Damned if we do, Damned if we dont

Writing anything about Malala and the Noble Peace Prize is like finding a sprawling garbage dump and putting something at the top. It doesn’t really matter whether the thing you have put at the top is a work of art, a real eye-opener or a collection of rambling points dipped in bigotry and baked in the oven of contempt. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s for Malala or against her. Quite frankly, it doesn’t even matter if it has facts or just a work of fiction. Being ill-informed is the greatest dilemma of this instantly informed world. We pick and choose what information we would like to consume and often discard, if not vehemently dispute, whatever doesn’t fit our appetite. In this context, one might ask, what is point of writing anything?

I write because it’s an outlet. Like the man in The Green Mile who sucks illness out of someone and spreads it in the air as tiny bugs, writing takes all of my observations, whether they are good or bad, and sprinkles it on the strings of the interwebs.

During the past week or so, however, I have remained less observant and more engaging. I’ve grown tired of people making ignorant generalizations. In the past, I would’ve ignored it or tried to put my point across through wit and humor, but I wasn’t able to do that during the past week. One reason would’ve been an over exposure to Peter Capaldi’s character – Malcolm Tucker – and as a result, I have been calling out people’s ignorance while including *s between characters as if that makes a difference. I guess it does. Saying Fuck and F**k does allow some room for probability. However, it’s difficult to sustain that level of assholeness. I am sure after every episode of The Thick of It, Peter Capaldi goes home and watches cartoons to counter the level of shit that he had to say.

So back to the point – my addition to the garbage dump. Malala Yousafzai got a Noble Peace Prize and the world went bonkers. Some went bonkers in the sense of “Fuck yeah! Take that extremists!” and some went bonkers in the sense of “No fucking way I am going to let this shit happen”. I think it’s a good thing that the Noble committee gave the award to the Chemical arms watchdog organization the previous year, because that ensured that the Noble Peace Prize had no other way to go but up, given that its recent recipients have been Barack Obama, the EU and the chemical watchdog committee. I don’t know why it didn’t go to NASA since they are the only ones actively working on finding worlds where we can establish some peace, and that they operate the most peaceful place in our solar system, the International Space Station. Anyway, they gave the prize to Malala and Kailash Satyarthi. The latter is also a worthy recipient who, thankfully, hasn’t received a hostile reaction. People are generally happy that he got the award.

On the other hand, the supporters and opponents of Malala are typing away furiously. Each pressing the enter as if it would send electric shocks to their opponents. The supporters are happy that their icon has been recognized. They acknowledge that her contribution hasn’t been great but it’s her courage and determination that has been rewarded. She is no longer a 17 year old from Pakistan, rather she is the symbol of the resilience of women and girls, specially Pakistani women and girls, and represents the root of all good; education. One might point out, though, that similar sentiments were echoed by the supporters of Barack Obama, when he got the prize in 2009, a mere one year after he got into office. The comparison must stop there because it would be unfair to compare Malala with Obama as she is still quite some years away from leading anyone into war or from ordering drone strikes. Unless there is a startup that comes along and takes drone strike requests from anyone with a credit card.

The opposition camp, however, is in complete disarray. The points against Malala range from people pointing out the meaningless of the Noble Peace Prize, to people demanding to know her list of achievements and culminating into the most pathetic of maneuvers – dragging Edhi into the discussion. A more amusing sight is of people describing the Noble Peace Prize as a useless prize and demanding that Edhi should’ve been given the award, in almost the same breath. Edhi is, without doubt, worthy of all the plaudits that the world could give and then some, but dragging him in this debate is quite pitiful. We, the supporters of Edhi, should’ve done more to highlight his case but most of us just pay lip service to his cause. If they really want to honor Edhi, then they should’ve contributed to his organization or at least talked about it instead of posting “Go Nawaz Go” or “Go Imran Go”. Edhi foundation is understaffed and underfunded. It needs support and very few of the people, who are dragging Edhi’s name into this, actually donate and volunteer for his organization.

