Killing hope for honor

 

A 15 year old life was extinguished in the azad jammu and kashmir area of Pakistan last week. Anvu sha was not attending some wedding where a drone strike ended her life or was not the victim of some dastardly attack by the Taliban, no she was killed by being doused with acid by her own parents. Unthinkable to say the least but over the years acts like this have become common in Pakistan. We have even invented a special term for these acts. I suppose another convenient label for the world to view us under, we call them honor killings.

Honor killings can take on several different guises. Sometimes they occur when a local village panchiat deem a person’s crime so heinous that their family must suffer for it. Sometimes it is done in the name of safeguarding a tribes or  a clan’s honor but almost always the victim of these killings are the women as they have been deemed in some strange and horrendous way as tradable with impunity and the sacrifice that must be paid to settle debts or scores.

If honor was a living breathing thing in Pakistan, it might have committed suicide by now at having to carry the guilt of  at least six deaths in the last two and a half months alone. Add to this the fact that these incidents are not only limited to remote areas anymore but are taking place in the capital’s suburbs and you have a alarming statistic on the rise.

Hilariously enough our concept of “honor” which has been referred to many times in the recent past, whether it has to do with our hero’s of cricket being found tainted or our daughters found talking to men from out of the family is always injured when things come out in the open. As long as the activities which we regard as “dishonorable” are going on in the coverage offered by closed doors we are more than happy as a nation to look collectively in the other direction. It has somehow escaped us as a society as to why cellular carriers in Pakistan are offering midnight to 7 am almost free call zones and minting money while at it. Or the reason why the hottest sitcoms in our broadcast media are the more liberal foreign ones being dubbed in our national language rather than the locally produced ones. Or why lines at permit shops selling alcohol to only “foreigners” are a block long on weekend nights. We have basically deemed our psychotic reactions to not come to the fore until someone else finds out about what has been going on for years to our knowledge.

The result of which is that there are more than one Pakistan when we speak of this nation as a living breathing collective society. There is the one being portrayed in the news bulletins all over the world as the holy grail of beards and bombs and there is another one which is  celebrating halloween with all the gusto one would see in perhaps the west and dancing their nights away like nothings wrong. Then there is a third one, the masses, the people who really make up this nation quietly simmering away because they lack even the most basic facilities a civic administration or government should afford them. These are the most hypocritical of the three Pakistan’s as they are perpetually consumed by a vicious cycle of hate and blame. They blame the west for the floods because of some strange tech they read about in the local rag called HAARP. They blame their own financial conditions on the deep pockets and never ending greed of our leaders and they blame their lack of success in life on anything they can get their hands on, which is usually a transgression which they have been noticing under their noses for a while now but will not allow the society to view as part of them. So they react violently to it. Sometimes with a threat of cutting off from the meal chain and sometimes in an even more severe and cruel manner. Hence its not the fear of the daughters alliance with a paramour not of their choosing that is more damning but what their neighbors will say about them as parents and muslims if the truth were to come out which is the real bane of their neurosis. Appearances even if corroded by the acid of behavior blinded by insecurities have to be thus kept up.

So what’s the solution? Should we get our teeming masses some therapy? Possible but expensive. Should we spread awareness through mass media? That too wouldn’t really give as much ratings or TRP’s as a good old murder so whats the point? Education seems to be the way to go and it has to be imparted as soon as possible to as wide a section of our masses as possible. Which means we cannot wait around for Imran khan or some other would be messiah to come forth and save the day, no it has to be us and it has to be now. We could begin by neighborhood schools and grass roots community efforts, we could as affluent members of this nation pay more taxes and demand more schools for the poor or we could just turn the page on the same old headlines which crop up mysteriously in the papers almost daily now. The choice and our future depending on it is in our hands

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Wake up calls

 

I dont know how many write ups am I going to start with the words, its been a week from hell. Seems like lately every week is a week from hell here in Pakistan and all we can do as people who actually live here is to hold on to any sort of hope, however false it may be to get by.

