Beggar at Ghazi Chowk


Thursday, 29 April 2010

87 Words on History: A Rant.

Pakistani children are given a distorted history to deal with. Their actual history will unlikely be any easier to deal with, but modern textbook and teaching is one sided, censored, and incomplete.

The Germans too rose from World War 2, we must also move on. We must acknowledge our mistakes to be able to move forward, blaming dictators fro everything is not a solution. Much is just a psyche we must get rid of.

This rant, brought to you by inspiration from this post at the Dawn Blog.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Some Blogs Thou Findeth.

So I was searching around the Pak Ranks, a website I’m not sure still works since they haven’t sent me the email they promised when I submitted this blog. Anyway.

I found a couple of interesting blogs.

One is BBRD: British Born Rebellious Desi, whose little intro I found so catchy and well written I had to share it. I think its how many Pakistanis feel today.

Good visuals excite me.
The beauty of nature mesmerizes me.
Memories of Pakistan nostalgia-te me.
Position of women worries me.
Chauvinists exasperate me.
Preachers of false dogmas enrage me.
Terrorism sickens me.
Extremists frustrate me.
Moral policing infuriates me.
The lost community baffles me.
Racism saddens me.
Political bastards need to get a life!

You must read beyond this. It seems like a great blog.

I also found The Gori Wife Life – White American Girl meets brown Pakistani guy. Hilarity ensues. And she’s serious, it is hilarious. Worth my not sleeping at midnight like I always promise myself to wake up for class.

The in-law posts are especially good. Relatives are always tricky in desi land.

Just reemphasised my belief that search engines hardly ever lead you to good blogs, its always links. I found BBRD at The Gori Wife Life by the way.

Jhoom Lay, But Do It Outside the Country.

Up there you have Noori’s latest video, Jhoom Lay. The song is brand endorsement for Cornetto, a Wall’s Ice Cream variety, and of course the song has been criticized for its commercial, catchy leanings uncharacteristic of Noori. That’s a whole other debate, I’m personally hoping it was so that they could raise money for their next album. Yes I’m that big an optimist. Though I remember when I first heard the song I was talking to friend, and equally enthusiastic Noori fan, and said the song was ‘meh’ (A term I love now, also ‘enh’, so expressive), but the beat was interesting. His reply? “Noori hai yaar…” (It’s Noori man…). It was going to get on our heads either way.

While the song in itself has nothing to do with the war, evidence that a Pakistan exists beyond it, there is an aspect to the video that bothers me.

The video, like many nowadays, was shot outside of Pakistan, this particular one in Bangkok. South East Asia is becoming increasingly popular. Production quality aside, for me this means more.

For some reason (this might be just me stretching it, but I had to write), it seems all conventional love stories must now escape from Pakistan. All normal happenings, scenes from college, a little fun, must be shot in a location that is not familiar to the audience. It could just be so people concentrate more on the content rather than the setting, or simply because an unfamiliarity with the setting of the scene might give the viewer a more neutral perspective. But there could be more… (drum roll)

The urge to escape can be a consequence of the war. I can imagine remarks of this being highly unrealistic, or laughable even, if the concept of the video was laid out as a story from Lahore or Karachi. Some might be okay with it, but people would find it odd too. It may be subconscious, or the director may have thought about it, I know I certainly did.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Gems in Dawn. A Reading List.

I’ve had an entire Firefox window dedicated to articles I want to share with all of you for days now. I thought at this point it’d be better to just put them down as a list, in no particular order. (Though part of me thinks I saved the best for last, but do go through all of them if you get the time). Why they’re all from Dawn I’m not sure, but they happen to be.

A people’s photographer by Saira Dar.

A review/expose of sorts of the photography of Malcolm Hutcheson, who photographs what we don’t want to see in Pakistan. Dawn lauds him for his insightful journalism and bravery, I’m not sure what to think go gory images, but we must deal with reality.

Moving beyond a clientelism model of democracy by Luv Puri

The title may be a mouthful, and the writer does have a lot to say (I’m sorry I had to make a joke somehow, that didn’t work did it?). Most of it is some very thoughtful insight into what needs to be changed in Pakistan’s democratic system for it to work.

Roots of Taliban conflict fester in Swat – AFP

A little round up of the status in Swat after the fighting. I haven’t been to Swat in recent times, and have not been caught in any crossfire between the military and the extremists. This is one of my only means of knowing what can possibly happen. I am uneducated that way, but even for those who aren’t, this is still something worthwhile I think.

