Counter Strike
My take on the things and events in the world.

Benazir Bhutto - Legacy

Sunday, December 30, 2007
William Shakespeare rightly said:

Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.

Benazir Bhutto certainly belonged to the third category. She was elected as PPP chairperson at the age of 25 after her father was executed by Zia-ul-Haq in 1979 with the kind permission of Washington. She soon became the first elected Muslim woman prime minister. Her two stints as prime minster were utterly corrupt, became unpopular and were aborted by the intervetion of president and the army. During her rule, she and her husband Asif Ali Zardari, another feudal lord from Sindh, created new records of corruption and amassed huge wealth. She still has four cases pending against her in different European courts. These cases are in addition to the ones that were dropped by Musharraf again on behest of US. Zardari got her brother, Murtaza Bhutto killed in a police encounter, when she was in power. She obviously never took any action. But Zardari spent 8 years in prison as convict, after her government was dismissed by President Leghari (a PPP veteran) on the charges of corruption and misuse of power. After striking a deal with US and Musharraf she returned to Pakistan to again capture power and loot public money in the name of democracy. Yes, she was moderate and was against Islamic extremism, but never took any concrete steps to curb it. She was too busy in earning money. She was a charismatic leader and was not afraid at all of the greatness that was thrust upon her due to her maiden name Bhutto. In fact, she misused the name of her father to the fullest and discarded his socialist agenda. Made promises and delivered nothing. After her sad demise, her 19 years old son Bilawal has been crowned PPP chairperson to continue the legacy of the Bhutto 'royal' family in the name of democracy.

What an irony, all the women and young leaders that the democracies in south Asia have produced are result of the dynasty politics and the feudal mindset of the public at large!

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Mohtarma Bhutto Assassinated: Crisis In Pakistan Deepens

Friday, December 28, 2007
Two time former prime minister and one of the most popular leader of Pakistan, Mrs Benazir Butto was assassinated on Thursday evening by a suicide bomber, after she was leaving an election rally in Rawalpindi. Blood-soaked history of the subcontinent haunting back and plunging Pakistan deeper into the crisis, its worst after the 1971 debacle.

But the blame doesn't lie with the history alone. Her husband, Asif Ali Zardari and her party, Pakistan Peoples Party has directly blamed Gen Musharraf and the goverment for the act. The list of the suspects and the persons who might benefit from her leaving the political scene, is too long. But I think, Musharraf is unlikely to have ordered her killing. There are definitely some elements in the ruling party and the government, who could be behind the murder, along with Islamic extremist militants. She herself named the omnipotent and omnipresent intelligent agencies ISI and IB as the elements who should be held responsible if something happens to her, in the letter to Musharraf after the first assassination attempt on her life at the welcome rally in Karachi, a few months back. Musharraf and the government would have to be responsible for serious laps in security of a prominent leader who was most likely to be the next prime minister and was well known to be at the highest risk along with the president himself. The vehicle that she was travelling was not bullet proof. Can you believe that? She repeatedly complained that the jammers provided for her security were faulty. Yet no action was taken. She was shot on the head and neck just from a few feet. There was no security cordon. She was left to bleed in her car for 10 mins as people expected another blast. Where were the security personal at that time? Should not they have rescued her? And lastly, why was the scene of crime cleaned away so quickly? Was the administration afraid of its own role being known in the investigations or was it trying to save someone else?

Another important question is what to expect next in Pakistan? Well, you are never sure about the turn of events in Pakistan. Most people would have never expected what has happened yesterday. So wait and watch! One thing is sure, that Pakistan is heading towards chaos and uncertainty. Nobody, including Musharraf and America seems to be in control and nobody seems to have a credible plan. The blame for this uncertainty obviously lies on US and president Bush. Musharraf was at least firmly in control when US administration decided to clip his wings. I don't think US top leadership has any idea of the ground situation in Pakistan or how things work there. The much touted 'free and fair' elections are also in deep trouble. Nawaz Sharif has already decided to boycott them. And even if they are held in January, they would be meaningless at best. My heart goes out for the family of Mrs Bhutto and the people of Pakistan. I have no hope that the politicians or army would come together in this situation of despair and try to save their country from the threat of terrorism and extremism by forgetting their political differences and greed for power. But, I wish and hope, that the people of Pakistan would stay firm and determined as a positive force and come out as the saviours of their nation as they have done in the past.
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ईद का चाँद

