Shutdown to Rebuild, Wait, What?!

Shutdown to Rebuild - PTIShutdown to Rebuild, Wait, What?!? Seriously? What  were the PTI’s creative team thinking when they came up with this slogan?

On second thought, this might be perhaps the most clever way to present something that the party plans to do which happens to be so inherently outrageous and morally and legally unacceptable that the party leadership itself condemned the same in the past.

Wait a second: the words ‘Shutdown’ and ‘Lockdown’ as display pictures next to a tweet condemning the same. Now that’s irony and hypocrisy.

That were PTI Leaders Arif Alvi and Khurrum SherZaman criticizing MQM’s strike on 1st May 2014. Few months later, the party is doing the same thing that they know and believe is wrong: PTI is planning to shut down major cities and eventually the whole country. Shutdown or Lockdown to Rebuild. Its an oxymoron.

And not just the PTI leadership, their supporters too:

Lockdown - PTIThey go an extra mile in abusing the MQM for something that their party is now doing.

Massive loss to economy. Yes. That’s what you get when you shutdown the financial capital of the country, or any city, as a matter of fact.

Yes we all agree that shutting down a city, blocking roads or paralyzing any city, is illegal.

But what can we say? The PTI is adamant to go ahead and shutdown Karachi, and Lahore, followed by the whole country. Just as they did in Faisalabad.

Attack on PTV building in Islamabad by PTI and PAT workers.
Attack on PTV building in Islamabad by PTI and PAT workers.

Arif Alvi stated that the loss suffered is over 10 billion for a day the city of Karachi is shutdown. Khurrum SherZaman too states that the loss is in billions. Not just this, we have seen the nuisance Islamabad. Yes, I’m talking about the assault on the Parliament and Prime Minister House. The attack and ransacking of PTV. Occasional attacks on Geo News office.

Pakistan suffered more than just this. This paid protest of PAT and PTI caused much more losses. The Chinese President canceled his visit to Pakistan, that put a question mark (or possibly a full stop) on the future of $32 Billion worth of investment.

The unrest and clashes in Faisalabad, and the enforced shutdown of the city following the death of a PTI worker: it is all condemnable in the strongest words.

But why is PTI doing this then? Because their beloved leader said so.

PTI talks about Justice. Well, even the name of the party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf translates to Pakistan Movement for Justice. However the leader of the Party, cricketer turn philanthropist turn politician, is now a proclaimed offender in Anti-Terrorism Cases before an Anti-Terrorism Court in Lahore (well yes, terrorism in Pakistan is defined too broadly, therefore some of the acts he and his supporters have done fall under the category of terrorism),  and he has proudly challenged the incumbent government to try and arrest him.

Ironically…

PTI's Enforced Shutdown of Faisalabad
PTI’s Enforced Shutdown of Faisalabad.

Shutting down a city, just like they did in Faisalabad, if evaluated under the UK Anti-Terror legislation, is an act of terrorism. Yes, the same Anti-Terror laws for which the PTI grilled the MQM chief Altaf  Hussain, for this his statement about the Three-Swords monument in Clifton, Karachi.

Imran’s aid and ally, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed has gone the extra-mile in calling out to the rioting workers of his party the Awami Muslim League and those of PTI to damage, burn and destroy public and private property to achieve the above stated goals. Incitement to an offence or speech that disrupts public order is criminally wrong. What Sheikh Rasheed has said does not sound just wrong, it is insane, treacherous.

Feisal Naqvi, a Supreme Court advocate, sketched Imran’s desperation to rid Pakistan of its elected Prime Minister in form of humorous future unreleased plans from Plan E to Plan Z; Plan X of which states:

Plan X: Imran Khan files a petition before the Supreme Court, asking for the Independence of India Act, 1947 to be declared unconstitutional. After the court accepts his petition, the Queen of England then appoints Imran Khan as her Viceroy.