In the last few days 80 feet of ice came crashing down on Pak soldiers in the Gayari district of Siachen. Rescue efforts are still underway to no avail as people start to give up hope for the 135 sons, husbands and friends buried there. All for a war which has no meaning, apparently as much strategic importance as a comb to a bald man and must come to an end sooner rather than later, before more brave men are sacrificed to it on either side.

Today has brought the terrible tragedy of a bhoja air flight from Karachi to Islamabad which virtually disintegrated in mid air in a landing pattern before Isloo. Rescue workers are still picking up body parts and our main stream media is exhibiting as it does with every such atrocity new lows in journalistic ethics. Thrusting mikes in the faces of sobbing family members left behind, showing pictures of dead body parts and so on.

In the midst of all this a friend receives the following SMS which she emails to me in outrage. It reads

The instant incident of live
burrial of >135 troops of
Pak Army at Siachin is neither due to an Avalaunch
nor a Cloud burst but a Satellite targeted Laser impulse by NASA which resulted into this Objective
Oriented Killing Of Pak troops after Salalah .
Plz forward for National
Awakening Campaign . SHAME TO USA AND OUR LEADERS
From:column of Dr Ajmal Niyazi Nawa e Waqt Lhr.11.04.2012

Upon reading this two things come to mind. Firstly the sender isn’t exactly very well versed in the language they are trying to communicate in with the creative spellings galore in their text. Which begs to point to the fact that this is probably another brainwashed citizen trying to become the breaking sms version of one of our main stream media houses by spicing up a few details.

Secondly the sms and its intentions points to perhaps what is one of our deepest lying faults “the instant ability to put the blame on someone else” How hilarious is it that in the upcoming budget we as a nation will need donations from the very west we are so apt at blaming for all our difficulties just to fulfill out basic requirements. Alms for Pakistan  please? Because we really believe that even natural disasters like the floods and landslides are a result of mysterious american super weapons. Everything is your fault we are just victims of circumstance! That will be 35 million dollars sahab, we take cash only!

Another part of this amazing conspiracy based blame them mentality is the acceptability of all things arab as the shining beacon of our ummah. This is the part that is usually used to soothe over any fears of the future. Brother muslims who will be there to help us should we be going down. Brother muslims who must be given precedence in all matters from hunting licenses to serving as guaranteers for our umpteen political deals because they are so very kool. Their advice must be sought in all matters, but hold on they wont let us invest in their countries without kafeels or marry into their society or holds jobs with any kind of security or rights. Where oh where is all this permitted to us lowly dregs of this world? “Gasp” You dont say! Not in the west! OMG they are just doing this to destroy our culture further dont you know!!

Off course in all this self serving finger pointing lifestyle the conscience of our society or its ability to self examine has been all but lost. When it comes to a point where natural disasters are being attributed to fantastical imperial weapons can we as a nation ever heal that which ails us? Why can’t we stop blaming or idolizing all other societies and do both of these things to our own selves. Idolize the good in pakistan, blame what is bad in Pakistan and fix it. Do something else rather than just sit and talk expertise on every subject via texts or videos or twitter or whatever.

Do something before it is too late.

Discontent with mainstream media

Shahid afridi’s arrival back in karachi had more fireworks then the final of the asia cup. He tried to come out like he normally does without much security, there was a throng waiting for him, beyond which was his daughter and then it happened. Someone stepped on his daughters toes, she screamed – people pushed, she fell and dad that is afridi went nuts.


It was not shocking that a father kind of umm lost it when his daughter was pushed. Afridi punched one gentleman and pushed another as he tried to get to her..fair enough, he also apologized even though in a muffled growl sort of a manner ok..but the way his altercation was portrayed shows us what is horribly wrong with our mainstream media.

Strange thing is they get away with it every single time. Mainstream media in Pakistan distorts the news, creates false assumptions, heightens panic and then moves on to the next sensation without anyone even batting an eye. Why is it never held accountable for all their ambulance chasing? Why dont the viewers demand better if they want better?

