Posts by "Ali Moeen"

Donald Trump’s Pakistan

The whole world is angry at how Trump is treating Muslims. How in the name of security Muslims and certain races are being detained, banned and unfairly treated. How wrong is it that because of some people you can’t target a whole religion or a whole country. We all are angry and quite frankly disgusted with what Donald Trump has done to the world.

But sadly we are hypocrites!

The same thing has been in happening in Pakistan. Sadly now, it has taken an even greater turn. In the name of security we are racially profiling Pathans and Pakhtoons. By checking people from certain ethnicities and by demanding documents from only certain ethnicities we are promoting the same hate that Donald Trump promotes against Muslims in America.

This is not the way to make Pakistan more secure. Specially when 1/4th of our population is Pathan. This is not the first time we are discriminating in our history. We did it with the Bengalis. We didn’t let them use their language. We didn’t give them their share of seats as per their population. We spent the money they generated on us. Look at where that led us.

I am getting messages and reports of increased racial profiling and racist policy from our state in the name of security. People are hurt. They are hating Pakistan. Any country that would discriminate on the basis of your race will produce the same affect. So my question is why is our state inherently making us more insecure and inherently destroying our social cohesion and fabric.

Racism and racial targeting in the name of security is never justified and it history teaches us that it never leads to anything good! So I urge you to not let Pakistan be Donald Trump’s Pakistan!

It has been beautiful how so many in America have stood up to racism and so should we!

Share this if you agree!

APS and the Inconvenient Truth

Let me be honest with you. I didn’t remember that the APS attack happened today two years ago. They say you block out bad memories and traumatic experiences. My mind was probably trying to do the same. But, I had a very bad dream last night and I woke up screaming and sweating. Breathed a sigh of relief that it was just a dream. But couldn’t sleep again.

I dreamt that I saw on tv: my son’s school under attack. Shots were being fired. There was blood on the walls. Blood was flooding out the doors. I immediately ran to the school, where I was stopped by soldiers from going any further. It looked like Islamabad – but wasn’t. The shooting continued and there was a huge explosion. Everyone was dead. I saw my son’s body in pieces. His face was half blown away and the other half expressing extreme pain. I saw bodies of young children all around me. Mutilated. Bleeding. Lifeless.

I am sure ever since the terrible incidents of 16th December 2014, all of us have had similar dreams. We as a country have been haunted and hurt. All of us have wounds which nothing can ever heal. Pain that the passing of time doesn’t ease. But, it just isn’t about APS. It just isn’t about those souls. It’s also about the countless children whose childhood has been stolen from them as IDPs who are forced to live in camps. It is about all those children in FATA and Swat who had their lives taken by barbarianism.

APS wasn’t the first attack on our children. It was the first one that hit home. It wasn’t the last attack on our children either. We saw that just a year later another attack happened in Charsadda. More of our children died.

At the second sad anniversary of this attack we live in a Pakistan where we see terrorism to have lessened. We feel more secure and at ease. Yet, we forget the inconvenient truths that always come back to bite us, haunt us and destroy us.

The APS attack was our own doing. We are responsible. We are responsible when in the 80s and 90s we supported a movement in a proxy war that would ultimately go out of our control. We are responsible that we didn’t quell terrorism swiftly and quickly when it reared its ugly head almost 8 years ago. It is our own doing when we wanted to negotiate with murderers and barbarians who defamed our religion and killed our fellow countrymen.

The lives of these kids, their sacrifice at APS did one thing that hadn’t happened for three decades. They united us all of us. We pledged to let go of all our power struggles, our greed for corruption, our inaction. We promised to get revenge. We released anthems and we made a National Action Plan. No terrorist was to harm another Pakistani boy or girl ever again.

It hasn’t been two years and we are back again to where we were. Our institutions fighting for power. Our government sweeping its corruption under the rug. An opposition that doesn’t care much about terrorism at all, just about removing the Prime Minister. Our National Action plan remains unfulfilled. We have had no reforms for Madrassas. We haven’t developed a counter narrative to the false religious ideology of the terrorists. We haven’t educated our own children let alone “dusham ke bachon ko parhana”.

We did kill terrorists but did nothing to kill the thought, the process that radicalises them. We released three songs to try to remind us of what happened. We bought ourselves some time. That’s all we did. But our time is almost up.

