Junk Food for the Soul

It is a central principle of Islam that the heart is owned by its owner and by its Owner. At the heart of Islam is the notion that you own your heart. Meaning, none can control your heart, save for you and your Creator, the One we call the “Turner of Hearts.”

Regardless of how much someone may try to coerce your heart, the most that anyone can do is to coerce your body and your emotions. But, your heart is beyond the reach of anyone but you and your Owner. You can reveal the contents of your heart, or hide them, but the secrets of your heart are yours. Outsiders, however, will seek to seize them and replace them.

In our culture, however, we find four insidious methods for coercing the heart. Rather, these methods seek to reach as close to the heart as any outsider can. The first method involves atrophying the heart itself. The second method involves inhibiting any growth. The third method involves clouding it. The fourth method involves splitting the heart. But, any of these methods only work against us if we allow them to work against us. Continue reading


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The mouse that roared unconvincingly

by Zia Ahmad


An American friend recently sent a youtube clip featuring the uberPakistani sensation with the red beret circa 2007/8 Zaid Hamid/Zaman.

The clip appears to have been made around the time of the Osama killing and offers nothing new. Its yet another final warning to India, Amreeka and the zionists. What is more noticeable about this clip is the amateur nature of the video. The often repetitious monologue does not benefit from the uneven audibility of  Mr Zaman’s voice. Keeping the same bland facial expressions his voice goes oscillates between borderline thunderous to very much a whimper.

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The Nation has always been a bit of an oddity amongst the English language newspapers in Pakistan. A sister concern of the vehemently conservative Urdu daily Nawa-e-Waqt, The Nation has inherited the responsibility to play the custodian of the Two Nation Theory for the English paper readership in Pakistan. Apparently 1971 never happened in Nawa-e-Waqt’s version of history.

In the wake of slippery circumstances for the armed forces and the premier intelligence agency that unfolded since the May 2 raid on Abbotabad and the subsequent justifiable criticism at the Khakis has propelled their uber patriotic defenders to have their say. The critics are admonished for raising fingers at the top brass. Relying conveniently on narratives that have run past their expiry dates to the point of turning into a cringe worthy cliché’, the disapproval at the recent performance (or therefore lack of) of the armed forces is largely seen as yet another attempt by the heathen western powers that be to malign our proud and glimmering reputation.

Consider this article published in The Nation recently curiously titled Dreams of Colonels’ Coup!. The following article is dreamy in a bad way alright but not the way its writer may have intended it to be. Authored by Farooq Hameed Khan, the gentleman opines, “In the aftermath of the Abbottabad and Mehran fiascos, the American and British media spearheaded a well coordinated vilification campaign against the Pak Army and ISI. A wave of articles and reports from Washington, New York and London churn out plenty of disinformation against them almost on a daily basis.”

It is tempting to imagine that a considerable number of what constitutes the writer’s ilk is frozen in a time capsule where endless reruns of Alpha Bravo Charly (A recruitment drive by ISPR guised as a popular PTV drama serial in the mid 90s) and the macho sensational espionage fiction from Tariq Ismael Saghar informs the intellect. Pakistan is the last true bastion of Islam (no less with nuclear capabilities) and that invites the perpetual scheming and wrath of amreeka, yookay, israeel, dastardly turncoat afghans and our next door favorite neighbours with a penchant for haldeeram.

Now honestly, aren’t you fed up and don’t you get supremely riled up every time some genius starts blaming the foreign hand whenever there’s a disaster small or large, manmade or natural. Yet, all the frustration and anger amounts to little when considering a significant part of our populace, held captive by state mandated Pak Studies curriculum, does buy in to this insulting mentality.

In the same article the writer adds, “The Americans seem desperate to isolate and malign the Pak Army and ISI because these institutions stand as the biggest hurdles in the CIA’s evil designs against Pakistan’s nuclear programme; resist uncontrolled America’s penetration in the nation; fight Indo-US nexus aimed to create anarchy and lawlessness on our soil, and finally because Army Chief General Kayani and DG ISI General Pasha refused to bow to US dictates and appear determined not to compromise the country’s supreme interests. So, USA’s plan to destabilise the military and weaken Pakistan, in collusion with the international media and certain quarters of the Pakistani intelligentsia media and a few politicians, has manifested on multiple fronts.”

Had the biggest hurdles to CIA’s infernal designs been not busy with the property estate business, running housing societies and bakeries, making cereals and fertilizer, our Khakis would have had surely put up a formidable front and who knows they just might have had won us a war in our checkered past. As for the DG and the Chief not bowing down to US dictates it is clear that the writer and indeed The Nation have not heard of wikileaks and even if they have, it is most likely seen as Mussad’s public relation cell.

Saving the best for the last the article says, ” Another mischievous theme relates to the possibility of lower ranking officers, and men with pro-Islamic leanings within the army /ISI, gaining access to the nuclear arsenal. In this context, Fareed Zakaria, the sworn Pakistan hater, in his recent article, The radicalisation of Pakistan’s military, in The Washington Post on June 22, 2011 grossly lies: “But the evidence is now overwhelming that it (Pak Army) has been infiltrated at all levels by ‘violent’ Islamists, including Taliban and Al-Qaeda sympathisers.”

