Authoritarian Rule in Pakistan - Zahir's Response to Pervez Hoodbhoy's Oped 'Cyber intimidation: a bad idea'

Saturday, June 23, 2018
Emailed Letter to Pakistanis
Date: Fri, Jun 22, 2018 at 11:23 PM
Subject: FYI - Cyber intimidation: a bad idea --- Hoodbhoy's intelligent oped in Dawn and my comment
FYI - Dr. Hoodbhoy has a most intelligent oped in today's Dawn. I invite you to read it; below is my comment that I sent him.
I share it with you because I think "free speech" in vacuum still leads to asphyxiation. What free speech? Does the West have it? I am still not published by the NY Times which prints "all the news that's fit to print". Who decides what's fit to print? The newspaper owners. Okay I may not be that good -- as they say, billi ko chichray kay kwab. So try challenging any Jewish narrative anywhere in the West.
And what "democracy"? Does the West have it? The beacon of democracy, the United States of America, obliges its peoples to choose between twiddledee and twiddledum every four years while Pax Americana is its national and international imperative --- its now dead National Security Advisor called it: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives. That beacon of lofty civilization teaching the world the virtues of democracy and freedom so easily separates small children from their parents at the borders with the single stroke of the presidential pen --- never mind bombing Muslim nations, and previously Vietnam and Korea, to smithereens with the same stroke of pen, while permitting its proxy agent to resettle Palestine in Palestinian cold blood.
So that democracy, that freedom of this and freedom of that, is what we want in Pakistan? God help us if that's the ultimate result of such political dispensation....
We, the Pakistani English enabled gentry, followed by those who want to be English enabled but belong to the lower stratas of society and can only dream of it, rush to blindly adopt copied solutions from the West, which are already bastardized there, and which are altogether infertile in our national soil. With this summary, below is my comment to Hoodbhoy's oped which I support with the caveat that we need a very authoritarian ruler who rules selflessly in the interest of the nation for at least one generation, about 20 to 30 years, and helps this nation bypass the growing pains that the West suffered for at least ten generations and more, in a single generation, much like LKY of Singapore did for his people.
I am sick of people making "virtues" of the West into a religion for us. We have something far superior. There is no religion in democracy, there is no religion in free speech. There is religion in justice, there is religion in speaking the truth even if one has to give one's life for it. There is religion in raising the consciousness of the public mind. There is religion in serving the public. There is religion in not being corrupt and not having corruptible institutions. I rather have a nation whose preamble to its constitution begins with the Golden Words: Do Unto Others As You have Others Do Unto You ---- no Law and no Right and no Privilege may be legislated in this nation that violates that Golden Rule. I can live with that religion.
[ Added: Although a simple Biblical proverb that predates the Old Testament in origin and is at least three thousand years old, and of course never before implemented in any political theatre since the dawn of civilization, its fair implications can be far reaching in modern political dispensation. For instance, no Policy, domestic and foreign, may be pursued by rulers in power that violates that Golden Rule. This means that, among other things, Pakistan is suddenly on equal footings in the world. She is now boldly standing up to primacy and its geostrategic imperatives with a constitutional mandate that remains unsurpassed in every sphere of political dispensation. It even surpasses every revolution known to man. It is the only revolution for man. ]
And I don't care who rules the nation so long as it is a just ruler. I don't care what laws give me right to speak or not to speak, because, irrespective of the laws, one must speak regardless of consequences as a categorical imperative. One must rise to challenge falsehood as Socrates did --- and that was the highest democracy achieved in that Athenian civilization which could only reward its best human being and its greatest truth teller with the bowl of hemlock! Categorical imperatives are a religion regardless of laws, rulers, and theology.
And funny thing, if one starts implementing these ideas, what do you know, we have achieved the ideal Islamic society within a single generation, the ideal Christian society, the ideal Jewish society, and the ideal Hindu society! That is the society I want --- not what the Brits have, and not what their legatees the Americans have, and not what the Anglo-Saxon white man has preached. And will these ideas ever be published in Pakistan, or the United States?
So I gratuitously share with you this email letter inviting you to read my friend Dr. Hoodbhoy's outstanding oped, and my comments that caveat it.
Begin comment:
Who is this NetrackerOnline @ - what's your guess? When people say "intelligence agency" for instance, whom or what are they pointing to... a person, a policy, an institution, or to all of these?
Dissent is a modern notion invented in the West, same as protected speech for individual as well as the press under a constitutional umbrella in what is called no taxation without representation, or "democracy" where the crowd intelligence is believed to triumph by their sheer numbers... these ideas are Western, and firmly corrupted and co-opted by Machiavelli, and both are unfamiliar to the Muslim psyche that has labored under simplistic absolute dictatorial rule of almost thirteen centuries of dynastic Muslim imperial politics; replaced by the East India Company for almost 2 hundred last years. After the yoke of British rule from India was thrown, it was replaced by neo-colonial rule using a bastardized version of Britain's own corrupted and co-opted system which kept in power and only brought to power the feudal classes and encouraged the arising of newer feudal classes among which is the praetorian guard of Pakistan. ....
Okay, I am not writing a treatise, only pointing out that the West had 4 to 5 hundred years to experiment, shed each others blood, and all they ended up with is a new class ruling the Anglo-American empire in PAX Americana. I am sure that textbooks are very nice .... reality is more evil.
And in this reality, what I think is productive for Pakistani psyche for at least 25 to 30 years is an authoritarian rule the likes of Lee Kuan Yew, or Mahathir Mohamad , with the addition of freer speech. All the things, all the motherhood and apple pie things you mentioned, can be achieved. LKY once said he did not have two hundred years that the West suffered. He only has 20.
Our political system is asinine. I can design a much better one in text book. I am sure so can you. Neither will fly in the face of power flux in Pakistan whose sources are in the West.
But I liked your oped. With the above caveat, put me down as one of the many hundreds who will support you, not millions. Your "name" is now, and has been for a while, sadly associated with the Western agenda to introduce Secular Humanism in Pakistan, to denuke Pakistan --- two things come to mind among several others. You are also thought to enjoy the protection of the American Embassy in Islamabad.
Even when you might say the right things, because you are saying it, it is my uneducated guess that people might be turned off, even reasonable people. I hope I am wrong and the millions who read your oped sign up for it. If people are to be permitted to have the right to express their views, then those who disagree with your views or impute impure motives to your life's work in Pakistan also have the right to have their own views condemning yours. I don't think we as a society are ready for such intellectual exercise that doesn't quickly degenerate into fisticuffs.
We need an authoritarian leader unhindered by self-interests who cleans the Augean stables, educates the public mind to raise their levels in both intellect and livelihood, builds enduring institutions, infrastructures and policies, and leaves a legacy of a better more participative governance system that is attuned to the psyche of the Pakistan public mind. Remember what Eqbal Ahmed said, or is attributed to him, something like (paraphrasing): transplanting a tree in an inhospitable soil is the sign of idiotic gardeners... his wording was of course more delectable.
Zahir Ebrahim
June 23, 2018
Comment for Pervez Hoodbhoy's oped Dawn June 23, 2018

