Monday, October 30, 2006

Listing the Podcast at Odeo

This is post is an effort to "claim" My Odeo Channel (odeo/6a700ab672a5ffb6), so I can provide better service.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Reza Aslan at Stanford and a couple of other points; iFaqeer Podcast, October 25, 2006

With Azad Karachi Radio re-launched, I am also restarting the Podcast series associated with this blog. This time, I discuss Reza Aslan's speech at Stanford's Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies and a couple of other issues.

Uploading this program has delayed it by a day or so, but now the audio file for directly downloading and listening to the program is here.

This edition discusses various issues that have been addressed on this blog--including upcoming ones.

You can subscribe to either the text version of this blog or the Podcast using the following the following URL/link for our RSS feed:

Just copy and paste that address where the software you use to subscribe to PodCasts (for example iTunes from Apple, iPodder, etc.) asks you to put addresses of Podcasts you are subscribing to manually.

As mentioned above, you can listen to this program using the Odeo player on our pages. We are listed at Yahoo! Podcasts and Odeo.

Again, to reach us via email, drop a line at Otherwise, just leave comments on this page.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What Does a Muslim Moderate Sound Like?

Playing catch-up, and having just returned from a lecture by Reza Aslan at Stanford's Abbasi Program on Islamic Studies, I found the following in the draft folder from the days of the discussion on the Pope's much-discussed speech. It's sort of a continuation of an earlier post, which you might want to read, too:

In case anyone is wondering what a discussion between someone like Irshad Manji, Wafa Sultan and/or Ayan Hirsi Ali on the one hand and a moderate Muslim on the other sounds like, please take a listen to the last hour of this program:

During the program, Fawaz Gerges points out that the protest in Cairo, at or near Al-Azhar, was organized and attended by the Islamists. And points to Islamists saying (Kamal Saeed Al Habibi) that they had thought of the Pope a leader in the fight against secularism, and worked with him, for example, during discussions on family planning at WHO conferences and the like. But now they have their doubts.

And the Vatican correspondent, even though he explicates and explains what the pope was trying to do, still says the same thing I was saying at the time, or that Fawaz G or Reza Aslan (see below) were saying: it wasn't smart to use that quote to make his point. And says that the University professor has yet to come to terms with being the Pope. Terrible failure of sensitivity" is the phrase he uses. He hopes that what will come out of this is that Pope will come up with a better vocabulary.

And FG also points out that people in the Muslim world are following this closely: and while this was what the rabble rousers and the mob instigaters are capitalizing on (ain't capital-ism great?!), the masses in the Muslim world are not thinking if this speech; they also remember very clearly his not including Islamic civilization in his list of civilizations in his first speech as Pope--and, not least, his opposition to Turkey and Bosnia's entry into the EU.

And at this point, even Brian Lehrer, the host, is taking jabs at Irshad, who seems to be the only one "defending" the Pope's speech in an unqualified manner.

Reza Aslan points out that unqualified, unsympathetic, un-well-thought-out, really, critiques of Islam make it impossible to reach out to Moderate Muslims--not the fanatics, who will never listen anyway.

Vatican Correspondent Guy says the Vatican is wondering "Where is all the goodwill we earned by being against the Iraq War and calling for an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon?" My answer tot hat is: See under "Tet Offensive" and "Holy Father, please stop feeding the bears." Especially since Gerges says that the speakers at Al Azhar said "Let's do this peacefully; and we'll keep up the dialogue."

And Reza A points out that violence broke out over this issue in Gaza and Somalia--the two most lawless places on earth.

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Az Karachi asth, Radioyay Azad; Relaunching Azad Karachi Radio

About a year ago, I had started podcasting. I, we, rather, started two podcasts. One was in English and was, well, podcast, via the RSS feed for this blog while the other was in Urdu and podcast as "Azad Karachi Radio".

To which a lot of people go..."Say what?!" Are you talking about the political independence of Karachi, a la Singapore?

Well, let's explain.

Both of the members of the team working on the podcast count the city of Karachi as our emotional, intellectual and social wellspring. And thus the idea is to have an Azad--the word, say, Gandhi would have used, for "free"--voice that has a Karachi accent and speaks with the spirit of that brave city.

Thus the title of this post: Az Karachi asth, Radioyay Azad.

That phrase is my uneducated way of saying "From the heart of Karachi, this is Azad Radio". PaRhay lik-hay koe Farsi kya hai, پڑھے لِکھے کو فارسے کیا ہے؟ , as the old line of poetry went; educated people should be able to grasp complicated ideas in literary language--which, before Europe became ascendant, was Farsi, from Istanbul to Rangoon, if not further.

