Category Archives: Media

Half Muslims and Non Muslims

By Farzana Versey

Born in the Ismaili faith, I have been quite accustomed to the ‘aadha Mussalman’ (half Muslim) tag. Members of the community are none the worse for it. However, I cannot understand the attitude towards Ahmadis in Pakistan. Ismailis have a living Imam, yet they are not considered a minority.

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Filed under Democracy, human rights, Islamism, journalism, Media, minorities, Religion, Rights, state

The argument of violence

Salman Latif has sent us his rational views on the Facebook saga. I am glad that PTH is attracting the wise and the sanguine. Yet, we seem to have invoked the ire of our zealous compatriots who think that by opposing the ban, we are (God forbid) guilty of blasphemy. We condemn the myopia of those who want to provoke Muslims and display lack of respect for the Prophet (pbuh) who is central to our belief system. At the same time, PTH holds that banning of information flow in the 21st century is not acceptable. Today it is ‘blasphemy’ excuse, tomorrow it will be something else. There are other ways of protesting and we should employ them before resorting to blanket banning of the Internet. (Raza Rumi)

Guess what? The cartoon controversy is back. And this time with a bang because of the celebration of a ‘Draw Muhammad Day’ on May 20th in reaction to the death threats received by certain cartoonists. The day has drawn a lot of noise, more so because of the Muslim reaction than perhaps the original participation of those supporting the cause.

One is yet again to witness a very interesting phenomenon in the Muslim protests against the said act. Not only is it a vivid picture of the average Muslim take, it also is a clear answer to the fake claims made by pseudo-intellects about the moderation of Muslim Ummah. The issue has sparked a grand controversy within Muslim circles, both home and abroad, with eager preachers forwarding bulk of messages condemning and often, abusing it.

Intriguingly enough, this time, the axe has grinded on Facebook.  Apparently, the cause of such sudden resentment among FB’s Muslim users is over its refusal to remove certain pages inciting the message. Much to the chagrin of Muslims, FB’s policy allows for a freedom of speech and so would not take a page off on the grounds quoted by the followers of Islam. And our Muslim brethren have then resorted to the regular course – boycotting FB, claiming that’d bring it million-dollar repercussions in revenue and inflict a heavy loss. A rather misplaced hope considering a recent history where Telenor suffered a boycott on the same grounds in Pakistan though coupled with a much more violent backlash by Pakistanis and yet again became a mainstream mobile operator company within no time. No doubt FB would have had it offices burnt had there been any within Pakistan. Continue reading

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Filed under Islam, Islamism, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, Media, Pakistan, Politics, public policy

Death of Collective Wisdom

Another exclusive post from Ahmad Nadeem for PTH – comments are welcome (Raza Rumi)

“Is there a competition going on in Pakistan between institution to earn shame and notoriety for their nation?” my colleague asked me casually while we were having some drinks and watching a news television. “We are on that path for last 40years”, I answered stubbornly. Can there anything such shameful to force you behave that stubborn over your national pride? There is, hold your breath, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, the top body of media and custodian of ‘freedom of speech and civil liberties’, in a press release issued by its Secretary General, Mr Shamsul Islam Naz, has “officially’ appreciated the blocking of the Facebook Website.

This was followed by the Lahore High Court orders of a blanket ban on entire social media website depriving 2.5 million Pakistani’s an access to major internet services.  Just because there was ‘one page’ out of millions, set by a silly American kid to make cartoons of  Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The same could have been blocked instead, but things work differently in Pakistan. A decision has to be popular rather than sane, the illiterate bearded men on streets with sticks and guns ought to be satisfied. Continue reading

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Filed under Judiciary, Justice, Media, Pakistan

Chinese whispers of the press

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Filed under culture, Islam, journalism, Media, Music, Pakistan, Religion

Pakistan: Clear and present danger

Raza Rumi

If the parliament and judiciary want to continue exercising their newfound powers, they have no option but to act strictly within the framework of the Pakistani Constitution

Pakistan is a surreal country. Only here we have long, protracted struggles for democracy and only here we are almost always ready to scuttle democracy. Perhaps Iskander Mirza was not all too wrong while making the assessment that democracy does not suit the genius of our people. An added qualification is that it does not suit the genius of the elites, in particular the unelected institutions of the state.

