Sunday, January 20, 2008

Last Night before Karbala

Omer. G

The sky is starry and a more-than-half-full moon is shining bright. As I run round and round in the field, warming my body amidst the cold nightly breeze, I think of another man, many, many years ago, sitting in his tent with his hands extended in prayer to Allah, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. Out in the world of Islam, a dark power was spreading its tentacles and had finally come face-to-face with the grandson of the Prophet - the torchbearer of an order based on justice not brute force. With less than a hundred fighting men, Husayn ibn Ali knew he had not the slightest chance against the might of the Umayyad army. But he also knew that his duty was not to win a war; his duty was only to stand for principles, come what may.

That night as he stood on the soft sands of Karbala, so near yet so far from the flowing waters of the Euphrates, Husayn ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib ibn Abdul Muttalib must have looked at the same starry heavens above and the less-than-half full moon that I now see. He must have felt peace dawn upon his heart: tomorrow, courage was all he would need. He was the son of Ali ibn Abi Talib – Arabia's greatest warrior in his generation - he had enough courage in his blood. Tomorrow, he will have to face death in defense of principles of governance espoused by Islam - death in Allah's path. He could not have feared that either. Looking at the beauty of the heavens above and the grandeur of desert around him, Husayn ibn Ali, must have contemplated the beauty of the Creator of Beauty, Allah the Beautiful. By Allah's decree, tomorrow, he would go down in history as the Great Imam of Muslims, torch-bearer of Justice and Truth. His legendary sacrifice would continue to breathe courage into people of all times, when they stand up against the forces of tyranny and oppression.

Sects amongst Muslims have long bickered over the historical details of the Battle of Karbala. For an intellectual tradition like that of Islam, which accommodates diversity of opinion, this seems nothing but natural. Yet, all things said and written must have some relevance. And tonight, as we contemplate the majestic sacrifice of Imam Hussayn and his companions, camped near the banks of the Euphrates, pitted against the brutal might of an illegitimate ruler, those squabbles have no relevance. Tonight, it is imperative to remember this: all it takes is a few good men to stand for Truth and Justice, and then neither death nor insult can keep the withering flames of Injustice alive for long – sooner or later, illegitimacy of cosmic proportions melts before the courage of a few devoted honest human beings. As we pay rich tribute to the beloved Imam, the other point to remember is that the battle engaged in by the Imam is an ever-going battle. Yazid's legacy may crumble before the moral might of the slain Imam's sacrifice, but sooner or later, in one form or another, that legacy gets resurrected. Thus it is that the wise say: Each age will need its own Husayn.

May it be that in the battles of our times, we think and act as the spiritual descendants of Imam Husain and not as the lackeys of Yazid. May it be that we choose the right side, and stay the course, despite all that it takes. Tonight, as I behold the ancient stars – silent spectators of the Battle of Karbala – the best I can do is to extend my hands to pray "O Allah! Guide us to the right path." It comforts me to remind myself that many years ago, in the silent stillness of a vast desert, a Man of Destiny did the same. Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his companions.

Pakistan collapsing under Musharraf; he has to go

By: Farooq Tariq
(Labour Party Pakistan)

Pakistan is on fast rout of collapsing under Musharaf dictatorship. The state is in immense crisis. The infrastructure, industrial and social, is in total chaos. The economic crisis is showing its muscles. The price hike is uncontrollable and unemployment in ever increase.

The vast majority of ordinary people of Pakistan are praying day and night that Musharaf be killed or at least he should die. Majority believe that he will never leave power without giving up his life; “If he is not killed, he will kill us all one by one."

He has become the most unpopular president in the history of Pakistan .

Musharaf is widely seen as a person who has orchestrated the murder of Benazir Bhutto. “Qaatal Qaatal Musharaf Qaatal (Murderer the murderer, Musharaf the murderer) was the main slogan of the mass reaction. All the twist and turn of Musharaf dictatorship after the murder has strengthened the doubts of the masses in this regard. “He asked her to come to Pakistan by negotiating and let her be killed” is a remark you hear very often.

Despite that, Musharaf has consistently shown the trends that he will stick to power by any mean. Pakistan needs him, Pakistan first, Pakistan my top priority” are some of his regular sloganeering. However, many do not trust him anymore here in Pakistan .

