Saturday, 25 June 2011

Hotel California (Hotel Abbotabadia)

On 2 May 2011, America again fooled the entire world with news we knew were untrue; that of Osama bin Laden’s state-sponsored assassination at the hands of CIA’s hit squad which violated Pakistan’s airspace to conduct its unintelligent business.

Just like Pearl Harbour and 9/11, the clandestine operation at Abbotabad too begs for answers which, I assure you, we will never get from the MIC (military industrial complex). You see, major charges trumped up against OBL were dropped once the thirst of the American public for ‘enemy blood’ was quenched and Obama’s flagging popularity at home received a shot in the arm.

As of this writing, they are busy doctoring OBL’s pictures, much like those moon landing photographs of 1969 which had so many inconsistencies that NASA never bothered satisfactorily explaining to the sceptics. But people will believe in anything the spin doctors working for the lying governments throw at them. My life is simple; I treat official truth in my patent-pending way: by laughing at it aloud while rolling on the floor.

Many years ago, when I first heard the Eagles’ global hit ‘Hotel California’ (Grammy winner for best record of the year), I was bowled over not only by the fine musicianship and immaculate production standards of this country-rock outfit but also by their writing ability as evidenced in other songs from the album of the same name.

Back then the lyrics seemed to talk about a fancy hotel with a unique policy: ‘you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave’. Now, who in his youth would not wish to land at such a fortunate spot? Many of my friends took things quite literally, crossed the Atlantic to live the American dream, and got themselves blonde wives who home-delivered to them two things: great matrimonial grief and confused children. Years later, most men from the same group returned to Pakistan quite empty-handed in every sense of the word. Their American wet dream had dried up.

Repeated playbacks of ‘Hotel California’ caused my chrome cassette tape emulsion to nearly wear out but it finally dawned upon me that while to the casual listener ‘Hotel California’ represented a tale of a road-wearied man entrapped in a terrifying but appealing lavish hotel, in reality it symbolized the destructive pleasure-seeking culture of America. Justifiably, Don Henley (singer, songwriter, drummer of the Eagles) called it ‘our interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles’ and ‘a song about the dark underbelly of the American dream and about excess in America, which is something we knew a lot about.’
Anton LaVey, a Satanist, in the balcony

Little did I realize back then that years later, none other than the ‘most wanted terrorist in the world’, Osama bin Laden, would check into a house in Abbotabad (Pakistan) in a manner which would attract the attention of seals that the American navy would not want inside Lahore zoo’s pond.

The entire world’s focus was quickly diverted—away from failing capitalism and bankrupting economies—towards a defiant Arab from the royal family of Saudi Arabia. We were told that Pakistan’s army knew about OBL’s opulent accommodation right next to its military academy and that some Islamist sympathizers had made sure he evaded detection by the CIA.

Then we were shown video footage of a huge compound being strafed and raided by the US navy commandos who returned, after completing the ‘successful mission’, back to Afghanistan with a unique trophy: OBL’s dead body which they later buried in a novel way into an unknown sea. I believe the Arab did not go to the bottom of the Arabian Sea.

The roach motel they showed us did not have bullet marks or shattered windows, the neighbours told conflicting stories about how the stealth helicopter was intentionally shot down to make it appear as if a great battle between the American attackers and al-CIAda (note my spellings) had taken place. The media kept humming the tune that the White Washed House of Washing Town composed for them, and the US and her allies kept making excuses for not bringing OBL’s body home for burial with full military dishonour.

It is politically correct to believe that OBL, along with his rather large family checked into a luxury villa in Abbotabad and remained there undetected and quite in control of al-CIAda for five long years without being tracked by those who could not track the 9/11 jet airliners flying about in the most protected airspace in the world. And since OBL was such an able man, by Allah, he deserves to be remembered as a tired traveller in my parody called Hotel Abbotabadia.

OBL was not from Abbotabad and probably never lived there. The Eagles’ too were not from California but they successfully captured in a song what ran through their minds as they drove around Los Angeles at night to review their broken Hollywood dreams.

