Farwa Zahra

Farwa Zahra is a Qatar-based journalist. She has studied Gender and Media at the London School of Economics. She tweets as @syedaz (twitter.com/syedaz)

The intolerance behind #BoycottCareem and #BoycottSurfExcelIndia

As Careem takes down its controversial billboard ad featuring a runaway bride after being accused of promoting immoral ideas, one wonders about the real culprit behind this ongoing protest. With its target audience mostly consisting of youngsters growing up watching Moltyfoam’s pensive version of a Pakistani bride, the Careem bride simply couldn’t appease its customers’ androcentric worldview. Feminists have no sense of humour, a common grievance many have against people who are sensitive to sexist jokes, not realising how the same joke would offend them if tables were turned. This is what we recently witnessed in the reactions to Careem’s latest ad ...

Read Full Post

Suhai Aziz Talpur: Celebrated worldwide but mocked in her own country?

A week ago, three armed men attacked the Chinese consulate in Karachi. Before they could reach the diplomatic staff inside, the militants were killed in a police operation led by SP Suhai Aziz Talpur. The encounter also resulted in multiple casualties, including two visa applicants and two policemen fighting on the frontline. From CNN to Reuters, the news made rounds worldwide. Talpur is being glorified as the daughter of Pakistan, representing the face of bravery and women power. Restoring Talpur pride, her pictures are being juxtaposed alongside Faryal Talpur, who is currently embroiled in a money laundering case. Chinese media too is in ...

Read Full Post

Afridi’s opinion on women is none of your business!

Just when we think we are over it, it starts all over again. Another video goes viral over social websites, attracts conversations and often takes you nowhere but through a vicious circle of ongoing rebuttals. This time it’s Shahid Afridi under attack. So here goes, it starts with Afridi making a grand comeback, surprising us with his performance in matches against India and Bangladesh. Suddenly, all the loyalty towards him is regained. Then come all the memes about him against Virat Kohli, Indian fans, Bangladeshi fans and the likes. In between the hundreds of comments, we see people praying for Afridi to have a son now after three ...

Read Full Post
August 16, 2013

Sikandar wasn’t the real Blue Area villain, it was the media

Yesterday, an armed man entered Islamabad’s Red Zone with his wife and two kids. He opened fire on police and later, kept the forces occupied, demanding the overthrow of the current government and implementation of Islami Nizam (Shariah law) in Pakistan. Clearly, such behaviour cannot be a product of a sound mind. Cases of lunacy such as this are not a new phenomenon either. Considering the triviality of such incidents, we hardly get to see them making breaking news and headlines unless of course they involve exceptions such as the Heaven’s Gate cult by Marshall Applewhite or more recently the Dark Knight Rises shooting ...

Read Full Post

Aamir Liaquat, shame on you for humiliating Taher Shah

Last night, a seven minute video clip went viral on social media. Many of you probably saw the video in question; it was the latest transmission of the Ramazan show Amaan Ramzan: Iftar Aamir Ke Saath. For those of you who missed it, the video is a clip from a pre-Iftar show with Aamir Liaquat in which he invites Taher Shah – Pakistan’s latest sensation for good or bad reasons – as a guest. This was not Mr Shah’s first public appearance since his video reached global fame. Earlier in June, Taher Shah gave an interview on the 4 Man Show. ...

Read Full Post

Hockey ignored by Pakistan’s cricket obsessed media

Most Pakistanis now know about the country’s hockey team winning against India in Asian Champions Trophy, all thanks to the cricket team being beaten by India… yet again. Pakistan was declared the Asian Champion after a score of 5-4 against India. The Indian team boycotted and walked out when the penalty goal was reversed and the Pakistani team showed some Gangnam Style moves before taking the final round of the ground to celebrate their victory. I know all these details because I was a part of the crowd at Al Rayyan Stadium, Doha, where the crowd outside the stadium was just ...

Read Full Post

Pakistani media: Making a terrorist out of an innocent man

On November 18, in the name of soi-disant sectarian fights an Imambargah in Karachi was attacked. The incident undoubtedly deserved media attention and so it received this with live coverage by various news channels. What struck me, however, was the way one of these channels treated the incident. While most news channels reported that the motorbike on which the bomb was planted had an illegal number plate, one of these channels decided to be over-efficient with some “exclusive” bits of information – the name and location of the man who owned that number’s legal plate. Despite repeated mentions that his motorbike was ...

Read Full Post

Marie Colvin’s journalism of attachment

On Wednesday, another journalist was killed while covering the Syrian military operation in the city of Homs. Marie Colvin’s last broadcast, aired just hours before she died, was about the painful death of a child during the Siege of Homs. When CNN correspondent Anderson Cooper voiced some general concerns about the media showing gruesome images from conflict zones, Colvin replied by sharing her lifelong philosophy: communicating pain and suffering of the distanced “others” to the world in order to mobilise peace. The idea becomes even more significant in the context of international ...

Read Full Post

Dil Dil Pakistan

My nephew living abroad is a hip-hop fan, who has hardly listened to Pakistani music, but he knows “Dil Dil Pakistan” — a song that even I grew up listening to. That’s the transcendence of what I believe is Pakistan’s most favourite patriotic number.  Its journey from generation to generation is what makes it different from many other patriotic numbers that turned into instant hits, but faded away after some time. So what is it about “Dil Dil Pakistan” that makes it such a classic? Russian thinker Leo Tolstoy found patriotism both stupid and immoral, promoting one’s own country as the ...

Read Full Post

My cousin Yaser isn’t dead

A month after Yaser (better known as Lieutenant Syed Yaser Abbas Shaheed) lost his wallet, he received a letter along with his identity card. It was an apology from the guy who had stolen it. He wrote that it was the dire need for money that had forced him to steal, that he was really ashamed and would return him the amount if and when his circumstances changed. I’m sure that though his feelings of remorse would have grown now that Yaser has left, the letter writer can draw some comfort from the fact that he had at least apologised. But ...

Read Full Post