May 14, 2013 § 3 Comments
The elections are mostly over and the final verdicts are pouring in, sealing a decisive victory for PML-N and sufficient seats to put PTI down as a significant opposition player. Where lion-bearers are very joyous, vowing to bring back the glory days of Pakistan, PTI supporters look utterly saddened and dejected.
However, now is not the time to pout or be sad. Now is also not the time to deny the fact that PTI did not get a sweeping majority. Rather, it is time to gracefully admit defeat, hail the 30+ odd seats that PTI has secured and learn a few critical lessons from the voting season.
What PTI achieved?
PTI has emerged as a political force to reckon with. At the same time, Imran Khan can be given the absolute credit for prompting the youth of this nation to become an active part of the political process. I was a part of the D-chowk jalsa on May 9; I actively engaged in political discussions with others of my age group – and the sheer hope and optimism they expressed and the renewed vigor of nationalism that twinkled in their eyes and in their conversations, was absolutely awe-inspiring.
This was the first time in Pakistan’s history that such a huge portion of youth has gone out on the streets, stood in lines for hours and cast their votes. This is also the first time in this country’s history that expat Pakistanis have flew back in such huge numbers to stamp the ballot paper.
Finally, PTI is currently the second-largest political party in Pakistan. The struggle that started 17 years ago, at the hands of a single man with no hopes but a rock-solid ambition, has now turned into a huge force. This is the time for celebration of a really good start, not that of disappointment.
What PTI needs to work on
However, it is also time for the party to look inwards and discern its short-comings. The chief among these is the fact that PTI has turned out to be a party that is primarily focused on the urban middle-class youth. This objection is true to a certain extent – the detachment of the party from rural pockets is what decisively turned the tables against it in Punjab. Then there’s also the issue that PTI didn’t really do any ground-level mobilization in Sindh or Baluchistan – both are critically important for this country and are becoming increasingly so. PTI needs to reach out to the population at large and go beyond urban dwellings.
Secondly, PTI must use the next five years to mature itself as well as its supporters. There are those amidst PTI who refuse to discern the critical importance of democracy and tend to undermine it at times. There are also such who tend to dwell on the negative, call the mandate of others a fraud or useless and similar other bold statements – PTI leadership needs to communicate to their young, hot-headed, yet politically active voters, that such ideas are terribly adverse to the democratic process in Pakistan at large.
Youth in Pakistan is here to stay and will form a majority of the population until 2052 or so. And this youth vote will become an increasingly dominant phenomenon in the coming years. Although this youth seems to have kicked into the political arena, it is undergoing disorientation. One can understand that to carry out a huge election campaign, you need to have a foe you can cite as a failure. So PTI’s criticism levelled towards PMLN was an election strategy.
But elections are over – a huge populace, comprising of the youth, is waiting for Khan to show them the way now. This path must not be that of hatred, intolerance or destructive criticism. It is high time for PTI to rally the youth around someone more grand and more inclusive – namely, nationalism. I have seen the hopes in the eyes of those who have been utterly disappointed in their country; I have seen the so-called mummy daddy kids stand on streets for hours, in blistering rain and under rains. This passion, this fervor must be used to fuel a nationalism and reinstate our pride in being Pakistanis.
April 29, 2013 § 6 Comments
‘Your smile is the sun, ma chère.
And fallen men, we need the sun.’
February 16, 2013 § 10 Comments
January 30, 2013 § 5 Comments
‘In a country where thinkers are assassinated and writers are considered infidels; where mouths are shut, books are burnt, thoughts are forbidden and to question is a sin, I beg your pardon, My Lord….’
Just saying, rhetoric needs to be meaningful. And it must question the real issues – sadly, all declamation speeches I’ve listened to during my brief debating career tend to pander to populist rhetoric and dwell on jingoistic religiosity or patriotism. And the worst part is that the jury seems swayed by that. Save one or two occasions, the guy who appeals to the so-called ‘Ummah’, cites the false tales of our glorious history and embellished narrations of past victories, always wins. Not.Cool.
December 31, 2012 § 6 Comments
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 34,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 8 Film Festivals
December 18, 2012 § 11 Comments
Imran Khan recently kicked up yet another melee in Pakistan’s media when he declared that he would have women contest elections rather than enter the National Assembly on reserved seats. Before weighing the plausibility of the argument, many were quick to jump the bandwagon of unqualified criticism simply because it was Khan who said so.
For the uninformed, women in Pakistan’s National Assembly currently have 60 reserved seats. How exactly are these seats filled in? Well, since the seats are allocated to each political party based on their proportion in the legislature, the said political parties have the sole authority to figure out who will fills these seats.
