Thursday, April 19, 2007

The impending Benazir-Mushrraf Deal


A question: Why are Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto urgently trying to strike a deal?

From Musharraf’s standpoint it is quite comprehensible – it is all about kursi, kursi and kursi.

The Chief Justice crisis has demolished his image of invincibility, the Army is getting openly reviled at protest rallies held in streets of Punjab, and Washington has ended its post-9/11 love affair with him. With his grip on power eroding, the plan of getting ‘re-elected’ through once more gerrymandering the constitution has become fraught with political insecurity and is no longer an easy option.

Consequently, a suitable deal with Benazir Bhutto (and her PPP) is perhaps the safest way to extend his stay in power and enable him to face elections.

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Benazir has been increasingly desperate for a deal ever since she was convicted in a Swiss Court of Law for money laundering. Having appealed the decision she now faces the possibility of even a harsher future - a maximum sentence of five years in jail.

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The evidence against Benazir Bhutto and her spouse was strong enough to convict her in July 2003 of money laundering (the charge of corruption was not included as the funds had been placed in Geneva banks prior to the recent enactment of Swiss anti-corruption legislation) by Swiss Magistrate, Daniel Devaud.

Benazir Bhutto appealed the case. Unfortunately for her now there is an additional charge of aggravated money laundering which carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail as well as a fine of about one million Swiss francs if Bhutto is found guilty.

The evidence stacked against her appears to be fairly conclusive. In September 2005 she was grilled by the Swiss judge for over eight hours. Apparently an emotional Benazir replied to these questions by denying any knowledge of the bank accounts or the millions of dollars worth of ‘commission’ payments made into them.

And when presented with the evidence of the court-sequestered £120,000 diamond necklace discovered in their bank lockers, she admitted that her husband had bought it for her but claimed that as she had refused to accept it she could not be held responsible.

Even after having adopted the legal stance of dumping all the guilt on her spouse, Benazir is still not certain whether the Swiss Court will acquit her.

In the circumstances, it is not surprising to learn that Asif Zaradari has been living in New York for the past few years. As the US and Switzerland do not have an extradition treaty, it will not be possible for the Swiss Courts to lay their hands on him if he is found guilty in the criminal case arraigned against him.


In the event Benazir Bhutto is found guilty of the crime of aggravated money laundering in Switzerland her political future would suffer a tremendous blow. In fact it will be finished if she has to serve time in jail. For once she will not be able to claim political bias, as no one would believe that a Swiss Court would hold a political grudge against her.
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For readers who still believe the accusations of corruption against Benazir Bhutto are mere fantasy, then your Blogger suggests that a brief bout of ‘Googling’ might change their perspective.

For those too lazy to Google just simply click the following links:

The New York Times
The Sunday Times
The Guardian

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So, one can only conclude that any deal entered between Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto will be based on purely selfish motivations on the part of both of them. One hopes to retain his precious kursi and the other hopes to finally get a ‘Get out of Jail Free’ card.

However, whether a deal does materialise, is still a moot point.
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Accepting Musharraf in uniform or allowing him to get re-elected through the existing assemblies, will damage Benazir’s political standing fatally; even the most loyal of her supporters will face difficulty in rising to her defence.

If she colludes with Musharraf and enters into political alliance for the impending elections, she cannot help but become seriously tarnished in the process. She might have got away with it if Musharraf had still been a powerful dictator (which is clearly no longer the case). Now she will be perceived as providing political sustenance to a drowning despot – an unforgivable sin as far as most democratically-minded people are concerned.

However, at the same time the self-centred pressures of getting rid of all corruption cases arrayed against her and the lure of return to Pakistan as a 'homecoming Queen' cannot be discounted nor undervalued.
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From Musharraf’s standpoint losing his uniform is risking political suicide – without the 600,000 men in tanks, helicopter gunships and F-16s propping him, he may soon turn into a political nonentity and sent to political oblivion.

Even if he scrapes a deal with the PPP whereby he discards his uniform for a guaranteed five year term as president, his future remains fraught with risk. While he may possess the requisite constitutional sanction to dismiss future prime ministers and governments, recent events have shown him to be an exceedingly unpopular leader. This obvious lack of public support will weaken him in any potential conflict with the government of the day.

