Saturday, October 17, 2009

U.S. Media -- Free but UNINFORMED?

A FREE but UNINFORMED US media is a global threat, worse than Al Qaida and the Taliban combined.

An example is this Wall Street Journal Editorial (evaluate for yourself)

Not So 'Smart Power'
Congress sticks a gratuitous thumb in Pakistan's eye.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704107204574471502060909532.html#articleTabs%3Darticle


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My comments appearing on the WSJ online Site:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704107204574471502060909532.html#articleTabs%3Dcomments
* Chithra KarunaKaran wrote:

WSJ Editorial lacks "Smart Power" of Kerry-Lugar and Berman

This WSJ editorial lacks the "smart power" of informed, critically logical
writing based on verifiable factual evidence.


House Democrat Howard Berman phrased it inelegantly but accurately when he said he did not want to see US taxpayer dollars go down a "rat hole" in Pakistan.

My Q: What objection could the WSJ possibly have to ensure that US taxpayer dollars are wisely spent and prudently protected, especially during the extended economic downturn?

Is the anonymous WSJ editorial implying that the 152 members of the US Congress are a proxy for the Government of India? The 152-member mis-named India Congressional Caucus (in US neo-imperial discourse all locations are colonized,) stood together to ensure that Pakistan's fragile attempt at civilian government would be protected from
the marauding efforts of the ISI, and increasingly dissident sections of the Pakistan
Army, who now are reported to be joining AlQaida and Tehreek-e-Taliban
Pakistan (TTP). That is good for both India and Pakistan. Of course let us be clear eyed and recognize that the US Congress can do absolutely nothing to control corruption in South Asia, least of all in Pakistan. Any ordinary civic-minded Pakistani will tell you that. The US cannot even control corporate corruption at home!

The strings-attached-approach by Berman and Co. actually protects Pak's
civilian government, weak and ineffectual as it is. I am not arguing that
it deserves that support, please note. Pakistanis can be self-reliant and handle their own affairs, without US meddling, which began in the early '50s.

But in the end, Can we blame Pakistan's leaders for this mess? Only partly.

Pakistan is a Paid Political Prostitute (PPP) of the US. Has been for 50+ years.

Let's look at Secretary of State Clinton's cosmetically enhanced assessment of this relationship after her return from Pakistan at the end of October:

‘I’ve admitted to mistakes by our country going back in time, but I’ve also reminded people that we’ve been partners and allies from the beginning of Pakistan’s inception as a country.’

‘Pakistan has helped us on several important occasions, and we are very grateful for that. So let’s begin to clear the air here.’
I rest my case.

How did that happen, that Pakistan became a Paid Political Prostitute (PPP) of the US?

Pakistan, weakened by Brit-driven Partition and by the decisions of a few of its
own narrowly focused leaders, became subjugated by the US Department of State beginning in the early 50's, under John Foster Dulles.
Pakistan became a client-state of the US.
Note: Israel is also a client-state of the US, but unlike hapless Pakistan, Israel enjoys de facto MFN status (Most Favored Nation)with the US.

Pakistan has been servicing the US Govt. for almost 50 years.

Pakistan has loyally, shrewdly done the US's dirty work.
Pakistan has grown terror on its own soil for the US and importantly, deployed Terror as an instrument of state policy against India, the world's largest democracy.
This fact has been publicly admitted by both Musharraf and Zardari, civilian and military leaders alike.
WSJ editor, please read the news stories submitted by your own reporters.

Pakistan sowed the wind largely at the behest of the US and now Pakistan is reaping the whirlwind.
Pakistan is now killing thousands and displacing million plus of its very own people under orders from the US. and as a consequence of its own cross-border terror policies, mainly thru the efforts of Pakistan's ISI, trained by agencies of the US govt.


The Mujahideen (during the Cold War invented by the US to bring down the Soviet economy everywhere,)those US-trained Mujahideen under the supervision of Pakistan's ISI (itself trained by the US), those Mujahideen were deployed into Indian Kashmir and in the attack on India's Parliament in New delhi, those mujahideen who now are variants of Taliban factions were once ordinary peaceful residents of Pakistan and Afghanistan, living traditional lives shaped and influenced by local culture. Until the US stepped in and ruined their lives and destabilized Pakistan.

Q.Who messed up Pakista, and Afghanistan? The neo-imperial, expansionist US for whom nation-states are a commodity to be consumed for profit.

Indians and Pakistanis are sisters and brothers, blatantly manipulated in the past, by Brit Divide and Rule colonial Strategy and now by the neoimperial US "Strategic Depth" operations in our South Asia region. The damage has been done, so WSJ is greviously mistaken to argue that the damage has to be exacerbated by giving Pak FREE unfettered access to U.S. TAXPAYER money. That's my
money you're talking about WSJ.


Finally, I thought WSJ was a media entity that
HELPED taxpayers manage their money prudently. How irresponsible of you then,
WSJ to advocate fiscal irresponsibility by Congress in its foreign policy
legislative initiatives.

