Category Archives: Multinational Corporations

Forceful Observance of Ramadan and its Commercial Exploitation: Is it Serving Any Purpose?

By Raza Habib

Ramadan has arrived and all of us are witnessing bombardment of corporate advertisements which try to capitalize on the reverence of the month. In fact the most paradoxical nature of religion in our society is often witnessed through the way advertisements transform into “holy” form from their urban yuppie pre Ramadan look. Female models suddenly discover “chaddar” and their male counterparts are seen wearing religious caps while holding tasbeehs.

This month, particularly the way it is “celebrated” in our part of the land becomes more of a forceful imposition of religion by the state and petty commercial exploitation by the corporate sector rather than a month of self sacrifice. The spirit of Ramadan is to feel the pain of those who are less privileged and acting to help them rather than this strange forceful imposition of religion by the state and its commercial exploitation by the corporate.

I personally believe that Ramadan should not be imposed the way it is in Pakistan. Religion is a matter between God and individual and observation of Ramadan by same logic should be at the individual level not the way it is literally enforced. This forceful observation which bans public consumption of food coupled with exaltation of the religion through all the medium of communication merely ends up reinforcing rather hypocritical reverence of religion.

This reverence which is actually not built upon deep faith but on unquestionable acceptance of everything associated with religion has made it extremely difficult for the society to reform and reinterpret religion. I have previously also pointed out that misdirected glorification of religion merely makes the society completely impotent to challenge anything in the name of religion. Pakistan is not a radical society and yet due to this cultivation of reverence of religion, which is at its peak during Ramadan, it finds itself in a quagmire. This reverence has made clergy more powerful than they actually are. Pakistani society is thus unable to challenge or protest anything, if it is successfully imposed in the name of religion.

Black laws like Anti Blasphemy  and Hadood Ordinances despite not having implemented through the legislative process are firmly entrenched because no Party wants to  invoke wrath of the hardliners and be branded as anti Islamic. The general populace is also afraid to raise any voice despite knowing that these laws are in fact against the real spirit of the religion itself. Reverence and unquestionable attributes of the religion makes it impossible to even start a debate.

Of course glorification of religion is also thwarting the emergence of a pluralistic and tolerant society. For the past 63 years the state has used religion as an ideological tool to subdue the ethnic diversity in the country. It has assumed that forceful imposition and insistent glorification of religion would ensure that ethnic and linguistic identities won’t be able to gain momentum and seek more autonomy. Unfortunately this also has proven to be counterproductive and denial of autonomy has actually manifested in armed separatist movement in provinces like Baluchistan.

Glorification of religion by state and media has also cultivated this strong state of denial in the Muslim population where they find it impossible to believe that a Muslim can be behind any terrorist activity. A mindset has developed which assumes that due to belief  in Islam, Muslims are superior in virtue and therefore incapable of anything as hideous as suicide bombing. This state of denial has nurtured this conspiracy theory culture and has strengthened the terrorists as their hideous crimes, instead of being hated, are conveniently blamed on the foreign powers.

Every year this reverence and fear of religion is reinforced in Ramadan. Moreover, the corporate interests have made whipping up of religious reverence and fervor a routine practice in Ramadan which in turn has further strengthened clergy and the state’s ideological emphasis on religion.  Additionally since observation of Ramadan is forced by state and is backed its coercive power, the instruments of coercion such as police are further encouraged to abuse power at the grass root level.

As the time passes, we are getting even more stuck in this quagmire. Private sector has in fact joined state and is glorifying the role of religion. This glorification by the corporate which emanates out of petty commercial interests is merely compounding the problem and ensuring the status quo. Frankly due to these reasons the forceful observance and glorification of Ramadan is proving to be regressive.

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Filed under Islam, Multinational Corporations, Pakistan

Trading Religion: Profits are mine, the Losses You Cover

By Ahmad Nadeem Gehla

Starting a new business is all about possibilities, optimism, hard work and risk of losses. However owning a business in any famous markets of Pakistan is considered as a guarantee for success because of high volume of ready customers. High returns on investment push high the property prices and rentals, only real wealthy can afford to do business in these markets. The powerful ‘traders unions’ of these wealthy business owners safeguard them from tax authorities and make them immune to laws and business regulations. A comprehensive package of insurance essential for businesses in any civilized society also remains absent as business owner are not willing to spare a small percentage of their profits for insurance costs.

