Monday, December 17, 2012

Violent Conflict is Part of Pakistan's Social Transformation!

Whether it was the bloody Civil War to abolish slavery in America or the Meiji Restoration that transformed feudal Japan into an industrial giant, history tells us that violent conflict has been an integral part of the process of social change.  Pakistan, too, is experiencing a similar violent social revolution. It started well before the terrorist attacks  of 911 and the subsequent US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.  It has only intensified after these events.


The "peace of the dead" has ended with the continuing "eclipse of feudalism" in Pakistan.  A significant part of  the what the world media, politicians and pundits call terrorism is in fact  an "unplanned revolution" in the words of a Pakistani sociologist, a revolution that could transform Pakistani society for the better in the long run.

 Violence is being used by the defenders of  a range of old feudal and tribal values in Pakistan. Some of the traditionalists are fighting to keep girls at home and out of schools and workplaces while others are insisting on continuing traditional arranged and sometimes forced marriages within their clans. Such violence is being met with brave defiance, particularly by the younger generation.

Recent media coverage of the attempt on Swat schoolgirl Malala Yosufzai's life by the Taliban has brought attention to what the tribal traditionalists see as a serious threat to their old feudal-tribal ways. In an October 2012 speech at a social scientists conference in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, Arif Hasan recalled what a village elder in Sindh told him about the reasons for the increase in honor killings. He said: “The young people, they’ve gone to the city, and they’ve done all the wrong things. The girls have learned how to read and write, they’ve gone to school, some of them have gone to university as well. They have no morals left, so this is bound to happen.”

When Hasan asked the village elder as to when will the honor killings stop? He replied: “The honor killings will stop when everyone becomes shameless, then it will end.” Then he added, “But I hope that I die before that day.”  Hasan says "he was a man of the old, feudal rural culture, with its own pattern of behavior and way of thinking. He was part of it, and it was dying, so he wished to die with it."

There was a news story this morning about young Pakistanis engaging in Internet dating and marriages. In 1992, the applications for court marriages in Karachi amounted to about 10 or 15, mainly applications from couples who were seeking the protection of the court for wedlock without familial consent, according to Arif Hasan. By 2006, it increased to more than 250 applications for court marriages per day in Karachi. Significantly, more than half of the couples seeking court recognition of their betrothal came from rural areas of Sindh. This is yet another indication of how the entire feudal system and its values are in rapid collapse.

Rapid urbanization , rising economic mobility  and media and telecom revolutions have been the key contributors to the process of social change in the country.   New York Times' Sabrina Tavernise described the rise of Pakistan's middle class in a story from Pakistani town of Muzaffargarh in the following words:

For years, feudal lords reigned supreme, serving as the police, the judge and the political leader. Plantations had jails, and political seats were practically owned by families.

Instead of midwifing democracy, these aristocrats obstructed it, ignoring the needs of rural Pakistanis, half of whom are still landless and desperately poor more than 60 years after Pakistan became a state.

But changes began to erode the aristocrats’ power.
Cities sprouted, with jobs in construction and industry. Large-scale farms eclipsed old-fashioned plantations. Vast hereditary lands splintered among generations of sons, and many aristocratic families left the country for cities, living beyond their means off sales of their remaining lands. Mobile labor has also reduced dependence on aristocratic families.

In Punjab, the country’s most populous province, and its most economically advanced, the number of national lawmakers from feudal families shrank to 25 percent in 2008 from 42 percent in 1970, according to a count conducted by Mubashir Hassan, a former finance minister, and The New York Times.

“Feudals are a dying breed,” said S. Akbar Zaidi, a Karachi-based fellow with the Carnegie Foundation. “They have no power outside the walls of their castles.”



As early as 1998 when the last census was held, researcher Reza Ali  found that Pakistan was almost half urban and half rural, using a  more useful definitions of ‘urban’, and not the outdated definition  of the Census Organization which excludes the huge informal settlements in the peri-urban areas of the cities which are very often not part of the metropolitan areas.

A 2012 study of 22 nations conducted by Prof Miles Corak for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has found that upward economic mobility to be greater in Pakistan than the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, China and 5 other countries. The study's findings were presented by the author in testimony to the US Senate Finance Committee on July 6, 2012.

 Pakistan's media and telecom revolution that began during the Musharaf years is continuing unabated. In addition to financial services, the two key service sectors with explosive growth in last decade (1999-2009) in Pakistan include media and telecom, both of which have helped create jobs and empowered women. The current media revolution sweeping the nation began ten years ago when Pakistan had just one television channel, according to the UK's Prospect Magazine. Today it has over 100.  Pakistan is among the five most dynamic economies of developing Asia in terms of increased penetration of mobile phones, internet and broadband, according to the Information Economy Report, 2009 published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad). Among the five countries in terms of mobile penetration in South Asia, Pakistan is placed at number three followed by Sri Lanka and Bhutan. Iran and Maldives are ranked above Pakistan.

Here's how Arif Hasan concluded his Kathmandu speech:

 Pakistani society continues in its state of flux, and the Afghan war has escalated this. The normal evolution of society has been stopped by the militancy in Pakistan linked to the war in Afghanistan. If you remove these militants – which you won’t, by the way – then a whole new world emerges in Pakistan, a transformation in a society trying to define itself. The recent shooting of Malala Yusufzhai has shown what Pakistani society really feels and how it thinks on issues. For the first time the Pakistani establishment – the army as well as the three major political parties – have all condemned the Taliban for the shooting. The people have spoken in the huge rallies, in Karachi and elsewhere. Earlier, this never happened because people were scared of being shot, kidnapped, and having bombs thrown at them. This is the first time that there has been such a huge public outpouring.

But even as people find a voice, we do need the inculcation of new societal values. The problem is, how do you promote these values and through whom? It is too much to ask media, and academia is busy in consultancies for the donor institutions. The literature is all about the struggle between fundamentalism and liberalism, but that is not where the problem lies. The challenge is for Pakistani society to consolidate itself in the post-feudal era. The society has freed itself from the shackles of feudalism, but our values still remain very much the same. There are very big changes that are taking place – how do you support them, how do you institutionalize them, how do you give the people a voice? I leave you with these questions, rather than try and provide the answers.


 Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Silent Social Revolution in Pakistan

Arif Hasan's Website

The Eclipse of Feudalism in Pakistan

Social and Structural Transformations in Pakistan

Malala Moment: Profiles in Courage-Not!

Urbanization in Pakistan Highest in South Asia

Rising Economic Mobility in Pakistan

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

86 comments:

HopeWins Junior said...

^^RH: "Pakistan, too, is experiencing a similar violent social revolution
----

I think you may not have understood the difference between REVOLUTIONARIES and REACTIONARIES.

Revolutionary violence, for better or for worse, is directed towards social transformation into something new.

Pakistan is seeing NO revolutionary violence. NONE.

What Pakista is experience is REACTIONARY violence. The objective of this REACTIONARY violence is to STOP the social transformation that is occuring because of the non-violent revolution of globalization and the information age.

The objective of all violence in Pakistan is to take society back to a "perfect" 7th Century. This cannot be called REVOLUTIONARY.

Please read more about the difference between what is revolutionary and what is reactionary....

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "What Pakista is experience is REACTIONARY violence."

Reactionary violence against what?

If the status quo is not threatened, why are reactionary engaging in violence and dying in large numbers (over 25000 out of 45000 deaths, according to SATP)?

http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/pakistan/database/casualties.htm

Why did the South decide to fight the North in 1860s? Was it not to stop abolition of slavery in America?

Why did the samurai fight the emperor's forces to maintain their traditional way of life in Japan?

Anonymous said...

I think HJI is right this time.
Pls tell what revolution is in the making by targetted killing of shias, ahmediyas, balochs, christians and hindus.

Pakistani talibanis have repeatedly told that they dislike democratically elected Zardari and co and want to bring Sharia in Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Pls tell what revolution is in the making by targetted killing of shias, ahmediyas, balochs, christians and hindus."

If you are student of history, you'll find that revolutions claim a lot of innocent lives and Pakistan's ongoing social revolution is no exception.

AS to the Taliban's "shariah", it's in reality just pashtunwali code that they live by in FATA.

Anonymous said...

Riaz Sb.,

You migth be correct. They dying order is dying with a bang. The old order does not want to simply vanish.

Zamir

HopeWins Junior said...

RH: "AS to the Taliban's 'shariah, it's in reality just pashtunwali code that they live by in FATA."
----

And what about the "Shariah" of the Salafis in KSA?

Is that also just their tribal code that the live by in Rub' Al Khali?

Or is that REAL "Shariah"?

What are your views on this?

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "And what about the "Shariah" of the Salafis in KSA?"

Saudi system traces its origin to an alliance in 1744 between Muhammad bin Saud and Muhammad bin Abdul-Wahhab which was formalized by the wedding of Muhammad bin Abdul-Wahhab's daughter to Abdul Aziz, son and successor of Ibn Saud.

It's been sustained for over 250 years to allow the Saudi royals to stay in power with the support of the religious establishment which is very similar to the Medieval European model of collaborative control by the kings and the popes.

Riaz Haq said...

Zamir: "They dying order is dying with a bang. The old order does not want to simply vanish."

You are right. The feudals, the tribals and the rest of the corrupt elite will not surrender easily or quickly. They are now being thoroughly discredited. They will resist as long as they can but they'll ultimately be defeated.

HopeWins Junior said...

^^RH: "The feudals, the tribals and the rest of the corrupt elite will not surrender easily or quickly. They are now being thoroughly discredited. They will resist as long as they can but they'll ultimately be defeated..."
---

Does this include our Army?

The money-making obsession in the Army has progressed to such an extent that people now jokingly refer to them as "Real Estate agents with guns" for all their shady property deals.

As Najam Sethi has written so many times, the Army has been draining a large proportion of state resources without any real supervision or accountability since 1956.

In addition, our Army WAS "thoroughly discredited" in 1971 and removed from power. And yet they managed to come back into power within 8 years time. So what is the guarantee that the others--even if discredited and removed-- won't come back into power?

Yes? What are your views?

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "Does this include our Army?"

I see the Army as part of the solution. It's the only meritocracy among state institutions which is controlled by the educated middle class.

Pakistan's military should take a page from the Chinese PLA playbook. It should do what is necessary to strengthen the nation's industry, economy and national security, regardless of any critics, including Ayesha Siddiqa Agha, Najam Sethi and their myriad fans.

This is the best way forward to a well-educated, industrialized, prosperous and democratic Pakistan in the future.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/06/militarys-role-in-pakistans-industrial.html

Shams said...

Unfortunately you have been listening to sociologists who are full of shit.

When Shias are being target-killed and the entire nation looks away, when the terrorists are rooted in Punjab (TTP, Deobandis, Lashkare Jhangivs, etc.) and KP (Taliban, Drug Mafia, etc.) and yet all killings are done in Karachi and Balochistan, one must ask if this is some f---- terrorism or is it a plan to usurp and take over these two imporant natural resources of Pakistan.

What is happening in Pakistan is that the f----- Punjabis are creating all the problems and this has no relation to feudalism.

So unfortunately your article is full of crap.

Riaz Haq said...

Shams: "Unfortunately you have been listening to sociologists who are full of shit. When Shias are being target-killed and the entire nation looks away..."

Arif Hasan and Akbar Zaidi, the Karachi-based sociologists whose work I have quoted, are themselves Shia.

They know that Shias are not alone as targets of hateful attacks in Pakistan.

They know that the polio workers shot today were not all Shia.

They know that Qazi Husain Ahmad and Hamid Mir who were recently targeted by the Taliban are not Shia either.

They know that very few of the 45,000 Pakistanis (Data from South Asia Terrorism Portal) who have died in terrorist attacks since 2003 were Shia.

http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/pakistan/database/casualties.htm

Arif Hasan ad Akbar Zaidi are both serious intellectuals and social science researchers who are extensively quoted and whose work has been widely published.

Suhail said...

Tribal, feudal and industrial economies are different socioeconomic systems which in terms of development stages can be termed as primitive, medieval and modern respectively. You're correct when you say that feudalism is dying and that bloodshed is sometimes unavoidable and necessary to effect a change in socioeconomic system in a country. The point of concern which you've missed out is that apart from feudalism the industrial economy is also weakening and the entities perpetrating bloodshed for a change are of a tribal, fundamentalist regressive nature. So unlike other parts of the world, as a result of a bloody "revolution" we would be transiting backward instead of moving forward.

Riaz Haq said...

Suhail: "Unlike other parts of the world, as a result of a bloody "revolution" we would be transiting backward instead of moving forward."

The bloodshed is happening in part to stop progress from feudal-tribal ways to a modern industrial society. It's similar to what happened in mid-nineteenth century US ad Japan leading to the end of slavery in America and industrialization of Japan.

Here's an excerpt from a recent Businessweek article titled "Pakistan, Land of Entrepreneurs" that shows that the violent opposition to progress is not succeeding:

Habib, who started as a stockbroker more than four decades ago, has expanded his Arif Habib Group into a 13-company business that has invested $2 billion in financial services, cement, fertilizer, and steel factories since 2004. His group and a clutch of others have become conglomerates of a kind that went out of fashion in the West but seem suited to the often chaotic conditions in Pakistan. Engro (ENGRO), a maker of fertilizer, has moved into packaged foods and coal mining. Billionaire Mian Muhammad Mansha, one of Pakistan’s richest men, is importing 2,500 milk cows from Australia to start a dairy business after running MCB Bank, Nishat Mills, and D.G. Khan Cement.

These companies have prospered in a country that, since joining the U.S. in the war on terror after Sept. 11, has lost more than 40,000 people to retaliatory bombings by the Taliban. Political violence in Karachi has killed 2,000 Pakistanis this year, and an energy crisis—power outages last as long as 18 hours a day—has led to social unrest. Foreign direct investment declined 24 percent to $244 million in the four months ended Oct. 31, according to the central bank.

At the same time, some 70 million Pakistanis—40 percent of the population—have become middle-class, says Sakib Sherani, chief executive of Macro Economic Insights, a research firm in Islamabad. A boom in agriculture and residential property, as well as jobs in hot sectors such as telecom and media, have helped Pakistanis prosper. “Just go to the malls and see the number of customers who are actually buying in upscale stores and that shows you how robust the demand is,” says Azfer Naseem, head of research for Elixir Securities in Karachi. “Despite the energy crisis, we have growth of 3 percent.”

Sherani of Macro Economic Insights estimates the middle class doubled in size between 2002 and 2012. “Those who understand the difference between the perception of Pakistan and the reality have made a killing,” Habib says. “Foreigners don’t come here, so the field is wide open.” The KSE100, the benchmark index of the Karachi Exchange, has risen elevenfold since mid-2001. Shares in the index are up 43 percent this year alone. Over the past decade, stocks have been buoyed by corporate earnings, which were bolstered in turn by rising consumer spending.


http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-11-29/pakistan-land-of-entrepreneurs#p1

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an example in Express Tribune of what the Pak military is doing to alleviate the energy crisis and boost the economy:

ISLAMABAD: Subsidiaries of Fauji Foundation – Foundation Wind Energy-I Limited and Foundation Wind Energy-II Limited – are making an investment of $251 million in setting up two wind power projects of 50 megawatts each in Gharo, Sindh.

In this connection, the two companies and the government signed an implementation agreement here on Tuesday. The accord was inked by Brigadier (Retired) Dr Gulfam Alam, Project Director of the two projects and Arif Alauddin, Chief Executive Officer of Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB), on behalf of the government.

Speaking on the occasion, Managing Director of the two companies, Lieutenant General (retd) Muhammad Mustafa Khan said the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and a syndicate of local banks were providing most of the finance for the wind farms.

Debt financing, which is 75% of the project cost, is Shariah-complaint and is the first of its kind in Pakistan. The remaining 25% of the cost is being financed via equity investment, arranged by the Fauji Foundation group, CapAsia Singapore and Tapal Group Karachi.

ADB and IDB will provide $124 million and the consortium of local banks will arrange $63 million.

Khan said he was targeting to enter into an energy purchase agreement for the two projects this month and achieve financial close immediately after that. Both projects are expected to start commercial production in the second quarter of 2014.

Fauji Fertiliser Company Wind Energy Limited (FFCEL) has already established a 50MW wind power plant, which would start operation this month.

AEDB CEO Arif Alauddin commented that the two wind projects of Fauji Foundation subsidiaries were trendsetters in many ways and opening doors to investment in the Gharo Keti Bandar wind corridor.

He said 45 wind power projects of around 3,200MW were under process, adding the Sindh government had leased around 26,000 acres of land to AEDB for 18 projects with a cumulative capacity of 906 megawatts, which were at different stages of development.

Of these, projects having combined capacity of 106MW are ready for commencement of operation and projects producing a further 100MW will achieve financial close shortly.

“Wind projects being installed by Fauji Foundation will cost less than Rs10 per unit,” he said, adding wind and solar projects would have their impact on the energy mix and reduce circular debt.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/481294/accord-signed-fauji-foundation-invests-251m-in-wind-power/

Riaz Haq said...

Here are a couple of reports on Pak economy:

1. Dr. Ishrat Husain in The News:

“The economy is facing lot of difficulties due to bad governance,” he said at a seminar on ‘Pakistan’s Economic Outlook – 2013 & Beyond’ organised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP) on Tuesday evening.



Dr Ishrat, who is also Dean and Director of Institute of Business Administration, disagreed with the doom and gloom painted about the economy by other speakers, saying the situation is not as worst as being projected. “There is plenty of room to improve the system by improving good governance in law and order, education and energy,” he added.



He said that it was an issue of governance that authorities were not taking action against tax evaders and criminals. “Due to lack of enforcement the criminals feel comfortable,” he said.



The economic situation is much better right now, he said and added that the country had witnessed a crisis like situation when oil ships were anchored on the ports and government had no money to pay them in the past.



