Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Misogyny starts bottom up & stays there


When it takes women to take off their clothes to be heard; or be stoned so the world knows their plight or gang raped to mark justice; no wonder most men think they are ‘not’ misogynists. These standards for being considered misogynists start bottom up and stay there. Only rapists, killers and physically abusive men are misogynists. The rest are innocent bystanders or observers with tied hands, blind eyes and sewn shut mouths.

They are mere jokers, who laugh and have fun while objectifying women, vilifying women, or shouting down on them. Oh these men, who are the victims of a patriarchal society, which incidentally, is also made up of some misogynist women. Hence, if some women can be misogynists, these men must not be judged harshly, or they will break, or might even die of suffocation.

Who will they speak to if they are told they were wrong and are continuing to be so? Won’t they just lose all their dignity and honor if they were questioned? Who can dare to correct them? Not a weak, puny woman. How dare she? How dare she question the man when she sees other women vilifying women too? Oh, how dare she use the word misogyny? How can she call a man a misogynist, when he has a wife, a girlfriend, a sister or a daughter? Has she forgotten those men who used to kill their daughters at birth? Why can she just not accept what she has been given humbly? She lives far better than how her ancestors lived.

Women, they just cannot accept they are weak physically and mentally. They cry and become upset not because they suffer injustice, but because they are psychopaths. They love violence. History is littered with how they waged war against other women and destroyed civilizations. How they raped, killed and fought each other on land, food, men.
‘These women are just misandrists, not feminists. Feminism is just a charade for them to hide their hatred for us poor, humble and innocent men. I am a feminist too, and being a man I understand far better what feminism stands for, as well as what women suffer. She is just an imbecile who thinks she understands and knows too much. But ask me, I know, she is just a misandrist. She is a radical feminist, probably a lesbian who needs some. She hates men. She wants women to be treated better than men’.
I just got done watching 'Stoning of Soraya M' and I realized how every day some woman suffers for the mere fact that she was born with the 'wrong gender'. But the world only hears when the crime against the woman is too atrocious and obvious and of the highest order. Be it female infanticide, honor killing, rape etc. Mental abuse, harassment at workplace or in public areas, domestic violence, marital rape and much more goes unnoticed and unheard. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

She’s a misandrist OMG!!!


How many times have we come across men who whine about feminists being misandrists? Men, who refuse to accept that they in any way are offending women, assume that being men, they can judge and decide what a woman feels, thinks, deciphers and understands. Such men want to whine and create an us versus them argument instead of admitting that there is a problem which needs to be addressed and solved. This behavior is rather a pattern among many of the pseudo-enlightened, know-it-all and so-called Pakistani atheist and agnostic men.

I already blogged about it a few days ago, however, today I feel the need to write more about it. Why? Because once again the same sleazy, clich├ęd arguments were used by men who want to justify objectification under the argument, ‘boys will be boys’ or ‘she asked for it’ as she’s dressed a certain way. They have no hesitation in saying, she’s a misandrists for calling out a man misogynist for liking sexist jokes; women are psychopaths and need to develop a sense of humor to appreciate our sexist jokes; she needs to get laid; she has hormonal problems; she is PMSing – the list is far too long, and I too tired to jot it down.

All of these accusations could actually be addressed as topics in their own right, and I might do so one day. But today again, I will stick to the accusation of misandry leveled at feminists. In my previous blog post, I wrote about the general hostility of misogynist men (incidentally that makes up most of their populace) and the occasions on which they label a woman a misandrist. This time it is about what prompts this behavior.
Mostly men who indulge in this name calling are scared shit of strong women. These women not only challenge the societal mindset, which the pseudo-enlightened thinks he does too, but they also call him out on his bullshit. So they are insecure of not only being challenged but also of losing control all together and being exposed for what they are.

Let’s admit once and for all, that guys who go all out and attack a woman for being a misandrist, and further have the nerve to whine about being discriminated against instead of admitting to their faults, are the worst semi-educated-pseudo-intellectuals suffering from a misplaced alpha male syndrome. They only prefer women whom they can patronize, lecture, manipulate and be condescending to. And if a woman cannot be fitted in any of these boxes, she must be that uncontrollable-psycho-man-hating-baby-killing-bitch (who can outmaneuver and expose his pseudo-intellectualism).

Let’s also establish here that these men are cowards. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Most men are misogynists by default


In online debates, I am often branded as a misandrist (which is not even recognized by MSWord) by men who have a problem with harsh criticism of their sexist behavior and jokes. I often criticize men and wonder if men are misogynists by default. I also have a low opinion of men in general, because of misogyny. And apparently, having a low opinion of men is a crime in a patriarchal society. For having this low opinion I can be ‘punished’ in many ways, including being labeled a prude, anti-sex, anti-men etc, or as my mother fears, made to live a single life forever. What for me however, is most shocking is not being labeled or remaining single, but rather being meted out this attitude by atheists? It is not only shocking but disappointing. I have lesser animosity from the religious in this regard, and it is scary because atheists pride themselves on their enlightenment, critical thinking capabilities and liberal/secular ideals.

