Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

Let us kill each other!

For us living together requires neither love nor mercy, but rules of conduct; everything be it ideology, faith, or any system of thought, comes after that. Anything short of it is at the same time inhuman and anti-human, and is like putting death before life. [K.A.]

“Hey, Mr., you are different. Your skin color is different. You wear clothes different from mine. Sometimes you use shorts or just rags. You eat things different from mine. You play different games. You sing and dance. You make and watch movies. You have places of nudity and obscenity which you call freedom and enjoyment. You call them art, fashion, and what not.

Your women live like you. They behave like you. They wear dress like yours. Or they wear nothing. They go out like you. They do everything like you do. They sing and dance like you. They sing and dance in public like you do. You kiss them in public and they you. You treat them like your equals.

You have installed a society and system which is different from mine. You hold elections and make a representative government which is different from mine. You have evolved representative institutions different from mine. You have a system of political parties which I don’t approve of. The world you live I don’t like at all. Why are you different?

You or most of you abandoned your beliefs. You compartmentalized your religion. You adopted the religion of freedom instead. You give religious freedom to all and sundry. You make them or let everybody believe as they wish. Practice their faith as they wish. To me it’s just non-sense.

You have evolved philosophy and seek truth. You have developed innumerable sciences and a lot of knowledge, technology. You call it freedom of thought and expression. You believe in freedom and free society. You live in freedom and die in freedom. I don’t approve of it.

You are completely different from me. I can’t bear it. Listen! Be like me. Or I will make you to be like me. And, mind it, I will kill you if you don’t do that. Be like me or I will kill you.”

Our world is populous with different individuals, communities, and people. No one is similar to the other. We have as many differences amongst us as many men and women there are on the face of our earth planet. Thus if anyone sets out on a journey of unifying them all - different individuals and their different individualities and their individual differences - into the image of his own liking, no doubt every one of us in that case will be constantly at war with each one of us. A killing spree will follow.

Until and unless we learn to live in peace with different people, their different individualities, their individual differences, their different beliefs, and their different systems of thoughts, there will be no end to it. That is what human civilization is all about. We have laws and rule of law and protection of fundamental rights to honor each one’s life and his freedom and to remain within the limits of our own life and freedom. That is what human existence is all about.

Under the present circumstances where the perpetrators of terror have unleashed a most brutal war the hidden agenda of which is ultimately their own political supremacy, we have two options clearly open to every one of us: kill each other, or live in peace with each other.

We know every war ends at total or partial annihilation of enemies, or most often at a truce. However modern wars could never accomplish what ancient wars did though in very few cases only: total killing of enemies. Thus modern civilization tried to transform the old war into strictly an instrument of policy and succeeded in confining its scope also, and it tried to rewrite the old truce into a permanent settlement. That is, agreeing on the minimum conditions for a policy of peaceful co-existence for all human beings regardless of the differences of caste and creed, so to say.

On another plane, a little while back we were in the process of reaching a universal agreement as to the realization, recognition, security and protection of fundamental inalienable rights and freedoms to all the individuals living on this earth. The terror war has negatively impacted on its progress. It needs to be conscious of that to make this world mutually livable. Life is a mutual social phenomenon, we need to appreciate that.

Along with it, we need to appreciate that as Nature and God made every people and individuals different and as all the people and individuals too want to be and remain different, let them be all different. That’s the beauty of life! Whoever is after destroying it is enemy of both life and its beauty! Let us kill not each other! Rather, let us enhance this beauty by not denying freedom to all!

[This article was completed on April 19, 2009.]

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All rights reserved. No part of the contents published on this Blog – Notes from Pakistan may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of The Blogger.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012

State Aristocracy's Pakistan – 3: Justice for Senator's son

How a police officer’s highhandedness in torturing someone special earns him the wrath of the State Aristocracy is evident from the following news:

Defence-A SHO found guilty of torturing senator’s son

LAHORE: Defence-A SHO Faisal Sharif has been proved guilty of torturing the son of Senator Abdul Ghani Bangash, a couple of weeks ago, in an inquiry conducted by SSP Discipline and Inquiry.

Lahore CCPO has ordered DIG Operations to suspend him from service immediately and initiate a departmental inquiry against him. The CCPO has also ordered not to give him field posting in future. The SHO had thrashed Irshad Bangash, the son of Senator Abdul Ghani Bangash, and his friend at an apartment in H-Block, Defence, in a search of his (SHO’s) ‘dancer girlfriend.’ The raiding police team headed by SHO Faisal Sharif had also damaged precious items and later got registered a fake case against them. SSP D&I Shariq Kamal had conducted inquiry into the incident in which SHO was found guilty. The inquiry office has also held Defence-B SHO Raza responsible for registering a fake case without verifying the facts and recommended action against him.

[The News International, Lahore Print Edition, November 20, 2012]

Why such justice is not available to the ordinary citizens of Pakistan who daily suffer worst form of humiliation and torture at the hands of Police? That’s what makes Pakistan a country only for the elite classes, or the State Aristocracy!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Stray points - 2

* The world needs to be changed into a world for individual persons, not for this or that genus of this or that community or nation!

* It is knowledge that rules; since it helps us make better and just rules!

* When religiosity dominates in a society, morality recedes. See the present-day Pakistan!

* Presently Muslims are lurching somewhere in their Middle Ages!

* All the pro-establishment elements in Pakistan are anti-America; and all the anti-America elements, even if they are not pro-establishment, somehow serve the cause of the establishment.

* Instead of doing Ideology and Politics, the Pakistani Left should open Charities!

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All rights reserved. No part of the contents published on this Blog – Notes from Pakistan may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of The Blogger.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pasmaandagi Ki Kitaab

Please note: This post has been shifted to the Urdu Blog - Civil Pakistan. To see it, click the link below:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

State Aristocracy's Pakistan - 2: Maliha Makhdoom appointed as First Secretary in Ireland

In a previous post, Riyasti Ashrafiya ka Pakistan – 1, a news item was highlighted. It was published in an Urdu daily Mashriq Peshawar on October 15, 2012. It states that Barrister Hassan Sajjad, son of former president and chairman Senate, Wasim Sajjad, has been appointed Adviser to the Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, and a notification to this effect has been issued.

