Tuesday, September 11, 2018

To Kneel or Not to Kneel?



Social Media and America is ablaze with the controversy about Colin Kaepernick, a NFL player, kneeling during the playing of the American national anthem. The emotion this has evoked got President Donald Trump involved, calling players who kneel, which he considered a disrespect to the anthem, 'sons of bitches'. If Kaepernick used a sports event as a political platform to protest police brutality, Mr Trump elevated it into a hysterical litmus test of whether you are a patriot or a traitor.

Now that Nike having endorsed Kaepernick, who is shunned by all NFL teams, the debate enters the broader realm of corporate conscious. The result is that it divides people just as much as the act of kneeling did, with some jingoistic burning of Nike shoes. Sadly we forget that Kaepernick first protested 21 months back by simply sitting on the bench during the national anthem. Then after consulting some war veterans he felt kneeling while showing respect would still highlight his protest. I suspect no one would have made a big deal about it had Mr Trump not jumped in with his remarks.

Tim Tebow, another famous NFL player used to also kneel, in prayer we may add, while having various verses from the Bible written on his attire and it was known he was a devout Christian and often spoke against abortion. While he did not kneel during the anthem he always did so after the anthem and it coined a term called 'tebowing'. Kaepernick, much like Tebow sees kneeling as a respectful gesture and why should it not be.

Kneeling in most cultures and history is seen as a sign of submission and respect. You kneel in front of the King/Queen, you kneel when you pray, you kneel when you ask a woman for her hand in marriage, so when did kneeling suddenly become a disrespectful act? I guess since Donald Trump, a man who hardly reads and has no sense of history, declared it disrespectful. His base of supporters, perhaps equally devoid of a sense of history equate kneeling to the national anthem as being disrespectful. Men and women have knelt before flags for ages, its an act of deep respect and submission to what the flag stands for, so why is kneeling during the national anthem suddenly so offensive.




I have watched a number of NFL games and when people are quick to criticize Colin Kaepernick as being disrespectful they should look in the stands. People are buying pop corn, drinks, walking around, talking to each other and some even sitting on their seats during the playing of the national anthem! Is that not disrespectful?  How many of these people burning their Nike shoes sit in their homes talking, eating and drinking during the national anthem. So let us not become so sanctimonious all of a sudden and condemn Kaepernick, or others, for an act which is misunderstood in the first place.

This false sense of patriotism, or the lack of it, is being injected into the American political fabric for the wrong reasons and for motives that have nothing to do with disrespect. If one cannot understand that and still want to burn their Nikes or Ford trucks or whatever then you have simply become the tool of an ignorant mass of people who are being worked up on what is perhaps the most humbling and submitting act, kneeling during your National Anthem, in front of your flag and in front of God.




Monday, September 10, 2018

The Trump Daily Diary Uncovered.

4.AM Read tweets on Obama's (the failed Obama care President) speech.

4.01 AM My tweet showing my success in 15 months more than his in 8 years.

4.02 AM Block 231 Tweeters who are traitors to America and tweeted response to me.

4.10 AM Back to sleep.

6.15 AM Wake up and do 5 minutes Trumps Make Trump Gorgeous Again work out.

6.30 AM Breakfast and watch Fox News. I love those guys, so patriotic. (Note to self to tell Sean Hannity not to invite treasonous traitors to the show. Its very very very bad for this image.

6.55 AM Swtich channel to see CNN (what the Fake Media is saying). The negative Don Lemon is going on about Obama speech. Fake losers . (Note to self. Must get public speaking coach).

7.15 AM Call Pence. "Pence my man, why are you talking of a lie detector test? I never accused you? Is there something you are guilty off?"
Pence replies, "Mr. President I just want to counter the fake news planting stories that I might be deep throat."
 "Come on Pence you cannot be deep throat, well not like Stormy.' I laugh and close the phone.

7.45 AM I am ready to start my day, Oval Office calls to say Angela Merkle wants to talk to me.
"Tell the immigrant loving weak leader of Germany that I am busy today making America Great Again, we can speak tomorrow before my round of golf."

