Stories from Quick Reads and Pakistan
The proposed Prevention of Electronic Crimes (PEC) Bill in Pakistan has raised concern among local and international human rights organisations as it could put at risk freedom expression and privacy in Pakistan.
Mariam at Catalyst Woman blog reports:
After the dedicated efforts of numerous advocacy groups, ngos and private citizens, the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication has agreed to a public hearing of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes (PEC) Bill 2015 this Friday, 22 May in Islamabad.
Invitations to the “public” hearing have only been extended to six people to appear before a committee of 20 members. According to the Joint Action Committee on the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Bill 2015 (PECB) & Alliance For Access:
This is contrary to the spirit of a “public hearing.”
The Joint Action Committee members are definitely among the stakeholders, but we are not the only ones. Instead of hand-picking selected invitees, we call upon the NA Standing Committee on IT to conduct the public hearing in a proper manner, by opening it to all concerned members of the public and invite the entire print and electronic media too, in the spirit of transparency and openness.
The Catalyst woman blog proposed a #Tweetstorm to raise awareness of the public’s concerns about the Cyber Crime Bill in its current state. “There should be a public debate on all aspects of the bill,” the blog says.
The blog MujeresMundi is an infoactivism project run by Belgium-based Peruvian Xaviera Medina “committed to gender as a key to development”.
[…] Nevertheless, it should be pointed out that Malala is not an isolated case. Education is not an inherent right for girls in many countries, and every day, hundreds of Malalas are threatened for attending to school.
The 2014 Nobel must remind us that Malala Yousafzai is not an anecdotic case, but a everyday reality of thousands of youngster and children around the world.
Last update at 7:45PM GMT, September 1, 2014
Hundred of protestors of Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) have stormed into the Head Office of Pakistan's state-owned TV channel PTV. On 1st of September at around 11:20 am protesters broke open the main gate of Pakistan Television (PTV) Head Quarters in Islamabad and the station went off air soon.
Since August 14, 2014, tens of thousands of peaceful protesters have been camping out demanding that the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should step down.
Journalist Omar Quraishi tweets:
Pakistan's state owned Pakistan Television has gone off air after anti-government protesters stormed its Islamabad headquarters
— omar r quraishi (@omar_quraishi) September 1, 2014
Employees are trapped and harassed says Pakistani blogger Ghazala Khan.
— Ghazala Khan (@ghazala_khan) September 1, 2014
DawnNews reports that the army was called in to handle the situation and they cleared the PTV office from protesters in 15 minutes. The TV broadcast has been restored.
From a slow start in the late Nineteen Nineties mobile phone penetration in Pakistan has jumped up in recent years to 77% nationally and amongst urban class people to almost 100%. Dr. Tahir Rauf at Pak Tea House reports that the ubiquitous mobile phone use in Pakistan has brought a lot of social and economic changes:
These changes in a broader context called Pakistani neoliberalism, characterized by accelerated consumerism with full scale participation in the global economy.
Aamir Atta at ProPakistani reports quoting local media houses that social media applications like WhatsApp, Viber and Skype may be blocked in Pakistan's Sindh province to maintain law and order. The Sindh government had proposed a similar ban in October last year, citing security concerns.
However, experts say because a majority of IP addresses in Pakistan aren't city-specific or province-specific, so a blockade of social media content is not likely possible.
You can imagine the irony when talk show hosts take over primetime news broadcasts and become more relevant to the pursuit of “facts” than their colleagues in the newsroom or out in the field.
“Talk show hosts and TV anchors are the stars of the media revolution” as per Hassan Belal Zaidi, who posts a satirical review of the new phenomenon in Pakistan.
The first meetup of the Lahore Brigade members took place on Sunday, 23 February, in Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). The brigade consists of civic hackers – software developers, designers, urban mappers who will be working to solve civic problems in Pakistan. Code for Pakistan and Technology for People Initiative partnered to launch the Lahore Brigade.
Code For Pakistan blog reports:
All the attendees introduced themselves and also proposed potential solutions to civic problems, pertaining to the areas of health, transportation, education, and governance. Some of the participants expressed interest in some of the projects that had been created at the Lahore Civic Hackathon. The ideas were all captured, followed by a rigorous discussion of them. A couple of Brigade Project Mentors were also present and they, like everyone else, expressed their interest in certain ideas. 6 promising project ideas or areas were agreed upon by the group.