The first time I was branded a misandrist was, when I questioned men who spoke only about feminism in the sexual liberation context. I found their interest was not really in having emancipated women around them who enjoyed equal status, rather women who had no inhibitions getting in bed with them. The second time was when I raised objections to men who loved posting references to porn under the guise of freedom of speech. Third objection was regarding images of naked women or particularly of breasts as a gesture of appreciation in a public forum.

This raises several questions in my mind. One of the major one being, are many of the atheist men I interact with only so because they were looking for sexual outlets? Having been an active woman atheist among the Pakistani Atheists, I have heard several complaints from fellow women atheists that they were considered ‘easy’ in terms of sex by atheist men. Some of them even refuse to join the Pakistani atheist forum because they feel that it works more like a fraternity. In their opinion Pakistani atheist men only want to interact with women as sexual interests. Given the Pakistani context, it does make a lot of sense because of the gender segregation and restrictions on individual freedom.

Also, this brings me back to the earlier part of my post, where I mentioned the hostility of many atheist men when it comes to them facing criticism for their misogyny. If it is accepted as a hypothesis that many men find atheism to be more to their liking because they feel it gives them sexual freedom, no wonder they will be hostile when women turn out to be not so easy as they had originally expected them to be. This could also be the reason why many of them refuse to understand misogyny outside its rigid and most narrow definition, which literally just translates to hatred for women. When they translate misogyny to just hatred of women, they want to take the argument once again into the sexual aspect where women become objects of their adoration and can be fitted into neat boxes of mothers, sisters, daughters, girlfriends, wives etc instead of individuals in their own right. It also is the escapist way. Defining misogyny as mere hatred easily allows men to wash their hands off of any responsibility on an individual level, because they can say, oh I have a girlfriend, if I hated women, I wouldn’t be with one.

According to sociologist Allan G Johnson, "misogyny is a cultural attitude of hatred for females because they are female." Johnson argues that:
"Misogyny .... is a central part of sexist prejudice and ideology and, as such, is an important basis for the oppression of females in male-dominated societies. Misogyny is manifested in many different ways, from jokes to pornography to violence to the self-contempt women may be taught to feel toward their own bodies."

Perhaps I should not be shocked and shaken each time, after all I have listened to sexist jokes, accompanied by accusations that I don’t laugh because I lack a sense of humor.  Some have even been crude enough to imply I need to get laid. All this because I dared to challenge the status quo, defined by men for women. However, the problem for me right now is not that I am being labeled a misandrist but that I need to reconcile myself to act graciously to these misogynist men.

Men who blame it on the society they live in and need time to de-configure themselves from all the misogyny which has been hardwired into them since birth. Interestingly, even at this, they are at liberty to ask for time to reconfigure, putting the burden of patience on women. So, no matter how I suffer at their hands, I have to be understanding of their psychological hang-ups, their so-called fight with the society which forces them to act the way they do.

Once again the society wants me to be the patient one being a woman, and I have to be more understanding and tactical because I am desperate for things to change?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Atheist ill-logic


  • Reactionary #atheists' logic: #Muslims are wrong to be #patriotic in their country, but wrong again for not being patriotic in adopted ones.
  • Reactionary #Facebook #atheist warrior: Immy K's are Mummy Daddy…. the leftist are Mummy Daddy.
  • Islamophobe #atheist #logic: I am all for freedom of speech but I should not be called an Islamophobe by the 'apologists'.
  • Hypocritical #atheist logic: I am against death penalty, but #MumtazQadri and his fans deserve it.
  • #Misogynist #Atheist #logic: I am a feminist too being logical and all, but women ‘do’ tend to over-react.
  • Judgmental #Atheist: I hate that I am judged for not being religious; #believers are so dumb to not question religion.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Facebook group politics


These are a few things I have been observing for some time on different Facebook groups. And apparently, yes I need to get a life instead of being so much concerned about Facebook groups that I write about their socio-political conditions.

'Gangwars'
As facebook is increasingly becoming an integral part of our life, we have now started mirroring what we go through in our society every day. However, in a much civilized manner, where instead of guns and knives, we use bullets made of words, laced with venom and vitriol. The current trends of 'your group' against mine, makes me think of gangwars in LA or Karachi. People post something in a hidden, insinuating manner against someone (in a few cases directly too - Like graffitti in another gang's area) which pits two groups against each other. Your friends and his friends battle it out with their scathing and cutting words.

