Gaza: Holocaust version 2014

The following article is published in the Sunday edition (DNA) of Pakistan Today, dated 20th July 2014

(For online version: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/07/19/comment/gaza-holocaust-version-2014/ )

(For published version: Page 6  at:  http://issuu.com/abidoon/docs/dna_issue_33/4?e=3820687/8669388    )

Gaza: Holocaust version 2014

Zionist occupiers’ atrocities against Palestinian women, children and elderly make Hitler seem like an angel.

By: Omer Zaheer Meer

The author is a Director of the think-tank “Millat Thinkers’ Forum”. He is a leading economist, qualified accountant and anti-money laundering expert with international exposure who can be reached on Twitter and www.myMFB.com @OmerZaheerMeer  or omerzaheermeer@hotmail.co.uk

A sad tragedy ensues when the oppressed becomes the oppressor. Even worse is when it bites the hand that fed it in its worst hour of need. That is precisely the tragedy unfolding in occupied Palestine under the so-called Israeli occupation forces.

The disproportionate use of power is of least concern in a conflict where all international laws are floundered. Banned and illegal weapons like phosphorus, in addition to other internationally banned chemical weapons, are routinely used on civilian populations. Innocent civilians are routinely targeted and killed as are innocent family members of “alleged” Palestinian resistance members. Entire families are wiped out in such Israeli attacks. Children as young as just a few months old are slaughtered while women of all ages are butchered along with the elderly in what is termed collateral damage by Israel. A policy of collective punishment is being pursued by blockading 17 million human beings for eight long years, effectively turning Gaza into the largest open-air prison on the planet.

This Palestinian occupation is truly an asymmetrical conflict with Israel’s sophisticated, top of the range, highly destructive and even internationally banned chemical arsenal largely met with rag-tag home-made crude Palestinian rockets. The comparatively slightly better Palestinian rockets are extremely limited and used rarely by the resistance. Compared to a bomb shelter in almost every new house built in Israel, there is none in Gaza. Only recently the first Israeli fatality of the conflict incurred in over a week compared to over 200 innocent Palestinian children, women and elderly slaughtered in addition to young men. The only Israeli fatality so far was a Zionist volunteer delivering food to Israeli occupation soldiers near the Gaza border. The billions of dollars of annual military aid to Israel by the USA can be compared to a naught for Palestine.

Holocaust, as described by various Jewish as well as Zionist authors, was the alleged systematic and state-sponsored persecution and annihilation of millions of Jews by Nazi Germany.

It is worth mentioning here that present day Imperialist Israel is a fruit of political Zionism whose brutalities against Palestinian civilians are opposed even by moderate Jews across the globe. The genocide of and war crimes against Palestinians perpetrated by the Israeli occupation forces, particularly in Gaza, has made atrocities of Nazi Germany seem lighter in comparison.

Let’s visit recent history to draw comparisons. The Nazis believed in racial superiority of Germans, deemed “inferior” Jewish and other non-German races as an alien threat to their survival and supremacy. This is pretty much the same attitude as that showcased by present day Israel against non-Jewish Palestinian Arabs, effectively treating them as a threat to Zionist “supremacy”. It’s even worse since most Israeli Zionists, particularly the impressionable youth, call for the annihilation of even innocent Palestinian children (widely available on social media), unlike Nazi Germany where people even helped Jewish women and children.

Holocaust, as described by various Jewish as well as Zionist authors, was the alleged systematic and state-sponsored persecution and annihilation of millions of Jews by Nazi Germany. The “Holocaust version 2014” by Israel is even worse. Not only are Palestinian Arab Muslims massacred systematically by the occupying Zionist regime, the imperialist state of Israel also controls their life by applying a total blockade particularly on Gaza, where the local population cannot even have emergency medical journeys without a cumbersome process requiring Israeli permission.

What is ironic and perhaps lesser known today is the fact that it was under the Muslim Ottoman rule that Jews fleeing from across the globe were provided sanctuaries and opportunities to prosper. The Jews were heavily persecuted by Byzantines after Christianity was declared the official religion (408 – 450) by Theodosius 11. Forceful conversions of Jews to Christianity were the norm.

With the Ottoman Turkish conquest of Bursa in 1324, a golden era ensued for the previously oppressed Jewish community. The Jews treated the Ottomans as their saviours. The toleration was to the extent that not only were Jews given high public offices, but also allowed to build huge synagogues like the Etz Ha-Hayyim (Tree of Life). Jews from all over Europe came and settled in Muslim Ottoman lands; from Hungary in 1376, France in 1394, Sicily in the early 15th century, Salonika in 1420, Spain in 1492 after Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand expelled the Jews during brutal Spanish Inquisition, and from many more places.

