be disturbed because there’s a story that ought to be heard. Life is not like Gloomy Sunday With a second ending when the people are disturbed. Well, they should be disturbed because there’s a lesson that really ought to be learned.”
Last night the Principal PISJ managed to escape through Safe Exit Pass provided by the Ambassador Omer Sher Zai via Saudi Airlines.
Meanwhile the Saudi Court has also charged 11 teachers of taking false Oath on the Holy Quran. These teachers include:
1. Rana Arif
2. Mohammed Ors
3. Shiekh Zahoor
4. Altaf Hussain (DP)
5. Eijaz Awan
6. Munir Khan (Computer Teacher)
7. Sheikh Iqbal (Maths Teacher)
8. Sheikh Tabraiz (Islamiat Teacher)
9. Mohammed Rafiq
10. Squadran Leader (r) Munir Khan
11. Nazeer Maiser
12. Manzoor Solangi
13. Mustafa Hussain (Urf Chota)
The above teachers agreed to witness against the sacked teachers but unfortunate to them, a video tapped was presented to the court showing the Principal Mohammed Siddiq threatening the teachers in their staff room. The principal was backed by the Ambassador Omer Sherzai during the whole episode.
Sources say that they are looking into different options on getting the principal back including his arrest through interpol. The Saudi Foriegn Ministry may summon the Ambassador upon request of the Education Ministry / Victim teachers of the School. The coming days may create tension between the Saudi authorities and the Ambassador Omer Sherzai on the issue of the escape of W.C Mohammed Siddiq.
The question is, are we really willing to let our children get education from these kind of corrupt institutions and corrupt teachers???
Latest News in: before they could actually apply the court’s verdict of lashes, the principal escaped from Saudia with “Safe Exit Pass” by the ambassador…and the Ambassador was actually supporting him
Compromising national Interests and fake Statistics
From stupid decisions like day time saving scheme to the arrogant measures of mutilating the Constitution, it is a long list of the black deeds of Musharraf regime. However, the recent report of the US Central Command (CENTCOM) on “Effects of Operation Enduring Freedom on Economy of Pakistan” has exposed two grave crimes committed by this regime.
1. It has been telling lies about the extent of surrendering national interests.
2. It continues to dish out fake statistics about the state of national economy.
This fact sheet aims at making the nation aware of the details and implications of these misdeeds.
In his televised address on September 19, 2001, General Pervez Musharraf told the nation that he had agreed to provide only use of airspace and logistic support to the United States for military operation against Afghanistan. He said: “Trust me. I will not disappoint you and there will be no compromise on Pakistan’s security and sovereignty.” That was a gross misstatement bordering on blatant lie, and a masterpiece of deception. He had actually accepted the devastating seven US demands that US Secretary of State Colin Powell put to him on telephone.
The prompt willingness with which Musharraf accepted these demands surprised Powell, who elatedly reported his success to the National Security Council meeting in the next room. But no body in Pakistan knew that Musharraf had not merely compromised but in effect surrendered the nation’s security interests and sovereignty to the imperial interests of the United States.
It was left to the CENTCOM to tell the world how that surrender was translated into actions. General Pervez Musharraf kept all these facts concealed, though some of the media persons in the country knew at least the nature of support that the generals in power had been providing to the US forces, but they were forced into silence. The regime had succeeded in keeping the nation ignorant of this great betrayal until CENTCOM revealed it all. That is why the CENTOCOM report led to panicky protest by General Musharraf, and the US government obliged him by removing the Pakistan data from the CENTCOM website immediately. However, the facts are now on record, and these could be possibly used as evidence in trials of treason sometime in future.
The CENTCOM report has also exposed the fallacious claims of the finance managers of General Musharraf about the about the state of Pakistan’s economy. According to CENTCOM, Pakistan economy suffered a staggering loss of US$ 10 billion due to Musharraf’s participation in the American war on terrorism.
Musharraf’s financial wizard Shaukat Aziz tried to hide his embarrassment, and true to his habit of spinning tall tales, told reporters in Islamabad on May 30, 2003 that the CENTOM estimate was not based on facts, and that actually Pakistan had lost only one billion dollars. But Dawn quoted same day an officer of his ministry saying that “Pakistan planned to seek $8 to 10 billion from the United States as further compensation for the losses it suffered for cooperating with coalition forces during the US-led assault on Afghanistan.”
The officer also admitted that the Finance Ministry had started preparing fresh estimates of losses only after the appearance of the CENTCOM report.
Interestingly, Shaukat Aziz’s comment has proved the age-old adage that a liar has no memory. After Musharraf’s declaration of unconditional support to USA at late night of September 11, 2001, Aziz CNN and other media that Pakistan economy will lose around $1.5 billion as a result of its alliance in the operation against Afghanistan. Last year he amended his estimate and said the loss would amount to 2-3 billion dollars, but last month it again came down to one billion!
In fact, economic experts had foreseen the massive adverse effects on Pakistan’s economy from day one. For instance, Former Minister of Finance Ishaq Dar was sure that Pakistan economy would suffer a loss of around $12 billion. He had, therefore, asked a common friend, as early as December 2001, to advise Shaukat Aziz to make a claim of at least $12 billion from USA for reimbursement of losses which Pakistan economy would likely suffer in the proposed operation of USA against Afghanistan. That advice was apparently ignored. Shaukat Aziz continued telling lies to favor foreign interests, which is a very serious crime.
This episode of contradictory utterances highlights once more the unreliability of the figures and statistics that Shaukat Aziz and his team of economists have been dishing to hoodwink the people of Pakistan. Their latest lie is that the national economy has reached take off stage due to the so-called achievements following the October 1999 coup of General Musharraf.
Forex reserves: Foreign exchange reserve is one of the pegs on which General Musharraf hangs his promises of future prosperity. The much publicized 10 billion dollars reserve is not a measure strong economy for the simple reason that this build up is not due to export earnings. Pakistan’s total export earning in fiscal year 2000-2001 was $92 million while current year’s rather optimistic expectation is that exports will add another $500 million to the earlier figure. Roughly, that’s around 5% of the reserves.
The State Bank has purchased over $4 billion from the kerb market at 2 to 4 rupees above market rate, causing additional loss of millions of rupees. The remaining part of the forex reserves consists of remittances by overseas Pakistanis, who have been rushing their hard earned money fearing the draconian US Partriot Act of October 2001 that authorises US government to seize foreign nationals’ accounts in the name of curbing terrorist activities.