Perception Is Reality

Posts Tagged ‘Pakistan

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I do not know how many of the people in North America (and the wider world for that matter) are aware of the fact that Pakistan had banned YouTube from being accessed in the country. Other than reasons that have been mentioned on various online news syndicates, there remains speculation as to what happened.

Some claim the ban was initiated due to very offensive motion images against Islam. Pakistan, being an Islamic state, may have proceeded to enforce the ban to protect the image of Islam. On the other side of the coin, the ban may have been enforced to protect the Pakistani Muslims from being angered by the video clip and therefore rioting. Maybe this was done to protect the Dutch from causing another worldwide scene of hate and anger.

Some say the government banned YouTube because it had videos which were against the government, making parodies of many. There is a particular video of Musharraf and Bhutto which shows them in bad light. It is morally incorrect according to myself and many like-minded individuals to show a deceased person in bad light. But here’s the video:

What I want to focus on, however, is the former reason and incorporate the notion of democracy. Pakistan is an independant, democratic nation and as such, free speech is encouraged so long as it does not cause harm or terrorism and hatred. The video, along with the blasphemous cartoons of the Holy Prophet did stir worldwide controversy in which the muslim nation went through a considerable amount of suffering. Many as well as this blog here claim that this was just freedom of speech. We need to understand that our understanding of freedom may differ from people in the east, in the middle east, and even down south. How can we then discount this notion of range of meanings in a world which is increasingly becoming more globalized? Have we all forgotten tolerance? And when was Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism or Bhuddism shown in bad light? Christians may be called sinners as they knowingly sent the Prophet Jesus Christ to the cross. Yet not all of us would think this way. Even the Papal institution runs a city completely under its eccentric law. Do we then call this Christianization? Like Islamization? What do these words even mean?

Please do not get me wrong. This is not a controversy I am trying to stir up, I would merely like people to understand the duality of meanings of words and notions.

What do we do now?

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From the article by Kashif Aziz on Chowrangi which may be found here.

 Haven’t we been over this? President Pervez Musharraf is officially the president of the country, there had to be media reforms and the foreign governments support the Pakistani president due to his key role in the war on terror.

First, we need a gentle reminder: Pakistan was a country founded amidst war, and since then, has been at war with itself. It is a young, struggling country. Reforms happen. For the greater good of the country, sacrifices need to be made. Changes need to be made. Lets take a hint from India, who took a hint from us and warned its judiciary to not try to run the country. A free and independent judiciary is key in strengthening the ideology of human and free speech independence and rights, however, when a judicial system starts crossing it’s boundaries, there’s bound to be chaos. The ex CJ has been disposed of and that’s that (The article by Ayeshah Alam may be found here).

As for the media, it is still free and independent. I need not remind anyone that Musharraf was the one who allowed media to flourish, requiring more expertise (in turn raising the importance of education), making more jobs available, bringing Pakistani analysts in all fields at par with foreign ones and advocating free speech and expression. However, to show extremely gory content, constantly blaming the government and being a major source of uproar and chaos is not something that needs to be taken lightly. Free speech is still a problem domain, the boundaries not being clearly defined. Then Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz mentioned that constructive criticism is always appreciated. This is also something that needs to be defined. These words have a range of meanings and they need to be understood in order to reduce communication problems. The PEMRA ordinance has been and will be modified as has been the case in even western countries such as Canada with regards to media policy (Canada has an exceptionally rich history with regards to media politics and policy). This is not a violation of free speech or human rights (the words we Pakistanis speak as if we fully understand their meanings). This is evolution. Just so Ms. Jemima Khan knows, Geo is now free to operate in Pakistan again, just like the rest of the media giants.

Let’s move on. Let’s look forward to the elections, make sure they’re safe for all of us, do our part as citizens and voters and take it from there. This is about the future of Pakistan, not it’s past. We cannot change it, as cliched as it sounds.

