Budreaux The Conqueror

By C. Christine Fair, August 2019

In the summer’s weary end is when

I most miss my brindled, piebald boy

After the sunflowers’ faces, upturned

Reaching towards the sky

Become parched and resigned to die

When he’d uproot and seize

Their crusty stalks like a lance

In his magnificent jaws

And charge across the yard

Like a triumphant conqueror

Vanquishing the last glint of a retreating sun

Originally published in The Bark.

Was US Institute of Peace Harbouring a Pakistani asset? The case of Moeed Yusuf

Moeed Yusuf has now been hired by Pakistan’s National Security Division. American taxpayers need answers.

For several years, under the ostensible leadership of Moeed Yusuf, the Washington DC-based United States Institute of Peace –working on global conflict reduction – has furthered a relentless pro-Pakistan policy. He has been promoting Pakistan’s interests at US taxpayers’ expense.

I have complained about it many times, and have also reported him to the FBI and to every serving member of the US House Oversight Committee. The institute was founded by the US Congress, which continues to pay its bills.

My concerns about Yusuf were vindicated last week when The Dawnannounced that he will assume a newly-created position – the chairperson of the Strategic Policy Planning Cell (SPPC) of Pakistan, which functions under the country’s National Security Division.

USIP’s stance

The United States Institute of Peace (USIP)’s pro-Pakistan stance is evidenced in the editorials and programme documents written by Moeed Yusuf and his colleagues, including Steve Hadley, another well-known pro-Pakistan former official in the George W. Bush administration, as well as in media interviews and congressional testimonies. Persons familiar with USIP employees have told me that they note that “we [USIP] are pro-Pakistan.”

The USIP has been the premier venue for hosting a variety of Pakistani officials. The events are by invitation-only and not open to a general audience. This policy is odd given that the USIP is funded exclusively by the US government. They also explicitly preclude critics of Pakistan or of the USIP’s position such as myself.

During the last event that I was permitted to attend at USIP in 2014, the USIP hosted a Pakistan Defense delegation after which I posted a searing recount of the event. The man behind the event was an oddly well-heeled Pakistani-American Dentist named Nisar Chaudhury who latter confessed to illegally lobbying on behalf of Pakistan. (Pakistan had long ousted me from such events but Chaudhury was keen to broker some kind of a rapprochement with me and the deep state and invited me. That rapprochement did not happen, obviously.)

In what functioning government is it appropriate for a US citizen (perhaps with dual citizenship now), after years of selling Pakistan’s interests while drawing a salary from the US government, to take up such a position in Pakistan government without consequence? The USIP must be asked important questions: Was it harbouring and nurturing a ‘Pakistani asset’? Will it re-employ Yusuf when his tenure in Pakistan ends?

Who is Moeed Yusuf

The South Asia policy community first heard of Moeed Yusuf around 2008 when he was a doctoral student in Boston. Leading male South Asia scholars nurtured him. In 2010, Ambassador William B. Taylor hired Moeed Yusuf as a “South Asia Adviser”. At the time of hire, he was not an American citizen, and as per my conversations with USIP staff, he was hired as a consultant initially. Early in his tenure, I raised issues with Taylor as well as Andrew Wilder.

In 2010, another female scholar of Pakistan told me that she had given Yusuf a sensitive proposal and that she believed Yusuf had conveyed it to “Pakistan’s agencies”. Unfamiliar with Yusuf, I presumed that—if this had occurred at all—it would have been by accident. I suggested to this very anxious scholar that perhaps Yusuf sent it to a reviewer who may have forwarded it. I told her that I would raise the matter with Ambassador Taylor, which I did. To my surprise when Ambassador Taylor raised this issue with the scholar, she recanted her story and bizarrely insinuated that I fabricated this to embarrass her.

To this day, I do not know what motivated her to reach out to me with this account or to recant it. What I do know is that it undermined my credibility when I raised subsequent questions on Yusuf, which I did again, in the spring of 2011.

In May 2011, I received a threatening email indicating that I would be “gang raped” by an entire regiment if and when I returned to Pakistan. These emails are never signed: “Affectionately, the ISI.” I immediately phoned the ISI station chief in the Pakistan embassy in Washington DC, who was defence attaché Brigadier Nazir Butt. He and I had a very heated exchange during which I demanded to know why I have received this threat. Nazir offered two reasons. He said he had seen a document that was the prospectus for my future book Fighting to the End. Only one person had that prospectus who was also in a position to forward it Nazir. That person was political analyst Shuja Nawaz. (The only other possible explanation was that the organisation had hacked my computer or his.) The other piece of information he recounted was reported from a briefing that I did, along with Moeed Yusuf and Marvin Weinbaum, for the outgoing ambassador to Islamabad, Ambassador Cameron Munter.

Nazir and I also had a heated follow-up conversation at the Pakistan embassy. I reported this to Andrew Wilder, who was his supervisor at the time. Wilder raised this with Yusuf who denied saying anything inappropriate and wrote an indignant email to me a few days later. From that point onward, I refused to be in any meeting with him that was “off the record” and warned people that he may be compromised.

Meanwhile, Yusuf continued his ascent within the USIP as did his authority over the organisation’s remit. By the time he took this job, his title was “associate vice president at the Asia Center at the United States Institute of Peace ” He even organised an exclusive, invitation-only “Young Professionals Working Group on Pakistan,” which featured officials from the US and Pakistani government including the ISI station chief, Brig. Butt in 2011.

Fundings

In 2017, I encouraged an Indian journalist, Seema Sirohi, to submit an FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request for all emails between Yusuf as well as Hadley and officials at the Pakistani Embassy. Amazingly, the USIP declined this saying these communications constitute “inter-agency or intra-agency communications” and are thus exempt. How can communications with a foreign entity be so-classified by an organisation such as the USIP? Equally appalling, Yusuf, chided Sirohi about the request when they next met at a function.

Source: Christine Fair

My concerns about Yusuf intensified when a foreign agent informed me that they believed Yusuf and/or Hadley, most likely via Hadley’s private firm, had taken funds from the Midwest Fertilizer Co. LLC in Indiana. The operations of this firm were not without controversy because its lead investor was Fatima Fertilizer Group, a Pakistan-based firm that was supplying some 80 per cent of the fertilizer that the Taliban used in its improvised explosive devices (IEDs, or bombs), which were responsible for most of the deaths of Americans soldiers and their Afghan and NATO allies. A British military officer argued that the firm should change its production method because the Fatima Group is the “lone source of the problem in Afghanistan”. The firm refused to be a part of a solution. For this reason, then-governor of Indiana, Mike Pence, suspended state support for the project.

However, Pence reopened talks with Midwest Fertilizer, after which the Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered the company $300,000 in conditional incentives from the Hoosier Business Investment tax credit. The foreign agent refused to provide information about his source.

In December 2017, I reported this to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to a personal contact at the National Security Council as well as to a senior official at the Central Intelligence Agency. I had planned to meet with staffers at the House Oversight Committee to discuss this and other concerns, but the FBI asked me to demur from doing so.

I complained to and about the USIP most recently on 25 July when I sent an unanswered email asking how the USIP justifies excluding persons such as myself when it hosts senior Pakistani officials. That same week, I sent a fax to every member of the US House Oversight Committee and the Subcommittee on Government operations. Not a single member responded to my note.

Source: Christine Fair

Also read: New study predicts impact of India-Pakistan nuclear war — over 100 million dead


Yusuf’s new job

Moeed Yusuf has now accepted a recently-created post in Pakistan under the National Security Division, which was created in January 2014 and its mandate includes:

“provision of secretariat services to the National Security Committee (NSC), drafting of National Security Policy (NSP) and engagement with international partners in a dialogue on issues relevant to national security of Pakistan. The Division is headed by Minister for National Security…. The National Security Committee (NSC) is the principal decision-making body on National Security matters.”

Yusuf will serve in an ex-officio capacity to the NSC.

Pakistan has a decent track record of placing its citizens in sensitive posts. Zain Qureshi, son of Shah Mahmood Qureshi who was then the foreign minister under President Asif Ali Zardari, worked for Senator John Kerry as an intern in 2009. Qureshi returned to Pakistan, where his father is now the foreign minister under Prime Minister Imran Khan. Zain Qureshi is now a member of Pakistan’s National Assembly and is currently serving as the federal parliamentary secretary for finance.

Brigadier Gen. (Retired) Feroz Khan might be the most audacious placement. For more than a decade, he has been a faculty member at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in California. Khan, who was promoted to brigadier without ever commanding a brigade, was related to Pervez Musharraf through marriage. (Khan’s daughter was married to Musharraf’s son.  They have since been divorced.) What makes Khan so controversial is that prior to joining the NPS, he worked for General Khalid Kidwai in Pakistan’s Strategic Plans Division (SPD), which is the premier organisation responsible for Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme.

Several persons at the NPS have expressed considerable concern about the procedures involved in hiring Khan, who was not a US citizen. They told this author that he was hired as a consultant. He is now a US citizen.

In what country does a retired general from another hostile nuclear programme join a military-educational institution where he has the ability to not only shape the perceptions of hundreds of personnel each year, but also garner deeply personal insights about personnel being deployed to Pakistan? Khan’s colleagues at the NPS continue to raise doubts with me about his funding for his lifestyle, which seems inconsonant with his NPS salary.

Similarly, Moeed Yusuf’s tenure at USIP may well be another example of a US-taxpayer-funded institution hosting a deep-state asset. One should be very clear about the nature of US-Pakistan relations. Pakistan is single-handedly responsible for not only undermining US interests in Afghanistan, but also having proxies such as the Haqqani Network and the Taliban, who are directly responsible for murders of American personnel as well as their Afghan and NATO allies.

