sound of music
Nawaz Sharif has been working hard to formulate the first-ever
counter-terrorism policy of Pakistan. He visited the Inter Services
Intelligence (ISI) headquarters on July 11, while the next day he chaired a
meeting at the Interior Ministry to further discuss the details of the
counter-terrorism policy. He also met the new IB chief, Aftab Sultan, a week
At present, there is no
central body responsible for the internal security of the country. Envisaged
on the US anti-terrorism model of homeland security intelligence, Sharif
recognises there has to be one body that oversees other agencies.
Lack of coordination among
different law enforcement agencies (LEA), overlapping responsibilities, the
self-imposed bigger role of the military agencies and lack of comprehensive
legal framework are some of the major challenges to be addressed in this new
For Sharif, the biggest
challenge will be to decide which agency plays the lead role in internal
security. The background interviews with officials of the Interior Ministry
and the ISI indicate that the PM likes the idea of setting up a specialised
counter-terrorism force. “This force would be given legal cover to arrest
and detain militants. Top officials from all LEAs would be installed in the
force. A retired army official most probably would head the force. National
Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) would be a platform where civil and
military agencies would share information,” says a senior police official.
matters would be led by civilian LEAs but we cannot undermine the role of
counter-terrorism units of military agencies,” he says without offering
Senior security analyst,
Dr Ayesha Siddiqa, who claims to have seen the first draft of the proposed
counter-terrorism policy says it is full of clichés. “It does not talk
about changing the ideological orientation. Policy is not a pill that you
would swallow and it heals you. You need to address the confusions in the
society and policymaking,” she says.
She refers to the
“capability of our police and security agencies” in a recent incident in
Rahim Yar Khan where a gang not only killed a police official and kidnapped
nine of them, but was also able to swap these police officials with their
imprisoned colleagues which reportedly had links with the LeJ. “The state
is not yet prepared to handle the ideological bosses of radicalisation and
militancy — Malik Ishaq, Fazalur Rehman Khalil etc,” she says.
Pakistan, an ally of the
US, is now in the 11th year of the global war on terror and is still without
a policy. The years of Gen. Musharraf further strengthened the role of the
military agencies in counter-terrorism. Both the ISI and the MI (Military
Intelligence) established their individual bigger counter-terrorism wings
without any legal cover, which have resulted in several issues and even
rivalries between civilian and military agencies.
During the last one decade
or so, most of the resources to fight the global war on terror were also
diverted to military and its agencies. While the civilian agencies,
especially police, which should have been leading this fight for internal
security were ignored. In a recent newspaper column ‘Double impact’
writers Tariq Khosa, a retired senior police officer and Athar Abbas, a
retired army officer, revealed that the military spends Rs1,140,000 on each
soldier/officer whereas the annual spending on a policeman per capita is
It shows how the Pakistani
state measures its external threat (army is responsible to fight it) and
internal threat (responsibility of the police). Is the level of internal
threat in Pakistan far less than the external threat?
“The nuclear arsenal
puts you at par with your external risks i.e. India. External threat takes
some time to materialise and the nation also unites over external threat.
But, internal threat is the real issue of Pakistan at the moment. Our
society is also divided on it,” a retired general tells TNS.
Over the years the ISI and
the army have overstepped on the jurisdiction of civilian agencies. “The
IB and the police seem to have relinquished their powers. Now the Army says
it can tackle both external and internal threat. This is not a correct
approach. Police is the most suitable and well-placed institution because of
its reach and roots in the public to be responsible for internal
security,” he says.
If the police needs more
resources, they can be taken from ISI and army and given to them. “Only
the police can win this war for us. If the situation is allowed to continue
unabated, there will hardly be anything left worth defending for the
army,” he says.
‘How Terrorist Groups
End: Lessons for Countering al Qa’ida’, a Rand Corporation study 
concludes that the police is far more effective in dealing with the
terrorist groups than the military. The study analyses 648 terrorist groups
that existed between 1968 and 2006.