Now let us fast forward to the present era. The memory of the Israeli attack on the Turkish Flotilla carrying civilian aid to Gaza is not too old. More more recent is the case when Israel started bombarding civilians yet again in Gaza, one of the most densely populated places on the planet. An ultimatum was given to people in northern and eastern Gaza to leave their homes, raising fear of the worst atrocities to come. However, the fleeing civilians were forced deep within the already congested and tiny Gaza strip by Israel and its ally Egypt, refusing to open border crossings thereby denying them safety. The blockade of Palestinians, resulting in deaths due to starvation and a crippling economy for eight years, has conveniently been forgotten by the world.

With the Ottoman Turkish conquest of Bursa in 1324, a golden era ensued for the previously oppressed Jewish community. The Jews treated the Ottomans as their saviours.

Perhaps it is time that moderate Jews across the globe rise up to confront the extremist Zionists of Israel for the Muslim rulers seem to be sleeping, barring the lip service of a few. These Muslim rulers are so busy in their sectarian fights and protection of their rule that this human tragedy fails to evoke a serious response from them. While people around the world including Europe and North America have shown their discontent over what is commonly referred to as a brutal massacre by Israel, Muslim governments have continued to show little material support for oppressed Palestinians in Gaza.

A lesser explored aspect of the recent turmoil in Gaza is the political maneuvering of Netanyahu with allegations that the Israeli government knew about the whereabouts of the kidnapped illegal Israeli settlers in occupied Palestinian territory but decided to use it for political mileage. The incident was used to incite hatred, culminating in the abduction and brutal burning to death of an innocent Palestinian teen legally living in Jerusalem, by Zionist right-wingers. This observation is supported by the gag-order regarding the incident barring even the Israelis from having access to information about it. Furthermore, there were reports of raids on the Palestinian suspects’ homes two weeks before the occupying Israeli Government announced the names. All these indicate manipulation. Truly right-wing extremist Israelis led by Netanyahu gained the most at the expense of everyone else.

This is not the first atrocity against the Palestinians, particularly in Gaza, nor can it be expected to be the last. What we should strive for is to create awareness and help the helpless, enslaved population of Gaza.

The big question is will moderate Jews recall the favours granted to them by Muslims, which ensued their golden era, and rise up with them to confront the Zionist monster which has unleashed its own version of Holocaust, only upon Muslims this time.

Azadi march

The following article is published in the Sunday edition (DNA) of Pakistan Today, dated 13th July 2014

(For online version: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/07/12/featured/azadi-march/ )

(For published version: Page 6 at:   http://issuu.com/abidoon/docs/dna_issue_32/7?e=3820687/8589798  )

Azadi march

Sane heads should prevail, or the fallout can be disastrous

By: Omer Zaheer Meer

The author is a Director of the think-tank “Millat Thinkers’ Forum”. He is a leading economist, qualified accountant and anti-money laundering expert with international exposure who can be reached on Twitter and www.myMFB.com @OmerZaheerMeer  or omerzaheermeer@hotmail.co.uk

Once again Imran Khan takes a stand that will take serious convincing for many even within his ranks to go along. Decisions made out of necessity are understandable, but fully believing in them is an entirely different phenomenon.

Let us revisit some recent history. We’re not prepared for this yet. Think about it, we just had a massive success in Lahore which can go to waste. Going to Karachi after this is just too risky. That’s MQM’s territory. We don’t even have a proper organisational structure there. MQM is too strong and its militants would never allow us to hold a successful “Jalsa”.

These were some of the “rational” responses from senior Karachi-based PTI politicians when Imran Khan’s intent to go to Karachi after the infamous 30th October Jalsa in Lahore was made clear to them. None of them could comprehend it. It just did not make any sense to them. Why take such a big risk when you had it your way and that too after a long wait? Khan’s response to them was not to think what may be lost but rather to think what may be gained. He turned out to be the eventual winner that time. The same story was repeated in different manners earlier in Lahore and later in Quetta, Rawalpindi, Waziristan, etc. All those times he turned out to be a winner though the odds always seemed to be stacked against him.

He has now announced a million-march towards Islamabad on the independence day of Pakistan, 14th August 2014. Many within and outside Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf are questioning the timing for the call of this long-march. They point out the human tragedy unfolding from the displacement of over 800,000 IDP’s (per recent reports), possible ramifications for operation Zarb-e-Azb, and limited time available to prepare for such a mega event. Some even point towards the possibility of another coup.