Fortunately, or not so for Imran and PTI, English only has 26 alphabets and just like the article above, the number of plans end at Plan Z. However, people have suggested different approaches to this problem.

https://twitter.com/Secular_Pak/status/539093660151738369

The PML-N and PTI are quite similar, ideologically. They are both working in the same way, for the same ideology. They even share the same vote bank. Just as Babar Sattar rephrases it in a question:

Isn’t the Shahbaz Sharif model of governance in Punjab very similar to what Imran Khan is promising in Naya Pakistan: a strongman at the top and everything falling in place under him intuitively?

Of the certain aspects of Imran Khan’s behavior and policies, as Babar Sattar  states in the same article, that would give even his well-wishers the jitters, that most bothersome is the inability of the PTI leader to distinguish between the State and the government and the fact that Imran is willing to hold a gun to the country’s head to negotiate with the PML-N.

2: His vigilantism. Khan’s argument is that since he didn’t get justice on his terms, he’ll now have to shut the country down. Can any rule of law proponent justify such course of action? There is a pattern here. In 2013, PTI had asked its vigilantes to forcibly block NATO containers in KP. That circus was eventually dispersed by court orders.

3: Khan’s inability to distinguish between the state and government. Whether it was Khan inciting everyone to refuse paying taxes and utility bills and sending money through legal banking channels, or his Plan C of shutting Pakistan down, he seems to have no qualms holding a gun to the country’s head to negotiate with PML-N.

4: Khan’s polarizing politics. In a democracy people need to be brought together to forge consensus and get things done, not torn apart. Khan’s message of hope is wrapped in bitterness and hate, which has polarized this country. Today Pakistan is a divided house; even its rational segments at war with one another over political differences. Forget Khan’s ire for opponents and critics, is there room for dissent even within PTI?

We really need introspection and self-accountability all around: the PML-N has to reflect upon whatever has happened the last few months and how they should have handled it; the PTI needs to realize that ends don’t justify means. Both parties need to work together, get to the negotiation tables and resolve their conflicts in a sensible manner, for the sake of the nation.

An Open Letter to Imran Khan

Dear Mr. Khan

You rallied for change just a year ago in the 2013 General Elections. Your party bagged 7.7 million votes in the General Elections, which set your party as the 2nd most popular party based on the number of votes it received.

Your call for change came at a time when the Election Commission, and the returning officers were screening potential candidates, and many were disqualified on the grounds that they evaded and did not pay taxes, and utility bills. 7.7 million Pakistanis pinned their hopes to your call for a change.

Unfortunately, this change seemed to be just another election buff. After the elections your party rejected the results, protested, and made government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

I would like commend your party’s policies on improving the educational infrastructure and the quality of education in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Credit should be given where it is due.

However, your attitude and actions have shown that you too, sir, are one of those elites who bend the law and Constitution to use it to their advantage. You and your party is not respecting the mandate given to your political opponents; you have shown yourself to be no better than those who were totally rejected by the electorate.

You had made a promise of holding local government elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa within three months. It has been over a year now, and your promise has been just mere words. Is this call for Change just as another hollow promise?

IK in Azadi MarchThe Azadi March which you and your party came up with had dubious goals initially, and later on you settled upon asking a democratically elected Prime Minister to resign, threatening civil disobedience and public disorder. This is clearly against the law, and the Constitution. This, as defined by Article 63(1)(g) of the Constitution, is a ground for disqualification for members of the Parliament.

While protesting peacefully and without arms is a fundamental right of assembly under Article 16 of Constitution, this does not cover attempts to overthrow a democratically elected government, which may be classified as treason. Your actions not just undermine the rule of law, but also violate the laws of our country, and our Constitution.

So, at this point, sir, I am left with some questions unanswered:

  1. Would the PTI government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa promote civil disobedience and non-payment of utility bills and taxes as a Government policy?
  2. Would the PTI government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa not collect GST and other provincial taxes, or would it be hypocritical at this point?
  3. What difference, if any, remains between yourself and your party’s lawmakers who would not pay taxes and utility bills and those prospective candidates who were rejected by the returning officers for evading taxes and for non-payment of utility bills?
  4. If this civil disobedience and public disorder initiated by your party leads to disqualification of PTI lawmakers, including yourself, under Article 63(1)(g) of the Constitution, would you still blame it on this democratic government?
  5. Would you still blame the Punjab police for public disorder in the Capital which would undoubtedly result in PTI’s march towards the Red Zone?

