If we’re big enough to fight a war, we should be big enough to look at it.”


When Kenneth Jarecke photographed an Iraqi man burned alive, he thought it would change the way Americans saw the Gulf War. But the media wouldn’t run the picture.

The Iraqi soldier died attempting to pull himself up over the dashboard of his truck. The flames engulfed his vehicle and incinerated his body, turning him to dusty ash and blackened bone. In a photograph taken soon afterward, the soldier’s hand reaches out of the shattered windshield, which frames his face and chest. The colors and textures of his hand and shoulders look like those of the scorched and rusted metal around him. Fire has destroyed most of his features, leaving behind a skeletal face, fixed in a final rictus. He stares without eyes.

On February 28, 1991, Kenneth Jarecke stood in front of the charred man, parked amid the carbonized bodies of his fellow soldiers, and photographed him. At one point, before he died this dramatic mid-retreat death, the soldier had had a name. He’d fought in Saddam Hussein’s army and had a rank and an assignment and a unit. He might have been devoted to the dictator who sent him to occupy Kuwait and fight the Americans. Or he might have been an unlucky young man with no prospects, recruited off the streets of Baghdad.

Jarecke took the picture just before a ceasefire officially ended Operation Desert Storm—the U.S.-led military action that drove Saddam Hussein and his troops out of Kuwait, which they had annexed and occupied the previous August. The image and its anonymous subject might have come to symbolize the Gulf War. Instead, it went unpublished in the United States, not because of military obstruction but because of editorial choices.

It’s hard to calculate the consequences of a photograph’s absence. But sanitized images of warfare, The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf argues, make it “easier … to accept bloodless language” such as 1991 references to “surgical strikes” or modern-day terminology like “kinetic warfare.” The Vietnam War, in contrast, was notable for its catalog of chilling and iconic war photography. Some images, like Ron Haeberle’s pictures of the My Lai massacre, were initially kept from the public, but other violent images—Nick Ut’s scene of child napalm victims and Eddie Adams’s photo of a Vietcong man’s execution—won Pulitzer Prizes and had a tremendous impact on the outcome of the war.

Not every gruesome photo reveals an important truth about conflict and combat. Last month, The New York Times decided—for valid ethical reasons—to remove images of dead passengers from an online story about Flight MH-17 in Ukraine and replace them with photos of mechanical wreckage. Sometimes though, omitting an image means shielding the public from the messy, imprecise consequences of a war—making the coverage incomplete, and even deceptive.

In the case of the charred Iraqi soldier, the hypnotizing and awful photograph ran against the popular myth of the Gulf War as a “video-game war”—a conflict made humane through precision bombing and night-vision equipment. By deciding not to publish it, Time magazine and the Associated Press denied the public the opportunity to confront this unknown enemy and consider his excruciating final moments.

The image was not entirely lost. The Observer in the United Kingdom and Libération in France both published it after the American media refused. Many months later, the photo also appeared in American Photo, where it stoked some controversy, but came too late to have a significant impact. All of this surprised the photographer, who had assumed the media would be only too happy to challenge the popular narrative of a clean, uncomplicated war. “When you have an image that disproves that myth,” he says today, “then you think it’s going to be widely published.”

“He was fighting to save his life to the very end, till he was completely burned up,” Jarecke says of the man he photographed. “He was trying to get out of that truck.”

“Let me say up front that I don’t like the press,” one Air Force officer declared, starting a January 1991 press briefing on a blunt note. The military’s bitterness toward the media was in no small part a legacy of the Vietnam coverage decades before. By the time the Gulf War started, the Pentagon had developed access policies that drew on press restrictions used in the U.S. wars in Grenada and Panama in the 1980s. Under this so-called “pool” system, the military grouped print, TV, and radio reporters together with cameramen and photojournalists and sent these small teams on orchestrated press junkets, supervised by Public Affairs Officers (PAOs) who kept a close watch on their charges.

By the time Operation Desert Storm began in mid-January 1991, Kenneth Jarecke had decided he no longer wanted to be a combat photographer—a profession, he says, that “dominates your life.” But after Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, Jarecke developed a low opinion of the photojournalism coming out of Desert Shield, the pre-war operation to build up troops and equipment in the Gulf“It was one picture after another of a sunset with camels and a tank,” he says. War was approaching and Jarecke says he saw a clear need for a different kind of coverage. He felt he could fill that void.

After the U.N.’s January 15, 1991 deadline for Iraq’s withdrawal from Kuwait came and went, Jarecke, now certain he should go, convinced Timemagazine to send him to Saudi Arabia. He packed up his cameras and shipped out from Andrews Air Force Base on January 17—the first day of the aerial bombing campaign against Iraq.

Out in the field with the troops, Jarecke recalls, “anybody could challenge you,” however absurdly and without reason. He remembers straying 30 feet away from his PAO and having a soldier bark at him, “What are you doing?” Jarecke retorted, “What do you mean what am I doing?”

Recounting the scene two decades later, Jarecke still sounds exasperated. “Some first lieutenant telling me, you know, where I’m gonna stand. In the middle of the desert.”

“It was one picture after another of a sunset with camels and a tank.”

As the war picked up in early February, PAOs accompanied Jarecke and several other journalists as they attached to the Army XVIII Airborne Corps and spent two weeks at the Saudi-Iraqi border doing next to nothing. That didn’t mean nothing was happening—just that they lacked access to the action.

During the same period, military photojournalist Lee Corkran was embedding with the U.S. Air Force’s 614th Tactical Fighter Squadron in Doha, Qatar, and capturing their aerial bombing campaigns. He was there to take pictures for the Pentagon to use as it saw fit—not primarily for media use. In his images, pilots look over their shoulders to check on other planes. Bombs hang off the jets’ wings, their sharp-edged darkness contrasting with the soft colors of the clouds and desert below. In the distance, the curvature of the earth is visible. On missions, Corkran’s plane would often flip upside down at high speed as the pilots dodged missiles, leaving silvery streaks in the sky. Gravitational forces multiplied the weight of his cameras—so much so that if he had ever needed to eject from the plane, his equipment could have snapped his neck. This was the air war that comprised most of the combat mission in the Gulf that winter.

The scenes Corkran witnessed weren’t just off-limits to Jarecke; they were also invisible to viewers in the United States, despite the rise of 24-hour reporting during the conflict. Gulf War television coverage, as Ken Burns wrote at the time, felt cinematic and often sensational, with “distracting theatrics” and “pounding new theme music,” as if “the war itself might be a wholly owned subsidiary of television.”

Some of the most widely seen images of the air war were shot not by photographers, but rather by unmanned cameras attached to planes and laser-guided bombs. Grainy shots and video footage of the roofs of targeted buildings, moments before impact, became a visual signature of a war that was deeply associated with phrases like “smart bombs” and “surgical strike.” The images were taken at an altitude that erased the human presence on the ground. They were black-and-white shots, some with bluish or greenish casts. One from February 1991, published in the photo book In The Eye of Desert Storm by the now-defunct Sygma photo agency, showed a bridge that was being used as an Iraqi supply route. In another, black plumes of smoke from French bombs blanketed an Iraqi Republican Guard base like ink blots. None of them looked especially violent.

