Pakistan: The ‘blasphemy’ issue | No shortcuts

Cartoon by Sabir Nazir | Viewpointonline.net

Originally published in Viewpoint Online, Nov 3, 2011

No shortcuts

Beena Sarwar

Watching Libyans celebrate the toppling of their dictator two things come to mind. First, Gaddafi’s apparent extra-judicial murder after being captured must be condemned. Secondly, a cautionary reminder: don’t expect the death or removal of a dictator to mark the end of the struggle. It is just the beginning of another struggle, an even messier one — the political process known as democracy. We in Pakistan know this all too well. Dictators die or get toppled but their legacies live on. Their creations like Zaid Hamid may lose, even as the creator Gen Zia wins (see Anas Abbas’ de-construction of this phenomenon at his blog) Continue reading

A much needed Special Report on Balochistan…

Malik Siraj Akbar: Let’s not shut the doors

The News on Sunday (Pakistan’s best weekly English language paper) took an unprecedented and much needed look at how the media in Pakistan is not covering Balochistan issues in its Special Report this week. It includes
Editorial - Outside the province, Balochistan is as neglected. There is no demand for an investigation for all bad news. Balochistan is not on newspeople’s agenda.
Alia AmiraliShooting the messenger - Naziha Syed Ali on the risks journalists in Balochistan live with
Cautious and selective – Why is the otherwise hysterical electronic media unusually silent? By Nabeel Arshed
“The initiative has to come from the centre” – Is it still possible to reach out to the radical nationalist elements and salvage the situation? Malik Siraj Akbar, Editor Baloch Hal believes it is – my interview of him
The mainstream media is … defending the national interestsays Alia Amirali, a researcher on the Baloch National Movement and a lecturer at Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, in an interview with Farah Zia (Read Alia Amirali’s article: “After Habib Jalib” - Balochistan appears in the media only after death and destruction - in The News on Sunday, July 25, 2010) And more…
Here is the link to the BBC Urdu report “Punjab Balochistan ke Barey mein Kitna Janta Hai” by Sharjil Baloch (March 1, 2011) that I refer to in my article, which is also the basis for another article in this special report, by Aoun Sahi, ‘Wana and Waziristan in Balochistan?

20 years of The News: Witness to history

If you haven’t got the print edition - a 99-page collector’s item – check out this PDF copy of The News 20th Anniversary issue. Articles by Maleeha Lodhi, Ghazi Salahuddin, Azhar Abbas, Rahimullah Yusufzai, Sahar Ali, Amir Zia, Khaliq Zuberi, Farah Zia, Salman Rashid, Talath Naqvi, Zia Mohyeddin, Umber Khairi, Maheen Usmani, Sarwat Ali (my ‘encyclopaedia’), Anil Dutta, Shafqat Mahmood, Mayed Ali, Masood Hasan, Amir Mateen, Khalid Hussain (who took over as Sports Editor after Gul Hameed Bhatti’s illness), cartoonist Akhter Shah, and many others who have been part of this venture if not from the start then almost from the start. Many have been associated with The News on Sunday (TNS). Includes my piece on TNS, posted to this blog earlier. Well done, Sheher Bano, for putting this together. And thanks for including the section commemorating colleagues who are no longer with us, like Kaleeem Omar, Zulekha Ali, Najma Hazir, Hameed Zaman and others. May they rest in peace.

Brief update; my Secularism and ‘Blasphemy’ articles & others

Pix from Take Back the Tech at T2F. Courtesy: Newsline

I posted this to my yahoogroup today, along with a note from Avaaz on taking action against the Wikileaks crackdown (posting that separately)

Links to some of my recent articles, including about the ‘blasphemy law’ and secularism in Pakistan.

A brief update from me: I recently showed the film on DSF (Democratic Students Federation) that Sharjil and I made to a rapt audience in Islamabad at Kuch Khaas, the wonderful space set up by my old friend Poppy (Shayan Afzal Khan) – they hold film screenings, seminars, book launches; hold classes in dance, music etc (with a percentage of the admissions being reserved for underprivileged children who attend on scholarships).

My Mukhtiar Mai film was part of a couple of events held to commemorate 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence. It was screened at the `No Honour in Killing‘ exhibition curated by Niilofur Farrukh now in Karachi at V.M. Art Gallery till Dec 20th (has been to other cities including Larkana and Jamshoro). It was also part of the Take Back the Tech event linked to 16 Days, at a discussion (Newsline report here) held at The Second Floor in Karachi.

Below, links to my recent articles & others on the ‘blasphemy laws’ and on secularism

BLASPHEMY in Pakistan: time to repeal a flawed law – my OpEd in Common Ground News Service

Also see the other articles on the blasphemy law in Pakistan that I compiled at this link

SECULARISM PAKISTAN: My article “Secularism – Not a dirty word‘ for The News on Sunday’s series on the issue. Shorter version for Hard News, India – my monthly column Personal Political ‘Deep down in our hearts…

Also see the other articles in that series, compiled at this link.

Thanks.

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