The election reforms you seek are a welcomed change. However this change should come from your elected position in Parliament as a lawmaker and not from a show of force of your street power while laying a siege to the Parliament.

Yours sincerely


Karachi, Pakistan

The Tsunami of Change

Before I begin writing this article, I must clarify, that the article below was not meant to offend anyone; I respect each and every individual’s right to have their own opinion, and their freedom of expression and association. The article also contains quoted statements and remarks of other individuals, whose opinions I neither endorse nor denounce.

In troubled times, the fearful and naïve are always drawn to charismatic radicals.

In troubled times,the fearful and naive are always drawn to charismatic radicals
In troubled times, the fearful and naïve are always drawn to charismatic radicals.

This strong, wise saying has stood the test many a times. People are, in difficult times, in a dire need of change: yes, just change, not giving though to the type and consequences and repercussions of such a change; the more radicals the change seems, the more attractive it is.

Adolf Hitler, Vladimir Lenin and Barrack Hussein Obama all called out change to come to power, and indeed those were difficult times for those nations; I wouldn’t go on with history lessons here.

I’d rather talk about the “Tsunami of Change” that the PTI called out for when they were contesting the 2013 General Elections, the elections which brought them to power in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The PTI made tall claims to end corruption and terrorism in Pakistan: now of course the party may have come up with excellent excuse for the failure. Let’s look into these in more details.

Let’s be honest, PTI is not the liberal, vibrant, all-embracing party that many believe it to be and what it partially portrays itself to be. It is a fundamentalist party, or rather a confused fundamentalist party, who favor talks with the Taliban, to such an extreme, that the party failed to condemn acts of terrorism which claimed the lives of its own lawmakers and ministers. Ironic, but true.

The PTI Chief Imran Khan had claimed that they would end corruption in the entire country within 19 days and terrorism within 90 days of coming to power . After coming to power in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mr. Perwaiz Khattak, the PTI’s chief minister of the province stated that cancer of corruption would be eliminated in 30 days. The people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are yet to see this promise turn to reality. Tall claims, yet no actions.

I had earlier written about the PTI chief’s demand to the then PM-elect to either have US drone strikes stopped or shoot down the drones. This has come in as a handy excuse: the PTI claims that these drone strikes are the reasons for failure for the establishment of peace in the province, and comes as a response to terrorist activities, which claim innocent, precious human lives, and the lives of PTI ministers and law makers.

The Peshawar Carnage, other terrorist attacks which kill innocent civilians, and terrorist attacks on the Pakistani Armed Forces and Law Enforcement Agencies, all haven’t deterred the PTI chief’s determination to conduct peace talks with the banned terrorist organizations. As I had stated earlier, I see no distinction between this act and a sheer act of treason against the state of Pakistan. His determination is so strong, that he even stated that the TTP should be allowed to open up an office, for the purpose of the talks.

The backlash again this statement was so strong, that people went on to say that Imran Khan’s house is more or less an office of the TTP, and that the PTI itself is a political wing of the TTP and, I, too stated that the PTI is the TTP’s political apologist.

When a US Drone strike killed the TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud, a notorious cold-blooded terrorist, who proudly claimed killing thousands of innocent Pakistanis, the PTI went haywire. They, it seemed, had lost a comrade. The PTI chief Imran Khan, and the party’s leadership and government of the province went on to blame the United States for all of Pakistan’s troubles and said that they wouldn’t allow NATO supply trucks to pass through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, even if they had to loose their government for that. The reaction of the people become even more extreme:

It now appears that the PTI may soon have to loose their government, if not because of their blockade of the supply routes, then definitely in the elections, due to angry and disillusioned Pakistanis who once had jumped into their bandwagon of “Change”. This is the beauty of democracy.

