Thursday, 29 November 2007


You may have noticed a decline in my posting over the last week or so. I am currently rather busy both at work and at home which is why I haven't had the time to devote much attention to the news or my blog. Hopefully things will get back on track in another week or so.

In the meantime, if you want to see what kind of propaganda the supporters of our current regime puts out, have a look at this. Basically, it insists that America and India are involved in a joint plot to destroy the Pakistani military. Complicit in this plot are NGOs, liberals, lawyers, politicians, Afghans, the media and academics. I've heard these kinds of arguments countless times in the past couple of months, though not as sophisticated in their presentation as this article.

There's nothing new about these kinds of conspiracy theories. Anyone who is critical of the government has abuse and muck slung at him/her and is accused of being a foreign agent. Women seem to come in for particularly vehement mud-slinging. So Asma Jehangir, the human rights lawyer is said to be a mercenary in foreign pay, Mukhtaran Mai, the woman who was gang-raped by order of a tribal Jirga, is a pawn in the hands of foreigners, and Dr. Shazia Khalid, who was raped by an army captain in Baluchistan, was a liar who was trying to ignite ethnic violence. Rape victims who speak out are seen as unpatriotic troublemakers who are trying to "ruin the image" of the country. Hence, Musharraf's remark that Pakistani women want to be raped so that they can get a Canadian passport.

Now lest we take Musharraf to be an unusually bigoted and patriarchal Islamist, lets remember that he is an "enlightened moderate". Its not Islamic patriarchy that informs his ideas, its plain old nationalist, militarist elitistism - attitudes that are commonly found amongst the secular, rich, western-educated elite, whether male or female. Fascism, after all, is as misogynistic an ideology as they come. Thus a female acquaintance of mine, both an artist and university teacher, and a former resident of New York, was quiet ready to agree with General Musharraf's assessment of why women get themselves raped. For the elite that runs the country, these news items of violent gang-rape and tribal jirgas are far removed from their lives in air-conditioned boardrooms and drawing-rooms and are a cause of minor embarrassment when they hob-nob with their foreign and expatriate friends at cocktail parties. These women should just shut up, they insist, instead of giving the country a bad name.

Contrast this attitude with that of the good folks at the Lal Masjid. One of their most strident and vocal demands, was the demand for justice for rape victims - a call that resonated with many of the poor, who know they can get no recourse from a police and legal system that provides justice primarily to those who are able to grease its wheels with a little money. To these people it is starkly evident that the state will not provide them with any recourse to justice or protection. Of course the Lal Masjid prescription for improving things is flawed in the extreme. But at least they saw that the problem existed. For Musharraf, and much of the rest of the country's ruling elite, the only problem is one of "fixing" the country's "image". Secure in the knowledge that they have the connections and cash to secure justice for themselves, they fail to understand, or if they do understand, fail to care, that things are not so rosy for others.

Why does the media insist, they ask, on reporting these sordid tales of the goings-on in far-flung areas of the country? Why doesn't it focus on the positives of the country? The wonderful investment opportunities a country like Pakistan possesses? The tax-breaks on offer, the burgeoning stock market, the labour wages so low, they are practically free? Here is money for the making.

That's the true Pakistan, isn't it?

Isn't it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A brilliant assessment. A paper that is timely and thought provoking and comes at a time when great change is expected for Pakistan.

I would like the author to devote his analytic talent and writing to his future visit to the village of Mirwala in Punjab where he views the good work of the global icon, Mukhtar Mai.

There can not be too many reports on her great work for improving female rights and justice. The impact she is having on all of us world-wide is being felt wherever the printed word exists.

Please consider my request as an important one dear author Misanthrope. Jack - USA