A FREE but UNINFORMED US media is a global threat, far worse than Al Qaida and the Taliban combined.
------------

My private response to Elizabeth Bumiller on her NYTimes piece abt Afghanistan since public romments were not provided for on the NYT site.

in 1970, When I arrived from India to study at Columbia's overrated Graduate School of Journalism, I remember feeling uncomfortable and resentful at jokes, mainly by the predominantly white (Jewish of course) male faculty male white students, about "being sent to Afghanistan" as a fate equivalent to death for a budding journalist.
Now US journalists are fighting each other to go there to get a book (or a nostalgic article) out of it.
In your article you fail to include ANY mention of the CIA in Afghanistan undercover with USAID, possibly beginning in the 50's, which is abt the same time that the US State Department, under John Foster Dulles, subjugated Pakistan and turned it into a client state.
The US Govt. capitalist system INVENTED the Cold War with the Soviets, and Afghanistan became a theatre to enact that strategy.
The US is heavily complicit in all that has since happened in the western part of South Asia.

The verifiable factual evidence of US complicity and duplicity in South Asia(Af in particular) is conveniently left out of your story. In fact there is a pro-Zionist subtext running through almost every story in the NYT about South Asia or West Asia (the latter known to yu folks as the Middle East -- Middle of what? East of Where?)
cheers
Chithra KarunaKaran
http://EthicalDemocracy.blogspot.com


Professor Chithra KarunaKaran
City University of New York(CUNY)
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
http://EthicalDemocracy.blogspot.com
==================================================================
Dawn online newspaper copyright

(My Comment on DAWN, Pakistan's foremost English Language Daily)
http://blog.dawn.com/2009/11/02/hillarys-headache/


Let’s look at the FACTUAL HISTORICAL EVIDENCE rather than what Hillary is SAYING (she is a pro-Israel politician after all).

The main interest of the US is to gain “strategic depth” in South Asia.

Why? To threaten Iran. And monitor Russia and China. This is the new geo-political nexus of power for the US.

The US is interested in selling as many weapons and will not refrain from destabilizing as many nations as possible in its quest for excessive profit and global influence.

This is dangerous for EVERY South Asian nation-state.

The US turned Pakistan into a client-state in the 50’s, so that Pakistan could conduct war on behalf of the US.

Those Mujahideen were once ordinary peaceful residents before they were morphed into the Talibans of various stripes, mainly through US militarization and training.

Hillary was my Senator before she ran against Obama. She is following the exact same policy that John Foster Dulles started in the ’50’s in the State Department — to turn Pakistan into a client-state of the US.

In its relentless quest for dominance, (even though the US economy is in the doldrums), the US has successfully gained a foothold in South Asia.

Wake up Pakistan. Don’t blame yourselves.
Only the ordinary people of Pakistan can make that happen. Pak’s leaders are too corrupt and have become cynically dependent on US billions. None of the money reaches the common man.

Wake up Pakistan. Say NO to US money and US control. Say YES to SELF-RESPECT and national Sovereignty.

Chithra KarunaKaran
New York, NY

Some Pak blogger-journalists buy the US media and US Govt. HYPE -- and doubt their own media and civil society -- CKK (see below)
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Hillary's Headache
Posted by Asif Akhtar in Featured Articles, Pakistan, Politics on 11 2nd, 2009 |

It seems the Pakistani media has learned a couple of new chic and trendy phrases like ‘charm offensive’ and ‘trust deficit’ from the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to the highly skeptical and very paranoid Republic of Pakistan. The trip seemed to have been inspired by a long overdue initiative to ease tensions with the Pakistani masses that have been having second and third thoughts about their ‘use and abuse partnership’ with the US since its inception in 2001.

Unprecedented by the likes of such high-ranking US officials in the past, Clinton’s trip attempts to bring the highly controversial, and largely misunderstood ‘AfPak’ policies of the confused US government to the Pakistani masses in Barack Obama’s signature style of addressing town halls and public gatherings in informal question and answer sessions. While the inclusion of the public at large in the discourse on US foreign policy seems like a revolutionary step away from more clandestine approaches to manipulate political will through figureheads, for now we will only have to wait and see if this approach is fruitful in changing Pakistani public opinion about the United States.

Though clearly designed to open up dialogue on a range of issues, most of Clinton’s public and televised meetings were haunted by the $7.5 billion elephant in the room formally known as the Kerry-Lugar act. A communication disconnect was evident when the roomful of television anchors bombarded the Secretary of State with complaints on the language of the bill, prompting her to respond that the language in the bill was in fact written for a quick sell in the US Congress and wasn’t designed for endless debate on news talk shows.

The gap in communication became even more apparent when the Urdu news channel anchors attempted to use their well honed skills of conjuring highly emotional diatribes to try and melt a very pragmatic US Secretary of State into ceding all conditions. They did, however, succeed in prompting Clinton to declare that far from being dispatched, the money had only been set aside, and if the Pakistani people didn’t want the money they didn’t have to take it. The open-ended question reduced a cackling room to pin-drop silence, almost embarrassing the anchors for pursuing that line of questioning in the first place. It seems none of the haughty anchors were ready to make the billion-dollar blunder by ticking off the Secretary of State and losing all that aid money.

As much as Clinton would have liked to close the chapter on the Kerry-Lugar act, it continued to pop up in almost every subsequent discussion revealing an even deeper layer of social and cultural misunderstanding. While Clinton herself admitted that Washington was perturbed when they heard the huge public outcry over the tripling of US aid to our war-torn country, the message that the Pakistani masses were attempting to send to the Obama administration was apparently lost in cultural translation. The nuance I equate this whole media-catalysed row over the aid is more akin to the interaction between a shop-keeper and a customer, where the customer has inadvertently said something to dishonour the shop-keeper, causing the annoyed shop-keeper to tell the customer to take his money and leave as he doesn’t want to have anything to do with him or his money.

