Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Threats of sexual violence on Twitter and jingoists

One rather disturbing trend on Twitter seems to be jingoism by harassing female liberals. This seems in particular to apply to our female journalists. As I type these words, I can see disturbing comments on my Twitter timeline about a female media person’s appearance on ARY. These comments range from her sari to her lack of duppata, all while telling her she is wrong to be questioning Pakistan’s military and religious norms.

Why does anyone remotely female who questions Military Inc have to be subjected to threats of sexual violence? How does her appearance affect the debate at hand? Wearing a sari or not will not change the fact that Military Inc has indulged in unfair and illicit business deals. For some reason, many people who favour Military Inc also seem to find it wrong to question the economic success of Mr. Aleem Khan of PTI fame. Point out any flaw in the PTI and/or the Generals running Pakistan and most people tend to be trolled. However, if the person doing the pointing out happens to be female, threats of sexual violence, comments on her promiscuity, way of dressing etc always come up. Because, jingoism today isn’t just about worshipping the ground the military walks on, it’s also about worshipping the group Imran Khan and his Insafians walk on. A “good Pakistani” isn’t allowed to have dissenting political opinions, and calling out the corruption of amongst the rankers of the PTI, calling out the ineptness of the KP government, being concerned about the Jamaat e Islami running the education ministry of the KP government are all things only RAW, Mussad and CIA agents do. If the person doing the calling out is female, she is quickly labeled promiscuous along with being a foreign agent.

I have a question to ask these scions of purity. If you are as pure as you say, if you value religious sentiments, if you believe in a safe and economically prosperous Pakistan, shouldn’t you perhaps get all the rapey and sexually violent thoughts out of your own head to make your country a better and safer place?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Deciphering fact from fiction, choosing logic over emotions

Dear Mr. Imran Khan,  in your article entitled “Why the West craves materialism and why the East sticks to religion”, you made a few sweeping statements that I felt needed to be addressed.

“Science had replaced religion and if something couldn’t be logically proved it did not exist”.
Sir, I beg you, read up on positivism and post positivism. Should we also start blaming all mental and social disorder on Jinns and evil spirits? Should we also tell our psychologists that they are incorrect and all their wards need is a good dose of the Holy Books? Also, your statement is indeed sweeping. Can we see emotions? You wear yours on your sleeve but we can’t physically see them. Yet, science says they exist. We cant measure emotions, we cant put physical values on them and yet we know emotions are the reasons you appeal to your voter base using religion.

“Philosophers like Darwin, who with his half-baked theory of evolution had supposedly disproved the creation of men and hence religion, were read and revered”.
Again Sir, read up on the latest breakthroughs in proving Darwinism before you call his work half-baked. What is your basis for calling it half-baked? Is it because you feel less special if your forefathers emerged from a chaotic cesspool of chemicals and eventually turned into something remotely resembling you? If you wish to believe in creationism, at least do not be judgmental of people who do not. Sir, you call yourself a good man, someone who is not arrogant, but your self-professed moral superiority makes you more arrogant than not.

“…humans need to be intellectually convinced”. Sir, when have you used intellectual prowess to convince anyone of anything? Your article uses nothing but religion and your personal beliefs. It also states facts that cannot be verified. Your beliefs can never be universal which is why enlightened people rely on empiricism to win arguments. I really hope when you came across the word you will not need to look it up in a dictionary.

You go on to state that 60% of Americans go to psychiatrists, are you suggesting people in the Arab world and Asia are not depressed? Sir, please, look around you. Maybe not around your Banigala palace atop a hill, but the kachi abadis where the elderly find themselves homeless or sickly. Do you not think these people would happily go to psychiatrists if they had access to them or knew what psychiatrists were? Secondly, where do you get your facts and figures? I personally could not find this 60% of all Americans are depressed or disturbed claim anywhere. But what do I know? I am only a lowly researcher and lecturer. I am not a famous sports personality who because a political rock star by spewing anti Americanisms, or appealing to the lowest common denominator by using religion to get votes.

