Guest Post by Saira Ansari
I’m very disturbed, disappointed and sick to death to see the amount of facebook’ers on my list who think Musharraf’s leaving has been a catastrophe for Pakistan. Just because a new evil, a.k.a Zardari, is in the house does not mean that the previous evil is now a good man. A “leader” as some say. That’s our problem – as an entire nation. We forget and we repeat our mistakes over and over again.
People left right and centre have been levelling accusations at me, and countless others like myself, that we support Zardari. Unfortunately no one takes out 5 minutes to ask if that is so. Let me save you the time…we don’t. And no, he is NOT democratically elected. Hierarchic / Monarchic rule within the party does not ensure a democratic candidate, so stop ranting that its democracy that’s bad. We, the people, have been cheated again. The actual institution has been wronged.
I will get hate messages and mail after this because I get them often for my stance. Those who know me well know my passion for this country and its welfare so at least I can’t be labelled for propaganda as my other friends and colleagues are. But I must have my say – whether or not you bother to read the entire note.
It might seem like an attack on all you who support Musharraf, but unfortunately he was a friend of the wealthy and his circles included the elite and the ruling elite (I use the terms separately so that the few elite members in my list are spared the mercy of being called PML-Q-ians).
His ruling party looted and spent generously. The corruption meter Musharraf used himself to oust Nawaz Sharif has rated the corruption during his past 8 years government rule at least 20-40% more corrupt than that of Benazir or Nawaz Sharif…. and that is quite a task to achieve! Don’t believe me – do some research.
Of course all of you will lament his going. You thought he was fighting for the country, and the economy was oh-so-booming and justice was being handed out to all and sundry.
If you think this way then:
- None of you had your father/brother/son/husband picked up by intelligence forces, sold to America and other countries for bounty money, threatened torture and death to you and your extended family for searching for your family member.
- The worst insult – Musharraf announcing that all the missing persons had actually just run away from their homes and/or were jihadi terrorists. Yes Mr. Musharraf that’s a very smart thing to say – since it really worked for you to pull out a name from your list every time a suicide bombing happened.
- I have met the families of the missing persons in a very high level semi-secretive meeting arranged by HRCP and Amnesty, a couple of years back, and I met normal people with normal lives – just like yours and mine, but maybe a bit more harsher – suddenly flung into chaos.
- I met a 10 year old boy who was picked up alongside his father and uncle and saw his father being tortured. His father still isn’t back.
- I met the murdered journalist Hayat-ullah’s brother who had gone missing with his brother but had been released while his brother killed. The brother too was killed months after I met him.
- I met Amina Janjua and her daughter and other family members of prisoners who are rotting in Guantánamo.
- How is this the war on terror? It’s more like the war of terror. Why are we being auctioned to satiate an ever-hungry monster’s desire to colonize the world? (USA for those who didn’t get that)
- None of you care to find out what happened on May 12, 2007, when Karachi went under siege and people on all sides were senselessly killed, roads blocked, Edhi ambulances attacked and drivers killed – and NO action was taken. But dancing and celebrating the Punjab qabza group government continued in Islamabad.
- The Karachi bridge collapsing after that seemed trivial and really required no justice. Because a few poor people died and Pakistan can do without some more mouths to feed.
- All of you and your mothers/sisters/daughters/friends/wives have not been raped, or better yet gang-raped. Then you probably believe that rape is supposed to be silenced and that Mukhataran Mai case was “so over-done”. Musharraf was right when he had Mukhataran Mai put on the ECL (Exit Control List) so that the image of Pakistan would not be destroyed.
- And all of you at some time have visited countries abroad, or if you’re lucky like me, were probably born abroad so you don’t have to get raped to get an American visa. Musharraf seemed to think that’s why us ladies in Pakistan liked to get raped. Again you doubt me, check online for direct quotes.