The desperation of masses to remove Musharaf by a mass movement is clear everywhere. They had attempted to throw him out of power after assassination of Benazir. That was an unprecedented movement for five days from 27 December 2007. Not a single shop was open, no wheel on the move, no factory working, no bank open, no office functioning, no restaurant or hotel open, no train on the move, flights cancelled, schools and colleges closed and thousands and thousands were on the road protesting. This was the most unexpected outburst of mass anger after the killing.

Nevertheless, unfortunately, Pakistan Peoples Party leadership had not learnt from history. They saw this an important occasion to show that are the responsible defender of the system. They went to appeal the masses to cool down, go back to their work and turn your anger into vote for Pakistan Peoples Party.

This was the time when majority of the political parties had announced to boycott the elections and demanded an immediate resignation of Musharaf. Had PPP joined the other parties in boycotting the general elections, Musharaf would have gone by now.

They had not realized the post Benazir killing scenario. They had not anticipated the total collapse of economy in the days ahead. They had not thought of the tactics of Musharaf supporters to rig the election if they were given chance. Over 4000 First Investigation Reports (FIR) has been registered by police against a record number of half a million PPP and other opposition political activists in Sind alone. Many PPP activists were arrested to be released on bail later. Many thousands have gone for bail before arrest. The tactics of PPP leadership has put PPP in defensive position.

The PPP is on the run after three weeks of Benazir Bhutto assassination, it was Musharaf who was on the defense after the killings. He would have been relieved when the PPP leadership had taken a decision to contest elections.

At a time when the consciousness of the whole of Pakistan was anti Musharaf, with active participation in the movement, the PPP leadership announcement to participate in elections was like putting cold water on boiling heat, like a fire brigade bus active in stopping fire spreading by showering water.

Moreover, what election is taking place on 18 February 2008?

Before the announcement of the general elections, top judges, 60 of them were put under house arrest on 3 November 2007, when martial law was imposed on the name of emergency; many are still in house arrest, particularly the chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Ahmed Chaudhry. On 14 January, all public meetings and election rallies are banned for a month on the name of security. Thus, effectively, there is not going be any mass mobilization by the political parties. Most of the opposition parties that are taking part in the elections are already complaining that it will be rigged and that they have proof of rigging in the electoral role.

All the rules laid out by the Election Commission of Pakistan about the size and width of the posters, pamphlets, stickers, hording boards and banners have been widely violated by most of the candidates belonging to the government and the opposition.

It is a race of money among the candidates. It is like a business competition. It is not a democracy that is going to be restored by the elections, but a farce of democracy. The general elections have given a chance to the masses to choose amongst the exploiters. The condition that a candidate must be at least a university graduate meant that only less than one percent of the whole population had a chance to become candidates.

Three weeks after the assassination of Benazir, on 17 January 2008, there is an unprecedented price hike. Wheat flour is the most used food item in Pakistan; It has gone up from Rupees 13 a kilogram to 25 to 50 Rupees a kilogram, if you can find it in shops. There have been suicide attempts by women after failure to buy the wheat flour from the government concessional utility stores. There have been food riots reported in many parts of the country.

There is regular news on television and newspapers that “smugglers” of wheat floor have been arrested. Earlier smuggling was normally restricted to gold and electronic items. Now wheat flour “smugglers” are the main enemies of Pakistan . Almost every province has restricted the transportation of wheat floor, thus creating more problems for the people North West Frontier Province, Baluchistan and many in Afghanistan who are dependent on wheat flour from Punjab and Sind.

There are massive electricity crises. The electricity is released on load shedding basis, in most cases there is electricity available for only 10 to 12 hours a day. The countryside is worst hit by this. There is no commercial gas available to all the industries for the last two weeks. Thus closing down of many hundreds factories. Even hospitals are not spared from this. Hundreds of thousands workers have been laid off from factories and asked to wait until the electricity and gas is restored to full capacity.

LPG gas has disappeared. The price has gone up from 50 Rupees a kilogram to 100/110 Rupees a kilogram if you can find one LPG gas shop open. The price of one kilogram of vegetables has gone up to 125 Rupees from 100 earlier. There is almost a 25 percent price hike of everything available in the shops and super markets.

