Slavery is a bitter history that many would prefer to forget, but it continues to cast a dark shadow over a nation not only in America that was founded on the promise that “all men are created equal” and endowed with the “unalienable rights” to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Though it may seem like a phenomenon of an impossibly distant past, slavery is only just outside living memory. Slavery also reminds many in third world countries who were forced to become colonies of so called great Britain. In America, before the victory of the Civil Rights Movement black people were banned from using the same toilets, water fountains, schools and even bus stations as their white counterparts. The last anti miscegenation laws, which barred marriage between blacks and whites, were overturned by the Supreme Court only in 1967, and in 2000 Alabama became the last state to remove language prohibiting inter-racial marriage from its state constitution. Before this remarkable year, almost no African-Americans expected a black man to become President of the United States. Over almost four centuries, countless Africans were chained in slave ships for the dreaded “Middle Passage” across the Atlantic. Although there is no definitive total, Unesco estimates that 14,270,000 Africans were sold into slavery in the New World. By the time of the American Revolution, one out of five people in the Colonies was a slave. Olderr black Americans who lived through segregation in public institutions until the mid-1960s and who were alive when barriers to voting were finally removed in 1965 were filled with emotion when Sen. Barack Obama was declared the president-elect of the United States. They never thought they would live to see the day a nation of people who had enslaved each other, who had segregated schools to keep their children apart and who had grudgingly come together in the past would vote in masses, waiting in lines for hours, to elect the first bi-racial man to govern the country. Today, when historians will write new chapters, they will add BARAK OBAMA name in their books, they will record story of a kid, whose father was from Kenya, mother was white American, was raised by white grand parents ,a kid who struggled to reconcile social perceptions of his multiracial heritage ,he was not son of a famous politician, wealthy landlord or was born with golden spoon in his mouth, he is not like many other US politicians is from feudal society, he struggled, worked hard, Challenged seasoned politicians of American politics, he raised slogan of change, broke barriers of race and color and became first Afro-American President of America. He proved America is a country of great opportunity. Obama overcame prejudice is not only a tribute to his campaign, but also to the hope that, given a chance, ordinary people can overcome injustice to create a more humane world. The Election of Barack Obama as the 44th US President is a real tribute to Martin Luther King , whose dream is fulfilled. Americans put aside their racial prejudices on Tuesday Nov 4 and picked the best son of the land for the job, Obama's election does not suggest racism is wiped out once and for all, but it does signal that a sizable majority of voters believe America is the land of equal opportunity where anyone born in that land, irrespective of race, ethnicity or religion, can become its president. contest and win at the White House, by abolishing slavery. He seems to be pro-poor and has promised to reduce the difference between the ultra-rich and abject poor. Most of the time, he spoke with his personal convictions, not bothering whether his comment would bring or lose votes for him. And I think in the end, this streak of honesty won him the presidency. When TV screens were reporting that Obama won, people danced in the streets, wept, lifted their voices in prayer and brought traffic to a standstill. From Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles to all over the world, Americans celebrated Barack Obama's victory and marveled that they lived to see the day that a black man was elected president. His election speaks volumes for a bunch of people," Children of single mothers, people who put themselves through college. It says, you can do it, you can do it. Change has come to America." With this statement, Barack Obama encapsulated the feelings of hundreds of millions of his supporters around the globe. Obama's thumping electoral win will go down as one of the most transformational events in political history as he becomes the 44th U.S. president his victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place .
Pakistani politicians can learn a lot from Obama and changing of guards in Washington, Obama and his team is busy to provide best cabinet to the nation so they can develop better life for American citizens, while in Pakistan, politicians love to travel all over the world, in just past eight months Zardari and PM made more then one foreign trips and members of parliament in Pakistan have no clue what to do with so many problems in Pakistan, In Pakistan you haven’t even started fighting corruption. Indeed, leaders are still at the lip-service stage. The Pakistani politics is like Pakistani movies where the same old story repeated endlessly with the change of faces but in politics, even the faces remain the same with repeated role, which proves that while the world may have moved on we remain stuck in the same grooves. In Pakistan ,the painful dilemma in the political fête is that the politicians who always cry for democracy are unable to produce democracy in their own parties. When the national political figureheads could not maintain fair and clean election within their parties how can they provide or maintain the true democracy in the country. When the power greedy politicians are ready to split their parties to retain the headship of the party or not allow the other person to contest for party leadership, how can one expect from them to run a true democracy in Pakistan. When the leaders of a country start buying properties outside the country and their children get educated and stay abroad then the people of the country should know that there is something seriously wrong with the country which the leaders know but are not telling the people of the
