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

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Towards a South Asian Union

Samir Gupta

By Samir Gupta

Published in Aman ki Asha, Oct 8, 2013… Justice Katju may be controversial but his sincerity to peace and humanity is unmistakable, finds a young activist at a breakfast meeting

I was bit nervous when journalist Beena Sarwar invited me to accompany her to meet Justice Markandey Katju for breakfast in Delhi. Justice Katju had retired as a judge at the Supreme Court of India and was appointed Chairman of Press Council of India. He is known for his controversial statements, including his comment “Pakistan is a “fake” country “created artificially by the British” – that I had also ridiculed. He sounded like a retired person far removed from reality.

Justice Katju: A strong, secular, democratic vision. Photo: Beena Sarwar

Justice Katju: A strong, secular, democratic vision. Photo: Beena Sarwar

Beena, editor Aman ki Asha Jang Group Pakistan, insisted that he is a sincere friend of Pakistan and a champion of peace between India and Pakistan. She wanted to talk to him about his calls for re-unification that are causing unnecessary controversy and diverting from the real issues at hand. This was going to be interesting.

On the day, I met Beena outside his majestic bungalow near Parliament House in New Delhi. He was much taller than I expected, and very warm in welcoming us. As we sat for breakfast, he regaled us with stories of his days as a judge in Allahabad, meeting his counterparts from Pakistan in Delhi, his views of what ails India and his views on Pakistan.
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To Taliban: “I want education for you, for your children” – Malala on the Daily Show

Malala on Daily ShowMalala Yousufzai’s conviction and sincerity shines as she speaks, even as the after-effects of the attack on her are still evident in the slight disfigurement of her facial muscles. And the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize nominee recently speechless even the satirical TV host Jon Stewart when she talked about her thoughts about the Taliban. Asked when she first learnt she was a target of the Taliban, she says it was through a visitor who told her to put her name in Google search.

“I just could not believe it, I said no, it’s not true,” she said. “We thought the Taliban were not that much cruel that they would kill a child – I was 14 at the time.” She was initially more afraid for her father but when she began thinking about it, she thought that if  attacked she would hit the Talib with her shoe – a comment that raised a laugh. Continue reading

Malala and Absurdistan, Mazariland, Cuckooland… We are sorry, Bhooro Bheel. Taliban bhagao, mulk bachao

malala-yousafzaiMy two bits on the muddied narrative in Pakistan on Malala Yousafzai, a favourite for the Nobel Peace Prize being announced on Oct 11:  Those who so easily buy conspiracy theories about Malala being a “US agent” or who go against Malala are usually the same people  you will find justifying the murderous, criminal acts of the Taliban (who are fasadis not jihadis, in my mind) in some way, absolving them of responsibility by terming it a response to the US invasion of Afghanistan or the drone attacks. These people conveniently forget that the mindset that attacked Malala is the same as the one that was attacking women NGO workers and teachers and girls’ schools in the western border areas BEFORE 9/11. It’s the same mindset that was target killing Ahmadis and Shias since the 1990s. It was not just the Taliban’s bullets that targeted Malala and all that she stands for – it is this mindset that the United States, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia cultivated and developed in the 1980s in order to counter the Soviets in Afghanistan. Continue reading

A Southasian vision

Himal Southasian: Under the Bollywood Tree - latest issue, launched at the Bangalore Literature Festival recently

Himal Southasian: Under the Bollywood Tree – latest issue, launched at the Bangalore Literature Festival recently

My article in The Friday Times last week (thanks to Raza Rumi for pushing me to write this, despite the tight deadline):

A Southasian vision

For regional peace, development and prosperity, it is imperative to improve India-Pakistan relations

Beena Sarwar

I like how the Nepali journalist Kanak Mani Dixit refers to the Indian sub-continent: Southasia. One word. Kanak explains why, in the respected magazine Himal Southasian that he edits, that I am proud to be editorially associated with since its launch in 1997. As a magazine “seeking to restore some of the historical unity of our common living space – without wishing any violence on the existing nation states – we believe that the aloof geographical term ‘South Asia’ needs to be injected with some feeling. ‘Southasia’ does the trick for us, albeit the word is limited to English-language discourse. Continue reading

India, personally…

Fishing in Troubled Waters, launched in Delhi, Aug 13, 2013

Fishing in Troubled Waters, launched in Delhi, Aug 13, 2013

Update: See ‘A half-full glass‘ on the Singh-Sharif meeting at UNGA (and the ‘dehati aurat’ brouhaha), published in the Aman ki Asha page in The News on Oct 2, and in my column at TOI blogs.

This is a long-pending post, compiling articles, video and photo links (below) following my recent, brief trip to India at a time when tensions along the Line of Control (LoC) were running high. The Programme for Social Action (PSA) and the Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) had invited me to a seminar on Aug 13, where they launched two publications. (I took the direct Karachi-Delhi PIA flight both ways, which has since then been discontinued — apparently not enough traffic because it’s so difficult to get visas; credit where credit is due – PIA is the only Southasian airline to fly to all the regional capitals and more).

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