Monday, December 17, 2012

From Newton, Conn. to Afghanistan

I have deep sympathy for the victims of the school killings in Newton, Connecticut. However, I must reserve greater sympathy for those Afghan families that are butchered in silence by American drones. They are not mourned by the world, nor even noticed by the media. If they are anything at all, they are mere statistics.

Yet their lives are equally worth living; the same blood flows in their veins and the same flesh adorns their skeletons.

We should remember to mourn - as the world mourns for the families of Newton - for murdered Afghan men, women and children. It's just that, in this case, a strenuous effort of the imagination will be required to conjure up the grief we shall never see.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Individualism, And The Dog (Satire)

The liberality of the American public in bestowing pecuniary favours on the animals in a Kabul zoo betrays the preference for animals over humans in western civilisation. This satire takes a look at the western obsession with animals. 


"Now for the political reason, and this is closely tied to the historical. Animals, we have noted, are all of a piece, and so are birds: a myna is a myna is a myna. Association with the dog began just before the imperial expansions – before the ‘discovery’ and destruction of the ‘Red’ Indians, for instance. By identifying with a lesser creature – the dog – the European was able to assuage his guilt at the torment of an equal – the human being in North America or Africa. By being kind to the former, he could be savage with the latter. Notice the case of the Afghans: people are individuals, and that’s a fact that Americans did not wish to take into account. Animals are uniform: they are the same in every hemisphere. Marjan could equally have been an American lion. Not so the Afghan – heaven forbid! She is Muslim, veiled, says her prayers five times a day, wears her hair long, and has never seen the inside of a Wal-Mart store."

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Ronald Reagan Hosts the Mujahideen

I just couldn't resist sharing this picture - it reveals so much! The Americans and jihadis worked together during the Afghan war. Even today, the Americans are using jihadis against regimes in Libya and Syria. Furthermore, it was Reagan, not General Zia-ul Huq (who was merely carrying out orders) who radicalised Pakistan. The Taliban were deployed by American oil interests - then something seemed to have gone awry.

So here's the picture: enjoy!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Innocent and The Beautiful (short story)

(click above for short story)

Zafar Shah encounters both the CIA and jihadis in this story. The murder of nearly two million children through UN sanctions in Iraq may be ignored by collaborators, but not by the resistance. Even the beautiful has been corrupted, and the innocents killed.


On this fateful day, I spotted her on road 9A, waiting for her usual trishaw. There was traffic on the road, but I stayed focused. She was in a red-and-black shalwar-kameez, her arms bare, revealing teasingly her white shoulders and armpits. Then our eyes met: fortunately I looked away, and watched with horror a man, pillion-riding on a motorcycle, raise a knife towards Maryam.
"Marayam, get down!" I screamed, and ran towards the bike. The knife missed, as she ducked. The bike wove between the vehicles, and disappeared.
"That was close, Maryam," I said, panting, as I reached her crouching figure. She was weeping.
"They tried to kill me!" she repeated. It was as if she couldn't believe that they would try to kill her.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Misogyny in the Middle East?

If there were hatred and misogyny in the Middle East, surely they would show up as physical violence aganist women. Yet, according to the World Development Report of 1993, the number of DALYs lost for women to violence (and even self-inflicted violence) was the lowest in the world. The only scourge of the Arab woman was war. Figures repeatedly show some of the lowest rape statistics in the world: that's not hard to understand. Most rapes in developed countries are date rapes; since boys and girls don't mix in Arab (and Musim and Hindu) countries, the incidence of rape is low. On the other hand, date rapes and campus rapes in places like the United States show a high degree of misogyny. 

Herbert West wanted in Bangladesh

The opposition wants the government to produce Ilyas Ali, who must be dead and, hopefully, buried by now. We, the people, suffer. How can the government resuscitate a corpse? The only recourse I know of is to enlist the help of 'Herbert West, Reanimator'. As the title implies, he could bring the dead back alive. But the last I heard of him was that he was being pursued by some vengeful zombies he had 'resuscitated'. Will the opposition settle for a zombie? As far as we are concerned, the entire political class can be dead and buried, with no hope of reanimation.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Vercingetorix And Doofus Dignity (essay)

Vercingetorix And Doofus Dignity

(click above for essay)

Vercingetorix was the leader of the Gauls who dared to rebel against the mighty Roman Republic. Irrational? Sure, but also dignified. The pursuit of dignity often entails the irrational. But we in Bangladesh are no "doofuses" like the great Vercingetorix – we are rational, and without an atom of self-respect or dignity.


