Tag Archives: narratives

Isn’t it strange that he consider vulgarity on TV to be Haram [unIslamic] and immoral. However, the income he pocket every month from this vulgarity is Halal and moral!

Letter to Ansar Abbasi on vulgarity

By: Farooq Sulehria

Dear Mr. Ansar Abbasi,

When I recently heard about your latest crusade against vulgarity and obscenity, planned in connivance with our puritan Chief Qazi, I could not help laughing aloud.

By moving the Supreme Court against obscenity and vulgarity on television channels, you have indeed exposed the bankruptcy of the Moral Brigade’s policing of women’s bodies.

Continue reading Isn’t it strange that he consider vulgarity on TV to be Haram [unIslamic] and immoral. However, the income he pocket every month from this vulgarity is Halal and moral!

ANALYSIS: JI did it again! – Farhat Taj

The media blatantly distorts facts to produce and promote narratives, discourses and arguments that concur with the security establishment’s policies. The authors of the JI report seem to make no attempt to cross check the media reports with information on the ground

Some time back, an Islamabad-based think tank, Jinnah Institute (JI), published a report, ‘Pakistan, the United States and the End Game in Afghanistan: Perceptions of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy Elite’. This report was criticised by some writers in the media for its justification of Pakistan’s security policy vis-à-vis Afghanistan. The well-known pro-military establishment journalists tried hard to defend the report. In the process, they exposed their own pro-establishment biases, in addition to have failed to address the valid objections on the report raised by the critics.

Now, the JI has come out with another report, ‘Extremism Watch: Mapping Conflict Trends in Pakistan 2010-2011’. The key reason why the report is misplaced is that it is mainly based on — as stated in its methodology (pg 6) — reports from English and Urdu media in Pakistan. But most of the Pakistani English and Urdu media is neither independent nor abides by any professional or ethical standards in reporting on matters that are the exclusive domain of Pakistan’s military establishment, such as policies about Afghanistan and India. These policies are closely interwoven with religious extremism and terrorism in Pakistan, the issues that this JI report seeks to look into. The media blatantly distorts facts to produce and promote narratives, discourses and arguments that concur with the security establishment’s policies. The authors of the JI report seem to make no attempt to cross check the media reports with information on the ground.

To elaborate my point, I will comment on one of the essays in the JI report, ‘Turning the Schools to Stones’, to highlight its bias. What the writer of this essay is saying about the bombing of schools in the Pashtun areas — FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and even in Afghanistan — is this.

Read more » Daily Times

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History & Sindh – Black Mirror – By: Dr Mubarak Ali

Past present: Black mirror

History often helps in analysing the present day issues by reflecting on past events. Generally, this approach is adopted in a society where there is dictatorship, censorship and legal restrictions to express discontent in regard to government policies. The method is effective in creating political consciousness by comparing the present with the consequences of bad governance and disillusionment of the past.

After the independence[?] of Pakistan, the army and the bureaucracy emerged as powerful state institutions. In the absence of a constitution, the two institutions were unaccountable to any authority. Bureaucracy followed in the footsteps of the colonial model, treating people with arrogance and contempt. A strong centre allowed it to rule over the provinces unchecked. The provinces, including the former East Pakistan, greatly suffered because of this.

Sindh chose to raise its voice against the oppressive attitude of the bureaucracy and a strong centre. Despite the grand, national narratives which justified the creation of a new country, Sindh responded by presenting its problems and grievances by citing historical suffering of its people.

During the reign of Shahjahan, Yusuf Mirak, a historian, wrote the book Tarikh-i-Mazhar-i-Shahjahani. The idea was to bring to Shahjahan’s notice the corruption and repressive attitude of the Mughal officials in Sindh. As they were far from the centre, their crimes were neither reported to the emperor nor were they held accountable for their misdeeds.

