Blackwater furore and Kerry-Lugar Bill fracas

57042031There’s been a lot of hype over ‘Blackwater in Pakistan’ and the Kerry Lugar Bill. Below, two items providing some facts and perspective on both issues.

1. KERRY LUGAR BILL – background and facts

The government should bring this bill for assent before the Pakistani parliament. This will call the bluff of all those who are thundering for the benefit of the media. Taking the KL Bill to parliament will have a dual affect. First, it will shut these nay-sayers up and second, it will provide the requisite legitimacy to this aid (which, unfortunately, we cannot do without after all these years of skewed financial policies). No political party that hopes to form government in Islamabad will formally vote against it. The government needs to pull itself together and put up a solid defence – ie. all the conditionalities are part of state policy anyway; it is the first time the US has committed itself to democracy and a democratic government in Pakistan. Any party opposing the Bill will send out the message that it does not own the current policies on counter terrorism and non-proliferation.

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Chance encounters of a connected kind

My article published in Dialogue section of The News on Sunday, Sept 26, 2009

Musings

Chance encounters of a connected kind

Beena Sarwar

Dr Sarwar, Karachi, Jan 2007. Photo by Anwar Sen Roy

Dr Sarwar, Karachi, Jan 2007. Photo by Anwar Sen Roy

There is something about unexpectedly bumping into unexpected people and making meaningful connections on various levels.

The common thread running through two strings of such encounters I had recently was my late father, Dr M. Sarwar — his being who he was, and his passing on, led to these moments and the associations they evoked.

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Zaheda Hina on Jagannath Azad

Zaheda Hina with Indian journalist Jatin Desai, at a peace seminar in Karachi held to honour Nirmala Deshpande. Photo: Beena Sarwar

Zaheda Hina with Indian journalist Jatin Desai, at a peace seminar in Karachi held to honour Nirmala Deshpande. Photo: Beena Sarwar

Since my article Bring Back Jagannath Azad’s Pakistan Anthem published in The Hindu on Sept 22 (slightly shorter version first published by Dawn on Sept 19) I have learnt that my ignorance on the matter was all the more deplorable given the previously published material that I have since come across. Besides Zaheer Kidvai’s recollections in his blog, that I mentioned in my blog post later, there is Adil Najam’s June 2009 post Prof. Jagan Nath Azad: Creator of Pakistan’s First National Anthem. Najam refers to Zaheer’s post as well as an article by Ashfaque Naqvi in A word about Jagan Nath Azad (Dawn, June 27, 2004), which contains a passing mention of this little known fact about Azad’s authoring of the first national anthem.

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‘No nuclear test, no missile test, just test cricket’

Cricket fanCongratulations Pakistan. Ok, so it wasn’t a test match – but is cricket a surrogate war between India and Pakistan – or a shared love that can help transcend animosities? Just found this article I wrote in March 2005, my column Personal Political published in The News op-ed and the Indian weekly Tehelka… Not much has changed since then.

Below, the version published in Tehelka, April 5, 2005

Cricket and the Peace Constituency

Ordinary Pakistanis and Indians are happy to recognise each other A Pakistani Girl Promoting Peace between Pakistan and India

Beena Sarwar

Will he, won’t he, will he, won’t he…?” Yes, he will, confirmed the Indian Prime Minister’s Office on March 15, ending the speculation by announcing that General Pervez Musharraf would visit India for a one-day match in Delhi on April 17. Musharraf had made it clear that he would make the visit if invited — and everyone was waiting to see whether the invitation would be extended.

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Gyan Chand; Azad’s speech; Say No to State Religion; Positively Pakistani women; Why Pakistan should be in the EU – hilarious video

Prof. Jagan Nath Azad. Photo courtesy: Chander K. Azad, Jammu

Prof. Jagan Nath Azad. Photo courtesy: Chander K. Azad, Jammu

Post script to the post below: ‘Meet Gyan Chand, the Hindu diplomat of Pakistan’, by Amir Mir, Aug 10, 2009, which I had earlier missed and looked up after reading this letter – Minority Rights by Manoj Kumar, Karachi – in Dawn recently.

Posted on beena issues this morning:

1. A moving and powerful speech by Jagannath Azad (in beautiful Urdu)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TtMn5Kc0rg&feature=email

2. PLEASE SEND YOUR COMMENTS AND SAY NO TO THE STATE RELIGION OF PAKISTANSupport the Campaign for Amendment in Article 2 of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 (text below)
http://saynotothestatereligion.blogspot.com/

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Remembering those who have passed on

Minal and Maha with Dr Sarwar (Zakia in background), Jan 2009

Minal and Maha with Dr Sarwar (Zakia in background), Jan 2009

Post on Dr Sarwar blog, Sept 21, 2009 (Also posted recently there – photos of Dr Sarwar & Zakia Sarwar, 1980s, with Ali Sardar Jafri and Ismat Chughtai in Karachi, Sehba Sarwar’s poem Doc 101… and more):

As we celebrate special occasions like birthdays, Eid, Christmas or Navratri, we especially remember those who have passed on. Here is a note from Sehba in Houston relating a conversation with her daughter Minal who turns five years old on Sept 21 (happy birthday Minal, and thanks for your words of wisdom and love):

Right now, we’re in the car doing errands. Minal had a busy morning playing with one of my friend’s kids. Suddenly, she says: “Every one dies no matter what.”

Reně and I nod.

She adds: “I miss Nana. Sometimes I stay up at night and cry for him.”

“You do?” I ask.

“I wish I’d talked to him before he died.”

This just came out of the blue. We hadn’t talked about Babba for sometime. But maybe she was thinking about him because we skyped with Beena this morning.

Bring back Jagannath Azad’s Pakistan anthem

The death in custody of another ‘blasphemy accused’ once again highlights what many of us have long been stressing: a need to repeal the ‘blasphemy laws’, train the police force, revise the education curriculum to remove the hate-mongering, and enforce law and order with a firm hand.

Below, my article on Pakistan’s first national anthem by Jagan Nath Azad (slightly abbreviated version published today in Dawn ‘Another time, another anthem’)

Prof. Jagan Nath Azad. Photo courtesy: Chander K. Azad, Jammu

Prof. Jagan Nath Azad. Photo courtesy: Chander K. Azad, Jammu

Beena Sarwar

As children we learnt that Pakistan didn’t have a national anthem until the 1950s. My journalist uncle Zawwar Hasan used to tell us of a reporter friend who visited China in the early 1950s. Asked about Pakistan’s national anthem, he sang the nonsensical ‘laralapa laralapa’.

If these journalists were unaware that Pakistan had a national anthem — commissioned and approved in 1947 by by no less a person than the country’s founder and first Governor General, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, long before Hafeez Jullandri’s Persianised lyrics were adopted as the anthem in 1954 — ordinary citizens may be forgiven for their ignorance. Continue reading

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