Browsing "Punjab Assembly"

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.

The frivolous and the inane


If someone was handing out awards to legislative assemblies for coming up with the most bizarre legislation and the most frivolous debates, chances are that the Punjab Assembly — the largest legislative house of the country — would win. The house has turned into such a joke of late that one wonders about the ability of most of its members to just be rational, let alone their ability to make laws.
Every other day, members of this supposedly august house are reported in the media about their involvement in verbal spats, at times, on the assembly floor, calling each other name that are so impolite that they often need to be taken off the records of assembly proceedings.  From trying to pass legislation against mobile phone packages to legislation encouraging polygamy and shout fests, from calling names to throwing shoes and chairs at people, members of Punjab assembly have indulged in just about everything – at times repeatedly so.
Instead of taking up issues that adversely affect the performance of the province – such as high number of children outside the schools, the recent young doctor’s strike, increasing unemployment in the province or increase in beggary – the members discuss matter that are irrelevant and can no way be passed as matters of government interest or political debate, legislation or attempts at legislation which is their raison d’être. Latest in the long line of inane debates is discussion over Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s promise to pay Rs 3 million to acid burn victim Rukhsana. Instead of discussing and strengthening laws on domestic violence, acid throwing and police reforms, they decided to go after the film maker who highlighted this issue through her work. It was quite ironic that the motion to ‘help this poor woman’ was moved by Shaikh Alauddin who is quite well known for his misogynyand has harassed his co workers in assembly on camera.
When the members of the assembly do work on issues of importance, they do not do so with the required diligence and care. According to a PILDAT report, it took the provincial assembly only 21 hours and 56 minutes to pass the annual budget for the fiscal year 2012-13 which was around Rs 782 billion. In comparison budget debate 2011-2012 consumed approximately 39 hours. Hence a decline of55% was witnessed this year in the actual time devoted for Budget debate. They pass multiple bills which had been returned to the assembly secretariat from the governor’s office with objections and reservations, without making any changes in the text or the context of the bills. The provincial law minister disregarded the governor’s reservations by saying that the “governor has hired a team of English-writers, who write the same type of objections on every bill.”
Perhaps, the Darwin Award for the most incredible legislation goes to Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan who moved a motion to remove the ostrich from the bird category and place it in the same category of animals as goats and sheep, in order to meet the increasing demand for meat in the province. One wonders why the poor birds had to be removed from their rightful place in the animal kingdom; if the reason was to encourage people to eat them, they could have done it without the hyperbole of legislation. After all we, as a nation, eat poultry like there is no tomorrow.
Going by the performance of this house, the election commission should be advised to start testing candidates on basic IQ tests before approving their nomination papers for the next elections. Who knows, the next assembly might want to declare elephants as fish.
Originally written for The Express Tribune
Jul 19, 2012 - Punjab, Punjab Assembly    7 Comments

The absolute mindfuckery of Punjab Assembly

Earlier today, my faith is restored in the absolute mindfuckery of a premier legislative institution called Punjab Assembly. The Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah decided to go all Charles Darwin on its electorate and presented a bill which declares that an ostrich is no longer a bird but an animal. More mind boggling is the fact that Punjab assembly decided to play God and passed the bill declaring all the ostriches in Punjab to be animals. Now that the ostriches have been declared animals, I am wondering how Rana Sanaullah will coax them into giving birth to tiny little baby ostriches instead of laying eggs like they used to when they were birds. If they continue to lay eggs, would the ostriches be breaking the law by acting like birds when they are declared animals by legislation? Would they be persecuted for breaking the law? Would that crime be punishable by law? Would Azad Adliya take a stand on upholding the law or would it bow down to animal rights activists? I am assuming ostriches in other provinces of the country will remain birds and would be allowed to act as birds which will probably generate some kind of identity crisis and inferiority complex among the ostriches living under the rule of Rana Sanaullah.
I have a feeling that Rana Sanaullah must have had some ostrich meat delicacy during his several trips abroad. He sensed that a market can be created for it so have decided to farm the animal in Pakistan. Tragedy was that as long as they remain the bird, ostriches were protected by the section- 14 of the Punjab Wildlife (Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management) Act, 1974. Now that Rana Sb has amended the law – against the advisement of the governor and opposition members – to suit his business interests, the only thing that can save the Ostriches in Punjab from the slaughterhouses, is cross province migration.  
Maybe Rana Sanaullah just wants to ride one?