Mirak minutely described their vices and crimes and how the people [Sindhis] were treated inhumanly by them. He hoped that his endeavours might alleviate the suffering of the people when the emperor took action against errant officials. However, Mirak could not present the book to the emperor but his documentation became a part of history.

When the Persian text of the book was published by Sindhi Adabi Board, its introduction was written by Husamuddin Rashdi who pointed out the cruelty, brutality, arrogance and contempt of the Mughal officials for the common man. Accountable to none, they had fearlessly carried on with their misdeeds.

Today, one can find similarities between those Mughal officials and Pakistani [civil & military] bureaucrats of the present day. In the past Sindh endured the repercussions of maladministration and exploitation in pretty much the same way as the common man today suffers in silence. But one can learn from the past and analyse the present to avoid mistakes.

The history of Sindh shows two types of invaders. The first example is of invaders like the Arabs and the Tarkhans who defeated the local rulers, assumed the status of the ruling classes and treated the local population as inferior. The second type was of invaders like Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Abdali who returned home after looting and plundering. The rulers of Sindh defended the country but sometimes compromised with the invaders. Those who defended it were vanquished and discredited by history, and their role was not recognised.

G. M. Syed in his tract Sindh jo Surma made attempt to rehabilitate them. According to him, Raja Dahir who defended Sindh against the Arabs was a hero while Muhammad Bin Qasim was an agent of the Umayyad imperialism who attacked Sindh to expand the empire and to exploit Sindh’s resources.

Decades later, in 1947, a large number of immigrants arrived from across the border and settled in Sindh. This was seen by Sindhi nationalists as an attempt to endanger the purity of the Sindhi culture. In 1960, agricultural land was generously allotted to army officers and bureaucrats. Throughout the evolving circumstances in Sindh, the philosophy of Syed’s book is the protection and preservation of the rights of Sindhis with the same spirit with which the heroes of the past sacrificed their lives for the honour of their country [Sindh].

Continue reading History & Sindh – Black Mirror – By: Dr Mubarak Ali

Pakistan’s Military Faces New Questions After Raid

By SALMAN MASOOD

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Battered by the fallout of the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden, Pakistan’s army and navy chiefs came under fire again from analysts and raucous political talk shows for lapses in security that allowed militants to storm Karachi’s naval base, leading to a 16-hour standoff that ended Monday.

Journalists and retired service members repeatedly questioned how the militants could have breached the security of the naval base. The Navy chief, Admiral Nauman Bashir, was particularly pilloried for denying there was any security lapse when he spoke to journalists in Karachi after the attack.

The frenzied questioning on all of Pakistan’s news channels was an indication of the shock that the attack on Karachi’s naval base has caused around the country, still reeling from the scandal of the killing of Bin Laden on May 2, and the questions it further raises about the ability of Pakistan’s military establishment to safeguard its vital assets and nuclear installations.

The Pakistani military has come under unusual criticism for allowing Bin Laden to live for five years near the top military academy in Abbottabad, a small city about 70 miles from the capital, Islamabad, and the latest attack was seen as yet more proof of the parlous state of Pakistan’s armed forces.

“The repeated failure of the Pakistani security forces to preempt terrorist activity has demoralized not only the Pakistani soldiers, sailors, and airmen, but has also severely dented the reputation of the three services in the eyes of the people they are expected to defend” wrote Javed Husain, a security analyst on the website of DAWN daily newspaper. “Worse still, the servicemen and the people have begun to see the terrorists as ten feet tall.”

The attack would have serious repercussions not only for the military but also for the security and unity of the country, Arif Nizami, editor of Pakistan Today, a Lahore based daily, warned on another show. The Pakistan Navy was a relatively weak flank and could be easily targeted, he said.

Hamid Mir, the influential host of Capital Talk on GEO TV, even dared criticize the military for its handling of previous attacks by militants. The attack in Karachi was similar in scale and seriousness to the 2009 storming by militants on the army general headquarters in Rawalpindi, and could have been avoided if there had been a public enquiry into the earlier attack, he said.