Another reason--and this might be a very personal eccenticity of mine--the phrase from Persian pops into my head is that, growing up abroad, my father used to listen BBC Urdu (as well as English and Hindi) regularly. And if you didn't turn the radio off fast enough at the end of most Urdu broadcasts, the next thing you heard on that wavelength was "Az London asth, Radioyay BBC" (From London, this is BBC Radio). So in my head, Urdu, Radio and the traditional roots of Urdu come together in that one sentence. And it took me decades to actually learn what the words exactly meant.

So, to paraphrase the call sign of BBC's Persian Service, az Karachi asth, radioyay azad. Cemendtaur and I are reviving Azad Karachi Radio with Program 4, a year after the last one went online.

This program restarts the discussion with Cemendtaur joining the team live and in studio. This program congratulates celebrants on Ramzan, Eid and Diwali, with some thoughts on the spirit of the season; discusses the first anniversary of the earthquake in South Asia and the role of the blogosphere in helping remember those in need; and throws out some political thoughts on matters of social concern, also discussing the
recent exchange between a seminarian (madarasa student) and Gen. Pervez Musharraf that made the rounds on the Internet.

The audio file for directly downloading and listening to the fourth program is here. You can now also stream the podcast using the Odeo (odeo/5e510de8d8638707) player from any Azad Karachi Radio blog page.
Just take a look at the top righthand corner of the page!

The new edition of the podcast is at:

And the main Blog is at:

The podcast is aslo available on Yahoo! Podcasts at:

and on Odeo at:

Though the directories might need a little time to register the new edition--they hadn't at the time of writing this.

You can subscribe to either the text version of this blog or the Podcast using the following the following URL/link for our RSS feed:

and copy-pasting that address where the software you use to subscribe to PodCasts (for example iTunes from Apple, iPodder, etc.) asks you to put addresses of Podcasts you are subscribing to manually.

If you are in Pakistan or elsewhere where you have difficulty accessing the Blogspot domain due to censorship, etc., please use:

Formally speaking, Azad Karachi Radio is a service of Azad South Asia, a collaborative media effort initiated by yours truly and Cemendtaur, out of Silicon Valley. You can reach the team at or leave comments on either this blog or at Azad Karachi Radio.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday the 13th; Lost in Translation

I have recently started paying more attention to, a site that aggregates blogs that are by, or related to Pakistanis and Pakistan. (Basically, I added a feed from it to my Yahoo Widget for reading feeds.)

Here's something that jumped out at me today:

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Disasters Know No Boundaries

We often talk of the "earthquake that hit Pakistan", but this picture is an important reminder that disasters know no boundaries:

MSNBC Picture

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Flashback: 10/8/2005; Earthquake in Kashmir


According to the netizen’s reference of choice, the Wikipedia, the recent earthquake hit South Asia 08:50:38 Pakistan Standard Time (03:50:38 UTC/ 09:20:38 India Standard Time) on Saturday, October 8th, 2005. It was Friday night here in California and, as a lot of us are wont to do, before I turned in to sleep, I happened to glance at Yahoo! News headlines. There was mention about a quake in Pakistan. It seemed like a pretty serious natural disaster—though, at the time, we had no idea quite how serious.

For about six months, I have been working on a project called WikiPakistan (, a “Pakistan Information Database” hosted on WikiCities, a system run by the same foundation that runs the WikiPedia. (The WikiPedia is a free and “Open Source” encyclopedia based on the new “Wiki” technology for developing Web sites.) Up to that point, this project had been moving rather slowly, with me trying to get people interested and entering information in between holding down a Silicon Valley day job, managing two kids both of whose parents have professional jobs, and trying to keep my blog up to date. But as I read the news about the quake, I realized that this was exactly the kind of situation that this project could address. I created a page on the site devoted to the quake. Then I sent an e-mail to several mailing lists I am on and to friends informing them and inviting them to contribute, and went to sleep. By then, it had a couple of news links, a couple of links to technical information about the quake, and some empty sections for links to personal accounts, organizations working to provide relief, governments’ response, and some other useful links. It was 2:08 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, and about 2:00 p.m. in Pakistan when I made my last edit that night. It had been a little over five hours since the earthquake hit.

By the next morning, of course, the world was buzzing with news, views, interviews and information about the quake, relief efforts, statistics, and the like. Over the next few days, I fell into the routine of following what I could from mailing lists, e-mails being sent around, news sites, and the like and adding information to the wiki site. Very soon, others joined in—not least, people on the ground in Pakistan...
You can read the whole article from a year ago in the November 2005 edition of the Siliconeer Magazine.

The Wiki pages are also still around and live, if a little stale. Please stop by and update things if you get a chance: . A page has been set up for updates a year on at:

The All Things Pakistan blog at has a couple of posts (at least) that are worth reading on this topic--including one that went live at exactly the moment of the 1-year anniversary of the event; one about "Zalzala Khan", a kid born during the quake, so to speak, and nicknamed after the event; and a picture of the day that is just amazing (the one reproduced above).

