Tagged with " Hamid Mir"

The republic of hate

Following the announcement and a TV report that Veena Malik wishes to join politics in Pakistan, some of us wondered what route she would take and what political party she would care to join. We had her pondering over her options in an interview published last week in The Friday Times. I, for one, wanted Veena Malik to get what she wanted and wished that people would forget about her past transgressions like they have done for other male politicians of Pakistan such as Imran Khan, Sheikh Rasheed, Faisal Saleh Hayat, Maulan Sami-ul-Haq (he even earned the not so respectable moniker of Maulana Sandwich because of his shenanigans) and Yousuf Raza Gilani to name a few.

But that was a few weeks ago, things changed drastically following the hunt against Geo after the attack on Hamid Mir and the all-out campaign invoking the blasphemy law against their morning show team for airing a particular song/qawali during the channel’s live morning transmissions. Veena Malik, her husband Asad Khattak and the host of the show had to leave the country as they were facing threats to their lives for partaking in the supposed blasphemy.

One of the most fascinating and horrifying aspects of this whole fiasco was how social media was used to incite hatred and to ridicule all the people involved in this incident. Not only did pages managed by hate groups fan the flames but regular folks like bankers, students, housewives who apparently used to hang on to every word the morning show host used to say, joined in the vicious attack. It looked as if it was a race to the bottom among all Pakistanis and everyone needed to out-ridicule and out-insult these people on the social media. One cursory look on twitter and facebook and so many images pop up where Hamid Mir’s face is photoshopped on the body of a Hindu priest or Shaista Wahidi is called ‘nangay liberal’ for wearing a burqa while fleeing the country. My personal favourite is one of a visiting card with logos of CIA, RAW and Mossad, Hamid Mir’s face and the word ‘Agent’ in bold print. Talk about being subtle – or NOT.

hamid mirghaddar_hamid-mir-is-a-mossad-agent-of-israel

One of the most recurring sentiment among the people commenting on facebook was that they were all glad that Veena and Shaista had to flee the country and how Pakistan is so much better off now that these two women are not here and are not spreading their brand of ‘behayae’ and ‘beghaerati’. What’s most tragic was the fact that majority of those commenting were women who were probably the most avid consumers of Shaista Wahidi’s morning show and Veena Malik’s performances in Hum Sab Umeed se Hain and Big Boss.

Shaista

All citizens, no matter how amazing or terrible their citizenship experiences have a very personal relationship with their country. Being told that you are not welcome in your own country because a powerful group perceives you to be anti-state or anti-religion or they just hate you because you want to practice what you believe in is cruel and should be a punishable crime because it is out rightly discriminatory. Unfortunately, everyone is so busy in outshouting the other in condemnation of those who are different or belong to a minority that it has become a valid social activity to collectively revile them at leisure.

Incitement of hatred against a person or a group of people is not something new in Pakistan. If anything, we have developed it as an art form. In the sixties, the hatred was focused against Bengalis, in the seventies, it was against the government of Balochistan and the Ahmadis (they were declared non Muslims in the constitution in 1974), in the nineties, MQM a Karachi-based political party was targeted and military operations against the party claimed many civilian lives who had nothing to do with party politics. In the present day Pakistan, hate speech against Ahmadis and Shias is not only the norm, it actually has gained currency among supposedly non violent Muslims. Seemingly progressive people balk at the idea of interacting with an Ahmadi, making friends with one is almost unimaginable.

In a post 9/11 world, hating anything that is perceived to be against mainstream Islam has gained immense popularity in Pakistan. In a race to prove oneself holier than the other religious sect or group, every Muslim is out for the blood of those who do not subscribe to what they consider is the right way of practicing religion. Honor killings citing Hudood as an excuse, random killings citing Blasphemy law as the reason have become so common that people do not even question them. In the land of the pure, a heinous crime like murder gets the makeover of avenging the honour of the family or the honour of the Prophet, the murderer gets garlanded and the victim does not get justice and everyone believes this is how things are supposed to be and there is nothing wrong with the society where murder gets social and legal sanction in the name of religion.