8.00 AM Rudi, the mayor, calls on my cell.
"Mr. President you have to tell Sessions to investigate the story in the New York Times."
"Rudi I am going to do better I will order him to close it down."
"Mr President we cannot do that, this is America, we have a constitution that protects the press.'
"See Rudi this is why we are weak and Russia is strong. If Putin does not like a newspaper he closes it and we live in the dark ages with a constitution over 200 years old."
"Mr. President its the law of the land."
"I am President I can change the law, tell Lindsey Graham to have his guys in Congress draft a new Constitution. My dear friend Kim sent me the North Korean Constitution, its pretty good."
"OK will collect and study it."

9-11 AM Loads of photo moments with all sorts of people I don't know, loads of shaking hands and smiling. Not sure why the plaid shirt guy has turned up here again. Must speak to security to only allow enthusiastic supporter to the White House.

11.15 AM Called my friend Putin on the secure line he set up for me.
"Hello my friend. Sorry to hear about the fake news on the protestors in Moscow. I am sure they never covered the huge crowd in Red Square cheering for you and me."
"Don't worry Donald we in Russia have the means to deal with fake news. You should learn from us."
"I am, I am, in fact I am reading the leaflet you gave me on Presidential Control in Russia. Its very very very informative."
"Da Da, well good talking to you Donald I need to now prepare for a photo shoot while wrestling a Ukrainian bear."
I put the phone down and tell Kelly Ann Conway, "Kellyann now that is a man I admire."

3. PM After lunch (Hot Dogs and Burgers, Made in America of course) I head out to the golf course. Watch more of Fox News, these guys are such loyal subjects.

7 PM Return to White House.

9PM to 2 AM After watching more of Fox and Friends, a few calls to my man Sean Hannity, I sort the world out with my Tweets, 23 three in 4 hours that is enough for the world to know I am the toughest President on Twitter and with 54 million followers on Twitter I should get a royalty from Twitter. (Note to self, must ask Lawyer to send request for sweat equity in company.)




Saturday, September 8, 2018

Imran stay the course.


When you were elected I published here an open letter to you, and celebrated the fresh breath of air you could bring to Pakistan politics. I also mentioned, as a friend, I would criticize you when you, in my opinion, are not on course. The Atif Mian removal from the Economic Advisory Council is the first grave mistake being made. Bowing to pressure from the ultra religious groups you have agreed to remove him because he is an Ahmadi. First of all he is a Pakistani and a loyal Pakistani, secondly I was concerned you have not talked of protection of minorities and here is an example where you have abandoned the most competent person on the team just because some Mullahs think Pakistan is only for their brand of Islam. Next they will want the Christians to be removed from government then the Hindus and then the Shia, and then the many different branches of Sunni till they can stamp their narrow narrative on the country.

Imran let me give you the example of cricket. Would you have removed Musthaq Ahmed, or Wasim Akram or Javaid Miandad from the team just because someone said none of them had a bread, or were not as good a muslim as they thought. Should you do that it would be considered a gutless surrender of the team and tantamount to treason to the team. This is not different than the case of Atif Mian, he is not being asked to give advice of Islamic Affairs, he is asked to help with the economy. What shade of faith or any faith the man has is not relevant. I would expect you to reverse this decision and show us that you can make brace decisions. If not remember you give these mullahs an inch they will take the whole minaret.

Another matter that is a bit strange. The hike of the gas tariff, perhaps needed, should have not been done on the recommendation of the civil administration when you have announced an economic advisory council it should have had the input from them. Gas is a major input into the economic modeling for the country and such a decision should have waited for the EAC, otherwise why have such an assembly of talent, not minus Atif Mian?

One of the things you should carefully manage is the civil service of the country. They have a massive vested interest in the status quo they have lived off for years. They can paralyze your government and get it caught up in red tape till infinity. I would be careful of their advice and meanwhile take steps to over haul this monster that can undermine any development effort. They were compliant if not gutless bystanders to the looting of the country and it is something that should not be forgotten.

