Geo under fire; owners under threat; being forced to sell shares, step down, appoint ‘approved’ people

"Mr Jeem", the animated Geo mascot: Under pressure

“Mr Jeem”, the animated Geo mascot: Under pressure

“It’s like a newspaper you’re used to getting at your doorstep every day. Suddenly one morning, the newspaper boy starts throwing it in different places every day – near the post box, behind or in the garbage can, on top of the tree, at your neighbour’s porch. That is what is happening with the cable operators taking Geo channels off their regular channel numbers and moving them to the bottom numbers and moving the numbers around.”

That is how a Geo insider describes the ‘ban’ on the channel, even after the Supreme Court, Lahore High Court and Sindh High Court termed the channels’ closure illegal and ordered their restoration. (Read the back story in my earlier article: “Pakistan’s media wars”, in Himal Southasian.

Cable operators say that they are under pressure to not restore the Geo channels (news, sports, entertainment) to their original positions. Meanwhile, companies are under pressure to not advertise with the Jang Group and Geo TV, and many have withdrawn their ads. Continue reading

“My only durable identity is my humanity”

CG Mishra-pic Farhat Sadaqa

Akhilesh Mishra: humanity and poetry. Photos: Farhat Sadaqa

In Toronto for a family wedding, I was invited to speak at a South Asian event on Monday. Here’s the short piece I wrote about it, focusing on the speech by the Indian Consul General Akhilesh Mishra. Published in the Aman ki Asha page in The News, September 3, 2014.

Speaking at an informal discussion organised by the South Asian Peoples Forum in the Toronto area in Canada on Monday, Akhilesh Mishra, the unassuming Consul General of India won many hearts with his soul-touching poetry, couplets of which were interspersed throughout his brief speech.

This, coupled with his humane and compassionate outlook, comes as a refreshing change from the kind of talk and posturing one usually gets from diplomats. Continue reading

Remembering Anita Ghulam Ali

A leader in education

A trailblazer, Anita Ghulam Ali’s courage and biting wit will remain an inspiration

Here’s the article I wrote on Anita Ghulam Ali for The News on Sunday: A legend passes on; also see Zubeida Dossal’s article about her, shared by Zubeida Mustafa. Here’s the link to her interview in Dawn, 2012.

She leaves a void that will be hard to fill, but her legacy will live on through the institutions she was associated with, and the people she mentored over the decades, particularly in the field of education. Although Anita Ghulam Ali had no children of her own, many of these individuals were as dear to her as if they were her own. She took a keen interest in their work and personal wellbeing, in the most non-interfering way, encouraging, questioning, supporting, and motivating. She would ask affectionately, with genuine concern, after their children and grandchildren, whom she’d seen grow from babies to “young ladies” or gentlemen, as she would put it. Continue reading

“The Occupation kills us all”: Israelis in Tel Aviv protest Netanyahu’s attack on Gaza

Banner: “The Occupation Kills us All”. Israelis protesting in Tel Aviv against Netanyahu’s assault on Gaza (Thanks Farrukh Abbas for the share). Photo: Haim Schwarczenberg, Israeli photographer living in Jaffa, taking part in the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli occupation and oppression https://www.facebook.com/schwarczenberg

I’m sharing below a slightly edited Facebook comment by Syed Farrukh Abbas, a blogger and a student of media studies, based in Pakistan, that he posted with the photo above. Farrukh is also one of the administrators of the Laal Facebook page, which is where I know him from. To his words below, I just want to add: Respect and salute to, and solidarity with, all those in Israel who stand up and protest Israeli atrocities – including all those I know personally who’ve been doing this consistently for years, termed ‘traitor’ and ‘agent’ by the Israeli right-wing (sound familiar, anyone?). Here’s Farrukh’s note: Continue reading

Hamid Ansari: Mumbai man missing in Pakistan (we treat each other’s citizens differently)

Hamid Ansari, 27, MBA, Rotarian from Mumbai... missing since Nov 2012

Hamid Ansari, 27, MBA, Rotarian from Mumbai… missing since Nov 2012

My article on the case of the Indian national Hamid Ansari who has ‘disappeared’ in Pakistan, published in The News, July 11, 2014; an abbreviated version in Hardnews, India. See Hamid’s mother’s online petition appealing to the governments of India and Pakistan to find her son and my friend Indian journalist Shivam Vij’s earlier articles on this case, in The Friday Times, and in the Christian Science Monitor

On July 1, the Peshawar High Court directed Pakistan’s defence and interior ministries to provide full information about an Indian national, Hamid Ansari, who disappeared from the mountainous Kohat district in late 2012. There is room here for cautious optimism on several fronts. Continue reading

“I lay his poems on my lips and sip at leisure” – Gulzar on Naseer Ahmed Nasir

2014- Man Outside HistoryMy piece for the weekly Aman ki Asha page on July 9 and on the TOI blog

The iconic lyricist and poet Gulzar in his preface to Dr Bina Biswas’ translation of a collection of Urdu poetry pays rich tribute to Pakistani poet Naseer Ahmed Nasir

———

A Man Outside History
Poems of Naseer Ahmed Nasir
Translated into English by Bina Biswas
Foreword by Gulzar
Free Verse, an imprint of LiFi Publications,
New Delhi, 2014; Pp 173; INR 300
(available in Pakistan with Messers Al Abbas International, Rana Chamber, 2-Dil Muhammad Road, Lahore)

————-

Continue reading

Pakistan’s media wars – my article for Himal Southasian

Himal-Growing media, shrinking spaces?Himal Southasian, a publication I’m proud to have been associated with since its inception in 1996, has a new issue on the media. My piece Pakistan’s media wars (below) and Mass media and the Modi ‘wave’ by Paranjoy Guha Thakurta are web exclusives. Two additional points to my article:  1. Corporate media owners in Pakistan have always been part of reactionary and anti-democratic forces in general. Their disputes with censoring governments have almost always had commercial motivations. 2. Journalists have played a positive role whenever they remained united in their professionalism. They compromise this unity when they allow journalistic standards to slip and try to become power brokers themselves.

By Beena Sarwar

4 July 2014

What is the political fallout of the battle between a media behemoth and Pakistan’s largest security agency?
Continue reading

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