Tagged with " Aafia Siddiqui"
Apr 12, 2012 - rant, Society, women    6 Comments

I want my space in national narrative and I want it NOW!

Bytes for All arranged a country wide forum on social media initiatives by youth on regional peace and security and I moderated a session with Senior Vice Chairperson of Awami National Party and member national assembly Bushra Gohar on role of women parliamentarians and politicians in democratic processes.
Before I express my disappointment on the Caucus’ official song and Ms. Gohar’s rather poor defence of it, I must point out that I have great respect for Bushra Gohar as a person and a professional capable woman. Ms. Gohar wanted to talk about the Women Caucus in the parliament and she opened her presentation with this Tina Sani song prepared for the Caucus which basically cements the patriarchal notion that only a woman who is covered in a chador is virtuous and worthy of respect and can be the face of a Pakistani woman. The song lyrics go like this: Anchal ko parcham bana rahain hain, hum waqt ke mailay daman pe umeed ujalay jaga rahain hain(the director of the video was so incredibly smart that he showed a woman washing clothes during the words waqt ke mailay daman pe – someone kill me already). When I asked Ms Gohar about the contributions of women who do not abide by the chadorand chardeewari philosophy and do not really have the so called anchals, ghooghatsand what not to turn into parchams? Should they be excluded from the national narrative because they do not conform to the majority’s idea of what is considered appropriate for women?  Bushra Gohar, much to my surprise, defended this song and said that that the song meant to convey the message of empowerment by turning women’s dupattas into national flag!!!
I know that no one knows there exist a song like this (the last I checked it had only 37 views on youtube and it was uploaded a good six months ago), no one actually cares about it and me fretting over it is kinda useless but I am sick and tired of being kept out of the national narrative because I am a woman who does not believe in chador and chardeewari. I live and work in Pakistan, I contribute to the economy and pay taxes which pays for the salaries of the police and army and the mostly useless executive but neither am I safe in this country, nor am I called the Qaum ki beti. Who is called Qaum ki beti? A woman named Aafia Siddiqui – an alleged terrorist whose legal defense fees is paid for by the very same taxes that I pay every year –and I am able to pay those taxes because I work and called a maghrabi aurat (westernized woman) who leaves the sanctity of her home everyday to go to work. You know what is most ironic? The so called Qaum ki beti has not even lived in this country for ages, she is a bloody US citizen.

I know it’s a silly song but I am tired of being relegated to sidelines because I am a woman and I make my own choices based on informed ideas rather than propaganda. I want my rightful space in the national narrative and I want it NOW!
Sep 18, 2011 - Uncategorized    11 Comments

Are we celebrating Aafia Day now?

Along with Iqbal Day, Kashmir Day, Defence Day and what not; Jamat-e-Islami celebrated Aafia Day on September 16th this year. Pasted below is the flyer that was circulated online. What’s most fascinating is that apart from being proclaimed as one of the leading scientists of Pakistan (she has never worked in any scientific capacity in Pakistan, she only came here to buy and sell ammonium nitrate in black market) she is now a Hafiza! If this is the way things continue, chances are that she will soon be declared a Shaheeda even when she is alive and kicking (and if rumours are to be believed – screaming). 
Here is to quam ki beti – Baji Aafia. If I had known September 16 was your day, I would have done something special to celebrate you – like looking up some jihadi toyboy

Jan 29, 2011 - Salmaan Taseer    9 Comments

MQM’s identity crisis

This is a brief rant but I have to get it off my chest.
What is wrong with MQM? Is the party suffering from a serious identity crisis? If there is one party that is swinging from this end of the pendulum to the other, it has got to be MQM. Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t it the party which was most vocal against the Ahmadi killings last year? Was it not the party that (ostensibly) kicked out Amir Liaquat for making anti Ahmadi remarks on TV? Even though their voters are not all secular (come on, how many people living in Gulistan-e-Jauhar  or Lines Area or even Clifton for that matter, would know what secular actually means, this is Pakistan after all) the party was careful about creating an unambiguous secular voice.
Come 2010 and something spooked them. After years of presenting a secular image, they decided to hijack what used to be Jamat-i-Islami and Tehreek-i-Insaaf’s pet project. They took out a rally demanding the release of Qaum ki Beti Dr Aafia Siddiqui. An MQM insider told me that the reason they took on Aafia Siddiqui (albeit half heartedly) was to counter ANP. Some quarters in Karachi believe that ANP has taken money from Uncle Sam to stay quite about drone attacks in KPK and FATA. In exchange, Uncle Sam would fund their “activities” in Karachi, no matter how questionable they are. According to the same insider, MQM has not shifted ideologically by taking on the case of Aafia Siddiqui, nor did it jump into the popular politics bandwagon for the sake of it, the party just wanted to remind Uncle Sam that they too can play a role in further demonizing them if need be. To an observer, it looks like MQM does not want to leave anything for their opponents to get political mileage from. If an issue can be milked to garner public support – no matter how far removed it is from the political ideology of the party – it will be used. Aafia Siddiqui is one such case.  
Come 2011 and MQM is seriously losing the plot. Yesterday, an MQM Senator refused to offer fateha prayers for slain governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer. Senior MQM leader Haider Abbas Rizvi said that it was the senator’s personal position and had nothing to do with party’s stance on the tragic death of Gover Taseer but he should know that it is sending a different signal to people. As if that was not enough, Altaf Bhai went ahead and asked for Qaum ki beti Aafia Siddiqui to be repatriated to Pakistan in exchange of diplomatic immunity for Raymond Davis, an American who killed two Pakistani citizens on Pakistani soil.
From bonfide secular credentials to using Aafia Siddiqui for popular political rhetoric, the party has taken a 180 degrees turn. If they continue the way they are going, it will be difficult to point out an MQM from Jamat-i-Islamis and Tehreek-i-Insaafs of the world. If MQM is resorting to using Aafia Siddiqui, it means things are as gloomy as they can be for secular politics in Pakistan.
Mar 9, 2010 - rant, sarcasm    39 Comments

