Tagged with " MQM"
Apr 28, 2013 - PPP, PTI, Punjab, religion, terrorism    2 Comments

NOT the victims of a drone attack

This is a request to those who are free to conduct election campaign for their political parties before the country goes to poll on May 11 2013. Most of you are lamenting the drone attacks on Pakistani soil and vow to change the situation as soon as you assume power. Some of you are outright Taliban sympathizers and believe that a dialogue with them would yield desired results. A few of you have openly associated with terrorist outfits and have even sought their blessing before the elections. Even though it pains me to see you succumb to them, I wont criticize your diplomacy because a country like this indeed ask for the survival of the fittest and pragmatism demands that you maintain cordial relations with those obscurantist forces if you want to survive.

However, I would request you guys – the leaders of the political parties who are not under attack and are free to run their election campaigns – to take a few minutes out during the many jalsas and corner meetings that you address and show some empathy with the Pakistanis who are under attack from Taliban. They might not have been victims of a drone attack but they too have lost their loved ones, livelihoods and limbs in similarly gruesome acts of violence. The tragedy is that they are attacked by their countrymen hence rhetoric against their killers may not win you votes, television slot and space in international media. You might also be afraid of the Taliban and wonder that if you voice grievance against their ways, you may join these parties who are under attack. Your reluctance makes sense in the short run but what if they come after you once they get rid of these heathens? Fear that future when you may need help but there won’t be anyone left to stand beside you.

Think about your countrymen who may or may not vote for you and have an ideology which is different from yours but they are a part of this country that you call home and they contribute to its society and economy as much as you do, if not more. They need your support to survive right now, who knows they might end up voting for you in future elections if they manage to stay alive. Think about them, because if they perish, you may not even get to enjoy the election process in future.

Regards,

A concerned citizen

 

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These children have lost their father on a bomb attack on MQM’s election office in Bufferzone Karachi. – Photo taken from Twitter TL

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Another kid mourning the loss of his father after attacks on MQM election offices. Photo – AFP

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A victim of bomb attack on ANP’s election office in Orangi Town, Karachi. Photo – AP

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Another family has lost a loved one after the Orangi Town attack on ANP’s election office. Photo – AP

 

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A young victim of terrorist attack in Abbas Town last month – Photo credit AP

 

Residents stand among rubble and debris at the site of April 24th bomb attack in Quetta, the blast was one of the series of attack on Hazara Community. Photo – Reuters

PS: There are far more gruesome photographs of children who have lost their eyes & limbs and dismembered torsos of men who have lost their lives. I did not post those picture because the point here is to invoke empathy for those who are fighting this war against TTP and nothing else.

 

Apr 27, 2013 - Media    19 Comments

The ultimate beyghairti

 

No matter what part of the world you are in, you wake up to the news of your home courtesy your smart phone. I woke up this morning and saw the FB status update of a friend who lives in Garden Karachi about a bomb blast near her home. A quick look at the news websites revealed that it was an Awami National Party (ANP) election office in Orangi Town that was bombed.  Before this, two other election offices of Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) were attacked in Karachi and other election related activities of ANP in KPK. According to Kamran Khan’s program on Geo, ANP has been attacked 10 times during 2013 election campaign in KPK and Karachi while MQM is attacked thrice, all incidences took place in Karachi. For almost all the incidences of violence against these two relatively secular parties, Tehreek-e-Talibaan Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility.

Considering that elections are just a couple of weeks away, one would think that the security apparatus of the country would be after these TTP terrorists who are not only committing heinous acts of violence against civilians engaging in perfectly legal political activity but are also obstructing the democratic process by attacking and hindering political campaign of the aforementioned political parties. These two parties are major political forces in two of the provinces of the country.

But no, the security forces of the country are busy ensuring that no one dares to utter a word against them. First victim of censorship was the newly launched Capital TV, when a former aide of Zaid Hamid, one Mr Emad Khalid committed the gustakhana act of voicing his uncensored opinion about the COAS Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, the channel was taken off the airs for a couple of days and only reopened after a written apology was submitted to PEMRA. Major newspapers did not carry this story and a quick web survey reveals that it was only some blogs and Pakistan Press Foundation’s website that carried this incident.  Curiously, elected Head of the state is the butt of all the jokes on every TV channel but no directives were ever issued by PEMRA to the TV channels to respect the august office of the head of the state.

That incident happened last week.

Earlier today, Beygairat Brigade’s third song Dhinak Dhinak was blocked by PTA. Dhinak Dhinak is a satirical song about the continued power that the top brass of army enjoys in Pakistan. Beygairat Brigade – or Shameless Brigade – is a Lahore based band which uses political and social satire in music. Their previous songs Alu Anday and Paisay ki game were not banned probably because they attacked the political leadership of the country, this time around Dhinak Dhinak focused on “Jernailan da jadu” and raised points like how the army generals never contest contest elections but always enjoy absolute power. Though the lead singer of the band, Ali Aftab Saeed was quoted in Telegraph  after the song was released online (no TV channel was willing to air it) that he has no issues with the institution of army but with the attitude of a few generals, the song was blocked by PTA on the eve of April 26th. When asked, Ali Aftab Saeed said that the band was not informed about the ban on the video by the authorities. They just found out about it when they tried to access the video on Vimeo.

