Thursday 30 December 2010

"I am doing it my way" - Rehman Malik on reciting the Quran wrongly

New media age is cruel - you slip and the whole world gets to laugh at your expense within minutes. Only foolish thing you can do is to justify your slip up. I have known many "Muslims" who can not recite the Kalima properly let alone anyother surah from the Quran - I have never seen them defending their ignorance like Rehman Malik does in the Cabinet meeting. Perhaps he is getting too used to making defensive but worng statements in his day job. What an utter disgrace!

"Main Apnay Hisab say parrh raha hoon" "I am doing it myway"

A simple but beautiful poem on Jannah by Ammar Alshukry

A fellow blogger Teeth Maestro twittered about this beautiful poem by Ammar Alshukry and I found it good enough to share with my readers.


Friday 17 December 2010

Has TIME magazine lost touch with the masses!

TIME Magazine asked readers to vote for "TIME's 2010 Person of Year" highlighting that their editors reserve the right to disagree with the voting public. Poll results were as follows:

1 Julian Assange 382026
2 Recep Tayyip Erdogan 233640
3 Lady Gaga 146378
4 Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert 78145
5 Glenn Beck 91746
6 Barack Obama 27478
7 Steve Jobs 24810
8 The Chilean Miners 29124
9 The Unemployed American 19605
10 Mark Zuckerberg 18353

And the editors chose to disagree. TIME's 2010 person of the year is not Julian Assange with 382026 votes but Facebook founder Mark Zukerberg with only 18353 votes. Though TIME's editors were upfront about their choice for not listening to the readers voice and chose someone who was considered to be far less influential in 2010, no wonder readers are chosing other ways to make their voice heard - by not subscribing to TIME - reportedly TIME's circulation dropped by 30% in second half of 2009 alone. Can Wisdom of the crowd be ignored in this age of social media!

Sunday 14 November 2010

US is fighting what US created - Transcript of interview with Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates with Cynthia McFadden

I find it amusing how media, both in Pakistan and India is trying to find their own meaning from the interview with the US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when they both sat down with ABC News' Cynthia McFadden on a flight to Melbourne, Australia. Pakistanis are as usual jumping up and down with joy thar Mrs Clinton has once again owned up to creating the menace of Usama Bin Laden and then leaving Pakistan behind to nurture him - visualising Taliban being a product of a broken marriage between the Western father and Eastern mother makes me giggle. Indian media, no doubt is on the hunt for a smoking gun in Pakistani hands not realising that in this sorry eastern tale both countries have been and are behaving like two unruly characters from a western movie about to shoot at eachother dead.

I believe in trying to go to the source material to find out what was being said. And here are the exerpts from the interview. Any one interested in the full conversation can read it at the ABC News site.
McFADDEN: There are so many Americans who feel this is a hopeless cause and that we're spending our treasure both in terms of the money of this nation, which is you know one could argue sorely needed at home right now, and the treasure of our youth . . .

CLINTON: . . . Well to the . . .

McFADDEN: . . . in a hopeless proposition.

CLINTON: Well I know that some have that an opinion, but certainly what we're seeing on the ground is that progress is being made. Is it as fast as any of us want? Of course not. It's a very difficult struggle against the Taliban. But we are making progress. And I think that the sacrifice that we're making this very painful for all of us who are involved in our government. But we know what the downside is of walking away from an area that can once again become a launching pad for attacks against us and our friends and allies around the world.

McFADDEN: So isn't the real problem Pakistan?

CLINTON: Well Pakistan has a a major responsibility, and they need to be working with us, as they are, to root out the Taliban and Al-Qaida. I think in the last 20 months there has been a considerable change in their strategic calculation about what is in their own best interest.

McFADDEN: In what way?

CLINTON: Well, I know when I became Secretary of State, when I was first testifying, the government of Pakistan had made a kind of peace deal with the Pakistani Taliban in an area called Swat. And they were ceding territory in return for basically an understanding that the Taliban would leave everybody else alone. And of course they wouldn't, because they are aggressive in their desire to attack and undermine the Pakistani government as well as to support the activities of the Taliban in Afghanistan. That has changed. The Pakistanis have lost far more military um men and civilians than any of us have in their fight against the Taliban.

McFADDEN: But isn't it a strange, open, duplicitous, bizarre relationship? You go to Congress and ask for $2 billion for the Pakistanis, and we know that in part they're supporting the Al-Qaida.

CLINTON: Well they're not support Al-Qaida. They are...

McFADDEN: . . . They are certainly supporting the Taliban, and the Taliban is supporting Al-Qaida.

CLINTON: Well they have in the past hedged against both India and an unfriendly regime in Afghanistan by supporting groups that will be their proxies in trying to prevent either India or an unfriendly Afghan government from undermining their position. That is changing. Now I cannot sit here and tell you that it has changed, but that is changing. And again . . .

McFADDEN: . . . And if it doesn't change, would you recommend not giving the $2 billion next year?

CLINTON: Well, what we have done is through intensive consultations with both the civilian, the military and the intelligence leadership in Pakistan, you know, had very frank conversations about what we expect. But I think it is important to note that as they have made these adjustments in their own assessment of their national interests, they're paying a big price for it. It's not an easy calculation for them to make, but we are making progress.

We have a long way to go, and we have to -- we can't be impatient. We can't say, well, you know, the headlines are bad, we're going home. We cannot do that. Part of what we are fighting against, right now, the United States created. We created the Mujahideen force against the Soviet Union. We trained them, we equipped them, we funded them, including somebody named Osama Bin Laden. And then when we finally saw the end of the Soviet Army crossing back out of Afghanistan, we all breathed a sigh of relief and said, okay, fine, we're out of there. And it didn't work out so well for us.

GATES: This is a problem that we have with both Afghanistan and Pakistan. First of all I just note, Pakistanis now have 140,000 troops on on their north western border. They've withdrawn the equivalent of about six divisions from the Indian border and moved them, and they are attacking ah Taliban. They're attacking the Taliban, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, and but they are also attacking groups that, in safe havens, that are a problem for us.

But the other piece of this, just to pile onto what Secretary Clinton said, we face in both countries what they call a trust deficit, and it is because they believe we have walked away from them in the past, at the toughest moments of their history. You can't recreate that in a heartbeat. You can't recreate that in a year or two. They both worry that once we've solved the problem in Afghanistan, or if we don't solve it, that either way we will leave, and leave whatever remains in their hands to deal with. Now we're not leaving. We will drawn down our troops over a period of time, but we have every intention of of being active and aggressively involved in Afghanistan and also a long term relationship with Pakistan. But convincing them that we mean that and that we will deliver on that is something we've been working at. And I think we've made some headway, as Secretary Clinton said, but it's a work in progress.