This second highlight, published in The Express Tribune on November 15, 2012, states the following:

In Question-Hour session in the Senate: “two top ranking officers had been appointed by former premier Yousaf Raz Gilani in diplomatic missions abroad without fulfilling any obligatory criteria for the high-profile posts, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said in her written reply to the Senate.  
The officials were posted abroad without passing the mandatory Central Superior Servies (CSS) examination, Khar explained. Gilani appointed Maliha Makhdoom, daughter of senior PPP Minister Makhdoon Amin Faheem, as first secretary in Dublin, Ireland, while Salis Kiani was appointed Minister Community Welfare London.”


[The Express Tribune, November 15, 2012]

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Jadeed Riyasat Aur Ayeen Ki Baladasti Ka Usool

Please note: This post has been shifted to the Urdu Blog - Civil Pakistan. To see it, click the link below:

What has gone wrong with the US - erstwhile champion of individual freedom!

What has gone wrong with the US - erstwhile champion of individual freedom, world-renowned political cartoonist, Patrick Chappatte explains very well in this cartoon!

This cartoon was published in the International Herald Tribune, Pakistan print edition, November 12, 2012.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Finished reading: The Bondage and Travels of Johann Schiltberger

Few days back (on November 3), I finished reading a rare and old book. If one wants to see a glimpse of the old world, read this book.

Actually, this April I was in Fez, Morocco, for the Special Meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society, on Freedom, Human Dignity and the Open Society. (Let me add that I am the only member of the Mont Pelerin Society from Pakistan!) There in a session on April 24, one Benedikt Koehler from London presented his paper, “The Birth of Capitalism in Islam.” It was quite enlightening, and in addition to putting a question to Mr. Koehler during the session, the same evening during the dinner I especially invited him to the table, where we some friends were sitting together, to have a detailed discussion with him. I especially appreciated his attempt to highlight the contribution of Islam to the Economic Theory.

It was during the last day (April 25) during the lunch that Mr. Koehler told about Johann Schiltberger, that how interesting is the book he wrote about his bondage and experiences, and that it gives an eyewitness account of the 14th and 15th century world.

Here is the complete title of the book:

The Bondage and Travels of Johann Schiltberger,
A Native of Bavaria,
In Europe, Asia, and Africa.
1396-1427.
Translated from the
Heidelberg MS. Edited in 1859 by Professor Karl Friedrich Neumann,
By
Commander J. Buchan Telfer, R.N.,
F.S.A., F.R.G.S.
With Notes by
Professor P. Bruun,
Of the Imperial University of South Russia, at Odessa;
And a Preface, Introduction, and Notes
by
The Translator and Editor.
With a Map.
London: Printed For the Hakluyt Society, MDCC CLXXIX {1879}.

It’s a little book consisting of about 100 pages and 67 chapters. But detailed notes spanning over 140 pages make it a 320 page book. The book also includes an introduction and a comprehensive index. All that is a proof of German scholarship!

The titles of the chapters let form an idea of Johann’s varied experiences:

Schiltberger to the Reader

1. Of the first combat between King Sigmund and the Turks
2. How the Turkish king treated the prisoners
3. How Wyasit subjugated an entire country
4. How Wyasit made war on his brother-in-law, and killed him
5. How Weyasit drives away the king of Sebast
6. What sixty of us Christians had agreed upon
7. How Wyasit took the city of Samson
8. Of serpents and vipers
9. How the Infidels remain in the fields with their cattle, in winter and summer
10. How Weyasit took a country that belonged to the Sultan
11. Of the King-Sultan
12. How Temerlin conquered the kingdom of Sebast
13. Weyasit conquers Lesser Armenia
14. How Tamerlin goes to war with the King-Sultan
15. How Tamerlin conquered Babiloni
16. How Tamerlin conquered Lesser India
17. How a vassal carried off riches that belonged to Tamerlin
18. How Tamerlin caused MMM {3000} children to be killed
19. Tamerlin wants to go to war with the Great Chan
20. Of Tamerlin's death
21. Of the sons of Tamerlin
22. How Joseph caused Mirenschach to be beheaded, and took possession of all his territory
23. How Joseph vanquished a king and beheaded him
24. How Schiltberger came to Aububachir
25. Of a king's son
26. How one lord succeeds another lord
27. Of an Infidel woman, who had four thousand maidens
28. In what countries I have been
29. In which countries I have been, that lay between the Tonow and the sea
30. Of the castle of the sparrow-hawk, and how it is guarded
31. How a poor fellow watched the sparrow-hawk
32. More about the castle of the sparrow-hawk
33. In which countries silk is grown, and of Persia and of other kingdoms
34. Of the tower of Babilony that is of such great height
35. Of great Tartaria
36. The countries in which I have been, that belong to Tartary
37. How many kings-sultan there were, whilst I was amongst the Infidels
38. Of the mountain of St. Catherine
39. Of the withered tree
40. Of Jherusalem and of the Holy Sepulchre
41. Of the spring in Paradise, with IIII rivers
42. How pepper grows in India
43. Of Allexandria
44. Of a great giant
45. Of the many religions the Infidels have
46. How . . . {Prophet Muhammad PBUH} and his religion appeared
47. Of the Infidels' Easter-day
48. Of the other Easter-day
49. Of the law of the Infidels
50. Why . . . {Prophet Muhammad PBUH} has forbidden wine to Infidels
51. Of a fellowship the Infidels have among themselves
52. How a Christian becomes an Infidel
53. What the Infidels believe of Christ
54. What the Infidels say of Christians
55. How Christians are said not to hold to their religion
56. How long ago it is, since . . . {Prophet Muhammad PBUH} lived
57. Of Constantinoppel
58. Of the Greeks
59. Of the Greek religion
60. How the city of Constantinoppel was built
61. How the Jassen have their marriages
62. Of Armenia
63. Of the religion of the Armenians
64. Of a Saint Gregory
65. Of a dragon and a unicorn
66. Why the Greeks and Armani are enemies
67. Through which countries I have come away

Here are some excerpts from the book:

How Johann was made a runner for the King:

“I was taken to the palace of the Turkish king {King-Sultan Wyasit}; there for six years I was obliged to run on my feet with the others, wherever he went, it being the custom that the lords have people to run before them. After six years I deserved to be allowed to ride, and I rode six years with him, so that I was twelve years with him;” [P. 7]

Johann’s evidence of Tamerlane’s cruelty:

“1 8.—How Tamerlin caused MMM {3000} children to be killed.