It must be borne in mind that the sight of a weakened Musharraf has changed the attitude in the Bush White House as well. Now beginning to plan for a post-Musharraf Pakistan, the White House has determined that a PPP-Army alliance is the best possible alternative for the US, given the current circumstances.

However, American demands to make a deal with Benazir must be galling for a military dictator used to getting his own way - his recent outbursts against the US are therefore quite comprehensible.
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If a deal does come through - and the signs are there that it will - one can ask: How long will it last?

Considering, there is hardly any love lost between Musharraf and Benazir, if anything their state of mutual loathing has been quite overt, and that military dictators have always held a low threshold for even their own-appointed prime ministers (just take the examples of Zia and Junejo, and Musharraf and Jamali), it will be a deal built on quicksand and probably last no more than a few days after the elections.
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As far the rest of Pakistani politics is concerned, this is what a commentator in Dawn said yesterday:

The Pakistan People’s Party would be a big loser in the event of a deal with the government, according to political analysts based in the capital.

Conversations with sources close to the leadership in different parties revealed that a good number of PPP hawks were seeking membership of other parties, especially the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, after resigning themselves to an arrangement between their party and the government.

The reports of a PPP-government reconciliation have, paradoxically enough, brought joy to other opposition parties as they feel that the last impediment to an anti-Musharraf alliance — People’s Party chief Benazir Bhutto — will now be out of the way.

This was how a leader of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal saw the shape of things to come: “It will enable anti-Musharraf forces to gather on one platform, ensuring a head-on collision between the pro-US ‘enlightened moderates’ on one side, and ‘pro-Islam’ forces on the other.”

The Musharraf-Benazir deal will definitely be a setback for those elements which had set their sights on the forthcoming elections as a vehicle of change.

For hangers-on of the Musharraf government, for instance the PML-Q, the patch-up would be like a bolt from the blue. However, several observers warned of an upheaval if the new arrangement fails to come up to the expectations of the nation.




22 comments:

Anonymous said...

This disinformation campaign by the govt. of the General is getting ridiculous. The so-called intelligentia has always had a visceral dislike for Bhutto and embraces any spin that Anwar Mehmood and his ilk put out. No-one is disputing the corruption and the cases but honestly they do not weigh as heavily as the government may like people like you to think. Bhutto will come back and it will never be at a cost to the Constitution. Mahi

Onlooker said...

Anonymous -Mahi

My reading is that Benazir, not being overly endowed with commonsense at the best of times, was keen to make a deal to save her skin. It is the open opposition of her senior party men that has been holding her back.

In the Sunday Times interview this week: 'She claimed it would be in Pakistan’s interest for [Musharraf and her] to reach an accord.'

(What a load of tripe!)

To make her happy Musharraf has already withdrawn the NAB cell that was created to target her.

_______________________________

I sincerely hope she keeps on listening to her party men....

Anonymous said...

We agree on the party men...The NAB cell was closed down becuase ithad proven to be extremely inefficient and the guy who ran it was a problem to Mush. The NAB cases themselves against BB have not been withdrawn...This was my earlier point about disinformation working n the liberal middle and upper-middle classes. Shaikh Rasheed, Anwar Mehmood and sometimes our favorite Lahori journalistic couple have proven that they are much more effective than the PPP at disinformation - but has not the army always won that particular game. Mahi

AAS said...

Onlooker there is really no point in talking sense to MAHI. He seems to be in love with BB.

I agree with you a 100 percent about this post.

Oh Mahi and honest desi...i hope you read my reply to that post about the "Amazon of Islamabad" because you both need a reality check.

Keep up the good work ONLOOKER.

MAHI said...