What next?

The USIP must be held to account as must Yusuf. He should at least be compelled to give up his US citizenship as is standard for others who have joined foreign governments. The USIP should not be permitted to hire him back.

Equally, the American taxpayer deserves to know why organisations such as the FBI and the House Oversight Committee never cared about Yusuf and its actions when it actually mattered?

Americans deserve to know the answers. And so do the families of victims of Pakistan-sponsored militant groups.

This originally appeared in The Print on 3 October 2019.

America’s Unrelenting War on Women

As a young feminist studying South Asia in 1990 America, it was de rigueur, for American feminists to decry the “barbaric” abuses from which “third world women” needed to be liberated.  Sati, which became resurgent in Rajasthan briefly, along with female feticide and infanticide and dowry deaths were their cause célèbre as were the Taliban’s use of death by stoning to execute Afghan women for various crimes real and imagined.  The enforced hijab in Iran and Saudi Arabia as well as the latter’s ban on female drivers all drove American feminists over the edge as did—and does—female genital mutilation (FGM) practices by some Muslim communities “in Africa.” (Apparently no one can be bothered with specifying a particular country when it comes to Africa.)

This  hot wash in “white saviorism” never sat well with me because American women have never been as liberated as they imagined.  White feminism was always imbued with the class, race and geographical entitlements of its proponents which prevented them from knowing that even in America, many of the practices they decried as the problems of “over there” were in fact practiced within the United States. Few Americans know today that child marriage is practiced in the United States, that is not criminalized by federal law and is permitted in many states. In fact, according to data from 41 states, between 2000 and 2015, more than 200,000 minors were married.

Coming from a blue-color family in rural and peri-rural Indiana, I was annoyed by the “overthereism” of white feminism. For one thing, two of my cousins (by marriage) were child brides. Lean, one of these cousins, was more or less my age and we spent the summers swimming and doing girl stuff. Then in the summer in 1983, Lean was married, with court permission, to a man well into his twenties. She was from a town called “Mongo,” Indiana which was essentially a village where a high school education was an accomplishment she would not achieve. Her sister followed suit several years later. No one in my family seemed terribly aghast by this, except my mother and me.  Throughout Lean’s wedding, I wanted to vomit. My mom kept jabbing me to stop making faces during the ceremony. In any circumstances this would have been statutory rape. But when legitimized by a pastor, child rape becomes matrimony.

Nor did I have the luxury of presuming that boy preference was a curious practice of exotic countries. Afterall, my stepmonster routinely opined that he had no intention of saving money to send me to college so that I could “find a husband.” He furthered that since we were poor and could only afford to educate one of the kids, “it made sense to educate the boy.” My mother fought long and hard to educate me.  My mother saw that I had no other prospects for a happy life than education. Unlike my brother, I was unattractive, overweight and bespectacled. I preferred books to boys and I revolted against the abusive patriarchy that was firmly rooted in our rural Indiana culture and which claimed the happiness and physical safety of every woman I knew who was married. My grandmother was elated when my abusive grandfather died. My mother used to tell how she fantasized about castrating my first stepmonster and she was constantly in tears over the boorish behavior of my second. Mom stayed married for the reason my grandmother did: economic dependency upon lousy men. And my aunt, after whom I am named, stayed married to her violent and alcoholic husband for the same reason. When she finally left him, he murdered her. I had enough evidence in hand that nothing good would come from matrimony.

This worried my mother. There was no precedent for a woman existing in our family without a man taking care of her. And the suffering that went with matrimony was part of that price. But to her credit, my mom fought hard for the only future I demanded—one in which I made my own future independent of any man. But mom never shied from telling me the truth: she never wanted a girl.  Raising girls were precarious and risky. Their success in life was too indeterminate unless they were popular and pretty and I was neither. Boys’ futures, she felt, were more predictable. She was not cruel. She was forthright and pragmatic. Just as I am today. There was no place in that horrible archipelago of rural hellholes from which I escaped to be the woman I wanted to be. And this was not India or “Africa.” It was Indiana. The same state from which our current Vice President hails along with five others.

While the United States has long been a terrible place to be a woman for many women, it’s getting worse not better. In contrast, many countries I study –including Pakistan—is making strides to make lives for women better. But in the not in the United States. American legislators refuse to pass laws that make it illegal to pay women less for the same work. And once again our basic right to decide whether and when to have children is being taken away. 

The right to abortion is one that I hold dear because of personal reasons.  My biological father impregnated my mother under false pretenses and unmarried in 1967.  Abortion was illegal and thus the exclusive privilege of wealthy women who could travel abroad or pay someone to provide a safe, but still illegal, abortion in the United States. Poor women who had illegal abortion risked their lives and many died from sepsis or blood loss. So my mother ran away, by bus, to Arizona where she lived with my aunt Carol—after whom I am named. Had abortion been legal, my mother could have imagined a different life than that inscribed for women with “illegitimate” children.  There may have been a future for her that didn’t rely upon being married to a “meal ticket.” She may have been a more capable provider for her future children. In this statement I am reaffirming the value of my mother’s life rather than undervaluing my own.

While Roe V. Wade,the landmark supreme court case from 1973, conferred upon women the right to choose, proponents of traditional while-male-dominant patriarchy fought tooth and nail to squash this  right as soon as we got it. The ability to plan our fertility has been the cornerstone of our ability to pursue higher education, gainful employment, and marriage by choice rather than compulsion. And it is this access to economic justice that has enabled women to walk out from abusive or unhappy marriages or not marry at all.

While the racism of the contemporary Republican party is much appreciated abroad because it is so gobsmackingly obvious, it is also waging a war on women and our bodies. While the white male Republicans fear ethnographic change and the loss of their race privilege, they also fear women and the erosion of their gender privileges despite the facts that women consistently earn less than men for the same work and that white men still occupy the most lucrative and important positions in the public and private sectors.  The fear that white men will one day be unable to run roughshod over everyone else is the same fear that Trump both stoked and exploited to become the president. While it may seem paradoxical that white women have allied with white men to protect their own race privileges and cruel power that conservative orthodoxy bestows upon women who happily police other women and people of color, this has always been the inherently non-intersectional character of white American feminism.

To eviscerate our hard-fought gains, the Republican party has endeavored to roll back access to affordable birth control as well as pharmaceutical and surgical abortion. It has stacked our courts with misogynistic conservatives in hopes that a court dominated by such rubes will over-turn Roe v. Wade. In the meantime, Republicans hollowed out abortion access by terrorizing physicians who perform the procedure. They waged legal cases throughout the country to endow fetuses with rights at the expense of women’s civil liberties. They made every possible effort to restrict how, when, and where abortion is provided. They have imposed waiting periods and, in some states, they force women to pay for expensive trans-vaginal ultrasounds in hopes that after seeing their snowy fetus, they will change their minds. They have sought impose absurd standards upon the clinics themselves and distance to hospitals and have argued that doctors must have surgical rights at hospitals even if here is no hospital nearby that will afford those rights and even though the procedure is safer than many other procedures. (Many hospitals in the United States are Catholic and they do not permit abortion. Thus this requirement is a back door means of eroding access to surgical abortion.) Indiana has passed a law that requires the products of conception to be buried or incinerated separately from other surgical waste, which is merely intended to increase the cost of an increasingly costly procedure.

Due to the concatenating impacts of these varied efforts, today, there are many states in which surgical abortion, for all intents and purposes, is unavailable. In such states, there are so few abortion providers that women must undertake lengthy and expensive journeys—sometimes to other states—and endure the commonly-imposed three-day waiting period and other burdens such as the trans-vaginal ultrasound. This in addition to several hundreds of dollars to pay for the procedure, which cannot be subsidized with federal monies. All of this requires days of missed work and arranging childcare. Such restrictions disproportionately affect America’s most vulnerable women who tend to be poor and/or persons of color.

Recently, some nine states have passed legislation to further restrict access. Several of these have passed so-called “heartbeat” bills that criminalize abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, after most women even know they are pregnant. In most circumstances, these laws cruelly and deliberately exclude exceptions for rape and incest. The penalty for securing an illegal abortion under these laws actually exceeds the penalty for rape and incest or even actual murder of a human being. The laws themselves reflect an asinine lack of scientific understanding of the chemical process that gives the illusion of a “heartbeat” as there is no fetal heart at six weeks.

Despite prosecuting this relentless war on our body agency in the name of “life,” other Republican policies bely any genuine interest in either increasing the quality or quantity of Americans’ lives. They oppose universal and affordable health care for the same fetuses they fetishize and the mothers who care for them as well as their families. Republicans nearly universally oppose education budgets that would provide for quality education at all levels, which is the most effective way of ensuring equal access to opportunities and outcomes. They reject efforts to expand civil liberties and are actively rolling back those already attained. Whereas the Republican party of the past freed American slaves, the party of today is most known for its racism and bigotry. Most cynically, they smother even the most modest restrictions upon the ability purchase military-grade weapons and munitions, even though on a near-weekly basis America’s children are butchered in school shootings. They support the death penalty without any effort to reconcile this with their “pro-life” positions and they do so despite the well-known fact that the use of the death penalty is driven by racism and that many African American men have been framed for crimes they did not commit resulting in the execution of innocent men. Poor people in general are more likely to get the death penalty because they cannot afford competent legal representation.  

In short: once that fetus becomes a child, it is on its own. Its odds are best if it’s a white, Cis-male. While that demographic comprises only 30 percent of the population, it command the best access to opportunities and outcomes.

