Monthly Archives: March 2014

Book Review: Tamiz Ud Din Von Elephant: The Phoenix Rider

Ali Abbas: Tamiz Ud Din Von Elephant: The Phoenix Rider

Published by: Zrematt Press 2013, Islamabad.

Pages: 282

Ali Abbas, the writer has a law degree and is a practicing lawyer. The book is an incredible journey with strange creatures in a strange world, fighting for rights of strange creatures. Tamiz Ud Din, the central character, hails from a family of aristocrats, now fallen; half human and half elephant with one damaged tusk which brings his prestige even lower in the eyes of other creatures. Tamiz Ud Din is a lawyer, who does not get hired owing to his fallen status. Well off, he can afford to have an indifferent practice with his not so well off assistant Woo Woo.

Tamiz Ud Din is approached by an ‘Appointed Representative’ who has been searching for him for thousands of years- as ‘the’ leader. His address to Tamiz Ud Din the Von Elephant is very interesting-an excerpt is shared here, ‘All you need is some training and you can be the First Ruler of the United Universe. First, we will take over the Earth and the Solar System. We’ll do away with the Empire and its Failed System. Then the Galaxy, then the Universe, then all the known Universes. No one will be able to stop us. We will be invincible.”

Tamiz Ud Din finds himself drawn into a rebellion. There is a severe fight within him. He is torn between his loyalty to the Solar King; the Ultimate Sovereign and the rebel within who always questions injustices. The story races, it twists and turns involving werewolves, witches, coercive State agencies, mix-breeds and pare-breeds. He is the honorable creature, fighting for the rights of other creatures. The difficult path of revolution.

This is a work of fiction. Yet it is not fiction. Every turning page is a political comment. It makes one pause and reflect. It makes one pause and question the system and injustices within our country. Wrapped in the web woven, Ali Abbas makes a powerful political comment through the characters in his book. They make sense in our given political environment. It makes attitudes of rulers and the powerful reassert itself, making weaknesses within glaring obvious.

Then there is the Phoenix. Legend had it that only one Phoenix could exist at a time. A legendry bird, a huge being that poured out fire, daring anyone to come near so that Tamiz Ud Din could escape on its back on his many judicious adventures. The legend stated only the next Universal Monarch or the next Emperor of the Seven Worlds would ride the Phoenix, no ordinary mortal.

The glimpse of the corruption rotting the innards of the system is interestingly stated, (Page 250, Chapter 38) “The Secretary of Finance will then send the file to the Chairman of the Revenue Board. The Chairman will repeat the process of ladder walking the file up and down the beaurucratic hierarchy and then if he thinks fit will send the file to a department called; “The Alternative Approval Board of Anything Significant or Insignificant to be Done in the Solar Empire. (AABASINDSE) The AABASINDSE are considered a group of chickens not because they lay eggs but because they sit for days on a stretch thinking them to be eggs! So they will then sit on the file for a few weeks just in order to make sure it doesn’t hatch!”

The book draws a laugh from the reader on many an occasion and an ‘ouch’ on others. The story builds up to an unbearable climax before ending on a happy personal note for Tamiz Ud Din but not before he has the opportunity to question Aristotle, the Writer of Fate, “You are the Writer of the Fate, why didn’t you just write me as a conformist?” Aristotle’s reply is profound, “It isn’t that simple. My contract gives me certain powers as the Writer of the Fate, yet everyone still has a degree of free will…and some have more than others. If I interfere in that too much I get grilled in the “Annual Board Meeting” and the new Chairperson really doesn’t like me….”

One thing is very certain. This book is not one to be missed. It’s different. It’s tongue-in-cheek. Its unstoppable reading!

ArticleYAAThe writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.’ Her mail ID is yasmeenali62@gmail.com and tweets at @yasmeen_9

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An Open Letter to Gen Raheel Shareef

A PAKPOTPOURRI EXCLUSIVE

Shared here is a mail being forwarded extensively signed ‘Naeem’.

RaheelaAn Open Letter to Gen Raheel Shareef

Dear General,

No gainsaying the fact that, today Pakistan is going through its most dangerous existential. The very survival of its state and society is at peril. I am sure that with the vast intelligence apparatus at your disposal; you must be the best informed person in Pakistan, regarding the terrorist threat to Pakistan. But sir, are you aware of the consequences of the government/ military inaction or lack of a cogent, effective response to unbridled terrorism?

Anyway, let me reiterate the current situation for you; as understood by a majority of Pakistanis:

1)   The current situation can be described in one short phrase – a blowback of our 35 years of continuous policy of using non-state armies in pursuance of our regional geopolitical/ foreign goals.

2)   The Frankenstein monster nurtured by the deep state now refuses to get back in the bottle. While it is true that some of the TTP factions are being sponsored by some external powers; but who is to be blamed for this? This inferno is of our own making.

3)   Since the army has been in the forefront of combating the terrorists, how come there is no national COIN or anti-terrorism policy? Do not blame the various political governments; since the army has been calling the shots for most of Pakistan’s political history and particularly since the last 35 years.

4)    Talking about the policy, does your team understand the difference between COIN and anti-terrorism?

5)   The non-policy that the army/ political leadership has been following; particularly after 2007 is just based on one strand – appeasement.

6)   Even today, on the face of worst atrocities against the military and civilian population; your response is just reactive.

7)   Am sure, in your defense you would say that the army is under the political government; but since when have this fact deterred you (the army leadership) from doing whatever you thought is in the best national interest? (Read corporate interest of the army leadership). Never mind that the army has arrogated to itself the authority/ responsibility to define the national interest.