Published Saturday, June 23, 2018 10:38 am 1572

Authoritarian Rule in Pakistan - Zahir's Response to Pervez Hoodbhoy's Oped 'Cyber intimidation: a bad idea'

Letter to Friends of Humanity

June 19, 2018
Dear friends:
When I came to the United States to get educated at MIT from UET Lahore, I never imagined that I would become one of the 'nut-jobs' of modernity, i.e., the uber-skeptic of official narratives. Beyond that, that I would even help unravel some of the greatest Big Lies of our time which have directly contributed to creating deadly havoc upon humanity. What has surprised me is that I have even been able to do this at all, because, firstly, I don't rank myself very highly in either possessing a superior intellect or a superior morality. In fact, among my stellar friends throughout the world, I value myself at the bottom in relation to their global successes, piety, virtues, and all that is deemed motherhood and apple pie. Secondly, and surprisingly, this hasn't been terribly hard to figure out! I don't understand how I have been able to do it but not a single one among my many illustrious friends and teachers? They have elected to stay publicly silent even if they may have figured any of this out in the private quarters of their mind and living rooms ---- and these people are the most well-known and valued members of society. They are counted among the most imposing intellectuals of our time holding lofty academic, social, philanthropic, humanitarian, and moral credentials. Can I be permitted to say: what the fck?
Where is their high-falutin morality? What happened to their far superior intellect that they have remained silent on some of these greatest Big Lies of our time? All my life I remained in awe of such people and today I can only exclaim what the fck! Is any of this rocket science that they should feel silence is the better part of valor? That they should so willingly contribute to the propagation of these Big Lies by at least tacit endorsement of silence, and at worst by active propagation? I have to wonder what has made these stellar individuals such cowards? They had struck me as the most valiant and brave in my university days --- before these tests were put upon us that is. And I extend that observation of cowardice and moral depravity to all Pakistanis who have a mind, a mouth, and a pen! Indeed, to all mankind in all nations on earth. Instead of spewing gibberish on the prayer mat and dreaming selfishly of some Heaven beyond, I have never understood why so few even attempt to make heaven right here on earth for everyone by standing up to the villainy of power right here and now?
This villainy of power, reflected in the state and authority figures, when it remains unchallenged, manages the public's perceptions, public's beliefs, and thus controls public behavior to United We Stand them with the imperatives of power. Which is always primacy. Thus, not just in Pakistan today, but in the entire world, successive crises of humanity that all can witness and the majority can experience, have taken deep roots and become the “new normal” as the consequence of the greatest Big Lies of our time – the crisis of social dysfunction and global dystopia in the making, the crisis of disenfranchisement, the crisis of warfare and hegemony, refugee displacement, lavish lifestyles of the increasing few while increasingly the majority struggle for meal a day, etc. Indeed, many can come up with their own similar list of unhappiness and displeasure with the way things are – but do they do anything about it?
No, of course not, why should anyone care about these crises, except make high-falutin commentaries in their living rooms, in television talk shows, in social media chat rooms, in academic forums, and in political speeches, all remarkably devoid of substance; the careers, the fat paychecks, and the good life often gets in the way of those not directly under the jackboots of tyranny. Six feet under the maggots surely can't tell the fcking difference! Atheist and theists both taste death alike; the maggots eat them alike. Then, regardless of theology, since the end is dust for all, what life is worth living while alive? A coward's chasing the American Dream? A bullshit con-artist's paying lip-service to humanity while all these Big Lies stand tall and equally disenfranchise all except the elite and the co-opted? Or the inveterate zombie's who dies well before its time? They can't all just be plain stupid to not see through these Big Lies now can they?
Stupid or co-opted or zombie, evidently for such stellar members of humanity, that life is worth living -- that of cowards and sell-outs wearing the garb of respectability. I have no words of praise for their high-minded virtuosity regardless of the piety so prominently stamped upon their forehead; all are syphilis ridden underneath that virginal gown. I hope none receiving or reading this letter are counted among that hypocritical lot. Since my religion is Islam, I feel privileged to seek refuge in the prayer: May God protect us all from this villainy. But that also means acquiring the courage of our convictions!
Today, many areligious and irreligious people display this courage far more than the religious man of any cloth. This is evidenced from the fact that among the truthful rebels who have chosen to take on the mantle of unraveling these Big Lies as a categorical imperative, a vast majority seem to be religionless, and many rebels, in fact, appear to be from Jewish background. What has happened to Muslims? Or Christians? Or Hindus? In his book: The Religions of Man, subsequently retitled: Religions of the World, Huston Smith had also mentioned Confucians and Buddhists as I recall, also equally missing from the scene of truth-telling and falsehood repelling the greatest Big Lies of our times.
Indeed, more profoundly religious and Heaven or Nirvana or Rebirth seeking, the less inclined one appears to be to become engaged in making heaven right here on earth! Minor exceptions are notable only for the fact of their minuscule numbers. I have never understood this, for one would have thought that the religions of man would at least have wanted man to live in moral decency and valor. Is the problem in man, or in his religions that he leaves the field wide open for the sociopaths to exercise their primacy? The secular humanists will of course rush to endorse the latter, but what would be funny if it wasn't so criminal, is that this avant-garde breed is equally notable for its absence in dispelling these Big Lies.
We are living in the age of the hypocrite.
Has it ever been any different? Is this the lot of man?
When I first read Elie Wiesel's books (when my kids were in junior high and had to read Diary of Anne Frank, and as was my custom while raising my children in the West, I would read their assigned texts first to judge appropriateness) I was struck by this HolocaustTM survivor's lament in his memoir All Rivers Run to the Sea: “and I still curse the killers, their accomplices, the indifferent spectators who knew and kept silent, and Creation itself, Creation and those who perverted and distorted it. I feel like screaming, howling like a madman so that that world, the world of the murderers, might know it will never be forgiven.” I have often wondered whether this is exclusively only a Jewish lament, that the Jewish HolocaustTM is the only supreme crime, and Jews the only supreme worthy victims?
Or, does such lament also escape the lips of the unworthy victims of hegemony who have survived these Big Lies, and also those who haven't and have mercifully seen the end of it?
Muslims today are the unworthiest of victims. And we naturally, albeit quite unfashionably, tend to blame the victim. But does the fault lies in the serpent that bites or the victim who does not prepare for its own defence?
Pakistan's media, its judiciary, its military, its intelligentsia, its industrialists and its super-rich class, its political class, and its ruling classes in general, alongside the ordinary common man, the middle class, and the have-not class, will all be replaced by a better people who will not be silent before falsehood and tyranny --- so promises the God of Islamic Republic of Pakistan in the Holy Scripture. I imagine that there is only One God of all creation regardless of religion, tribe or nation. Thus, that promise must apply to all peoples if it applies to any people. Are we ready to be replaced? I am not.
“There comes a time when silence, is betrayal. The truth of these words is beyond doubt. But the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty, against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom, and then the surrounding world. ... Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night, have found that the calling to speak, is often a vocation of agony. But we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak.” --- And spoken, I have.
So, I present the following deconstruction of some of the greatest Big Lies of our time because I do have a pen, a mouth, and whatever little mind that I am fortunate enough to be bestowed with that still functions. I doubt that this humble attempt is in anyway sufficient protection from being replaced by a better people, but I try. A Pakistani friend shared with me the simple epitaph that he had frustratingly written for himself which I had shortened to: “He tried.” I hope you reading this are doing the same.
If I have uttered any falsehood, I invite correction.