"Take my compatriots. Ever since Mir Zafar betrayed the last Nawab of Bengal, Siraj ud-Dawlah, we have been a rational people. At the Battle of Plassey, the former sold his honour, his country and his ruler to the British. A force of 3,000 went on to defeat a force of 50,000, and the Nawab was ferreted out and executed. Now, there's a real doofus for you. If he had supinely allowed the British to go on building their fort in Calcutta, turning a blind eye to the obvious, and selling his loyalty after an agreed-upon interval, well, he would never have found a place in the hearts of the common people, as he has with the superb popular play enacted in the countryside, but he would have died in a silken bed. After all, you can't eat glory and heroism. Posthumous applause is posthumous. "

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Arabs and the Freedom Industry

Now we come to North Africa, or the Arab Spring. Here we will pause to note what T.E.Lawrence had to say in his Seven Pillars of Wisdom about the Arab: "Arabs could be swung on an idea as on a cord; for the unpledged allegiance of their minds made them obedient servants. None of them would escape the bond till success had come, and with it responsibility and duty and engagements. Then the idea was gone and the work ended--in ruins. Without a creed they could be taken to the four corners of the world (but not to heaven) by being shown the riches of earth and the pleasures of it; but if on the road, led in this fashion, they met the prophet of an idea, who had nowhere to lay his head and who depended for his food on charity or birds, then they would all leave their wealth for his inspiration. They were incorrigibly children of the idea, feckless and colour-blind, to whom body and spirit were for ever and inevitably opposed." The idea – or wave, as Lawrence called it – was nationalism, a revolt against the Ottomans, and it was backed up heavily by British cash. "One such wave (and not the least) I raised and rolled before the breath of an idea, till it reached its crest, and toppled over and fell at Damascus. The wash of that wave, thrown back by the resistance of vested things, will provide the matter of the following wave, when in fullness of time the sea shall be raised once more."
And the sea has been raised once more – this time again with western cash and training. According to the Washington Post:" It's estimated more than 10,000 Egyptians since 2005 have participated in USAID-financed democracy and governance programs, carried out by NDI, IRI and 28 other international and Egyptian organizations - not only political training, but also projects to prepare judges, build PTA-style school associations and otherwise deepen civic involvement." Again, the Washington Post says: "…the State Department’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) has funneled up to $6 million to Syrian opposition groups such as Barada TV since 2006. MEPI is supervised by Tamara Wittes, a longtime pro-Israel advocate of democratic reform in the Middle East….:"
Again, we see that the Arabs, like those following T.E.Lawrence, had little to do with their revolution. Like Bangladeshis, Africans and other Asian countries, freedom as cash has appeared as liberty.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Ideas And The Arabs

"Arabs could be swung on an idea as on a cord; for the unpledged allegiance of their minds made them obedient servants. None of them would escape the bond till success had come, and with it responsibility and duty and engagements. Then the idea was gone and the work ended--in ruins. Without a creed they could be taken to the four corners of the world (but not to heaven) by being shown the riches of earth and the pleasures of it; but if on the road, led in this fashion, they met the prophet of an idea, who had nowhere to lay his head and who depended for his food on charity or birds, then they would all leave their wealth for his inspiration. They were incorrigibly children of the idea...."

Thus T.E.Lawrence in his Seven Pillars of Wisdom. And the idea he used to get the Arabs to revolt against the Turks was nationalism - which indeed lay in ruins.

Today the same Arab has risen in revolt, mouth hooked on another western idea - democracy. The result will be what Lawrence had foretold - ruin.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Hounds of Hell

It is with a heavy heart that I will be leaving my home of eight years tomorrow. It is with a heavy heart because I'm being hounded out of my residence.

The hounds are the local committe, who suddenly objected to my teaching students English on the premises. That I have been doing the same for eight years was an argument that had no importance to them.

And when, after the first illegal interview (illegal because it is not the committee that can speak to me; they must speak only to my landlord, as my lawyer later informed me), I filed a general diary, fearing violence.

When they found out that I had filed a GD, they were furious: how dare I excercise my rights as a citizen? In this building, only the committee had rights, and I was a mere individual.

Then, after browbeating my landlord, they came en masse into my apartment where only my wife and I reside. There they used minatory langauge and said that if I did not stop all activity in one week, they would bar the gates. This was illegal: they had no right to talk to me, for I had leased the house from my landlord, not from them. They could complain to my landlord: in fact, we had already decided to leave the flat rather than live with such hoodlums. But they paid no attention to what I had to say. This is the behaviour of moneyd 'gentlemen' in Bangladesh.

Through brute force and intimidation, they forced a law-abiding, harmless individual and his wife to leave. After all, there's a limit to the harassment and intimidation that a gentleman can endure.

And to think that they achieved all this, not through a court order, but by sheer bullying and coercion.

I hope the Supreme Court will take these matters under cognisance, and uphold the rights of tenants against a tyrannical majority.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

3,000 nations

There are around three thousand languages in the world, so there should be three thousand nations.