Unless we do something and do something fast. Unless we implement and not just introduce reforms. Unless we eradicate all support for terrorism. Unless we work with our neighbours to ensure their soil isn’t used against us. Unless we wake up and say fighting terrorism and getting rid of it is our number one priority and we will work day and night to do it. Unless our institutions stop fighting for power and our leaders stop being selfish. APS like events will happen again. I am scared. I am scared that my worst dream about my son will be my nightmare-ish reality. So, let’s remember those who died in the APS attack. But, not remember them to insult them by doing nothing to make sure that what happened doesn’t happen again.

She Said No! He Didn’t Stop!

I didn’t know what to expect today as I picked up my phone. I had received a harrowing message from a girl last night who had asked for my number. She didn’t say much. All her message said, that she needed to talk, and didn’t have anywhere to go to. I am not in the habit of giving out my number. But, I had a few mutual friends with the person in question, so sent her my public number. I told her to call me tomorrow morning.

My phone beeped, and I received a text from her. She asked if it was okay to call. I replied that it was. The next second the phone rang. I picked up. She was crying. She said Salam. I replied. She said she didn’t know who to turn to. I asked what happened. She told me her story.

She liked a guy in her college. She was from Islamabad. They had been together for over two years now. It was an ordinary day, they went out on a date. She said this was nothing unusual and that she would go out with him regularly. She said that she was quite intimate with him. They hadn’t had sex, but they would make out and be intimate. She said she always felt safe with him. She trusted him and he would always be respectful of her.

They drove around until they decided to go to her home. They would do so often when either of their families weren’t at home or were out of town. They sat down and started watching a movie. They also started being intimate. It was in her bedroom. However, what was a normal date night for her was about to turn into one of the worst days of her life. It was going to be a day that would haunt her. Shatter her. Destroy her.

The guy told her that he wanted to have sex, and she said no. He insisted. She said NO. He insisted again. She said NO again. But, he didn’t listen. He didn’t listen. He didn’t stop. She was left in tears. Asking him what he had done. The guy she said expressed no remorse. She felt hurt and betrayed. She told him to leave and threw him out. She sat their in her own bedroom, trying to understand what had happened.

She completely broke down on the phone at this point. It is painful. The betrayal. The lost of trust. The rape? She had been raped in her own bedroom. The place she spends most of her day and night in. She would have to sleep in the bed she was raped in. She also didn’t have anywhere to go. No one to turn to.

She couldn’t face her family. She couldn’t tell the police. Why were you with him in the first place? Why did you invite him into your room would be what everyone would ask. She chose to stay quiet. I insisted that she go to the authorities. Get a medical check up done. She said she didn’t want to suffer more humiliation than she already had. She said her father would be devastated. She would carry this burden, but wouldn’t put it on her family. There were no witnesses and it was the word of one person against the other. She has to see him every day at college. She can’t say anything.

The injustice of this is absurd. Why can someone who does that walk away. She wanted me to write about her story. So that women and girls everywhere would know that they need to be careful about safe spaces and trust. She said that that was the only good thing she could get out of this. She could save others from suffering her fate. She also wanted me to tell parents, that they should give their daughters the space to tell them whatever wherever and not be afraid. If she was certain her parents wouldn’t punish her for being the victim and punish the criminal she would be willing to press charges against the rapist.

The problem here is that when young people engage in relationships and are intimate they hide it from everyone. Thus, those who seek to oppress and to take advantage can do it with impunity. So, I will ask everyone to be careful. I know it’s wrong to tell women to not get raped, it is not their fault and that is certainly not what I am saying. What I am saying is be safe, and be careful. Monsters build trust and prey on it to get what the want. We also need comprehensive review on police practices and how best to deal with women without them feeling any indignation for being victims of such a heinous crime.

The Revolution Rhetoric

Unfortunately, some have taken the liberty to cloud the minds of our youth and mislead them. At a time when the youth needs to work towards progress in education, industry and economy, a significant chunk of our youth has been ‘brainwashed’ to believe that for Pakistan to go anywhere a revolution is needed. What is even more scary is that some are almost convinced that this revolution needs to be scarred with bloodshed. ‘Hum Inqilaab layen gay.’ (we will bring a revolution) seems to be the every day slogan of many political parties, and it has become part of every day rhetoric now.