He neither criticised the present government setup nor supported it, but said that the democratic system should be given opportunity for sustainable economic growth. “We did not allow democratic system to flourish,” he added.



Further, Dr Ishrat said that 50 percent population of Pakistan is living in an urbanised society, and most of them belong to middle class. Besides, a big strength of youth would set direction for better.



To a question about rupee depreciation against dollar that is creating difficulties in capital investment for manufacturing sector, which would result in decline in exports, he said rupee depreciation will help in increasing exports. He said that the nation was blinded by short-term measures and frequent changes of heads at SBP and finance ministry also resulted in economic instability.


http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-3-149270-Pakistans-economic-outlook-2013-&-beyond


2. Reuters on Pak current account deficit:

Pakistan’s current account deficit for the July-November period of the 2012/13 fiscal year was $365 million, compared with a deficit of $2.341 billion in the same period last year, the central bank said on Thursday.

In November, the current account deficit was $638 million.

The current account deficit for the 2011/12 fiscal year was $4.634 billion compared with $214 million in the 2010/11 fiscal year.

“This was positive mainly because of lower commodity prices and the gap between imports and exports was lower,” said Ahsan Mehanti, an analyst at Arif Habib Corp.

“At the same time, there was higher foreign investment in the country and higher remittances. There was a higher rupee to dollar value.”


http://dawn.com/2012/12/19/pakistan-july-nov-current-account-deficit-at-365-million/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a FT story on Pakistan:


The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is not a place where visitors expect to see billboards advertising “Liposuction, Tummy Tuck, Breast Reshaping” for middle-class women, let alone brothels to entertain middle-class men in a red-light district near the main mosque. They are both there in the sprawling commercial city of Lahore.

Nor is Pakistan a country where foreigners wary of Islamic extremism would necessarily envisage a politically correct gender studies centre such as the one at Quaid-i-Azam University in the capital Islamabad – where students, male and female, discuss everything from honour killings to reproductive rights.


To say that Pakistan has an image problem in the west is an understatement. A new Global Terrorism Index published by the Institute for Economics and Peace shows that Pakistan comes second only to Iraq in terms of terrorist violence because of “significant and widespread” attacks, mostly bombings and shootings. (Pakistan’s neighbours, Afghanistan and India, come third and fourth.)

Yet Pakistan is more diverse than outsiders tend to think and the beliefs of its 180m people are more heterogeneous than in many other nations that profess themselves Islamic. Women hold positions of power in politics, business and academia; mystical Muslims worship at Sufi shrines that are anathema to puritan Sunnis in the Saudi mould; and those who might be categorised as Islamic extremists have never won more than 12 per cent of the vote in a general election.
-----------

Democracy in Pakistan – according to one western diplomat who draws comparisons not with South America but with the Middle East – is far from perfect but more developed than it is in Egypt. “At a time when democracy in other parts of the Muslim world is running into problems ... there is something consolidating here against all the odds,” the diplomat says. “Something quite significant is happening here.”

The mere fact of a government finishing its allotted term and facing new elections is important, says another Pakistan-based diplomat. “It’s very hard for the outside world to understand how important that’s going to be ... It changes intangibly the calculations of politicians and the military.”
----------

Few Pakistanis dispute that the weakness of the economy is a source of fragility, that drastic electricity shortages stoke public anger, or that corruption is worsening further as the election approaches. A few investors, foreign and Pakistani, look back to the decade long military rule of Pervez Musharraf, which ended in 2008, as a kind of golden age of growth and prudent decision-making.

But even Gen Musharraf will wear civilian clothes if – as he hopes – he is able to return from exile to join the political fray. And even business leaders appalled by the state of the economy now hesitate to recommend military intervention in modern Pakistan.


www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/fd6b21f2-494b-11e2-9225-00144feab49a.html

HopeWins Junior said...

^^RH quoting Dr. Hussain: "The economic situation is much better right now, he said and added that the country had witnessed a crisis like situation when oil ships were anchored on the ports and government had no money to pay them in the past."
--------

The BOP crisis would ordinarily have come by spring 2013.

However, PPP >>MAY<< be able to convince IMF to help postpone it until after the elections.

Once PPP gets re-elected, they will allow the BOP crisis to play out and devalue to 150 PKR/USD. If opposition wins, same applies.

But if IMF says no, the crisis will come by the end of spring 13. And it will be a HUUUGE crisis.

Suhail said...

Riaz:

There is no feudal-tribal alliance in Pakistan and this is the discrepancy in the analysis. To elaborate, there have been very few countries in the past where both the tribal and feudal systems existed in a dominant position at the same time. The nineteenth century US was an agriculture based feudal society (slavery instead of peasantry). The tribals there were the native Indians who were wiped out by the feudals already so had no role in the civil war. Same is the case in nineteenth century Europe which was a totally feudal society with no tribalism. Pakistan is an exception in that both the systems are strongly in place in different parts of the country and tribals vying for a take over of the country from the weakening feudals. The feudal-tribal axis is untenable because the two are diverse in nature and ethnicity, and in fact at loggerheads with each other. KP and Balochistan have tribals and no feudals, while Sindh and Punjab have been traditional feudal societies. Sindh has some tribal culture also but this is limited to the Baloch tribes living in Sindh (eg, Chandios, Magsis, Legharis etc). In fact the secessionist movement in Balochistan and Pakhtoonistan were initially tribal driven against feudals of Punjab and Sindh.

The present militancy is being perpetrated by the forces of the tribal culture, such as:
- Pakhtoons, a tribal society; the leadership is now shared by Taliban and the tribal chiefs.
- Southern Punjab is a feudal area. The anti-feudal lower classes there are supporting Taliban which primarily has origins in a tribal society against their traditional feudal lords.
- Karachi is increasingly becoming a Taliban stronghold because of the increasing no. of Pakhtoons in the city. The polio workers killed in Karachi were all in the Pakhtoon areas where not even the media people can enter. Taliban in Karachi are being supported by the Punjabis and mohajirs belonging to Jamaat-e-Islami etc.

So if the present militancy succeeds, it will be a transition in Pakistan from the traditional feudal domination to the more primitive tribal domination. If the militants do not succeed in getting hold on the entire country, then there can be breakup between tribal dominated (Balochistan and Pakhtoon), and feudal Sindh and Punjab, the apocalyptic scenario that Shams is hoping for.

So you can see that rather than a feudal-tribal axis, it a situation of conflict between feudal and tribal forces. Business and industry feature nowhere in this power struggle, though it remains operative marginally and in an inefficient manner under either of the systems.

Riaz Haq said...

Suhail: "There is no feudal-tribal alliance in Pakistan and this is the discrepancy in the analysis..."

I agree with you that there is no feudal-tribal alliance.

But both the feudal and the tribal chieftains feel threatened by the forces unleashed by rapid urbanization, the rise of the media and telecom and the increasing upward economic mobility in the country.

They are both trying to preserve their old ways by force---by attacking women for going to school or by forcing their old ways on younger generation through honor killings. And they are both losing as evident from the data compiled by various researchers.

It's the decline of the economic power of the rural elite together with the new opportunities offered by industrial and service sectors that are having the biggest impact---bigger than the force of arms possessed by the zamidars and the sardars.

I believe Pakistan is moving forward toward an industrial society...not backward to tribalism that you suggest.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Bloomberg report on Pakistan's new wire-tappig law:

Pakistan’s National Assembly approved a bill allowing use of electronic evidence from wire- tapping and communication intercepts against terror suspects after a large number of acquittals by anti-terrorism courts for lack of proof.

“It is an accepted fact that terrorists are not getting convicted and are not brought to justice because of lack of relevant rules and laws,” Law Minister Farooq H. Naek said while presenting the bill in the National Assembly, or the lower house, in Islamabad today.

The U.S. “Country Reports on Terrorism 2011,” released in July, put the acquittal rate for terrorist cases to as high as 85 percent in Pakistan, which is seen as a hub of global terrorism. Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was found and killed in a Pakistani town by U.S. Navy SEALs in May 2011.

Nuclear-armed Pakistan is an ally of the U.S. and has lost more than 40,000 people to bombings by the Taliban since joining the U.S. in the war on terror after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The bill, which was unanimously passed by the National Assembly, now goes to the Senate, Pakistan’s upper house.


http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-20/pakistan-backs-wire-tap-evidence-to-bolster-anti-terrorism-law.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune list of Pakistani companies with over a billion in revenue:

The Billion Dollar Club

1. Pakistan State Oil Company

Revenues: $11.57 billion

Joined club: Before 1986

2. Pak-Arab Refinery

Revenues: $3.00 billion

Joined club: 2000

3. Sui Northern Gas Pipelines

Revenues: $2.52 billion

Joined club: 2004

4. Shell Pakistan

Revenues: $2.38 billion

Joined club: 2000


5. Oil & Gas Development Company

Revenues: $2.23 billion

Joined club: 2005

6. National Refinery

Revenues: $1.97 billion

Joined club: 2005

7. Hub Power Company

Revenues: $1.97 billion

Joined club: 2009



8. Karachi Electric Supply Company

Revenues: $1.84 billion

Joined club: 2008


9. Attock Refinery

Revenues: $1.74 billion

Joined club: 2008


10. Attock Petroleum

Revenues: $1.72 billion

Joined club: 2010


11. Lahore Electric Supply Company

Revenues: $1.49 billion

Joined club: 2006

12. Pakistan Refinery

Revenues: $1.44 billion

Joined club: 2011


13. Sui Southern Gas Company

Revenues: $1.38 billion

Joined club: 2005

14. Pakistan International Airlines

Revenues: $1.36 billion

Joined club: 2005

15. Engro Corporation

Revenues: $1.29 billion

Joined club: 2011


16. Pakistan Telecommunications Company

Revenues: $1.25 billion

Joined club: 2000

17. Kot Addu Power Company

Revenues: $1.14 billion

Joined club: 2012

18. Mobilink

Revenues: $1.11 billion

Joined club: 2006

19. Pakistan Petroleum

Revenues: $1.09 billion

Joined club: 2012

.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/483287/corporate-revenues-the-growth-of-the-billion-dollar-club-in-pakistan/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on Sarhad Rural Support Program:

Operating in this region since 1989, the Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP) has quietly pioneered a model of development suggesting a viable pathway for transition to sustainable, post-carbon prosperity. The model is based fundamentally on participation of the marginalised rural poor at all levels — as planners, designers, implementers, and maintainers. Grassroots communities are empowered to self-mobilise into local community organisations which then become the vehicles of building ‘self-help capacity’, identifying the needs of households and procuring the training, skills and resources to undertake diverse development projects.

One of the SRSP’s flagship projects involves micro-infrastructure. So far, the impact has been astounding. Over 4,028 small-scale projects have been planned, delivered and maintained by communities themselves across the region, establishing micro-hydroelectric plants that allow communities to finance their own development — in turn generating new local jobs and service providers, clean water and sanitation schemes, farm-to-market roads, and new opportunities for small-scale agriculture.

Farming communities utilise water from the hydropower plants, diverting it to fields for kitchen gardening, multi-cropping and fish ponds. As the plants store rain and river water, they also provide effective disaster mitigation against monsoon rains and flooding. Through such projects, SRSP has enabled 308,540 men and women to, literally, transform their own lives.

In the Swat valley and Chitral district, for instance, SRSP has played a leading role in providing emergency humanitarian relief to local communities affected by floods in recent years. While this has involved providing tents, food packages and essential household non-food items, it has also involved longer-term recovery programmes to rehabilitate and strengthen local livelihoods.

SRSP staff began these programmes with extensive consultations with the local communities, many of whom had lived without electricity for nearly 60 years. Based on their vision and aspirations, households were organised into local community organisations, which determined the projects they needed and began implementing them. With SRSP bringing in some external funding from outside donor agencies, local communities provided the rest through a combination of in-kind contributions in terms of cash, labour and local materials.

Just this month, in the remote village of Mian Jair Wajoor Bandai in Swat, SRSP oversaw the completion of the village’s first 20 kilowatt micro hydro-electric power plant, producing electricity and 24 hour hot water for over 80 households. In September, a similar but larger project was inaugurated in the Kalash valley in Chitral, with a 200 kilowatt plant, meeting the energy needs of over 7,000 people across six villages.

One local Kalash resident from the village of Bumbarate, student Shah Nawaz, recounted the impact:

“At last we have come out of the darkness. For me, my joy knows no bounds as my friends from other areas would do their research on the internet and download study notes of an international standard, but here we could not. Now I’ll also be able to connect to the internet and will have an opportunity to do online research.”

Another resident and local elder, Abdul Aziz, explained that the government had neglected local facilities in the valley.

“We have spent our whole life in the darkness. We would face many problems when we traverse these hilly areas, and one can easily slip down. But now we will have so many benefits. Our children will study in the night and we will carry out domestic chores in lights.”
--------
So successful is this model, it has been widely replicated in developing countries. .


http://news.yourolivebranch.org/2012/12/23/pakistans-rural-poor-on-path-to-post-carbon-prosperity/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's ET on near billion dollar Pak companies:

The Near-Billion Dollar club

1. Telenor Pakistan

Revenues: $951 million

2. Pepsico Pakistan

Revenues: $922 million

3. State Life Insurance Corporation

Revenues: $885 million

4. Toyota Indus

Revenues: $869 million

5. Habib Bank

Revenues: $831 million

6. Nestle Pakistan

Revenues: $804 million

7. National Bank of Pakistan

Revenues: $781 million

8. Faisalabad Electric Supply Company

Revenues: $775 million

9. Multan Electric Power Company

Revenues: $761 million

10. Unilever Pakistan

Revenues: $746 million

11. Pakistan Tobacco Company

Revenues: $728 million


12. Pak Suzuki

Revenues: $713 million

13. Islamabad Electric Supply Company

Revenues: $681 million


14. Fauji Fertilizer Company

Revenues: $634 million


15. Lotte Pakistan

Revenues: $624 million

16. United Bank

Revenues: $622 million


17. MCB Bank

Revenues: $617 million

.


tribune.com.pk/story/483448/rising-tide-consumer-centric-companies-dominate-the-near-billion-dollar-club/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Times of India story on Maoists new plans and strategy for "revolution":

RAIPUR: Outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) has formulated a comprehensive strategy for 'New Democratic Revolution' through a combination of military and political tactics to create base areas in the country side and gradual encirclement and capture of urban areas.

The CPI (Maoist) vision for it's 'protracted people's war' against the Indian state is elucidated in its strategy paper titled 'Strategy and Tactics of the Indian Revolution'. This Maoist document contains a comprehensive plan of action to capture political power and usher in the 'New Democratic Revolution' in India.

According to a PIB press release, union minister of state for Home R P N Singh had informed the Rajya Sabha that the CPI (Maoist) was the largest left wing extremist organization operating in the country and it was also response for almost 80 % of Naxal violence reported during the current year.

He said the objective involving creation of 'base areas', gradual encirclement and capture of the urban areas is sought to be achieved through armed warfare by the 'People's Liberation Guerilla Army' cadres of the CPI (Maoist).

Political mobilization through its 'front organizations' and alliances with other insurgent outfit, which in CPI (Maoist) parlance is called the 'Strategic United Front'.

Chhattisgarh has consistently remained the worst Naxal affected State with the rebels being active and have their presence in nearly half of the state's 27 districts. The Maoists are hyper active in tribal Bastar region, where they have established their liberated zone of 'Dandakaranya', spread over the forest regions of Bastar and parts of Andhra Pradesh. However, the state and security forces describe this region as "areas dominated by the Maoists".


http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-12-17/raipur/35869535_1_tribal-bastar-region-maoist-document-new-democratic-revolution

HopeWins Junior said...

^^RH: Here's a Times of India story on Maoists new plans and strategy for "revolution":
------

Yes, this is indeed "revolutionary" violence.

The Maoists believe, rightly or wrongly, that they are going to sweep away the old, traditional ways of the 19th century and bring in radically different new ways of the 21st century. Just like their hero Mao Zedong did in the mid-twentieth century.

But in our case, the Taliban and their myriad islamist allies intend to sweep away the new ways of the 21st century and bring back the perfect ways of 632 A.D. Just like their heroes in the Sahabah did in the 7th century.

This is "reactionary" violence.

There is NO "revolutionary" violence in Pakistan. It is not even possible to have revolutionary violence in Pakistan, because it was created as a Reactionary State by a reactionary political party. And this total absense of revolutionary ideology is why the conservative, capitalist-powers (US, UK) LOVED Pakistan so much in the early days of the Cold War.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's The Independent on Bilawal Bhutto's maiden speech to a large political rally:



Five years after the assassination of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, her son and political heir has outlined his vision for the country in a speech his supporters claimed marked the launch of his own career in politics. Critics said it underscored the enduring presence of dynastic politics, more than 65 years after the creation of Pakistan.

More than 200,000 party workers and supporters gathered at the Bhutto family mausoleum near Larkana in the southern Pakistani province of Sindh to hear 24-year-old Bilawal Bhutto Zardari deliver his first major political address. Security was reportedly very tight and more than 15,000 police were on duty as the Oxford University graduate and other leaders of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) addressed the crowds, and paid emotional tributes to the late Ms Bhutto.

"Benazir sacrificed her life to uphold democracy," Mr Bhutto Zardari said of his mother, who was killed five years ago in Rawalpindi while campaigning ahead of parliamentary elections. "The beacon of democracy continues to shine."

Within days of the 27 December 2007 killing of Ms Bhutto, who twice served as the nation's premier, her son was appointed co-chairman of the PPP, along with her widower, Asif Ali Zardari, who became President.

At the time of his mother's assassination by the Taliban, Mr Bhutto Zardari was aged just 19 and for several years he kept a low profile. But the late premier's supporters have always wanted to push the young man to take on more responsibility within the party, even though he cannot stand for election until his 25th birthday in September next year. Earlier this year, he accused Pervez Musharraf of "murdering" his mother by sabotaging her security – an allegation the former military ruler has denied.
---------
The party's intention to capitalise on the Bhutto legacy was underscored by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. In a statement, he said: "Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, following in the tradition of generations, will prove to be an important turning point for democracy and politics."

