Tag Archives: Sehar Tariq

Writer’s Block and More

5 Feb

Sometimes, words fail you. Sometimes, you fail them.

They’re clamouring in your head, they’re sticking in your throat; they’re fighting to get out. But you just cant string them together into coherence. Sometimes angry phrases escape. But no fully formed thoughts can be hammered out from the shrieking, sobbing, angry mob of words in my hurting head or heavy heart. 

Dramatic? Sure.

But that’s how I’ve felt since the assassination of Salmaan Taseer.

I am confused and angry. A murderer has been crowned hero and the man he slaughtered is the villain. I am told there is a murder of this ilk proudly walking down every street of Pakistan waiting to slay anyone he, in his own head, accuses, tries and finds guilty of blasphemy.  And then there are the hordes who will not only defend him but shower him with petals. Then there are those who will sit in their plush drawing rooms and say the murder shouldn’t be glorified but the victim was asking for it. There are those who will tell you that Pakistan is now a failed state spiraling into the abyss of religious fanaticism. Some will incite you to take to the streets against the illiterate cleric propagating intolerance and violence. Others will invite you to a candle light vigil or a facebook group for the slain Governor where they will collectively wish that they could swat the mullahs back into their caves with their Prada bags.  The blood lust and hysteria of the masses that cheered the governor’s assassin has me mourning for the flight of reason, tolerance and the rule of law from this country. The small band of people advocating that liberals confront this bloodthirsty mob in the streets has me worried for their sanity.    

I’ve tried to write many times since it happened. But everything I had to say seemed to utterly inadequate that I couldn’t. I havent been able to find the words to express my disappointment with Pakistan. I know the words exist and others have used them eloquently, but I have failed in finding them. Maybe, I don’t want to hear what I really feel and think. Maybe it’s not the words hiding from me but me hiding from the words that will spell out in cold, indelible ink, what Pakistan has become today.

Escapist? Sure.

You have to be one if you want to live in a country where 500 lawyers will sign a petition to defend the murderer but not one lawyer can be found to prosecute him for the crime he has proudly confessed to. When the religious right brings out thousands on the road and civil society responds by sending out thousands of emails (the majority of which involve fighting with each other over semantics and ownership of documents!) you have to escape to another place in your head where those leading the charge against intolerant are not busy being intolerant and dismissive of each other.

I’ve thought about writing some brilliantly eloquent response on one of these email lists but then I’ve never found the words to criticize those who have done much more for this cause in their own way than I ever have. What social contribution do I have to give my words the legitimacy they need when lashing out against those who have come out on the streets when I have stayed at home.

Coward? Sure.

I’m not the only one. There are hordes of us lurking about in the op-ed pages of English dailies. Our pens (or keyboards) churning out clever little eulogies for the country lost, preaching sermons of realism,  hiding our cowardice under the garb of “reality,” or taking refuge behind facebook profiles and pages. Some of us have been to the odd protest or two for a more “tolerant” Pakistan. But it was little more than a Sunday afternoon schmooze with friends and statements to the TV. But that’s all we’ve done.

But what more could we have done in the face of such violent opposition? I don’t know. We can’t bring out thousands onto the streets. We can’t take up arms. But maybe we could have found one lawyer to represent the Taseer family. One man or woman to stand up for the Rule of Law in a country that just experienced a great movement in its name should not have to be such a tough ask.

Sad? Infinitely.

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Our Davids and Goliaths

13 Jul

David and Goliath

There is a great amount of hoo-ha, and rightfully so, across Pakistan over the Punjab government’s recent move to gag the media by passing a unanimous resolution against the freedom of the press. Oh what a swift U-turn this is from the days when the media was hailed by the brothers Sharif as the golden child and saviour of the country, second only to the independent judiciary. And while this act of the Punjab Assembly is reprehensible and deserves our criticism on its own accord, it’s telling of a much deeper and more disturbing trend within Pakistani politics.

It seems as if the Punjab government in particular likes to roll out policies on whims, the bright ideas of some bright bureaucrat who Khadim-e-Aala thinks is the next best thing since sliced bread or maybe the feelings of certain members of the August Punjab Assembly. And while I have great respect for the bright ideas of bright bureaucrats handpicked by the greatest talent-identifier in Pakistan and the “feelings” of the elected representatives of the people of Punjab; I think that these are not very solid foundations for making important public-policy decisions.