What do we need to do? Look at the manifestos of the parties, cast our votes, and then if there is any proof (beyond just a doubt or feeling) of rigging, take action. For now, lets look forward to a booming economy, promising media and exposure of Pakistan for what it is: A sovereign, peace-loving nation which has its own set of problems and distinctive features.

For the entire article, click here (Courtesy of CNN.com)

“Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has made it clear that a U.S. military mission to capture Osama bin Laden or other top al Qaeda leaders on Pakistani soil would be unwelcome and “against the sovereignty of Pakistan.””

Let us analyze this: Pakistan is an independent state. It has a functioning government. The country is not like an open door to a house.

The U.S. claims that it is considering “expanding” the operations in the Northern part of Pakistan to shore up support for the president. This gives away two things: First, the U.S. armed forces are in fact on Pakistani soil. The other, more important thing is this: A major population of Pakistan dislikes the United States government (and not the whole of the U.S.). In order to increase support for Musharraf, the U.S. threatens its own international image. This will perhaps be the third or fourth country it “invades” and will cause a major outcry from the people of Pakistan. What does this say to the U.S.? Stay out of Pakistan. Not just what Musharraf is implying, but the whole of Pakistan is implying. U.S. presence in Pakistan is already a discourse which is a thin thread waiting to break under tension.

“I do not lead a war on terror on behalf of the United States, but on behalf of Pakistan,” Musharraf told French newspaper Le Figaro in an interview published Saturday. “

This is a very important statement. This shows Pakistan’s commitment to the war on terror initiated by the United States. It shows that Pakistan, on its own accord has decided to intiate its own “chapter” on the war on terror, and is doing a great job at that.

“The United States seems to think that what our army cannot do, they can do,” he said. “This is a very wrong perception. I challenge anybody to come into our mountains. They would regret that day. It’s not easy there.”

This statement is not to be taken out of context: It is not a threat to the U.S., it is a show of concern: Pakistani terrain in the north is not easy to conquer, and as far as comparison goes, the Pakistani army has more in-field experience patrolling and securing this terrain than the U.S. armed forces. They also understand how the minds of the terrorists work in this region and as such, are able to anticipate their moves. Another important thing to note is that many of the Pakistani soldiers have been trained in international training camps, mostly in the United States. Musharraf himself has had higher level training in the west. This is not necessarily true for the western armed forces.

It seems that Musharraf is a good communicator. He knows what to say, how to say it, and the message comes across loud and clear: It is not muddled up, it is honest. Musharraf and his military (well, ex military anyway) seems to be doing a fairly decent job taking care of the terrorism which has been on a rise due to the threat to the dogmatic extremists from possible secular law in Pakistan.

This is a quick informal update.

On December 28, 2007, an All Parties Conference was held to decide the future steps for the country. During the APC which was chaired by Secretary Interior (R) Javed Iqbal Cheema, the Secretary (R) mentioned that Benazir’s death was due primarily not to the gunshot wounds or the suicide bomb, rather, it was due to a depressed fracture on her temporal region on the right side which she hit against a level of the sun roof of the car as she tried to get back in to the car to protect herself. Cheema distributed the photograph of the sunroof lever and x-ray photograph showing there was no foreign element in her body. Cheema also distributed transcripts of the intercepted message in Pushto (translated into Urdu) by Baitullah Mehsood congratulating his men.

Cheema asked the people of Pakistan to understand that the country is facing the gravest challenge. Terrorists are systematically targeting our state institutions in order to destabilize the country.

Sources of Design, Photograph, Communicate tell us that it seems like Karachi has become terrifying : Cars and busses, gas stations, hospitals, government offices, trains, factories, and even police stations have been set on fire, or are closed.

The Bhutto Assassination has already begun to have severe impacts on the world. While people are crying and mourning, a very close friend, disheartened and tied up with family problems says that his city is dead, the rest of the country is on fire.

Individuals all over the world, particularly the states are the aftershocks of the massive quake that is shaking the country. Texas, a state with a major population being Desi’s have been reporting on the unrest and tension in cities such as Sugarland (Read the Houston Chronicle’s post with Barkat Charania Here).

