Appeal to Nobel Peace Prize Committee to Award All Their Prizes to Pakistani People Going About Their Daily Business While Living in Pakistan (and Malala)

Pakistani netizens have started an online petition for Nobel peace prize for Malala. I enthusiastically support this move. Since Pakistan is not going to win Nobel prize for chemistry, medicine and economics anytime soon, the best shot is to win a prize in physics for water car or thar coal, or for peace.

However, everyone should understand that the nomination process is unlikely to succeed if Pakistanis are not clear why they are nominating Malala. On the other hand if we truly understand why Malala deserves a prize, we can win a lot more prizes!!

Nominating malala is a tricky process: If we nominate malala for wanting to go to school, all schoolkids all over the world (except pink floyd influenced ones) would qualify and pose some heavy competition. On the other hand, If we nominate her for wanting to go to school while being a girl all schoolgirls all over the world would qualify and pose a slightly lower but nonetheless heavy competition. The chance of winning under these two categories is quite remote.

The best way to win is to nominate her for wanting to go to school while being a girl while living in Pakistan. The living in Pakistan bit makes all the difference!! That is the crucial competitive advantage which elevates a grumpy schoolkid who trudges to school to a shot-in-the-head nobel-peace-prize-worthy winner in life!!

This unique geostrategic nobel peace prize winning competitive advantage should be exploited to the fullest by Pakistan. The next demand should be nobel peace prize for “Being a journalist while living in Pakistan”. Saleem Shahzad and Hamid Mir would heartily qualify. We could also expand the pool to include “people who went to pray while being an Ahmadi while living in Pakistan”. This nomination is sure to defeat others who were nominated for simply “going to pray” or “going to pray while being an Ahmadi”. To better the winning chances, we could also expand the nomination process to include nobel peace prize for “Going on a procession while being a shia while living in Pakistan”. Which would beat everyone else who go on processions, and all Shia nominees in other countries.

Or we could simplify it and simply appeal to the nobel peace prize committee to award all their prizes to Pakistani people going about their daily business while living in Pakistan, because living in Pakistan requires real courage and elevates “going about their daily business” to a Nobel peace prize winning level.

Ajmal Kasab

Ajmal Kasab, the convicted terrorist who attacked Mumbai and alleged Pakistani has been hanged in India. While there is no evidence that he is a Pakistani — President Zardari has denied it on TV himself — allegations that he is a Pakistani has forced me to write this post.

First off all, we should recognize right away that terrorism has no religion or nationality. A guy waving a green passport and yelling “JEEEEEEEEEEHHHHHAAAADDD” could be a buddhist and could be from any of the dozen or so countries which issue green passports stamped “Islamic republic of Pakistan”. On top of that everyone knows that Kasab went on a boat from Karachi and ergo didnt even have a green passport stamped “Islamic republic of Pakistan”. So his connections to Pakistan are unclear.

As lucidly exemplified by Hafiz Saeed (Professor), Osama bin Laden (millionaire), Omar Saeed Sheikh (foreign educated), Ilyas Kashmiri (ex-SSG), Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (mechanical engineer), Ramzi bin al-Shibh (bank employee) and all of the 9/11 hijackers (college educated), the root cause of terrorism is not nationality, religion or state sponsorship, but economic hardships and illiteracy. So let us not compartmentalize terrorism and look for ideological, religious and state sponsorship, and instead work towards eradicating illiteracy, poverty and polio (if they permit) which can be done only through increased aid, trade and visa liberalization.

This brings me to the real issue central to the Mumbai attack case that every Pakistani should deeply introspect and vigorously debate on TV, radio, blogs and social media: The issue of death penalty in India. It is time that we put an end to this uncivilized barbarity and Pakistan can be a great example for India: Terrorists in Pakistan are not only spared from the death penalty, they are not arrested at all, if arrested they are generously compensated with a stipend and allowed to procreate if they so desire. But mostly they are given a mansion in a well protected area to live out their life in peace. Death penalty to Kasab does not solve anything, there are many more in Pakistan waiting to cross over.