This is a time to be resolute and if you want to imbibe the vision of Jinnah then you cannot cherry pick what you like and what you do not. This appeasement of the mullahs is not a good sign. We who live abroad as overseas Pakistanis do so not only because of the economic opportunities but also because many of us could not accept the intolerance of the Zia ul Haq era. You have to speak for all Pakistanis including the minorities and so long as they are dedicated to a strong Pakistan then embrace them. Do not forget that Jinnah's first foreign minister was an Ahmadi, and two of the greatest judges of the Supreme Court were a Christian and a Hindu; Justice Cornelius and Judge Dorab Patel.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Trump In a Banana Republic.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Something has gone terribly wrong. Donald J Trump got elected in the wrong country. Come on this is serious. He was supposed to head up some banana republic and his nomination papers got all messed up and he ended up winning the GOP ticket and even the election. Biggest proof of this being a mistake is that HE WAS NOT EVEN A REPUBLICAN. While the GOP stalwarts were busy trying to figure out what happened Mr Trump had taken the oath of office; to the largest crowd ever in a banana republic.

The whole mystery of why there has been such a large turnover of White House officials and his cabinet is easy to explain. Every staffer or cabinet member who has gone up to President Trump and reminded him that he is not the elected President of a banana republic but is in the US and he should stop watching documentaries of Idi Amin, the reaction is the person is fired next morning. Sadly Mr Trump does not read otherwise I would recommend he read The Autumn of the Patriarch because much like the dictators around whom this amazing novel is centered, Mr Trump does believe that his word is a command.

Much like dictators he does not tolerate dissent or even disagreement, and one can imagine to survive around him one needs to see a spine surgeon and have ones spine removed. Directing the state apparatus to punish anyone the dictator does not agree with was common and now one wonders if telling the Justice Department who to go after and also lambasting Jeff Sessions for indicting two GOP Congressmen just fits into the banana republic that Mr Trump wants.

Banana republics stand out by the fact that the press is either muzzled or totally absent. Mr Trump has taken the hammer on the press and anyone, and we mean anyone, who disagrees within him in the public media is 'fake news'. The message is not that he wants you to believe they are fake news, in his banana republic type of thinking he simply wants them to disappear. For him Sean Hannity and Fox and Friends are the only true press and rest are garbage and when a dictator says they are garbage then they must be closed down.

However, here is the problem, Mr Trump has the desires of banana republic leader and yet has also discovered that the was elected in the wrong country. After all in the country of his good friend Putin, now that is a man with substance, you disagree with him and you pay a price. Better still his even closer friend in North Korea, where you cannot even think to disagree, and when you have thoughts censored you will obviously never have a problem with free speech and the media.

Leaders of banana republics love their parades, the military ones, it gives them a chance to tell the fortunate masses that not only do they have a great leader at the helm but one who controls a vast arsenal of planes, tanks, and troops. It is no surprise that Mr Trump has been wanting his military parade and had the US  been a true banana republic then how dare the mayor of Washington stand in his way?

So what is Donald J Trump going to do? Well if you can't go to the mountain you have to find a way to bring the mountain to you. Well there is this little thing called the Constitution of USA, so that can be fixed by loading the Supreme Court with like minded guys, after all if it needs to be done that way why not. Then there is the problem of the Congress. This is seemingly a harder task but then if Mr Trump can scare them into believing his base is so large that it can even oust them then presto he can have them tow the line. Look at Lindsey Graham who in 2015 called Mr Trump a racist and three years later proudly says he never heard even a hint of racism from Donald J Trump. Come on Lindsey we need to know which is a true statement?


The big question is when will people see through the fact that they got the wrong President for the right country, or to put it differently the right President for the wrong country. Perhaps this is what Trump wants us to believe, that his image of USA and how it should be run is the correct one and if 300 million odd people got it wrong well they will just have to fix their thinking. Meanwhile reports are filtering out that Mr. Trump is designing a President's uniform and its most likely going to be orange and some other bright colors. Of course how can the head of a banana republic have a uniform and no medals, after all he dodged military service, (unless there is a medal for that). He cannot ask Putin to give him a medal or a bunch of them; that would play into the collusion theory. He could ask his friend Kim in North Korea to toss over a few (after all his jacket is over loaded).