I am not from Abbotabad but years ago I spent a few days in a house on the slopes overlooking the PMA (Pakistan Military Academy). Much like the Eagles, I too have been able to capture the spirit of that fateful night in my parody. What I mean by certain words, phrases and names used in my parody is up to the reader to find out.

In Chicago, many people called Cook County jail ‘Hotel California’ because it is on California Street. In an interview, Eagles’ Don Henley was asked to explain why he sang the following lines when he knew that wine was not a distilled spirit but rather a fermented alcoholic drink:

So I called up the captain / Please bring me my wine / He said, “We haven't had that spirit here since 1969.”
The Beverly Hills Hotel (Sunset Boulevard, LA)

Henley replied, "Thanks for the tutorial and, no, you're not the first to bring this to my attention—and you're not the first to completely misinterpret the lyric and miss the metaphor. Believe me; I've consumed enough alcoholic beverages in my time to know how they are made and what the proper nomenclature is. But that line in the song has little or nothing to do with alcoholic beverages. It's a socio-political statement. My only regret would be having to explain it in detail to you, which would defeat the purpose of using literary devices in song-writing and lower the discussion to some silly and irrelevant argument about chemical processes.”

The text of my parody appeared to me in a dream in which I saw terrifying commandos marching to the tune of a famous song. The icing on the cake was that instead of the Eagles, it was a military brass band that played ‘Hotel California’. And God, it sounded very soldierly.

I dedicate Hotel Abbotabadia to those who turn a blind eye to universal American aggression, do not mind NATO’s involvement, do not clobber the UN Security Council for acting like a poodle, and to those who arm the extremists and support Pakistani establishment’s collusion in this utterly useless global war of error (G-WOE) being waged in our continent. The original Hotel California (for those who are new to this classic cut):

Please click on the karaoke track of Hotel California and sing along the following lyrics for maximum pleasure:

Hotel Abbotabadia

Said a Pak desi, "Hai oye,
Colonel Rind has no hair!”
Bomb-scare and militias
Climbing up through the stairs
Up ahead was resistance, I saw a bearded delight
The lads got angry ‘cause at night we pimped
One more puff, chilled Bud light
There he stood in the stairway
I heard the Colonel yell
“And he’s limping, that’s OBL
Langley’s agent of neo-con hell!”
Then he bit off my handle
And he shoved me away
There were khakis down on second floor
Beards shouted, “God’s great!”

Hell comes to the Intel Abbotabadia
Such a lovely place (such a lovely place)
Such a lonely base
Plenty of boom at the Intel Abbotabadia
Any time, O yaar (any time, O yaar)
Find your copter here

Radar is stealthily busted
We got the Pentagon’s pants
We got a lot of pretty witty boys, that we call 'friends'
Its a trance in the bomb yard
Sweet C4 pets
Some plan to dismember
Some plan pious bets
So I hauled up the captain,
“Please bring me my Wyne”
He said, "We haven't had that idiot here since M. Ayub Khan's time!"
Be still our bosses are flying out from Ghan base
Shake you up in the middle of the night
Must you say your prayers?

Hell comes to the Intel Abbotabadia
Such a lovely place (such a lovely place)
Such a lonely base
They lovin' it all at the Intel Abbotabadia
Want a nicer prize? (want a nicer prize?)
Bring your Ali bhais

Choppers on the ceiling
A sting campaign and lies
And he says, "We're all just pensioners here since Gitmo is not that nice"
And in the oval chambers they gather up to meet
They back it with their lying eyes, throw the dust in eyes of khakis
The last thing I remember, Dick was running like a whore
I had to plant fake evidence, get my rear back to the shore
"Relax", said the Gates-man, “We're programmed to deceive
You can poo anywhere you like, but you can never pee."

Guitar LEAD:
TeeoN teeoN teeoN teeoN teeeeooooo ooooN... fade)

©Tahir Gul Hasan 2011 Under no circumstances must anyone use my parody for a musical performance or recording in any medium. Violators will be fully prostituted.
Photo credits:

Friday, 17 June 2011

Pakistan’s State Emblem Explained

More out of curiosity and driven less by misplaced patriotism I decided to check what the strange emblem on a Pakistani passport represented. I visited a government website to find an explanation because nobody can lie better than a government can.

