Saturday, November 10, 2007

What good will this do?

Bol kay lab azaad hain teray…

As our state-apparatus crumbles and clouds of despairing dust rise from its remains, many turn a skeptical gaze at the groups of students, lawyers, academicians and journalists who refuse to be blind, dumb and deaf, and question what good is their war of words against brutal force, their voice of reason against a regime drugged on power and demand for justice against those unaware of its meaning?

A moment of reflection will reveal that this doubt and skepticism in itself traces the roots of the quagmire in which we stand today and vividly reveals the reasons for our arrested development, passivity and inability to fight the forces that brutally snatch our rights. It’s a product of our enslaved minds furnished in suffocated political environments, tuned to submit to powers that intimidate us.

Is it just good enough to recognize our inabilities and silently recoil in our futile comfort zones? Certainly not… this very recognition is the signal that the time is ripe to bring about a meaningful change. This martial law has hurled before us our weaknesses and incapacities as a nation (after all it is said that we get rulers that we deserve); and at a time when our present like a crystal ball spells out the mistakes of the past and presents a future teeming with numerous possibilities to undo those mistakes, we should grab the opportunity to contribute a little part of ourselves for our collective dreams and visions that define (the Real and True) Pakistan. And the courageous protests of our, lawyers, academicians and journalists should be seen as an inchoate struggle ripe with potentials to grow into a movement that will win us our rights, freedoms, and opportunities to grow as wholesome individuals.

As pointed out by Mehreen Zahra Malik (a graduate of LUMS and News Editor of Friday Times) in her exemplary article “Speak now or forever hold your peace” (Daily Times, Nov, 9th issue) that the purpose of these trans-national protests is not strategic but expressive. They should not be evaluated on the basis of capitalistic and materialistic “rational calculus”(qtd. from the aforementioned article) but on their moral force, giving opportunities to ambitious individuals to unite their ideas, intellectualism and vision into a dynamic force possessing the potential to overturn an impending crisis and become a universal symbol of unity, peace and justice. In times of phenomenal technological and global communication possibilities each of us has a chance to contribute and change. So let’s shed off our corroding pessimism and rise up for action… the New World Order gives us all a chance to become heroes!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While Pakistan Burns
If you think Musharraf's wrong to free jailed Taliban members while he busts dissidents, wait until you hear who's back on the loose.

By Sami Yousafzai and Ron Moreau | Newsweek Web Exclusive

Nov 9, 2007 | Updated: 11:27 p.m. ET Nov 9, 2007

Pakistani lawyers, human-rights activists and opposition-party members can scarcely ignore the irony of their situation: while thousands of them are being beaten and locked up under President Pervez Musharraf's newly declared state of emergency, his government has just let more than two dozen militant Islamists out of jail. Protesters might be even angrier if Musharraf disclosed the names of some of those freed militants. Taliban sources tell NEWSWEEK that the top man on the list was Mullah Obaidullah Akhund—the highest-ranking Taliban official ever captured by the Pakistanis. As one of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar's closest confidants and his defense minister until the post 9-11 invasion of Afghanistan, Obaidullah was No. 3 in the group's hierarchy and a member of its ruling 10-man shura (council).

His arrest on Feb. 26 seems to have been anything but a coincidence. That was the very day that Vice President Dick Cheney arrived in Islamabad on an unannounced visit to demand a crackdown on Taliban operations in Pakistan. Washington was out of patience with Taliban commanders not only roaming free in Pakistan's tribal lands but even being allowed to hide in plain sight in cities like Quetta--the provincial capital near the Afghan border where Obaidullah was captured, along with the Taliban's senior Zabul province commander, Amir Khan Haqqani.
Obaidullah, Haqqani and the others might still be in jail if not for a Pakistani military convoy that encountered a rockslide on a highway in South Waziristan in late August. The vehicles were quickly surrounded by fighters loyal to the notorious Pakistani tribal warlord Baitullah Mehsud, a veteran Taliban supporter who operates training camps for suicide bombers in his territory. More than 250 government troops were in the convoy, and they all surrendered without a shot being fired. Mehsud later beheaded several of his captives before Musharraf agreed to a prisoner swap.

Mehsud finally released the last 211 surviving hostages on Nov. 4, the day after Musharraf declared a state of emergency and began rounding up dissidents in the name of confronting "extremism and terrorism." In exchange for the freed troops, the tribal warlord got the men he wanted out of jail. Besides Obaidullah and Haqqani, they included two brothers of another senior Taliban leader, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Osmani. He and his two brothers had shared a house in Quetta until his death last December. U.S. forces, reportedly tipped off by Pakistani intelligence, killed him as he was crossing into Afghanistan. His brothers were arrested at his house in Quetta at the same time. Also released was Mehsud's cousin, who was the first suicide bomber captured with his suicide vest intact.

Intelligence reports of Obaidullah's release have raised concern among American officials. At the moment they're still checking whether it was in fact the senior Taliban official who was freed and not someone else by the same name. A Pakistani military source denied to NEWSWEEK that Obaidullah had been released—but in the next breath claimed to be unaware that Obaidullah had ever been captured. At least two important Taliban commanders have confirmed to NEWSWEEK that Mullah Omar's third in command is back on the loose. Another Taliban operative says Obaidullah spoke to one of his fellow fighters on the phone several days ago.

In any case the prisoner swap is a severe setback for U.S. efforts in the region. The Taliban and their Pakistani tribal allies have learned that hostage taking can yield big rewards. And these days they have all the potential trading chips they could ask for in the borderlands, where Pakistan's out-maneuvered and increasingly demoralized troops are almost routinely surrendering to the militants. For now, the people of Pakistan will have to take any comfort they can from knowing that Musharraf is protecting them from lawyers and human rights activists.

With Mark Hosenball in Washington

© 2007 Newsweek, Inc.