Browsing "PTI"

Immy K and his band of morons against Geo

Those who know me and have been reading my blog for sometime know that there is no love lost between Imran Khan and yours truly. I mock his supporters (because what else can one do with those who flaunt their stupidity), I lament the fact that some people in my family voted for his party and I mourn the collective short sightedness of my people who do not see how terrible it is to have a dim-witted man in position of power and influence.

Latest in the list of his stupidities is his self righteous fight against Geo Television Network. Before anyone get their panties in a twist, let me iterate that I am not a fan of Geo either (I have worked for the organization and know it inside out) but the witch hunt against Geo that is being spearheaded by Imran Khan and his band of morons (I refuse to call PTI a political party) at the behest of Pakistani Voldemort is rather vulgar and in incredibly bad taste.

Imran Khan accused Geo Network of three gross violations (according to him). First was telecasting a programme against Ahl-e-Bait (family of prophet) in the morning show (they aired a qawwali which is quite common at Shia weddings), one PTI parliamentarian moved a resolution against it in Punjab assembly because there is nothing more worthy of the attention of a legislator than something that was aired on a morning show targeting house wives. Second was running a campaign against Imran Khan. What Mr Khan considered a campaign against him was this tweet by The News staffer Umer Cheema about the pregnancy of a barely legal girl and a politician. It was exactly worded like this: “Pregnancy of a 21-year girl is causing sleepless nights to a leader. His political future in her hands…the most powerful lady these days” on April 29th. No politician was named in that tweet but apparently Imran Khan went to every Tv channel and said that Umer Cheema tweeted about him. The man doth protests too much, does he not? One wonders why? Umer Cheema did follow up with a couple of other teeli tweets. I bet Imran Khan was not too pleased to be called a senior citizen and I am only assuming that because Cheema again did not name anyone.

Mr Khan is also blaming Geo for getting foreign funding which is oversimplification of a contract between the channel, the government and a donor agency. Even a simpleton like Imran Khan should understand how the whole funding process works; after all, his government in KPK has taken a lot of foreign funding to run various projects in their province. No donor agency funds a private organization directly and one or more government departments are always involved.

As someone who was part of Geo when they ran the first Zara Sochiye Campaign (2006) and then worked as an independent consultant during the Education Emergency campaign (2011), I know exactly how Geo got funding for both of them. For the first Zara Sochiye Campaign (which I believe was brilliant) Geo was contacted by the government to pave the public opinion before it launched Women Protection Bill in the parliament. The fact that the said bill was passed and the number of women in Pakistani jails booked under Hudood ordinance came down drastically should be considered a success – both for the government and the channel that ran the campaign. The second Zara Sochiye campaign was paid for by DfID which Geo President Imran Aslam openly talks about in this BBC interview. It should also be noted that various government departments including Prime Minister’s Task Force for Education (it has been disbanded after the promulgation of 18th amendment and education becoming a provincial subject) facilitated the contract between DfID and Geo. The Task Force was actually housed inside the PM’s secretariat at that time so yes, the government was involved in everything. Many other TV channels that are now part of the witch hunt against Geo wanted to do that campaign. The Alif Ailan campaign which was a follow up to that earlier campaign ran on all TV channels was also foreign funded, but I don’t see anyone protesting against that. Why this duplicity?

If Mr. Khan is so adamant about running campaigns against foreign funding, he should first run it against Pakistan Army because the armed forces of Pakistan get the lion’s share of all foreign funding that comes to the country. Then it is the national and provincial governments including the one run by Khan sahab’s party. Private organizations and non profits are far down this chain and get very small amounts in comparison.

People who run Geo’s editorial staff are obviously not the sharpest people around, otherwise they would not have run that 8 hour long transmission against ISI following the attack on Hamid Mir, but the witch hunt that followed them after that is worst that those 8 hours of transmission. Forget about upholding the sanctity of free speech in Pakistan, we all know that it is but a sham, but it should be noted that Geo is not a two bit organization, it probably employs more people than there are card carrying members of PTI. Going after their livelihood because some people did not like what went on during those 8 hours of transmission in this manner is downright cruel. Geo was not the best employer in the industry but it definitely was one of the better and relatively more professional ones. In case Geo is closed down, the media industry is not big enough to absorb all those people. For their sake alone if for nothing else, I hope this witch hunt is called off and their livelihoods are not compromised.

Let’s wish that sanity prevails but my cynicism tells me that it would not be the case.

