New Age Islam Edit Bureau
03 April 2018
You Are More Malala Than You Think
By Mosharraf Zaidi
Women In Pakistani Society
By Sara Ehsan
Mentoring And Anti-Radicalisation
By Umar Farooq Khan
By Moeed Yusuf
From Bystanders To Change Agents
By Nasim Haider
A Doctrine In Hand
By Arifa Noor
So Many Questions to Ask
By Jawed Naqvi
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
April 3, 2018
Women who dare to assert their voice as human beings are anathema to a society in which misogyny has rested uncomfortably deep inside the social, economic and political food chains for thousands of years. But we are also a good people (I insist). So how do we manage our fundamental goodness with these deeply misogynistic postures towards women in general, and especially women that refuse to quietly accept what is given to them? Maybe we only love ‘em when they’re dead.
Asma Jahangir’s funeral was attended by plenty of people for whom the icon was larger in death than she was in life. I know, because I was among them. I always admired her incredible courage, and the fact that she would stand up alone when nobody would. It’s great to be in favour of young women choosing whether or not they want to marry someone in the age of Al Huda, and Instagram. Asma stood up to people with guns, at a time when those guns would be louder than all the newspaper columns and liberal instincts in the country put together.
Despite my admiration for her, I never told her how much she meant to my generation, how amazing it was that the women that I grew up with had mothers and sisters that were not alone. That Asma Jahangir was holding up the sky with them when no one else would. The enormity of her work was clearer to me as I processed her death than it ever was whilst she was alive.
The uncles in the generation before mine tell us similar stories about Fatima Jinnah. She was great as a silent sister to the Father of the Nation, but when she stood up to Field Marshal Ayub Khan, the same sister was fair game for every manner of our surplus of perfumed and shaven intellectual scud missiles. Hashtag, we’ve-seen-this-film-before. Madar-e-Millat is more revered as she rests in her grave than she was when she was alive and challenging Ayub.
But why go back to a black and white era? We are only a decade removed from the high definition assassination of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. Death tried to wrestle her to the grave, and succeeded only after multiple tries. After losing her father, she had every reason to recede quietly into great wealth, and comfort. Instead she chose a life of defiance. It was only once she was dead that millions of men softened their posture toward BB. I know this also because, although I never hated her as viscerally as some privileged urban males, it took her assassination for me to realise just quite what she represented as a political force.
Perhaps neither Fatima Jinnah, nor Benazir Bhutto, nor Asma Jahangir however have been as widely reviled as the fifteen-year-old child from Swat who was shot in the head in 2012. Or perhaps it really is true: we only love ‘em when they’re dead. Alhamdolillah, Malala is very much alive. In her life men and boys in this country (and women and girls too) have a chance to embrace something larger than themselves, while it still lives and breathes.
Malala’s journey in our imaginations began when she was still a child, and it has survived not only the bullets of the Tehreek-e-Taliban, but also the war that the TTP and associated terrorist groups imposed on this country. A war that many men allowed to continue to be waged without challenge.
We are all old enough to remember when many of us tiptoed around the names and identities of terrorists. Many of us men. Men with privilege. Men with resources. Men with means. Men in uniform. Men in court. Men in newspapers. Men on television. A lecture or khutba for every occasion, on every issue – as long as the issue would not disturb the carefully set table of privilege that was always too fragile to disrupt too much. Throughout the ugly and dark days of this country’s cowardice toward the TTP and associated terror groups, that table setting was more important than whether children were getting an education or not. More important than what was happening to the voices of innocent victims of the TTP. More important than the sense of powerlessness that fathers felt throughout the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, throughout Swat, throughout any of the areas through which a bomb had exploded, or a terrorist had hidden. It was the conviction of a determined father, and the God-given grace and dignity of a little girl that shattered the silence. Malala channelled post-APS rage half a decade before APS happened. Half a decade before the rest of us. She was barely fifteen. And Alhamdolillah, Malala lives.