The site proudly explains the state emblem of Pakistan as ‘approved by the Central Government in 1954, symbolises Pakistan's ideological foundation, its cultural heritage, the guiding principles and the basis of its economic strength.’

What is mentioned with almost martial zeal has already been blown to smithereens, courtesy of suicide jackets and American drone-attacks. Let us now dissect the official statement further.

First, the foundation of the state has been shaken to the core by repeated undemocratic interruptions by the men in starched khaki uniforms who were corrupted by men in starched shalwar qameez suits, and both 'helped' covertly by certain men in black who emerged from the White Washed House of Washing Town.

In 1947, Pakistan’s foundation was fool-proof but it was never upgraded to being duffer-proof. All that concrete and steel of our structure has now turned into mud and hay, and the ground on which the state currently stands shakes every day because of American drones that mostly take off and land from special airfields rented out by our own 'protectors'. God abhors killing and corruption in all forms, hence so sane person ought to like terrorism.

Second, the cultural heritage until a few years ago was intact. It was beautifully being represented each spring by the kite-flying festival of basant which is now banned by a government that does not represent the wishes of the people. Behind the ban are the murderous mullahs and bored legal men who, as children, never flew kites or played with marbles. Some obscurantist groups quote obscure episodes from a chequered past to justify the ban on basant and attack everything that the inhabitants of the Indo-Pak sub-continent have celebrated together since centuries without getting into one another’s way. The same banned outfits consider kite-flying a grave danger to public necks that occasionally get slit by metal wire.

Had this group been more vigilant regarding the legal sanction given to military dictators, we might have fared better. The deadly metal wire they speak of, and which only some pranksters use instead of the traditional cotton thread, is the real problem. Why must the whole festival or the thousands that work in the kite-making industry suffer? Surprisingly, the rulers do not consider lack of utilities, escalating inflation, rising crime rate, drone attacks and the failing security apparatus as ‘threats’ to our necks but rather God’s Will.

The impotent PTDC (Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation) still exists but tourism is all but destroyed in peaceful places like Swat whose three million inhabitants were bombed and turned into displaced persons in their own country by its 'security forces'. Now what is left around us to take a tour of: The Presidency, Federal buildings of a heavily guarded cultural wasteland called Islamabad or the GHQ where our collective fate is re-written everyday while foreign agents dip their 'intelligence' biscuits in our hot tea? Where do we take our children for sight-seeing?

Third, where can we see those ‘guiding principles’ in action which we have been taught to worship like a golden calf? What did poet Allama Iqbal mean by his ode to Hindustan? Who, if not the Anglophiles, the mullahs and the feudal lords have truly benefitted from the creation of a 'separate homeland for Indian Muslims' by Mr Muhammad Ali Jinabhai  and his rich company? What shall the common man do?

Hollow are the words that we hear ad nauseam in official speeches or as lyrics of national songs sung by shrill out-of-tune pop singers. Allama Iqbal, the poet of the east, who gave us loads of vision and pride in being Muslims, now turns in a grave situated at the foot of the Badshahi mosque of Lahore. Armed guard at his mausoleum’s door ensure that he never steps out to chastise with his walking stick the mis-leaders who trample upon the ideals of Pakistan.

The same security is ensured at Jinnah’s white marble mausoleum in Karachi. The local dignitaries do not go there to offer Fatiha (Qur’anic prayer) but to mumble apologies for their misdeeds and to cry crocodile tears. And year after year they proceed on all-expenses paid pilgrimage trips to Makkah to wash away the guilt that seems to multiply like rabbits.

Fourth and last we come to the mirage of ‘economic growth’. In which jungle is this animal found, on which tree does this bird sing, from which branch does this monkey swing, where is this growth that the World Bank’s banksters and the International Monetary Fund’s gangsters promise us each time they feed us with un-blessed usurious money? Economic growth is now a lame dog that barks at each car because it cannot comprehend how to capitalize on golden opportunities that whiz by.

