For this past month Telenor Pakistan has been running an initiative called Karo Mumkin. Celebrating its 5th year of mobile services in Pakistan the team at Telenor have committed themselves to making it more of a national celebration then a mere anniversary for the company.
To be a part of this initiative visit and register your AZM: www.azmealishan.com or send an SMS “azm |space| name to 5454” – NOW
Centered around the idea of the Lahore resolution 70 years ago, a group of independent activists decided to help mobilize citizens to celebrate the unity and spirit of patriotism and to drive them towards a more progressive Pakistan, this unique initiative aims to revive the same spirit of nationhood and community that lay at the heart of the vision of Pakistan. Drawing on the idea of the ‘azm’ made by our elders and leaders 70 years ago, the Azme Alishan website www.azmealishan.com invites citizens to make their ‘azm’ to be part of a brighter and more prosperous Pakistan. Azm-e-Ali Shan, an urdu term means “The Great Resolve”
Each user who registers and makes an ‘azm’ claims his/her pixel and declares himself/herself as a ‘Nishan-e-Azm’. Each pixel thus represents a resolve to contribute to bringing Pakistan back to its rightful glory. As more and more ‘azms’ are made and more and more pixels filled in, a colorful picture of Minar-e-Pakistan emerges. People can also take part in contributing pixels via SMS. Sending an SMS with azm
Continue reading “Azm-e-Ali Shan – The Great Resolve” »
We fail to participate in democratic processes while we recognize democracy as a utopian ideal form. We fail to contribute to the national kitty while demanding increasing state services. We can apply the same line of argument to other segments of society. We must recognize our own failures for allowing society to reach the state it faces today. All of us may be part of the solution, but we are also part of the problem. Our actions/lack of action can rightly point to helping maintain the status-quo, the political-military musical chairs that we have today accepted as part and parcel of everyday Pakistani life.
Politicians and generals may belong to a class of their own, they may be totally disconnected from society and have little or no appreciation of the suffering of the common man. Intuitively however there is a stubborn link between those who exercise power and those who have to deal with it. The powerful are a reflection of society at large. While many chastises politicians for corruption, many of us also secretly envy those who can stop traffic at their beck and call, fly off to other countries for “personal visits” and at the very least never have to face the spectre load shedding. Similarly we admire the generals for their power and authority. They perpetuate one of our countries dominant narratives that read: Pakistan army, disciplined, ready to sacrifice and at the nation’s service, ever ready to stare down those who would look at us with an “evil eye” or with “nefarious designs”.
Continue reading “Am I Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution?” »
Conspiracy theories are making a big splash in both the domestic and international media. While we in Pakistan are often angered as to how Pakistan is portrayed in the Western media, the same people seem to be supporting various individuals and right wing parties who are also gaining much traction with foreign correspondents in Pakistan.
Recent articles in the NY Times, Times and The Guardian all highlight some of the more outlandish (outlandish for me, common sense to others) arguments to explain the various challenges that the country faces. These articles and conspiracy theorist skeptics recognize that by offering elaborate and complex explanations for Pakistan’s miseries politicians, generals, media personalities etc are trying to deflect responsibility onto un-provable external actors. Not only are they deferring any questions that may be linked to their contribution to the nations state of affairs, by making statements such as “external actors cannot be ruled out” the narrative of the Pakistani state being constantly under siege is maintained.
Continue reading “Why perceptions matter more than grievances: Conspiracy theories, our Achilles heal?” »
A Pakistani-American author—cited for the empathy, depth, and complexity of his work—is the winner of the $20,000 The Story Prize for his book In Other Rooms, Other Wonders
At the end of an evening of readings and conversation, debut writer Daniyal Mueenuddin took the stage and accepted The Story Prize for his collection In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, a book of eight connected stories set in southern Pakistan and centering around the estate of a feudal landowner. The curators of The Story Prize, Dark and Lindsey selected the three finalists from among 78 books entered in 2009, representing 53 different publishers. The Story Prize is the highest prize money given in the literature award
Its interesting to read the experience that shaped his debut book from being a student at the Lahore American School to graduate from Yale and working for some time as a lawyer at a New York law firm only to quit a few years later and return to his homeland to compose this book, the story is definitely worth reading. It is mostly his own personal journey across the years that has shaped this 256 page collection of short stories. Daniyal Mueenuddin links a number of short stories to describe the interwoven lives of an aging feudal landowner, his servants and managers, and his extended family who have lost touch with the land. The stories in – In Other Rooms, Other Wonders make up a vivid portrait of feudal Pakistan, describing the advantages and constraints of social station, the dissolution of old ways, and the shock of change.
