Monday, March 16, 2009

"And then God smiled"

Ignorant of Pakistan, feeling victimized by the corporate media coverage?

Why not read the five comments on this post by Manan Ahmed, alias sepoy, where Pakistanis express their jubilation over the success of the Long March, even in the face of the "no clean hands" argument. Particularly the narrative of Omar Ali.

And I thought: It has been a long time, maybe around 1968(?), since American activists had their last experience of this kind, probably never to return.

Sepoy's commenters know the languages of the place, and you can compare what they say and how they say it with the pasteurized discourse of our media androids with their "Hillary saved the day and prevented nuclear instability!" discourse. And think about where those differences come from.


Blogger badger said...

And why not also read the posts of American lawyer Looseheadprop at fdl, the latest one today, calling attention to the common issue of extra-judicial disappearances, or executive powers if you prefer, which the Pakistani lawyers have stood up against, in contast to their US counterparts. Here's one of her commenters to emphasize the connection:

One of the relevant points in all of this is the motivations of the lawyers’ revolt. Many were put in jail, beaten in the streets, etc. The biggest motivator for the lawyers was the removal of Chaudhry as Chief Judge.

Why was Chaudhry removed?

He had ruled, while Musharraf was still in power, that under the Pakistani law and its Constitution, people could not just be disappeared; could not just be sold off secretly to the US with no accounting.

So our commitment to torture; our Dept of Justice diligently making sure that cases like el-Masri’s and Arar’s get blocked; Obama’s current diligence in blocking the suit of the survivors of Dostum’s shipping container of death who then were handed off to US torture to force a false confession from them; our own determination here that we could round up and conduct torture experimentation on people sold to us in Pakistan and elsewhere - - we created the lawyers revolt in Pakistan.

By comparison, the lawyers in our own Dept of Justice have chosen a very different path.

So our torture policies both pushed lawyers and moderates in Pakistan into a loose alliance with some extremists and have contributed to instability in a nuclear power. And our torture policies have redefined the United States as a state sponsor of torture, still arrogantly asserting its ability to torture without consequence.

And it can.

Because the lawyers in our Dept of Justice are nothing like the lawyers in Pakistan. That is a hard and harsh revelation to have to accept.

11:20 AM  
Blogger Nell said...

That's Mary, herself a lawyer, and a perceptive commenter on torture, detention, and civil liberties issues mostly at

11:55 AM  
Blogger badger said...

But wait! Matt Y at the Center for American "Progress" has been told this is all wrong. He writes:

My understanding, however, is that the protests were never really about the Justice Chaudhry as such. Rather, there was a hope on the part of Sharif to ride this issue back into power, which he seems to have given up on for now.

It is the "powers that be/powers that aren't" model that was recently being promoted (re Iraq) by a rising star at the United States Institute of "Peace": Americans have ideals; people in [fill in the name of the country that the US aims to control] know nothing but narrow, selfish interests.

Or as I like to say, by way of illustration, CAP and USIP and the others speak for a very special country, where:

Ending centuries of injustice, Americans finally elected as President a representative of the Chicago political machine.

12:08 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

I haven't read the link you posted but will, thanks.

I just wanted to say this. I agree with you that people in the West fail to recognize how strong the grassroot political movements are in Pakistan, and how anemic they make similar movements such as that in America look in comparison. (None of which it to say that Pakistan's political system is anywhere near ideal.)

I heard Tariq Ali say similar things to what you're saying, on the LRB podcast site.

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A terrific post, Badger, I couldn't agree more! And thanks for the link to the very illuminating Pakistani blog. I too have been following developments in Pakistan with strong... call it "emotional participation"?? .... i.e. loud YAYs and a forum-post full of dancing lawyers. Then I read this crap... it really set my teeth on edge. And if it had that effect on me in Italy, I hardly dare imagine how it'll read in Lahore and Islamabad. Those cretins (i.e. US power establishment + relative press-lackeys) should have had the wit to shut up for a while! Time enough for delicate-consultations and discrete-pressures - BEHIND CLOSED DOORS and keeping civil tongues in their heads - when the Pakistanis will have resolved their power-balance readjustment issues to their own satisfaction. Meanwhile, I celebrate "in spirit" with Pakistan's Long Marchers - for whom I too feel both admiration and envy - "thanks" also to the godawful current state of my own country's judiciary independence vs power-n'-money-n'-mafia problems .-(

4:13 AM  

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