Then he went into a kingdom called Hisspahan and made for the capital, Hisspahan, and required it to surrender. They gave themselves up, and went to him with their wives and children. He received them graciously, occupied the city with six thousand of his people, and took away with him the lord of the city, whose name was Schachister. And so soon as the city heard that Tamerlin was gone out of the country, they closed all the gates and killed the six thousand men. When Tamerlin knew this, he returned to the city and besieged it for XV days, but he could not take it, and made peace with them on condition that they should lend him the archers that were in the city, for an expedition; after that, he should send them back. They sent to him twelve thousand archers; he cut off all their thumbs, and forced them back into the city and himself entered it. He assembled all the citizens, and ordered all those over fourteen years to be beheaded, and the boys under XIIII years he ordered to be spared, and with the heads was constructed a tower in the centre of the city; then he ordered the women and children to be taken to a plain outside the city, and ordered the children under seven years of age to be placed apart, and ordered his people to ride over these same children. When his counsellors and the mothers of the children saw this, they fell at his feet, and begged that he would not kill them. He would not listen, and ordered that they should be ridden over; but none would be the first to do so. He got angry, and rode himself [amongst them] and said: "Now I should like to see who will not ride after me?" Then they were all obliged to ride over the children, and they were all trampled upon. There were seven thousand. Then he set fire to the city, and took the other women and children into his own city; and then went to his capital called Semerchant, where he had not been for twelve years.” [PP. 27-28]

His account of the Tamerlane’s death:

“It is to be noted, that three causes made Tamerlin fret, so that he became ill, and died of that same illness. The first cause was grief that his vassal had escaped with the tribute; the other it is to be noted was, that Thamerlin had three wives, and that the youngest, whom he loved very much, had been intimate with one of his vassals whilst he was away.” [P. 29]

On his orders this wife of his was beheaded, “He then sent five thousand horsemen after this same vassal, that they might bring him as a prisoner; but he was warned by the commander who was sent after him, and the vassal took with him five hundred men, his wife and children, and fled to the country of Wassandaran. There Tamerlin could not get at him. It fretted him so much that he had killed his wife, and that the vassal had escaped, that he died, . . .” [P. 29]

How strong was Tamerlane’s son!

“It is also to be noted, that Abubachir {son of Tamerlane’s son, Miraschach} was so strong, that he shot through a ploughshare with an Infidel bow; the iron went through, and the shaft remained in the ploughshare. This ploughshare was sent as a marvel to Thamerlin's capital, called Samerchant, and fixed to the gate. When the king-sultan heard of his strength, he sent to him a sword that weighed twelve pounds. It was worth one thousand guldens. And when the sword was brought to him, he ordered that an ox, three years old, should be brought to him, as he wished to try the sword. When the ox came, he cut it into two parts at one blow. This happened during Tamerlin's lifetime.” [P. 33]

His account of experiences in India is quite short; a sample is given below:

“I have also been in Lesser India, which is a fine kingdom. The capital is called Dily. In this country are many elephants, and animals called surnasa, which is like a stag, but it is a tall animal, and has a long neck four fathoms in length or longer. It has long fore legs, and the hinder are short. There are many animals in Lesser India. There are also many parrots, ostriches, and lions. There are also many other animals and birds, of which I cannot give the names.” [P. 47]

He tells about a rare and wonderful bird found in Arabia:

“There is a bird in Arabia called sacka, which is larger than a crane, and has a long neck, and a broad and long beak. It is black and has large feet, which are much like the feet of a goose in the lower parts; its feet are also very black; its colour is the same as that of a crane; it has a large crop in front of its neck, in which it has quite a quart of water. It is the habit of this bird, to fly to a river and fill its crop with water; then it flies away to the desert where there is no water, and pours it out of its crop into a hole in the rock. Then come the little birds of the desert to drink, when he attacks those birds for his food. This is the same desert that people cross, who go to the tomb of . . . {Prophet Muhammad PBUH} where he is buried.” [P. 54]

In the end, I would like to share the following observation of mine:

As Johann Schiltberger is a devout Christian, throughout his account he calls Muslims as Infidels. And as the present-day Muslims call non-Muslims Infidels, it seems as if now they are passing through their Middle Ages!

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All rights reserved. No part of the contents published on this Blog – Notes from Pakistan may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of The Blogger.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What the Prime Minister of Pakistan is up to!

See the following report and be in the know what things are occupying the Prime Minister of Pakistan, no matter they are illegal or not, or immoral or not:

SHO Gujar Khan transferred on PM’s complaint

RAWALPINDI: On the direction of Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf the City Police Officer DIG Azhar Hameed Khokhar has transferred SHO of Gujar Khan Inspector Abdul Sattar Khan to Police Line. The prime minister complained that SHO Sattar exchanged hot words with his brother Raja Javed Ashraf on the public meeting held under the PPP in Gujar Khan on October 21, 2012. The SHO forbade the workers from holding firework.


[The News International, November 8, 2012]

I would like to add that responsible and lawful citizens should demand that the Prime Minister and his brother extend apologies to the concerned police officer and he be reinstated to his posting from where he has been transferred wrongfully!   

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

Siege from within

When creative spirit of a nation is arrested from within, it is as vulnerable to external insinuations as is to internal machinations, and can never make any progress. 

Pakistan is under siege.”

We had enemies from the very first day. With time, the list of our enemies grew longer. So much so that today we have neighbors not friendly to us and a world all hostile to us. We are alone in a wilderness created of our own. Isn’t it Greek mythology whose gods and monsters we have resurrected in ourselves? Like the one-eyed monster, we have no second eye to look inward. This on the one hand has transformed us completely into subjects perfectly suitable for psychological pursuits. Or, for instance, how can a judge of a higher court find fault with bare feet of a dancer, and ban it? Or how can his ability and capacity to judge be explained? (One of my friends says it’s a foot fetish!) Go through any book of psychology, and see we are afflicted with almost all the disorders identified there.

