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Friday, September 08, 2006

May 'The Force' be with you, PH!

A very dear and respected friend, Pervez Hoodbhoy - Scientist, Educator, Activist - pushed the boundaries of media freedom on Geo TV a couple of nights ago. Here is the episode in his own words:

Last night (6th September) I tested the limits of media freedom.Geo TV asked me to be one of the guests for a live program on Defence Day when our glorious army had the greatest victory of all history. General Omer and Air Marshal Sheikh from Karachi, and me plus a wimpy ex-ambassador, Tariq Fatimi, from Islamabad. Well, they all prattled on about the importance of 1965, power, strength, etc. until I get my first chance to speak or, rather, launch a broadside. So I went into 1971, Kargil, and the fact that this great and glorious army has been throwing bombs and machine gunning the Pakistani population in places like Balochistan and Waziristan, and the only war it has won has been against our own people. The anchor (Chughtai) kept interrupting me but I fended him off until it appeared useless and then I threw off the microphone and walked off. The link to Karachi, where the anchor was based with the two military men, mysteriously broke so I do not know whether this walkout was visible. Actually, I have no idea of how much I said was heard, even though it was a live program because at home our TV does not work. Anyhow, I reached the elevator outside and a bunch of Geo people came to persuade me that I should return and complete what I had been saying. They said they liked very much what I was saying and hate the army too. So I did. The anchorman eventually returned to me and asked me about the economy. So I launched a second broadside about the army having eaten Pakistan out of the house, having become real estate sharks, forcibly capturing industries. I ended by saying that fauj ka kam mulk ka difah karma hai, cheenee aur dalia banana nahin hai. He cut me off once again and launched into a panegyric of the army's great sacrifices! So there you have it. This country lives in terror of its occupiers and murderers of our people. Unless we get rid of this parasitic entity known as the Pakistan Army, we are all done for. Whether the ISI comes knocking at my door today or not, the truth had to be said.
I realize that not every reader will subscribe to Pervez's views. and many may find them too harsh. But my posting this is less about soliciting agreement with or criticism of his stance, though that's welcome, too, but more about celebrating the pushing of the envelope on our media and offering all views a fair hearing. We get enough preaching down on all other matters from the establishment. And: Thank you, too, Geo!

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Blogger Zakintosh said...

Here's one response. Let the games begin!

Letters to the Editor, The Citizen.

Dear Professor:

I always admired you for your pragmatism but was not aware of your such intense hatred for the forces. In your words,

"They said they liked very much what I was saying and they hate the army. So I did go back".

That obviously pleased you because of which you went back.

Dear Professor, please let me assure you, even if you hate army, it will do its duty, even by sacrificing its life, of safeguarding the chastity and honour of your mother, wife and sister if ever God Forbid the Indian army Sikhs and Jats cast an evil eye on them.

Col. Jafri (Retd)

08 September, 2006 12:36

Blogger the olive ream said...

I've had the opportunity (and the pleasure) of reading Hoodbhoy's articles. I wish I could see this episode of Pervez going balistic on GEO TV. I would have enjoyed it for sure!

I think what he said reflects the views of a number of people in Pakistan. I personally don't HATE the army, but I do believe they've played a primary part in seriously buggering up things in Pakistan on too many damn occasions. Their role as 'defenders' of the country is not in question, but what is a serious problem is their pretentious belief that they qualify to be leaders of the country. Everytime the take the helm, things screw-up even more than they are. And it certainly doesn't help that Army Control gets the supporting nudge from the geniuses in Washington DC.

08 September, 2006 14:41

Anonymous ayesha said...

Hats off to GEO indeed!

First Zara Sochiye and now this. Thank you sharing this!

08 September, 2006 17:28

Anonymous Rashid Latif Ansari said...

I salute you, Pervez, for your courage and forthrightness, while participating in a Geo TV program. I did not know about that program otherwise I would have been glued to the TV set during the telecast. It is only through this blog that I have come to know of what happened on the 6th.

Although most of us share your views and would very much like to see the end of Washington's colonialisation of Pakistan through Pak Army, not many can muster the courage to bell the cat.

I take my hat off to you.

08 September, 2006 19:47

Blogger Teeth Maestro said...

Hats off to PH - i wish someone could get this on youtube or something Would love to watch it and see how loud he actally was. I wish more poeple had the gutts like him to stand up and say it as it is

Well Done PH

08 September, 2006 22:04

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Col Jaffri:

Your defence of the army is laudable and your resolve to defend the honor of pakistani women is admirable. But sir, you do that by defeating the perfidious indian army at the border and not by overthrowing democratic govts and hanging or exiling prime ministers and riding roughshod over pakistani civilians and as far as I know that is the only thing you have ever done.

Alex, USA

09 September, 2006 00:55

Anonymous rayhan said...

phayjee bhayya phauji bhayya say kaahay takarvah layt ho?

09 September, 2006 02:36

Anonymous Hira Nabi said...

thankyou for sharing this with all of us zak.
kudos to PH!!
someone does seriously need to get this on youtube.

09 September, 2006 12:36

Anonymous Rehan Haque said...

I was able to catch the part of the program after Mr. Hoodbhoy's return to the talk.

I read in the papers today that Emergency has been declared in Hyderabad, due to the city coming under water after heavy rains. The headline said., "Army called into Hyderabad". If they're good enough to save us from drowning or falling into mountain cracks caused by earthquakes, why not democracy, or whatever we have in Pakistan?

