Make me a useful President! and other stories…

10 03 2009

I wonder what went through his mind, when General Musharraf laid out his “useful contribution – useless president” appeal to the media. I have not seen his video but reading his comments I would be surprised if the general was not smoking the best quality weed freshly imported from Afghanistan.

The comments betray a certain degree of anguish for the great travesty of justice that he had to endure, when he was asked not so politely with all concerned to step down and reinstate democracy or face consequences of the junta uprising. But the comments also betray not a small amount of ridiculousness and senility.

That his assertions and aspirations are in such contrast to his actual position of non-existence in public imagination, paints a man who is intoxicated by power. And power only ever breeds greed for more power.

Not only that Musharraf does not realise that his moment is now past, the point is lost to Musharraf that he is the one who is responsible to take over a country from corrupt but still functional political system and deliver it to the door marked failed state. Pakistan was no paradise under Nawaz Shareef but at least it was a working system. A system no doubt under pressure of a stagnant economy, dependent on aids and subsidised imports, but still essentially supporting a country and making sure it stood on its own two feet.

Musharraf changed it all and you have to look at Pakistan to see how things can go so horribly wrong in a short span of 8 – 9 years. Pakistan not unlike India, have mostly non-qualified men with limited vision as the leaders of their union. However, despite the plurality of the Indian government, we have at least always had a true statesman as Prime Minister who have endeavoured to do justice to his / her designation.

Manmohan Singh – the professor with impeccable track record.
Vajpayee – the quintessential administrator and an orator par excellence.

Even when BJP and Congress were not in power, we had people like IK Gujral, who if anything was at least diplomat with an absolute clean billing. PV Narsimha Rao, despite of all his tainted image, can take part of the praise for putting the wheels in motion for the Indian Economic revolution. Only person in recent past that did not impress would have to be HD Devegowda, and he wasn’t allowed too long on the job, was he?

Now compare this with the Pakistani current crop of leaders.

Asif Zardari – a backdoor powerbroker who wants to be seen as a patriarchal messiah who can deliver prosperity to Pakistan. Only one problem, he ain’t no Caeser. In fact, he is more like Nero playing fiddle as Rome burns. And nothing more could have been expected from someone who till death of his wife was a truly marginal figure only to be thrust to national prominence, and sure as hell it wasn’t by design. Zardari continues playing political games to cement his hold, but he would do well to remember that the tighter he tries to grip the Presidential seat, the closer he comes to face the same fate that his father-in-law faced when General Zia took over.

Zardari can be proud of the fact that in less than 12 months of his rule he has created the most perfect conditions for Kayani to take his (apparently) rightful place on the throne of Pakistan. Musharraf rule had eroded much of that mythic credibility of the army rule and it was impossible to imagine another Army takeover any time soon. I am sure the sorcerer Zardari believes in that daisy saying “Impossible says I’m possible!”. Look he made the unimaginable materialize. Huh! But then what else could you expect from a dubious middleman, with all the experience of a broker stringing together those dirty deals?

Nawaz Shareef – a pompous self-appointed leading light of Pakistan, with a piss poor track record of ineffective leadership to boot. He is far from a statesman you would want representing your country. This is the same guy who was shopping abroad as Kargil was underway. Sharif has built a substantial empire from his time as the head of state and he is back for more, waiting in the wings for his opportunity to lay his hands on the official pie.

Musharraf himself is no angel.

All of them when given / taken power have had a single point agenda of centralising power so that they may extend their dictatorial reigns. In Pakistan, even the democratically elected government is no different from a Musharraf or Zia ul Haq. It comes as little surprise then that Pakistan is a country where the powers that may be, are hell bent about manually overriding the ignition fuse to hasten the implosion, just to see if the bang would make a more genial environment for them to rule.

Back to the General, he said and I quote:

“If I am offered the post of President and if I can be a useful President…then I will want to contribute to this country,” Musharraf said.

Addressing a news conference here on his return from a four-day visit to India, Musharraf however made it clear that he did not “want to be a useless President“.