On the other hand, this lack of inner eye has deprived us of that touch of philosophical contemplation and composition which is so integral to the continuity of peaceful human co-existence. In every nook and cranny of our society, from a hut to GHQ, and from a patient to the President, we have laid Procrustean beds and are on guard no one unfits it. Those who are over-sized are cut down, and those who are under-sized are pulled up to match the bed’s length. In a sense, we watered and environmentaled all the seeds to grow into the same and, lo, we have Bonsais all around us. Rather, we have shrubs unheard of in the botanical history which are eating out one another, and stretching their tentacles to far off lands to gulp others; it is as if we are working on an agenda of self-annihilation.

At the same time, we have started ‘exporting’ our principles of experimentation with human beings to other regions also. We are packaging our Procrustean beds for other people, and use all means fair or unfair to ‘market-impose’ them, and are thus causing other people to revive their own Procrustean beds and bring them again into practice. This may turn the whole world into a big Procrustean bed!

Alas, our ideological adventurers are no better than Procrustes. In a sense, they are worse! Procrustes used to hack off or stretch his victims to fit his bed, we kill all who unfit our beds, and in some cases, we kill all no matter they fit or unfit our beds. We have left Procrustes far behind in sizing human beings.

How’s that that we have turned into such monsters? Are we different from other people genetically? Some people believe that is so; but that is an expression of distrust and anger. All of us belong to the same progenitor. It is mainly our mental, intellectual, psychological and philosophical make-up and thus our behavior that differentiates us from each other. Otherwise we are the same biological entity.

As it is, like others we are a product of two things, first, what we are endowed with by birth, and second, what we learn and acquire on our own. We are all born with almost the same capacity to learn unless it is some disability that retards us; so naturally there is complete freedom available to everyone to learn and acquire what he wants to learn and acquire. In a sense, it’s the ultimate freedom that if realized can enable us to be master of our destiny. That is, we are free to be what we want to be.

However, some of us happen to make a discovery of an immeasurable magnitude. Somehow, they come to believe that they are free to be what they want to be, and in addition to that, they are free to force others to be what those people do or do not want to be. Such people in fact try to be master of others’ destiny, and deprive them of their freedom. Not only do they use every opportunity and manner to further their Procrustean agenda, they manipulate what is available and manufacture what is needed to achieve their Procrustean objectives. They have no regard for what exists outside of them.

It is rather an edgy difference that distinguishes such people who live to control and mould other people’s lives according to their ideas from those who teach and preach other people to live in accordance with their philosophies. It’s no matter of persuasion or submission, i.e. getting someone converted to your ideas on the one hand by using rhetoric or reason or reward, and on the other, by using fear or force or fraud. This difference is informed among other things by the eternal issue of means and ends, i.e. ends do not justify means. Hence, if one wants to persuade or coerce others into submitting to his ideas there is an inherent danger of curtailing or snatching other people’s freedom. That way others lose their freedom. The issue of corporal punishment to learners is a derivative of the same debate.

But to make this debate possible and also to have it to continue, a theory of conduct is desperately needed in Pakistan. This actually is a sine qua non for all existence let alone for the human existence. That, everyone is free to have his ideas, change them, abandon them, and dispose of them in whatever manner he deems fit, and at the same time he is all free to live according to his own ideas. That no one with whatsoever mandate, personal or otherwise, has any authority to impose himself upon others and to take back others’ freedom on any pretext personal or otherwise. All knowledge presupposes this freedom.

It may be objected that it is practically socially impossible to allow so many individuals to live like that save at the expense of social harmony and peace. That may be so! However, first there is morality and then there is law that takes care of the difference, discord, disharmony, and conflict and clash among individuals of a community.

Morality needs no enforcement; it is sort of self-discipline and a pragmatic way of life though for those who know the value of moral principles and their centrality to human co-existence. Law requires to be enforced by an authority. In this it is as lame as morality. Both are intrinsically orphan waiting to be adopted by some foster parents: moral principles are open to be adopted by, rather obligatory for, every individual be he an ordinary or an extraordinary person, whereas law must be enforced by an authority, which is nothing more than a collection of persons, duly vested with its enforcement. It is of the nature of law that its ignorance by anyone is never construed as an excuse to seek alibi, instead it is binding to all and all are equal before law.

This does not mean that both morality and law lie entirely within their own independent realms. How can we elevate a person to a law office who is morally corrupt? The issue of the present chief justice’s daughter’s enhanced marks is a case in point. Also, how can an outlaw be declared morally upright? The case of Mr. Asif Ali Zardari is not entirely irrelevant provided he should have been cleared by an independent court of all the accusations and allegations brought against him by anyone. Morality preconditions, contextualizes and encompasses law.  

Against this backdrop, present circumstances of the Pakistani state are extremely hopeless. It needs no painstaking to bring out the rampant moral-lessness, value-lessness, and law-lessness at every level of our society. We are all witness to it. Rather, part of it. But isn’t it the same cliché everyone is wont of using? Yeah, apparently it seems so. But the argument this article is going to make is different.

To blame all or to accuse all is jut meaningless. Likewise, to characterize a society by anything is just like crying over spilt milk. To say that Pakistani society has no morals, no values, no norms, and no principles to follow or that it is a lawless society is just empty talk. Also, it does not mean, as is usually implied, that there are good moral principled or law-abiding people in every society, and we have our share of such goody-goodies.

As argued earlier, the nature of morals is different from laws; no prescribed punishment is attached with them and everyone is free to follow or defy them, so no responsibility can be fixed for transgressing morals or values, norms or principles. In that they are a private thing. Some private organizations and institutions use them as laws, i.e. they punish their members or employees in case of violations of their adopted norms. They are private because no one owns and implement them, i.e. no collective authority possesses them and their enforcement. Hence, the meaningless and emptiness of the statement that our society is devoid of all morals, values, norms and principles! Hence, the lack of fixing any responsibility whatsoever for any violation by anyone!

