Stories about freedom of speech

Kill me, for I have spoken

Colour me red, paint me black, brush me dead, back on track, picture perfect, vivid deploy, peace stagnant, you destroy. Shoot everyone having a mind, no eyes? Everyone’s very blind, your arrogance and guns show, the laws of the land will not go. Cross the road and you will die, stand and wait, and you will die, speak your mind, and you will die, be human, yes, you still will die. Misunderstanding much? Oh please, ideologies cliched, yes very much, the land of the pure, bruised and cut, apologists, please shut the hell up. Conditional peace is always good? Your side of the deal, oh it was fate, heaven sent men, please go away, for ...

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Do I have the right to remain Ahmadi?

In 1966, nearly 180 million people in the US received Miranda rights – the right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination. Half a century later, a religious community in Pakistan, another country of nearly 180 million people, is facing a rather caustic version of the Miranda rights. They don’t have the right, but a duty, to remain silent. The religious group is the Ahmadiyya community. Two recent events frame the issue aptly. First, on January 29, 2012, clerics organized an anti-Ahmadiyya rally in Rawalpindi, attended by 5,000 madrassah students, chanting threatening anti-Ahmadiyya slogans and demanding to take over a 17-year-old Ahmadiyya ‘place of worship’. Then on February ...

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Facebook dangers: Satisfying our inner hero

Facebook, undoubtedly, has brought about an immensely significant social revolution over the past few years.  It is now not just any other social networking website. In more ways than one, Facebook is a virtual reflection of our personality, beliefs, ideologies, likes and dislikes, and so on. What Facebook has gradually accomplished is that it has given everyone a voice; it has given people to opportunity to express their opinion about any matter, no matter how sensitive or controversial, to several hundred people in just a matter of seconds by typing out a few lines. However, while this freedom to express ...

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Dissent is not undemocratic: A case for change

The events in Egypt have created a stir and caused Arab rulers to assess their respective roles. President Obama is withdrawing American support for President Mubarak’s teetering regime and Prime Minister Gilani is sending a special plane to airlift his stranded compatriots out of Cairo. Dreaming about revolution Many Pakistanis have developed a voyeuristic fascination with uprisings in other countries. But others feel that talk about a similar movement erupting locally is irksome and the product of a disconnect with the complicated reality. Those who believe that Pakistanis are wasting time by fantasising about street protests feel that too many have been influenced ...

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I’m a media man, shackle me please

The time for change has come. Please just arrest me if necessary PPP, but do something! Make an example of someone, anyone! Show us that you stand by the values you preach and make the citizens of this country accountable for their actions. If you do not have the guts to round up, arrest and make a public example of every one of those hooligans who danced on the streets, posing for photo-ops with burning effigies of late Governor Salmaan Taseer, then at least arrest me and my ilk; throw away the key if one of us so much as ...

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US rule book: America’s precedent for illegal attacks

Having lived in the US for the majority of my adult life, I have seen the numerous positive aspects of American society that are missing in Pakistani society. Their support for ‘freedom of speech’ and their judicial system are precedents that I hope are followed in Pakistan someday. That being said, America has also set some dangerous precedents by its actions and inactions in the recent past.  It is these precedents that undermine their efforts in Pakistan and make Pakistani’s even view their goodwill efforts with skepticism. If America wishes to improve its relationships with the Pakistani people, it must ...

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Welcome to Pornistan

If Fox news is anything to go by, Pakistan may be the leading nation in “sexy” online searches. According to a recent article featured on FoxNews.com, Pakistan is ranked the first in the world in terms of pornographic Google searches. Of course, this discovery is juxtaposed with Pakistan’s recent behaviour in cyberspace. Pakistan temporarily banned Facebook, Youtube and Blackberry service in reaction to the controversial Facebook group “Everyone Draw Muhammad Day”, which itself was a reaction to Comedy Central’s decision to censor the image of Prophet Muhammad from South Park. Of course there is the obvious question:  If Pakistan ...

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Media is not a monster

It has become a custom to condemn the media. An unfair one if you ask me. I have worked for a news channel for almost three years now. Like any other institution, we have our flaws, but we have our strengths, mostly left unacknowledged. We have become connoisseurs of disparagement and misers when it comes to rewarding. Thank god we have the media to keep tabs on politicians, bureaucrats, policymakers etc. There is almost no decision made in the Prime Minister house now without the media involved. Almost every decision that is made by the government comes down to how ...

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A ban on common sense

On Monday, the government of China passed a law forbidding online dating for its soldiers. The logic behind the measure was that lonely hearts might let sensitive information slip to conniving spies posing as love interests. In the words of a Chinese military official, “People with ulterior motives may make use of the soldiers’ personal information and pose a threat to the safety of the army.” So essentially the Chinese military is assuming that an online date will involve questions like: “So what are your likes and dislikes?…What do you like to eat? …What can you tell me about the ...

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PTA plans to push Pakistan to 1984

A leaked confidential draft of the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) allegedly delivered to the Lahore High Court (LHC) has suggested the implementation of a new draconian system which would greatly curtail internet freedom in the country, not unlike Big Brother from George Orwell’s ‘1984’. Needless to say, the document obtained by APCmember Bytes for All has begun to make rounds online, leaving many (including this writer) extremely worried about the possibilities of such a system being actualised. Pertinent points from the PTA draft suggestions follow: 1. The draft states that blasphemous content found online has created dismay and discomfort among the government and ...

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