Benazir’s Punjabi Volunteer

Everything worth saying about Benazir's assassination has already been said many times over, and by bloggers much more capable than myself, so I had no plans to write about the incident – until i came across the phrase "punjabi volunteer" for the 4th time in an hour. Seeing a phrase once or twice in an hour is understandable, 4 times is probably no coincidence. Google for 'punjabi volunteer' (with quotes) and 'benazir dead punjabi volunteer' (without quotes) to see what I mean. 1840 results on Google so far.

In these difficult times, its frustrating to see not only Indian or American websites (that would make sense) but a lot of Pakistani sites and blogs (and prominent ones at that) just copy/pasting the phrase without thinking twice. My questions to all those people regarding the use of this phrase are:

  • Are 'terrorist' and 'punjabi' synonymous?
  • Did the 'punjabi volunteer' give up his life for Punjab? If not, then what exactly was he fighting for?
  • Of course he was a volunteer, aren't most of the suicide bombers volunteers, fighting for a reason, however pure or twisted that reason is?
  • Would anyone have used 'pathan volunteer' (which was more likely) or 'sindhi volunteer' if that had been the case?
  • Another phrase being used is 'Lashkar-e-Jhangvi's punjabi volunteer'. Last time I checked, Jhang was in Punjab. Isn't it a bit redundant?
  • Are Pakistanis really that gullible to forget the 100+ years of British 'divide and conquer' rule?
  • I hear the killer was Al-Qaeda, so does this make him a "Punjabi Al-Qaeda Lashkar-e-Jhangvi" bombing?
  • Why not use the phrase 'Pakistani volunteer', as opposed to an 'Afghan volunteer' or an 'Al-Qaida volunteer' to stress the fact that we are still capable of killing our own leaders/rulers, no matter how corrupt they are, while ignoring the elephant in the room?

My paternal family migrated from India, and are settled mostly in Karachi (with some Lahori exceptions). My maternal relatives are mostly from NWFP, with many (again) who migrated from India and ended up in Karachi and Lahore. I was born in Lahore and have lived here ever since, though I can't (or don't) speak Punjabi, and preferred to call myself a Pakistani. Musharraf is a Formanite, so am I, does that make all Formanites including me pro-Musharraf? Benazir's killer was a Punjabi, so am I (partly at least), what does that make me? I think its time to have an identity crisis for me.

Please Pakistani bloggers, words are dangerous, use them with care… and please stop copy/pasting blindly. Thanks.

PS. The above rant is written minus the generous sprinkling of F-words as originally intended.

We are toads

ImagePaulo Coelho's book 'The Alchemist' has been the top favorite of the Pakistan Network on Facebook for a few months now. It is not surprising, as the story has a lot of things in common with the mystic/symbolic fairy tales that my generation (or at least a subset of my generation) was brought up on. This post, though is about Paulo's blog, which is usually filled with though-provoking positive content (and these days, we can surely use all the positivity we can get). A couple of days ago, I read an interesting observation on Paulo's blog about toads, that reminded me of this nation called Pakistan (and it had nothing to do with toads being green). He says:

Read more “We are toads”


Its been one year since I started working with the Blue Brain Project team. Dr. Felix Schürmann, the Project Manager of the Blue Brain Project, informed me last week that the project is officially entering its next phase very soon, which has got me pretty excited.

Meanwhile, here's what the rest of the world of Brains (aka. neuroscience) has been up to recently:

PS. On the number of 'n's in the post title (18), I became curious how people actually spelled brai(n)+s, and spent the next 5 minutes charting out the Google hits. Here are the results:


Mush Address at 2300, Blog While You Can

I just got news from a reliable army guy that we are all set for martial law. The cable news channels (including PTV – "Baakhabar Pakistan") are going off after every few minutes, so I'll wait till 11PM before checking again.

The President of Pakistan address is scheduled at 2300 – probably so that people have had their dinners (and their tea, and after-meal smokes, and maybe a shot or two of whiskey to celebrate, if they are in the ruling class) and are too drowsy to complain or start protests. Also, its a weekend. Nice use of psychology there. Its a wonder the internet is still working, the first time Mush ousted Nawaz Sharif, I was in my office and had a satellite connection, but most of the dialup ISPs were shut down.

PS. I am surrounded by army guys (and ex-army guys) from all sides – my home address says "Officers Colony, Lahore Cantt" – with a huge ammo depot a few meters behind my house. All the land in Cantt supposedly belongs to the army, and could be reclaimed in 'states of emergency' according to the lease agreements.