I do humbly ask the US Congress to pass special legislation honoring Donald J Trump with a whole host of special medals: Medal of Dishonor, Medal for Lying in the face of the fake news, Medal for Grabbing (we will not say where), Medal for Non Cooperation in International Affairs, The Order of the Great Wall, The Congressional Medal for Payoffs, Medal for Many Many Many good things, Medal for the most disorganized White House, Medal for Racial Inequality, Medal for Excellence in Golf during a crisis, The Order of Distinction in Starting a Word Trade War, and finally The Medal for the most Un-Invited President.

My American friends be thankful for the fact that you have been given, even by error, President Donald J Trump, a true President for a banana republic and now it is your duty to make your great nation into the banana republic that Mr Trump was destined to rule over. Long Live the President (King), and may his humble subjects know their place in his presence.




Thursday, August 30, 2018

New Pakistan and US interests: First contact.

In a few days from now US Secretary of States Mike Pompeo  and the US Chairman of Joint Chief of Staff, General Joseph Dunford will arrive in Islamabad for the first face to face contact between the new govenrment of Imran Khan and US officials. Initial comments from Washington are that South Asia is vital to US presence in the region and fighting terrorism is high on the agenda. After the Pakistan visit Pompeo will head to New Delhi where he will joined by the US Secretary of Defense Mattis for a two plus two meeting with Indian officials and a number of agreements, including defense matters are expected to be signed.

This visit can be viewed with an open mind considering that the PTI government has not yet dealt with specifics on their foreign policy agenda. To that extent the US will see the visit as exploring the landscape of the PTI government on issues of terrorism, stability in Afghanistan and gauge the acceptance of the new government by the powerful Pakistan military. The Indian meetings by US officials could well be seen as a pressure tactic to let Pakistan's new government know that India and the US can forge a relationship which could not necessarily be in the best interests of Pakistan unless they tow the US line, especially on terrorism.

Imran Khan and his government a likely to view the issues fundamentally different from the way Pompeo and Washington see matters. In Khan's eyes the issue of fighting terrorism cannot result in Pakistan being a client state to the will of the US, or for that matter anyone. Does this mean they will continue with fighting terrorism? I would like to believe yes, but not in the way that the US would want a free hand in conducting operations on Pakistani soil. Imran is a fiercely independent person and to him respecting Pakistan's sovereignty will be paramount.

For the US the issue will be of trusting Pakistan's commitment to fight terrorism and their constant fear that to some extent there could be collaboration between Pakistani officials and the terrorists to fore warn them of impending attacks. General Bajwa and the military high command in the Pakistani military are radically different from the people who followed Gen Zia ul Haq and his Islamist agenda which did mean closeness to the Taliban. After the horrifying attacks on Pakistanis by the Afghan based Pakistan Taliban any notion of the military wanting to help these elements is out of the question. Imran is most likely going to convey this to the visitors and in a sense he has a better card to play. If the US does not accept the position of his government then he can simply say we will take care of what is within our borders and others look after their borders.

Unlike the PPP and PMLN governments before him Imran Khan has no misgivings that the US will be an evergreen ally of Pakistan. In his eyes the cost Pakistan has paid in over 54,000 casualties from the war on terror is far more than the $20 billion of aid given to Pakistan by the US. This does not mean he is not a realist. Pakistan does want stability in Afghanistan but he will be equally forceful to emphasize that Pakistan is also the victim of cross border attacks from Afghanistan. On the Indian side while Kashmir, like always will be discussed, it is more likely that Islamabad will do well to present the evidence of Indian interference in Baluchistan.

It is also clear that the US and India would know that with the CEPC agreement with China there is no doubt that China now has an economic and political interest in stability in Baluchistan, where the main port to be used by CPEC is based. India shelters one of the Baluch dissident leaders from where he has been trying to stir trouble in Baluchistan. I would not be surprised soon after Mr Pompeo leaves a high ranking visit from Beijing will emerge. It is natural that the closer India and the US become the closer will China and Pakistan be.

