Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Amplitude of Silence


Maryam Sakeenah

The painting-up in white of the indelibly Red Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) is a powerful symbol. An attempt to whitewash the redness of the act, to erase the disturbing memory of blood, gore and decapitated dead bodies; to placate, to impose an Oblivion. Just like the naming of the ‘Operation Silence.’ An imposition of silence, an imposition of amnesia. Per force.

The Silence is audible, the absence almost palpable. The vacuum eternally gaping. Not to be talked about: the Unmentionable. Come July 12, the disturbing images were taken off screens, restive hearts fed again with all the usual rounds of jazz and glitz. The message: All’s well. The tragedy became the Unmentionable and the Forbidden as the media docilely complied with the orders. I only understand now that our heroic media men believe in freedom only conditionally. Images and memories vapourized like the many tiny corpses that were whisked away, vanishing into thin air. The right to know the truth and the right to mourn was withheld.

The silence becomes criminal. For, as Brecht said, ‘it implies silence about so many horrors.’ ‘Operation Silence’: I admire the honesty of the guy who came up with that name. But why the silence? My mother taught me it was bad manners to talk about gory details to people, to bring up a sombre topic or to talk death at the dining table. We are being made to revise our lessons at table manners. A reality too shocking, too overwhelmingly cruel to be faced squarely. Hence, the Unmentionable. The reality of our ugly national character, the reality of the vile bestiality we are capable of, our unholy fanaticism for the goddess they call ‘Enlightened Moderation.’ The goddess with fair tresses and cleavage who comes flashing on TV all the time. Like the picture of Dorian Gray mirroring the ugliness, obscured from view to keep the visage attractive and pleasing: Enlightened and Moderate. A visage beneath which hulks a terror_ that if the picture mirroring the reality is brought out, the thin covering will wear off and give way. The Picture of Dorian Gray, locked up carefully, grows uglier by the day, its rotting teeth gaping horribly, the eye sockets darkly caving in, the sickly skin wearing off. Yet still it wears that wicked smile that speaks of is triumph. Eventually. Mirroring our ugliness all the time, growing more horrible_ doling out to us days to make merry living up to the ‘progressive image.’

The greatest support this regime claims it enjoys is of that magical, mythical, fantastical entity: the Silent Majority. Then what to make of my neighbour next door, my colleague at work, the bystander there, the patient in the doctor’s waiting room and the client at the barber’s_both cleanshaven and bearded_ who, that fateful day, confided in me the pain, the disapproval, the outrage over the incident. What to make of the numerous nameless callers on private TV channels whose voices choked with tears as they spoke? What about the numerous messages I, and so many of my friends received soaked in blood and tears? I think: The ‘silent majority’ is the repressed and gagged silenced majority in the grip of the empowered, favoured and heavily petted elitist U.S-educated minority.

How about that majority all the way back in 1947 that chanted on the streets that battle cry ‘Pakistan ka matlab kiya, La ilaha ill allah’. How about the majority that was gathered that day in February 1948, intently listening to the sound of their Great Leader who declared, “ It is my belief that our salvation lies in following the golden rules of conduct set for us by our great law-giver, the Prophet (S) of Islam. Let us lay the foundations of our democracy on the basis of truly Islamic ideals and principles.”

And again, at Karachi the same year, he said to the tens of thousands before him: “I do not understand a section of the people who deliberately want to make propaganda that the constitution of Pakistan would not be made on the basis of the Shariah (Islamic Law). Islamic principles are as applicable today as they were 1300 years ago… Islam has taught equality, justice and fairplay to everybody… Let us make it (the Shariah) the future constitution of Pakistan. We shall make it and we shall show it to the world.”

That same leader, while addressing a gathering at Waziristan outlining the Frontier policy had said on April 17, 1948: “Pakistan has no desire to unduly interfere with your freedom. On the contrary, Pakistan wants to help you and make you, as far as it lies in our power, self-reliant and self-sufficient and help in your educational, social and economic uplift… We Musalmans believe in One God, one Book and one Prophet (S). So we must stand united as one nation. In unity lies strength; united we stand, divided we fall.”