The reason for Pakistan’s problems, says PTI, is not the Taliban, or illiteracy, or power shortage, or natural resource depletion, or poor healthcare, or poverty, or lack of welfare, but the very fact that the United States is giving aid to Pakistan to overcome the above mentioned problems that the country faces. They go on to say that the War on Terror is not our war and that the Taliban, actually an amalgamation of Pakistani and foreign rebels, are considered by the PTI as our people, who are being targeted by Pakistani military who are fighting America’s war on terror. I sincerely hope the PTI leadership soon realizes that the tens of thousands of people who die in Taliban’s attacks are Pakistani and not American, and killing a human being is inhumane and barbaric regardless of the victim’s race, sex, ethnicity, nationality or cultural identity; and that a terrorist is a terrorist, whether they be Pakistani or foreign nationals.

In his speech on the anniversary of the TTP’s Karsaz Attack on Benazir Bhutto’s homecoming, the PPP chief, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari stated his party would help the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa get rid of the “tsunami” –  the PTI’s election call. It appears that all political parties are feasting on the shortcomings of the PTI government.

Another change the PTI has brought about on Twitter is that the freedom of speech is now quite restricted: “PTI Trolls” are quite famous on the social media, these are those who harass people ‘daring’ to speak out against the PTI point of view, or those who speak out on the folly and policies of the party or its fundamental ideology.

I had read the opinion of a fellow blogger, they stated that the PTI’s policies, although bold and innovative, which promotes home based small industries, and community based healthcare and education, but are actually practically impossible to implement, and if the PTI, by some miracle, achieves this, it will cement their victory in the next elections.

This however, is not in sight in the near, foreseeable future.

Whether the PTI succeeds in its stated aims and objectives is another story, but what the party has succeeded in is exposing the true face of the Taliban, increasing the hatred for the Taliban in Pakistan and for every fundamentalist politico-religious party including the PTI, and alienating many of the people who voted for them in the 2013 General Elections.

Living in a Terrorized Society

street-crimeBefore you start reading, bear in mind that I do not intend to rant out my grudges against the injustices of our society or deliver more and more bad news, but I do intend to explore the solutions to the injustices in our terrorized society.

My 2nd day at law school, in the first class of Criminal Law, a sentence caught my attention:

Missing persons… Extra judicial killings… so many fancy terms… You are living in a country where there are massive human rights abuses!

Ms. Abira Ashfaq, our criminal law lecturer was referring to the situation in Balochistan more particularly, and the whole country in general. Every day the newspaper headlines read “Missing persons found dead in Balochistan”, this is, quite sadly indeed, becoming the norm, just like street crimes, car lifting etc., became the so widespread and common, that after they had dominated the headlines for quite long enough, the newspapers decided they weren’t newsworthy any longer. The same is happening with Karachi’s issues of target killing on ethnic grounds and extortion.

beaten_upWe aren’t just terrorized by the Taliban in the North-Western region of Pakistan, but by Baloch separatists in the South-West, our own security and intelligence agencies who overstep their authority, street criminals and gangs in our major cities, and our very own political and politico-religious parties.

Laws exist to safeguard the people, their rights and liberties, but why haven’t our laws been effective enough in doing what they were supposed to do? The answer: no one follows the law. When I say no one, I do not just mean the criminals out there, this includes each and every single one of us. Every day, as I drove down the streets of Karachi, I see people driving down the wrong side of the road just to save a few meters of distance, stopping their cars over the zebra crossing if they stop their cars at all when the signal is red. It is quite the norm for people to talk on the phone while they drive, teenagers, under the legal age to drive, are quite often seen driving freely, some teens even text message each other while driving, breaking the law and putting their and others’ lives at stake.

Why does this all happen in our society? I believe this is because each and every one of us, deep down believes that the law does not apply to them. Pardon the lawmakers for a moment please, it’s not just them who believe themselves to be superior to the law. Our elected representative, whom we choose to make the law, believe themselves to be superior to the law, same is the mindset of the bureaucrats, law enforcement agencies and their families.