The hardware-focused coverage of the war removed the empathy that Jarecke says is crucial in photography, particularly photography that’s meant to document death and violence. “A photographer without empathy,” he remarks, “is just taking up space that could be better used.”

The burned-out truck, surrounded by corpses, on the “Highway of Death”

In late February, during the war’s final hours, Jarecke and the rest of his press pool drove across the desert, each of them taking turns behind the wheel. They had been awake for several days straight. “We had no idea where we were. We were in a convoy,” Jarecke recalls. He dozed off.

When he woke up, they had parked and the sun was about to rise. It was almost 6 o’clock in the morning. The group received word that a ceasefire was a few hours away, and Jarecke remembers another member of his pool cajoling the press officer into abandoning the convoy and heading toward Kuwait City.

The group figured they were in southern Iraq, somewhere in the desert about 70 miles away from Kuwait City. They began driving toward Kuwait, hitting Highway 8 and stopping to take pictures and record video footage. They came upon a jarring scene: burned-out Iraqi military convoys and incinerated corpses. Jarecke sat in the truck, alone with Patrick Hermanson, a public affairs officer. He moved to get out of the vehicle with his cameras.

Hermanson found the idea of photographing the scene distasteful. When I asked him about the conversation, he recalled asking Jarecke, “What do you need to take a picture of that for?” Implicit in his question was a judgment: There was something dishonorable about photographing the dead.

“I’m not interested in it either,” Jarecke recalls replying. He told the officer that he didn’t want his mother to see his name next to photographs of corpses. “But if I don’t take pictures like these, people like my mom will think war is what they see in movies.” As Hermanson remembers, Jarecke added, “It’s what I came here to do. It’s what I have to do.”

“He let me go,” Jarecke recounts. “He didn’t try to stop me. He could have stopped me because it was technically not allowed under the rules of the pool. But he didn’t stop me and I walked over there.”

“If I had thought about how horrific the guy looked, I wouldn’t have been able to make the picture.”

More than two decades later, Hermanson notes that Jarecke’s resulting picture was “pretty special.” He doesn’t need to see the photograph to resurrect the scene in his mind. “It’s seared into my memory,” he says, “as if it happened yesterday.”

The incinerated man stared back at Jarecke through the camera’s viewfinder, his blackened arm reaching over the edge of the truck’s windshield. Jarecke recalls that he could “see clearly how precious life was to this guy, because he was fighting for it. He was fighting to save his life to the very end, till he was completely burned up. He was trying to get out of that truck.”

He wrote later that year in American Photo magazine that he “wasn’t thinking at all about what was there; if I had thought about how horrific the guy looked I wouldn’t have been able to make the picture.” Instead, he maintained his emotional remove by attending to the more prosaic and technical elements of photography. He kept himself steady; he concentrated on the focus. The sun shone in through the rear of the destroyed truck and backlit his subject. Another burned body lay directly in front of the vehicle, blocking a close-up shot, so Jarecke used the full 200mm zoom lens on his Canon EOS-1.

In his other shots of the same scene, it is apparent that the soldier could never have survived, even if he had pulled himself up out of the driver’s seat and through the window. The desert sand around the truck is scorched. Bodies are piled behind the vehicle, indistinguishable from one another. A lone, burned man lies face down in front of the truck, everything incinerated except the soles of his bare feet. In another photograph, a man lies spread-eagle on the sand, his body burned to the point of disintegration, but his face mostly intact and oddly serene. A dress shoe lies next to his body.

The group continued on across the desert, passing through more stretches of highway littered with the same fire-ravaged bodies and vehicles. Jarecke and his pool were possibly the first members of the Western media to come across these scenes, which appeared along what eventually became known as the Highway of Death, sometimes referred to as the Road to Hell.

The retreating Iraqi soldiers had been trapped. They were frozen in a traffic jam, blocked off by the Americans, by Mutla Ridge, by a minefield. Some fled on foot; the rest were strafed by American planes that swooped overhead, passing again and again to destroy all the vehicles. Milk vans, fire trucks, limousines, and one bulldozer appeared in the wreckage alongside armored cars and trucks, and T-55 and T-72 tanks. Most vehicles held fully loaded, but rusting, Kalashnikov variants. According to descriptions from reporters like The New York Times’ R.W. Apple and theObserver’s Colin Smith, amid the plastic mines, grenades, ammunition, and gas masks, a quadruple-barreled anti-aircraft gun stood crewless and still pointing skyward. Personal items, like a photograph of a child’s birthday party and broken crayons, littered the ground beside weapons and body parts. The body count never seems to have been determined, although the BBC puts it in the “thousands.”

“In one truck,” wrote Colin Smith in a March 3 dispatch for the Observer, “the radio had been knocked out of the dashboard but was still wired up and faintly picking up some plaintive Arabic air which sounded so utterly forlorn I thought at first it must be a cry for help.”

Iraqi prisoners of war, captured by the U.S. military on their way to Baghdad

Following the February 28 ceasefire that ended Desert Storm, Jarecke’s film roll with the image of the incinerated soldier reached the Joint Information Bureau in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, where the military coordinated and corralled the press, and where pool editors received and filed stories and photographs. At that point, with the operation over, the photograph would not have needed to pass through a security screening, says Maryanne Golon, who was the on-site photo editor for Time in Saudi Arabia and is now director of photography for TheWashington Post. Despite the obviously shocking content, she tells me she reacted like an editor in work mode. She selected it, without debate or controversy among the pool editors, to be scanned and transmitted. The image made its way back to the editors’ offices in New York City.

Jarecke also made his way from Saudi Arabia to New York. Passing through Heathrow Airport on a layover, he bought a copy of the March 3 edition of the Observer. He opened it to find his photograph on page 9, printed at the top across eight columns under the heading, “The real face of war.”

That weekend in March, when the Observer’s editors made the final decision to print the image, every magazine in North America made the opposite choice. Jarecke’s photograph did not even appear on the desks of most U.S. newspaper editors (the exception being The New York Times, which had a photo wire service subscription but nonetheless declined to publish the image). The photograph was entirely absent from American media until far past the time when it was relevant to ground reporting from Iraq and Kuwait. Golon says she wasn’t surprised by this, even though she’d chosen to transmit it to the American press. “I didn’t think there was any chance they’d publish it,” she says.

Apart from the Observer, the only major news outlet to run the Iraqi soldier’s photograph at the time was the Parisian news daily Libération,which ran it on March 4. Both newspapers refrained from putting the image on the front page, though they ran it prominently inside. But Aidan Sullivan, the pictures editor for the British Sunday Times, told the British Journal of Photography on March 14 that he had opted instead for a wide shot of the carnage: a desert highway littered with rubble. He challenged the Observer: “We would have thought our readers could work out that a lot of people had died in those vehicles. Do you have to show it to them?”

