Archive for January 14th, 2008

An opinion poll conducted by Gallup Pakistan found that nearly half of the 1,300 Pakistani men and women surveyed suspect that “government agencies or government-linked politicians” killed Benazir Bhutto, reported an Associated Press article today. According to the news agency, the findings highlighted the “popular mistrust” of the Musharraf government just ahead of the February elections. The government has blamed Al Qaeda-linked militants for the December 27th assassination of Benazir, an incident that has sparked major domestic and international controversy. However, despite the government claims, only 17 percent of Pakistanis suspected Al Qaeda or the Taliban. Reuters provided further statistics from the poll, reporting that 12 percent suspected the U.S. involvement in her death, while 4 percent believed India was behind it.

In a Newsweek interview with Fareed Zakaria released Friday, Musharraf dismissed claims that the government was complicit in the former PM’s death, stating, “I refuse to listen to such accusations. I refuse to. I am the government, OK? I am not feudal, and I am not tribal. May I ask you, would you, if you were at the head of affairs, ever think of killing somebody like that? It didn’t appear in our minds. Would it appear in your mind that you could get rid of a person through a bomb blast?” On the government investigation into her assassination, Musharraf asserted that the body should be exhumed, “100 percent.” He added, “Because I know for sure there is no bullet wound other than on the right side. Whether it was a bullet or a strike, I don’t want to comment, I don’t know.”

The conflicting reports surrounding Benazir’s death has generated rumors and conspiracy theories alike. Two new reports “suggest that the killing may have been an ambitious plot rather than an isolated act of violence and that the government of President Pervez Musharraf knows far more than it’s admitted about the murder,” reported McClatchy News on Friday.

What do you think?

Read Full Post »

The idea behind CHUP!

Pakistan is no longer the country of our parents’ youth. As a child, my father would fondly reminisce about Karachi in the ’60s and early ’70s – the boys and girls who would line up outside the cinema and feverishly exchange phone numbers, the scavenger hunts on the beach followed by the bonfire parties, the scaling of the gated house walls to engage in typical teenage acts of mischief and rebellion. While this Karachi might still be likened to the present – there was one difference in his storytelling: diversity. My father would often speak of his Jewish classmates at Karachi Grammar School. He would tell me about the temples, mosques, and churches that formed a mosaic of cultural and religious tolerance and acceptance.

Today, these stories seem like a decaying sepia-colored photograph. The tiny pockets of utopian memories of my father’s past are drastically different from the scenes I see now – the flashes of my Pakistan. Today, violence and mobs are unfortunately the norm. Cities that once were relatively safe are now the targets of daily bombings, riots, and instability. Today, U.S. presidential candidates reference my Pakistan as “the most dangerous place on earth.” Today, assassinations of former Pakistani leaders are a tragedy not just because of the person or persons involved but because of the moderate voice that is extinguished in the process.

I say my Pakistan because despite it all, I could never abandon hope for this country. Call me idealistic, but for every violent incident that occurs, I grow a deeper sense of ownership and belonging. And that is where the idea of CHUP! comes from. For South Asians, the word ‘Chup!’ is self-explanatory – it means ‘Quiet!’ The extremist voice of intolerance has engulfed the media’s portrayal of Pakistan and has hijacked the very meaning and premise of this country. It has kidnapped the happy memories of our parents’ generation and held it hostage. As a Pakistani, I know this voice does not speak for me, nor does it speak for my family, friends, or many Pakistanis I have known. I am what has been aptly labeled a Pakistani “moderate” – but that voice has yet to be unified or truly defined. For this reason, I say Chup! to those who wish to define Pakistan on their hard-line terms and instead encourage the young and moderates to finally speak up – Changing Up Pakistan (hence also, CHUP).

I am establishing this as a forum to discuss socially and politically conscious issues and ideas among young, moderate Pakistanis. Chup! will be a platform to break the silence of the silent majority.

Read Full Post »