“Since all morality has it roots in religion, once religion was removed, immorality has progressively grown since the 70s. Its direct impact has been on family life. In the UK, the divorce rate is 60 percent, while it is estimated that there are over 35 percent single mothers”. Sir, this statement sounds a bit like David Cameron’s when he told Britain to embrace its Christian values.  Firstly, on behalf of families everywhere with divorced relatives, UP YOURS you divorced hypocrite! Equating divorce to immorality is disgusting. Your clearly patriarchal views offend many of us. Single mothers in the UK do not give birth to mass murdering terrorists the same way many married mothers tend to in Pakistan. But you don’t seem to care about that side of things do you sir? After all, the TTP doesn’t want to take over tracts of land from Pakistan, all it wants to do is eject Americans from Asia. Well sir, do you not remember Swat? Do you not read about Taliban strong holds all over specific areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan? Sir, your disregard for those who have become victims of terrorists activities is most upsetting. You choose to bemoan a child born out of wedlock in Britain because for you, that seems more immoral that shooting a 14-year-old Malala in the face.

Sir, your article was offensive for anyone with half a brain. Maybe that is why you personally were not offended by it but many of us were. I respect your religious view and your right to believe in anything you want. But sir, you have gone on to make your religion into a political tool for your own means. You use it to prove your worthiness to be a ruler. You use to whip up support, you use to make people forget that the PTI has a terrible track record of governance so far. Your hypocritical statements, your attacks on the Sindh, Punjab and Pakistani governments so people wont see PTI’s failures and corruption (that’s right, your PTI is not entirely corruption free as you allege from the tax evasions of the KP ministers to lying about not having officially financed residences).  What of the terrorist prison breaks? When it happens in KP its suddenly the fault of the agencies that warned your province something big was going to go down but when its under the PPP or PMLN, prison breaks are the fault of the ruling party.

Sir, once more, glorifying Islam in this age of phobias is an excellent way to make people be more tolerant. However, using it as a way to win cheap points is not only deplorable but does a disservice to your people and your religion.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Why I’m not voting PTI this weekend

The crowd goes wild when he makes an almost deity-like appearance. He gets the sympathy vote when he falls off his crane and the PTI realizes even gods can bleed. He is hailed as an intellectual by those impressed by his Oxford degree, a devout Muslim by those who think him a friend of the religious right. Pseudo liberals think him the perfect Muslim, accepting of Shias and Sunnis alike. Imran Khan Saab is said to be the embodiment of his political vision, the PTI.

But their manifesto doesn't read like an intellectually written document of brilliant vision. It does not approve of alternative judicial systems and yet it glorifies the panchayat system for one. It also “advocates tolerance, moderation and freedom to practice the religion of one’s choice”. The PTI leader does not sound like an intellectual when he publicly supports the second amendment and also goes on to state he is not looking for Ahamdi votes.  Regarding Ahmadis who are a significant part of Pakistan’s population and a part of our history, Pakistani intellectuals often quote the famous Munir Report which Bhutto Saab ignored when he decided the embarrassingly shameful “Qaidiani Ordinance”. One has to wonder if Kaptaan Saab ever bothered to read the Munir Report (like every good Pakistani statesman should) before he made his potentially life-threatening-to-Ahmadis hate speech.
The Manifesto goes on to talk about “promoting a culture of tolerance and co operation amongst the political parties”. When has Khan Saab ever tolerated other political leaders apart from the religious right? Insulting everyone is simply crass! When Aitezaz Ahsan speaks, when Benazir Bhutto spoke, their intellectual credibility was never in question. One cannot make that same statement about Mr. Khan.
Whispers of his closeness to the military are not comforting either. When the vision is a politically democratic and modern Pakistan, the military should not be the deciding factor. Imran Khan claims his links to the "deep state" are all propaganda and for the sake of our nation I certainly do hope so.
He does like to play to emotional and religious sentiments resulting in myopia. Yes Mr. Khan, drones are bad, no Mr. Khan, terrorism will not stop when the US withdraws from Afghanistan. When you make a peace deal with the terrorists in Pakistan, they tend to take over large tracts of land from the state. Remember Swat people?