McFADDEN: So not not to in any way underestimate the problem, but the whole problem of Al-Qaida is almost like a game of Whack-A-Mole. I mean, yes, great, Afghanistan. But when you look at Yemen which has, what, five or six times the number of Al-Qaida, why aren't we in Yemen? Why aren't we in Somalia?

GATES: First of all, I think frankly Hillary put it best in the hearing we did together. What what you have seen develop, first of all that border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan is is the epicenter of terrorism, because whether you're in Yemen or Somalia or in Asia or wherever else, they are getting encouragement, they are taking inspiration, and often they are taking guidance from Osama Bin Laden and Zawahiri and their minions who are telling these guys what kind of operations to plan, to keep their focus on the U.S. and so on.

Furthermore, they have created what Hillary calls the syndicate of terror, with it is not just Al-Qaida, it's the Taliban in Pakistan, it's the Taliban in Afghanistan, it's the Haqqani network, it's all these different groups. And a success for one becomes a success for all. So if we don't deal with that problem, then we are going to have a challenge of our own security. And the tentacles spread to a lot of different places, North Africa, Yemen, elsewhere.
Full transcript of Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates interview with Cynthia McFadden of ABC News is available here.

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Multi-dimensional Yousuf Bashir Qureshi (YBQ): why there is still hope for Pakistan

The title is deceptive - This post is not about Yousuf Bashir Qureshi. This is about tens of young, innovative and passionate Pakistani youth whom I have been meeting over the last few months who give me hope, the reason and assurance to believe that despite hundreds of corrupt spineless "leaders" in all walks of life in Pakistan - there is still a future for my birth place. I have used Yousuf as an example of a passionate multidimensional representative of youth (yes! compared to me Yousuf belongs into "youth") who have the energy, the passion and the belief in future and are actually doing something that matters. Here is a summary of my three days with Yousuf Bashir Qureshi - and why I still have belief in future

YBQ: the Fashion Designer

I first met Yousuf Bashir Qureshi (YBQ) on 23 September 2010 at Nawab Restaurant in Manchester where we got together to have a look at the arrangements for the charity Fashion show being organised by International Foundation for Mother and Child Health (IFMCH). Yousuf had travelled from Karachi Pakistan on a non-commercial venture to help a fellow Pakistani raise funds for his charity that aims to do something about improving women's health in Pakistan.

Yousuf's dress sense evokes different emotions among people of different backgrounds. His designs have deep roots in country life in Pakistan and unlike many he wears his creations. Only Yousuf can combine a Dhoti and Kurta with an military cap and Converse shoes and make it look fashionable and cool.

YBQ: the Charity worker

Second time I met Yousuf was a day later at the launch of International Foundation for Mother and Child Health (IFMCH) and saw the other side of him - a passionate charity worker who was promoting his charity United Pakistan while running an auction to raise funds for another charity IFMCH passionately pleading for everyone to come together to raise funds for the flood victims in Pakistan. Video recordings of work done by United Pakistan made every eye full of tears, hearts full of pride and hands went into pockets to get their Zakat out.

In our third meeting I saw his passion for Charity that was evident from his demonstration of Life Straw - a water purifying product specially created for poor 3rd world countries and can help provide clean drinking water for families and individuals for flood affected areas in Pakistan. His audience were a group of university students and charity workers in Cheshire who wanted to be involved in doing something concrete for the flood victims in Pakistan. YBQ's belief in the product was evident from the fact that using Life Straw he drank water from a stinking fish bowl that has not been cleaned for over a week.

Then I heard him speak on the BBC Radio Manchester programme "Indus" passionately making a case for Pakistani youth and how they are the ones who hold future of this suffering country in their hands.

YBQ: the inspirational speaker

My last meeting with Yousuf was at the Manchester University where he was a guest speaker invited by Pakistani Students Society.

This what the Pakistani Students Society wrote about him
"NO BOUNDARIES" - Yousuf Bashir Qureshi

A talk to bridge the spiritual and scientific realm between one's brain and heart, how to prioritise the consistent conflicts between the two, and hence, how to become a better decision-maker in life.
From the man who revolutionised tradition, transcended the boundaries of fusing cultures, gave the values of heritage a fresh, new face - Yousuf Bashir Qureshi, one of the most versatile and talented men of his age from Pakistan. A food scientist, fashion designer, philanthropist and humanitarian, YBQ takes pride in being one of the rare few who use their potential and artistic skills to change the world around them, and is of the belief that through art and artists, we can actually build the soft boundaries that we hear politicians talk about globally.

Having graduated as a food scientist and having served on the faculties of FIDM, Los Angeles, FIT New York, and then in Pakistan at the prestigious Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture in Karachi, YBQ hails from a long standing educational background. He has given a number talks at Universities, Colleges & Schools alike around the globe, and is especially reputed for his command on the topic given above.
Images and list of activities above were only a fraction of various other activities and events YBQ was involved in infusing passion about Pakistan. He was at pains to highlight that not everything is rotten in Pakistan and not every official functionary is corrupt and useless. Pakistan is country of over 170 million population and only a fraction of the population is responsible for the ills the nation suffers from. The biggest asset the country has is the growing size of youth who have not yet lost the desire to do good and bring change.

Fatwa Mafia asks faithfuls for Musharraf's death by beheading

Islamic Fatwa Mafia from Pakistan is back in action. This time a group of so called religious leaders have got together and issued a Fatwa for beheading of retired General Musharraf.

For readers who are not fully aware of the definition of a Fatwa: A fatwa is a religious opinion concerning Islamic law that is issued by a recognized religious authority in Islam. But since there is no hierarchical priesthood or anything of that sort (at least) in Sunni Islam, a fatwa is not necessarily "binding" on the faithful. In Sunni Islam any fatwā is non-binding, whereas in Shia Islam it could be considered by an individual as binding. The people who pronounce these rulings are supposed to be knowledgeable, and base their rulings in their knowledge and wisdom. They need to supply the evidence from Islamic sources for their opinions, and it is not uncommon for scholars to come to different conclusions regarding the same issue.

According to Media reports
A meeting of religious scholars and political leaders, headed by chief of the Jamhoori Watan Party Nawabzada Talal Bugti, was held at Quetta last Saturday. Religious scholars and politicians, including provincial Ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Abdul Mateen Akhwanzada, JUI-N leader Maulana Abdul Qadir Loni, Maulana Noor Muhammad of JUI, Abdul Quddus Sasoli, Hashim Moosavi, Wilayat Hussain Jaffery and others attended the sitting.
Now, when a Fatwa is issued as Muslims, we look at the opinion, the reputation of the person giving it, the evidence given to support it, and then decide whether to follow it or not.

