Tagged with " Aamir Liaquat"

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
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.
Aug 9, 2010 - Urdu    31 Comments

Hamid Mir and art of embedded journalism

Hamid Mir is an idiot. There, I said it.

As a rule, I don’t read Jang, but someone living in Lahore pointed out a piece written by the esteemed Mr Mir asking me if what he said has some merit in it or not. These days, Hamid Mir is playing an embedded journalist in Khadim-e-Ala Punjab’s caravan that is touring flood affected areas (Yes, touring is the most apt word for that activity). While he was traveling with Chotay Mian sahib in the vicinity of Isa Khel, he got a text message that an MQM MPA was killed and instead of reporting about the events in Isa Khel, he decided to devote his column to two things; violence in Karachi and Shahbaz Shareef.

First, he goes how Zardari, Ishratul Ibad and Asfandyar Wali should pick 5 badmash type people from their respective parties and kick them out to show people in Karachi that they mean business. Yeah right, the people who have lost lives, livelihoods and homes would be pleased with that.  Secondly, Asfandyar Wali and Zardari may be able to kick people out from their parties, but not Ishratul Ibad. For starters, he is the representative of the federation in the province and is the governor. Secondly, no one other than Altaf Hussain enjoys this kind of influence in MQM. In any case, it was stupid suggestion to begin with and anyone who has attended the course Politics 101 would know that real politics do not work this way. Then he decided to tell his readers how the violence in Karachi is the result of nefarious aims of one PPP which is trying to create rift between MQM and ANP, he then goes on to say that basically both ANP and PPP hate MQM and they want MQM to leave the coalition, but MQM would rather be kicked out of the coalition than leave it which is contradictory to the first statement. Great journalism, isn’t it? 
He then goes onto sing praises of Mian Shahbaz Shareef saying that he is such a problem for his security staff because he does not travel according to travel routes planned. He just loves his people so much that he goes from West to East meeting all the people as if they are his own relatives. He then told us about the hardship Mian Biradaraan regularly take to reach their people from Mianwali to Kot Addu to Sargodha while Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani just indulges in Ariel viewing of the area. Good job Mir sahib. 
In the end, he tried to link the two by saying that the day Farooq Sattar and Babar Ghouri will visit the flood affected areas of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwah with ANP minister, peace will prevail in Karachi. If peace in Karachi can be restored by a simple visit, a certified broke person like me would personally like to raise funds for this trip. 
It was always Amir Liaquat Hussain who wrote disjointed crap and tried to pass it off as op-ed in Jang. Now that he has left the building, Hamid Mir has taken over his throne.
PS: I want to point out that Hamid Mir is one of the highest paid – if not the highest paid – journalist in Pakistan. We sure do reward incompetence.
May 29, 2010 - Shahbaz Sharif, terrorism    64 Comments

We all have blood on our hands!

Oh Lahore!
On May 28th 2010, I was away from the TV and computer the whole day, a rare feat in this increasingly connected world. I came home around 10.00 pm and was inundated with images and sounds of what is called the worst ever assault on Ahmadis – a persecuted religious minority in Pakistan – during Friday prayers. While everyone from the Prime Minister Gilani to US State Department condemned the incident, no one is willing to look at the real cause of the carnage.
Ahmadis are the most persecuted minority in Pakistan. Although the other minorities do not enjoy perfect conditions in the country, Ahmadis are especially ill-treated, with constitution and penal code supporting those who perpetuate offenses against them. Following a violent campaign, led by the Jamaat-e-Islami in 1974 against Ahmadis, constitutional amendments were introduced by the elected government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Ahmadis were declared non Musilms. Ten years later, military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq (May he rot in hell for all eternity) promulgated the anti Ahmadi Ordinance XX in April 1984. The ordinance prohibited Ahmadis from preaching or professing their beliefs, it forbids Ahmadis to call themselves Muslim or to ‘pose’ as Muslims. They were forbidden from calling their places of worship mosques. They were also barred by law from worshipping in non-Ahmadi mosques or public prayer rooms, performing the Azaan (Msulim call to prayers), using the traditional Islamic greeting in public, publicly quoting from the holy book Quraan, preaching in public, seeking converts, or producing, publishing, and disseminating their religious materials. These acts are punishable by imprisonment of up to three years. In short, the ordinance was in violation of Article 14, 16, 19, 20, 22, 25 and 28 of the 1973 Constitution and denied them basic civic rights. For Ahmadis, living in Pakistan is just as bad, if not worse than Jews living under Nazi rule.
It is not just the state institution and right wing political parties that are out for a witch hunt of Ahmadis/Qadiyanis, it is all of us who are responsible for the persecution of Ahmadis/Qadiyanis. Popular talk show host Aamir Liaquat Hussain instigated violence against the community in September 2008, which resulted in death of 3 Ahmadis. MQM, the political party he belonged to, publicly condemned him and kicked him out of the party, but the TV channel he worked for never uttered a word of apology and he continues to spew his venom to this date. Hamid Mir, another popular talk show host on the same channel and a public opinion maker, expressed his intense hatred for Qadiyanis in his leaked tapes which probably have triggered right wing terrorist into taking upon themselves to kill as many Ahmadis as they can. What was that TV channel and state’s response to that? That man is still on TV, dishing out his maligned version of truth day in, day out. Do they have blood on their hands? I say yes.
The judges in our court are obviously sympathetic towards the alleged terrorists and most of the terrorists who were captured and brought to courts were released citing lack of evidence. I am sure like all other previous terrorists who were released, the courts in Pakistan will also release the one who was caught by the people yesterday, even though he was caught red handed killing people. Punjab’s law ministers openly consorts with supposedly banned terrorists outfits, the Chief minister of Punjab is retweeting film song lyrics on twitter after 22 hours of this incident instead of making sure that people who did this are nabbed. While Jamaat-e-Isalami blamed it on USA and Blackwater, Shahbaz Sharif blamed it on enemies of Islam and Pakistan and Commissioner of Lahore Khusro Parvez blamed it all on RAW a couple of hours after the incident without any intelligence report, the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks. A text message sent to journalists said this: “This is a final warning to the [Ahmedi community] to leave Pakistan or prepare for death at the hands of the Prophet Muhammad’s devotees.” It was signed by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and the Punjab wing of al-Qaeda, the latter a hitherto unknown group. Do all those who live in denial have blood on their hands? I say yes.
The common people are just as bad as our right wing and centre of right political parties; our talk show hosts and mullah sympathizers. In a public forum pkpolitics, many people were justifying the killing spree of Qadiyanis by repeatedly calling them wajib-ul-qatl (must be killed category of apostates) because they act and behave like Muslims. A friend, who works for education ministry in Punjab called and said that most of her junior colleagues were celebrating the death of many Qadiyanis, and these people work for the ministry of education! Do they all have blood on their hands? I say yes.
Every identity card and passport holder in Pakistan – including me – who filled out the form declaring themselves true apostles of the faith have denounced the basic citizenship rights of Ahmadis/Qadiyanis. Do we all have blood on our hands? I hang my head in utter shame and say, yes we all have their blood on our hands.
PS: The only public figure and politician who ever publicly supported the basic citizenship rights of Ahmadis is MQM’s Altaf Hussain.