We need to remember that a million-strong show is something that even PTI, despite its massive popularity, has not achieved to date and if successful would add another dimension to the perception of its street-power, leaving every other party behind by miles.

Khan’s formal stance is straightforward. He’s been asking for verification of votes in four (4) constituencies for over a year to no avail and is not prepared to give this government any more time. Imran’s reason is that if the federal government does not have anything to hide than why did it go to such pains to ensure that the verification of the symbolic four constituencies did not take place? The treatment of the presumably independent ex-head of NADRA is cited as are the verification results of NA-118, proving manipulation and the disgraceful act of stuffing up bags with fake votes, which was proved in court. Furthermore, 14th August holds special significance. The potential for coup seems a distant possibility with over-stretched establishment as well as a relatively active judiciary. Also, Khan seems to believe that the IDP issue has been manipulated by the federal government by keeping not only him but also the provincial government of KPK in the dark regarding the operation, thereby not allowing them to prepare for the fallout. An interesting question here would be how aware and in control of the operation was the federal government, but it warrants detailed analysis.

We need to remember that a million-strong show is something that even PTI, despite its massive popularity, has not achieved to date and if successful would add another dimension to the perception of its street-power, leaving every other party behind by miles.

Having said that, perhaps there is more to this “tsunami” march which was more recently termed “Azadi” march by Imran Khan at an event hosted by PTI Punjab. After all, what difference does waiting for another month make after waiting for fifteen months?

First and foremost, by raising its voice PTI has given an outlet to the masses suffering from rising inflation, high load-shedding during an extremely hot summer and the ever-increasing menace of unemployment. The pressure on the government in Islamabad can be taken to the boiling point. The recent series of successful “Jalsas” have rejuvenated faith of some key leaders within PTI who were badly shaken following the 11th May election results. Also, perhaps lesser known is the fact that internal rifts within PTI have also subsided. As is natural, the key support-base of PTI, particularly the youth, has been motivated to face an external “foe”.

By raising its voice PTI has given an outlet to the masses suffering from rising inflation, high load-shedding during an extremely hot summer and the ever-increasing menace of unemployment.

However what concrete political mileage can PTI gain from this march is not clear to many. What makes sense is the “competition” with Tahirul Qadri. Although not a match for PTI, either in terms of popularity, street-power or even parliamentary strength, Mr Qadri posed the threat of swaying at least some of the PTI support base as well as the disgruntled general populace. By announcing the Azadi march before Qadri, PTI and has out-maneuvered the latter.

There are, however, important considerations that PTI should to take into account too. One key lesson any student of politics can highlight is that mere agitation has never been able to shake any government in Pakistan without the implicit or explicit support of the establishment. As of now, the establishment is not only bogged down in a multitude of serious problems but over-stretched too. The Nawaz government’s relationship with it has also improved and it is not as sour as it was a few weeks ago. If anything, the placating of the establishment, particularly regarding Operation “Zarb-e-Azb” by PMLN, has helped bring them out of the negative ambit they were in. Therefore clarity is needed as to what PTI plans to achieve from this Azadi march politically and what exact road-map they want to follow. Not many seem too certain about it right now.

PMLN’s government is also in a political fix over this issue. If they cede to Imran’s demands they risk opening up a Pandora’s box which may put in question the legitimacy of the entire electoral process and thereby the government itself. If they continue to hide behind technical excuses such as claiming the issue at hand should be dealt by the Election Commission, while pressuring, transferring and even removing key officials including tribunal judges, then they have to face a possible barrage of street protests by the most popular party of the youth of this country. Add to this the Qadri factor and it makes for a perfect quagmire for the incumbent government. How PMLN deals with it would define what course the matter would take. One hopes wisdom prevails and a repeat of the Model Town incident is avoided.