Speaking on the occasion, Nawabzada Talal Bugti announced $1.3 million as head money for Pervez Musharraf, saying that it is binding on all Muslims under the statement of religious scholars to behead him (Musharraf) as soon as possible.I have written in the past that there are legitimate legal grounds to take General Musharraf to court and hold him accountable for the crimes he committed during his reign. But this is the domain of Pakistani institutions of law and justice and not for political religious party leaders working with the families who have been aggrieved by Musharraf's actions when he was in power. No person or institution other than a court of law has the right to prosecute and determine punishment for Musharraf.

In his statement Talal Bugti suggested:
According to law, religion and culture, Pervez Musharraf should be sentenced to death, the statement said.
This statement describes one of the biggest problems Pakistani society faces right now. When you put Law, religion and culture in the same sentence it becomes a recipe for a disaster.

It only takes one fanatic to take the so called politically and revenge motivated Fatwa seriously. If there was ever a time for the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take a suo moto action, it is now. In my opinion all signatories of this fatwa should be brought to court for the crime of inciting murder. So should be Maulana Abdul Aziz of Lal Masjid who has more blood on his hands from the Lal Masjid debacle than Musharraf himself. So should be any other street Mullah who issues a fatwa for killing another human being and takes on the role of Judge, Jury and Executioner when it suits their local political needs.

Monday 11 October 2010

General Musharraf comes out of facebook to face real people

General Musharraf showed glimpse of a seasoned politician when he kept a smile and a brave face when activists of Hizb-ut-Tahrir tried to disrupt his speech at the launch of his political party in Manchester on 09 October 2010. Though Hizb activists unwittingly chanted slogans in favour of Khilafat (Islamic government) rather than anything against the budding politician himself - giving him the opportunity of being magnanimous and asking the bouncers (there were plenty of them) to be polite when throwing the culprits out. Hizb did better job at disrupting the proceedings than a few hundred Pakistan Muslim League (N) activists outside the venue.

So the General has finally come out of the Face book and is ready to face the real people in the real world. Unfortunately people running his Face book profile are doing a better job at getting him more fans (over 10,000 more joined since the launch of his party) than the people who were running his first forte in civilian public speaking in Manchester. If he is to do any better in the UK he must get some professional help. A political Pakistan Muslim League activists protesting against General Musharraf in Manchester 2010rally that right up to his arrival on stage gave the impression of a badly organised religious ceremony (Ghiarveen Shareef) does not bode well for a new entrant into politics. In his hey days he would have sacked the whole organising team if it was not for the clinical efficiency of megaphone wielding bouncers whose second job it was to blare slogans shamelessly stolen from the books of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba or Nawaz Sharif's party.

Once on stage the General did not do a bad job as an orator himself. In his own peculiar style he challenged every and any opponent - from the Bugti youngsters to Sharif elders. He had obviously done his homework regarding what the media has recently been criticising him for and attempted to answer all the headlines:
  • He denied ever having knowledge of a girl call Afia Siddiqui but made it a point to mention that Afia's mother and sister were his great fans.
  • He denied having knowledge that Nawab Akbar Bugti was about to be killed by an army platoon but did emphasize that Nawab Bugti was a very bad man and the world is better off without him
  • He denied being responsible for deaths and desecration of Lal Masjid in Islamabad but did highlight that there were some very bad men (and no women) in the Lal Masjid who were making life miserable for Chinese prostitutes (sorry! Massage Parlour workers) in Islamabad and our Chinese friends were embarrassing the Pakistan government.
  • He denied his own assertions to Der Speigel that Pakistan Government institutions were behind insurgency in Indian occupied Kashmir but did highlight that he had said that it was some other government in Pakistan that did so.
What I did not hear at the rally was a manifesto - a plan to pull Pakistan out of the abyss created by those who are leading Pakistan now courtesy the NRO gifted to them by General Musharraf himself - he is now, on record, sorry about that though.

There was a vocal opposition presence outside the Sheridan Suite with the usual effigies, shoe beating, name calling, and cracker firing antics.

And I must mention the six or so Caucasian MI6 hunks providing the ever needed security to the General. I strongly believe that our ex heads of state should get the level of security that is commensurate to their stature. I wonder after what happened to Benazir, General Musharraf has stopped trusting our own security services!!!

With a political party launch in Manchester of around 3000 people inside the hall the Pakistan Muslim League of General Musharraf has made a good start. One question he and his political team should ask everyone who appear to be supporting them is - "when was the last time you voted in an election in Pakistan?" I asked this question to a number of people who actively support General Musharraf and the answer was never. When asked how do you think that you can get General Musharraf elected back into the government their answer is "through back door - there definitely is a deal with the Americans". I believe that like any other ordinary Pakistani General Musharraf has a right to enter democratic politics. But, this is your biggest challenge Mr Musharraf - those supporting you don't appear to believe in democratic process or elections.

Sunday 10 October 2010

Yousuf Bashir Qureshi (YBQ) collection at the IFMCH Fashion show in Manchester 2010

View the photo library of Yousuf Bashir Qureshi collection from IFMCH Fashion show in Manchester 2010
24 Sep 2010

Top fashion designer from Pakistan Yousuf Bashir Quraishi (YBQ) visited Manchester to participate in a Charity Fashion Show organised by International Foundation for Mother and Child Health (IFMCH)to raise funds to establish Health Units for victims of floods in Pakistan. YBQ wowed the residents of Manchester with his pleasant personality, down to earth attitude and some quirky dress sense. This album shows the design range presented by YBQ in Manchester. These photos were taken by a friend of IFMCH Shahzad Yousuf, a professional photographer. If anyone in the photographs need a high resolution or print quality image please feel free to contact him at or through his website at

Maria B collection at the IFMCH Fashion show in Manchester 2010

View the photo library of Maria B collection from IFMCH Fashion show in Manchester 2010
Manchester, UK -
24 Sep 2010

Top fashion designer from Pakistan Maria B visited Manchester to participate in a Charity Fashion Show by International Foundation for Mother and Child Health (IFMCH) organised to raise funds for establish Health Units for victims of floods in Pakistan. Maria B wowed the residents of Manchester with her infectious smile and pleasant personality. This album shows the design range presented by Maria B in Manchester. These photos were taken by a friend of IFMCH Shahzad Yousuf, a professional photographer. If anyone in the photographs need a high resolution or print quality image please feel free to contact him at or through his website at

UK Launch event of International Foundation for Mother and Child Health (IFMCH)

View photo library of UK Launch event of International Foundation for Mother and Child Health (IFMCH)
Cheshire, UK, 24 September 2010

Dignitaries, celebrities and friends got together on 25 September 2010 at the picturesque Capesthorne Hall to attend the UK launch of the International Foundation for Mother and Child Health (IFMCH). These photos were taken by a friend of IFMCH Shahzad Yousuf, a professional photographer. If anyone in the photographs need a high resolution or print quality image please feel free to contact him at or through his website at

Thursday 7 October 2010

With friends like these: General Musharraf confesses to supporting insurgency in India

During the hey days of his regime in Pakistan Musharraf was respected as a master media manipulator, especially when it came to dealing with the western media, and when promoting the case for Pakistan and for his military rule. Has the master having lost the confidence that comes with wearing a uniform lost his touch. At least it is evident from the recent interview that he gave to Susanne Koelbl of German Der Spiegel. Musharraf wittingly or unwittingly gave India the smoking gun it has always been looking for - confession of a Pakistan ex-ruler confessing on camera that his government has been involved in directly supporting armed insurgency in India.
SPIEGEL: Why did you form militant underground groups to fight India in Kashmir?