Yet there is neither a wage increase nor any temporary compensation for the people. This is a very good ground for the very rich politicians from Muslim League Q, who are the main supporters of Musharaf. They will buy votes in bulk for the scheduled 18 February general elections. The objective reality of hardship of life under Musharaf with PPP taking part in elections may cut across the massive sympathy wave for PPP that they are counting on. However, there is a limit to such tactics. Musharaf dictatorship has failed to curb the ongoing incidents of suicidal attacks. The religious fundamentalists groups in Waziristan and Swat are not budging down despite a heavy military operation. They are striking back repeatedly. On 16 January, a group of religious extremist occupied a fort in North Waziristan, which was used by the Pakistan military. The newspapers reported eight army men killed while 20 disappeared, while unconfirmed reports put the causalities much higher than the official announcement The Government reported the killings of 50 militants as well.

There are several incidents where most of the suicidal attackers were less than 16 year of age. The completely new young generation has been motivated by the religious fundamentalists to take an all out war against the friends of imperialism and “enemies of Islam”.

There is lot of discontent among the police force and bureaucracy in Pakistan . They are sick and tired of their usage against the masses and the movement. Many police officers are very often speaking against Musharaf government to their friends and contacts. There is no support among the public employees for the military dictatorship but are forced to go on. Musharaf dictatorship is isolated and very much hated. It is a dictatorship supported by none but by American imperialism and its allies. It is trying its best to survive. However, the day of the military regimes are numbered. It cannot survive for long despite all the help of its political friends. It is the most hated dictatorship in the history of Pakistan. Day by day, it is loosing. Musharaf has survived by the most modern security arrangements available at present time.

However, these will not work all the time; especially not in the wake of the tremendous hatred that is building up.

Urgent: Undercover deals between Musharraf and Shahbaz Sharif

In the recent turn of events Shahbaz Sharif accepted political negotiations with Brig. (R) Niaz. Brig (r) Niaz is a close personal friend of both Shahbaz Sharif and General (Retarded) Pervez Musharraf.

According to inside sources, the deal is close to being finalized. General (Retarded) Pervez Musharraf has offered a greater role to Shahbaz Sharif in the future government if the PML-N drops its demand for the judiciary.

We can not let this happen.

What you can do to prevent this from happening:
1) Call/SMS
The mass contact campaign proved really successful last time. Please find the numbers of PML-N leadership at the end of this email and as always go crazy with your texts and phone calls. Every msg counts.

If you are in UK please call Shahbaz Sharif directly on this number and address your concerns to him:+44-2074930925

To sms from the internet use the following links (might take a little while to load):






(Please scroll to the end of the email to get contact information)

2) Meet them in person:
If you can, please meet any of the PML-N candidates from your area. They will be conducting election rallies and of course you can always go to their houses and demand your voices be heard. They will not deny you this right especially if you are from their constituency.
Their contact info is at the end of the email.

3) Create your voice against this deal!
Blogs, op-eds, letters to the editors, emails, every msg counts. We can not let PML-N have a deal with the falling dictator.

4) Forward this email to all your contacts
And please DO send texts/call at these numbers. This list has been compiled after a LOT of research so ALL the numbers are accurate.

PML-N contact information:
PresidentMuhammad Shahbaz Sharif

Contact# London 00442074930925

ChairmanRaja Muhammad Zafar-ul-Haq


H-36, St 39. G-7/4, Islamabad

Senior Vice Presidents

1. Makhdoom Javed Hashmi Senior Vice President/Acting President


50-B Qasim RoadPhone# 92-61511553Lahore

2. Muhammad Ali Khan Hoti


(off)Jamal Plaza Nisatta Road 0937-863159 ®Mardan

3. Mr. Saranjam Zamindar


H-5, Sector G-4, Phase II, 091-824444-824222 Hayatabad Peshawar


4. Mamnoon Hussain


53/4, 28th Street, Phase V 0333-2107654 D.H.A 021-5843553Karachi 021-5844277(f)

Vice Presidents
Begum Tehmina


8-B, D.H.S.030084651390693-648000Punjab

Imdad Chandio


4H. 112/3 Lane 8 phase VII 021-5857233 Khayaban-e-Rahat D.H.A 0333-2143340 Karachi Sindh