Some Important Big Lies of Our Time

Thank you for reading.
Zahir Ebrahim

Letter to Friends of Humanity: Some Important Big Lies of Our Time

Eid Mubarak - The Science of Political Control

How the World Really Works
The financial oligarchy in modernity are the 'king makers' who craft their 'errand boys' to do their private policy bidding behind the facade of elected representatives of the people. The executive, legislative, judiciary, press, and foreign office all implement their base policies in an incestuously self-reinforcing group-think whose championing is rewarded with opportunities to advance, and which never changes despite all the policy squabbles between the Republicans and the Democrats, or the Socialists and the Capitalists, or the Left and the Right, etc.
The insignificant differences in the overarching scheme of things are greatly amplified to portray “change” by the corporate newsmedia which also marches to the tunes played by the Mighty Wurlitzer in the same incestuously self-reinforcing group-think. Which is why the core policies and the core narratives in fact never change with the change in governments of any Western nation, but especially the United States of America.
The most pertinent example of this is the Global War on Terror, the World War IV that is rapidly changing the face of the entire planet towards global governance. From George Bush the Republican to Barack Obama the Democrat, the election platform sold to the public was indeed of “change”.
That base deception upon which a lifetime of warfare has been based, is aided and abetted by other controlled-chaos situations and their supporting narratives, such as global warming blamed on human production, global financial collapse blamed on shortsightedness, global pandemics blamed on nature, and perhaps even global alien invasion in the near future to be blamed on extraterrestrials. All enabling the piece-meal transformation of the planet towards a one-world government.
This is empirical reality which is visible to anyone. But few intellectuals in the world wish to see it, speak of it, or like to hear a spade being called a spade:
Caption Modernity and the fable of the three wise monkeys: hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil (image via wikipedia)
Caption Modernity and the fable of the three wise monkeys: hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil
By looking at each local step of any complex process, or each component of any complex system individually, it is impossible to see the big picture and understand its system characteristics in much the same way as even painstakingly examining each atom and the electro-chemical sub-structure of the water molecule still makes it impossible to understand why the water naturally only flows downstream on earth.
The system properties of interest, and the cause-and-effect patterns of behaviors of interest, especially of black-box systems whose inner-workings can only be inferred by observing the manifest response characteristics, easily get lost by isolated focus on individual components.
Often complex systems aren't as straightforward as simply gathering the understanding of each of its components – because many convoluted system properties are represented only in the interaction among components and to the whole system's interaction with its environment.
If the entire system is not known and a component is thought to be the entire system, the system properties are never understood fully or even correctly identified – and consequently the observed behavior is thought to be random, or happenstance, when it is actually incompetence and incomplete knowledge which leads to that characterization and not the science of it.
This is just the basic science of systems, all systems. As true of physics and engineering as of social sciences, which include political science and state-craft, i.e., governance by Machiavelli. And for state-craft of empires, the causal properties (cause and effect) of international events, like domestic events, can often only be determined by stepping back from the individual events and looking at the entire picture for patterns of interconnectivity of events which may span both time and space.
There is obviously as much caution for false positives and false negatives here as in science --- and that only means social scientists have to be at least as skilled in the craft of deciphering global events as the natural scientists and engineers in deciphering nature and engineering large systems where complex interactions among components can defy understanding by any single individual --- for the level of skills and mastery of data needed may transcend even what the smartest brain can muster. In the age of narrow-gauge specialists and superficial generalists, one can see how easy it is to miss the forest for the trees.
Consequently, in order to acutely comprehend the larger interconnection between and among parts, one has to not only understand many parts individually, but also the historical trends (hystersis) and system dynamics in the interconnections among those parts – as these are neither static, nor temporal, but evidently bring a long hysteresis effect to their current state and future direction. What was let loose fifty or a hundred years ago often determines the state of the world today. Should be commonsense, but, as is also the case in imperial scholarship penned for mass consumption, is often ignored in the study of current affairs and history by those outside of it.
Nobel laureate physicist Max Planck expressed this holistic fact of system analysis most aptly:
Modern physics has taught us that the nature of any system cannot be discovered by dividing it into its component parts and studying each part by itself, since such a method often implies the loss of important properties of the system. We must keep our attention fixed on the whole and on the interconnection between the parts.”
What can the Pakistani public do with Pakistan presently diving deeper and deeper into the endless quagmire leaving an endless stream of dead bodies behind, and the upcoming elections promising change?
Two things to begin with.
  • ONE: Perceptively understand the overarching motivation of the super-terrorists in order to come up with proper self-defence