Lawlessness is deep-rooted in the Pakistani culture and society. We cannot hope to change our society without first changing ourselves. We have to change ourselves: refuse to accept the lawlessness, stand up to injustice, and fix ourselves before we move on to fix our society. As the saying goes:

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

We have to hold ourselves accountable for our actions, keep a check on our lawmakers and those who have been entrusted with our security. To build Pakistan, and to rid it of lawlessness and injustices, we have to act!

You may also read my earlier post: An Assessment of Pakistan’s Human Rights Record.

Justice for Shahzeb Khan

The victim Shahzeb Khan
The victim Shahzeb Khan

Shahzeb Khan, the only son of Deputy Superintendent of Police Aurangzeb Khan was murdered in cold blood by Shahrukh Jatoi, Siraj Talpur and two other convicts on 25th December 2012, near Mubarak Masjid in DHA, Karachi.

On 7th June 2013, the four accused were found guilty by an Anti Terrorism Court in Karachi for premeditated murder of Shahzeb Khan, the two prime convicts, Jatoi and Talpur were awarded death penalty, and the other two convicts were given life imprisonment.

Shahzeb Khan was murdered because one of the servants of Talpur abused and harassed the sister of the victim Shahzeb Khan, and the Shahzeb spoke out against it.

Justice for Shahzeb Khan was not easy to come by: the two convicts belong to very influential feudal families in Sindh; even though the victim’s father was a Police officer himself, the Police was unable to register a case against the convicts due to the pressure exerted by their families.

Protest for Justice for Shahzeb Khan
Hunger for Justice: The Supreme Court took a suo motto notice for legal action after large scale peaceful protests all over Karachi.

Even the Pakistani media was slow in reporting the story; it wasn’t until a social media campaign launched by the friends and family of the victim Shahzeb Khan on Facebook and Twitter named Justice for Shahzeb Khan, which gathered momentum and sympathies of Karachiites, and evolved into a series of medium and large sized peaceful protests all over Karachi, that the Supreme Court of Pakistan took a suo motto notice of the matter and ordered the police to register a case against the accused in addition to seizing their property and freezing their bank accounts.

The Supreme Court action came a bit late: Shahrukh Jatoi had escaped out of Pakistan to the United Arab Emirates. The arrest of his father for the crime of helping a fugitive of law to escape made him finally surrender to the Pakistani authorities at the Pakistani Consulate in Dubai. He was arrested and flown back to Pakistan and faced trial for premeditated murder.

Even during the trial, Jatoi’s influential family tried to save him by falsely claiming in court that he was a minor, under 18 years of age, at the time of murder. This was later proven otherwise by medical reports.

Shahrukh Jatoi flashes victory sign outside the court room after conviction
Shahrukh Jatoi, the convicted killer flashes victory sign after being awarded death penalty by an Anti Terrorism Court

After the court found them guilty and the verdict was announced, Shahrukh Jatoi was seen smiling and flashing a victory sign while being taken away.

The counsel for the convicts announced that they would be challenging the verdict before the High Court of Sindh. The case still has a long way to go: an appeal to the High Court, if that is rejected, an appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan, and if that appeal too is rejected, the convict would have an opportunity to appeal for mercy to the President of Pakistan. If the President finally rejects their appeal would the sentence be carried out.

Still, this is a major victory for the people of Karachi and the family of the victim. Justice is hard to come by in Pakistan, and justice for Shahzeb Khan is a display of the collective strength of the people of Pakistan, especially the young generation, their desire for a fair and equal society; Justice for Shahzeb Khan also demonstrates the power of social media in getting the people to rise up and raise their voice and be heard and in bringing killers to the book and the dispensation of justice.

Justice being done in this case would not bring the victim back to life, but it might prevent more precious lives being lost in the future to suck arrogant and egoistic attitude of the elite of this nation, who believe themselves to be above the law.

The people welcomed the decision wholeheartedly and expressed pleasure and satisfaction; the following is a glimpse of the reaction of the people after the verdict was announced by the court.


Below: A grab from a local TV channel after the convicts were awarded death penalty.

Talks with the Taliban? Think again!