ISIS: Safeguard Pakistan

The following article is published in the Sunday edition (DNA) of Pakistan Today, dated 6th July 2014

(For online version: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/07/05/comment/isis-safeguard-pakistan/ )

(For published version: Page 8 at:   http://issuu.com/abidoon/docs/dna_issue_31_new/9?e=3820687/8511302  )

ISIS: Safeguard Pakistan

All is not as it seems about the new caliphate in Iraq

By: Omer Zaheer Meer

The author is a Director of the think-tank “Millat Thinkers’ Forum”. He is a leading economist, qualified accountant and anti-money laundering expert with international exposure who can be reached on Twitter and www.myMFB.com @OmerZaheerMeer  or omerzaheermeer@hotmail.co.uk

There are tactical maneuverings in geo-politics and there are games. Then there are great games. It seems like another one is unfolding with critical consequences for the world in general and Muslim countries in particular. Pakistan, as has become the custom lately, seems to be the vanguard for the fallout. The ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Syria) has literally come out of oblivion with surprising tenacity, resources and success. It is an extreme sectarian group with such extreme ideas that Al-Qaeda divorced it early this year. A few months later, the same ISIS has swept across major towns of Iraq while having a strong hold in areas of Syria. It is estimated to have a net worth of over $2 billion with funding from “sources” in KSA, Kuwait and Qatar, all strong regional allies of USA. It is now moving towards financial “independence” with recent gains on the ground.

A non-entity before their recent mega-arrival on the global scene, ISIS was initially ISI (Islamic State in Iraq) which was born out of the US invasion of Iraq. Its current leader Abu-Baker al Baghdadi is a little known shadowy figure who is hardly ever pictured and relies on audio rather than video messages. The little known history of Mr Baghdadi includes him being a highly qualified individual who served time in the infamous American “terror” prisons. He was released quietly by the US after which he became active in ISIS. Without suggesting any connection let us add to this the fact that US Vice President Joe Biden suggested division of Iraq a few years back into sunni, shia and Kurdish states. This is exactly what’s happening now with ISIS focusing on capturing mainly sunni areas while the Kurds have already attained significant autonomy. Although USA denied Biden’s statement after the ensuing outcry, many journalists and writers continue to vouch for its validity. This should help you start putting pieces together.

The little known history of Mr Baghdadi includes him being a highly qualified individual who served time in the infamous American “terror” prisons. He was released quietly by the US after which he became active in ISIS.

USA formally refers to this group as ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) as greater Syria used to comprise of the region of Levant. Before going further let us examine the intentions proclaimed by ISIS/ISIL. Its name, “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” openly communicates the intention to establish an Islamic State in both these regions. We’re well aware of the region comprising Iraq, but not many people are aware of the composition of Levant and its significance. The Levant is the Eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt. In simple words, present day Levant consists of Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and parts of southern Turkey.

This is significant as the stated aim of ISIS includes bringing Islamic rule to the so-called state of Israel. This is bound to arouse Muslim feelings reeling from the injustices of the World Order for a long time now. But one would expect such an attempt to seriously outrage the USA with its imperial doctrine threatened. But surprisingly we are hard pressed to see any mention of this threat let alone outrage from USA, its allies or even “Israel” itself. Instead the entire ISIS affair is painted as a shia-sunni conflict. In order to understand the subtleties, one has to compare this calm response on ISIS’s threat to Levant (Israel) with the ferociousness of USA’s responses on the smallest of perceived threats to Israel. USA and its allies always come out in force to support its poodle in the Middle-East, with Israel itself creating a lot of hue and cry; the latest example was the “global ire” over the deaths of three Israeli occupiers in occupied Palestinian territory following deaths of 15 Palestinians which were lost to the attention of the Imperialist powers. How is the USA so calm over the ISIS threat to Israel?

It is ironic that the USA even denied air-support to the Iraqi government against ISIS, citing potential civilian damage as this never prevented the USA before, not in its air raids on Iraq itself, not during the drone strikes in Pakistan and not in its bombing campaigns elsewhere. Moreover, the funding bases of ISIS are all within key allies of USA who are totally subservient to its will. However while the USA chooses to publicly condemn what it terms as the “terror” unleashed by ISIS, it prefers to look away instead of asking its allies to put a stop to ISIS funding. This treatment of ISIS by USA and its allies is not surprising considering the geo-political situation, the historical analogies and the existence of exploitable divide between sunnis and the shia.

Effectively with ISIS what we see is a strategy unleashed successfully several times before by different imperialists. The last high-profile use was elimination of the Ottoman “Khilafat” using the divide and rule policy along racial lines between Arabs and Turks.

 Effectively with ISIS what we see is a strategy unleashed successfully several times before by different imperialists. The last high-profile use was elimination of the Ottoman “Khilafat” using the divide and rule policy along racial lines between Arabs and Turks. This time the plan is to wedge the sectarian divide to weaken the Muslim world from within once again. This view is further strengthened by the way the USA is enticing Iran into the conflict despite a long history of animosity and still having concerns over Iran’s nuclear program threat to Israel. Furthermore smaller states divided along sectarian and/or ethnic lines are not only weaker and easier to “manage”, but their exploitation is also easier and less resisted.

