An Unfortunate Mindset

You know there is a very fine line, thin and almost obscure, which connects the mindset which deems it ok to insult someone in public by calling them names – especially when the person in question is of the opposite gender – and the mindset which is ok with ‘light beating’ of wives to be ok for things which are not ‘acceptable’ in terms of their behavior.

This very thin line of connection whilst cannot be seen so easily and to the naked eye is actually one of many big problems with us. And it’s a problem not just in one way or one level. Multiple ways. It’s an entire thought process or school of thought if you will which isn’t really the produce of a well-researched and intellectual think tank or anything of that sort. Just the opposite. Fueled by an ignorant and ancient mindset which refuses to embrace good for humanity and wants to continue ruling with their veil of ignorance on top of everyone to stay in their positions of power and influence. I am sure it won’t require any rocket science to guess who I am referring to.

But that’s one of the things. We are ok dissecting and discussing it in drawing rooms and condemning it as if it was the most natural thing to come to us. Whereas upon closer introspection you might find that one some levels you are just as ignorant. Ok maybe not ‘just as ignorant’ but definitely more ignorant than you would like to admit.

Khawaja Asif’s remarks in the Parliament against Shireen Mazari were uncalled for, unbecoming and definitely not something that should be part of the nation’s parliament much less coming from a federal minister for crying out loud. It was not the first time from Khawaja Asif and definitely not the first time in the history of the country. There have been many incidents in the past involving women parliamentarians of all parties. Benazir Bhutto too had to face such ridicule.

It is sad that such things happen. But these things happen not just here – they happen in other parts of the world as well. So this is actually a bigger problem world over especially with the whole ceiling on women’s achievements and growth and success etc. Till we as a whole get out of this need to differentiate between genders in the professional realm – things will remain the same.

This discrimination and mindset world over is there but perhaps most parts of the world have become a bit more subtle and sophisticated so they don’t tend to boil over like it still does here. It was also unbecoming of people chiming in with ‘Keep quite aunty’ etc. It was also unbecoming of others present there not doing enough to control the situation and try and make amends immediately. Surely this is not something which cannot transcend different political party lines. Respect and all?

Sadly it doesn’t. It is this very mindset which will perhaps condemn the light beating issue of the CII (the wonderful people that they are) but will actually internally agree with them and then well who knows what happens in their households. It is the same ignorant and ‘jaahil’ soch that thinks it is ok to go around beating the weaker sex. As is the case. It is the same mindset which then goes on to connect with other problems like honor killing and all. The one which would most likely look down upon the victim of a rape and take out their flaws and faults which led to the crime rather than look at the perpetrator.

It is the mindset which thinks it’s a man’s world and only men are allowed to be kings and rulers and have every single inch of power available in this world. And that anything else is here to be man’s objects of desire, use and rejection. It is unfortunate that such a mindset occupies the parliament of our country. It is unfortunate that such a mindset is allowed to spew negativity towards development. It is unfortunate that we have not done enough to battle this mindset.

It is this mindset which has for years continued being an obstacle towards girls education. It is this mindset which has given liberty to elements like TTP and the like to go about attacking and murdering innocents, destroying structures and lives, vanquishing dreams and hopes. It is this mindset which is unfortunate and which hasn’t been dealt with where it needs to be dealt with the most – in the mind. The military operation has beat the TTP in the background. But the social fabric of our society is still suffering.

Attack on Lahore, Attack anywhere, Attack on Humanity

Prayers for all the lives lost in the attack in Lahore yesterday. Prayers for all the innocent gone. Prayers for all the families broken. Prayers for the sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers who are no more. Prayers for those who are undergoing treatment to try and recover. Prayers for those who are trying to recover from the trauma. Yet again prayers. Yet again we are the same juncture. There will be widespread criticism of security arrangements or the police or the intelligence or the politicians. There will be criticism that (and rightly so) the politicians will just be doing what they always do. They will come on media and ‘strongly’ condemn the barbaric actions of those behind this attack. There will be criticism of western media not giving equal weightage to the tragedy of an attack in a non-western state or country as given to the attacks in Belgium or France. There will be lots of noise on social media. There will be some sanity. There will be some chaos. It will all be there. And then once the cacophony has dimmed over the course of the next couple of weeks – we will move on. The world will move on. As it always does. As it always has. We lost 144 bright futures in children in Peshawer in December 2014. There was hue and cry. There was a black day. There were black profile pictures and black cover photos. Then after a couple of weeks, a year passed by and people marked the anniversary of the attacks. The same happened in Paris – there was a wave of people who changed their profile picture to mark their solidarity with them by having a watermarked French flag. Then life moved on. Belgium happened. Life is moving on. In between Yemen happened, Istanbul happened – life continues moving on.