Apr 28, 2013 - PPP, PTI, Punjab, religion, terrorism    2 Comments

NOT the victims of a drone attack

This is a request to those who are free to conduct election campaign for their political parties before the country goes to poll on May 11 2013. Most of you are lamenting the drone attacks on Pakistani soil and vow to change the situation as soon as you assume power. Some of you are outright Taliban sympathizers and believe that a dialogue with them would yield desired results. A few of you have openly associated with terrorist outfits and have even sought their blessing before the elections. Even though it pains me to see you succumb to them, I wont criticize your diplomacy because a country like this indeed ask for the survival of the fittest and pragmatism demands that you maintain cordial relations with those obscurantist forces if you want to survive.

However, I would request you guys – the leaders of the political parties who are not under attack and are free to run their election campaigns – to take a few minutes out during the many jalsas and corner meetings that you address and show some empathy with the Pakistanis who are under attack from Taliban. They might not have been victims of a drone attack but they too have lost their loved ones, livelihoods and limbs in similarly gruesome acts of violence. The tragedy is that they are attacked by their countrymen hence rhetoric against their killers may not win you votes, television slot and space in international media. You might also be afraid of the Taliban and wonder that if you voice grievance against their ways, you may join these parties who are under attack. Your reluctance makes sense in the short run but what if they come after you once they get rid of these heathens? Fear that future when you may need help but there won’t be anyone left to stand beside you.

Think about your countrymen who may or may not vote for you and have an ideology which is different from yours but they are a part of this country that you call home and they contribute to its society and economy as much as you do, if not more. They need your support to survive right now, who knows they might end up voting for you in future elections if they manage to stay alive. Think about them, because if they perish, you may not even get to enjoy the election process in future.

Regards,

A concerned citizen

 

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These children have lost their father on a bomb attack on MQM’s election office in Bufferzone Karachi. – Photo taken from Twitter TL

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Another kid mourning the loss of his father after attacks on MQM election offices. Photo – AFP

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A victim of bomb attack on ANP’s election office in Orangi Town, Karachi. Photo – AP

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Another family has lost a loved one after the Orangi Town attack on ANP’s election office. Photo – AP

 

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A young victim of terrorist attack in Abbas Town last month – Photo credit AP

 

Residents stand among rubble and debris at the site of April 24th bomb attack in Quetta, the blast was one of the series of attack on Hazara Community. Photo – Reuters

PS: There are far more gruesome photographs of children who have lost their eyes & limbs and dismembered torsos of men who have lost their lives. I did not post those picture because the point here is to invoke empathy for those who are fighting this war against TTP and nothing else.

 

Oct 11, 2012 - PTI, Society    3 Comments

The zeal for rhetoric

Pakistanis are quite good at being critical, whether it is our personal lives or collective, we criticise with impunity and aplomb. However, some people and institutions, no matter how reprehensible and opprobrious their behaviour is, remain above question and mockery. Imran Khan is also turning into such an individual with perhaps, the most vocal supporters of them all.

The best thing that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in general, and its peace march in particular, has done is that it provided us with an insight into people’s minds (using social networking websites as a medium to gauge public reaction). It has always been a taboo of sorts to question the actions of the great Khan. Now, however, it has become impossible to make harmless jokes at his expense because “he is that man who is doing something while people like me who dare to question, mock or laugh at him, are merely sitting in front of our computers busy ‘facebooking’ or tweeting about it”. It’s as though until and unless you have accomplished twice as many feats as Imran Khan, the person (not the politician), you have no right to either question or mock his politics. Why must one be chastised or trolled for not liking a particular political figure or joking about him?

What is most ironic is that the people, who jump to defend the honour of the great Khan, fail to realize that they are doing exactly the same — judging someone while sitting in front of their computers — as they accuse others of.

It’s amazing how, by just supporting a politician — we still don’t know how many of them will actually get up and go out to cast their votes come election day — the fans of the PTI think they have done something worthwhile, which makes them more morally correct than other mortals for they have the foresight to pick the right candidate. Even when you feel like mocking them for their fervent zeal, you are told that you should not do that because at least the PTI is different from other political parties and Khan is the messiah.