We often blame mainstream media for all this but if you look at some of the complaints mentioned by Jay haque in his article on msm here, its quite easy to come to the conclusion that the main thing general viewership in Pak cares about is how pro israel or pro india our programming us. No one is even bothered by jingoism, they are more bothered with what in their mind are displays of loose morality which is not Pakistani.

Hence we need to realize this when we scream across on twitter on how bad mainstream media is. If we want it to change then the people who control its ratings the general masses of Pakistan have to demand that change. Not us as we might be educated and well meaning but do not constitute a big enough chunk to make a difference to them. Its a shallow way to put it but there are no high aspirations of journalism in main stream media these days in Pakistan. Not to those handing out salaries anyways on behest of advertisers who pay once in six months and are being chased by every media house like nobodies business.

This doesn’t go to say that isolated cases of social media and the educated classes putting pressure for change will not succeed. I merely mean that if we want change to come across the board it will have to be brought by masses who are eating up the crass content driving ratings. Advertisers too have somewhat to share the blame of this issue as many among them pay little attention to issues of content as long as it sells the required chips cola or whatever.

So its going to take advertisers viewers and added pressure from the drawing room classes to make a change in mentality happen and since that is a big ask The only tool till then in our hands is to switch off.

 

OBL’s death and the mystery around it

The day the twin towers fell on 9/11 in New york the world changed for the worse. From then on started the largest man hunt in history for a man known as “OBL” or Osama bin Ladin, the leader of Alqaeda, a terrorist organization hell bent on destroying life as we knew it .

Two days ago in abottabad when Sohaib Athar, better known as @ReallyVirtual started tweeting about a helicopter hovering overhead at 1 am little did he know that he was actually live reporting on the world changing again.  Long story short, a team of 25 navy seals riding on helicopters stormed the compound housing Osma Bin Ladin in this leafy hilltop town in Pakistan and killed him in the fire fight that ensued, took away his body and then performed a burial at sea because no government was willing to let the body be buried on their soil and the U.S authorities wanted to avoid a future shrine developing. The U.S authorities say that at the time of killing OBL was unarmed but resisting, that he was discovered in a bedroom on the third floor with his wife and that he was killed when he made a sudden and threatening move. The time line for the operation is here.

This story as simple as it may seem is full of holes, holes big enough to cause many a doubt in anyone’s mind as to what actually happened and give rise to conspiracy theories about OBL still being alive.

Hole # 1 The Us claims they have reached this compound through trailing a courier of OBL who lived with him and the compound was under watch since last August, they concluded OBL was there in Feb 011

Implausible that the Us knew he was there since the last two months and did not move, they have been trailing this man for 10 years what were they waiting for? Certainly not a go ahead from the Pakistan government whom they claim was not even informed of this raid until the birds were back in the sky. Perhaps they were waiting for the right moment in Obama’s approval ratings graph?

Hole # 2 :There was an intense firefight before OBL was killed

A 25 member team of  highly trained utterly deadly and professional navy seals storming a compound defended by OBL’s son and two other men (whom it is not clear were couriers or bodyguards) and there was an intense firefight? The windows are busted sure but that could be due to stun grenades not fire fighting. The U.S authorities have now even confirmed OBL was unarmed and was killed in his bedroom..some firefight.

Hole # 3 : The burial at sea was done according to Islamic tradition

In Islamic tradition funerals are often waited on before burial for family members to gather, sometimes for days. There is no window that the burial HAS to take place in. Plus “Burial at sea” takes place in the form of a long voyage where there is no land in sight, it is not used to dispose of a body.

Hole # 4 : The most glaring one of proof of death

The U.S authorities have stated in last nights press briefing that the pictures of the dead OBL’s body are being reviewed for release due to sensitivity of nature and as they can be inflammatory. More inflammatory then dropping into the house of a global terrorist kingpin and shooting him and his family at point blank range? I do not think so, the pictures and the DNA analysis which is claimed has matched MUST be released to put the specter of OBL to rest once and for all, in fact they should have displayed the dead body to a few key witnesses before they got rid of it. As without pictures and the DNA match all we have is their words against the Taliban’s.

