The Good News About The Bad News In Pakistan

Imran Anwar explains why the bad news from Pakistan is actually showing the good news that is happening.

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An old adage is that bad news sells. But there comes a stage in societies and countries, as well as the minds of news-readers and TV-viewers, when they just get sick of bad news.

I think it is no exaggeration to say that Pakistanis in general have gotten used to bad news, negative publicity, adverse editorial opinion and just general anti-Pakistan sentiment every day, everywhere, from New Delhi to New York.

That is why it was such a happy occasion to see the current Administration of Pakistan, opposition leaders, the military as well as the Chief Justice of Pakistan doing their part to literally bring Pakistan back from the brink of total chaos.

The reinstatement of the Chief Justice, as well as other political institutions and Punjab government, were also much awaited good news for Pakistanis. You could feel and hear the actual sense both of pride and hope in the eyes and voices of Pakistanis of all walks of life, from Karachi to California.

Obviously this was not detracting critics of Pakistan, as well as Indians and their lobbyists, in addition to Pakistan-bashers in general from continuing their attacks on Pakistan.

It even seems that American Administration officials, in particular the military men responsible for Afghanistan and Pakistan, also have a vested interest in giving the impression of an unstable Pakistan almost on the verge of total collapse.

I don’t know if that would be to give them the excuses to continue with their missile strikes or for some other nefarious purpose. Or just to make themselves look like heroes when things get better in 6-12 months.

One can understand their fear, that nuclear-armed Pakistan, with internal strife, daily terror attacks, especially with a perceived internal support for the Taliban among certain government agencies, could become a nuclear nightmare for the United States. But, their own pronouncements have the risk of becoming self-fulfilling prophecies.

However, their pseudo-intellectual analysis of Pakistan being on the verge of collapsing as a country within six months is hardly the way to go about expecting positive change in Pakistan, or Pakistanis attitudes towards America and its representatives here. Nor is it helping bring about economic prosperity, or at least stability, when that is most needed to ensure a prosperous future for Pakistan and Pakistanis.

Keep in mind that any criticism of Pakistan also has a multiplication factor of actions by the Taliban as well as Al Qaeda, which seems to have made parts of Pakistan their head office. Throw in the general fear, mistrust and perhaps even sheer hatred for the concept of militant Islam and Muslims, and you can see why Pakistan gets perceived even worse by Western media, politicians and the public in general.

Sadly, it is supposedly our fellow “Muslims”, whether they are brainwashed or willing hell-bound murderers, who take away the brief moments of joy and good news that Pakistanis begin to enjoy.

To make matters worse they kill and maim innocent people, destroy families and malign, damage and even insult Islam by carrying out the most despicable, dastardly and disgusting acts of horror. They blow themselves up in mosques, even in funeral processions, where the only thoughts most people have in their mind at that time are of God and of the day when we all have to return to Him.

I believe that the word suicide bomber is totally insufficient to describe these forces of Evil, these representatives of Satan, these worshippers of Lucifer, these children of Shaitan.

I believe we Pakistanis, and Muslims, as well as the media have to start calling them by their real name. they are not “jihadis“. They are not suicide bombers. They should be referred to as “jahanummi qaatil kuffar” – because that is what they are – hell-bound murderer infidels.

And, we need scholars of Islam, religious leaders and decent Imams and Ulema to give fatwas against every jahanummi qaatil kuffar who carries out such attacks.

Let the ones following them know that they will not go to heaven with 72 virgins waiting for them. Let them hear they will go to hell, with the entire Ummah spitting on their names and dead bodies with 7200 curses lashing their souls for eternity.

The recent events and terror attacks in the last few days have left no doubt in my mind that these are the worst enemies of Islam and Pakistan. And the sooner Muslims and Pakistanis unite t exterminate these vermin, the better off Islam, Muslims, Pakistan and the world will be.

From their actions aiming to kill worshippers in a house of God, to the shameless, spineless, disgusting torture and whipping or public flogging of a young woman (regardless of whether the video was made recently or months ago), they show themselves to be the animals that they are.