That’s completely different in the realm of laws. All the laws are absolutely meaningful and full of content. We may decry them, analyze them, and expose their content and intent. All the laws are written with clearly defined terms of punishment in case of their violation. We may criticize and declare these as inhuman or savage. This enables the fixing of responsibility beyond any doubt at least within a demarcated domain of adjudication. That is why all the statements made on the bases of law always amount to clearly defined meanings and fixed responsibility.  

Thus, when this article talks of Pakistan as a lawless society, and as a society without any morals or values or norms, it definitely means something different from just what the above-mentioned cliché hints at. What this article means is clearly in terms of fixing responsibility, and of course not just the lamentable state of our society. It talks of a definite relationship between morality and law as it manifests in our society. In other words, it purports to formulate a thesis that throughout the six decades of Pakistan the absence of rule of law has negatively impacted on all of our moral and social values, and the efficacy of norms and principles for a virtuous life, and thus the responsibility both for turning Pakistan into a lawless society and utter degradation of the values is but on the shoulders of those who were lawfully and constitutionally vested with establishing rule of law, dispensing justice, and protecting life and property, and rights and freedoms of all the citizens of Pakistan without any discrimination, and also those who were lawfully designated to aid in the fulfillment of these basic duties of the state but instead of following their lawful functions they violated them with pronounced disregard, and it were they who played the major and active role in destroying the value system in Pakistan. No damage is greater than that.

Thus, it is the utter disregard for law and its deliberate trashing verily by those who were trusted with its sanctity and custody that hacked at the root of all morality. As in spite of many a religious teaching and its doctrine of reward and punishment, and as it is evident from people’s outward behavior and practically from their actions also, that they have already learned that that is all what is here in this world. Likewise, centuries’ experience of lawless and immoral governments and rulers made people learn how to live without any value system or in the midst of a value system that is based on the efficacy of force. This experience may be generalized thus: it is the absence of rule of law that nourishes and strengthens not only law-lessness but moral-lessness and value-lessness also. Because, in a sense, in such a society sticking to morals, values and principles does not pay. In our case, it is more than that since instead of paying it makes one lose what he already possesses. Hence, in a perfect vacuum of law majority of people abandon all morality.

In point of fact, if we do not let laws rule, reign of lawlessness will prevail. If we do not establish rule of law, rule of criminals will emerge. If the rule of criminals establishes itself, all the traces of morality will disappear. What else have we got in Pakistan other than that? Actually the absence of rule of law was not accidental in Pakistan. It was not done in ignorance. It is a cold-blooded crime. What greater evidence is required to prove that point but the way the rule of law movement has been thwarted first by the military elite and then by the Pakistan Peoples Party government in unison with their masters. This has pushed the crisis to its peak point where endures no law and no morality in Pakistan.

There are three main culprits lawfully and constitutionally responsible for bringing Pakistan on the brink of the precipice. First, it is the military elite which represent force; second, it is the judicial elite which represent law; and then, it is the political elite which represent democratic mandate. Far from fulfilling their lawful and constitutional duties all these elites constantly acted in violation of those duties. Instead of honoring their constitutional mandates, all these elites stepped out of their constitutional domains and made a travesty of everything from law and constitution of the land to morality. Last but not least, they all in collusion seized the state of Pakistan and set to further their elitist agenda to the best of their interests.

Briefly dwelling on their destructive role, it is sufficient to mention that: how the military elite staged coups, suspended and disfigured the constitution, ruled the country by force, and exercised its influence from behind while it was not present on the scene. How the judicial elite validated these coups starkly against the dictates of the constitution, allowed the transgressors to rule and to amend the constitution. How the political elite perennially betrayed their democratic mandate and the cause of the fundamental rights of the people who put them into power, how it played in the hands of the military elite and how in complicity with it it never let those institutions, such as independent judiciary, rule of law, come into existence and strengthen which could safeguard the rights and freedoms of the people, and how it validated the dictators-forced amendments in the constitution.

The worst form of lawlessness which we are witnessing today in most of the areas of Pakistan such as those on the border of Afghanistan and the biggest city of Karachi is the ultimate result of all these criminalities of these elites. Their grabbing and transforming of Pakistan into an elitist state was the greatest tragedy that could happen to a country. These elites deprived the state of Pakistan from playing its due role, i.e. the role of an arbitrator, mediator, moderator, and a referee, the task of which is to arbitrate, mediate, moderate, and referee between the two or more disputant parties and settle and resolve the conflict to the satisfaction of both or all irrespective of the nature of those conflicts which may belong to the realm of civil, political, economic rights, or relating to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizens. In other words, they stripped the state of its protective function, i.e. protection of its citizens’ life, property and rights and freedom.

At the worst, these elites made the state of Pakistan itself one of the disputant parties. Not only politically, and economically, did the state stand by one party but spiritually and religiously also it took sides, and emerged as a contestant itself. This divided the society deeply negatively, and turned Pakistan permanently into an arena where countless tugs of wars were and are being fought to gain the control over the state. The resultant internal strife consumed the energies of both the state and the society of Pakistan. It’s the same fire that is burning us today.

It is in this context that the nature and intent of the Objectives Resolution may best be explained though it contained cursory mention to people’s fundamental rights too. Also, this helps understand the acute constitutional crisis that afflicted Pakistan in its formative years till the constitution of 1973 was agreed upon and enforced. In retrospective, it is easier to analyze how this constitution was made possible in 1973.

Actually, the period till 1973 is all fraught with a neck and neck fight between the two major elites, military and political to take control of the state. The making and unmaking of various governments and constitutions during this period is sufficient to prove the point. The judicial elite being too week to take sides on its own, permanently relaxed in the lap of the powerful one; while the political elite when apparently in power always, as it is doing today, tried to subdue it to its dictates but failed repeatedly.

However, it was in the early 1970s that in the wake of the first general elections and the subsequent cut-throat power struggle between two major victor parties, i.e. Awami League and Pakistan Peoples Party, in which military elite put its weight on the side of the political elite of the Western wing of Pakistan, and as a result of which Bangladesh came into being, that the military elite was at its weakest. The war that Pakistan army lost in the Eastern wing found about a hundred thousand of its army men as prisoners of war in India and it had left that elite too frail and unprepared to assert itself and its supremacy. That is how the constitution of 1973 sailed through. As it is, the hands that resuscitated the fainted patient were hacked off just after four years in 1977 and once again the military elite established its rule.