Twitter, Imran Khan and Aafia


Twitter is amazing, not only it brings together people from all across the world, but any two or three people can randomly jump in to a conversation and can have a whale of a time together. If you are lucky, you can annoy other people to hell and have fun at their expense (some may call it trolling, but if you do not tag them, I would not call it that). It all gets funnier if the people you make fun of are Z list celebrities who probably google their names every 15 minutes (or more often).

Another friend on twitter and I have had doubts about a Jemima Khan profile on twitter (that was way before she got the blue tick) and we were not sure if it was a genuine account or not. So in a conversation last night we wondered if it was a fake Jemima Khan account or a genuine one. Apparently she saw that, got pissed and in order to prove that she is the real McCoy she scanned her passport with all the details and put it up on twitter! I mean I know she is a blonde and not particularly bright (she married Imran Khan for heaven’s sake) but who puts up their passport on a public twitter account which is open for all?

As if that was not enough drama, some desi men with fantasies of skinny blonde British women falling for them jumped in acting like knights in shining armor advising Jemima to remove her passport details. She then put up another photo of her passport – minus the details – on twitter (she has later removed them both but a pal from across the border saved that passport photo & emailed it to me). I mean what were those gentlemen thinking, she has had her fill of Desi men, she is not gonna fall for another one. One desi dude in one lifetime was enough, dontcha think?

Anyways, that got me started along with two other tweeters, Naheed and Mirza on all things Jemima and her erstwhile husband. Mirza shared that in another century, Liz Hurley and Imran Khan had dated. The made me recall that in the same century, Liz Hurley and Hugh grant also dated and then Imran Khan got married to Jemima and then Jemima dated Hugh Grant and now perhaps Imran Khan is dating the whole Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan which makes it kinda really kinky circle. Mirza then suggested that maybe it’s time Imran Khan and Hugh Grant should get up close and personal. In any case, Jemima has beaten Mr. Khan when it comes to getting intimate with famous people of the same sex – remember the lip lock between Kate Moss and Jemima (it generates 183,000 links if you google it – in case anyone wanted to know that).

By that time, Jemima Khan got really angry and gave me two names; twalker (that’s twitter stalker) and tweak (twitter freak). Now I am all game for name calling but they have to be smart and inventive. If only Ms Goldsmith had actually spent some time in college in her younger days instead of playing house with an aging Lothario, she would have known that tweak is actually a proper English word found in all major English language dictionaries. Her exact tweet was something like this: “What a relief to discover you can block the tweaks (twitter freaks). I’m banishing dissidents like a despot.” Even the statement was kind of a let down. After writing ‘expert’ articles on democracy in Pakistan in esteemed publications like Vogue and Harper’s, I never expected such naked despotic glee from Ms Goldsmith.

We decided to let go of Ms Goldsmith and stick to her former and far juicier half. Naheed asked us if Imran Khan has remarried and then started listing the names of all the women Imran Khan has ever been with but I suggested that we need to leave that alone. After all, if one starts listing all of Imran Khan’s conquests, 140 characters wouldn’t be able to do him any justice. That man has been very very busy for most of his adult life and he is in now in his late 50s.

As far as Imran’s second round at nuptials is concerned, I have a feeling he will do a complete turnaround. In the past, much to chagrin of all the aunties (who were not really aunties back then) he had almost exclusively dated foreigners. Now, in his new Maseeha-e-Islam avatar, he will only take the plunge when ‘Qaum ki Beti’ Aafia Siddiqui returns. Imagine a wedding invite that says ‘Imran Khan weds Aafia Siddiqui’, would it not be a Jamat-e-Islami and Talibaan wet dream? If Ms Siddiqui agrees to marry Imran Khan, then nothing can stop him from becoming the most powerful man in Pakistan.

Naheed disagreed with me. She believes that Aafia Siddiqui will sell Imran Khan at the juma bazaar for a bucketful of ammonium nitrate, which got me thinking. Ms. Siddiqui is a paak baaz Muslim woman, she will probably not agree to a union with a former play boy who has been with MTV VJs (tauba tauba haram). In any case, if the choice of her last husband, Ammar al-Baluchi, a nephew of the 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and ten years her junior, is any indication of her taste, she is into young Jihadist boy toys, not old Romeos like Imran Khan.