We blame ISIS, we blame RAW, we blame the US. Life still moves on. But tell me how does any of this actually bring about any change? How does it comfort the lives of the ones left behind of the victims? How does it help the world in the future? What real action or objective is being achieved in the eradication of all these evils? It will only be better when we stand up to the evils of all these extremists. All these people who in the name of religion carry out murders, terror and destruction. They are not representative of anything or any religion or any race. They are all an evil against humanity and humanity must prevail against them by recognizing this fact. By moving beyond religion and race and standing up to them and saying this isn’t about any of that. This is about humanity. This about an attack on humanity – regardless of where, regardless of on who.

The change will come when we come forward and stand up to the mindset that was there in Islamabad yesterday. If we don’t stand up to that and stop it now – there will be more Lahores, Peshawers etc. If we don’t stand up to and stop extremism world over, there will be more Belgiums and Paris’s.

There cannot be any place in this world for extremism. We as humanity must stand up to it.

The Pursuit of Change

The word Change has been trumpeted around for quite a long time. Politicians use it. The establishment uses it. The judiciary uses it. The media uses it. The average household uses it in their daily lives and drawing room discussions. Heck I bet even the good folk in the TTP and LeJ etc use it. But that’s just about where the idea comes to an end. The more one thinks about it, the more one feels that actual and real change doesn’t seem to be trickling through.  We as a nation have become conformed to a response mindset rather than actual change or ‘reform’. And hence so have our leaders. ‘Jaisee qoum wesse hukumraan’.

I read Cyril Almeida’s piece in Sunday’s Dawn yesterday (LINK: http://www.dawn.com/news/1160725). For a lot of you who have read it or care to read it I am sure it will hit home. And as usual as it is with a lot of truth in this country, it’s sad.

The Peshawar Attacks are still recent in our memories but yet one can feel they have more or less gone out of the national narrative. And then yet again a new attack struck, this time a sectarian target. More than a 130 died in the barbaric brutality of Peshawar and more than 50 died in the suicide blast of Shikarpur. The operation is still going on as it has been for the past 8 or so months and seemingly has the Boys’ conviction at the heart of it. This is a change of sorts I suppose and we can take heart from it. But does it seem to be enough? Is the funding being cut off? Is the supply line being cut off? Is space being taken away for them to regroup and rebuild? Is there a contingency? And where is the rest of the change. Sure the moratorium was lifted and people are being hanged. Well some were hanged anyway and it received a lot of media attention but what after that? Why are notable leaders of the same kiln being allowed to roam freely? Why are characters like Abdul Aziz and Malik Ishaq not behind bars? Why is Qadri the self-confessed murderer of Salman Taseer not being given a final sentence? In fact a few days back his ‘case file had disappeared’. (LINK: http://www.dawn.com/news/1160391). All this makes for a little hard viewing to see any change.

Take other issues – energy for example. The PML N got their mandate by and large on the back of a strong ‘Energy will be resolved campaign’. The promises on energy varied from a year to 5 years of delivery at differing times since the elections in 2013. No change has really happened. There is still load shedding. There are still supply issues. There are still high cost energy issues. But no change is really happening. And instead we are focusing on metro bus lines.

Even the recent petrol crises – there was nothing done to show that a change is being made in the system or process to ensure that this incident doesn’t happen again. No one was really taken to task. Instead the PSO MD was made a scapegoat and shown the exit door. And their own man was brought at the helm.

The short term was addressed which is always the case. And why? Because they know that we as a nation are also in the most apt of definitions a fickle nation with short term memories. Short term thought processes when analyzing the issues. Who cares about long term? We won’t be there. We will make as much as we can now and then let the long term be a collection of all the failed short terms.

