Saturday, November 18, 2006

Hail to the Quaid...the one in London!
Yesterday was MMA's day of protest against the brothelisation of Pakistan, as always MMA had waited till Friday to protest, it’s easier for them to march the madrassah students out into streets after Friday prayers. There were sizeable demonstrations across the country but what happened in Karachi was truly astonishing. The MQM anticipating MMA demonstrations decided to hold its own rally that completely overwhelmed the MMA demonstrations. The MQM rally was also a logistical masterstroke, the MQM sent some of its people to the Gurumandir area before friday prayers and they started diverting traffic to other routes from mid-afternoon even though the rally itself was in the evening. The MMA people gathered outside different mosques after friday prayers but found that the roads had already been taken over by the MQM and they had no way of getting to the main MMA demonstration at Gulshan, so these mullahs just kept on standing outside the mosques, denouncing the US, and soon dispersed. And that wasn't the end of it, the MQM then sent its people on motorbikes (many with women) across the city with MQM flags. The MQM demonstration itself was huge and was quoted by many TV channels as being the largest gathering of women in recent history. The best part was Altaf, the mad Quaid, saying: 'The MMA promised to resign if the Bill passed, why haven't they? Come on MMA stick to your word. And if the MMA resigns the MQM promises to only appoint women for those seats ' (It sounded hilarious in Urdu, especially in Altaf's sarcastic tone).

Now I'm no big of the MQM, I hated the way they took advantage of students in the 90's and handed them all guns (Disclosure: I'm a Mohajir and I personally know of people who were given guns and made 'sector incharge' so the mafia thing isn't Ahsan's Punjabi propaganda). But nobody knows how to piss off the mullahs better than these guys. The mutual hatred of these two parties goes back a long way; before the 90s Karachi was a Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) stronghold and they pretty much ran the show, now contrast that with the last elections when the MMA got only one seat from Karachi (guess which one...why Defence ofcourse!). The opposition of the MMA isn't a seasonal thing for the MQM, they really are against the policies of the mullahs identifying themselves in part as an ideological 'other'. This might not be there primary identity but it does form part of the MQM's identity.

I'm still not sure about who I would support, I've always had reservations about the MQM's use of the ethnic card, much more so then them being a mafia - and they really are getting a lot better at curtailing violent elements within the party. The only other option is the PPP though it’s certainly not the party that it used to be. During the last decade the PPP in trying to reassure its base (Sindh) played up its ethnic credentials and lost much support in the rest of the country. More importantly it lost sight of its own identity and even now is unable to define a clear national agenda, something it had always been good at - the party was built around Bhutto's famous slogan "roti, kapra aur makan" (translation: 'bread, clothes and shelter'). Most critically, the regionalisation of PPP has led to a fundamental change in its leadership. PPP during the Zia years was led by some of the finest intellectuals even though most of the seats were won by feudals (and many of these feudals were also reform minded) - however the political elders of the PPP have had no successors with the same intellectual vigout, their children have simply become 'urban feudals', and many of the reformist feudals were unable to instill the same values in their children and this new generation of feudals is horriffic. The PPP appears reasoned, reformist and 'modern' on a cursory glance but at its core it is very much elitist and is anything but reformist in nature. Its leaders might be well educated and speak perfect English and quote Chomsky et al to sure up their liberal credentials but they are a) disconnected from Pakistani society and b) show distaste for it.
If the MQM and PPP were TV Channels, MQM would be GEO (its staff and benefactors are MQM wallahs), and the PPP would be Business Plus (whose owner is a PPP man and also owns the Daily Times and I really fucking hate that elitist, self-righteous, condescending fucking fuck of a newspaper - its the newspaper equivalent of a young Defence auntie, house wife with an American education, talking about reform and then complaining about the maid asking for a raise' "as though Rs.3000 wasn't enough'" before going of to a feudal friend's village retreat for the weekend - its that whole guise of being liberal as though liberalism is defined by going to a party and rubbishing Bush).

Well there's always the Kisan Party (Pakistan's resident Communists).

1 comment:

Ahsan said...

my money is on faraz for the first "the PPP is disconnected from Pakistani society and shows distaste for it?no WONDER ahsan supports them" joke. however if given favorable odds, ill take farooq.

on another note, hang on alien panda. the daily times is not an "elitist, self-righteous, condescending fucking fuck of a newspaper". you're conflating the daily times with its weekly magazine good times, which i admit is frivolous defence aunty trash; and the daily times with the friday times, which i agree is self aggrandizing to a sickening degree. the daily times plays an extremely important role in that it highlights issues which others newspapers dont deem important. they were the first to get on the religious column issue, they were among the first to get on the marathon issue, and they are generally the loudest newspaper against extremism, talibanisation etc etc. the people who write for it, and edit it might well complain about maids asking for a raise, but in my humble opinion the newspaper itself doesnt suffer from the elitism of its contributors.

by the way, thanks for the rally info. this is the shit that never shows up on the front page of dawn or bbc, which is why i miss geo so goddamn much.