Police was the second most
effective factor after political intervention for ending 40 per cent of
terrorist groups while the military force was effective in only seven per
cent of the cases. “In most instances, military force is too blunt an
instrument to be successful against terrorist groups, although it can be
useful for quelling insurgencies in which the terrorist groups are large,
well-armed and well-organised.”
According to the study,
policing is especially effective in dealing with terrorists because police
have a permanent presence in cities that enables them to efficiently gather
Shaukat Javed, former IG
Punjab police, says that making a central force to fight terrorism would not
be a good idea. “Police should be given the lead role in internal
security. The ISI and the IB could facilitate its operations,” he says.
Javed is of the view that
a new comprehensive law is needed for policing. “Changes should be made in
the 2002 Police Order accordingly. Paramilitary forces like FC and Rangers
should be sent back to their original task,” he says.
The retired general who
spoke anonymously with TNS says it is high time the PM Sharif took the
country in the right direction. “There are three main issues with police
— politicisation, corruption and incompetence. The PM in the first step
can de-politicise the police. He should give them authority and
responsibility. It is doable. Political (civilian) powers will empower the
police and that is more important than the issue of resources. The PM should
take all provincial governments on board and try to end political
patronage,” he says.
The million dollar
question is: Would Nawaz Sharif be able to do it? Would he empower the
police and get involved in the process of policy making for internal
The answer so far,
according to senior police officials in Punjab, Sindh and KPK, is not
encouraging. “According to my information, the Punjab police has not even
been asked to give input on counter-terrorism policy,” says an additional
IG of Punjab police. “We need an indigenous counter terrorism policy.
Officials in the Interior Ministry may come up with a well-drafted policy,
which would be a copy of the policy of some western country, which would be
unworkable in our socio-political scenario. A half-hearted effort like many
in the past would result in no change,” he says that militarisation of
police would not be the answer.
“Police needs to
re-establish its links with the society. 85 per cent of the budgetary
allocations, out of the annual Rs70 billion to the Punjab police with a
strength of 1,92,000, go to salaries. Rs5.5 billion are spent on fuel while
Rs 1billion on electricity, gas and water bills. Only 2.5 per cent of the
total budget is spent on training. An officer gets to do a refresher course
not before every six years,” he says, adding that the police can only play
a role if there is a political will to back it.
A senior police official
in Sindh who is posted at the IG office also tells a similar story. “So
far, no input has been taken from the Sindh police on counter-terrorism
policy. Rangers have been working as a parallel police force and eat up most
of the resources of the police in Karachi,” he says.
A KP police senior
official says he is not even aware of a counter-terrorism policy but his
department has decided to establish a Directorate of Counter Terrorism and
Intelligence (DCTI) as well as a special force to fight terrorists.
Tariq Pervez, ex-chief of
FIA and NACTA, tells TNS there is no doubt that internal security is matter
that only concerns the police. “Agencies should play a supportive role.
They cannot substitute the police. He says if a department has not been
working properly, it does not mean that the responsibility should be given
to some other department. We need to find the fault and rectify it, build
the capacity of the police, and have a uniform criminal law throughout the
country,” he says.
Paul Cezanne, the
father of modern art, had certain working habits. Initially associated with
Impressionists, the painter created a legacy through his work. Hence Cubism,
Abstraction and a number of other movements emerged from following his
pictorial occupations and formal concerns.
Interestingly, the case of
the artist who was the most significant factor in altering the course of art
offers a peculiar notion and practice of change. Often, his subjects
remained the same: Human models, objects of still life and views of some
areas appeared again and again; yet each work, with identical imagery, was
different in terms of the artist’s quest to devise a new way of
representing reality. One example was the series of paintings with repeated
images of Mont Sainte-Victoire. The artist painted almost 70 versions of
that site, looking from outside his window at his house in Aix-en-Provence.