Imran, as much as his heart seems to be perhaps in the right place also seemingly started his marathon 127 days of Dharna (or was it 129?) with a short term goal. Or so some of his ardent supporters would say. He needs to become prime minister now because he is getting old. He is running out of time. The system’s change should not be a strategy dependent on the viability of one individual. That in itself just doesn’t seem viable or sustainable.

This is not to say there has been no change whatsoever. There have been some things which have changed. People in KPK are testifying to a difference , a positive difference in the state. A positive difference in the general administrative nature of things. The police. The hospitals. The judiciary. So that’s great. But no one has actually gone around amplifying this and instead have stuck to the same rhetoric – elections were rigged, electricity will be solved in xyz years, condemn the heinous attacks etc etc etc.

So yes almost 2 years on from the supposed election of ‘change’ in 2013 we are still not anywhere near that ‘supposed change’. The pursuit for it is still in the process if it hasn’t started yet. Or so it seems. And so it increasingly seems to be the case as an ongoing phenomenon.

Pakistan–67 Years On

Happy Independence Day to all people who stumble upon this blog.

Happy another year of a mixed bag for Pakistan. Thou at times it gets harder and harder to count the good points amongst the worrying or the bad points. With all the long marches, opposition protests, terrorist attacks, corruption, energy issues and other woes its no surprise that good points tend to get lost in the background.

The democratic system is faltering and almost in danger of treading off path and crashing. Zardari managed to keep all things at bay to steer home after 5 years. However Mian sb and his N League certainly aren’t inspiring the same confidence. And the opposition is making a lot of noise and the Civ Mil relations are back to being well on and off rocky.

One good thing is that we are finally taking a stand (hopefully all the way through) against the virus and plague that has been the TTP for Pakistan in the last 12 years. No more dialogue. No more bull. Time to get the act together and clean up this mess. We don’t want an ISIS blowback coming all the way here.

The thing is I could go on about all that has happened in the previous year of Pakistan’s existence but we all already know that. Thanks to the dozens of news channels. But what about the things not on the news. Like where has the spirit gone by and large? Yes there still cars out with the customary side flags and bonnet flags and roof flags. Yes there was still some awaam heading towards sea view to create a ruckus and party. But there was no noise. There wasn’t much sound. It was more like a case of somebody just showing up to a wedding to get there face shown, attendance marked and then be on their way home. Even at work, people who were in the spirit (and there were hardly any by the way) were recycling things that they could get their hands on from last year at work. There was no joy. There was hardly any green. People didn’t do even something as small as just wearing something green. Very few.

Is it that the whole spirit of being a Pakistani is fading away slowly and steadily? Did the ‘Naya Pakistan’ disappear over the last year? Perceptions matter and right now the perception is that it could be the 3rd of March for anyone cares – it’s a holiday from work. And that’s about it. No sitting down and watching parades as a family. No good national shows on TV to follow. No national songs blaring around to celebration. At least I didn’t hear any. The mood is perhaps more somber this year because of the whole Azadi march and the Inquilabi march and Imran Khan and Tahir ul Qadri and the show down in Islamabad. Our capital has been shut for the last few days. Anyone there is not getting much done. And the march is on the way.

Even so – even with all of that going on and no doubt all of that is quite significant – the spirit is slowly fading away from people. The passport is getting less and less valuable in the general public’s eyes. A good investment in some small island nation for a different colored passport is sounding extremely good to people.

I miss the days when it was better then this. The spirit was there. Green was dominant on this day. The green of our flag. There was something ,….. anything that would reflect even a little bit of love or pride. Now its hard to find. Hard to see. Hard to blame people for as well.

So yes Pakistan, 67 years have gone by. 67 years survived at the hands of corrupt politicians, noise oppositions, a non-inclusive military and a still to mature media. Here’s to perhaps a different 67 years ahead. Maybe a different topic or theme altogether when it’s the 134th Independence Day of Pakistan. If it comes around to that.

Let’s pray to Allah to bring better years and better fortunes for our country in the years and months to come. Let’s pray that the love comes back. The spirit gets renewed.

Pakistan Zindabaad.

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Of Rhetoric, Peace Talks and Sindh Festivals

I have felt myself being disconnected with the general happenings in Pakistan over the past couple of months. It is down to a couple of reasons – personal circumstances being major in occupying a large majority of the mind’s capacity. But also because of a general disdain. A feeling setting in that there is no fix in sight. That there is nothing concrete coming out from any side. There is just talk. Rhetoric. And the same old blame the previous government, terrorism bad but because of US war, condemnation of the xyz attack in xyz city. It is the same vicious cycle repeating itself.