This week alone, we saw the Punjab Assembly first roll out a resolution against the freedom of the media and then we saw the leaders of the ruling party in Punjab backtrack and profess their undying love and support for the media. If these gentlemen and their band of merry lawmakers had paused to think or had debated the repercussions of a potential move to gag the media, they might have realised there and then that there would have been strong backlash from various segments of society. A little debate about possible repercussions could have prevented the current fiasco taking up the airwaves and print space.

Similarly, the idea of making changes to the Nikah Nama was rolled out one day and then rolled back the next. For a minute, let’s forget about the objectionable content of the bill and focus on how the government thinks it’s entirely appropriate to roll out very big changes that will affect millions of people without any prior notice, or awareness campaigns on television or national consultations on the challenges of implementation. The changes suggested to the Nikah Nama would have required the cooperation of various state and private-sector institutions and increased their daily workload. But were contingencies put in place to equip institutions with resources required to take on the added responsibilities? So if the new Nikah Nama rules were in place we could only have experienced increased institutional chaos and inconvenience to common citizens. But who cares about that?

But maybe the government should care about the image it portrays to its constituents when it does about-turns on important policy issues with such great speed. So in order to prevent future embarrassment and precious public resources, I would humbly request the government in general and the Punjab Assembly in particular to start looking at the policy-making practices of more successful and effective governments such as those in East Asia.

Public-policy decisions are usually steeped in empirical economic and political facts. And in order to understand the effects of the imposition of a certain policy, the social and political impacts are measured through available public-opinion data or socio-economic data. There are policy analysts that sit in front of endless panels of data and analyse numbers. There are media strategy gurus who plan how decisions shall be announced and how crises will be handled. Teams of professionals are employed to delve into legal repercussions. Sometimes focus groups are held and pilot programmes launched to study the rollout of a national-level policy in order to understand how it will function and the challenges that it will face and how they can be overcome before investing millions of public resources into them. This eventually leads to the formation of better policies and stronger polities.

But in Pakistan, where politics is hereditary and dynastic and steeped in sycophancy, rulers seem to have deliberately perpetuated the myth that they have some divine right to the throne by virtue of their great connection with the people and because of their unlimited wisdom which is always at work for the good of the people. They lead others to believe and somewhere in the process begin to believe themselves that they are the David that can conquer any Goliath. But the Goliath isn’t what threatens the nation, it’s just what irks the leadership.

So it doesn’t matter if it’s the spread of infectious disease, setting of wheat prices or policing the media, one “great leader” seems to have all the fixes and deems it unnecessary to consult with lesser mortals who might disagree or, God forbid, take a rational approach to policy-making which would diminish our politicians’ perceived divine right to rule. The height of consultation involves a phone call between big bro and little bro or maybe there’s consultation with the wife over dinner to get a feminine perspective and maybe the children are called to give the youth perspective and ammi jee or abba jee, whoever the head of the household is, lends religious wisdom. Policy-making in Pakistan is a cottage industry. And as a result we get bungled up fiascos like the media resolution and the Nikah Naama changes which clearly reflect the utter lack of systematic policy-making in the country.

And while I have no doubt about the “good intentions” of our political elite, as a tax-paying citizen, I would humbly like to suggest that instead of spending so much on their cars and public entourages they should hire a couple of people who actually have expertise in the field of statistics, economics and public-polling to actually aid them in their decision-making. Informed decisions are better decisions. They aid national development and decrease citizen frustration and as a result increase political popularity. Deferring to experts or to hard-cold numbers interpreted by knowledgeable people are powerful tools. They do not take away from the strength of a leader. A leader who relies on experts is not less of a man or woman but more of a great public leader. He or she is able to deliver results to constituents. Therefore, informed policy-making seems to be a win-win for everyone. Now only if we could convince the powers that be to see it this way too.

Published in The News, Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Why Does No One Challenge Stupidity a.k.a the Internet Ban?

25 Jun

[tweetmeme source=”sehartariq” only_single=false]

There is no end to the stupidity of certain segments of Pakistani society. Without informed judgement and any concerns for progress and individual freedoms, the Lahore High Court continues on its Internet banning rampage. My fury leaves me speechless.

