India /Pakistan – That elusive visa: You can’t just ‘Google it’

My article in The News’ weekly Aman ki Asha page today (also on the website and TOI blog)

“Ye mein, ye Yusuf”… That’s me, that’s Yusuf… Still from Google’s “Reunion” ad

Google’s tearjerker “Reunion” ad released on the web has tapped into a rising groundswell for peace between the people of India and Pakistan

By Beena Sarwar

The internet search engine Google’s moving, beautifully made little video “Reunion”, released on November 13 has gone viral. In less than a week, the ad on Youtube has been played over four million times, and shared endlessly on facebook, twitter and blogs, and posted on other video sharing portals like Vimeo (over 70,000 views). Continue reading

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Changing the media landscape – article about ‘The News on Sunday’ for The News 20th anniversary issue)

Editor with Reporter: Probably discussing what to get for lunch. Photo: Rahat Ali Dar

For The News 20th anniversary supplement, published Feb 22, 2011.

The News on Sunday:  Changing the media landscape

By Beena Sarwar

The News on Sunday was launched in 1994, as The News on Friday, Pakistan’s first weekend newspaper – Friday was then a weekly holiday. In 1997, the name change itself reflected the ideological confusions that abound in Pakistan, where religion is freely used for political purposes, and as an excuse to retain the status quo.

Clearly, religion is conveniently dispensed with if it clashes with, say, financial interests, as when Nawaz Sharif, the country’s businessman-prime minister who was otherwise careful to keep the ‘religious’ lobby happy, reverted to Sunday as Pakistan’s weekly holiday. In doing so, he overturned a move made 20 years earlier by Z.A. Bhutto who had sought to consolidate power by playing the religious card. Nawaz Sharif’s decision was motivated by financial considerations, over-ruling the opposition of the conservatives. It indicated that anything is possible with political will, even reversing a decision taken in the name of religion. Continue reading

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