LUMS & His Excellency Mama Qadeer: Storm in the Tea Cup?
This debate raging for the past three days is less about LUMS and Pakistani govt/Establishment and more about the agendas of those who are running it. And let me explain why?
I have been talking to people inside LUMS and in the government at various levels from Quetta to Islamabad to make sense of what happened, why, what is the background and context and this piece incorporates it as much as possible.
This talk part of “Remapping Justice Series” was in all probability related to the LUMS foreign faculty member, Dr. Anne Christine Habbard who is from France and apart from her academic focus in philosophy (which she has taught at LUMS) has also deep interest in Human Rights, has worked for several NGO’s and is a former Gen. Secretary of International Federation of Human Rights, a NGO. It is only natural that she would think of Baluchistan missing persons, and of Mama Qadeer as the symbol of that movement and it is quite possible that she would not understand the sensitives around the person of “Mama Qadeer”
Since apparently faculty Members in LUMS have total freedom in terms of inviting their speakers and there are no requirements of formal approvals from the top management. But wait a minute: does that mean that anyone or everyone can be invited? Will LUMS invite Hafiz Saeed or Maulana Abdul Aziz to explain their side of the story? Though both Hafiz Seed and Maulana Aziz have no charges against them in this country but still even more interesting character could be Masood ur Rehman Lakhvi who is being arrested again and again under Indian and international pressure but courts set him free. He can be examined along with his critics in a seminar, under “Remapping Justice Series” by Law Department since the defined goal is to give students a “judicious understanding of public life” But really will there be no sensitivities of academic community, of students, of the city, of the government and society at large? One wonders if this could be true? Can this work as a policy?
And one does not have to look hard or conduct painful experiments to find that No, it does not work that way. In November 2014, LUMS cancelled a talk by Asad Umar of PTI. LUMS cancelled and offered a one para ridiculously pathetic apology (available on net) that some posters on campus violated the policy, and that University stays away from politics. Oh Really?
All those who are up in arms for a University’s supposed right to invite Mama Qadeer, all those who see the evil hand of the state in a conspiracy against ‘freedom of expression’, who see this as the Censorship by Deep State refuse to address the issue that LUMS in recent past is on record saying that it could not invite a respected opposition leader of mainstream national politics because it avoids “politics”. But what kind of double standard it is when LUMS finds nothing wrong in inviting a separatist who was accused of corruption in bank, whose son, Jaleel Reki, was a feared terrorist working for BRA, controlled by Brahamdag Bugti, and who died while battling against the state. Make a comparison: Asad Umar, mainstream politician, parliamentarian and former CEO of a large multinational and “Mama Qadeer” the separatist. And what about our dear liberal columnists, HRCP and Kenneth Roth of Human Right Watch who are sleepless on this great tragedy, did they express the same horror when Asad Umar was stopped by LUMS? Did they or not? Or Mama Qadeer has a special place in their concept of “freedoms”?
Its important to remember that Pakistani authorities in 2009/10 made the then US Ambassador listen to the audio tapes of Brahamdagh Bugti, Head of BRA, commanding the abduction of UN regional Chief John Solensky from the Indian compound in Kabul. US promised prosecution of Brahamadagh but after Solensky was released through US intervention, Brahamdagh stayed on in Kabul for anther several months before being shifted to Switzerland – from where he now runs his proxies, like Mama Qadeer, with the help of his financiers. So when we see the abrupt reaction on LUMS inviting Mama Qadeer, there is a definite background to it.
Lets absorb a bit more. Mama Qadeer was stopped from going to New York in September 2014 on the invitation of an organization (suspected to be be funded by another country’s intelligence), which it was believed was planning to take him to UN for a speech. Since then Mama is on Exit Control List. Earlier government agencies suspected him of running a Long March sponsored by same interests to internationalize the ongoing insurgency in which both civilians and soldiers are dying and he was reportedly explaining his agenda as: requesting UN to send NATO troops to Pakistan. Perhaps one can understand the suspicions of those who fear that giving respect and legitimacy to Mama could be part of a bigger agenda but one wonders did LUMS faculty members not aware of all this? do they not even research facts before planning events?
May be most or all of these allegations are figment of imagination of Pakistani government agencies. After-all as our super intelligent liberals point out that “If this is true then bring cases and imprison Mama” but Sir, the same applies to you. Are you prepare to forgive, forget and embrace Hafiz Seeed, Lakhvi and Malulana Aziz since courts have set them free?
It is seldom about proofs, its about public perception. When Dean of School of International & Public Affairs, Dr. Lisa Anderson had to resign in 2006/7 from Columbia University it was not because she had invited a pedophile or a murderer or leader of Al Qaeda into her Global Leaders Lecture. It was about popularly elected president of Iran, Ahmedi Nejad. But President Lee Bolinger overruled, as he was under pressure. After Anderson resigned and left university confused about its own identity, Columbia again invited Ahmedi Nejad in 2007 for keeping pretenses. And from all directions – Govt, Media, Campus Groups, Students and Pro-Israel Groups – Columbia was bombarded with hate speech. End Result: Columbia President addressed Iran’s President as if he was an “Evil on a petri dish” to be examined, as if he was a mass murderer being given right of defense by the good decent American people. Harvard Law Professor, and a noted American public figure, Alan Dershowitz, had then commented that universities either decide that all are welcome or have to define clear standards.
LUMS has recently switched from a school teaching finance and accounting to social sciences. Business subjects belong to a different discipline that has relative clarity but the challenges of the world of social sciences -with state, society, religion, globalized world around you – are different, with all shades of gray, to say the least. Perhaps LUMS faculty and our dear simple minded liberals (who look very cerebral in Mummy/Daddy controlled Pakistan, where bookish ideas can be flaunted without any real understanding all life) have to learn some wisdom from the advice of Professor Alan Dershowitz. And however they define those standards it won’t be possible to invent a sieve through which Asad Umar is filtered but Mama Qadeer falls through or Mama passes through and but Hafiz Saeed and Maulana Aziz fail. Stop Double Standards & Grow Up!