Thus, the state of Pakistan gradually reached a point where today it has lost all moral and constitutional legitimacy. By taking on a role of a party and completely abandoning its protective role and the role of a mediator and referee, it let the Pandora’s political box open. From the very beginning ensued a fierce struggle between the various sections of the society, in addition to the two bigger elites the military and the politicians, to gain the control of the state which with the passage of time intensified. All the power politics, and its offshoots such as the military takeovers, constitutional breakdowns, political, economic, cultural and religious persecutions are the major milestones on this way down.

It was during the last days of the People’s Government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto that the Pandora’s religious box’s lid was slid a bit (the Pandora’s economic box had already been smashed into pieces in his government’s earlier years), but it was wide-open during the 3rd military coup when General Zia-ul-Haq’s Martial Law disfigured everything civil, moral, lawful and constitutional in Pakistan. Since then, we have witnessed the creation of a number of (and strengthening of the previously existing) armed and un-armed political and non-political, religious and non-religious mafia like groups vying for the control of the state to enforce their agendas. The armed groups found the Zia-ul-Haqqian environment especially conducive for their growth.

The same phenomenon of the absence of a genuinely neutralized and legitimized state let loose countless autonomous entities, from individual persons to well-knit groups, which monopolized the use of force to promote their interests and ideologies. They started making use of every thing and every means no matter moral or immoral, legal or illegal, constitutional or un-constitutional, peaceful or forceful, to compel the individual citizens to believe and behave but in accordance with their prescribed ideological manuals. This gave rise, in addition to political and economic, to moral and cultural policing in every street and at every road throughout Pakistan. In sum, that was the final touch to the siege from within.

That siege from within arrested the creative and enterprising spirit of the nation and left it in a completely dried, wrung and barren state. No sphere of life, learning, earning and recreation could escape that mischievous moral policing. Woman was particularly the target of that devilry. She was no more an individual; rather debased to the status of a soul-less object. The tentacles of moral policing trespassed every encirclement of human civilization from one’s privacy to the premises of someone’s home. No one remained safe even within one’s house. The lot of the ordinary people was made miserable; they were turned into helpless prisoners in their own homes.

Socially and politically, it begot the worst type of parasites. As the siege retarded the real spontaneous growth, a parasitic economy emerged. From a pariah to a president, no one was happy to earn fairly and honestly. Everyone who got the opportunity whether he was a laborer or an industrialist tried to take advantage of it to amass wealth by grabbing other people’s money i.e. tax money in whatever manner he could do that. All politics became the art of living and living lavishly at the expense of others. Outside government, goons and mafia live like that.

Such are the times and circumstances we are living in. That’s the Pakistan we are having today. This article has only generalized what is happening around. No examples have been given since they abound. No mentions have been made, save a few, since there are innumerable staring us in the face. The first thing we need to know is that we are not under siege from outside, but from within. That’s the hard truth! That is what this article has attempted to show. Also, it has tried to show how that siege was laid to.

However, what this article has avoided to venture at is why we were besieged from within? That such a question pertains to the realm of psychology which may not provide us with a satisfactory answer is what the writer has no quarrel with. In his view, even if we find the answer to that question why an oppressor behaves like an oppressor, it will not help a bit to stop him from behaving like that.

Also, it is the weaker, the oppressed one who is the real culprit; it is he who lets the oppressor oppress him whereas it is characteristic of the human spirit that it is absolutely free, i.e. we have an absolutely free soul. When one makes him believe that he has been besieged, he is not free. He is free only when he fights to break the siege. It is admitted that harder is to fight against the siege from within than from without because our enemy is inside us. But fight we have to go for.

Thus the second thing we need to know is that we are free and we can make that siege disappear. What is possible and is practicable is that we the ordinary people, we the oppressed ones, we the besieged ones, do not let the oppressor oppress us, the besieger besiege us. We need to be self-assured that we are not victims, that we are free people. It is as simple as that. It is our natural and inalienable right not to be besieged by anyone, not to be oppressed by anyone. But by just law alone! In case, we have been oppressed, laid siege to, be it from within or without, it is morally incumbent on us to assert and stand for our rights and freedoms, and struggle for that siege to be lifted. That’s the simple way ahead to the resolution of our complex problems! That’s what we are required to follow in Pakistan for the siege from within to be lifted once and for all to regain the lost paradise of our rights and freedoms!

[This article was completed on January 4, 2009.]

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Friday, November 2, 2012

Finished reading: Guide to Stoicism

Last night (November 2), I finished reading another book on Stoicism. It was first published in 1908 by Archibald Constable & Co., London. It belongs to the series, Philosophies Ancient and Modern. Since then it has been reproduced as A Little Book of Stoicism, and as Guide to Stoicism.

Fortunately, the original first edition titled as Stoicism, is available at www.archive.org. Its author is St. George Stock, a scholar not well-known, only that he was born in 1850, and at the end of his Foreword to the book is written “St. George Stock M.A. Pemb. Coll. {Pembroke College} Oxford.” 

Here is what little information I could find about him and his work:

“It is rare to encounter a published author from the relatively recent past for which almost no biographical information can be found online. I have found such a person, in the form of a philosophy scholar by the curious and intriguing name of “St. George William Joseph Stock.” Who gets named “Saint,” or did he give himself that moniker? When was he born, and when did he die? Where did he live? Trying to suss out the life of this enigmatic “Saint George” is maddening.

“Four of Stock’s books are available as free ebooks from Google Play (and elsewhere): Attempts At Truth (1882), Deductive Logic (1888)Selections From The Septuagint: According To The Text Of Swete (1905) and Stoicism (1908). These might not sound like the most exciting reads, but could something saucier be in the offing? I found a book on Amazon called The Romance of Chastisement; or, Revelations of the School and Bedroom, by “An Expert.” The pseudonym, “An Expert,” was later identified as one “St. George H. Stock.” St. George “H.” Stock? Where did the “H”come from? Can this be the same “St. George Stock,” and if not, just how many “St. George Stock”s are there floating around in the mists of lost time and forgotten history?”