  • TWO: Don't vote in the upcoming elections thinking it will make things better

Eid Mubarak.
Zahir Ebrahim
3rd Shawaal, 1439 AH
Sunday, June 17, 2018 AD

Eid Mubarak - The Science of Political Control and Pakistan Election Illusion By Zahir Ebrahim | Project

Ramadan Mubarak - To confront or be co-opted?

Assalamu 'alekum, this Ramadan, Mubarak for mankind only if the Holy Qur'an birthed in this auspicious month as Divine Guidance for the living, is understood and followed as the recipe for living in this life while alive, and not living for Afterlife.
Of course, most pious Muslims would contest that understanding of this mostly non-pious scribe. Furthermore, in this day and age, it is not obvious how much people, even Muslim people, actually believe in the concept of Divine with any degree of conviction, albeit, culturally, most pay sufficient homage to that concept in their rituals to feel that they will be transported to Heaven the moment they stop breathing (after a short sojourn in Purgatory - as scriptures inform us). This includes all the holy children of Abraham, including latter day Jews, Christians, and Muslims of all sects.
What I find pertinent is that if the Holy Qur'an isn't a grand joke played on the Muslim mind from a schizoid man proclaiming to be a Prophet who heard voices in his head, as some atheists and secular humanists by definition assert to be true and which never fails to drive the Muslim mind into unbridled rage (and the Holy Qur'an has itself responded to this allegation which started from the very inception of Prophethood, for example Surah An-Najm 53:1-5, Surah At-Takwir 81:19-29, Surah Al-Qalam 68:1-14, see exposition of what the Holy Qur'an says about its own Prophet using the tongue of its Prophet: ), then, its Guidance surely cannot principally be for how to reach the Heaven after death while leaving a miserable hell for the rest of living mankind down here. Right?
It would indeed be a strange Divine Guidance only worthy of the mythical gods of the ancient world who played their jealous games by moving mankind into strivings they deemed desirable -- Zeus and Apollo et. al. moving pawns of mankind around -- if it were to occupy man to selfishly strive to reach the Heaven beyond while hell reigns on earth. That would surely be making a mockery of the Holy Qur'an, of Divine Guidance, of its Prophets, no?
So, as the most current example, while Israel slaughters the defenseless Palestinians in Gaza with rocket fire at the very outset of this Ramadan, and Muslims the world over occupying themselves in personal piety in Islamic rituals to reach Heaven oblivious to that hell on earth, must surely be condemned by the Great Benefactor, its Prophets, and its Divine Guidance ---- all of which Muslims believe in with unimpeachable public fervor. No?
I mean what sort of Divinity do Muslims believe in that rewards silence and apathy towards monumental crimes against humanity in exchange for a life lived on the prayer mat?
Thus, some reading this may well ask that if all our gluttonous piety and prayers and feeding the hungry and helping the orphans and widows in this august month of Ramadan will not take us to Heaven, what can we do this Ramadan that can help us get out of the mind-lock of pious rituals and strive towards making Heaven right here on earth for everyone in accordance with the Divine Guidance system taught by the Holy Qur'an, as that alone being the ***defining*** criterion on whose life is at a loss and whose is not (as virtually all find it easy to practice philanthropy and personal piety which come at little or no personal cost, see: )?
Well, I am not a savant nor saint, but to me using the rational approach and logical thinking to clarify the matter which all can verify for themselves, the first principle that leads us to ignoring hell on earth is obviously our own narrow self-interests, more aptly called co-option. Duh! But co-option is far more treacherous than just: if it isn't happening to me phew, not my problem...
Here is an essay that examines co-option in some depth as my two cents on the matter --- written 4 years ago after an adult lifetime of experience struggling with it, especially since 9-11:
The Art and Science of Co-option -- or -- What Have I Learnt as a Student of Truth?
Oh, it's iftar time, what co-option?
Ramadan Mubarak
Zahir Ebrahim
3rd Ramadan, 1439 AH
Saturday, May 19, 2018 AD