Here are details from todays The News:

“Government Blocks 17 Website Links

ISLAMABAD: The government on Friday blocked 17 links of different websites including YouTube having blasphemous and anti-Islamic contents while seven websites will be strictly monitored.

The seven websites put under strict monitoring mechanism nose are: Yahoo, Google, Amazon, bing, MSN, Hotmail and YouTube. If the websites found placing any blasphemous material, strict actions will be taken by blocking those links as well, said a government official after attending a high-level meeting in which decision was taken to block 17 links of different websites. “The Information Technology Ministry has directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to block 17 links of certain websites on which blasphemous contents exist.

“We are currently in the process to implement the orders of the government for blocking the 17 links,” a senior PTA official said, while talking to ‘The News’ here on Friday.He said the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) had been instructed by the PTA to block identified 17 links and monitor seven websites strictly. The decision to block 17 links came during the inter-ministerial committee meeting held here on Friday to evaluate the websites having anti-Islamic contents.

AFP adds: The Lahore High Court earlier this week ordered the government to block access to nine websites including Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Amazon, MSN, Hotmail and Bing for showing material against the fundamental principles of Islam and its preaching.”

 

I saw the hordes of lawyers line up to demand the freedom of the judiciary – I find it hard to believe that not even one of them has the courage or the conviction to stand up and demand the freedom of the media?  I understand there is intimidation but if we continue to be silent and let all our freedoms be taken away one by one – we will no longer have the freedom to even speak up. This is no longer a matter that we can continue to overlook. The apathy and inaction of the educated middle classes will be the cause of their downfall and the destruction of Pakistan.

It seems there is a whole slew of citizens waiting in line with petitions to get certain websites banned and obviously our lawyer brethren are ever ready to strike in support of their demands but what makes me really sad is that there is not even one lawyer, or one citizen who will stand up to legally challenge this ridiculous ban? Why is it that the forces of obscurantism speak so loudly and boldly but the forces of reason remain unreasonably quiet?

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If Zardari Was American….

18 Jun

Pakistani? American? Arey na na ...fifty-fifty!

There’s a rumor going around that President Zardari holds US citizenship. This has been denied by the PPP in a formal press release and they have clarified that he does not hold any foreign citizenship and is only a citizen of Pakistan.

Awww SHUCKS!

I was kind of hoping we could just put him on a boat or plane dressed in red, white and blue off to the United States of America and focus on the more serious business of governing our country. On this boat of foreign citizens, I would gladly put other famed politicians and bureaucrats who hold foreign nationalities. And with a wave and a nudge into the Arabian sea, I and one hundred and seventy million other Pakistanis would heave a collective sigh of relief!

But why pick on those with foreign passports. Pakistan allows its citizens to hold dual nationalities. Why deny people this legal right? Because in Pakistan where the popular slogan Pakistan Zindabad (long live Pakistan) has changed to Pakistan se Zinda Bhaag (run away alive from Pakistan) holding only Pakistani citizenship by choice is a pretty significant commitment to the people and the country. And we should demand this committment at the very least from those that we entrust with public office or with senior bureaucratic duties.

I grew up in Islamabad, where over the years I observed the long lines outside of foreign embassies grow longer and longer with time screaming in silent testimony that escaping from Pakistan was priority number one for many citizens. Sometimes the protest were not as silent as on occassion I saw people being escorted out of embassy buildings kicking and screaming as they had been denied a visa. I dont blame them for feeling this way. In a country where people die of poverty and hunger each day while our leaders house rare Siberian tigers in airconditioned cages – its not odd that people want to escape. In a country where there is persecution of minorities and there is hardly any safety of property or life, choosing to stay in Pakistan is a significant commitment to the future of the country. And those who aspire to leadership positions in the country should be required to give this commitment. Steering Pakistan’s future is afterall a pretty big responsibility and it should not be granted to those who arent ready to make the sacrifice of even citizenship for it.

Leaders with foreign passports are like foreign capital – they flee when the going gets tough! Those who know they are unable to flee are more likely to act in the long term interest of the nation and less like fickle foreign investments in local markets. So before you ask for my vote, or you ask to captain the ship of a national institution – you must assure me first that when the going gets tough you wont run and if this ship sinks you are prepared to sink with it.