The president of the PTI Woman’s Wing or something to that effect told me he was a great supporter of the rights of women. If you ask Mr. Khan, he is not against affirmative action, he just believes that women from important families get into reserved seats and finds that unacceptable, which is why he wants to abolish such seats. Sir, I would like to politely point out, affirmative action is progressive regardless of the social class of the female in question. If you really want to change the reserved seats system, don’t do it by abolishing affirmative action do it by proposing amendments.

In the last five years, it seems the PML-N has made all the right moves and supported democracy. Without Nawaz Sharif, this parliament would never have completed its tenure. Once again, one cannot make the same claim for Kaptaan Saab. If he could address his own failings, he would genuinely be a leader worth voting for but at the moment I do not see him being able to deliver the Moon that he has promised to the people of Pakistan, let alone change any of his own conservative stances.



Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A trip on the Pakistani Motorway via Daewoo


 A trip on the Pakistani motorway via bus tends to be marred by the Daewoo Company’s unceasing proclivity towards profit maximization by serving sub standard food and charging increasingly higher fares. The month of Ramzan however, does bring with it a welcome departure from convention. Though one cannot eat, drink, smoke or even curse in public till dusk, the good people at Daewoo Bus Co. feel generous enough to feed their customers a stale samosa and a whole sandwich. On a non-Ramzan day, traveling by the Daewoo Bus Co. seems to entail being given a dry piece of bread and being told one can spread mayonnaise on said dry object by using the tiny single-serving packet provided without the use of any utensils. 

 One’s journey can become arduous and tiresome when one discovers that the passenger seated next to one is keen to talk. Weary of talking to people who like to scratch their privates in public, one can feign sleep or use the I-am-an-important-writer/teacher/researcher-who-cannot-put-down-his-laptop-for-lack-of-time excuse. The former is a classic all time winner that people may just have used during partition to ignore their future neighbours. “Oh dear, is s/he going to be living in the same city as me when I get to Pakistan/India? And this person likes to talk. I shall feign sleep and therefore shall not have to partake in annoying banter. Oh look, I'm already asleep. No wait, I'm awake now and it seems someone stopped the train and killed us all. We're a ghost train now. So I won't have to live in the same city as that bugger anymore. Well that all ended quite splendidly!" While this can work out rather well, the latter is a bit harder to get away with. If the neighbouring passenger has the slightest of social graces, s/he will realize that the person next to him/her is busy and should not be disturbed. However, one often comes across those who feel compelled to ask what one does for a living and how much one earns. It is as if the rules that govern polite society and social discourse are forgotten and done away with. “Hello, I don’t know you but because you seem to be working, I feel compelled to interrupt you ask you how much money you make. After all, if we are sharing a bus together, we must become bosom buddies”. 

 Unlike Edward Norton’s character Tyler Durden in Fight Club, not everyone is willing to befriend whoever is sitting next to him (even if the friend is a single serving friend on a single serving flight filled with little single serving whiskey bottles and single serving little pats of butter). There are times on the bus when one might want to murder the person sitting next to him in a fit of anger and/or revulsion. 

