Tagged with " media"
Nov 22, 2010 - religion    17 Comments

The not so curious case of a chaotic and confused mind

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What would we do without the paragon of virtue, Qibla Mufti-e-Azam Hazrat Maulana Ansar Abbasi sahib – the upholder of morality of millions of Pakistanis, the mainstay of the sanctity of the family values of misguided Pakistanis and the defender of the piety of all the citizens?

Because he has an opinion on everything under the sun and his expertise ranges from Kerry Lugar Bill to NRO to Baloach dissent to Altaf Bhai’s embroidered kurtas, it is but natural that he would also dabble in some fashion journalism. But because he does not do it like other run of the mill journos, he would just not report on fashion, nor would he write an investigative report on it, he would comment on the recent fashion week with quotes from Quran and try and tell us how high fashion impacts the mating habits of millions of Pakistanis.

Ansar Abbasi started off with how scantily clad women on the catwalks of the fashion week will adversely impact on the family values and somehow linked it to people living in sin and how children will not know who their fathers are. With all due respect, I would like to ask Ansar Abbasi if he lives in the same country as we do. Who in their right mind would prefer cohabitation over marriage with Hudood ordinance looming over their heads? He lamented Western depravity where men and women live together outside holy matrimony and procreate and then was outraged that men can get married to other men and women can get married to other women. I mean stick to your guns Abbasi sahib, you can either be pro marriage or against it, you can’t change your stance in the middle of the sentence, can you?

According to A-Dawg (I rechristen him after this definition of T Dawg which kinda fits him to T), fashion weeks (with an audience of perhaps 0.001% of the population) have made Pakistan more obscene and vulgar than countries like USA or India (this is not what I think butthese countries are torchbearers of vulgarity in A-Dawg’s opinion). He is not too happy with the likes of Imran Khan, Syed Munawar Hasan, Nawaz Shareef, Chaudhry Nisar and Fazlur Rehman for not protesting against the fashion weeks and wanted the Chief Justice to take suo moto action against it.

When A-Dawg could not make sense out of the collective silence of the resident right wing politicians, he picked on the average citizens of the city of Karachi (the venue of the fashion week) for not coming out on streets to protest against it. Most of the poor Karachiites do not even know when such events take place, they are too busy commuting from this end of the city to the other, attending a million and one weddings (which totally rubbishes his theory of people living in sin) and dodging the stray bullets meant for political targets but A-Dawg is too angry about the obscenity to care.

Café Pyala has a posted a pretty decent translation of his column (if it can be called that) but I suggest that those who can read Urdu must read it in its original glory. The number of times A-Dawg has used the words ‘uryaniyat’, ‘fuhashi’, ‘behayaee’, ‘belibasi’, ‘behudgee’ (variations of obscenity, vulgarity and nudity) reflects the piety of his thoughts, Mashallah!

Nov 3, 2010 - Uncategorized    7 Comments

I am from Karachi and I don’t know who they are

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I was in Lahore over the weekend and knowing that I am/was a Karachiite, most people I met had asked me two questions; one of them was about who are the people behind the blog called Café Pyala.

For those who are not Pakistanis or the Pakistanis who have somehow missed out on Pyala, it is an anonymous blog run by a few journalists who generally write about the media industry in Pakistan, the people who run it and the people who think they are ‘it’.

Like I said to all the wonderful people I met in Lahore, being from Karachi and somehow linked to the media industry does not necessarily make me privy to that information and even if I had known, I would not have disclosed. Seriously, do we really need to know who they are? Come on, not everyone is born with the suicidal gene like I am that I go on writing about people, organizations, past bosses, botched up interviews under my real name and basically killing any chance of ever being employed. At times, even I wish to go anon but I am too lazy to get started all over again. The Pyala people are a smart gang with no obvious professional death wish, let them write in peace so that they can continue to entertain us.

Go Pyala!