With scarcely a Volt or a Watt of electricity available, and with a dwindling natural gas supply, on what crutches will we become Asian tigers such as Japan, Korea, or China? Have we made good use of our friendship with China by overhauling our railways or the urban transportation systems? Have we asked China to stop flooding our markets with cheap products so that we may protect our own industries of sports goods, surgical instruments, and hand-made carpets? No is an answer common to all of the above questions.

The government website goes further to claim that ‘the four ingredients of the emblem are the crescent and star crest at the top; traditional symbols of Islam’.

I beg to disagree. If you see Hollywood movies or cartoons, invariably you will see witches’ hats adorned with the crescent and star symbol. Have the witches become Muslims or have they applied for Pakistani nationality?

The star symbolizes the sun which represents the son of light, or Lucifer. The crescent represents Diana, the pagan goddess of hunting. One might say that an owl is considered foolish in the east but wise in the west (it is worshipped as Satan at the Bohemian Grove) and therefore, our crescent and star depicts only good. The last messenger of Allah never used such symbols; leave alone salute them or force others to do the same in public. Evil loves symbolism because it needs a disguise to fool mankind. The American dollar bill’s symbolism is a case in point.

Evil has its own favourite signs and numbers and these need to be recognised and rejected by those who can see through the smokescreen. Just because the creators of our national insignia were not well-informed must not mean that we disregard the true meanings associated with occult symbols. Just because we use the lunar calendar for our religious festivals must also not mean that the moon is Islam’s sacred symbol. Before Islamic states and Muslim leaders adopted the moon symbol, pagans and enemies of God used it too. Why must we prop up the moon to compete with the Christian cross (it represents the apparent crucifixion of Christ)?

Further, we are told that ‘the shield in the centre, with four partitions, shows cotton, wheat, tea and jute. These are the main crops of Pakistan and signify the strong agriculture based economy.’

In 1971, the collective stupidity of the politicians and the excesses committed by the armed forces caused the loss of East Pakistan which became Bangladesh. Hence, jute and tea that got severed, should no more be included in the state emblem since they are harsh reminders of our past. Bangladesh is better off now than it was in the past as East Pakistan, and just to make us think, her government is sending to the gallows mullahs who participated in genocide.

As for cotton crops, Pakistan faces an onslaught of the Amreeki sundi (American worm) which arrived here under diplomatic cover, much like murderer Raymond Davis and others of his ilk did. Tons of raw cotton is exported to countries whose cheap slave labourer force stitches shirts in third world sweatshops and then exports the expensive apparel back to us.

As for wheat, it is being smuggled out to Afghanistan to create artificial shortages most suited to smugglers, while the government procures rotten wheat from the Americans which it wants mixed with our own high quality wheat and then sold to the starving masses. Indeed the devil enters one through the stomach.

It is claimed that ‘the wreath surrounding the shield in the logo is ‘a reproduction of the floral designs used in traditional Mughal art. Its inclusion in the design reminds of the nation's cultural heritage.’

The fact is the government is not interested in reminding the masses of liberal pagan times during which our trade links extended from China to Mesopotamia. Since we were not all Muslims back then, those pages of history are gleaned over conveniently as if being proud of our ancient roots is something very shameful. We had plenty of culture before Muhammad bin Qasim or the Mongols landed here. And it was the Persians who softened the cruel family name of the raiding Mongols and re-named them Mughals.

And finally, the scroll supporting the shield carries the Urdu version of Qaed-e-Azam's famous motto: Faith, Unity, Discipline. The website claims ‘these three words articulate the guiding principles for the nation'.

Here I will remind you of Ta’leem-e-Balighan, Khawaja Mueenuddin’s classic play written in 1954 and telecast prior to 1971. Incidentally, 1971 was the year in which we lost half of Pakistan not to India or to the Bengalis but to our own military adventurism and political narrow-mindedness.

The playwright explains unity, faith and discipline while looking at three broken ghara (earthenware meant for storing water in rural areas). The satirist compared the state of affairs with shattered earthenware and declared through his dialogues how none of the original ideals could be seen any more in the ideology of Pakistan. He wrote the lines fifty-seven years ago and the analysis still holds true today.

