Stories about movement

Does the on-going Kashmir “movement” lack a plan of action?

In Why Did the ‘Twitter Revolutions’ Fail?, an article published in the New York Times last year, Ivan Krastev couches his set of arguments in a thought-provoking manner by referring to history. He writes that, immediately after the 1851 Paris coup by Napoleon, some of the greatest political minds from Europe, including Karl Marx (a communist), Pierre Joseph Proudhon (an anarchist), Victor Hugo (a romantic), Alexis de Tocqueville and Walter Bagehot (the liberals) hustled to their reading rooms to understand the Paris coup and draw philosophical conclusions out of such events. To quote Ivan, “Their interpretations of the coup were as different ...

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Let the women of Iran take off their hijabs, give them the right to choose!

Where citizens are forced to abide by the norms of a certain culture, disrespect for that culture for the mere sake of disrespect, becomes a mode of resistance. Thousands of Iranian women are posting pictures of themselves online with their hijabs removed, as part of a rapidly growing movement across the country. Last year, an Iranian journalist, Masih Alinejad, in an act of defiance of her nation’s ultra-conservative culture, posted a picture of herself on Facebook without her hijab. She launched a Facebook group – ‘My Stealthy Freedom’ – which has now snowballed into a movement of over 800,000 followers, inspiring thousands of Iranian women to ...

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In Pakistan, ‘It’s On Us’ to protect women from sexual harassment

I remember a crowded market back in Karachi where we stood in a corner going through the merchandise. I was with one of my ‘foreign-educated’ aunts. Suddenly, I saw her face turn a shade of red. I dismissed it and we went back to sifting through the clothes.  A few moments later, it happened again. Her face turned red and her brows creased, but this time she turned around and before I knew it, she had grabbed a young boy by the collar.  “Can’t watch where you’re going huh? This is the third time you’ve passed by this place and grabbed ...

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Pakistan bleeds with Hazara blood, do you even care?

“My heart cries tears of blood for the Hazaras… #ShiaGenocide, when will we wake up?… What has Pakistan come to?! Oh God!!… This country does not deserve to be called “PAK-istan”…” These statements are clichés. They mean nothing. They have no purpose. They’re just uttered to make ourselves feel good about atrocities which we mostly can’t, and usually won’t do anything about. At least 46 people died yesterday. How many of us cared? 18 people died in Peshawar yesterday. How many of us bothered to find out three kids died in that attack? How many of us had the apathy to find out that the doctors ...

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Tahirul Qadri’s ‘Arab Spring’ façade –

The emergence of Tahirul Qadri as the sole ‘saviour’ to the people of Pakistan has not failed to attract much media attention. “A revolution journey has begun,” his words echoed at public gatherings from Lahore to Karachi. Quite undoubtedly, Qadri has come forth with an elaborate agenda which deals with getting rid of corrupt rulers, but the strategy he has devised is far from being prudent to achieve this purpose. Though the emerging leader seems to have taken charge of a fast-changing political scenario, several questions still remain unanswered. For instance, Qadri fails to explain how Pakistan is similar to countries which experienced ...

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‘Zaid Hamid told me so’

After a hiatus of few months, Zaid Hamid is back in the news and regrettably – though not surprisingly – for all the wrong reasons. Apparently, his labeling of SAFMA as an extension of RAW, didn’t sit too well with the SAFMA people and they have decided to press libel charges against them. A week before this new development, a few friends and I met him at his house: The assistant introduced us and left. The desk, the comfy seat, the black monitor and sheets of papers scattered all over the table were a shock. I was expecting a middle-class ...

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Islamabad Diary: Of dodgy scoops and ‘cultural terrorism’

An elected official of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), who I am sure would prefer to remain anonymous since he would not want people to know how he wastes his time courting journalists, sent a text message last week offering his condolences for Roger Federer’s loss at Wimbledon. This had followed an earlier conversation we had had where I explained that the tension over the government’s survival and political machinations in the country seemed so insignificant compared to the travails of the greatest tennis player in history. After receiving the SMS, my instant reaction was to cut the man some ...

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Facebook activism, and where it fails

Today I was invited to a Facebook event called “18 Crore People demanding Zardari’s Resign – We Hate You. Leave Pakistan”. Thinking it was just another one of those inexhaustible Facebook invitations everyone keeps getting, I ignored it until I saw how many people were attending: The number was 55,321. And from the looks of it, the figure is growing. Now I’m a strong proponent of freedom of political expression, but I feel that ensuing debates should actually be constructive. A mere expression of hatred and loathing for a leader with a gazillion ‘likes’ isn’t going to do anything to ...

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Qasmi according to Malik

Mansoora Ahmed, the adopted daughter of Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi, has passed away. When Qasmi Sahib died, she was orphaned like nobody else was for sadly everybody’s attitude towards her changed in no time. I had just received Nadeem Shinasi, Fateh Muhammad Malik’s latest work, of which more than a quarter is dedicated to letters written by Qasmi Sahib to his dear friend. One of the letters made me pause. How could it have been published, I wondered? Just then the phone bell rang and Tasneem Manto asked if I had learnt about Mansoora’s death. Let me just say here that while ...

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Pakistan held hostage: Obscurantism and the death of Taseer

As numbness ebbs away after the fatal attack on Governor Salmaan Taseer, questions about the context of his murder arise. Confounding the discussion are the likes of Jamaat-i-Ahl-i- Sunnat, Tehreek-i- Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and some other like minded clerics. This school condones, and in some cases, justifies the murder. Unlike the governor, liberal segments of society remain largely equivocal and cautious in their response after threats by TTP to treat everyone offering prayers for Governor Taseer worthy of death at the hands of vigilante justice for purported blasphemy. But given the sensitivity of the attack, and its broader socio-political ...

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