More galling yet, some protect the parental rights of rapists when their victim becomes impregnated from their criminal conduct.  In other circumstances, sex offenders are not permitted to be around children. Recently, in Alabama—one of the most backwards states in the Union which has passed the most draconian law essentially outlawing abortion—ordered a woman to permit her rapist visitation of the child that resulted from his assault on her. She will be ordered to spend forty-eight hours in jail for every visitation she declines.

Given Republicans’ discernable lack of interest in life-saving or life-improving policies in any other policy domain, it is fairly clear that their interest in denying women the ability to plan our fertility is abjectly not about life rather about denying us the right to live our lives fully and to our potential with dignity.

In 2015, before the “Trumpocalypse,” the United Nations sent a fact-finding team to investigate the state of American women and were horrified by what they found. The “myth-shattering” mission noted that American women are lagging in rights.  More recently, UN  Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kate Gilmore did not mince her words when she declared the onslaught against abortion rights as “extremist hate” and “torture.”

As other countries in the world, like India, continue to make strides in empowering women, perhaps the disempowered American Woman, reduced to fetal incubators, will become the next posterchild of feminist movements that are steaming ahead elsewhere. I look forward to the day when crowds of “third world” women gather outside of American embassies and consulates demanding that that the US government stop its relentless war on women and children.

A shorter, better edited version of this essay appeared in The Print on June 18, 2019.

Hindi Blog Post #1: Discussing My Latest Book on the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba

Here I discuss LeT and my newest book, In Their Own Words: Understanding the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba with Pranay Kotasthane, Head, Research The Takshashila Institution.

प्रणय कोटस्थाने के साथ मेरा साक्षात्कार , जिसमें, हम लश्कर-ए-तैयबा पर अपनी नई किताब की चर्चा करते हैं।

प्रतिलिपि:

आपकी नयी किताब  In their Own Words, लश्कर जसै आतंकवादी संगठन  का घरेलू राजनीति में क्या स्थान है, इस पर चर्चा  करती है | तो इस एपिसोड में हम LeT को एक संगठन (organisation) के रूप में गहराई से समझने की कोशिश करते है|

१. हर संगठन  का एक vision, mission statement होता है – LeT का क्या है?

लश्कर-ए-तैयबा का एक पुस्तिका है  जिस में  वह् वर्णन  करता है कि वह् क्या करता है और क्यों।

ईस पुस्तिका  का नाम  है “हम क्यों जिहाद कर रहे हैं।”

इस पुस्तिका में, कई सिद्धांत/ उसूल  प्रस्तुत किए गए हैं, खास तौर  पर, यह दो:

२. हर हाल में, पाकिस्तान के भीतर, किसी भी प्रकार की हिंसा (या आतंक) सख्त़ मना (निषेध) है।

इससे कोई फर्क नहीं पड़ता अगर कोई मुजाहिद समझता है कि कोई  व्यक्ति “खराब मुस्लिम” है , और कुफ़्र और मशरिक (यानी जो शिर्क करता है) और मुनफ़िक़ (यानी जो खिलफ़त करता है) या कलह फैलाता है।

३. जिहाद सभी मुसलमानों के लिए अनिवार्य है, यानी फर्ज़्। यह आवश्यक (जरूरी) है कि हर एक मुसलमान जिहाद में शरक़त (Bhag lena) करने के लिए तैयार हो।

इसका मतलब नहीं है कि कोई बंदूक उठाकर कश्मीर  सीधे चला जाए। शायद एक भाई घर पर रहे पारिवारिक व्यवसाय की देखभाल के लिए ताकि दूसरा भाई कश्मीर जाकर काफिरों से लड़ सके।  लश्कर ए तैयबा के अनुसार दोनों जिहाद में हिस्सा ले रहे हैं।

लश्कर का मानना (तर्क/ख़्याल) है कि जब पाकिस्तानी बाहरी दुश्मन से लड़ना बंद कर देंगे, तो वे एक-दूसरे पर हमला करना शुरू कर देंगे और इसी तरह पाकिस्तान को तबाह करेंगे।

४. इस संगठन  की शुरुआत कब और कैसे हुई?

यह संगठन  १९८० के दशक के अंत में शुरू हुआ,सोवियत संघ के अफ़ग़ानिस्तान   को  छोड़ने से पहले।

लश्कर से पहले, दो अलग-अलग संगठन  थे। एक संगठन , ज़कि-उर्-रेह्मान लखवी  का, दूसरा हाफ़िज़ साईद का। १९८४ (1984) में, लखवी ने  सेनानियों का एक समूह इकट्ठा किया, जो सब अहल-ए-हदीस थे।

तकरीबन  एक साल के बाद्, लाहौर में, लाहौर इंजीनियरिंग विश्वविद्यालय के इस्लामिक अध्ययन विभाग के दो प्रोफेसरों ने जमात उद दावा स्थापित किया।

ये दो प्रोफेसर हाफ़िज़  मुहम्मद साईद और जफ़र इकबाल थे। जमात उद दावा, मूलभूत रूप से, तब्लीघ  और दावाह पर ध्यान करते थे।

लगभग १९८६ (1986) में, लखवी का मिलिशिया और साईद  का JUF विलय हो गया और इस नये तन्ज़ीम का नाम मार्कज़्-उद-दावा-वाल-इरशाद (एम.डी.आई)था।

एम.डी.आई. के तीन कार्य थे: जिहाद , तब्लीघ, दावाह (यानी मुसलमानों को अहल-ए-हदीस पंथ में परिवर्तित करना)।

२००२ में, जैश-ए-मोहम्मद के संसद पर हमला करने के बाद, लश्कर और अन्य आतंकवादी समूहों को “प्रतिबंधित” कर दिया गया था।

मगर , प्रतिबंध प्रभावी होने से पहले, आई. एस. आई. ने (यानी पाकिस्तान की सबसे ख़तरनाक ख़ुफ़िया एजेंसी ने) समूहों को उन्नत चेतावनी दी थी, जिस से वे नए नामों के तहत फिर से अस्तित्व में आये ।  २००२ से, लश्कर को “जमात उद दावाह” कहा जाता है ।

. इसके sponsor/shareholders कौन है?

उस प्रश्न (prashna/ सवाल ) का आसान उत्तर (जवाब) है: पाकिस्तानी  सेना और इस की ख़ुफ़िया एजेंसी आई. एस.आई।

६. इसमें भर्ती (recruitment) कहाँ  से और कैसे होती है? क्यों नौजवान इस कररयर को चुनते  है?

ज़्यादातर लश्कर के रंगरूट (या नए  सेनानियों) पंजाब के लगभग १० जिलों से ताल्लुक  रखते हैं।

वे अलग-अलग कारणों से जुड़ते हैं ।  कुछ ऊब चुके हैं और साहसिक कारनामे की तलाश कर रहे हैं।

कुछ बेहद धार्मिक हैं और मानते हैं कि जिहाद जरूरी है।

दूसरे  कश्मीर में मुसलमानों की मदद करना चाहते हैं, क्योंकि  वे विश्वास करते हैं कि वे मज़लूम हैं।

कई मामलों में, उनके माता-पिता उन्हें जिहाद के लिए जाने पर  हौसला बढ़ा देते हैं क्योंकि जब उनका बेटा शहीद हो कर अल्लाह से मिलता है,  वह अल्लाह से अनुरोध कर सकता है कि  मरने के बाद उन्हें स्वर्ग  (या जन्नत) में जाने दे।

इस के अलावा, जब उनका  बेटा शहीद हो जाता है, तो समाज में परिवारों की स्थिति बढ़ जाती है।

७. इस संगठन का समाज में वजूद क्या है?

“जमात उद दावाह” और “फ़िलाह इन्सानियत फाउंडेशन ” के नामों के तहत, वे पाकिस्तान के भीतर बहुत सारे सामाजिक कार्य करते हैं। उदाहरण के लिए,  वे सामान्य स्कूलों का निर्माण करते हैं (मदरसे नहीं,हालांकि मदरसे भी बनवाए), चिकित्सा सेवाएं प्रदान करते हैं, कुओं को खोदते हैं और भूकंप (ज़लज़ला), बाढ़ (सैलाब), चक्रवात (साइक्लोन), सूखा (खुश्क) दौरान और बाद में राहत सेवाएं उपलब्ध करते हैं।

८. इस संगठन  को कैसे निपटाया जाए? क्या पाकिस्तान में ऐसी ताकतें हैं जो इस तरह के संगठनों का ख़ात्मा करना चाहती हैं?

दो कारणों से, इससे निपटाना  असंभव है।

सबसे पहले, पाकिस्तानी सेना को बाहरी और आंतरिक सुरक्षा के लिए इसकी आवश्यकता (सख़त ज़रूरी) है।

दूसरा, अगरपाकिस्तानी सेना इससे प्रयोग में न लाना चाहती हो, तो भी ऐसा करना बहुत मुश्किल होगा और शायद नामुमकिन।

भारत के पास दो विकल्प (चुनाव) हैं। सबसे पहले, इसे सहन करना जारी रखें।  

दूसरा, इसकी क्षमताओं को कम करने के लिए गुप्त संचालन कर सकते हैं, मगर अगर भारत ऐसे करे, तोयह बिल्कुल महत्वपूर्ण है कि यह गुप्त रहे ।यदि सरकार इन कार्यों के बारे में बहुत शोर करती है, तो  पाकिस्तान को जवाब देने पर मजबूर हो जायेगी और भारत एक युद्ध शुरू होने का जोखिम बुलाता है परमाणु युद्ध के जोखिम के साथ।

It’s Out! In Their Own Words Understanding Lashkar-e-Tayyaba

Here’s an amuse-bouche of  In Their Own Words Understanding Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (Hurst, OUP). As always, I am grateful to Saira Wasim for her exquisite work that graces this cover. Check out her other inspiring paintings here:  http://www.sairawasim.com/.