This all pervasive misogyny



Every country has its fair share of misogynist politicians trying to tell women not to drive or have abortions, wear or not to wear burqa or contest elections, but Pakistan beats them all with the likes of Sheikh Alauddin who not only is openly misogynist, he is also ill mannered enough to call his colleagues – female members of Punjab Assembly – all kinds of names, names so impolite that not only some of the TV channels refused to air his tirade against women MPAs before censoring it, but the speaker of the assembly also had to get those nasty bits removed from the records. 
Women MPAs protested against his spiel about the non virtuous nature of his female colleagues, but when he refused to stop, Seemal Kamran, an MPA Pakistan Muslim League-Q threw a shoe at Alauddin and all hell broke loose. Ms. Kamran was barred from entering the assembly premises by the Speaker next day, was involved in a skirmish with the security guards and when she later tried to file an FIR against Sheikh Alauddin for harassment and misconduct at workplace, she was told that an FIR can only be filed against an MPA after directions from the speaker of the assembly.
It is sad to realize that misogyny is seeped so deep in our society that a woman as powerful as one sitting in the assembly cannot file a report against a co worker for workplace misconduct and harassment despite video evidence. It is so ironic that a place that is supposed to make laws for workplace harassment houses some of the worst offenders who have no qualms in calling their colleagues circus whores (the exact words of Sheikh Alauddin were maut ke kuwo-on mein nachnay wali aurtain among other things).
While some TV channels showed restrain and did not air the abusive language of Shaikh Alauddin, some other TV channels aired selective footage where Seemal Kamran threw a shoe at him but aired it with sensational copy and did not show the abusive and misogynist behavior and speaker’s lack of response which prompted that incident. People who have witnessed the assembly proceedings say that Kamran’s response may seem a little over the top but the women in Punjab assembly are only returning the favour after putting up with four years of verbal & physical abuse during assembly sessions. No wonder legislation against misogynist practices, domestic violence runs into snags repeatedly because our assemblies are full of people who consider misogyny a way of life.
It is also to be noted that Shiekh Alauddin’s rant against women MPAs has openly mocked the constitutional provision of reserved seats for women by calling them the group that violates the sanctity of the house. Election commission of Pakistan should take notice of this at soonest of it wants its authority as the supreme body for electoral process to be respected. 
Women rights groups demands action against Member Punjab Assembly, Sheikh Allauddin for using abusive language for women members of the house on 20th June 2012 which of course is an appropriate demand, but it is not just the action of one man, the incident represented a mindset that cannot accept women either in public spaces or in a position of power. We must condemn people like Alauddin for their reprehensible behavior but the society in general and women’s groups in particular need to look for ways to redress the way we view women in public spaces and positions of power and deal with this all pervasive misogyny. 
Originally written for  The Express Tribune, this is the unedited version.

Polygamy for the greater good

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There is an ancient Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.” Whenever I read it, I always think that it must have been coined keeping Pakistan or Pakistan like situation in mind.
Last year with repeated shoe throwing incidents at Ghulam Arbab Rahim, former Chief Minister of Sind, I gave the verdict that Sind Assembly is the lamest legislation house in Pakistan where people indulge in brawling at no provocation. The image took a further nosedive when MQM MPAs in the assembly expressed grief by commemorating a moment of silence at the death of Michael Jackson. I mean we all loved good ol’ MJ and I am sure Mr. Faisal Sabzwari must have grooved to ‘Thriller’ in his younger days, but I was kinda lost and failed to make the connection between Sind Assembly and MJ. But of late, Punjab Assembly has dethroned Sind Assembly as the legislative body where all the moronic, dense and dim witted good for nothing publicity whores gather and talk nonsense at the tax payers’ expense.
A few weeks back, a PML – Q MPA, Ms. Samina Khawer Hayat has decided to straighten the youth of Pakistan by proposing a bill on putting a ban on all the late night cell phone packages across Punjab. According to her, the young boys and girls are wasting their time chatting and texting with each other which is not only bad for their academic grades but is also deemed un-Islamic. She blamed the cell phone companies for the moral degradation of youth by keeping the phone charges so affordable. The best way to deal with the issue was to keep the cell phone charges out of purchasing power of the younger Pakistanis. Needless to say, Ms. Hayat got prime time coverage and was interviewed by many news channels with nothing better on their agendas. A day before the bill was proposed, no one apart from Ms. Hayat’s three children knew or cared about her and all of a sudden, she became the woman who would affect not only millions of young and not so young Pakistanis who call their friends and family late at night, but also the profit margins of perhaps the only successful and commercially viable sector in Pakistan.
Now, Ms. Hayat had tasted blood and she was like this vampire who needed a constant fix to feed into her yearning for more fame, prime time TV spots and front page newspaper headlines. The next thing we knew, she totally hijacked the bill proposed by her colleague Sheikh Allauddin, when she came out and said that men can and should marry a second, a third and a fourth time without the consent of their first wife. While presenting her precious views in favour of polygamy, Ms. Hayat said:

“If there is no bar on them marrying again, all of men’s frustrations would be reduced, while women would be able to salvage their honour and lead secure lives.”

Now call me extremely thick , but if all these men are already married to super women like Ms. Hayat herself, then why in the God’s name are they still so bloody frustrated? Secondly, if there are so many single unmarried women around, why are they not frustrated? Is sexual frustration a male domain only? Are all unmarried women without honour which they can only salvage or reclaim after becoming someone’s second, third or fourth wife? What kind of society have we become where the only course of security for a single woman is to become someone‘s second, third or fourth wife. I guess in Ms. Hayat’s esteemed opinion, the state that has repeatedly failed to provide security to its female population can only go forward by promoting some seriously misogynist legislation.
Like I mentioned earlier, Punjab Assembly has managed to congregate all the idiots par excellence so most treasury members endorsed Hayat’s demand and appreciated her ‘bold’ stance on the issue. Sheikh Allaudin and Maulana Ilyas Chinnioti and Amina Buttar termed her suggestion “ideal”. I was not present there but I am sure that Maulana Chinioti must have been salivating when he said that Hayat had ‘voiced the wishes of Muslim women’.
While there are people who are hoping that Samina Khawar Hayat’s husband marry three more women without her permission ASAP and some are envious of her husband as she has so generously bestowed her husband with the permission to seek wife number 2, 3 & 4, I will only share her contact details.
Those of you who either want to praise Ms. Samina Khawar Hayat or call her names can do so by texting or calling at her cell number 0300-8030786. This is my public service of the day.


I don’t know about the others, but we are seriously living the Chinese curse.

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