Likewise, it seems we, as a nation, are just sick and tired of the war we agreed to fight in 2001, and now we want America to keep their money, pack up, and just leave us in peace, as if that would immediately revert things back to their happy-go-lucky pre-2001 state of affairs. To add to an already perturbed American’s confusions, the issue isn’t as simple, because as soon as there is talk in Washington about cutting and running, Pakistan seems to let out a bellow filled with agony at being betrayed by those godless Americans again.

The national outcry over the US wanting to steal our much cherished sovereignty through a crafty piece of legislation must have befuddled many in Washington as well. If the idea of one country conning another out of its sovereignty through legal jargon isn’t absurd in itself, the idea of feeling more comfortable and territorially sovereign with non-state actors squatting in our front- and backyards must be mind-boggling for people in the US State Department.

In fact, the idea of a legal document taking away Pakistan’s sovereignty should strike a Pakistani Muslim as even more preposterous. Anyone who has even pursued the constitution of Pakistan should know that it is clearly stated in the Objectives Resolution that ‘Soveriegnty belongs to Allah alone but He has delegated it to the State of Pakistan through its people for being exercised within the limits prescribed by Him as a sacred trust.’ How can any bill, regardless of whether it was drafted in Washington or New Dehli, even dream of stealing something which belongs to Allah?

Legal metaphysics aside, it is a fact in political science that most pieces of international legislation, including trade deals, and membership in international organisations such as the United Nations, impinge on the idea of absolute national sovereignty. The case is similar to an individual giving up certain rights and liberties to live in a civilised society. As rational actors we should readily accept any form of monetary incentives to root out destabilising entities while gaining a foot-hold in the development queue.

In between frequent bombardments of questions relating to a range of controversial topics from drone attacks to Blackwater/Xe Securities, whenever Hillary got a chance for a breather she must have felt like a local pir or fakir as people decided to dump a wheelbarrow full of Pakistan’s numerous problems on her as if she had the magic cure for everything from Kashmir to women’s empowerment. While she must have really felt like she was in the ‘you’ve broken it, now you’ve bought it’ situation, she handled most of the questions and concerns with a calm and a poise people would have never expected from her predecessor Condaleeza Rice, who would have been more comfortable carrying out the offensive without the charm.

While a gaping US-Pakistan communication disconnect does exist, most of it seems to be caused by the deceptive practices of our own popularly elected government representatives. The confrontation of Clinton and the public at large, and given the issues that have revolved around this interaction just goes to show how much the Pakistani government dissimulates before its own people, saying one thing to US law makers, and saying something completely different to the public on issues such as drone attacks, foreign aid, private security, the power crisis, among numerous others.

Given the circumstances, this attempt by a US official at bridging the gap between Pakistani opinions and US policy is commendable. So far this Obama-style tour de force has only gone as far as to open the floodgates. It will be interesting to note in the coming months whether the US actually acts on the many suggestions Clinton has received from Pakistanis from all walks of life.

asifakhtar80x80 Lahore-based Asif Akhtar is interested in critical social discourse as well as the expressive facets of reactive art and is one of the schizophrenic narrators of a graphic novel. He blogs at e-scape-artist.blogspot.com and tweets at twitter.com/e_scape_artist.







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Dawn online copyright
Somersaults on air
Posted by Nadeem F. Paracha in Featured Articles, Pakistan on 10 29th, 2009 | 50 responses

Talking to DawnNews, veteran journalist Agha Murtaza Poya called America, India, and Israel an ‘axis of evil out to destroy Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan.’

There is absolutely nothing new or original about Poya’s grand ‘geopolitical’ assessment, but when such unsubstantiated claptrap comes from a respected journalist, what common sense or responsibility can one expect from the hoards of TV anchors and print journalists whose figurative 15 minutes of fame have already overstayed their cacophonic welcome.

It is a ‘fame’ gathered from cheap fist-clenching demonstrations of populist nonsense and so-called political discourses that are thoroughly anti-intellectual in nature and akin to deal more in sardonic barbs and thrilling sound bytes for an audience that seems not to have the patience, or for that matter, the capability to enjoy a more rational discourse.

TV screens and the pages of some newspapers are choked with hosts, journalists, and ‘experts’ dishing out the most worn out clich├ęs that can be wonderful fodder for fast food spy fiction, consequently announcing the demise of any semblance left in this society to actually understand international and local politics as a dynamic science instead of reading it as a rapid-fire script of a racy James Bond film.

Accusations are conveniently floated about ‘corruption’ and ‘foreign hands,’ and not even once have they been proven as something more concrete than drawing room gossip or obsessive finger-wagging.

Thankfully, those sickened by such baloney have gotten down to systematically dismantling the many myths and conspiracy dribble that are smugly rolled out as ‘facts.’

Take the books written on the subject of Islamists and terrorism in the region by well known author Ahmed Rashid. In Decent into Chao (2008), Rashid uses reliable sources to turn the already known narrative of Pakistan being its own worst enemy into an elaborate and convincing intellectual and journalistic exercise.