My vote for change last May has really fizzled out to a big nothing. I don’t see any concrete change taking place. It has been majorly disappointing the manner in which Imran Khan has conducted business. My vote for him was to establish infrastructure. Focus on that. On what should be his forte. Something that he has proven himself in being capable of. But no – all we have had is a lot of noise over drones, peace talks, US bad etc etc etc.

First of all – let’s get it straight. This is our war. It may not have started out that way. But it is pretty much our war now. You can’t just say that the thousands of lives that have been lost to this barbaric notion of TTP is because it is not our war. The constant security situation of the last 10 years cannot just be swept aside as not our war. It is our war. They have challenged our sovereignty just as much as the drones have. They have attacked more innocents and military/security personal. Their logic is flawed – if they have a problem with the drones – attack the drones. Why civilians? No this is very much our war.

Second of all – peace talks. I am sorry but the idea of holding ‘peace’ talks with murderers is just beyond me. The simple fact of the matter is that they are using religion to get away with it whereas the religion under which they claim to be doing all that they are doing will hold them more than accountable for a lot of things that they shouldn’t be doing. But they are still getting away with it. Because they have so successfully worked upon the stereotype of the ‘religiously’ correct into our heads that it is unthinkable for anyone to openly and aggressively challenge them on religious grounds. I mean those who do are dealt with and the state does nothing to respond, other than the ‘condemnation’ and other rhetoric.

Khan and his PTI have been pro-Taliban that much was known to me. But I believed that he had it in him to deliver on other fronts – the administrative and infrastructural fronts. That really hasn’t happened. There have been mobile court rooms and little bits here and there. But nothing big, nothing concrete. Nothing in focus. The focus has been the drones, and the peace talks with the taliban. You have been given a chance to change the fortunes of this country starting with KP, and with all due respect you are blowing it. Well not for yourself perhaps because you are still playing the popular politics that got you KP in the first place.

Mian sb and company I would have given a 20% benefit of doubt. Third time prime minister. Changed heart and all that. Leave a legacy of having done something for the fortune of Pakistan. But nada. Disappointment there as well. Absent leadership, a nod here and there. A speech now and then comprising mostly of previous government, we will do ‘insert vague statement’ and promise nothing concrete.

And the next generation – well they are just focusing on their marketing image for now. Saeein rocking his Sindh Festival ads and speeches and looks and viral videos and what not. It’s an overhaul of the PPP image for the next elections come 2018 or maybe even before if this government doesn’t complete its term. Because the need of the hour is concerts and tournaments. That’s what sindh needs. That’s what Pakistan needs. Hey here’s a neat idea – how about not wasting money on all of that and instead putting it into the system – making a real change which is sustainable. Just a thought. Tell you what – you can still make an ad and wear that ridiculous ‘saayeein’ moonch to do the image overhaul that you so desperately want.

And finally the military. Well I cant say much on that front. Kiyani was all about keeping the boys out of politics. Keeping the boys a little restrained and compliant to the democratic cause. Raheel Sharif seemed at first to be going all guns about business and bringing the boys into action. But well there seems to be a stalemate there.

As Cyrial Almeida puts (once again might I say brilliantly) in his column today TTP V 2.0 is really the winner here – they are evolving in their thought and ability to tackle and manipulate Pakistan.

The real losers are the people, ignorant and aware alike.

So hence – I feel getting more disconnected with the current affairs because it is the same rhetoric cycle over and over again and no one is seemingly interested in changing it.

Kudos.

P.S.

Cyril Almeida’s column can be read on the following link as it has been published by Dawn:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1087283/taliban-20

A dash of pessimism?

Wake up to a dangerous narrative, interact with an increasingly disillusioned / disconnected / disjointed generation, drive home on the back of an insecurity of being robbed. Oh did I miss out the whole part about arguing with the merits of logic on your side against the absolute ‘thickness’ of a brick wall on the other?

Yep, that’s pretty much what makes up an average day in this country these days. Add to that the normal everyday and everywhere things like work, career, competition, rising inflation etc etc. As it is all these elements are getting tougher and tougher as well.