The result is simply that the wives, daughters, sisters, relatives of the bigwigs of each political party smugly position themselves on these seats, clamouring out about women rights yet being utterly incompetent to launch the least effort to that end. Seats are allocated purely on political connections with nary a thought spared to any merit or qualification.
There are plenty who dished out a tab bit intelligent criticism to Khan’s proposition by stating that letting women contest elections is nearly impossible in a conservative country like Pakistan. The argument is quite valid and yet it is utterly inadequate to reach the conclusion that the reserved seats shouldn’t be tampered with.
In my view, yes women contesting elections still seems a remote possibility. However, things are on their way to change with ECP pushing for a greater number of party tickets given to woman candidates. Meanwhile, what we CAN do is to ensure that at least the women who find their way to NA on reserved seats merit some minimum qualification.
Just like I would never vote Hamza Shahbaz for being Shahbaz Sharif‘s son, I wouldn’t want a woman to represent Pakistani women simply because she is the wife of an eminent politician. Is that principally wrong? No. Is that too much to ask or somehow impossible? Absolutely not. So why the mindless ruckus then?
Rather than expending their energies in rabidly attempting to defend the reserved seats, I would suggest that the women rights activists can do a far better job if they tried to coordinate with the authorities and somehow devise some kind of minimum qualifications for the women who get to be appointed on the reserved seats. A proven record of working for women, some political insight into policy-making for the said gender – anything tangible that may make sense for a person who gets to be on one of those reserved seats. And I really don’t think that is too much to ask for.
December 12, 2012 § 8 Comments
Most of the times I read an op-ed about PPP in an English daily, it’s almost bilious – especially if it’s meant to eulogize the party. Normally this is how the course of such articles go: high words fly, lofty ideals are cited, arbitrary versions of historic incidents are recounted with more than a tinge of bias, grand titles and appellations are quietly slipped into what is pitched as a balanced opinion piece and the masses are told, yet again, that in PPP is embodied the ultimate saviour of this nation.
I have often read such pieces and tolerated them, hoping year after year that the party that is so revered by the liberals of this country may perhaps someday live up to those expectations. But the last five years have been an abysmal disappointment, even when I know well the adage about history repeating itself.
Let’s, for once, be honest. PPP is not a liberal party. It has never been a liberal party. It is a political party that is as opportunist as PML-N, ANP, MQM, PTI or JI. From Zulfiqar Bhutto’s decision to render Ahmedis infidels to PPP’s cowardly silence over Salman Taseer’s murder, I utterly fail to see how this party is any different from others who play to the gallery and use populist rhetoric to score points. PPP has proved liberal at times, yes, but only when it was most convenient. And the same goes for all other political parties. I simply fail to see how one is any better than the other.
The liberal coterie has long lambasted PML-N for its electoral alliance with extremist organizations such as SSP. However, I don’t hear no caustic words from the jayalas-in-guise over PPP’s decision to form an electoral alliance with Sunni Ittehad Council. Let me remind those with poor memory retention powers that SIC is the same party which openly hailed and eulogized Salman Taseer’s murderer, Mumtaz Qadri, and campaigned for him all over the country.
What is even worse is that the fiercest apologies for PPP emanate from those who profess in being rationalists and unbiased analysts. Time after time, they would defend the feudal culture that breeds in the very lap of PPP, the dynastic politics that is the hallmark of the party and the other follies that are silently glossed over with what can best be termed as intellectual dishonesty. They would tell you how PPP has passed a bill in the assembly which will finally bring deliverance to such women who are victims of domestic abuse – yet they wouldn’t tell how the bill has zero practical value due to an utter lack of implementation and serves merely to earn PPP precious political points. They would tell you how PPP is committed to the elimination of all kinds of religious extremists – yet won’t say as to why the party would take the likes of Maulana Fazlur Rehman under its fold every now and then.
Recently, many of these ‘intellectuals’ have taken to defending the up and coming ‘heir’ to the party’s ‘throne’ – Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. I have nothing against Bilawal – he may be a bright, young man for all I know. But what I do know for certain is the fact that to this day, he hasn’t played any political role in Pakistan, has spent little time in his homeland, and feels a lot more comfortable speaking English than Urdu. The primary, and sole, merit for a politician is the work he has done, or not done, for the people – not the family he hails from.
How does one pre-qualify Bilawal as a great politician when he doesn’t have a day’s worth of actual political experience? If he contests elections, enters practical politics, bags some worthy achievements, I’d be more than happy to vote a youthful leader. But until he has done that, I fail to see how can one extol him without being dishonest.