They are even worse than the pagan Arabs that our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) made it his mission in life to try to first show the light of true Islam and later to defeat in battle. Fighting these true enemies of Islam is true Jihad.

How shameful that these people, whom even the Quresh tribe of pagan Arabia would spit upon, are the ones claiming to do what they do in the name of God, religion and Islam.

But like many Pakistanis, and many Americans, who believe that the future is always going to be bright, I refuse to give in and give up hope. Even in these terrible, and dark, days I see good news.

I felt proud to be part of the Pakistani media, both through the pages of the magazine and newspaper chain that carry my outspoken opinions, to my own blog and new media, as well as the TV channels that I also appear on. Each one of them went above and beyond to expose the evil, dastardly, cowardly, woman-flogging Taliban for the vile scum that they are.

I am proud of my fellow Pakistanis, here in Pakistan or living abroad, doing their bit to spread the word of this heinous crime – using every tool available to them, from e-mail to Twitter, FaceBook, etc.

I felt pride in the Chief Justice of Pakistan taking notice of this grave injustice and jumping into action. I am even appreciative of usually spineless, two-faced, politicians who spoke up against this cruelty.

In all these things I feel Pakistan and Pakistanis have turned yet another positive corner. I see this as yet another positive sign. I see even more light at the end of the tunnel than before.

I see a nation not falling apart in six months. I see a newly rejuvenated nation. I see Pakistan coming together closer, more united, with greater faith and higher discipline than ever before.

I see a new willingness in the psyche of formerly apathetic Pakistanis finally starting to speak up. Much that I would like to take credit for having written the article asking people not to be silent anymore, in reality my recent article was written knowing in my heart of hearts how great a future we all want for Pakistan.

I know in my heart, mind, body and soul exactly what greatness lies within the hearts, minds and souls of my fellow Muslims and Pakistani people.

Pakistanis taking a stand, and speaking against the evil-doers and the bad news, is the good news, even the best news, we have heard all year.

==
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 . You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/imrananwar

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Continue reading “The Good News About The Bad News In Pakistan”

Pakistan Democracy: The Long March, The First Step

What a difference a day makes. What an even bigger difference a week can make.

What an amazing and exciting week this has been for Pakistan as a nation. Its elected leaders had just recently squandered a historic opportunity to set Pakistan boldly and directly on the path to institution and nation building.

On more than one occasion, on TV and radio, I had compared Pakistan, as a nation and especially as a government, to the ship Titanic, except that this one had deliberately hit every iceberg it could find.

Just when it seemed that the current government in Islamabad had completely forgotten the lessons of history – of merely one year ago – something changed. It had appeared that the policies of Islamabad were surely and not so slowly pushing Pakistan in the direction of chaos and eventual return of martial law.

As someone who has told his share of lawyer jokes, for the last one year I have had nothing but praise and kudos for the barristers and attorneys of Pakistan. Theirs is a career dependent upon daily earnings, made from daily work outside the court houses of Pakistan. One could not have been imagined that profession as the consistent and unstoppable source of the year-long protest movement. What the lawyers of Pakistan carried out was doubly special, as they did it against not one but two tyrants within one year.

Besides self-inflicted wounds, almost exactly of the kind that General Musharraf suffered from, perhaps there was some hubris or misconception in Islamabad. Maybe there was a feeling that people in Pakistan have become immune to tyranny. Perhaps it was felt that when push comes to shove Pakistanis are so used to having people in power do what they please that nothing would come out as protest against any power grab carried out by Islamabad.

But just when it seemed that our ship PNS Titanic was headed straight into a minefield, surrounded by icebergs, in the midst of the perfect storm, the most amazing opposite perfect storm arose in response. The nation became a nation.

The Long March, as it was called, was the best example of a peaceful (at least by Pakistani standards) uprising by the people of Pakistan to have their way with an elected ruler trying to cling to, and expand, his power.

