Hamid Mir and the ideological security establishment

Below, text of my interview with Viewpoint Online about the Hamid Mir saga, that began with the murderous attack on one of Pakistan’s top journalists and television talk show hosts, who has angered Pakistan’s ideological security establishment with his stands on 1971, regional peace (including with India), and most recently, Balochistan. Besides speaking openly about the distorted history we are taught about this issue in Pakistan, he even walked in support with the Baloch Long March activists. Also read these excellent analyses: Sahar Habib Ghazi on Pakistani spies, Mir, and the missing people of Balochistan, and Jugnu Mohsin –  Rumi and Mir. The character assassination on Hamid Mir now reminds me of the campaigns that followed the attack on Raza Rumi that killed his driver, and even before that, against Malala Yusufzai when she was shot. And this measured speech by Shaheen Qureshi at a recent SAFMA meeting (video, Urdu). Continue reading

Online petition and GIA demo against invasive TV show

GIA demo in Karachi (file photo): Human beings must be treated equally, regardless of gender or sexual orientation

GIA demo in Karachi (file photo): Human beings must be treated equally, regardless of gender or sexual orientation

The Gender Interactive Alliance (GIA) has called for a demonstration against Abb Takk TV’s show Khufia for its gross invasion of privacy and human rights, to be held today, Monday Dec 30, at 4:00 pm at the Karachi Press Club. If you’re in Karachi, please show your solidarity by joining them. Also please read and sign this online petition “Act against AbbTakk TV for violating privacy and human rights

Media/Pakistan: Worse than Maya Khan. The vigil-aunty TV moral brigade strikes again

Abb Takk Khufia

A still from the offending show – it was difficult to find one that didn’t reveal the victims’ faces.

As if there aren’t enough human rights violations in Pakistan, sections of the media have joined the ranks of the violators, accosting individuals on the streets, barging into private homes, accusing people of being gay or bullying them to prove otherwise. The show, part of a vigilante series sensationally titled Khufia (Secret), was broadcast on Dec 15 on a new channel called Abb Takk – here is the programme link (if you can bear to watch). These vigil-aunties can do this because the people they target are poor and resourceless, with no armed security guards. (Here’s the link to the PEMRA feedback form and the Abb Takk email address: md@abbtakk.tv if you want to register your complaint. Please do share a copy with Citizens for Free and Responsible Media, at this link). My article on the issue in The News, Pakistan and Hardnews, India. More below.
Continue reading

Dunya TV, jawab do, badtameezi ka hisab do – Citizens for Free and Responsible Media

CFRM logo
Letter from Citizens for Free and responsible Media, Pakistan, emailed to top executives of Dunya TV News, Mr. Mian Amer Mahmood, Mr Naveed Kashif, and Mr Sami Abrahim, signed by prominent journalists, academics, and professionals in support of Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy

Dunya TV screenshot

Screenshot from the show

Dear Dunya News,

We are writing to express our concern about the shameful incident at your TV channel on Oct 26, 2013, in which the anchor Kamran Shahid allowed his guest Prof. Pervez Hoodbhoy to be abused and shouted at by another guest, violating Dunya News’ own code of conduct for anchors that is supposed to be monitored by a three-member editorial Board. Continue reading

Media (un)ethics, “Malala-phobia” and Dr Hoodbhoy

hoodbhoymalala-yousafzaiSad to see the polarisation and vitriol that passes for journalism in Pakistan. It may be so elsewhere too, but the manipulation and attempted humiliation of Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy in the name of religion and patriotism — for his defense of Malala Yusufzai — is low by any standards. Scroll down for his account about how the TV host withheld from him the identities of the other guests, the theme of the show and in the end, turned off his audio.

Regardless of Dr Hoodbhoy’s terming the Dunya TV anchor Kamran Shahid and his guest as liars, what’s clear is that Shahid smirkingly ‘allowed’ a guest on his show to shout down and abuse Dr Hoodbhoy, clearly enjoying the situation. In the end he announced (falsely) that Dr Hoodbhoy had ‘left’ the show. Not surprising. Shahid has a history of   untruths as well as encouraging such abusive exchanges (it’s all about ratings, innit?). Here’s something about his show on Express TV last year, that was (like this one) not only unbefitting to any respectable current affairs programme, but also fanning the flames of conflict in already-burning Balochistan. Continue reading

Justice Katju appeals to the media to exercise restraint, avoid fanning communal hatred

Justice Markandey KatjuThe following Press Note from Justice Markandey Katju, Chairman, Press Council of India, dated 6.3.2013, sent for publication to this blog, is also relevant to other countries, including Pakistan:

Re: False implication of Muslims in cases of Bomb Blasts, etc.

I have today received the following letter of Mr. Wajahat Habibullah, Chairman, National Commission for Minorities, New Delhi: Continue reading

RIP Ayesha Haroon: Clear-sighted courage, grace and laughter

Ayesha Haroon at a friend's wedding some 20 years ago in Lahore

Ayesha Haroon at a friend’s wedding some 20 years ago in Lahore

My obituary of Ayesha Haroon, published in The News on Feb 4, 2013. As one of our friends pointed out, this is the third woman from our lot in The Frontier Post we’ve lost within a year – Maria Del Nevo, Cass Balchin and now, Ayesha.

RIP Ayesha Haroon: Clear-sighted courage, grace and laughter

By Beena Sarwar

Ayesha Haroon, the lively, gutsy former editor of The News Lahore, fought a brave fight for over four years with bone-marrow cancer, succumbing to it on Saturday night in New York. She was just 46. News of her demise has been met with grief and shock by her many friends and colleagues as well as those who only knew her through her clear-headed, courageous columns. Continue reading

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