Daily Archives: November 16, 2010

Pakistan media: Through the looking glass

Raza Rumi

It is ironic that the electronic media which played a major role in the movement against a military dictatorship is now being cited as one of the challenges to the fractured democratic transition since 2008. Perhaps it is not by design. It is clear that the electronic media remains a nascent industry and like the rest of the country operates in a largely unregulated environment. Pakistan’s overall governance climate is marked by dynasties, oligarchies and mafias. Why should we expect the media to rise above the larger culture? Nevertheless, given its important role in shaping public opinion and attitudes, the need for media responsibility has increasingly been articulated by a wide range of actors and not just the wounded political players.

The current media freedoms are unprecedented. Gone are the days when holy cows could not be touched and certain subjects were taboos in the public domain. Indeed, the national security paradigm is ascendant and the official history of Pakistan is the major narrative but there are plenty of discordant and critical voices within the industry. However, the imperatives of a rating-advertising driven culture impair the ability to be objective and rational. This is why a highly respected English channel had to switch to Urdu to cater to the cruel corporate dynamics. Concurrently, Pakistan with a largely static readership has witnessed the launch of two major English dailies and a third one is likely to be launched by the end of this year! Continue reading

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Did Jinnah Want Pakistan?

By Yasser Latif Hamdani
This is partly a continuation of my earlier article “Was Jinnah secular?” but mainly a response to a letter posted by Moin Ansari addressed to Mr. Najam Sethi called “refuting Mr Sethi’s blasphemy” in response to a TV show the latter did on the distortion of history in Pakistan.
Ahrari Fifth Columnist Moin Ansari is from a breed of self appointed Pakistani McCarthyites who abuse and attack anyone who tries to point out some facts about the creation of Pakistan. All of his “evidence” is usually badly sourced, or is selectively quoted. Those quotes trying to argue that Jinnah wanted an Islamic state have been addressed in the aforesaid “Was Jinnah secular” article, especially the misquoted Karachi Bar Association speech that seems to have captured the imagination of every Ziaist Islamist and right wing religio-fascist of Mr. Ansari’s camp. For a discussion on that please feel free to join that thread. Continue reading

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“The Naked Hens”: An Anthology of Urdu Short Stories

by Irfan Zafar

We, all of us, are as contended and conceited as we are when we pray for the soul of someone who has passed away. We feel contended because we are still alive, our fingers firm on the rosary beads or the date-stones we use to keep a count of our prayers for the dead; we are content because, at least for the time being, instead of lying wrapped in a white shroud made of long cloth, we are dressed in fabrics which cost anything..And soon enough, taking our leave of the place..we would direct our cars towards the market …. where the shopkeepers would spread the slippery, silken and soft rolls of cloth at our feet. (Page: 26. “The Naked Hens” by Altaf Fatima)

There is nothing but sorrow in the world, nirvana is an impossibility and all lands oppress. (Page: 70. “The City of Sorrow” by Intizar Husain)

All which is beneath the sky is false. (Page: 81. “The City of Sorrow” by Intizar Husain)

(“The Naked Hens”: An Anthology of Urdu Short Stories. Translated by M. Salim-Ur Rahman, poet, critic, columnist, short-story writer, translator, and editor of one of the oldest, still running literary journals, Savera— lives a hermetic life in Lahore devoted to the pursuit of literature. He has translated into urdu Homer’s “Odyssey”, Joseph Conard’s “Heart of Darkness”, Lazarillo de Tormes” and Chekhov’s “The Three Sisters”. Price: US$ 4.99)

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