Please note that I will donate my personal profits to the Government of India’s Central Scheme for Assistance to Civilian Victims of Terrorist/Communal/Left Wing Extremist Violence, Cross-Border Firing and Mine/IED blasts on Indian Territory, as well as Save the Children India. Over time, I may adjust the charities to which I donate, although I will remain committed to donating to non-religious/non-proselytizing organizations in India that do relief work. Thank you in advance for supporting these institutions through your purchase of this book.

Copies may be purchased here:

Via Hurst: https://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/in-their-own-words/

Via Oxford University Press: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/in-their-own-words-9780190909482?cc=us&lang=en&

Via Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Their-Words-Understanding-Lashkar-Tayyaba/dp/1849045720/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1542211028&sr=8-1&keywords=In+Their+Own+Words+Understanding+Lashkar-e-Tayyaba

The South Asia and US editions will be coming out shortly.

Potential Reviewers: If you would like to review this volume, please email me at c_christine_fair@yahoo.com with the Subject Header: “I’d like to review In Their Own Words.”

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This project is the culmination of research I unwittingly began in Lahore in 1995 when I was a doctoral student studying Urdu as well as Punjabi through the renowned BULPIP (Berkeley Urdu Language Program in Pakistan, currently known as the Berkeley-AIPS Urdu Language Program in Pakistan). As a student of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, I frequented Anarkali Bazaar in Lahore, where I first encountered booksellers purveying the propaganda of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT), which now operates mostly under the name of Jamaat ud Dawah (JuD). I began collecting their materials that year and continued to do so during subsequent visits over the next couple of decades until I was ultimately deemed persona non-grata by the country’s intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI).

Due to the ISI’s assessment that I am a “nasty woman,” I have been unable to return to Pakistan since August 2013, but astonishingly, I was able to continue gathering materials for this effort through inter-library loan. Since 1962, American libraries have procured books from South Asia through the so-called PL-480 program, named after the eponymous public law which allowed the US Library of Congress to use rupees from Indian purchases of American agricultural products to buy Indian books. In 1965, a field office was opened in Karachi to oversee the acquisition of Pakistani publications. While the PL-480 program was long since discontinued, The Library of Congress continues to use the same institutional infrastructure to purchase these publications under the guise of a new program called the South Asia Cooperative Acquisitions Project.

I am deeply indebted to the Library of Congress and the other libraries across the United States which purchased these publications through this program and made them available to scholars through their institutions’ inter-library loan programs. I am particularly beholden to Georgetown University’s Lauinger Library, which never failed to produce a book I requested. The University of Chicago and the Library of Congress were the primary sources of these books and I am grateful that they continue to obtain and lend terrorist publications. As one US government official wryly noted when I explained my new sources of materials, “there is no better way to keep terrorist literature out of the hands of would-be terrorists than putting it in a library.”

I am also extremely indebted to Georgetown University, which has supported my work unstintingly since I joined the Security Studies Program in the fall of 2009. The University and the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University subsidized the writing of this book through a year-long leave through sabbatical and a senior research leave. Moreover, the School of Foreign Service provided invaluable financial support that enabled me to collaborate with Safina Ustaad, who did most of the translations used in this volume. (Ustaad and I are publishing a subsequent volume that contains these translations via Oxford University Press, entitled A Call to War: The Literature of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba.) The School of Foreign Service also subsidized a related and ongoing project in which I am studying the battle-field motivations of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba fighters. Through that funding, Ali Hamza translated a 10 percent random sample of the over 900 fighter biographies I collected, the analyses of which I present in this book. I am also grateful to the Security Studies Program, my home program within the School of Foreign Service, for generously subsidizing other aspects of this project, such as my work with Abbas Haider and other ongoing collaborations with Ali Hamza. Both Haider and Hamza translated some materials (under my guidance and quality assurance) which I have analyzed herein. Ali Hamza has been a superb colleague and collaborator over numerous years on several quantitative and qualitative projects alike. I am extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with such a gracious and talented colleague.

I also benefited tremendously from fellowships with the Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis (IDSA) in New Delhi, which hosted me as a senior fellow in the summer of 2016, the Gateway House in Mumbai during the summer of 2015, and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in Washington DC, which hosted me as a fellow in the summer of 2017. I remain obliged to Jayant Prasad, Rumel Dahiya, and Ashok Behuria at IDSA, and Sally Blair at the NED. Don Rassler and the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point also provided important resources for the quantitative aspects of this project while I was a fellow at the CTC. It was a privilege to work with Don and the other members of that team including Anirban Ghosh, Nadia Shoeb, and Arif Jamal to whom I am deeply beholden. I would also like to express my gratitude to Oxford University Press which graciously allowed me to compress, update and draw upon significant portions of Fighting to the End: The Pakistani Army’s Way of War (2014) as well as Taylor and Francis which granted me permission to draw heavily from a 2014 article in the The Journal of Strategic Studies (“Insights from a Database of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen Militants,” Journal of Strategic Studies, 37, 2 (2014), pp. 259–290.)

As this volume is the culmination of years of research and consultation, it would be remiss were I not to mention the superb community of scholars with whom I have discussed this project and data. Those who have been generous with their time and insights include: Daniel Byman, Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Shapiro, Praveen Swami, Ashley Tellis, Arif Jamal, Maryum Alam, the late Mariam Abou Zahab, Jaideep and his colleagues, and numerous others who met with me over the years in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. Seth Oldmixon deserves a special mention. Oldmixon is one of the most under-valued assets in the community of South Asia analysts. He has a hawk’s eye for details as he has scoured social media feeds and publications of militant organizations, reads the South Asian press more diligently than most intelligence analysts I know and has an extraordinary ability to recall events, identify persons and their associations.

I am also profoundly indebted to my husband, Jeffrey Dresser Kelley and our ever-evolving pack of canine associates, who have patiently, and at times, less patiently, abided my months away from home with grace and aplomb. They also endured long periods of my inattention as I sought first to comprehend the huge number of sources I processed for this volume and then drafted this book, which took much longer than I ever anticipated. They have foregone vacations and grown tufts of gray hair wondering when—or if—it would ever conclude.

Michael Dwyer at Hurst has been equally patient and supportive of this project. Without his belief in this project, there would be no project at all. Saira Wasim, one of the most intrepid and dauntless artists I have had the privilege of knowing, deserves extraordinary mention. Wasim has generously lent her courageous art to this cover and to that of my last two books. Wasim, masterfully subverting the tradition of the Mughal miniature painting, valorously confronts and interrogates the perversions and defeasances in Pakistani and international politics alike as well as the culpable dastards. When I have writer’s block, I peruse her body of work for inspiration. Her work is literally worth a million words.

Finally, I am aware that most readers who will buy this book will do so because of the hideous crimes this organization has perpetrated, mostly against Indian citizens. Thousands of Indians have been murdered by LeT, and if not for the group’s lethal effectiveness, no one would care about it. The biographies of the martyrs weighed heavily upon my conscience as I studied their declared intentions to slaughter an enemy about which they knew nothing but lies propagated by the organization and the Pakistani state, leavened with rare fragments of truth. Because my ethical commitments preclude me from profiting from the deaths of thousands, I will donate any personal proceeds from this book to charitable organizations that assist victims of terrorism. Because Lashkar-e-Tayyaba mostly murders Indians, I will donate my personal profits to the Government of India’s Central Scheme for Assistance to Civilian Victims of Terrorist/Communal/Left Wing Extremist Violence, Cross-Border Firing and Mine/IED blasts on Indian Territory, as well as Save the Children India. Over time, I may adjust the charities to which I donate, although I will remain committed to donating to non-religious/non-proselytizing organizations in India that do relief work. Thank you in advance for supporting these institutions through your purchase of this book.

Sita of Suburbia

​That afternoon, the sky turned black,
Split open like a fish belly slit.
Poured hail like hapless spawn 
That smashed lifeless upon our roof.

Even though I walked through fire for you
Unscathed, your rage was not appeased.
Your hands fluttered about me
                              Like feeding Coragyps.

Your serrated words
                                  chopped me down, cut me up
Into pieces you could manage
Into voiceless pieces you need not hear
                    Into impotent slabs you need not fear.

As I surrendered, you turned soft 
Immured me with your lanky arms.
Brushed back my tears with your fickle palms,
Pulled back my hair and kissed my scared-frozen neck.

Hissing that you loved me, you 
hoisted up my skirt, slammed in and up into my belly.
With a grunt collapsed atop me 
                  with your full dead weight.
Repulsed you withdrew, 
                        stood up 
                                  and glowered down
                                                                        in disgust.
Your face became a familiar map of contempt. 
Your neck strained as you kicked me furiously.
Torrid tears traced my cheek, then neck, 
                       pooled on the cool floor,
                                           As your fluid slid out.

Weary and wary I begged Mother Earth 
to open up and swallow her defeated daughter and bring her home. 

Published in https://www.scarletleafreview.com/anniversary/category/c-christine-fair on January 22, 2020.

Daffodils for Armand

C. Christine Fair

We met when the daffodils first bloomed.

Along 55th St, I walked that first morning

flush and smelling of you and

knowing you could not be had.

When the blooms turned brown and stems wilted

and as your calls stopped,

I threw myself full force upon this love

like a wild animal wrestling for its freedom.