If you are a person who is easily appeased by words, it is quite easy to support Imran Khan whole-heartedly, especially when he talks about ambiguous things such as sovereignty. What if he takes a stand on an issue that is polarising? What if, God forbid, Imran Khan opposes the blasphemy ordinance or calls for the declaration of domestic violence as a crime punishable by the local courts? What if Imran Khan declares Federal Shariat Court a superfluous body that should be dissolved? What if he supports the construction of Kalabagh dam? I know it is wishful thinking on my part and being a politician, Imran Khan will do no such thing, but it is something worth pondering over whether he will go against mainstream rhetoric and focus on things that really affect people.

In their heads, people seem to have already turned Imran Khan into this harbinger of change, which is okay, but we also need to question whether we are ready to be confronted by the truth. The public is happy with Khan as long as he is making noise about things we’re all against but we will never indulge in real and open debate about issues that matter because we are either not ready or not willing to tackle them. We are happy in our distraction that at least Imran Khan is talking about them.

First published in The Express Tribune. 

Ladies of iftaar, Imran Khan and vampires

A man who was bitten by a radioactive spider once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Similarly, ever year, with Ramazan come hordes of iftaar invitations. Now iftaar parties are not regular get-togethers where people eat and gossip to their heart’s desires. The iftaar invitations come with a hint of holiness that surrounds everything in Ramazan; men and women segregate because they want to offer Maghrib prayers and somehow stay segregated, which usually results in some very interesting and at times entertaining conversation.
Like every other time of the year, ladies talk about things that are discussed in the popular media. This year, they talked about the color palette of Aamir Liaquat’s kurta collection and his cooking abilities – the opinion of the ladies of iftaar was divided on his godliness and piety but they all agreed that the man can cook. One even made her husband watch the cooking segment, hoping he would take the hint. (He didn’t.)
 

Aamir Liaquat, running away with someone’s child

Quite a few discussed their annual Ramazan Umrah stories from the years past and those who were going for Umrah this year discussed their hotels and their proximity to Haram, flight details and shopping options, as many are coming back via Abu Dhabi or Dubai and plan to pick up a Sabyasachi sari and Dorothy Perkins heels for Eid.
Another topic that was heatedly discussed among the ladies was whether Shaukat Khanam still is a viable option for zakaat donations. The unanimous verdict was that a man as handsome as Imran Khan and one who can speak such perfect English just cannot be bad; it followed (logically, you understand) that Khwaja Asif was the devil’s spawn for trying to besmirch the good name of the good-looking Khan, and Shuakat Khanum stayed a viable zakaat option.
Imran Khan the eternal ladies man

Actually Imran Khan is a favourite topic of conversation among the ladies of iftaar. They discuss his wardrobe, his children, his political options and aspirations, his house and of course his love life. One lady was actually praying at iftaar time that her clan elders should decide to support a PTI candidate. When asked why she wanted this to happen, she said she wants Imran Khan to become the Prime Minister. Her argument was that the only two good looking men (Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi) in their fifties are in PTI and if PTI is voted into the assembly, the ladies will get to see them more often on TV. I wanted to point out that Imran Khan is turning sixty later this year but decided not to burst the lady’s bubble. I wonder how the Sharif brothers will respond to this kind of public opinion if it becomes widespread. They may not be as genetically gifted as Khan or Qureshi, but they should get full marks for making an effort and going through the painful process of hair transplants to make themselves attractive to the voting ladies.

If the mommies discussed good-looking men when they were away from the daddies for Maghrib prayers, the preteens were just as vocal in expressing their adoration for the leading men from The Hunger Games and Twilight series. I would not have believed it if I had not witnessed a 12-year old asking her cousin, a dentistry student, to make her fake fangs because she too wants to look like Edward Cullen. When I said that she would also require copious amounts of deathly white powder to look like him (much to my shame, I know exactly who Edward Cullen is, but then I have taught teenage girls in the past so that should explain it), she giggled and said that she only wanted his fangs. The dentistry student just rolled her eyes and confided in me that many young girls and boys who come to the clinic where she is interning ask for little disposable fangs as a compensation for going through painful dental procedures.

If you thought vampires were only popular among preteens, you are mistaken. During one of the iftaar parties, I sat down with two ladies after the Maghrib prayers. One even had prayer beads in her hands but both were very busy debating who is the hottest vampire on TV, whether it is Damon Salvatore or Eric Northman. Apparently they are both bad boy vampires from two different TV series (I was told one show cannot have more than one hot blue-eyed super sexy vampire) fighting for the affections of human girls. When they could not settle on who the hottest vampire is, they turned to me to cast the deciding vote. Even though I watch a lot of trash TV, I draw the line at vampire and werewolf shows, so I couldn’t help them (I googled them later of course). Discussing hotness of vampires on a prayer mat after maghrib was something I never thought I would witness but I guess life surprises you in strangest ways, especially during Ramazans. 