“I didn’t think there was any chance they’d publish it,” says the editor who sent Jarecke’s photo to New York.

“There were 1,400 [Iraqi soldiers] in that convoy, and every picture transmitted until that one came, two days after the event, was of debris, bits of equipment,” Tony McGrath, the Observer’s pictures editor, was quoted as saying in the same article. “No human involvement in it at all; it could have been a scrapyard. That was some dreadful censorship.”

The media took it upon themselves to “do what the military censorship did not do,” says Robert Pledge, the head of the Contact Press Images photojournalism agency that has represented Jarecke since the 1980s. The night they received the image, Pledge tells me, editors at the Associated Press’ New York City offices pulled the photo entirely from the wire service, keeping it off the desks of virtually all of America’s newspaper editors. It is unknown precisely how, why, or by whom the AP’s decision was handed down.

Vincent Alabiso, who at the time was the executive photo editor for the AP, later distanced himself from the wire service’s decision. In 2003, he admitted to American Journalism Review that the photograph ought to have gone out on the wire and argued that such a photo would today.

Yet the AP’s reaction was repeated at Time and Life. Both magazines briefly considered the photo, unofficially referred to as “Crispy,” for publication. The photo departments even drew up layout plans. Time, which had sent Jarecke to the Gulf in the first place, planned for the image to accompany a story about the Highway of Death.

“We fought like crazy to get our editors to let us publish that picture,” former photo director Michele Stephenson tells me. As she recalls, Henry Muller, the managing editor, told her, “Time is a family magazine.” And the image was, when it came down to it, just too disturbing for the outlet to publish. It was, to her recollection, the only instance during the Gulf War where the photo department fought but failed to get an image into print.

James Gaines, the managing editor of Life, took responsibility for the ultimate decision not to run Jarecke’s image in his own magazine’s pages, despite photo director Peter Howe’s push to give it a double-page spread. “We thought that this was the stuff of nightmares,” Gaines told Ian Buchanan of the British Journal of Photography in March 1991. “We have a fairly substantial number of children who read Life magazine,” he added. Even so, the photograph was published later that month in one of Life’s special issues devoted to the Gulf War—not typical reading material for the elementary-school set.

Stella Kramer, who worked as a freelance photo editor for Life on four special-edition issues on the Gulf War, tells me that the decision to not publish Jarecke’s photo was less about protecting readers than preserving the dominant narrative of the good, clean war. Flipping through 23-year-old issues, Kramer expresses clear distaste at the editorial quality of what she helped to create. The magazines “were very sanitized,” she says. “So, that’s why these issues are all basically just propaganda.” She points out the picture on the cover of the February 25 issue: a young blond boy dwarfed by the American flag he’s holding. “As far as Americans were concerned,” she remarks, “nobody ever died.”

The Associated Press pulled the photo entirely, keeping it off the desks of virtually all American newspaper editors.

“If pictures tell stories,” Lee Corkran tells me, “the story should have a point. So if the point is the utter annihilation of people who were in retreat and all the charred bodies … if that’s your point, then that’s true. And so be it. I mean, war is ugly. It’s hideous.” To Corkran, who was awarded the Bronze Star for his Gulf War combat photography, pictures like Jarecke’s tell important stories about the effects of American and allied airpower. Even Patrick Hermanson, the public affairs officer who originally protested the idea of taking pictures of the scene, now says the media should not have censored the photo.

The U.S. military has now abandoned the pool system it used in 1990 and 1991, and the Internet has changed the way photos reach the public. Even if the AP did refuse to send out a photo, online outlets would certainly run it, and no managing editor would be able to prevent it from being shared across various social platforms, or being the subject of extensive op-ed and blog commentary. If anything, today’s controversies often center on the vast abundance of disturbing photographs, and the difficulty of putting them in a meaningful context.

Some have argued that showing bloodshed and trauma repeatedly and sensationally can dull emotional understanding. But never showing these images in the first place guarantees that such an understanding will never develop. “Try to imagine, if only for a moment, what your intellectual, political, and ethical world would be like if you had never seen a photograph,” author Susie Linfield asks in The Cruel Radiance, her book on photography and political violence. Photos like Jarecke’s not only show that bombs drop on real people; they also make the public feel accountable. As David Carr wrote in The New York Times in 2003, war photography has “an ability not just to offend the viewer, but to implicate him or her as well.”

As an angry 28-year-old Jarecke wrote in American Photo in 1991: “If we’re big enough to fight a war, we should be big enough to look at it.”

The Persecution of Witches

Clip_72Most people believe that the persecution of “witches” reached its height in the early 1690s with the trials in Salem, Mass., but it is a grim paradox of 21st-century life that violence against people accused of sorcery is very much still with us. Far from fading away, thanks to digital interconnectedness and economic development, witch hunting has become a growing, global problem.

In recent years, there has been a spate of attacks against people accused of witchcraft in Africa, the Pacific and Latin America, and even among immigrant communities in the United States and Western Europe.

Researchers with United Nations refugee and human rights agencies have estimated the murders of supposed witches as numbering in the thousands each year, while beatings and banishments could run into the millions. “This is becoming an international problem — it is a form of persecution and violence that is spreading around the globe,” an official with the UNHCR, told a panel in 2009, the last year in which an international body studied the full dimensions of the problem. A report that year from the same agency and a Unicef study in 2010 both found a rise, especially in Africa, of violence and child abuse linked to witchcraft accusations.

Clip_291More recent media reports suggest a disturbing pattern of mutilation and murder. Last year, a mob in Papua New Guinea burned alive a 20-year old young mother, who was suspected of sorcery. This highly publicized case followed a series of instances over recent years of lethal group violence against women and men accused of witchcraft.

“These are becoming all too common in certain parts of the country,”said the prime minister, Peter O’Neill. Last year, Papua New Guinea finally repealed a 1971 law that permitted attackers to cite intent to combat witchcraft as a legal defense. But progress is slow. Although the police charged a man and woman in connection with the 2013 killing.

One of the ugliest aspects of these crimes is their brutality. Victims are often burned alive, and a 2012 case in Nepal; or accused women are sometimes beaten to death, as occurred in the Colombian town of Santa Barbara in 2012; or the victims may be stoned or beheaded, as has been reported in Indonesia and sub-Saharan Africa.

It is tempting to point to poverty in the developing world, as well as scapegoating, as the chief causes of anti-witch attacks — and such forces are undoubtedly at work. But while Africa and the southwestern Pacific have a long history of economic misery, much of this violence, especially against children, has worsened since 2000. The surge suggests forces other than economic resentment or ancient superstition.

In some communities, it is chiefly young men who take on the role of witch hunters, suggesting that they may see it as a way to earn prestige by cleansing undesirables and enforcing social mores. That many of the self-appointed witch hunters are men highlights another baleful aspect of the phenomenon: The majority of victims are women. The Rev. Jack Urame of the Melanesian Institute, a Papua New Guinean human rights agency, estimates that witchcraft-related violence there is directed 5 to 1 against women, suggesting that witchcraft accusations are used to cloak gender-based violence.