But has anybody noticed that often in these rapid fire rounds, people who post the most are the ones who are otherwise dormant? It seems the one's who have the least to contribute intellectually are the active ones when it is about controversy and gossip. An interesting phenomenon in my opinion. It is fun too in some ways.

Wannabes
In the whole fiasco also emerge the wannabes who would go after admins of a group to create anarchy and indulge in self promotion. They either want to be an admin, or have someone to promote as an admin. Interesting bunch of people mostly.

Just for trolls
Then there are those 'fake' profiles that crop up in these wars too, with weird emo images from kissing animes to wrist cutting and controversial or famous celebrity images. They are the worst in my opinion. The trolls. Being anonymous gives them an added advantage over the others and they can troll beyond limits. These kinds come with an extra bag of arrows. I sometimes wonder if they are some so-called friends to know so much about the other group per say, that they are capable of washing the dirty laundry out in the open.

The pacifists
This kind wants to participate in the gangwar to make it stop without taking sides. They would try to be the sage, giving advise left right and center despite knowing that their comments are flashing in front of blind eyes (cannot use deaf ears here).

Opportunists
These people are opportunists. They wait until the gangwar subsides enough so they can give their sales pitch. Mostly their objective is getting recruits and attention. Delivering a few googlies against admins of the rival group is also an often used tactic.

Emotional blackmailers slash lecturers
These can actually be categorized under various forms including emo-wannabes, emo-trolls, emo-pacifists and emo-opportunists. They like giving emotional lectures about how one should behave and not be like others. Actually, that's pretty much their rhetoric. Not be like others. Nothing less, nothing more. It's such a general way of addressing any issue, that one cannot even argue with them.

Yes-men/women
And these are the best kind. They have no two thoughts rubbing against each other in their head, or at least that's how it appears. The motto of their existence on any group is to just agree with everything. Often they exist only to increase the number of likes on the 'Opportunists' posts, and are a part of the rival 'gangs' entourage.

Incessant likers who never post
These people hardly read much in my opinion and are an extension of the previous category. What are their reasons for liking everything are varied; they might be only letting everyone know of their existence; they are intimidated; confused but want to show they know whats going on; or they just do so for the heck of it.

Black-sheep
And last, but not the least are rebels and the misfits. They are never much liked and usually take the brunt of most of it. They are the cause of discussions, controversies, fights and at times even work as punching bags, specially for the opportunists.

I suppose this is enough for now. I'll add more when I observe any more anomalies in this cyber social world of ours.

PS I forgot the 'Don't give a damn' types. Come to think of it, they most probably have a life beyond internet and Facebook.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Learning Beyond Borders

Pakistan is the most troubled country as far as I know from international media resources. From terrorism, extremism, lack of women’s rights, child labor, and lack of education to general civic apathy towards all of these concerns. It is a cauldron of conflict and troubles. It has been in focus since the US chose Pakistan to fight it’s proxy war with the USSR. I never realized what this meant for the rest of the world in terms of being aware and informed of other countries until I met a 19 year old illegal immigrant from Guatemala.

The country itself at least for me was obscure and under no threat from anywhere. However, my recent encounter with Peter, who I met a few weeks ago changed my perception. My conversation with him was shocking at first. Here are bits of that conversation:

Peter: Where are you from?
Pakistan.

Peter: Where is it?
It is in Asia, next to India.

Peter: Is it far?
Yes.

Peter: How did you come to America?
I came here to work (I thought he wanted to know my visa status).

Peter: No, how did you cross the border.
I came in an airplane.

Peter: (Shocked) Why?
Because Pakistan is faraway and there is a sea. (By this time I was uncomfortable because I did not know how to explain and he had no understanding of even basic geography)

Peter: You use a phone?
Yes. (I thought if I showed some pictures from Pakistan, it may help him) Do you want to see pictures from Pakistan?

Peter: Yes. (He looked at the pictures and said it is beautiful and that he would like to see snow some day. So I told him he can go to other places in California where it snows. He looked shocked to hear that too, and asked) It snows in US?

I tried explaining to him as best as I could, but I don’t know if I succeeded much. 

I moved on in a dazed state and realized that the rest of the world is as messed up as my home country, if not more. I have often met people in Pakistan who are unaware of the outside world. I shouldn't look down on them because they never had the same opportunities as I did to go to school or study and read. What they know is limited in terms of geography, politics and general knowledge. Just like my knowledge about Guatemala is limited, because we only know what corporate media feeds us with.

This conversation has made me realize that I am as ignorant of the current or past political conditions of Guatemala as Peter is ignorant of basic geography. The education system in Guatemala is perhaps far bleak than in Pakistan. But what I worry about now is the level of awareness among the world in general; including the privileged ones like me, who live in a bubble. A bubble of information created by the owners of the news corporations, who feed us what they want, and which we consume without questioning.