In Swat, as women were handing over their jewellery to the snake oil salesmen that were promising Muslimish Nirvana, Malala was asking questions about why little girls like her were being left to the mercy of the merchants of death the rest of us were too scared to challenge. In those heady days, there were three channels you could watch. You could watch the Pakistani state: a corrupt and broken concoction unable to provide running water, or decent schools, or a police that could serve and protect. You could watch Fazlullah: a Taliban emirate that offered public lashings, unmitigated bloodlust and darkness. Or you could watch the channel of resistance to this tyranny: personified by parents sending children to school, children going to school, teachers showing up and teaching – fearless.
Malala is that Pakistan. In 2014, it took an attack on Karachi airport, and the slaughter at APS, for us to catch up with Ziauddin and Malala, and everything that they represent. If there is a Nobel prize for doing the right thing half a decade after it should have been done, we all deserve what Malala has been given – but the bargain includes a bullet in the head and excommunication from our homes.
Of course, there is another way. We could stop obsessing over the messenger, and how we feel about her, and focus instead on the message.
Girls make up 48.48 percent of all high and higher secondary school enrolment in Punjab. Girls in the rest of the country don’t enjoy as much of a shot at going to high school, higher secondary, and by extension, college, or university or beyond. Girls as a percentage of the total students in high school and higher secondary school comprise only 38.74 percent in Sindh, 33.35 percent in Balochistan and only 25.51 percent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
This is a life and death issue, because under-five child mortality falls from 112 per 1,000 births to mothers with no education down to 36 per 1,000 births for mothers with a high school education. Similar precipitous declines in mortality are observed at every level of education for every kind of child mortality.
A lack of girls’ education is murder, plain and simple. Like Malala did, you may be asking: where did this gender gap come from? Good question.
Of the 108,928 government primary schools in the country, only 36,180 are girls’ primary schools. This massive disparity has begun to be addressed at the middle, high and higher secondary levels, but largely on the back of a major push in Punjab. This country has cheated its women by building more schools for boys than for girls. The disparity is embedded in the system. And it is reflected all the way down to the district levels. Let’s take Swat district.
Swat has 802 boys’ primary schools to only 506 girls’ primary schools. The ratios get worse from there on. There are 82 boys’ middle schools for 42 girls’ middle schools, 79 boys’ high schools for 36 girls’ high schools, and 24 boys’ higher secondary schools for 11 girls’ higher secondary schools.
Taliban or no Taliban, should fathers and daughters in Swat continue to silently endure such disparities? No? Malala doesn’t think so either. Welcome to sanity. (We’re going to fix this, Insha’Allah).
Women in Pakistani Society
THE role of women in our society has changed significantly in the past few decades. A woman is considered equally important member of society. They have many more opportunities and face difficult challenges. She is not waiting for someone to ‘help’ her nor waiting for assistance. She is ready, prepared, even eager, to overcome whatever hurdles come in her way. She just wants to cross the road on her own. Women in Pakistan have continued to play a very important role in every aspect of life. In order to grow as nation, we need their actively involvement or presence in all fields as educationist, Politician, doctors, business women, bankers, managers, engineers, lawyers, diplomats, ambassadors, artists, teachers, writers, poets, workers, farmers, mothers, wives, students, and the list goes on and on. Gradually things are improving for a woman in Pakistan, which has been caused by their tremendous determination and courage. Today women are sitting on important positions and achieved great stature in various fields of education, business, army, health, engineering, IT and active participation is seen in the area of sports and politics. About 60% of women entrepreneurs in Pakistan run traditional business such as parlors, bakeries, boutiques and the largest number are employed in the Telecom and multinational companies.