One of the Taliban negotiators pulled out during a recent talk with the Pakistan government demanding that the agenda includes the strict imposition of Sharia law. Pakistani Blogger and Journalist Beena Sarwar highlights a protest note posted in Facebook titled '10 reasons why I do not want Shariah in Pakistan’ by communities The Traitors of Pakistan (Liberal/Secular Pakistanis against oppression, discrimination, extremism and intolerance) and Pakistan Votes (activist community). Here are some gems:
1. Religion and how I choose to practice it is my business and not that of the State.
2. Enforcing Shariah will not make me a better Muslim nor will it make Pakistan a welfare state. The world’s welfare states are all governed by secular governments.
3. I reject the idea that Shariah in any form can be enforced by those who have raped and plundered my country, blown up schools and mosques and beheaded soldiers. I will not give these criminals the right to dictate to me.
4. I will not give up my civil rights, including freedom of thought and expression, under the guise of Shariah.
While he has growing up in northern Pakistan, close to some of the highest slopes in the world, Mohammad Karim taught himself to ski on home-made equipment made by his uncle from wooden planks.
Now he is his Pakistan’s sole representative at the Sochi Winter Olympics.
More about his journey in this report by Pakistani daily the Express Tribune.
It's a comic book. And yet, while I did a lot of laughing [it's got a lot of funny moments] I also couldn't stop the tears. Because I was so happy to see a version of myself reflected before me, not sensationalized or stereotyped.
Blogger Aisha Saeed posts a review of the Pakistani American comic hero Ms. Marvel, who was featured in the latest book of Marvel Comics.
Global Voices has launched a new partnership with Balochistan Point, an English language news site that writes under-reported stories from Pakistan's southwestern province.
The Balochistan Point initiated in 2010 to highlight important news from an area which Pakistan's national online, broadcast and print media largely ignores.
Adnan Amir, the editor at Balochistan Point hopes “unreported news stories from Balochistan will reach a global audience through its partnership with Global Voices.”
Balochistan is Pakistan's largest yet least-populated province. It is its poorest and most under-developed, but is rich in natural resources like coal, natural gas and copper. The Balochistan Point website explains:
The electronic and print media in Pakistan in general, and in Balochistan, in particular has failed to highlight the most important issues of Balochistan. Therefore, there is a stronger need than ever for an alternative platform to report the ignored issues about Balochistan […]
We stand for human rights, democracy, social and economic justice. The newspaper aims to mirror Balochistan. The volunteers of Balochistan Point launched it to keep reporting on human rights abuse, political, social and economic issues of Balochistan. Our center of focus is Balochistan but we are not limited to it. We also report on important issues at a national level that has implications for the Balochistan province and its people.
Like Global Voices, Balochistan Point is driven by volunteers and its “doors are always open to aspiring writers.” Global Voices will republish Balochistan Point content regularly. Sometimes we will edit their stories to add context and tailor them for our global audience.
We kick off this partnership with three articles Risking Their Lives to Save Pakistanis From Polio, How a Bus Stop Row is Crippling Public Transport in Balochistan's Capital and For Pakistan's Struggling National Airline, Balochistan Comes Last.
The ongoing summit of the The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was covered by international media with different perspectives. However non-official initiatives such as 18th SAARC Summit blog, Facebook account, Twitter and Google+ account are aggregating updates on the summit for easy archiving.
Here are some examples:
— 18th SAARC Summit (@18thsaarc) November 27, 2014
— 18th SAARC Summit (@18thsaarc) November 27, 2014
— 18th SAARC Summit (@18thsaarc) November 27, 2014
— 18th SAARC Summit (@18thsaarc) November 27, 2014
Facing persecution in Pakistan, many Ahmadiyya Muslims and Christians have taken refuge in Sri Lanka. These refugees are mostly held in Boossa and Mirihana detention centers and have to live on government-provided rations as they are not eligible for work.
According to the media, the Sri Lankan government is preparing to deport about 1,450 Pakistani and 50 Afghan refugees who have apparently fled to rural areas in Sri Lanka. More than 1,400 of the targeted refugees have been registered as asylum seekers at the UN refugee agency office in Colombo.
Human Rights Watch has requested the Sri Lankan government not to summarily deport these minorities. Meanwhile, Pakistan has disowned these refugees and an uncertain future awaits for them if they are deported.
W3Lanka English blog opines:
The practice of deporting them is very unethical. They can be economic migrants per se the claim of the Pakistan government. What if they are actually threatened people?
On June 15, 2014, the Pakistan Army launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb, a joint-military operation involving Pakistan against armed insurgent groups such as the Taliban (TTP), al–Qaeda, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).