But myth-busters – including Rashid, Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy, Dr. Mubarak Ali and others – may seem ‘too dry’ in their style compared to the many compelling babblers, journalists, and columnists who have turned spouting populist twaddle and worn-out conspiracies into an industry. Now, however, the myth-breaking brigade have found their own shock troopers.

This is a vital development in which sanity in this respect seems to be evolving a muscular side to challenge the sheer brawn of gaseous drawing room jocks such as Zaid Hamid, Aamir Liaquat, Mubashhir Luqman, Shahid Masood, Ansar Abbasi, et al.

Urdu columnist and TV host Hassan Nisar and investigative journalist Aamir Mir have been the frontline shock troopers. They have continued to dent the jocks’ numerous theories not only with arguments rooted in facts, but also with a punch.

In his book, Talibanisation of Pakistan, Mir, like Rashid, uses the most convincing investigative tools, smartly gathering on-ground facts from various competing intelligence agencies in Pakistan to lay out a harrowing narrative that puts Pakistan’s many schizophrenic intelligence agencies smack-dab in the middle of all that has gone so terribly wrong with Pakistan in matters of extremism and terrorism.

Mir’s book is a warning, but without the holier-than-thou approach that many of his detractors usually take.

The more we remain in denial about our own agencies’ historical dabbling in civilian political matters, and the many deadly games that these agencies played moulding armies of fanatical and violent Frankenstein Monsters, the deeper we shall tumble into the bottomless pit we have managed to dig for ourselves.

Interestingly, every time certain awkward truths about our own political and societal failures start to become a hot topic among the amoral chattering classes, there are always those who suddenly up the ante of their respective TV shows and their newspaper ‘scoops’ and columns, diverting the attention of the people either back to the wrecking and scheming ways of ‘foreign hands,’ or, of course, the Kerry-Lugar Bill and the NRO.

I’ve been associated with both investigative and desk journalism for more than 15 years now, and I know how vulnerable to exploitation journalists can get; quite like the politicians we so self-righteously bash. And even though I have very little experience with electronic journalism, one can quite easily point out the cynicism that cuts across it.

In 2007, the army (for the TV news channels) became the villain and the lawyers our saviours; terrorists were dealt with velvet gloves, even glorified as men who were creatures of circumstance instead of the cold-blooded murderers that they really are.
The same year, when late Benazir Bhutto met with Pervez Musharraf, she was mocked and put down as a ‘puppet of America.’ Soon after her tragic death, she suddenly became a heroine, and whole documentaries were dedicated to her.

In 2008, the army was still the villain and democrats became supermen. Terrorists were still seen to be fighting a noble war against America, and those who were blowing themselves up in mosques and schools were ‘Indian agents.’

In 2009, after the government and the army finally took decisive action against the terrorists, the army returned to the TV screens as heroes. Terrorists, meanwhile, became an elusive cross between barbarians and men funded by foreign powers. Last year’s supermen, the elected democrats, on the other hand, become ‘corrupt,’ ‘incompetent,’ and a laughing stock.

Suddenly, for TV news channels in Pakistan, it seems democracy isn’t all that cool anymore. They’re back indulging in Pakistani journalism’s all-time favourite pastime: looking for those ‘dark clouds’ of army intervention to ‘control corrupt politicians.’ They just never tire of this hollow, reactive exercise. It’s been going on ever since 1958.

The electronic media claims these somersaults are undertaken in the fine name of ‘democracy,’ and ‘freedom of speech.’ But the truth is, much of our electronic media is simply driven by what is better described as a mobocracy! Even a casual glance at any ‘talk show’ should suffice as proof.

nadeem_80x802 Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and Dawn.com.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.




50 Comments »

1. avatar
Chithra KarunaKaran Says:
November 1st, 2009 at 16:37
comment-top

24/7 on the Air

The entire world media has entered the realm of 24/7 air and digital news, so are we surprised that Quantity frequently trumps Quality?

Agha’s use of Bush’s “axis of evil” metaphor makes him a Bush follower? How ironic. At least 24/7 media exposed Agha’s paranoia.

Here in the US, 24/7 news ’somersaults’ can give you a migraine.

Solution? Suck it up, turn it off, get over it, get a life, take a jog, help others, don’t be corrupt, participate actively in building civil society. That’s democracy.

I get a lot of my news from Dawn online and I really appreciate it.

Chithra KarunaKaran

Ethical Democracy As lived Practice
http://EthicalDemocracy.blogspot.com
-------------------------------------------
Hillary’s headache
Posted by Asif Akhtar in Featured Articles, Pakistan, Politics on 11 2nd, 2009 | 27 responses

It seems the Pakistani media has learned a couple of new chic and trendy phrases like ‘charm offensive’ and ‘trust deficit’ from the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to the highly skeptical and very paranoid Republic of Pakistan. The trip seemed to have been inspired by a long overdue initiative to ease tensions with the Pakistani masses that have been having second and third thoughts about their ‘use and abuse partnership’ with the US since its inception in 2001.

Unprecedented by the likes of such high-ranking US officials in the past, Clinton’s trip attempts to bring the highly controversial, and largely misunderstood ‘AfPak’ policies of the confused US government to the Pakistani masses in Barack Obama’s signature style of addressing town halls and public gatherings in informal question and answer sessions. While the inclusion of the public at large in the discourse on US foreign policy seems like a revolutionary step away from more clandestine approaches to manipulate political will through figureheads, for now we will only have to wait and see if this approach is fruitful in changing Pakistani public opinion about the United States.