Imagine this: with so much tension, one wrong move or one wrong word on the part of any prominent leader or organization may spark riots. There are supporters of each political party in the United States as there as in Pakistan, and there may well be fights emerging between them- this across the seas, tens of thousands of miles from where the tragedy occured. If this happens in every major country, not only will there be stress in Pakistan, but in other countries leading to stress on Pakistan. This may call for the United States to topple the military and the current care taker government for its interests in order to re-stabilize the scenario in both the local and international communities.

Earlier the same day, a few members of Nawaz Sharif’s party were shot and killed by an opposition party. We set light to our own busses and cars. Pakistani brothers and sisters, we must realize that this does nothing but cause more anger and we are the ones who with our own hands add to the loss.

The future prospects of Pakistan? The General Elections? This is how it might carry on: No other emergency or martial law is imposed. A new political candidate is selected for PPP and will have an equal chance at winning the elections as did Bhutto, despite having no prominence. The popularity of the party has already been boosted even further by what has ensued and now, PPP will not think in terms of a candidate winning the elections, rather, the political party, an ideology, a movement winning the election. The saviors?

Nawaz Sharif has an increased chance of winning the election now, however. With a major competing candidate out of the way, the PPP being dispersed, it remains to be seen if they can pull back together. In the meanwhile, Nawaz has an open gateway to win a major amount of votes.

The Musharraf regime has and will constantly come under critical fire from the country and foreign allies, and although Musharraf will be blamed in particular, each member of the party is at risk of revengeful crimes.

For the record, it is not clear as to whether this is Al Qaeda or another faction that was responsible for this event. Benazir was a secular leader and so had attracted hatred from extremists.

A word about the way the assassination was committed. There was enough security for guns to have not been allowed in the procession. However, the security may not have been too tight in terms of being able to detect explosives (this is after all, a suicide bombing). Since Benazir’s vehicle was surrounded by individuals, the explosion may have been intended to disperse the crowd, leaving Benazir an open target for any sharp shooters. Benazir’s political style may have also been studied by the assassins, since the vehicle glass was bullet proof. However, usually, Bhutto pulls down the window to wave at the crowd and so, it is plausible that the assassins may have played on Bhutto’s predictable method. The assassination was also committed at the same location as the late Liaquat Ali was killed. This cannot be a coincidence.

It is official. Benazir Bhutto, leader of the Pakistani People’s Party has been assassinated in Pakistan in a rally. Bhutto died of a gunshot wound to the neck, after which a suicide bomber blew himself up – this according to CNN. There is perhaps a lot of speculation, mourning and anger looming in the air. Everything seems to be chaotic, and the recent socio-political situation of Pakistan is reminiscent of a phrase, “order out of chaos.” When I wrote the articles, As the Fog Clears Parts 1 and 2, on Chowrangi, I never considered this a possibility.

 It is important at this point to focus, not on what has happened, but what will ensue in what I believe will be a series of events leading either to a revolution or, well, nothing. People will either eventually forget about it, or instead of just demanding justice, will take it into their own hands.

A major portion of the Pakistani population and ex-pats will say that this is the Musharraf government at work – Satan at his best. But please, countrymen, let us not over-attribute, and remember that Bhutto had a lot of enemies. This assassination may well be an attempt to defame the Musharraf government. All the same, it is not even rational (at this point) to rule out that this was not an assassination attempt by the Pakistan Muslim League (PML, Musharraf’s Party).

It may well be Nawaz Sharif to secure his throne, since he is the obvious rebounder. Although Sharif claims to now boycott the election, he has done so before, only to compete in the January 2008 elections.

It may well be Mr. Zardari, who may come back to Pakistan with renewed vigor and lead his party to salvation. After all, he does have a disturbing track record.

It may well be the local or foreign intelligence agencies, trying all the more to destabilize Pakistan through internal stress.