I have no grudges against PPP except that it is the one party that was not based on religious claptrap or stifling ideological premises. Yet, it has failed to deliver what many had hoped it would. And in doing so, it has stooped to the prevalent mediocrity of the political arena.
November 8, 2012 § Leave a Comment
So I stepped out of the café and was no farther than the street corner that absurdity struck me in the face and my calculations wandered beyond good and evil. So I completely ignored the green light and kept walking. The exterminating angel grabbed me by the arm and with an angry nod thundered:
“Why! Are you lost? Have you stayed away like a child?”
November 7, 2012 § 8 Comments
The absurdity of what we call life is nothing new – it has been manifest, times and again, in literature and cinema. But what connects this absurdity with the reality itself, the objective reality that be, if any, is a very frail thread that is a hard thing to grasp, even in one’s imagination.
Yet when I bought the ticket to the screening of ‘Cloud Atlas’, I had no idea that a movie can provoke so many thoughts of such varied nature as it did. On the face of it, it looked so haphazard and meaningless to a significant portion of audience which left the movie mid-way. But to me, it was one of those very rare movies which pack a meaningful punch without being boring in the least.
Cloud Atlas is like creating a movie out of a piece of music. The nodes may appear in disarray and disjointed but in its entirety, it is a beautiful composition. Whereas I may not be so brazen as to claim that I grasped all that the movie was meant to convey, I think I left the cinema with a fairly solid dose.
At the core of it, Cloud Atlas tries to connect multiple events of multiple existences of the same characters across time and space. They are governed by the oft-cited adage, “Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb we are bound to others. By every crime and act of kindness we birth our future.” That sentence, in itself, contains the poignant theme of the movie.
Its fascinating to watch the lives of the characters in Cloud Atlas unravel in different centuries, at different places. Despite the varied circumstances they are borne into, they more or less carry the baggage of their past with them. Yet they seem to have a choice to dump what’s rotten in that baggage and multiply what’s good in it. And the individual act of a person does indeed ripple through centuries, never ceasing to exist.
The movie was truly inspiring in that it invokes the urge to never give up on one’s dreams and to never deem any act, no matter how trivial, as insignificant. For if we are indeed interconnected, then our every action impacts every other person. I once expounded on this thought a while ago but it was far from the eloquence with which the movie manifests it.
I wouldn’t divulge a whole lot of details of the movie and spoil it for you. But I would say this that there are very few things that can glue me to a seat for two and a half hours straight. And this movie was one of them. A must-watch.
November 1, 2012 § 13 Comments
Speaking is the primary occupation of many people. Much like a normal person worries for bread and butter when he loses his job, these people worry about death and other horrible premonitions if they are deprived of their speaking rights. Arrest them in the middle of a sentence and you can see the pangs of agony and unrestrained pain on their faces.
Most of these over-speakers follow a definite pattern: a long gaze into the distance, a brief sigh and then the start of a sentence in a sing-song manner. Makes you feel as if someone’s funeral mass just began. You twitch and you scratch, you yawn, order the bill, take noisy sips off your coffee mug but they are not to be budged. Oblivious to all this, their rants are endless and elaborate.
While they blabber endlessly, you can think of the various, important tasks that you could’ve accomplished meanwhile. ‘I once had a buffalo which was a total……..and thus I got rid of it’ – 10 minutes, damn I could’ve had my lunch! ‘By the time I entered the shop, she was already leaving…….and she finally smiled back’ – there, that’s another nap’s worth of time. ‘I was once a soldier during some war…….and his brains blew out right in front me’ – guess I will have to complete that half-written article some other time.
The inhumanity of the act of over-speaking is exasperated by the very fact that the perpetrator is completely oblivious to it. Thus, it calls for the authorities to render it illegal and discourage it in all ways possible. For a start, people must be charged for over-speaking. ‘Do you know what is the best meal I ever had…………………….’BEEP! That would be $10 please! ‘I was again talking to my girlfriend the other day and she was…………………….’ Hold on son! Your meter expired, its $20 extra to go beyond. ‘……….And finally, we met again.’ That’s a good story, really but you owe me a hundred dollars.
As for those who have a knack for long pauses between sentences, the reprobation ought to be more severe. If the pause exceeds 10 seconds, they should be in for a month of social service. If it goes beyond 20 minutes, it should fall under the category of federal crimes. The over-speaker’s name must be put on an Exit Control List so that the epidemic is not accidentally exported to other nations. And he must be forced to take the ‘vow of silence in public places.’