Because only capitains willing to sink with their ship will do everything in their power to keep it afloat.  Pakistan needs to be led by only Pakistanis not hyphenated ones.  Hyphenated Pakistanis can help and contribute in a million other ways and must continue to d so They are an important part of the social fabric but our political and bureucratic fabricmust be woven of those Pakistanis who are nothing BUT Pakistani and have kept only their Pakistani citizenship as proof of their commitment.

Speak Up!

2 Jun

Thousands took to the streets to protest against facebook and blasphemous content being published on it. On May 28th, 80 innocent Pakistanis were murdered in cold blood as they were peacefully praying in a house of worship. I wonder how many will take to the streets to protest this atrocity. I have a feeling that there will be few or maybe even none. There will be the usual round of condolences and demands for inquiries. But we know these are merely hollow promises. In Pakistan, little is accomplished without popular support and popular support does not lend its self to causes such as protection of minorities.
When we wanted the judiciary restored, we took to the streets and had it done. When we wanted facebook banned we took to the streets and had that done. But I have a feeling we don’t really want to protect the minorities in our country, so we’re going to let this one slide and stay inside. It’s ironic that we are willing to take to the streets for the sanctity of the name of the Prophet (PBUH) but not for any of his teachings. I am no religious scholar but what I remember from my poorly taught Islamiat classes in school, despite the poor fashion in which they were taught; the Prophet preached that it was a sin to harm innocent people.

Funeral Procession for the Victims of the Lahore Massacre

But somehow it doesn’t matter what happens to those that “we” don’t consider Muslims. While the phenomenon of terrorism is new, the problem of sectarian violence is not. We have harbored violent hatred and have not been afraid of expressing it since the establishment of Pakistan. We have massacred Shia’s, Ahmedi’s, Christians, Sikhs – you name it and we’ve attacked it! We are so caught up in some billowing self-righteous rage that we have become blind to the teachings of the religion that we profess to love and in whose name we commit all of these sins.
But these really aren’t Muslims some would say. And some would cite the teachings of popular television anchors who consider these people, particularly, the Ahmadi’s wajib-ul-qatl. But from what I remember, The Prophet (PBUH) preached, that even in times of War, those who do not pick up arms, should not be harmed; particularly women and children. But innocent children were slaughtered in this rampage in the name of Islam. The old and infirm suffered frightened and tortured deaths, while they were busy in worship. This is not the Islam that the holy Prophet (PBUH) preached. The senseless and unprovoked murder of innocent citizens is not condoned by Islam.
The people that were murdered were peaceful, tax paying, law abiding citizens of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It is the responsibility of the state, under the constitution and religious doctrine, to provide security to those citizens who despite adhering to different religions, pay taxes and abide by the laws of the land. But instead of providing protection to these people, we let television programs go on air, where anchors are allowed to rally support for murdering innocent citizens. And in the wake of such hate filled media, innocent people are murdered. But we don’t care; we let the program continue being aired and we allow the hate mongering anchor to continue preaching in public. Not a word, a whisper or a whimper about this is heard. Because in our twisted world view, its ok to say whatever we want about any other religion or its followers. But when someone attacks our religion in any way shape or form, we are up in arms in a matter of minutes. We expect the world to show us nothing but respect while we show none of this to any other religion. We can laugh, joke, degrade and even attack and murder the followers of other religions without having our collective conscience even flinch. How did we become so hypocritical and irrational? How did we become so cruel?
With the deaths of 80 innocent Pakistanis, the lives of hundreds of families have changed forever. There is sorrow and heartache and fear in hundreds of Ahmadi homes tonight. But as the rest of Pakistan sleeps easy and TV anchors remain hypocritically silent, they forget that tomorrow this could be them. Through our collective silence, as we aid and abet a culture of intolerance and senseless killing, that one day might consume us too.  A famous poem sums up the dangers of being silent over injustice to others, with apologies to the original poet, if we were to adapt it to the Pakistani context, the poem would look like this:

                                                 In Pakistan, they came first for the Hindus and Sikhs,
                                                  And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t Hindu or Sikh
                                                                  Then they came for the Christians
                                                    And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t Christian
                                                                  Then they came for the Ahmadis
                                                  And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t an Ahmadi
                                                                     Then they came for the Shias
                                                        And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t Shia
                                                                       And then they came for me
                                            And by that time, there was no one left to speak up.
 