The fallout of this strategy, however, can be disastrous for Pakistan, which has already been the unfortunate front-line battlefield for proxy wars between Saudia Arabia and Iran. With a sizeable shia population of between 5-15 per cent in a predominantly sunni country, Pakistan has to prepare for the consequences of this great “dirty” game. Further complicating the matters for Pakistan are the aspirations of some key “opinion makers” in USA openly proposing cutting the country to size by annexing Balochistan and KPK, both regions already boiling in trouble. Fortunately, Pakistanis at large are generally tolerant and used to co-existing. The overwhelming majority of Sunnis do not subscribe to the version propagated by ISIS. Moreover it has an organised and strong defence apparatus. However, of late sectarian divisions have been rising, mostly due to foreign sponsored programs and figures. Such troubles from within can weaken even the strongest of states and needs to be attended to with the utmost urgency. It is therefore critical that not only Pakistan cuts off foreign sectarian funding but also gives a strong call to both our brotherly countries to stop washing their dirty linen in our backyard.

Similarly, our friends in USA can be used to “persuade” the American establishment to alter its aspirations planned at the cost of Pakistan by emphasising the losses of an unfriendly nuclear-armed Pakistan to its regional interests, as well as the potential setbacks to its global position by a leading Muslim country joining the camp of its opponents. With China and Russia vying for increased global assertion it should not be too hard to understand.

Qadri Saga: Who Won?

This article has been published in the Sunday edition (DNA) of Pakistan Today, dated 29th June 2014

(For online version: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/06/28/comment/qadri-saga-who-won/ )

(For published version: Page 8 at http://issuu.com/abidoon/docs/dna_issue_30.compressed?e=3820687/8427707 )

 

Qadri Saga: Who Won?

More than meets the eye

By: Omer Zaheer Meer

The author is a leading economist, a qualified chartered accountant and anti-money laundering expert with international exposure who is helping reshape businesses at Millennium Law Company. He can be reached on Twitter and www.myMFB.com @OmerZaheerMeer or omerzaheermeer@hotmail.co.uk

Pakistan is often said to be the most ‘happening’ country on the planet. The last couple of weeks have been remarkable even by Pakistan’s standards. There was a daring attack exploiting security failures at the Karachi Airport followed-up by valiant sacrifices to eliminate the attackers leading to a much awaited operation in North Waziristan, which seemed ill-planned for tackling the fall-out particularly the IDP’s. As if that was not enough, there was a brutal police assault on civilians at Minhaj-Ul-Quran headquarters in Lahore followed by Dr Tahir-Ul-Qadri’s return to Pakistan. The focus of this article is on the behind-the-scene story of the Minhaj assault and who gained the most from the fall-out.

Having announced the operation in North Waziristan a day after American Congress tied Pakistan’s aid to the same, the incumbent government was sitting pretty politically. The country was at war after-all and public sentiment was high following the Karachi airport assault. No political party could afford to agitate anymore and with Ramzan looming ahead it seemed at least a couple of months of total political stability were at hand. The impact of this “maneuver” was clear. PML-N government was able to satisfy both the army and America by supporting the North-Waziristan operation, while at the same time realizing that being bogged down there would mean the army would be less able to intervene. Similarly, public sentiment ensured that all parties had to rally behind the national armed forces that were in a war now. To agitate now or question would be perceived as an anti-state act.

Having announced the operation in North Waziristan a day after American Congress tied Pakistan’s aid to the same, the incumbent government was sitting pretty politically. The country was at war after-all and public sentiment was high following the Karachi airport assault.

The people’s opposition leader Imran Khan had to call off the 22nd June public gathering, while the lone ranger Shiekh Rasheed cancelled his train march. The pressure on Qadri to postpone his “revolution movement” and impending return on 22nd June was getting tougher by the day. PPP was already seen to be following the alleged agreement of taking full turns with PML-N in the name of saving the system. It seemed the incumbent government did not have a single serious political worry in the world and could concentrate fully on its business.

But it was not to be. PM Nawaz Sharif went on a short foreign tour. Meanwhile an operation, which with the benefit of hindsight can be termed as not only ill-planned and ill-timed but simply madness, was ordered to “remove illegal barricades outside Minhaj-Ul-Quran’s headquarter and Qadri’s residence”. The timing to remove the barricades, which had been there for five years per some accounts, raised questions. But what stunned the nation was the ferociousness of the assault, which ended up taking 11 lives to date with around a hundred injured. The now infamous icon “Gullu car smasher Butt” was also a by-product of the same operation.