Mr. Mir said he feared an inquiry could be initiated against him or anyone else who raised this question. He has long advocated that Pakistan should not side with the United States, but he has also denounced the Taliban.

The attack in Karachi comes as the Chief of the Army Staff, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, has been indicating in private meetings with senior editors and defense analysts over recent days that he wanted to improve morale and dispel the impression of incompetence of the armed forces by redoubling efforts against terrorism and insurgency.

Reflecting the overriding concern the Pakistan military has about its nuclear weapons program, General Kayani repeatedly emphasized that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons were safe from any attack or foreign intervention, according to one analyst who was present at one of the meetings.

The general added that Senator John Kerry gave him assurances during his visit to Pakistan last week that the United States is not interested in seizing Pakistan’s nuclear weapon. Senator Kerry told him he was ready to write down with his own blood that America was not interested in Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, he said.

In an indication of the divide in Pakistani society, commentators differed in their reactions to the 16-hour battle, with some urging political and military leaders to come together on a united counterterrorism policy to combat militancy, while others repeated familiar anti-American, anti-Indian theories, calling for a change in foreign policy and relations with the United States as the way to end the violence.

The conflicting narratives were evident in a talk show on DUNYA TV Monday afternoon with the hosts repeating conspiracy theories but some of their guests speaking more plainly.

Much of the reaction to the attack on its southern port, Karachi, also revealed Pakistan’s deep seated insecurity and sense of vulnerability regarding its longtime rival, India.

“This is a security failure,” Shehzad Chaudhry, a retired air vice marshal, said on the show. The need of the hour was to focus on the security forces and their capability, instead of focusing on the question that who could possibly be behind those Taliban, who are attacking Pakistani military, he said. “There is a need to develop national counterterrorism policy and bring our own house in order first.”

Talat Masood, a retired Lt. Gen and defense analyst, said on the same show: “We should not go into self denial. This insurgency is against you. They want to destabilize the state of Pakistan.”

Yet many commentators remain reluctant to criticize the powerful military establishment in Pakistan and tend to fall back on repeating conspiracies that the world is out to destabilize Pakistan and remove its nuclear weapons by force.

Pakistanis, on the whole, are unwilling to accept the idea that their own Muslim brothers based in the tribal areas are responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Pakistanis since 9/11,” said Arif Rafiq, a political analyst based in Washington in an interview. …..

Read more : The New York Tiems

Pakistan: The narratives come home to roost

by Omar Ali
Most countries that exist above the banana-republic level of existence have an identifiable (even if always contested and malleable) national narrative that most (though not all) members of the ruling elite share and to which they contribute.  Pakistan is clearly not a banana-republic; it is a populous country with a deep (if not very competent) administration, a very lively political scene, a very large army, the world’s fastest growing nuclear arsenal and a very significant, even if underdeveloped, economy.  But when it comes to the national narrative, Pakistan is sui-generis.  The “deep state” has promoted a narrative of Muslim separatism, India-hatred and Islamic revival that has gradually grown into such a dangerous concoction that even BFFs China and Saudi Arabia are quietly suggesting that we take another look at things.

The official “story of Pakistan” may not appear to be more superficial or contradictory than the propaganda narratives of many other nations, but a unique element is the fact that it is not a superficial distillation of a more nuanced and deeper narrative, it is ONLY superficial ; when you look behind the school textbook level, there is no there there. What you see is what you get. The two-nation theory and the creation of Pakistan in 712 AD by the Arab invader Mohammed Bin Qasim and its completion by the intrepid team of Allama Iqbal and Mohammed Ali Jinnah in the face of British and Hindu connivance is the story in middle school textbooks and it turns out that it is also the story in universities and think tanks (this is not imply that no serious work is done in universities; of course it is, but the story of Pakistan does not seem to have a logical relationship with this serious work).

Continue reading Pakistan: The narratives come home to roost