Tag Archives: urban

Facebook saga: Dilemma of Urban Middle Class

We are posting this piece in the ongoing debate on Facebook ban. PTH does not necessarily agree with the views expressed here. Raza Rumi

On Wednesday 19th May 2010, the Lahore High Court, famous for acting as a “moral brigade” rather than judiciary, once again passed a strange order to ban Facebook across Pakistan on a petition of Muslim Lawyers Forum. The demand for blocking of the social media site came after it refused to remove certain pages displaying Prophet Muhammad’s cartoons.

This order was passed against the request of the government and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority that controversial pages of Facebook were already being blocked and there was no reason to block entire social media website which has over 2 million Pakistani users.

Few months back Lahore High Court took suo-moto notice of album of a popular female singer and declared her songs to be ‘vulgar’. This was followed by Chief Justice Lahore High Court’s remarks that Hindus were financing the terrorism in Pakistan which attracted protests from Hindu minority of Pakistan. This mixing of religion in to matters of state is opposite to the judgment of the Bangladesh’s Supreme Court which imposed ban on religious parties to take part in politics. Continue reading


Filed under Islam, Islamism, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, liberal Pakistan, Pakistan, Politics, Religion, Rights, violence

Made in Pakistan


Basic Info
Entertainment & Arts – Movies


Still Waters Productions presents
“Made in Pakistan,” a Talking Filmain documentary.

“Made in Pakistan” is a 60 minute documentary that was motivated by Newsweek’s cover story of October 29th, 2007 that declared Pakistan to be “The Most Dangerous Place in the World.” The film documents the lives of four ordinary Pakistani citizens during military rule in an effort to break Western stereotypes about the country.

Featuring the lives of:
Waleed Khalid – Lawyer & religious moderate
Rabia Aamir – Journalist & working mother
Mohsin Waraich – Aspiring Politician
Tara Mehmood – Event & PR Manager

This acclaimed documentary will premiere in Karachi on 31st July 2009 at the Arts Council Auditorium. The show will be followed by a Q&A with the Director, and Red-Carpet interviews.

Show times:


Friday 31st July, 2009, 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Saturday 1st August, 2009, 8:30 p.m.to 9:30 p.m.
Sunday 2nd August, 2009, 8:30 p.m.to 9:30 p.m.


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Filed under Pakistan

Confronting militancy in Pakistan

Raza Rumi

The unedited version of my op-ed published in the NEWS today:

It is time that the vocabulary introduced by the global imperial projects is changed in Pakistan. The infamous and rotten coinage – war on terror – needs to be trashed. It was constructed by an imbecile global leader, whose vision defies basic standards of human intelligence. And, in our case the frontline-state status is a passé title as well. The war has now entered the Pakistani consciousness, has consumed thousands and continues to destabilize the country to a point where its citizenry is insecure and bereft of hope. We have to now protect Pakistanis and Pakistan first. All else is secondary.

The gravity of the situation is however not shared by many. The rugged militants are artfully backed by the ‘urban Taliban’, a term that has emanated from Sindhi intelligentsia. There are political parties and their leaders who downplay the threat to Pakistan, and few journalists and TV anchors brazenly eulogise the Taliban bravery and, believe it or not, ‘sound’ governance. Even some on the residual Left term this extremism as an anti-imperial struggle. We are being reminded that the destruction of private property and daylight murders of innocent civilians are nothing but a ‘reaction’ to our policies and Western diktat. Ironically, a key religious party now train-marching across the country on a was ruling two of the war zoned provinces for nothing less than five years tacitly supporting Army operations as well as legitimizing a military ruler through a constitutional amendment. Continue reading


Filed under Afghanistan, Taliban, Terrorism, violence, war

Understanding ‘Media Mujahideen’ of Pakistan

This post by Manzoor Chandio is articulating an alternative viewpoint on the growing phenomenon of urban Taliban. We do not subscribe to all the views presented below but strongly support the argument on the proxy jihadism that is being recklessly promoted by the media channels. (ed.)

Since President Zardari’s statement calling Kashmiri fighters as “terrorists”, Media Mujahideen of Pakistan (columnists and anchorpersons of English and Urdu newspapers and TV channels) have turned their guns on him, despite the fact that militancy never supported Kashmiris.

Hitherto we considered the Mullah-Military nexus responsible for all the ills in Pakistan, but chutzpah shown by Media Mujahideen since the making of Pakistan is the real cause of concern.

Senior journalist Dr Ayub Shaikh in his today’s Kawish column has termed them ‘Urban Taliban’ manufacturing conspiracy theories against the present government. This clean-shaved and full-suit wearing Taliban are fierce opponents of democracy and national rights of Sindhi and Baloch nations.
Urban Taliban and the brigade of Media Mujahideen are as old as Pakistan itself. If Mullah Mujahideen were proxy for the US against the USSR, Media Mujahideen are acting as proxy for Urban Taliban. Continue reading


Filed under Citizens, Pakistan, Politics, Taliban, Terrorism

The Urban Frontier: Karachi

Posted by Raza Rumi
This is a brilliant series from the NPR on Karachi and its myriad issues and stark inequalities. We are posting the leads and links here for easy reference. Readers should not miss it.
Commuters in Karachi's Lyari district.
Akhtar Soomro for NPR

Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, is growing so fast that estimates of its population range from 12 million to 18 million. The country’s financial capital is also a city where about half the population lives in illegal houses. In Karachi, Morning Edition begins a series called “The Urban Frontier,” about the world’s expanding cities.