Considering what happened to people who were called in for a reprimand – people like Late Syed Saleem Shehzad who succumbed to  torture endured during one such meeting – it’s may be a blessing that the video was just blocked by PTA and no one was called for a meeting.

The Dhinak Dhinak video came back online after a few hours of ban. May be it was the cheeky message at the end of the video where the band asked their fans to not like the song – “No need to like the video, we will be dead any way” – that saved them.

Beygairat Brigade is probably happy that their song is back for the world to see (I am told that it is still blocked by some ISPs), investors of Capital TV must have sighed with relief when their channel went on air after the hiatus of two days. People will soon forget about these imagined or real slights on the forces that don’t want to be named or discussed objectively, but what people will never forget is the ultimate beyghairti which is letting the TTP terrorists roam free and attack the forces that dare to raise voice against them. This is what future generations of Pakistanis will remember about our times and we will be considered the ultimate beygherats who not only let these terrorists burn down our cities, many amongst us found justifications for their acts and provided them political cover and the security forces failed to do their only job which provision of security for its people. If this is not beyghairti, then nothing is.

Apr 15, 2012 - published work, Society, women    1 Comment

The problems with Jamat-i-Islami

The war of the words between Jamat-i-Islami (JI) and Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) is neither new nor shocking. The residents of Karachi and newspaper readers all over the country are well aware of it. However, the latestround of spat where JI head asked the government to deal with their coalition partners – the MQM – in a high handed manner ostensibly to bring peace to Karachi borders on ridiculous, even for a party that boycotts elections and has not had any noticeable presence in the national and provincial legislative assemblies for quite some time.
For starters, MQM is the single biggest representative of the people in Karachi in the parliament and has been consistently getting the votes since ’88, kicking them out of the government and dealing with them in a “high handed” manner will not yield any lasting – or temporary – results. JI has been so long out of the parliament that its leaders have forgotten that popular politics is about taking care of the wishes of the electorate, not dealing with their mandate in a high handed manner.
By constantly targeting MQM, a party with a decent enough mandate in the province of Sindh, JI is indirectly proposing the political isolation and disenfranchisement of a large group of people. In a country where sense of victim hood is high among so many marginalized sections of the society, adding one more to it is tantamount to internal security hara-kiri, but JI is vigorously following this policy. Instead of working to bring in more groups into the political arena, they are trying to push away those who are part of it.
JI is supposedly a national party but they are only concerned with safety and security of Karachi – an issue that gets enough coverage in the media and is never out of the discussion. However, one is yet to hear a single word of condemnation from their leadership on the premeditated targeted killings of Shia Hazaras in Quetta, probably because the ‘banned’ organisations that have taken responsibility for most of the attacks are ideologically identical to the JI vision of a Pan Islamic Sunni hegemony.
While they are quiet on the Hazara genocide, JI decide to speak against the sectarian violence in Gilgit – Baltistan and are supporting the protests by Majlis Wehdat Muslemeen in front of the parliament. However their denial about the causes of the violence continues and they are blaming the ‘foreign enemies’ for the latest spat of violence in Gilgit-Balitistan. To add injury to the insult, they are seeking council from the right wing militant Sunni outfits – the very perpetrators of the violence – seeking to bring about the peace in the region.
JI also opposes the bill on the domestic violence which was presented again the national assembly recently after being lapsed. What JI should realize is that they have lost their right to protest legislative amendments when they boycotted elections. Only the parties with presence in the assemblies get to discuss and amend the constitution.
If Jamat wants to be taken as a serious political contender they need to focus on the issues that are relevant to the people of Pakistan instead of blaming MQM for violence in Karachi and USA for everything else that is wrong with the country. But if their previous record is anything to go by, it is pretty obvious that Jamat does not want to be a serious game player and is happy to play the rebel rouser with a nuisance value and not much else. 
Originally written for The Express Tribune, this is the unedited version. 
Feb 24, 2012 - published work, women    6 Comments

