Red, White and Black

An Open Letter to the Naysayers
7 October, 2008, 4:07 pm
Filed under: general, Pakistan

Dear Compatriots,

Over the past few weeks, I have heard growing rumbles, murmurs and whispers of many plans to leave the country. I am told that the game is up, the snitch has been caught and Pakistan is done. It is time to leave. Time to leave before things get worse. Time to leave before a suicide bomb hits your loved ones. Time to leave before you lose power completely. Time to leave to before its you.

I am told that there is no hope for the country. That corrupt rulers are in control. That foreign powers are playing their chess game with our lives. That the militants and the extremists will not listen. That it is not our country anymore. That nothing we can do will change matters.

Wrong. My dear friends, you are very wrong. No, the country is a mess. You are right on that. But you are wrong to believe that it is done. It is not done yet. A nation is composed of people. And while you might be ready to give up, others will fight on. Because they understand that individuals can make a difference. Because they understand that change does not materialise mid air – that people bring change. Because they continue to have faith. Imagine the difference it will make if each and everyone of us decides to live up to that responsibility. Nations are not built without sweat and blood. The require both. And a lot of pain. But most of all, they require preserver-ness.

So I ask you: did you exhaust all your options of making a difference before you decided to give up? Have you? Or did you just decide to give up, pack your bags and leave?

Call me a hopeless fool in denial. But I will stick it out here.  Because I believe that individuals can make a difference. Because every cloud has a silver lining. Because I am determined to do my share to bring change. Because no matter how much this country sucks, it still defines who I am. Because there is no place like home and I will not run away while my home burns. And because, we will change things.

So to you naysayers, I say: think and think again.

A Sad Angry Citizen


SMSing trouble
14 August, 2008, 9:28 pm
Filed under: general, Pakistan | Tags: , , , ,

This morning The Daily Times carried a news story that has me worried. The news story reports the incidence of controversial SMSes being spread in Karachi:

Some people in the city have been growing more and more worried about the fears of the alleged spread of ‘Talibanization’ especially with the appearance of incendiary graffiti, posters and cell phone text messages.

“Some families from [the name of a place in Sindh] arrived at [the name of a place in Karachi] and were taken upon by [the name of one linguistic group] who misbehaved with their women,” said one text message. “Their bodies were painted red and they were stripped naked… [One linguistic group] has given [the name of another group] a deadline to leave [an area in Karachi]. Think, are you going to do something or just talk? Send this SMS to all [one linguistic group] so that the nation awakens. Long live [the name of a political leader.”

Another message said: “An elder from [a place in the Punjab] has told the people of Sindh in a message to pray [a certain prayer] and ask their friends to do so because a great tragedy is about to befall the province. He sent a similar message to Balakot as well before the earthquake happened.”

This is coming in the backdrop of a series of reports over the past week which have warned against the imminent “Talibaniation” of Karachi. Karachi is already scared with ethnic warfare and fanning of hatred and anti-ethnic feelings in this manner does not bode well for the social fabric of the city.

I have witnessed the power of smses in another conflict recently. And the ability of these not-so-innocuous messages to spread fear and panic cannot be underestimated. The state can take a number of educational steps to counter the spread of such hatred, but the utlimate responsibility lies with the users. We are a country where sms forwarding is a hobby and we have to be extremely careful of what we are spreading. I hope that these messages fizzle out but they will do their damage if we don’t pause to think about them.

Edit: A related opinion piece.

PTA at it again?
7 April, 2007, 10:39 pm
Filed under: general

So, I hear from the grapevine that PTA is back at the blog-banning business. This time , wordpress has also been blacklisted along with blogspot. Apparently some ISPs in Karachi have already blocked the wordpress domain, but I can still access it here in Islamabad. Are these the last few glorious moments? I had to migrate from blogspot last year because of the same ban and I am seriously pissed at the prospect of a repeat. (I like wordpress!!)

But really, wither freedom of speech? And under the guise of what?! National security?! Curbing on government criticism? Yeah, RIGHT!

I hope like hell that this is not true, but if it is then: WTF!