It becomes poignant here. Fast forward to 2007. The idealism, the aspirations,, the dreams, the promises, the Cause lived and died for all dashed to the ground in one fell sweep. The Original Sin of the cannon-fodder at the Lal Masjid was the demand that the country live up to its original ethos. After a long wait in vain of over sixty years. So is the Original Sin of the militants at Swat held at point-blank range by the armed patriots. The vision betrayed, the dream gone sour_ who then are the patriots and who the traitors? Answers, anyone?

The voices of resentment at the great betrayal find no representation, no comforting echo in the corridors of power. They are leaderless, alientated, ostracized, disowned and even demonized. They are curtly told they do not belong. Just as the president had explained to us that the girls at the Jamia Hafsa shouldn’t get our sympathies as they didn’t belong to Islamabad, but had come from the ‘frontier.’ (Is the ‘frontier’ to be acknowledges as a part of the state? Does it still belong then?)

I remember the cartoon I saw in a history book dating back to Mussolini’s fascist Italy of the 1930s. It showed Mussolini with his hand held tight over the crater of a smouldering volcano, at the bottom of which could be read, “this is going to hurt you much more than it hurts me now.”

Every time I see the newsflash with headlines of suicide attacks and killer bombs going off in the northern areas, I remember the volcano. The volcano spewing out and unleashing its hurt, fire, tears and blood. I feel sorry for the victims and the lives lost. And I feel sorry about our inability to learn the rules of thumb: when you do not let the other be, when you do not let him live his way in his own home but impose an alien agenda with blind brute-force, you forget that it is going to hurt you too. You forget the grind of God’s mills.

I feel sorry also for those who discriminate dead bodies into definitive labels of the denigrating ‘killed’ and the respectful ‘martyred’_ definitions coined abroad. I laugh at the folly of him who raises himself on the pedestal of the judge, issuing the moral verdict of who to ennoble with ‘martyrdom’ and who to demean and sneer at with ‘killed’_ the pygmy looking ridiculous in his clumsy giant’s robe, forgetting that death does not discriminate but levels all; Forgetting the Ultimate Judgement that laughs to scorn the cleverly manipulated Machiavellian definitions; Forgetting that the universal criterion lives on still, deep inside men’s hearts_ cornered, muffled… yet resisting, surviving and unsettling.

The echoes of the bloodbath in Lal Masjid resound audibly in the Silence as our ears are deafened by the noise of bombs, gunfire and bullets like hail. What with all of the State’s intelligent designs to wipe out the memories, to obliterate the past in the way Orwell had predicted, the national tragedy resonates. Quietly, yet hugely it hulks in the background. Like the ethereal fragrance emanating from the much-frequented grave in Rojhan Mazari_ gently, quietly, subtly suffusing into the soul, touching a deep-buried cord somewhere in the recesses of the heart. In our desperate attempts to make light of the crime committed, to demonize and caricaturize the Immortalized by churning out State-approved versions of the tale, we forget that History’s Judgement is stringent and unrelenting. History refuses to paint up and whitewash. It refuses to leave the pages blank. And it is History’s Verdict that will outlast us all.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The War Within Islam


Years ago, a U.S diplomat was quoted as saying, "We do not want a war with Islam but we want a war within Islam." It seemed at that time a maniacal pronouncement of a fanatic neocon whom one could conveniently make an exception for.

Today, I understand the matter-of-fact honesty of the maniac. And I acknowledge the truth about the world_ that it is perhaps the maniac who has the last word, after all. It is the maniac whose 'Word Goes,' as Bush Sr. had said so long ago. And it sends chills down my spine.

There is method in the madness. It happened piece by piece in a well-orchestrated sequence. Sadly, though, as we get sucked into the black hole, we forget to understand the method till it makes us pieces in the jigsaw, in the grip of an intelligent madness.