Ramadan Mubarak - To confront or be co-opted? By Zahir Ebrahim | Project

Dissent and The Dying Songbird

May 1, 2018
Dear Pakistani, Assalamu 'alekum, or Hi if you prefer that.
Virtuous articles are appearing in the Pakistani press on various aspects of Dissent and its patriotic underpinnings. Here is DT, DAWN, there may be others. The prominent talking-heads on television also pride themselves on their Dissent. Pakistanis of course tend to understand noora-kushti (a fixed match) quite well. And most Pakistanis, I like to believe, are also honest brokers; meaning, when they opine in public, they are genuinely offering their considered opinion without deception. In other words, while they may be wrong, or misled, or incomplete, they have no intention to deceive.
Unfortunately, little known to our Pakistani psyche, the West invented Dissent. It did not exist in Muslim societies historically. Dissent is not natural to hoi polloi Muslim psyche which has been conditioned to obey almost anyone in authority. The Muslim citizen in the Muslim empires over the past fourteen centuries had to obey the vali-e-amr regardless, or he or she was an outcast, usually killed. The Muslim mind still doesn't have the freedom to express his or her views openly in any largely predominant Muslim country today, except Pakistan! I happily think that we have genuine intellectuals in our country who weigh themselves on this metric rather heavily and come out rosy. This includes many illustrious names who have voiced their dissent in verse, in plays, in prose, in skits, in active defiance, and in jails. Many homes in Pakistan, past and present, can vouch for empty chairs at dinner tables only because of the little voice of conscience speaking up boldly. Not too many, but still many!
But, since the West really invented public dissent under the rubric of freedom of speech, and protected it constitutionally as an integral part of their democracy and the inalienable rights given to their public, like all things pertaining to modern statecraft that give the illusion of freedom to its public, Machiavelli did not leave dissent alone either. In Pakistan, we are perhaps unaware of this modality of engineering consent on the core axioms, core narratives, and core truths of the state, or authority figures, in the guise of dissent.
I invite your attention to my article The Dying Songbird, included below, which sketches out the modalities and purpose of this global deceit for making the public mind that equally drags the Pakistani intelligentsia, like every other nation's intelligentsia, including the United States', along. Unwittingly for many who are of able mind but fooled for want of sophistication, and some of course knowingly play in that space as they know which side their bread is buttered. I don't believe the two news links I have cited in this letter are anything but genuine consciences speaking up; the subject matter they respectively tackle in the two articles is straightforward, and each is expressing their direct personal angst. I thank them both for their courage.
But, as virtues of dissent are being brought up in the news in reaction to the newsmedia, and journalism in general, losing the freedom to mold the public mind with their “truth” (typically that truth is officialdom's truth in all its convolutions), it is necessary for Pakistani thinkers and their target, the public mind, to understand that the domain of dissent is not as simplistic, nor as conscionable, as it is made to appear in these cited articles and in the many television anchor-voices that proclaim the virtues of their own dissent like those on Geo, Samaa, etc. Not to forget that when the prominent dissenting opinion-makers live in the West, as Pakistan's former ambassador to the United States, Mr. Hussain Haqqani does, and many of the ordinary bloggers do who appear to be a pain for authority figures, and also as I do (even though I am a nobody), and express our concerns for our nation in public by way of articulated dissent, are we on the ball?
Are we being Type-2 when genuine, or mercenary Superman when deceitful? What about those ordinary folks in the news media who bring us awareness of issues, and those public intellectuals who get oped-space, and those who are editors and publishers, and the so called recorders of man's deeds, the historians? How can we tell that they are not working off of a crippled epistemology even if we believe they are telling the truth?
The GIGO protocol, Garbage-in Garbage-out, is an epistemological maxim that begs to be better understood especially when we are valiant partisans of truth, dogma, doctrine, narrative, loves, hates, patriotism, nationalism, religionism, and of course, our own narrow vested interest. Before we pick sides, we should at least be able to discern whether we are deceiving ourselves, and whether someone is selling us snake-oil in disguise when they oppose the status quo, lest we come to believe and act in a manner that is inimical to our own individual as well as collective interests. In this election year when everyone is disagreeing with everyone else, and the state, in the name of liberation from status quo, are they really liberating us?
We cannot deny the need for intellectual tools to dissect Machiavelli. More superior the Mephistopheles, more sophisticated must its audience become in order to protect themselves from its seduction. Here is a small subset from that toolkit with examples of specious dissent. I will admit that I learned none of this in school. In fact, it took me many years to unlearn the crap my mind was filled with by years of elite schooling and 'enviable' scholarship before I could discover what follows on my own. Your mileage may of course vary.
With Regards,
Zahir Ebrahim,

