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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Is it in the initials?

A few days ago I received an article (Two Nations, Two Choices by Vir Sanghvi, written sometimes in January 2008). Forwarded by an expat friend in the US, the Subject line of the mail was "Sad, but worth reading".

The same evening I received another copy from Australia, with the subject line changed to "Vir Sanghvi hits it on the head". I don't know why I am on the second mailing list ... I know no-one named Naseem F Mujtaba. (While I am glad, Naseem, that you F Mujtaba, please take me off the list. Thanks.)

Since NFM had committed the common but heinous crime of putting all 118 recipients in the "To:" field, as had the previous 3 FWDers, I know that in this particular chain, alone, 591 people had received the piece.

Why had this old piece begun to do the rounds suddenly, I have no idea. But I read it and passed it in on to 27 people, being careful to put all their addresses in the "Bcc:" field as courtesy, decency, and common sense demand.

The first of the 17 responses I have received so far (a response-rate marketers would die for!) came quickly. Only one other article I have ever forwarded has been commented upon by so many. Anyway, this is what I was asked in the very first message:

Hmmm... I can see why he's hitting it on the head - since he's Indian - but why are u forwarding this rather obnoxious article....?

My answer, since others, too, may have wondered but not asked: I forwarded the piece to 3 journalist/columnists and 4 members of my extended family. From the journos I had hoped for some cool, intelligent feedback. I then, on the spur of the moment, added 20 other names. (Sorry, folks!)

Now to the responses:

Quite a few felt that parts of it are true. Some wrote that it was 'depressing' to read this. A few pointed out that the tone was off-putting. One pointed out that Nehru was a crook and a bastard and slept with Lord and Lady Mountbatten to get Kashmir. (This knowledge will, of course, help cure all our ills!). One said our FO should protest to the Editor of HT, which published it. (I suspect if it does, HT will tell our FO to FO!)

The one Indian I passed it on to was splutteringly apologetic and said that while the article was 'perhaps true in some ways, it's just a point of view after all, and every developing country has made mistakes'. She pointed out that the author showed an anti-Punjabi bias, and was 'possibly an RSS agent.' ... (Hmmm, I thought, as I re- read this looking for clues).

She also went on to soothe me by saying that "no one takes him seriously, anyway." ... "Not taken seriously? That's carrying your peace-forum apologist attitude too far", I wrote back, and quoted an Indian Muslim's response to another piece by Vir Sanghvi.

Chastizing him in he above-mentioned rejoinder to Mr Sanghvi's Counterpoint piece on the Muslim response - or the alleged lack of it - to fundamentalism, someone said:
Many Muslims have been surprised and even hurt at the article written by Vir Sanghvi in the Counterpoint column of Hindustan Times on Sunday, which is without doubt the most read column of any editor in India. The reason is obvious. Had it been written by any other person it would not have mattered that much but Vir Sanghvi is one of the best editors, an erudite and highly respected journalist. Like many others he also puts the onus on Muslims for not condemning fundamentalism of Muslims ... Muslims don’t remain silent and do condemn but our voices don’t reach you. The Delhi-centric (Delhi/Haryana/Punjab) papers never carry these stories. In small cities all over Northen India Muslims protest and raise voice, but who takes notice!

Only the 2 gora non-Pakistanis I shared it with asked for the author's or the newspaper's email address and wanted to write back counters to this in the light of their experiences. (Vir Sanghvi can be emailed here.)

The absence of any journos' response means that they are mulling over it and either busy writing counters or waiting for it to be erased from memory before plagiarizing from it.

I agree with the 2 firangees. The article has been published in well-circulated Indian daily. If there are parts of the analysis (or the entire piece) that one disagrees with - and there are some I do not subscribe to while accepting the truths I cannot deny - it should be countered with facts and opinions. I know too little about the political history of Pakistan to write such a piece - even on my informal blog. My knowledge is based merely on having lived through the mess - with 25 years at sea at a time when access to information was poor, to begin with. So my writing could only result in an emotional, rather than a knowledgeable or analytical, response. That is if I felt any emotion (other than a personal grief) on the subject at all.

Finally, pointing out that there is an Indian/Hindu bias, as some did, is stating the pointless obvious. Many of the responses contained a Pakistani/Muslim bias, too. So what's new? Unbiased opinions, anywhere, are hard to come by. Indoctrination from childhood - at home and in schools - nurtures nothing as strongly as biases. 'Religious' leaders and Nationalists (and their inevitable combo-product, the Fascist) continue to fan the flames throughout life. Mr Sanghvi, himself, shows off his unbridled nationalism through his 'need' to compare and compete.

Here's one example from a response sent in by someone who, in turn, quoted an unnamed source. I found it funny (though some of you probably will not).

Writings like these just reinforce my belief that the majority of Indians out there (and by Indians I mean Hindus more or less) are nursing a deep and ancient inferiority complex.

Apart from the give-away word 'belief', the phrase "more or less' had me ROTFL ...


(And don't worry if you can't figure out why this post is titled what it is).

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

PPP's given us an 'acting' woman President

PML could do even better
by giving us a real, full-time one!

Wouldn't she make a great candidate here?

I suggest that PML grab her quickly.
She's more attractive than Saeed uz Zaman,
Mushaayad, or, for that matter, AZ himself.