The Shia-Sunni divide threatens to gape wider everyday in Iraq as casualties on both sides mount. Lebanon, a year after the Hezbollah's stunning resistance to the Israeli attack, is at war with 'extremists' in its own ranks. Pakistan grows restive in its self-defeating ordeal of warring on its own frontlines. The Afghan regime pleads help to keep its homegrown group of 'extremists', the Taliban, at bay. A cracked up Palestine drifts further apart, its bloodlines severed. To many the spectacle of a Muslim world at war against itself proves a pathological predisposition of Muslims for conflict and violence, and that the 'problem' is with Islam. The deeper diggers wonder, in this madness of Muslim pitted against Muslim, who really is the enemy? Whose agenda, really?

The echoes of the prophecy of engineering a war within Islam are loud. But Muslims, ironically, have heads stuck firmly in the sand in their refusal to see the pattern, the unhidden hand. Neo-colonialism unveils its new façade, its latest tactic_ the war within. We play to the tune as we busy ourselves defining and tagging each other in labels tailor-made to create rifts keeping us apart, making those of our own, 'the other'. We have moderates, fanatics, fundamentalists, traditionalists, conservatives, liberals, extremists, Islamists, enlightened ones, moderates and secularists. Words invented to pit one against the 'other', to fragment, alienize. Words invented to give a name, a type, a brand, a separation and perpetuation to one's approach to Islam. Yet Islam bears no shades of grey. Truth stands clear, gleaming boldly. Its essence is Unity, Oneness_ not just as an aspect of belief in God but as a trait irradiated through all its facets.

The brand-names and labels are a phenomenon extrinsic and even odious to very fabric of Islam. It wreaks havoc on its essential unity of idea and geography as Muslims find themselves forced to choose an 'ism' for themselves to define their interpretation of Islam.

The many faces on T.V talk shows professing a 'moderate' affiliation to Islam reflect a total ignorance of the very nature of Islam as a holistic, comprehensive way of life and not a theory, a dogma, a means to procure a narrow agenda. It is not and cannot be broken up into an 'ism': "Enter into Islam completely," Says the Quran.

The 'isms' proliferate as the West plays its moves. "The war is between our values and theirs", said Bush. Musharraf echoed the idea in local context, "The fight is between the forces of extremism and the forces of moderation." It smells divisive, cutting across the body-politic, erecting thick walls and barriers. A war within Islam.

As Olmert and Blair take turns shaking hands with Abbas smiling into the camera triumphantly, Hamas-ruled Gaza struggles in the fetters of blockades, embargoes, sanctions, air-strikes and raids. "The terrorists must be isolated," the Fatah-Israel representatives announced. "We can have no links with those who support extremism," they righteously upheld. And so, the hordes of impoverished refugees in Gaza have their fates written down in alien hands.

Ask the man on the street. A Palestinian blogger writes, " Hamas has a lot of support among the Palestinian people. They're genuine, of the people and for the people. And Abbas has a gang of traitors and corrupt criminals with him who have no support among us. In fact, if any one's a terrorist, it's those many in Abbas's gang." Wasn't it democracy and freedom the West proudly believed in? Lo and behold, an American analyst defines his select brand of democracy and the punishment for choosing the 'wrong kind' of it: "This is the punishment for Palestinians for having chosen extremists as their representatives."

So far so good. Before the Palestinians can even begin asking for a state of their own, they have a fixing up of their incorrigibly divided state to undertake. A long, long haul. Self-determination, freedom, independence, peace and all that jazz can wait… While behind the camera-smiles and handshakes, Israel opportunely busies itself building up its arsenal with dollars and weapons flowing in from its greatest ally.

In Pakistan the Lal Masjid crackdown has, among other things, helped sharpen and deepen the cracks. The enlightened moderates smoked out the bearded, capped, veiled, Quran-carrying innocents and justified the 'moral crusade' as a noble mission of the liberal-moderate forces against the 'extremists.' The label did it all. Many felt shy of sympathizing with the butchered inmates for fear of the detested 'extremist' or 'pro-extremist' tag. Those who wear the label proud, however, seethe in resentment_ raw, wounded, restive, desperate… In a hadith of the Prophet (S), one of the signs of the Day of Judgement is that 'the killer would not know why he kills, nor would the victim know why he is killed.'