Land Ownership a Root of Many Problems in Karachi

June 11, 2008 · As part of the “Urban Frontier” series, Steve Inskeep reported last week from Karachi, Pakistan — one of the world’s largest cities. He found problems there familiar to cities around the world: from ethnic, religious and political strife to water shortages and pollution — and land ownership was a common undercurrent. Continue reading

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Filed under Citizens, Karachi, Pakistan, Politics, poverty, public policy, urban

Pakistan: another kind of change

By S. Akbar Zaidi,

WHILE Pakistan’s hesitant political transformation falters further, one has to note that developments over the last decade or so have given rise to numerous substantive changes, which have altered social relations and societal structures.

Always undergoing a process of change, many of these developments are affecting our social, economic and political relationships.

Perhaps the most important factor that, sadly, many Pakistani social scientists still do not comprehend is that Pakistan is neither a so-called feudal, agricultural, rural or even a traditional society or economy. Only those social scientists who write their papers on anecdotal evidence still talk of Pakistan as being feudal. Even a cursory examination of any kind of economic data suggests that this is not so. With the share of agriculture as part of the GDP falling drastically from 26 per cent in 2000 to 20 per cent in 2007, agriculture has lost its predominance in the economy. Continue reading

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Filed under Citizens, Democracy, Politics, Society

Let us not squander this moment

(The News)
Raza Rumi

The prophets of doom are back in business. As the euphoria following the February 18 election subsides, there are more and more predictions, displays of that typical thick wall of cynicism that shapes, or at least influences, the public discourse in Pakistan. This is the third moment in our recent history when the media gurus, the doyens of public opinion in the independent, apolitical quarters are singing a familiar tune. The byline of this ungraceful song is: these politicians are incapable of resolving their differences and even if they work together for the immediate removal of the president, they will resort to their old tricks and confrontations. No one is even mentioning that some other powerful and invisible quarters may already be resorting to the old governance paradigm: give the dogs a bad name and then hang them.

In 1988, the ‘moment’ for the lack of a better term, frittered away at the altar of confrontational politics and the creation of tussles entailing Punjab versus the federation, patriotism versus security risk (read the late Benazir Bhutto) and corruption narratives. The media, the technocrats and the apolitical urban middle class accepted this storyline only to see the whole system crashing in 1999 — the second key moment in this argument.

The 1999 upheaval was peculiar not just that a wide section of ostensibly democratic sections welcomed the coup but also lent a helping hand to the project of eliminating ‘bad’ and dirty politics. There were voices of protest as the corrupt and bickering politicians needed to be held accountable and the Augean stables of political process required cleansing. The rest is history as one after the other all the middle class ambitions were given up, or distorted to an extent that accountability, corruption and real democracy became more than sardonic jokes under the Gujrat syndicate backed by showcased prime ministers and turncoats.

By early 2007, this cleansing and re-engineering project had outlived its utility for effective domestic governance, and for fulfilling the imperatives of a frontline, (or a client), state. Hence the negotiation with the largest political party commenced against several odds. And, the biggest challenge to this course of transition emerged not from the establishment even though there was no shortage of detractors there. The loudest proponents of the “sell out” theory were precisely the forces that legitimized the 1999 coup and gave it the political, constitutional legitimacy. And, the new phase of distrust on corrupt politicians ensued. Mian Nawaz Sharif had to face a similar fate when he entered the electoral arena and appeared to be playing the ‘game’. It was Benazir’s tragic death that has somewhat halted her constant media trial.

Since 2007, the refreshing difference to the old script is the lawyers’ movement; and the urban consensus on the independence of the judiciary. The principled conduct of now deposed judges has given impetus to this movement as without the 60 odd resignations this stage would not have arrived. To give due credit to the leadership of the lawyers had been struggling against the constitutional deviations much before 2007. But the events of March 2007 provided a centripetal push towards the office of the chief justice.

The leadership of the lawyers has yet again proved its mettle in the present uncertainty of political winds. Flexibility, central to the success of a movement, has been displayed by Mr Aitzaz Ahsan who has called off the long march to Islamabad given that the new assembly has not even sworn in.

However, the bulk of hitherto disengaged, and now politically energised sections of the middle class view the lawyers’ movement as an alternative or even a replacement for mainstream politics. This is not a deliberate act; perhaps it echoes the frustration of the 1990s decade, the dynastic and familial control over party leaderships that apparently excludes the increasingly articulate and professionally sound middle classes whose number ironically have grown under Musharraf’s Pakistan. Continue reading


Filed under Democracy, Pakistan, Politics, public policy