Ian Somerhalder as Damon Salvatore & Alexander Skarsgard as Eric Northman

First published in The Friday Times
Jun 8, 2012 - PTI    3 Comments

Khan vs Khan

It was rumored a couple of months back that A.Q.Khan would be joining Imran Khan’s Tehreek-i-Insaaf and I for one was looking forward to it. Not only the two man share the same surname, they both discovered the power of right wing dogma and stupidity on the op-ed pages of The News; Khan junior did it back in 1990s when he wrote op-eds on sanctity of “Chador and Chardeewari”and declare jeans as an almost haram piece of clothing and Khan senior did it in the 21st century when he decided to copy webpages of western universities and pass it of genuine piece of analysis. 
They both are also fond of giving headline worthy quotes to newspapers and have narcissist tendencies which meant that we would have been entertained on regular basis. Sadly Khan the scientist has decided not to join politics following advice from people who clearly do not want the newspaper readers of Pakistan to be entertained. 
I have a feeling that Khan vs Khan in PTI would have been more entertaining than spy vs spy.

Main naheen manta, main naheen manta

Chotay Mian sahib has got to be the most easily threatened politician in Pakistan.  Soon after the Tsunami Jalsa of PTI in Lahore last year, CM Shahbaz launchedhis facebook page – with all the requisite fan fair of course – to stay connected to people. He also tweets, he may not respond to criticism and allegations of nepotism, but he does reminisce about good old days when his choice in music was more Freddie Mercuryand less Habib Jalib and even his detractors would agree that a man who professes his love for the Queen has got to be endearing in one way or another.  
Though Chotay Mian Sahab has over 124,000 likes on his facebook page, he is not satisfied with the numbers so he asked the top district officials and policemen in all 36 districts of the province, as well as regional police officers and commissioners to join Shehbaz Sharif’s official Facebook page.
Apparently, ordering them to “like” his facebook page was not enough, so he also asked them – politely of course – to remove any PTI-related material from their Facebook accounts. It goes without saying that they are NOT supposed to “like” any PTI page.
Seriously! Looks like our politicians still behave like kids attending grade school and are still governed by the logic that you can’t be my friend if you are talking to that other boy. Most grade school kids will eventually grow up and get over this phase, the same, unfortunately cannot be said about our politicians. Looks like Punjab government officials will have to comply with Chotay Mian Sahib’s wishes; otherwise he may start signing off official documents with “Main naheen manta, main naheen manta.”
 
PS: The story initially came out on The Express Tribune but was taken of their website after a few hours, fortunately siasat.pkhas cross posted it on their page.

Because jumping the ship is en vogue

In an innovative move yesterday, PPP co-chair and President of Pakistan Mr Asif Ali Zardari announced that he is switching parties and has now joined Mr Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf.

While the general public is baffled and speculators are speculating about the probable reasons behind this unprecedented move – no party chair has ever voluntarily vacated his position and decided to move to another party as a junior member – this scribe managed a few precious quotes from the erstwhile PPP co-chair, who at the time of the interview was vacationing in Scotland with his children.

When President Zardari was told that his move to PTI is being viewed with suspicion, he was astounded. “I don’t know why there is such a brouhaha over my membership in Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, it is but natural that Imran and I should come together. We have so much in common we could practically be BFFs, like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.” When asked to elaborate, he pointed out that both he and Khan had lived it up in their youth, unlike some other politicians who spent their younger days politicking and working on their public personas. “We are two single dudes whose children live away from home; we get lonely in the evenings and can now keep each other company, watch Capital Talk together and mock Hamid Mir’s hair, mustache and sartorial choices. Besides, both of us were astute enough to marry way above our station.”

When asked about the future of Pakistan People’s Party, Mr Zardari said that the party was left to Bilawal by his mother; Mr Zardari himself was just the caretaker waiting for Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to grow up and take over the reins. “Now that Bilawal and Aseefa are all grown up and geared to go, I have to step aside and let them take the lead, that’s what any good father would do,” said the president.