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, highly regarded by the public, has struggled for years to stem the tide of secularism imposed on the country through their formidable intellectual struggle and a peacefully conducted social movement. It suffers extra-judicial kidnappings, deportations, arrests and crackdowns. Moderates versus Extremist, again.

In Somalia, after decades of anarchy, the Islamic Courts Union moved in and won over the public by its scrupulous rule and its swift progress to return the country to stability and peace. Alleged to be 'supporting Al Qaeda', Ethiopian troops backed and financed by the U.S moved in . The Somali 'moderates' allied with the advancing army against the 'orthodox' Islamists of the Union of Islamic Courts fighters. The death toll and atrocities mounted sharply. The fighters and the fought, the falling corpses were largely Muslim.

Who made the labels? Who tagged them on? Who gives the definitions? Who thrives on the divisions? From Baghdad to Palestine to Lebanon, Egypt, Afghanistan and Pakistan, it is the U.S-backed undemocratic regimes, the string puppets doing the dirty jobs for self-perpetuation. The puppeteers pronounce 'A War Within Islam', and sit back to watch the spectacle_ Muslim against Muslim, moderate versus extremist, liberal versus fundamentalist_ and congratulate themselves. Finally, they can take a back seat and let the Great Game go on. 'Muslims are pathologically conflict-prone, you know…'

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Mission: Neutralization


Maryam Sakeenah

Daniel Pipes, in his article ‘Fixing Islam’ in ‘The Jerusalem Post,’ writes: “The global War on Terror cannot be won through counter terrorism alone; it also requires convincing the terrorists and their sympathizers that their goals and methods are faulty and bound to fail… the immediate war-goal must be to destroy militant Islam, and the ultimate war goal the modernization of Islam.”

That was shortly after the Crusade received its name in 2001. Pipes, an undisguised Zionist, works hard for the establishment of the ‘Islamic Progress Institute’ (IPI) in order to ‘articulate a moderate, modern and pro-American view’. This he hopes to achieve with the help of unnamed ‘anti-Islamist Muslims.’

He need not have taken the pains. All over the Muslim world, the media as well as the leaders (in most cases implanted and perpetuated by the West) have taken up Pipes’ mission with self-righteous zeal.

The mission to neutralize the Muslim mind, to create in it a battleground of conflict and confusion between the traditions he has held on to and the modernity he must submit his ancient convictions to. A war within Islam. The dictator on his cushioned seat and the anchor on the T.V show have assumed the all-important roles of preacher and jurist on the unholy mission to decapitate Islam.

And in winning ways. The mission is heavily financed, designed and overseen by the approving glance of Western think-tanks. The Muslim is being told to redefine his belief and its parameters in the context of the New World Order. Islam, they say, must succumb to a more malleable, adaptable, pluralist, impotent version approved of by Western standards, posing no moral threat to its Great Game, no promise of strength to revivify the great tradition that engendered it. An Enlightened, Moderated Islam. The Islam of ‘Khuda Kay Liye’, preached with missionary zeal: a secularized, humanitarian doctrine, a spiritual theology that makes no onerous demands, that asks for no sacrifice, no blood; that tolerates, includes, allows, lets things be. Merely. The Islam that wins words of approbation by the Father of Enlightened Moderation. We are being taught how to understand Islam and how much to understand it by all the Toms, Dicks and Harrys you can think of_ especially those that do not sport an unseemly beard; those that show the skin a little more and talk Islam with a toss of their salon-styled tresses.

This is the talk-of-the-town Islam. ‘Islam is peace, tolerance, moderation. Jihad is the purification of the inner self. Jeo aur Jeenay do.’