Some may be quite small - the size of a park, say. Some may be just a bedsit, with the residents offering visas at the door to curious tourists. There would be recordings of the language inside and a few trinkets. When the inmates die, the bedsit will become a museum. Or the heirs may wish to inherit it if it pays well. Otherwise patriotism might be squeezed out of such a small accomodation. The children may decide to emigrate en masse. That is, the nation might move out.

As for the parks, they may offer green credentials, a bit of boating and picknicking....Indeed, it is hard to see how these nations can make money. They'll have to be subsidised, of course. This is not as outlandish as it seems: take Bangladesh. It is a highly subsidised nation. Indeed, even today many nations do not earn their keep. Since they don't have the pennies, they don't have the pride, just a lot of hot air.

So I personally see no objections to a UN of 3,000 members. It's perfectly feasible. In fact, it's already happening.

Law and Morality

In Bangladesh, thanks to the donors, we are focussing exclusively on legal measures to improve our society. This is disastrous.

What happens to morality? A society that attempts to rely exclusively on law is already moribund. Law without morality means a dead end. The NGOs have focussed attention on a 'rights-based' society. There's a reason for that. They have a parallel agenda of secularism, and the promotion of 'univeral [western] values'. And this precludes the morality that we have learned from religion. A hatred of religion is prevalent among the intellectuals - instead they import werstern ideas that have no resonance here.

Values such as compassion, empathy, altruism, commiseration are dead or dying. Without these values no society can function as a group of human beings, but as a bunch of animals - for even animals have their natural laws. When Nelson Mandela was faced with the task of nation-building, he went beyond rights and appealed to the Christian value of turning the other cheek. Unfortunately, he also imported secular western values which have devastated his society.

The Ethnocidal Civilisation (essay)

The Ethnocidal Civilisation

(click above for article)

Western civilisation commits ethnocide and menticide, as seen in India and recently in the Middle East.

Ethnocide – culture murder – has been the repeated behaviour pattern of western civilization, as testified by Alexis de Tocqueville. The culture is not content with mere conquest: it must control the very thoughts of those conquered. A recently published book on a Christian mission in Bangladesh retells an old story against the background of both the Muslim and British invasions of India, centering the Garos and the loss of their ancestral religion.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

closed jamaat

The spectacle of high-rise buidlings has given rise to another: the closed jamaat. Nowadays, prayers are performed in some high-rise buildings - with the gates locked, and everyone except residents excluded. Keeping out the umma is not permissible in Islam.

A place of prayer must be open to everyone - the high and the low, the poor and the rich, the beggar and the millionaire. If you don't trust in the Almighty for security, you should at least have the decency and piety to go and say your prayers in a public mosque and not behind closed, guarded gates.

Friday, March 23, 2012


This installation art from the UAE deserves high praise. Firstly, it is from the UAE, where there's no voting and no protests. Secondly, it is an Arab country, and many misguided Arabs have chosen anarchy over stability. Third, it captures essentially the evil of western civilisation as well as the evil that comes to a democratising country like, say, Bangladesh.

The neon artwork is by Kader Attia and is from from the private collection of Sultan Sooud al-Qassemi, a cousin of Sheikha Hoor al-Qassemi, the daughter of Sharjah's ruler.

The N in 'demoncracy' should no longer be silent.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Disarticulated Body

A disarticulated body was found in Dhaka, Bangladesh
. That was nearly two days ago. In a civilised polity, this would have set off a nation-wide alarum. Nothing of this kind has happened. The incident has been quietly ignored.


Democracy unleashed violence on a massive scale: by now, we have become inured to decapitations and disrticulations. This is what democracy has done for us.

The nation is agog at the spectacle of the opposition laying 'siege' to the capital tomorrow: dismembered bodies? Who cares?

Yesterday, the decomposed body was found in Kushtia, a small city in Bangladesh. It was reported in the inside pages of a daily. It just barely made the news.

We have become desensitised: indifferent to murder, no matter how gruesome. I have lived through autocracy and democracy, and I have seen the change in human nature.

On Clothes and Modernity

On clothes and 'modernity'

(click above for article)

"For example, I prefer to wear jeans and T-shirt too. Because I need easily to use my legs and arms." My 'modern' Turkish friend pleads efficiency for her attire; oddly, though, efficient farm girls in Turkey wear the shalwar, as they do in Bangladesh, along with the saree. 'Modernity' comes in many covers, and this one conceals less of its sinister side than most.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Permanent News (poetry)

Permanent News

(click above for poems)

A great poet described poetry as news that stays news. I hope these 8 poems on political violence in post-democratic Bangladesh - especially the murder of young politicians by themselves - remain permanent memorials.

Last year, around 38 student politicians killed each other. They have been hailed as the champions of democracy when, in fact, they are mere foot-soldiers of the political parties involved in criminal activity. This is the reality of Bangladeshi democracy that's never revealed.