Junaid Hafeez 1

Take the example of two recent murders in Punjab. Rashid Rehman, the human rights activist and lawyer was gunned down in his office for representing a young man Junaid Hafeez in court who was facing blasphemy charges. The opposing council along with members of the clergy had threatened Rehman repeatedly during press conferences covered by the media but following his murder, not a single one of those people were apprehended by the police. Chances are that the officer investigating that case will now be threatened by the same group. If he is smart and values his life, he probably will look the other way and life will just go on for everyone except Rashid Rehman’s family and Junaid Hafeez who in all likelihood will not get a lawyer again.

fatwa

The other murder, of Dr Ali Mahdi Qamar, was followed by a fatwa. This time, the fatwa was against a hospital Tahir Medical Center. Yes, we have progressed (read regressed) to the point that we are now issuing fatwas against buildings, institutions and other inanimate objects. The reason behind the fatwa was that the hospital was run by an Ahmadi charity. As the fatwa also declared any interaction with a ‘Qadiani’ haraam, getting free or paid treatment at the hospital was probably a Gunah-e-Kabira. Dr Qamar, a heart surgeon, flew in from Ohio for a week to conduct free surgeries in that hospital. The problem was that man donating his time and services was an Ahmadi. The fatwa-issuing body probably thought that their target audience may be lured to the said medical centre because there was an American surgeon performing free surgeries so they decided to take that threat away. Dr Ali Mahdi Qamar was shot dead on his second day in Pakistan. After that, people would obviously stay away from that hospital, Islam was saved and some people called dibs on a corner plot in jannat.


23qadiani-businessimages-2

The day is not far when Ahmadis would be required to wear a sign on their bodies like Jews did in Nazi Germany and the people would rejoice in that. What would happen when other groups would be subjected to this kind of criminal discrimination but there would be no one to question the tyranny of conformity?

Originally published in The Friday Times 

All photographs are taken from various facebook groups and pages.

 

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.

Jun 28, 2012 - Uncategorized    9 Comments

Khan Sahib’s heart to heart with Julian Assange

OMG!
There is delusional, and there is delusional to the extent that people stop mocking you and start smiling at you in sympathy.  Khan sahib’s latest heart to heartwith Julian Assange falls into the later category.  Staying true to his character, Imran Khan started his statements with “Look Julian” & “You see Julian,” and treated him like he does Hamid Mir with “dekho Hamid” & “suno Hamid.” 
For starters, he seems to believe he is next in line in the quest to power and that his political rallies are changing the way people do politics in Pakistan. I wish it was the truth and I wish things had changed but the fact remains that barring a few urban pockets, politics is still heavily dependent on caste and clan allegiances. 
So confident he is of his jalsas that he thinks all the electable people are now turning to him because the vote bank belongs to him. Assange should have asked him that if the other people were that electable, then how come the vote bank belongs to him and if the vote bank belongs to him then he does not need electable lotas from other parties and can easily get dedicated and patriotic Pakistanis to contest elections and make it to the parliament. 
Khan sahib also believes that political establishment is scared of him because he is the most popular leader since Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Had establishment been that scared of him, why would they provide him with protocol and security for all his jalsas all over the country? And I have a feeling that supporters of Mian Nawaz Sharif, Benzir Bhutto and Altaf Hussain will take exception to him declaring himself as the most popular one since ZAB, esp considering Mian sahib has enjoyed two third  majority in the parliament at one point in time. 
His most contradictory statements however were reserved for Pak-US relations. He wants Pakistan to do away with the client patron relationship the country has with US but at the same time he also says that Americans are very unhappy with Pakistan because we have not delivered to them. 
Doncha think Khan Sahib would be quite at home on the prime ministerial kursi?
If you are too tired to go through the whole interview, read the juiciest excerpts here.

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.
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
``