Another factor, particularly in Central Africa and its diaspora communities, is the advent of revivalist churches, in which self-styled pastor-prophets rail against witchery and demon possession. They often claim to specialize in the casting out of evil spirits, sometimes charging for the service. Many of those congregations have emerged from Western evangelizing efforts.

One of Nigeria’s most popular Pentecostal preachers, Helen Ukpabio, wrote that “if a child under the age of 2 screams in the night, cries and is always feverish with deteriorating health, he or she is a servant of Satan.” As that implies, children in those communities are especially likely to be identified as possessed. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that most of the 25,000 to 50,000 children who live on the streets of Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, were abandoned by family members who accused them of witchcraft or demonic possession.

The etiology of this epidemic is complex, but human rights observers point to overpopulation, rapid urbanization and the hardship of parents forced to relocate to seek work, as well as the sheer stresses of raising children amid dire poverty. Superstitions are stoked by local “healers,” who charge parents to exorcise evil spirits.

Witch hunting is far from limited, however, to acts of sadistic vigilantism or profiteering. Some legal systems even sanction the killing of accused witches.

Clip_70In 2011, courts in Saudi Arabia sentenced a man and a woman, in separate cases, to beheading after convictions for sorcery. In 2013, Saudi courts sentenced two Asian housemaids to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison on charges of casting spells against their employers.

A Lebanese television psychic, Ali Hussain Sibat, was arrested in 2008, while on pilgrimage to Medina, by the Saudi religious police for hosting a television show in his native Lebanon, “The Hidden,” where he would make predictions and prescribe love potions and spells. After an outcry, the Saudi courts stayed Mr. Sibat’s execution by beheading, but sentenced him in 2010 to a 15-year prison term.

As in Africa, the wave of anti-witch activity in Saudi Arabia is fairly new. The Saudi religious police devised an Anti-Witchcraft Unit in 2009, resulting in the arrests of 215 alleged “conjurers” in 2012. Some observers attribute this sudden interest in witchery to the royal family’s attempts to appease its religious inquisitors by keeping them busy targeting a handful of vulnerable individuals.

A final motive driving modern witch hunting may be more venal than spiritual: The police in Indonesia, where there were about 100 suspected witch killings in 2000, point to fraud and graft directed against vulnerable women, who, lacking family or community protection, fall prey to banishment or murder on slim pretexts, while their homes and property are seized by their accusers.

Globalization means that paranoia over black magic and spirit possession are no longer confined to developing nations. Mass migration has made this a pervasive problem. In January, a Queens, N.Y., man was arrestedfor beating to death with a hammer his girlfriend, Estrella Castaneda, 56, and her daughter, Lina Castaneda, 25; Carlos Alberto Amarillo told the police that the women were “witches,” who had been “performing voodoo and casting spells” on him. (Voodoo, more properly known as Vodou, is an authentic Afro-Caribbean faith based in deity worship and ritual, practiced in New York and many American cities. Other belief systems that retain or reinvent ancient nature worship and spell practices sometimes go under the names of Wicca or neo-paganism.)

It has not been confirmed whether the Queens victims had ties to Vodou (neither they nor the suspect were Afro-Caribbean). Accusations like those made by Mr. Amarillo, who is under psychiatric evaluation, often prove unreliable or are misreported in a sensationalist way. But the theme has nonetheless become alarmingly familiar in Western news coverage.

In 2012, London police had during the last decade investigated 81 cases of “ritual abuse” of children accused of possession or witchcraft, a phenomenon that British social agencies fear is on the rise, particularly within African immigrant communities.

In 2010, a 15-year-old boy, Kristy Bamu, was tortured and killed in East London by his older sister and her boyfriend, both Congolese, who had accused him of sorcery after he wet his bed. In the wake of that case, the British police started to receive special training on witchcraft-related abuse.

Because anti-witch violence is rooted in the belief systems of traditional societies, it would be easy to slip into the fatalistic view that this crisis is a tragic repetition of ancient aggressions. But where local superstitions explode into violence or migrate across a wide range of settings and societies, we can and must act.

Western branches of Pentecostal and charismatic Christian congregations must work closely with the more fervent ministries of their denominations among African and immigrant communities to foster an understanding of how “exorcisms” can spiral into deadly abuse. No African congregation wants to feel dictated to by the West, but there is a place for exchange and cultural pressure. Western ecclesiastical bodies can specifically enact prohibitions against for-profit exorcisms.

Laws should be enacted against accusing children of witchcraft throughout the countries of Africa and the southwestern Pacific, as one Nigerian state has already done. And countries like the Solomon Islands that still criminalize witchcraft should strike down those statutes.

Police indifference to crimes of witch hunting must also be tackled, especially in societies where police officers themselves may share in traditional beliefs about “black magic.” A 2012 British government report on combating faith-based violence against children provides a valuable guide to instructing the police on signs of abuse, asking religious leaders to condemn violence and protecting vulnerable witnesses.

Legal efforts must be paired with increased social awareness. In a promising model, a 2010 Oxfam International report noted that some Catholic parishes in Papua New Guinea have been teaching congregants about the natural causes of death and illness (common triggers for anti-witch paranoia), providing shelter to accused witches and denying the sacraments to those who accuse others of sorcery.

Crucial, too, is that the UN and international human rights organizations start compiling yearly statistics on these crimes. We’re severely hampered in understanding the scale of this crisis when our most recent global data are already five years out of date.

Most important, witchcraft-related violence should be branded as hate crimes by international courts and by all jurisdictions where anti-hate statutes exist. This is vital to gaining wider recognition of this criminality and preventing it.

In too many places, the accusation of witchcraft has become an incitement to mob violence. It is time to lay the ghosts of Salem to rest.

Mitch Horowitz is the author of “Occult America” and “One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life.”

Oil Companies Have Deposited Rs 780 Billion with the Government

100-0043_IMG“Had the income of oil companies been properly spent, towns of Sanghar, Ghotki and Badin would have paralleled Paris.” Supreme Court’s quip is not too far from the reality. Catching a glimpse of scruffy towns and villages in these districts, one would not believe that the areas overlay the wealth of hydrocarbons worth several billion dollars.

Remarks of the judge resemble a resonating speech by Mohammad Mosaddeq, a reformist prime minister of Iran. While nationalising oil resources in 1951, he said “with the oil revenues we could meet our entire budget and combat poverty, disease, and backwardness among our people.” Mosaddeq audaciously nationalised Iranian oil industry hitherto controlled by Britain through erstwhile Anglo-Persian Oil Company, now known as British Petroleum. His act was considered as an unpardonable sin and he was disposed through a CIA-choreographed coup in 1953.

In the course of discussions in the Supreme Court case, an astounding disclosure was made that various companies have deposited a staggering amount of Rs780 billion with federal and provincial governments.

However, the amount meant for local development is dumped in the official lockers due to lack of transparent mechanism for its ultimate utilisation. People in Sindh and Balochistan have been decrying apathy of federal and provincial governments and the companies.