One part of me feels that the role of the Army should be restricted to the military defence of the country. Another part feels somewhat ashamed that in the last 57 years or so, we have been unable to produce even a single honest political leader in this country. And by some twisted default, we look at the Army with hopeful eyes, to save us from these butchers of truth, some call politicians.

I think it has become a case of 'necessary of the 2 evils', for me at least.

I'm confused.

09 September, 2006 17:48

Blogger sabizak said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10 September, 2006 00:25

Anonymous uXuf said...

The nasha of power is overwhelming... It's not entirely the army's fault that we have such a trussed-up place to live in. What do we do about it? It's a common adage that the ruler of a people has the characteristics of the people, and the *people* always try to save their bottoms (substitute that word here)...

We elect, (or rather, don't elect by choosing not to vote) such rogues that skimper off to the army whenever their throne is in danger. We have to make a difference, and we shall!

10 September, 2006 05:35

Anonymous Mansoor Alam said...

Col. Jafri says that it [the Pak Army] will save the honour of my mother, sister etc. in case the Indian army invaded Pakistan. But which army he is talking about?
The army which took military action on 25 March 1971 in East Pakistan and violated the honour of so many Pakistani Muslim women simply because they were Bengali?
I suggest he should read Brigadier (R) A R Siddiqui's book "The End Game" and Hassan Zaheer's book on the break up of East Pakistan and the army's role in it.
I wonder where Col. Jafri was then posted?

10 September, 2006 18:02

Anonymous Maqbool said...

I agree with the good Col.

This is the wrong time to be critical of our Armed forces, specially at a time people are saying unfairly that: 'over the years they have killed more Pakistani's than Indians'.
A good professional army, like ours, is always ready to defend our motherland - but it must keep itself always on alert, and its officers should not be delegated to running corporations or Dept's - but be on the 'always ready', with our Jawans - a job they have all done very well in defending our unfriendly borders, which seem to be becoming more unfriendly as time move on...

At the same time, I do not understand why all the new Cantt's are being set up mid-country. Surely to safe guard our country these should be built as close to our borders as possible? So our armed forces can move rapidly into action against our enemies.

The good Col. could be kind enough to explain the strategic reasons for this, to us laymen ?

Lastly, the Government has defined Senior Citizens as those from the age of 60 in the last Budget - Surely there is not need for 70 year old's to be appointed as Chairman of this or that ?

Don't these people deserve a well earned retirement? The Govt., as suggested by the Parliamentary Committee on the Fed Services Commission, should appoint people of not more than 65, for a 3 year term of office to any position, where the Govt. is the nominee!

Doesn't this make more sense? Rather than have people there in perpetuity (good or bad) as new people always bring new ideas.

This is a time for the country to mend its internal problems and be alert and prepared to defend its borders - We live in a great country, we must all defend it.

Maqbool (

10 September, 2006 18:09

Anonymous Basharat Hussain Mirza said...

What ever Mr. Pervaz Daudbhai said is correct. But we need a strong army as well, otherwise our enemies would dare to do their job.

Truth is always bitter but Zalim Hukumran ke Samne Kalmae Haq Kahna Jihad Hay.

Criticism on weakness with praise on achievements makes things balanced.

10 September, 2006 18:13

Anonymous Isa Daudpota said...

Pity I missed the show, but then one needs a TV for it, and have yet to master lip-reading.

I guess the censors were pretty quick at blocking what PH had to say. ('Parvaz Daudbhai'- see above - good to see someone else's name messed up!)

It may have been better to have conveyed the message without PH putting on the after-burners.

If the idea is to convert people to your way of thinking then it helps to be heard.

The army isn't going anywhere until we solve the Kash problem. And the Kash problem will remain until the army sees it as its reason for existence. So who's gonna cut the Gordian knot?

11 September, 2006 22:55

Anonymous Saima said...

Wish I had seen the show. I strongly feel that the army is primarily responsible for the complete collapse of political processes and institutional integrity in Pakistan. Frequent interruptions and military takeovers have singlehandedly created a fragmented and characterless society. Since political systems (whatever shape these may have eventually taken) were not allowed to develop right from the start, a tradition of accountability and strong institutions never developed. Hence everyone feels they are above the law. What we have managed to do is create a society of selfseekers. This is reflected in every sector. Despite all of Musharraf's claims of economic success, our businessmen are still not businessmen, they're dealmakers.

We would love to have Pervez Hoodbhoy come down to lahore and give a talk. Is that possible? He can talk about anything he likes.

12 September, 2006 20:42

Anonymous mehreen said...

@isa daudpota
"If the idea is to convert people to your way of thinking then it helps to be heard."

Forced conversions are what Pakistan is all about ... You either accept the Army/Government POV or you are a traitor. You either accept the Islamic POV (as defined by the sect in power) or you are a non-Muslim, or worse - a Murtid.

Best to out-shout the opponent and be heard by some than to try Reason and be scoffed at by the majority that have abandonded it for Faith.

13 September, 2006 12:34

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Col. Jafri (Retd)

I admire your feelings for army of nation. But there are some rules for everybody. What you are saying is that you are pure hearted person and all other across border looks to you with jeolosy..

Pakistan army has only won fight against their own country people. They are not defendor but are oppressor.

Ayub Khan, Haq and now Musharraf all are sam. Power hungry and money hungry


keep it up. People need to use their brain and learn the reality and not live in artificial world created by their Masters

08 October, 2006 07:54


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