All images via Time by Arif Ali / AFP / Getty Images
Sep 16, 2009 - rant, religion    82 Comments

Gift of gall or permanent lapse of reason?

On September 14th 2009, 19 women were killed in a stampede in Karachi. New York Times reported that the stampede occurred when a local trader was distributing food – flour, lentils and other goods – in the southern part of the city. Hundreds of women and children had gathered in the narrow lanes, and according to the witnesses; the women tumbled over one another trying to enter a building in an attempt to collect the food first. 25 people were reportedly injured in the incident.
The event was sad and a lot has been said and written about the incident. A couple of the people who have discussed this tragic incident on tv are Aamir Liaquat Hussian and good ol’ Junaid Jamshed in a program which was aired on the eve of the aforementioned horrific incident.
While Aamir Liaquat was busy reading out from what can only be called excerpts from Urdu thesaurus and acting all humble and modest in response to the words of praises from his female fan brigade, Junaid Jamshed came up with a very interesting theory about class differences, hunger, stampede, self respect and religion.
According to Maulana Junaid Jamshed, it is ok if rich Muslims do not follow the religion, but if poor Muslims let go of the sacred religious teachings, the whole society would collapse. He repeatedly made references to “Ghareeb ka Imaan” (poor people’s faith) and “Ameer ka Imaan” (rich people’s faith) as if your class is responsible for your levels of faith and piety. He further went on and said that when poor people embrace the true values of Islam, they are endowed with the gift of self respect, restrain and integrity. His theory was that even if people are poor and hungry, their self respect – endowed only through strict adherence to Islam – will not allow them to go beg for food and consequently, they will be saved from such incidents and death by stampede. Around minute 16.20 in the video, Junaid Jamshed further said that if poor people just practice restraint and stay hungry for three days, Allah will provide food for them for one whole year. This is from a man who probably never had to stay hungry in his life and charges Rs. 2000 for a shalwar (loose Pakistani trousers) that actually costs Rs 200 in his clothing store? He even had the cheek to ask if staying hungry for three days and then waiting for manna from heavens for one whole year (I have absolutely no idea how he arrived at the exact time range of 3 days of hunger and one year warranty of food supply from heavens) is an easier option or getting in line for free food and risking death by stampede?
Mr Jamshed has four children, if they are hungry and crying for food, would he rather stay cooped up in his house telling his children to stay hungry so that Allah will send manna from heaven or will he run all over the place to feed his children? A man who was paid a cool 2 million rupees for half an hour’s work (he shot a tv commercial for Lays Chips also known as Lays chips fatwa) will probably never know what hunger is and how devastating it can be? Self respect, privacy and integrity are things that only rich and well off people can afford, the rest are busy making out a living for themselves and their children.
I am astounded at the cheek of the man. Not only did he blame the victims for begging for flour, he was annoyed at the beggars who knock on his car windows for alms and blamed them for making the likes of him more indifferent to their plight by constantly banging on their air conditioned car windows. I would never condone beggary but one must also take into consideration the recession, loss of jobs for so many people and government’s apathy towards employment generation schemes for its populace. According to the World Food Program, 24 per cent of the population of Pakistan is under noursihed and 38 per cent of Pakistani children under the age of five are under weight. It calls the state of hunger in Pakistan, “alarming.” Imagine, if everyone takes the advice of Junaid Jamshed to heart and and sit on their ass and do nothing and wait for the manna, how will the situation of hunger exacerbate in the country.
What is a bigger tragedy that none of the live callers to the program were intelligent enough to point out what a fraud people like JJ and Ammir Liaquat are. Everyone sang their praises to death and one of the callers even called Junaid jamshed an angel (I am not sure angels would be as big a sartorial disaster as Junaid Jamshed was in his burgady red kurta).
PS: Its a very long video, if you are short of time, just catch the bit from 11th minute to18th minute in the video.