Though clearly designed to open up dialogue on a range of issues, most of Clinton’s public and televised meetings were haunted by the $7.5 billion elephant in the room formally known as the Kerry-Lugar act. A communication disconnect was evident when the roomful of television anchors bombarded the Secretary of State with complaints on the language of the bill, prompting her to respond that the language in the bill was in fact written for a quick sell in the US Congress and wasn’t designed for endless debate on news talk shows.

The gap in communication became even more apparent when the Urdu news channel anchors attempted to use their well honed skills of conjuring highly emotional diatribes to try and melt a very pragmatic US Secretary of State into ceding all conditions. They did, however, succeed in prompting Clinton to declare that far from being dispatched, the money had only been set aside, and if the Pakistani people didn’t want the money they didn’t have to take it. The open-ended question reduced a cackling room to pin-drop silence, almost embarrassing the anchors for pursuing that line of questioning in the first place. It seems none of the haughty anchors were ready to make the billion-dollar blunder by ticking off the Secretary of State and losing all that aid money.

As much as Clinton would have liked to close the chapter on the Kerry-Lugar act, it continued to pop up in almost every subsequent discussion revealing an even deeper layer of social and cultural misunderstanding. While Clinton herself admitted that Washington was perturbed when they heard the huge public outcry over the tripling of US aid to our war-torn country, the message that the Pakistani masses were attempting to send to the Obama administration was apparently lost in cultural translation. The nuance I equate this whole media-catalysed row over the aid is more akin to the interaction between a shop-keeper and a customer, where the customer has inadvertently said something to dishonour the shop-keeper, causing the annoyed shop-keeper to tell the customer to take his money and leave as he doesn’t want to have anything to do with him or his money.

Likewise, it seems we, as a nation, are just sick and tired of the war we agreed to fight in 2001, and now we want America to keep their money, pack up, and just leave us in peace, as if that would immediately revert things back to their happy-go-lucky pre-2001 state of affairs. To add to an already perturbed American’s confusions, the issue isn’t as simple, because as soon as there is talk in Washington about cutting and running, Pakistan seems to let out a bellow filled with agony at being betrayed by those godless Americans again.

The national outcry over the US wanting to steal our much cherished sovereignty through a crafty piece of legislation must have befuddled many in Washington as well. If the idea of one country conning another out of its sovereignty through legal jargon isn’t absurd in itself, the idea of feeling more comfortable and territorially sovereign with non-state actors squatting in our front- and backyards must be mind-boggling for people in the US State Department.

In fact, the idea of a legal document taking away Pakistan’s sovereignty should strike a Pakistani Muslim as even more preposterous. Anyone who has even pursued the constitution of Pakistan should know that it is clearly stated in the Objectives Resolution that ‘Soveriegnty belongs to Allah alone but He has delegated it to the State of Pakistan through its people for being exercised within the limits prescribed by Him as a sacred trust.’ How can any bill, regardless of whether it was drafted in Washington or New Dehli, even dream of stealing something which belongs to Allah?

Legal metaphysics aside, it is a fact in political science that most pieces of international legislation, including trade deals, and membership in international organisations such as the United Nations, impinge on the idea of absolute national sovereignty. The case is similar to an individual giving up certain rights and liberties to live in a civilised society. As rational actors we should readily accept any form of monetary incentives to root out destabilising entities while gaining a foot-hold in the development queue.

In between frequent bombardments of questions relating to a range of controversial topics from drone attacks to Blackwater/Xe Securities, whenever Hillary got a chance for a breather she must have felt like a local pir or fakir as people decided to dump a wheelbarrow full of Pakistan’s numerous problems on her as if she had the magic cure for everything from Kashmir to women’s empowerment. While she must have really felt like she was in the ‘you’ve broken it, now you’ve bought it’ situation, she handled most of the questions and concerns with a calm and a poise people would have never expected from her predecessor Condaleeza Rice, who would have been more comfortable carrying out the offensive without the charm.

While a gaping US-Pakistan communication disconnect does exist, most of it seems to be caused by the deceptive practices of our own popularly elected government representatives. The confrontation of Clinton and the public at large, and given the issues that have revolved around this interaction just goes to show how much the Pakistani government dissimulates before its own people, saying one thing to US law makers, and saying something completely different to the public on issues such as drone attacks, foreign aid, private security, the power crisis, among numerous others.

Given the circumstances, this attempt by a US official at bridging the gap between Pakistani opinions and US policy is commendable. So far this Obama-style tour de force has only gone as far as to open the floodgates. It will be interesting to note in the coming months whether the US actually acts on the many suggestions Clinton has received from Pakistanis from all walks of life.

asifakhtar80x80 Lahore-based Asif Akhtar is interested in critical social discourse as well as the expressive facets of reactive art and is one of the schizophrenic narrators of a graphic novel. He blogs at e-scape-artist.blogspot.com and tweets at twitter.com/e_scape_artist.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily represent the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

------------------------------------------

My response to Dawn Blogger ( scroll below)
The CORE problem is the US.

Not the people of Pakistan but the US. And the leaders of Pakistan who are kissing US ass.

Q. Why don’t Pakistan’s leaders tell the US to stop interfering and GET the HELL OUT of Pakistan?

The US is a State sponsor of Terror, has been for at least 60 years, in Nicaragua, Cuba, El Salvador, Israel, Palestine, you name it, the US has been there to destabilize sovereign nation-states.