One realises the artist
was not too keen on showing what he saw but was more eager to transform his
optical sensation into a personal mode of representation resulting in
differing images; he was constantly investigating the nature of visual
vocabulary. So what we see in those surfaces is not the famous hill and its
adjacent fields, but the vision of the artist that he kept modifying with
each new version.
The practice of Cezanne,
who was rightly baptised as the father of modern art, can be understood in
the context of modernity. Modernity is about bringing a difference into the
old scheme of things. For an artist the idea of change, which to others is a
matter of acceptance or rejection, holds a special significance — since he
is the perpetrator of that change in most cases. Not only that, the public
also expects this from the artist. This craving for change can be stretched
to explain the change of fashions and the demand for new gadgets.
For an artist, the idea of
change represents a basic dilemma: Does the shift in his work occur because
of outside pressure or due to an internal drive; or does the change amount
to rejecting all previous practices in order to introduce something
completely new and shocking. But if one examines the example of Cezanne, it
becomes clear that he blended a constant element (image of the hill) with
different interpretations of it in shapes and strokes. While restricting
himself to one view or location, he was able to register and reflect on the
concept of change.
Although in nature one
does witness certain types of metamorphoses like seasonal shifts etc., but
it is only man who chooses conscious and selective changes in himself as
well as in his environment. Sometimes, that intervention can be devastating
— from an individual’s suicide to mass destruction through bombs. Yet,
in the world of art, the idea of change is always welcomed, even if it
relates to annihilating ancient notions, and creating different definition
of art. With each new phase in art history, the understanding of creative
process and the appreciation of art object are revised to a great deal;
often producing contradictory concepts.
The idea of change in a
literal sense was recently seen in the work of Julius John, titled, Through
My Window from a group show at the Drawing Room Gallery, Lahore. Somehow,
like Paul Cezanne, Julius John depicted a single view from his window in one
hundred pictures, composed in two symmetrical panels. In these photographs,
the artist has captured a bit of the wall and the gate of a house opposite
his own, with people either on foot or riding a bike passing in front of it.
Each picture shows a person moving in speed against a backdrop that was
static and same in all frames.
Perhaps, the work is about
urbanisation of a locality situated away from the sway of progress, but it
also indicates how the spaces and buildings witness our activities as
indifferent participants. The man prefers to proceed against a world that is
fixed. In a metaphysical way, it also brings to the fore the notion of
progress and the effects of development; everything associated with
modernity and modernisation.
Another artist Ali Asad
Naqvi has dealt with modernisation in a manner different from John, as both
were part of the exhibition ‘Modern Life’ along with three other
artists, that opened on July 17, 2013. The work of Naqvi suggests how the
idea of modernity is linked with progress and hence with the West. In his
works on paper, all titled Safha, one can find the silhouette of a steam
engine amid a format that reminds of traditional manuscript paper. Urdu
letters and Roman script are placed at random in these works alluding to the
presence of two cultures or worlds in our milieu.
Madiha Sikander impresses
the viewers through her immaculate rendering of characters which appear to
be existing in parallel worlds. Due to their black and white tones and
realistic imagery, these works ‘Pockets Full of Poses’ look like simple
photographs. But see them for a longer period, and the uncanny content
starts to unfold. Mentally deranged, socially disguised and internally
displaced characters seem to be facing the gaze of spectators, an aspect
that removes them from reality and transposes them to the realm of dreams
Other artists, Sara Khan
and Saeeda Nawaz have also displayed their abstract canvases and miniatures
each, but these reveal the pressure on the artists to produce something
different from their previous works. Modern Life not only shows the works of
new artists but a part of it illustrates the after-effects of change if it
is approached without an inner compulsion or in the absence of a strong
rationale and conceptual basis.