Here are a few links I am currently reading to change and try to find out things beyond what I am supposed to know.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Bhai is the Army’s ‘Burqa’

Until today I thought only Disney and Warner Brothers were capable of subliminal messages, hidden in the frames of their cartoons and animations. But a real human-like (not CGI) cartoon actually took the cup when he had the guts to show up on electronic media and sing a song for the Army. “Burqay may rehnay do, burqa na uthao,” Bhai has in the past given epic performances, providing plenty to talk about. This time though, he even out did himself. This was as subliminal as it can get in the Pakistani narrative.

There are actually several great things about this whole charade. Let’s start with some here, and whoever chances to read my blog, can add more in the comments section.

1- Bhai kept the private channels from showing squabbles between different political parties while providing ‘quality’ entertainment to all and sundry.

2- He indulged in a sit-down comedy while his party offices acquired by goons, my bad, volunteers and activists all over Karachi were being raided by Rangers.

3- He threatened the Army to take off the ‘veil’ if his butt isn’t saved from the British police.

4- Diverted the public enough to make the Army look like the harmless savior it claims to be.

5- And last but not the least he along with his Rabita Committee gave a go ahead, and sealed the fate of their unwanted and not-so-useful-anymore members.

Yesterdays shenanigans are a proof that the magic hat is still with the Army and it can pull out as many rabbits as it wants. So let’s hail ‘Bhai’ as the savior for the minorities, Ahmedis, poor serfs and last but not the least, the Pakistan Army.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Using the Godfather way

People often question why the Muttahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) has so much support in Karachi and not other parties. (And I'm not a supporter of any party - a disclaimer was necessary here) MQM was not always there, rather it was the mullah party and the feudal party who had Karachi in their clutches after the capital was shifted to Islamabad. The city was divided between the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) with some smaller parties until 1987 when MQM swept Karachi and Hyderabad in the local body elections. However, it did not happen overnight or because the Urdu speaking suddenly wanted to support MQM for its linguistic and ethnic origins.

There is a documentary about the Medici made by PBS. It describes how from being mere bankers the Medici gained support from the people. By doing favors. Or I guess it can even be called the Godfather way. They did favors for people regardless of their social standing and in return gained their loyalty.

This is what the MQM does in Karachi. They do things like getting the electricity bill fixed for Muhammad Liaquat, which was screwed by the KESC; or one of the sector boys takes care of the weekly grocery shopping of a few women in the 'mohalla'; and some goon beats up the guy who teased Farrukh's sister on the street. These things enabled the MQM to get more and more support from the public. Another reason they get more support is that they do not have feudal lords in the upper echelons of the party. Rather they have doctors, engineers etc.

To increase their support, finances and vote bank, the ANP desperately needs more land in Karachi. Why the ANP needs land? That is the only way they will be able to generate more funds and more votes for themselves to stay around, following the MQM lead on getting to the public directly. I remember my Pakhtun taxi driver who always said that although he is not in ANP directly, if anybody in his 'abadi' has a problem, they go to the local sector to get it fixed. Hence the land mafia of any particular party is a goodwill and recruiting office. Less land for any party means, less funds and less voters. The tragedy for ANP is, it came to Karachi at a point when most land is already occupied or built.

PPP on the other hand screwed up its vote bank, which was mostly in Lyari and the suburbs of Karachi. They failed the people by not doing enough and are now fighting tooth and nail to get it back. In all this mayhem, the only people silently going about their business, and getting more support, are the bloody mullahs. One gets to see an increasing number of zombies in black abayas and more and more men with pants above their ankles in Karachi.

If only the sparring parties would take this as a hint and stop indulging in the urban warfare, Karachi may still have hope.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Ford Fiesta 2011: Driving Michigan to California


2,300+ miles covered in 36 hours

This is a long overdue blog. The post for my first ever long drive and that too cross country had been pending for some time, well to be exact more than a month. It was something I had hoped of doing several times, but never knew when. So when I had this chance to move to California for a job, I took it. It taught me about my own capabilities, driving skills and things that I never knew I could pull through. That too when my morale had already been down with so many scary stories about cars getting totaled, skidding off-shoulders, getting rear-ended or simply stalling on a lonely stretch of road, I was pretty apprehensive by the time I actually drove. However, having a good reliable and in my case new car, helped a lot.

The car was good on gas and did not give any problems what so ever at any point. It would do almost a 100 miles/quarter tank if I was able to maintain a good speed. The only problem with me though was, despite a GPS I at times took wrong exits and turns. Which sometimes brought me a surprise, like that exit in Iowa combined with a wrong turn which took me into a cornfield. But I still made the most of it and found a nice place to stay the first night of my road spree. A place called Comfort Inn, clean, safe, filled with friendly people and equipped with a wifi service. It was peaceful there, and I wished I could stay there longer. But comes morning and I was on the road again.