country. Since the creation of Pakistan the Pakistani people are left at distant from the corridor of power so that the ruling elite can do what they wanted to do in favor of their interest, leaving the Pakistani people at the mercy of circumstances. As this policy is denial of right of Pakistani people to rule their country according to their aspiration and desire to built this country, which can provide equal opportunity to all without any discrimination for the establishment of welfare society. Only the society base on tolerance, equality and justice can be the real guarantee for the prosperous and strong Pakistan there for your intention is invited to the crucial movement which could be the point of distraction or disaster. The question is can we expect from them to provide solution to burning issue and will they allow the oppressed people of Pakistan to share decision making process and enjoy fruit of democracy in Pakistan with transparency and accountability. The dominant feudal and corrupt politician in Pakistan, since last 60 years are like a cursed and they have gifted Pakistan many evil like, unchecked corruption, religious and ethnic divisions, religious extremism, feudalism, social disparity, frequent military rules, corrupt bureaucracy, and the worst most generation of corrupt politicians. The only way out of these crucial circumstances is to empower the common Pakistani at grass route level i.e. the change of system. This change is inevitable for the prosperous Pakistan . Along with basic guarantees for the creation of welfare state, where in public representative and institution shall be answerable and accountable to the masses. Every country in the world has a army, Pakistan is the only country where army has a country, The army of Pakistan has been and is a major force in the politics which has always been interfering and intervening time and again in the system of governance. They are not just military-men now. They have become real-estate agents, bankers, educators, etc. The Army has built up a far-flung empire of economic enterprises in all parts of Pakistan with assets in the tens of billions, and can best protect its interests by defusing the escalating conflict with the minorities.
The poor people of Pakistan need free schools, free hospitals, and a decent future for their children. American People expect high standards both morally and integrity from their politicians. Elitism in everything is alienating the people of Pakistan. Pakistani public used to seeing its corrupt elite sending their kids to exclusive English medium schools, eating and drinking imported food, wearing foreign made clothes, driving foreign made cars. Pakistan has experienced three decades of corruption, drugs, military rule, rising Islamist extremism and a general decline in education and health standards. Who is responsible for this ?
Pakistan‘s future looks quite uncertain and a fundamentalist revolution is likely to follow if the wealthy, self-indulgent elites don’t clean up their act and provide proper leadership. Pakistan’s condition in more then 60 years of its ‘independence.' is one of tragedy; it is a country which has lost its way and whose politicians care little for its reputation. it is not sufficient to change from military leaders to political leaders without changing the underlying political system. It will not work now, nor has it ever worked in the past. There is no check and balance in Pakistan. What Pakistan therefore needs is clear, a comprehensive change of system not a return to the failed politics of the past and another set of cosmetic leadership changes. PAKISTAN'S democracy hasn't suffered because of the illiterate but because of the literate, because of abuses by the privileged who went to Oxford and Cambridge. Ninety percent of Pakistan's politicians are feudal. We have to break the hold of tribal leaders who won't permit development. India got it right when it broke up the great landholdings after independence .Pakistani politicians lack moral values, they have no principals, for the last 60 years they are neglecting education, health, justice and other basic needs of citizens. Pakistan’s endless disputes between army and politicians have turned the country’s governing apparatus from one big feudal calculus to one big military calculation. In 2005 Pakistan ranked 34 in the list of “Top Failed States of the world”, when the list was first published. Pakistan is now ranking at position 12 in the same list, Even countries like North Korea, Bangladesh and Uganda are ranking better than Pakistan in the list. Who is responsible for this??? the answer is military/civilian beau racy, bourgeois and elite class of Pakistan. How can we solve this??? The common man has to come out on the streets, take over the government, form a true democracy, reject all forms of religious intolerance and extremism, reject all these selfish and greedy politicians and develop the country. The common man till to date has been a silent voice in Pakistan. It is the opportunistic politicians, greedy mullahs , military, ISI that have been playing the cards to decide the Pakistani future. It is high time that the common man in the streets of Pakistan takes charge of the country. Unless this happens, there is little hope for Pakistan. Pakitsan needs new faces, educated people in political life of this country . Its up to people in Pakistan to vote for their selfish politicians or reject them. In pakiistan, political parties are family business, this has to be change. Pakistani politicians never had any agenda for development of the country, listen to your members of parliament what they are talking about??? Where is the discussion about the higher education in Pakistan? How are the top notch scientists, engineers and doctors going to be trained? When will govt start pouring funds into these fields? I don’t really understand whether Pakistan and Pakistanis wants to become a peaceful and hopeful country or not.
It is pointless to debate whether the army or the politicians have been responsible for Pakistan.s stillborn democracy. The fact is that democracy would not have failed without their partnership. When Lincoln called democracy the government of the people, by the people and for the people, he basically meant a system of government that empowered the people. But unfortunately, .democracy. in Pakistan, whether of political lineage or genetically modified by the army, has only empowered the already empowered. And it has become a government of them, by them and for them. The challenges that Pakistan faces such as ethno-linguistic divisions, sectarian conflicts, competing visions of national identity, cultural wars, existential struggles between extremism and moderation, civil-military tensions and tussle between the centre and provinces, and above all, the stranglehold of feudalism and the civil-military bureaucracy are not susceptible to resolution by prosperity. So what is the solution? What we need is a reform movement not a political party that should address the fundamental issues confronting Pakistan. What is required is a national re-awakening like the ones that brought about the Meiji Restoration in Japan and launched the Chinese reform movement around the beginning of the 20th century.
The problem is Pakistani society as a whole does not know what Democracy is, this includes the media, public and politicians. Pakistan needs stability, economic vibrancy, poverty alleviation, more education. Its really amazing to observe political developments and politicians in Pakistan, it seems like Pakistani politicians does not have any agenda for the welfare of their voters. I don’t see anyone talking and discussing how to solve crisis like load shedding, clean water to all citizens, health benefits for people, education etc.. Pakistan can never be a true democratic nation, unless the illiteracy is reduced, the judiciary is clean, bureaucracy is defeated and every Pakistani from cities, rural areas develops the political acumen. Barack Obama's victory is a clear message for the oppressed people of those societies and countries of the world who are suffering a lot because of injustice, outdated socio-economic system, and varieties of slavery. Now the time has come that people of Pakistan should stand up for their genuine rights and protest against all social and economic ills and discriminations and search out their own OBAMA.

