Saturday, December 29, 2007

She died.

In one of those family movies I've been to recently, the actor quotes Shakespeare's King Lear. According to the actor, Shakespeare ended the King's life without sophisticated metaphors. With two simple, straightforward words: He dies.

I chose that to be the title of my blog entry, because I have failed to think up something catchy and original. Metaphors and similes have been exhausted by newspapers and media outlets all over the world to describe the death of Benazir Bhutto. I read somewhere that she was referred to as the flower of Pakistan. Wow - at the age of 54?

Let me begin by saying that I am not at all a fan of Bhutto. I have met her once before, and I admit, that 'one time' had largely shaped my feelings of great dislike for her. In the company of well-known American officials she was when I saw her. Notably James Rubin, former assistant to President Clinton. If there was a global prize for @$-kissing, this woman would have had no rivals. She carried herself around with feigned dignity that she only rubbed against non-Westerners.

There's something about the people of the Sub-continent, I tell you. Many of them - not all, but many - just love the goras. They have something for white-skin, and all the Fair and Lovely going on. But again, for many, it ends right there. They don't gamble with their countries and consciences for the goras. Here is where they differed with Bhutto.

Bhutto is not better than any Arab Middle Eastern ruler, who slaves himself to the imperialist West. But many Asians will always point that out to the Arabs, and pretend that Musharraf is their only national embarrassment. Ever. That is far from the truth.

Benazir Bhutto is just a female-Musharraf.

After facing corruption charges, the woman flees to Dubai. A "self-imposed exile" those apologists call it. More like a euphemism for fleeing the crime scene.

A Pakistani acquaintance, who seems to be an ardent supporter of Benazir - for the mere fact that she was a female, I guess - wanted to chastisise me for my inability to comprehend the people's love for her. She told me to see how popular Bhutto is by looking at the wailing crowds, who were mourning her death.

Due to the Hollywoodisation of Pakistani politics - and Middle Eastern politics for that matter - seeing a cheering crowd surrounding a dictator is nothing out of the ordinary. I bet you Saddam Hussein would have gathered a larger crowd. In that regard, Bhutto is as popular as Musharraf. I call it a TV-popularity.

And now, Pakistan is blaming al-Qaeda for the assassination of Bhutto. There are no limits to where Musharraf would go to insult the people's intelligence. Despite claims made in an email by Bhutto to a journalist friend that Musharraf has failed to provide adequate security following the first attempts on her life, we're still supposed to think that Musharraf has no hand in this mess. No, no, God forbid.

Of course he didn't set this whole thing up, fearing Bhutto's strength, derived from her Western (American) allies. Of course he didn't think she would be winning the next elections, ousting him out of the presidency chair, which he's clawed on for a very long time, making humiliating concessions to the US in the process. Of course he didn't make it easier for those assassins to get to Bhutto by providing lax security around her. Of course al-Qaeda hates Bhutto so much, because she's a woman, but not Musharraf, even though he's an effeminate bastard.

Excellent try, Busharraf. It's amazing how you get to have perfect security, while others are an easy prey for this mythical al-Qaeda, which you like to use even more than the Americans do. At least they have the sense to alternate between boogeymans.

No, I do not feel particularly sympathetic or upset by the treacherous killing of Bhutto. However, I think that the way in which politics is handled in Pakistan and the Middle East is so dumb, I feel like all those involved should be sweeped away by a huge wave of tsunami, never to be seen again. The silencing of rivals by sending them to the grave reveals how immature and incapable those politicians are. When will people learn that assassinating rivals will not make one the best? Perhaps the best dictator, but that's the only title you'll be competing for.

I would much rather have corrupt officials battling their way to power, than other corrupt ones terminating them to get rid of competition. Get rid of corruption by providing a better alternative to the people. It is obvious that people like Musharraf do not want to invest in an already hopelessly dead political career. Instead, he chooses to kill his rivals, so that he'd remain the only option for Pakistan. He knew that the US would favour Bhutto over him. He didn't want to be a Saddam Hussein too soon. He doesn't seem to realise that it's inevitable.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Dubai - City of Gold .. (and all other vices)

Every time, at the mention of Dubai's reputation in being the prostitution hub of the region; the safe haven for all traffickers and money launderers; the city that abuses its cheap labour, domestic workers and young children by using them as camel jockeys - I lower my head in shame.

Am I proud of the advancement of this city? I'm not sure anymore.

Yes, I love the fact that I'm living a comfortable life in an advanced, urbanised society. Compared to other cities in the Arab world, I think Dubai is a much nicer place to live in. There's almost no culture here. It's an international city, and maybe that's what the government wants it to be. Maybe that's sad, but only for us - the natives? I don't know if the tourists would mind it so much.

I hear people say that Dubai is a fusion of East and West; a combination of both. I can see the West-part, but I'm still searching for the East-part. Mina Bazaar? The Abra? Bastakia? I know that in my immediate vicinity, there's no East. There's only McDonald's. And Spinney's - our version of Sainsbury's. Only Spinney's sells labnah - thank God.

Really, I want to change the bad things about Dubai. But bad here is a relative word, I guess. What's bad for me, is excellent for others who make profit out it. Besides, what can a dispensable, insignificant second-class citizen like me do? Nothing much.

I have always wanted Dubai to be the capital of knowledge in the region. The capital of all valued contributions to humanity and the world. Sometimes I come across articles about the brain-drain in the Arab world, and I find myself wishing we had this problem in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. At least I'd come to know we have them!

But if you don't belong to the right "tribe" - pure-bred, wealthy and influential - then you might as well remain invisible and mute. Perhaps the only reason Gergawi and a few others have made it is because they thought of creative ways of bringing in money to the city. Kudos to them, really. Not that their efforts have eliminated the "stigma" attached to the discriminatory nature of many people here, who consider themselves to be better and above the rest. The Ashkenazis of the UAE, I call them. But that's another topic altogether.

Now really, how do we bring about positive change? I'm in.