Yes, I am really annoyed. 😡

The Play
3 January, 2007, 9:09 am
Filed under: general, Politics

Year end play: The Nuculier God
Theatre: The World
Set Design: Tony Blair
God: George Bush
Sacrificial Lamb: Saddam Hossain
Slaves: Saudi Royal Family and cohorts
Extras: The United Nations
Theme song: I can kill any Muslim

I can kill any Muslim
Any day I choose
It’s all for the cause of freedom
I can kill any Muslim
Wherever I choose
It is cause we’re a peace lovin’ nation

So we egged him on
When he attacked Kuwait
And the trial may have been harried
So we supplied him arms
To gas the Kurds
With him dead, that’s one story buried

Violence in Iraq
Has been on the rise
The US can hardly be blamed
Our interest was oil
And we stuck to our goal
Why must my cronies be named

Saddam’s emergence
As Arab resistance
That wasn’t part of the plan
Had Amnesty and others
Kept quiet when it matters
We’d have quietly gone on to Iran

Asleep I was
When he hanged on the gallows
Well even presidents need sleep
Oblivious I was
When the planes hit the towers
I had other ‘pointments to keep

More Iraqis dead
More ‘mericans too
OK they warned it would happen
Why should I listen
When I rule the world
No nation’s too big to flatten

The Saudi Kings
They know their place
At least they’ll know by now
Muslim’s OK
If you tow the line
Out of step, off you go, and how

Tony and me
We keep good company
Dictators know when it matters
Regardless of crimes
And religious inclines
Safe if you listen or its shutters

I can kill any Muslim
Wherever I choose
I choose quite often I know
I can kill any Muslim
Any day I choose
I did it so now they will know

Received this as a forward. Thought it was pertinent enough to share here. The tradegy of the whole thing is that because of the manner the trial was conducted and the verdict enacted – Saddam’s guilt was nullified by the martyr status he now has across the Muslim world. He won’t be remembered as a tyrant but a Muslim leader who was killed at the behest of the US. Pity!

PS. Replace “I can kill any Muslim” with “I can kill any Third World-er” and it would still hold true. It’s just a simple question of the congurance of American interests. The saddest part is that the Muslim world is the most spineless of all Third world-ers! Bah. I’m ranting early morning.

The Hajj Sermon
31 December, 2006, 9:30 pm
Filed under: general, Islam, Politics

I ended up listening to the Hajj sermon a few days ago and a couple of points caught my attention. Speaking to the congregation of believers on Hajj day, the Saudi state-appointed Mufti claimed:

…that the slogans of enlightened moderation and socialism were completely opposed to Islam and there was no place for sectarianism in the Deen. He said the cause of downfall of Muslims was distraction from their Deen and that was why the enemies of Islam were uniting against them. He added that Muslim governments should make efforts to unite against the enemies of Islam. The Mufti said that mujahideen in Afghanistan, Iraq and other parts of Muslim world should protect the rights of their brethren like they do for the House of God.

So while the Mufti made some politically correct noises like emphasising the need for unity, speaking out against the terrorism perpetrated in the name of Islam and denouncing sectarianism. But for the rest of it – the political part of the sermon, he resorted to the same old schizophrenic rhetoric that has become the custom of the religious Right in the Muslim world. Continue reading

Junoon Declassified
15 December, 2006, 12:14 am
Filed under: general, Pakistan

Came across this excellent video about Junoon, via my good friend BD (yes, I am trying to butter him up…). Amazing video – choronicles both the history of Junoon and also looks at Islam and the impact of 9/11.

Can anyone find the rest of it? I would be forever indebted! : P

The Perks of Being Rich
4 December, 2006, 1:40 pm
Filed under: general, Pakistan, social

Over the weekend, I followed the development of one very depressing incident with a grim heart. The incident in question, was brought to my attention by Zakintosh at The Windmills of My Mind. According to the news reports, the owner of the Nirala chain caused the death of 2-month baby in Defence, Lahore and then proceeded to threaten the injured parents into silence. Media reports suggest that an FIR against the culprit has still not been registered owing to an apparent collusion between the police authorities and the culprit. Such, of course, are the perks of the rich in our country.

I don’t know what is the status of this story at this point in time, but knowing how the system here works it would not be wrong to assume that Nirala company owner will get away with making a complete travesty of justice. In this regard, I urge you all to do your little bit to highlight this incident through the press and the media. One, I endorse Zak’s boycott of Nirala sweets. If we can support an innocuous boycott of European products to protest against the Danish cartoons, it ought not to be too hard for us to say NO to Nirala Sweets. Second, I urge you all to write letters/emails to your favourite papers and try to get this issue highlighted. Our efforts will not be able to bring back a dead baby, but we can at least make an attempt to stop the incessant mockery of justice.

Every single voice matters. Please join the chorus!

P.S. On a related note, Ejaz Haider of The Daily Times laments the lack of deceny in our society. Thought provoking material there! Give it a read.

P.P.S. A few friends and I are trying to organise some sort of protest in Islamabad (this week/end) and Lahore (the following one). So please drop in a note if you are interested.

Edit: The issue was also covered at ATP.