However, this part of the drive was more tricky as the velocity of wind was extremely high and I had to hold the steering wheel with both hands. Refueling in Colorado had been a huge problem too, cause the gas station was on top of a hill and it kept pushing me around (no exaggeration here), each step I took I would be pushed an inch or two backwards. The place was pretty friendly and people were curious and asked a lot of questions when they saw my number plate and me walking alone with nobody with me despite being brown (:P).


The second day turned out to be pretty hectic, specially as I reached the Colorado Springs area. Having almost no experience to drive the car on a mountainous terrain it was difficult and exhausting as I had already been driving almost 10 hours. So when I could not take it any more I found the closest hotel to stay the night. It was called The Peck House and was located in the small town of Empire in Clear Creek County. The house was built in 1862 and was filled with antique furniture. The architecture was very interesting as well. The architect in me loved staying at the place and the nature enthusiast bubbled over with joy looking at the views in the surroundings.
The Peck House

The town was named for the great state of New York, this small town expected to be as great an empire someday. Gold and Silver mines abounded between 1858 & 1865, and many fled the turmoil of the East to stake a claim. Among them was James Peck and his 3 teenage sons.
Patio view

The view of the mountains and valley from the front porch of the house. The Porch was lined with humming bird feeders which came one after another as the sun gradually hid behind the mountains. The place reminded me of Kashmir very forcefully. There was a similar view of the valley where I lived in Bagh after the 2006 earthquake. My first thought when I arrived was that I have found Bagh in the US.They came in 1860 to build their house so the other family members might follow. In 1862, Mary Grace Parsons Peck brought the family goods by oxcart and joined her family. Soon investors for their mines arrived from the East and Mrs. Peck became a full time innkeeper and cook.

The stay at The Peck House was great with great food and a wonderful hostess. It was after reaching my apartment and while doing my research on the house that I found out it is said to be haunted, which added to the allure of the place.

Rustic garage or barn
This was a rustic garage or a barn on the side of the hotel building mounted with the antlers of a reindeer.

Close by was a stream and a rickety wooden bridge with a sign that said ‘trespassing private property’. So all thought of crossing over washed away.

I resumed my journey the next morning despite wanting to extend my stay; however I regretted that within half an hour as I got my first ever speeding ticket while going downhill near a small town.

Rickety bridge

It kept me depressed for may be an hour or two at the most, but the view was so inspiring that all the depression went out the window pretty soon.

The drive through Colorado, through Utah, Nevada, Arizona all the way to California was great filled with many beautiful and picturesque valleys, mountains and canyons. The third day I stayed at the Oak Tree Inn, in a small motel Yermo, San Bernardino County, California. It was a wonderful place too. And since I had to wait another day for my apartment to be ready, I went to see the Calico Ghost Town (Will blog about it some other time). After staying two nights in Yermo, I finally arrived in Corona at noon and moved in to my new apartment in 2 hours. Happy Ending!!! :P

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Where to draw a line?

Religion has become almost an obsession despite one believes in it or not. It seems no matter where one goes or lives, it still plays a role in everyday life. If not as a ritualistic routine, as some important news detail which leaves the mind boggled with the far reaching implications it may have. This is a blog related to the news item being referred here.

Reading it is pretty simple; a Mormon family demanding the right to practice their own religion. Not demanding recognition only a right. This right includes indulging in polygamy, which is a practice for which Muslims have been shunned by feminists, Catholics, Hindus, Jews etc. My fear is, if the Mormons win the case, it will pave the way for Muslims too. So this fear led me to find out a little more on religious freedom and the extent of rights to practice.

In the United States, the religious civil liberties are guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution:

“Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The "Establishment Clause," stating that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion," is generally read to prohibit the Federal government from establishing a national church ("religion") or excessively involving itself in religion, particularly to the benefit of one religion over another. Following the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and through the doctrine of incorporation, this restriction is held to be applicable to state governments as well.

The "Free Exercise Clause" states that Congress cannot "prohibit the free exercise" of religious practices. The Supreme Court of the United States has consistently held, however, that the right to free exercise of religion is not absolute. For example, in the 1800s, some of the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints traditionally practiced polygamy, yet in Reynolds vs United States (1879), the Supreme Court upheld the criminal conviction of one of these members under a federal law banning polygamy. The Court reasoned that to do otherwise would set precedent for a full range of religious beliefs including those as extreme as human sacrifice. The Court stated that "Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices."

It was reassuring to say the least. Hopefully, the case will be lost by the family. But it leaves me wondering where the State draws a line and on what grounds. There are women who indulge in this practice and do not mind. They are okay about sharing their husbands. What difference is between these women and the women in France who happily done the hijab and consider the ban, an intrusion on religious freedom. What about the liberals who support their right for doing so? Do they also support the right of the women who are happy with polygamous marriages? Or they would merely deny that there is any link at all between the two?

