Daily Archives: September 24, 2010

The Verdict of Dr Afia and Our Reaction

Raza Habib Raja

Right now the media is voicing its vociferous opposition to the sentence handed to Dr. Afia Siddiqui. The entire case, even before the verdict was announced, had become an overly emotional episode for the Pakistanis. The media has been whipping a lot of frenzy for a considerable period of time. This case overshadows even horrendous acts of terrorism in terms of the condemnation generated.

I will not debate the technical aspects of the case as frankly the court which gave the verdict was better equipped to weigh and decide. We often have the tendency to become “experts” while having flimsy evidence. During the past two years particularly when the case was being fought in US, Ms Afia’s was simply assumed to be a victim of some grand conspiracy and this presumption was propagated everywhere on the media. The hue and cry which the media constantly whipped and is continuing to whip often rode on nothing concrete in terms of evidence. All the time, Miss Afia was simply assumed as a victim of a grand conspiracy of the United States and nothing else.

Having followed the case over the past two years, I do acknowledge that the circumstances surrounding her disappearance and subsequent reappearance are suspicious. These circumstances do pose several questions particularly on the ways of our intelligence networks. However to spin stories that the entire case was fabricated by the US to punish Miss Afia is frankly stretching things too much.

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South Asian Literature Festival (15-25 October)

PTH announces the forthcoming festival – Raza Rumi
The inaugural South Asian Literature Festival takes place in London from 15th – 25th October, followed by outreach events in Brighton, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester at the end of October.
SALF joins an emerging landscape of literature festivals located in South Asia including Jaipur, Hay Festival Kerala, Galle and Karachi Literature Festivals but is UK based and the only one to have the remit of focusing on South Asian writing exclusively.

Reflecting the diverse nature of South Asian culture, SALF is a multi-dimensional festival and will explore the politics, languages and literature of the region through music, spoken word, visual arts and literary performance.

Playing host to a stellar cast of authors, actors, poets, musicians – home-grown, international and from the sub-continent – and leading lights from the worlds of politics, academia and broadcasting, SALF looks forward to hosting top names such as prize-winning novelist Romesh Gunesekera; from two great political dynasties, Fatima Bhutto and Nayantara Sahgal; historian Michael Wood, acclaimed writer and musicianAmit Chaudhuri, Pakistan’s rising-star author Moniza Alvi, jazz musician Cleveland Watkiss and well-known broadcasters Mihir Bose and Hardeep Singh Kohli. Continue reading

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