Dissent and The Dying Songbird - Zahir's Letter to Pakistanis

Invitation to Trialogue on Reality

To: [Dr. Asarulislam Syed, M.D., Neurologist and Psychiatrist, Pakistani-American in California]
Cc: [Dr. Khalid Sohail, MBBS, FRCP (C), Creative Psychotherapist, Pakistani-Canadian in Canada]
From: [Zahir Ebrahim, an ordinary Pakistani Techie in California]
Subject: Invitation to Trialogue
Date: Saturday, March 10, 2018, 11:00 pm.
Dear Dr. Asarulislam Syed, Assalamu' alekum.
I would like to introduce myself by way of the recent Open Letter that I wrote to the Hon. Chief Justice of Pakistan, and my Letter to the DG ISPR to forward to Pakistan's COAS, General Bajwa (both letters linked below). I heard a couple of your recorded youtube videos and found that you and I have much in common, and also as much in common as not. I found myself as much in agreement with you as in disagreement. But what attracted me to write to you is your courage and your boldness. And what appears to be the courage of your convictions. Thank you for that. It is rare to find people who display moral courage against their own kind, kith and kin, even if from 20,000 miles away. This class of people often never touch the tyrants and tyranny that can reach them. They almost always ignore the tyrants at home. And such psyche interests me greatly as an 'amateur social scientist' ('amateur' meaning: I don't make my living from it, it's only my hobby; I made my living as a Silicon Valley engineer-craftsman, my pertinent bio is on my website and may also be gleaned from my unpublished online books).
Dr. Asar, If you are so inclined, I would like to enter into intellectual conversations with you on the subject of reality – what is it, how do we uncover it, how do we deal with epistemological corruption, and lastly, how do we deal with our own self-interests, our inclination towards self-preservation which colors our judgments, our biases, our preconceptions, and our natural talents and natural dispositions all of which lead to epistemological distortions in our worldviews. We all have different capacities, are gifted with different talents by our Creator (or by nature for the atheist), and in this short span of life, all of us try to do our best given our circumstances. And that directly impacts our worldviews, and thus our understanding of reality, and consequently how we engage with it. Your engagement with reality interests me, and I hope that you will entertain the invitation contained in this letter. And I wish to invite to this conversation another psychiatrist, Dr. Sohail, the man cc'ed on this letter, to construct a deep three-way dialogue, a trialogue.
I am most impressed by your mental health / mind-brain interface medical background just as I am with your courage to speak boldly against your own when called for. The fact that you chose neurology with psychiatry to practice the healing arts of mental health shows your farsightedness. Your understanding of, and healing thereof of abnormal psyche and behavior at the individual psyche and cellular levels must surely be most rewarding in furthering your understanding of why humans behave the way we do. I wonder though, if you have taken the next natural step: seeking understanding and healing thereof of the abnormal collective psyche and collective behavior. I.e., understanding sociopathy and primacy. Not just psychopathic primacy as exercised by the likes of Charles Manson who look evil and whose behavior I am sure all psychiatrists just love to dissect to study abnormal psychology that kills in rather small numbers and attracts the most public attention, but primacy exercised by tribes and nations that kills in large numbers to the sound of trumpets, and the rulers and leaders who look respectable who exercise that primacy as their god given imperative while their public applauds and “united we stand” with them!
Understanding that sociopathy Dr. Asar, that collective mental illness of those wearing suits and ties rather than those who look barbarian, and doing something about it, became my field of endeavor ever since 9-11.
But I had been exposed to its academic foundations since my undergraduate days when I studied behavior control and societal dysfunction at the macro social level while majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. I had also chosen to study the unseen political motivations and psycho-social forces that make events happen, and to map to the present time. I even spent one evening at the Walpole state prison in Massachusetts with my college classmates and professor who did one over us: he did not tell us that we were to meet murderers, all for crimes of passion, and all convicted in the third degree for un-premeditated murder. These people appeared most normal and we as students had 'wholesome conversations' with them about everything under the sun. They were most charming, and most disarming. Imagine our shock when the professor informed us the next day that every single one of them was a convicted murderer! Murderers who looked normal, like you and me, but had momentarily lost control with dire consequences. And we had then moved on to study the premeditated mass murderers in the Third Reich who also looked normal like you and me, but killed in large numbers to the sound of trumpet, and often to the accompaniment of accolades and medals. Until defeated that is. Sound familiar to you? Remind you of any present? Surely it does. But what I see is that it reminds you selectively!
I have seen your websites (including and noted all your persuasions, your inclination towards the Holy Qur'an, your advocacy of 'secular' Islam, your love of the Ummayads, etc. It is among the topics we shall discuss, InshaAllah, if you accept this invitation. To me, it appears that you are surrounded by your choir. But your invitation to debate with different views is heartening. I much rather dialogue, or trialogue as the invitation here, than try to convince you of my views. I understand 'metanoia', am a student of metanoia, by continually studying history and psychology and its instances in people who changed their mind with gestalt shifts, and rather than prevail upon others with my myopia, I much rather continually (re)discover the world and its reality by engaging with intellects and experiences far richer than mine.
I am somewhat like the character in the novel 'Kim' by Rudyard Kippling, forever in search of the 'river of the arrow', and always doing something with whatever I have discovered, understood and assimilated --- crucial ideas that I found so heartening to see reflected in your own statements. Mastery of a thousand books, and living a thousand lifetimes, is meaningless without being men and women of understanding, 'ulul-albab' ( أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ ) as the Holy Qur'an refers to them. Without some sha'oor, ma'arifat, wherewithal, entering between our ears to transcend our narrow self-interests and our respective myopia, we remain 'likkha parrha jahils' despite our many academic degrees and lofty accolades that usually accompany the glorified educated morons du jour. We principally die the death of jahiliya just as we lived the age of jahiliya under the self-delusion of 'high civilization'!
Today, we live in the age of universal deceit, and to uncover reality the way it actually is in such an age, minimally takes a nonconformist 'revolutionary' mind. Your wearing the Che Guevara cap in your background banners and in your talks Dr. Asar, at least hints of a 'revolutionary mind'. I like the sound of it. But there have been many pretenders to that station of self-delusion in all eras who have led themselves and others astray --- another idea that I found heartening in your advocacy of avoiding such pitfalls, which, I might add, you have rightly termed as 'mental illness', and which Surah al-Fatiha advocates as 'not following in the path of those who were led astray' that you also pointed out. All these aspects are the many foundational points of agreement I have with you. For who can sensibly disagree on truisms!
I also found your interest in justice, and your quoting Malcolm X very interesting. Revealingly for me, you seemed to have conveniently ignored your own adopted nation's shibboleths in the best example of what Malcolm X described as the 'House nigger'. In that vernacular, like Malcolm X proclaimed for himself, I am a 'Field Negro'; just FYI. Your reference to these matters, and your almost classic omissions, presents you as a rather 'selective' humanitarian.