There is now a clear and present danger that the judicial review of the 18th Amendment will lead to a potential clash of the key organs of the state: the legislature and the judiciary. Pundits have also predicted that if such a situation arises, then a logjam will benefit the third force — Pakistan’s well organized formal institution, which is readily available to undertake crisis management. Perhaps such fears are slightly exaggerated and misplaced. But the reality is that Pakistani history teaches us some interesting though unsavoury lessons.

Curse of history

The Constitution of 1956 was drafted, almost after a decade of the new country’s formation, as the elites were not interested in changing the colonial structure of the state and its institutions. After much negotiation and a bit of arm-twisting, parity between the Eastern and the Western wings was achieved to finalise the basic law. However, the 1956 Constitution could not be enforced let alone implemented, as new elections were a risk for the national security establishment, which took charge of the country in 1958. The second moment arrived in 1970, when a political consensus arrived through election with divisive results, was once again scuttled by the unelected institutions and the West Pakistani elites. The results were tragic. 1977 was a third moment when the Bhutto administration and PNA movement agreed on a workable package for the future course of politics in the country. Even before this accord could reach the public domain, the Islamo-fascist General took the reins of power and thwarted the political consensus. There is a clear lesson here: a political consensus — wide-ranging, legitimate and inclusive — is a threat to the post-colonial state and the inherent contradictions of the Pakistani polity come into play the moment such compacts are arrived at. Continue reading

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Filed under Constitution, human rights, Judiciary, Justice, Law, lawyers movement, Media, minorities, Pakistan, Politics, public policy, Rights, secular Pakistan, Society, state

Room for optimism

[‘The audacity of hope’? ‘Hope dies last’? Or, just the reality of Pakistan in its many aspects? Here’s how Mohsin Hamid sees it. – PTH]

Dawn, Friday, 09 Apr, 2010
 
 EVER since returning to live in Pakistan a few months ago, I’ve been struck by the pervasive negativity of views here about our country. Whether in conversation, on television, or in the newspaper, what I hear and read often tends to boil down to the same message: our country is going down the drain.

But I’m not convinced that it is.

I don’t dispute for a second that these are hard times. Thousands of us died last year in terrorist attacks. Hundreds of thousands were displaced by military operations. Most of us don’t have access to decent schools. Inflation is squeezing our poor and middle class. Millions are, if not starving, hungry. Even those who can afford electricity don’t have it half the day.

Yet despite this desperate suffering, Pakistan is also something of a miracle. It’s worth pointing this out, because incessant pessimism robs us of an important resource: hope.

First, we are a vast nation. We are the sixth most populous country in the world. One in every 40 human beings is Pakistani. There are more people aged 14 and younger in Pakistan than there are in America. A nation is its people, and in our people we have a huge, and significantly untapped, sea of potential. Continue reading

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Filed under Democracy, Economy, Education, Identity, Judiciary, Languages, Media, Pakistan, Religion, Society, state, Terrorism

Army Chief Driving Pakistan’s Agenda for Talks

Pakistan military is at it again. The news that Army Chief is driving Pakistani policy agenda in Washington is another sign shown by the Pakistan Army that bloody civilians are not to be trusted, yet again. After making a mess of Pakistan by running proxy policies in its Eastern and Western borders, why is the Army taking a lead in developing the new policy for the next decade. Has Army not learnt from the past? In a democratic state, it is the government that sets the policies and leads all policy discussions with the foreign nations. All of us who wish to see democratic rule thrive must condemn this manoeuvre by the Pakistan Army. “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it”  (AZW)

Cross Post from The New York Times

By JANE PERLEZ

Published: March 21, 2010

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/22/world/asia/22kayani.html?hpw

KARACHI, Pakistan — In a sign of the mounting power of the army over the civilian government in Pakistan, the head of the military, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, will be the dominant Pakistani participant in important meetings in Washington this week.

At home, much has been made of how General Kayani has driven the agenda for the talks. They have been billed as cabinet-level meetings, with the foreign minister as the nominal head of the Pakistani delegation. But it has been the general who has been calling the civilian heads of major government departments, including finance and foreign affairs, to his army headquarters to discuss final details, an unusual move in a democratic system.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has been taking a public role in trying to set the tone, insisting that the United States needs to do more for Pakistan, as “we have already done too much.” And it was at his request that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton agreed this fall to reopen talks between the countries at the ministerial level.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Army, Democracy, FATA, India, Islam, Islamabad, Jinnah's Pakistan, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, Media, Obama, Pakistan, state, strategy, Taliban, Terrorism, USA, war, Yusuf Raza Gillani, Zardari