Musharraf: They were indeed formed. The government turned a blind eye because they wanted India to discuss Kashmir.

SPIEGEL: It was the Pakistani security forces that trained them.

Musharraf: The West was ignoring the resolution of the Kashmir issue, which is the core issue of Pakistan. We expected the West -- especially the United States and important countries like Germany -- to resolve the Kashmir issue. Has Germany done that?

SPIEGEL: Does that give Pakistan the right to train underground fighters?

Musharraf: Yes, it is the right of any country to promote its own interests when India is not prepared to discuss Kashmir at the United Nations and is not prepared to resolve the dispute in a peaceful manner.

Welcome to life of politics General Musharraf! You have now followed into the footsteps of Benazir Bhutto and those before her who when out of power try to find legitimacy for their attempts to return to power by taking a stance against the interests of the state they long to rule.

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Pakistan: Har shaakh pe ullu baitha hai anjam-e-gulistan kya hoga

I have again been reminded of the famous verse from Urdu poetry

Barbad gulistaan karne ko to ek hi ullu kaafi tha
Yahan..har shaakh pe ullu baitha hai anjam-e-gulistan kya hoga

Literally meaning

For destroying the wonderful garden, even one owl is sufficient
Here there is an owl on each branch, wonder what would happen to the garden

Every single day the beleagured nation of Pakistan receives one evidence or more that they are being lead by a herd of morons at all levels of political governance. Most recent one being a chap from Sind called Dr Muhammad Ali Shah. Story from Daily Dawn below describes.

Pakistan was provided with yet another embarrassing moment on the world stage, this time courtesy of the country’s chef-de-mission at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi where Dr Muhammad Ali Shah pulled off something that can only be described as a cheap stunt.

For all those who missed the glittering opening ceremony of the Games yesterday, here is what happened: The Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) had decided over a month ago that Shujauddin Malik, the country’s gold medal winning weightlifter at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, would lead the Pakistan contingent during the ceremony. It was an honour well deserved for a man who not only won gold but also scripted his name in the record books for his 2006 effort. But as the ceremony started yesterday and teams strode into the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium one by one, the Pakistani contingent despite receiving the most rousing reception out of all the participating nations, experienced a moment of great embarrassment. It wasn’t Malik who was seen carrying the flag and leading out the contingent but instead, it was Dr Shah – despite TV screens around the world displaying the name ‘Shujauddin Malik’. Fine, one thought. ‘maybe Malik wasn’t feeling up to it.’ But only moments later when people saw Dr Shah pushing aside Malik as cameras rolled, it was clear what the actual deal was.

After the ceremony was over, weightlifting team manager Rashid Mehmood came on air and revealed that Shah had told Malik that it was the chef-de-mission’s right to lead the contingent as he was the ‘senior’ most out of all the personnel. Malik also came on air moments later and made another shocking revelation. He claimed, Shah after a tussle over the flag minutes before the opening ceremony, had threatened to send the weightlifter home if he did not respect Shah’s decision.

I don’t know what’s more shocking, the insult meted out to the country’s unsung hero, who despite a lack of facilities and even proper shoes remains the most likely medal hope at the Games or Dr Shah’s claim that it was his right to lead the contingent. How he has earned that right is anyone’s guess. But it seems investing in a few club level cricket tournaments, jousting like a knight after a female sprinter achieved the unthinkable and criticising the Pakistan Cricket Board while being a part of the same setup, gives him the right to publicly humiliate a national star along with the whole nation in a desperate effort for airtime.

Malik also revealed that he had controlled his emotions for Pakistan’s sake even as he was pushed and shoved into the background. After the incident, the weightlifting team had threatened to pull out of the games unless Shah apologised but later decided that it was best for the country’s image that they stay put. The Pakistan Olympics Association (POA) has announced it would be sanctioning the provincial minister over the matter. But Shah sahab has his connections, which would be enough to help him overturn POA’s decision. And we all know how much authority the POA really has. In a latest development Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has also demanded a report on the incident. I can safely predict the outcome of that: a meeting between Gilani and Shah and a press conference where the latter will apologise over the ‘misunderstanding.’ Even if Shah, in a most unlikely turn of events, is stripped of his position as Sindh Sports Minister, it will never come close to the honour Malik was robbed off.

No amount of sanctions will really make a difference now for the damage has already been done. Can we seriously expect the weightlifter to compete in the event with the same intensity after his spirit was already deflated at the starting line? Whatever the outcome, it has to be said that Pakistani athletes must be the toughest mentally contrary to the common belief around the world as these guys face the most bizarre hurdles and yet once in a while manage to bedazzle the world.

The whole incident while making a joke out of the country has also exposed the kind of mentality Shah and other people whom we thought were well-intentioned, passionate sports supporters really possess. They do it for the name and nothing else – especially not for the game.

Taimur Sikander is a Sports Editor at

Saturday 2 October 2010

A deluded Messiah: General Musharraf launches his own political party

Pakistan's political scene is full of dichotomies. Politicians who represent the electorate and are not in the government often end up praying for Messiahs with boots to come and pull the country out of one abyss or another. Intelligentsia who chant for Western ideals of freedom and democracy often end up promoting special non-democratic routes to "technocrat" governance of for a badly governed country. And usurpers end up looking for legitimacy through concocted elections and by (without exception) creating their own Pakistan Muslim League - General Ayub, General Zia, and General Musharraf all followed the same path. Only General Ayub had the courage to leave disgracefully, but retire and die gracefully as an old man surrounded with his grand children.

Unlike his predecessors who by the end of their tenure knew that they are unwanted illegitimate children of hunger for power, General Musharraf still suffers from a delusion of being a Messiah. An illegitimate usurper who's popularity is limited to 312268 (on 02.02.2010) followers in facebook and primarily among the affluent and Westernised urban elite in and outside Pakistan - a minuscule constituency that almost never votes in general elections.

Launching his political party General Musharraf grudgingly acknowledged his lack of popularity among the electorate and apologised for his past"I am aware of the fact that there were some decisions which I took which resulted in negative political repercussions, repercussions which had adverse effects on nation building and national political events, and my popularity also, may I say, plummeted in that last year. I take this opportunity to sincerely apologise to the whole nation. Ladies and gentlemen, only God is infallible."

