Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Twenty-Two to my Head and a Press Pass in my Pocket

If there's one
city I am "from", it is Karachi

It's very difficult to report on events when it is your own home on fire. Especially when it's an inferno you, personally, can do nothing about at the moment, you're too busy, most of all, either trying to find your family and housemates--when you're not just sitting there with your head in your hands. But then, friends want to know what's happening with you and yours. And especially now that the news outlets, at least, are telling us that things have "calmed down", here goes.

This is a first post that's triggered by something I saw and then I will post a compilation of comments from expat Karachiites.

First of all, the question from friends is "Where do we get information about the situation that we can trust?" The answer to that--from a person whose city is one of the largest in the world (never mind superlatives as "greatest" and suchlike) and whose streets have seen running battles for decades, both battles of information, and battles with firearms, --is that if you are going to trust any one source on the planet for the last word on anything, I want what you're smoking and a trip down Da Nile with you.

Having said that, in the early 21st century, we now have blogs, and even more importantly, we now have blog aggregators and collaborative blogs. So the best place to go to see different points of view and different reports from, on, and about Pakistan is the central site called "Bloggers.Pk", which will give you a compiled "feed" of a large number of the most active blogs in the Pakistani "Blogosphere".

Yes, you will see posts about trivialities, but you will also see live updates, comments, and views from all parts of the Pakistani spectrum.

The next place you need to go is the Metroblogs for Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad.

And then read Pakistan's major newspapers and the websites of the electronic/satellite media. Pakistan's press is still, and has always been very independent, if not often not allowed to operate freely. At a time like this, when the press itself has come under attack (see here and, if you understand Urdu/Hindi, listen to an interview of Aaj TV's New York rep here), it is important to remember that. Even Dawn, The News and Jang which might be tepid, or cautious in their reporting (Disclaimer: the Reporting Desk Editor at The News in Karachi is a childhood friend and assured me, this past December, that he's working hard to build a team that is balanced, diverse, and trustable--both in it's professionalism and in terms of the people who are part of it) are worth visiting. But do also visit The Daily Times, and The Frontier Post at least. If you can, check out what we have in terms of the alternative press--mostly Urdu papers. Also read the news sites for the electronic/satellite media. Aaj TV has not only been covering the news, as mentioned above they have been part of the news. There's also Geo TV, The Jang Group's electronic wing.

In the next few posts I will follow up with opinion, views, etc., as we Karachiites come out from under the rubble (physical, emotional, political), and take stock. But for now, like I said, I am a Karachiite, and today I feel that we as a community, and as a nation, today stand, as the report in the Daily Times puts it (using our local sobriquet for a twenty two-calibre handgun:

TT to my forehead and a press pass in my pocket
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Urooj Zia episode is a telling evidence of what kind of treatment is meted out to eduated female professionals by groups claiming to be the vanguard of moderation!
It also speaks of the attitude accorded to journalists even when they happen to pass by a street.
The fact that a gun was placed on Urooj Zia's head speaks for itself the sanctity of a peaceful citizen
disregarded and disgraced. What adds salt to the injury is the indifferent, unhelpful and rather shameful attitude of those expected to enforce law and order and provide all possible protection to law abiding citizens.

Events in recent weeks have again proved that threatening media personnel is nor an aberration for MQM neither an act in isolation. [http://tinyurl.com/343qeg]

It is actually a persistence posture of intimidation evident for the past five years that MQM is a coalition partner in Sind province and at the centre.

Some weeks earlier, worrisome reports surfaced how women representatives are manhandled by MQM thugs in local assembly sessions:

Media activists should demand from MQM how much it has has helped Pakistan move towards pluralistic, tolerant and accomodative polity?

In addition to the timely notice by the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX),
International Federation of Journalists, Reporters Without Borders too has voiced serious concerns over threats issued to Pakistani reporters covering the causes and consequences of the 12 May tragedy in Karachi.
The International Federation of Journalists, Reporters Without Borders have voiced serious concerns over threats issued to Pakistani reporters covering the causes and consequences of the 12 May tragedy in Karachi. See related links below:

In effect, a free hand was given to mobs to mercilessly quell moderate lawyers and quashing enlightened journalists who were covering the events.

There are sad indications that irreparable blows have been inflicted on key components of the civil society in Pakistan that mostly comprise of, represent and cater to vastly moderate elements of Pakistan’s society:

Was it really necessary to harass and intimidate the Karachi's lawyer community?

In fact, Altaf Hussain's policies and actions are a disservice to Western efforts to promote moderation in Pakistan. Why then Altaf Hussain has launched a confrontation with the country's educationally and professionally enlighted and most moderate legal personnel?