The Right-wing political parties gained the upper hand in the May 11th 2013 General Elections in Pakistan; parties like the PML-N, PTI and JUI-F had massive popular support. The Left-wing, liberal parties like the PPP and the ANP suffered grave losses. With ‘Talks and Peace deals with the Taliban’ amongst their top agendas, these winning Right-wing parties were adamant on putting an end to Pakistan’s War on Terrorism: actually a War for wrestling control from the Taliban and establishing the writ and sovereignty of Pakistan on its North-Western territories.

The Afghan Taliban armed to the teeth with lethal weaponsTo the dismay of these political and politico-religious parties, the Taliban withdrew the peace offer after its second-in-command Waliur Rehman was killed by a US drone strike on Pakistani territory on 30th May 2013. Soon after the attack, Imran Khan, chief of the PTI, was seen on news channels telling the then MNA-elect Nawaz Shareef, now the Prime Minister of Pakistan, to either stop the drone strikes or shoot the drones down.

On 29th May 2013 a petition was filed in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which sought a declaration by the Supreme Court against negotiations by any person, civilian or military, with a forbidden private army waging war against Pakistan.

The petition was filed by Mr. Shahid Orakzai under the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction on the enforcement of fundamental rights, asked how could the armed forces propose a truce/ceasefire/end of hostilities to the rebels on the territory of Pakistan? The petitioner also asked whether a citizen was empowered by the constitution to negotiate peace with a private army waging war on Pakistan. However the Supreme Court Registrar Office had returned his petition by raising objections that he had no locus standi to file the petition.

Article 256 Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan forbids and outlaws any private army within the territory of Pakistan:

256. Private armies forbidden.
No private organization capable of functioning as a military organization shall be formed, and any such organization shall be illegal.

The Taliban are a private army/rebel group, waging war against Pakistan since the beginning of the 21st Century, on Pakistani territory. They have killed and slaughtered over 50,000 Pakistani men, women, children, politicians and leaders, police officers and army officers; they have slain many social workers especially those working for the eradication of the Polio virus. The Taliban out rightly reject the democratic system of Pakistan, its legal system, sovereignty of the Parliament over the territories of Pakistan.

Regarding the activities of some politico-religious groups which support the Taliban and/or peace talks with them, Article 5 of the constitution of Pakistan clearly states the following:

5. Loyalty to State and obedience to Constitution and law.

  1. Loyalty to the State is the basic duty of every citizen.
  2. Obedience to the Constitution and law is the inviolable obligation of every citizen wherever he may be and of every other person for the time being within Pakistan.

Afthermath of a Taliban attack, sudide bombingUnder the provisions of Article 5 of the constitution, would it not be that, according to the constitution of Pakistan, any Pakistani keeping contacts with, communication with, aiding or abetting the rebels waging war against Pakistan, would be committing acts treason? Leaders of our winning political parties, Nawaz Shareef of PML-N, Imran Khan of PTI, Fazal-ur-Rehman of JUI-F, all have been in contact with the Taliban, our media who receive calls of Taliban’s spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan when he calls to proudly claim responsibility of terrorist activities his organization carries out, Imams of mosques in rural and urban areas of Pakistan who openly sympathize with these terrorists, are they all not guilty of treason? I do not intend to accuse anyone; interpretation of the Constitution is the responsibility of the Supreme Court, which recently failed to take up the above mentioned petition.

In the video below you can see what the Taliban does in the areas it controls. The video below shows extremely violent acts committed by the Taliban (decapitating humans), NOT suitable for children, those with a weak heart and certainly NOT for those who do not wish to watch it. Be advised.

UPDATE: The copy of this video hosted on Vimeo, earlier embedded here, was removed by Vimeo staff because “it depicts extreme violence”, The video has been replaced by the same copy hosted on this server.

Pakistan General Elections 2013: An Overview

A ballot paper being inserted in the ballot box in Pakistan General Elections 2013Pakistanis voted on May 11th, 2013: it was followed by the first democratic transfer of power in Pakistan. The general elections were largely free and fair, with the exception of some alleged rigging in Karachi, and some other parts of the nation. The polls recorded a massive, highest ever turnout of 60%.