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Oct 25, 2010 - Talat Hussein    34 Comments

Under the suit and blow dried hair lives a misogynist caveman

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Ever since I saw the op-ed piece by Syed Talat Hussein in an Urdu Daily about Angelina Jolie, I have this ‘I told you so’ smirk on my face. Unlike most Pakistanis, I was never fooled by Mr. Hussein’s façade of urbanity. Quite a few of my friends and acquaintances (you know who you are) were taken in by his persona but I always knew that underneath the suit and the blow dried hair lives a man as primitive as those who consider honor killing and stoning of women as part of our heritage.
For those who still don’t know what happened, Syed Talat Hussein wrote an op-ed piece in an Urdu Daily about Angelina Jolie where he first called her a dirty slut and then said, in no uncertain terms, that he does not find her attractive. His was a fairly detailed and vicious tirade with such great gems (naa jisam mein jawani kaa saroor tha) thrown in that one can safely assume that if Dawn fires him after this op-ed (I know, it is wishful thinking on my part) he can make it big as chauvinist and sexist Urdu soft porn writer.
I don’t want to go into detail about how dreadfully malicious, presumptuous, factually incorrect and appalling his article was as two esteemed bloggers Kalakawa and cpyala have done a great job of cutting him down to size for making up shit against Ms Jolie. However I want to focus on just one part of what he passed off as an op-ed piece. He wrote that if Articles 62 & 63 of Pakistani constitution are invoked against Ms. Jolie, she, or rather her ‘reputation’ would not be able to pass muster. I hate to break it to you Mr. Hussein, but Article 62 and 63 define the criteria for membership of Parliament in Pakistan. As Ms Jolie is not contesting for a seat in any of the legislative bodies, her character or lack of it does not really matter.
Mr. Hussein, on the other hand, is not only a citizen of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan but he is also part of the brigade of news anchors who secretly want to be televangelists declaring fatwas left, right and centre and telling us how good Muslims should live in the land of pure. Sadly, if the above mentioned articles are raised to judge him, his morality would be found wanting. For starters, everybody who has been associated with journalism knows about his ‘alleged’ toy boy past and how he ‘earned’ his first editorial stint. Back in 2006, someone who had once interned under him caught him making out with a lady in Berlin. When the former intern went to say hello to the esteemed journalist with a purported viewership in Israel, he refused to recognize the poor soul and was also trying to hide the lady he was with. Needless to point out that lady he was found canoodling with was NOT his wife.
Personally, I couldn’t care less whomever does he make out with. However, what I do care about is his obvious misogyny, racism (he called Ms. Jolie’s adopted children Rang barangay Yateem Bachay) and how he wishes that women of questionable morality (in his opinion, of course) should be stoned to death. As a public opinion maker who condones institutionalization of crimes against women such as stoning to death, Mr. Hussein is dangerous and I urge various women’s groups in different parts of the country to take action against him and other such people in media. They should demand that people like Mr. Hussein should not be allowed to spew venom against a marginalized group. He belongs to the category of men who simultaneously like “I Love Islam” and “Hot Chicks” Facebook pages and think they are the upholders of morality and the louder they cast aspersions against others, preferably a woman, the holier their standing in the society would be. Mr. Hussein and men like him think that whatever they do as men can be pardoned or even praised, but when women like Angelina Jolie’s mother refuse to take crap from their philandering husbands, they are considered outcasts outside the mould of a family and branded as family breaking sluts. Mr. Hussein, I just hope one day you get your comeuppance and your wife realizes that you too are a philanderer par excellence and do something about it.
Ms Jolie with yet another ‘colored’ child

PS: You suck as a journalist Mr. Hussein; even a Wikipedia search would have told you that Ms. Jolie is 35 years old

PPS: I was in a dilemma whether I should write about Mr. Hussein’s personal life or not, but Umair suggested that I should go ahead. People like him should not be treated with the courtesy we reserve for other normal folks. 

Aug 9, 2010 - Urdu    31 Comments

Hamid Mir and art of embedded journalism

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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.
Aug 3, 2010 - Uncategorized    20 Comments

Is journalism a blood sport?

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Today, I have learned something that I knew all along but never wanted to admit – that we as a nation are a bunch of opportunists.

I just spoke with a friend who works for a TV news channel who sounded extremely dejected. When I asked him, he said that he is sick with the way things are prioritized. Apparently, the murder of Raza Haider is the top news at his channel and the floods story that affected a good 3 million people is a distant second lead. Most of the flood stories were dropped because the bulletin was crowded with Raza Haider story. When I asked him why is that he said that the channel heads are more concerned with increasing the viewership in Karachi and that would be attained with focus on Karachi. Viewership in Karachi matters most because it is home to the biggest middle-class population. More eyeballs in Karachi means greater advertisement revenue.