Can a leopard change its spots: speaking to BBC Radio yesterday General Musharraf was still promoting the case for a military intervention in the Pakistan politics. He is still of the view that western democratic values do not have place in Pakistan and there is a special formula with explicit military role in governance of country is still the answer.

I do, however, agree with General Musharraf that "total despondency and demoralisation and hopelessness which prevails in society today" require some radical changes in Pakistan's political scene. I also believe that as Pakistani citizen Musharraf has a right to get involved in, form a political party and seek a return to power through legitimate constitutional process - provided he demonstrate that he believes in one.

I also believe that people of Pakistan have a right to hold him answerable for unconstitutional acts, excesses and crimes committed during his time in power. He has a right to return to politics. He also has a duty to face the people of Pakistan in a court of law.

Friday 1 October 2010

British Council staff complete triathlon covering the equivalent distance of the land boundary of Pakistan to raise funds for flood victims

Some say that the UK citizens are suffering from Charity fatigue. Statement doesn't hold true when you hear heart rendering stories like the British Council staff in the UK who have just completed a gruelling triathlon covering the equivalent distance of the land boundary of Pakistan to raise money for the flood-devastated country.

On 27 September, the final kilometre out of 6774 was covered ensuring that the team completed their challenge in just 27 days.

The worst floods to hit Pakistan in recorded history have affected an estimated 20 million people, with six million in need of food aid. Although emergency relief is now well under way, the long term reconstruction needs are enormous. The UN estimates that over 10,000 schools have been totally or partially destroyed.

In the picture one can see Cardiff team runners (from left to right) Bill Burson, Owain Wright and Sebastian Graca Da Silva and swimmer Edwina Lewis-Chaston, who between them covered over 500km for the triathlon challenge.

Reacting to the apparent donor fatigue in the UK, Tom Birtwistle, External Relations Officer, at the British Council decided that an ambitious fundraising challenge was needed: ‘I thought the idea of a team triathlon covering the perimeter of Pakistan sounded taxing enough so I started recruiting people to join me.’

Twenty-three members of British Council staff, including Chief Executive Martin Davidson, came forward wanting to help. ‘I’ve really enjoyed being part of a team of colleagues raising money for a part of the world which has suffered so much and is an important part of the British Council family. My only problem has been forcing myself out of bed for when the swimming pool opened at 6.30 in the morning,’ said Martin.

Edwina Lewis-Chaston, Project Delivery Officer, managed to notch up the miles despite being five months pregnant: ‘Within the big challenge my personal aim has been to swim a kilometre a day, but having four extra arms and legs didn’t help me swim any faster!’

‘The more I read about the relief effort the more I realised the urgency of the cause. If we can help keep the issue on the agenda, let’s – it’s the right thing to do,’ she added.

In response to the £3,642 raised to date for the Disasters Emergency Committee, David Martin, Director Pakistan, said: ‘We are heartened and encouraged to hear that colleagues in the UK are showing solidarity with Pakistan.’

He added that British Council staff in Pakistan have been donating to the Edhi Foundation, with generous donations made during Ramadan (the traditional time of giving - ‘zakat’ - to those in need).

Further fundraising activity in the UK offices for those less keen on a physical challenge included a cake sale this week which raised over £400.

There is still time to contribute to the campaign by visiting the team’s Just Giving page.

Monday 30 August 2010

Recall the Pakistan cricket team right away, arrest on arrival and try in a court of law like common crooks that they are.

Shame of a Nation - Pakistan cricket match fixing scandal
Story run by the News of the World newspaper in the UK has all the circumstancial evidence to prove that there is something rotten going on inside the entire cricket world. Pakistanis were stupid enough to get caught. If Pakistan cricket is to survive from this latest scandal the need to to do the following:
  • cancel the forthcoming one day series forthwith and recall the cricket team back. According to media reports the outcome of that series has been predecided by the betting world. It doesn't really matter whether remaining matches are played honestly or not, whatever the result it will be tainted. Continuation of the current series will create unnecessary media frenzy and delay anti-corruption proceedings against the culprits.
  • Arrest the team on arrival at the airport and let the National Accountability Bureau investigate the corruption charges like they are supposed to do for anyother corrupt public figures in Pakistan.
  • All those proven to be guilty should be banned for playing all forms of cricket in and out of Pakistan. They should also serve jail terms appropriate to their crime.
There have been previous attempts at investigating and bringing the culprits to justice. Enquiry lead by Justice Qayyum in its report fell short of implicating the so called heroes of Pakistan cricket and recommended action mostly against those who were in effect out of the lime light.

It is time for Pakistan cricket to bite the bullet and make an examples of those who have brought shame to a nation of cricket fanatics.

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Helping those affected by flood disaster in Pakistan - II

A public service blog post this time. Two internationally recognised Pakistani fashion designers Maria B and Yousuf Bashir Qureshi (YBQ) are coming to Manchester to run a charity Fashion Show in partnership with International Foundation for Mother and Child Health (IFMCH) a local charity based in Cheshire. All proceeds from this charity event will be used to set up field health units in the flood affected areas of Pakistan. The event will take place on Friday 24 September at Nawab International Restaurant Banqueting Hall, 1008 Stockport Road Levenshulme. Tickets for the event are available here.

Monday 16 August 2010

Helping those affected by flood disaster in Pakistan - I

While the world at large is practically indifferent to the sufferings of victims of one of the biggest natural disasters - floods in Pakistan, there are individuals and small organisations that are doing sterling work on the ground with or without the support of government infrastructure. One such organisation is JAWAN - a group of young alumni of various educational institutions who got together to help the victims of SWAT last year and are now actively helping the flood victims. Here is a short report on their work and how you can join in to help.
Dear All,

We have Alhamdulillah been able to raise PKR 5.2 million+ (52 lac) in just 10 days.

To start with, we had PKR 987,000 set aside from the remaining IDPs fund for rehab in Swat. Unfortunately due to the frail security situation earlier we could not go there. After hearing about the devastation caused by floods we used these Swat-rehab funds as base, immediately started raising more funds and used last years teams and channels (with some new volunteers joining us) and went in to Swat for Round-1 of Relief Efforts. We provided basic food items (10kg flour, 5 kg rice, 2kg lentils, 2kg sugar and 1kg ghee) to 1200 families in remote areas. Most distributed by hand, some sent to Matta area through heli[copters] and some sent deep into Shangla through mules with the help of Pak[istan] Army.

All the while fund-raising for Round-2 was aggressively going on and planning for Round-2 Southern Punjab was being done. As soon as we came back, a larger team left for Alipur/Jatoi/Kot Addu areas this last Saturday. They took their time surveying around to make sure they deliver by hand to the most needy. By tomorrow INSHALLAH they would have distributed food items to around 2000 families in distress.