Dynastic politics remains pervasive in many parts of south Asia, and in Pakistan, there is no more powerful dynasty than the Bhutto family. Rasul Baksh Rais, a political analyst, said Mr Bhutto Zardari's political blooding had long been anticipated. "Politics is dominated by influential political families who build coalitions to hold power," he said. "There's no ideology, no questions about past allegiances or support for the military. It's a pragmatic approach."

Raza Rumi, a writer and analyst with the Jinnah Institute, said Mr Bhutto Zardari's "foray into politics" is "an opportunity for the party to connect with the younger Pakistanis who now comprise majority of the population".


http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/hundreds-of-thousands-turn-out-to-see-pakistans-rising-son-8432172.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AP report on provocative paintings in Pakistan:

...The uproar was sparked when the college’s Journal of Contemporary Art and Culture over the summer published pictures of a series of paintings by artist Muhammad Ali.

Particularly infuriating to conservatives were two works that they said insulted Islam by mixing images of Muslim clerics with suggestions of homosexuality, which is deeply taboo in Pakistan.

One titled “Call for Prayer” shows a cleric and a shirtless young boy sitting beside each other on a cot. The cleric fingers rosary beads as he gazes at the boy, who seductively stretches backward with his hands clasped behind his head.

Mumtaz Mangat, a lawyer who petitioned the courts to impose blasphemy charges, argued the image implied the cleric had “fun” with the boy before conducting the traditional Muslim call for prayer.

A second painting shows the same cleric reclining in front of a Muslim shrine, holding a book by Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho in one hand as he lights a cigarette for a young boy with the other. A second young boy, who is naked with his legs strategically crossed to cover his genitals, sits at the cleric’s feet. The painting has caused particular uproar because verses from Islam’s holy book, the Quran, appear on the shrine.

Aasim Akhtar, an Islamabad-based art critic who wrote an essay accompanying the paintings in the journal, wrote that Ali’s mixing of images was “deliberately, violently profane,” aimed at challenge “homophobic” beliefs that are widespread in Pakistani society.

“Ali redefines the divine through a critique of authority and the hypocrisy of the cleric,” wrote Akhtar, an Islamabad-based art critic who is also listed as a potential defendant in the blasphemy complaint.

Jamaat-ud-Dawa, widely believed to be a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group, issued a statement after the paintings were published demanding the college issue a public apology and withdraw all issues of the journal.

College staff members also began receiving anonymous text messages threatening violence, said a member of the journal’s editorial board. They were afraid to push back for fear of being killed, he said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of being targeted.

Extremists gunned down two prominent Pakistani politicians last year for speaking out against the country’s harsh blasphemy laws, which can mean life in prison or even death. Human rights activists have criticized the laws, saying they are often used to persecute religious minorities or settle personal scores.

Yahya Mujahid, the spokesman for Jamaat-ud-Dawa, denied the group sent any threats but said the state should punish those responsible.

“It’s part of Western and American plans to malign Islam,” claimed Mujahid.

A court considering whether to press blasphemy charges held its latest session in mid-December, but it has not said when it will rule whether such charges apply in the case.

Shahram Sarwar, a lawyer representing the college’s editorial board, said his clients did not intend to hurt anyone’s feelings but he was prepared to apologize on their behalf if they did.

Besides shutting down the journal, the college also closed the department where its staff worked, said Sarwar.

The current head of the National Arts College, Shabnam Khan, denied the institution caved to pressure from hardliners, saying the editorial staff quit voluntarily. She said the department was closed because no one was left to run it...


http://www.salon.com/2012/12/28/paintings_outrage_islamic_hardliners_in_pakistan/

HopeWins Junior said...

^^RH: "Provocative painting.."
----
You started the excerpt in the wrong place. Here is a better beginning:

"Pakistan is an overwhelmingly Muslim nation, and the majority of its citizens have long been fairly conservative. But what has grown more pronounced in recent years is the power of religious hardliners to enforce their views on members of the population who disagree, often with the threat of violence.

The government is caught up in a war against a domestic Taliban insurgency and often seems powerless to protect its citizens. At other times it has acquiesced to hardline demands because of fear, political gain or a convergence of beliefs.

‘‘Now you have gun-toting people out there on the streets,’’ said Saleema Hashmi, a former head of arts college. ‘‘You don’t know who will kill you. You know no one is there to protect you.’’

The uproar was sparked when the college’s Journal of Contemporary Art and Culture........
REST IS AS POSTED ABOVE.

Here are some more "provocative" paintings by leading Muslim artists:

http://alturl.com/wg5tv
http://alturl.com/pg3mf
http://alturl.com/efokt
http://alturl.com/qwcbb

HopeWins Junior said...

^^RH: "Here's The Independent on Bilawal Bhutto's maiden speech to a large political rally.."
----

Here is Shahzada Bilawal in an interview with US Media:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkU6iet3LK4

Accent is clearly not standard Pakistani English. Voice is soft & silky and delivery is synthetic to the point of serpentine. Reminds us of pretentious Eton & Oxford affectations. Suit is Saville Row. Check. Bacon & eggs are routine. Check. Whisky & soda have been jettisoned for beer & shot of Grey Goose. Check.

Great MacAuley specimen. Pakistani in blood, English is spirit. Perfect to become Quaid-e-Habib (Dear Leader) to follow in the footsteps of our Quaid-e-Azam (Great Leader).

http://alturl.com/9qse2

PS: The Shahzada is offering the same "Jonathan Pollard" analogy that you used in the Dr. Afridi case. This analogy is NOT correct. There is a HUGE difference. I will show you why in a separate comment elsewhere.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts of a BBC post by Soutik Biswas on heavy abuse faced by India women:

Female foetuses are aborted and baby girls killed after birth, leading to an an appallingly skewed sex ratio. Many of those who survive face discrimination, prejudice, violence and neglect all their lives, as single or married women.

TrustLaw, a news service run by Thomson Reuters, has ranked India as the worst country in which to be a woman. This in the country where the leader of the ruling party, the speaker of the lower house of parliament, at least three chief ministers, and a number of sports and business icons are women. It is also a country where a generation of newly empowered young women are going out to work in larger numbers than ever before.

But crimes against women are rising too.

With more than 24,000 reported cases in 2011, rape registered a 9.2% rise over the previous year. More than half (54.7%) of the victims were aged between 18 and 30. Most disturbingly, according to police records, the offenders were known to their victims in more than 94% of the cases. Neighbours accounted for a third of the offenders, while parents and other relatives were also involved. Delhi accounted for over 17% of the total number of rape cases in the country.

And it is not rape alone. Police records from 2011 show kidnappings and abductions of women were up 19.4%, women being killed in disputes over dowry payments by 2.7%, torture by 5.4%, molestation by 5.8% and trafficking by an alarming 122% over the previous year.

The Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen has estimated that more than 100m women are "missing" worldwide - women who would have been around had they received similar healthcare, medicine and nutrition as men.

New research by economists Siwan Anderson and Debraj Ray estimates that in India, more than 2m women are missing in a given year.

The economists found that roughly 12% of the missing women disappear at birth, 25% die in childhood, 18% at the reproductive ages, and 45% at older ages.

They found that women died more from "injuries" in a given year than while giving birth - injuries, they say, "appear to be indicator of violence against women".

Deaths from fire-related incidents, they say, is a major cause - each year more than 100,000 women are killed by fires in India. The researchers say many cases could be linked to demands over a dowry leading to women being set on fire. Research also found a large number of women died of heart diseases.

These findings point to life-long neglect of women in India. It also proves that a strong preference for sons over daughters - leading to sex selective abortions - is just part of the story.

Clearly, many Indian women face threats to life at every stage - violence, inadequate healthcare, inequality, neglect, bad diet, lack of attention to personal health and well-being.
---------
Angry citizens believe that politicians, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, are being disingenuous when they promise to toughen laws and speed up the prosecution of rapists and perpetrators of crime against women.

How else, they ask, can political parties in the last five years have fielded candidates for state elections that included 27 candidates who declared they had been charged with rape?

How, they say, can politicians be believed when there are six elected state legislators who have charges of rape against them?

But the renewed protests in Delhi after the woman's death hold out some hope. Has her death come as an inflexion point in India's history, which will force the government to enact tougher laws and people to begin seriously thinking about the neglect of women?

It's early days yet, but one hopes these are the first stirrings of change.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-20863860

HopeWins Junior said...

^^RH: "Female foetuses are aborted and baby girls killed after birth, leading to an an appallingly skewed sex ratio"
------

Even though there might be huge regional differences, this is statistically true as a whole in India and China.

But here is how this skewed-gender ratio unfolds in the future:

1) It leads to a downward in birth-rates and population growth-rates, which may be helpful in densely populated poor countries.

2) It increases job-opportunities as well as incomes in the sex-worker industries (as in Denmark).

3) It focuses the attention of Western Do-gooders on women's issues and results in the flow of additional funds for the "Cause", which is again helpful in poor, densely populated countries.

4) It compensates for the significantly higher death rates for men that are expected in poor countries as they go through the industrialization barrier.

5) The resulting shortage of brides raises their market-value (or value in the eyes of society), which in turn provides a self-correcting counter-swing of parents electing to have to more girls in light of their higher value.

In fact, there is nothing new here. There is massive archaeological evidence that girls babies have been routinely killed throughout human history by tribes facing a shortage of resources. This was done--as it is done now in poor countries--to reduce population growth and avoid the need for war by prevent overpopulation from unsustainably depleting available resources.

Of course, the blogger himself already knows all this, so this comment is for readers only..

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of Shahid Burki's Op Ed in the Express Tribune:

(Prof) Hirschman looked at three possibilities. People could remain loyal to the system that has caused them anxiety and despair. In that case, their hope will be that they can work within the system to reform it and thus improve their own situation in it. This happens in most functioning democracies. People use the opportunities inherent in democratic systems to improve what they receive from politics and economics. The second option is to raise their voice. That can be done by stepping out of the system and entering into a different kind of discourse. This is essentially what was done by the participants in the Arab Spring. The Arab street woke up when the realisation became acute that the autocratic structures in several Arab states did not have the space in which the alienated could raise their voice. They took to the streets and to the public squares and brought about regime change in several countries that had been governed for decades by autocrats.

The third option — of exiting the system — is the most radical of the three that Hirschman considered. This has happened in Syria. Earlier, it happened in Pakistan when the citizens of the eastern wing decided to opt out and create a country of their own. They had tried hard to remain within the Pakistani system as conceived by Mohammad Ali Jinnah but the political structure within West Pakistan could not countenance the idea of political power moving from Islamabad to Dhaka. That would have happened had the results of the 1970 election been allowed to create the government that would have been dominated by East Pakistan’s Awami League. What followed is familiar history.

There can be no denying the fact that the level of people’s alienation with the current economic and political systems in Pakistan has, at this time, reached a level never experienced before. And yet, the citizens have chosen to remain within the developing political order, rather than opt out and try for something new. That the people’s response this time around has been different from those in the Arab world is because of their belief in the political order that is under development. But the process of development has been messy which was to be expected. This brings me to another point that Hirschman developed in his long academic career.

He was of the view that progress is never linear. It does not happen in a smooth way, either with the economy or with the political system. Most systems operate through disequilibria making adjustments as they go along....


http://tribune.com.pk/story/486740/professor-hirschman-and-pakistan

Kaal said...

This is the very point that I have been making to all the various enemies of Pakistan: the so-called violence and chaos that they see is not, and not meant to be, a threat to Pakistan. Pakistan is merely moving toward a resolution of its inner conflicts, the fundamental contradictions that beset it when it launched on a specific path after its formation.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Dawn News on Pak Army's internal threat assessment:

The Pakistan army has changed its operational priorities for the first time in eleven years and described internal threats as the greatest risk to the country’s security, DawnNews reported on Wednesday.

The ongoing guerrilla war in the tribal area near borders with Afghanistan and armed attacks from different groups and elements on security installations and in cities were mentioned as biggest security threat in the new ‘army doctrine.’

The army publishes the doctrine to review its war preparedness and capabilities in order to keep them on the right track.

A new chapter, ‘sub-conventional warfare’ has been included in the “green book” for the first time.

Without naming characters in the war, the book talked about few groups and elements and also mentioned cross-border attacks from Afghanistan.

The over 200-page green book is being distributed among military commanders and the military sources said that it would also be shared with the public and will also be posted on the army’s website at an appropriate time.

According to BBC, defence analyst Talat Masood says that Pakistan army for the first time has admitted that the real threat is emanating internally and along the western borders and not from India, which was previously considered as number one enemy of the state.


http://dawn.com/2013/01/03/pakistan-army-sees-internal-threats-as-greatest-security-risk/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Reuters on rising divorce rate in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistani women are slowly turning to divorce to escape abusive and loveless marriages, once taboo and still a dangerous option in this strict Muslim nation even as more women become empowered by rising employment and awareness of their rights.

But the number of women with the courage to seek divorce remains small in the face of Pakistan's powerful religious right and growing Islamic conservatism, and in a male-dominated nation where few champion women's rights.

Women are often killed while pursuing divorces, with some shot on the way home from court or in front of their lawyers.

In the capital Islamabad, home to 1.7 million people, 557 couples divorced in 2011, up from 208 in 2002, the Islamabad Arbitration Council said. The Pakistani government does not track a national divorce rate.

"If you are earning, the only thing you need from the guy is love and affection. If the guy is not even providing that, then you leave him," said 26-year-old divorcee Rabia, a reporter who left a loveless arranged marriage to a cheating husband.

Despite their small numbers, Rabia and other women like her are seen as a rising threat from Pakistan's conservative forces.

"The women have been given so-called freedom and liberty, which causes danger to themselves," Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan told Reuters.

There were at least 1,636 "honor killings" last year, said Pakistani rights group The Aurat Foundation. The mere perception that a woman has behaved in a way that "dishonors" her family is sufficient to trigger an attack.

Pashtun singer Ghazala Javed became a statistic in June. A famous beauty, she married after fleeing Taliban threats. Then she discovered her new husband already had a wife. When she asked for a divorce, she and her father were shot dead.

FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT

While women divorcing their husbands is widespread in the West, growing markedly in the 20th century in many developed nations, it is a relatively new phenomenon in Pakistan.

And while a divorce case in the Muslim family courts must be resolved within six months, civil divorce cases can drag on for years, making it even harder for tens of thousands of women from religious minorities to get a divorce.

In the commercial hub Karachi, lawyer Zeeshan Sharif said he receives several divorce enquiries a week but virtually none a decade ago.

Women seeking a divorce usually come from the upper and middle classes, he said. Lawyers' fees are at least $300, a year's wage for many of Pakistan's 180 million citizens. For poor housewives, hiring a lawyer is impossible.

Most Pakistanis think the higher divorce rate is linked to women's growing financial independence, a 2010 poll by The Gilani Foundation/Gallup Pakistan found.

The number of women with jobs grew from 5.69 million to 12.11 million over the past decade, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics said.

"Women are also making money now and they think if they have empowerment, they do not need to sacrifice as much," said Musfira Jamal, a senior member of the religious party Jamaat-e-Islami. "God does not like divorce ... (but) God has not given any right to any man to beat his wife or torture his family."

In 2012, clerics and a religious party demanded a review of a bill to outlaw domestic violence, saying it risked undermining "family values".

Western culture, not abuse, is why women seek divorces, said Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan.

Yet domestic violence was one of the most common reasons for divorce, said lawyer Aliya Malik. Around 90 percent of Pakistani women experienced domestic violence at least once, a 2011 Thomson Reuters Foundation poll found....


http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSBRE90806J20130109

Riaz Haq said...

Here's PakistanToday on Acumen Foundation and JS partnership to promote social change in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD - The Acumen Fund and JS have launched Pakistan Fellows Programme aiming to develop the social change leaders of next generation who are building innovative businesses and strong institutions across the country.
The Acumen Fund, a pioneering nonprofit global venture firm addressing poverty across Africa and in South Asia, hosted an event on Sunday to introduce the first class of Acumen Pakistan Fellows, said a statement issued here on Monday.
In partnership with JS Bank, the Mahvash & Jahangir Siddiqui Foundation and the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations, Acumen was working to develop the next generation of social change leaders who were building innovative businesses and strong institutions across Pakistan.
Twenty individuals have been selected out of over 500 candidates to participate in this year-long training, while simultaneously continuing to pursue their social impact initiatives.
Fellows’ initiatives range from creating an interest-free microfinance institution, to a disaster relief project and to a teaching training programme. In addition to a presentation given by the newly selected Pakistan Fellows, the launch event featured remarks by Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder & CEO of Acumen Fund, and Edmond de Rothschild Foundations Executive Director Firoz Ladak.
“Pakistan today faces many challenges, and we need new leaders who are dedicated to creating a better future for this country,” said Acumen Fund Pakistan Country Director Farrukh Khan. “It is exciting to help develop a community of leaders with the financial skills, operational excellence and moral imagination to address pressing social issues and we’re humbled by the support and interest we’ve received from our partners and local community.”
“The depth and breadth of talent in the applicant pool size is evidence that the people of this nation want to seek ways to improve the prevailing conditions and challenge the existing status quo,” stated Mahvash & Jahangir Siddiqui Foundation CEO Ali J. Siddiqui, “With this inaugural class of bright and ambitious individuals, we are creating a brighter future of this country by providing the tools and the knowledge required to develop a new generation of Pakistani leaders.”
The Pakistan Fellows programme was just one part of Acumen’s investment in leadership and community of the Acumen Fund alumni network.
The East Africa Regional Fellows Program was in its second year and just selected its fellows for 2013.
Acumen intends to launch similar Regional Fellows Programs in India and West Africa in the coming years.
Additionally, Acumen Fund had invested over $ 7 million in Pakistan since 2001, focusing on a wide range of sustainable, scalable businesses-in agriculture, housing, health, water and energy-that use market-based approaches to deliver products and services to millions of rural and urban poor.
Recent additions to Acumen Fund Pakistan’s portfolio include the NRSP (National Rural Support Program) Microfinance Bank, which was the first agency in Pakistan to provide financial services to rural agricultural markets, and Pharmagen Healthcare Ltd, which supplies safe, clean, and affordable drinking water to low-income residents in Lahore.


http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2013/01/22/news/profit/acumen-fund-and-js-launch-pakistan-fellows-programme/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Harvard Business Review piece on women in Pakistan:



"Pakistan is a highly complex and ambiguous country," Ehsan Malik, Country Manager for Unilever Pakistan, told me. "The media projects Pakistan as conservative, but there is a large segment of society that is liberal and broad minded." (Disclosure: Unilever is a client of mine globally, but not the Pakistan branch particularly.)