While we are not dealing with Cold War politics and alliances, there is a sense within Pakistan for some generations now that the US does not really regard its links to Islamabad as a high priority. Yet so long as US has a military presence in Afghanistan having Pakistan friend is vital to maintain supplies and support from and through Pakistan. Imran Khan has indicated that he would ike to work with Kabul on a new footing and this would mean an admission by them that terrorist elements from their side of the border do cross into Pakistan to commit heinous crimes. I do believe that as Pakistan and Afghanistan work out a better relationship the US will also see the utility of treating Pakistan more as an ally rather than as a lackey.

In essence Washington can see its relationship with Islamabad through the clouded glass of past perceptions, or it can accept that in the new vision of Pakistan Imran Khan and his government could present the opportunity for a fresh start. This will need a new approach to cooperation on issues of mutual concern and for its part it is more likely that Pakistan too will not rely on US economic and military aid as much as it has in the past. Pakistan will also have to show its commitment to a new approach to regional politics and a serious desire to reduce tensions in the region. While thorny issues with both Afghanistan and India may remain the embracing of dialogue and reducing tensions will determine the depth and sincerity of this new approach.

On a note of caution nothing major would come out of this first contact other than each getting a sense of the other side. I am also convinced that the US side might well be impressed that indeed a new Pakistan is emerging and with it they in Washington will have to also develop a new strategy for South Asia. I would imagine admitting that Pakistan has been a victim of terrorism also is a good start.




Wednesday, August 29, 2018

McCain: Imprint from his death.


The passing of John McCain is a monumental, but sad, event in two crucial ways; its the end of an era for a man who stood by what he believed and on the other hand it defined the pettiness of the man who happens to be the President of USA, Mr. Donald Trump.

John McCain was a permanent fixture on the US political scene, with his presence in the Senate, his unsuccessful bids to become the President of the country, and most of his conviction in what he believed. While one may not have agreed with him on many issues one had to concede that he was a Republican with a heart of decency and good values. For me one of the most memorable moments was when one of his supporters lashed out, in a Q&A session against Barrack Obama, with whom McCain was locked in battle for the Presidency, he stopped the lady and told her that Obama was a decent American and showed a rare pedigree of respect for his opponent that makes it a memorable moment.

He put the interest of the country first at all times and worked in the Senate with a bipartisan spirit which won him the respect from the other side of the aisle. While for us foreigners abroad he did articulate an aggressive foreign policy stance, which one could disagree with, he still allowed his conscious to decide his position of matters. He was against the use of torture as a means of policy and while not pro-immigration, was certainly not devoid of humanism on the issue. His critics may say he was too wishy washy and middle of the road, but it would seem he was torn on many issues, like abortion, immigration and taxes. I showed that he tried to gauge the pulse of the nation in deciding at a particular time his voting pattern.

As he gradually drifted closer to his end from the brain cancer, John McCain was detailed in planning how his funeral must be held and in it sow the seeds of a remembrance that would define him for generations to come. The fact that amongst others he asked for former President's Bush and Obama to offer an eulogy at his funeral shows the depth of the man. Absent from even the list of invitees is President Trump.

This brings us to the second imprint from the death of this American hero, John McCain. Trump has shown a pettiness in dealing with the death of John McCain that shows the character, or the lack of it, in Trump himself. Just as one cannot forget the image of McCain correcting the woman one cannot forget the image of Trump hands folded in front of him and ignoring questions about the death of John McCain. He even stopped the issuance for a formal statement from the White House on the death of the Senator, and some suggest was behind the fact that the flag did not fly at half mast over the White House on that first day.

Yes McCain was no fan of Trump and disagreed with him, and indeed he was a bitter rival of both Bush and Obama. However, both Bush and Obama had the class, as indeed did McCain did, to know that political differences and personal respect do not have to be strange bedfellows. At the end of the day we are brought up to say that once a person dies we must not speak ill of them.

All differences aside Trump could have acted Presidential, he could have taken the higher moral ground and invited or not to the funeral made sure he pays the right tribute to an American who was first and foremost a patriot. Sadly the death of John McCain defines the greatness of McCain in the same way it defines the characterless pettiness of Donald Trump.


Sunday, August 26, 2018

Imran's Government and Tolerance.