Pakistani society usually adopts a hostile attitude towards the women, wants a woman to be a house wife, to just stay home to serve the whole family and take care of children. I have seen a lot of talented, highly educated ladies who could become very good entrepreneurs, are spending their time in managing the house and the family despite their strong urge to set up their own businesses. The reason comes out as usual “they are not allowed by their families or husbands”. I consider that this is violation of basic human rights that our religion gave the women 1400 years ago. The man’s ego won’t allow his life partner to earn equally or more than him. Why should they? It time for all women to stand up and speak for their basic rights and with their presence already in the national assembly, raise their voice to get his right to change the world around them which is wrongly dominated by the men. They have education, talent and a strong will to compete men in all fields of practical life. There presence should not be limited to certain agreed and determined fields by our society, they should be given a chance to pursue their dreams, earn their own livelihood, and become less dependent on men who always use women’s dependency as their weakness. We need a rapid growth to have a strong stance against the overall economic turmoil in the country and across the world and for that we should allow women to come forward and join hands with men to be part of the progress and growth of Pakistan in the days to come with in the limits prescribed by our religion. Our religion allows women to work and earn with certain limits and conditions which are not at all difficult to manage. We should develop a working environment where all parents and husbands send their daughters and wives with out any worry.
Economic indicators suggest that life will be very tough in the coming years, a single earning hand in a house hold won’t be sufficient to survive. Men and women have to work together to survive in the coming days. Our society has already seeing a change where kids now work and study at colleges at the parallel to cover their education expenses and the next step would be the partnership of men and women to carry the burden of expenses by equal sharing. Women can scarifies each and every second of their life for man’s comfort and ease. But males are currently trying to control each movement in their life like puppet masters controlling the moves and moods of a puppet but women are human beings not robots or puppets, they have likes and dislikes, ambitions and plans for themselves. They want to be treated well, to get fame of their work, business and to achieve success. They need an understanding life partner which provides comfort to her in life. They need their share in the progress and development of Pakistan, equal chances to earn their livelihoods. Most important they need a bunch of family members around them who show confidence in them and ensure their full support to let them success in life.
Pakistani society hates to see a self-reliant attitude among girls and young women manifested in ambition, assertiveness, and individualism. They are dead against women liberation and they want to keep them under shackles. Women play role of daughter, wife, mother, and sister and yet she is considered inferior and her role is always downplayed. If girl tries to support herself or family, she is ridiculed and laughed away. Still, the “kamai” earning of the girl is considered shameful in many quarters of our society. At the end I want to say that women are considered as the architects of our society and the mothers of the world. No other creature on the surface of this earth is capable of that. So all Pakistani women be happy, be healthy and be confident to rule the world.
Mentoring and Anti-Radicalisation
April 2, 2018
Many countries generally concur that the measures to battle vicious fanaticism and fear-based oppression must be wide-ranging. A variety of mediations are employed like international joint efforts amongst police and administrations, financial and psychosocial intercessions in the neighbourhood urban groups, early citizenship-building modules in essential and lower auxiliary school and additional particular activities in connection with a social system.
One of the key psychosocial intercessions is the utilisation of tutors. All in all, the tutoring procedure amongst coach and mentee is about change and strengthening. The emphasis is on creating and setting up the mentee’s grasp on, for instance, instruction, work, particular life challenges or on life as a rule. This article especially focuses on how an illicit and brutal grasp on life can be changed to a lawful and peaceful hold.
A decent coaching process is portrayed by two fundamental characteristics, specifically security and test (in the mental writing regularly named showdown) (Clutterbuck 2012, Poulsen 2012). As stressed by Poulsen, security is worried about the way that a mentee will ordinarily dependably have something in question. The mentee may have touchy, and in some cases even perilous, theme to discuss — like criminal exercises or points not talked about outside the gathering that the mentee might be going to leave with the assistance of a guide. It is critical for the coach that the mentee feels safe to discuss such things, and that the guide regards this by, e.g., respecting the obligation of secrecy and by managing these issues in a deferential and minding way (the obligation of privacy may, notwithstanding, be overruled by thought for national security).
Then again, the entire thought of the tutoring procedure is, obviously, change and change of viewpoint. As Clutterbuck states: The procedure of self-development is at its most grounded when individuals know and see how others comprehend the world and life. As such, a great relationship in light of security, including backing and care, is fundamental yet not adequate for good tutoring. The connection must be tied in with something. Most importantly, coaching must have a reason, a heading, which goes up against the mentee’s point of view on life and acquaints him with new, significant methods for understanding and overseeing life (Antonovsky 2000). Be that as it may, the seriousness not just concerns peculiar states of mind and developments freely.