Before moving on, it would be useful to talk about the most widely quoted example in this rhetoric, the French Revolution. I donít find it hard to believe that those talking about it are mostly unaware of what actually happened in that revolution.

A decade after, and perhaps following in the footsteps of the American Revolution (which not surprisingly does not exist in this rhetoric), it is indeed true that the French Revolution in 1789 was a watershed event which changed France and Europe irrevocably.

While the exact causes are hard to pin down, historians generally agree that a number of wars had taken place before the revolution and this had taken a toll on the French treasury. This had further weakened the French bank already ailing from royal extravagance. Secondly, King Louis XVI of France, like many other European kings, propagated the idea that kings ruled by divine right i.e. were handpicked by God. This then made them accountable to no one except God, and the argument went that if God was not pleased with what they were doing He would remove them Himself. Thus, the citizenry had no say in the matter. In a time of highly secularised thinking due to the philosophies of thinkers such as Burke, Condorcet, Rousseau and Voltaire, who argued for rights of people, sovereignty and the social contract (particularly Rousseau), the divine right to rule became a concept hard to digest.

The strict French class system had long placed the clergy and nobility far above the rest of French citizens, despite the fact that many of those citizens far exceeded nobles in wealth and reputation. It was not a fight of the poor against the rich, the haves and the have nots as it is played out in this rhetoric. It was a battle to achieve equality and remove oppression. It was both a success and a failure. It led to several rapid changes of regime, culminating in a military dictatorship, the Napoleonic Empire, and the restoration of the monarchy. In the long term it established a fair tax system in which by law everyone was taxed according to their wealth and property rights were guaranteed.

Another quoted or rather misquoted example is that of the ‘Arab Spring’ or ‘Arab Awakening’. Sparked by the first protests in Tunisia in 2010, a series of rebellions have risen across the Middle East and North Africa. Again, the rhetoric goes that Pakistan needs such a ‘spring’. Looking at the causes of these protests one realises that the factors that have led to the protests include issues such as dictatorship, absolute monarchy, human rights violations, lack of an independent media, government corruption and economic decline.

What needs to be understood is that these revolutions had specific goals which could not be achieved otherwise. A monarchy and dictatorship has to be overturned by mass movements because there is no other way. Similarly, property rights and equality in taxing in that particular context had to be fought for.

Pakistan is a different story. It is not a dictatorship right now; it has been, yes, but didn’t we just overturn the last one through the lawyers’ movement in 2008? Pakistan has equal property rights. In terms of taxation it is actually the government that needs a revolution to make the citizens pay tax (only 2% of Pakistanis pay tax!).

We already overthrew our colonisers and oppressors when in 1947 we became an independent state. We established democratic systems and laws, and our Constitution guarantees us all our fundamental rights. I am not saying that there are no problems in the systems we have in place, but nonetheless these are the right systems. We need to rectify the shortcomings of these systems, not destroy them altogether. Some of the propagators of this rhetoric actually want to replace the democratic system we have in place today with another dictatorship or monarchy! They propagate the idea of a reverse revolution, and that can be very damaging to the country.

Actually, sometimes shortcuts seem appealing. Whenever overnight and drastic change comes on the table everyone gets excited, but unfortunately tangible change never does come overnight. It requires hard work and patience, and in our pursuit for the quick short cut we might just end up losing what our forefathers fought so hard for. If we are unhappy with a particular regime or government we have the ability and the authority to not elect it again in the next election. We don’t need to go out and kill everyone involved with that regime.

We don’t need a revolution; we need revolutionary development. This development has to be in the education and economic sector, and both are of course linked. By developing our human resource, expanding our economic horizons and realising our responsibilities as citizens we can rid ourselves of most of the problems we face and address the grievances we have.

The exact nature of this development and these responsibilities is a subject I will address in another column, but the only message that one can hope to give through this is that rhetoric can be dangerous. It can be specially dangerous when it is being used to gather emotive and not logical responses. The youth of Pakistan must understand clearly what their role is and how they can develop this country, and resolve not to be misled by those who choose to use them for their own purposes and designs.

‘Freedom has cost too much blood and agony to be relinquished at the cheap price of rhetoric.’ – Thomas Sowell

The writer is Youth Ambassador Geo and Jang Group.

*This article appeared in The News on the 19th of September 2011.