Similar hazard-control measures must be taken against those who talk as if they are communicating with the entire universe. Their voices are pitched sky-high, seeking apparently to wake up the gods that are not and taking the toll of innocent humans instead. Mental wards with sound-proof walls and a good sound-rebound index should be specified for such people so that they can get a taste of their own medicine. If they continue to persist in their unnatural habits, they should be exposed to loud metal music until they reel from the after-effects.
With such measures in place, I can safely claim that we can finally restore civilization and sanity back into our societies. And save our forth-coming generations from a number of chronic diseases which have been shown to be a result of intolerably excruciating conversations.
August 11, 2012 § 21 Comments
By the dusky luminance of the slow evening, I tear off my restraints, one after the other, controlled and calculated. You fold the distance into a few steps and toss it out of the window. Lust hovers its wings upon us and blesses us with its relentless desire. And we dance to its tune, willingly. The fire in the hearth pales in comparison to the dense plumes of our insatiable yearnings, lingering along our bodies and sinking deep. The silence, so alert with disquietude, freezes in that moment of infinity where I touch your lips and read the red cherry poems of winter in them with their coquettishly vagrant verses. You curve them in a smile and a shade of ivory looks through, scattered in a designed fashion, whispering tales of timeless enchantresses.
And I envy you, for being a being apart from my being. Your skin is a river of gold where I swim, and drown, voluntarily. In the dim pallor of winter nights, we dance, like a moth to flame, like a flame to moth. Our fingers entwine, and so do our words, more materially, more intricately. And we relish upon this prose of our passions, caressing every single letter and crafting new words with remarkable diligence and devotion.
The fire goes out but we turn the world alight with the heat off our bodies, with snakes of sweat lingering and entwining into random shapes. Our uneven breaths mingle into strangely coherent rhythms, one after another, held and withheld. And to this ungodly music, we sway under the naked eye of the yellow caricature of a late moon.
Every brush against the bronze instigates the serpents of pleasure which pour vials of a queer madness – and unto that madness, we devote our night while the seconds tread ever so slowly by our side. In our full arms, we carry our moments of fulfillment, intense and consummated; consummating. And when the culmination arrives, the world stops existing for a second, becomes still, vanishes and all that remains is us, you and me celebrating mortality without any wish for anything holier or godlier. Then it all turns into an uncontrollable contour of colors and ecstasy; sheer ecstasy.
July 21, 2012 § 2 Comments
(Cross-posted from ET Blogs)
Yesterday the by-elections on NA-151 were held in Multan. This was the very seat from which Yousaf Raza Gilani was removed as the Prime Minister. Ever since PPP was elected and Gilani was appointed as the Prime Minister, Gilani’s sons, Abdul Qadir Gilani and Ali Musa Gilani have been doing exceptionally well. We found a few hints of this in the ephedrine case in which Musa Gilani is currently implicated.
But I digress.
So, in the by-elections Abdul Qadir Gilani scored a win. No surprises there – the Gilanis are a Pir family with a huge number of followers and a lot of influence in Multan.
What was surprising for me was that our very dear Twitter liberatti started cheering for PPP the instant news came in of AQ Gilani’s success! They started hailing this as the victory of democracy, the voice of the masses, the apt answer to the judiciary’s ‘aggression’ and what not. Naturally I was amused, but not so much at the hollow grandeur of these words as at the very stance taken by many friends and colleagues.
As it is, a lot from our liberal coterie tend to support PPP for some very obscure reasons. They term it the ‘true face of democracy’, the party which has sacrificed a lot for the sake of democracy, the only party with a liberal manifesto and the list goes on.
I personally hold most of this to be plain untrue.
Whereas PPP may have made a lot of efforts towards the restoration of democracy and for its continuity, for which I sincerely commend the party, it is still far from being a truly democratic party.
Abdul Qadir Gilani’s win is case in point.
Hereditary and family politics has become a sad norm within PPP. With is shocking is that this is getting support from people rather than critique.
Log on to Twitter for a second and you’d see hoards of tweets stating how AQ Gilani has proved democracy is the true winner. Really? The son of a Pir (a religious equivalent of a typical feudal) who was able to swoop the seat of the Pir once he was disposed, is a victory of democracy? Either there’s something very wrong with this argument or I’ve had all my definitions wrong.
My only contention in all this is that many liberals – some of whom I deeply revere and respect – have become more of a reactionary force. In trying to belittle PTI, oppose Imran Khan and somehow ridicule the party, they are trying to justify a whole lot of equally despicable evils. For instance, a gentleman on Twitter was found stating something like:
Since grapes are sour, PTI fans would now say that voters in NA-151 were illiterate.
Through such sarcastic remarks, he thus effectively discarded what is a very valid argument. You can take that from someone who has lived in Multan for the last 15 years.