The operation started exactly a week after the terrorist attack on the Karachi airport. Kashif Aziz at Chowrangi fears that innocent people will suffer and seek refuge elsewhere to avoid the military attacks and the backlash of the militants:
This offensive in Waziristan will bring a fresh wave of IDPs [internally displaced people] to other parts of Pakistan. They need to be accommodated with care.
Hope the operation will end swiftly and without much collateral damage.
Chowrangi blog informs about a free interactive mobile app which introduces kids to Urdu alphabets and words. The app titled “Urdu Ustad” originally had the diaspora Urdu-speaking families as its target audience, but recently majority of download requests have come from Pakistan proving its usefulness.
Notable Pakistani, columnist, TV anchor and blogger (also a Global Voices author) Raza Rumi was attacked by unidentified gunmen near Raja market on Ferozpur road in Lahore, Pakistan. At 8:55PM tonight he tweeted:
Was fired at near Raja Market. My driver is wounded. I was dreading this day
— Raza Rumi (@Razarumi) March 28, 2014
According to reports, Rumi escaped with a minor injury after unknown gunmen opened fire at his car and he managed to take the injured guard and driver to the hospital. His driver succumbed to his injuries and the guard is fighting for his life.
Netizens’ reactions are pouring in:
Strongly condemn attack on journalist,TV anchor @Razarumi a bold and courageous voice against bigotry and intolerance.
— Nafisa Shah (@ShahNafisa) March 28, 2014
liberal journalist Raza Rumi who opposes blasphemy law is shot at in Lahore, survives attack but his driver is killed http://t.co/Ig6i6CKaLE
— Ex-Muslims Forum (@CEMB_forum) March 28, 2014
Shocked & saddened by attack on Raza Rumi & death of his driver. Govt must provide proper security & bring killers 2 justice.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 28, 2014
The attack on Raza Rumi is an attack on freedom of expression and democracy. Policy of appeasement has emboldened the terrorist.
— zahid Hussain (@hidhussain) March 28, 2014
A day after a tiny news items titled, “Saudi Arabia ‘seeking Pakistani arms for Syrian rebels” appeared in Pakistani newspapers, political blogger Ahsan Butt posts a provocative piece warning Pakistan's foreign policymakers against tiptoeing into Syria's affairs.
In “This is not our war (Syria Edition)” on the Five Rupees Blog, Ahsan writes:
What Pakistan is doing vis-a-vis Syria is one of the dumbest things Pakistan has done in a long time, and that’s really saying something. The Syrian civil war, tragic as it is, has nothing to do with Pakistan. Pakistan has no interests in that conflict. None.
Saudi Arabia is in talks with Pakistan to provide Pakistan-made anti-aircraft and anti-tank rockets. Ahsan warns:
Is it wise and advisable to wade into a sectarian civil war two thousand miles away?[…]
Just examine the trajectory of sectarian violence over the last decade.
He explains that any interference in Syria will force the Pakistani state to pay attention to rising sectarian violence in the country:
What are the possible ramifications for such a policy on sectarian violence in Pakistan? Is it likely to exacerbate and make more deadly sectarian cleavages or the opposite?
Ahsan lists four more provocative questions which you can read here.
Fashion blogger Amara Javed posts photos from the ongoing Fashion Pakistan Week in Karachi showcasing the Summer 2014 collections by many Lahore designers.
Tanqeed, a quarterly magazine on politics and culture on Tumblr, is an experiment in critical reflection on Pakistan. It is a blogzine, a scrapbook and a reporters’ notebook. This year, Tanqeed is accepting recommendations of lectures, essays, articles, videos on a range of subjects including politics, culture and society from Pakistan and beyond and plans to publish them bi-weekly.
The question “How Should Middle Eastern Women Dress in Public” posed by the University of Michigan is attracting hilarious spoofs online. The content is so rich that an additional post to our first one was necessary.
When Washington Post Max Fisher shared the original image on Twitter, he wasn't expecting this response by WSJ blogger Tom Gara:
— Max Fisher (@Max_Fisher) January 9, 2014
But the spoof that got the most attention was undoubtedly Karl Sharro's of KarlreMarks:
An Arab university ran this fascinating poll about what is most appropriate for American women to wear in public. pic.twitter.com/uIta80i1f8
— Karl Sharro (@KarlreMarks) January 9, 2014
Interviewed on PRI, he explained his motivation:
“It's almost like putting Muslim women on a scale from 1 to 6, from being fully covered to not being covered at all, which I think is pretty absurd.”