Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Three days of mourning?

December 31, 2007

Wangari was the first to call me and tell me that Benazir Bhutto had been killed.¬† I did not believe her (thinking she misunderstood the urdu news ūüėČ )–because usually the suicide bombers miss the target and kill innocent civilians!

Once the news was confirmed, I felt sadness in my heart that a fellow member of humanity had lost her life unnecessarily.¬† I felt sad because she was a mother to someone…a sister…a wife…a daughter.

However, I did not feel sad for the loss of a politician in Pakistan or the loss of a ‘voice of the people’–as the media is touting.¬† Pakistan has been deprived of a leader that is sincere to the people for many years.¬† Benazir had been part of a legacy of politicians that have¬†taken turns to loot the country¬†for decades.¬†In the history of Pakistan, whenever a person has¬†come into power, they have¬†done whatever it takes to further their personal interests–disregarding the interest of the ‘people’.¬†

Politics in Pakistan is a get-rich-quick scheme for the elite–and an opportunity to manipulate the masses.¬† Asif Zardari, husband of the late Benazir Bhutto–and now party (co)chairperson(!!!), had been imprisoned for several years on corruption charges (also accused of¬†laundering $1.5 billion¬†while his wife was the Prime Minister)¬†and was widely thought to have mudered the brother of Benazir (while she was ruling).

I am not a supporter of¬†any political party in Pakistan(as they are all the same) and have no hidden agenda, but am¬†really frustrated on how the media conceals the truth to create a more newsworthy story.¬† Yes–Benazir has died, and I feel sadness for her family–but many innocent people have died in the last few days in Pakistan, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, etc—head of households barely making ends meet are dead now,¬†their families¬†have no where to go for help—but I suppose their blood is cheaper(?)

Vote for me!

November 30, 2007

It’s election time in Kenya. Through the smog of the city on my long commute home I can make out smiling faces of politicians on large bilboards. “Raila – One Determined Man” reads one. The newspapers are full of opinion polls and political intrigue (the latest story is about a supposed secret deal between the main opposition candidate and the Muslim community).

And on December 27th, the country will vote. They will decide whether the President who has overseen the recent upturn in economic growth has done enough to rule for 5 years more. One thing is clear, it is going to be close. And everyone’s votes suddenly matter, including the million or more living in slums in Nairobi.

mathare-visit-022-1.jpgOn Wednesday last week I went to visit a slum in Mathare, on the East of Nairobi. On the side of the road I saw women queuing up to collect water from a standpipe. “It won’t be here in two months time”, one of the locals announced. “I beg your pardon.” “It won’t be here in two months time. The government put it in place a month ago. Once the people have voted them back into office, they’ll just take it away again.”

By all accounts, corruption in Kenya is much less than ever before. And this tale is in fact very Western – the only difference is that in the West, the government buy votes with tax cuts, rather than running water.

I intend to return to Mathare in two months time and see if the water is still running. I hope I have to write the government an apology.

State of Emergency in Pakistan!?

November 26, 2007

General Pervez Musharraf declared a State of Emergency on November 5th, 2007. A state of emergency during his own rule‚ÄĒ(how strange and telling?)

When I saw the footage on TV, I realized that all of the craziness is happening about 10 blocks from my home in Islamabad‚ÄĒbarricades, trucks full of army personnel, all kinds of artillery‚ÄĒso I panicked‚ÄĒbecause my wife was there alone, so close to the madness.¬† So I called my wife to ask

Me: what is going on?! Are you okay?

Asiya: I am fine, just sitting around catching up on some work, why are you breathing so hard?

Me: There is a state of emergency in Pakistan, there is chaos everywhere!!

Asiya: Well I better turn the TV on because I had no clue. 

So there it is.  Ten blocks away from what the media showed as utter madness and chaos, my wife had no clue.

At around the same time, a friend of mine from Manhattan, who is now working in Karachi, found out about the state of emergency and frantically called his uncle:

Him: There is a state of emergency, what am I supposed to do!?!?!?

Uncle: umm….nothing?

And so is the state of Pakistan, people are so desensitized to chaos, that the reaction of the masses prevents it from actually being chaos‚ÄĒeveryone continues life as usual.