Continue reading “Daniyal Mueenuddin, a Pakistani wins The Story Prize” »
Last week a few “new media” journalists were invited by the US Consulate to an exclusive meeting with Farah Pandith, who has been recently appointed as the U.S Special Representative for Muslim Communities. The usual bloggeratti excitement was held at bay since the invitation card had a blazing “No-Camera” policy, which had most of us worried concerned about this concerning hush-hush meeting but on the contrary, when we reached the destination we were told it was only a deterrent to avoid the TV &/or Press media fan-fare as the consulate preferred to have a close face-to-face uninterrupted one-on-one discussion, else the meeting was blogable, tweetable and pictures were definitely welcome, immediately putting the anxious team of bloggers at ease and right in their own comfort zone, out came the iPhones, up came the blackberries, twitter clients were fired up and we were ready raring to go.
The guest list had some 10-odd new media journalists, a few from Dawn, of which I had the honor to finally meet Huma Yousuf, the list of bloggers, (or blAAgers [sic]) was the usual fun bunch, ranging from Faisal Kapadia of Deadpanthoughts, Ammar Yasir of Ronin and Tea Break fame, Sana Saleem of Mystified Justice & Dawn Blog, Sabeen Mehmud from T2F, our very own Zaheer Sb from BiTs Online and Windmills of the Mind and last but not the least our celebrity blogger Naveen Naqvi was also in the house, who we now have laid claim to be more of a blogger then a TV personality. The star-studded bloggeratti guest list almost guaranteed an exciting rendezvous with the US Representative for Muslim Communities.
Continue reading “Rendezvous with Farah Pandith, US Special Rep for Muslim Communities” »
UPDATE 13th Feb: Foreign Policy Magazine which was first to break the story on 3rd February has issued a clarification that this story is might be untrue “The story turns out to be false: Mr. Zeb has responded, saying that the press reports are nothing more than a practical joke someone played on the Internet.” He goes on to clarify that his name, originally spelled Zaib but was changed by his family to Zeb, means “someone with good countenance,” Ambassador Zeb denies that he was ever considered for an ambassadorial position in Saudi Arabia”
This news story is just too hilarious too pass up. I have just read this on Cafe Pyala where Ambassador Miangul Akbar Zeb reportedly cannot receive accreditation as Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia. The reason, apparently, has nothing to do with his credentials, and everything to do with his name — which, in Arabic, translates to “biggest dick” reportedly Pakistan had previously floated Zeb’s name as ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, only to have him rejected for the same reason
Akbar Zib is no newcomer to politics, this long-ranging high level diplomat has worked with some of the largest members of world governments, he most recently served as High Commissioner Designate of Pakistan to Canada, and prior to that he was the ambassador of Pakistan to South Africa,. He also served in that capacity in Washington from 1983-87, and New Delhi from 1994-2000. Seriously I have no disrespect for the honorable diplomat, but he sure has his prospects limited to serving Pakistan at a non-Arabic mission
Continue reading “HUMOR: Pakistani Ambassador rejected because his name is NSFW in Arabic” »
This weeks The Economist carries a very interesting article discussing a small innovative idea by an Indian to denounce the rampant corruption spread across India. The idea was dreamt up by an expatriate Indian physics professor from the University of Maryland who, traveling back home, found himself harassed by endless extortion demands. He gave the notes to the importuning officials as a polite way of saying no. The notes tend to work because corrupt officials so rarely encounter resistance that they get scared when they do. And ordinary people are more willing to protest, since the notes have an organization behind them and they do not feel on their own.
Simple ideas like this don’t always work but its at least start of resistance against corruption…. The immediate question that comes to my mind – will such a system work in Pakistan, being ranked as 134th country Corruption Perception Index, the 5th Pillar organization has already designed a Pakistani Rs 10 as a Zero Currency, but I believe it still needs to be fine tuned [by a graphic designer?] into maybe in a more commonly used Rs 50 denomination plastered with elaborate markings signifying the importance of this zero denomination and maybe an elaborate explanation, like the ones printed on the back of the Indian rupee, denouncing corruption. Whatever be the plan, I believe we would need to bank roll a couple of billions to even begin to scratch the surface of state sponsored [read Presidency sponsored] corruption
Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is on trial this last week in New York on charges of her attempting to kill an FBI officer in Afghanistan. It interesting to note that none of the assault charges are seemingly holding up against her, the M-4 rifle which she allegedly used to fire four shots at the officers has not produced a single finger print of her, while other items presented as evidence in are trial are also not standing up in court. What one must remember that Dr. Aafia Siddiqui was abducted from Karachi and held in some US custody from 2003 for allegedly supporting terrorism, only to re-emerge as a Prisoner 650 charged with assaulting FBI officers in 2008, her trial is not about her terrorism but instead an assault charge made against her in 2008.
Sounds like someone in Pakistan must answer the tough question as to why they felt the need to hand over her and many like her over to the US without a proper investigation and trial ensuring that they were actually guilty of the alleged crime or terrorist activity. Musharraf or for that matter should not have bartered with her life to pick up and let the Americans smuggle her out of Pakistan merely on the basis of a hunch?
