Wednesday, January 16, 2013

"Dispatches from Pakistan" and Hoodbhoy on terrorism

by Salman Hameed

First of all, hello to our regular monitors at the Department of Homeland Security. They have been forced to release the list of keywords they use to monitor social media. Ahmm. Yes, if you just mention Pakistan, I guess you will get some hits on your post (oh - the hits just went up :) ).

Second, if you are interested in checking out what is going on in Pakistan other than craziness, here is a good start: Dispatches from Pakistan:
A book that charts Pakistan’s aspirations and challenges. 
Writing about Pakistan is cliché-ridden. Fear is the dominant motif: mullahs, terrorists, nuclear bombs. And beneath that is victimhood: refugees from floods and military adventures, women in burqas, emaciated children. Little of the actual fabric of everyday life comes across. Nothing of the struggles against neoliberalism, nothing of the struggles against the kleptocracy of Military, Inc. Nothing of the searing poetry from Gilgit, nothing of the graffiti from Gwadar. 
Pakistanis are alive. Sold by governments who should save them, killed by secret agencies who should guard them, bombed by American drones, ‘structurally adjusted’ into starvation, beaten, rendered, tortured and disappeared, and yet, inscrutably, immutably, even joyously, they are still alive. 
DISPATCHES FROM PAKISTAN is an introduction to that liveliness, with sixteen original essays that take us from Balochistan to Baltistan, and poetry from Jalib and Riyaz. This collection is essential reading for anyone who is invested in the social history of transformation underway in Pakistan. 
With shrewd analysis rendered in accessible language, DISPATCHES lays plain the complex and vitally important conditions unfolding in 21st-century Pakistan.
It looks fantastic and serves as an antidote to much of the news coming out of Pakistan. It is edited by Madiha R. Tahir, Qalandar Bux Memon, and our friend Vijay Prashad.

But darker news from Pakistan is also hard to ignore. Here is a short talk (about 17 minutes) by Pervez Hoodbhoy on the current situation in Pakistan. The talk was recorded in March of 2012 and there is another political crisis engulfing Pakistan right now (in case, you are interested in learning about the current circus in Islamabad, here is Ayesha Siddiqa's article: Qadri leads a long march to nonsense). There have also been more attacks on Shias in the last couple of months, and the last carnage has led to protest by the public (also see this piece by Kamila Shamsie: No Solidarity in Pakistan).

Also see this earlier post: Is Pakistan spiraling down the path of Iraq?

Two more things related to art and the issue of terrorism in Pakistan: Here is an illustration of a Pakistani flag by musician Usman Riaz that got a lot of attention after the Shia massacre in Quetta:

And I wanted to again post this fantastic Urdu cover of Zombie by Bakht Arif:


Akbar said...

The very opening line of Ayesha Siddiqa's article bears a stench of bias and hatred, the rest, replete with speculations, allegations, and assumptions. How is it even close to being called scholarly. I know her as a conspiracy theorist, who would go to any length to sniff Army's involvement in every ill Pakistan is facing. Dr Hoodbhoy makes a lot more sense (at least starting make a lot more sense to me, perhaps I am evolving)

Akbar said...

I am closely watching the 'happenings' in Islamabad from the warm comfort of my computer chair eating pistachios.

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