Brief update; my Secularism and ‘Blasphemy’ articles & others

Pix from Take Back the Tech at T2F. Courtesy: Newsline

I posted this to my yahoogroup today, along with a note from Avaaz on taking action against the Wikileaks crackdown (posting that separately)

Links to some of my recent articles, including about the ‘blasphemy law’ and secularism in Pakistan.

A brief update from me: I recently showed the film on DSF (Democratic Students Federation) that Sharjil and I made to a rapt audience in Islamabad at Kuch Khaas, the wonderful space set up by my old friend Poppy (Shayan Afzal Khan) – they hold film screenings, seminars, book launches; hold classes in dance, music etc (with a percentage of the admissions being reserved for underprivileged children who attend on scholarships).

My Mukhtiar Mai film was part of a couple of events held to commemorate 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence. It was screened at the `No Honour in Killing‘ exhibition curated by Niilofur Farrukh now in Karachi at V.M. Art Gallery till Dec 20th (has been to other cities including Larkana and Jamshoro). It was also part of the Take Back the Tech event linked to 16 Days, at a discussion (Newsline report here) held at The Second Floor in Karachi.

Below, links to my recent articles & others on the ‘blasphemy laws’ and on secularism

BLASPHEMY in Pakistan: time to repeal a flawed law – my OpEd in Common Ground News Service

Also see the other articles on the blasphemy law in Pakistan that I compiled at this link

SECULARISM PAKISTAN: My article “Secularism – Not a dirty word‘ for The News on Sunday’s series on the issue. Shorter version for Hard News, India – my monthly column Personal Political ‘Deep down in our hearts…

Also see the other articles in that series, compiled at this link.

Thanks.

A standing ovation for an innings of the ages

GHB & Sara

Proud father with daughter at her graduation

Published in The News Feb 12, 2010

Pioneering sports journalist and statistician Gul Hameed Bhatti remembered

By Beena Sarwar

Karachi, Feb 12: There was laughter and some tears as friends, relatives and admirers gathered at an informal reference for the late veteran sports journalist and former Sports Editor The News, and former Editor The News Karachi Gul Hameed Bhatti, at The Second Floor community space near Defence Library.

Prominent speakers highlighted Bhatti’s thorough decency and honesty, selflessness, professionalism, his pioneering role in establishing cricket statistics in Pakistan and on a more personal level, his sense of fun, his love for music, cinema, food and off-colour jokes, his unreserved support of his journalist wife’s career and dedication to their children Kamil and Sara. Continue reading

Adieu Gul Hameed Bhatti

Gul Hameed Bhatti as I will always remember him (photo courtesy GHB Facebook page)

Feb 5, 2010: Sad day. Woke up this morning to the news that Gul Hameed Bhatti had passed away last night. I knew he was not keeping well, but didn’t know how ill he was — dedicated journalist, sports editor, friend, equal rights upholder, and fine human being. Went to the funeral this afternoon and it brought back so many memories – the last time I was there was probably when his wife Razia Bhatti, founder editor of Newsline, died in 1996. I had known them both since 1981, when I was an intern at The Star evening paper, now also sadly no more. Razia was then editor of monthly Herald, down the corridor.

Gullast we spoke was when I called you about a story I was doing on the Pakistan Women’s Swimming Team for IPS, several months ago. Your own reports provided great material on the issue of course, like this 2008 story in The News on Sunday Sports page. My story got delayed several months because my father was very ill and subsequently passed away. I was relieved for him when his suffering was over, and Gul, I am relieved your suffering is over and that you are with your beloved Razia where ever you are, together again.
Continue reading

Never forget… the day she arrived and the day she died

Oct 18, 2007: Benazir returns. Photo by Beena Sarwar

Benazir Bhutto’s assassination on this day two years ago was utterly devastating for many of us. Here is the link to a piece I wrote for IPS just before she returned to Pakistan. On Oct 18, 2007, Absar Alam and I were both at the Geo TV studios in Karachi. We hopped onto a motorbike and headed for the airport, a cameraman and assistant on another motorbike. Absar managed to get us onto the truck on which Benazir was riding. See photos taken with my cell phone at this web album. Absar scooped a brief interview of her – her first to a Pakistani journalist on home soil since her exile – broadcast on Geo shortly afterwards.

Even those who had been her sternest critics over the years were unable to stem the tide of grief that hit them on learning of her death. I wrote this article after her murder – I was in Lahore, on my own at a friend’s house and it was an incredibly difficult piece to write, in between breaking down, monitoring the television, and calling people for quotes and information.

To those who even on this day, her second death anniversary, focus on her alleged corruption and plundering: please read M. Hanif’s article ‘My Benazir murder fantasy’ posted in Jan 2008 that the Newsline blog just re-posted. Extracts: Even if all the allegations about her corruption and arrogance are true, one should keep in mind that she was active in politics for 30 years, out of which she was in power only for four and a half years. The rest of the time she struggled against two of the most well entrenched military dictators in the region…

“The reason we don’t see very many dossiers on the financial corruption during General Zia and General Musharraf’s regimes is that when Bhutto was in power the intelligence agencies went into over drive documenting or sometimes inventing her misdemeanours. When the generals or their cronies are in power all the intelligence leaks just dry up.”

This is not to suggest that corruption should be condoned or excused, but it is important to get some perspective on the issue.

 (ends)
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