Suppose one does have a genuine deadline to meet and one keeps being distracted by strange sounds of which the source is the strange bearded creature next to him. As the creature tries unsuccessfully to clean its teeth using only its tongue, strange sucking sounds are made with the organ that resonate from from the creature's frontal orifice. One emits a loud dramatic sigh and resigns oneself to life. In this particular case, the creature refused to accept defeat for the better part of an hour. Oral efforts having failed, the creature decided to use its fingernails to pull out the offending piece of cow/spinich from betwixt its teeth which thankfully stopped the offending noise. However, as the first rule of traveling goes, when one is in a public confined space, a baby must start crying. Since throwing a child out of the bus seems a bit excessive and might amount to attempted murder, one refrains from harming little-junior *expletive deleted* and goes on with life trying to pretend that the few sane brain cells he had left before the bus trip are still alive. And just as one makes peace with the fact that he will not go insane on the bus or commit harakiri with a pen, the bearded creature decides to make that horrid sucking-cow-flesh-stuck-in-teeth-noise again. *Expletive deleted*!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Angry Mobs and the Pakistani state

Recently, a Pakistani lower court judge agreed with a petition stating that it is okay to rule against Americans who have committed blasphemy in America because it is within "judge saab's" jurisdiction. I would politely like to ask this little magistrate with delusions of international grandeur what kind of drugs he has been burning in his crack pipe. A Pakistani FIR has been filed against the likes of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Pastor Terry Jones and the President of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority which is in charge of blocking "blasphemous material".

Angry mobs in Pakistan, many which constitute of highly educated lawyers (ergo people quite familiar with the concept of the rule of law) keep channelizing their hatred on the basis of one thing, xenophobia. From the 1953 Lahore riots against Ahmadis to the state giving into the demands of extremists in the Zufiqar Bhutto era, the xenophobic angry mob has gained the kind of momentum in Pakistan from which there may be no turning back. The constitution of Pakistan promises to protect the rights of all religions and sects and yet the second amendment states that Ahmadis are not Muslims. to apply for a passport, one has to agree officially to a statement that once again asserts that Ahmadis are not Muslims. We can establish that angry mobs hate it when people have beliefs contrary to those of Sunnis (those people who usually constitute angry mobs in Pakistan). We can also establish these mobs are angry enough to make the state discriminate against its own citizens if pushed to it.

So its only logical that when headlines such as "Gunmen shoot dead 16 bus passengers in Pakistan" (regarding the killing of minority Shias by Sunnis) come out in the international press and local press, those constituting angry mobs do not seem remotely angry or mob-like.

By marginalizing a society of people, the Pakistani state is guilty of state terror. By letting xenophobic people dictates the edicts and laws of the state, the people in general have become more ignorant and xenophobic. these measures make it seem as if Pakistan is going out of its way to make life difficult for minorities. The issue just continues to exacerbate and grow even further out of proportion. Currently, a group of lawyers who belong to the Lahore High Court Bar Association have been trying to get the products of a Pakistani business called Shezan banned on court premises because "Shezan is owned by Ahmadis". By that justification, all Sunni Muslims everywhere should close themselves off from the outside world and only deal with other Sunni Muslims. Maybe people who believe this need to make a new state for themselves far away from human civilization (perhaps in Antarctica) and call it "Hermitsitan".

Lastly we have those Muslims in Pakistan who agree things are not going well but say, "beta, yeh sub kuch Allah ke haath main hota hai". my question to them is, "is it just me or does Providence just not give a rat's fart"?





Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mansoor Ijaz and what we know about him

The Pakistani military, The Zardari led Peoples Party, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), Iftikhar Chaudhry, your neighbor, the obnoxious guy you saw peeing on a wall - they all seem to have something in common. They all unanimously agree that Mansoor Ijaz is someone who is a very important factor in Pakistani politics and has been so for months. Every Pakistani has at some point at time thought to him or herself, “Hmm… who is this Mansoor fellow and what do we know about him?” The rumors about him have been aplenty, ranging from accusations of him being a CIA/Mossad/RAW or even a (gasp!) ISI agent to being the savior of Pakistan by ridding us of the rule of the “evil Sindhis”. While most of these are not verifiable facts, there are some things we know about him and the situation his memo has created in Pakistan. Using what we know, let us now attempt to piece together the puzzles that are Memogate and Mansoor Ijaz.