I just wonder why these people try to take moral high ground and talk about upholding the high standards of journalism when all they are concerned about is ratings and greater advertisement revenue.

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Jul 28, 2010 - Uncategorized    12 Comments

Ek Suo Moto aur sahi …

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Judge sahab,

I humbly appeal to you to take suo moto action against irresponsible reporting of various news channels, esp when we are faced with tragedies that claim hundreds of lives. Can you order that in case of any calamity, natural or otherwise, channels like Geo News, ARY News, Express and Dunya be taken off air for at least 12 hours. The less sensational channels can get on with business of news reporting and that too under strict guidelines.

Judge sahab,

I am a tax paying citizen – and lets face it, there are not that many of us in the country – so basically it is people like me who are responsible for you salary and your big car. I dont ask for much and will continue to drive on pot holed roads and live in insecure environment but can you please take care of these God damned channels? We would be eternally grateful. I know I did not protest in favor of your restoration when you were kicked out last time, but if you put some sense into the people who run these channels, I swear that in case of any such future eventuality, not only will I march, I will make sure that everyone around me shows up for the protests. I promise.

Kind regards,

A tax paying (yeah, I know I am an idiot) citizen

Nov 27, 2009 - Shoaib Akhtar    13 Comments

Persecution of another kind !


Pakistan’s cricket board has got to be the most indiscreet sport regulating body in the globe. First they leaked the reports about Shoaib Akhtar’s genital warts to the world and now they are showing displeasure at his attempts to gain fitness after undergoing liposuction. While it may not have been the smartest move on Akhtar’s part – his whole life is a series of one bad decision after another – the board in general, and its deputy director general Dr Waqar Ahmed in particular, have been quite vindictive in repeatedly over sharing his medical condition with media down to the details of exact numbers of kilograms of fat lost during the aforementioned liposuction session.

Pakistan Cricket Board is not the most efficient sporting board in the world and is using one Shoaib Akhtar incident after another to deflect the spotlight from its own incompetence and mismanagement.

It’s not just the cricket board or the media that laps up every little morsel of salacious news about the likes of Meera & Shoaib Akhtar, everyone of us who consumes such news, laughs at it and shares it at various social networking sites are just as guilty. It’s about time we give them a break.

Oct 19, 2009 - sarcasm    27 Comments

Reading ‘The News’ is more painful than a visit to the dentist…

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Reading newspapers in today’s Pakistan is an ordeal. All you get to read is news about bombings, acts of terrorism and gang rapes which is traumatic at best. But what gets you even more nauseous is reporting done in bad taste and almost non existing editing. The News International was never a great newspaper to begin with, but of late, their standards have reached a new low.

Apart from printing bat shit crazy assed & and downright offensive opinion pieces by Dr A. Q. Khan, they have previously published news about Singer Humaira Arshad’s visit to Punjab’s CM House and how a political party will hold a meeting on September 33 – yes you read it right – September 33. The funny thing is that this news item was published back in September but no one bothered to correct it.

Today’s ‘The News’ was no exception. A report published about the launch of Namal Knowledge City by PTI Chief Imran Khan described his house as a citadel (I think it was the new word that particular reporter recently learned). Among other things, reporter was at pains to point out that Imran Khan did not use the word former while talking about his ex wife and how people gossiped about it.

“Imran Khan revealed that his wife had declined to send his children to the function for security reasons. The guests whispered when he did not use the word ‘former’ while referring to his wife.”

While the whole world, his wife and his assorted animals know that the total amount of aid that would come to Pakistan through the now infamous Kerry Lugar Bill is $7.5 billion, The news editors got a bit carried away and decided to replace the decimal between 7 & 5 with a zero making the amount a whopping $705 billion. I just hope that American tax payers are willing to shell out that kind of money.