Now the US is destabilizing Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Pakistan has been subjugated by the US since the John Foster Dulles era of the State Department in the ’50s. Pakistan became a CLIENT-state of the US at that time.

Pakistan’s successive govts., mainly military dictatorships, RULING WITHOUT THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE colluded with the US military establishment and the military-industrial complex that runs the US govt, to WEAKEN Pakistan’s civil society institutions. Pakistan, most regrettably has become a paid political prostitute (PPP)
of the terror apparatus of the US govt. The leaders in Pakistan and the US are making millions while the common people who make civil society, are starving and dying in bomb blasts.

Remember, there were NO so-called terrorists UNTIL the US became embroiled in SOUTH ASIA.

I am a US citizen and that’s my analysis.

Dr. Chithra KarunaKaran
City University of New York (CUNY)
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
http://EthicalDemocracy.blogspot.com

---
Dawn copyright
Attacking our way of life
Posted by Murtaza Razvi in Featured Articles, Pakistan, Politics on 10 28th, 2009 | 80 responses

Amidst the mayhem gripping Pakistan today, there is also a deafening silence pervading the corridors of power and the ranks of the opposition on the prevailing security situation. That silence, too, is being heard now. Pakistan is at war, and this is a war that is being fought as much in our cities as on the frontlines in Fata.

Wednesday’s attack on a Peshawar market, selling mostly women’s merchandise, is an attack on our way of life more than anything else. It is not a statement of the Taliban’s anti-Americanism as Hillary Clinton lands in Pakistan, nor is it a sign of their hatred against the Pakistan Army, which is carrying out a military operation in South Waziristan. It is aimed at women, as you see that a big number of those killed in Peshawar are women shoppers; shoppers that the Taliban want confined within the four walls of their homes. It is an attack on our way of life as we have lived it in Pakistan.

But back to the silence first: President Zardari met Mian Nawaz Sharif over dinner in the security of the presidency on Monday, and the two leaders did not even utter a word of concern about what the people are having to go through in wartime. Islamabad is a city very much under siege; Lahore and Peshawar are no different. And if you ask parents with school-going children in Karachi, they will tell you the situation in the Sindh capital is no less alarming.

Bickering aside, what Mr Sharif told Mr Zardari at their meeting, that the people were becoming acutely aware of the lack of governance, would have made more sense if he had also said the same thing addressing the chief minister of Punjab. The lack of governance and security failures in that province where his own party rules the roost is equally appalling. This is just bad politics at a time when the people need to see their leaders showing more concern about the challenges staring them in the face.

Opening after a week of closure, many private schools in our cities have installed CCTVs, deployed snipers, and placed sandbags around their buildings as local police patrol the areas during school hours. A sense of fear grips parents dropping off their children at school; not a day goes by without terrorists trying to attack security forces’ personnel, amidst reports that all vital installations, media organs, and educational institutions are in the bull’s eye as far as extremist militants’ top targets are concerned.

Schools offering co-education have received threats from terrorists, which have to be taken seriously because of the history of attacks on and threats against schools and colleges in Swat, Peshawar, and across Fata. In Lahore, the Punjab government keeps shutting down schools which in the government’s view have not made adequate security arrangements. In Karachi, many schools ignored the government’s directive to reopen on Monday, choosing instead to wait until they have the security cover in place that they feel they need under the circumstances.

This, while there is little sense of newsworthiness attached to what’s happening in our cities, even when buildings and installations are not being attacked or security personnel made hostage. The media must share some blame for this state of apathy. Why is the war on terror, which has now come to our doorstep, not the primary concern of the prime time talk shows?

Instead, popular hosts keep inviting politicians to wash their dirty linen in public. Is it not the people’s war that is being fought today? Won’t the people of Pakistan be the biggest losers if we fail to win this war that is aimed at annihilating our diverse cultural norms and the social value system?

Yet, it’s just the number of casualties every day that now seem only to casually make the headlines; the media’s mainstay remains internecine party politics which seem to have little to do with the bigger reality marred by fear and depression gripping the whole nation. There are thousands more families that have been displaced by the ongoing military action in South Waziristan, and nobody talks about them. Millions of parents with school-going children have lost their sleep, and there’s little mention of the fear gripping the people in the face of the threat posed to everyday life in our cities.

The failings are staggering, and dangerously enough, they will be seen by many as the failure of democracy yet again. We are at war, finally seeking freedom from the forces of regression and a medieval, extremist way of thinking, and there is enough freedom of speech in this country to voice disgust and repulsion against this mindset, if only one would. The obtaining security situation has left no one untouched. Yet, surprisingly nobody comes forward to voice that sentiment of the silent majority.

The people want to go back to their mundane routines. Youngsters want to go out to the parks, to the beach, to bowl, to eat out. Women want to go shopping unescorted, and men want to go about their daily chores without worrying about families left at home. This is not happening anymore. People look tired and depressed; while many count their blessings that they are safe, some have had close encounters with terrorism; relatives, friends and acquaintances have been killed and injured, or had to leave their homes.

There’s little sense of an imminent end to the mayhem rattling the people’s minds. The citizens want their sense of security restored. They look to their leaders in askance for at least some soothsaying at this time of uncertainty and turmoil. What they get to hear instead is bickering and mudslinging.

