TED and Compassion, India-Pakistan joint defence, Zardari and conspiracies

Several links and news items I’ve been wanting to share and finally managed to compile – as well as a belated bit of good news and congratulations to Dr Hassan Abbas, a journalist and then police officer in Lahore before becoming an academic and blogger at Watandost. He has been selected for the QAU Chair at Columbia U, well deserved. He has for years been stressing the need to deal with many of the problems in Pakistan as regular law and order issues, rather than blanketed under the ‘war on terror’, and has suggested reforms to the police sector including better training, pay and equipment – see his recent police reforms paper at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU)

Meanwhile, conspiracy theorists are having a field day in Pakistan, with much unease at how some journalists are (mis) conducting themselves. I say let them fulminate and froth. We’ve had fighting words from Zardari in his latest speech, and he has come out swinging (to use Bilal Qureshi’s term) in his interview to Express TV, posted at Pkonweb

The bottom line is that Pakistan army does not want to be under civilian control – see report by Saeed Shah: ‘Pakistan’s military seen moving to undercut Zardari over his close U.S. ties

One of Zardari’s ‘faults’ in the ‘establishment’s’ eyes is his insistence that India is not the enemy. Pervez Hoodbhoy sums up essentially why Pakistan and India need to work together: “How can India protect itself from invaders across its western border and grave injury? Just as importantly, how can we in Pakistan assure that the fight against fanatics is not lost? Let me make an apparently outrageous proposition: in the coming years, India’s best protection is likely to come from its traditional enemy, the Pakistan Army. Therefore, India ought to now help, not fight, against it” – extract from Pakistan And India: A Common Defense? By Pervez Hoodbhoy [Not at all an outrageous suggestion, by the way. I made a similar point in my column ‘Personal Political: Give the one upmanship a rest’]

Ending on a note of compassion (thanks Kamran Arif, Peshawar)  – Please see the Charter of Compassion (text below), signed by, among others, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Goldie Hawn, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Queen Noor of Jordan, Abdus Sattar Edhi and the Dalai Lama. The Charter of Compassion led me to this link of a short video, Karen Armstrong unveiling the Charter for Compassion.

Also worth viewing and hearing: this talk by Karen Armstrong accepting the 2008 TED Prize – (TED stands for Technology Education Development; the Ted Talks are amazing. Here is the link to a recent Ted Talk in India – Pranav Mistry, an Indian PhD student at MIT on the thrilling potential of SixthSense technology – truly mind-blowing


A call to bring the world together…

The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves.Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.

We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.

We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensible to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.


  • His Holiness the Dalai Lama
  • H.M. Queen Noor of Jordan, Chair, King Hussein Foundation
  • Paul Simon, Musician
  • Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu
  • Sir Ken Robinson, Author
  • Deepak Chopra, Author
  • Sheikh Ali Gomaa, Grand Mufti of Egypt
  • Professor Candido Mendes, Spiritual Director, Arsha Vijan Mandiram
  • Goldie Hawn, Actor
  • Abdul Sattar Edhi, Founder, Edhi Foundation

One Response

  1. Another good read… as usual.
    I don’t think… India was ever Pak’s “enemy”.
    We fully understand that after what the ‘cowboys’ have done to Iraq and Afghanistan and are trying to do in Iran… Pak is the buffer that stands between us and doom and gloom.
    But do you think… the ‘cowboys’ and their cronies will let us be… ???
    This region is important for several reasons… not in the least oil.
    Pak is friendly with China. India is in good terms with Russia… the wounded tiger.
    Pak and India… are friendly with the ME nations as well as the countries which were a part of USSR once. Even the African countries.
    Both Pak and India have a stake in Afghanistan…
    So… ???
    PS: Am keen to know your take on the recent utterances of Gilani… re: the hand behind the assassination of a certain lady.

    Don’t you think this gives an indication of what is to come… vis-a-vis this region… ???


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