Peshawar trembling

The Frontier Post
Commitment to Journalism

Not long ago, Peshawar was such a wonderful place to live in; a pleasantly peaceful, tranquil and lovely metropolis it then was. Even on the atrocious watch of the holy fathers, this capital city of the Frontier Province wasn’t as scary a place as has it become now in just a few months of the ANP-led rule. Rampaging lawlessness has become this beleaguered metropolis’s saddening watchword. Just in the past two days, this seat of the Pakhtun pride and honour was a witness to two ignoble criminal acts. In one, an American aid worker was murdered by gunmen along with his local driver. In the other, an Iranian diplomat was kidnapped by armed thugs, who gunned down his guard. Earlier, the Afghan ambassador-designate was similarly seized in the city two months ago and till-date he remains untraced. All these criminal acts were, notably, perpetrated in the provincial capital’s posh quarters, having a greater measure of security. Yet, no feather seems this criminality to have ruffled in any niche of the ruling ANP tribe and its subordinate official hierarchy. Indeed, while criminals of every type and of every category are having a field day, not just in Peshawar but all over the province, the ANP troupes are just entertaining the folks with lullabies, of which they have had enough by now. The ANP tribe talks big but acts small. It makes a brave talk but walks not this talk. It speaks of great Pakhtun traditions but practises these not. It sings of non-violence creed of its great leaders but shows itself to be no worthy followers of theirs. The people are really bored and fed with its incessant hymns and songs. And now they want this ANP tribe, for a change, to do some administrating, instead of keep tormenting them with its intermittent haranguing, hectoring, sermonising and pious vowing. And that is where the tribe is, so far, coming a cropper. The Tuesday’s suicide bombing of the metropolis’s sports stadium could give it an excuse, even as slim. But it can have no excuse at all for failing in averting and stopping the incidence of kidnapping, abductions, robberies, thefts, and street murders and crimes. There obviously is a culpable flaw with its policing and governance. Its top hierarchy’s oft-repeated assertion that it had struck peace deals with the extremists but those were aborted by some third party doesn’t wash. To come convincing, it must specifically identify that third party, which it does not, giving the sense that it is just lying. In any case, the popular perception is that it went for those deals expediently, without doing the proper homework and without making adequate preparations, just to accumulate a few brownie, but uncertain, points. In tatters is thus its peace deal in Swat where Fazlullah in effect used the accord to regroup his mauled thugs. And its Malakand deal with Sufi Mohammad too is in deep troubles, with that old ogre camping out with his fanatical flocks now for over a month to have the accord executed the way he wills. The ANP tribe must understand that governance is very serious, tedious and complex business. It admits of no shallowness, no populism, no bunk talk. It requires mature thinking, creative ideas, wise counsels, pragmatic approaches and practicable strategies. It needs deeds, not words. And this tribe has to show all this in it if it wants to succeed in overcoming what is troubling the province so horrendously. Hitherto, this ANP tribe had been figuring up, at best, as a junior partner in ruling coalitions in the province. It is for the first time that it is in the vanguard of a rainbow governing coalition. And it shouldn’t let this opportunity to earn it good name in annals go waste with its shallowness, inaction, inertia and opportunism that it is presently putting on display.