For more information about his work, visit:


As mentioned above, at the end of his Foreword to the book is written “St. George Stock M.A. Pemb. Coll. Oxford”, today I sent an email to Amanda Ingram, Archivist at the Pembroke College, requesting St. George Stock’s biographical information, and just in minutes the following information was provided; it is shared below with thanks to Amanda Ingram:

“St. George William Joseph Stock was a scholar at Pembroke College - his matriculation register entry records that he was the second son of St. George Henry Stock of Douglas, Isle of Man, a gentleman. He was educated at Victoria College, Jersey, and matriculated at Pembroke on 26th October 1868, aged 18. He was awarded a King Charles I scholarship 1868-1873 (a closed award for scholars from the Channel Islands) and obtained a second class B.A. in litterae humaniores (classics) on 5th Feb 1873 and his Oxford M.A. in 1875. He became a Lecturer in Greek at Birmingham University and died in 1922 in Castle Bellingham, co. Louth, Ireland.”

I think Stock’s book is more authoritative since it is based on primary sources. Actually, Stock talks of Greeks and Romans as if he is from the same stock. He claims to be an adherent of Peripatetic school. 

This about 100 page little book is worth-reading.

See some excerpts from this book:

“If you strip Stoicism of its paradoxes and its willful misuse of language, what is left is simply the moral philosophy of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, dashed with the physics of Heraclitus.” [Foreword]
“Among the Greeks and Romans of the classical age philosophy occupied the place taken by religion among ourselves. Their appeal was to reason not to revelation.” [P. 1]

“We are born into the Eastern, Western, or Anglican communion or some other denomination, but it was of his own free choice that the serious-minded young Greek or Roman embraced the tenets of one of the / great sects which divided the world of philosophy.” [PP. 1-2]

“It was as difficult to be independent in philosophy as it is with us to be independent in politics.”
[P. 2]

We know very well that independents in politics are actually the “Bargainers” in the game.

“Aristotle, as Shakespeare knew, thought young men 'unfit to hear moral philosophy.’ And yet it was a question or rather the question of moral philosophy, the answer to which decided the young man’s opinions on all other points.” [P. 2]

“Their {Stoics’} moral philosophy affected the world through Roman law, the great masters of which were brought up under its influence.” [P. 5]

That’s the significance of Stoic philosophy!

“If the Stoics then did not add much to the body of philosophy, they did a great work in popularising it and bringing it to bear upon life.” [P. 5]

Another point that shows the importance of Stoicism, and Stock dwells meaningfully on this theme:

“An intense practicality was a mark of the later Greek philosophy. This was common to Stoicism with its rival Epicureanism. Both regarded philosophy as ' the art of life,' though they differed in their conception of what that art should be.” [P. 5]

“We connect the term {‘nature’} with the origin of a thing, they connected it rather with the end; by the 'natural state' we mean a state of savagery, they meant the highest civilisation; we mean by a thing's nature what it is or has been, they meant what it ought to become under the most favourable conditions: not the sour crab, but the mellow glory of the Hesperides, worthy to be guarded by a sleepless dragon, was to the Greeks the natural apple.” [PP. 7-8]

This observation of Stock’s is laden with dangerous implications. It’s no place to go into the details of the implications, however, I would like to add that this characteristic of Greek thought is a way of looking forward and recreating what is already there, i.e. to realize its perfection, whatever it is!

“Following out this conception the Stoics identified a life in accordance with nature with a life in accordance with the highest perfection to which man could attain.” [P. 8]

“The end of life then being the attainment of happiness through virtue, how did philosophy stand related to that end? We have seen already that it was regarded as 'the art of life.' Just as medicine was the art of health, and the art of sailing navigation, so there needed to be an art of living.” [P. 9]

“It was said of Chrysippus that his demeanour was always quiet, even if his gait were unsteady, so that his housekeeper declared that only his legs were drunk.” [P. 72]

It’s really amazing to see how the Greek philosophers lived and philosophized! That was the first ever and the only society which deserves to be called a philosophical society.

"The absence of any appeal to rewards and punishments was a natural consequence of the central tenet of the Stoic morality, that virtue is in itself the most desirable of all things.” [P. 100]

So the Stoic morality may be dubbed as a morality of virtue?

“They {the Stoics} were the first fully to recognise the worth of man as man; they heralded the reign of peace, for which we are yet waiting; they proclaimed to the world the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man; they were convinced of the solidarity of mankind, and laid down that the interest of one must be subordinated to that of all. The word 'philanthropy,' though not unheard before their time, was brought into prominence by them as a name for a virtue among the virtues.” [P. 101]

Such are the penetrating features of the Stoicism!

“Virtue, with the earlier Greek philosophers, was aristocratic and exclusive. Stoicism, like Christianity, threw it open to the meanest of mankind. In the kingdom of wisdom, as in the kingdom of Christ, there was 'neither barbarian, Scythian, bond, nor free.' The only true freedom was to serve philosophy, or, which was the same thing, to serve God; and that could be done in any station in life. The sole condition of communion with gods and good men was the possession of a certain frame of mind, which might belong equally to a gentleman, to a freedman, or to a slave. In place of the arrogant assertion of the natural nobility of the Greeks, we now hear that a good mind is the true nobility. Birth is of no importance; all are sprung from the gods.' The door of virtue is shut to no man: it is open to all, admits all, invites all free men, freedmen, slaves, kings, and exiles. Its election is not of family or fortune; it is content with the bare man.' Wherever there was a human being, there Stoicism saw a field for well-doing.” [PP. 102-103]

Thus, it is Stoic philosophy that struck a blow to the moral elitism of Aristotle, and their times. They were thoroughly humanist!