"My predecessor at Unilever Pakistan was a woman who went to run L'Oreal Pakistan. My wife runs a business and both our mothers and sisters have always worked, as do many in our families and friends. So for me Unilever's gender balance drive is not something extraordinary." Two of the people on Malik's six-person Management Committee are women, and he sees the possibility that his successor could be female. "There are three senior women who have been listed as high potential so we could have a majority female Management Committee in the foreseeable future."

"We aimed to set an example and become a model on gender balance. Now, virtually all our competitors are doing the same... In Pakistan, despite the bad press, when it comes to gender, employers are progressive."

How do the men react? "There was a debate two or three years back, around a concern that we were favoring women. We made it very clear: between two equal candidates, we said we would pick the woman because there is an imbalance that needs to be corrected." In Pakistan, as in a growing number of countries, women perform better academically. "Medical colleges are 70% women but less than half of them continue working beyond a few years of qualifying, partly because of family reasons but also due to working conditions," notes Malik.

In many companies I work for, some of the greatest openness and action on gender balance is in emerging market operations. I have found managers in Brazil, India or Malaysia more enthusiastic and convinced of the business case than their Western colleagues, in much more challenging contexts. And ready to go to much greater lengths to adapt to women's needs.

Like Pakistan. Unilever Pakistan has achieved its gender balancing targets internally (ahead of most Western countries), which Malik considered "relatively simple," yet by doing things that might appear inconceivable elsewhere. So, for example, to recruit female engineers in its remote factories, Unilever provides security-guard staffed housing for the women next to the facilities, ensuring their safety and reassuring their families. Flexible working from different locations — home, distributor premises, or ad agency offices — is another step that benefits all managers. However, he observed, "some female managers prefer coming to the office — there is a day care center to look after their children, they want to get away from extended families that many in Pakistan live with, [and] they can escape the power cuts that plague large cities."

These seemed like obvious investments to Malik who is now setting his sites on "a much bigger agenda" with gender as a competitive advantage with consumers, and a condition for working with suppliers.

---

For the moment, there are 900 women who have gone through the training, and Malik is planning on increasing this to 7,000. "The rural population's bank is usually a couple of villages away. So we are finding that not only do other women come for beauty advice, they also start coming for advice on how to open bank accounts and start a business. And it seems the men are starting to come too, looking for the same guidance."

"Where government fails," concludes Malik, " global companies can fill the void by building concepts that become platforms for change and progress."


http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/01/unilevers_pakistan_country_man.html

HopeWins Junior said...

OMG, 300 kgs! That would have made global headlines. Boy, that was close...

http://alturl.com/ktdkw

HopeWins Junior said...

I am glad that GOP decided to increase the number of PhDs in Pakistan. Our country could certainly use more experts in a variety of fields at this juncture.

Here is an article by a Ph.D. in Conflict Management:

http://alturl.com/ynjpp

Is it just me or do you also feel that his essay is just a mass of big words that really does not have an insightful or meaning point? I had a hard time reading past the first paragraph-- what about you? Do you think that this piece is 'all sound and fury, signifying nothing'?

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on TV matchmaking in Pakistan:



Matchmaking shows have been staples of Pakistani TV for several years now, with many couples choosing to seek romance and future partners under the full gaze of television cameras.

In a society where choosing partners has traditionally been the responsibility of family elders, many believe more modern paths to romance such as this, could slowly be changing attitudes.

However, televised weddings are still a controversial subject, as BBC Urdu's Iram Abbasi reports.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-21451436

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn report on a peasant defeating a landlord in PTI elections:

A peasant here on Tuesday defeated a wealthy businessman and landlord and was elected the district president of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI). With elections for the 72 union councils of the district having been held three weeks ago, the intra-party election process in Attock is now complete.

The chairman of the PTI district election commission, Rafique Hussain Niazi, confirmed that peasant Waheed Murad garnered 432 votes while his rival Sardar Mumtaz Khan, a landlord, received 360. Murad had the support of Malik Suhail Khan, running for NA-58 Attock-II, and former MPA Syed Ejaz Bukhari, who is contesting PP-15 Attock-I. Rana Liaquat Ali Khan, who was elected unopposed to the position of district general secretary, and former state minister Malik Amin Aslam supported Mumtaz Khan.

The polling station, at a hotel in Attock, was crowded from the opening of voting at 9am until closing at 5pm.

Around 900 PTI workers from six tehsils gathered with supporters of both candidates attempting to gather votes. While some disagreements ensued – over mismanagement of the polling station or workers not being allowed to vote due to missing membership cards – leaders of both camps described the disagreement as positive and democratic. “After the elections, the PTI will be united,” they said.

In other elections, Mohammad Zubair Tanoli and Mohammad Faazil Khan Wardik were elected unopposed as the district’s senior vice-presidents.


http://dawn.com/2013/02/27/peasant-defeats-landlord-2/

HopeWins Junior said...

^^RH: "Here's a Dawn report on a peasant defeating a landlord in PTI elections..."
----

A word of caution. This may or may not be a good thing. It all depends on whether the term "a peasant" refers to someone with a peasant background or someone who is actually a peasant.

In India, for example, Laloo Persad, Mayawati et cetera, had poor peasant/dalit BACKGROUNDS. However, all of these people benefited from India's special-education socialist programs and went on to graduate from large universities. So they are not really "peasants" themselves, even thought they may have been born into such a background. They are clearly educated enough to understand the basics of the issues involved in governance.

I hope this is the case in this PTI revolution you mention. Please check and let us know.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Bloomberg piece on Urdu dubbed Turkish soap operas popular in Pakistan:

As Nihal prepared to marry Behlul, not everything was going to plan. Wielding a gun, the bride’s stepmother declared undying love for the groom and said she couldn’t live without him.
Illicit liaisons were at the heart of “Ishq-e-Memnu” or “Forbidden Love,” the Turkish series that was the biggest hit on Pakistani television last winter. At its peak, the show on the Urdu 1 channel was watched by a third of the country’s cable and satellite audience. Still, the racy plotlines proved too much for conservative politicians, and a parliamentary committee found the “onslaught of foreign dramas” so harmful to the nation’s culture it suggested a ban.
Undaunted, Pakistani networks have ordered more shows from studios such as Ay Yapim Productions, the Istanbul-based maker of “Forbidden Love,” while advertisers are paying 15 percent more for commercials. As viewers seek relief from 24-hour news reports of sectarian violence and a war with Taliban insurgents, the success of foreign programs has also sparked a revival in locally made dramas almost 30 years after an army-sponsored censorship drive that sought to create a stricter Islamic state.
“A major shift is taking place in Pakistan’s entertainment scene,” Salman Danish, chief executive officer at Lahore-based MediaLogic Pakistan Ltd., which assigns channel audience ratings, said. “The intense competition is forcing production houses to come up with creative ideas and bold topics. But the biggest surprise is that society is accepting and enjoying this freedom.”
Women’s rights, domestic violence and gay couples have featured in dramas broadcast by Hum TV, Geo TV, ARY Digital and other channels. Shows have dissected a mullah’s relationship with his wife and daughters, and featured a poor girl struggling to survive in an elite school.
“Some social taboos are slowly breaking. But this freedom is also creating tension between conservative and liberal mindsets,” Samina Ahmed, an actress and producer who’s playing roles unthinkable earlier in her four-decade career, said Feb. 14 in Lahore. “The success of these dramas shows that a large number of Pakistanis consume entertainment in a manner no different than that of any other society.”
Ahmed’s more recent characters have included a mother of call girls in the 2011 Hum serial “Akhri Barish,” or “Last Rain,” and a grandmother who runs away from her family to get married.
For many of Pakistan’s 196 million people, the soap operas are an escape from the news networks’ diet of violence and political intrigue. While Pakistan has been fighting Taliban guerrillas since 2004, sectarian groups targeting the Shiite minority have stepped up bombings.
-----------


Anila Shaikh, 43, and her teenage daughter Mariam watched each of the 165 episodes of “Forbidden Love” at home in Rawalpindi, just outside the capital, Islamabad.
They were so taken by the show that Shaikh promised her daughter a bridal dress to match the one Nihal picked for her wedding, nuptials that never happened after the spurned and brokenhearted stepmother Bihter shot herself dead.
“I don’t really care who will object to that strapless wedding gown in my family,” Shaikh said at her home in a middle-class neighborhood last month. “I want to see my daughter as beautiful as Nihal looked that day.”


http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-06/forbidden-love-wins-pakistani-hearts-as-tv-tackles-social-taboos.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Beast Op Ed by former British PM Gordon Brown on TTP attacks against schoolgirls and teacher in Pakistan:

As pupils gathered early on Saturday to receive exam results, grenades were hurled into the Baldia town school in Karachi, causing carnage. Principal Abdur Rasheed died on the spot. The perpetrators are thought to be from TPP, a Taliban terrorist sect, as their campaign of violence against girls education moves from the tribal areas into Pakistan's largest city.

The latest attack follows the murder earlier this week in the Khyber tribal district of Shahnaz Nazli, a 41-year-old teacher gunned down in front of one of her children only 200 meters from the all-girls school where she taught. But this time the wave of terror attacks – orchestrated by opponents of girls' education – is provoking a domestic and international response, a groundswell of public revulsion similar to that which followed the attempted assassination of Malala Yousefvai, who was also shot simply for wanting girls to go to school.

Today, on top of a a petition now circulating on www.educationenvoy.org calling for a cessation of violence against teachers who are defending the right of girls to go to school, a scholarship fund in honor of the slain Shahnaz Nazli is being announced. Education International, the world teachers organization with 30 million members, has said that the scholarship memorial to Shahnaz will support Pakistan teachers and students victimized simply because of their support for girls' schooling.

The petition and the memorial signal a fight back against attempts to ban girls’ education, and come in the wake of the intervention of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who, in a special communique, has spoken out against the shooting of Shahnaz and given his personal support to teachers persecuted for their advocacy of girls’ education.

This week's attacks are, however, a stark reminder to the world of the persistence of threats, intimidation, shootings, arson attacks and sometimes even murder that are the Taliban’s weapons in a war against girls’ opportunity.

Last October, shocked by the attempted assassination of Malala Yousafzai and pressured by a petition signed by three million people, the Pakistani government agreed for the first time to legislate compulsory free education and provided stipends for three million children.

Now authorities in Pakistan are under international pressure to deploy their security services to ensure the safety and protection of teachers and girls trying to go to school.

Last October’s demonstrations were a spontaneous response from girls who identified with Malala’s cause as she fought for her life in Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Now these girls are being joined by a high-profile campaign by teachers themselves, determined, despite the threat to their lives, to stand up for girls' education and to take their campaign even to the most dangerous of places
--------

But as the forthcoming teachers’ initiative and the the UN Secretary General’s vocal support both demonstrate, the voices in favor of these basic rights for girls cannot any longer be silenced. And because this is a movement that is now being forged at the grassroots by girls demanding their human rights and by teachers organizing in support of them, 2013, which has started with so many violent attacks on girls schools, can still become the year when the cause of universal girls education becomes unstoppable.


http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/03/30/principal-murdered-in-pakistan-latest-assault-on-girls-schooling.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on growing Taliban violence in Karachi:

For years there have been fears that the Taliban were gaining ground in Pakistan's commercial capital, the port city of Karachi. There is now evidence that the militants' influence in the city has hit alarming new levels, reports the BBC's Ahmed Wali Mujeeb.

More than 20 people are gathered outside a ramshackle house in a suburb of Karachi - Pakistan's largest city.

They say a plot of land, which was the property of a local businessman, was forcibly occupied by a local mafia last September, and they are here to complain.

The difference now - and a source of much alarm to those in the know - is that this group of Karachi residents are choosing to bring their complaint to the Taliban.

After a two-hour session, the Taliban judge adjourns the hearing to another date and venue which he says will be disclosed shortly before the hearing.

This mobile Taliban court does not limit its interests to this one shanty town on the outskirts of Karachi. It has been arbitrating disputes across many suburbs in the metropolis.

The Taliban largely emerged in poor areas on the fringes of the city, run-down places with little or no infrastructure for health, education and civic amenities.

Their mobile courts have been hearing complaints for quite some time, but in recent months they have also started administering punishments - a sign of their growing clout.

In January, they publicly administered lashes to an alleged thief after recovering stolen goods from him. The goods were returned to the owner who had reported the theft.
Suburban Taliban

But the picture is complicated.

There is a tussle under way between mafia groups (becoming more prolific and powerful in Karachi) who seek to seize land and militant groups who are also grabbing land. This includes the Taliban, for all their willingness to arbitrate in these disputes.

It is clear that they want to tighten their grip in Pakistan's biggest city, its commercial centre. And they appear to have great influence in those suburbs dominated by the Pashtun ethnic group.

These include many of the districts on the edge of the highways and roads leading to neighbouring Balochistan province.

-----------
And when they think their authority is being encroached on, they act with deadly force: The MQM lawmaker Syed Manzar Imam was killed by Taliban gunmen in January in Orangi town, which borders a Pashtun area.

One former leader of the Awami National Party (ANP) - a party of the ethnic Pashtun nationalists - recently left Karachi and said more than 25 of his party offices had been forced to close because of threats from the Taliban.

A senior police officer who does not wish to be named told me simply: "Taliban are swiftly extending their influence.

"There needs to be a strategy to stem the Taliban's rise, otherwise the city will lose other important and central parts to them," he says.
Taliban 'gangs'

Muhammad Usman is a 26-year-old Taliban commander from the Swat valley. He came to Karachi after the Pakistani army started an operation in Swat in 2009.

He says he was first part of a group of Swati Taliban in Karachi and was offered shelter and safety by them.

After some time, he gradually got involved in what...
----------
Karachi's network of violence

Intelligence sources say that there is one Taliban chief for the city, and heads of groups operating in different areas answer to him.

"Though the government has expressed its resolve to eradicate militancy, other state institutions are not co-operating," analyst Professor Tauseed Ahmed Khan says.

He argues that the security forces are losing morale when it comes to the battle against the militant groups and adds that this is not improved when rebels find it easy to get released on bail by the courts.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-21343397

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on increasing honor killings in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD -- The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) says hundreds of women were killed in so-called honor killings in the country last year.

In its annual report, the HRCP said 913 girls and women, including 99 minors, were killed in 2012.

The report said 604 were killed after being accused of having illicit relations with men.

Around 191 were reported slain for marrying their own choice of husbands and going against their families' wishes.

Zohra Yusuf, chairwoman of the HRCP, speaking in a telephone interview with RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal, said many of the perpetrators were close relatives of the victims.

"In most cases they are identified because they happen to be family members," Yusuf said. "They are either the husbands or the fathers or the brothers. ...In some cases they are also arrested. But...in many cases they are allowed to escape. [And] the conviction [rate] is very low."

Honor killings are illegal in Pakistan, but Yusuf said such killings are still carried out in remote tribal areas.

She said many cases of honor killings are the result of decisions taken by tribal courts.

"This is like any murder," she said. "Honor killings should be considered a crime against the state. It is not a case between two parties. It should be considered as murder, which it is under the law, and the system of tribal justice for taking the law into their own hands needs to be addressed."

The independent commission noted honor killings were not restricted to the Muslim community.

It said around seven Hindu and six Christian women were also killed.

Yusuf said the number of honor killings in Pakistan usually ranges between 600 and 900 each year.

The HRCP painted a grim picture of human rights in Pakistan, saying ethnic, sectarian, and politically linked violence in 2012 killed some 8,000 people.


http://www.rferl.org/content/pakistan-honor-killings/24948795.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Beast piece on girls' education in Pakistan:

Humaira Bachal was just a teenager when she looked around her impoverished Karachi neighborhood at the children roaming the barren streets, and realized that she and her sister were the only ones who were going to school. Bachal’s mother was making sure her daughters got an education, against her father’s wishes. When her father discovered she was going to take a high school entrance exam, he beat her mother. He also beat her. She took the exam anyway. And then, determined to improve the shameful number of girls completing a primary education in Pakistan—only 59 percent—Bachal she started teaching a handful of local children in her home.

A decade later, Bachal was sitting on stage in an ornate theater at Lincoln Center in New York, talking about the 1,200-student school she runs in a gang-ridden part of Karachi through the Dream Foundation Trust, which she created and runs. Bachal “doesn’t take any nonsense. And the [local] men respect that,” says documentarian Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy (CEO, SOC Films), who made a movie featuring the Pakistani activist and who was also on stage for the fourth annual Women in the World Summit, hosted by Newsweek and The Daily Beast. Along with her fellow Pakistani panelist Khalida Brohi (founder and director, Sughar Women’s Program) and of course Malala Yousafzai, all of whom began their education activism as teenagers, Bachal represented a major thread woven through the 2013 summit: the promise of the rising generation of young women activists, entrepreneurs, and leaders.

