“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 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


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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Kerry Lugar Bill – Myths, facts, and alternatives

Comment on the Kerry Lugar Bill from a friend, & the US  Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Press Release of Oct 8 (thanks to Shaheryar Azhar):


1. The US is obviously – and understandably – concerned that their taxpayers’ money is used for illegal and dangerous activities such as nuclear proliferation. It is after all a US law that makes the US govt accountable to the US elected representatives about how US taxpayer money is spent. If they need to ensure that the monies they give us are NOT used for illegal and dangerous activities that is their prerogative. Why are we so jumpy? Anything to hide? If so, the alternative to Kerry-Lugar (which I will mention below) will be appropriate.

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India and Pakistan: Bridging the gap

RK Mishra

RK Mishra Memorial Lecture by Maj Gen Mahmud Ali Durrani

Excerpts below, complete text at http://tinyurl.com/md-mishra – thanks to Renuka Mishra whom I met in Kabul. See also ‘Ex-NSA for ‘candid talks’ between Indo-Pak security agencies’, Iftikhar Gilani’s report on the event in Daily Times, Sept 6, 2009.

Pakistan’s National Security Adviser till January 2009, former Ambassador to the USA, active in peace initiatives between India and Pakistan (he’s known as “General Shanti” in India, author of several books and studies – was closely associated with the well known Indian journalist, thinker, and parliamentarian RK Mishra who passed away earlier this year. He delivered the first RK Mishra Memorial Lecture in Delhi on Sept 8, 2009 –

India and Pakistan:  Bridging the gap

'General Shanti' at IIC, New Delhi

'General Shanti' at IIC, New Delhi

In his talk, Gen. Durrani suggested, among other things, opening up the visa regime between our two countries; allowing broadcast of TV programs from one country to the other; setting up a joint “lndo-Pak  “Arid Agriculture Research Centre”; including agriculture as a major component of the composite dialogue; cooperating in areas like water, coal, wind and solar energy; and supporting “any solution which is acceptable to the majority of the Kashmiris. The bottom line – Kashmir for the Kashmiris.”

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Video Journalism Movement: ‘Milne do’ – Let Kashmiris meet (documentary, 7 min)

film stillMy 7 min documentary on the importance of people-to-people contact, for Video Journalism Movement – ‘Milne Do’ – Let Kashmiris meet

Composition and voice – Seema Anil Sehgal
Lyrics – ‘Guftugu band na ho’ by Ali Sardar Jafri

CAMERA: Shehrbano Saiyid & Jibran Jawaid

NON-LINEAR EDITING: Abdul Wahab & Mirza Waseem, IndieVisuals, Karachi

NOTE: This documentary was made for the Video Journalism Movement, a new media website launched Oct 5, 2009 – they take cartoons and short documentaries/features. Details at http://www.vjmovement.com.

Cartoonists and video journalists can also email editorial desk with ideas: journalists@vjmovement.com

For further information, contact VJM Marketing Director Stacey Griffin at sgriffin@vjmovement.com

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