Dear AAS,
One has been brought up to be civilized. A democracy needs all voices heard - not just the loudest and the angriest. The only thing I truly love is Pakistan and I do not see too many decent options to Bhutto. She is the best we have so let's grow up - politics is not drawing room chatter it is indeed the art of the possible. MAHI

libertarian said...

onlooker: thanks for a most insightful piece. In a perverse way, having Bibi and Mushy hook up may not be a bad thing - if the left and right can unite as a result. Their marriage of convenience just has to last long enough for the perfect storm to brew. If there is a massive confluence against the Army (the real villain) of the 1971 type, Pakistani civil society will get about 10 years to build institutions before the Army decides to bare its teeth again.

reason said...

mahi is on BBs payroll

Anonymous said...

Onlooker, this is an excellent analysis. Allow me to add couple of other points: There is no doubt that U.S. is trying to devise a plan B. (or BB for that matter) for their own purposes. They believe that Musharraf and the Army are playing the Islamist, Tailbone card to suck the gringos of some dollars. As long as they have this card they can continue with taliban-alqaeda laundering. The other point is to counter one of the other respondent: Assuming that the NAB is biased and carrying out a political vendetta, what about the money laundering charges by the Swiss court? Wherever this deal or dheel may end up, one thing is unfortunately certain; the folks in Pakistan are in deep slumbers with the disenfranchised and “sub chulta haey” apathy.
--"JusAthot"

UnReason said...

Why is it not possible for Pakistanis to debate politics without accusing people with other views of being in love with someone or being on their payroll?

Onlooker: Can't you enforce civility in the discussion here.

MAHI said...

Unreason: How ugly you are. This sort of conversation is beneath my dignity - I leave you to the ninjas...you don't deserve an intelligent discourse. MAHI

MAHI said...

SORRY: My comment was meant for REASON.............MAHI

MAHI said...

PS It is a window into your soul. Not all of us can be bought. Some of us gave everything to create Pakistan and actually still believe in freedom of speech. How sad...maybe partition was a terrible idea after all.

Anonymous said...

CORRUPTION??? An example of corruption that is so deep rooted in Mush's govt.
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Subject: ILLEGALITIES AND MAL-PRACTICES BY MR. RAZI UR RAHMAN, CHAIRMAN SECP

Respected Sir,



We are the employees of SECP who want to inform you about the dishonest actions, illegalities, irregularities and mal- practices being committed by Mr. Razi Ur Rahman, Chairman Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan. Brief detail is as under:



a) Mr. Razi Ur Rehman is giving millions of rupees of public money to his favorites lavishly in the form of advertisements and Consultancy fee etc and all belong to Karachi. It is known by everyone that he is getting kick backs from all the jobs of purchases, renovations and consultancies etc.



b) Mr. Razi Ur Rahman got approved the Promotion Procedure from the Commission and did not get its approval from the Policy Board, which was mandatory as per Securities and Exchange Commission Act. He implemented the illegal Promotion Procedure in haste and promoted his blue eyed officers without taking into the generally recognized principle of "Seniority cum fitness". He promoted his favorites who were very junior in seniority in the ranks and also paid a full gross salary as promotion bonus. Although there is no provision of Promotion Bonus in the Rules and Laws of SECP.



c) He got appointed to Mr. Ashraf Tiwana (one of his favorites) as Director/Registrar, who had been declared disqualified during the interview for the post of Director (SM) by the Selection Committee some months back. However, in order to accommodate him a new post of Registrar Appellate Bench was created and he was appointed as Director/Registrar on very high salary from the back date and also paid 3 gross salaries as honorarium too.



d) Mr. Razi belongs to Karachi and spends every weekends and also 3 working days there at the cost of SECP money. He receives TA/DA and air passage for these visits and periods. He stays in his own residence there and receives Daily Allowance. Since his appointment as Chairman SECP, he hardly stayed at Islamabad during the weekends. The computerized record of attendance will easily confirm this fact.



e) He is also sending his favorite employees on foreign tours at his own discretion without formal process of nominations. Even he facilitates in making the private visits of his most favorites converting it into as official visit, sending them on official tours and also attaching leave with the tours. The big example is Ms. Amber Dar Ex-Executive Director (Law) who also belonged to Karachi. She enjoyed her personal visits of UK every year making it as official tours, attaching leave with it. There are several other similar cases, which can be verified from the record.