Call it the girls-who-change-the-world summit. Of course there were many veteran activists among the featured delegates, but there was also a sense that the current crop of tech-savvy young women may be able to change women’s education and labor-force participation even more quickly and decisively than their immediate predecessors. As Hillary Clinton put it in her summit address, “Much of our advocacy is a top-down frame. It’s past time to embrace a 21st-century approach to advancing the opportunities of women and girls” by empowering youthful, grassroots leaders.

----
In India and Pakistan, the poorest 20 percent of boys get five more years of education than girls do.”

Technology

Though women are rocking education in the United States—they now get the majority of both college and graduate degrees—they are sorely underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, known in the jargon as STEM. In fact, they’ve lost ground in the past decade. As the summit’s “Grooming Titans of Tech” panel moderator Chelsea Clinton pointed out, the number of female computer science majors has dropped from 20 to 12 percent in the past decade. Reshma Saujani, the founder of the organization Girls Who Code, a nonprofit that teaches underprivileged teens how to code in computer science languages, is looking to change those dreadful numbers. Saujani bragged to the WITW audience about how evangelical her first group of graduates is: they teach their friends what they learn in their coding classes.....


http://www.thedailybeast.com/witw/articles/2013/04/10/from-pakistan-to-syria-young-women-and-girls-demand-change.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Asia Times on a woman candidate defying tribal traditions in Pakistan's FATA region:

BAJAUR AGENCY, Pakistan - "My sole motive is to serve my people, especially women who have had no role in politics so far. I feel we can make progress only by bringing in women into mainstream politics." These are the words of Badam Zari, 40, who has filed her nomination papers with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Zari is contesting from the militancy-hit Bajaur Agency, one of the seven districts in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) near the Afghanistan border.

Zari's tiny but lush green house in Arang village is buzzing with activity as women from the neighborhood come in droves to congratulate her for the exemplary courage she has shown in standing for elections.

Forget standing for election, women in FATA do not vote. It was only in 1997 that the federal government gave the six million residents of FATA the right of adult franchise. Before that, only a few government-nominated elders called Maliks were entitled to cast votes or stand in election.

In January this year, the Election Commission of Pakistan proposed an amendment to the Representation of People Act, 1976, making it compulsory for every polling station to have at least 10% of its total votes cast by women. It went so far as to suggest that results from polling stations not be taken into account till that provision was met. The government, however, paid no heed to the suggestion.

"I am extremely worried about tribal women, most of who stay in their houses, which has prevented them from making any progress," Zari told IPS. "My only ambition is to struggle for the improvement of women's conditions in Bajaur Agency. Women here are suffering as none of the lawmakers in FATA have ever worked towards their development."

Her action, she is sure, will motivate women to come to the polling booths on polling day and vote in her favor....


http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/SOU-01-100413.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AP report on women making up majority of students at Karachi's Dow Medical University:

KARACHI, Pakistan — In a lecture hall of one of Pakistan’s most prestigious medical schools, a handful of male students sits in the far top corner, clearly outnumbered by the rows and rows of female students listening intently to the doctor lecturing about insulin.

In a country better known for honor killings of women and low literacy rates for girls, Pakistan’s medical schools are a reflection of how women’s roles are evolving. Women now make up the vast majority of students studying medicine, a gradual change that’s come about after a quota favoring male admittance into medical school was lifted in 1991.

The trend is a step forward for women in Pakistan, a largely conservative Muslim country. But there remain obstacles. Many women graduates don’t go on to work as doctors, largely because of pressure from family and society to get married and stop working — so much so that there are now concerns over the impact on the country’s health care system.

At Dow Medical College in the southern port city of Karachi, the female students said they are adamant they will work.

Standing in the school’s courtyard as fellow students — almost all of them women — gathered between classes, Ayesha Sultan described why she wants to become a doctor.

“I wanted to serve humanity, and I believe that I was born for this,” said Sultan, who is in her first year. “The women here are really striving hard to get a position, especially in this country where women’s discrimination is to the zenith, so I think that’s why you find a lot of women here.”

For years, a government-imposed quota mandated that 80 percent of the seats at medical schools went to men and 20 percent to women. Then the Supreme Court ruled that the quota was unconstitutional and that admission should be based solely on merit.

Now about 80 to 85 percent of Pakistan’s medical students are women, said Dr. Mirza Ali Azhar, the secretary general of the Pakistan Medical Association. Statistics gathered by The Associated Press show that at medical schools in some deeply conservative areas of the country such as Baluchistan in the southwest and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in the northwest, men still outnumber women. But in Punjab and Sindh provinces, which turn out the vast bulk of medical students, the women dominate. At Dow, it is currently about 70 percent women to 30 percent men.

In comparison, about 47 percent of medical students in the U.S. are women, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

There are a number of different reasons why men don’t make the cut, say students, faculty and medical officials. Medical school takes too long and is too difficult. Boys have more freedom to leave the house than girls, so they have more distractions. Boys want a career path in business or IT that will make them more money and faster, in part because they need to earn money to raise families.

At Dow, for example, just about all the male graduates work as doctors, but only an estimated half the women do, says Dr. Umar Farooq, the school’s pro-vice chancellor. Nationwide figures on how many women graduates forgo actual practice don’t exist, but despite years of increased women’s enrollment, the gender breakdown of doctors remains lopsided. Of the 132,988 doctors registered with the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council, 58,789 are women. The number of female specialists is even smaller: 7,524 out of 28,686....


http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/in-pakistans-medical-schools-women-far-outnumber-the-men-pushing-back-on-society-pressures/2013/04/19/2a6410ea-a8b7-11e2-9e1c-bb0fb0c2edd9_story.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Reuters' story about Jamshed Dasti's candidacy:


MUZAFFARGARH, Pakistan (Reuters) - With a flick of the reins, Jamshed Dasti launched his run for Pakistan's parliament from the back of a donkey cart, cantering through the rutted streets of his home town to file his nomination papers as supporters erupted into cheers.

With the opening act in his campaign unfolding exactly as planned, Dasti beamed the beatific smile of a man who might look like an underdog, but who is sure he has the momentum to humble his wealthy rivals at next month's general elections.

His choice of transport was no accident: Dasti wants to persuade poor voters that Muzaffargarh, a farming district in Punjab province long ruled by a Pajero-driving, land-owning aristocracy, is about to change forever.

For his biggest rivals are none other than the Khar dynasty, which has wielded huge influence in the district for decades, and whose most famous heiress, Hina Rabbani Khar, was foreign minister until last month.

"Because of me, people have realized they can have a better life," Dasti told Reuters. "Their poor neighbor is now running for elections against the lords of a vast kingdom. How can this not give them hope?"

The son of an illiterate laborer and part-time wrestler, Dasti is a rare example of how a man of modest means can mount a credible challenge to a patronage system prevalent in Punjab where the landed elite can perpetuate their grip on power by intimidating tenants or buying votes with bribes.

---
After years working as a community volunteer, he was elected to the local council before winning a seat in the National Assembly at the last elections in 2008 on a ticket for President Asif Ali Zardari's Pakistan People's Party.

-------------
But the disillusionment with land owners in Muzaffargarh notwithstanding, Khar is herself admired in Pakistan for breaking the patriarchal mould of many landed families who would never contemplate allowing a daughter her advanced education or to play such a public role on the global stage.

LAWMAKER AND BUS DRIVER

With the majority of Pakistan's electorate living in the countryside, the outcome of the polls in Punjab, Pakistan's most populous province and its political heartland, will undoubtedly be shaped by big, land-owning families.

But Dasti's popularity suggests that the dynamic may be in flux as Pakistan becomes accustomed to holding regular elections and the military, which has interrupted politics in the past, remains in its barracks.

As a student, Dasti, who enjoys reciting poetry inspired by the Marxist philosophy of class struggle, published a weekly newsletter, garnishing its smudged pages with editorials against feudalism. He went door to door collecting donations and started Muzaffargarh's first free ambulance service. People nicknamed him "Mr 15" - after the police emergency telephone number.

Even when he won a National Assembly seat, he continued to work one 15-hour shift a week as an unpaid driver for a free bus service he started.

"He comes to the stop at six in the morning and sits down with the drivers for breakfast," said Mohammad Sharif, a barber. "Have you seen anything like this: a member of the National Assembly who drives a bus?"...


http://news.yahoo.com/pakistan-robin-hood-aims-wrest-election-rich-224500070.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Washington Post report on feudal power in Pak elections:

GUJJAR GARHI, Pakistan — Winning a grass-roots political campaign in Pakistan or anywhere else depends on having committed, hardworking volunteers. Iftikhar Ali Mashwani, an aspiring provincial lawmaker, has come to realize that his supporters are neither.

“When I go into the villages and the fields, I should see my flags on the roadsides and rooftops. I should see my posters. And I don’t,” Mashwani, a 35-year-old furniture salesman, chided followers gathered in his small lumberyard in northwestern Pakistan. “This campaign is not up to the mark!”

Mashwani, running on the Movement for Justice ticket headed by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, is learning tough lessons as he scrabbles for votes against well-established foes in this largely rural area. On May 11, Pakistanis will choose the next prime minister in an election hailed as a landmark of democratic progress for a country ruled by the military for nearly half its 65-year history. Yet decades of tradition dictate why democracy has remained more of a concept than a reality.

Even as Pakistan prepares to witness its first democratic transition of power, elite political families, powerful landholders and pervasive patronage and corruption undermine the prospects of a truly representational democracy, political analysts say. The dominant Pakistan People’s Party and its rival, the Pakistan Muslim League-N, have the money, experience and connections that Mashwani does not as a novice contender from an upstart party.

As in the United States, Pakistan has what amounts to an entrenched two-party system, but even less space exists here for reformers and newcomers from lower classes. For decades, critics say, the parties have been run like insular family businesses whose only goal is to perpetuate their power and plunder national resources.

The Pakistani military, by contrast, is well respected by the public and not afraid to muscle into politics. It has overthrown weak governments three times with general public support. During periods of civilian rule, the army also wields great influence behind the scenes, adding to evidence that Pakistan has never been more than a Potemkin democracy.

Over the years, U.S. officials have seen only diminishing returns in their democracy-promoting efforts. The upcoming election, while historic, will not necessarily solve anything. Pakistan remains under siege by insurgents and shot through with corruption — and it is still a beggar nation seemingly always on the brink of collapse.

Most analysts predict the election will result in a fractured Parliament dominated by a coalition of old-guard politicians, with Nawaz Sharif, head of the Pakistan Muslim League-N and a two-time prime minister, likely to reclaim the job 14 years after he was ousted in a coup.

“I see elections not bringing change,” said Shamshad Ahmad, a former Pakistani foreign secretary under Sharif. “Without a change in the system there will be the same feudalized, elitist hierarchy that remains in power.

“Let’s hope a new culture is being born that civilians must take responsibility and take the reins in their hands,” said Ahmad, who remains a Sharif backer. “When our rulers show their ability to take good decisions, the army will stay in its space.”...


http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/in-pakistan-novice-takes-on-entrenched-parties-in-election/2013/04/30/8786d7ee-b00a-11e2-9fb1-62de9581c946_story.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AFP report on Pak election campaign on the airwaves:

RAWALPINDI: As Taliban bombs curtail campaign rallies, Pakistan’s political parties are ploughing millions of dollars into TV and print adverts to sway voters ahead of next week’s historic polls.

Competition is fierce but it’s a cash market and those with the biggest bucks get the most air time ahead of the historic May 11 polls, set to mark a key democratic transition, say television executives on condition of anonymity.

Bursting with colour, promising to fix the nation’s myriad ills, bust corruption and bring prosperity to voters, the “paid content” ads are broadcast day and night accompanied by the upbeat, nationalist jingle of campaign songs.

Unlike Internet access, which is still limited, more than 60 per cent of the 180 million population have access to TV, according to the Pakistan Advertisers Society.

For medium-sized channels, an average minute of advertising costs $460-500 during 6pm to midnight prime time or $250-300 earlier in the day, according to one television insider speaking on condition of anonymity.

There are around 80 channels in Pakistan, although the market is dominated by little more than a dozen with rolling 24-seven news coverage.

“On average a television channel airs up to five minutes of political ads an hour,” said the television insider.

The outgoing PPP gives prominence to former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, showing footage of her 2007 assassination and anointing her son Bilawal – still too young to contest the vote – as the country’s future.

The main opposition and frontrunner PML-N lionises its leader Nawaz Sharif as a statesman and a developer, the man who knows how to fix the economy, the man beloved by a sea of flag-waving crowds.

Ads for cricket star Imran Khan – looking to make a breakthrough at the May 11 polls – offer voters a “new Pakistan” with his PTI party symbol – a cricket bat – swiping away the corruption and jettisoning the country into the future.

With Taliban threats against the main outgoing parties, Khan and Sharif are the only party leaders to address traditional public rallies in person.

Ad men consider the election a two-horse race in which the PPP – rudderless without Bhutto and her son too young to run for parliament – has deliberately taken a backseat, consigned to a stint in opposition.

“It’s PTI and PML-N who are the highest spenders,” said Bilal Agha, general manager for Dawn News television.

He said the Pakistan Broadcasters Association raised ad prices by 25 per cent and made political advertisements cash only. But the PPP is not doling out big money....


http://dawn.com/2013/05/03/pakistan-parties-channel-millions-into-ads/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an IndiaToday story about a Hindu woman candidate in Pak elections 2013:

When Veero Kolhi made the asset declaration required of candidates for Pakistan's May elections, she listed the following items: two beds, five mattresses, cooking pots and a bank account with life savings of 2,800 rupees ($28).

While she may lack the fortune that is the customary entry ticket to Pakistani politics, Kolhi can make a claim that may resonate more powerfully with poor voters than the wearily familiar promises of her rivals.
For Kolhi embodies a new phenomenon on the campaign trail - she is the first contestant to have escaped the thrall of a feudal-style land owner who forced his workers to toil in conditions akin to modern-day slavery.

"The landlords are sucking our blood," Kolhi told Reuters at her one-room home of mud and bamboo on the outskirts of the southern city of Hyderabad.

"Their managers behave like pimps - they take our daughters and give them to the landlords."

To her supporters, Kolhi's stand embodies a wider hope that the elections - Pakistan's first transition between elected civilian governments - will be a step towards a more progressive future for a country plagued by Islamic militancy, frequent political gridlock and the worsening persecution of minorities.

To sceptics, the fact that Kolhi has no realistic chance of victory is merely further evidence that even the landmark May 11 vote will offer only a mirage of change to a millions-strong but largely invisible rural underclass.

Yet there is no doubt that hers is a remarkable journey.

A sturdy matriarch in her mid-50s who has 20 grandchildren, Kolhi - a member of Pakistan's tiny Hindu minority - is the ultimate outsider in an electoral landscape dominated by wealthy male candidates fluent in the art of back room deals.

Possessed of a ready, raucous laugh, but unable to write more than her name, Kolhi was once a "bonded labourer," the term used in Pakistan for an illegal but widely prevalent form of contemporary serfdom in which entire families toil for years to pay often spurious debts.

Since making her escape in the mid-1990s, Kolhi has lobbied the police and courts to release thousands of others from the pool of indebted workers in her native Sindh province, the vast majority of whom are fellow Hindus.

On April 5, Kolhi crossed a new threshold in her own odyssey when she stood on the steps of a colonial-era courthouse in Hyderabad and brandished a document officials had just issued, authorising her to run for the provincial assembly.



Read more at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/pakistan-elections-2013-veero-kolhi-sindh-province-ps-50-bonded-slavery/1/270196.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting piece in The Economist on decline of feudal power in Pakistan:

A wrestler’s son overthrows the landed gentry
May 18th 2013 | LAHORE

Jamshed Dasti takes success on the chin
Pakistan’s waning feudalism

A wrestler’s son overthrows the landed gentry
JAMSHED DASTI is tired but triumphant. “This is a revolution,” he says. “These feudals never before considered poor people to be even human.” Speaking on May 13th from Muzaffargarh, in south Punjab, he had much to crow about. The son of an illiterate wrestler had just inflicted a humiliating political defeat on the patriarch of a hitherto unassailable clan of landed gentry.
Ghulam Rabbani Khar is head of a family that owns 600 hectares (1,500 acres) in cotton country and is powerful in the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). His daughter, Hina Rabbani Khar, was foreign minister in the last government. She did not stand for election, but her father was thrashed, with less than half Mr Dasti’s 100,000-plus votes.
Mr Dasti, in his 30s, quotes Marxist poetry and rides a donkey cart. He ran as an independent, and Mr Khar was not his only obstacle. In April a court imposed a three-year jail sentence for claiming a fake degree; the sentence was later scrapped. He has faced dozens of criminal cases, speaks no English and is variously described as a “thug” or Pakistan’s answer to Robin Hood.
His victory, he claims, is proof of an “awakening consciousness” against feudal bosses. They used to instruct villagers how to vote. Now voters are more mobile and sometimes better educated. Electronic media, even in rural corners, have helped change attitudes.
In Punjab the PPP is destroyed. Elsewhere the gentry hang on; in Sindh, landed families got out the votes for the PPP. But politics is being reshaped. Ijaz Gilani, a pollster in Islamabad, says populist figures like Mr Dasti fill “vacuums” formed as labour-intensive plantations decline, cotton farming modernises and old families lose clout.
Villagers need someone to help them deal with police, teachers and other bits of the state. The local press makes much of Mr Dasti’s readiness, even at night, to jump on his cart to help troubled constituents. He made his name during floods in 2010. He set up a free ambulance service and a bus that, at times, he drives himself. Deference, he says, is out.


http://f5web1.economist.com/news/asia/21578104-wrestlers-son-overthrows-landed-gentry-gone-wind

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on Taan, Pakistani version of Glee:

Gay romance, Islamic extremism and a soundtrack of classic love songs make for Pakistan's taboo-breaking answer to the hugely successful US television series Glee.
Like its smash hit forerunner, Taan follows the lives and loves of a group of young people who regularly burst into song. But this time they attend a music academy in Lahore, instead of an American high school.
Taan - which is a musical note in Urdu - tackles subjects considered off limits in Pakistan's deeply conservative Muslim society, with plotlines including love affairs between two men and between a Taliban extremist and a beautiful Christian girl.