The bat shit crazy assed QUOTE OF THE DAY came from former CM of NWFP Mohammed Akram Durrani who says that with assistance in form of Kerry Lugar Bill – or KLB as it is affectionately termed by the local media – the United States is trying to start a civil war in Pakistan by the year 2010. What the fuck does he mean by 2010? What are we doing right now? I thought we are already in a war like situation where 30,000 troops are carrying a massive operation in the North West Border region

Following it closely is the other super crazy quote came from former information minister Muhammed Ali Durrani who believes that “the tabling of the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) in parliament was a vicious attempt to divert the attention of the nation from the ‘anti-Pakistan’ Kerry-Lugar Bill (KLB) and this attempt would be foiled by the vigilant media and political parties.” I just hope to God that he was not referring to his own party – PML Q – as one of those vigilant parties.

PS: I actually read the newspaper while waiting at the dentist’s. So miffed I was with The News that after I came back, I tracked all the news that I remembered and linked it to this post. Reading it was definitely more painful than scaling, really.

PPS: If possible, the epaper header has even more atrocious English.

Jun 9, 2009 - Society    38 Comments

Failed to "Touch"

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Aks at fiverupees recently wrote a post praising the efforts of Greenstar marketing for making a song and video about Touch Condoms.

Personally, I was disappointed with the campaign. It was a great opportunity squandered. I was monitoring a project about awareness raising for sexual and reproductive health and as part of the project, the ad/song was shown to a group of people who have neither ever heard the word condom nor were they familiar with the concept of family planning. I witnessed one such viewing in a rural settlement on the outskirts of Karachi. When the viewers were shown the song, not a single person got the message – that people need to plan their families and should space having children and stay protected against STDs and STIs. When asked, most of the respondents either thought it was a wedding song; it had something to do with rich people getting married and living happily ever after or it was about selling housing schemes to rich people. Not a single one of them connected with the message of the advertisement/song.

The only thing new about the ad was that it actually used the word condom for the first time in a TVC (television commercial) which is commendable but it failed to tell people what condom is and why it should be used? Its relevance, not only to family planning but also for other health and safety reason should have been spelled – loud and clear, especially in HIV high risk country like Pakistan (their own wesbite says that Touch is being targeted to high risk groups for disease prevention). Sadly, Greenstar marketing screwed the campaign gallactically, like all good things are screwed in Pakistan.

What I fail to understand that they spent HUGE amounts of money in an ad campaign that did not even reach out to its target audience – the uneducated Pakistani masses who produce something like 9 children per woman. What was the point? Why there was no pre testing done before the campaign was launched. Greenstar is a social marketing firm and they must have gotten the contract either from government of Pakistan or some foreign funding agency to run this campaign. If the government of Pakistan paid for it, then it was our (the tax payers) money badly spent and if it was foreign aid then the future tax payers will be paying for the advert. In any case, the loser is the common Pakistani, who did not benefit from a campaign that was supposed to target and educate its massive percentage of population in child bearing age and ended up paying for the cost of a marketing campaign that only benefited the ad agency and people connected to its marketing.

The campaign of Touch Condoms failed to ‘touch’ its target audience, what irony!

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Jun 7, 2009 - Uncategorized    7 Comments

The ghetto of women’s writing

Back in 2001 during my rookie reporting days, I wrote a piece on the renewed Intifada which was quite well received. One of the senior assistant editors who was at least 75 years old at that point in time (yes, it was the time when Dawn still had its geriatric brigade roaming the Islamabad corridor) called me and asked me why did I choose to write on intifada. Being the super naïve, extra exuberant idiot that I was, I went on and on about how international politics fascinates me and how I want to write political commentary regularly.

After I was done with my tirade, he smiled a benevolent smile and told me in no uncertain terms that I should stop worrying my pretty little head about stuff as gruesome as Intefada and should stick to things bright and shiny – like fashion and pop music. Before I could say that unlike the old gent who had a degree in Persian literature, being a student of International Relations in general and of people’s movement and confidence building measures in particular, I was actually qualified to write on Intifada and Middle East crisis. I was too young and inexperienced to know that assistant editor probably was afraid of a newbie taking over his area of expertise.

Hajrah Mumtaz’s excellent piece ‘The ghetto of ‘women are writing’ in Dawn today reminded me that I too have been pushed to the ghetto of light & fluffy writing at one point in time. Thank heavens that I was too stubborn to listen to the old gent and wrote about everything under the sun.

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