Saved from: http://www.thefrontierpost.com/News.aspx?ncat=ed&nid=184&ad=15-11-200
Dated: Saturday, November 15, 2008, Zi'qad 16, 1429 A.H.

Abdul Ghaffar Khan is 'The Frontier Gandhi'

Abdul Ghaffar Khan is 'The Frontier Gandhi'
The devout Muslim leader preached passive resistance and opposed violence.

NEW YORK -- BLOOD-DRENCHED stories about suicide bombings, armed clashes and assassinations that pour from Pakistan's tribal belt these days, while stressing the eruption of Taliban-Al Qaeda-related conflict, often also define the regional culture as one steeped in violence for centuries. But what rarely gets told is how the people of the wild west of Pakistan also share the modern history of radical nonviolence.

Little known in the West is a figure named Abdul Ghaffar Khan, who argued that religiously justified violence was "not God's religion." Known as Badshah (also spelled Baacha) Khan to his followers, the devoutly Muslim leader was called "The Frontier Gandhi" and built an Islamic parallel to Gandhi's violence-eschewing ideals of compassion for one's enemies and peaceful resistance to oppression as a means of overcoming it.

Khan, a Pashtun tribal leader who died at 98 in 1988 in Peshawar, also founded the Awami National Party, which today fights against enormous odds to organize tribal aspirations in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan and nearby areas away from the Taliban. The ANP website -- awaminationalparty.org -- carries an image of Khan's long-nosed, serene face at the top. On Oct. 2, Asfandyar Wali Khan, Khan's grandson and the president of the ANP, survived a suicide bomb attack outside Peshawar that killed four others.

On Nov. 8, the first full filmic account of Badshah Khan's exceptional life will get its American premiere in New York at the Mahindra Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival, an art film showcase mounted by a group that includes novelist Salman Rushdie on its advisory board. The documentary, titled "The Frontier Gandhi: Badshah Khan, a Torch for Peace," is the work of filmmaker and writer T.C. McLuhan, daughter of the Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan, who spent 21years to bring the story to the screen.

A restless, determined woman, McLuhan -- she's called Teri -- made numerous trips to Afghanistan and other places where the Badshah Khan story unfolded, even as American bombs fell in Taliban-held Afghanistan after 9/11 and through the dangerous times that followed. She shot the film in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the North-West Frontier Province, giving this story of filmmaking persistence a geopolitical dimension not many can match. Just her tale of transporting two canisters of film stock from Los Angeles across several South Asian borders becomes a saga.

She says she made six trips over the winding Khyber Pass. She dug into archives Afghan film officials sheltered from the Taliban. She managed impossibly smooth tracking shots on rutted streets using a makeshift dolly her Indian cinematographer built with skateboard wheels. A warlord became her guide and appears with her in production stills, standing in a rugged Afghan gully. She had her equipment thrown into the street by police. And she kept going back, using her Canadian citizenship and a widening network of connections to make her account of South Asia's least known great man.

For McLuhan, 62, the finished film completes a journey that started in September 1987 in Berkeley, when an acquaintance gave her "Nonviolent Soldier of Islam," a book by the late Eknath Easwaran, who knew Khan.

McLuhan says her long commitment to her project grew from her feeling about Khan's "uncommon greatness. And that was accompanied by, certainly, uncommon courage. I felt a depth of spirit that I simply wanted to know more about."

She's sitting in her Manhattan editing studio with a poster of Woody Allen's "Annie Hall" (her father made a memorable cameo in the movie) on a wall. The slightly built McLuhan speaks of her filmmaking adventure as if it was all somehow fated. She says that, upon receiving Easwaran's book, "I looked at it and thought, 'I don't know anything about this part of the world,' and three weeks later, at about 3 in the morning, I picked it up and felt all the electrons around me shift."