Round-3 fund-raising is in full swing. In the past 10 days, excluding the base amount of PKR 987,000 with your selfless efforts and trust, we have been able to raise more than 4.2 million+ (42 lac) rupees which is no small feat. Most of the money is here, payments have been done for the first two rounds and the committed money is being followed up to make sure we have money in hand and a good estimate to procure goods for Round-3.

We urge you to keep this momentum and raise as much money as you can, create as much awareness as you can. Remember, we are willing to go for as many rounds as we can and only your contributions and fund-raisers can make it possible.

Team J.A.W.A.N, Pakistan.

Fadil Aleem +92-345-4022058,
Waqas Burney +92-300-4211047,

For donation procedures and details, please visit the document-link below.

Friday 6 August 2010

Was David Cameron wrong to accuse Pakistan of double standards on terrorism!

Many have have been saying it openly and in private what David Cameron said about Pakistan and its complex engagement with Terrorism. But David Cameron committed the cardinal sin of saying it in the wrong place of all - India.

The general public in Pakistan sees India as a far greater threat than either Al Qaeda or the Taliban. A research study conducted in Pakistan and elsewhere by the Pew Poll during April this year contains some powerful lessons for both the US and the UK. It might've been a good idea for the Foreign Office to have read it before David Cameron gave an anti-Pakistan speech in India.

A majority of ordinary Pakistanis see India as the most serious threat to their country -more than twice as many as the 23% who think the Taliban a dangerous threat. A derisory 3% think Al Qaeda is something for them to worry about.

This latter is of course America's greatest obsession, and US strategists would do well to put themselves in the shoes of regional 'friends' - if they still are that: 59% of Pakistanis describe the U.S. as an enemy, and less than one in five - 18% - say they trust the Americans.

President Barack Obama is also very unpopular, with only 8% of Pakistanis expressing confidence that he will do the right thing in world affairs. This is his lowest rating of any major country by a factor of three times....and gives the lie to any idea that his religious background is a plus-point.

But perhaps the most worrying results are those concerning anti-terrorism and the war in Afghanistan. Only one in five Pakistanis support a US-led 'war on terror'. And a mere 7% support the war in Afghanistan.

The most stark contrast of all, however, is that of the yawning gap between Indian confidence in the US, and Pakistan's mistrust: 83% of Indians think the US has their interests in mind, but only 19% of Pakistanis do.

There is an obvious lesson here for the Obama administration: its claims to be pro-Islam aren't credible, and its trust in regional allies like Pakistan is misplaced: most of that country's citizens see the US as a friend of their greatest enemy....and the enemy next door agrees with them.

Meanwhile, memo to Dave and the FCO: if you're going to have a go at Pakistan, don't choose the capital of their biggest foe as the location for doing it. It won't play well. (John Ward at THE SLOG)

Sunday 6 June 2010

Political response to Ahmadi massacre in Pakistan - bigotry at its worst

The Islam that is my religion seeks to establish such a society where all citizens of the state enjoy equal rights and religion does not become the basis for any discrimination. Religious teachers who taught Islam to me in my childhood taught me that Islamic law holds both Muslims and non-Muslims equal and no superiority or privilege is given to the Muslims on any ground. That the Islamic state is responsible for the protection and security of minorities.

While I saw light at the end of the tunnel today when the leader of opposition in Pakistan Mian Nawaz Sharif mustered up courage and spoke out against the barbaric act of terrorism carried out against the Ahmadi minority in Lahore. I am disgusted at the outcry his statement has caused from the so called religious intelligentsia who are almost about to declare Mian Nawaz Sharif an infidel for calling the Ahmadi minority our "Brothers and Sisters".

Whatever their religious beliefs Ahmadis are Pakistani citizens. Though Pakistani constitution declares them non-Muslims and a religious minority, they as citizens have a right to security as any other Pakistani. Tolerating massacres of innocent civilians because the victims happened to have a different religious belief is abominable and un-Islamic.

The reprehensible incident of Lahore and the atrocious public and political response can only be attributed to Pakistani society's lack of knowledge of actual teachings of Islam. The vacuum of knowledge, unfortunately, is bridged by the semi-literate clergy and bigoted religious-political leadership with no exposure to the Islamic historical tradition, demands of contemporary age and challenges of future.

Apathy of civil society, media and political leadership to the increasing intolerance towards minorities is worst form of bigotry in practice by a state and its citizens.

Wednesday 2 June 2010

Gaza Aid Flotilla Massacre - join Amnesty International asking for an independent enquiry

Minimum we can do to is to join our voices and record our protest against the Israeli massacre of aid workers heading toward Gaza.
At least ten activists protesting the blockade on the Gaza strip have been killed by Israeli forces. The activists were on a flotilla of ships carrying aid to the Gaza strip in defiance of the blockade.

Israel says its forces acted in self-defence but the level of lethal force used by Israeli troops appears to have been out of all proportion to any threat posed.

The Israeli authorities have the primary responsibility to investigate the use of lethal force by its forces but given the international nature of this incident, there is also a need for an immediate international investigation. We are calling on Israel to launch an immediate credible and independent investigation into these killings, and to allow the UN access to conduct an international inquiry.


For nearly three years Israel, which is the occupying power in the Gaza Strip, has implemented a policy of banning all movement of goods and people, except for the most basic humanitarian necessities which are imported by international aid agencies. Only a fraction of patients in need of treatment outside Gaza are allowed out, and dozens have died waiting for Israeli permission to travel.

The blockade does not target armed groups but rather punishes Gaza’s entire population by restricting the entry of food, medical supplies, educational equipment and building materials. Israel has a duty under international law to ensure the welfare of Gaza’s inhabitants, including their rights to health, education, food and adequate housing.
Amnesty International is asking us to come together and Act Now by sending the following message to the UK Foreign Secretary William Hague. It take less than a minute to send this message from the Amnesty International site.
As a supporter of Amnesty International I welcome your statement of 31 May and I urge you to support the call for a credible, independent and international investigation into the deaths caused by the raid on the aid flotilla in international waters outside Gaza on May 31 2010.

Given the international nature of this incident and the continuing lack of credible Israeli investigations into violations of human rights in the context of the Gaza conflict, there is a strong need for an immediate international investigation and it’s important for the interests of regional peace and security that the UK strongly and publicly advocate such a call.

The Israeli authorities do of course have the primary responsibility to investigate the use of lethal force by its forces, as well as the claims by Israeli officials that Israeli forces were attacked with a range of weapons. But for full credibility and transparency, Israel should be strongly urged to invite the relevant UN experts to carry out an investigation into the events of 31 May.

The UK should also publicly back the calls for the Israeli authorities to make public immediately the rules of engagement issued to the troops who carried out this lethal attack.