Individual seriousness depends on that which, everything considered, is sensibly a significant human life. Besides, the worry of the coaching ought to be about the administration of life in unlawful, brutal and dangerous, fanatic ways. Subsequently, the reason and bearing of coaching isn’t only about what sounds good to the mentee. It is additionally about how the individual sense has normal importance. This does not imply that, in this unique situation, coaching is about ideological and political control. Despite what might be expected, it doesn’t involve denying the mentee the privilege to advance advocated feedback of culture and society. It is, in any case, about coaching, which, as a base, is the task of controlling the mentee far from illicit and savage, radical life directions and onto different directions, which will offer voice to the mentee’s potential irateness and feedback in a lawful and peaceful way.
This additionally outlines the distinction amongst tutoring and training. Training is most importantly a matter of building great relations and of utilising Socratic inquiry requesting that procedures help the other to discover his/her own particular by significant responses to fundamental life questions. Aside from that, coaching is tied in with giving generous counsel, direction and heading in view of the tutor’s strong learning of the territory. In the specific circumstance, models and apparatuses are required, which furnish the tutoring with generous learning and directedness.
April 03, 2018
THE so-called Bajwa doctrine recently brought the future of the 18th Amendment that devolved powers to the provinces into question.
We were told that the military saw the amendment’s aspects dealing with decentralisation of powers as potentially risking Pakistan’s unity. At least as reported, the doctrine all but implied a preference for a rollback. While the DG ISPR later clarified the army chief’s reported remarks, the amendment’s proponents say that devolved power is necessary to reverse the anti-Punjab sentiment in the smaller provinces. Architects of the amendment have previously warned of dire consequences for the federation if devolution were to be reversed.
I believe in the merits of devolved governance. Yet, I have been torn on the 18th Amendment. This debate has never truly been about devolution in a paradigm that could strengthen the federation by ensuring citizen welfare — the essence of the theory of decentralisation.
The insecurity about a weak centre has always run deep in Pakistani leaders’ psyche. It underpinned the decision to use religion and Urdu as the only national language as the uniting factor after 1947. The same mindset dictated the obsession with governing East Pakistan tightly from the West pre-1971. One would have expected the 1971 debacle to end this debate in favour of decentralisation. The federal structure of the 1973 Constitution reflected this. Yet, no sooner had the Constitution been promulgated than terms codifying the devolution of powers from the centre down were (de facto) suspended.
Developments between 1973 and 2010 when the 18th Amendment was passed confirmed that centralisation offered few answers to Pakistan’s problems. Security deteriorated; ethnic and provincial fault lines deepened; economic efficiency was low; and smaller provinces remained resentful of the centre and Punjab.
The amendment was presented as having revived the federal promise of the Constitution. The justification was a textbook vision of decentralisation: as political power and economic resources are devolved to levels accessible to the average citizen, government and governance will become more accountable and responsive, and lead to positive economic returns; this will check disillusionment and there’d be less to complain about the ‘other’ having usurped national resources. A less alienated polity would make for a less restive Pakistan.
However, the spirit of decentralisation was not followed. It wasn’t about transfer of powers from the centre to the provinces alone. For, as the theory of decentralisation goes, Pakistani provinces are too large for province-led governance to satisfy the prerequisite of being ‘closer to the people’. And, provinces do not align with the country’s ethnic fault lines but tend to be led by parties with vote banks skewed towards one or another ethnicity. Hence, minority ethnicities are bound to remain resentful of provincial government, being seen as undermining their interests.
A fair test of the efficacy of decentralisation requires genuine devolution of powers to local governments.
Those who critique the amendment hold sway precisely because, as executed, the arrangement is unlikely to be able to offer the kind of accountable governance promised. Politically, it has multiplied the hubs of elite power. A greater number of elite can now usurp state resources, but this is still an opaque, intra-elite redistributive mechanism that does little for citizens. Even those who may not see decentralisation as perverse, worry that without drastically improved governance outcomes in the smaller provinces, the amendment will enable Punjab, with the greatest resources and residual capacity, to forge further ahead of the others economically. This will deepen provincial fault lines.