Hole # 5 : Materials taken from the compound included 10 hard drives, five computers and more than 100 storage devices, such as disks, DVDs and thumb drives, a senior U.S. official told CNN Tuesday.

Interesting as this compound had no phone or internet connection and Osama has been known by all his past history to loathe the proximity of electronic devices. Yet he was sitting there with a tranche of digital data pointing to him and all his accomplices (supposedly)

 

Hole # 6 : No casualty or harm befell any of the navy seals in this operation.

Ummm a helicopter involved in this operation went down (supposedly) due to mechanical failure. So if we even agree that this helicopter was empty of marines, it had to have a pilot no? The crash at low altitude didn’t even scratch him?

What actually happened during this operation will not be known for years obviously as we have the past to tell us that the U.S does not divulge classified information easily. However the fact that the entire head of U.S government sat and watched a live video feed of the operation and are still unwilling to release a single picture of the proceedings or the body of OBL is suspicious enough. The secret burial as well as conflicting statements coming out of DC are only leading to  further confuse the situation. Even though classified this moment has wisdom enough to suggest that the truth must be known or else OBL will live on as a ghost.  Something which neither the people of the U.S nor we in Pakistan wish to go through. We in Pakistan have suffered enough due to this war (more than 12000 died in 2010 for it)

Our way of life has been shattered systematically by these militants over the years, bombs explode in our mosques, our families are threatened everytime they walk into a crowded market. So a little clarity here would ensure that at least this death can serve as a beginning of this war’s end. We need hope, not further mystery!

Who’s perception is this?

This is a map presented by Transparency International  based on according to them the “perception corruption index” The more corrupt countries are in shades of red while the less corrupt ones are in lighter colors of yellow and so on. Although I have no qualms with the International in TIP’s name as most of their funding is from abroad and they are a branch of the parent organization based in Germany, I do not think they are very transparent themselves. Here is why

  • What exactly is meant by “perception of corruption”? No one who lives in Pakistan can be delusional enough to  not ascertain that this countries governing institutions are on a downwards spiral in the corruption department but how is the perception of it being given a numerical value? Would someone clue the rest of us in on this magic formula that coverts the thought patterns of a countries population and attaches a number value to them based on a series of random surveys? How and why are we at no 37 or no 34 or whatever?
  • Has this Pakistan office of Transparency international published a recent audit of their own financial dealings to the general public? I ask this as according to an investigative report carried out by express tv on Luqman’s show aired on 27th october, TIP has an office with 1-2 attendants and no staff or experts to speak off. This descends further into comedy when the director of TIP Pakistan claims that they “outsource” their surveys to IBA students not trained observers to carry them out. So let me repeat, no data miners, no trained observers just 3 people who use student bodies to carry out surveys.
  • Also on the same show another revelation is made which according to the show host is a matter of public record i.e that Asad Gilani the guy heading TIP is a former employee of KPT who was “fired” from his position on “corruption charges”  Im guessing the guy was framed or something by the current government with the help of a time machine right?

The gentle men in question was interviewed as well on the same show and came across as someone who had no specific idea of what he was doing as well as extremely nervous and perhaps unaware of the implications the reports his organization is putting out have on this countries international status. I know we  still have a massive colonial chip on our shoulder  which makes us believe whatever “someone based abroad” is saying has to be the true. Can we though just open our bloody eyes for a second and call a spade a spade? Even if the spade is an unlikely one?

I think we are a corrupt country and that corruption and must be checked or else it will suck away the life from the body that is Pakistan. I also think that perhaps we should think twice before putting so much stock into an organization’s neutrality that they start considering themselves our moral overlords and tarnish our reputation in the world whenever they can based on no credible evidence of their figures or of their modus operandi.

I am an ardent supporter of Musharraf and think his years of governance were the best in this countries history or my history as a Pakistani citizen but today If I consider my life  experiences as a businessman and as a resident here I cannot distinguish how my perception of this countries corruption has changed from that government to this one. In my dealings I have found the same levels for the last 9 years..the rates however do go up according to inflation. Is that what TIP means?