South Asian luminaries she interviewed included Afghan President Hamid Karzai, whose memory of meeting Khan as a boy is one of the film's most intimate moments, and former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who makes it clear he doesn't view Khan as a Pakistani patriot (which Khan really was not, given his quasi-nationalistic ideal of a Pashtun homeland).

McLuhan has made two other films, one a fictional tale about twins -- she is a twin -- called "The Third Walker." She also made "The Shadow Catcher," a documentary about photographer Edward S. Curtis, and has written several books. She refers to Khan, whom she never met, as "BK," as if they were close friends.

As a sweeping narrative of a charismatic pilgrim's progress, "The Frontier Gandhi" has both actual history and certain qualities in common with Richard Attenborough's 1982 epic film "Gandhi," in which Khan plays a minor role. McLuhan follows the arc from Khan's start as the member of an aristocratic family in Charsadda, a town in the Peshawar Valley, to the disappointment his universalist ideals met -- as also happened with Gandhi -- with the partition of India.

"As a young boy," Khan once said, "I had violent tendencies. The hot blood of the Pashtuns ran through my veins. We have an abundance of violence in our nature."

McLuhan uses an actor representing a generic (and sinister) British official to recite historical accounts of how the British empire used its military "streamroller" in the tribal areas to play the "great game" for regional influence against Russia. The British ignored the general welfare of the Pashtun people. Like Gandhi, Khan cultivated nationalistic fervor in the soil of deprivations, including poor education and hunger. He convinced villagers that the old ways of feuds and vendettas thwarted collective progress.

At 20, he opened a local school, making education the root of broader reforms. McLuhan says he started to develop his nonviolent philosophy before meeting Gandhi, after a sort of vision that she never quite details. "There is nothing surprising in a Muslim or a Pashtun like me subscribing to the creed of nonviolence," he says, in a line from McLuhan's film (the voice speaking Khan's words throughout the picture belongs to Indian actor Om Puri). "It was followed 1,400 years ago by the Prophet all the time he was in Mecca."

Khan founded a group called the Khudai Khidmatgar, or servants of God, known as the Red Shirts for the red cotton clothing worn by members, who defied ancient local and religious divisions to join. "The more conservative figure for how many there were at their height is the one I say -- more than 100,000," McLuhan says. "Others have said more than 300,000. There were representatives of many different tribes. Muslims, Hindu, Sikh, Christian and Buddhist."

McLuhan recounted how she gathered and filmed 82 former Khudai Khidmatgars, five of them women, many in their 90s: "One of them had saved his complete uniform." In one interview, we hear how Khan taught people from a warrior world that their oppressors "may kill, but we won't. They may harm us, but we won't harm them."

"Do you know the one word BK used when asked to define nonviolence?" McLuhan asks with hushed intensity, eyes wide with a delight that often infuses them when she speaks of her hero. " 'Nonviolence,' he said, 'is patience.'

"Most certainly the heart of the film," she continues, is the "tone poem" she wove of those at-the-camera faces of the Khudai Khidmatgars as they passionately, in six languages, including Urdu and Pashto, speak the oath they learned when they were being jailed and tortured by the British for following Khan, who spent about two-thirds of his life imprisoned by British and then Pakistan authorities who feared his influence.

The oath turns into verbal music, the English translation orchestrated over the still-audible voices. (The music was overseen by composer-performer David Amram.) "I am a Khudai Khidmatgar," it begins. "And as God needs no service, serving his creation is serving him. I promise to serve humanity in the name of God."

Khan, offered the leadership of the Indian National Congress during India's independence fight, rejected it to avoid becoming a purely political figure. It was a larger focus shared by Khan and Gandhi, who were personally close.

Unlike Gandhi, Khan did not leave a large written record or become a media sensation. But McLuhan found photos of them together that are surprising for their glow of mutual warmth. The petite Gandhi is joined by an Islamic sage who stands towering and sinewy in simple cotton clothing, his gentle-fierce aura something like Gandhi's -- only different.

How, one wonders, can Khan be so little known? In the film, M.J. Akbar, one of India's best-known journalists, gives McLuhan an answer: "The market for nonviolence was so used up by Mahatma Gandhi there was no space left for an alternative Gandhi, for a second Gandhi. You know, this is one of the problems of media -- that even history becomes an exercise in brand building. So the brand was built around Gandhi, and not on Badshah Khan."