On the other side of the divide is the cornered, muffled group all our Operations Silence cannot silence. Irritable, unsettling, unnerving… it makes an echo in the heart…

Abu Huraira (R.A) relates that the Prophet (S) said, “The best life is of the man who undertakes Jihad sitting on his steed, holding its stirrup and hastening in the land; when he hears from some direction clamour or anxious news, he runs in its direction to be killed and seeks death its haunts. Out of all the people, there is no other on a better path.” (Muslim)

The Prophet (S) said, “When you leave Fighting in Allah’s Cause, Allah will impose on you disgrace and shall not remove it till you take up Fighting in Allah’s Way again.” (Abu Daud)

The Prophet (S) said to the Companions (RA), “ ‘Soon, non-Muslim nations will pounce on you like the hunger-stricken on a food-laden tablecloth.’ The Companions asked, ‘Will we be few in number then?’ The Prophet (S) answered, ‘No! You will be great in your numbers, but you will be like foam in the water. Allah will remove your awe and fear from the hearts of your enemies and will afflict your hearts with love of the world and the fear of dying.”

The guns at G6 have fallen silent, the cries muffled. But we are faced with an overwhelming question that demands an honest confrontation with the concocted, manipulated, self-styled Islam that we made submit to ourselves.

Prattlers on peace, we feign shock and horror at the terrifying prospect of a worshipper / student being trained to use a gun while in the seminary. We forget that the holistic vision of Islam equips its upholders with necessary strength to defend its name. That in the many battles fought by the Prophet (S)’s army, prayers and swords went together and the masjid housed the Muslim arsenal. The Prophet (S) advised arrow-shooting and the martial arts be learnt and taught as a part of a Muslim upbringing. That a Muslim is not trained to be a secluded, retreated hermit but an active agent for social reform through the establishment of Islam.

While we love to tell of how the purification of the self is the greatest jihad, we shrink from quoting the myriad verses of the Quran that unequivocally talk of the use of physical strength to eradicate injustice. Ever wondered why it was thought necessary to exclude Surah Taubah from the syllabi? It takes honesty and courage to call a spade a spade:

“Sanction is given unto those who fight because they have been wronged; And indeed Allah is able to give them victory. Those who have been driven from their homes unjustly only because they said: ‘Our Lord is Allah.’ For had it not been Allah’s repelling one group by means of another, monasteries and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft-mentioned would assuredly have been pulled down. Verily, Allah helps those who help Him. Allah is Strong, Almighty.” (Surah Hajj, 40-41)

The Islam we profess is a convenient compromise, selective, sifted-out in the mesh of secularism. In the battleground of ideas, we are the ignoble side-switchers, not deserving of the nobility of holding out in the struggle.

President Bush said this was a war between ‘our values and theirs.’ At home, Musharraf has reiterated many times that the real battle is between ‘moderation and extremism.’ Years ago, the U.S think-tank RAND in its report classified Muslims into four broad categories: the ‘Fundamentalists’ who ‘reject democratic values and Western culture’, the ‘Traditionalists’ who are ‘suspicious of modernity, innovation and change’, the ‘Modernists’ who ‘want the Islamic world to become part of the global modernity’ and the ‘Secularists’ who ‘want the Islamic world to accept the separation of religion and state.’ While the latter two support the West and ought to be considered allies in the Mission, the first two classes ‘are the real enemy and deserve to be killed,’ said the report. The first two groups subscribe usually to an orthodox version of Islam. As an effective antidote to their beliefs, ‘Sufism’ must be propagated among Muslim societies as it is ‘ideal for the Western cause.’ Ideal because of its Perennialist approach, its belief in the oneness of all religions, its emphasis on the spirit alone and not the letter of the Law; on the inner self alone and not the outer milieu in the midst of which ‘Deen’ achieves its fruition, its flowering. Encage Islam within the rosary bead-string, the prayer mat, the dhikr-chanting circles, the ‘qawwalis’, the whirling dervishes in the air heavy and thick with poppy-scent. And sit easy.

But the Believer, the eternal dreamer, the coarse-clothed, dusty-haired, hardy loner still holds out, formidable, unassailable. His simple mind, his straight but firmly-rooted convictions do not cave in. His unlettered, madrassa-educated intellect isn’t seduced; his upstanding being not colonized, what with all the think-tanks, the bombs, the propaganda, the intelligence, alliances, policies, discourses_ the wiles and guiles of neo-conservatism. In the battlefield of ideas, he is the Unvanquished:

In the shadow of this monstrous monument of your power

I am buried.

Trampled in the dust, trodden on,

Bathed in sacred blood.