No doubt it is the weakness of our leaders that allow these unchallenged organizations to play with our image abroad, but is the intellectual part of this nation so weak that they cannot stand up and ask a simple question or two as to how the said image was formed?

We cave in whenever we are accused, I think its because of our national insecurity more than facts. We do not have the gumption to stand up and check the accusers own records. Perhaps this is why we are moving so fast up the said “perception list” which if accurate would have put us at no 1 since Pakistan is blamed today for everything under the sun anyways…that is global  reality not someone warped perception based on a survey carried out from god knows what pocket of our population.

P.S Most of the world today considers muslims and Islam as a royal pain up their keester, should we then deem all followers of this religion as a sub human barbarian species? If TIP were to ever come with a “religious perception index” we would

Practical optimism

Recently, I had been going through the  website of Youth Parliament Of Pakistan which focuses on Youth in the country and Youth’s awareness education and training in the norms of politics and democracy in the country.
Several initiatives relating to the education and training of the youth of Pakistan have been launched and are running successfully, in various sectors of society.
Something, which is mostly ignored in such programmes is creating an effective & balanced approach towards reaching one’s goals. This only comes with time and experience.
Present day “become-quick-rich” type mindset has given birth to an attitude which was never seen in the history of business before. Every new entrant is trained to “think” that they  are going to make it big, whereas only a few can reach there.
Practical Optimism:

The world has recently been hit by one of the biggest recession periods of our history, of which most of the blame was put on the lack of experience and vision of those involved in the businesses.

What is needed from the present day young professionals is more of practical optimism.Imagining and thinking big is not enough. There is always a need to be ready to plan and execute as planned. Optimism is good but not at the expense of overlooking the ground realities. Since there is hardly any time available for gaining rich experience in the field, this often results in major mishaps, blunders and setbacks…and the dream of reaching the pinnacle of excellence never turns into reality.

Moreover, there already exists such a wide communication gap between the young and old experienced generations, that their hard earned experience is just ignored when compared to innovative ideas of a fresh graduate. Therefore, the sole responsibilty of such failure falls upon these new under-exposed & inexperienced youth.

Pakistan’s Turn:

As Pakistan is now looking forward towards the next boom in business cycle, we need to implement a balanced approach towards our work attitudes and attaining targets. Students should be provided industry related training, as in real life situations. Psychological and moral training may be introduced. They should be made to avoid that easy-come-easy-go attitude and realize the importance of being focused and serious about their work. Being sincere and responsible towards what we do, is the need of the day.

The urge to ban

Thou shalt not watch foreign media. A notion supported by many Pakistanis who foster a misconception that placement of such a ban would increase revenue for Pakistani media industry, halt Pakistanis from preferring to watch other channels, and also would indirectly cease Pakistani artists from heading over to the neighboring country.

Why and how, one might think, would this highly contested ban work? After much contemplation as to why people might be in favor of such a ban, I have devised a few ruminative points which are noticeably common. Firstly, people have a tendency to think that such a prohibition would cause the Pakistani nation – especially the youngsters – to discontinue their admiration for other forms of media which has evoked them to adopt some unacceptable ways in order to appear attractive to their peers.

Secondly, in the eyes of a few Pakistanis, folks who are dedicated viewers of foreign media – be it Indian, American, etc – are generating more revenue for the very channels they are watching. Thirdly, it might lead Pakistani artists to retain their struggles without moving elsewhere in an attempt to boost their fame. They might not be able to enter the foreign industry, predominantly because of the reciprocal effect – as I like to name it – which denotes the idea of a country ceasing access to its media by the artists of a particular country which banned its media. Lastly, this ban might create a sense of patriotism and escalate the half-hearted feelings, which many of the youngsters show towards Pakistani media these days. Also, as few folks claim, it will put an end to their (at times) unacceptable modern lifestyle and cause them to adopt Pakistani traditions whole heartedly.