A good summary of the progress of the trial can be heard in this short 10-minute interview of Tina Foster, Executive Director of International Justice Network who has been monitoring Dr. Aafia Siddiqi trial in New York on Letters to Washington telecasted on KPFA Washington Radio
Continue reading “Dr. Aafia Siddiqui’s Trial” »
Guest blog by Agha Haider Raza
Politics in Pakistan mesmerize me. Not only does one enjoy the daily dose of rhetoric that is spewed from the mouths of our beloved politicians, but the one track mind of those in and out of government baffles the mind. Politics in Pakistan, much like the political parties themselves seem to be more inclined towards a personality than an ideology. Nawaz Sharif, Altaf Hussain and Asif Zardari seem to be controlling the present and future of 170 million Pakistanis. What is ironic of these three distinguished gentlemen is the immense power they control. Nawaz Sharif, already a two-time Prime Minister – failed miserably on both occasions, Altaf Hussain – a self exiled leader living in London and Asif Zardari – the current President of Pakistan seems to be holding on to his seat with every bit of strength his party can muster. But why has it lead to a power struggle amongst these political leaders when thousands of Pakistani civilians and soldiers have died over the last few years? Why are we still playing the dirty political games of the past, when history has taught us to do better?
It is highly unfortunate that the two largest political parties in Pakistan are currently vying for the federal government, while the very nation they wish to govern is in flames. Do not for a second believe that I am being melodramatic with the word “flame”. From power outages to inflation and from the target killings in Karachi to the drone strikes in the North; we are on a path of destruction. But here I am – the eternal optimist – believing that a country which was born out of a long and hard fought struggle can make it through the difficult times again. However, we will only be able to walk through it all with our heads held high, if we review our past and yearn not to repeat them again.
Continue reading “Mesmerization of Pakistani Politics” »
India is preparing for a possible “two-front war” with China and Pakistan, Geo News quoted an Indian newspaper as saying on Wednesday, The News reported … something not new, Indian Establishment has been directly or indirectly showing hostility against Pakistan since Mumbai incident and yet we have this ‘Aman ki Asha’ thing going on, communicating (read conditioning) the already dazzled Pakistani masses to have a very friendly perception of their neighbors, whose involvement in the Karachi Ashura incident and Bolton Market Tragedy cannot also be ruled out, let alone in the Indian’s Involvement in Waziristan, frequent cross of fire at boarders etc … and amidst of all this we have this Aman Ki Asha campaign only adding to the list of questions one might have against the intentions of our capricious (not quite though) neighbor …
I haven’t seen all the ads of this strange campaign, but this one is telling …
As part of yet another offroad expedition the Offroad Pakistan group headed to the Sorh Valley in Baluchistan to enjoy the challenges that the terrain could throw at our vehicles. A group of about 40-odd enthusiasts packed themselves in 17-odd offroading vehicles started this adventure on Friday morning and headed to Sorh, Baluchistan in the region of Bhootani Farms to return late Sunday night. Faisal Kapadia of Deadpanthoughts accompanied us on this adventure trip.
I share these pictures more as a testament that there is so much beauty yet to be discovered in Pakistan that its just feels sad that we are being compelled to write this beautiful country off to being labeled as a war ravaged country where adventure tourism is seen as a taboo
Continue reading “Offroad Adventure to the Sorh Valley in Baluchistan” »
A very supportive rally was organized by the Aman Ittehad at the Karachi Press Club. A large number of civil society groups were in attendence and the rally made a strong statement for peace in Pakistan. Pictures are enclosed here, a video of the event shall be uploaded soon
By Dr. Mujahid Ghazi
It is 16th December. Every year this day reminds me of the painful event in 1971 when Sonar Bangla, the East Pakistan fell and hundreds and thousands of patriotic Pakistanis became prisoners of ego and lost everything including their citizenship and became stateless. After 38 years those Pakistanis along with the next two generations born in the mean time are still stateless. About 300 thousand of these people are living in miserable conditions in 70 camps scattered in various regions of Bangla Desh. There hopes of repatriation to Pakistan have been exploited by different governments and political parties every now and then. The Secretary General of Stranded Pakistanis General Repatriation Council (SPGRC) Mr. Haroon ur Rasheed in a recent interview disclosed that Gen. Zia ul Haq was committed to repatriate these people and a Rabita Trust was established in 1988 for this purpose but unfortunately he was killed in the plane crash.
Listen to the interview of Haroon ur Rasheed with Dr. Mujahid Ghazi from ABN Chicago this last week [audio: ABN-Stranded-Pakistani-Haroon-Rasheed.mp3]
He also said that the only other person who was sincere was Nawaz Shareef, who started the repatriation by providing houses in Mian Chunnoo in Punjab. After only 325 persons of first 56 families were repatriated his government was taken over by General Musharraf and the whole matter went into cold storage.
Continue reading “The Biharis, The Non Bengalis, The Stateless or The Pakistanis!” »