Paradox Republic by Nadeem F. Paracha

Nadeem F Paracha is a newsmaker in his own right. He has the well earned title of critic, and he is a smart man. This is a roundup of Pakistani history that’s well written, not to say it’ll help you ace the Pakistan Studies exam, but it’s still worth reading. And then he goes on to explain why Pakistan must embrace diversity and forget a patriotic or Islamic identity, and the diversity that’s killing the state is what’s keeping it alive.

Breaking the myths of Pakistan’s tribal areas – Reuters

This is one of those things I had to email people as soon as I read it. It is the most knowledge I have received about Bajaur and FATA. The Pakistani army apparently took some foreign journalists into the area to show them what they had accomplished, and what the fight has resulted in. This is an account by one of those journalists, and tells you details of the war that I have not found anywhere else. Must Read.

Update: Apparently the routine that the Pakistani army did with the journalists is called an ISPR routine, and is done after every major operation. So I’ve been told by a friend, a credible source.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

What a Shame.

Punjab University - Courtesy NYT

We beat up Proffessors.

The world will know. More in this NYT article and accompanying video.

Peaceful Indians.

Liaquat H Merchant writes in this letter to the Editor of Dawn:

“Jaswant Singh makes out a strong case for accepting the reality of Pakistan and respecting its sovereignty and territorial integrity much like Prime Minister Vajpayee did in 1999. He can be called an ambassador of India-Pakistan unity and his call for a ‘constituency of peace’ in the subcontinent is surely worthy of support.

Pakistanis would concur with his proposal of dialogue for resolution of all differences.”

While I appreciate the sentiment, I must say that many Pakistanis will not be so convinced by this. Many still view India as the enemy. But thought like this is important in changing their minds. However, we can no longer assume that we think peacufully and Indians do not. I just think it’s plain not true.

The Making of a Suicide Bomber. Eye Opening.

Do read this article published in Dawn.

Can’t believe I didn’t see the typo in the title. Oh my. I should never be an editor. See comments for details!

And The Sufis Take The Stage.

The Internation Sufi Music Festival my Rafi Peer is back.

I’m not in Lahore to go there myself, but for people there I strongly recommend. Unfortunately it’s no longer being held at the AlHamra open air theatre, which is quite an experience in itself I must say. Like the Rafi Peer Performing Arts festival, this will also be help at Peeru’s, on Raiwind Road. I must say it’s worth the drive. Food isn’t half bad either.

Peeru’s is a restaraunt cum puppet museum cum theatre. Interesting place to visit must say.

“The famous names of the performers include Sain Zahoor, Papu Sain, Arif Lohar, Goonga and Abida Parveen”, says this report.

I suspect the venue change is because of security concerns, to make the event somewhat lower profile, but that’s just a guess. A bombing did take place at the last version of the Performing Arts festival held at AlHamra, but nothing to too major. Below is a video of a bombing at that theatre as Arieb Azhar performs, not sure if it’s the same event, but I think it is.

Many reports quote the Peerzada family complaining that the Pakistani government has not helped financially, although I did read a foreign representative did contribute.

Friday, 16 April 2010

How Dare a Dictator Make Us Have Elections.

We have ego issues.

For some reason Pakistani politicians believe that having problems with dictatorship in principle directly translates into hating everything dictators do.

Take the 18th Amendment for example. Intra-party elections, an important aspect of a new era of democracy in Pakistan, have been made optional. Because it was a ‘dictatorial’ move. Intra-party elections are more than just a policy move, it might have been the fundamental answer to Pakistan’s feudal lords always taking charge of their parties and hence votes. It is just another hurdle in Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto becoming defacto chairpersons of the PPP, without, what seemed to the rest of the world, any sort of consensus. It’s no surprise then that people talk of dynastic politics and an impotent democracy becoming the permanent features of a Pakistani government.

I don’t see politicians trying to get rid of a free press, that happened with Musharraf. I don’t see them getting grid of Hudood laws.

It’s no surprise people are a little skeptical when Pakistan offers the world ways to secure nuclear weapons and also produce nuclear power efficiently and effectively. We’ve been doing it for years after all what could possibly go wrong? (This is one of those moments when people can’t tell I’m being sarcastic. I’ll work on that)

For more read this commentary of the bill by Asma Jehangir, Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Too Many Fashion Weeks.

Just a little recap to The Bare Skin Rebellion, a post I wrote earlier. This Dawn blog post asks for comments to whether Pakistan’s fashion industry is representative of Pakistani culture.

The comments have  a good sample of modern views I think, even if you skim. It would be unfair to pick and choose to shortlist here. I’ll leave the skimming to you.