I was in Lahore in 1977 when it happened the last time. I remember driving past puddles of blood covered with ash in dozens and dozens of locations on The Mall where anti-PPP protesters had been killed by the government at that time. This time however, thankfully, the perfect storm that arose was one of common sense, decency, courage and people power.

In particular in addition to the lawyers of Pakistan, there are many people I, even as a New York-based Pakistani, want to give thanks to.
This includes Prime Minister Gilani for his understanding of which way the wind was blowing and helping President Zardari see some light. General Kayani must have had to fight the urge not to take over the government. It must have been difficult when the elected leaders were themselves creating a situation that was going to endanger not just law and order in Islamabad but bring chaos across the nation.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has grown in stature not just within Pakistan but also abroad. He is being praised for taking a stand on principle, showing patience and then being very statesmanlike in his response to broken promises from Islamabad. To then show courage and refuse house arrest to march upon Islamabad put him on a much higher level of leadership than he was at before.

Even the police officers who, after some “kaarwai“, showed common sense and decency, either to resign or to let the protesters begin their march towards Islamabad, should be considered heroes of democracy. As most of my readers and fans know from my background, during my days at the University of Engineering and Technology in Lahore, in the early 1980s,

I was a student leader and chief organizer of QSF. The Islami Jamiate Taliba, as well as its parent, the Jamate Islami, were considered the mortal enemies of liberal organizations like ours. They even murdered Anas Choudhry, a final year student member of QSF, the year I joined UET.

But, today, as during the previous year, I am happy to give credit to this party for its principled stand against tyranny and dictatorship.

I never thought it possible, but even a member of the very political party and inner circle of Islamabad, Ms. Sherry Rehman, deserves praise for her decency, courage – and good timing – in resigning her position. It can be argued that she did it because there were others interfering in her ministry rather than what the government was doing to the independent media. But I, and the people, still give credit for her resignation.

Many of these things would not have become possible had it not been for the courageous, first-time in the life of our nation, stand of the real Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Choudhry, and his fellow judges, who resigned under General Musharraf.

They stayed out of office and jobs, despite pressure, incentives and other tricks that governments have at their disposal in Islamabad. I will avoid passing comment on the people who sold out their souls to get the appointments that they got. But I hope that this new chapter in Pakistan’s history will also be the time when we start naming our villains for future generations to remember and spit on the names of.

Another hero, an entire industry really, that is among the less respected professions around the world these days, including America, was the Pakistani media. I say this not as a member of the media but as a proud Pakistani American who was ashamed of the silent acquiescence of American media in George Bush and Dick Cheney‘s shameless rape of the American Constitution and human rights around the world.

American media cannot be shut down by any government. Yet the media here quietly let the Bush government do whatever it wanted.

The Pakistani government, through many of its Stone Age laws curtailing freedom of expression and press, can shut down almost any Pakistani media entity. The bigger they get in Pakistan, the more the government can squeeze them. Even as a teenager I know how many magazines Prime Minister Zulfiqar Bhutto, whom I then admired, shut down for being critical of his policies. Urdu Digest was one that frequently had to reappear under other names.

I was a member of the press in Pakistan when vile dictator General Zia-ul-Haq gave many journalists a taste of what a dictator can do. He had writers’ nails pulled with pliers to make them stop criticizing him.

For the Pakistani media to have stood up, first to General Musharraf and then to the current Zardari government in Islamabad, at great risk and financial loss to themselves, is another element to celebrate in this great victory of the people. A lot of credit goes to GEO TV, Jang and many other media.

Lack of space and time prevent me from individually thanking every single group or individual, like Mr. Aitezaz Ahsan, who played a central role in this great turnaround. God bless you all, for being the new heroes of a new democracy that can still rise in our nation.

The long march may have been intended for Islamabad, but it may turn out to be something far more important.

The Long March may have become The First Step in a thousand-mile journey – to the true destiny of Pakistan – as a great, free, democratic society ready to take its place in history.

