“We Refuse to Be Held to Ransom By Terrorism”: Veena Masud, Pakistan Women’s Swimming Association

Mic announcing & diver2

Veena Masud announcing at a national swimming meet, Karachi, May 2009. Photo: Beena Sarwar

I’ve been wanting to do a report on Pakistan’ women swimmers since March 2009, when I first heard Veena Masud speak at a Szabist seminar in Karachi.

Q&A with Veena Masud below; don’t miss the Footnote at the end, includes reference to an old Shoaib Hashmi & Samina Ahmed skit.

“We Refuse to Be Held to Ransom By Terrorism”
Beena Sarwar interviews VEENA MASUD, Pakistan Women’s Swimming Association

KARACHI, Oct 29 (IPS) – Karachi-based, Trinidad-born and educated Veena Masud is a school principal who wants to see Pakistani women shine in the international sports arena.
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Dirty Tricks Brigade grinds on: “Salary for a Member of NATIONAL ASSEMBLY (MNA) (No wonder we are in this mess)”

The allegations below about Pakistani parliamentarians’ salaries and perks have been emailed around since at least 2006 and found their way into various blogs and websites. I thought the figures appeared to be inflated but didn’t bother digging into the matter until a well-known journalist and women’s rights activist forwarded it from Shaheen Attiq-ur-Rahman (daughter of General Atiq-ur-Rehman, former parliamentarian and a member of the PML-Q). It reminds me of the fraudulent photos circulated allegedly of Benazir Bhutto’s ‘palace’ in Dubai that people kept emailing around… – ‘Dirty Tricks Brigade‘ refers to my article published in Dawn, Jan 9, 2008.

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‘Kary Logar’ ain’t the issue

My article on the ‘Kerry Lugar Bill’ and the crisis Pk faces today – a slightly edited version of which was published in Dawn today as KLB is not the issue

Photo from the demonstration on Oct 11. Courtesy www.dawn.com

Photo from the demonstration on Oct 11. Courtesy http://www.dawn.com

‘Kary Logar’ ain’t the issue

Beena Sarwar

As pressure mounted in South Waziristan with the army action, and retaliatory bombings began, a demonstration in Karachi by parties that claim religion as their raison d’etre underscored some key conflicts Pakistan faces: the requirements of justice under due process of law versus tribal, extra-judicial punishments, tensions between the elected civilian government and the ‘establishment’, and conflict between a long-standing foreign policy versus new domestic compulsions.

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A 1991 NYT report, sadly still relevant

Shaheryar Azhar, moderator The Forum, makes some relevant points based on ‘In Pakistan, War Stirs Emotions and Politics’ by Barbara Crossette, Feb 1, 1991, New York Times.

In Pakistan, War Stirs Emotions and Politics

By BARBARA CROSSETTE, Special to The New York Times
Published: Friday, February 1, 1991

Reactions to the American-led war against Iraq have created political havoc in Pakistan, where the Government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been trying to stabilize the country and restart the economy after a year of domestic turmoil.

A rift of unpredictable consequences has opened between the Prime Minister, who generally supports the Saudi Arabian and allied view on Iraq, and the Pakistani military, which is still smarting from the cutoff of American aid in October. [Complete article here]

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When a kiss is not just a kiss

This tantrum at the Lahore University of Management Sciences about a peck on the cheek is indicative of the mentality (justifying vigilante action against perceived moral transgressions) that led security guards to shave the heads of a poor couple chatting under a tree at Faisalabad (formerly Lyallpur) Agricultural University.

See follow up letter from Ghazala Rahman about the vigilantism and harassment going on in Model Town Park, Lahore

Catch any mullah type condemning the attack on the co-ed (but segregated) Islamic University that killed so many students

DEVELOPMENT-SOUTH ASIA: Women’s Peace Offensive

Analysis by Beena Sarwar

A collective aspiration for peace brings together women from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Photo:Roshan Sirran

A collective aspiration for peace brings together women from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Photo:Roshan Sirran

KABUL, Oct 18 (IPS) – ‘Give peace a chance’ may just be another cliché for many, but for women who have suffered the ravages of war, endless strife and other forms of conflict, joining hands to find meaningful solutions to their collective aspiration lends it a whole new meaning.

Within the South Asian region, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan have for decades been torn by internal and external conflicts that have cried out for, but have not quite found, a lasting resolution.

“We waited for a long time to see what the men would do for peace,” Zahira Khattak, a member of the think-tank formed by Pakistan’s Awami National Party (ANP), told IPS.

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Happy 25th Spelt, and good luck with the conference

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Suhaee and Babar perform at Spelt’s 25th birthday celebrations. Photo: K.B. Abro

DIWALI GREETINGS TO ALL. Here are some observations on the silver jubilee of Pakistan’s first volunteer-based, professional English language teaching organisation, based on my comments at the 25th birthday celebrations of the Society of Pakistan English Language Teachers (Spelt) on July 31 this year. Spelt’s annual international conference begins today in Karachi – an event they have been holding every year since they started and which involves a ‘travelling conference’ at which key plenary speakers address similar conferences in other cities. I think this must be some kind of record.
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