f) Ms. Zaib Shahdani, Assistant Director is also an example. She is very close to Mr. Razi Ur Rahman (who is a divorced man un-luckily). She has also paid several foreign visits including UK, China, Korea and India etc. The record will provide the complete details of her visits.



g) Mr. Razi is also granting rewards to his favorite employees lavishly. He got approved three gross salaries for all the two Commissioners amounting to Rs. 3400,000. Also managed to enhance his and Commissioners salaries to Rs. 5,55,000 per month from Rs. 3, 50,000/- per month with effect from 01-01-2007, with increase of more than 50 percent. He paid full gross salaries as honorarium to all his other favorites like Mr. Ashraf Tiwana, Registrar (3 gross salaries), Miss. Shane (one gross salary) etc. He is employing his favorites on very high salaries like Mr. Zafar Abdullah Executive Director (Rs. 3,42,000 per month), Mr. Mansur Ahsan Executive Director (Rs. 3,10,000 per month, whose deficiency of qualification has also been waived off at the time of appointment) and Mr. Panjwani Director (Rs. 2,00,000 per month) etc. The record of Accounts Department will provide all the details. In short he is looting the exchequer of Securities and Exchange Commission with both hands like "Mallay Muft Dillay Bayreham".



h) Mr. Razi Ur Rahman is receiving kick backs in all deals and affairs of Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, whether it is matter of purchases or renovation of building or engaging of consultants. Interestingly he gives all work to the consultants of Karachi even he also engaged Legal Advisor from Karachi although the Head Office is located in Islamabad. He is severely prejudiced with the employees who are not from Urdu Speaking Community or from Karachi. Presently Traika comprising Mr. Razi Ur Rahman, Mr. Javed K. Siddiqui and Mr. Mansur Ahsan (All belongs to Karachi Urdu Speaking Community) is ruling the SECP. He is also spending 2,50,000/- per month on his own security although the same was never been done by the ex-Chairmen of SECP. Both the Commissioners have been bribed giving them high salaries and three gross salaries as honorarium. Hence, they are keeping their eyes closed on the looting of public money by Mr. Razi Ur Rahman.



i) These are some examples if a thorough investigation is conducted, several similar cases will certainly come in the lime light.



j) Mr. Razi Ur Rehman is not only fully bulldozing the rules and regulations of SECP, but also using the public money in order to please his favorites. He is in fact looting the public exchequer very lavishly.



k) The list of mal-practices and dishonesty at the part of Mr. Razi Ur Rehman is very long during his 1st year of appointment and if he is not checked and removed immediately, the public exchequer of SECP and organization will suffer irreparable loss.



l) Mr. Razi Ur Rahman is making hiring of his favorites against different posts on very high salaries and perks, but the existing regular employees who have been performing the similar jobs for years are being victimized although they have given the cream of their lives to SECP. Their perks/facilities are being withdrawn gradually and contract employees hired by Mr. Razi are being favored lavishly in the form of high salaries, expensive cars and bonuses etc. Recently he hired Directors, Joint Directors and Deputy Directors for Securities Market Division of SECP. The posts were advertised, but without short-listing of other candidates some favorite candidates were interviewed and all of them were offered the jobs on very high salaries. He has also got amendment in Selection Committee Rules and decided if he interviews a candidate directly, there will be no need of interview by Selection Committee. The interesting point is that he violates the Selection Committees as approved by the Commission.



m) The employees who do not obey his illegal and irregular instructions are always discouraged and insulted frequently. Consequently they are resigning, causing brain-drainage out of talented manpower. All the Executive Directors who were hired on merit by the ex-Chairman SECP have been compelled to resign. Recently four Directors and several Joint Directors, Dy Directors and Assistant Directors have resigned because of hopeless, discriminately treatment and disappointing environment created by Mr. Razi Ur Rahman. Several times news articles have been published in the leading daily newspapers on similar mal-practices of Mr. Razi Ur Rahman, but surprisingly no investigation has been conducted or any authority even tried to know the facts.



It is therefore requested to take notice of the situation immediately in the interest of Nation and advise to competent forums like NAB etc to conduct a detailed probe of the situation in Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan to save the public exchequer which is factually being looted with both hands by Mr. Razi ur Rehman, Chairman SECP and his favorites. The name of Mr. Razi and his allies may also please be placed in Exit Control List otherwise it is strong possibility that they will leave the country immediately in order to avoid the accountability.







