Use Tweets Instead Of Bullets To Win Your Wars

The last two weeks have been a blur of activity all over the world. Ranging from the good to the bad and the ugly, everyday we learn not only how flat our world is but how interconnected everything is.

The attacks that took place in the Indian city of Mumbai were just the kind of excitement that we did not need this holiday season. I can understand Kashmiri freedom fighters and their supporters wanting to lash out at India, and its economic centre, saw the Indian occupation of Kashmir and the treatment of the Kashmiri people. I can even understand their frustration that61 years have gone by but the rest of the world does not seem to care about United Nations resolutions calling for the Kashmiri people’s right to self-determination.

In the meantime more and more American, and European, investment continues to pour into India. From Bombay to Bangalore one can see India becoming a magnet for international investment as well as outsourcing of jobs from countries like America. Even the Indian film industry, which used to be entertaining, to say the least, has now become a force and is beginning to make its mark felt even in Hollywood and the West.

Perhaps it is for this reason that the Mumbai attackers decided to target tourists and visiting businessmen, whose Dollars and Euros are strengthening India and enabling its to continue its policy of occupation and terrorizing of the Kashmiri people.

However, there is no excuse for the indiscriminate murder of innocent Indian citizens going about their daily lives. I cannot understand how this attack on Mumbai in any way made the Kashmiri issue more important to the rest of the world. Or, how it made the world in any way more sympathetic to Kashmir.

Even if calling attention to the Kashmir issue was their primary goal, one would at least expect some communication from the masterminds or strategic leaders of this kind of attack. One would request them to at least explain their version of a rationale for such mayhem. Even the PLO, when it was successfully hijacking airliners in the 1970s, was communicating to the rest of the world that it was trying to call attention to the plight of the Palestinian people. Of course, as we can see that did not lead to the independence of the Palestinian people from Zionist Israel.

At the same time, carrying out an attack like this when it would obviously lead to severe Indian reaction against Pakistan shows that these terrorist killers were no friends of Pakistan. It would be foolish of us to argue that they did not come from, or have some support in, Pakistan – as my fellow Pakistanis tend to do. At the same time the jingoistic and "let’s use this as an excuse to bash Pakistan" tone and tenor of India’s words on the issue is not the smartest response either.

One hopes that saner heads prevail on both sides. Not that I am in any way advocating war, but India would be well advised to remember that Pakistan is its nuclear armed, capable and militarily strong neighbor.

Pakistan may not be able to "defeat" India in a conventional war, but any war that takes place because of the circumstances can easily spiral out of control and turn into a nuclear conflagration. In that, neither India nor Pakistan would win. They, and the whole world, would be defeated.

It is for this reason that it is essential for Pakistan and the Kashmiri people to immediately start using more effective tools of communications to call world attention to these issues. We are living in a connected age. Almost everybody has access to the global network, either through computers connected to the Internet or even through SMS on their cell phone.

Services like Twitter, which enable millions of people to have a real time conversation with short messages of 140 characters (called Tweets), are where the current and future battles for hearts and minds of the global audience take place.

In places like these Muslims in general, and Pakistanis in particular, are few and far between. People from, and supporters of, India and Israel are always active in general. They become even more hyperactive when Muslims, or Pakistanis, or Palestinians, carry out these types of murderous attacks we saw in Mumbai, which backfired on all of us.

If you have not already done so, and have Internet connectivity, I invite you to join up Twitter. Follow the conversation and respond to it. The easiest way to start is to go to http://twitter.com/imrananwar ,sign up and use the Follow button. This way you can see what I am saying in response to the attacks on Pakistan.

Then simply by clicking Reply you can join the conversation. In this case not only would your response come tome, but it would go on the "global public timeline" which means it is there for the whole world to see.

As you say interesting and useful things, or have interesting points and counterpoints, more and more people will begin to follow you. That enables you to build relationships as well as open doors of communication with people from all over the world.

Remember, just because you are not in the same room as the person you are responding to, don’t lose your sense of decorum no matter how angry they try to make you.

Being abusive, narrow minded, or just plain offensive only ensures that your words reflect poorly on the very country or cause that you are trying to support. Or it will mean more and more people blocking your messages AND opposing whatever you were supporting!