Mushahidullah Khan


H. No. 8-C, St. B-20051-22610560320-4505771F-8/2, Islamabad.

Subedar Khan Mandokhail Baluchistan

051-224090 9C-1-AA, Park Road0333-5606775 Chakshahzad, Islamabad

Syed Zafar Ali Shah Islamabad


H. 3, St,41-B, G-7/4Islamabad

Muhammad Rafique Awan Baluchistan

081-2849140 H.# 85-86, Old Police Line

0333-78297500300-3868522 Near Old FIA Office Chamman Phattic Jail Road Quetta

Additional Secretaries
Ahsan Iqbal Chief Coordinator & Information Secretary

051-2213017 House No 81 St 59, I-8/30300-5012345051-4860059051-4860058 (fax)Islamabad

Muhammad Pervez Malik Secretary Finance


142 E-1 Gulberg III Lahore 9221577 (lodges) 9207477 (279)042-5878201

042-5878202042-5710332 (o)042-5710333 (o)

Iqbal Zafar Jhagra
Secretary General Vill Jhagra Distt Peshawar

091-262675-263336, 0300-9590653, 0300-8595225, 091-2651234

Ch. Mohammad Jafar Iqbal
Addl Secy General

051-2856501 ®H. No. 257, St. 23 051-2651000 (O)E-7, Islamabad


Khawaja Muhammad Asif

051-2262478, 118-Mehmood Ghazanvi Road 042-5720478 Sialkot Cantt


Sardar Rahim

Addl Secretary Information

0333-2200696H.18, St.8, East Phase I 021-5896589 D.H.A Karachi

Joint Secretaries


409-C, Khyaban-e-Sirsyed, Rawalpindi

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi


H 4, St#17, F-7/2 0300-9501569 ISLAMABAD Punjab

Ch. Muhammad Barjis Tahir


Jamia Masjid Road


Sangalla Hills, Sheikhpura, Punjab

Raja Ashfaq Sarwar


H#222 St. 33, F-10/1 0300-8501313, Islamabad, Punjab

Principles v. Power--a test for the Pakistani Politician

Recently, representatives of Student Action Committee Lahore & Islamabad met the twice-elected former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to discuss the importance of working towards the restoration of the judiciary. Present at the meeting were Mr. Raja Ashfaq Sarwar, General Secretary of Punjab, PML-N and Mr. Chaudhry Nisar, Senior Vice President PML-N and Mr. Syed Mehdi. Representing SAC Lahore were Zubair Niazi and Sundas Hurain, and SAC Islamabad was Samad Khurram.

The first issue discussed was the possible courses of action that could be undertaken towards the restoration of the judiciary. Infact, the first thing Mr. Sharif asserted right after getting seated was the need towards working for the restoration of the judiciary.. He reiterated the fact that the key to stability in Pakistan was the reinstatement of the pre-Nov 3 judiciary. He said his party does not recognize the current court as legitimate. Mr. Sarwar assured his party's continued support for the cause of the lawyers, students and the civil society. He stated that PML-N has been helping the cause in all its capacity and will continue doing so. Upon the establishment of our intentions and interests as common, an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) was presented to Mr. Nawaz Sharif expressly outlining that:

SAC and PML-N both agree on the need for independence of the judiciary. We realize that without the reinstatement of all the deposed judges, an independent judicial organ and democratic rule cannot reasonably be established in the country.
SAC and PML-N will facilitate each other in efforts towards the reinstatement of the deposed judges. This is one demand that neither party will compromise upon.

Mr Sharif agreed with the provisions of the MoU, and asserted that he would "provisionally sign the document" while it goes to the party, to assure SAC of his unreserved commitment to the cause. At this point Mr. Nisar interrupted, stating that it should be presented to the party first. However, SAC was repeatedly assured of PML's commitment to restoration of the judiciary.

The Pakistani politicians are notorious for continuously changing colors to suite their ends.This is the prime reason for the lack of trust accorded to them by the people of Pakistan. What remains to be seen is if the politicians really have changed. This will judge whether their is hope for the country under the rule of the leadership of the 90s. Amidst rumors of a deal between the dictator and the democratic politician, will PML-N stand firm on its promises to the people of Pakistan, or yet again will they sway to where the seduction of power leads them? The art of ambiguity after all is a skill well known and valued by the Pakistani politicians.