For people who harbor the views – whether one or all of them – mentioned above, I would like to bring forth an explanation, which if applied could put both the viewers’ and the artists’ minds at ease and polish the Pakistani media industry. I intend to address each of the points mentioned above with an answer of my own. Beginning with the point regarding the development of heightened admiration for Pakistani media by the youngsters due to this ban; the reason why this point doesn’t seem competent enough is because such a prohibition would inevitably result in a plethora of loopholes and intensified irreverence, considering youngsters’ extensive liking for the foreign channels. Demand for other channels is increasing because of their large variety of programs and also many people prefer to watch them in order to learn about their language and culture, especially if it comes from a country which is much idolized in different aspects.

Second point might be true but I would, in turn, like to pose a question to the people who keep on referring to this revenue ordeal; what about the people who are in love with Pakistani dramas and despise missing a single episode even if the drama drags beyond 100 episodes? Aren’t they generating revenue for our media? Now, I do know that this revenue won’t be considered enough in the eyes of Pakistanis and therefore my suggestion would be to improve our current channels and their programs so that they are able to indefatigably compete with the excessively famous foreign channels. As for the third point, it isn’t necessarily true that artists would choose not to try their luck in another country merely because of a ban. They might be disappointed by such a regulation enforced by their own country, yes, but I highly doubt a decrease in the number of artists migrating will occur. As far as the last point is concerned, I would refer back to my first explanation of people discovering a vast number of new and efficient alternatives in an attempt to unblock the media being banned, either out of an instinct to go against this fatuous prohibition or just to watch the programs they regularly follow. Moreover, they apparently won’t happen to making use of the current modernities because Pakistan does have its own fashion industry following the west, which majorly contributes to the modern lifestyle.
In any case, no matter what the points behind this prohibition be, a ban is never an answer to any dilemma since it is an extremely inefficient way of proving one’s point and seems as if one is coercing people into following what one claims to be correct. Instead of focusing on various kinds of bans, the Pakistani nation – as well as the government – should aim at amending the flaws their media possesses and polishing them so that they attract a considerable amount of viewers. Furthermore, they should try to comprehend the tactics used by the eminently renowned channels in order to gain a finer understanding concerning viewer’s preferences. Lastly, producing light-hearted programs and prudent dramas would cause not only Pakistani viewers, but viewers throughout the world to pursue following Pakistani dramas frequently, which would give our media a commendable recognition.

Support improvements, not bans, and focus on our performances rather than catering to the ways of foreign media. Let’s take a step towards a positive improvement!

Shame on Cricket & Pakistan

Cricket these days is not how it used to be. This is the understatement of the year as cricket is actually transformed ala 20 20 into something many of us cannot even understand anymore. Oh sure its hit and giggle and seemed fun in the start but the whole ambiance seems to be eroding the spirit of this sport to me.

Not that we Pakistani’s are doing anything to uplift the spirit of cricket either. Although I would like to strongly protest how a Pakistani player was tackled at the Wacca in the final ODI match between Aus and Pakistan by a spectator, I cannot begin to find words to explain what  our stand in captain Afridi did before the tackle. Thus I think it would be best to watch it..

This is perhaps the cover of a future video entitled” what not to do as captain of Pakistan” If not that, then perhaps it should be something shown to all our cricketers on a weekly basis to emulate how one of our greats humiliated us all in full view of thousands of cameras, by biting the ball. Yes Shahid Afridi bit the ball to tamper with it, not as some innocent commentator claims in the video to take the rough bits or the thread off, which is normally snipped off by the umpires. He has actually admitted and been banned for 2 twenty twenty matches for ball tampering.

Cricket Australia has sprung into action on the spectator who tackled our opener Khalid to the ground, they have contacted Khalid and asked him if he wants to press charges, if he does not want to, they are gong to proceed anyways. My question is, what is Cricket Pakistan going to do with a captain who says this in defence for his utterly disgraceful action…

“I shouldn’t have done it. It just happened. I was trying to help my bowlers and win a match, one match,” he told Geo TV, a Pakistan-based news channel. “There is no team in the world that doesn’t tamper with the ball. My methods were wrong. I am embarrassed, I shouldn’t have done it. I just wanted to win us a game but this was the wrong way to do it

If you ask me, we need to ban him and Muhammad Asif for life..too many times have we turned our eyes away from absolutely reprehensible behavior by our cricketing gods.