The recent death
of Amar Bose was a throwback to the era when the knowledge or possession of
the speakers that he had invented was the benchmark of high taste. He wore
two very distinct hats, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor
and founder of the Bose Corporation. With his death at age 83, the world has
lost a visionary. An electrical and
sound engineer, he devoted his life to investigating our psychological and
physiological responses to sound.
Pakistanis may not have
invented or discovered a thing in their entire span but where consumption of
technology is concerned they could qualify to be world leaders. As in most
affairs, in matters of technology too, it appears that nobody can outdo them
in an armchair discussion. The most sophisticated, advanced concepts and
terms are used with such facility that it all appears to have been invented
Music was a simple affair
relying on natural sound and analogue-recording technology till the 1960s
when it started becoming more tangled with electronic input into the
production of the sound itself. Now, with computer generated sounds and
plethora of software, the basic concepts may have to be redefined in the
making and reproduction of music.
Bose’s speaker, the 901
model, instead of just projecting sound forward was designed to re-create
the sound of instruments in a concert hall, where some of the instruments’
sound is heard directly, but most of the sound is reflected off the floor,
walls, and ceiling. The 901 did just that, so it sounded very different and
more lifelike than other box speakers of the time. It was a very expensive
speaker and beyond the buying power of most but when he introduced the more
affordable 501 speaker in 1975, it became affordable.
The Bose Company went on
to create a wide range of innovative products that changed the way we listen
to music. In 1993, the Bose Wave Radio radically improved the sound of table
radios, and starting in 1998 Bose was in the vanguard of noise-cancelling
headphones, originally designed for pilots. The Bose Automotive System
Division was the first to develop car specific audio systems, optimised for
the acoustic environment of each car’s interior to produce the best
possible sound quality.
There were and are
generally two types of music lovers in the country: one who appreciated it
as an art form and the others who arrogated upon themselves the
responsibility of knowing the scientific aspect of music reproduction. The
latter types, obviously ,also thought themselves to be great connoisseurs of
music, otherwise it was not possible for them to pontificate on the quality
of music. They became both the evaluators of the artistic and technical side
of music; always handy with the latest technical information which could be
accessed through various magazines and then readily displayed as
one-upmanship upon those who did not know or bother about the technological
side of music reproduction.
It always happened that
they acquired on one of their visits abroad some musical system, some pair
of speakers or had them shipped across from either Britain, Hong Kong or
Singapore and a series of
sessions were held over tea, dinner or drinks about the finer points of the
latest acquisition. It had more to do with the price tag than with the
merits of the machine that had been acquired.
Usually the long speech
included phrases like
electrodynamics’ speakers, kilohertz, decibels, frequencies, tweeter,
midrange, woofer or midwoofer. In short
bandying terms and phrases that exposed a superior knowledge over the
mere artistic types but it was still not that convincing till the price paid
was disclosed with affected modesty. That was convincing enough because with
that sum of money a car could be bought or a plot purchased. The connoisseur
had made a sacrifice for the sake of music and needed to be broadcast to the
social circle that he moved in.
But one did not know that
the Bose speakers were more about listening to music through a technological
system as one listens to it with naked ears. The audiophiles didn’t
appreciate Bose’s sound; it was too broad, too unfocused. The bass
wasn’t as clear as it was with the better audiophile speakers of the day.
Bose created his own ecosystem, one designed to appeal to mainstream, not
audiophile tastes. Those days Bose speakers were never reviewed in
audiophile magazines, and Bose did not participate in high-end audio shows.
None of that stopped Bose, which was a hugely successful company.
Now with the galloping
advances in technology, one of the prime tasks is to record or preserve
music in the technology that is latest and currently available. It has been
a race against developments because one system is not compatible with the
other. The vinyl records were hastily transferred on to the audio cassettes
and then another massive transitional exercise took place — of replacing
it with CDs. Now the CDs are also becoming ancient as the latest wave is to
transfer it on to a USB flash drive.