Alive! I herald your doom,

For I am not the dust clinging on feet

Swept off at will,

Nor the flickering candle you can blow out with your icy breath,

But an Indelible Image,

The Truth

Inscribed in the Immortal Heart of the Earth

That sleeps beneath your feet…

Waiting for the Resurrection

From beneath your very foothold

Unveiling the Hidden Hand


Maryam Sakeenah

Ear splitting blasts, gored flesh, charred limbs, corpses falling left right and centre in a steadily mounting death toll. A matter of course. Nothing to be shouting about from the rooftops.

The Quran says: “Whosoever killeth a human being, except by way of punishment for murder or spreading fitnah in the land, it shall be as if he killeth the whole of mankind, and whosoever saveth a human being it shall be as if he saveth the whole of mankind.” (5:32)

The judgement is easy to make, in fact simplistic. It’s that ‘Islamist’ again. Full stop. When a suicide bomb went off the other day, the news flash reporting it took care to specify in its 4-word content, ‘Bearded terrorist kills 9’. In this age of information influx, news flashes and alerts, there’s hardly another version to choose from. It’s the Islamists bombing the hell out of everywhere. They’re at it again. It is too obvious for any digging-in-deeper.

But a closer look is unsettling for the simplistic assumptions. In the final analysis, who is the loser? Who gains? Who suffers the ire, the renewed vigour for ‘crushing extremism’? It is the state that wins understanding and approval for its dirty methods, the powerful boost of the ‘silent majority.’ It wins solider grounds for justifying the alliance with the U.S in the War on Terror and for the militarization of our northern buffer zone of yore. It wins sympathies, concern and millions of dollars from overseas in ‘combatting the common threat.’ The crusade is powered with every bomb going off, and each time someone can say, ‘We told you so. See?’ That someone is not the Islamist.

Even when it gains him not a shred of anything at all but reasons and excuses for his enemies to use; even when it gains nothing but gusto for the War on Terror; even when it gains only disappearances and deportations to Cuba; even when it merely adds to the terror of the Terrorist apparition and no more, the Islamist goes on killing himself. An insanity we seriously believe_ the whole lot of us.

And why? There’s a clear agenda. Dr. Nasir Khan writes, “Everywhere, the media reveals a sort of preconceived image of Islam the writers intend to convey to their readers.” They intend to convey a propaganda-based image of a subhuman, archaic, barbaric creed bred out of the wilderness of the Arabian desert; a patriarchal, misogynistic, narrow cult whose followers are vile, depraved, bloodthirsty, pathologically violent gun-toting terrorists planning a global spine-chilling Hollywood-like terrorist plot. On CNN, the phobia of a grand terror conspiracy against the U.S in the making is almost palpable, systematically pumped into the viewer’s brain. “But”, writes Dr. Khan, “in view of the real power wielded by the West throughout the Middle East and beyond, the so-called ‘threat of Islam’ is really quite groundless. In fact, right-wing political manipulators and Christian fundamentalists can very easily provoke major crises between the Muslim world and the West. In fact, the global expansion of Western colonialism is the story of plunder and destruction across continents.”

The ongoing crusade unleashing terror and hate all across the globe is another feather in the cap of Western civilization. The West’s intelligence agencies and its monopoly over the media combine to form a live warring mechanism firing and pumping up the ongoing War of Ideas. The limelight, however, is not here, for it doesn’t serve The Purpose.

Consider that arsonists desecrating mosques in Bradford, setting fire to Islamic centres in Texas, bombs going off in mosques where Muslims are the minority community or hate-filled anti-Muslim wall-chalking is never an issue anywhere. But when a young protestor spontaneously cries out that British army combatants in Iraq should be killed, he gets sentenced to 27 years following a media hype about the ‘crime’. There goes ‘freedom of speech.’ Yet, it weaves a methodical pattern.

On August 5, following the U.S’s brash threats to Pakistan for real possibilities of strikes on ‘suspected targets’ within its territory, the Washington Post ran a jolting report. It said that the US intelligence estimate submitted to President Bush last month was deliberately changed to prove that Pakistan has Al Qaeda bases operating inside its territory. As a natural, foreseen consequence, the threats to attack Pakistan followed. And the Presidency aspirant Obama cashed heavily on the skewed-up report for his electoral campaign.