Wretched communities in the vicinity of oil and gas fields are living virtually in primitive age while precious resources are being pumped out underneath their feet, hardly leaving any mark of well-being on their lives.

According to Pakistan Energy Year Book 2013, Sindh contributes 68 and 40.6 per cent of national gas and oil production respectively. Recent oil discoveries in KPK dwarfed Sindh’s share from 56 per cent till only two years back. Sindh province is the largest contributor in national energy basket. Sharing of benefits accruing from natural resources has been at the heart of conflict between provinces of Sindh, Balochistan and the federal government.

Before the 18th Amendment, oil and gas resources were directly managed by the federal government, trespassing on the realm of Council of Common Interest. Provinces receive meager benefits through Straight Transfers that are not part of divisible pool. Under this arrangement, provinces were entitled for 12.5 per cent royalty, income from excise duty on gas and Gas Development Surcharge. However provinces had no direct ownership of resources and all key decisions were taken by the Federal Ministry for Petroleum and Natural Resources.

The 18th Amendment made a radical shift in the ownership of oil and gas resources. Article 172 (3) of Constitution now recognizes equal share of provinces in oil and gas resources within their remits. Straight Transfers — though a fraction of real income — have been generating substantial amount for provinces. Provincial governments are equally responsible for plight of people by not devising any mechanism to remit a part of these incomes to those communities.

Sindh has been the largest recipient of these benefits. An analysis of last eight years’ budget documents shows that the province has received Rs475 billion through Straight Transfers. From 1989-90 to 2013-13, share of the province in royalty of oil and gas stood at Rs319 billion. Much of this amount has already been transferred to the province. The amount is enough to revamp shabby towns by developing infrastructure and providing basic services to impoverished communities in the vicinity of oil and gas fields.

Petroleum policy stipulates that 50 per cent of royalty should be used for infrastructure development in the district where oil and gas is produced. While holding federal government and companies accountable for their deeds is fully justified, provincial government is also culpable for its cavalier governance. Hefty budgetary packages are announced for favourite districts at the expense of marginalised resource-producing areas.

The provincial government cannot be exonerated from showering unscrupulous largesse, obnoxiously skewed towards influential political clique.

In a report submitted to the Supreme Court, the provincial government has admitted that 10 out of 14 schemes in Thatta, Kashmore and Badin are in violation of the policy. The fund meant for basic services in backward areas have been spent for elitist structures of Gymkhana and Citizens’ club.

Article 30.9 of the Petroleum Concession Agreement (PCA) makes it obligatory for oil and gas companies to undertake social welfare programmes in the concession areas. Amount to be spent on social welfare has been linked with the volume of hydrocarbons produced. An amount of US$30,000/year has also been made obligatory during exploration, which increases substantially on commercial production. Only a few companies manage this portfolio professionally. Similarly, discretionary corporate funds are mostly spent on advertisements, gala dinners, sports events and other such entertainments in urban centers.

Local employment is another thorny issue. Hydrocarbon fields are mostly located in remote and marginalised areas. Oil and gas companies have their opulent corporate offices in big cities like Islamabad and Karachi where people from local areas don’t even make a fraction of their human resources. The companies come up with a frivolous excuse of unavailability of qualified and experienced human resource from those areas. The mundane argument has lost its luster as the provinces have reputed universities and technical institutes producing sizeable number of professionals with required qualification.

The Petroleum Policy also obligates companies to invest in capacity-building. This amount can be used to build capacity of unskilled or semi-skilled locally recruited human resource. The companies outsource most of their work through performance based contracts. These contractors are mostly outsiders and they hire most of their staff from other areas, thus depriving local youth from even low paid jobs.

Contractors recruit a large number of employees who do not appear on the company’s payroll and are often non-locals. Low paid unskilled labour is grudgingly considered from local areas as it is not feasible to recruit them from outside. Interestingly, the PCA asks companies to gradually replace expatriate staff with nationals but does not ask for replacing national staff with locals as they become available. Apart from that, it is moral and professional obligation of the companies to invest in development of local human resources enabling them to compete for mid-level and senior positions in the companies. Some of the companies have made some appreciable investments but at a very limited scale.

Conserving environment and natural endowment of local communities is another brazenly violated obligation. Policy Objective No. 9 of the Petroleum Policy 2012 commits to undertake exploitation of oil and gas resources in a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable and responsible manner. However, the policy document does not delineate any guidelines on environmental aspects.

Environmental Protection Act 1997 provides overall framework of environmental regulation in the country. Under the Act, oil and gas exploration projects are subject to either Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) or Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). After the 18th Amendment, provinces are also in process of developing their environmental laws and guidelines.

The government of Sindh has already approved Environmental Protection Act 2014. The Act requires conducting Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment of environmentally sensitive projects. With the passage of time EIA has been degenerated into a farce. A handful of consultancy firms have perfected the art of drafting EIAs and IEEs to meet the wishes of companies.

Due to rampant corruption and lack of regulatory capacity within the EPAs, the environmental regulation of oil and gas exploration projects is fast losing its credibility. Most of the public hearings of EIAs are conducted in big cities far away from the communities subjected to the wrath of environmental violations. This scenario has provided enough space to the companies to evade environmental obligations.

Poor regulatory mechanism and weak civil society are key responsible factors that provide safe passage to companies with environmental violations. As a corollary, local communities pay the price in the shape of diseases, loss of productive land and contamination of ground water.

In the judgment reserved by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on aforementioned petition 46 of 2013, the court recognized that “the people of Pakistan are the ultimate owners of such resources through their governments and State controlled entities”. However, both federal and provincial government also did not play a proactive role to ensure that these companies fulfill their contractual obligations.

The court in its judgment also concluded that the social welfare obligations imposed on E&P Companies were not being met.


Application Form for Contesting Indian Elections



Application Form for Contesting Indian Elections




  1. Name of Candidate :  _______________________


  1. Present Address


(i)  Name of Jail       :  _______________________


(ii) Cell Number       :  _______________________


(If not in Jail, please attach proof of residence)


  1. Political Party :  _______________________ (List ONLY the Last Five parties in Chronological Order)


  1. Sex [ ]A – Male

[ ]B – Female

[ ]C – Mayawathi

[ ]D – Jayalalitha


  1. Nationality [ ]A – Italian

[ ]B – Indian


  1. Reasons for leaving last party (please tick one or more)

[ ]A – Defected

[ ]B – Expelled

[ ]C – Bought out

[ ]D – None of above

[ ]E – All of above


  1. Reasons for contesting elections (circle one or more)

A – To make money

B – To escape court trial

C – To grossly misuse power

D – To serve the public*

E – I have no clue


*(if you choose ‘D’ please attach Certificate of Sanity from a recognised

Government Psychiatrist)


  1. How many years of public service experience do you possess ?

[ ]A – less than a year

[ ]B – none

[ ]C – are you joking?

[ ]D – what is this ‘public’?

[ ]E – I am not not servant of public, I am their ‘neta’…what you mean?