Tuesday, December 18, 2007
ईद का चाँद दीवाली की रात में निकला,
तन्हा सी रात में महताब भी तन्हा निकला

बसता था मेरे दिल में वो एहसास की तरह,
दिल तोड़ गया वो मगर दिल से नही निकला

उसने न हाय की कोई मुझसे कभी वफ़ा
मैं कैसे कहूं मेरा सनम बेवफा निकाला

माज़ी से शिक़ायत है न मंजिल की जुस्तजू
रस्ता मेरा मंजिल के बहुत दूर से निकला

यह सच है कभी तूने ना समझी मेरी वफ़ा
सच ये भी है की मैं भी न काबिल तेरे निकला

मेरी न हुई ज़ीस्त में कोई दुआ कबूल
एक वो है कि जिसका तो बुत भी खुदा निकला

दिल में तेरी वफ़ा से थी आंखों में रौशनी
दिल तूने बुझाया तो धुआं आँख से निकला

रातें तो दीवाली की होती हैं अँधेरी,
महताब आरजू था मेरी जो ख्वाब में निकला
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Hello God, I Am An Atheist

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The finals week is finally over and I am feeling so relieved, free and bored! I was feeling so bored that I had to watch 5 back-to-back episodes of "Sex and the City" to get myself in the write. People, specially Indians, often ask me this question "Why don't you believe in god?". My response to this is so big and blunt that most people would get offended and yes, bored. But during past three months, I actually promised at least two friends to compile my thought about this. So here I go.

Lets first warm up a bit! In the following video, you can replace "fool" with "kafirr" if you are a Muslim and with "adharmi" if you are a Hindu. You would be at home, in case you are Christian. Wtch the video to know, what I am talking about.

The next video is really funny and is not for people who feel too strongly about their religion/faith. So don't watch it if you can not take some light hearted humor.

This video is hilarious but in fact, raises some very fundamental and obvious questions about the existence for god. We often overlook these basic questions and start debating (and preaching) on complex topics without addressing the basic premises for these topics.

Although I have so much to write on this issue. But the idea of god seems so much fundamentally flawed to me that I think, I don't need to go into gory details of holy scriptures to present my case strongly. I would like to make just three points to present my thoughts on the subject.

First, I am an atheist because I was born an atheist. In fact everybody is born innocent, lovely and atheist. When we are born we have absolutely no idea about god or religion or our culture or language or world. So why some people become Muslims, some become Christians, some Jews or Hindus. So, instead of "why I am an atheist" the real question should be why have "you" become a Muslim or Christian? Why do most people believe in the religion they believe in? Think about it. You are a Christian Protestant not because you were born a Christian Protestant or liked that belief and got converted, but simply because your parents were Christian Protestants. Because you have been told right from the beginning that it is the only right way. Because you were told not to ask question about it. You must have asked questions like why a table is called a table or why does "B" comes after "A" why not "C". Your parents like my parents would have replied that its the way it is and then we never asked questions about these things. We only ask question in areas where we are allowed to questions or where we expect to get some answers. Our parents didn't know the answers as they never got any answers from their parents. The questions about table and ABC are trivial but the question about god or religion is not. Think about it, my Muslim friends. You believe that Allah is the only God and Muhammad is his messenger. You are deeply religious, pray five times, fast during Ramadan, don't eat pork. Its good. But think, if you would have born in country side in Italy in a orthodox Christian family, you would have been believing in "father, son and holy spirit", would have been praying in Church in front of idols and would argue that Muslims are mistaken people who would go to hell on judgement day because they don't believe that Christ was son of God.

Forget about any irrationalities in the details of your religion. For five minutes, I believe what is written in Koran is true. I am ready to believe in Bible, old testament, new testament, Gita (Hindu scripture) and all other holy books and beliefs. Even in the belief of some tribe living in jungles of Africa, who worship a stone god for rain and food and offer human sacrifice in return. But I can not believe in each of them simultaneously because they all contradict each other and I have no way to choose between them and say that this religion is the only true religion. I would not claim that my religion is the only true religion because everybody is claiming that and I should have something concrete if I claim that too. And everybody is claiming that because they really believe that it is true. But wait, something is wrong here. You could have been arguing in favour of those African tribals with equal zeal if they would you would have born in that tribe. Simple. So you and I have no moral right, whatsoever to proclaim the superiority of our religion or belief. So I have no reason to believe in one religion or the other. Suppose I got ride of my backlog of religious faith imposed by my parents and society, which religion should I choose then. Try to think with open open mind why do you follow you religion and would you have believed in god the same way that you currently believe in if you had born to different parents in a different part of the world? Would you have been wrong then or are you currently wrong. Try to write down the reasons in favour of our answer.