This piece was published on the 29th of June. Two days later all the leading papers including The Nation carried this little something about the naval authorities informing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Defence that the PNS Mehran attackers did indeed get help from the inside. Never mind that it took the concerned authorities more than a month to get to this obvious conclusion and that a Brigadier and other officials within the army ranks had been rounded up over the last couple of weeks, it would be interesting to hear the writer’s comments which I guess is asking for too much. In all probability this turn of event will also be seen as orchestrated by the CIA.

Link to The Nation post is http://nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Opinions/Columns/29-Jun-2011/Dreams-of–colonels-coup

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Talking about the state.

Dissent is essential to any state. It helps reflecting upon the policies employed by the state, to correct them and to improve upon them. With dissent comes tolerance. The two can’t exist without each other. And once a state becomes abhorrent to dissent, what follows is violence.

Now lets come back to Pakistan and reflect. Saleem Shahzad, a correspondent of Asia Times Online was killed just days back. We don’t know who are perpetrators of this heinous crime. But we do have some pointers. What pointers: Well, HRW and HRCP both point toward the state.

Read more here

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Filed under baluchistan, minorities, Pakistan, violence

All, in the name of God.

It stands like a grand mosque, silent and only coming up with a sound five times a day, calling for prayers from amongst the faithful. Not. Colored red, it never speaks like those around it, on the loudspeakers, its sound too dangerous, a kind of invitation to commotion.


There aren’t any wailing relatives around, except for people signing up for the bodies, the dead cold meat brought to the morgue, from a place almost a mosque, almost. The age-old ceilings of Emergency at Mayo Hospital help absorbing the sounds, emanating from the dead bodies. No, the stench. The stench of meat, first alive and now dead,  long left to rot.

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Black Swan, the film

by Soniah Kamal

Most people advocate some sort of art project for the repressed to loosen up and get in touch with thier deeper self and in this stead dance is often a highly recommended activity.  In ‘Black Swan’ Natalie Portman’s character Nina is a ballet dancer and like all dedicated ballerinas, ballet dancing is all she does. Unfortunately instead of her art loosening Nina up it seems to have turned her into a nuerotic individual who has no friends (not that oodles of friends are necessarily a sign of a healthy personality, but she has not a single one) and no interests other than becoming the lead dancer before she becomes too old (what a more interesting film this may have been had more been made of this issue). Nina’s dream comes true when she is cast as the Swan Queen in ‘Swan Lake’, a casting which will have her dancing both the part of the good White Swan and the bad Black Swan who seduces the White Swan’s paramour. Nina dances the part of the White Swan perfectly but lecherous choreographer Thomas is unhappy with her depiction of the Black Swan and urges her to loosen up, to ‘live a little’.  How Nina lives a little and can or cannot handle it is the subject of this film. And how does Nina ‘live a little’? Why in the most tritest of tropes available– by having sex of course! With boys and girls and oneself. Nina proceeds to shed some repression by going clubbing, popping a pill, making out in a bathroom, having (or dreaming of) a lesbian experience, and even finally finding out what her fingers were made for. Much has been made of how Nina’s monster mother is responsible for her neurosis and, indeed, Nina’s mother is a very controlling lady: she still brushes the grown Nina’s hair, tucks her into bed, sweetly denigrates her ambition and talent, expects Nina to fulfill her own thwarted dreams, threatens to throw away a cake when Nina does not want a slice, and of course dictates her comings and goings. But, as monstrous as this mother may be she is all too recognisable a mother for many of us from Pakistan and India and so I was not too shocked by her behavior be it emotional blackmailing or dictatorial proclamation. And while in India and Pakistan it is marriage that might finally free a daughter from a tyrannical mother, in ‘Black Swan’ it is Nina being cast as the lead. Once she is the Swan Queen Nina does begin to blossom in so far that on several occasions she begins to stand up to her mother (how much more of an interesting film this would have been had more been made of this issue).  Of the two elements I did enjoy in this otherwise stale film one was Natalie Portman’s incredible acting, and second the few truly shriek-out-loud moments caused by gross, painful depictions of the human body be it muscles undulating under skin or skin fusing together or skin being ripped off. No doubt there will be more films about dancers and their repressed personalities and this time might even be told from the point of view of a male dancer and might turn out to  be the fresh, exciting film that ‘Black Swan’ is not and could not have been as long as sex– good or bad– is touted as being the panacea which will save the world or at the very least repressed individuals.

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Meher Bukhari has Salman Taseer’s blood on her hands as well

The brutal assassination Salman Taseer has opened a can of worms in an already contiminated social landscape of Pakistan which is struggling with modernity in the second decade of the 21st century. The odious adulation over the extrimist security turned homicidal goon Qadri is as disturbing as it is, the media was also not far behind in scoring senesationalist ratings on the Taseer/Asia Bibi fiasco. Below are two clips from Mehat Bukhari’s show on Samaa TV where she interviewed the late Goverener on the 25th of November 2010. Observe the rabid antics of the above mentioned TV anchor and her uber-provocative assault on Mr Taseer. This is a fine point as any for the media faces to draw a line on their point scoring, foming behaviour and a call for the said TV anchor to take a fraction for inciting hate against Salman Taseer and pandering to the radical conservatives.



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Filed under liberal Pakistan, Media, Pakistan, Punjab, Society