“Qadam Barhao Saathio, Qadam Barhao”

Imran Anwar is a New York and sometimes Florida 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 . You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/imrananwar

Hoping For Good Luck, On Friday The 13th

This has been quite an eventful week in New York. The previous few weeks of economic decline, bad financial news, increasing unemployment numbers and other news of global distress had been pushing the New York Stock Exchange consistently and constantly lower and lower.

Things were so bad that people would have preferred a return of the stress-filled yo-yo stock market days, where one at least had a 50-50 chance of making or losing money!

From a high of almost 13,000 the NYSE reached 6500 and there was talk of it even heading lower. There were fears that it might even fall below 6000 before all is said and done.

This decline continued while the flood of bad news also continued unabated. The only silver lining one could see around these ominous dark clouds was that most companies were choosing to do greater layoffs than they need and reducing costs as much as they can.

Even though each job lost is something that can mean the destruction of dreams of a family, sadly, for big businesses it is all a numbers game. Companies generally prefer to dish out all their bad news in one lump rather than dish it out piecemeal. It is generally easier to recover from a massive jolt and negative dip in stock prices over a few weeks or months. It is harder to get over the malaise that can cripple a company’s stock price if the bad news, no matter how small, just keeps coming every few weeks.

What’s that suggests to me, and keep in mind that I’m no financial adviser, is that most companies may be gearing up to have better than expected results at the end of the March quarter. Or, at least results that are less terrible than the market anticipates. Either one of these could potentially mean a rise in stock prices in April.

Even before the end of the quarter, a few pieces of good news have come out. One of them was that Citibank has been profitable for the last two months. This is the giant global behemoth that is one of those banks considered too large to be allowed to fail. This news came shortly after the bank’s stock was trading at as low as one Dollar per share, a far cry from nearly $60 per share it used to be.

Anybody who bought those shares at the ridiculously low price of one Dollar literally made a profit of 35% in one day, as investors suddenly found their greed outweighing their fear.

Financial company stocks in general benefited from this uptick in the stock market. Most major stocks have been rising consistently for the last few days, though I expect some drops as profit-taking starts again.

Even though it is far too early to claim that the market will not plumb new lows, but more than likely, one year from now economists and other so-called experts will analyse and say that the recovery had begun at an anaemic but measurable rate in these weeks.

President Barack Obama and his team have had most of their focus on the American economy – as well as the global recession that still imperils the world. But in the meantime other serious matters of the world continue to demand attention.

As is consistent with Pakistan and its self-destructive ways, once again American media and Pakistan bashers have gotten ample opportunity to raise the specter of Pakistani nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists – should the country spill further into anarchy.

The recent blatant and brazen terrorist attacks in the metropolitan city of Lahore, the despicable attempts to kill the Sri Lankan Cricket team and the evil murder of police officers and innocent bystanders there showed how almost no part of Pakistan is safe. This was an attack obviously not carried out by Taleban type thugs but by some well-organised but equally evil professionally trained gang of killers.

The Taleban continue to remain in the news, especially Pakistan ceding control of Swat and other regions to what are perceived as extremist groups. American drone and missile strikes continue to kill Pakistanis, innocent or otherwise, with disturbing regularity. India continues to rattle its sabers in the guise of demanding justice for the Mumbai attacks. In other words, there is no possible threat, internal or external, military, economic, political or social that Pakistan does not face.

Yet our shameless, spineless, gutless, clueless and witless politicians continue to fight over who sits at the head of the table – while this ship of state is rapidly sinking. Unlike even the Titanic, Pakistan is like a ship whose captain has been aiming it at every single iceberg he can see. On top of that, the ship has been torpedoed from behind. Its own crew is setting fire to cabins and furniture while others are busy looting what they can.

It is no wonder therefore that foreign powers, including America, find that the only way to control Pakistan, even to keep it from self-destructing, is to manage it not as friends but as masters. And, Pakistani politicians are quite OK with that.

From politicians, I want to shift to lawyers. Every country in the world has its share of lawyer jokes. For the last one year, and once again this month, it happens to be Pakistan’s lawyers and barristers, who have taken up the challenge to restore democracy and justice.

