Jingoism and xenophobia do not help

Published: October 20, 2011
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The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army, and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto

The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army, and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto

Jingoism and xenophobia have never helped in solving anything at all, let alone repairing, maintaining and growing relations between countries. Yet the shrillness coming out of the mouths of various anchors i.e. loudmouths these days, is mind-numbing. Indeed, the fact that most of those indulging in this jingoism are considered close to the Establishment is mystifying to say the least.

For what could the motives of the powers be? Is encouraging xenophobia against other countries, specially those with which they have had a symbiotic relationship, going back decades, good for either party? Is it bravado that makes them do what they do? Indeed, let the anchors alone, just look at what the army chief himself has said just two days ago while briefing certain parliamentarians herded to GHQ: “We are not Iraq or Afghanistan”. Meaning what? That they didn’t have bums but we do?

As I asked last week, what pray will we do with our nuclear bombs? Even if America were to, say, attack the Haqqanis in North Waziristan? Bomb Bagram airbase? Far better, isn’t it, to say if you must say anything at all: ‘If the US brings boots on the ground we will fight back, as will our people’. There is no need to say even this because it is understood that if you attack a country you should expect resistance. What is the point in flaunting nuclear ability to a country that has the same a thousand-fold?

General Kayani also said: “They will have to think 10 times” (before the Americans come in). It seems to me that they have thought about it at least eight times thus far; let us hope and pray that better sense prevails all around and ‘they’ don’t have to think about it two more times. Brinkmanship doesn’t help either, specially when all the indicators are that Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves are in a steep fall and, as Khurram Husain put it in this newspaper of record recently, will we now convert our F-16s to CNG?!

Anyway, amid all the uncertainty that stares us in the face re: everything including ‘talking with our own people’ (they may be yours sirs, they certainly aren’t mine) the most recent news about Pakistan and India increasing bilateral trade and Pakistan granting MFN status to India is as welcome as any news could be in these fraught times. More importantly, since the army establishment runs our foreign policy, the present warming of ties also points to the most welcome possibility that the Pakistani Deep State has finally realised that it cannot afford to carry on an ‘India-centric’ policy whilst at the same time alienating its main supplier of the weapons of war, the United States, that help it maintain its belligerence.

Which is good and well, as my friend Ashraf Afridi used to say, for it is about time that the two nuclear-armed countries brought some good sense to their relationship so that the poor and hapless people of both can go about the business of living, in peace. But wait. Is the Deep State really on board when internet blogs and sites such as Pakistan Ka Khuda Hafiz (echoing the Commando’s words during his televised parting kick to the country on the day he was thrown out of office), and Paknationalists, widely believed to be in the pay of the Deep State and its ‘agencies’, are still posting poisonous propaganda against all of the Establishment’s bug-bears, in order of present-day precedence: Democracy in Pakistan; the United States; India and Afghanistan?

Or is it simply the case that, as per usual in the Land of the Pure, there are wheels within independently-sprung wheels within the Deep State, running in different directions at differing speeds, confounding even those who think they know all? That some ‘agencies’ are in favour of a soft approach towards problems they themselves created, while others prefer the hard line?

Be which as it may, the elected government must now aggressively pursue peace with India leaving no space for the Deep State to queer the pitch once again. This can only happen if all the political players (no, not all of those invited to the quite silly APC) are co-opted into the peacemaking process, specially in view of Mr Nawaz Sharif’s recent warm and conciliatory remarks about India for which he was pilloried by All The Deep State’s Men And All The Deep State’s Women.

It is not going to be easy considering the shrill jingoism and xenophobia mentioned earlier, and which has not spared even senior journalists considered beyond the pale by the Deep State. Case in point: the pointed and quite rude remarks about, let us not be afraid to name him, Najam Sethi, by, let us not be afraid to name him, Mubasher Lucman (Dunya TV), much talked about recently for his fascinating show featuring Ali Azmat.

And what are the charges that Lucman lays at Sethi’s door? That he is pro-American because he wants American nationality. What preposterous nonsense. Why should Najam and Jugnu Mohsin, his wife, want American nationality when (Najam being an American toady!) they can walk in and out of the United States at will, yet live in the familiarity that is theirs in their own country? Seriously, are there no checks on what is said on television? And, by the by, might we please have a fuller list of Pakistani TV channels which have or have had access to foreign funding?

A word or two about Ali Azmat on the Lucman show. If you haven’t seen the recording of it at http://bit.ly/ppozTt please see it NOW. Do you believe this? I mean the songs “Imagine” and “Let it be” were all part of a conspiracy by the wicked West to subjugate us poor things? 440 Hz was the frequency chosen by the Tavistock Institute (which was set up by a member of British royalty!) to tune instruments because this frequency affects the mind? I mean what absolute tripe is this?

