Saturday, November 17, 2007

Pakistani Rockstar On Emergency

Thankfully, by now, the US is "beginning to understand that Musharraf has become part of the problem" (New York Times article). But Benazir still holds the keys to the hearts of the Western media as the 'saviour for democracy', which is disturbing.

Here, I publish a Pakistani rockstar's insight on the situation in Pakistan in its entirety - thanks to Emad's blog where I found it.

Salman Ahmad was the founder of the internationally acclaimed Pakistani rock band Junoon and has gone solo now. He is also a social activist and the UN goodwill ambassador for HIV/AIDS.

As the world watches, Pakistan, a nation armed with nuclear weapons, descends into political chaos, much attention has been given to two leaders competing for power – the current dictator, General Pervez Musharraf, and the media-savvy Benazir Bhutto. The White House, for the moment, appears to be backing Musharraf as its best bet in the so-called "war on terror," while the world media and the western liberal elite see Bhutto as a democratic savior for a country mired in Islamic fundamentalism.

Both fail to recognize the core of the problem that plagues Pakistani politics and society.l believe that without a strong and independent judiciary,Pakistan will be forever at the mercy of power grabbing dictators and politicians.Its the lack of oversight and institutional accountability which leads to the coups and counter coups and helps perpetuate a constant state of instability in the country.

As an artist and a social activist I have worked extensively with both Musharraf and Bhutto's governments on peace initiatives and social uplift themes before, and have been disillusioned by their lack of commitment and political will to get any real work done while spending most of their time in consolidating their power bases.

On several occasions after September 11th, I was invited to General Musharraf's house in Islamabad, and was surprised to see him even join me onstage in concert to help support a united national anti-extremist front. I,like many others of my generation,initially believed and supported his commitment to introduce a new era of "enlightened moderation" in Pakistan, a nation that was hijacked by religious fanatics during the American-backed military dictatorship of General Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s.

Unfortunately General Musharraf forgot that artists like myself are not seduced by presidential palaces or official praise. We had supported him for his promise of fighting extremism,bringing accountability into politics,opening up a free and independent media and reducing the immoral gap between Pakistan's rich and poor communities.No amount of political song and dance or governmental fear-mongering can make us look the other way while he imposes emergency rule,intimidates the media, dismantles the judiciary and muzzles any form of dissent against his flawed vision of democracy which is doomed to fail without the respect for civil institutions.

And yet Benazir Bhutto is no savior. The queen of hypocrisy and media manipulation, she has managed to hypnotize Western liberal classes with her false claims to represent progressive elements in the Muslim world. Ms. Bhutto is a charlatan and a false prophet of democracy. How can she insist on being a democrat while selfishly appointing herself life chairperson of the Pakistan people's party? Her years as Pakistan's prime minister witnessed staggering levels of corruption and billion-dollar graft that left even the most cynical Pakistanis speechless. Benazir's own niece and sister in law accuse her of conspiring to murder her own brother,Murtaza,who was becoming a thorn for her government and a real challenge to her power during her second term as prime minister.She continues to see Pakistan as her personal feudal fiefdom to be pillaged and plundered at will and threatens to bring back the rule of the gangster rather than the rule of law.

During the late nineties I recorded a song called "Accountability" [YouTube link] along with a music video that satirized Pakistani politicians like Bhutto whose corruption scandals were being reported in international publications like The New York Times and Newsweek. Her government's response was to ban the music video and threaten my life. In the years since Bhutto fled the country to escape investigation of her family's corrupt activities, her greed to regain power has blinded her from the genuine struggle being waged by Pakistanis on behalf of true democracy. One of her own party members,the lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan, who won the case for the restoration of the Chief justice of the supreme court, still languishes in jail along with thousands of others while Benazir attends diplomatic receptions and makes speeches about freedom and liberty. Earlier this year,while lawyers and human rights activists faced injury and death for standing up to Musharraf's authoritarian regime, she was sipping lemonade on the sunny beaches of Dubai waiting for her go ahead from Washington.