Both the government and the opposition leaders need to come out to voice the people’s concerns and give them hope. They need to own the war being fought against the anti-people forces in Fata, and in our cities – as Wednesday’s attack on a women’s market makes amply clear.

Murtaza Razvi is Editor, Magazines, of Dawn.
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1. avatar
Chithra KarunaKaran Says:
November 3rd, 2009 at 17:34
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“The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily represent the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group. ”

If you already have the above disclaimer, why censor reader comments?

I was disappointed with Dawn editors to see my comment was CENSORED.

My comment was neither off-topic or in any way abusive.

I sincerely hope you have the courage to print this.

Chithra KarunaKaran
New York, NY
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2. avatar
JR Says:
November 3rd, 2009 at 13:45
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I am quite surprised that I am actually reading this in Dawn blog. Because for a change this is a superbly crafted commentry that eschews the run of the mill (government must do this; zardari should do that) and makes compellng points in excellent language.

My favorite bits:

‘the idea of feeling more comfortable and territorially sovereign with non-state actors squatting in our front- and backyards must be mind-boggling for people in the US State Department’

and

‘To add to an already perturbed American’s confusions, the issue isn’t as simple, because as soon as there is talk in Washington about cutting and running, Pakistan seems to let out a bellow filled with agony at being betrayed by those godless Americans again.’

Need I say more?
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3. avatar
Faraz Ali Says:
November 3rd, 2009 at 10:57
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Beggers are not the choosers! That was the hidden message in Mrs. Clinton’s answers to our Media. They were speechless in front of her.

Basically as a nation we are corrupt. These leaders are also from our own society. They are not aliens. If you and I think that we are not corrupt but only others are than this is wrong.

The fault is at our own end. The only thing what we lack is honesty with our country as a nation.
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4. avatar
Haroon Says:
November 3rd, 2009 at 10:34
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It was refreshing and very good piece of writing. We as a nation are in the habit of blaming others for our mistakes, although it is something natural to put some blame on others. I frequently tell my friends that our lives are very simple as we put everything on God and Satan. If something good happen it is gift of God otherwise for all the evils Satan is present. Again will say very good effort.
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5. avatar
Abul Mohibullah Says:
November 3rd, 2009 at 8:45
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People’s power can change everything. It was people’s power which elected Obama in the USA. Unfortunately for Pakistan the People’s power has to be demonstrated on the road as they did in restoration of the judges. It is high time that people must show their power to protect the rights of their children. What is surprising is that they are not ready to stand up for the sake of their own children and future generation? Even the animals fight for the protection of their children. If millions can change the fate of Iran, definitely millions can get rid of all the corrupt & unstable administration.
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6. avatar
Facts Says:
November 2nd, 2009 at 21:55
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Problem is not the US, India or any other external force or nation. Problem is our invincible faith in corruption, i believe majority of Pakistanis do not think twice before an act of corruption they have become so used to it that they don’t see it different from honesty. One can blame all they want to (Americans) but when you compare honesty, social responsibility, retribution for corruption, caring for fellow beings regardless of color, creed or religious belief we (the nation of One God) dont measure up our actions don’t stack up against them.

It just shocks me when I see an army officer with pride and ego of being superior to any civilian and our leaders, president or prime minister talk at length about how the rights and sovereignty is at stake then at the same time ask Americans for aid. I was shocked to read that our leadership stated that they hope that US will disburse the funds while issues around the language of the bill is being straightened.

We need education and follow Sir Syed’s advice get educated and do not get bogged down by shame that mullah’s have set up for us. Islam is the most liberal of the religions in the world. Islam was the first to give women rights to be a witness, rights to file for divorce, to be a legal heir and eduction was mandated for every Muslim man and woman and here we sit and listen to mullah’s who gave false statements about the religion.

I wish there is a day when we are all educated and no corruption.
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7. avatar
Hammad Says:
November 2nd, 2009 at 21:43
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Very well written and wisely delivered.

Hammad
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8. avatar
anaonymous Says:
November 2nd, 2009 at 21:37
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“Anyone who has even looked the constitution of Pakistan should know that it is clearly stated in the Objectives Resolution that ‘Soveriegnty belongs to Allah alone but He has delegated it to the State of Pakistan through its people for being exercised within the limits prescribed by Him as a sacred trust.’ I say how can any bill, regardless of whether it was drafted in Washington or New Dehli, even dream of stealing something which belongs to Allah?”

Please keep religion out of the constituion. It is what leads to a Taliban like mentality, eventually. As a Pakistani I would like for us to revert back to Jinnah’s vision of being a secular state. Unfortunately I realise that this is a dream for me.
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9. avatar
Aritra Gupta Says:
November 2nd, 2009 at 21:25
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Hi,
Your article exposes the downright spuriousness of both the government, and the media which always claims itself to be the ultimate upholder of democracy. Media should act as a source of firsthand information and facts unbiased, they mould the facts and display it to the public in a way that may suit the interest of the controller. Free media is the feedback mechinery of a democratic system to keep the concept of democracy intact and we the general people must rise up to keep it that way.
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Ahsan Says:
November 2nd, 2009 at 19:25
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Its quite clear to me that they have looked at us like beggers on the street. Its like we give them money or we can scold them or say whatever we want. Where is the self esteem? We have to take care of our own country and our own economy to earn respect in the world. We have all the resources in the world and incredibly gifted people. We just have to make good use of them.
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11. avatar
Adnan Ahmad Says:
November 2nd, 2009 at 19:22
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Great article!
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12. avatar
Richie Rodrigues Says:
November 2nd, 2009 at 19:20
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A good article regarding the US aid pakistan should take it i dont think Usa can moniter where the money goes to a cent

regarding the Pakistan’s sovereingnity i dont think that is possible, they are occupying afganistan and still cannot control it so how can they control pakistan ?

pakistan should use usa as usa is using pakistan.