The Noble Peace Prize is a political prize. It is chosen by a group of people selected by the Norwegian parliament. It is bound to have political overtones. But it is also an internationally recognized award. People and nations feel proud if one of them gets this award. After all the bad press that we get, and most of it is because of the right reasons, don’t you think that this time all of us should get together and be happy for a change? Next year, hopefully our water car might get something too.

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Coke Studio 7. First impressions

Coke Studio is back. Here are my first impressions

1) The pianist is the oldest surviving member of the house band. He will be doing a lot of nodded approval during the series

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2) The drummer is extremely happy to be in the show
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3) Abida Parveen was as usual awesome

 

4) Aamir Zaki makes me feel a little old with his white hair.

aamir zaki

5) Sajjad Ali has a good heart but he doesn’t fit in Coke Studio

6) The male member of the backup vocals is going to sing a lot of high pitch notes

backup vocals

7) Ustaad Raees Khan seemed like a guy who always looks to the side in a portrait

raees khan

And the old man seemed a little high. “What is this long instrument in my hand”

raees khan-2

But he was pretty awesome too!

An observation made by a friend. Why are all the Ustaads Khans too? Why aren’t there Ustaad Chaudhary XYZ?

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The leaning tower of Pakistani politics

If the White House represents the American political system, the leaning tower of Pisa would be the true representative of Pakistani political system; you are pretty certain that it would fall but for some reason, it remains in place. Some would argue against this by pointing out that the democratic political system in Pakistan has been demolished many times, and it’s true but the political system has never been demolished. The faces in the executive have changed but the underlying system has remained intact, with a solidifying amalgam of intentional corruption and misplaced nationalism keeping it together.

Any moment in Pakistan’s political history is a crucial moment. The government is always on the verge of collapse primarily because of the incompetence and greed of it’s representatives, the opposition is always calling out for heads and crying out “cheating!” and the public is always in the state of “to hell with this!” with a garnish of “oh well”. Since the same actors tend to play government and opposition at different times of their lives (and sometimes at the same time, which is very confusing), they tend to say conflicting things. When they are in government, they would declare anti-government protests as illegal. When they are in opposition, they would consider themselves as the saviors of democracy by leading anti-government rallies. There is no consistency but nobody really cares. A champion has to win only once to become a champion. Consistency is the illusion mediocre people live in.

Overall, the Pakistani politicians are quite an expert in fooling the public. You can’t be considered the most corrupt person in Pakistan’s history and stay as President for 5 years if you don’t know how to fool people. You can’t return to power, after twice failing, without mastering the art of trickery. And you can’t raise a call for the removal of government on the grounds of incompetence while showing no significant progress in your own constituency without the belief that the public will follow no matter what. It takes the magical flute of Pied Piper to get the rats to jump into the sea and our politicians have imported containers full of these flutes.

But they don’t know how to schedule. I have heard the promises of “massive improvement in 90 days” so many times that I started thinking that our politicians think that 90 is a hypothetical number. For the past couple of weeks, I have heard the opposition parties promising Inquilab (revolution) in 2 days and the government promising that the crisis will end in 2 days, only for the deadline to be extended the next day. I am not sure where the inquilab or political stability is coming from, but it feels more like the copy wizard from Windows.

I want a stable Pakistan. I want a Pakistan where the priorities are right. Where the government doesn’t spend only 2 percent of its GDP on education and declare the budget as a balanced budget. Where the talk shows discuss improvements rather than be bickering matches. Where race, religion, cast and sect are disregarded in the furious defense of an individual’s rights. If this Inquilab is going to move us towards this future, I am all up for it. But we can’t have that if our attitude towards politics remains the same. The will to move forward should be greater than the desire to humiliate and right now, I only see pitchforks.