The question becomes if a woman is happy in polygamy, why should she not be allowed to do so? How do we decide on what aspects a person is allowed the pursuit of happiness and on what she/he is not.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The unaccounted girls?

Abductions of Urdu-speaking girls has been often claimed to happen during riots between the Pathan and Urdu-speaking community in Karachi. So far I mostly attributed it to being an extension of the old story about Gohar Ayub Khan picking ‘Muhajir’girls (since at that time the term Urdu-speaking was not coined) from Lalukhait in 1964, which resulted in the language riots. However, the frequency and intensity of these stories has increased, since Benazir’s assassination and the ensuing riots that engulfed Karachi. What further boggles the mind is that none of the major news agencies carry this information. From BBC to Express Tribune, Daily Times, Jang etc.

One reason could be that the stories are often only related by word of mouth and therefore can easily be considered rumors. If these are just rumors, they could be used to exploit the youth by the interest groups. If they are not rumors, it shows the tribal mentality still prevalent in our society where dishonoring women is just a part of an all out war, in which women do not even have a say. They are just a tool, used by the enemy to feel powerful and make the other party feel weak and dishonored. There could other factors too which must not be over looked, and that is some traditional Pathans buy a woman to get married. This could be a perfect opportunity for them to get a wife at no cost nevertheless this could not be the only reason for them to indulge in this activity.

Another question to ask could be why are the parents’ not reporting if this is happening? I suppose there are many reasons for that too; Shame, dishonor, fear of being ostracized, illegal resident status (in case of Bangladeshi families) and the 'ghairat' syndrome, which has more value than a woman herself. Combine everything together and we have unreported rapes, molestations, and abductions etc of women. Although many people may disagree since politically moticated issues always get highlighted by the media, citing the case of Mukhtara Mai and Shazia Marri, can anybody honestly feel that these are the only two political rape/abduction cases in Pakistan against women? These may be the two most reported cases, but not the only ones. The media needs to verify these stories or to put the rumors at rest so that the negative elements do not use it to further escalate the already deteriorated conditions in the city.

The incidents
The first such story was related in February 2008 by an old Baloch woman resident of Lyari. She was concerned about the moral deprivation of the youth and said, “I am shocked how they can steal from the same guy who provided them with food at no cost when they did not have any money. Not only that, they even picked girls from their houses.” What she said could be an exaggeration, one may never find out.

Another incident was reported by some relatives, a husband and wife, who were passing through SITE Industrial Area and witnessed the abduction of three women factory workers by some men in a Suzuki pickup. Their guess was they were Baloch and Makrani men.

Now this is July 2011 and the same kinds of stories are pouring in from Katti Pahari and Qasba Colony, Orangi Town. According to our Dhobi, he witnessed a stranded bus from which some Pathan men picked up the Urdu-speaking girls and the rest of their mob beat up whoever tried to resist or save them. The police standing nearby merely watched, since they probably had no orders to act. While some other men too witnessed similar incidents in the area, there is still a blackout in the news about these incidents. There is not even a report putting to rest such rumors.

Whether these stories are true or not, they remind one of the gory pre-partition stories written by Saadat Hassan Manto.

Our worthy politicians and their idiosyncrasies

Yesterdays drunken speech by Dr Zulfiqar Mirza made me run a Youtube search about the other gems by our worthy politicians, made over the last few years or so. It bore some fruitful results, and though I stayed up most of the night, at least my friends and I had a good time laughing at them.

I’ll start with gems by Chief Minister Balochistan Aslam Raisani:

“Inshallah hum unko… Bamboo karaingay”

Degree degree hoti hai, asli ho ya naqli..”.. Actually this one has a few other gems.

“Jo berozgar hai woh siasat karay, agar qismat lag gaya to wazir banay ga.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gvh_LA166Ek&feature=related

Sardi sardi hoti hai chahay winter ho chahay garmi ho.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1WwMDfexWw

Since TV channels have already done a good job on the esteemed minister with Bollywood songs and clips. Lets now have a look at PPP former federal Minister Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan Jatoi, who asked an innocent question. “Kya corruption par hamara haq nahi hai?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtTRA_h3DA0

He goes on to demand for a quota system in corruption.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKoyo8Xt3UA

And here we have former federal minister for law and human rights Wasi Zafar, who talks about some big arm getting somewhere?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NL2fJn0IiDQ

There are many other videos and clips on Youtube for a lot of other idiosyncrasies our politicians are involved in. But I will end this post with Dr Zulfiqar Mirza’s claims about Urdu-speaking being “Bhookay Nangay” on their arrival to the country they sacrificed most of their wealth and some of their families for. It is a serious offence, however, one cannot deny the funny expressions on the faces of the people around him, or the constipated expression on Shahi Syed’s face.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jjn80c_ohZY

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Outsourcing, a double edged sword

When economic progress is equated to getting out sourced businesses, destruction of an existing social fabric cannot be avoided. This is a three year old discussion turned argument with a friend, who claimed that third world countries will progress and thrive for the next few decades because of the call centers. My opinion at that time was (and still is) it is a short term thing and will have more repercussions then advantages due to several reasons.