Regards

Richie.
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13. avatar
farhad ahmad Says:
November 2nd, 2009 at 19:18
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Excellent blog. I wish more people can analyse like you. I agree with you wholeheartedly. There is one of the most sovereignty called, Economic Sovereingy. If you do not have this sovereingy, you lose respect and in danger of losing your political sovereingy. It is so sad that most of Pakistani media, print and electronic do not inform facts, just disinformation, vested interested, and propaganda. How about our all weather friends, China and Saudia Arabia, how much money they donating to save from financial crisis?
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14. avatar
Ali Says:
November 2nd, 2009 at 19:16
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The blog in its general tone to me at least seems Pro-America cleverly disguised as a criticism of the general failing of us as a nation . I find myself lately having the same criticism of Dawn in general as well. Why are we so quick to point out our own flaws while giving the American and the British the benefit of the doubt? Why are we not as critical of them as we are of ourselves. The simple answers is that our flaws are easier to see and point as they are in front of us while other who are far away are more difficult to judge. Maybe the author and the journalist who fell silent when Hillary said it was Pakistan’s choice to take the aid should have answered can we also choose not to fight your war?
Why are we not getting the same amount of aid per person as Israel who is not even fighting America war. Why do they get American weapons without preconditions when they have clearly even used them against civilians. Its not about Sovereignty its being treated as equal it about Pakistani blood being as precious as that of an American or British Solider.
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mehdi Says:
November 2nd, 2009 at 19:03
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well written! it is good that Mrs. Clinton has to come to Paksiatn to find out the peoples opinion. On the other hand salute to Mrs. Clinton for facing this tough task and handling it well. I completely agree with the writer, lets see what is in action going forward from Washington.
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16. avatar
Fazal Says:
November 2nd, 2009 at 19:01
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While popular sentiment is to blame USA for saddling us with their war, I think Pakistani’s need to realize that if not now then at some point in the near future we would have been fighting this war anyway, that is unless we prefer living under Taliban style “Islam” which was slowly entrenching itself in our society anyway thanks to our wonderful army and ISI.

The fact is that Pakistan has for quite sometime harbored terrorists and provided safe haven to them. The US is not responsible for that, Pakistan is. Yes I know the CIA helped set this up in the 80’s and ditched, but since then we’ve had ample time to dismantle these networks. Instead we chose to nurture them to use them against India. Please accept some responsibility. This is our war as much as it is USA’s.

The fact is we really should be embracing US help in getting our country rid of this problem. I much prefer Obama’s style of accountability for aid money vs Bush’s blank check approach whereby Gen. M. used the money to his personal use or what so ever purpose. There is a reason our “leaders” are up in arms about Kerry-Lugar and that is because it’s harder for them to line their pockets with the people’s $$$. The intent of that bill is to provide maximum benefit to the people of pakistan not it’s corrupt politicians. Personally I’m glad Pakistani diplomats failed to get a word in about the language of the bill because I sincerely doubt they give much of a care about anything but their personal bank accounts.
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17. avatar
Chithra KarunaKaran Says:
November 2nd, 2009 at 18:07
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Let’s us look at the FACTUAL HISTORICAL EVIDENCE rather than what Hillary is SAYING. Hilary, after all, is a pro-Israel politician. She represented the great State of New York in the US Senate. Could she have won election in New York as a Senator is she were not pro-Israel? NO, NO, NO. The pro-Israel lobby is way too powerful. Local POLITICS become Global POLICY.


The main interest of the US is to gain “strategic depth” in South Asia. It has succeeded, thanks to Pakistan's corrupt politicians and military. Pakistan's feudal elite/military complex colluded with the formidable US military-industrial-corporate complex in which Pakistan was reduced to being a client-state of the US, beginning in the early '50's.

Israel is also a client state, but with one huge difference. Israel enjoys MFN (Most Favored Nation) status because of formidable and sophisticated Jewish support in the US for Israel, through think tanks lobbies and money. Checkbook Judaism, (instead of a hate religion based-politics of suicide bombers), is a a powerful strategy.

Why does the US seek 'strategic depth"? To threaten Iran. To monitor resource-rich Russia and expansionist economic giant China. To prevent a real dialogue between Pakistan and India, by injecting itself as a third party into South Asia. South Asia is the new geo-political nexus of power for the US.

The now successful US strategy is dangerous for EVERY South Asian nation-state.

In its relentless quest for dominance, (even though the US economy is in the doldrums), the US has successfully gained a foothold in South Asia.

Wake up Pakistan. Don’t blame yourselves.
Only the ordinary people of Pakistan can make that happen. Pakistani leaders are too dependent on US billions. None of the money reaches the common man.

Wake up Pakistan. Say NO to US money and US control. Say YES to SELF-RESPECT and national Sovereignty.

Chithra KarunaKaran
New York, NY


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