PTI chairman Imran Khan, also vacationing in the United Kingdom with his children, welcomed Mr. Zardari’s move to his party and said that Mr Zardari’s modesty is the perfect foil for his posturing. “I can point fingers and accuse every one of all kinds of misdeeds,” said Mr Khan, “and Mr. Zardari will go and placate everyone afterwards.” When asked whether or not Zardari’s inclusion in his party goes against the PTI rhetoric – such as the stance against hereditary politics – Khan said that no member of Zardari’s clan has ever been part of PTI; Zardari is the first person to have joined the party. “As his children hold key positions in a rival party, chances of them jumping in are slim,” Imran Khan added.

While both the leaders appear to be at peace with each other, naysayers are pointing out that Mr. Zardari had no intention of joining PTI, but a recent attack by NATO forces on Bilawal House made him change his mind. He would have let it go as collateral damage in the Global War Against Terror, but he changed his mind when he found out that Secretary Clinton had denied any knowledge of the existence of either Bilawal Bhutto Zardari or Bilawal House.

While Imran Khan seems happy with the stag-party-in-progress, another former jiyala (who was also a member of General Zia’s Majlis-e-Shura) does not seem too happy with the development. Shah Mehmood Qureshi thought he would be the only jiyala to cross over party lines and believes Mr Zardari will spoil his camaraderie with Mr. Khan.

“I thought it would be a party of good-looking men only,” Shah Mehmood Qureshi said. “Granted that Mr Zardari’s new teeth have made his smile the brightest one in Pakistan, but he still has to catch up with me when it comes to being called a good-looking man.” When it was pointed out to the former foreign minister that his party is not limited to good looking men – it has Shireen Mizari in a senior position – he declined to comment. Sources close to Mr. Qureshi later said that he was shocked when he found out that Shireen Mizari was not a good looking man.


First published in The Friday Times  

PS: Before anyone lynches me, let me point out that it is a spoof and Mr. President is still very much a jiyala.
Dec 26, 2011 - PTI, religion, women    13 Comments

Peddling obscurantism

In  Shahzeb Khanzada’s programon Express News Imran Khan, in response to a question raised by a young woman, said that if his party forms the government, they will not dictate how women should dress up. When I saw that I was quite pleasantly surprised because back in 1990s when Imran Khan discovered religion, his first op-ed for The News/Jang was on the importance of “Chador and Chardeewari.” He was all about how important pardah and the four walls of the house are for a woman and praised women who chose to stay at home to raise their children, away from the eyes of others.  Now that Imran Khan refused to concern himself with women’s clothing options, I thought he is finally maturing into a politician who cannot be bothered with the non issues. 
But somebody was not happy with this development and that somebody was Ansar Abbasi. In his columntoday, he questioned Imran’s pronouncement asking how a follower of Allama Iqbal and God fearing believer of faith can say something as outrageous as that: giving women option to choose what they want to wear!  If God and his prophet have restricted women’s clothing to a certain standard then how a mard-e-momin like Imran Khan can question that restriction. If Ansar Abbasi is to be believed that the code of an Islamic welfare state is hidden in a woman’s blouse.

Ansar Abbasi questions if the change Imran Khan talks about is Ata Turk and Musharraf inspired or a true Islamic change and wants Imran Khan to explain his stance on women’s clothing. In a country where half the population is malnourished and 70% do not have access to clean drinking water and sanitation where law and order is in a shambles, our very senior reporter/defender of faith is worried about the length and breadth of the dupatta of our ladies. 

Ansar Abbasi was so perturbed by this new aspect of Imran Khan’s personality that he went up to him on Sunday and said that enlightened people like Veena Malik would be very happy with this new Imran Khan. According to Ansar Abbasi, Imran Khan responded that people like Veena cannot do much in Pakistan and the country will never have any law against Quran and Sunnah. 
When I read this piece, I wanted to die – literally die. Forget the obscurantist rant, I cannot get over the fact that the chief investigative reporter of an English daily does not know what the word enlightened means and uses it in context with actresses known for their risqué wardrobe! People like Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Spinoza must be turning in their graves with such liberal use of the term “enlightened.” If I am not wrong, Pakistan perhaps is the only country in the world where being enlightened is considered a stigma and a matter of disgrace. Not that I expect much from Imran Khan, but if people like Ansar Abbasi keep peddling the pedantic agenda, we cannot even hope for gradual maturity that comes with being part of the mainstream politics. 
Here is to staying in the darkness. 
Those who can read Urdu should check out this gem 

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