Why has faith, as revealed in the noble Qur’an and taught by the messenger of Allah, turned so violent with the accursed arrival of American forces in Afghanistan? Count the militant groups created by our intelligence agency with the aid of foreign agencies and which have blown both the ordinary citizens and the purest of faiths into smithereens. Pakistanis have reacted sharply to the recent cold-blooded murders of Chechens in Quetta, that of journalist Saleem Shahzad and the one of a youth in Karachi. 

Despite blatant attacks on the Navy, the Air Force and the Army, there exist apparently sane educated people amongst us who never tire of eulogizing the loss of life that our ‘security forces’ alone seem to suffer, treat the General Headquarters as holy ground, and who label all critics as traitors or terrorists.

What of unity? Provinces are tired of being parts of a federation for whose creation one million people lost their lives in the communal riots engineered by the British. Certain politicians have won the day in having the NWFP (North West Frontier Province) renamed as Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and yet more are forming alliances within the country to carve out more provinces so that more ministries may be created and more bulletproof BMWs may land on our shores. Do we really need all this?

And discipline only exists in the undemocratic armed forces where disobedience invites court marshal and where today’s young officers dream of walking in the footsteps of military dictators Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Zia-ul-Haq and Pervez Musharraf. Who wants to think about dozens of fair wide-eyed virgins, pleasing shade, fruits, non-alcoholic drinks and rivers of water in the hereafter when the reins of power seem more desirable in this land?

As for us ‘bloody civilians’, we will never reform unless we wear uniforms of the 'security forces', stick Pharaoh’s batons under our arms, salute everything that moves, paint trees in cantonments, point guns at our own brethren, patrol the unsafe streets and dream of residential plots in suburbs that were once productive fields. With everyone a suspect in his own country, possibly an Indian spy worthy of execution by the roadside, what will be left of the 170 million Pakistanis if they continue listening to America for a few more years? Not much, I suppose.

Here I rest my case and recommend that they explain what the state emblem means if they are unable to re-design it, re-write the text quoted above in order to reflect reality, and allow the souls of the founding fathers rest in peace until resurrection day.

Now listen to what the Allama's own son, Justice Javaid Iqbal, has to say about India, Hindus, and Pakistan:

©Tahir Gul Hasan 2011

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Zamzama: A Letter To The Editor

Zamzama cannonSir:

I have noticed that the press tends to reinforce in the public mind the name of Lahore’s famous cannon as Kim’s Gun, which is not its real name but Zamzama is.
What needs to be recalled here for the benefit of the readers is that the said cannon was cast under the order of Shah Wali Khan, prime minister of the Abdali king, Ahmed Shah Durrani.
The last Persian line on the plaque over the cannon’s side forms a chronogram—a phrase in which each letter has a numerical value, and which when added, gives a specific date. Interestingly, the gunsmith, Shah Nazeer, cast not one but two such cannons at Lahore.
The reason the Anglophiles call the cannon Kim’s Gun has some history attached to it. The Nobel laureate of 1907, British writer Rudyard Kipling, who worked in 1882 for The Civil And Military Gazette of Lahore, wrote in his novel called Kim:
“Who hold Zam-Zammah, that ‘fire-breathing dragon’, hold the Punjab, for the great green-bronze piece is always first of the conqueror’s loot.”

It is clear from Kipling’s novel that he knew the cannon’s real name whereas our press mostly does not, and which shows that not many have read the English writer who introduced many Urdu and Hindi words into his works.

Kim, the fictional character in Kipling’s novel, is an Irish orphan boy in Lahore who is taught espionage. Interestingly, Chief Boy Scout, Lord Baden Powell, used a game called Kim’s Game (inspired by Kipling, of course) for training boy-scouts when he lived in pre-partition India. Both, Kipling and Powell, belonged to a very controversial secret society which Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto banned in Pakistan.

Suffice to say, Zamazama, this great relic from our historic past has details too numerous to be recounted in a letter. Therefore, the cannon need not be incorrectly associated with the title of Rudyard Kipling’s novel.

Today, Zamzama stands silently on its enormous wooden wheels over The Mall, opposite the Lahore Museum, embedded in the collective sub-consciousness of the people of the city. The least we can do is call it by its real name: Zamzama.

©Tahir Gul Hasan 2011