List of things we seem to know about the situation:

Hussain Haqqani is probably the scapegoat for people like the president.
Mr. Ijaz claims he was entrusted to give the “Memogate” memo to the Americans.
Memogate says Pak military was considering a coup and that if the military comes to power, there will be a risk of the nuclear weapons that Pakistan possesses falling into the hands of extremists because the ISI funds them.
The military is offended at the allegations, which they claim are untrue and want the memo investigated.
The military leans on the courts to get involved and not only investigate the memo but also put pressure on the government to address the NRO. Seems the military is out for blood but does not want to risk an all out coup when it can control everyone from afar.

List of things we seem to know about the man:

Mr. Ejaz is rich and powerful.
Mr. Ejaz has connections with people like Mike Mullen (or at least that is what he claims).
The man is a major player in the international relations game.
He and Hussain Haqqani know each other.
Mr. Ijaz basks in attention and cannot seem to get enough of it.
He looks like a much lamer version of Lando Calrissian of Star Wars fame.
Lando Calrissian was the guy who initially betrayed Han Solo to Lord Vader. Lord Vader in turn let Jabba the Hutt have Han Solo as a decoration piece after freezing him in Carbonite and giving him to bounty hunters to take to Jabba. This made Lando feel guilty and decide to help the rebels with getting Han back. He was such a good trouper that he even stayed on in the long run to fight the evil Empire.
So, by this reasoning, we know that Ijaz will hurt Haqqani and then later on help save him and then go on to fight the system.
Or will he? Recent evidence http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0QvR1eP2yg seems to suggest he could become spokesperson for the alluring Veena Malik instead. After all, now, we all know that he likes thongs.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Imran yes we “Khan’t”, even when assets declared

Mr. Khan is a man of great integrity, a true son of Pakistan and a great Muslim (the "he's a Mossad agent" conspiracy theories seem to have died down). He has built a hospital that cures cancer, has committed himself to education, eradicating corruption and promoting idealism. He wants a free Pakistan, wants to throw out the imperial troops of the Empire (in this case, not Darth Vader’s boys but rather the constantly meddling American Army, the infernal CIA and devilspawn NATO). All in all, his scheme sounds noble, leaving his audience the impression of Mr. Khan sitting atop a white horse, glittering scimitar held in one hand as he holds the reigns in the other with a determined look on his face, as if he is out to behead the enemy during a time of war (and the holy justified jihad look is complete). The urban elite finds him to be a “cool” politician who has rock stars performing at his rallies. Others feel that they have been let down by the PPP, the PML-N and the military and Mr. Khan may be the only viable solution to the numerous socio-economic and political issues that plague Pakistan. Almost all of our citizens believe he is incorruptible and therefore corruption will be dealt with seriously making him the only viable contender. Young Pakistanis in general, and younger urban Punjabis ("the youth") specifically seem to think he is the greatest thing to happen to Pakistan since Atif Aslam. Indeed, the man and his party have become a rallying point for those who want “Change” (Obama flashbacks anyone?).

I am about to admit something that makes most of urban Punjab look at me strangely (at times, even murderously). I am not an Imran Khan supporter (surprise of surprises!). I do not feel his agenda has been outlined properly and I feel he takes the very real and immediate threat of militancy far too lightly. I feel his alliance with the right wing ultra conservative religious parties can pressurize him into making patriarchal decisions that could affect Pakistan adversely. I think his priorities are a bit muddled, terrorism is the thing we need to fight the most as opposed to turning a blind eye to it and thinking everything will be okay once we kick America off our soil. However, all that being said, I do love the idealism he displays. For that one reason, I feel I should give him a chance to prove how liberal he is. So, despite all these reasons I have cited for not wanting Mr. Khan to run our fair country, there is still one way I (and possibly others like me) would happily vote for him (or for any other political entity that undertakes what i am about to suggest). Unlike many others, Ms. Veena Malik has exposed her assets (and has done so much more elegantly than most of our politicians could) and we have found nothing wrong with them. If any of our politicians allow her to join their party and contest elections, I will vote for said party. This I swear!