At the same time, the provincial elite now endowed with greater resources and empowered to reallocate them have little incentive to devolve this authority to the local level. All provinces have resisted doing so. The smaller provinces have supported positive political narratives around the amendment, arguing less in terms of governance accountability and more in terms of political gains for their provinces from a weakening of Punjabi domination. They can invigorate an anti-centre (and Punjab) discourse should the centre threaten to reverse the arrangement.
The decentralisation aspects of the 18th Amendment are vulnerable because they do not represent a truly devolved governance model. Yet, because the amendment purports this vision, it is allowing pro-centralisation voices to question the very suitability of decentralisation for Pakistan. This makes the case for a genuine move in this direction more difficult to uphold. Ironically, voices seized by championing the amendment without emphasising the need for grass-roots empowerment may prove to be its worst enemies.
From Bystanders to Change Agents
Pakistani-Americans have contested for a variety of public offices in the current midterm elections and there is a clear chance that a few of them will grab a slice of the electoral pie.
It is a good sign that they have finally realised that time has come to actively take part in local politics instead of being a bystander. In the midterm elections, 435 seats in the House of Representatives and one-third of Senate positions are up for grabs. In addition, 34 of the 50 states elect their governors and many states will choose officers to their legislatures. There are also elections at the municipal level and other local public offices.
In the East Coast and the West Coast, first- and second-generation Pakistani-Americans who are vying for these offices are knocking on people’s doors and raising funds for their primaries. Why have a number of Pakistani-Americans started testing the troubled waters and opted for the driving seat? Is it merely the evolution of a smaller community, which after adopting a new homeland wants to make a political contribution? Or, is it facing an ever-increasing existential threat?
As the primary season for the November midterms ends in September, it is obvious that most Pakistani-American candidates will lose. But the midterm elections are still worth a try. The first to dropout was newcomer Tahir Javed, a passionate Texan Democrat who had devoted himself to Hillary’s November presidential bid. The established businessman ran for the 29th Congressional District, bagged the endorsement of Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, and spent more than a million dollars from his own pocket. But he eventually lost to Sylvia Garcia.
The 29th Congressional District is home to a majority of working class Hispanics. Although only a few Pakistani voters showed up on the primary day, Javed still received 3,817 votes as compared with Garcia’s 11,659 votes. Garcia has the backing of Congressman Gene Green who is retiring after 25 years in office. On the other hand, Javed also faced a smear campaign from local newspapers about his troubled past of committing felonies. However, the momentum generated by the Lahore-born candidate has opened further political avenues and it is only a matter of time before he re-emerges to fulfil his political dream.
Fayyaz Hassan, a former chairman of the Muslim Democratic Caucus of Texas, also lost his bid to get elected as Tarrant county commissioner. Fayyaz got 7,038 against Daven Allen, the former campaign manager of state representative Chris Turner, who bagged over 12,000 votes. Daven had the backing of the Democrat establishment and her campaign was also fuelled by the #MeToo wave. In addition, she had the advantage of being from an African-American community that was more willing to turn up to polling booths to cast their ballots than Muslim voters.
Pakistani-American women are also pursuing their dreams. Rabeea Collier has defeated Cooke Kelsey by amassing 73.21 percent of votes in the Texas 113th District Court Democratic Primary. Even in 2016, she had received 40.76 percent of the total number of votes. Bushra Amiwala, the Democrat candidate for the Cook County Board, 13th District, Chicago, secured 13,500 votes even though she lost to a candidate who had served the area for the last 16 years. Her family, which originally hails from Karachi, went door-to-door as part of Bushra’s political campaign. But out of the 10,000 Pakistani and Indian voters, only 600 turned up to her call.
Democrat Dr Naveed Aziz, who lost the 2016 election by only a four-percent margin, is also running again for the State Senate in North Carolina District 21. This time, her chances for success are higher.