________________

Shahid Afridi quotes given above & reporting on this incident in detail available at Cricinfo

Chaos in Karachi

Its been two days since the explosion which took place in the procession taken out by the shia community on the 10th of moharram.  43 people have been declared dead up till now, this is despite the fact that the suicide bomber was stopped by a scout and a ranger both of whom lost their lives to save hundreds. We can only imagine in horror as to what would have happened if the madman had reached the center of the procession.

Many of us are today talking about how everything would have been ok if the procession had been postponed or banned. Should a large assembly be allowed in times like this and so on? Well first of all this procession has being taken out for the last 1400 years and has been attacked and persecuted in various shapes and forms, so how can the government forbid people from following their religion?(remember that speech of the qaid we tout) Secondly if we stop living the way we want to, then we might as well hand things over to the Taliban and live according to their rules right? Because is this war not about just that? Our way of life vs theirs that they want to impose on us? Needless to say the mourners have suffered greatly, both on their faith and their physical self and in my opinion did the right thing by carrying on and finishing the procession at its intended finishing point. If nothing else this will show the bastards who want to finish our way of life that we will carry on no matter what!!

What happened after the bomb is another story altogether, in fact it is a story so vile that even now it seems like the bomb might have been just a diversion. With the law enforcement agencies standing and watching, 2 entire blocks of M.A Jinnah roads main wholesale markets were systematically torched with what is rumored to be phosphorous. A very flammable material which causes instant combustion.  They stopped only about 500 meters from where I currently sit in my office, shutters down as they are still not letting us open. They need a clear road for the fire tenders. Yes the fire is still burning even after 48 hrs, because many parts of the whole sale markets are in lanes so narrow that the fire engines cannot enter them. Also among the markets burnt are the cities main medical and plastic as well as the cosmetics market. Thus the fire must be feeding off the chemicals in all of those commodities.

As for the loss, I am afraid that the estimate of 35 billion is total malarky and bull shit. First of all the plastic market which was the biggest lot of shops burnt mostly comprises of illegal squatters selling plastic buckets and things, hardly stuff worth billions. The main loss would have been incurred by the cosmetics market which I am guessing would be in millions not billions. Right now obviously people are distraught and with 3000 shops burnt, people are on the roads without their livelihoods. So the claims seem to be more emotional then based on facts. In short even if the government wants to compensate these people how will they ascertain the goods in stock in these shops? You could argue that many would have a paper trail as they have been imported but the reality is that many times the goods stocked in whole sale stores are there on credit from importers, paid for after sale. Plus people are adding the value of their properties to the losses, but if the property can be saved (some of the buildings have come down) then the value stands intact does it not? This is not to say that these people should not be compensated. They have been wiped out by a mercenary army and if the government cannot provide for their security they should at least try to make up for their losses. Perhaps they can help in the restoration and the saving of property which has been gutted?

As to who has done this? I point the finger squarely at the Taliban, the bomb has all their hallmarks. The insanity after wards could be part of a larger plan to destabilize our government. Which they have been trying to do since day one. First they attacked our police and army, then innocent civilians and now they have come to religious processions and mosques and the commercial nerve centers of the country. Blaming political parties seems to be our medias bread and butter these days, and that has crept into the new media as well but can a political party carry out this sort of rampage? Why would they do it?? After all these are people who vote for them as well as donate to them. I do not buy the land scam angle for a second, there are far sneakier ways of getting someone to let go of their property in this city then torching blocks of it. Realistically speaking this kind of carnage can only be caused by people who are madmen with no concern for life. We all know who that is..so lets not confuse the issue. The authorities have lots of questions to answer though, the mayor of the city was present on the spot and said the police and the rangers could not protect him. If the police of this city cannot protect its mayor what chance do any of us have? Why were these mercenaries allowed to loot and torch at will? Where is the footage from the 100′s of cctv cameras lining the route of the procession?