This violence, intolerance and injustice must stop. And it must stop with the largest majority speaking up against it. For once, let’s stand up and show the world that we actually abide by the spirit of the religion that we profess to love and follow. Let us turn not far away, but towards the Holy Book and teachings of the Prophet (PBUH) to learn that this kind of violence and hate is not tolerated in Islam. Haven’t we all suffered for years because of this violence and hatred? What good has it ever done to our country or the image of our religion? This senseless killing, violence and hate must stop. And it will not stop unless we demand that this be done. So speak up for those that are treated with injustice because if you don’t, tomorrow there will be no one left to speak for you either.

Published in The News June 3, 2010

 

Pakistan in Gentler Times

25 May

 

  

 

In 1962, Jacqueline Kennedy, came on a goodwill visit to Pakistan. Her trip was widely documented and photographed. Circulating on the internet is a video of her visit. Watching it, makes me nostalgic for gentler times in Pakistan. And not just gentler times but times when bombs and beards weren’t the defining hallmarks of our nation. 

I was wondering what would a Michelle Obama visit to Pakistan look like? Well its highly unlikely to happen because of our vitriolic hate for the United States of America, propogated by the media and clergy that has put all of us in a frenzy of fiery hate against the US for all that ails our country, regardless of whether they had a hand in causing it or not. 

But forget Michelle, no other first lady is likely to visit either. Actually no one is likely to visit! With the security situation in Pakistan, especially the targeting of Westerners we have deprived our country of a valuable source of income but also good publicity! With our borders closed to visitors and the airwaves open to the “breaking news” images of terrorists and angry young people, Pakistan is not on the list of popular tourist destinations. 

But if some brave first lady were to venture into Pakistan, her trip would look remarkable different. In this video of Jackie Kennedy’s visit, there are large crowds lining the roads and waving to her. There would be no crowds, thronging the roadside. They would be barricaded miles away. 

Jacqueline Kennedy with Lee Radziwill on a camel ride, Karachi, March 25, 1962

Jackie and her sister Lee, dazzle the gathered crowds with their smiles and “trendy merican dress.” There is no covering of the head or of the arms and legs. Both sisters appear in fashionable form fitting dresses with bare arms and lega. And there is no furore. The crowds seem unnmoved by the western dress and rather charmed and enamored. Clearly, there was a time when we were not obsessed with women’s dress and were more tolerant and accepting of what foreigners chose to wear. I doubt it would be the case anymore. If some foreign dignitary wore such clothes today, I imagine, there would be  loud proclamations of collective istaghfirullahs, a program by amir liaqat declaring them “Wajib-ul-qatl” and some protests by the Jamaat-e-Islami women’s wing demanding a ban on foreign dignitaries.

But the saddest was the realization that no other female foreign dignirtary will be visitng the “kyber pass region” anytime soon and walking about freely. And not for a long time, will this region be rightfully recognized for its rich cutlure, its dancers, poets and story tellers. 

Ban Hypocrisy

23 May

As a child I was told that God created human beings to be Ashraf-ul-Makhlooqat–the greatest and best of all of God’s creations. And we were given this honour because, unlike in the case of other creatures, God gave us free will–the ability to choose between actions. He then gave us intellect and commanded us to acquire knowledge so that we could use the two in our exercising that free will.

As a Muslim, I hang my head in shame as we take to the streets to protest the inconsequential actions of a few. With intolerance, like injustice, already rampant in our society–and these are two of the things least liked by God and his Prophet (PBUH) – we are unworthy of the title of Ashraf-ul-Makhlooqat. Now we have brought shame upon our nation and our religion through our irrational actions that defy but the gift of intellect and intelligence bestowed upon us by the Creator, as well as His commandments.

The protests across Pakistan demanding the ban on the social networking site Facebook defied reason and logic. It is true that the website contained material that was blasphemous and hurt the sentiments of many Muslims. Muslims across the world have the right to be upset by this and to protest against it. But asking for a ban is an action that not only defies logic but defeats the purpose.