- You are also one of those people who’s countless acres of land were not snatched in Balochistan and Sindh and handed for a pittance to army officers who then minted a fortune in selling them later. That’s because you don’t live in Balochistan or NWFP and have your own little place in a Pakistani-suburbia.
- You probably also think that Balochis are terrorists and should be tackled with the way they are for wanting to break Pakistan.
- In the past 8 years or so media coverage of Balochistan was banned. No one knew what was happening there because the General didn’t see it fit for you to know.
- So while they were being killed they had other trivial things to worry about too:
- No gas – because they provide all to you me and the rest of Pakistan
- No electricity – because why would tribals need it
- No CNG – because…they have cars?
- No roads – no CNG, no cars, why need roads?
- All the minerals, discovered and potential sites, being sold to the yens and the dollars and the pounds while they get nothing
- And the budget allocation – my God it has been an insult each time their share has been announced.
- But you say that it serves the tribal Sardars right. Because there are NO other regular people, middle class, students, poor, old, unwell people in Balochistan – only Sardars.
- Tell me – why was Pakistan made? Were we not all being denied our basic rights back then? The breaking up of a country to form our country is celebrated – yet when a province, hounded and ignored since Pakistan’s inception now demands their rights or separation you call them villains and terrorists. Damn hypocrisy I say.
- You agree the media has lost control and attacked Musharraf when it was he who “allowed” them to come.
- Again, my lovelies, the free media revolution had started in 1989 and most of these new channels came when the new satellite technology came. Not because they were always barred and Musharraf had an epiphany to allow them.
- It’s shameful how Daily Times Najam Sethi has sold his soul to the pimped out Governor Salman Taseer to keep his position. Why don’t you question his stand?
- And it’s time anyway to wake up and see what’s happening in ever corner of your country. This again does not mean I support substandard and/or yellow journalism
- And if you still think, like Musharraf did, that all the channels sucked and reported wrong information and deserved to be banned in November 2007, then can you please explain why BBC, CNN, Al-Jazeera and all other international news channels were also banned?
- MEDIA MUST BE FREE. Those who are not interested in changing the status quo of this country please change the damn channel to a cheap Indian soap opera which everyone seems to enjoy.
- You think that suspending the constitution was fine and it solved issues. I talk about a constitution, which is not just formed on a whim. It is a legislation almost sacred to a country. It is based on the universal declaration of human rights that are meant to apply to all and sundry; that ensures basic rights to speech, to thought, to movement, to association, to expression, to religion, to vote, to protest, to demand, to information. If the law guarantees you this security NO one should be allowed to manipulate it to say otherwise. No situation allows for the government to tell me to shut up and sit at home and not participate in democratic (or non-democratic as it might be) change. The government is my servant. It exists to take care of me and look after my country. I pay it to do so and it enjoys a very large amount of luxuries on this behalf alone.
- You probably also felt that the activists, journalists, lawyers and students deserved to be beaten up, tortured and arrested.
- Then Pakistan’s constitution should be “cleaned up” and our rights to protest, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, legal rights before detention and arrest should all be scrapped, because the General didn’t find them fit to implement.
- The emergency was declared to minimize violence, quote unquote. Read Washington post’s article, written by Musharraf himself. The comments on the article are deeply revealing. The suicide attacks still happened. During the emergency the violence against citizens was abominable. More than 5000 people jailed. I myself made a list of 1000 arrests for my work. People, civilians, activists, lawyers, students, little children beaten up like dogs. Is that security? Is that how you “control society”? By breaking their bones, ripping off their clothes and kicking them in the gut. I have names and pictures, arrested and manhandled. Honestly speaking the army, our protector ended up doing more damage to us than anyone else. The police had as usual jumped in to join the party. The fight for judiciary might have the face of Chaudry Iftikhar and you might not like him but the truth is that judiciary must be free and impartial. Arresting lawyers because “they could incite trouble” is about the biggest hogwash there is.