Yours Faithfully

Employees of Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan

Onlooker said...

One of the noble aspects of a truly democratic society is the open tolerance of diverging views (providing of course such views do not advocate violence or display racial, religious or sexist contempt for others).

While most of us enjoy a healthy debate, I would politely urge readers making comments to refrain from making personal attacks. It does not further the discussion, nor for that matter, does it solve anything.

Anonymous said...

Now you have it from Mush's ghostwriter....do you believe it now....NO DEAL!!!! MAHI
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The Matrix

Humayun Gauhar
They’re quite hilarious really, our friends the Pipliyas of the People’s Party. Life would be so boring without them, though I can assure you that they are going nowhere just yet, unless, of course, Benazir tangos with General Musharraf, which is unlikely, for the soldier-gentleman won’t dance with her. So relax. We will continue to be diverted by the Pipliyas for some time yet.
In my last article called ‘Leadership’, I said that the president cannot withdraw the cases against Benazir since they are effectively the ‘People versus Ms Bhutto’. If he does, any citizen can take the government to court, for at the end of the day the money that has been looted belongs to every citizen. (The president can pardon people, but only after conviction, as he did Nawaz Sharif, and that too is a conditional pardon.
And in a country that chooses to constitutionally call itself an “Islamic Republic”, the president cannot even do that). And it came to pass that a letter from the rather fetching Punjab information secretary of the PPP (or is it the PPPP?) appeared in ‘The Nation’ saying that I had forgotten that the MQM’s Sindh governor had withdrawn 3,500 cases against his party, including the torture of Major Kaleem which was video recorded, “all done under the patronage of” the governor, the implication being why therefore the government could not withdraw the numerous cases against Benazir and spouse.
The lady doesn’t realise that by drawing this analogy, she is implicitly admitting that the cases against Benazir are genuine, unless she says that the cases against the MQM were false and thus the cases against Benazir are false too.
Government’s inefficiency or deliberate slovenliness in not pursuing them with full vigour doesn’t mean lack of evidence – there is enough of it to sink the Titanic. It means playing chess with the people as pawns, no new thing in this country of tears and sorrow. Sadly, the lady either did not understand or was not interested in the rest of my article, since all the Pipliyas can see is Benazir. It was about the universal principles of leadership, applicable to everyone in every field, including the fetching lady herself.
It was totally wrong of the Sindh governor to do so, and any affected party, be it the people, an individual, family or institution (or the People’s Party itself) can and should take him and the relevant governments to court. Take the major who was allegedly tortured under the governor’s patronage.
Unless there is a fair trial, we will never know and his family will continue living in mental torture. Similarly, I fully support the idea of constituting a Truth Commission to investigate the manner, circumstances and fairness of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s trial and execution. Everyone, no matter who he or she is – even Hitler, Bush, Saddam and Sharon – deserves a fair and impartial trial and as far as I am concerned.
What Mr. Bhutto got was a mockery of due process and what this country got was an everlasting stigma. I don’t blame Benazir Bhutto for entering politics. Any self-respecting child would if their father or mother have been unfairly imprisoned, tortured and/or murdered by the state.
What I blame her for is doing bad politics. Worse, having suffered so much as a family, one rightly expected her to rise above material concerns, treat the opportunity the God gave her not once but twice as a trust, and taken this country to the success that its founders dreamed of, or at least her father dreamed of. Sadly, she got entangled in diamond necklaces.
More hilarity. Benazir and the Pipliyas keep insisting that there is no deal in the offing, yet privately they are telling everyone that it is round the corner.
A telling sign that they expect to be in government soon, gratis Musharraf, is the way they have started strutting around again and dusting down their pliers with which to restart pulling out the toenails of the recalcitrant.
So when someone like me writes against doing a ‘deal’ with her, they go bananas, hating the fact that I may upset their applecart. How can I? Why should Musharraf listen to me? He hasn’t in the past most of the time. Had he, then I would like to believe that the mess might have been less.
Let me tell the Pipliyas again: as far as I know, there is going to be no deal. So cool it, calm down, control you excitement and put your pliers back in your torture chamber. I am sorry though, for then we would have got so much more hilarity with the Pipliyas singing praises of Musharraf whom they had been reviling for years. I forget: turning comes to most of our politicians with greater ease than it does to a worm.
It is not that the government and Benazir have never talked in the past. The government’s problem is that whereas it has a political agenda, Benazir has a personal one, her prime demand being the withdrawal of all cases against her, including in Switzerland, and the quashing of all convictions.
How do you negotiate with someone who is still politicking only to force the government to meet her personal demands? The Pipliyas’ problem is that they exist in the Bhutto Matrix – party members, friends, relatives and cronies all. Switch off the matrix and they will cease to exist, except possibly Aitizaz Ahsan who is someone in his own right.
It is like the few dozen celebrities who regularly appear in Hello! – people who are called the ‘Hellocracy’. If the magazine shuts down most will cease to exist, especially those who thrive on reflected celebrity of a spouse, former spouse or friend.
They will then do more and more outlandish things to attract media attention, like a dying person reaching out for a life-support system. Similarly, if Benazir were to do a deal with Musharraf, I can bet that the Bhutto Matrix will switch off fast and these people will be looking for life support from another matrix. (I can see their response: “What about Humayun Gauhar who exists in the Musharraf Matrix? Sorry, Musharraf is not the icon of a cult and has no matrix). What will happen is that Musharraf will be stabbed in the back, just like all her former ‘allies’ with whom she did ‘deals’, the last being Nawaz Sharif and their ‘deal’ called ‘The Charter of Democracy’. It took only a few months for Mr Sharif to be left high and dry: Today he is a very worried man! Serves him right! He, of all people, should have known better, having been the victim of an earlier ‘deal’ between Benazir and a former president, who also got ditched. President Musharraf should find himself a good medium so that he can get in touch with Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Nawabzada Nasrullah and hear from them the tales of their ‘deals’ with Benazir.
Here’s a fable. A scorpion on the run found himself stranded on a riverbank, not knowing how to get across. Along came a fox and the scorpion asked whether he could piggyback on him across the river. “But you will sting me,” said the fox. “I won’t,” promised the scorpion. “How can I sting someone who has saved my life?”
The fox agreed. As the water got deeper, the scorpion climbed higher and higher until he was on the fox’s head and finally was parked on the tip of his nose. When they reached the other bank, the scorpion stung the fox on the nose and got off, saying “thank you.” But you have broken your promise,” lamented the dying fox. “Sorry, my friend,” said the scorpion. “But I can’t help it. It’s in my nature.”
E-mail: hgauhar@nation.com.pk

