Monday, May 31, 2010
What IS the matter?
It was facebook that had us worried just a little over a week ago. Then came anything between 600-1000 sites that were also blocked. Sabeen, Awab, Abid, and myself, went into the KPC to lodge a protest about why we think the 'internet multiple ban' was stupid and - when necessary - the pages that carried information that was causing the protest should have been banned. There we faced enough protests and had to run out or move away.
How badly a press, about whose freedom we had all fought, had turned us away.
On Tammy Haq's TV show the ban was being discussed. One of the guests was JI's Mairaj-ul-Huda — an out and out liar who insisted that no crimes had ever been committed in the Danish Cartoon protests, when all of us remembered the Lahore scenes.
Amazing how a self-proclaimed guardian of truth could speak such lies … and with a straight face.
Then came Friday. Lahore burst into flames. Ahmedis were murdered in cold blood. The police whizzed around but did little. The two people who were eventually caught by two Ahmedi boys - who held them down for 30 minutes - and were given over to the policemen who came in. The police fired shots in the air to say that they'd won. Won? 93 dead, 110 injured … and you've won?
Not a soul from the government, politicians, leaders, celebrities, sportsmen - no one really - could find the time to call up the victims, the children, the families, and offer them sympathy.
Then came Sunday. We woke up to the news that Israelis had bombed/ raided the ships heading out with food and medicine equipment to Gaza. Talat Hussain of Aaj TV was one of the 40-50 members on the ship that was hit. We wait for him, now, to come back and tell us more about it.
The Israelis did have a spokesman on the news channels. He said the crowd (that had Al Qaeda support!!!) had opened fire. You climb their ship in open seas and they raise white flags. You say they opened fire?
Time to go to bed, tonight…
Saturday, May 29, 2010
the day after
i switched on the tv. it was too near the jum'a prayers and my heart caved in. how many would they get today?
from the moment i switched the tv and flipped through channels all i got was the unfolding horror of what was happening. bullets. blow-ups. crackers. noise. police trying to get in and seemingly unable to do anything. and the voice of anchors being able to tell us that two 'worshipful places of a minority community' had been hit.
of course. you couldn't say mosques or anything resembling that. it was supposed to be against the law. you couldn't say - moments later, as the figures started coming through - 4 shaheeds. they were ahmadis. anchors were moving slowly from 'prayers' to 'worshipping', wondering if saying shaheed was against the law.
it took us almost 4 hours of looking at the screens to see how badly the 'places of worship' had been hit. and then the rushes of seeing the injured sent to hospital, the bodies sent to morgues or clinics.
was there anyone who was going to say something? would the government say anything? ok … the laws may prevent them from going to the janazas when they take place, but what about offering the widows, the children, the aggrieved some word of solace, some sympathy?
oh, cm shahbaz had a quick piece on tv about his getting reports that night to tell him what happened ... but did he say anything to make the victims feel better? no.
there were others, too, who later on went on to the tv and the print media to say it was raw, zionists, americans, jews, afghanis — anything but pakistanis. we never do anything like this, do we?
it was one of the worst days of my life. we've been through tortuous days before ... but, this time, i knew that we were not going to get the kind of anger that we hear. we were not going to get the crowds ranting and raving. after all, they were non-muslims — which is bad, itself. but, to top it all, they were ahmadis. what a way to exist …
the evening came and went. i had to go to a blogger awards meeting. all evening i sat there, looking at 'tweetie' on my phone to see what was happening. death tolls climbed up. [today i read that it's more than 93 who have died. over a 110 have been injured.]
life got worse as i discovered about the deaths of a couple of people. we also heard of a friend's father and uncle having just missed the bullets. they were now out, running from one place to another, arranging for dead bodies to be wrapped up, friends informed.
this was not enough: coming back home i received a message that was from someone whose father had 'suggested' that she should commit suicide. yes! [don't get me wrong. it's a really weird family.] she was feeling depressed. i sent her a message and she soon came back with a zillion things, a lot of which were fairly meaningless and ridiculous to me. but i think i helped her, despite her anger: she did get out of the suicide mood. the fear of living with a family like that is awful.went into bed. thinking. crying a bit. the ahmadis need a place to live safely. in this country. their being non-muslim is a matter that the court has decided — so that is ok, in 'legal' terms, until someone alters that. but for them to be hounded out of everything. for them not to say 'salaam alaéküm', or use the standard symbols that have become part of our lives ('insha allah', for example) that even our hindu-christian-parsi friends use, for them never to read the qurán or pray in public ... there are a million such things.
i fell asleep and woke up frequently at night: what else one can do to help them. is there a way? is there any way that the useless parts of these laws can be revised if not completely removed? can there be any way that the stupid passport forms don't ask us to write obscenely strange stuff about them? the taliban might tell them to leave pakistan or be killed, and sms messages jump up about their deaths ... is there no way we can tell them to stay here and be [at least] as happy as the rest of the minorities?
today there was much to read: there is tazeen's beautiful post: we all have blood on our hands
and there are others. some that i read:
we are all ahmadi
our collective shame
targeting the ahmadis
are all pakistanis equal
maén baaghi hooñ
On monday, 31st may, there will be a call for a rally at the karachi press club. if you are here, hope you'll get to kpc and help us tell them — and many others — that there are people who care.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
A poem I love …
Monday, May 10, 2010
“My identity is very clear to me now. I am a black woman. I’m free. I no longer have to be a ‘credit.’ I don’t have to be a symbol to anybody; I don’t have to be a first to anybody. I don’t have to be an imitation of a white woman that Hollywood sort of hoped I’d become. I’m me, and I’m like nobody else.” - Ms Lena Horne
The first black performer to be signed to a long-term contract by a major Hollywood studio and who went on to achieve international fame as a singer, died on Sunday night, aged 92.
The person she always credited as her main influence was not another singer but a pianist and composer, Duke Ellington's longtime associate, Billy Strayhorn. “I wasn’t born a singer,” she told Strayhorn’s biographer, David Hajdu. “I had to learn a lot. Billy rehearsed me. He stretched me vocally … and taught me the basics of music, because I didn’t know anything.” Strayhorn was also, she said, “the only man I ever loved,” but Strayhorn was openly gay, and their close friendship never became a romance. “He was just everything that I wanted in a man,” she said, “except he wasn’t interested in me sexually.”
Blacks, in those days, were not allowed to live in Hollywood, so Felix Young, a white man, signed for the house as if he was going to rent it. “When the neighbors found out, Humphery Bogart who lived right across the street from me, raised hell with them for passing around a petition to get rid of me.” Bogart, she said, “sent word over to the house that if anybody bothered me, please let him know.”
“The whole thing that made me a star was the war,” Ms. Horne said in the 1990 interview. “Of course the black guys couldn’t put Betty Grable's picture in their footlockers. But they could put mine.”
RIP, Ms Horne. You bought tons of jazz and laughter into our house …
Sunday, May 09, 2010
Saturday, May 08, 2010
Chaalis Saal Pahlay