Furthermore it is essential that the UK Government insist on the Israeli authorities immediately providing the names and locations of those UK Nationals detained, as well as their physical condition and legal status. UK officials and lawyers should also be allowed access to those arrested, detained or in hospital.

The UK must also insist that the Israeli authorities promptly release those who are detained unless they are charged with a recognisable criminal offence, and to insist that Israeli security forces and police do not employ excessive force against demonstrators protesting the events of 31 May.
Give the martyrs of Gaza a minute of your time.

Wednesday 12 May 2010

Moral dilemas of Pakistani politics: Prime Minister Gilani of Pakistan prefers corruption over nepotism

Speaking at an election rally in Muzaffargarh district Pakistan Prime Minister Gilani proudly stated that he has chosen Mr Jamshed Dasti, a known felon, over his own brother to stand as his party's candidate in the forthcoming elections.

His statement comes "while setting honesty and fair play as criteria for public officeholders, the Supreme Court on Wednesday declared that all those candidates who had earlier resigned [from the parliament] under the charges of having fake degrees would be ineligible to contest by-elections." Mr. Jamshed Dasti is one of those fraudsters identified by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Mr. Jamshed Dasti, a close friend of President Asif Ali Zardari, recently resigned from the parliament, under the apex court's pressure, for having used fake certificates of educational qualification from a religious institution - a common ploy used by uneducated but rich and influential politicians to circumvent a legal requirement to hold at least a Bachelors Degree from a recognised educational institution (which unfortunately includes religious madrassahs many of whom would sell you one for a charitable donation, along with a free pass for entry for two into heaven). Though the law has itself now been changed (thus denying some religious schools at least one means of funding) but not before cases and Mr Dasti and other fraudsters appeared before the courts.

Dishonesty and being involved in fraudulent activities is now worn as a badge of honour by the ruling party in Pakistan. President Zardari had responded to the outcry against Mr Jamshed Dasti by awarding him party ticket, again, to contest the by-election. Well! You would expect from President Zardari this cavalier attitude towards building your parliamentary team from among politicians of questionable morals. But it was the Prime Minister who shocked the law abiding citizens of Pakistan when he appointed disgraced Jamshed Dasti his adviser on livestock, a fortnight after the latter opted to resign from his seat to avoid a jail sentence. Now the Prime Minister has declared Mr Jamshed Ahmad Dasti to be a true representative of the poor labourers and the impoverished, and the people should support him in by-elections.

Mr Gilani hails from a long line of honourable and religious leaders from Multan and boast a religious following perhaps more than his political credentials. He is in the process of destroying his heritage by not demonstrating a strong spine as a leader and standing up for morals that his elders upheld. His legacy is in danger of becoming that of a spineless front man of a globally recognised corrupt master, and whose job is to clear up litter thrown around by corrupt stooges of Mr. Zardari.

Tuesday 20 April 2010

Who kidnapped Colonel Imam?

It has makings of a script for a Hollywood movie but since the main character hails from Pakistan and has been an operative of the much loved Inter Services Intelligence Agency of Pakistan, this might not become a reality.

I got interested in this story in February reading the Times Online piece about retired Brigadier Amir Sultan Tarar, well known as Colonel Imam. The article gave credit to Colonel Imam to be the main man who single handedly ran the Mujahidin insurgency against the Soviet Union.
As a top agent for the Pakistani intelligence agency, the ISI, Colonel Imam recruited, trained and armed almost every one of Afghanistan’s prominent insurgents and warlords during the 1980s. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Ahmed Shah Massoud and Jalaluddin Haqqani were all his charges or colleagues at one time.
He escorted Charlie Wilson, the Texan congressman who funnelled millions of dollars to the Mujahidin, into Afghanistan three times and once took the US Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, then the CIA’s Deputy Director, to a Mujahidin camp near the border.
It is only when I saw a grainy photograph of three ISI operatives, who have allegedly been kidnapped by Taliban sympathisers in the North West tribal region of Pakistan, I realised that one of the victims is none other than Colonel Imam himself. Reportedly Taliban hostage takers are asking for release of three key Taliban leaders recently arrested by Pakistani law enforcement agencies.

According to daily Telegraph Colonel Imam believed that
only direct dialogue between the Afghan authorities and Mullah Omar himself, without the interference of the Americans, could end the conflict [in Afghanistan]
Since leaving the ISI, Colonel Imam
has styled himself as a human rights campaigner. He has defended al-Qaeda suspects and fought attempts to extradite Mullah Baradar to Afghanistan.
It is the same Mullah Baradar that his captors want to be released in exchange for his life.

The story is still unfolding and it is hard to say whether it is really Taliban who have taken Colonel Imam hostage. According to daily Telegraph Colonel Imam along with other ISI operatives was taken [by whom] at the request of the American intelligence service as he travelled through Pakistan's lawless tribal belt. In the meanwhile, I am going to watch Charlie Wilson's war to see whether Colonel Imam featured in the Hollywood version of events two decades ago.

Monday 19 April 2010

Full text of Report of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry into the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

Having spent millions of Pounds (that Pakistan doesn't have) and over two years late Pakistan is now abuzz with findings (or lack of) in the report of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry into the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

The report is a catalogue of incompetence of law enforcement personnel and agencies, callousness of ruling Junta at the time, and ineptness of those responsible for Mrs. Bhutto's personal security - now responsible for overall internal security of Pakistan.

Unfortunately the report does nothing more than providing an independently verified catalogue of what independent Pakistani media has been saying all along.

Though Baitullah Mehsud was immediately singled out as the mastermind behind her assassination and duly killed himself, the report highlights that real masterminds are still at large. For those interested in detail the report is a good read and available here.

Wednesday 7 April 2010

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa - what the fuss is all about

I have been watching with bemusement the rumpus in the political circles in Pakistan caused by discussions around renaming of the North West Frontier Province - a name which does not represent anything other then a effigy of the British Raj in India.

Right wing media in Pakistan, including my personal favourite daily newspaper Nawa-e-Waqt that I grew up reading has been up in arms at the thought of the province being named Pakhtunkhwa - reminding the audiences that this is in some way giving in to the long dead Pashtun nationalist leader Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan's demands who wanted independence for NWFP and having failed to see that happen continued another struggle to get the province named as Pakhtunkhwa.

I am failing to understand that if the province inhabited by majority of Punjabi speaking Punjabis is called Punjab, that of Sindhi speaking Sindhis is called Sind, that of Balochi speaking Blauchs is called Baluchistan and that of Kashmiri speaking Kashmiris is called Kashmir then what is the harm in shedding the legacy of the Raj and calling NWFP - a province of Pashtu speaking Pakhtun majority as Pakhtunistan.

