Daily Archives: May 6, 2009

On the Talibanization of Pakistan

by Musawir Ali Shah

About a few days ago, I came across an interesting show on a Pakistani television channel in which the host of the show was interviewing some of the top students from a Karachi college. A variety of questions were posed, mostly regarding education and current affairs, and the students were asked to express their thoughts and voice any concerns that they had. The responses were generally bland, cliches ad nauseam. The typical idealistic jargon of a college student who was more interested in professing his rightful selection for being interviewed than conveying a serious point of view. However, there was one response that has stuck with me and has given me a bit of a bother. The question asked: “What do you think about the recent activities such as the push for implementing absolute Islamic law by these Taliban-types in parts of Pakistan?”. To this, one of the students, a young lady, delivers a vigorous response in defense of the Taliban, which quickly morphed into a defense of Islam. After patiently listening for a few minutes, the puzzled host replies: “You are aware of how these people treat women? They want to shutdown all woman’s schools and prevent them from acquiring an education, the very thing that you are being recognized for here today.”. The student withdrew, wearing a sheepish smile on her face and mumbling a few words of disagreement as she took her seat. Continue reading


Filed under Pakistan, Religion, Taliban, Terrorism

Where is our yellow ribbon?

By Ayeda Naqvi

Our soldiers are men who willingly lay down their lives, men who often return maimed or paralysed to their families. In other countries, such men would enjoy heroic statures. And yet, here in Pakistan, when they turn on their television sets at night, they see their nation scoffing at them.

Many years ago, as a student in New York, I was invited to my roommate’s house for the weekend. Her parents lived a couple of hours away from the city in a quiet little town where she had grown up. As for myself, I must admit, I was looking forward to leaving the concrete jungle of Manhattan behind for a few days. Continue reading


Filed under Pakistan, war

Fahmida Riaz – “Her dreams of the future”

Raza Rumi

Barricaded Islamabad enveloped by the ghosts of national gloom has one little corner of hope. The Pakistan Academy of Letters, under its dynamic and committed Chairman, Fakhar Zaman, continues to weave narratives that still inspire. Even when the bitterness of our grim present affects us all, Fakhar Zaman was forthright in his views on Pakistan, its future and most importantly, its literary tradition. The venue was the book launch of Fahmida Riaz’s novel Godavari that has been translated into English. Fahmida Riaz is better known as a poet but her unique prose is lesser known. Her short stories and novels are extraordinary pieces of literary works rendered into sheer poetry. Often it is difficult to determine the genre of her ‘prose’ works as the lines between watertight compartments blur and fade away, only to reappear as a gentle reminder to the readers that our author is experimenting in her inimitable style.

Godavari was published last year by the Oxford University Press and Fakhar Zaman organised its launch under the aegis of PAL only to ensure that there are many indigenous, native voices in English that have yet not caved in to the pressures and inducements of Western publishing houses. Godavari is a deceptively simple story of a few characters visiting a holiday hill resort in Maharashtra a little before the communal riots that shook Bombay and India in the 1980s. But deep within its lines, sub-textual connotations and shifting moods lie tales of discrimination, communal hatred and the unfettered spirits of its universal female characters. The heartening aspect of this book launch was that there were a few dozen enthusiasts present on the occasion, and a few powerful intellectuals who spoke of Fahmida’s life and her works as symbolic of contemporary Pakistan. Continue reading

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Filed under Pakistan, Writers

Next Taliban conquest? A view from Pakistan’s frontline.

From the May 04, 2009 edition – http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0504/p06s01-wosc.html

Residents living between the militants and the capital worry their understaffed security forces can’t defend their town.

| Staff writer

Shopkeeper and local reporter Zeeshan Aslam recently broke the news that residents of Haripur had been fearing: The Taliban had come to town.

These Talibs came in shackles, headed for cells in the local prison. But for residents of Haripur – one of the last outposts between the Taliban frontlines in Swat and Buner and Pakistan’s capital – the news quickly got darker. Newspapers in recent days carried a Taliban warning: Release those prisoners, or we’ll come to town and do it ourselves. Continue reading

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Filed under Pakistan