Politics is far too important a business to be left to men alone


Pakistan is a strange country. While on one hand it has had the first female prime minister of the Muslim world and has the maximum percentage of women in its legislative assemblies in the region; politics has not been used as a tool of empowerment for women at the grassroots.
It is a curious paradox and the reasons can be as varied as politics being a classist business in the country to general lack of women’s access to public spaces. If political parties are scrutinized, most female politicians are either siblings or children of the party heads or are married into the political families. There are hardly any role models, if any, of women political workers who assumed a leadership position after serving their parties over a number of years. Political ascendency on meritorious grounds is a novel phenomenon in Pakistan but more so in case of women political workers.
With exception of Bushra Gohar and now Nasreen Jaleel, no other party barring ANP and MQM has women holding pivotal positions in their parties and they too need to do a lot more. MQM’s Rabta Committee has a disproportionate number of men and the regressive elements in ANP still bar women from exercising their right to vote – as late as November 2011 when all the eight contestants of the constituency KP61, Kohistan decided not to allow women to cast their votes.
Importance of being out and about in politics is obvious to anyone with passing interest in it. The women’s rally staged by MQM last weekend showed us that politics is far too important a business to be left to men alone.
In a country where women are losing ground in the public spaces and confining themselves to fit to the desired patriarchal norms, the rally and its message that a strong Pakistan is dependent on independent women was a timely reminder that women need to go out and reclaim the spaces they have receded and find newer avenues to call their own such as political space at the grassroots. 
MQM may have wanted to show the world that Karachi is still their home and other political upstarts have a long way to go before they lay any claims to the city but what also comes across from this is that women as voters and citizenry are important and must be viewed as such by other political powers. The large numbers that turned up also showed us that women are interested if they are taken seriously and want to engage in the political process.
It is about time the political parties realize that women are a political constituency and their concerns needs to be addressed and fought for, not only in the parliament but also in their party ranks. This is the election year, should we not demand all parties to include issues important to women in their election manifestos and genuinely try to bridge the gap that exists.
In politics, the importance of constituency cannot be overstated. The MQM rally brought to fore the fact that the constituency of women across the ethnic, racial, tribal and class exists and needs to be catered to by all the political parties. Women’s caucus in the parliament have voted across party lines on issues that mattered to them as a group most and if the parliament is a microcosm of society, it can happen at a macro level as well. 
First published in The Express Tribune

PS:  The reason I have only mentioned ANP and MQM is that these are the only two parties where women hold positions as central as  Senior Vice-President and Deputy Convener. PPP’s CEC has a fair number of women, in addition, there are a few female politicians from PTI,  and the high profile female parliamentarians of PML-Q. With Maryan Nawaz Shareef, even PML-N is trying to score with women and young adults.

Oct 14, 2011 - Uncategorized    7 Comments

Our parliamentarians and other animals


The first time I noticed Abid Sher Ali was when he made Farrah Dogar the most famous/notorious high schooler in Pakistan. As the chair of National Assembly’s standing committee on education, he went anal about her being awarded a few extra points in her high school marks sheet and provided fodder to reams of newsprints and hours of “analysis” on television about state of education, corruption of judiciary and abuse of power. He even went after the employees of FBISE for accommodating CJ Dogar’s request. Now I am all in favour of meritocracy and rule of law but my heart went out for the 18 year old girl who was made a laughing stock on national and satellite tv for point scoring with her father, former CJ of Supreme Court of Pakistan. I also was kinda pissed about selective amnesia plaguing Mr. Abid Sher Ali when he forgot about Ms. Mariam Nawaz (D/o of former almost Ameer-ul-Momineen janab Baray Mian Sahab) being awarded extra points to get in medical college. 
Apart from vowing to take Justice Dogar to cleaners repeatedly, Mr Abid Sher Ali – a thorough gentleman – also has a penchant for getting loud and obnoxious with ladies of other political parties. His emotional outbursts against Speaker Fehmida Mirza and Ms. Sharmila Farooqui are well documented. But everything that has happened in the past was actually leading up to this momentof perfect mayhem when he wanted to get physical in the hallowed environs of the parliament with another parliamentarian. He first wanted to punch and then tried to throw a bunch of parliamentary directories at an MQM legislator Mr. Sajid Ahmed; unfortunately, another PML-N MNA intervened and stopped him.
Peace and sobriety are indeed much desired traits but I so wanted him to throw some kick ass punches at MQM’s Sajid Ahmed for disrupting the tirade of Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. Imagine how MQM would have reacted if it actually happened? They probably would have sued Mr. Sher Ali for every imaginable grievance and more. Imagine the number of hours of tv debate it would have generated! Imagine how many experts on constitutional decorum would have sprung! Regrettably, he was stopped from taking the parliamentary proceedings to the next level and we are stuck with making fun of “Dr.” Rehman Malik and his apple/banana jokes which are kinda stale now.

Here is our esteemed parliamentarian Mr. Abid Sher Ali in all his violent glory; may he get even more inventive with insults and go from strength to strength.
PS: The title is borrowed from Gerald Durrell’sautobiography My Family And Other Animals. No disrespect is intended towards either Gerald Durrell’s family or the animals they have housed. 
PPS: Here is an awesome montage of the glorious moments by Dunya Tv. 

PPPS: I know this post is about Abid Sher Ali and I should have pasted his photo but who can resist a beaming Dr Rehman Malik in academic robes and rosy cheeks. 

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.
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