The polls saw Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N rise to power at the center and stay entrenched in Punjab, the largest province of the nation. Imran Khan’s PTI got a chance to set up a coalition government with the Jamaat-i-Islami in the troubled province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Sindh will see a coalition of the PPP and probably the MQM, and a coalition government of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, National Party and the PML-N in Balochistan.

Surprisingly, the former ruling PPP and its allies the PML-Q and the ANP faced bitter defeat. It seems as if, in the words of the Chief Justice of Peshawar High Court, “the people avenged the former rulers”.

Democracy - Everyone is equal and respected!In Pakistani elections, there’s never defeat; there’s victory for one, and rigging for others. For the first time in Pakistani history, ANP accepted its defeat. Never had a political party displayed this great level of maturity and accepted the shortcomings of its government for its defeat in election. The others blamed rigging, the establishment and whatever their vivid imaginations could draw.

Happy News: Once in a Blue Moon

I love discussions over current political situations and scenarios, read and watch the news (almost) everyday, and have friends and family to discuss the news with. It occurs to me:

Collection of negative news headlines
The most fequently seen headlines!

“Why is the news so negative

Every news-person and journalist I happened to inquire, gave me the response on these lines:

“Negative? This is reality. The world is a bad place. Bad things happen. We’re trying to make the world better by telling people about it the way it is. People murder their families. Kids and teens are kidnapped. Terrorists are trying to kill you; bomb blasts happen everyday. Dozens of people are being shot dead everyday. We’re at war. The politicians, the government, are corrupt; the army, the judiciary and agencies are plotting against you. Incredible car accidents, train wrecks and plane crashes take place on a regular basis and you need to know about them. The world is giving you cancer. Terrible plagues are on their way. Climate change is here, and we’re all going to die.”

breaking-newsWhat is wrong with all this? This is the reality we’re made to believe each time we switch on the T.V., isn’t it?

I love newspapers and TV news, and I’ve mostly seen negativity as a by-product of freedom of the press – freedom to criticize those is power and expose crime, corruption, inaction, inequality and injustices. But in the last few years, something changed. I started finding news, TV news in particular, irritating, painful, disturbing, even traumatic. Repetitive. Torturous. Paranoid. Overkill. I’d turn on Geo and hear an unrelenting charge of corruption, accusations against the government, inflation, instability, murders, deaths, explosions, disasters, tragedies, terrorists and apocalyptic predictions.

Perhaps the world has simply gotten worse in the last decade. Climate change, terrorism, hyperinflation, economic decline, and war have made the news cycle more frightening. But I don’t think viewers take issue with this type of negativity. They understand the state of the world. They watch the news.

This is what is meant by negative:

NewsCastYou see a dry, windy day, the media see climate change. You see a road, the media sees car accidents, traffic jams, and pollution. You see a protest and the media shouts that the government must go. You see a religious festival or public holiday ahead, the media alert us a terrorist attack is imminent. You see an empty street, the media see street crimes, armed robberies and target killings. You see a glass half-full, the media tell you the remaining water in that glass could be contaminated with cyanide by terrorists. You say: “Have a nice day,” the media say: “It started off as a nice day, but it ended in murder, car accidents, a fire, bank robberies, a frightening new trend and arrests. Detailed news after the break.”

If you had a friend who talked like TV news, you’d probably think that friend was an idiot, paranoid, hyper, morbid, manic and clinically depressed.

Television networks, particularly 24-hour news networks, come alive when a war starts. This is no accident. War reporting is one of journalism’s core assignments and, not accidentally, the greatest driver of ratings.

War and its attendant horrors might have forged and woven the very fabric of journalism. Some people say that the popular inverted pyramid reporting style has its roots in war. War reporters, always fearful of having their stories cut off by the telegraph, wrote stories in a hierarchy of carnage where the deaths came first, followed by injuries.

While this theory is disputed, the pyramid style persists and has a led to an obsession with body counts and violence. Stories are more important if more people die, and readers find that news stories trail off without any kind of … conclusion. They’ll show you an accident, but they won’t tell you why it happened or how to prevent it next time.