It may very well be the Taliban, or other local extremists.

What I am trying to say here is not that one of these individuals or organizations have committed a heinous crime, a murder, deciding the fate of not just a country, but of human beings; rather what I am trying to say is that there are an equal number of possibilities as to what happened and why and that we must reserve judgement. What happens in a country such as Pakistan, which is so famous in the international media, has global repercussions. We must contain ourselves before we give our state up for grabs to a number of ill-intending entities. Let us not be another Afghanistan, another Palestine, another Iraq, or perhaps Iran.

Stay in your local communities. Keep a vigilant eye out for any suspected activities, and report to the police on their hotline numbers (Madadgar 15 in Karachi) of even the remotest suspected threat. Take care of chores during those times of day when there are not a lot of people gathered together. A suicide bomber is going to target a large crowd, not a dispersed one. Look for people wearing thick heavy clothing (for they may well be c4 strapped to the chest), some people with their hands constantly in their pockets, or those people you have not seen before.

Avoid keeping your cars outside of a safe and secure area, for this may allow enemies to use them in their illegal activities. Avoid taking routes which are deserted for that matter, for you may be stopped by dacoits or kidnappers. Stay out of home for as little as possible. Arrive from work early. Take extra security measures in securing your home and family. Be prepared for any emergencies (include a first aid kit, clean water, toiletries and important legal documents).

My brothers and sisters, this is a dark and gloomy day for all of us. Stay strong, Pakistan.

If anyone would like to add anything else, please do so.

As the Twelve Steppers say, we must acknowledge our powerlessness. We cannot knowledgeably make even a fraction of the appropriate choices available. Say it out loud. Today I will make several wrong choices. Now, whether you’ve selected an inferior vacuum cleaner, bought the large soda when the jumbo was a better deal, or accidentally prayed to the wrong god – forgive yourself. If we took some joy in being bad choosers, or at least placed less value on being stellar consumers of unimportant things, we would be training ourselves to accept a few extra drops of imperfection in our lives. Somehow, that would seem more like progress than having the choice between polyproylene arch brace contours and a solar-powered argyle.

Steven Waldman, my friends.

Over the past four months I’ve been studying advertising and its effects and roots in our North American society. Over the course, I have read from authors possibly down a couple centuries about the consumer culture. Many authors have talked about the benefits of advertising, such as giving us the ability to make informed decisions; while on the other hand, many authors claim this as a myth, stating that with puffery and imagery, we are dumbed down even more. I believe that since advertising impacts people at individual levels making each consumer a unique (and important) addition to the consumer culture, the judgement as to whether ads really dumb down or help make decisions about buying the correct product lies in the hands of these unique members of this society. Needless to say, history shows how the FDA and similar organizations give way to the big fishes in corporate America, knowingly allowing them to exploit the loopholes in policies, leaving major repercussions to be felt in the American society.

 Another imporant observation is the bleeding of consumer culture, a very, purely American thing – well, until recently – into third world countries such as Pakistan. By the way, it should be important to add here that advertising and the culture has already risen above the boundaries of ethnic demographics (although targeted advertising is a major, effective practice). I call this supervening, superceeding repercussions. All over we are now starting to see private fashion labels, advertising following the patterns of the American style (Create a problem or need, provide a solution), with images and extravagant claims which float viewers up to cloud number nine and therefore, need to have certain products or service. The important of family life is being targeted in advertisements by the services sector (financial stability, credit cards, cars and houses, loans, etc.), individuality by certain products which appeal to the self (such as an imported, branded colognes), the sense of belonging by minimal advertising (niche coffee bars and cafes), and so on. Already, this is reminiscent of Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs.

My question to you – and think about this – is where do we draw the line between wants and needs? Is there a difference between wants and desires?


About the Author…

Born in Karachi, Pakistan in an Adventist hospital, I grew up in a city where on one side I experienced poverty and oppression, while on the other I had the good fortune of Tabish Bhimani being a member of an upper middle-class business family...more...

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