The plan is for the 26-episode series to air in September or October, and while producer Nabeel Sarwar insisted the program was not a "political pulpit", he is determined to take on the tough issues.

"Nobody wants to have controversy for the sake of controversy, nobody wants to have an assignment to violence, nobody wants to push a button that would result in a disaster for anyone," he said.
"But the truth has to come out somewhere. Where are we going to put a line in the sand and say, 'Look, this is what we are'?"
Taking a public stand to defend liberal values like this is rare in Pakistan, where forces of religious conservatism have risen steadily in recent years.
Risque scenes in foreign films are routinely cut by the authorities and the team behind Taan are acutely aware that they must tread carefully with their challenging material.
In one scene the two gay lovers dance and sing in a small room but never embrace - their relationship is suggested rather than overtly shown. The moment is interrupted when a radical Islamist character bursts in.
Director Samar Raza said representing the lives of gay characters was difficult in a country where homosexuality is still illegal.
"Let's say in a certain scene, there are two boys talking to each other, they are not allowed to show their physical attachment to each other," he said.
"So I bring a third character who says: 'God designed Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve'."
It is not only the sensibilities of the censors the producers must navigate.
While 70 per cent of Pakistan's population is under 35, a huge and potentially lucrative audience for advertisers, it is the head of the household who decides what families watch on TV, explains Sarwar.
"The head of the household during the day is the matriarch and the head of the household at night is the patriarch - they control access to TV," he said.
"You have to find programming that allows the matriarch and the patriarch to join in and participate, but there has to be room for the younger audience."
In a bid to appeal to older viewers the makers of Taan have licensed around 100 classic Pakistani songs, some by legendary artists such as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and have reworked them to suit modern tastes, as Glee does.
"We try to find music that resonates with the older generation which control the access to the TV but we contemporise that music so that the younger audience does not feel left out," Sarwar said.
The show hopes that by taking on difficult issues in a light-hearted way it will both reflect the changing nature of Pakistani society and attract a young audience currently hooked on imported Turkish soap operas.
Local dramas struggle to compete with the likes of Manahil and Khalil and Ishq-e-Mamnu (Forbidden Love) - Turkish serials starring Westernised characters with fair skin and dubbed into Urdu.
Turkish soaps are widely watched across the Muslim world, but the popularity of Ishq-e-Mamnu has prompted a lively debate about the "Turkish invasion" of the small screen in Pakistan, with local production companies complaining that they do not have the resources to rival them....



Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/pakistans-glee-tackles-taboos-of-gay-love-radicals-20130529-2naqy.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Time mag article on Malala Day in Pakistan:

Last Friday, Malala Yousafzai took to the podium at the United Nations. It was her 16th birthday, and her first major public appearance since the Taliban’s attempt to assassinate the Pakistani schoolgirl last October for her efforts to promote girls’ education. Traces of the near-fatal attack were still visible, as the disfiguring on the left side of her face showed. But as she demonstrated in a powerful and moving speech, her resolve had not dimmed.

Yousafzai issued a simple plea: she wanted the world’s leaders to offer children free and compulsory education. She said that she wanted to wage a war against illiteracy and terrorism, but had no use for the tools of violence. “Let us pick up our books and our pens,” Yousafzai urged. “They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.” The audience, both inside the U.N. hall where she spoke and among the many who saw the speech live on television around the world, responded with tearful applause. Former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown hailed Yousafzai as “the most courageous girl in the world.”

Back home in Pakistan, however, the reaction was depressingly mixed. Yousafzai’s supporters were thrilled to see her defy the Taliban militants who tried to silence her. They were impressed by her message of forgiveness, saying that she did not “even hate the Talib who shot me.” Some of the country’s main television channels showed her speech live; most did not. There were a few politicians like former cricket legend Imran Khan who tweeted tributes to her bravery. But even as the world was marking “Malala Day,” as the UN had named it, the Pakistani government didn’t bother to register the occasion.

The most troubling were the many voices that denounced Yousafzai and her speech as “a drama” – a colloquial expression commonly used to describe “a stunt” or “a hoax.” When Yousafzai was shot nine months ago, there was widespread sympathy. On television, messages of solidarity were broadcast. Children in mosques, churches, and temples were shown holding candlelight vigils. But since then, the mood has turned dark, and Yousafzai has become the object of widespread and lurid conspiracy theories.....
-------
It becomes more comforting to cast blame on “outside actors.” Incidents like the appearance of Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor who shot two men in Lahore in 2011, do end up lending some substance to these claims. It is perhaps inevitable that Pakistanis wonder how many other foreign intelligence agents lurk in the streets and bazaars. Enduring drone attacks, seen to kill many innocent civilians, have seen sharp rise in anti-American feeling. It is part of the reason why some spurned Yousafzai as a local hero. Her acceptance by the West led to her being rejected at home.

But a deepening sense of denial makes it difficult for Pakistan to confront its enemies at home. The new government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had said that it would like to negotiate with the Pakistani Taliban to end domestic terrorism. But the militants don’t appear willing to talk. In the few weeks Sharif has been in office, a reported 32 terrorist attacks have claimed some 250 lives. For that trend to stop, more Pakistanis will have to see past the conspiracy theories. It is impossible to take on a threat you refuse to see.


http://world.time.com/2013/07/15/pakistans-malala-problem-teen-activists-global-celebrity-not-matched-at-home/

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan's Burka Avenger female superhero reflects shifting ground realities with increasing women participation in the affairs of the nation.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2013/07/burka-avenger-pakistans-buka-clad.html

Examples include:

1. First women paratroopers inducted in Pakistan Army.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/pakistan-s-female/757556.html

2. First female combat pilot commissioned in Pakistan Air Force.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22895373

3. First female jirga held in Pakistan.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-23442129

4. Malala Yousufzai emerges as an international icon for girls' education in Pakistan and elsewhere.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2013/07/pakistani-government-and-top.html

5. Increasing number of court marriages by young couples in defiance of tradition of marriages arranged by parents.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2012/12/violent-conflict-is-part-of-pakistans.html

6. Rising female participation in Pakistan's work force.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2011/09/working-women-seeding-silent-social.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Friday Times blog post by Bilal Akbar on "The waning power of Pakistan’s aristocracy":

“My victory shows that the poor peasants have had enough, the feudals have ruled us for long enough. Now we will take our matters into our own hands” declared Jamshed Dasti, as jubilant crowds standing outside his worn-down house broke into tears. The underprivileged son of an illiterate wrestler, who campaigned on a donkey instead of the imported jeeps of his rival Khars, won two constituencies with smashing majorities, defeating the father of the former Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani.
The Khars are amongst the landed gentry of the southern part of Punjab, owning hundreds of acres of land and thus, effectively controlling the lives of thousands of peasants through debt bondage whose votes had kept them invincible for the past few decades. Land means a lot in a country where the livelihood of the majority of the populace is associated with agriculture. Aristocrats elsewhere in Pakistan can be even worse in their demeanor, enslaving generations after generations of farmers through debt bondage, deliberately cutting education expenditures to effectively dumb down locals while their own children receive top-notch education overseas, along with operating prisons and torture cells to mute political opposition.
------------
Feudals deliberately cut education expenditures to effectively dumb down locals while their own children receive top-notch education overseas
----
After yet another military coup led by Gen. Pervez Musharraf that brought a military government at the helm of Pakistan from 1999-2008, the feudal dominated PPP swept to power following the assassination of their leader Benazir Bhutto in 2008. The power of feudals was deemed indispensable by the party to achieve power and numerous posts in the new government were handed over to feudals.
Nevertheless, it seemed that in the recent general election, held in May of this year, the feudal establishment was most struck by the reality of an evolving democracy. Feudal privileges and authority, that had never been criticized to say the least were defied and challenged head-on. Both the leading parties in the polls, albeit conservative, profoundly criticized the tyrannical grip of the feudal class on power. The PPP suffered a dreadful defeat. In Punjab, its former MPs – Feudals, Saints, landlords – lost their seats. It seamed that even the party’s grip in the still feudal oriented society of Sindh, trembled, although it managed to pull off a mediocre victory there.
These elections proved to be symbolic of what the democratic evolution has brought to Pakistan. The power of the vote of the people – oppressed and exploited over the ages – has started crumbling the foundations of a ruthless system of a few hundred families controlling a poor country, nourished by the British and defended by successive Pakistani Leaders. In his shanty house, Dasti sits, wiping the sweat off of his face “This is what democracy means. It means that we hopeless people have the power to challenge the cruel system that has controlled us for centuries and given us nothing”


http://blogs.thefridaytimes.com/737/

Riaz Haq said...

Growing use of social media is driving political and social activism and significant social change in Pakistan.

Much of the communication and organization of civil society members in support of the lawyers' movement used social media platforms like facebook and twitter.

Pakistan saw the beginnings of online civil and political activism in 2008-2009 when the lawyers, according to Woodrow Wilson Center's scholar Huma Yusuf, "used chat forums, YouTube videos, Twitter feeds, and blogs to organize the Long March, publicize its various events and routes, and ensure that citizen reporting live from the march itself can be widely circulated to counter the government-influenced coverage of the protest on mainstream media outlets (such as state-owned radio and private news channels relying on government-issue licenses".

http://www.riazhaq.com/2011/05/can-bin-laden-raid-ignite-twitter.html

New media have broken stories where traditional media has failed, like Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry's son Arsalan's corruption scandal.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2012/06/pakistans-familygate-mediagate-scandals.html

Politicians and their supporters are active on facebook and twitters to organize and get their messages out and influence public opinion and get votes.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2011/11/imran-khans-social-media-campaign.html

http://www.riazhaq.com/2013/05/election-ads-money-buys-favorable-media.html

New young talent is getting attention by posting its protest music videos online.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2011/11/pakistans-protest-music-in-social-media.html


Young men in Lahore have organized through facebook to clean city streets.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/05/young-pakistanis-inspire-with-public.html

Young men and women are defying old customs of arranged marriages based on parents' choices and going for civil marriages outside their families and biraderies. Some of it is resulting in violence by the old guard as evidenced in more honor killings.

In 1992, the applications for court marriages in Karachi amounted to about 10 or 15, mainly applications from couples who were seeking the protection of the court for wedlock without familial consent, according to Arif Hasan. By 2006, it increased to more than 250 applications for court marriages per day in Karachi. Significantly, more than half of the couples seeking court recognition of their betrothal came from rural areas of Sindh. This is yet another indication of how the entire feudal system and its values are in rapid collapse.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2012/12/violent-conflict-is-part-of-pakistans.html

Flashmobs are becoming more common.

Gays are finding each other through social media and organizing underground gay parties in Karachi and elsewhere.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/23811826

Riaz Haq said...

Couple of stories by BBC on gay life in Pakistan:

Mobeen Azhar investigates life in gay, urban Pakistan. Despite Pakistan's religious conservatism and homosexuality being a crime, he finds a vibrant gay scene, all aided by social media. He meets gay people at underground parties, shrines and hotels and finds out what it's really like to be gay in Pakistan. As one man tells him, "The best thing about being gay in Pakistan is you can easily hook up with guys over here. You just need to know the right moves and with...
-------------
Ahmed Asif’s wife is supportive of her husbands work (pictured).

Ahmed has been a masseur for his entire working life. He claims to have slept with over 3000 men but perhaps even more surprisngly, he has 2 wives and 8 children. One of his wives Sumera wears a burka and the nikab, the full face covering. It could be assumed that she is religiously conservative. In fact she’s extremely accepting of her husband’s work and says she wishes more of society would keep an open mind. “I know he has sex. No problem. If he doesn’t work how will the kids eat?"


http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01fkg9m

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn story on the moral brigade flexing its muscles in Pakistan:

Dawn has reliably learnt that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has directed all telecom operators to discontinue all kinds of voice and SMS bundle packages, including daily, weekly, fortnightly and monthly packages by the 2nd of September and submit a comprehensive compliance report in this regard.

This ultimatum appears in the form of a letter, signed by Muhammad Talib Dogar, the Director General (Services) PTA, and refers to an earlier directive which classified these bundle packages as “contrary to moral values of society”, recommending that their use be discontinued.

The letter’s content and authenticity, a copy of which has been sent to the regulatory heads of all telecom operators, has been confirmed by Mobilink’s Director Communications, Omar Manzoor. “We are reviewing the notice and will respond within the stipulated timeline,” he said.

It is pertinent to mention here that there has been an ongoing debate in Parliament on this issue for some time now. However, this decision is likely to create ripples across the sector and provide further strain to an industry already overburdened with heavy taxation.

Mobile internet packages are likely to remain unaffected.


http://dawn.com/news/1039197/pta-directs-telcos-to-stop-voice-sms-bundles

Riaz Haq said...

Social media use in Pakistan is small but growing very rapidly.

Its economic value is hard to gauge now but you can see its use in the start of viral marketing campaigns.

As the number of users grows, companies will start to devote more and more resources to it to generate more revenue and profits.

Here are a few useful links:

http://samramuslim.com/pakistan-social-media-marketing-landscape/

http://tribune.com.pk/story/548285/the-socio-economic-impact-of-social-media/

https://wiki.smu.edu.sg/digitalmediaasia/Digital_Media_in_Pakistan

http://www.juancole.com/2010/05/pakistans-social-media-ban-endangers-economic-growth.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AFP report on blocking of a gay website in Pakistan:

Pakistan's Internet watchdog has blocked the deeply conservative Muslim country's first website aimed at gay people, saying it was "against Islam".

The queerpk.com site, set up to help members of Pakistan's homosexual and transgender community socialise and share experiences, was shut down on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority said they had halted access to the site after complaints from Internet users.

"We blocked the website under the law because its content was against Islam and norms of Pakistani society," said spokesman Kamran Ali.

Homosexuality is illegal in Pakistan.

Queerpk.com's moderator, who asked not to be named, said he would not challenge the ban in the courts for fear of a "negative reaction".

"We wanted to provide a platform for people who are being abandoned by society because of their sexual likes," he told AFP.

"I was not hopeful about the future of the website, I was convinced that sooner or later it would be banned."

He said the site had a mix of members, with 44 percent identifying themselves as female and 56 as males.

A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that Pakistan was among the least tolerant of homosexuality among 39 countries surveyed.

In 2011 a gay pride celebration at the US embassy in Islamabad provoked angry reaction across the country.

But in tribal societies in Pakistan's northwestern border areas there is an ancient custom of tolerated, albeit secret, sexual relationships between men and young boys.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/26/pakistan-gay-website-block-_n_3994516.html?utm_hp_ref=world&ir=World

Anonymous said...

Malala Yousafzai: In Pakistan terrorists are afraid of education

7 October 2013 Last updated at 08:26 BST

A year ago this week, the Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai was on a bus coming home from school when she was shot in the head by the Taliban.

It was a moment that sparked shock and anger in Pakistan and around the world - the targeting of a schoolgirl because she had spoken out for girls' rights to education.

Malala is now living in Birmingham and spoke to the Today programme's Mishal Husain in her first interview since the shooting.

"It was difficult to adjust to this new culture and new society" she said, when asked about her new life in the UK, after moving from Pakistan.

"I'm still following my own culture... this Western society accepts other culture, so it's a good thing," she said.

She defined her role by adding: "I'm a campaigner of education, I am a children's rights activist and I'm a women's rights activist."

But she added that in Pakistan it was very precious and prestigious for a girl to go to school - "we know that terrorists are afraid of the power of education."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24425752

Riaz Haq said...

Malala inspires girls school enrollment surge in KP, reports Bloomberg:

MINGORA, Pakistan — The Pakistani Taliban's attempts to deter girls from seeking an education, epitomized by the shooting of 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai in the face last year, are backfiring as school enrollments surge in her home region.

While Yousafzai missed out last week on the Nobel Peace Prize, her plight is helping change attitudes in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, which lies at the center of a Taliban insurgency. The four-month-old provincial government boosted education spending by about 30 percent and began an enrollment drive that has added 200,000 children, including 75,000 girls.

Yousafzai's story "is certainly helping us to promote education in the tribal belt," Muhammad Atif Khan, the province's education minister, said by phone. "Education is a matter of death and life. We can't solve terrorism issues without educating people."

Taliban militants targeted Yousafzai in retaliation over her campaign for girls to be given equal rights to schooling in a country where only 40 percent of adult women can read and write. Though the Nobel award went to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Yousafzai was showered with accolades in a week in which she published her memoir: she won the European Union's top human rights prize and met President Barack Obama at the Oval Office.

The shooting occurred a year ago as Yousafzai traveled home on a school bus in Mingora, a trading hub of 1.8 million people where a majority of women still cover their faces and girls aren't comfortable answering questions from reporters. The bullet struck above her left eye, grazing her brain. She was flown for emergency surgery to Britain, where she lives today.

The increased media attention on Swat since the shooting is pressuring government officials to improve educational standards and encouraging locals to send their kids to school.

Three days ago in Mingora, as local channels flashed the news that Yousafzai didn't win the peace prize, high school student Shehzad Qamar credited her for prompting the government to build more institutions of higher learning.

"She has done what we couldn't have achieved in 100 years," Qamar said. "She gave this town an identity."..
------------
"Taliban wanted to silence me," Yousafzai said in an interview with the BBC last week. "Malala was heard only in Pakistan, but now she is heard at the every corner of the world."

Sadiqa Ameen, a 15-year-old school girl in Swat, said she wanted to read Yousafzai's book, titled "I am Malala." The Pakistani Taliban, or Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, has threatened to kill Yousafzai and target shops selling her book, the Dawn newspaper reported, citing spokesman Shahidullah Shahid.