The computers have taken
over and there too the softwares keep developing and the hardwares need to
be upgraded to play these latest software programmes. It is a great race
against technological development, and the technical and financial anxiety
in transferring music, if it is of archival nature, follows.
By the time this articles
appears in print, it is possible that another technology has hit the
grandstand making the rest antediluvian. And the tension will rise again of
quickly making another transfer of data before the system becomes ancient,
the spare parts rare and the mechanics either grow too old to work or quit
their profession in the wake of some other new technology.
must have been the unexpectedly hot summer weather that made everybody here
crazy last week. After all, what other explanation could there possibly be
for the excessively excited reaction to the arrival of the new Royal baby?
the most bizarre of ‘news’ stories: the British queen’s grandson and
his wife expect their first child — great excitement; she has severe
morning sickness and has to be hospitalised — great excitement; will it be
a boy or a girl — great speculation; what stylish maternity outfits will
she wear — great excitement; when will she go into labour — great
speculation: she goes into labour and is driven to hospital — great
excitement: is it a boy or girl — great speculation; it’s a boy— great
rejoicing....and absolutely non-stop ‘news’ coverage.
coverage of the birth of the Queen’s great grandson has been quite over
the top: in fact, it has been so absurd as to be almost nauseating. Even
days before the Duchess of Cambridge went into Labour, camera crews had
camped outside the relevant hospital. She went into hospital on Monday
morning and all day long this was the news story even though there was no
after this unending ‘news’ coverage, an official announcement was made:
the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had had a son.
craziness followed. Crowds of people congregated around Buckingham Palace
and professed to feeling great happiness. Well, good for these people who
seem to have nothing better to do than hang about in a public place
expressing joy at the birth of a child to a couple they are neither related
to nor friends with. There are always such people around. But, of course, in
summer they become more visible perhaps because the days are longer and
because there are more such people on holiday or visiting London.
But how to explain the
media madness? British television news covered this story non-stop even
though all that happened was that the late Princess Diana’s son and his
lovely wife had their first child. A charming couple had a healthy son, that
is really all that happened, but somehow TV news spun this out for hours in
the most banal and ridiculous coverage. It was really rather distressing to
see normally serious news correspondents standing in front of Buckingham
Palace spouting absolute drivel. So much news time was devoted to completely
unnecessary ‘information’ like the weight of this baby compared to those
of royal babies past, the possible names of this baby, the way his parents
might choose to bring him up and educate him, details of quaint royal
protocols etc, etc, etc....
More than twenty-four
hours after the birth announcement, random correspondents were still
standing outside Buckingham Palace or Kensington Palace and talking utter
nonsense about the baby, the parents and the newspapers, and trying to make
this all sound serious by talking to ‘royal historians’ and ‘royal
biographers’. Astonishing. And it just went on and on and on...
And there is such a thing
as too much information: did we really need the story about circumcision?
Did we need to know who in the royal family had been circumcised and why and
by whom? Did we really need to know that as yet ‘the issue of a maternity
nurse’ had not been decided? Did we really need to be reminded, ad nauseum
and rather optimistically, that the new baby was ‘the future king’ or
that ‘history was being made’?
Apparently past surveys
have shown that most British people think the monarchy should remain because
it is good for Britain. But I have to say that after this media coverage, I
personally think the royals are definitely a bad influence particularly on
the media: they seem to have reduced journalists to blubbering, blabbing
idiots with no sense of proportion and zero editorial judgment.
As antidote, I look
forward to the weekly TV drama that I now watch, “The White Queen”,
which dramatises the brutal fifteenth century conflict, the War of the
Roses. That story is all about ambition, power, intrigue, treachery,
regicide, passion and dynasty. Gripping stuff. And infinitely more
interesting than all the saccharine ‘news coverage’ of the royal baby.
It must have been the
weather. But how did so many people lose their minds just because of too
much summer sun? This collective delirium has been just crazy. Please, now
let’s get back to some serious news....