Its funny if you read these statements. What could he possibly mean by a useful President and useless president? I mean to me it sounds that there are others responsible for making him useful or useless. A man who ruled with unlimited power and with scant regard to not only letter of the law but also to the citizens of his country, now apparently wants or expects to suddenly be made a useful president! And who would make him a useful president? Does he want the local and world media to describe him as the saviour of all things pure and good? It would be good to get a definition and a lesson on usefulness from a man who ran his country to the ground and given another chance would erase it from the name of World Map. And while he achieves all this he would also find enough time to train his envied gaze east and scheme how to export some of his baggage of woes to India.

One thing I am sure of though is Kayani wouldn’t be too impressed by Musharraf. Musharraf would have already been asked by the brass to enjoy his retirement, else they would be happy to send him help for his transition to the afterlife.

“I am not joining any political party. In the current environment, I have no intention of joining politics. Frankly, I haven’t given any serious thought to joining politics,” he said in response to another question.

I bet he wouldn’t. It would come as a surprise if his sorry self has done enough to get his better-half’s vote.

Musharraf also said the people of Pakistan should support the Army and the ISI and strengthen them.

Haha! We have this saying in Hindi “Bandar kitna bhi booddha kyon na ho jaye, gulaati maarna nahi bhoolta” (regardless of his age, a monkey can never forget the fine art of gymnastics). Mr. Musharraf, that wasn’t too surprising now, was it?

Half of Pakistan’s problems have ever stemmed out from that hugely disproportionate defense services that you maintain. ISI is the single biggest reason why you are in the crappy state of affairs you are in. Defense spending is single biggest reason for your economy being unattractive and stagnating, which in turn makes the whole environment non-business conducive. Its good to be proud of your defense services, but Pakistan army has really taken a whole nation for a ride and they need their support to continue fleecing them. The thought must be very ingratiating I must say.

Swindled by polity for personal gains, deceived by the Army for self-serving agendas, pounded by an apparent friendly ally, eaten out from within by extremists who have long since erased that huge line that separated friends from foe, I just wonder where is the solution for all of this misery?

Its becoming a clichéd line – “an unstable Pakistan means a very real and dangerous problem for India”, but if ever it was more true. I really hope there is a way back from the brink for Pakistan.


Winter of Cricket Madness

28 02 2008

Anybody who has been following the Indian tour of Aussies, must be wide eyed. Wow! What a series!

Shed your sensitivities and how Indians have been offended – this has been a perfect series. Its got drama, emotions, fast bowlers back in fashion, low score, villainous umpires, Goliath vs. Goliath, great upset. Why the hell are we complaining about it?

There have been suggestions by BCCI to put a ban on sledging but seriously what good would that do? It would just end up making a dour sport duller. Atleast, India’s tour of Australia proves, that cricket can be maddening fun and even a hardboiled player can be such a bitch.

Its great to see Indians competing against Australians in Australia and not holding anything back. However, its easy to see that the young team is getting carried away and almost being brash in their field antics. At the other end, Australian players are playing experienced and its easy to see how they are leading Indians to get charged up and make mistakes. Some clear examples:

  • Ponting slipping in a couple of words to Harbhajan as he returns to pavilion
  • Symonds mouthing off as he gets out. (And with all that animated gesture shown clearly on the video, he wants us to believe all he said was “Good ball”). C’mon
  • Hayden’s recent “Obnoxious weed” comment.

All were meant to unsettle the opposition and all were successful in doing so without getting Aussies into problem (except Hayden). As Dhoni said the other day, sledging is an art (mastered by Aussies). It has to be perfected, to give as much back without getting charged.

I love the way Aussies play – hard, aggressive even though a tad unfair. They go about things believing in their ability and desire to win. But I will give it to the Indian players that they have proved to be a worthy foe and not just rolled over.

If I was to pick one player to come out worst of this series, it would undoubtedly be Ponting. He has been acting like a schizophrenic all the time. One moment he talks about hard and fair play, next moment he is all worked up when somebody says his appeal for a catch was unfair (based on video evidence). One moment he gives suggestions to umpire about a decision and next moment he grins a devious smile when interviewed about gentleman’s catching agreement. One moment he gives it as bad as he can to the opposition but the next moment he is next to umpire when he gets some. I was a fan of Ponting, when all he knew was how to put the opposition to the mat. He now acts like a wussy. What a stark change!