CM Punjab, Shabaz Sharif, whose media team has crafted an image of a successful, hands-on and in-control chief minister, immediately announced about his ignorance of the operation. He went to the extent to claim that despite his orders twice, the police did not disengage. The question on everyone’s mind was and still is that how can such an operation be executed in Lahore and that too in the CM’s neighbourhood without his knowledge?

Not many people know that Shahbaz Sharif is not the person he used to be. Serious illnesses and a heart condition means he has to rely on a trusted troika comprising his son Hamza Shahbaz, Rana SanaUllah and Dr Tauqeer Shah (his ex-PS) to run Punjab. While it seems far-fetched that the police would dare to disobey his clear orders to disengage, it is possible that the orders may not have been communicated timely.

Not many people know that Shahbaz Sharif is not the person he used to be. Serious illnesses and a heart condition means he has to rely on a trusted troika comprising his son Hamza Shahbaz, Rana SanaUllah and Dr Tauqeer Shah (his ex-PS) to run Punjab.

The popular theory doing rounds is that Sharif was totally aware and in command of the whole operation undertaken to teach Qadri a “lesson” to avert his return to Pakistan. Moreover, it is believed that the “sacrifice” of Rana SanaUllah and Dr Tauqeer is a temporary measure to cool public sentiment while taking the heat off the CM. The basis of this is the same image created by CM’s PR team which has benefitted him and PML-N a lot over the years. The image effectively communicates that not a leaf can move without his knowledge and consent in Punjab, that he is always in control and that he’s there 24/7.

There is an alternate but lesser known version. As per this version the troika or at least two of them planned and authorised the operation at Minhaj to scare off Qadri and his supporters. The CM was not totally aware of the exact plan as it was masked as a “routine” operation against “encroachments”. The plan was for a quick assault to thrash and did not expect the kind of resistance experienced. The media factor was also discounted.

This alternate version is based on the fact that ever since his heart-treatments Mr. Shahbaz Sharif has relegated most of his duties to his trusted troika. Also he’s no more the 24/7 and always in control CM he used to be. Mr. SanaUllah and Mr. Tauqeer had before too strived for his pleasure and brownie points by taking initiatives on their own due to the trust earned over the years. This is also supported by the confidential reports that during the meeting of the PM with CM and IG Punjab the latter presented evidence including call logs implicating Dr. Tauqeer while Rana SanaUllah has been the public face of the operation.

What exactly happened that fateful day may never be known. But whatever the exact truth, two things are pretty clear. The first is that the PML-N government once against shot itself in the foot and undid the perfect maneuver of its leader PM Mian Nawaz Sharif. The second is that the army seemed to be the one who gained the most out of this as not only is the political government is on the defensive now but the public and media attention was taken off the unfortunate misery borne by hundreds of thousands of IDP’s who migrated from North Waziristan.

As the FIA directed to investigate money-laundering allegations against Qadri, the drop-scene of his much-hyped arrival makes it clear that he is on the losing side too, apparently having served his purpose for now. The important question to ponder for all is whether there could be more to this incident than meets the eye, perhaps pointing in the direction of the ongoing civil-military power tussle?

Manufactured Consent

This article has been published in the Sunday edition of Pakistan Today, dated 30th March 2014

( http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/03/29/comment/manufactured-consent/ )

(For published version: Page 7 at http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/03/30/dna/dna-issue-17/ )

Manufactured Consent

The media is the modern weapon of choice

By:

The author is a leading economist, a qualified chartered accountant and anti-money laundering expert with international exposure who is helping reshape businesses at Millennium Law Company. He can be reached on Twitter and http://www.myMFB.com @OmerZaheerMeer or omerzaheermeer@hotmail.co.uk

Malcolm X once said that if you are not careful, the news (media) may make you hate the oppressed while loving the oppressor. This has never been truer than the present times. The rising influence of media in shaping public opinion has granted it powers unlike anything before in human history. So much so that now media campaigns are launched for reasons ranging from protecting corporate interests to larger world order dominance battles, without an average user suspecting.

If one thinks about it, it actually makes perfect sense that media entities, which run as corporate profit-driven institutions, tend to subscribe to and further the agendas and vested interests of their sponsors. Opinions are manufactured to serve these interest groups using consistent media attention on a particular line. This reality was explored by Noam Chomsky in his work with Edward Herman in “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media”.

When analyzing the situation in Pakistan, we can see the relevance and actual implementation of the mass media campaign to mould popular opinion in the country. But what is the need? Who would want that? All valid questions. So let us examine, shall we?