Banning Facebook in Pakistan did little but make us a laughingstock in the world. A more effective way of protest would have been to use the same platform to counteract the offenders who started the mischief. And this effective action has been taken by thousands of Facebook users, who started protest groups and campaigns that were gaining visibility and registering the Muslim protest in a more meaningful way. Instead, we in Pakistan chose to impose a ban and then congratulate ourselves about it, as if we had accomplished some great feat.

Let’s analyse what we accomplished. We received bad press from around the world. We helped the rest of the world reconfirm their misguided belief that Muslims are reactionary and incapable of rational thought. We played right into the hands of those who wanted to provoke Muslims. We brought internet connectivity in our country to a near-halt, thereby hurting our own economy and hundreds of small-business owners who rely on Facebook and other social networking sites for their livelihood.

Oh, and did I mention we did not stop the blasphemy either?

Banning the website in Pakistan didn’t make the page go away from Facebook, although we did congratulate ourselves as if we had managed to put an end to it.

But this is not what hurt me most. What hurt most was that while our people and the media were out protesting against a website, we as a nation continued our endless descent into chaos. And as we continued to plummet from rock bottom to whatever is even lower than that, we chanted hollow slogans in the name of religion but paid no heed to its spirit or injunctions that could have been our salvation in these times of great despair.

Our political leaders claimed that they were willing to lay down their lives for the Prophet (PBUH). I found it ironic that they issued such statements when they paid no heed to–in fact, showed great disregard for–all of the Prophet’s (PBUH) teachings and the commandments of God.

We continue to lie, cheat and steal. Bribery and corruption are rampant across the country, yet these don’t seem to cause even a facial muscle to twitch in the political leadership. Last I checked, these were also considered sins in Islam. There is violence and oppression against the innocent. Last I checked, these were banned in Islam.

I remember the chilling story of the massacre at Gojra, when innocent Christians–men women and children–were brutally slain in the name of religion. There wasn’t a peep from these defenders of the faith who now protest so loudly. Last I checked, the Prohpet (PBUH) through both his actions and words had forbidden any harm to come to those who are innocent, regardless of their religion. And while the champions of Islam protested against Facebook, policeman near Wah illegally held a young girl child for 21 days and brutally raped her. Who stood up to protest the atrocity against this innocent child?

The Prophet (PBUH) merely turned away from those who not just criticised him but protested violently against him. He chose to reason, persuade and convince, rather than to incite violence his opponents. After the conquest of Mecca, he pardoned even those who had plotted against his life. Such was his attitude of mercy, peace, justice and reason.

On the contrary, great was his intolerance for injustice and oppression of the weak. It’s a pity that those who claim to defend the honour of our Holy Prophet (PBUH) have learnt so little from his example. With their hollow words, they incite violence among misguided and unemployed youths of the country. They disregard the spirit of our religion and its teaching. They lobby for political gain under the guise of Islam.

They seek to gain popularity by using the name of religion, although they do so little to act upon what religion commands. They choose the injunctions of God that suit their political motives, disregarding the others. To me this reeks of hypocrisy. And last I checked, hypocrisy was also a sin in Islam. So could we try and ban hypocrisy instead of Facebook? That might be better for our country and really please God.

The writer is a student of Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, working for a master’s degree in public policy. Email: tell.sehar@gmail .com and www.sehartariq.wordpress.com 

Published in The News, May 23, 2010 http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=240839

Can We Ban Hypocrisy Instead of Facebook, Please?

21 May

The Jamaat-e-Islami is the main political party that is organizing anti-facebook protests in Pakistan. It was in large part due to their efforts that the issue of the “everybody draw muhammad day” got visibity and facebook eventually got banned. The Jamaat has a history of being a very disciplined political party and effective organizer of street protests.

The women’s wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami, organized a large rally in Lahore about this and scores of women and children carrying posters and Jamaat flags attended the event. They even made ripples on the international media scene and the associated press and reuters carried coverage of these protests which the Jamaat proudly displays on its website. In these videos you see an angry mob of protestors chanting slogans and there are interviews with articulate and very forceful women who issue “warnings” to facebook to  be prepared for the wrath of the Muslim world.

The videos just made me sad. I wanted to shake this woman, who was the protest leader,  and ask her if she knew of any other Muslim country protesting in this manner. But more than that reasonable argument, I wanted to ask her if she had heard about the young girl near Wah who had been detained illegally and raped by police officers for 21 days. Was she aware of the misery that this child had suffered? Did she care? Would she raise her voice for that child?

