Censorship, book bans and Malala: exposing closet Talibans

malala bookRecently, an editor in Karachi told the well known defence and policy analyst Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa “not to bother writing anymore about the Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or any other militant outfit, religious party or even the cricketer-turned-politician’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI).” She was told not to even mention TTP and affiliated organisations. The call followed the attack on a vehicle carrying staff of a media organisation, in which three people were killed and four injured.

And in Peshawar, the launch of “I am Malala” was stopped from taking place at the last minute. Read poet and activist Harris Khalique’s comment about it – “Malala interrupted and the Khan surprised“. As he mentions, another activist and friend M. Tahseen had written an email, angry at the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtukhwa (KP) for preventing the book launch from taking place. It was scheduled last Tuesday, January 28,  at the Area Study Center, University of Peshawar,  organized by various civil society organizations  along with the Area Study Center.

Imran Khan’s response:

I tend to agree with my friend, the rights activist Dr. Fouzia Saeed, who proposes that if Imran Khan really means what he says, he should host a big event to launch the book. It is, after all, important as Fouzia says, “to make a distinction between KP ministers who did this, and the Taliban”.

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Musharraf or Zia… A dictator is a dictator

20130408 Mush Tamil UnrealTimes

One-man rule is disastrous in the long term. Image courtesy: Tamil UnrealTimes

My opinion piece published in The News op-ed, and for Hard News, India

Former Pakistan army chief Pervez Musharraf ousted an elected civilian government from power, and usurped power illegally, holding on to it for over ten years, but there are those in India and in Pakistan who feel quite sympathetic towards him.

He had dash and bravado, they say. He nearly resolved the long-pending Kashmir issue with India. He encouraged the classical arts, liberalised the media, oversaw a telecommunications revolution, and partially revived the joint electorate system that the previous military dictator Gen. Ziaul Haq had divided by religion (Ahmadis still are not allowed to vote as Muslims). Musharraf also took the teeth out of the controversial Hudood Ordinances, making it more difficult for false charges of zina (adultery) to be brought against women on various pretexts. Continue reading

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