My reasons were pretty simple, though for many it may sound totally unparalleled and unrelated. I saw it happening on a different scale in an isolated mountain community after a disaster. After the 2005 Earthquake struck Kashmir, several hundred international organizations (IO)s and NGOs rushed in to provide relief and support to the vulnerable public. It showed dedication and commitment on part of the rest of the world, and meant opportunity for the locals.

Work for masons, carpenters, laborers etc was plenty to be had and that too at a wage twice or thrice of what they usually received from their own community. So, there was a rush of a large workforce from all over Pakistan towards the destructed region. However, it soon started to backfire because while the NGOs and IOs had well-paid workers, the common people who actually needed work to be done, could no longer afford the market rate of a mason or carpenter. Also, as the foreigners started to gradually trickle out of the region, many workers’ dissatisfaction with local conditions, especially the normalization of wages forced them to migrate to cities like Karachi, Peshawar and Pindi. So, instead of staying in the disaster areas and implementing what they learnt regarding the construction of Earthquake Resistant buildings they ended up leaving the region leaving the people to mostly build for themselves or to use whatever labor force was left. Anyway, before I digress too much.

The problem with call centers is on a larger scale with the additional baggage of being in a stagnant situation progress and skill wise. On a call center floor, there’s hardly enough room to move forward in any direction, unless one is really lucky. Moreover, in countries like Pakistan and India it works like a vicious cycle. Once you get in, there’s no way out. Reminds me of a line from Hotel California, “You can checkout any time you like, but you can never leave.” The major reason why it’s a cycle is, call centers despite requiring very little skill, pay more than the skilled jobs in these countries, so once a person gets used to the pay scale they cannot return to the paltry sum they get as, let’s say as an entry level junior Architect or Civil Engineer.

This in turn leads to social problems, dissatisfaction, and alienation, to mention a few. On the other hand, there is also this constant threat of the outsourcing businesses deciding to move back their offshore offices. Which, I do think will happen ultimately since training new recruits again and again in foreign countries will become a costly burden. We may have an endless supply of new recruits, but the supply of money is limited. It will become expensive to train a new customer service agent, telemarketer every 6 months then having a stable worker at the main office, who also does not have any accent problems. How long it will take for all this to happen? In my estimation, definitely not a few decades, rather not even one.

And also, let’s not forget the havoc it wrecks on the economies of the countries like the US, where the unemployment rate has reached an all time high of 9.1% this year. While the people in the first world are being pacified with more and more discounts on consumer goods and services, their jobs are being sent offshore so some college student can get new Nike shoes or a Gucci bag.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

No choice but Facebook

Is it just me or people are actually not as much hyped about Google+ anymore? According to the Google+ discussion forum, tempers are flaring at Google not letting in even the people with invites and new users who are excited to try out the service. A few are even predicting that the excitement will die out by the time Google opens the floodgates. This scarcity, demand/supply thing can work only for so much.

After trying for a week I finally got in on Google+ at around 6pm Pacific Time. My friends who tried to login between 6pm to 9pm got in. But the ones’, who tried logging in after that, were unable to do so. So, what am I supposed to do here when most of my friends are on Facebook?

It seems that not being able to get more friends soon will be the death of Google+.

After all, it’s a Social Network not an anti-Social network. As long as my friends are unable to use Google+ am sticking with Facebook.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Google+ just another transition ?

Here is my tirade about the Google+ project. I know, I know. This is not what I write about in general and am no tech geek or such. I am not even using Google+ yet, the invite is not working ($%#@%$%). However, I am an avid Google user, from Google being my favorite search engine, to Gmail (both personal and for work), Google Docs, Google Latitude, Google Maps, Google Labs, Picasa, Picnik, Blogger, Youtube, Google Sites, Google Analytics, Android. These are all my daily tools for work and personal use, while there are the occasional services like Google Sketchup, Reader, Books, Google Earth etc. The only thing I have been using apart from Google is Facebook, and though I do like Facebook, in the past year or so I have been unhappy with its privacy policies. This was the same reason I stopped using Orkut and moved to Facebook. Orkut privacy policies sucked, and it seemed to be a place only for people with hormonal problems or substance abuse tendencies.

When I switched to Facebook it felt great. I had more control over privacy, I knew who should be able to view my display picture and also people seemed to be real, unlike people on Orkut with names like \/\//-\Q/-\R etc. Moving on, the first issue I had with Facebook was, when they changed the display picture policy. Since then on, the problems have increased instead of being less. Recently, the worst Facebook could do, was changing the group privacy settings, and people who know me, would definitely know what it means to be an apostate from Pakistan. So, it is high time for transitioning from Facebook to Google+, which up until now has been receiving positive reviews in regards to its privacy policy.