Hoar choopo gannay!

Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2011. 

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Reader Comments (22)

  • hillbilly
    Oct 20, 2011 - 11:34PM

    its an amazing vitriolic against army by an ex-soldier that begs a question;
    what happened sir ? were you denied promotion ?

    Recommend

  • John B
    Oct 20, 2011 - 11:58PM

    But they get votes for the vested interests.

    I am yet to understand what distinguishes PPP from PML N or Q, or MQM or PTI etc.

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  • faraz
    Oct 21, 2011 - 12:08AM

    These right wing media nutjobs help to jack up the dollar value during negotiations with US. Media corporations know, more than anyone else, the state of the economy and the effect of sanctions on a bankrupt state. Jingoism is just a tool to fool the masses. Conspiracy theorists help to trim down the IQ points of our young generation and effectively defend the ill deeds of the elites. In the end, it’s all about control over domestic resources.

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  • Parvez
    Oct 21, 2011 - 12:11AM

    Interesting as always. Who takes Ali Azmat’s views on all things here-and-there seriously ??

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  • fee fee the bird,
    Oct 21, 2011 - 12:17AM

    @Major sahab
    u know better because were part of that deep state i dont know what is meaning of this
    deeeeeep state is..

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  • Cynical
    Oct 21, 2011 - 12:44AM

    @ Kamran Shafi

    Sir, it’s a kind of conffession of a left-wing peacenik.
    Being a hardcore pacifist,I used to look down upon ‘Army men’ (regardless of their country of origin) and to me they were nothing more than a bunch of mercenaries who are paid to kill.
    But after many readings of some autobiographies,reminiscence,articles,interviews of ex-army men ( of different nationalities) I have a feeling that they (army men) are the ones who possibly have the greatest respect for a human life and they are the least inclined to fire a bullet or press a button of death.
    Recommend

  • Cynical
    Oct 21, 2011 - 12:47AM

    @hillibilly

    Your comment is just that, hillibilly!

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  • Truth Seeker
    Oct 21, 2011 - 2:37AM

    @hillbilly:
    I really don’t know whether he was denid promotion or not; but for sure, because of Army’s
    intransigencies with the realities of the ground, Pakistan has been relegated to the status of a Third World Country.
    Now you know as to how some anchors get hold of ‘ exclusive footages’. You don’t have to do real work for these exclusive links, if there are ‘deep state’ people to help you.

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  • Emmon Khan
    Oct 21, 2011 - 3:26AM

    If non-sense bhaands like Ali Azmat become our foreign policy experts being invited to discuss issues of international import and our standing in the world, then Pakistan has hit rock-bottom sirs!

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  • Bashir Ahmed
    Oct 21, 2011 - 3:47AM

    Dear hillbilly: Talk about what the author said, not who he is. From what I know he was a very good soldier who resigned after East Pakistan.

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  • Oct 21, 2011 - 5:19AM

    Just amazing how many times Express Tribune will suppress my comments, despite a lack of abuse and smears like those by Indian and Western commentators that so often get published.

    Start acting like a ‘free media’ and practice ‘freedom of expression’ by allowing comments and voices that do not agree with your positions – or is your ownership by Western news organizations getting in the way?

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  • Babur Chughtai
    Oct 21, 2011 - 5:23AM

    Dear Major (R) Kamran Shafi, you are defaming ordinary Pakistani citizens who are running the two Pakistani websites that you mentioned. Both are patriotic and committed to Pakistan. Every post by them is staunchly pro-Pakistan. You can disagree of course and that’s your right as well, as much as it is theirs to be very protective about their country. So when you say they are being paid by someone, unless you have evidence you are simply opening yourself and exposing this newspaper to an expensive defamation lawsuit. The Express Tribune should not become party to this slander.

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  • AA
    Oct 21, 2011 - 5:26AM

    I thought I had heard all possible conspiracy theories Pakistanis could come up with until I heard Ali Azmat on Lucman’s show, after reading this article. He blows your mind. If there were scholastic degrees to be awarded for conjuring up fantastic conspiracy theories, Ali Azmat easily deserves a Ph.D.

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  • No Nonsense
    Oct 21, 2011 - 7:34AM

    @hillbilly:
    Maybe you are right. But it is his habit. He picks up target and then goes on lashing away for some time. Until some other attracts his fancy. Once upon a time he lampooned the foreign service. That, too, was because he could not get an entry into that service like another ex-mjor, Ayaz Amir. The best he got was in the Info ministry to become a press counselor (or minister) at the Pakistan High commission in London. Now he has picked on Musharraf and th Deep State.But the sheer repetition of the same epithets “commando” and “Deep State” have become nauseating which he, as an Information Service member ought to have realized.
    Just because of this monotony some of his sensible observations fail to clinch.