Anonymous said...

Man, that Humayun Gauhur is so sweet BUT SO CRAZY!!! and not like a fox! Desperate to be oved and to be even half the man that he saw his father to be! So he needed a military dictator of his own!! Haha.. Jeevay Pakistan!

reason said...

if everyone can express there opinion in a free society than that was my opinion.I didn't stop mahi from expressing his why would he get so worked over a simple and logical observation I made.

Anonymous said...

Hey Reason Man:
I think what MAHI amd Onlooker were trying to say was that opnions should be expressed in a civil and decent manner.
Express your opinion but be nice and tolerant. Peace!!
JP

reason said...

okay...

Dear mahi,

I think you are on bibis payroll.

with respect,

reason

Unreason said...

Reason,

I think you are on ISI payroll.
Also, only ISI types think everyone who disagree with them is on someone else's payroll.

Without respect for an organization of torturers and goons,

Unreason

AAS said...

I have tried to be civil and will again muster all my strength to do so much more but to be honest most of the attacks by MAHI on me have been personal and have totally disregared my reasoning and the facts that back up those views. So yes i did become somewhat annoyed at him.

Mahi has attacked me as being a fanatic, a terrorist and even gora loving pretend secularist supporting the taliban.

So I have sympathy for REASON.

By the way ONLOOKER as again please keep up the good work....your blog is my favorite.

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