PS: The team at is coordinating blogging about the anniversary at:

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Benazir Bhutto Comes A'Visiting--and Imran Khan and other Pakistani Pols

Especially living in the US or another country with an active democracy, one often thinks--okay, maybe only once in a while--that whatever their foibles, one should try to engage with Pakistani politicians. After all, the press and opinion makers often say that the only way to really set up a prosperous Pakistan, where the people can achieve their aspirations and we can see the dreams we have for our country fulfilled is to let democracy take its course and let the people actually lead the "democracy opposition" (a phrase from the WSJ or the IHT of day or two ago) to play their part.

And then you see, for example, a report in the Community section of The Pakistan Link of October 6, 2006 about Benazir Bhutto's recent visit to the SF Bay area. (You've got to give her this: she's the only Pakistani politician that does come around here regularly. The world beats a path to Silicon Valley and wants to adopt IT; the Pakistani government and industry waxes eloquent about wanting to become a powerhouse in the field. But actually come here and engage? Naaah. But I digress.) The report is by Ras H. Siddiqui, who is at this point the elder statesman amongst Pakistani journalists in Northern California. It's titled "Benazir Criticizes Waziristan Peace Treaty" and provides a very interesting view of the event and Ms. Bhutto (or Mrs. Bhutto-Zardar, as it calls her at one point), amongst other things saying that she:
"has been Prime Minister of Pakistan on two occasions. She is Chairperson of the PPP, the largest political party in that country and if a recent International Republican Institute (IRI) survey is an indicator, she is still the frontrunner to Pakistan’s Prime Minister’s slot. But that is only possible if General Musharraf holds “free and fair” elections next year in the country."
I attended an event just like this one at the same venue a year or two ago and what struck me most was the part where she pointed out, as Ras Saahab reports this time, that:
"many people in Pakistan are still living in misery. She said that the stock market had done well in the country but that most people there did not have the resources to invest in it and that their poverty is increasing."
and that
"We should use our current influx of cash towards debt servicing and health, education and sanitation, she said. She spoke about power outages that have become the norm in the country, increased unemployment is a problem and..." so on
Here's my comment back to Ras Saahab:

What you relate about her assessement of the situation in Pakistan is similar to what I heard last time she was here. And it was impressive. Just what I would like the leader of a left-leaning party to focus on.

Imran Khan speaking at
OPEN Silicon Valley's Annual event in 2005
[Photo by Author/Blogger]
And it's not just her; I had the honour of listening to Imran Khan in the Bay Area, too. And my reaction to him was the same: They get the problem. It's not that they are dumb. Their take on what's wrong in Pakistan is spot on.

But. But in the case of BB, I lived through both her Prime Ministerships. And the only good thing I remember is that the ban on fax machines was lifted and there was SOME loosening of the social screw that Zia had put in place...on the other side side of the balance sheet--namely what difference did this female leader of an ostensibly left-leaning party make? did women's rights make any headway? and she quotes Transparency International, but what of the record of her administration--the picture is not at all much to write home about.

In the case of Imran Khan, I have a friend who was a "polling agent" for his party in the first election. And the way they ran that campaign was beyond incompetent. And his talking a good talk about the corrupt politicians and then working with a lot of them (the way he got his seat in Parliament was to get the other Khan Niazi--his own family name, too--running in Mianwali to bow out of the race) also left a lot of disullusionment in its wake. [And I know there will be those who object to my lining up IK with BB and oldline corrupt politicians. But from the point of view of the common citizen, incompetence, or cluelessness, if you will, and corruption really don't differ in what they do to us and our nation.]

And I don't mean to pick on BB or IK. I could go on and on about Nawaz Sharif (anti-terror laws...oddly relevant today) and even the MQM.

Where am I going with this? I am not sure. I can only say that there are those of us "out here" that do want to engage with the politics of our home country--in the most high-minded, and noble sense of that word, politics, if that spirit can still be invoked. We see Michael Shakashvili in Georgia, a returned expat, get elected. But we're thinking, how can we engage? Main manje kithhay d-haawan, they main keRay paasay jaawan, to quote my favourite Punjabi saying. Or, to quote the Shahid Nadeem play, dhasso kiththay jaaway jhalli? kina bu'a kharkaaway jhalli?

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Different take on the AQ Khan Affair

This is a little dated, but I'd missed this one:

As usual, the folks at The Daily Show say things that only a humourist can. The "He said sorry." The "Pakistan didn't sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty." The hypocrisy of "Godfearing nations full of very religious people" (both Western and Muslim?) wanting nuclear weapons (of course, he didn't, but citizens of Islamic Republics do well to remember the proscription against weapons that have long-term environmental effects) goes on and on.

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