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Born to March

It seems like the name of months actually mean something. The month you are born in does have an impact on your personality. For example, the general consensus is that the defining moment of the creation of Pakistan was at the conference held on 23rd March, 1940. And ever since then we, as a nation, have been marching. We marched from old homes to new ones, from violence to uncertain future. We have marched for democracy and for removal of that democracy. We have marched for constitution and then we marched for adding amendments to that constitution to curtail rights of a portion of our population (i.e. the Ahmadis). We have marched against any country our assigned leaders have bothered to read about in the newspapers. We have marched against Denmark for publishing the cartoons without knowing where Denmark is. We have marched to demand release of a leader in self-imposed exile, arrested in a country he self-imposed-exiled himself to for breaking the laws of that said country. And we don’t even need our leaders to be in the forefront of our marches. They can direct us through a phone call and we are up and ready to go. We marched for the restoration of judiciary and now we are marching because of an election rigged by the judiciary we restored. We have branded marches as necessary for democracy and a threat to democracy in the same sentence. But we can’t do anything about it. It’s our destiny to march. One might assume that after labeling Raiwind as the real center of politics in Pakistan, we would march to Raiwind but there is no point creating a capital city if you can’t even use it for marching destinations. To Islamabad!

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Psychiatrist of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Commits Suicide

The following is a piece of satire that appeared on ireport.cnn.com written by skywalk3r on June 30th, 2010. It recently got some traction and was subsequently removed from the site since it was flagged by the community as inappropriate. Satire, as they say, is the closest thing to honest critique.

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Anguished Suicide Note Cites ‘Deluge of Doublethink’ In Driving Kind-Hearted Shrink to Despair Moshe Yatom, a prominent Israeli psychiatrist who successfully cured the most extreme forms of mental illness throughout a distinguished career, was found dead at his home in Tel Aviv yesterday from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. A suicide note at his side explained that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been his patient for the last nine years, had “sucked the life right out of me.” “I can’t take it anymore,” wrote Yatom. “Robbery is redemption, apartheid is freedom, peace activists are terrorists, murder is self-defense, piracy is legality, Palestinians are Jordanians, annexation is liberation, there’s no end to his contradictions. Freud promised rationality would reign in the instinctual passions, but he never met Bibi Netanyahu. This guy would say Gandhi invented brass knuckes.” Psychiatrists are familiar with the human tendency to massage the truth to avoid confronting emotionally troubling material, but Yatom was apparently stunned at what he called the “waterfall of lies” gushing from his most illustrious patient. His personal diary details the steady disintegration of his once invincible personality under the barrage of self-serving rationalizations put forth by Netanyahu. “I’m completely shocked,” said neighbor Yossi Bechor, whose family regularly vacationed with Yatom’s family. “Moshe was the epitome of the fully-integrated personality and had cured dozens of schizophrenics before beginning work on Bibi. There was no outward indication that his case was any different from the others.” But it was. Yatom grew increasingly depressed at his complete lack of progress in getting the Prime Minister to acknowledge reality, and he eventually suffered a series of strokes when attempting to grasp Netanyahu’s thinking, which he characterized in one diary entry as “a black hole of self-contradiction.” The first of Yatom’s strokes occurred when Netanyahu offered his opinion that the 911 attacks on Washington and New York “were good.” The second followed a session in which Netanyahu insisted that Iran and Nazi Germany were identical. And the third occurred after the Prime Minister declared Iran’s nuclear energy program was a “flying gas chamber,” and that all Jews everywhere “lived permanently in Auschwitz.” Yatom’s efforts to calm Netanyahu’s hysteria were extremely taxing emotionally and routinely ended in failure. “The alibi is always the same with him,” complained another diary entry. “The Jews are on the verge of annihilation at the hands of the racist goyim and the only way to save the day is to carry out one final massacre.” Yatom was apparently working on converting his diary into a book about the Netanyahu case. Several chapters of an unfinished manuscript, entitled “Psychotic On Steroids,” were found in his study. The excerpt below offers a rare glimpse at the inner workings of a Prime Minister’s mind, at the same time as it reveals the daunting challenge Yatom faced in seeking to guide it to rationality: Monday, March 8 “Bibi came by at three for his afternoon session. At four he refused to leave and claimed my house was actually his. Then he locked me in the basement overnight while he lavishly entertained his friends upstairs. When I tried to escape, he called me a terrorist and put me in shackles. I begged for mercy, but he said he could hardly grant it to someone who didn’t even exist.”