Remember, a conversation is most effective when you are open minded and balanced. Even people with opposing, or somewhat negative opinions of your country or cause, can become more aware of your point of view, or even become supporters. Be opinionated, but be courteous. Be firm, but be open-minded.

That is the most effective way to communicate your point of view, as well as helping educate the rest of the world on what the root cause of the Pakistan and India problem is. In one word, it’s Kashmir.

The only way to win that battle of hearts and minds in a global, interconnected, world is through using tweets instead of bullets to win your war. Get online, follow and tweet me!

New Day, New Dawn, New Era, A Renewed Nation

There are dark clouds on the horizon, as the damp chill of an early November rain looms over Washington DC. It is unlikely that anyone awake at this dawn hour will see even a single ray of light of sunshine. Yet, Washington, DC, as well as all the United States of America are bathed in a warm glow and bright light. It is the sunshine of a new day, a new dawn, a new era, and a new chapter in the history of a great nation renewed.

To paraphrase a recent advertisement, published by CNN in The New York Times and other reputed newspapers, the United States, as well as the rest of the world, were caught in a magical moment on the night of November 4, 2008, as the US elections came to a close.

The past was leaving, but still threatened to continue into our future. The future beckoned, the hope of a new day, but the dawn had not yet arrived and could still elude us. For a brief moment in time, you, I, the United States, as well as the whole world, were caught in a moment of curiosity, wonder, concern as well as sheer, innocent, daring hope.

Yesterday the nation stood at a crossroads, the brink of expanding disaster or a new beginning. As the election results came in, it became obvious that Hope had won the day. The past was going to be sent far into the past. In that brief period of time, between the end of polling in the United States, Senator McCain conceding defeat and President-elect Barack Hussein Obama giving his victory speech, many amazing things happened which many of us had not expected to see for a long time.

Americans themselves appeared to close the door on the jingoistic, brutal and bullying faux but failing empire that George W. Bush and his henchmen had tried to build over the last eight years. Americans of all colors, ages, races, religions, ethnicities and backgrounds came out in larger numbers to vote than at any time in the recent history. They also found that they had made a dream come true surprisingly quicker than they themselves had expected.

Dr. Martin Luther King, the black slain civil rights leader, was killed for his preaching equality for whites and blacks. His amazing "I Have A Dream" speech is known to all Americans, and I urge readers of this column to read, or even better, to hear it for themselves. (It is easily available on the Internet). Many Americans can even quote words from that speech. But few had believed it possible that they would see parts of Dr. King’s dream come true in such a real and shining manner.

Americans found their country once again beginning to be the bright beacon of light, hope, equality, justice, greatness and ideals that the rest of the world looks up to. Above all, Americans themselves woke up to realize that from being a good, yet imperfect, country overnight they had matured into a renewed nation, achieving greatness again, surprising themselves and the world in unison.

Let there be no delusions. We have not suddenly achieved some racial-nirvana, some miracle of overnight solutions to eons old human emotions. The results from various states, and parts of the country, including so-called redneck areas, show that despite the massive failure of George W. Bush, and his friends, voting for a black man was still too much for the Bush-supporting people to do.

No society in the world, at least in our lifetimes, can achieve the Utopian ideals of having no racism at all. However, with this vote Americans resoundingly proved that if there is any country in the world that can come close to living up to its own ideals, and the ideals of most human beings, it is the great nation of United States of America.

The country that had a history of slavery, abuse and even murder of black people today elected its president who is not only black, but is the son of a Kenyan immigrant, raised by a single mother, with an extended family of Africans, Christians and Muslims. And they did not install this man by some technical election, or by some narrow margin. They did so in such a resounding manner that there was no doubt left in anyone’s mind. It was clear. America had come back to its rightful place on the world stage – as a nation to be respected, admired, looked up to and – perhaps one day soon – loved again.

The irony is that this next to impossible election of Barack Obama was made possible by the disaster that was George W. Bush. It was hastened by the brink of disaster faced by the United States as well as rest of the world. Yet, the challenges that Barack Obama faces on taking the oath of office will make his getting elected seem like a walk in the park.