“Cosmopolitanism is a word which has contracted rather than expanded in meaning with the advance of time. We mean by it freedom from the shackles of nationality. The Stoics meant this and more. The city of which they claimed to be citizens was not merely this round world on which we dwell, but the universe at large with all the mighty life therein contained. In this city, the greatest of earth's cities, Rome, Ephesus, or Alexandria, were but houses. To be exiled from one of them was only like changing your lodgings, and death but a removal from one quarter to another. The freemen of this city were all rational beings sages on earth and the stars in heaven. Such an idea was thoroughly in keeping with the soaring genius of Stoicism.” [PP. 103-104]

It was at the start of the 20th century (the book was published in 1908) that Stock observed cosmopolitanism, instead of expanding, to be contracting; the same is true for the present age. Though there runs a parallel cosmopolitan stream in the form of globalization, but intellectually and morally Cosmopolitanism is weakening.

“The philosophy of an age cannot perhaps be inferred from its political conditions with that certainty which some writers assume; still there are cases in which the connexion is obvious. On a wide view of the matter we may say that the opening up of the East by the arms of Alexander was the cause of the shifting of the philosophic standpoint from Hellenism to cosmopolitanism. If we reflect that the Cynic and Stoic teachers were mostly foreigners in Greece, we shall find a very tangible reason for the change of view. Greece had done her work in educating the world, and the world was beginning to make payment in kind. Those who had been branded as natural slaves were now giving laws to philosophy. The kingdom of wisdom was suffering violence at the hands of barbarians.” [P. 105]

Stock is so incisive and meaning is heartening and at the same time pleasing. He rejects socio-political explanations as the cause of philosophical evolution, and in the same vein censures Hellenism and through a historical reading sees a cosmopolitan spirit developing out of it via those whom Hellenism considered natural slaves.

Also, his “The kingdom of wisdom was suffering violence at the hands of barbarians.” is an indictment of the Greek wisdom!

NOTE:

It may be asked why I am so much interested in Stoicism. Ji, actually and particularly I am interested in moral philosophy. My especial focus is immorality of Pakistani society. I want to understand and explain why Pakistani society has morally degenerated. Why this society through and through immoral? 

And of course how a moral regeneration may be effected!

Here is the “contents” of the book:

I. Philosophy Among The Greeks And Romans
II. Division Of Philosophy
III. Logic
IV. Ethic
V. Physic
VI. Conclusion
Dates And Authorities

It is also important to see the ‘Dates and Authorities’ (printed at the end of the book) which gives among other things an idea of the chronological evolution of the Stoic philosophy.

DATES AND AUTHORITIES - B.C.

Death of Socrates - 399
Death of Plato - 347
ZENO - 347-275
     Studied under Crates, - 325
     Studied under Stilpo and Xenocrates, - 325-315
     Began teaching - 315
Epicurus - 341-270
Death of Aristotle - 322
Death of Xenocrates - 315
CLEANTHES - Succeeded Zeno - 275
CHRYSIPPUS - Died 207
ZENO OF TARSUS - Succeeded Chrysippus
Decree of the Senate forbidding the teaching of philosophy at Rome - 161
DIOGENES OF BABYLON
Embassy of the philosophers to Rome - 155
ANTIPATER OF TARSUS
PANJETIUS - Accompanied Africanus on his mission to the East - 143
     His treatise on 'Propriety' was the basis of Cicero's ' De Officiis.'
The Scipionic Circle at Rome
     This coterie was deeply tinctured with Stoicism.
     Its chief members were The younger Africanus, the younger Laelius, L. Furius Philus, Manilius,        
     Spurius Mummius, P. Rutilius Rufus, Q. JSlius Tubero, Polybius, and Panaetius.
Suicide of Blossius of Cumse, the adviser of Tiberius Gracchus, and a disciple of Antipater of Tarsus - 
     130
Mnesarchus, a disciple of Pansetius, was teaching at Athens when the orator Crassus visited that city  
     - 111
HECATON OF RHODES
     A great Stoic writer, a disciple of Pansetius, and a friend of Tubero
POSIDONIUS - About 128-44
     Born at Apameia in Syria,
     Became a citizen of Rhodes,
     Represented the Rhodians at Rome, - 86
     Cicero studied under him at Rhodes, - 78
     Came to Rome again at an advanced age, - 51
Cicero's philosophical works - 54-44
     These are a main authority for our knowledge of the Stoics - A D
Philo of Alexandria came on an embassy to Rome - 39
     The works of Philo are saturated with Stoic ideas, and he displays an exact acquaintance with   
     their terminology.
SENECA
     Exiled to Corsica,
     Recalled from exile,
     Forced by Nero to commit suicide.
     His Moral Epistles and philosophical works generally are written from the Stoic standpoint,
     though somewhat affected by Eclecticism.
Plutarch - Flor. - 80
     The Philosophical works of Plutarch which have most bearing upon the Stoics are
     De Alexandri Magni fortuna aut virtute,
     De Virtute Morali,
     De Placitis Philosophorum,
     De Stoicorum Repugnantiis,
     Stoicos absurdiora poetis dicere,
     De Communibus Notitiis.
EPICTETUS, - Flor. - 90
     A freedman of Epaphroditus,
     Disciple of C. Musonius Rufus,
     Lived and taught at Rome until A.D. 90, when the philosophers were expelled by Domitian. Then   
     retired to Nicopolis in Epirus, where he spent the rest of his life.
     Epictetus wrote nothing himself, but his Dissertations, as preserved by Arrian, from which the
     Encheiridion is excerpted, contain the most pleasing presentation that we have of the moral
     philosophy of the Stoics.
C. MUSONIUS RUFUS
     Banished to Gyaros, - 65
     Returned to Rome, - 68
     Tried to intervene between the armies of Vitellius and Vespasian, - 69
     Procured the condemnation of Publius Celer (Tac. H. iv. 10 ; Juv. Sat. iii. 116)
Q. JUNIUS RUSTICUS - Cos. - 162
     Teacher of M. Aurelius, who learnt from him to appreciate Epictetus.
M. AURELIUS ANTONINUS - Emperor - 161-180
     Wrote the book commonly called his 'Meditations ' under the title of ' to himself."
     He may be considered the last of the Stoics.
Three later authorities for the Stoic teaching are
     Diogenes Laertius, - 200 ?
     Sextus Empiricus, - 225 ?
     Stobceus, - 500?

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