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Filed under Economy, Justice, Multinational Corporations, Pakistan, Society, state

NRO- The monster finally caged!

The monstrous crimes committed, to fabricate illogical laws and illegal ordinances, created by these criminals to protect their own self and others who participated in those practises to ruin Pakistan has now finally taken place with Supreme Court’s verdict on 16th December. The looters, plunderers will have to face the consequences of their actions and face those trials which they avoided through any means available to them- through NRO, through political needs of survival in the name of any reason and methods in the name of Pakistan. Now they will have to stand trial – NRO beneficiaries vs. people of Pakistan. These Machiavellian characters will have to be answerable to the people of Pakistan. The message to all who were benifacries one way or another is that no one is above the law. Those who have committed crimes through corruption and through power abuse will now have to face trials and face consequences of their actions. Continue reading

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Filed under Activism, Army, Citizens, civil service, Democracy, Economy, Education, human rights, Islamabad, Jinnah, Jinnah's Pakistan, Jinnah's Pakistan, journalism, Justice, lawyers movement, Media, movements, Multinational Corporations, Pakistan, Parliament, Politics, poverty, Zardari

Pious follies

By Nadeem Farooq Paracha

Islam is believed to be the basis of nationalism on which the Pakistani state was constituted, even though this notion continues to be hotly contested. Liberals hold the view that Pakistan was created for the Muslim community of India, which Muhammad Ali Jinnah treated as a separate ethnic and cultural community, rather than a strictly religious group demanding an Islamic theocracy. Either way Islam is accepted as the core social and political institution in Pakistan, giving it a special role in Pakistani society. Continue reading

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Filed under culture, Identity, Islam, Islamism, Media, Multinational Corporations, Pakistan, Religion, Society

Marx Shrugged: Introduction

(The following is an attempt to understand Marxism as a social and economic ideology from a non-technical point of view. Already a bevy of efforts to simplify Marxism have been made and this is merely another addition to the trend. This lay interpretation of Marxism is spread over a series of articles of which this is the first.)

By Zia Ahmad

 

 Back in the day when color red carried connotations of evil and Godlessness, words like Communism, Socialism and Marxism were equated with unrepentant vice, waywardness and choice of lifestyle adopted by the heretics and atheists. Nothing short of a foul swear word in view of our elders, Marxist and Socialist ideas were actively discouraged and demonized. Continue reading

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Filed under Economy, History, Humour, Labour, Left, Multinational Corporations, Pakistan, Society

Looking for history in all the wrong places

By Zia Ahmad

Notable scholar Frederic Jameson famously put forward the idea of the disappearance of a sense of history in his indictment of postmodernism, fitfully titled Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991). The idea briefly referred to the way in which the entire contemporary social system has little by little begun to lose its capacity to retain its own past consequently refusing to learn any lessons from it. In forming a critique of the postmodern condition, Jameson essentially pointed out the disconnection with history and the subsequent fascination with the present.

This broad interpretation holds true for the collective human experience and rings ever so true for Pakistan. It is interesting to note how seamlessly the above mentioned idea blends in with the rhetorical whining knowledgeable Pakistanis indulge in, whenever given the chance, something to the tune of we have forgotten our ways, we have lost our identity, etc, etc. Continue reading

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Filed under Colonialism, culture, Heritage, History, Identity, India, Media, Multinational Corporations, Pakistan, Society, urban, Writers

Obama and Jamaat Islami Youth Wing

Bradistan Calling

Note: The views expressed are author’s,PTH does not necessarily agree with all the views expressed.Some names have intentionally been omitted to protect privacy.

It was a long afternoon,with cricket T20 in the background, and the location was a Lebanese restaurant in St.  John’s wood, in the shadow of Lords cricket ground in central London and we were enjoying a long outdoor meal.

My guest was a childhood friend (alumni of  “Physics under Hoodbhoy”  and Islami Jamiat Talba), now an analyst with an American Bible-Belt Neo-Con Think-Tank, visiting London for a seminar on “Preventing Islamist Extremism” in the disenfranchised Muslim youth of U.K. He also ran a blog called “Friends of Pakistan” before the name was  artfully stolen by President Zardari’s team (Allegedly by Ambassador Haqqani, who is rumoured to ghost-write Zardari articles in NYT, WP and WSJ). Continue reading

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