And I would like to introduce you to another 'selective' humanitarian par excellence internet friend of mine who shares your profession and your passion for healing humanity, Dr. Sohail. He is a creative psychotherapist and practices his healing craft in Canada just as you do in California.
What would be wonderful Dr. Asar, and Dr. Sohail who is cc'ed and often hates my guts but is also most generous and forgiving of my transgressions like the true and genuine humanitarian that I believe he is, is if the three of us, trailogue. A three way deep conversation, with respect for each other and each others' views, that we principally try to learn from and explore rather than principally try to refute.
I think all human beings have a natural tendency towards primacy, in this case intellectual primacy, meaning, we hold our opinions superior to all others and would like it to always prevail. But what I think surely begets a more useful outcome is when we contain those primordial instincts and try to learn from each other in such a way that the whole comes out greater than the sum of its parts.
All benefit, and all are richer for having a rich class of intellectual friends who influence each other not by the hammer hitting the anvil, but by forces that are neither easily quantifiable nor easily identifiable.
Why do people change their minds? What makes metanoia? Surely not logic, not truth, not love, nor religion (faith) alone --- for were these principally the driving forces, legatees of ancient thousands of Prophets of wisdom, and Mr. Spocks and mother Teresas would have been ruling the world and there'd have been peace and justice from time immemorial. But we have had the Ten Commandments for at least three thousand years...
So what leads to metanoia is a keen interest of mine, and intelligent conversations that is both self-aware of one's own limitations, and keen on exploring others' minds for what they have uncovered, is at least one of the ways to better oneself that I have discovered. My intellectual friends whom I met on the internet over the past two decades have made me a lot wiser. But I discovered that in matters that tickle intellectual as well as emotional instincts, one can only help one's own self and no one else. I have learnt that the hard way, in the experience of 17 continuous years of strident justice activism that kicked off the very day of 9-11, and still continues, despite the bed of thorns of intransigence that it continually crosses over. I have little to show for my work, except in my own growth and understanding, my own assimilation of reality the way it actually is.
We have a lot in common Dr. Asar: all three of us, You, Dr. Sohail, and me are expats. living in the West, all three of us appear to be genuinely concerned with the fate of humanity and its discontents, all three of us appear to be attached to our native homelands whose streets we once roamed and whose memories still tickle our nostalgia, and all three of us are voicing our concerns, and our passions, and practicing our crafts publicly to the extent that is only limited by our 'zarf', our natural capacity, our understanding of the world, and obviously, at least to the first order, our 'self-interest', be it only subconscious.
For me, that 'self-interest', of not being conformist 'united we stand' and staying silent before the contemporary discontents and disaffections of our age, at least at the conscious level, is to prevent myself from going insane; and from having the charge of aiding and abetting crimes against humanity put upon my head by my conscience and by posterity and by the victims who die screaming for help in the pains of aerial and terrestrial bombardments that destroy the tabula rasa of entire nations and civilizations; for, indeed, one of the key observations of modern sociology, and explained by all religious wisdoms throughout the ages as the categorical imperative of man (in the Kantian sense), is: tyranny only flourishes when good men (and women) remain silent. That diction is borrowed from Edmund Burke, but the teachings of the Holy Qur'an is replete with that theme of conquering the 'banality of evil' first with jihad-un-nafs without which the heart never opens, the mouth never speaks, the eyes never see, and the ears never hear. As a Qur'anic scholar, you more than I are surely more familiar with “Summun, Bukmun, Umyun” and understand the diseases of the heart upon which the Holy Qur'an has spent so many verses. Atheistic Secular humanism that borrows its principal theology from Nietzsche's ubermensch, also lays claim to that theme of putting human misery and human salvation first (arguably rather unnaturally, as it generally believes in the axiom of law of nature applied to human beings, and presupposes social Darwinianism as necessary for social evolution; but, as in the case of Dr. Sohail, the built-in moral compass that is evidently the lot of all human beings not suffering from sociopathy and other misanthropic mental illnesses, can guide good natured people in exhibiting altruistic moral behavior patterns, often at great risks to themselves, regardless of their individual theology or its misanthropy. However, such people have become rare finds in our modernity and they are to be cherished, to the extent cherishable --- for none I have found to be angels and prophets; all labor with some degree of self-interest, and with instincts for self-preservation that easily co-opts them. Who among these gallant humanitarians should I choose as my leader? The one who sells out the least?).
And that's another thing that makes this invitation for trialogue among You, me, and Dr. Sohail interesting, at least to me to the point that it motivated this lengthy introduction letter: all three of us, evidently, are non-conformists in our respective persuasions, beliefs, and attitudes. Dr. Sohail is a self-avowed 'atheist secular humanist'; you appear to be a 'theist secular humanist' (whatever that means, and it should be revealing to explore that rather unusual idea with you from first principles); and I, just an ordinary theist plebeian who founded the little 'Project' from where you may glean my general disposition if that topic should ever interest you.
I believe I would make a most interesting third vertex of the non conformist triangle for this trailogue invitation which I hope would interest both you and Dr. Sohail. The reason being, that unlike both of you who offered your allegiance to the white man's flag and to his Queen respectively, I did not take an oath of allegiance to any flag or to any royalty. I am a Pakistani citizen living in the United States legally for nearly four decades as its permanent resident. I have a 'green card' for nearly that long. I came here for my undergraduate education, studied on both its coasts, piled up a couple of dozen of engineering patents while working, and both spiritually as well as intellectually grew up in the opportunities and freedoms that this country afforded me to think freely. This happened by the sheer luck of being born on the right side of the railroad tracks: me getting an opportunity to be admitted to one of its finest universities, M.I.T. Strangely, while it graduates super learned technocrats to uniformly fit into America's and its Allies' vast military-industrial-academe complex worldwide as economic widgets who stand united with her primacy imperatives, it failed to leave that imprint upon me. That, is luck! The luck of DNA, the luck of biochemistry, the luck of psyche, the luck of a concatenation of good fortunes that we often don't think about.
All of us have been bestowed with some such good luck which has made life easy and pleasurable. And thus, it also leaves a great burden of debt upon our shoulders for the good fortune that chose to smile upon us from the vast selection of humanity living in abject suffering, want, deprivation, and subjugation just because they were either born on the wrong side of history, or the wrong side of the railroad tracks.