"This is probably the first ever book written by a Swati girl," said Ameen, who lives near Yousafzai's school. "I am sure her story will be something we all know and have gone through during the Taliban rule."

Musfira Khan Karim, 11, prayed for Yousafzai's success in the Nobel competition with her 400 schoolmates in Mingora.

"I want her back here among us," Karim said in her school's playground. "I want to know more about her. I want to meet her."


http://www.registercitizen.com/general-news/20131013/taliban-intimidation-backfires-as-shot-teenager-inspires-school-enrollment-surge

Riaz Haq said...

Film revival? Waar is #Pakistan's first big-budget action film. It's just one of 23 films being released this year.

http://blogs.aljazeera.com/blog/asia/pakistans-first-big-budget-action-film

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of a NY Times story on urban migration of women to escape Khap Panchayats:

As young Indian women leave rural homes to finish their education in cities, often the first women in their families to do so, they act like college students everywhere, feeling out the limits of their independence. But here in the farming region of Haryana State, where medieval moral codes are policed by a network of male neighbors and relatives, the experience is a little different. There is always the danger that someone is quietly gathering information.

The old and new are continually rushing at each other in India, most starkly in places like Haryana, a largely rural, conservative state abutting New Delhi whose residents can commute 20 miles to work in nightclubs and office buildings. But their home villages are sleepy places, whose main streets are patrolled by glossy, lumbering black water buffalo.

The villages are ruled by khap panchayats, unelected all-male councils that wield strong control over social life, including women’s behavior. That job becomes much harder once the women have left for the city. When one khap leader listed city shops that were allowing young women to store mobile phones and change into Western clothes, another suggested posting informers outside the shops with cameras to capture photographic evidence as women came and went.

Om Prakash Dhankar, a khap leader who voiced his support for this approach, said measures like these would protect young women from much worse dangers that might follow if they freely cultivated friendships with men.

“The mobile plays a main role,” he said in an interview. “You will be surprised how this happens. A girl sits on a bus, she calls a male friend, asks him to put money on her mobile. Is he going to put money on her mobile for free? No. He will meet her at a certain place, with five of his friends, and they will call it rape.”

A generation ago, women here lived in complete seclusion from men, and could appear in public only wearing a lightweight cloth that completely covered their head and face. Though that tradition is fading, many women are still not allowed to leave the house without permission from a father or husband.
--------
But Mr. Dhankar was undaunted, saying the photographs could be shown to the girls’ parents, or to friendly police officers, who could threaten to press trumped-up criminal charges unless the behavior stopped. Great dangers await, Mr. Dhankar said, when a young woman keeps secrets from her family.

“It starts with a small lie,” he said. “Then they get into borrowing money and other bad things. The end result is that she will commit suicide or someone else will kill her.”

As he was explaining this, his daughter, a high school science teacher in her early 40s, chimed in with a robustly dissenting view, and Mr. Dhankar admitted cheerfully that the women in his house generally ignore what he says.

Growing serious, he added that it was misguided to see any collision of interests between young women and the traditionalists in the village. They are, he said, on the same team.

“As long as the girl lives within moral codes, she can have as much freedom as she wants,” he said. “If they are going after love affairs or extra freedom, then they are killed.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/20/world/asia/policing-village-moral-codes-as-women-stream-to-indias-cities.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Mirror story on a JUI Baloch legislator Abdur Rehman Khetran arrested for running a private prison with people chained in a dungeon:

A local MP in Pakistan has been arrested for running a private dungeon at his home after five people were found chained up.

Some of the captives had been held in Abdul Rehman Khetran's cellar for several years.

The dungeon only came to light after private guards working for the lawmaker attacked police at a checkpoint at the weekend, beating them up and stealing their weapons.

Police then raided the lawmaker's fortified home in lawless Baluchistan province, freed the prisoners, including one woman, and arrested Khetran, his son and six private guards.

Barkhan district police chief Abdul Ghafoor Marri said the prisoners had been mistreated, and a truck packed with ammunition and weapons had also been found.

But Khetran claimed the arrests were politically motivated.

The mineral-rich western region of Baluchistan is deeply impoverished and a haven for smugglers, drug lords, Taliban insurgents and separatist rebels.


http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/pakistani-mp-arrested-after-five-3020456

Najam said...

Change is most difficult to recognize when it is actually happening.

It can often resemble chaos, even to those who demand it loudest.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times Op Ed by Bina Shah on Karachi Literature Festival:

KARACHI, Pakistan — On the banks of the luminous China Creek, overlooking old mangrove swamps and the shipping cranes at the port, more than 50,000 people flocked to this year’s Karachi Literature Festival, held annually in February when the flowers bloom, the weather is temperate and the city feels alive with possibility.

The festival, featuring panel discussions, book promotions, debates, music and theatrical performances, has established itself as a safe space to discuss not just literature and the arts but also politics, history and society at a time when plurality of opinion is not always welcome in Pakistan.

A new Sindh Festival, also held in February, offered another approach to Pakistan’s rich cultural heritage. This extravaganza was a brainchild of the Pakistan Peoples Party’s patron-in-chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari; it included a concert, art show, film festival, fashion show and horse-and-cattle show. Its aim was to showcase Pakistan’s “softer image,” in the distinctly political hope that by stimulating cultural pride, Pakistanis, especially the young, could be persuaded to reject militancy and religious extremism.

Two wars are being fought in Pakistan: a military one against the violence of religious extremists, and a psychological and emotional one to resist a more insidious change in society itself — the growth of intolerance, a drift toward the right and a decline in room for cultural, religious, ethnic or social diversity. This shrinkage of public space, or Talibanization, as the social scientist Ayesha Siddiqa puts it, is not violence itself, but creates support for “ideas which eventually feed violence.”

Talibanization has spread virally, thanks to right-wing talk shows, newspaper columns and social media. It silences debate about the role of religion, branding anyone who advocates secular democracy an atheist. For example, it whipped up a campaign against the autobiography of Malala Yousafzai, the teenage campaigner for education for girls who was severely wounded in an assassination attempt; earlier this year, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provincial government banned the book from private school curriculums. The proponents of Talibanization denigrate women’s rights activists as “NGO workers in tight jeans” and harass young men and women at universities who try to spend time together.
----------
Some 60,000 schoolchildren attended the Karachi Children’s Literature Festival last month. They listened to storytellers, participated in interactive art and music sessions, and attended debuts of graphic novels that captured the lives of “azeem” (great) Pakistanis: Begum Raa’na Liaqat Ali Khan, who championed women’s rights; Faiz Ahmed Faiz, a poet and activist; Hakeem Said, a scholar and philanthropist assassinated in 1998.

The battle for Pakistanis’ hearts and minds will be as tough as the one for sovereignty and territory. But the message will spread best when it’s free from political manipulation or overt assertions of national or civic pride. The children at the festival weren’t asked to choose between extremism and peace; they were left to enjoy themselves, to clap and cheer, to sing and dance. Experiences like these, organic and unforced, will win the cultural wars in Pakistan — if they are encouraged to flourish on the strength of unifying, not divisive, narratives and values that we all share.


http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/19/opinion/shah-pakistans-culture-wars.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's NY Times columnist David Brooks on Boko Haram abduction story coverage in the West:

In 2005, Binyavanga Wainaina published a brilliantly sarcastic essay in Granta called “How to Write About Africa,” advising people on how to sound spiritual and compassionate while writing a book about the continent.

“Always use the word ‘Africa’ or ‘Darkness’ or ‘Safari’ in your title,” Wainaina advised. “Never have a picture of a well-adjusted African on the cover of your book, or in it, unless that African has won the Nobel Prize. An AK-47, prominent ribs, naked breasts: use these. If you must include an African, make sure you get one in Masai or Zulu or Dogon dress.”

----

There’s been something similarly distorted to some of the social media reactions to the Boko Haram atrocities over the past week. It’s great that the kidnappings and the massacres are finally arousing the world’s indignation. But sometimes the implication of the conversation has been this: Africa is this dark and lawless place where monstrous things are bound to happen. Those poor people need our help.
------------
But this is more or less the opposite of the truth. Boko Haram is not the main story in Africa or even in Nigeria. It is a small rear-guard reaction to the main story. The main story in Africa is an impressive surge of growth, urbanization and modernization, which has sparked panic in a few people who don’t like these things.

Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa are growing at a phenomenal clip. Nigeria’s economy grew by 6.7 percent in 2012. Mozambique’s grew by 7.4 percent, Ghana’s by 7.9 percent. Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa as a whole is predicted to reach 5.2 percent this year. Investment funds are starting up by the dozen, finding local entrepreneurs.
---------
The first is the clash over pluralism. Africa has seen an explosion of cellphone usage. It’s seen a rapid expansion of urbanization. In 1980, only 28 percent of Africans lived in cities, but today 40 percent do. This has led to a greater mixing of tribal groupings, religions and a loosening of lifestyle options. The draconian anti-gay laws in Nigeria, Uganda, Burundi and many other countries are one reaction against this cosmopolitan trend.

The second is a clash over human development. Over the past decade, secondary school enrollment in Africa has increased by 50 percent. This contributes to an increasing value on intellectual openness, as people seek liberty to furnish their own minds. The Boko Haram terrorists are massacring and kidnapping people — mostly girls — at schools to try to force people to submit to a fantasy version of the past.

The third is the clash over governance. Roughly 80 percent of Africa’s workers labor in the informal sector. That’s because the formal governmental and regulatory structures are biased toward the connected and the rich, not based on impersonal rule of law. Many Africans are trying to replace old practices with competent governance. They are creating new ways to navigate between the formal and informal sectors.

Too many of our images of Africa are derived from nature documentaries, fund-raising appeals and mission trips. In reality, Africa faces in acute forms the same problems that afflict pretty much every region these days. Most important: Individual and social creativity is zooming ahead. Governing institutions are failing to perform the basic, elementary tasks.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/09/opinion/brooks-the-real-africa.html?_r=0

Riaz Haq said...

It may sound like something from the pages of a history book, but slavery is still prevalent today. The most common type is bonded labor, a debt-based form of slavery in which a person’s labor is the means of repaying a loan. In several countries in South Asia, including Pakistan, whole families are enslaved in bonded labor, and children can be born into slavery when their parents are indebted. Unlike in some other countries where it is foreigners who are exploited, in Pakistan, bonded laborers are usually citizens, and the practice is caste- or debt-based and culturally tolerated.According to the 2013 Global Slavery Index, Pakistan has more than 2 million enslaved people, the third most in the modern world, after India and China. These laborers generally work in brickmaking, fisheries, agriculture and the mining industry.Kohli, a former bonded agricultural laborer, says that slaves can be free, too, if they fight back. And the first step is overcoming one’s own fear of the zameendar. “I tell all haaris [landless peasants] that a feudal is not God,” says Kohli on a scorching hot July day, “so they should learn to talk back and hit them back with their chappals [slippers] if need be.”When she ran for a seat in the provincial assembly as an independent candidate in May 2013, she faced death threats from local politicians and feudal lords. When vinegar didn’t work, they tried honey — Kohli was offered bribes worth millions of rupees, which she turned down. Though she lost the election, she earned praise for her courage in challenging the candidate from the Pakistan People’s Party.
Azad Nagar residents sit in the office of a workers' union, left, that they established to put pressure on landlords in the area not to mistreat their workers. Right, a small school set up to teach the children of the families in the village. (Click to enlarge images)
Despite the heat of the day, a large crowd of women has turned out to hear Kohli speak. They’re dressed in brightly colored ghagra cholis, traditional long skirts paired with blouses, their heads covered with long dupattas, or scarves, and hands encircled with plastic white bangles. They stand out in humble Azad Nagar, with an old and dilapidated school building shrouded in dust, few trees to provide shade and ordinary mud houses.But this modest colony is leaps and bounds better than the circumstances of bonded labor. The cultural sanction of slavery in South Asia — across the border, India fared even worse in the GSI report — means that feudal landlords get away with just about anything, despite a 1992 act abolishing bonded labor in Pakistan. (It doesn’t hurt that the main political party in Sindh — PPP, the party of the late Benazir Bhutto and ex-Prime Minister Asif Ali Zardari — is dominated by the feudal elite.) Gull Bano, one of the residents of Azad Nagar, belongs to a clan of 84 former slaves who were all drugged and kept hostage by a Sindhi feudal lord until five years ago. Her shack is squeaky clean and adorned with handmade quilts; locally made steel utensils are scattered here and there.“I was pregnant at the farm one day,” she says as she blinks back tears, and “the guard appointed by the zameendar did not let me stay back to give birth. So I took a break from harvesting the wheat crop and gave birth under a tree with my mother-in-law’s help.”She’s not the only one: Several women at the colony have similar stories about childbirth under difficult conditions when they were slaves, of not being able to feed their children or stay at home with their babies

http://projects.aljazeera.com/2014/village-of-slaves/

Riaz Haq said...

The internal inquiry committee had failed to hold Professor Abid Hussian Imam (Assistant Professor at the LUMS Law School, son of powerful feudal politicians Abida Husain and Fakhar Imam) guilty, despite finding instead that his actions were “unbecoming of a professor at LUMS” for “use of inappropriate jokes many times with sexual innuendoes and undertones, and obnoxious language.” The committee asked Professor Imam to render an apology, and he allegedly preferred to resign—but the Ombudsman found that LUMS was unable to produce any proof of said resignation.

http://qz.com/292866/a-high-profile-sexual-harassment-case-in-pakistan-is-exposing-the-hypocrisy-of-the-educated-elite/

Riaz Haq said...

MEERAN PUR, Pakistan (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Azeema Khatoon, a mother of five, has spent most of her life laboring in Pakistan's sunbaked cotton fields for less than $2 a day.

Last year, she and a group of around 40 women struggling to feed and clothe their families on their meager wages did something almost unheard for poor women working in rural Pakistan - they went on strike. The gamble paid off.

Khatoon, 35, says she has nearly doubled her wage in the past year, now taking home $3.50 a day compared to $2, with her success just one story cited by labor activists to encourage rural women to band together and form a united workforce.

Agricultural wages in Pakistan have a massive impact on women, and in turn on their families. About 74 percent of working women aged 15 and are employed in agriculture, according to the International Labour Organisation.

The 2014 Global Gender Gap Report published by the World Economic Forum ranked Pakistan as the second worst country in the world in gender equality after Yemen.

Many women are employed informally on low earnings and with limited protection, with women's agricultural wages falling to an average of $1.46 a day in 2012 from around $1.68 in 2007, said the ODI in its recent Rural Wages in Asia report.

On top of the meager wages, women laborers also tell labor activists that landlords or managers will sometimes try to cheat them of their rightful money because they cannot read the records. Sometimes bosses sexually harass them.

Heat stroke, snake bites, exposure to pesticides and cuts on their hands from handling the rough cotton bolls are other hazards of their daily toil.

Khatoon and others have started bringing their school-age children to check the books, or tie knots in the edge of their colorful saris to count how many days they have worked.

"Even though they can't read the numbers of letters, they can say I have worked one day for each knot," said Javed Hussain, the head of the Sindh Community Foundation, which aims to improve the socio-economic conditions of communities and has trained 2,600 women in skills like bargaining and labor rights.

Muhammad Ali Talpur, the director of the government-linked Pakistan Central Cotton Committee, says owners are sympathetic to the workers' problems but warns paying much higher wages may drive Pakistan's cotton farmers out of business.

"Cotton producers are being squeezed by low prices and producers are having a hard time to meet their costs," he said.

Global cotton prices have fallen, hitting a five-year low this summer due to slowing demand from China, a glut in the market, and growing popularity of manmade fibers.

Pakistan produces about 13 million bales a year from a world total of about 119 million bales. This year the government has already bought one million bales to try to shore up the price.

Hussain said the Sindh Community Foundation talks to small landlords and trains workers how to read market prices, trying to ensure there is negotiation, not confrontation.

He said the bigger landlords weren't usually willing to negotiate over wages and there was no legislation protecting casual agricultural workers but small owners did often sympathize with their workers.

Karim Ullah, who owns a small cotton farm near Meeran Pur, agreed to pay his workers $3 per day this year but said he couldn't raise wages further unless cotton prices rose.

"We pay wages according to the rate at which the cotton is sold. Only if the going price increases can I pay the pickers more," he said. "Also, I'm just a small farmer. It's the big landlords with hundreds of acres who set the rate."

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/06/us-pakistan-cotton-widerimage-idUSKCN0JJ1KX20141206

Riaz Haq said...

Going from an inner-city slum to an Ivy League university is an incredible journey for anyone. But for a girl in Pakistan, a country where the female literacy rate is 38%, it is an almost unheard-of achievement.

Anum Fatima made international headlines when she won a summer scholarship to Harvard. She grew up in a Karachi slum but attended a school run by The Citizens Foundation (TCF), an education charity which has opened 1000 schools teaching more than 145,000 underprivileged children. TCF schools are built in deprived areas and are open to all faiths and ethnicities. They also focus on giving both girls and boys equal access to education - 46% of their pupils are female.

Now 23, Fatima was one of TCF’s first graduates. The daughter of a maid and a driver, she completed her undergraduate degree and has started a Masters Programme from CBM, a leading business school in Karachi, with a TCF scholarship. Fatima says: “I want to be the CEO of a leading company but before that I want to spend a few years at TCF to pay them back for all they have done for me."

Anum has given presentations on the challenges girls face

While she was delighted with the news that she would be jetting off to Massachusetts, her father had a slightly delayed reaction. Fatima said: “He had not heard of Harvard. When he went to work that day, he asked his boss, who told him what a tremendous achievement it was.”

Fatima came first in her class at the Harvard summer school. She says: “It was an advanced learning programme for English. There were 15 students from all over the world. I topped my class and received a certificate and a book signed by the Dean.”