Pakistan has been blessed with a key strategic geographical position. With a weak leadership, the same blessing however has turned into a curse with different regional and global powers unfolding their desired world-order games in the country. The USA’s interests are related to the great-game currently in a complicated phase in Afghanistan. India, of course, is interested because of the inherent dogma of animosity against Pakistan. And the age-old Persian-Arab rivalry is also being played out at the expense of Pakistan, not just in Afghanistan, but very much within Pakistan. Add to that the clash of regional economic interests with Pakistan’s and you have a quagmire at your hands.

The question arises as to how to tame a vital country such as Pakistan without been seen as doing so? There needed to be an answer and it was found with the advent of private electronic media in Pakistan.

However, a nuclear power possessing a highly disciplined and sixth largest army in the world is not an easy cookie to swallow, even if one holds some sway on it. This has been proven by several steps taken over the last few decades. The prime examples of “alleged” nuclear sharing with friendly countries (which was not illegal by a non-signee of NPT), backing of “strategic assets” in Afghanistan (largely due to the dubious American track record of dumping Pakistan) and the blocking of NATO supply for months, had driven the above point to global policy makers planning their moves on the global stage to protect their national interests.

The question arises as to how to tame a vital country such as Pakistan without been seen as doing so? There needed to be an answer and it was found with the advent of private electronic media in Pakistan. The leading strategists in the global powers burning their brain cells at leading think tanks, both private and state-funded, saw an opening to be seized upon.

Media corporations are corporate entities driven by profits. The USA began the trend by pouring billions of rupees into the Pakistani media. This way the following of a certain perspective was nurtured right from the beginning.

This is not to totally dismiss the positive aspects of the electronic media revolution in Pakistan. Without doubt, the media has greatly enhanced the access of an ordinary citizen to information. Also, there are positive exceptions too. But even if one ignores the quality of information provided, the access to information alone is not enough without detailed knowledge and framework of understanding necessary for forming independent opinions, which is hard to expect from an average citizen in a country with a miserable literacy record. This can be proven with several examples where the national mood was made to swing in one direction only to be swung back to the opposite extreme later on, when it suited the “sponsors”.

In April 1971, the ‘success’ of an operation against Indian-sponsored Mukhti-Bahini in the then East-Pakistan was announced only to be followed by the worst nightmare just eight months later, culminating in Bangladesh. Today most of the intelligentsia curse the forces for alleged atrocities back then, while neutral writers even from India expose these myths as hugely fabricated. Similarly about Balochistan operations, the national opinion is made to swing like a pendulum from absolute support under Bhutto to major backing under Musharaf to major detestation at present.

In April 1971, the ‘success’ of an operation against Indian-sponsored Mukhti-Bahini in the then East-Pakistan was announced only to be followed by the worst nightmare just eight months later, culminating in Bangladesh.

If we recall the recent past, the episode of Lal-Masjid saga is all too fresh. The electronic media created a war-hysteria, pressurising a government facing its biggest challenge from lawyers movement and itself ready to oblige. Once the operation ensued the same media pointed out the massive human-rights abuses, turning the national support into nation-wide shock and anger. Problems, unfortunately, compounded in all these instances.

These days we’re facing yet another challenge in deciding the solution to TTP’s terror. It’s a complicated subject with more than fifty groups operating loosely under the TTP umbrella, warranting a detailed write-up. However, history has taught us that internal disorder can turn into chaos and possibly civil war with use of armed forces without proper strategies, especially to ensure avoidance of civilian miseries.

In the light of the above, one would have expected the media to be objective and to guide the nation towards logic rather than cashing in on popular sentiments. Opinion makers are expected to be neutral, and receptive to perspectives challenging mainstream sentiments of revenge against the inhumane terror unleashed by TTP factions. Instead, what we witness is a total dismissal of anything challenging the popular narrative of absolute use of force as sympathy for terrorism. So much so that the sane voices drawing on the East-Pakistan experience and asking for protection of civilians while proposing a strategy of disengaging from a foreign war to take away the narrative of “Jihad”, isolating the non-reformable TTP elements by getting as many to lay arms as possible, and then using targeted force to eliminate the non-reformable, are dismissed with bias by key opinion makers.

Sadly it has reached a stage where Imran Khan, who is leading this balanced alternate narrative at a heavy political cost and is the head of the second largest political party in terms of votes, is called “a man who sold Pakistan” and “Taliban apologist” for trying to put forward an alternate strategy, which his party believes to be best for Pakistan. Sadly this has bought us to a point where what seems to be another “manufactured consent” is now popularised. Let’s hope against hope that the cost is not as dear as it has been in the past.