A profession that relies not on regular salaries but on almost daily work in the courthouse has once again stepped up, at great cost to its self, economically, professionally, personally. Today I must salute the lawyers and other professionals of Pakistan, not just for bringing down one dictator, but for ensuring that Pakistanis as a nation see that they can choose and control what the government can or cannot do when an elected person tries to act as a dictator.

Will democracy rule or will Pakistan sink into the abyss of chaos and anarchy?

The fact that things have come to this stage in itself is a tragedy. For the first time in more than 60 years we had an opportunity to establish state institutions. This was a historic opportunity because so many forces lined up in a once in a century series of events. The sacrifice of Benazir Bhutto, the professionalism of General Kayani, the sensibility of some political leaders and the great courage of Chief Justice Iftikhar Choudhry and fellow judges. Rarely had so many forces lined up to restore true democracy to Pakistan. And, sadly, rarely have historic opportunities of such greatness been grasped in Pakistan.

As I am writing these lines in New York – on this 13th of March – I am hoping for some good luck for Pakistan. The only positive news is that some sort of compromise may be in the works in Islamabad. I, like millions of Pakistanis, can only hope and pray for that miracle and some Good Luck, today, on Friday The 13th.


This article was in client publications on Friday the 13th, 2009.

Imran Anwar is a New York 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 . You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/imrananwar

(Infra)Red, Yellow, Green On A Sea Of Blue, Miami, Florida

(Infra)Red, Yellow, Green On A Sea Of Blue, Miami, Florida - IMRAN™

This house in Stiltsville in Biscayne Channel, in Miami, Florida, had it’s yellows stand out even more as the falling sun made the water appear surreal and shine under the bird’s wings, while the sky looked very pale powder blue. Taken with the Nikon D300 DSLR from my Sea Ray Sundancer 360.

© 2009 IMRAN
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India’s Triumphant Cultural & Political March

India’s Triumphant Cultural & Political March:

From The Slums Of Bollywood To The Red Carpet Of Hollywood

By Imran Anwar

(New York) It was nearly 30 years ago that my first writings were published in a major Pakistani newspaper, the once defunct and then reborn Pakistan Times. The writings continued during my time with the Jang group, in particular MAG Weekly, in the late 1980s, until I left for the United States.

All during that time, despite all my criticisms of whoever was in power at that time in Pakistan, my writings were always full of hope, desire and confidence of a great future that Pakistan had ahead of it. I also often wondered about why people older than me, some who had also travelled abroad, were far more cynical and much less hopeful.

All through that time I had always been the staunchest supporter and the defender of the name of Pakistan, whether it be in writing letters to the editors of foreign journals and newspapers critical of Pakistan or trying to convince foreign diplomats and journalists, as well as Western citizens, about how great Pakistan was going to be.

One of the important yardsticks, which would perhaps now be called a Meter stick under the metric system, was how we were doing in comparison to India. I distinctly recall how Pakistan had always been a pro-western, America-allied, fairly liberal, capitalism driven society.

India, on the other hand, was a country we competed with on the field of sports, the battlefield, as well as for international influence. We used to laugh at the ugly, dinky little cars that the Indians made, instead of importing the fancy ones we were driving in Pakistan.

Yet in the last 20 years that I have lived in America, India has made amazing, impressive and steady marching progress towards becoming a major global player – in almost every industry in the world. Pakistan during that same time seems to have sprinted downhill – faster than any Olympic athlete could.

It should have been a matter of concern for us when India, the long staunch Soviet and Communist ally, became a major trading partner of the United States, a country on which we had long relied, and whose foreign policies we had often followed. India developed a pool of engineering and other professionals, providing services, engineering, talent and operational capabilities to the world’s largest companies.

In doing so they earned billions and billions of dollars for their country. During this time, we in Pakistan saw the decline of the educational system, the breakdown of institutions, if any existed, and simply the beginning of the end of what might have been a great future.

It was a matter of personal disappointment, almost shame, for me that the day that India launched its first astronaut into space was also the same day that Pakistan went to the International Monetary Fund to beg for survival money. Shame.

