Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Quote of the Day

When once asked what he could infer about the Creator from the nature of the Creation,

JBS Haldane replied, "He must have been inordinately fond of beetles"

Purple Goliath Beetles
(Image Credit: Rosamund Purcell from Illumination; a Beastiary, 1986)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bettter late than never

(Image Credit: Press Information Department, Associated Press)

US secretary of Defense Robert Gates may have just given the first public apology for America's post Cold War strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. According to the New York Times,  Gates in an opinion piece in the News, stated:

...the US largely abandoned Afghanistan and cut off defense ties with Pakistan – a grave mistake driven by some well-intentioned but short-sighted US legislative and policy decisions.

He further added that

...the United States wishes to relinquish the grievances of the past

Considering the level of  mistrust among the Pakistani public with regards to the United States, this is definitely a step in the right direction. However, pushing an already war weary nation to campaign in North Waziristan is not the way to do it.

Still, it's the closest thing to a formal apology we've got. And not to mention his rather gracious interview on CNN. Let's just take it and move on.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How would you say stupid in Arabic?

Members of Pakistan's Upper House demanded on Monday that the government implement Arabic language and Quranic studies as a compulsory part of the curriculum and include a "uniform system based on Quran and Sunnah for all institutions, whether in the public or private sector." Considering the current education crisis (Pakistan receives the "lowest" score on education index score of any country outside of Africa, has an adult literacy rate of 55% and a dismal net primacy school enrollment of 56%), it is heartening to see interest in national education. However, discussion surrounding the implementation of mandatory Arabic and Quran studies is not only irrelevant, but also disingenuous to the issues at hand.

Firstly, installing Arabic language for Islamic purposes is faulty logic at best. Given that no significant portion of the Pakistani population considers Arabic as a mother tongue, it is plain stupid to teach it at a national scale. The conflation of Arabic language and Islam only demonstrates the dominance of Wahabism in Pakistani political and cultural thought. In the minds of the Upper House politicians, if the birth of Islam occurred within the context of the Arabic language, then Arabic is the religiously mandated language of Islam. This is not the case. Islam was not based in the Arabic language because it was religiously significant, but rather as it was a part of the cultural reality of the Arabian Peninsula. If Islam had emerged from China, the Quran would be in Mandarin. Calling for the adoption of the Arabic is nothing more than a "mine is bigger than yours" contest. In this case, what is being measured is personal religiosity. After all, by simply invoking Islam political leaders can gain and maintain popular support, never mind their obvious incompetency.

Secondly, don't we already have enough Islamic education? Considering the religion classes in public and private schools and the prevalence of madressas (some good, some bad) across the country, when is it enough? Do we really need more of this?

(Image Credit: Rupee News)

Let's face the facts. The forced inclusion of religion into the Pakistani public sphere is directly responsible for most (if not all) of the problems we face today. Islamizing our society has made us more ignorant, less tolerant. We are not willing to listen to those who do not share our religious beliefs, yet feel no guilt in impressing our religion upon others.


Anyone who challenges or contradicts our belief is threatened and demonized.

And this is not only limited to those outside our belief system.


The responsibility of the public (and private) education is to equip students with the skills needed to be successful in the outside world. Given the staggering level of national illiteracy, it is clear that our current education model has failed. Instead of focusing on instilling religious values, the state should focus on providing basic public education to all. Considering that an educated and aware populace is important in improving national development, the focus on personal religiosity instead of other more pertinent issues only highlights the disconnect between our elected elite and the public.

Some would call this Schizophrenia.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Picture of the Day

This pretty much sums up how I feel about religion.

Video of the day: Hope in Haiti

On assignment, an Australian news crew and its Haitian interpreter put down their cameras pulled out a young girl from the rubble of a collapsed building.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Seven women murdered in Land Dispute

Seven women are among the eight murdered in Layyah, in a land dispute between two brothers. According to police, rising tensions between Shah Ali and his brother over 15 acres of land cumulated in violence when two of his nephews killed their grandmother, six aunts and an uncle. Both susupects fled from the scene and so far no arrests have been made.

I hate to be cynical, but I don't expect any justice for these women (and man) anytime soon. After all, human rights (especially rights for women and children) are clearly not a priority in Pakistan.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Video from the South Waziristan Frontline

NOW on PBS has released some footage of the South Waziristan offensive as part of its preview of its hour long feature program "Targeting the Taliban" (which can be viewed online after its broadcast on January 8th). I plan to watch the entire programme on PBS and post my views on it later.

The preview has sparked a debate on Huffington Post as to the credibility of the entire video. Some claim that this is a propaganda, a staged video to prove Pakistani efforst in the region. Others point to obvious discrepancies in the story reported. Here are some of the comments

LOL...Pakistan is making "Chutiya" of US one more time by this propaganda video and to cough up more $$'s
They looked incredibly sloppy and would turn check when confronted with the Taliban.
That was nothing more than a demo reel. Those are not hardened fighters.
I wish them the best of luck.The road to a solution in Afghanistan leads through Pakistan. We can only hope the Pakistani military is sincere in fighting the Frankenstein monster they have created. And they are no longer playing us for fools like they did Bush/Cheney for 7 years. But I believe that in light of the numerous bombings that have killed innocent women children in market places and Mosques within Pakistan the army is fighting the Fundamentalists for real. And like I said: I wish them the best of luck.
Not to mention riding along with an Army Major in what appears to be a soft-skin vehicle with the threat of suicide bombers and IEDs on the road.

On a side note, why would one wear a bright red jacket when going out on a military excursion? It's like painting a large target sign on your back and running across a shooting range.