One of the interesting elements of United States elections is the significant time period between the results of elections and the new government taking over. In most circumstances it is a good thing – as it allows for a smoother transition from one administration to the next. However, in today’s serious geo-political and socio-economic meltdown situations, Barack Obama faces a new dilemma.

On the one hand he cannot be overly aggressive in pushing for his own policies while lame-duck George W. Bush is still in office. On the other hand, he cannot simply wait for 2 months for the situation to get worse, or the wrong policies or "solutions" from being applied or tested – by an administration already having seen itself rejected to the dustbin of history.

The major challenge that President-elect Barack Obama is sure to face is the issue of unrealistic expectations.

Being able to inspire people to believe that solutions are possible, being able to suggest that change is coming and getting people out to vote are far easier than solving the actual problems in some miraculously short timeframe. On top of that, as can be seen in any country where the party comes back into power after a long time, it’s supporters (jialas), power players and constituents expect to be rewarded for their support. The thing that can save Obama from this problem is the huge turnout in the elections and the very broad range of people who swept him into power. That makes it easier for him to resist the pressure or blackmail tactics of any particular constituent or support group.

An additional challenge that he and his Administration will face is that there are no easy solutions to the problems that are faced by the United States economy, as well as the global economy. Nor is it very easy to get out of the war in Iraq – if that is what people expect to be a short and easy fix to all problems.

Another thing to keep in mind is that one of Obama’s strengths is his ability to think coolly and rationally about issues, analyze the situation, make a decision and communicate his plan. The problem is that it can also lead to analysis paralysis, especially for a relatively young, inexperienced, new leader.

It is possible for Obama to also try to please as many people as he can and end up displeasing a lot more. Even worse, being someone who appears to want to be liked by everybody, it is possible that he may want to tiptoe around some of the tough decisions that need to be made. That, in my humble opinion, would be a disaster.

The biggest strength, the biggest advantage, the biggest opportunity that Obama can leverage is the huge mandate he was given in this landslide victory. It is for this reason that his first 100 days will be far more important in real terms than in the usual symbolic terms that they are looked at for new presidents.

If he’s smart, and a man of action, he will find a strategic way to have Congress, with its Democrat majority further strengthened in this election, influence and force George W. Bush’s outgoing administration to embark on the path that Obama would like to follow. This would enable him to get the ball rolling even before his inauguration, avoid the impression of imposing himself before he assumes office and also save him from any blame that can come about from George Bush and his team still screwing things up.

Another advantage I see is that this clear mandate, given to a visionary leader with the ability to inspire his nation, is just the right shot in the arm needed by the US consumer, business and stock markets.

As I have written in these pages before, there are serious threats to the United States and global economies, but the biggest threat is a crisis of confidence. Obama’s ascension to power is sure to help revive that confidence.

As I write these lines at 5 AM on November 5 in Washington DC, I am confident that, barring any external economic events, an economic resurgence, including a stock market rebound, shall start soon. More credit will start becoming available, thawing the economic freeze that had left Main Street shuddering and Wall Street with pneumonia. I even hope that a recovery and expansion may be on the horizon as happened when the last great American President Bill Clinton came into office replacing another weak economy under another weak Bush.

So, economic recovery will be of paramount importance to Americans and the whole world. The weak economy is what helped Obama get elected, but the biggest challenges before, during and even after an economic recovery will be foreign affairs and undoing the damage done by the Bush Administration.

My advice to President Barack Obama would be to therefore embark on aggressive efforts to resolve the Middle East and Palestinian, as well as the Kashmir issues. I would also encourage him to immediately start dialogue with Iran and other countries that George W. Bush was busy burning un-built bridges with.

But Obama has to do so in a friendly yet firm manner. It is time for America to assume its place as leader of the free world, willing, able and ready to use its power and influence to do good and effect real positive change around the world and achieving things that no past American President had the willingness or courage to do. That is the audacity of my hope for President Barack Obama.

Imran Anwar is a New York and Miami based Pakistani-American entrepreneur, Internet pioneer, inventor, writer and TV personality. He can be reached through his web site http://imran.com and imran@imran.com