Ashamed when it, at last, fled angry and frightened.

My doting husband offers to plant those flowers that I adore.

I can’t bare the thought of them in our own garden.

Enjoying the blooms of others, I sometime recall our failed affair.

My husband wonders what I see in their buttery perfection.

This was published in December 2019 in The Sandy Review Review, which is available at: https://sandyriverreview.com/2019/12/24/daffodils-for-armand/

The Quicksand Around Her Feet

This story is about a meeting between an abandoned daughter and her father who has summoned her because of his ostensible impending death from cancer. It closely aligns with my non-relationship with the male source of my DNA. This version of this story was published in June 2019 in New Reader Magazine. I’m grateful to the New Reader Magazine for publishing this version although I continue to work it. This has been my first foray into creative prose. As a science student at the University of Chicago, I somehow missed out on any creative writing courses–an educational lacuna I hope to address in the near future.

She glowered at him, eyes narrowed, trying not to hear him. She studied his ruddy face with his pale, hooded, sky-blue eyes. His face was terribly like her own. When her mom was mad at her, she’d seethe in disgust, “You look just like him.”

She hated the truth of it. His widow’s peak, his unruly hair and his godawful teeth: they too were hers. Years of dentistry prevented that oral disaster from playing out in her mouth, but it was a Sisyphean task. Her teeth would crack or break. The dentist would patch them up. They’d break again. Bob just let his teeth go. His smile had large gaps where teeth once were. Her eyes traced the holes along his gum-lines as he spoke.


“That goddamned son of a bitch” pounded in an endless loop in her head while she tried to appear indifferent, as he plowed on in that flat, nasally Midwestern voice which was all too familiar. When her ears grabbed onto his words, she could feel the familiar anger rearing up on its hind legs with a desire to lunge at him. She reminded herself to episodically grunt or nod. The task helped to keep his vapid words at bay.


He was still droning on about “his kids,” as he called them. The expression grated on her nerves every fucking time he said it. Not only was she his kid, she was his firstborn. However, to avoid the responsibility of being her father, he volunteered for two tours of duty in Viet Nam. He tried to re-up a third time, but the army declined, explaining that only nutcases wanted three servings of that war and they wouldn’t take another known nutcase back there. Admittedly, he had signed up for the first tour before he knew her mom was pregnant, but that didn’t excuse the second and the attempted third.


The simple truth stung: this ratfucker actually preferred to shoot and be shot at in the jungles of Viet Nam than stay in Indiana and be her father and her mother’s husband. This was an inescapable fact and, as her mother would say, in resignation before such facts, “you can put chocolate on a turd and call it a donut. It’s still just a chocolate-covered turd.”


Her mind drifted back some twenty years ago when she was in her late 20s—a few years after her mom died of Melanoma—when she went to Viet Nam with a boyfriend. She visited the war museums in which they curated the personal effects of captured soldiered and downed airman: their dog tags; photos of their sweethearts or children; their dogs; watches; random pocket litter from their last trip to Bangkok. She wondered what would have happened if Bob had been captured. What artifacts of his existence would be on display? Did he have her baby picture in his wallet on his second tour? Her mom’s picture? She knew the answers. Or at least she thought she did. They divorced after he returned to the United States. He married his high-school sweetheart, leaving her mother’s life was ruined, condemned to go from one jackass’ bed to another in order to survive. Rural Indiana in 1967 was unforgiving of her mother’s circumstances, while the men, equally at fault, escaped judgment.


Waves of rage washed over her. She stormed out of the last museum she visited in Saigon. She strode up to the first sidewalk hawker she could find and bought a post-card depicting Ho Chi Minh, who looked so much like an ornery Colonel Sanders. She scribbled on the card hastily, “Dear Bob. In Viet Nam. Wish you were still here. Chris.” She had every intention of mailing it even though she didn’t have his address. But her rage made her tenacious. She would find his address and mail that motherfucking card from Viet Nam and he would see that stamp and post-mark from Saigon come hell or high water…or both. From an internet café, she opened up Alta Vista and searched “Bristol Indiana White Pages.” She was surprised that finding The Shitbird’s address was so easy. She scrawled out the address, set out to the find first post office and dispatched it before her conscience had a chance to advise against it.


Something he said caught her attention and dragged her away from her memories of 1998 Saigon, and back to Bob, sitting in front of her in this Indiana hellhole.

“Fuck this fucker!” she thought. “What the hell am I doing here?!”
She interrupted whatever useless thing he was blathering on about. She had to know. “So, Bob, did you ever get that postcard I sent from Viet Nam.”
For a moment, a look of hurt washed across his face. “Yes. Yes!” he said in a rising voice. “I did. And it was an asshole thing to do.” She was relieved that he got it and that it stung. She nodded and said “Well, I got the asshole gene from you, along with your shitty teeth and your goddamned cancer gene. I got nothing else from you except that pile of olid ass. Oh. A pile of shrink bills too.”


Here she was, at some execrable Indiana lake dive, because Bob called her to say he was dying from an aggressive cancer of his esophagus. He said that he was in a lot of pain. He said he wanted to see her. She and her husband Jeff drove all night, her crying most of the way. Tears of sadness, guilt, anger. When they got to Indiana, he was hardly dead. In fact, he was still a complete, unreconstructed, unapologetic prick who reveled in his hurtful antics. She felt she had been made a fool. Played in fact. As he bloviated about the tedious lives led by his unaccomplished, slothful children, she wondered how many times had she been in the hospital, alone? Where was he when she and Jeff lost their babies? Where was he when she had been abducted in Iran? When she nearly died in Kabul and Amritsar and Dhaka from food pathogens? Where. The. Fuck. Was. He?

And yet, despite their better judgment, she and Jeff were there were a second time. And he was still not dying. To wretched was immortal. She wondered if this boor might actually outlive her. It was possible that this clod would deny her the simple pleasure of micturating on his grave. Yet, despite her unending furor, here they were, sitting outside at a picnic table, on an August evening in shitty Indiana, when the humidity was exceeded in its oppressiveness only by the tiger mosquitoes that bit through her clothes.

She inventoried movies to distract herself, recalling a George Clooney film in which he had stared at goats until they died. Or he tried to. Of course, she considered Bob to be slightly more sentient but less considerate than a goat but decided to employ the technique, staring at him, while mendicating upon the facial expression that Clooney’s had character maintained. The absurdity of it all kept his words and their meaning at a safe distance. Would he notice her utter disinterest in the rubbish spewing out his toothless, twisted mouth, noting only the saliva that had dried in the downward tilting corner? His face was asymmetrical, as all faces are, but his was noticeably and irritatingly so. His nose was warped like someone had smashed it right and properly, but in all of the photos she had of him, that was his nose. It didn’t mean that prior to becoming her father, he didn’t piss someone off, and gotten wailed on his face. But it does mean that he had lived with that nose most of his life, and he didn’t care to fix it. “Thank Dog,” she thought to herself “that nose is not genetic. Otherwise, I’d have that misshapen snout, too.”


For a moment, she looked away from him in shame. She felt abashed for being there, for being conned into seeing this jackass, who was incapable of the slightest remorse. She couldn’t even grasp that this vulgarian is the source of half of her DNA. She had never wanted her colleagues to see him, to hear him, to know of him. Once, she gave at a talk at Notre Dame. He met her at the restaurant where she was dining with her colleagues. She kept looking at the door, hoping to intercept him before he came to their table and introduced himself, but he managed to slip in. She was thankful that he had at least bothered to wear decent clothes. Nonetheless, she hurried them out the door. How could she explain who this man was and why he was there? It was just too much work.


She looked down at her plate that had arrived somewhere in the middle of this annoying reverie. She pushed her food around with her fork as if it was that tiny sand pit and miniature rake their couples’ counselor had on the coffee table. Eating was not possible, knowing that if she ate it all, she would have to excuse herself to purge. Yet, the desire to wolf it down was there– French fries and barbecue pork ribs. She knew what it would feel like coming up, the comfort of wrapping her arms around her stomach in this practiced exorcism of anger at others and herself. The self-flagellation accompanied by the self-induced heaves were a soothing ritual she learned early in childhood. If she didn’t stave off his never-ending, irritating words, she would pick up that ketchup and smother her fries, then begin shoving them into her mouth, swallowed after barely chewed. They looked like they had been slightly dusted with chili pepper. Likely spicy. They were double fried, golden brown and crispy. She wanted them so badly. Then she’d move onto those ribs, glistening in their sauce.

She imagined her mouth biting down on the soft, tangy flesh. And then, having polished her plate, she would drink the rest of her large glass of water (that was critical) and she’d excuse herself. First the fries would come up. They always come up like rocks, hurting as they made their way up and out. The ketchup, sweet and sour, would come up with them. Then the ribs. Somehow, they seemed to sink beneath the fries in her gut. They would emerge last, burning her throat. The sauce was one thing. The grease was another. It would leave an orangish ring of stain along the toilet. She considered ordering a milk shake. The cold milky beverage would mitigate the burn of the spicy pork’s exodus. Later, she could drink some water with baking soda stirred in, to neutralize the acid and mitigate any damage she would do to her esophagus and compromised teeth. Another inheritance, she had been diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus which had a history of becoming the same cancer Bob had. Thinking of that cancer, she reminded herself that she could not allow herself to binge and purge anymore. She had to self-soothe some other way. She poured water over her meal to make it less appealing. She sighed, shrugged her shoulders and looked right into his face. Resigned to her outrage.