Worth noting that I am not, in anyway suggesting splitting up the country in small unmanagable provinces split on linguistic lines. It is worth acknolwedging that in Punjab the number or real Punjabi speakers is not more than 75.23% and the second bigger lingistic group Saraiki speakers (17.36%) have for quite some time been raising their voices for a provincial status. Similarly in Sind only 59.73% of the population speaks Sindhi, while 21.05% speaks Urdu - and they have in the past raised similar voices for a provincial status for Karachi. In Baluchistan 54.76% people speak Balochi compared to 29.64% Pashto speakers.

There are already protests in Hazara region where speakers of other languages are unhappy at the naming of the province as Khyber-Pakhtunkwa. At the moment various political parties are being compelled to back the demand for Hazara province in view of the growing support for the idea. Lets not go down that road.

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Are Pakistan's nuclear weapons safe from the Americans?

Speaking to the New York Times President Obama has confirmed that he is confident that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is safe from Al-Qaeeda.

Q. When you came to office, President Bush had just spent five years working with the Pakistanis to try to secure their weapons. I think we spent about $100 million on a U.S. program to help them go do that. My impression, covering the Bush administration, people were unsatisfied with the results of that by the time you came to office. What can you tell us that you’ve done specifically ——

A. I’m not going to — - I’m not going to talk about the details of Pakistan’s nuclear--

Q. O.K. Can you tell us if you now feel more assured than you were when you came to office, that those are safe from Al Qaeda, from the Taliban?

A. I feel confident that Pakistan has secured its nuclear weapons. I am concerned about nuclear security all around the world, not just in Pakistan but everywhere.

And so my sense is that in every country, we constantly have to find ways that we can further improve our approach. And as I said, right now, one of my biggest concerns has to do with the loose nuclear materials that are still floating out there. It is — it remains more likely that a threat arises because of some smuggled HEU or plutonium than that a terrorist organization obtains a fully built nuclear weapon.

And so we’ve got to guard against that, and that’s exactly why this nuclear summit is so important.
For common Pakistanis this confirmation from president Obama has raised alarm bells. Is Pakistani nuclear arsenal safe from America? Care to comment General Kayani (note I am not asking president Zardari)

Monday 5 April 2010

America's home grown terrorists - and they are not muslims

"Jesus wanted us to be ready to defend ourselves using the sword and stay alive using equipment."
This is a statement on the website associated with a Michigan-based group, known as the Hutaree. The site also contained hate-filled rhetoric about minorities in the US.

Washington Post reports that US law enforcement authorities have brought charges against nine members of this armed militia group, "accusing them of seditious conspiracy and attempting to deploy weapons of mass destruction, in a case that highlights a strain of extremism focused against the federal government"
Members of this homegrown Christian militia accumulated weapons and explosives to target employees of the federal government, the law enforcement "brotherhood" and other participants in what they called the "New World Order"
The group has allegedly been involved in military style training for over two years and the stockpiling of guns and explosives. And like many Al-Qaeeda sympathisers the Hutaree leaders collected materials and found information about bombs on the Internet.

And this is not the only non-muslim militant group with terrorist aspirations in the pipeline. Dr James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, Washington DC, recently wrote in the Daily Nation:
The arrests of nine members of an armed militia group in Michigan, hell bent on fomenting violence, should serve as a wake up call to those in political leadership roles who are inciting rage against the government. My fear, however, is that they will not see the connection between their rhetoric and the rage they inspire.

Back in January of 2009, the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning (based on analysis compiled during the closing days of the Bush administration) that right wing militia-type groups were a growing threat here in the US, noting that “the historical election of an African American president…the prospect of policy changes…and the economic downturn…are proving to be a driving force for right wing extremist recruitment and radicalisation….Lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent right wing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States.”

An FBI official told me, at the time, that law enforcement agencies were focusing more of their attention on this phenomenon. And bearing out these concerns, a recent report by the Southern Poverty Law Centre notes that in just the past year, these armed “patriot” militias have tripled in number – with over 130 such armed groups now known to be operating across the US.
It is important to recognise that the Obama election was, in many ways, born out of the same set of circumstances. Having studied social movements that emerge in response to social dislocation and stress, I know that in periods of great anxiety, the public can be motivated in different directions. They can be inspired by hope, believing that positive change is in the offing, or, as is also the case, they can be moved to respond in fear and anger, striking out at targets identified as the cause of their distress.

Obama’s messages of hope and change won the election, but, as we soon saw, did not put an end to those who preyed on discontent. Donning the robes of populism, they focused their attacks on “them” – whether the government, liberal elites, or the president himself. Their rhetoric was vile, if not also violent. Watching the “Tea Party” movement emerge and play a disruptive role last summer shouting down and at times breaking up town meetings called to discuss health care reform, was instructive. On the one hand, the established political leaders and TV personalities who fomented this mob-like behaviour were no doubt pleased as they saw this anti-government movement grow and suit their anti-reform agenda. Then again, when their offspring acted out of control, they were able to disassociate themselves from the fruits of their labour with a wink and a “tsk, tsk”.

But the danger remains and the possibility of violence is real. And those in respected leadership roles need to recognise that, in the current environment, playing with matches can start fires. We’ve seen the ugly racist placards, heard the chants and shouted epithets, and witnessed the raw anger at rallies. Can violence be far behind?

I know this to be true and can speak from experience of the dangers of incitement. In the past decade alone, federal law enforcement officials have arrested, charged, convicted, and sentenced three individuals for making violent threats against me and my family. In these threats I have been called “a rag head”, a supporter of jihad and Hizbollah – all rather weird, one might say, since I am a Catholic who has consistently spoken out against all violence. From where then, did these deranged fellows get their distorted ideas? The answer is: from a group of individual associated with right wing think tanks who write for blogs or articles that consistently defame or distort the positions of most recognised Arab American and American Muslim leaders.

And it hasn’t stopped. When, for example, I was given the honour of delivering the closing remarks at the Department of Justice’s commemoration, the 40th anniversary of the signing of the civil rights bill, but an article written by one of these characters who termed it an outrage that the DOJ would invite a “Hizbollah supporter” to speak at this affair. And when the Pentagon invited me to speak at their annual Iftar, honouring the service of American Muslim in the US military another writer decried my presence at the event calling me an extremist “wahabi supporter.”

Just as I feel that these writers bear responsibility for their words and for the behaviour of those whom their words motivate to commit illegal acts, so too those elected officials and political leaders who rant on the floor of Congress or at mass rallies about “creeping communism”, or “Obamunism”, or about “death panels”, etc, must own up to the atmosphere they are creating and the behaviour of desperate lost souls who will use their words as a licence to violence.

Given the circumstances we face, the old saying “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” needs to be updated by adding “but may provoke others to break my bones.” A warning is in order: “Put away the matches.” It’s dangerous out there and you don’t know who’s listening or what they might do to act on what you say. It’s time to lower the temperature and tone down the rhetoric, before it’s too late.