Second, I really miss god. I seriously wish I could believe in god. Life would have been much easier. Before you start preaching from your holy scriptures to save my soul, let me first clarify my stance. People turn to god in their hour of distress and pain. Their belief, even though false, helps them to coup with their troubled lives. If something bad happens, people believe that what happened was their fate and was the divine plan. They go on to the next task without any guilty feeling of the faults they had committed earlier. They would pray to god and would have faith that god is with them and that gives them tremendous confidence. So is this a bad thing? I think, yes. Its like taking drugs to relive the mental pain and provide you that euphoric feeling. This is escapism. This why Marx calls religion "the opium of masses". And at least I don't need opium to live my life. I would like to face life by looking straight into its eyes like a man. If its hard I will face it. If I make mistakes, I would admit them or at least try to learn from them. If I fall flat, I wont put the blame on someone else. If I make a plan, I wont count on god's helping hand in it. Believe me, this make life tough. But I don't have any other option. I am open to the idea of god and spend a lot of my leisure time studying different religions and schools of thoughts. But more deep I look into a religion more ugly it becomes. But please, I am sick of those people who wants to save my soul. I would be more than happy to debate the issue but I don't want to listen the preaching that assumes the existence of god. All this becomes a waste of time because everything scriptures say is based on the very fact that I don't believe in.

Third, What I think, is the real battle? Science vs religion is not the right issue to discuss. Nor is eastern vs western civilization the main conflict point. I don't think there is any fundamental point of difference between Abrahamic religions vs rest. To me, this conflict is basically between irrational blind faith and the modern rational, logical mind. To me, this is a conflict between modernity and anti-modernism. While some people want to go forward, others are trying to go back. It is a conflict between the future and the past, between innovation and tradition, between those who value freedom and those who do not.[1] The real battle is reason vs blind faith, its backwardness vs modernization, its intolerance vs inclusiveness, its extremism vs moderation, its logic of power vs power of logic.

The battle is going on and I am optimistic that forces of reason would prevail. As Bertrand Russell puts it:

"Reason may be a small force, but it is constant and works always in one direction, while the forces of unreason destroy one another in futile strife. Therefore every orgy of unreason in the end strengthens the friends of reason, and shows afresh that they are the only true friends of humanity."

But again, before we become extremist atheists and launch some kind of crusade or witch hunt, there is another unanswered critical question. Is religion in its moderate form really an evil thing? Is even the concept of a personal god really harm full? Should we let people worship stones unless they don't throw these stone at us? I think, religion in its moderate form is still unreasonable, but not that bad. Religion, if treated as a personal issue and is not binding might in fact help the society in some ways. After all, even drugs are beneficial as painkillers, if taken with care and advise. I personally have no problems in going along with people from different faiths and backgrounds and in fact like religion a lot. But as I said before, I cant adopt it. Its just so illogical to me.

But having said that, the concept of religion and god seems too dangerous and primitive to me. Religion is fundamentally based on blind faith and false assumptions. Lack of reason is at its core. This is the prime reason that religious fundamentalists are able to muster support from the moderate masses. That is the reason that rulers have used religion as a tool to suppress masses. Faith is one thing that nobody can reason about because it is fundamentally unreasonable. Every religion has exploited and fooled people in the name of god. And people become fool again and again simply because they ARE fools. They are fools because they believed in false concepts at the first place.

Anyways, we actually don't have a choice. Religion is so much intermingled with our culture, society and value system that we cant really imagine a godless world in the near future. So I like it or not, I will have to learn to live with god in the society and follow its culture. But I would continue to live my life in the rational way. What would happen in the future is hard to predict, but I think, religion would become largely meaningless if not obsolete in the years to come.

I know that I am an ignorant fool in the eyes of most people। I am an infidel and would go to hell. All I would like to say is that:

हाँ वो नहीं खुदा परस्त जाओ वो बेवफ़ा सही,
जिसको हो दीन-ओ-दिल अज़ीज़ उसकी गली में जाये क्यों?

I, too have some unreasonable habits and quoting Ghalib is just one of them.


[1] - Taslima Nasreen on Islamic Fundamentalism"

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