She probably wouldnt. Probably no one from the Jamaat would. A quick visit to the website of the Jamaat will show you ban facebook logos and news plastered all over it. You will see a ton of anti america rhetoric but no mention of or outrage at the ills that plague our society. Ironic.

And as any student of Islamic history would know, that had the Prophet (PBUH) been in a sitaution like this would undoutedly have stood up to demand justice for the young girl so creully treated before he demanded revenge or retribution for the actions of a frivolous few. Instead of making a fuss about his detractors, he would have fought for ridding our land of the injustice where the guardiuans of the law are its worst abusers.

Our Prophet (PBUH) the wisest of all men taught us, through his own example, to stand up against hypocrisy and injustice. It is amazing to me that we and the Jamaat in particular are willing to die in the name of the Prophet but are not willing to organize a single protest or rally or even a statement of codemnation for this heinous act and the countless others that are so frequent in our land and would undoubtedly have been whole heartefly condemned and probably abhirred by our Prophet (PBUH).

To me this sounds like hypocrisy. And from what little I know of my religion, hypocrisy is a sin.

Pakistan Bans Facebook

20 May

Pakistan has banned facebook. And if you thought that was funny (or not) it just gets better. Because we decided to ban youtube and wikipedia and blackberry service too!!! because those sneaky Pakistani’s were trying to access facebook on their blackberries. Naughty Naughty!

Can someone pinch me please so that I wake up from this Orwellian nightmare? Or wait, dont….because in this nightmare, the biggest problem in my country is that people are upset about a facebook page. I can live with that. If I wake up I might return to the Pakistan where there is no electricity, no gas, no water and no safety.  Tantrums over facebook are infinitely better. 

But what’s this tantrum about? Its about a group of attention seeking people on facebook who decided to host an event called Everybody Draw Muhammad Day and tried to get people across the world to draw images of the Prophet  Muhammad (pbuh). And this offended the religious sentiments of our people. So they took to the streets because a facebook page had hurt their feelings. And our judiciary, was so upset by their adoring masses being upset that they took prompt action on our hurt behalfs and decided to give it to the offender. They promptly slapped the offender with a……….. (drumroll)………….. court order!

Bravo!!  Take that you offending website!

You thought you could have your blasphemous fun!? Well, we banned it!! You cant do it anymore!! HA!

What!? You mean you can get that offending content through other websites as well? Hang on …let me call Daddy SuoMoto and get him to take notice of this. He’ll fix it. He can fix anything!

Daddy!! Its not just facebook! Its all the other kids too! Can you ban them as well!?

Thanks! I love you!

Ok done! Now you cant get it on any other website. Phew! Daddy saved the day again! We manged to stop their nefarious designs!! Now they cant do it!

 They can!? How!? Arent they afriad of daddy’s orders? Arent they upset that we arent talking to them or looking at them? Surely they are going to stop now!

They arent?? But There are Muslims across the world standing up in rage and protest. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. There is a new protestor being born every second!! 

Huh? You mean …. the rest of the Muslim world doesnt care? They didnt say anything? No rallies? No protests? No burning things!?

You mean the event is still going to go on!???

ummmmm……yes….

Unfortunately, the incitement of religious sentiment in the name of free speech continues and we are the laughing stock of the world.

You mean our court order and our protesting didnt do anything!?

It did!! It made headlines the world over again (because we werent getting enough attention as it is! :P)  and we reaffirmed the world’s belief that we are a nation of myopic fools who’s faith isnt strong enough to withstand a facebook page and who’s priorities are misguided enough to push to the top a page on a social networking site while turning a blind eye to the chaos and destruction that surrounds us.

Given the scope and breadth of the internet, its really hard to control the flow of content. But one cant blame us for trying. Did someone think about the sustainability of this order or its viability before it was implemented? Obviously not!! Thought makes for boring headlines! Already we are beginning to see a domino effect, and the telecommunications authority is shutting down one social networking site after the other. Where will this ridiculous ban end? With the banning of the internet!?

When will our hypocrisy end? When Media houses were banned during the Lal Masjid operation and the Long March because they were inciting violence and civil unrest, they took to the streets and protested in the name of freedom of the media. Could they please stand up and let us know why its ok to ban one medium and not their particular media outlet? What happened to all their “principles”?