Sprinkle some fears over the fact that natural disasters are getting ever more frequent. The latest being a typhoon which hit the Philippines, causing damage and loss of life on a large scale. The last I saw on the news the death toll was being put at 10,000+. The infrastructural loss was massive as well.

Taking all of the above in totality and one just wonders how is it exactly that the world is going on. Well maybe that isn’t the entirely the right question. Perhaps the better question here would be till when will the world keep going on like this.

Not very long ago I wrote a post on the ‘moral corruption’ in the current society. Maybe the end is nigh?

A boiling pot waiting to boil over. Pessimistic much? Realistic? Practical? Or putting together certain facts and drawing some conclusions together? You can decide and draw your own conclusions.

Waar–A Pakistani Cinema Win

In the last few years Pakistani cinema has been able to produce 1-2 movies which could be chalked as a ‘win’ because it showed some promise that maybe, just maybe this is the moment that our film industry will start a revival process. Sadly those 1 – 2 movies came about 5 years ago and then it has been zilch. Other mediums – TV Serials, Tele Films, Short Plays and theatre in general have progressed. In all fairness Pakistan’s TV serials minus a period of about 3-4 years in the 2000’s have always been superb high quality stuff. And now with the rise in theatre and number of channels and more and more serials it is easy to see that there is a lot of talent and a lot of promise in Pakistan. However – films were missing.

This year has seen a complete breakthrough in that. Almost 3 films that I know of have been released with enough of a marketing clout to create a stir or two. And the trailers for all 3 did look quite promising. The 3 in question – ‘Main hun Shahid Afridi’ , ‘Josh’ and ‘Waar’. Although I have not as yet been able to see the first two, I did manage to see Waar. For the benefit of those reading this who haven’t seen the movie I shall not talk about the story or give any spoilers.

The movie is clearly funded by ISPR and is most definitely a response to the plethora of Bollywood films with anti Pakistan propaganda and also a dig against Hollywood films quite conveniently using Pakistan as a label to be used with terrorism and instability. It was needed and I have no qualms about it! The propaganda war needs to be played on both sides to be fair. 

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Waar stars Shaan Shahid in the leading role, Shamoon Abbasi as the psychotic villainous operative, Ali Azmat as a ambitious politician, Hamza Ali Abbasi as a Special Police officer and Ayesha Khan as an intelligence officer. And also Meesha Shafi as the RAW agent in Pakistan.

The opening scene of the movie is a fine example of the fact that this movie truly does mark a huge ‘win’ for Pakistani Film Industry. The production quality was top notch. The camera was extremely commendable. The background scores go well throughout the movie. The first scene really was executed quite well and honestly had a ‘wow’ moment worthy of any Hollywood action block buster.

Full marks must be given to Bilal Lashari – the director, for the effort put into the movie. It is definitely a leap forward. The first half had a lot of good ‘wow’ moments (Please bear in mind here that we are judging a Pakistani movie so the relative bar should also be seen accordingly and some leeway and leverage given in judgment). It can easily pass off as a Hollywood ‘B’ Grade movie and that is not a put down – it is a compliment because that is a huge leap forward.

The performances from the cast were good. But I was most impressed by Ayesha Khan. The dialogue deliver, the emotions, reactions everything were done extremely well by her. She plays her role quite comfortably. Also Shamoom does a brilliant job as the villain. Your natural instinct is to hate the character and also be concerned with the psychotic tendencies (like enjoying the struggler after killing someone). Spot on performances from these two. 

The entire movie was in English language btw (like 95% of the film) so the fact that most of the cast pulled it off relatively comfortably is also a huge wow. Yes some of the dialogues delivery seemed forced but progress is always gradual. All the action sequences in the first half were well executed. The second half was a bit downhill in terms of that – it seemed sporadic and haphazard.

Overall the script is also weak, there are some obvious loopholes. There are some very off story points and moments in the acting. And yes there is enough fodder in it to be made fun of. The dialogues written were also not always strong. But like I said, progress is gradual and not sudden rocket launches (if I can get away with using that analogy).

Kudos to the team of Waar, I think a proud moment for Pakistani Cinema for sure. And I look forward to seeing the other two major releases for the year and hope that there are some proud moments there as well. I would not be overly critical of Waar but would rather choose to celebrate the achievements of the film. Good job – keep it up!