AQ Gilani’s vote bank indeed comprises of a lot of tenants and such people who are directly favoured, affected or controlled by his family. This has been true for feudals and for Pirs, but suddenly it’s no longer true for Gilani because, well, he is opposing PTI and his win could be rubbed into the judiciary’s face.
Then there is the regular argument of putting PPP’s (on-paper) liberal stance against PTI, PML-N and others. My question to all of those who do this is:
Wasn’t Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto the one who branded Ahmedis as non-Muslims and initiated a vicious cycle that still continues to this day?
And exactly what liberal policies have PPP been able to enact practically throughout its three governments? Merely passing bills in the parliament is barely an achievement.
Moreover, the way our present government has handled all issues, from the energy crisis to inflation, I have absolutely no love lost for this government, but yes I would really want to see it complete its term and continue the democratic process.
Having said as much, I would also want others to justify the rhetoric of PPP being the best ever political party. This is a claim which needs to be propped up on facts and achievements and not mere words.
Image Courtesy: ET Blogs
June 18, 2012 § Leave a Comment
The issue of piracy has been making content producers lose their sleep (and dollars), turning their lives into a hellish nightmare, even when they get enough to keep them going (well enough). The web populace is currently divided as to whether or not piracy is ethical and that how far should it be permitted. « Read the rest of this entry »
May 21, 2012 § 8 Comments
The show started around 10. The room wore a very neat look with the curtains being freshly washed and couches from the adjacent room placed next to the sofas. The arrivals comprised of an elderly woman and two young girls, welcomed very warmly by Ashraf and his wife, Atifa. There was a clear demarcation of positions on the either side of the table. To its left were seated the guests and to its right, the hosts. The latter wore forced smiles which did little to hide the tense anticipation gnawing on their faces and sunk into the worn-out seats like pleading, grateful entities. After formal exchange of pleasantries, the conversation entered into the regular second round – that of questions and answers. The questions were thrown with a keen fervor coupled with a thick air of complacency and answered with meek smiles by the other side. Intermittently, now and then silence would creep in and throats were cleared.
‘So what is your daughter’s age again?’ the elderly woman asked in a shrill voice, partly natural and partly due to her try at sounding high-pitched.
‘She’ll turn thirty this year’, a subtle tone of apologetic reassurance crept into the Atifa’s voice.
‘Ahem’, throat clearing. Silence. Then the creak of the door opening.
The object of their interest was here. Clad in a blue dress and wearing lipstick, Nazia entered the room. Being the fourth time in the same month, she had thought the estrangement of the whole setting would be fleeting now. Yet, her face was embarrassed and eyes lowered as she pushed the cart set with the refreshments. A pineapple cream cake, cookies, pizza and halwa. Quite an extravaganza it was.
‘With the grey sprouting through her hair, she looks much older than thirty’ the woman muttered just loud enough to be heard through the room. Helping herself with the cake, her gaze lingered ominously at Nazia. Taking in her face, then shoulders, it slipped lower, thoroughly scanning her in all.
‘I don’t like her teeth when she smiles. They look so big’ the two girls bantered, whispering among themselves.
‘And look at her nose. It seems like the flaring nostrils of a dragon. Natiq likes sleek, pointed noses’ the second of them commented.
‘My son is very well-educated and he has a fine job’ stuffing herself with yet another helping of cookies, the lady announced, though in a by-the-way manner. The hosts nodded fervently presenting their agreement of whatever she uttered. ‘And of course being an educated family, we are against dowry. However, Natiq wants to live honorably in a separate house with his wife. You agree, don’t you?’ her insinuation was well picked by the hosts who suddenly had aghast looks on their faces which looked almost comical with their plastic smiles still intact.
The show dragged on for yet another hour. Nazia was thoroughly noted. According to Natiq’s mother, her upper lip was slightly detached and gave her a strange look with her rather large teeth. And her nose too, duly pointed by her daughters, was a no-no. Plus, although she had thoroughly applied mascara, her eyes looked quite small.
As soon as the clock struck 12, the mother clasped her hands together and stood up.
‘Well, that’s all. I’ve to visit a few other houses in the neighborhood. We’ll let you know of our decision within a week’ her daughter conveniently picked the last cookie on the way out. Nazia retreated back into her room, needing some time to ‘recover’ till the next installment of the show was to commence. Every time, she would end with soft sobs interred deep into her pillow.
Ashraf and his wife sat in silent contemplation, wondering a car certainly would’ve cost less, it being the demand made on the last show.
‘I don’t like her. Rejected!’ the woman exclaimed as she walked with her girls to the next house.
And thus the show culminated. For now.