And if the US President, like his predecessors,
wants to screw our President
that'll be an entirely internal US matter.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Just sharing a comment ...

George Orwell - "This mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence is the most marked characteristic of modern English prose, and especially of any kind of political writing. As soon as certain topics are raised, the concrete melts into the abstract and no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed: prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated henhouse."

Naeem 'Warrior' Sadiq - "But then how do you get funding from the donor agencies?"


And while we are on the subject ...

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First they came for the Ahmadis ...

In a program aired on 7 September 2008 the anchor of the religious program 'Alam Online', Dr. Aamir Liaquat Hussain--also former federal minister for religious affairs--declared the murder of Ahmadi sect members to be necessary (Wajib ul Qatal) according to Islamic teachings, because its followers don't believe in the last prophet, Mohammad, peace be upon him. Dr. Aamir repeated his instruction several times, urging fundamentalists Muslims to kill without fear.

While on air the anchor person also pressured the other two Islamic scholars (from two different sects) on the program to support the statement. This resulted in a unanimous decision among the scholars, on air during a popular television show, to urge lynching with the intent to kill. This was not a one-off. On September 9, Mr. Hussain answered a query with the comment that blasphemers are liable to be put to death.

According to the information received, at 1:15pm on September 8, 18 hours after the broadcast, six persons entered the Fazle Umer Clinic, a two-story hospital at Mirpur Khas city and two of them went to the second floor and started pressuring 45 year-old Dr. Abdul Manan Siddiqui to come downstairs to attend to a patient in crisis. Dr. Manan left his office and descended into an ambush. He was shot 11 times and died on the spot. His private guard was also shot and is in a serious condition. A woman was also injured by firing. The killers remained at the hospital until the doctor was declared dead, then they walked out of the building's front entrance. Police registered the killers as unknown.

On September 9, 48 hours after the broadcast, Mr. Yousaf, a 75 year-old rice trader and district chief of the Ahmadi sect was killed on his way to prayer in Nawab Shah, Sindh province. Yousaf was fired on from people on motor bikes, and sustained three bullet wounds. He died on the way to the hospital. The assailants had taken a route past a police station. No one was arrested.

The above horrifying and disgusting episode is quoted from the ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION's Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-203-2008 which urges you to email the powers that be to take immediate action.

The jihaalat spread online by this sicko and lapped up as the Gospel Truth by millions, thanks to Geo (Aur Marnay Do?) was bound to eventually to come to this.

It is no secret how/why Aamir, a hot favourite of the ex-President (Mush is reported, by his wife, to have wept at Aamir's sermons and naats), continued to remain a federal minister - for Religious Affairs, no less! - even after his claims regarding his degrees (required for holding office) were proved to be fraudulent. It was for the same reason that Dr. Isa Daudpota "tried to canvass for getting him off Geo but failed!" ... but, now that his support has been taken away, there is no reason why he cannot be hauled into court for inciting to murder, if the AHRC report is true.

Let's face it, our media and schools and some mosques have been propagating what some refer to as a hardline version of Islam. Listen to the fiery mince-no-words Israr Ahmed or the king of warped logic Zakir Naik (who even seems to have stunned his normally clapping supporters into silence with his thought processes).

Not just in Pakistan but throughout the Muslim Ummah we hear the steadily increasing sound of violent talk. At home, the PMC Faisalabad incident (read Sabahat Zakariya's Facebook Note), may seem minor compared to the current tragedy, but it was yet another example of the apathy of the majority that allows this escalation. For an example from the UK, watch this British Mulla. In fact, even the services of poor old Mickey Mouse have been enlisted in the cause of spreading hatred. Is NOTHING sacred?


PS: If some of you can't get to the Facebook note mentioned above (Sorry, I have no idea what non-members can access on FB), I'd like you to at least take a peep at my comments on that note.


Remember this?

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

If Apostasy didn't carry a (disputed) Death Penalty

... I'd have switched to FSMism and become a Pastafarian. Yes, that's not a typo. I said Pastafarian!

Who, after all, can resist such clear-headed thinking as that of Bobby Henderson, Founder and Prophet of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The Gospel of FSM, which Bobby also authored at the peak of the Evolution vs. Intelligent Design debates, is one of the most hilarious spoofs of the generally unspoofable. Here's an excerpt from the section Towards a New Science:
... [S]houldn't we endeavor to give scientists the largest collection of tools possible? No one is saying that they have to apply a supernatural explanation to any particular phenomenon. Only that the supernatural be available if nothing else works, or if it is convenient for deceptive political purposes. And remember, this is not a radical new idea. In terms of years in use, supernatural science - SuperScience if you will - has the edge on conventional science. Conventional, or empirical, science has been in use for only a few hundred years. Obviously there must be a reason supernatural science lasted so long, before this empirical-science fad began. Could it be that supernatural science is more productive than empirical science?
For those skeptics demanding evidence in support of such a seemingly outlandish assumption, the Gospel offers many examples. Here's one!

The book is hilarious - but, not too deep under the surface, it offers a scathing criticism of the kind of crap that the ID proponents resort to. What else, after all, would you expect from a book that starts with this disclaimer:

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