And the very language of journalism is said to have come from war. A politician will face a “barrage of questions,” bills are “torpedoed” and exciting new books are “explosive.” In Pakistan, the evening news has something related to this: “Today, 15 people were shot dead in different parts of Karachi” being accompanied by images of an ambulance being sent off from the crime scene, the traumatized victim or his/her dead body being moved around in the hospital and finally scenes of crying and wailing women and then men. After the final ‘sensational’ development of the news, the channels would lay claims that they were the first ones to break the news first to you.

The number of dead are reported in this manner: “The explosion claimed 31 lives, which included 24 women and children”. 31 and 24 seen quite high together, a psychological effect intended at creating a sensation, and spark interest (read: horror) among the viewers, to keep them glued to their seats, make them depressed.

EVERYTHING IS FINE!
If everything was fine, would you read the newspaper?

Perhaps people have gotten hooked on negative news the way people got hooked on junk food. And here is perhaps the most popular argument in favor of media negativity. It’s what the people want. But is it really?

Good and happy news are flashed on the TV too, like winning a cricket or hockey match, but isn’t that too short lived, and not given the attention it duly deserves? Would you like to listen to any good news?

If the media are too negative, there is one person who might have the power and the ideas to change it.

That’s you!

In the name of love

In-the-name-of-LoveLove has many different meanings in many different contexts. But does this broad term encompass vandalism, robbery, arson, murder, terrorism? Many would disagree; many did just all this in the name of love. Someone made a blasphemous video insulting Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.); this ignited the sentiments of the Muslims and resulted in attacks on the US and European Embassies around the Muslim world, which included the murder of the US ambassador to Libya.

Wednesday 19th September 2012: the federal government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan announced Friday 21st September 2012 as Ishq-e-Rasool (S.A.W.W.) Day, a public holiday to enable the people to show their love for Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.). The move might not had been entirely religiously motivated; the Islamic fundamentalist political parties in the opposition had issued a call for strike as a protest against the said video.

It was announced by the Interior Ministry that cellular services would be suspended throughout the nation on Friday 21st October 2012, to prevent any undesirable incident. Cellular blackouts are now a common feature under Abdul Rehman Malik’s ministry.

Thursday 20th September 2012: In Islamabad, the federal capital of the Islamic Republic, protesters marching towards the US embassy in the Red Zone’s Diplomatic Enclave scuffled with the police; this evolved into skirmishes between the protesters and the security forces. In hours this escalated into a battle, and the Pakistan Army was called in. Protests also erupted in other cities of Pakistan as well other Muslim countries around the world.

Friday 21st September 2012, the Ishq-e-Rasool (S.A.W.W.) Day: Protests in all major cities began after the Friday prayers; before that an uneasy calm prevailed. The demonstrators and the criminals alike took to the streets and vandalized public and private property: petrol pumps, banks, cinemas, restaurants, shops, and many public places were vandalized, robbed, burnt and many people lost their lives. At many places the protesters and the law enforcement agencies were involved in street gun battles, in which many were injured and some lost their lives. At the end of the day, 189 suspects found themselves in police custody, and 27 were dead.

All in the name of love; love for the person who never cursed even those who tortured and persecuted him, love for the person who was sent as a blessing to humanity, love for the Prophet of the religion which means peace.

Protesting about something which one may consider offensive is one’s right, but protesting in such a way, is that even acceptable? Not at all, as I believe; this believe is shared by all I know. That day, Facebook statuses denouncing such acts flooded every Pakistani’s news feeds. Every sane and literate person hated what was going on outside in the streets.

But why did all this happen? The answer lies in the mentality of the masses, majority of which are illiterate. Literacy rate has been very low here in Pakistan, even when the definition of a literate person is “one who can read and write their own name”, funny, isn’t it? Their mentality has been altered; they have been brainwashed, hatred has been seeded in their minds. What Pakistan needs at this moment is a strong, well-funded educational infrastructure. For only educated and sane people seem to realize that love isn’t what many showed what it meant to them that day.