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Let us praise Abu Jehal too

For the past few weeks, Israel and Palestine have been involved in a conflict which is as lopsided as Germany vs Bermuda. A conflict where a barrage of faulty rockets are responded with missiles and bombs, where the casualty rate is a few broken plates on one side and few hundred people on the other. Israel’s aggression is beyond condemnation and Hamas’s stupidity is beyond comprehension. The Palestine-Israel conflict will go on until one of the sides is exterminated (possibly the Palestinians) or the world war starts.

Given the situation, it is quite understandable that those who adhere to the Islamic faith and those who believe that the indiscriminate murder of people is wrong, would be sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. The problem starts when they start praising Hitler for his actions against the Jews. I have seen people praising Hitler, suggesting that Hitler was doing the right thing and even identifying him as their hero. If this was being done by people with little or no education, I would’ve said that their ignorance was a result of their lack of knowledge but I have seen educated people also engage in this activity. And this amazes me that they could consider someone like Hitler as a good person. Someone who considered that his race was superior and hence others as dispensable. Who, in addition to Jews, hated the Blacks as well. If you think that all the Jews were on holiday during 1939 and 1945 and that the number of Jews dead is reported incorrectly, consider the fact that 20 million Russians also died in world war II.

And let’s assume that your logic is correct. Then, given all the problems that segments of Muslims are creating in different parts of the world (Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan etc), we should start treating Abu Jehal as a hero too because he also believed that if the Muslims are allowed to exist, they would create problems. He was responsible for so much grief to the Muslims so since Muslims are causing so many problems, why not treat him as our hero too?

It amazes me that a nation that is so eager to disassociate themselves from extremist elements and is so eager to show to the world that we are not like those loonies (who explode as a result of release of sexual tension at the sight of 70 virgins), we are equally eager to condemn an entire race to extermination because the act of one barbaric/ lunatic government. For the love of God, chose your heroes wisely.

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Focus, you idiots

Polio cases found in FATA. Insurgency and extremism continues to plague the country. Power outages continue to increase. Killings continue to happen in Lyari and surrounding areas. Blasphemy accused killed by assailants.

You would think that given all these problems, the national outcry would be about one of those issues. But it’s not. Its about whether Geo made a blasphemous segment or not. The only thing that this teaches us is that the only way to solve our problems is to declare the instigator blasphemous. Power outages? Stealing electricity and not paying bills prevents other people from praying and hence is blasphemy. Problem solved. Corruption? Stealing from the national exchequer results in no money for mosques and hence it is blasphemy. No more corrupt people. Insurgency? Killing people reduces the number of people who could praise the Lord and hence it is blasphemy. The reason why I believe JI’s demand to install Sharia is an excellent plan, is because once that system is in place, anyone fighting against the government can be (and probably will be) declared as a blasphemer.

I write such things as a means to vent. None of the retards who go about killing alleged blasphemers and stage protests to punish the alleged blasphemers would read this. They don’t really care what anyone says or do. They have banged their heads so many times that all cognitive ability has become numb. Those who do read murmur their agreement, disagree for the sake of argument or ignore. We demand actions but either have no idea what that action looks like or aren’t convinced what those action well eventually accomplish.

Is there a solution? Education, perhaps? Possible but then how do I explain the people with degrees shouting slogans to kill the blasphemer or bothered only by things like what Geo did or what Meera said. Outliers? Perhaps. But all I see are outliers with a minority standing labeled as “The Silent Majority”.

But is it really education that taught me to accept the diversity of people? That taught me to accept people from different race and religion and even those who don’t adhere to any religion? Perhaps not. What we teach our children doesn’t make them a good human being. But it makes them susceptible to this transformation. It allows them to view the world with an open mind. It allows them the opportunity to focus on things that matter. It’s the society that actually teaches them what to focus on and the society is failing miserably.

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