California is another state where a couple of Pakistani-Americans candidates are contesting. A close associate of the Clinton family, Dr Asif Mehmood is a Democrat whose growing endorsement list is enriching his credentials and prospects. Asif had the honour of being an elected delegate 12 years ago when there was no Pakistani at all in the Democratic mainstream. Initially, Asif was contesting for the deputy governor’s post. However, he later decided to contest for the insurance commissioner slot. His critics have termed this decision as a form of political immaturity. But for Asif, politics is the name of flexibility.
California’s Pakistani community does not constitute even one percent of the population. And yet, Asif has the backing of congresspersons like Judy Chu, Ted Lieu and Rao Khanna. During his meeting with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in March, Congressman Brad Sherman hinted that there is a strong likelihood that Asif will win the post.
Ali Sajjad Taj, the first Pakistan-American mayor of Artesia, is vying for a higher post this time. Taj is contesting for the 32nd State Senate District while Republican Shamroz Syed and Omar Siddiqui are aiming for Congress by consolidating their 50th and 48th districts, respectively. Omar was famously called “the lawyer” by Barrack Obama. In the same state, Farah Khan is battling it out for the Irvine City Council while Muhammad Saifie is crusading for the Redland City Council.
Across the US, there are hundreds of well-established Pakistani-American Democrat supporters and campaigners. There are also campaigners like Khizer Khan who have established themselves as an iron wall against Trump’s rhetoric.
But it was Dr Mohammad Ali Chaudry, a Republican from Basking Ridge, New Jersey, who became the first Pakistani-American to serve as mayor of a US municipality in 2004. In 2007, a pilot and an entrepreneur Omar Ahmad became the mayor of San Carlos, California. But he died soon after. Haroon Salem, a former cab driver, had been sworn in as the mayor of Granite Falls in Snohomish County, Washington in 2009. Salma Hashmi had the honour to become the first Pakistani woman to be elected as mayor. Salma represented Western Chaplin, Florida for two terms while her brother-in-law Dr Arjumand Hashmi has the distinction of doing hat-trick by getting elected s the mayor of Paris, Texas. He is among the few Pakistanis who are equally known among both Pakistani and other circles. He is eyeing the state senate next.
There are almost 1.5 million Pakistani-Americans. And yet, there is no representation in Congress. An almost equal number of British Pakistanis live in Britain. Ten British-Pakistanis have made it to parliament and a number of them are serving as mayors, including Sadiq Khan in London.
A significant number of farsighted Pakistani-Americans are contesting in the primaries. Many of them have realised that if they aren’t actively involved in politics, their voices will not be heard. If people like Trump remain in positions of power and hate crimes and Islamophobia persist, then Pakistani-Americans should realise that change is only possible once they cast their votes.
A Doctrine in Hand
LAST week was dominated by clarifications. But for once, these clarifications were issued by state institutions. The head of ISPR, the military’s public relations wing, held a press briefing; holding forth about this and that, he also chose (coincidentally) to clarify exactly what the Bajwa doctrine was about. It was a concept that dealt with and had to be seen through the lens of security, he explained.
He was followed by the chief justice of Pakistan who felt the need to clarify his decision to meet the prime minister of Pakistan, while the prime minister too clarified his position as a petitioner on behalf of Pakistan in an angry speech.
But while the clarifications by the civilians are a ‘developing’ story, the DG’s presser was aimed at putting to rest the debate about the Bajwa doctrine and its parameters. This ‘clarification’ was deemed necessary after a spate of articles and discussions in the press and electronic media, which seemed to associate the doctrine with support for democracy; concerns about the 18th Amendment and even the accountability process, apart from security issues.
Hence, Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor felt the need to explain that the doctrine had to be seen through the security lens and not be linked to domestic politics.
Concisely, he described the three aspects of the doctrine: preventing a resurgence of militants; border management (to prevent militants from crossing into Afghanistan or into Pakistan) and a weapons-free Pakistan. He then referred to the terrorism-free country, which existed prior to 9/11, adding that we needed to rewind back to those happier times.
Nostalgia and good intentions aside, some more details may be required for further clarity on this doctrine and for a more informed debate.