(Did someone say they didnt ever have any excpet self promotion!? WOW! harsh!!)

And what happened to the strength of our faith? Is it really so weak that it gets offended by a facebook page? I would say that makes for pretty weak belief !!

But this website is against our religion you say…..

Not just me …but the court order too. Daddy said we couldnt do anything in this country that was against our religion…thats why he ordered the ban.

Oh! Now you tell me. Ofcourse, its part of the law. Why didnt you mention this important rational legal argument before!? Makes total sense now. I apologize.

But …..if thats the law and we care about implementing the law so much especially when it concerns religion; what about the other teachings of Islam? We seem to disregard those completely. Funny that we get so mad about a facebook page but not about cheating, lying, thievery, bribery, rape, harrassment of women….I thought those acts were forbidden too?? Where and when did God tell us that a stupid facebook page that shouild have been ignored as a childish attempt to attract hatred was a graver crime than those we commit against our own countrymen and women?? I totally didnt get that memo.

Quit Playing Games with my Heart!!

7 May

They say that the quickest way to fix heartbreak is to take control of your emotions and not feel powerless. You are supposed to take the initiative and banish the heartbreaker from heart and mind – I’ve recently had to do this with a whole team of them. They are also known as the Pakistan cricket team.

Last year they made me feel wildly overjoyed when they won the 20-20 world cup. I jumped up and down, I cried for joy when I saw scenes of celebration on the streets.  I felt like my heart was bursting with love and pride.When we were champions Last year I managed to get invited to the Prime Minister’s special reception for the cricket team after the 20-20 victory. I almost died of joy! I suffered 3 hours of nauseating Tauseeq Haider in a white suit and an electric blue scarf make long speeches and annoying jokes. I just sat there and smiled like a moron. I think I might have even swooned at the sight of Shahid Afridi’s pantene pro-v quality hair sitting in front of me. I even stalked him and sheepishly, like a fool asked to have a picture taken with him. (Well…that was not all me … the sethi sisters were also involved in the escapade….some might say they were at the forefront ….anyway it was there mother who got me into the reception as her most recently adopted child)

 This year I’m not feeling that. This year my heart is being ripped into shreds by their callous behaviour on the field! They are behaving like truly barbaric Pakistani men. They dont care where the ball goes. Even when it comes flying into their arms they drop it! And when they hit the ball they hit it right into the arms of waiting fielders. Last year they were merely chewing on the ball, this year its like they are chewing at my heart with their pathetic play. I cant take it anymore. I want out! I want them to quit playing games with my heart.

And as if this wasnt bad enough, none of them are attractive.Youhanna and Beard So even when I hate them for their lack of  sporting skills, I cant love them for their good looks. They seem to have the collective persoanlity of a fat, curry soaked potato swimming in a vat of very oily Aloo Gosht. And I say this not because they cant speak english but because they cant seem to speak in any language at all except that of religious indoctrination. The only thing they seem to be good at doing is coercing others into accepting their religious views. (have you seen youhana’s beard?? ummm… I guess he isnt even youhanna now!) So why dont they quit cricket (and playing games with my heart) and go into the wild and preach. They might even be successful at it!

And since there is now a vacancy in the sporting section of my heart, I have decided to give that place to football! Yes football – the kind you play with a ball and foot – not the kind that you play with the strangely misshapen object clenched under an armpit. The worldcup 2010 is coming up. I’m excited. Its going to be competitive and colorful and fun and I’m not going to care as much about any of the teams so my emotions wont get overly involved but my competitve couch potato sentiments will be satisfied by participating (passively from my couch ofcourse) in a competitve sport! I like competition! And I love the recent Fifa songs! They just make me want to get up and dance! This is a much better feeling than the teetch clenching angony I feel when I see the Pakistan cricket team perform (0r actually fail to perform.)

K’naans wave your flag makes me want to wave my flag – to bad it cant be the Pakistani one – since we dont play football and all the other sports we do play we suck at right now!

And then the Shakira song is also pretty spectacular!

So its official. I love football. I hate cricket. But I just wish they would quit playing games with my heart and learn to play them with the bat and ball instead! And then maybe we could also be wavin’ our flag and maybe in a while it will be time for Pakistan!

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