  1. Give details of any criminal cases pending against you

(Use as many additional sheets as you want)


  1. How many years have you spent in Jail ?

(Do not confuse with  question 8)

[ ] A – 1-2 years

[ ] B – 2-6 years

[ ] C – 6-15years

[ ] D – 15+ years


  1. Are you involved in any financial scams ?

[ ] A – Why not (please explain separately)

[ ] B – Of Course

[ ] C – Definitely

[ ] D – I deny it all

[ ] E – see a foreign hand.


  1. What is your Annual Corruption Income ?

[ ] A – 100-500 Crores

[ ] B – 500-1000 Crores

[ ] C – Overflow…

(Convert all your $ earnings from Hawala etc to Rupees)


  1. Do you have any developmental plans for the country in mind?

[ ] A – No

[ ] B – No

[ ] C – No

[ ] D – No


  1. Describe in space provided, all your achievements: ____


Thank you for taking the time to fill this up…we will revert to you.





Thumb Impression of Candidate

(Not that of the person who

filled the form)

No Honor in Rape

by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto

Clip_8On May 25 seven dacoits scaled the walls of a house in Rasulabad in Khairpur, Sindh. They robbed the family of everything they had and then raped the four women of the house – three sisters, one being the wife of the owner of the house – Paryal Memon – and as his young niece.

In the courtyard of their home where I went last week, Paryal’s wife cried for justice while her sisters lay on a charpoy, not wanting to talk or open their eyes.

Those seven rapists not only robbed the four women of their material processions but also of their right to live a complete and happy life. To commit a rape is to rob someone of their agency, to deprive them of their pride and dignity. It is a crime of unspeakable anger.

What happened next is an all too familiar scenario in rape cases in Pakistan. The family of the victims went to the police station to file an FIR and the police discouraged them from filing a rape case and told the victims that for the sake of their honour they should instead simply say they were robbed. The police did not rush to protect the victims, they did not consider the violation of these four women a matter for the law to address. Instead they bamboozled the victims into changing their testimony.

When the police discourage you from filing a rape case you have no choice but to heed their demand. In Pakistan you require police permission for a hospital to conduct a rape test and naturally to file an FIR.

In Pakistan women have no voice. If they are lucky they are granted one by their male relatives. Women here survive by ventriloquism. In most villages, outside their families women are not known by their own names but by the names of the nearest male kin: daughter of so and so, wife of so and so. We are a nation in which half of our population is invisible – cooking, cleaning, sewing, and taking care of the children, but never seen or heard.

Things are, however, changing. After waiting for something to be done, for someone to bring justice to four gang-rape victims, the larger community of Rasulabad decided a simple dacoity report was not enough. With the help of the whole community, their village and tribe, they eventually filed an FIR for rape. Since then there have been protests, sit-ins and camps in Sukkur and Karachi taken out in their support. Their belief in honour was put to the side for the sake of justice. But justice is a slow process in Pakistan. And only two of the seven rapists have been arrested.

Mukhtaran Mai was gang raped in her village in Muzzafargarh Punjab in 2002. Although vocal after the incident, it was not until the Imam of her local mosque spoke out against the violence that had been inflicted onto her that her case received media coverage.

It was not until 2005 that the Lahore High Court took notice of Mukhtaran’s case but even then she was denied justice. The court acquitted five out of six of her rapists as there was ‘insufficient evidence’ against them. Unfortunately, although she took her case to the highest courts in the land, Mai was ultimately denied justice.

There are some brave voices in this country, but they are few, certainly not enough to stem violence against women in this society. Of course Pakistan is not alone; misogyny exists everywhere and must be challenged wherever it exists. If women are not endowed with a voice then they must seize a voice for themselves and not be silenced. Mukhtaran Mai and the people of Rasulabad have proven that this can be a reality.

Pakistan’s many problems can be blamed on illiteracy, poverty and continually corrupt governments. Persecution against our minority groups has been blamed on foreign influences, on desperate people coerced into seeing their neighbours as their enemies. Our water problems and high crime rates are due to rampant corruption and perpetual mismanagement; these are services that any government ought to easily provide.

We cannot, however, scapegoat gang rape. It is an act of violence and anger, it does not reveal a person’s economic status, literacy or desperation; it reflects a complete breakdown in the individual’s humanity and the decay of society as a whole.

“If you wish to know how civilised a culture is, look at how they treats its women”. Statistics are hard to find on rape in Pakistan but in southern Punjab alone there were 2,713 reports of violence against women in 2012.

How civilised does that make Pakistan?

Email: zbhutto@gmail.com

Pakistani Text Books Paint a Distorted Version of History

Nationalism and patriotism in Pakistan are contested subjects. What makes us Pakistanis and what is it that makes us love our land and nation?

The answers to these questions vary widely depending on who is being asked. A large part of our national identity stems from our sense of history and culture that are deeply rooted in the land and in the legacy of the region’s ancient civilisations. Religion has also played a big part in making us what we are today. But the picture general history textbooks paint for us does not portray the various facets of our identity.

Instead it offers quite a convoluted description of who we are. The distortion of historical facts has in turn played a quintessential role in manipulating our sense of self. What’s ironic is that the boldest fallacies in these books are about the events that are still in our living memory. Herald invited writers and commentators, well versed in history, to share their answers to what they believe is the most blatant lie taught through Pakistan history textbooks.

The fundamental divide between Hindus and Muslims

The most blatant lie in Pakistan Studies textbooks is the idea that Pakistan was formed solely because of a fundamental conflict between Hindus and Muslims. This idea bases itself on the notion of a civilisational divide between monolithic Hindu and Muslim identities, which simply did not exist.

The stress on religion ignored other factors that could cut across both identities. For instance, a Muslim from most of South India had far more in common, because of his regionally specific culture and language, with Hindus in his area than the Muslims in the north of the Subcontinent.

Similarly, the division of the historical narrative into a ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ period, aside from the ironic fact that this was actually instituted by the British, glosses over the reality that Islamic empires also fought each other for power. After all, Babar had to defeat Ibrahim Lodi, and thus, the Delhi Sultanate, for the Mughal period to begin.

Therefore, power and empire building often trumped this religious identity, that textbooks claim, can be traced linearly right to the formation of Pakistan.

These textbooks tend to have snapshot descriptions of the contempt with which the two religious communities treated one another. This is specifically highlighted in descriptions of the Congress ministries formed after the elections of 1937.

Other factors that contributed historically to these shows of religious ‘contempt’ in South Asian history are often ignored. Indeed, Richard Eaton’s classic study of temple desecrations shows that in almost all cases where Hindu temples were ransacked, it was for political or economic reasons.

In most cases, it was because the Muslim ruler was punishing an insubordinate Hindu official. Otherwise, the Mughals protected such temples. Jumping ahead, this sort of inter-communal cooperation aimed at maintaining political control could also be seen in the Unionist Party, which was in power in Punjab all the way up until 1946.