Rejoinder to “Futility and bombast” in ET

Rejoinder to “Futility and bombast” in ET

By: Omer Zaheer Meer

(Below is my response within 400 words, to the Express Tribune (ET) editorial titled Futility and bombast dated 7th December 2013.

It was published in Express Tribune on 11th December 2013

http://tribune.com.pk/story/644080/in-defence-of-the-ptis-stance-on-nato-supplies/#comment-1885823 )

Surprisingly it seems from the editorial that we as a nation have reached a state of mind where not raising a voice for our rights seems logical to us. With American drones hitting settled areas of Pakistan after killing the peace process by hitting Hakimullah at the wrong time despite letting him go at-least two/three times before this could well have been the beginning of the end with American strikes in Islamabad, Karachi, Quetta, e.t.c. at will.

If anything PTI’s protest has managed to stop just that. Also this sent out a strong message and strengthened Pakistan’s position resulting in Chuck Hagel, the American Defense Secretary visiting Pakistan for the first time in 4 years. This also raises the question that if the alternate routes are so viable and the rhetoric of “I couldn’t care less” propagated by American administration is not a bluff than why Mr. Hagel needed to meet PM Pakistan to request the lifting of the blockade?

Internationally most NATO countries support the stance that these drone strikes are illegal and that US should sell Pakistan the technology to takeout any unwanted elements.  It is now up-to the federal government whose responsibility it is in the first place to defend Pakistan’s sovereignty, how they utilize this position of strength for Pakistan.

As to the “goods” transported via Pakistan one can see armored carriers to totally covered “equipment” in the pictures published in most national newspapers. If one believes the propaganda that they are “least” important then PTI’s success in putting immense pressure on the US administration using this “least valuable” asset of a route is tremendous to say the least.

One needs to remember that the American establishment realizes the potential and strength of Pakistan but plays with our psychological fears to achieve its strategic ends. We should realize our potential and get out of the quagmire of fear Musharraf left us in. Only this way can we begin to build and strengthen our nation.

Lastly the continuous focus on the supposed “massive” loss to economy is neither material not these peanuts are going to last forever. The focus should be on building a lasting economy and not feasting on temporary blood money at the cost of massive destruction and losses of over $ 100 billion.

Rejoinder to perplexing “Whither PTI?”

Rejoinder to perplexing “Whither PTI?” (28 Nov13)

By: Omer Zaheer Meer

(Below was written with 400 words limit in response to an article titled “Whither PTI?” published in The News dated 28th Nov 13)

Comparing a political party’s struggle for its people to a mafia amounts to tainting the glorious struggles for just causes across the globe transversely through time and nations. Does the writer believe all those heroes to be mafias too? Perspective and intentions are everything. Just like a soldier’s war for a just cause cannot be compared with mafia wars, similarly a political party protesting for its peoples’ lives cannot be either.

What is an honest leader and a political party supposed to do if their federal government does not fulfill its social contract to protect its citizens from foreign aggression? Stay silent on the massacres?

The drone attack inside KPK was on mainland Pakistan and if unchecked can lead to our major cities getting bombed at will. If anything, PTI should be praised and appreciated for not only are they allowing people to retain faith in the system but also strengthening the hands of the federal government on a national issue.

The transporters’ income mentioned repeatedly in the article is neither material macro-economically nor going to last forever. It is better to make permanent alternates now. In any case the losses of over $ 100 billion (much more than total foreign debt of Pakistan), along with 50,000 lives sacrificed makes this seems like a peanut anyway.

As for USAID projects, Mr. Imran Khan has repeatedly clarified that they’re from previous government’s tenure and that  PTI did not enter into any new ones. It is flawed logic to justify foreign aggression on this pretext. Humanitarian aid does not give a license to kill to the donors.

It is high time that we think out of the box with an open mind and break the shackles of fears Musharraf gifted us. Pakistan is not Libya, Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s a vital nuclear armed nation, which the US in financial crisis, in an increasingly multi-polar world is dependent on in more ways than one. Problem is that we, ourselves fail to realize and capitalize on this.

Remember if there’s a problem within your home you do not allow outsiders to punish your family members. Pakistan has repeatedly offered USA to transfer predator drone technology so that we can ourselves take care of the unwanted elements. If USA is sincere why it refuses to do so and instead act to destabilize Pakistan?