He would just not shut up! She looked at her husband’s face. Nothing. He had tuned out, too. She looked back at her plate. She felt her mouth water. Why was she here? This man is a horrible human being. Perhaps the worst person she knew, except for her uncle, a pederast who murdered her aunt, her namesake. But that’s a low bar. Or maybe a high bar, if you are measuring distilled evil.


This rube was her father, but he did not raise her. Where was he when her stepfathers’ beat her, or her uncle thrust his finger into her girlish vagina and plucked her innocence like a blackberry? He had given her nothing, except his rotten genes. A lousy esophagus and unseemly teeth. What the fuck was she doing there? He was supposed to be dying of esophageal cancer! She felted trapped, smothered, unable to breathe. She had to get out of there. She began looking around furtively at her husband, the waitress, the table behind Bob, where a large woman, with voluminous arms draped about her pot belly, sprawled out and wide like the desert sands she once traversed in Jaisalmer.


The woman’s purple veins bulged, out and over her thick legs which strained the polyester shorts she wore. Her friend, in thickly caked makeup, wore a colorful maxi dress, held a yappy chihuahua on her own capacious lap, making the tiny dog appear even more diminutive. She had to keep herself distracted. Focus on the chihuahua. On those veiny legs and flaccid arms. The swirls of hues on the endless muumuu.


She saw a milkshake at the chihuahua’s table. Was it vanilla, she wondered? She loved vanilla. It almost tasted as good coming up as it did going down. She looked once more, furtively, at the water-logged food.
And then he said something that she could not ignore. He called his granddaughter a pig. She hadn’t been paying attention to how he ended up there in his story. She thought maybe she misunderstood. Her voice piqued as she asked him to repeat himself. “What did you just say?” She elongated the vowels in “what” and “say” to make the words last longer as they fell out of her mouth.


He gathered himself defensively, sat upright and looked her defiantly, square in her eyes and said “She’s a goddamn pig. Ashley is pig. Her mom is a pig. She’s a fucking pig, like her whore of a mom.”


Sublimating her range, she retorted “Bob, just how old is this ostensible pig?” wondering if he knew what “ostensible” meant. “She’s fourteen,” Bob snorted, almost gleefully. “But she’s always been a pig.”


“And just why is she a ‘goddamned pig’?” she asked with contempt-dredged curiosity. She slapped hard at a mosquito biting through her clothes. She glanced down at the blood spatter on her thigh and palm. It was cathartic to kill it and see its blood on her skin.


Again with increased adamancy, Bob told her “Her mother is a pig, and she’s a pig, too.”


Inhaling and crossing her arms over her empty stomach, she leaned back and repeated her question in a lowered voice, slowly and with an intense glare, “Why, Bob, do you call your teenaged granddaughter a pig, a goddamned pig?”


He explained how she’s “a little slut, who got kicked out of school for asking boys to show her their dicks.”

Horrified, she recognized the child’s behavior. This was the behavior of a child who was suffering abuse, but was too confused to understand her inclinations. Her wife-murdering uncle had abused her since she was a toddler. Her first memories were of him turning her over the back of the couch in their basement, sliding aside her underwear and thrusting his trigger finger inside her tiny body. And, having been touched like that, her body reacted in ways her mind could not understand. She had learned to enjoy the physical reaction to nerve stimulation, while not understanding why pleasure had to be kept secret. Only later did she understand how fucked up it was. And when she did, the feeling of guilt, filth, and self-loathing followed her like a miasma that was always present. It was then that she discovered the calm that came after eating an entire box of Raisin Bran with whole milk, then thrusting her face over the toilet, calling herself names as she summoned the contents of her stomach into the commode. With each hurl, she felt the self-loathing leave her along with the contents of her gut. It wasn’t the eating that soothed her: it was the purging. With each expulsion, she felt better, until she collapsed on the cold bathroom floor and felt the sweat evaporate.


She sat back and looked at him from the side of her eyes as she turned away from him. Then at the food. She wanted so badly to do what had comforted her for so long. But she knew she couldn’t. Not since her doctor showed her the photos of her injured esophagus. She thought about those photos. They kept her on point. She pondered Bob’s cancer and the extensive surgery that required a reorganization of his upper thorax after they removed most of his cancerous esophagus. The stomach had to be moved up. They had had to cut him from the front and back to rearrange his lungs, upon which his truncated stomach now rested. He could not breathe as easily as he used to, with that stomach sitting on his lungs. And eating was not a pleasure. For months, he had that tube that sent nutrients directly to his upper bowl. Considering this, she again resolved that he, this unrepentant shitbird, would not bring her to her knees, face plunged into a toilet, puking up her loathing for him, herself or anyone else while courting that cancer, his cancer.


She turned, and returning his defiance in measure, stared right into his face and sneered whether it had occurred to him that perhaps “that the little girl is a pig because someone abused her?” Bob replied in a most matter of fact way, “Of course she was abused! Her mother is shacking up with a goddamned pedophile!” The swirl of rage felt like a typhoon, an urge she felt she could control. It was too much. Ashley, the “pig” was his granddaughter. His son’s daughter.


She had to leave. She had to get out of there. She explained that it had been a long drive from DC to Indiana and that she had to go. She asked for the bill and paid it. She didn’t want him paying for their dinner. She wouldn’t ask him to pay for anything. After he left, she sat there with her husband, grappling with what just happened. She felt wrong inside like someone had scrambled her. She couldn’t grasp why. Understanding seemed to lurk beyond her reach.


That night, sleep was elusive. In their motel bed, she kept replaying his words and re-seeing his twisted, saliva-crusted mouth. She sat up beside her snoring husband, and cradled her unease, trying to pin it down.
In the darkness, cut by a street lamp, she stroked the velvety ear her dog, Boudreaux. They had brought all three dogs with them, and at this moment, it was Boudreaux who sought comfort, while Vega and Saffy slept. Rubbing that soft ear was something that pacified them both. He nestled his Janus-faced head into her lap, turned over, and stretched his hind legs out and up, revealing his snow-white chest and belly to indicate that he wanted a tummy rub. She leaned over to stroke his strong undercarriage and thought how much she loved him.


After a sleeping Boudreaux, hind legs in the air, snoring snout flopped beside her, the puzzle floated back. At first, it was hazy but slowly came into focus with glaring obviousness: during her dolorous childhood marked by a revolving door of abusers, she often rehearsed the consoling canard that if her father only knew about this shit, he would have saved her. Maybe he would’ve beaten her uncle or even killed him in a fit of rage. When her step-fathers consecutively rained hell upon her, she imagined her father as a kind man who, moved by her pain and his remorse for not rescuing her earlier, would drape himself around her like a warm coat and lead her away from a life that waged a vicious war on her young self.


She had come to know Bob somewhat over the intervening seven years. The first time she met Bob, she was thirteen. They met at the Walgreen’s restaurant in the Glenbrook Mall, in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Her mother promised her that she could meet him when she turned thirteen, if she could find him. Her mother worked all day. From their home in Huntertown, the Allen County Library in downtown Ft. Wayne was no more than 12 miles. The bulk of the distance was on the peri-rural highway, Lima Rd. So, one summer day, after her mom left for work, she hopped on her bike and made the journey. It was nothing for her: a friendless loner, she spent most of the Huntertown summers on her bike traveling through farmlands. The library had phone books for the entire state. It took her no time to find Bob. She Xeroxed the page with his name, address, and phone number.

When October 12th came, she presented her mother with the finding she had kept secret since July. Her mom was annoyed but kept up her end of the bargain. She remembered dialing his number, waiting for him to answer and explaining who she was. He didn’t seem terribly excited. He was about thirty years old then and he seemed mostly confused and uncertain. Nonetheless, he agreed to meet her.


At the mall, her closest friend, Holly waited as they met. Holly was more reliable than either Heather or Carmel, with whom she had once planned to escape. How many times had they considered hopping a boxcar and going wherever it took them? She and Holly had spent hours under the railroad bridge plotting, while with Heather and Carmel, she waited for them both underneath the street lamp for an hour before she concluded they had chickened out. Holly was made of tougher stuff. And that is why she was there today. Holly watched from a distance, while she and Bob sat at a table visible to mall shoppers. Bob brought his wife, who sported expensive Jordache jeans. She wanted Bob to ask her whether she was okay, was she loved, did her stepfather treat her well? He asked her little other than pro forma queries about school and puzzled questions, riddled with revulsion, about why she kept pet rats. It went no deeper than that.


The next time, she was 23, and had just buried her mother, who died at 46. He callously told her while she still stood on the concrete steps outside his house that “You weren’t born out of love. You were born out of a bet.” Her stomach twisted and churned, not because of the cruelty of it, but because of the confirmation of truth. Her mother had long told her, from the time she was six, that Bob and two other men made a bet to get her into bed. She hadn’t known what it meant until she grew older and came to understand the words and implications of the posited scenario, the more unbelievable it was.

By the time her mother was dying, she was in full revolt. She had outright called her mother a liar and, in a fit of anger over her mother never having protected her from the men in their lives, yelled at her to never repeat that nonsense again. Her mother died with her rejecting that foundational truth, which, more than anything, explained her mother’s own pain and resentment towards her daughter who had committed the crime of being born alive. Now, Bob said those words with cavalier flare as if he were explaining some unfortunate turn of events at the dog track. So, she returned to her rented car and drove back to Chicago, in silence, with her stupefied boyfriend saying nothing for the four-hour drive.