As Pakistan was formed barely a year later, the notion that its formation was based on a long-standing and fundamental conflict between Hindus and Muslims is deeply problematic.

Anushay Malik holds a PhD in history from University of London and is currently an assistant professor at the Lahore University of Management Sciences

Eulogising leaders

Clip_59In his preface to the Muqaddimah, Ibn Khaldun warned of seven mistakes that he thought historians often committed. One of the seven is “the common desire to gain favor of those of high ranks, by praising them, by spreading their fame.”

This particular mistake, or lie rather, has plagued history writing for school texts in Pakistan since the 1950s and has been used as a political tool to project successive rulers – whether civilian or military – in a eulogistic format.

Moreover, another mindless inaccuracy is the absence of the ‘other’, where India and Congress are needlessly ignored and a one-sided version of history is deemed necessary for creating a nationalistic mindset.

This gap continues in the historical narrative for school students post-partition. Hence, some of the most blatant lies and subversion of historical facts exist in the textbooks mandated by the federal and provincial textbook boards.

Furthermore, maligning the ‘enemy’ is done quite overtly and mindlessly in official history school texts which, unfortunately, is also the case with some Indian school texts documented by discerning authors on both sides of the border.

Most nation states during the 19th and 20th centuries used official versions of history in order to create a homogenous and nationalistic identity. Pakistan’s first education minister, Fazalur Rehman, set up the Historical Society of Pakistan in 1948 so that history for the new nation could be rewritten in a fair and balanced manner using authentic and reliable sources.

Successive governments did not further this goal and history written for schools in Pakistan became the victim of fossilized textbook boards ratifying the work of unethical and unscholarly authors for public school consumption. Vested interests continue to triumph despite the open door policy since 2004 for private publishers to bid for quality textbooks.

Ismat Riaz is an educational consultant and author of the textbook, Understanding History

Excluding and manipulating historical periods

Clip_58The most blatant lie in textbook accounts of Pakistan’s history is by virtue of omission, which is in effect the denial of our multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious past. It is a common complaint that Pakistan’s history is taught as if it began with the conquest of Sindh by the Umayyad army, led by the young General, Muhammad bin Qasim in 711 AD.

Most textbooks in Sindh at least do mention Moenjodaro and the Indus Valley civilization, but it is not discussed in a meaningful way and there is no discussion about its extent and culture. Important periods and events during subsequent centuries are also skimmed over, like the Aryan civilization which introduced its powerful social system and epic poetry (Mahabharata in which Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa play important roles), the Brahmin religion, a thousand years of Buddhism with its universities and the Gandharan civilization which was spread throughout present day Pakistan.

No students of Pakistani schools can tell us that Pakistan was once part of the empires of Cyrus the Great and Darius of the Achaemenid Dynasty and later of the Sassanian Empire with the legendary rule of Naushirwan, “the Just”. Similarly, hardly anyone would be aware that Asoka whose capital was in Pataliputra in the east of the subcontinent also counted Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab as part of his domain.

The result of these omissions is disastrous on the minds of the youth in Pakistan. Instead of seeing themselves as heirs of many civilizations, they acquire a narrow, one-dimensional view of the world. This is contradicted by what they subsequently see in this global world of information technology and shared knowledge. That this is also in direct contravention of Islamic teachings does not occur to the perpetrators of a lopsided curriculum in our schools.

The first assertion in the Holy Quran is Iqra bi Ism I Rabik [and no restrictions are put on the acquisition of knowledge].

Instead, we have bans on books, digital platforms such as YouTube and even newspapers in this Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

— Hamida Khuhro is a historian and former education minister for Sindh

To say a large part of Pakistan’s history is shared with India would be stating the obvious. Yet it is this period of both our histories, or the portrayal of such, that is tampered with the most and has been used as a political tool by either side. The Herald invited renowned Indian historian and currently a Jawaharlal Nehru Fellow, Mushirul Hasan, to give his take on the lies taught through textbooks on both sides of the border.

History is only of use for its lessons, and it is the duty of the historian to see that they are properly taught. Very few in the subcontinent heed this advice. Both in India and Pakistan the intellectual climate has thrown the historical profession into disarray.

Such is the power and influence of the polemicists that a growing number of people are abandoning the quest for an objective approach. With the recent appointment of a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-oriented Chairman of the Indian Council for Historical Research, liberal and secular historians are worried about the future of their discipline.

The diversity of approaches has been the hallmark of Indian historiography. As a result, the making of Pakistan and its evolution as a nation state is interpreted differently in various quarters.

The ghosts of partition was put to rest and not exhumed for frequent post-mortems. Moreover, the liberal-left historians did not repudiate the idea of Pakistan. On the contrary, they criticised the Congress stalwarts for failing to guide the movements they initiated away from the forces of reactionary communalism.

This was true of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Ram Manohar Lohia, the Socialist leader. The Maulana, in particular, charged Nehru for jettisoning the plan for a Congress-Muslim coalition in 1937 and the prospect of an enduring Hindu-Muslim partnership.

Tara Chand’s three-volume History of the Freedom Movement in India held its ground until the Janata government decided, in 1977, to rewrite the secular textbook. With the establishment of the BJP-led government in October 1999, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-RSS combination began its subversion of academia through its time-tested method of infiltration and rewriting of textbooks and ‘fine-tuning’ of curricula.

Saffronization of education will breed fanaticism, heighten caste and communitarian consciousness, and stifle the natural inclination of a student to cultivate a balanced and cautious judgement. Increasingly, it may be difficult for some of us to establish historical truths or to defend the cult of objective historical inquiry.

As the radical currents are being swept aside by the winds of right-wing discourse, it is pertinent to recall the Saidian (Edward Said) dictum that “nothing disfigures the intellectuals’ public performance as much trimming, careful silence, patriotic bluster, and retrospective of self-dramatizing prophecy.”

The story in Pakistan runs on different lines. Starting with I H Qureshi and Aziz Ahmad, scholars in our neighbours have tenaciously adhered to the belief that the creation of the Muslim nation was the culmination of a ‘natural’ process.

They have pressed into service the ‘two-nation’ theory to define nationality in purely Islamic terms. In the process, they have turned a blind eye to the syncretic and composite trajectory of Indian society, which began with Mohammad Iqbal’s memorable lines Ae Aab-e-Rood-e-Ganga! Woh Din Hain Yaad Tujh Ko? Utra Tere Kinare Jab Karwan Humara [Oh, waters of the river Ganges! Do you remember those days? Those days when our caravan halted on your bank?].

The same poet talked of “Naya Shiwala”, a temple of peace and goodwill. Again, the same poet gave lessons of religious understanding and tolerance in yet another poet.

Sadly, these thoughts are hardly reflected in our textbooks. We don’t emphasize the virtue of living with diversity and sharing social and cultural inheritances. We don’t introduce our students to the vibrant legacy of Kabir, Guru Nanak, Akbar, and Dara Shikoh. Instead, we dwell on the imaginary kufr-o-imaan ki jung, on the destruction of temples and forcible conversions. Increasingly, young students are introduced to the Islamist or the Hindutva world views that have caused incalculable damage to State and civil society.