I have also already fallen in love with the Circles concept, layout and the maneuverability. Perhaps because only 2 or so weeks ago I had been discussing with this friend of mine about the single wall Facebook offers us and the way the privacy lists are setup. It takes a minimum of 5 clicks to share something on the wall with a specific list on Facebook. I had thought having multiple walls could have solved the issue. And it seems Google+ did exactly that, although the number of clicks is 4, only one short of what one had to do on Facebook, the layout looks more comfortable and easier to manage.

The option to upload from Picasa makes it easier to integrate albums directly onto the profile, and share with exactly the people you want to share with. I see this as having endless possibilities once Google integrates the other services that we are already using. It would be great if there is an option to import Facebook albums, links, videos, groups and pages directly to Google+ as well. But, perhaps that’s hoping for a bit too much. :P

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Some random dialogues

These dialogues have been exchanged in real from Indians, to Albanians to Americans.

Day 1 after May 1st
“Hello Paki. How are you today?” With a smirk.
Me: I am pretty well. Glad they finally got Osama.
“Yeah, from Pakistan.” With a smile from one corner of the face to another. “Nobody should trust you guys.”
Me: Umm..
“You know, our politicians already knew this, but US won’t listen to us.”
Me: Well at least he is dead now. (Why can my boss not call me right now?)
“India should be allowed to clear Pakistan of jihadis, US cannot do so. Just give Modi a chance.”
Me: That is highly unlikely, cause we can allow US troops, Afghan smugglers and Jihadis trained by CIA and MOSAD to run freely in Pakistan. But not Indians. You know, it is about Pakistan’s sovereignty.
“Yes, which recently got shattered when US lead this operation near Islamabad.”
Finally the boss calls.

Day 7
“You are Indian?” Expression clearly says, just say no.
Me: No I am from Pakistan.
“Yes, Pakistan. I know, that is where they killed Osama. You guys had been hiding him for 10 years.”
Me: I guess you can say the extremist elements in the army and the ISI were involved.
“Are you kidding me? Do you think anybody can believe that it was just the army and the intelligence? He was living there for so long. Did he never go out to see doctors? He was pretty sick you know. People must have seen him too. But nobody reported. I saw on Fox News that Pakistanis are protesting against the US for carrying out the operation.”
Me: Excuse me, I have work to do.

Day 15
“What do you think of Osama’s death? Do you believe like other conspiracy theorists that he was killed 7 years ago?”
Me: I don’t really know. I only wish Pakistan was not involved in it.
“I understand. Its not the people who do these things. It is the corrupt generals and politicians.”

Finally, I can sit back and not feel guilty about the whole thing. Until.....

Day 20
“Is it common to throw acid on women in Pakistan?”
Me: Some people do it out of anger and for revenge, but it is not a tradition.
“How can you speak English?”
Me: I went to an English medium school.
“They don’t let girls go to school either.”
Me: In tribal areas it can happen.

These and many more questions are an indication that Pakistan is only understood from the political news perspective. Real people with real lives hardly make 2% of this country. What it is mostly known as is a hub for gun wielding bearded nut-jobs with a few ‘Achmeds’ and many ‘black penguins’, sorry ‘burka women’. Interestingly, even people from Middle East think of Pakistan as more backward then themselves.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Merged blogs!

So, finally I took the decision I had been avoiding for so long due to several reasons. I merged my two blogs. Now I only have one, previously arch-rehab.blogspot.com and now changed t0 andaleeb-rizvi.blogspot.com to make it more personalized.

I do not know if this is a good decision or a bad one. But, it is a change!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Ask the fish now!!

So finally the US thinks it is time to disclose the death of the most wanted criminal Osama Bin Laden on Pakistani soil. While one of the former already dead Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto had disclosed this information a few years ago (and yes she retracted it later). This news is being disclosed at a crucial time when public opinion regarding Democrats is plumetting low, gas prices nearing $5.00 a gallon by Memorial Day, brewing Middle East crises, and among all this need for US to exit Afghanistan asap and gracefully too.

I think while pretending to be going after the big guns, the US has created several evils, and if for a moment one accepts Bin Laden's death as true, the war is still not won. This is a ploy by the current government to divert public attention from 'petty' issues. Or how Obama sanctioned bombing in Libya without approval from the congress. Anyway, lets be honest about the whole thing, Osama Bin Laden was made by the US and the US laid him to rest at sea. Now whether it is a sea of lies remains to be discovered. I will be skeptical unless there is physical evidence of his demise. Just as the US made sure of showing off the moon landing, Saddam's arrest and later his death.