By now, she was a grown woman approaching middle-age. She had met him about a dozen times over the years and had made infrequent efforts at small talk on the phone. She didn’t know him well and never would. Too much had passed. But she knew him enough to recognize him in her. As far as she could tell, there was no her in him. He was still an appalling mystery. She had gotten the worst of his DNA. He was a selfish, unrepentant churl who reveled in his assholery. Still, she could not find it within herself to just write him off, delete his information from her phone, and block his number as her brother, whose own father was another participant in that ignominious bet, and her husband repeatedly advised. She hoped—just as she always had—that there would be some point at which he would understand just how shitty he had been to her and her mother and do something to make it right. She didn’t know what that would take. Her mom could not forgive him; she had died decades ago. But she still held out some hope that deep inside, he wasn’t just an unreconstructed bint of no redemptive potential.


Sitting there that night, she knew that she had seen the bottom of his soul and there was no reason to look further. Hearing him call his first granddaughter a pig, she understood for the first time that he never would’ve saved her. He would have seen her anger and truculence and averred it was her fault, the abuses she had suffered. Maybe he would’ve seen her precocious sexual interests and described her as a pig; inherited from her mother, whom he would have denounced as a pig, without an iota of irony. He would have embraced no obligation to intervene in the smallest of ways to save her. She and Ashley, in Bob’s universe, were pigs by birth rather than by circumstance. He could give no fewer fucks about this if he had to at gun point.


In the morning, they left Indiana for home. Boudreaux wailed while Vega slunk off to the back of the minivan and fell asleep, snuggled up against Saffy. Jeff, sensing her silence, knew she was marinating on something. As they reached West Virginia, she said “Jeff, I want to discuss something with you. It’s serious.” He didn’t like having somber conversations while driving, so he pulled the car into a strip mall. Neither were hungry, so they just talked.


“Jeff, I’m going to report this to child protective services. He’s not going to do it. No one called them when I needed them. I’m not going to let this girl hang out to the dry. Do you think I should?” Just saying the words aloud caused a strange calm to fall over her. Jeff told her that he thought she should, but she should know that any chances of a rapprochement with Bob would be impossible. “But”, Jeff said “that would be a positive externality of doing the right thing.” She smiled at him and said, “Two nerd flares for that one.”


In the middle of nowhere, her cellphone had no bars. T-mobile had less coverage in the United States than in Afghanistan. Jeff had Verizon which fared better in rural Murkah. She called Bob from Jeff’s phone and apologized for abruptly ending the dinner last night, explaining the long drive home and the presentation she was giving on Bangladesh to the Atlantic Council on Monday. Trying to sound nonchalant, she asked about his granddaughter Ashley’s name and her mother’s name, writing them down furiously. “And um…where does she live? Does she live near you and Rick?” He blurted out “Rome City” before he caught himself. “Why you asking this stuff?” he asked suspiciously, omitting any verb. But she had what she needed.


She remained silent. She didn’t want to lie, but she didn’t want to tell Bob either. That made him nervous. He knew her because he knew himself. Though he didn’t raise her, she was like him: stubborn, resolved and once she took a decision, the decision was made. “Chris, what the hell are you doing?”


The silence bugged him, which oddly pleased her. The power was now in her hands. As he grew irritated and anxious, she told him flatly, “I’m calling CPS to report the situation with Ashley. No one called CPS when I was abused. This girl deserves a chance. And frankly, you or your son should’ve done this. What the fuck is wrong with you people?”
He bellowed “Don’t you dare. If you do…” She hung up. She Googled child protective services for Rome City, Indiana. She told the operator all that she knew and hung up. She had no idea what, if anything, would come of this. But at least she tried to give that little girl the chance no one gave her. Bob kept calling. She declined to answer. For another day he called her mobile and home phone. And then the calls stopped.


And, so did her fantasy that he would have done a damned thing to save her childhood self no matter what he knew. And with that epiphany, she understood that she never needed or wanted to see him again. She blocked his number. She didn’t need to entertain him anymore.


A year passed, then two. She wondered if Bob had died. But she was at peace when she realized that even if he was dead, she didn’t care. He died that day when he called that little, broken girl a pig. In his mind, she and Ashley were pigs, faulty females with a lack of morals. Coming to terms with this information about Bob, she was able to let go of any expectations about his ability to parent; to care about anything more than himself. He had failed to see that neither she nor Ashley were the pigs; rather the men who tried to break them. She never learned what came of Ashley and she was too timorous to speculate. Indiana is not forgiving. It’s why she left as soon as she could. College was her escape. Would Ashley escape? What life would she make for herself and would she one day rage at her father’s indifference to her suffering?


Sitting on the porch, sipping on an Old Fashioned, with Boudreaux’s snout foisted into her armpit as she scratched his ears, with an easy smile as she gazed back at Saffy and Vega who slept with angelic calm beneath her feet. Bob’s cruelty and callousness, which once felt like quicksand around her legs, had finally set her free. She wished such freedom on Ashley, a little girl she would never know but could never forget.

Miss Ott and the Breaking Girl

C. Christine Fair

TRIGGER WARNING:  This piece contains explicit imagery of sexual violence which may be triggering to survivors.

     With her uncle Art out of prison, the fifty-year old woman couldn’t concentrate. As usual these days, she dilated upon Miss Ott whom she reckoned to be in her early 70s by now.  It was the woman’s foundational truth: Miss Ott could’ve saved her while there was something left to save. Every therapist to whom she recounted the story with an amalgamation of sadness, shame, resentment, and furor concurred.
     Sipping black coffee, the woman ruminated about the events of that day. The 1977-78 school year had commenced. She was almost nine and in Mrs. Latham’s third-grade class. Miss Ott was a student teacher.  In her memory, Mrs. Latham appeared matronly while efficacious, Miss Ott graceful but superfluous.
     Each of her myriad therapists flinched the first time she narrated the events of that sordid day. She was anxious to present her replica of a Navajo residence, painstakingly fashioned from white Play-Doh and Lincoln Logs, but her nervousness was swallowed by pain: her vulva – a word she didn’t yet know  – was ablaze beneath the “Little House on the Prairie” dress her mom stitched for the occasion.
     For weeks, something was terribly wrong. Her girl parts were red, scabby, oozing blood and other frightening exudates. The fluids would dry, adhering her panties to her skin. When she moved, the fabric would pull away from her flesh, re-opening the sores anew.
     Miserable, sitting in the glare of the late summer sun, in her full-length dress, Mrs. Latham wouldn’t excuse her to use the bathroom during her classmates’ presentations. Desperate, she did the unthinkable: she pulled her left leg up to the seat and her right leg into her body to shield others from seeing, slowly gathered her dress and painfully pulled back her panties to view the worsening infection. When she looked up, Miss Ott was looking right at her with revulsion.
     The woman remembers meeting the young teacher’s gaze, pleading for help without words, tears welling up, her face hot with humiliation.  Surely, she thought, this woman would know this wasn’t her fault. She’d tell the school nurse who would summon her and examine her injured girlhood. She imagined the nurse asking with concerned anger “Lucille Weber! Who did this to you?” She’d explain that her uncle Art, a lineman with oil-stained hands and filthy fingernails, repeatedly slid them up her dress, pushed aside her panties while she froze, eyes wide, in feral fear. The nurse would surely do something when no one else would.
     The nurse never called. Days passed. She became truculent. Miss Ott assiduously avoided her. The girl was wading through a creak of shame that would one day swell into a river and carry her away.
     While Miss Ott was the first to fail her, others ensued. Mr. Sinks, her high school guidance counselor, let her vent but told her she could escape by maintaining her near-perfect GPA and going to college.      There was the Parkview emergency room doctor to whom, after swallowing a bottle of pills, she divulged everything.  She begged him to call child protective services. He demurred and explained, likely correctly, that as execrable as her home-life was, foster care would be worse. He echoed the advice of Mr. Sinks. She probably wouldn’t graduate valedictorian as she expected to do unless she remained at home. On the doctor’s orders, her mother took her to Park-Center for counseling. There she detailed to her social worker the various vulgar men who stole her innocence and dignity and the women who did nothing. Each were mandated reporters, required by law to report these crimes. Not one did. Arguably, by the time she was in high school, it was too late. Suicidal ideation had long become her sanctuary. And then, when the woman was nineteen, Art murdered her aunt, and came for her. Had Miss Ott fulfilled her obligation, this too could have been averted.
                                                                            ***
     In 2019, with Art out of prison, the woman tried—but failed—to find Miss Ott. She wanted to ask Miss Ott whether she remembered the girl with the injured vagina, whether she rued what she did or didn’t do that day.  She wanted to tell her of Art’s innumerable sins against her, her aunt and her cousins.
     ​But most of all, the woman yearned for an illusory truce with life which waged war on her and paths towards forgiving Miss Ott and ultimately herself which were always beyond her range of site.

Published in Black Horse Review, The Awakenings and Bluntly Magazine.

Grappling with Pakistan’s ‘influence operations’: When the patriarchy moves in to silence a female critic

For some 10 years, I have relentlessly exposed Pakistan’s influence operations against American scholars, analysts, journalists and the institutions that employ them and rely upon their ability to raise funds to support the organisations’ overhead costs and salaries. Through this basic economic necessity, most of the think-tanks in Washington, DC and the writers who focus on South Asia have been coopted by Pakistan’s influence operations because these individuals have generally positioned themselves as Pakistan-whisperers to private and public funders.

This renders them dependent on Pakistani visas and access to officials in and out of uniform. The result is chilling: Analysts who know better — or ought to know better — self-censor to retain this access. In the process, they have become witting or unwitting assets to Pakistan. In response to my most recent criticism, two white men who are considerably senior to me, have turned to the popular tactic of appealing to my employer in an effort to silence me. Two senior men appealing to my leadership to discipline my voice or silence me altogether is white maleness in action. It is the patriarchy in action. In doing so, these individuals hope that I will temper my tone.