Saadat Hasan Manto described an existentialist reality – the separation of people living on both sides who had a long history of cultural and social contact – and the paradoxical character of borders being a metaphor of the ambiguities of nation-building. He offered, without saying so, a way of correcting the distortions inherent in state-centered national histories.

Ayesha Jalal is right in pointing out that as “old orthodoxies recede before the flood of fresh historical evidence and earlier certitudes are overturned by newly detected contradictions”, this is the time to heal “the multiple fractures which turned the promised dawn of freedom into a painful moment of separation.”

In the words of the poet Ali Sardar Jafri:

Tum aao gulshan-e-Lahore se chaman bardosh, Hum Aayein subh-e-Benaras ki roshni le kar, Himalaya ke hawaaon ki taazigi le kar, aur uss ke baad yeh poochein ke kaun dushaman hai? .. [You come forward with flowers from the Garden of Lahore, We bring to you the light and radiance of the morning of Benaras, The freshness of the winds of Himalayas, And then we ask who the enemy is?].

Wars with India

The most blatant lies in Pakistani history textbooks are about the events that are still in our living memory. Among the many examples, the three given below are about the wars of 1965 and 1971, and the partition carnage of 1947. The reason for the falsehood lies in our distorted view of nationalism. Rather than let children learn from our historical mistakes, we show them a false picture. Thus we are doomed to repeat the mistakes generation after generation.

The following excerpt regarding the 1965 war is taken from fifth grade reading material published by the NWFP Textbook Board, Peshawar in 2002 — “The Pakistan Army conquered several areas of India, and when India was at the verge of being defeated she ran to the United Nations to beg for a cease-fire. Magnanimously, thereafter, Pakistan returned all the conquered territories to India.”

The Punjab Textbook Board published the following text on the causes for the separation of East Pakistan in 1993 for secondary classes — “There were a large number of Hindus in East Pakistan. They had never truly accepted Pakistan. A large number of them were teachers in schools and colleges.

They continued creating a negative impression among students. No importance was attached to explaining the ideology of Pakistan to the younger generation.

The Hindus sent a substantial part of their earnings to Bharat, thus adversely affecting the economy of the province. Some political leaders encouraged provincialism for selfish gains. They went around depicting the central Government and (the then) West Pakistan as enemy and exploiter. Political aims were thus achieved at the cost of national unity.”

“While the Muslims provided all sorts of help to those non-Muslims desiring to leave Pakistan [during partition], people of India committed atrocities against Muslims trying to migrate to Pakistan. They would attack the buses, trucks and trains carrying the Muslim refugees and murder and loot them.” The latter except was taken from an intermediate classes textbook — Civics of Pakistan, 2000.

Some more examples of totally contorted and misleading, yet ingenious and amusing, narrations of the history of Pakistan can be extracted from a single text, A Textbook of Pakistan Studies by M D Zafar.

“Pakistan came to be established for the first time when the Arabs led by Muhammad bin Qasim occupied Sindh and Multan. Pakistan under the Arabs comprised the Lower Indus Valley.”

“During the 11th century the Ghaznavid Empire comprised what is now Pakistan and Afghanistan. During the 12th century the Ghaznavids lost Afghanistan and their rule came to be confined to Pakistan”.

“By the 13th century Pakistan had spread to include the whole of Northern India and Bengal. Under the Khiljis Pakistan moved further South to include a greater part of Central India and the Deccan”.

“During the 16th century, ‘Hindustan’ disappeared and was completely absorbed in ‘Pakistan”.

“Shah Waliullah appealed to Ahmad Shah Durrani of Afghanistan and ‘Pakistan’ to come to the rescue of the Muslims of Mughal India, and save them from the tyrannies of the Marhattas…”

“In the Pakistan territories where a Sikh state had come to be established, the Muslims were denied the freedom of religion.”

“Thus by the middle of the 19th century both Pakistan and Hindustan ceased to exist; instead British India came into being. Although Pakistan was created in August 1947, yet except for its name, the present-day Pakistan has existed, as a more or less single entity for centuries.”

— A H Nayyar is a physicist and retired professor. He co-edited an SDPI report titled “The Subtle Subversion: The State of Curricula and Textbooks in Pakistan.

Pakistan was made for Muslims

The most blatant lie that covers page after page of history textbooks is that Pakistan was created for the promotion and propagation of religion. In fact when the Muslim League was established in Dhaka in 1906 one of the foremost principles was the creation of loyalty to the British rulers and to promote greater understanding between Muslims and the British government.

The idea of religion barely entered the discourse of the Muslim League until the elections of 1937, when the League lost elections and the Congress won decisively. It was at that time that religious nationalism was invoked vigorously to create a feeling of unity among the Muslims of Uttar Pardesh (UP), Bengal and Punjab in order to provide the League an ideational basis of support.
Pakistan was mainly created for the protection and promotion of the class interests of the landed aristocracy which formed the League. The meeting at which the League was formed was attended mainly by the landed elite which feared that if the British left India and representative government was established, the traditional power of the loyal Muslim aristocracy would erode, especially since the class composition of the Congress reflected the educated urban and rural middle classes seeking upward mobility and a share in political power.

The peasant movement in Bengal was mobilised for purely political purposes since its aims and ideology conflicted radically with those of the landed aristocracy.

The urban educated middle classes of UP which joined the League later and enunciated the Hindu-Muslim difference argument in 1940, eschewed Muslim nationalism soon after independence because it had outlived its political use. The nature of the state outlined by the educated urban class in 1947 was based on a pluralistic vision of a state based on religious and citizenship equality.

— Rubina Saigol is a scholar and has authored several books on education and society and co-edited books on feminism and gender.


KP Assembly Tops in Non-Tax Payment

Clip_2If Imran Khan’s civil disobedience means refusing tax payment then Khyber-Pakhtoonkwa Assembly has already been observing it.

The directory of lawmakers indicates that KP MPAs top in tax default throughout Pakistan.

KP Assembly has 124 members of whom 27 (21.77%) are tax defaulters.

Another 61 (62.88%) MPAs were too ‘poor’ to pay a penny in income tax.

The provincial assembly’s speaker Asad Qaisar, minister for public health engineering Shah Farman, CM’s special assistant Sooran Singh are among prominent zero taxpayers in KP, according to the tax directory released by FBR in February 2014.

Likewise, PTI president Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, Murad Saeed and Sheheryar Afridi and Ayesha Gulalai filed zero tax return.

In 2012 PTI had 34 non-taxpaying MPAs.

The tax directory of lawmakers for 2013 revealed that out of a total of 1052 lawmakers majority of tax defaulters are in KP followed by Senate, Sindh Assembly, National Assembly, Balochistan Assembly and Punjab Assembly respectively.

Balochistan Assembly leads with majority of zero tax-filers closely followed by KP Assembly, Punjab Assembly, Sindh Assembly, National Assembly and Senate respectively.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 238 other followers