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  • Prometheus
    Oct 21, 2011 - 9:04AM

    The amount of speculation that goes on the Television these days is quite frankly, amusing. I do not go by the usualy media bashing for no apparent reason, but here you have severe case of a majority that does believe in conspiracy theories. One can never say that there is not some degree of truth to them for there is no evidence in their favour, hence they cannot be falsified ( as the conspiracy theorist like to put it ) and therefore they are true?

    Amazingly I just transcended all the degrees of rationality! Who needs evidence when you everyone shares in the same delusion?

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  • Uzair
    Oct 21, 2011 - 3:55PM

    (I hope ET publishes this impassioned defence of Mr Shafi)

    I have to call BS on the comments agains Mr Shafi by the posters above. Kamran Shafi and his like (Ayaz Amir, Nadeem Farooq Paracha) are the true patriots who shed tears of blood for our homeland. The ills and problems and problem-causing people they point out are very real, and not just a threat but have actively destroyed our country, both materially and more importantly socially and intellectually.
    It is a time-honored tradition of right-wing conservatives to label those who question the status quo as “traitors”… the Pakistani ghairat-brigades are not unique in this, a very good external example is the neo-cons and FOX News in USA, who pounce on anyone who even remotely questions US policy and war-mongering as unpatriotic and a bad American. The common thing between the neocons and the Pakistani ghairat-brigades is that they defend the morally indefensible, all in the name of patriotism and jingoism.
    It is facetious to label Mr Shafi as anti-army, since the wrongs he points out are very real. I too come from an Army family background, and having seen the system in action agree that the Army is wrong

    Keep up the good work Mr Shafi!Recommend

  • Khan
    Oct 21, 2011 - 4:31PM

    @Agnostic Muslim:
    Your comments made me laugh … Express Tribune has censored my comments many times whenever I do straight talk against Establishhhhhhment or Army at times… They were printing earlier after May 2nd incident … but I guess the dust has settled down and our professionals are keeping a tab on them. So I can guarantee you that its not a question of Western Organization as you said.
    I have family members in Armed forces and being a patriotic Pakistani I always try to speak what I see is truth even if its against those people who are pulling the strings in Pakistan. Alas free speech is something doesn’t exist in our country if you are not influential.
    ET should print every thing one says as its not their article or own opinion section but comments by ordinary people if its not personal attack on any one.

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  • Khan
    Oct 21, 2011 - 4:36PM

    @hillbilly:
    I second your comments … in professional institutes, politics exists not just in Pakistan and when some one is as outspoken, intelligent and gem like person as Mr Shafi is, seeing our internal and foreign policy I bet his bosses could never let him succeed. After all it needs a big heart to promote a junior who is more intelligent than his boss.Recommend

  • Oct 22, 2011 - 5:03PM

    Dear Sir, It is incidental that your article and “Pakistan’s non- ‘anti-India’ generation” by Arsla Jawaid are together on the Opinion page. I agree and welcome both these articles for the truth expressed. But the fact is that to day overwhelmingly the comments on Dawn or Tribune by educated Pakistan based commentators confirm that the poison injected by Gen Zia and petro dollar backed Wahhabi thinking has gone so deep in the minds of people that they refuse to come out from the ravines of hate for India or any other Muslim sect. As for the vested interests are concerned be assured that as this hatred is their ticket to power why would they permit things to change. The present education system will not let this happen. I wonder if this will reach you.

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  • Ali Tanoli,
    Oct 22, 2011 - 5:56PM

    hahahahaha Oh man u guys today …..

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  • Kamran Shafi
    Oct 23, 2011 - 2:28AM

    @Babur Chughtai: One would welcome a suit in a court of law, my friend, if only for the reason that then these sites, and the people who run them, will have to make a complete disclosure as to the sources of their funding; how at least one of them was hired by PTV during the dictator Musharraf’s reign, and other such. Indeed what he meant when he proudly announced on his website that his PR company specialised in ‘IMMACULATE DECEPTION’, i.e., LYING and DECEIVING unsuspecting people. Remember too, that you do not have to be violent or jingoistic to be patriotic. And always remember the words of the wise Samuel Johnson: ‘Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel’?

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  • Munir
    Oct 23, 2011 - 10:48PM

    Everyone in Islamabad knows who is behind Mr. AQ, Mr. ZH and their likes and who is funding them. Let them go to the court, that will be the day. By the way, the author is not alone in saying that, Cafe Pyala and many other sites have published extensive exposes of these so called patriots.

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