However, the biggest issue of this mid-winter madness is the marked animosity between the citizens of two countries. Australians think Indians are louts and degenerates, and Indians call Aussies crooks and whiners. And this feeling is spreading like fire, more so over the web. There are millions and millions of forums doing nothing but abusing each others country and countrymen. Articles and blog sites having a field day with all the bi-polar comments that are flying around. Surely the matter of winning a game or a series can not be as important that you come to a point where both the country sees each other but objects deserving vilification. Players have done nothing to help and boards of both the countries lesser so.

I would say we are being treated to best cricket on display with a very heady mix of a great cricketing rivalry. Lets just keep our sensitivities aside and stop labeling Australians for what their players are doing on the field. Lets just support our own team and let Aussies take care of their own bunch. Finally, lets enjoy the Cricket!

Lest we forget…

30 08 2007

I was off to Pune for celebrating Rakhi with my sisters. It was the first time in almost 16 years that the three of us for together for the occasion but the event was dented by the twin bomb blasts in Hyderabad. Even though it hurts me when any part of India is under proxy attack but I feel enraged when it happens in Hyderabad (a place I have come to consider as home). Being a hardcore North Indian (and for all my regional sympathies) I find Hyderabadis specifically and Andhraites in general probably the most easy going, and tolerant denizens I have come across. They assimilate everyone and anything with open arms and open heart. And an attack at the most secular canvas of India is heinous to stay the least.

However, not just Hyderabad but why does India as such proves to be such an easy target for terror attacks? I would like to put up an excerpt of my post on the Hyderabad Bol section that provides a few of my thoughts.

“…why India is a soft target is mainly to do with the policing strategy and administrative inertia. Policing strategy in India is barebones, reactionary and defensive….

…Huge acts are voted in but even a basic framework of counter-terrorism is not put into place…

The only point I may not be able to blame security agency for is profiling of possible terror elements. This is a genuine problem. In west even though they lay tall claims like “Enemy Within” their so called enemy is usually foreign and the profile of such enemy is very unique and distinguishable. In India the problem is similar to UK’s problem with IRA, the terrorist do not have a largely distinguishable front.

…There is glory in being resilient and in living life normally after such an event. And it is to Indians that we do not let anything derail us. However, not heeding to numerous attacks right in the heart of our country is being foolhardy.

We have to stop our knee jerk reaction and we have to stop acting like a soft target…”

I hope the aftershocks of Hyderabad twin blasts do not go along the same lines as the ones before. I hope the immovable bureaucracy shows some signs of action. I hope that there are finally some learnings from this tragedy. Finally, I really hope we do not see another 25/8 in India.

My condolences to the families of the people who died in this attack. My heart goes out for their losses. Lets not ever again be a soft target.


Des mere…

17 08 2007

Time flies bye. It seems just yesterday that I had posted my “Desh ke Naam Sandesh” on the 59th Anniversary of Azad Bharat. And here I sit again into the 61st year of our independence. This year I was laid low with a bout of fever and cough but got a chance to watch the Independence Day Special on Discovery channel.

Also got to listen bits and pieces of PM Mr. Manmohan Singh’s speech. The speech was unfortunately very very ordinary, I have grown used to these speeches now. The agenda remains same, the script sounds eerily familiar every year. However, the the optimism of a roaring economy is in the air and on every news channel – Indian and foreign alike.

India is fast redefining its image and India of Gregory David Robert’s Shantaram sounds like one from a different lifetime, eventhough I grew up in that India. I never imagined even in the year ’97, that in ten years I would be sitting in my house with a laptop connected to internet through a wireless switch and typing away at this blog entry.

I remember reading a definitive commentary on Indian culture and heritage – “The Wonder that WAS India” by A.L. Basham. Even as the book was amazing in its content, the “WAS” in the title was quite damning in itself of the fact that India had become a pale shadow of its glorious past. Its unfortunate that Mr. Basham is not with us anymore, else I could see him writing a sequel to the book and call it “The Wonder that is India”. The paradoxical economy thrives. Umpteen regulations, countless cases of corruption, politicians devoid of vision and commitment, anarchy rules. And even in anarchy its the common Indians who drive this country in face of numerous challenges.

This post is dedicated to INDIANS. To our hopes and to our ambitions. To our tribulations and our perseverance. To our marvelous & haunting past, to our ascending present, and to our glorious future.

So what if Sensex crashed 660 points today, tomorrow it would rise a 1000. Optimism is all around and I can not help it rubbing on to me.

Jai Hind!