That’s Benazir


Her death made her greater than her life could have made her. That’s how it works in politics.


Banazir’s Assassination: What is Musharraf hiding?

Benazir was a charismatic leader but she never looked as much of a charismatic leader as she looks after her death. While Musharraf regime is in deep trouble and the legitimacy of his regime, ever so doubtful, is now even more so. It appears that there is some kind of cover up going. The official version of the event has it that Benazir died of a wound to her right temple while ducking. Ducking? And there were no bullet wounds? Was her reflexes so quick that she ducked fast enough to escape a bullet. She, to the best of my knowledge, had no training in marital arts. Besides, I doubt that even a person trained in martial arts could have ducked fast enough to dodge the attack from such close quarters, given the space that one has to move while standing through a vehicle’s sunroof with one’s torso out of the vehicle. Could she has bled as profusely as she did after being hurt by a blunt object on the temple, irrespective of how severe the injury. The splash of blood reported could only have been caused by a bullet wound.

Another thing that suggests foul-play is the alacrity with which the authorities got the place of the incident washed and cleaned and claimed that all the relevant evidence had already been gathered. A bomb blast scene has evidence scattered all over and it is difficult to claim that all evidence has been gathered unless there is a thorough search conducted by the experts. And since the washing of the spot was done too soon, it is unlikely that the experts actually got a chance to gather relevant evidence.

Al-Qaeda has denied any role in the assassination of Benazir. The official claim that blamed the terrorist outfit for the attack was never above doubt because of the modus operandi employed in the killing. Moreover, Al-Qaeda has so far made announcements through a certain Arabic television channel and through a BBC correspondent. But in this case it was a little known Italian news agency that was contacted. Al-Qaeda has denied any role. So, it seems there is something that the rulers in Pakistan are trying their best to hide. What is it?

Another thing that raises suspicion is that Benazir was assassinated in Rawalpindi, and the force that is predominant in that region is the army of Pakistan itself. It is unlikely that an assassination attempt was made without the intelligence agencies having a clue about it. Benazir’s security, of course, was too floppy considering that Benazir’s maiden rally after her return to Pakistan was attacked by a suicide bomber.

Let’s have a careful re-look at the picture. Musharraf is backed by the US and Benazir was the US candidate to effect Pakistan’s transition from a dictatorship to a democracy. The emergency he imposed was justified on the grounds that there were militant forces all set to destabilize Pakistan. The assassination of Benazir reinforces the belief that Musharraf was indeed right. Since he is at the helm and is responsible in part for what has happened, he cannot be suspect number one. Elimination of Benazir can push the situation out of hand warranting another imposition of martial law. 

Mushrarraf has always told the US that he is Pakistan’s defence against an Islamic-militant takeover. The assassination can only prove that Pakistan is not yet prepared for democracy and some cleaning up is necessarily required, which, of course, can only be carried out by the iron hand and steely will that Musharraf, and only Musharraf possesses. So, the question is whether Musharraf has got something to do with what happened. And the question, in all likelihood, will never be answered, or when the answer doesn’t really matter.

Gujarat Elections: Nothing to be proud of

We like it or not – at least I don’t – but Modi’s victory was inevitable and no matter how much Sonia fumes, the fact remains indelibly etched in the history of Indian politics. There can be endless debates on whether Congress made a mistake by staking an estimated 450 crore in Gujarat election campaign or not, but there can be no denying that Gujarat elections has to go the way they did. I don’t think Indian secularism is on weak knees, but something is certainly not right. Some time back I wrote a little piece on Tehelka and Modi (Modi And Tehelka – Democracy, Secularism? Excuse Me). I can only say it is not one of those times when we would be proud of Indian democracy.

The Magic of Words

Words are magical. Perhaps, part of the magic lies within us. Words evoke images and fill them with colour like a seasoned painter. And these images are inextricably connected with our emotions and experiences. We are rarely conscious of the way the words affect our thought process and we are hardly ever aware that sound of our own words on our ears affects our thought process. And if observed carefully, you would find the experience nothing short of amazing.