During the same time that we were making a name for ourselves, for kidnapping and beheading visitors to our country, India launched, and continues to run, one of the most impressive media campaigns to promote tourism in its country.

Titled “Incredible India!” this campaign appears in major newspapers, magazines and many other places. It simply takes almost exactly the same kind of tourism places and situations that Pakistan could offer visitors but turns it into a must-visit, mystique-filled, once-in-a-lifetime, cultural experience image.

During this time despite the proliferation of private TV channels in Pakistan, another field where the Indians have done an amazing job has been their film industry. They have leveraged it not just in making a name for themselves, but marketing their country and becoming a source of talent abroad. In addition, in exchange, they are bringing even more visitors and foreign exchange to their country,

First their hottest movie stars started appearing in Hollywood films. Then, despite many Indian movies being barely concealed copies of Hollywood scripts, India was able to convince Hollywood to make many Indian-themed movies.

Then they tied their greater and greater visibility in Hollywood, ever improving quality of Bollywood films – which were getting screened in America. They then mixed in marketing of India and its culture and cemented it with the welcoming of American tourists and filmmakers. This was an amazing recipe to lead India to one of its greatest global public relations successes just a few minutes ago.

The Academy Awards ceremony has just concluded in Hollywood, California. As this publication is going to press, the whole world (including a television audience of probably 1 billion people, along with the many millions more who will read newspapers and see photographs online) has seen India emerging as a triumphant victor on yet another field. This time it’ the red carpet of Hollywood and the Oscars ceremony.

Even a movie called Slumdog Millionaire, set against the backdrop of the intense poverty that can be found in India, has turned into a global publicity and financial victory for India, its culture, its movie industry, its tourism and its economy.

And this is not just about showbiz or something that has no global or historic significance. India’s clout, its visibility, its popularity and its new-found confidence – even from something as simple as a movie award – is manifesting itself in its ability to dictate to the world.

India can now even dictate what President Barack Hussein Obama‘s team can or will discuss with the foreign ministers of Pakistan and Afghanistan – who are now in Washington DC.

India not only did not attend the meeting, it made clear to the American government that Kashmir is not to be discussed. The American administration agreed to that. In the meantime the same American Administration has expanded the missile strikes it will carry out within Pakistan – while Pakistan’s shameless politicians are merely fighting over dissolving assemblies and not even worried about justice, the one promise that people had asked to be fulfilled, from Karachi to Swat.

The early copies of tomorrow’s New York Times show the exactly opposite paths that two countries born on the same day in history have taken.

The Indian movie industry’s massive triumph on the Hollywood red carpet is one headline related to India. On the same page, the news item related to Pakistan is about a secret United States unit now in Pakistan to train its commandos to battle AlQaeda and the Taliban.

While American companies, and even individual creative types, are literally discussing over cocktails this very minute the next project they want to do in India, the few people discussing Pakistan are wondering if Pakistan will even survive as a nation.

I wonder if I will be around in 20 years to write a similar analysis. And I wonder where in history, geography and world affairs Pakistan will stand on that day. What do you think?


Imran Anwar is a New York 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 . You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/imrananwar

Whose Dying Throes? Rumsfeld Living Dream

Sorry, I am still trying to figure out if it’s the insurgency in its dying throes or Bush/Rumsfeld’s political future. More than 2000 more Americans are dead because these people sent them off to war, while their kids are getting arrested for underage drinking and partying.

Bush says this is making us safer at home….. just like Blair made London safe? Now Rumsfeld makes it sound like the insurgents are just fighting because there is no constitution.

So, as soon as a constitution is done, they will say, “Great, I don’t need to kill Americans. Who needs 72 virgins anyway, I got me a new constitution, Hallelujah.”

I am not holding my breath for that, but I await with bated breath what new idiotic logic or white lie or laughable excuse is invented by the White House, Bush, Rumsfeld and Rice. The suspense is killing me, while unfortunately, their policies are killing American soldiers and putting us all at greater risk.

Imran
Post Date 8/10/05