The people of this city are enraged and they want the truth, it would be best if the authorities concealed nothing because anarchy is not far off. We must remember that although we karachiites are always accused of making a big fuss, we live in a city which is Pakistan. If this place goes down..so does the rest of the nation.

_______________________

Video taken by LBS team member Awab Alvi

I can take lots of pictures but I am not inclined to do so as I cannot bring myself to take images of people’s misery many of whom I know. The video is enough of a glimpse into the horror that lies before me.

 

Opinion flaws

The talk of the town these days is suicide bombings being undertaken by what the media claims are Islamic Zealots and Fanatics. What is perhaps very interesting to note is that the garb of Islamism over the past few decades of our country’s existence has been worn by all sorts of people ranging from fundos to pirs masquerading as healers via faith to ordinary stick wielding men in colleges shouting slogans against musical programs to numerous parliamentarians in our coveted assemblies. The underlying constant in all these various so-called Islamists actions has been that they have used and abused religion to suit their needs. The oft repeated dictate of Karl Marx that Religion is the opium of the masses has been depicted blatantly in all these religious and pseudo moralistic actions of various individuals over the past few decades. The support garnered in the name of religion has sometimes been astounding and at other times abysmal but this pendulum effect in terms of support has not dissuaded numerous new comers to avoid usage of religion as a tool to generate support for their cause.

The interesting part to note is that this trend of moulding religion to suit one’s needs instead of amending ones own behavior to suit the needs of religion is a symptom prevalent even amongst the so called liberal and educated classes of our country. Therefore we have various forms of un-informed liberals and intelligentsia declaring their own limits  in terms of what is allowed by Islam and what is not and whatever suits their methods and actions is often justified in the name of a liberal version of Islam and whoever goes against their declaration is termed to be a fundo. The interesting bit to note is that these pseudo religious- liberals have not gone into the depth of what the Quran says and what are the dictates of Islam. Instead their version of liberal Islam is based on an antipathy of what the other side of the divide is proclaiming. For example, if the so called fundos are blatantly against photography, the liberals will proclaim that photography is allowed and disallowing it is just a case of taking a rigid view of islam in which photography is not allowed. This just being an example, my point is that if u were to ask either side of the divide I.e the fundos as well as the liberals to explain their position in light of the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet(PBUH), none would be able to justify their stance.

The underlying thought in all I have written above is that if one were to start a discussion on religion, 90% of the people would have an opinion on it but only 2% of them would be able to back up their opinion in light of what is revealed in the Holy Book. Why is it then that we seek to impose our own humanitarian version of what religious inductions are when actually these inductions have been revealed by the Almighty whose knowledge supersedes that of all humans combined. Psychological studies indicate that the answer to this lies in human tendency to alter things to satisfy their own needs. However, are we apt enough to alter the commands of a religion to suit our needs???… and if we are moulding religion based on our opinion, then what is the difference between a so called liberal and a fundo when essentially both are toying with their own interpretation of religion and acting accordingly? Are we then not essentially talking about two sides of the same coin??.. and are we not degrading our religion by casting our own opinions onto others without going into an in depth analysis of what the finer points of the religion actually are and what they mean??

The underlying premise in all the ramblings above is that its high time that we, as Pakistanis and Muslims realize that the tendency to have an opinion on everything whether it be sports, religion, politics etc is a flaw and not a treasured part of our respective personalities. The opinion that really counts is one that is backed up by a proper study of the subject and one that can be classified as solid. For this purpose, the first step to take is to do an introspection of our own selves. It is very easy to cast fingers at others but have we ever looked at our own faults and follies. The flaws we find in others are perhaps symptomatic of the flaws of our general society which has a tendency to undertake character assassinations and fault finding missions instead of drafting solutions. Successful nations and people are those who have amended their faults before pointing fingers at others. Whether we have the wherewithal to undergo this transformation is a 1.5 billion dollar question…. And alas if we fail there is still hope as we can always become beggars and ask uncle Kerry and lugar for aid!!!