However, while death penalty has been done away in Pakistan in settled areas, this is not a time to relax. It is well known that the death penalty still exists informally in places like FATA where militants routinely behead and kill people. That is why every vehement opposer of death penalty in Pakistan strongly supports military action in FATA, Waziristan etc to impose the writ of the state and kill all those who hand out the death penalty. Once these barbarians are bombed, shot and killed on the spot by the army, the menace of sanctioned judicial execution after due process, representation, trial, re-examination and petition for clemency can truly be eradicated. The world should stand with Pakistan and offer increased military aid, arms and ammunition to achieve this lasting peace.

Difficult Decisions and Stark Choices Await Pakistani Elites

In a country roiled by terrorism, bad economy, overbearing military, and political paralysis, tough problems that present difficult choices are many in Pakistan. But now an unexpected new development has has presented a far tougher set of choices, never before faced by Pakistani opinion makers, leaders and elites. A popular journalist and talk show personality put it starkly:

As though the choices facing them are not already tough enough, people in positions of power, business leaders, journalists, opinion makers, and public personalities are all wondering: “What should I buy now? iPad 3 or the iPad mini? More importantly, what should I do with the iPad 2 that I already have?” uffff! Such a big headache making these decisions, na?

A cross section of the society in clifton—who had gathered to discuss whether Pakistan should wait till 2014 for US withdrawal from Afghanistan or cooperate with the US right away and enjoy the benefits of increased aid—vigorously debated if they should wait for the inevitably thinner and lighter iPad mini 2 in 2013 or if they should jump on this opportunity to get a smaller iPad which fits better into their bags. At the end of this inconclusive debate, hard pressed for time, they decided to meet again later to debate cooperation with the US.

Cooperation with the US has tangible benefits for Pakistan, but drone attacks, sovereignty and honor have proved to be prickly problems. Pakistan has a honor bound society and honor is a big factor in its dealings with the world. However, considerations of honor frequently forces Pakistan into rigid and impractical positions with little room to maneuver. Some feel that dispensing with honor and exploring compromise is a more pragmatic solution. A prominent right wing analyst serving in a national think tank observed “The attractive thing going for iPad mini is its size. It fits into my hand and I can carry it everywhere. But I don’t want people to think that I bought it because it is cheaper. So we should all buy iPad 3”. This point was refuted by a left-leaning pragmatic opponent who was quick to note “You would be cheap only if you bought an Android tablet like Nexus 7, an iPad is an iPad. Nobody should mistake a Pakistani buying an iPad mini as being cheap. Where is the question of honor in this issue? We should compromise. It is an iPad after all.”

Despite such overwhelming popularity of technology invented in the US and billions of dollars in aid, US and  American companies remain deeply unpopular. A prominent socialite working for an NGO expressed her hatred: “My hands get tired tweeting all day about Malala on a 9 inch screen of an iPad. I would very much love a 7.9 inch iPad mini, which I can hold in one hand, scroll through my tweets, read and RT the latest outrage and terror incidents in Pakistan. But I am not sure if Bollywood movies would look good on a smaller screen. God I hate hate hate hate Apple for making me choose! They are doing this on purpose! I HATE APPLE!”

But english language social media alone might not solve all problems in Pakistan. Pakistan lags behind in basic social indicators like education and health care. In this environment of illiteracy and hopelessness, religious leaders who preach radical ideas based on extremist and literal interpretation of Islam have flourished. As a result, unemployed and illiterate youth have thrown in their lot with radicalism and violence. This has placed extraordinary demands on the rich, westernized elite in Pakistan and saddled them with the great responsibility of guiding the country forward. A prominent activist speaking in a workshop arranged by the British consulate to promote interfaith harmony said “iPad mini is not a real iPad. The essence of an iPad is its retina display with 264 pixels per inch, fast graphics on A6x chip, and gorgeous 9.7-inch LED-backlit multi-touch display with IPS technology. iPad mini has an older A5 processor and has only 163 pixels-per-inch which is well outside the retina territory” He then hurriedly added “And oh yes, I forgot!! the Islam preached by the radical Mullahs is not real Islam”. When asked if he could better articulate his interpretation of Islam, he said “I am not sure. There should be a difference no? Maybe like, more liberal or something? I have to check. Let me fire up a browser on my iPhone 5”