8)   Now coming down to the charade of “talks” with the TTP. Do you really think it is pragmatic or logical? Do you really think that it will promote peace and tranquility in the country?  Do you not think that these “talks” are a non sequitur? Talks are always help between two legal entities; not with terrorists. Period. Talks always imply a certain “give and take”. Now pray tell me what could the TTP give to you or what could the state concede to them? So what are the talks going to be about? Do you not realize the chicanery of this fraudulent government that, both the committees are populated either by card-carrying Taliban or their known apologists? Even if we concede the need for talks; then why is the govt not talking directly to the TTP? Why has it outsourced it to non-representative persona?

9)   It is the considered opinion of most thinking Pakistanis that:

–         Nawaz is not serious about talks; it is just a gimmick to placate the gullible public.

–         Recent history shows that the Sharifs are master-appeasers of TTP. Rumors are that there is a tacit deal between the Sharifs and the terrorists to spare Punjab and no action will be taken against them as long as they confine their mayhem in other provinces parts of the country.

–         About 1000 terrorists have been convicted and cooling their heels in the death row; why have they not been executed as per the law?

–         Shabaz has been paying stipends to known terrorists and also giving funding from the Punjab budget to terrorist organizations.

–         Rana Sanaullah, the mouthpiece of PML-N in Punjab is on record in admitting that there are 175 madarrasas/ centers of terror in Punjab. The same Sanaullah has been hobnobbing and striking electoral deals with the TTP before the last elections.

–         There are reportedly about 250, 000 trained jihadis ensconced in the madrassas of south Punjab.

–         Nawaz gave tickets to 55 well-known terrorists (or their apologist) for the last elections).

–         The logical corollary of the above could well be that, under the garb of ceasefire; the TTP is restricted to FATA; while it ceases its terrorist activities in rest of the country. This will be tantamount to ceding a chunk of territory of Pakistan to TTP to declare its “emirate”.

–         An extended corollary may well be that in the due course of time Nawaz imposes “Sharia” to further appease TTP and they accept him as Amir ul Momineen (fulfillment of his 1998 dream).

10)                     The above clearly manifests that Nawaz and his govt are in a de facto alliance with the terrorists, out to undo Pakistan. This makes Nawaz and his accomplices terrorists.

11)                     I hope you do realize the deleterious consequences of the acceptance of “ceasefire” by the govt and its desire to resume the “talks”? Let me put it down for you:

–         The TTP has always used such “ceasefires” to reorganize and rebuild. And when they are ready, they will resume their nefarious activities from a position of strength.

–         Even after the declaration of ceasefire, 11 security personnel escorting polio teams and one student were killed by TTP.

–         This morning there is a report of an attack on a FC vehicle.

–         Have you General, ever given a thought that that, what would be the consequences on the morale and discipline of the armed forces in the face of restrains under TTP atrocities? For how long would the army be able to maintain its professional and organizational integrity? Am sure you are well aware that such problems have been recurring with an increasing frequency.

–         These hypocritical “talks” will only enhance the image of TTP and accord them legal status and legitimacy.

–         The military is the only impediment for the TTP and their collaborators- the Sharif mafia; in realizing their designs. God forbids, if your inaction and acquiescence in the nihilistic policies of Nawaz and party castrate our armed forces, then what fate would befall on Pakistan?

12)                     You have been touted as the author of the army’s COIN manual; but where is the info- war component of the COIN? Looking at the cyberspace and print media; it appears that the TTP has already won this crucial aspect of war.

13)                     Now the 64 million dollar question – what can you accomplish to get us out of this hole (created by your predecessors)? As one soldier to another; I would beseech you to straighten your spine, stand upright and without any ambiguity, vacillation or equivocation tell Nawaz that his current (non) policy on terrorism is wrong. A coherent and a holistic grand strategy should be quickly put together and immediately implemented; with the military force as its operational component.

14)                     No reactive/ retaliatory strikes; the military must grasp the initiative and strike to eliminate the terrorists and not merely contain them. We have seen the devastation and havoc caused on TTP by the recent strikes. They should be continued with vigor and consistency.

15)                     The majority of the public (and the armed forces) have had enough; despite the supposedly lack of consensus touted as excuse by the ruling politicians; the nation wants ruthless action against the terrorists and to be delivered from fear and harm.

16)                     Ask Nawaz to declare emergency, since we are at war. Use the emergency to muzzle the enemy (pro-TTP) media; because they are not only giving propaganda space to the Taliban, but are causing despondency among the public. (I again need to ask you, where is the info- war component of your COIN strategy?).

17)                     Nihilistic and anti-Pakistan mullahs (nurtured and sustained in the first place by your predecessors) should be collared and put into the time-honored protective custody (that is another reason for imposing emergency).

18)                     Now such a policy/ action would produce two major problems: a) IDPS and b) eruption of TTP retaliation in urban centers throughout Pakistan.

–         IDPs. Active the National Crises Management Agency.

–         Urban Attacks. Enhanced and coordinated intelligence could pre-empt these.

19)                     You could tell Nawaz that if he cannot take the heat, then he should quit; after all he won’t die of starvation unlike a lot of our compatriots; since he has the looted goodies/ monies stashed abroad.

20)                     And General, if you cannot do all this; then take the honorable way and resign; otherwise we would be constrained to count you as part of the problem.

Regards,

Naeem

The author is Lt. Col(R) Abdul Naeem