A doctrine should ideally be a large concept which can help guide or shape specific policies or strategies, over decades (if need be). Take one of the most famous doctrines of the Cold war era, the Truman doctrine.
Stating that the Soviet Union was essentially an expansionist power, the doctrine (named after the then president of the United States), aimed at providing support to any state threatened by ‘communism’. Initially, this resulted in financial help to states such as Turkey and Greece; later, the Marshall Plan to assist the war-torn economies of Europe came about.
The doctrine helped shape the famous ‘containment policy’ of the US towards the Soviet Union, which stayed in place for most of the Cold War, leading even to military interventions such as the Vietnam War in the 1960s.
And why was it named after Truman? Because till his tenure as president, Washington was still inclined to pursue a less hostile policy towards Moscow which had been an ally of the US towards the end of the Second World War.
In contrast, the Bajwa doctrine so far, appears to offer no such specific details, a Unique Selling Point so to speak, which would allow observers to distinguish it from a general policy of a state. Which state does not aim for peaceful borders or a violence-free society? Surely, this cannot be a significant departure from the recent past?
Second and more importantly, a vague doctrine seems to deny the contribution of the previous army chiefs, and hence, the institution as a whole.
Take the idea of a peaceful Pakistan, free of militancy, which is said to be part of the Bajwa doctrine. Is this a goal that has come to light now? Have we, including the military, not been working for this, for some years now?
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that a larger goal has been ascribed to an individual.
During the tenure of Gen Raheel Sharif, commentators in mainstream media as well as unknown social media warriors behaved as if the good general, by taking the decision to take the war into North Waziristan, had somehow begun the war against militancy in Pakistan.
Gen Raheel Sharif may have taken the critical decision of going into North Waziristan and extending the operations into Karachi and other urban areas, but he built upon the successes of his predecessor.
Indeed, it was Gen Ashfaq Kayani who built the foundation (and more) of the war against militancy. It was under him that the Pakistan Army cleared Swat and six of the seven Federally Administered Tribal Areas. One can debate and criticise his decision to not extend the operation to North Waziristan but one cannot deny his contribution to the progress Pakistan made against militants. It was this success that Sharif built on; allowing him to move the military into North Waziristan as well as begin the ‘intelligence-based operations’ against terrorist rings in urban centres. Gen Bajwa is now building on the work/effort of both Kayani and Sharif.
There is another way of looking at these military operations — all the three chiefs were simply carrying out operations to clean the country of militancy because that is what the military, as an institution, considered the appropriate policy. Since the time of Kayani, military officials continue to point out that most of the senior generals have served in the conflict-ridden areas of the country and that they are aware of the militant threat facing the country.
Indeed, the experience and perception of those in a position to formulate policy, shapes that policy. Perhaps, what we have seen post 2007 is an institutional policy — and an institutional policy can’t be called a doctrine, which is ascribed to an individual.
For this is then unfair to the institution and its policy.
This is not to say that Gen Bajwa doesn’t have the foresight or the vision to shape a doctrine. He can. But his team needs to provide more details, allowing those of us on the outside to understand how this doctrine is different from what came before and from what his predecessors were aiming for. Indeed, every leader can aspire to leave behind a legacy but this requires more than just concluding a war begun earlier.
So Many Questions To Ask
WAS Yuri Gagarin your hero, as he was to my generation? If so, you would remember how a competitive Kennedy sought to airbrush his feat, goading American space scientists to catch up with the communists. The rivalry led to Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon but even that landmark event could not stop religious clerics from condemning the conquest of space as illusory and irreligious. Gagarin’s dimpled smile remained undeterred as it continued to shepherd an entire generation towards a resurgent scientific spirit, a very troubled commodity today.
It was 50 years to the cosmonaut’s death in an air accident on March 27. Many of us learnt of Gagarin’s achievement through the radio or Soviet Land-like journals. He was the first important man, as far as I can remember, who nudged a whole generation to ask questions, all manner of questions. One question that surged with his foray into space concerned the measurement of space itself. What were the dimensions of space, school kids asked their teachers? Did it have a boundary, if so what existed outside the boundary? The potential answers were so wrapped in mind-wracking calculations that many opted for humanities after school.