Recently, I visited a company engaged in an innovative business exercise and during my visit I was asked to summarize the summarized descriptions. These descriptions were around 20 to 30 words long and were crisply written. They were to be further shrunk to 5 to 7 words without losing the essence. I found the exercise very interesting and thought provoking, especially when I started summarizing.

And it was then that I was suddenly aware of how human brain works and how ‘magical’ words actually are. It is actually possible to communicate with as few words as 5 or 6 and the rest of the words despite being relevant and indispensable in the longer arrangement would suddenly appear redundant. And the reverse is also possible. One could actually expand the 20 words sentence into a longer sentence or stretch the sentence into four or five sentences. And if this is done skillfully enough the expanded form would not have a needless word or sentence. Amazingly, this ‘magic’ is more magical than the magical shows because there is no trick or misdirection working here. The original provided does not have any unnecessary words that you cut down to shrink the expression. Similarly, while expanding you do not load it with unnecessary words. So, how does it happen? Wondering?

Actually, in both expanding and shrinking we are subconsciously changing the mode of thought process itself. It is not about words themselves but their effect on our minds. We simply take the thought process of the reader to different levels by using different sets of words in different arrangements. It is like sketching a horse and then shading it a little and then filling it with some colour and then brightening the colours a bit. The sketch remains the same, the image does not change in its essentials but its effect gets stronger with every colour and with every stroke of the brush. There is no redundancy at any stage.

But then, redundancy is closely connected with the ‘use’ and ‘usefulness’. If a horse was to be simply suggested, colouring is redundant and if its presence had to be hammered home to the viewer, nothing short of vivid colours would do. So, it is the purpose that determines the extent of detail in all art forms. The same goes for writing. In the world of shrinking attention spans, we need to say more in fewer words.

It was a wonderful experience, I must say. After all, it made me realize a few things about words and their effect. Perhaps, I would talk some more about it in my next post or in some other.  

Writing for writing; Supreme Court Ruling

Confession first, I am writing not because I have something to say to my reader (are there any?) but simply because it has been quite a while since I wrote last. Before December 11, 2007, I had written on November 28, 2007, which makes it a gaping gap of over 12 days. So, I thought of putting in a few words to inform my readers (imaginary) that I am still here and would be writing every now and then. Writing for writing’s sake is not exactly an appreciable exercise because I don’t think anyone reads for ‘reading’s sake’. I’ll be back when I have something to say. At this point of time what is uppermost in my mind is the recent Supreme Court (Indian) ruling pertaining to the Public Interest Litigation. The Court has cautioned against ‘judicial adventurism’ and has asked the Supreme Court and the High Courts to exercise ‘restraint’. Does it mean that courtrooms will no longer be available as a platform to seek redressal? Does it imply that elections are the only way to have one’s voice heard? If it is so, it must also be remembered that lone voices, no matter how just, are always drowned in the deafening clamour of ‘noisy’ voices.  


Beggars and Salesmen

A salesman is a beggar in suit and a beggar, a salesman in tatters. That’s what finally marketing comes down to. I read an interesting piece (Beggars can be retailers) by Indrajit Hazra and enjoyed it thoroughly for its hilarity and the punch it packed. Indrajit feels that beggars, if they are properly dressed, could make great salesman. Well, no, because there talent lies in banking upon their ability to appeal to others’ ‘mercy’ and then selling it to the merciful himself. They don’t have the product, but they produce it right there – your mercy – and then sell it to you. You are their factory and they are the producers (and not the investors). They are actually selling your fears, your ambitions and your guilt back to you. They are the greatest salesmen in the world but if you make them don suits they would not as effective because frayed and torn clothes are their tools, without which they are nothing more than an ordinary ‘salesman’ who needs a product to sell. I am sure Indrajit understands this well.