So if neither the path of the military strongman nor the path of the feudal democrat serves the needs of Pakistan, what is an alternative model? The answer comes from within the genesis of Pakistan's freedom movement:One needs to only look at Pakistan's founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah's struggle and sacrifice as a clear example of legal and political activism.Jinnah ,belonging to the Muslim middle class of India,was a strict constitutional lawyer,and an exellent blend of both Islamic and Western values of social justice.60 years on, the vast majority of Pakistanis still look back at him as being the best role model for Pakistani politics.Although secular in outlook he quoted his inspiration to be Prophet Muhammad,who he recalled as being the greatest law giver in history.Tenacious and uncorruptible to the core,Jinnah, sacrificed his life and property arguing the case for Pakistan and won independance from the British imperialists.The US and its allies need to unequivocally support civil society:the Pakistani supreme court judges, lawyers,journalists and human rights activists who are fighting to protect the rule of law.That in itself is the best weapon against the extremists and will also provide a safeguard against other adventurous leaders.

Shakespeare warned that the first instinct of a dictator is to "kill the lawyers." He was right. It is the lawyers and the Judiciary who are the hope and the future of Pakistan. Let's stand by their side and not surrender to the Pharoahs and the false prophets, whether they are clothed in a military uniform or a stylish Hermes scarf.


Anonymous said...

mullah cimoc say tribal elders in waziristan all say same thing.

look like benazir working as agent in place for western intel. cia and british seeking to depose musharaff (or chastize severely him ) for refuse commiting the war crime against him tribal people in NWFP.

this walking coup all the concoct in washington dc and him cia agent write the script.

neocon spy in whitehouse and pentagon him wanting benazir for puppet while cia control all and mass the murder of the tribes.

usa media so control for keep usa people the ignorant. but usa be punish even now. him daughter take the LBT (low back tattoo) and slut have him sex with every man, even usa gang member. this the true punish for ameriki let wicked to killing so many him muslim.

for see slut pic of benazir click on this link:

Nubeals said...

That's not a picture of Benazir Bhutto...

Bilal Chaudhry said...

right he is, SO damn right!!!

Osman Ali Khairi said...

I couldn't agree more. It's like he's taken the words out of my mouth. I'm still sad that Benazir didn't die in the suicide attack. Geez.

Abd-ur-Rehman Mustafa said...

spot on.

Omar Naeem Malik said...

the only thing missing is that in the last paragraph, imran khan should be in the list of saviors....:P

Nubeals said...

I don't have anything against Imran Khan - in fact he may make just the kind of leader that is needed, but the thing is, like i mentioned in one of my other posts, that power corrupts the soul. Mushy boy is the perfect example of that. He started out with the right kind of ideals, or so it seemed. Now after tasting the strength of power being both chief of army and president and realising he may lose both, he is just trying to hold on to it. As far as I am concerned, I don't have much faith in anyone. They all let us down sooner or later. I wish Jinnah had hung around longer like Lee in Singapore to set us on the right path.

Btw, here's a video on public views pointing towards support for Imran Khan:
(Thanks Usman for sharing it.)

Bilal Chaudhry said...

but mushi boy had the power of army.......imran khan in the other place will only have the power given to him by the people and only for 5 years.......unlike mushi he wont have a choice of 'WHEN' to step down........if imran khan goes bad......after 5 years people will know not to vote for him.......atleast a new guy will remain loyal to his beliefs for the first few years of his rule just like mushi boy.......and souls corruption takes a lil longer time so by that time democracy would bring him down ;)...since there wont b any army involved here hopefully.....or thats what i think :s

Sohaib Athar said...

Imran Khan has the power of teh SEX APPEAL! :D

Jamal Cheema said...

i loved the video and was surprised i neva came across it b4.. was it banned on tv or something????

Hamzah Hassan said...

yaar he is very very right.
totally in agreement with what he says, too bad that this didn't feature in TIME as well.
that said.. its interesting to note he never mentions his past as Junoon... only himself.
whats the story there eh :-S

Jainita Dadlani said...

meh. there are problems with LKY's method too. all about the developmentalism for sure. but there's got to be more than just providing material needs now.

i've been following the political fiasco here and there...don't entirely get it, but it's interesting nevertheless