Obama's Men and a Pakistani woman

When you read a headline like, ‘Obama pledges to invest in Pak democracy’ you do begin to wonder as to how democracy has become just a banking institution where you put your funds and then watch them grow. It is leader-to-leader and has nothing to do with the citizens.

Washington also began a detoxification process to rid Pakistan of the extremism it has nurtured at home to counter its obsessive fear and hatred for India, telling the country’s leadership again and again that it did not have to dread its eastern neighbour but its own home-grown militancy.

Pakistan knows that India will not initiate overt action; it has always known it. The American government does not. Or, it knows and looks the other way, trying to make smoke visible to consolidate its ‘possibility of fire’ theory. Pakistan has had to deal with home-grown militancy for a very long time, just as India does. This barter system being propagated by Obama is really a smarty tactic. He promised to give military aid to the country “to get the job done” like some feudal lord directing his minions.

In order to achieve the goal to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat” al-Qaeda and its allies in Pak, “we must deny them the space to threaten Pakistani, Afghan or American people.”

The al-Qaeda is the enemy of the United States and we know how it all started. A civil war is being made into a full-blown battle because of US presence. And to make things worse, Obama says that this is a threat to the US. The monetary aid is probably to keep the fight going, divert funds and tell the patriotic American people that this is for their own good. They must, therefore, not think about the layoffs, the recession, and the pathetic economic conditions. The ‘for your own good’ theory has made the US administration work out disastrous strategies in Afghanistan earlier and, later, Iraq. Both times they did not return with the intended targets…and Saddam Hussein was not the target. He was made one to justify the empty hands returning without the weapons of mass destruction.

“I have long said we cannot meet these challenges in isolation, nor delay the action, nor deny the resources necessary to get the job done. And that’s why we have a comprehensive (Af-Pak) strategy for the region,” said Obama.

Sure. Increase the defence budget, get more soldiers ready. These challenges are indeed isolated because each region has its own specific dynamics. Swat is not Buner, and the reaction of Islamabad to the two will be different. So, how does the US assume it knows better?

The Af-Pak strategy (a term that itself reveals ignorance) is one more sound byte till the troops go marching in.

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Since I love reading more into pictures than appears, here goes:

Obama is on centre-stage, naturally, looking earnest. His left hand is held up to emphasise a point but more to his home audience rather than the leaders flanking him. The wedding band is visible conveying the image of the family as a unit, symbolising the country as a unit

Karzai’s hands are joined together but there seems an opening between to keep options open; he is listening and his head is slightly bent towards Obama, and that could convey that he would probably be easier to tackle.

Zardari too has his hands joined and there is no room to manoeuvre; they are on the table, which means he won’t take risks. He is looking straight ahead, so the possibility of his listening through one ear and letting it out of the other are there. Also, he has a slight sneer, perhaps indicating that he knows more than he is willing to let out, or he knows what’s going on in Obama’s mind.

Based on just this one picture, I’d give Zardari marks for being the sharpest because he is playing his cards close to his chest and may spring a few surprises.

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Tatheer Daryani, a Pakistani final year student of Fine Arts Pakistani at the M S University, Baroda, has used her own hair and blood along with mercury latex and glass in her works which are being displayed as part of annual display of art works to highlight the plight of women in Pakistan.

"I cannot explain my art work in words and one has to see it to understand it. I myself wanted to be a part of my art work and I, therefore, used my own blood and hair while sculpting my idea into a definite form.”

I am all for such ‘subjective’ use in art and literature or any creative endeavour. I wonder, though, whether the avowed purpose truly manages to convey what it sets out to do. Blood and hair are universal, but would red paint and artificial hair not convey the same emotions. Had we not been informed would we even know?

Will the attention now not be on the artist’s blood and hair rather than the message she wishes to put forth? If it were about a personal journey, one can well understand. This is not to rebut such attempts but to question aloud about how much reaches how far. It applies to all of us who endeavour to do so.

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