It is evident that you too share in the same debt-burden to society by your proclamation of universal justice Dr. Asar. As does Dr. Sohail towards which he contributes compassionately by his 'lafzoon ki messihai' (title of his book in Urdu), and in his other books: Freedom of Religion-Freedom from Religion, and The Next Stage of Human Evolution. Dr. Sohail believes that every individual has his own 'truth' that he is comfortable with, and that's just fine. In his own small way, Dr. Sohail tries to give space to all to grow and to nurture their full potential; and professionally, to heal themselves by working out their angsts. You appear to want the same for all human beings Dr. Asar, if I have understood the thrust of your message of universal justice and the naming of your 'Pakistan Jannat Party' as such. And I, of course believe that any system that gives justice to human beings, that does not usurp and plunder, and permits people to grow on their individual and collective journeys from 'as-falah sa-faleen' to 'ashraf-ul-maklooqat', would make 'jannat' on earth for all mankind. I have no preference for any system except that it cater to the needs of all who live within its ambit, and live amicably with other nations who may have a different system that does the same.
That lofty aspiration of course presupposes that all tyrants have been dethroned, and the primacy instincts in man have been tamed. I haven't seen that happen yet, at any time in history, and therefore, unlike both of you, as an engineer by training and thinking, I tend to focus on the highest order most consequential bit first: how to dethrone the tyrants and how to defang man of his capacity for primacy. While both of you appear to have been somewhat successful at your lower order bits and surely bask in the glory of self-satisfaction (if your respective websites are any indication), I have only a string of failures to show for my little labors. The trees I am planting are all coming out lifeless in my own lifetime. Perhaps they will sprout at a later date?
Yes, I benefited from living and thriving in Rome during the Roman Empire's heyday, so to speak, just as you both did, while the Roman empire robbed, pillaged and plundered the wealth of the rest of the world! When we fail to recognize that latter fact, we are either Uncle or Aunty Thomas, or a hypocrite. The former is mental illness, if mental colonization can be called that, and I do choose to call it that. The latter is spiritual illness, and that has been the focus of all Divine as well as wisdom teachings from time immemorial.
Like both of you, the North American continent is where I too blossomed not just in my profession, but more importantly, in acquiring my tiny tiny share of sha'oor in the greater scheme of things. This despite my elitist academic education on both of its coasts, and my high-tech experiences, all of which tried to keep me happy as an economic widget in the service of capitalism. But perhaps because I was exposed to all this intellectual capital, that unlike my compatriots back home in Pakistan, it made me a strident 'malcontent' (in MLK Jr.'s sense of this term) and led me to rebel against the marginalization and 'Westoxification' of the East!
As Malcolm X learnt by reading the white man's books and in observing his behavior with the detachment of prison bars, I too read the white man's books and observed his behavior with self-imposed detachment. They raped and pilloried us easily because we inherited a slave mentality from our own rulers throughout our imperial history. Our case is not all that different from the American Negro, except that the black man saw his chains and we never did! We merely changed rulers, and chains, substituting the Arabian version of imperial Islam dominating our lands, with the white man's imperial theology dominating our lands. It still lingers on in this supposed post colonial era in the name of Western style democracy. This modern method of neo colonization loots and plunders our wealth at will no differently, except that now the people look forward to selecting the best among the worst presented to us every few years as our leaders to be. The methods of looting have become more and more sophisticated and beyond the ken of our national genius to comprehend.
And like yourself Dr. Asar, I too tend to think that the establishment of Pakistan, its military, along with its judiciary, has the natural power to right the wrongs of the past. To lead the charge to throw the tea overboard, just as the United States did to seek its freedom from the chains of servitude of its oppressors not too long ago. Surely, they cannot object to other nations adopting their example --- except, to the British empire, the American colonists were the terrorists and they had burnt down the White House!
I learnt to add two plus two to make four in the age of universal deceit right here in the superpower state, when all its scholars, all its statesmen, all its demagogues of all stripes, and all its wali-ullahs of all faiths, and in fact throughout the world, contemporarily and in history, have been offering five.
The people of both countries, United States of America and Pakistan, and all nations, are important to me, just as they are, evidently, to both of you. As you will surely agree, countries are ephemeral, synthetic, man-made abstractions. People are natural and real. When the welfare of the people is subsumed by that of state, when “we the people” is subsumed by statism, then nations cease to serve their people and instead people are required to serve the nation.
We live under statism today just as we did throughout history and during its long running empires. The United States of America was unique in that it began by “we the people”, but quickly thrust into statist rule keeping the lip-service to “we the people” intact. To understand this we have to revisit history that is not taught in America's two thousand schools but can still be found in its public libraries. That slogan is still quite intact, but there is no “we the people” in reality, there never was, except on that piece of parchment, where it sits comfortably even today, waiting, waiting, waiting...
That understanding is missing in your articulated perception of the United States and its civil rights leaders who had to struggle even two hundred years into that Declaration of “we the people” to get their civil rights granted to them. You and I are both beneficiaries of their sacrifices. And we must ask: what trees have we planted under whose shades our posterity shall sit?
During that long wait, until “we the people” actually comes to pass, I have no love lost for rulers of any nation, any empire, any tribe and any collective by whatever its name, both past and present, that are unjust, barbaric, gratuitously war-making, deceitful, arrogant, cunning, exploitive, and 'mather-chods' to their own peoples domestically, or to other nations internationally.
It seems to me that this no love lost for oppressive power should be the first order truism for all genuine humanitarians regardless of their persuasion. One can feed a thousand hungry people and the next day they are still hungry. Remove one tyrant or usurper from power and institute justice and all can feed themselves every day! But humanitarians today prefer to pursue the former --- there are also prizes and awards and social standings to be had from the tyrant for such 'humanitarianism'.
That is a crucial difference that the third vertex of the trialogue will surely pose as the un daunting challenge to both of you. Where you are visibly silent, or speak circumspectly so as not to jeopardize your status and self-interests, I speak as a 'field Negro'. But I speak with the courage of my convictions only to the degree I am capable, and since all three of us make that claim, at least in our own minds if not always in our acts, InshaAllah, we will learn a lot from our no holds barred but surely respectful trailogue if you accept this invitation --- far more than in well-controlled meaningless public debates whose primary intent is to convince the spectating sheep that every protagonist is their most trustworthy shepherd. And I expect that we will certainly learn far more than we do speaking to ourselves, which is, in effect, what we do when we speak before the choir and to those who generally tend to agree with us.
For me, it is rare to find courageous non conformists worthy of candid conversations without some guarded circumspection, and both of you are surely in that rare breed where honesty of purpose and having the courage of one's convictions may carry much weight even when we may agree to disagree. Experience will of course tell. I invite both you Dr. Asar, and Dr. Sohail, to be part of a whole that will, InshaAllah, be greater than the sum of its parts.
Come join me in a trailogue. Write to me, both of you, if this letter, and the open letter to the CJP and DG ISPR linked below interests you, on how we might fashion such a self learning trialogue.
All the best,
Zahir Ebrahim
Letter to Pakistan Military DG ISPR, Major General Asif Ghafoor, From Zahir Ebrahim :

Invitation to two Pakistani American-Canadian Psychiatrist-Humanitarian Doctors to Trialogue 10/10