PS: I still have Jemima’s passport shot with me but I chose not to publish it, for obvious reasons.

Jan 16, 2010 - Uncategorized    41 Comments

Now Aafia Siddiqui is using racism to save her


Aafia Siddiqui has learnt how to work the American justice system to her advantage. She has now asked the judges to spend tax payers’ money on DNA testing of all the prospective members of jury at her trial to screen the presence of a Jewish person in the jury.

It must be noted that Dr Aafia Siddiqui had no qualms in accepting scholarship and stipend money from a renowned Jewish institution like Brandeis University from where she obtained her PhD degree but now she deems it inappropriate that Jewish people be part of jury at her trial.

According to news reports, Ms Siddiqui has repeatedly called into question the integrity of the court and its ‘Zionist’ allegiances and has also attempted to fire her lawyers.

She said: “If they have a Zionist or Israeli background . . . they are all mad at me. I have a feeling everyone here is [Jewish] — subject to genetic testing. They should be excluded if you want to be fair. “I’m boycotting the trial, just to let all of you know. There are too many injustices. I’m out of this.”

Her trial has been delayed repeatedly while psychological tests are carried out, of course on tax payers’ money.

If the US justice department continues to treat people like Aafia Siddiqui with kid gloves, there is likelihood that they are freed as double agents back into their supposed ‘home’ countries to wreak further havoc. I, for one, do not want people like her back in the country. She is a naturalized US citizen who chose US over Pakistan. I say she stick it out in the US where she will be held accountable to her racist comments. Sadly, no one would bat an eyelash at such blatant display of racism in Pakistan.


Oct 30, 2009 - religion, USA    22 Comments

Pakistan and US: the unholy matrimony? *

Pakistanis in general and Jamat-i-Islami in particular, have always had a problem or two with USA and its meddling ways in Pakistan. Whether it is linking the terror strikes in USA to Pakistan’s tribal belt (which was proved yesterday when passport of one of the terrorists involved in 9/11 – a member of Hamburg cell – was found by Pakistan armed forces in South Waziristan – detailed reports can be found here and here) or the infamous Kerry Lugar Bill and reigning in of military establishment through it, Pakistanis bemoan the US presence and its wily ways in every development.
While reading today’s newspapers, I noticed that Pakistan is not far behind as far meddling in US affairs is concerned. Not only do we meddle with impunity, we also whine a lot and beg for assistance without shame. For instance, during the meeting with Prime Minister Gilani Secretary Clinton apparently called him a ‘magician’ (the jury is still out whether it was a compliment or an insult). All PM Gilani could do in response to being called a master of political wizardry was request for stepping up support for financial problems, the early payments of the dues out of the accounts of terrorism compensation funds and the release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui.
I fail to understand why Pakistanis in general and Jamat-i-Islami and Imran Khan in particular are so hung up on the release of Aafia Siuddiqui. What irritates me even more is that she is called “Quam ki beti” (Daughter of the nation) when she is not even holding a Pakistani passport. She is an American citizen who was found involved in activities against her country and US has every right to try one of their own citizens, but Pakistanis must not only meddle, they must also do it at the top of their lungs. Perhaps Imran Khan and Jamat-i-Islami call her Qaum ki beti for being involved in money transfers for Al Qaida and endangering the life of her under age children by exposing them to terrorists in Afghanistan when they could have stayed with their father in a much more secure environment in Karachi?
Do we hear American government whine like we do? No, we don’t. During her recent trip to Pakistan, all we got from Secretary Clinton were some bitter home truths. She showed annoyance with Pakistani officials’ inability to nab the Al-Qaida top brass. ‘I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn’t get them if they really wanted to,’ she added.
She also criticized Pakistanis for slamming the non military aid bill and said that Pakistanis do not pay taxes and raise funds locally to invest in public services, health and education and when someone else does, they create ruckus. She also pointed out that the percentage of taxes on GDP in Pakistan is among the lowest in the world.
She also expressed concern about Pakistan’s huge population – 180 million people and counting – and said that unless Pakistani government starts planning for this challenge, the projected 300 million populations will need the resources that no one will be able to assist them with.
While we are meddling in US affairs by asking for the release of a shady character like Aafia Siddiqui, the US Secretary has uncovered some home truths for us. Unless we tackle all these issues and more, everyone with 5$ to spare will come and tell us what to do and we will have to oblige them. The thing is, we have proved, time and again, that we need someone to keep us in line and that we cannot manage to take care of the business of running a state. Pakistani elite desperately want US to meddle so that they can blame the chaos on someone else. Its been 38 years’ since Bangladesh cessation, but I still hear some Pakistanis who lament the fact that US marine did not arrive when we needed its help most, all the hue and cry is only for public consumption.
* Secretary Clinton likened relations between Pakistan and US to a tumultuous marriage but she was also at pains to point out that the US does not want a divorce.