When Imran Khan gave his speech, which comprehensively covered many subjects of national interest, I mentioned two aspects were visibly missing in his speech. The protection of minorities and upholding the freedom of the press. In any democracy worth its salt these two aspects of society form the litmus test against which the sincerity of the democratic process will be measured. I have followed the social media and recent events within Pakistan with a slight sense of unease. While attacks against a free press have not emerged there has been an upsurge of violence against the Ahmadi community of Pakistan.

On the social media side I find PTI supporters seem to be aggressively rude to anyone who criticizes the PTI government and particularly Imran himself. I do feel social media played a role in marshalling the young voters to the PTI camp, and kudos for Imran and his team to do that, but it is time they make a sincere effort to educate their followers that dissent and disagreement are the pillars upon which democracies are built. Trolling someone who disagrees with you is really creating an elected oligarchy and the first steps towards elected fascism.

I am sure a number of tweets are ready to be targeted at me right now, so let it be said that Imran Khan's knows I am a friend of his and a well wisher of his, but he also knows I would be the first to tell him and his party members when I feel he is wrong. What is said is to benefit him and he would know that sycophants for friends are really the enemy within who do not advise one when one is making mistakes. So for what it is worth here is my say.

Minorities.

I have always taken inspiration from Mr Jinnah the father of our nation, who was adamant in his speech to the Constituent Assembly in 1947 what in framing the constitution they must consider Pakistan as the country for people of all faiths. I also believe that Mr Bhutto embattled by street protests in 1976 declared the Ahmadis as 'non muslims' to appease the religious right who were stone throwing against him in growing numbers. I am not an Ahmadi and yet as a Muslim I do not believe that Mr Bhutto or even the National Assembly has the right to declare anyone a non-Muslim. This is a dangerous trend and in the end everyone can decide who is a Muslim and who is not.

That aside, its an event of history and one has lived with it. But what one cannot live with is militant attacks against a community based on hatred or petty disputes that are then given a religious color. IN the same token it is not for the Mullahs or any one to tell a community if they can celebrate a religious event or not. This is against the teachings of our Prophet and contrary to the tolerance He showed towards the other faiths. In the end whether someone is a good human being or a good Muslim or Christian, or Hindu or Ahmadi will be only in the hands of Allah and not decided from the pulpit of a Mullah with a narrow view of not only the world but the very religion he claims to speak for.

I believe the Minister of Human Rights and the Prime Minister himself should take a clear and forceful stand on such intolerance and ensure that minorities are protected. It is not about restoring any image of Pakistan, it is about doing the right thing and the decent thing. A mere promise of investigating matters is one small step in the right direction, but something bigger, bolder and noble has to be done. The militant Mullahs must know that the laws of the land do not allow such discrimination and certainly not such violence and they should be dealt with accordingly.


Free Press and Social Media.

As said before the social media was a critical part if the PTI strategy, and they certainly knew how it use it effectively and good for them. However, this social media following should not be used to educate their followers to show tolerance, respect and dignity towards all who may disagree with them. Sadly this technology of a nano second can also create a hysteria where violence can erupt. After all just recently in India a Muslim man was killed because someone spread a false news about him slaughtering a cow and lo and behold he was lynched. The incident of the attack on the Ahmadi community was also instigated in part by a social media false narrative that the Ahmadi's had attacked some Sunni Muslims, a news that the Mullahs caught on to, did not verify and launched their die hard supporters to take revenge.

These things should not happen in the Naya (New) Pakistan and while these incidents are isolated they do not abode well for the country if not checked now. Imran you have the charisma to tell your followers that you do not want them to behave in this way, you have the ability to tell them to be decent and dignified in the New Pakistan and to accept criticism and praise in the same manner. This is the best education you can impart upon the nation.


We have to learn only from how in the US social media has been used by none other than the country's President to create divisions and hatred of a level never seen before. I would argue that the fissures that Mr Trump has created in American society will take generations to heal. I believe Imran you are way different and better than Mr Trump and you can set the example of decency and respect and tolerance for minorities like never before. This was also the hallmark of our Prophet's governance.