- You agree with military rule for the benefit of the nation. The army unrightfully so taxes us to our bones for “security reasons”, even gobbling up the share for education and development, yet Lal masjid brewed a few kilometres from the presidents’ house with mass ammunitions, ak 47s machine guns, grenades, gas masks…that too in the most heavily policed city in the country. Is that how the army protects us and itself.
- Sadly, because of Musharraf the armed forces really have suffered. And thousands of men, Jawans not Generals, who come from all corners of the country and bear freezing cold and scorching heat to sacrifice their lives for the love of their country, bear the brunt of their military leaders’ bad choices. The army’s job is to protect our borders and that’s what it should do. We received billions of dollars in aid to tackle terrorism. Not only did terrorism increase, but also there have been solid links of financial and logistical support found between the ISI and the terrorists. Who sold us to the Americans and allowed Boucher and Condoleeza to dictate terms? Where does the army get its funding/training/weapons/luxuries from? I’m sure you’ll like reading Dr. Ayesha Siddiqua’s book Military Inc. I enjoyed it and I haven’t found any quotes from the army denying it. Except for maybe banning the book because reading is so bad for Pakistanis. They’ll start to think.
- You say Shut up Saira – do you know what he did for our economy? Yes what did he do? Watching a show on TV last year about Pakistan’s “booming economy” I was surprised to hear a very Mary Antoinette-ish remark made by one of the young pro-government economists “so what if Punjab has a wheat crisis. They’ll get something else to eat”.
- The reason Pakistan’s GDP went up was because of two reasons – the banking sector and the telecommunication sector. The Pakistan banking sector has one of the worst interest rates in the world – how sweet is that since you and your daddies don’t really need to take out any loans – but many other’s do and the banking sector feeds of their carcasses. Nowhere else in the world would Citibank have been allowed to hound a person (and thousand others like him) till he committed suicide.
- Coming to Citibank – don’t even bring me to Shaukat (Shortcut) Aziz. The man is undoubtedly smart and he could have done wonders for us – yet he too looted us and helped the ruling class mint some more. mint mint mint.
- The Punjabi ruling class however was not content and sold and/or hoarded our flour and sugar, so that the hungry stomachs would dish out more when food was scarce.
- Don’t get me started on the chief justice case. You don’t like him because you think the lawyers brought anarchy to the streets. Well the Chief Justice really should have been kicked in the boot. After all he stopped Shaukat Aziz, Musharraf and all their cronies from extreme profiteering in the Steel mill case, and he asked about the missing persons – the damn missing persons. Oh and Suo Motu…he played with that little Latin term that the government came to associate as a swear word.
And FINALLY, all you people lamenting his exit and the arrival of the new vultures – it was Musharraf’s gift to us, the NRO, which legalised their return and it was Musharraf who pardoned all of Benazir’s, Zardari’s and the Sharif brothers’ cases so that he could get a safe exit in return– one tyrant to another. Mushie knows best.
I don’t even know where to stop. I talk from facts. Hundreds and thousands of files, numbers, cases, stats and complaints lying on my desk and those of my colleagues. Colleagues who got arrested for assembling at the office when the emergency was declared. Colleagues who passionately fight for people’s rights – the same rights that allow you and me the simple liberties we take for granted. We meet people who were abused by Musharraf, those who were abused before him and no doubt those who will be abused by the new monster that has narcissistically named itself the people’s government.
For god sakes wake up you slumbering fools. Musharraf’s exit does not have to mean the return of another evil period for us. Why cant we make it mean something more and bring in more educated people into the services and politics. Talk, speak out, and demand action and accountability so that these goons don’t get to loot us again. Lets not be quiet and say lawyers are liars and politicians are pansies. Maybe if we just worked just as hard as making things work as we do in criticising, things could get better. Start by doing your bit – bit by bit – and wait for the change to happen. Don’t sit and complain in your comfortable houses and cars. Don’t do that because it doesn’t help anyone.
Or just don’t damn well fornicate to produce a generation that will suffer at your expense.