Monday, November 22, 2004

Thus spake Shakespeare

Daily Times, Lahore, November 22, 2004

Sir: “Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervour, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind...And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded with patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader, and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar.”

You must have guessed it. This is a quote from Shakespeare. Make of it whatever you will.


Thursday, November 18, 2004

Palestinian mourners and Arafat

This letter was published in Daily Times, Lahore on November 18, 2004

Sir: I believe the Palestinians can hope to achieve their goal of statehood only when they learn to bury their heroes and icons with respect and dignity. The whole world watched and wondered at the chaotic and almost disrespectful way Yasser Arafat’s coffin was handled by thousands of mourning Palestinians.

In an outpouring of emotions bordering on frenzy, uncontrollable crowds clawed at Arafat’s coffin and tore away the flag that draped it.

At one point it seemed as if they would pull down the coffin itself. Contrast this with Yitzhak Rabin’s funeral some years ago. Because of his tragic death at the hands of a Jewish gunman, the people of Israel were utterly shocked. But his burial was performed in such a dignified and respectful manner that even his opponents were touched.

Aziz Akhmad

Monday, November 01, 2004

With friends like these

Published in Daily Times, Lahore on November 1,2004

Sir: I write in response to your editorial, “General Musharraf doesn’t need such advocates”, (Daily Times, October 31).

While Allama Komeli, during the senate debate, justified General Musharraf's holding two offices (that of president and chief of army staff) by referring to the examples of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and the first four caliphs, the federal parliamentary affairs minister, Dr Sher Afgan Niazi, has also drawn a parallel. He quotes the example of Oliver Cromwell in British history who, claimed Dr Naizi, was both head of state and military commander.

Had the minister read English history of that period, he would not have made this rather unflattering comparison. Cromwell was a ruthless dictator who ruled England as the ‘Lord Protector’ from 1649 to 1658. Sir Winston Churchill writes in A History of English-Speaking Peoples, “The consequences of Cromwell’s rule have distressed and at times distracted English politics even to the present day. To heal them baffled the skill and loyalties of successive generations. They became for a time a potent obstacle to the harmony of the English-speaking peoples throughout the world. Upon all of us there still lies the curse of Cromwell.”

If this is the standard of their defence, then you are right in saying that Musharraf, with friends such as these, does not need enemies.