I later discovered that Mir Taqi Mir’s mysticism was intriguingly rooted in a kind of questioning spirit. He was smarter than most of his contemporaries and ours to have attempted in the 19th century a question that has dogged everyone since Darwin.
Had the human species evolved from the ape as was claimed or were we created as humans by an act of the Maker, as major religions posit, Mir’s conclusion answered the essential question frontally, if subtly. “Mat Sahel Hamein Jaano; Phirta Hai Falak Barso’n/Tab Khaak Ke Pardey Se Insaan Nikaltey Hain.” We are complex. The constellations are on the move as they have been for eons. And that’s how, from the swirling curtain of dust are we born. What could be more scientific than that?
So much has regressed since Gagarin flew and Mir wrote. Our 24x7 TV channels mock even the simple rudimentary questioning spirit of Kabir and Nanak. Sample a scene from one of dozens of channels that vend obscurantism without let or hindrance in a great lucrative venture across South Asia.
“Babaji Namaste! You have blessed me always. Today I have a favour to ask,” the woman was in tears. “My younger son is jobless. Please, sir. Please will you help him get a permanent government job? Will you not? I shall forever remain indebted to you, Babaji.”
Babaji, stroking his right temple gently, elbow resting on his armchair, moved to probe if the petitioner had eaten any Gulab Jamun recently. The woman, uncertain if it was a serious question or a joke, recalled that she may have eaten the north Indian sweetmeat long ago, perhaps in the previous year. “Get a dozen Gulab Jamun,” she is commanded. “Eat two and give two to your deity. And share the rest with the neighbours. Your prayers will be answered favourably.”
In a country where farmers are committing suicide in droves because they have been conned into destitution by India’s variants of Charles Ponzi, where the system is rigged against the poor and weak, spiritual and temporal quackery is a roaring business. One guru became rich by teaching yoga on TV. That was fine, but then he revealed his hidden bonding with right-wing nationalism and today runs a billion-dollar industry ranging from herbal medicines to noodles.
Another guru, equally beholden to crony favours from the state, began by collecting middle-class followers, mostly housewives, teaching them the art of living happily. He is now pressing for a Ram temple in Ayodhya. If anyone dared to seek the protection of the law, particularly if the Supreme Court also were to decree a legal remedy, and which falls short of a nod for the victory of faith over reason, there could be civil war in the country, the guru warns.
Then there was this faith healer from Puttaparthi in southern India. He tried to hoodwink the prime minister of Sri Lanka. Her son suggested to Sirimavo Bandaranaike that her crippled toes could be healed by the coiffured baba in Puttaparthi. She flew in on a special plane, took the blessings but her twisted toes failed to straighten. Her Buddhist followers went up in arms against the prime minister’s naiveté, not that they were themselves shorn of the mumbo jumbo that stalks South Asia like a mutant virus.
We can’t have anything against people visiting shrines of this or that spiritual legend to seek a boon. That is human nature. But we would be failing in our duty as people of reason if we didn’t spot the obvious mismatch between hope and delivery. Indira Gandhi, Hossain Mohammed Ershad, Ziaul Haq, Benazir Bhutto, and Pervez Musharraf have all approached a revered shrine in Ajmer in their day, seeking a boon or two only to be left to their own devices with tragic outcomes. Faith may or may not be a healer but it can be a great leveller.
With the rise of unreason as a conduit to political power, the questioning spirit has been so bludgeoned on most public forums that people have given up the old habit of asking simple questions. The network of gullibility built around blind faith has become a political asset.
Gagarin was not only a symbol of reason, but as a working-class man with a cheery smile he also anchored hope for post-colonial men and women of his generation who were learning to find their feet after centuries of denial.
“I am a friend, comrades, a friend,” the euphoric cosmonaut told farm workers after he had safely returned to Earth, in a field near Saratov in southern Russia. That was way before a current Indian minister, a doctor by profession, would exult in his belief that the Vedas had a better grip on science than Albert Einstein.