I will not.

On Monday 14 October, Michael Krepon who “co-founded the Stimson Center in 1989 and served as Stimson’s President and CEO until 2000, and who continues to direct Stimson’s programming” joined hands with Andrew Wilder, a “vice-president of Asia programs” at the United States Institute of Peace to draft a letter to the president of the organisation that employs me. They also contacted several other South Asia analysts in hopes that they would sign this letter. (I have reproduced the original letter below. Because some of the persons whom I know were contacted are not on this first email, I can assume that their first effort did not produce the anticipated yield of signatories and they reached into the lower benches of the field.)

The letter claims that my assertions about the ways in which Pakistani influence operations have shaped the policy debate to Pakistan’s benefit have coarsened the political discourse. What they seek to obfuscate is that these men do not contribute meaningfully to an empirically buttressed political discourse; rather, they contribute to an unrelenting parade of apologies for the most outrageous of Pakistani behaviours. It is they — not me — who have coarsened political discourse by introducing into it Pakistani talking points, preferred historical arguments, and representations for purposes of programmatic expedience and convenience as I explain below.

Given their seniority, in writing to the president of my employer, they are engaging in a form of bullying enjoyed by senior white men to silence agentive female critics, particularly those of us who are junior to the men who seek to muzzle us. This is the Old White Boys Club in its basest form appealing to oldest trick in the book of asking a senior man to discipline an uppity woman in his remit.

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Michael Krepon has a history of sending me misogynist and condescending emails. He has accused me of “losing my way” as if I am a lost sheep and he is the masterly shepherd. When I chastised him for refusing to publicly acknowledge that he was a member of a task-force to re-examine US policies towards Pakistan much-less sign onto its recommendations, he rebuked me for daring to question his reservations about a report that recommended considering the possibility of considering sanctions against Pakistan at some indefinite point in a remote future.

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I was not surprised by the language and tone used in this open letter, provided below, in which they reduced my concerns about the necrotic impact of Pakistani influence operations upon the public discourse surrounding that country as “eruptions” and consistently mischaracterised my descriptions of influence operations and their complicity in the same.

What are influence operations? A primer

While it is not uncommon for US officials to be seconded to other friendly nations for temporary duty assignments, Pakistan is not a friendly State. Its crimes include: Murdering thousands of Americans in and out of uniform as well as our NATO and non-NATO allies and tens of thousands of Afghans in addition to many thousands of Indians. Moreover, Pakistan — with lucrative and fungible American economic support–is fastest growing nuclear power inclusive of the development of battle-field nuclear weapons.

Pakistan uses this arsenal along with its petting zoos of terrorists to stoke the fears that “Pakistan is too dangerous to fail” and thus continues to coerce the United States to acquiesce to IMF bailouts and other forms of assistance. It is this verity that allows Pakistan to be near certain that there will be no FATF blacklisting and thus can view remaining on the “grey list” as a political victory. This is nuclear coercion in its crudest and truest form.

Yet it seems that there is literally no Pakistani crime which the witting objects of Pakistani influence operations won’t defend with three consistently and notable exceptions: Jeff Smith at the Heritage Foundation, whose integrity is beyond reproach and who is oddly not included in their missive; Ambassador (retired) Husain Haqqani of Hudson who has repeatedly outed the Derp State for its murderous hijinks; and the doyen of South Asian studies, Ashley Tellis of Carnegie, who never minces his words when it comes to Pakistan. The other gentlemen who opine and repine on South Asian affairs in DC refrain from criticism, engage in relentless “both side-ery” antics and traffic in false equivalence.

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In this letter, both Krepon and Wilder, insinuate that I am suggesting that they are paid agents or have acquiesced to explicit quid pro quos with Pakistan. In fact I doubt that these are arrangements are so explicit as this courts jail time unless one is a legally registered foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Recent examples of persons who have been so convicted include Ghulab Nabi Fai and Nisar Ahmed Chaudhry.  Explicit quid pro quos are not only risky, they are unnecessary.

As I have written previously, Pakistan gets what it wants from its dupes without paying them a dime directly. Although, in many cases, the Pakistan government does subsidize their writings by paying for their airfares to and from Pakistan and/or by facilitating their travel within Pakistan to places like Waziristan where their travel would otherwise be prohibited. For example, in Pakistan: A Hard Country, Anatol Lieven subtly thanks the Pakistan Army for doing so.

For several years, the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, DC hosted academics and journalists on paid tours to Pakistan, which included trips to Waziristan to showcase the ostensibly successful efforts of the Pakistan Army. In exchange for such opportunities, analysts write favourable assessments without any credible baseline. For example, Michael Kugelman wrote enthusiastically about his trip to Waziristan which he concedes was arranged by the Pakistan Army in his piece for War on the Rocks, an influence blog for those engaged in political-military concerns in the United States.

I understand the professional requirement for some of these persons to cultivate visas and meetings with high-level Pakistani officials in and out of uniform because they have assured various funders of their ability to do work in Pakistan. Thus, visas and access allow them to launder grants into their organisations to pay for overhead and salaries. This dependence upon such grants and soft monies is precisely why such influence operations are so successful. Only persons who have no need for such hustles are truly free to speak their minds. Of course, one has choice about the projects they take on: They could always choose projects that do not require them to propitiate Pakistan’s equities. Thus this bureaucratic reality is not exculpatory, rather explanatory.

I know this process of cultivation well, because the Pakistanis long tried to cultivate me but failed although I never let them pay for my international airfare and blogged about the various (often humorous) lies they sought to sell me. And I do remember when I worked for the United States Institute of Peace and at the RAND Corporation, I too was compelled to work in Pakistan. When I said things that pleased them, I was easily accommodated. Early in my career, when I made stupid mistakes about Kashmir, the Army Band actually serenaded me at a banquet. It played my then favourite raunchy song: Bilo da Ghar.

But I grew wiser, began engaging more primary source documents and evolved from a research assistant to a researcher and began using my voice commensurate with my growing stature, I recall very well the dread of submitting my visa after being particularly outspoken. When the Pakistanis first began signaling discontent with my positions, they began delaying the processing of my visa. It went from being processed in the same day to six weeks. Finally, they threatened me with violence and never issued me another visa. But in being rendered persona non grata, I have been rendered free to speak my mind. It’s a freedom I cherish. I no longer need to bite my tongue about Pakistan’s crimes. I no longer expect a red carpet in Rawalpindi stained with the blood of citizens, friends and allies.

Pakistan is not the only country that does this: China has done this for decades. Many scholars who built their careers around their China expertise can no longer return because their writings eventually discomfited the regime. Many scholars, reporters and analysts have been ousted from China for writing what needs to be written and saying what needs to be said. Israel, Russia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Myanmar are just a few of the countries that seek to discipline those who write about the country by calibrating access to officials or even access to visas, needed to visit the country.

I am right to continue to identify the impacts of Pakistani influence operations and this effort of organisational bullying will only prompt me to redouble my trenchant observations of this phenomenon and its outcomes. I will not sacrifice my integrity for a visa or any number of opportunities to be lied to by Pakistani officials. Nor will I let my colleagues off the hook because they do.

This was originally published in First Post on 25 October 2019.

Post-Script

@ThePrintIndia which published the offending pieces wouldn’t print the follow-up, whith First Post ran, ostensibly because the editor is friends with Krepon. This is how MALE PRIVILEGE works, by the way.So, in a convoluted way, Gupta Sahab HIMSELF is working to suppress one of the few voices in DC that call this bullshit out.

Many apologies to @Ullekh for sending him this piece when I didn’t know it had been published, albeit in a more abbreviated version.

So, in a convoluted way, Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Print, HIMSELF is working to suppress one of the few voices in DC that call this bullshit out.

Many apologies to @Ullekh for sending him this piece when I didn’t know it had been published, albeit in a more abbreviated version. I also apologize to his fact checkers who knew about the piece and were confused. (I’ll publish the full piece on my blog later this week.)

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The writer is author of In Their Own Words: Understanding the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (OUP, 2019) and Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War (OUP, 2019). The views here are her own and do not reflect those of Firstpost, her employer or other organisations with which she affiliates.

The Gathering: A Mother’s Repine

So many years have passed since that day
We first gazed upon Baby Paul’s chimerical image
Obscured in a blizzard of techno-snow.

The sonographer introduced us. She
Identified his head, hands, and feet.
He became our child in that moment before she
Suddenly, without warning, pursed her mouth and narrowed her eyes.
She scampered from the room and returned with
The Doctor, who perfunctorily descried
Our son was nonviable, without a heartbeat.

I met Paul just once
As I roused from anesthesia and demanded to see him.
He was a swirl of aspirated blood and tissue
Not yet human yet loved.

Jeff never witnessed our son’s
Mangled flesh. It was my solitary
Horror to say goodbye to our
Boy, reduced to a bio-hazard.

At last, I gathered the things we bought for him,
Which had long become the litter of our lives,
Boxed them and set them out in the
Neighborhood yard sale

Best Offer:
Baby shoes. Never worn.
Onesies. Still in original packaging.
Fit Moms. Spine Uncracked.
Receiving Blankets (Package of 4). Unopened.
Kate Spade Diaper Bag, New With Tags.

A woman, whose belly was stretched tight like a drum,
Handed me thirty dollars.
Avoiding the painful intimacy of neighbors, I nodded.
Our eyes meet furtively as her wife picked up the box,
Containing all that remained of our son.

I sold his fragile memory
For the price of a cheap dinner.

Originally published on The Dime Show Review.