So much of what really is a pervasive, global threat is unreported, unexposed. The hidden hands go on pulling the strings behind the iron curtains. Claudia Nelson writes in her article ‘A Terrorist Organization’, “The CIA is a terrorist organization according to both international ands American definitions of terrorism and is guilty of engaging in unconstitutional and illegal behavior.” In her article she quotes numerous instances where the CIA was involved in shady activities. The operation in Vietnam, masterminded by the CIA, claimed 20,000 lives, often at random. In the 80s, the CIA used profits from cocaine smuggling to engineer coups and destabilization movements in Africa in which tens of thousands of civilians died. The coup in Chile bringing in the unscrupulous, violent Pinochet regime was funded and supervised by the CIA. The Cuban airline bombing in 1973 killing 73 unearthed clues pointing again to the CIA. In America itself, the CIA conducted the ‘Operation CHAOS’, which was a ‘vicious , aggressive domestic surveillance operation against anti-war activists.’ More to the CIA’s credit is the failed coup against Chavez in Venezuela in 2002 and distortions of data about Iraq to justify its occupation by the U.S. Nelson concludes, “You cannot claim to fight terrorism, or claim to be the beacon of democracy with an organization like the CIA in your ranks.”

V.K Singh, a high-ranking army officer in India worked as a senior officer in the Research and Analysis Wing_ India’s powerful intelligence agency ‘RAW.’ Singh writes about the organization, “There is a lack of any accountability and misuse of the agency by its political masters… there is absolutely no parliamentary monitoring… the chiefs have unlimited powers and are not accountable to anyone at all.” He further mentions a RAW official Rabinder Singh, who was a CIA mole working in the RAW. After his hidden motives came to light, no investigation was carried out, or was deliberately delayed. The spy conveniently defected to the U.S, alongwith top-secret RAW documents, including ‘sensitive information on neighboring South Asian countries.’ There was no follow-up to this infamous case either.

Shortly after the spate of suicide attacks began in Pakistan, the national press ran an important report regarding ‘proofs of foreign involvement’ in the bombings. The Nation reports, “In the flood of suicide attacks in the aftermath of the Lal Masjid operation, the country’s intelligence has found proofs of Indian involvement in the militancy.” The official revealing the fact called the proofs ‘strong, irrefutable and rock-hard.’ “The investigation into the killing of the Chinese nationals also point a finger at the same country. There is also significant proof of the involvement of the RAW in the Baloch nationalist uprising. The neighbouring country’s intelligence agencies are ‘pouring in huge funding’ for the purpose, the official further stated.”

A fortnight ago in Peshawar, a terrorist gang of three brothers was busted. The convicts confessed to “being involved in a series of blasts in the city and sabotage activities including two bomb blasts in bus terminals. They were planning more of the same on trade centres, banks, important public buildings. There was also evidence of their involvement in the killing of the Chinese on Charsadda road. The netted terrorists had backing by the intelligence agency of a foreign country.” (The Nation)

The news item bore a tiny header eclipsed somewhere in the odd inside pages of the paper. However, this was the only paper carrying the sensitive details. Luckily, the report had caught my eye. The paper failed to add, however, that the terrorists this time were ‘unbearded.’

There’s an audible silence, a hush that gives away a great deal. We’re tight-lipped, being pawns in the game_ sans sovereignty. Just like the corpses trodden underground and the bloodied colour painted up on the walls of the idelibly 'Lal' Masjid, the shocking revelation is cast aside, the lesser said the better. The dead are gone and their mourners hushed up. The blasts don’t hurt, after all_ they help win converts to the wisdom of Enlightened Moderation and the anti-terror crusade. Blasts in the violet air keep the crusade charged for the propaganda to thrive in and the ideas of a ‘pro-West’ Muslimhood to take root. They keep the dollars coming as we shake hands and smile at the camera for another press release, another ‘confidence building measure.’ Who said Pakistan was First?