During the three-month trip she also spoke at the US State Department and interned at a US-based think tank. She was able to give people an accurate description of the educational challenges in her country.


Fatima said: “People in the West think that girls in Pakistan are not allowed to study. In all of the presentations I made and all the people I talked to, I told them that parents wanted their girls to study but it was the lack of resources and awareness that held them back.”

The need for education to be made a priority in Pakistan is clear - 26 countries that are poorer than Pakistan send more children to primary school and one in 10 children worldwide who are not in primary school live in Pakistan. TCF believes its model is a Pakistani solution to a Pakistani problem.

Ateed Riaz, Co-Founder of The Citizens Foundation, said: “Everything related to education is a step forward; whether it is under a tree, in a garage or in a tent. However, we felt that since we ourselves are a product of formal education, we will build our institution along the same lines. We will create schools which are properly built, and not in a tent or basement. We were confident about our decision and there was never any hesitation or doubt regarding the path we had chosen.”

http://www.aworldatschool.org/news/entry/anum-fatima-on-amazing-journey-from-Pakistan-slum-to-harvard-1614

Riaz Haq said...

In 1910, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that a wife had no cause for action on an assault and battery charge against her husband because it "would open the doors of the courts to accusations of all sorts of one spouse against the other and bring into public notice complaints for assault, slander and libel."

As recently as 1977, the California Penal Code stated that wives charging husbands with criminal assault and battery must suffer more injuries than commonly needed for charges of battery.

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Some time in the 1700s, an English common law came into effect that decreed that a husband had the right to "chastise his wife with a whip or rattan no bigger than his thumb, in order to enforce...domestic discipline. For as he is to answer for her misbehavior, the law thought it reasonable to entrust him with this power of restraining her, by domestic chastisement in the same moderation that a man is allowed to correct his apprentices or children." This law came to be known as the "law of thumb".

In the U.S., the courts continued to uphold a man's right to punish his wife with violence until 1871. In a case known as Fulgam vs. the State of Alabama, the court ruled that, "The privilege, ancient though it may be, to beat her with a stick, to pull her hair, choke her, spit in her face or kick her about the floor or to inflict upon her other like indignities, is not now acknowledged by our law."

http://www.womensafe.net/home/index.php/domesticviolence/29-overview-of-historical-laws-that-supported-domestic-violence

Riaz Haq said...

Director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy hopes her Oscar-nominated film will help end #Pakistan honor killings http://reut.rs/23SndVC via @Reuters

An Oscar-winning filmmaker hopes her latest Academy Award-nominated documentary will help bring tougher laws against honor killings in Pakistan, which account for the deaths of hundreds of women and men each year.

The film, which follows the story of a young woman who survived attempted murder by her father and uncle after marrying a man without their approval, was nominated for an Oscar in January, prompting Pakistan's prime minister to pledge to take a firm stand against the "evil" practice.

More than 500 men and women died in honor killings in 2015, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Many of these crimes, carried out by relatives who say their mostly female victims have brought shame on the family, are never prosecuted, observers say.

"People need to realize that it is a very serious crime," Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy told Reuters in an interview in the southern city of Karachi.

"It's not something that is part of our religion or culture. This is something that should be treated as pre-meditated murder and people should go to jail for it."

Obaid-Chinoy's film "A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness", scheduled to air on HBO in March, tells the story of 19-year-old Saba from Pakistan's Punjab province.

After marrying a man without the agreement of her family, Saba's father and uncle beat her, shot her in the face, put her in a bag and threw her in a river, leaving her for dead.

Saba survived, and set out to ensure that her attackers were brought to justice.

Her father and uncle were arrested and went to jail, but Saba was pressured to "forgive" her attackers. That option under Pakistani law can effectively waive a complainant's right to seek punishment against the accused, even in the case of attempted murder.

Altering the law to remove the possibility of "forgiveness" could help reduce the number of honor killings in Pakistan, advocates of such a change say.

An act that would amend the law across Pakistan was passed by one house of parliament last year, but did not clear the other chamber due to delays, said Sughra Imam, who introduced the bill when she was a lawmaker.

Both she and Obaid-Chinoy hope the attention the film has received abroad and at home, including from Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, might help push the amendments through.

"The greatest win of 'A Girl in the River' would be if the prime minister does take the lead, brings the stakeholders on board and they pass the (act)," Obaid-Chinoy said.

After the film was nominated in the short documentary category, Sharif issued a statement congratulating the filmmaker and pledging his government's commitment to rid Pakistan of the "evil" of honor killings by "bringing in appropriate legislation."

Obaid-Chinoy has already won an Oscar in the same category for "Saving Face", a film about acid attacks in Pakistan.

Sharif invited the director to screen the new film at his residence to an audience of prominent Pakistanis.

Although it is not clear exactly how Sharif proposes to change existing legislation, Obaid-Chinoy said his reaction was a pleasant surprise.

"This could be (Sharif's) legacy ... that no woman in this country should be killed in the name of honor, and if she is, people should go to jail for it," she said.

"The world is watching."

Riaz Haq said...

Fearless teenage girls are taking up #boxing in #Pakistan at a #Karachi boxing club http://qz.com/628556 via @qz

Going to a boxing club is an act of bravery for girls in Pakistan, where sexual harassment plagues women’s sports. But a few defiant young women are jumping into the ring anyway.
At a boxing camp in Karachi’s Pak Shaheen Boxing Club, roughly a dozen girls have been learning to fight. All are under the age of 18. Founded by coach Younis Qambrani back in 1992, the club opened to female boxers for the first time last October.
Qambrani told Reuters:
A number of girls were keen on training, but due to social pressures, I had been avoiding the issue. Last year a girl came to me, asking why girls couldn’t train. I was moved when she said, ‘No one teaches us how to defend ourselves.’
Another boxing camp for girls also opened in the area last year, according to Dawn.


Riaz Haq said...

#Women: Drivers of change in #Pakistan. #BenzairBhutto #MalalaYousuzai #SharmeenObaidChinoy http://bit.ly/1TtiMxw

Pakistan was the first Islamic country to elect a woman prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, and is home to the youngest Nobel Prize winner, Malala Yousufzai. Pakistani women have conquered Mount Everest, they fly fighter jets and sit in many top academic positions. Many other Pakistani women have had leadership roles, and now Chinoy is a driver of change. Yet, the reality of Pakistani women’s everyday living defies an easy description.

Women in Pakistan live with widespread gender-based discrimination, attitudes that are preserved by patriarchal, tribal and cultural traditions and the twisting of Islamic injunctions. Discriminatory legislation, unresponsive state institutions reinforce this inequality.

Killing women for ‘honour’ — the subject of Chinoy’s documentary — for marrying a person of their own choice, something that is allowed by religion and law, is a feature in Pakistani society. The real figures, believed to be higher, may never be known, but the government last year admitted on the floor of the National Assembly that there were 456 and 477 such cases reported in 2013 and 2014, respectively. As close family members commit these murders they are not reported. Only in one case has the state pursued the killings as murders.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) claims on the basis of the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey that 39 per cent of 15 to 49-year-old married women have been subjected to abuse by their spouse and one in ten has experienced violence during pregnancy. Due to social taboos more than half the women who experienced violence, kept it secret.

The societal bias against women, which was institutionalised during General Zia Ul-Haq’s regime (1977-88), has resulted in massive abuse against women.

Feeble attempts by Benazir and General Pervez Musharraf to undo such laws floundered against opposition from the ‘mullahs’. Many of these laws continue to deny women their constitutional rights to gender equality, raising legal and administrative barriers to their political and economic empowerment.

Pakistan’s successive governments have demonstrated little courage in standing up to the clergy who consider women ‘a commodity’ and vehemently oppose any progressive legislation. And any change that has been approved, the governments have been too lax in implementing them. Pakistani men, it seems, are not ready to give up male privilege.

One major reason why these oppressive attitudes and customs have persisted is the low level of education among women in Pakistan. According to the 2015 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Index, Pakistani women spend only seven years in education compared to men who are marginally better with 8.5 years. With only 1.9 per cent of gross domestic product earmarked for education, women end up benefitting even less. Pakistan is meeting only nine of its 33 indicators on women’s empowerment for the Millennium Development Goals, says the UNDP report.

Educated urban women, from well-provided families, who, like Chinoy, should be drivers of change in Pakistan, have mostly chosen lives that are not resistant to societal norms. The premium on their education is not what they give back to society, but finding a good marriage match. There are few people like Chinoy bringing forth the plight of women who are suffering the strangulation of a culture often misrepresented in the name of religion.

Educating and empowering women can address many of Pakistan’s problems. While the ruling structure dithers, ‘determined women’ such as Chinoy, Yousufzai and others are the trailblazers in Pakistan and much of the developing world.

Riaz Haq said...

#Oscar winning film on "honor killings" exposes #SharmeenObaidChinoy to witch hunt in #Pakistan http://nytlive.nytimes.com/womenintheworld/2016/02/24/oscar-nominated-film-about-honor-killings-exposes-filmmaker-to-witch-hunt/ … via @WomenintheWorld

On a dark night in June 2014, a bruised and bloodied young woman stumbled into a petrol station in Gujranwala, a city in Pakistan’s Punjab province. She had been beaten, shot in the face, dumped in a burlap sack and thrown into a nearby canal. As her attackers fled, the cool water jolted her awake. She struggled out of the sack, and treaded water till she reached the canal’s banks where, grasping at reeds, she pulled herself to dry land. She followed the distant lights of cars and motorbikes until she ended up at the station, begging for help. Eighteen-year-old Saba Qaiser was picked up by rescue services that night and taken to a hospital, where she told doctors her father and uncle tried to kill her for marrying a man they did not approve of.

This was a clear-cut case of ‘honor killing’, a practice that claimed the life of at least one woman in Pakistan every day in 2015 alone — and those are figures gleaned from reported cases only — as she is murdered for bringing ‘dishonor’ to her family.

In her latest documentary, A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy met Saba’s father, Maqsood, shortly after he was arrested and charged with the attempted murder of his daughter. Furious that Saba married a man from a lower social class of her own free will, Maqsood claimed, “Whatever we did, we were obliged to do it. She took away our honor.” He describes his daughter’s decision to marry someone her parents did not approve of as “unlawful”.

“I labored and earned lawfully to feed her, this was unlawful of her,” he insisted. “If you put one drop of piss in a gallon of milk, the whole thing gets destroyed. That is what (Saba) has done.”

Unrepentant, Maqsood said: “If I had seen (Saba’s husband), I would have killed him too.”

While Saba underwent surgery for lacerations to her face and arm, her mother and sister did not visit her, Obaid-Chinoy’s documentary reveals. “Who can tolerate such betrayal by a daughter?” asked Saba’s sister Aqsa.

When Saba eloped, her family became the target of the neighborhood’s derision, Aqsa claims. “The people who feared us now taunt us.”

Saba’s mother Maqsooda says she did not know about her husband’s plan, but it doesn’t surprise her. “This is what happens when honor is at stake,” she explained. “Saba left no respect for me.”

Obaid-Chinoy’s film reveals the tenuous grip this concept of ‘honor’ has on many men and women in Pakistan and the lengths to which they will go to preserve it.

Riaz Haq said...

Excerpts of Architect and sociologist Arif Hasan in the News:

http://tns.thenews.com.pk/state-way-course-correction-arif-hasan/


Pakistan is no longer what it was 25 years ago. There have been huge social, political changes. And these are not considered when dealing with policy.
There has been an eclipse of feudalism. Led by the collapse of the local system of commerce, governance, the panchayats, the jirgas, the patels, the numberdaars. They are no longer present. Moreover, the state has not tried to fill this gap. As a result of this change, many things have happened.
In the rural areas, the link between caste and profession has broken. The village artisans who provided services through barter system today work in cash. They have migrated to urban areas. The rural areas are entirely dependent on the urban produced goods. That is a very big change.
Another change is mobility. People move all over for trade and commerce. Where once roads used to be empty, today they are full of trucks. The Anjuman-e-Tajiran in various cities/towns has become an important political player. They are in constant negotiation with the state.
Women have emerged out of nowhere in public life. This trend is rapidly increasing. They dominate the public sector universities. Gender roles have changed. Extended family is disappearing.
All these changes require new society values and new governance structures, so that they can be consolidated.

All the reasons described above. Our population has increased 600 per cent since independence. There is technology/invention, cash has replaced barter, there are new varieties of seeds, farm sizes have become smaller, and the landless village labourer cannot afford the village’s dependency on urban produce.
Since 2000, over twenty universities have been established in small towns of Pakistan. Those who are studying in these universities are men and women from surrounding areas and villages. We have more people who are educated now. TV has also contributed in changing the values. Court marriages have increased. Migration abroad has also contributed to change in values. According to our study, migration and remittances have caused the breakdown of the family system.
All these factors have contributed to this change. Furthermore, you cannot close a country off from changes that are taking place all over the world. All these factors may lead to turmoil unless we can support them.

Our so-called Islamic values are being violated all the time. We see roadblocks (protests) against injustices and women are active in these roadblocks; be they against karo-kari, excesses by the wadera, water shortage or anything.
These things were unheard of before. It shows that the society is fighting back. They are fighting back conservatism with contemporary values.
Media projects a lot of injustices against women, but they do not project the changes taking place, nor are they projecting the role models who are challenging these traditional barriers. Role models, too, are just individual cases, like Malala.
The problem is that not only the state, even the opinion makers and academia are not grasping these changes. They are constantly dealing with conditions, not with trends. Societal changes need to be understood, articulated and brought into consciousness. Right now, these are not being articulated at all.

Who says there is no space for dialogue? Nobody is stopping people from reaching out. We are in a trap. We keep talking about jihad, cruelty of the state and society, and no doubt all this is there. We are talking about all this in the framework of nostalgia.
The past was a period of elitist politics. This is a period of populist politics. Karachi was the way it was because it was colonial port city being governed by colonial elites. Today, it is run by populist political parties.
The past was a very oppressive system, and it went on because people used to accept the oppression. Now there is freedom, most importantly, freedom to choose. The only thing is that people do not know what to do with this freedom.

Riaz Haq said...

More from Arif Hasan:

http://tns.thenews.com.pk/state-way-course-correction-arif-hasan/

The institutional imbalance has harmed Pakistan. This imbalance is located in the very foundation of this country, which has been a consistent actual and perceived threat from India. And India, too, has done everything possible to help with the development of this perception.
No, it is not on its way to course correction. Our political establishment is far too weak, corrupt and very much involved in seeing its class interests served.

The list would be: (i) A general depoliticisation of police, to whichever extent it is possible; (ii) Provision of housing for low-income groups. It is doable; (iii) The development of union councils as effective service providers. A Karaciite should not need to go to his religious or political organisation to get a birth or a death certificate done, or admit his mother to a hospital, or get a friend released from police custody. All this has to come under the purview of the union councils, and a Karachiite should have access to its secretariat. These measures would go a long way in making Karachi peaceful.

Right now 72 per cent of Karachi’s population is engaged in the informal sector. Karachi cannot survive that way. We need institutions to manage this. We need to have proper services for them, the industrial sector needs to be developed, you need to have a better organised services sector. We have minerals in the land around Karachi. Instead of giving this land to the Bahrias and the DHAs, this land should be turned into an agriculture zone which should provide for the city.
The most important requirement is good governance; a system that ensures that the needs of the people in such a large city are met.

Riaz Haq said...

The 'Avon ladies' of #Pakistan selling contraception door to door. #BirthControl #Pills

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2016/jun/01/the-avon-ladies-of-pakistan-selling-contraception-door-to-door


From 8am to 4pm, 25-year-old Samina Khaskheli travels door-to-door in rural Pakistan handing out free samples of condoms, birth control pills, and intrauterine devices.

“I was told ‘This is sinful’,” Samina says about the initial opposition to her selling birth control. She took the job warily. Her off-the-map village, Allah Bachayo Khaskheli, is home to roughly 1,500 people in the country’s south-eastern Sindh province. The flatlands are covered by livestock, and economic desperation leaves women toiling alongside men as farmhands, livestock breeders and cotton pickers.

Samina is a worker for the Marginalised Area Reproductive Health Viable Initiative – Marvi – once a popular emblem of female independence in Sindhi folklore. Today, Marvi refers to a network of literate or semi-literate village women aged 18 to 40 who travel door-to-door selling contraceptives. “In our village, there was no information about family planning. Many women died during childbirth,” says Samina about what inspired her to join.

Trained by the Karachi-based Health and Nutrition Development Society (Hands), roughly 1,600 Marvis are dispersed throughout Pakistan’s remotest villages, where government healthcare facilities are scant or nonexistent. In the Sanghar district where Samina’s village is located, at least 400 Marvis fill a gap left by a lack of government funded lady health workers (LHWs).


Pakistan’s contraceptive prevalence rate is low – out of a population of more than 190 million, only 35% of women aged 15-49 use contraception. Nevertheless, demand is high in rural areas, where women give birth to an average of 4.2 children, compared to 3.2 children in cities. “In villages, electricity is not there and health facilities are not there, but the need for contraceptives certainly is,” says Dr Talat Abro, the deputy secretary of reproductive health service for Sindh’s population welfare department.

Marvi workers receive a six-day initial training by Hands and have their sessions in the field supervised by LHWs. Marvis emerge from the underserved populations they work with, so understand how family planning is best presented to the women they target.

“I wish I had learned about birth control 15 years ago,” says Azima Khaskheli, a 45-year-old livestock breeder in Allah Bachayo Khaskheli village, her black bangles clinking together as goats bleat nearby.

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“We are not trying to limit the number of children – a woman or a family has a right to choose as many number of children as they want, but they must keep in mind the pregnancy period is important for a woman’s health,” says Anjum Fatima, the general manager for health at Hands.

Opposition to birth control in Pakistan often takes on a religious hue, so Marvis are trained to sensitise local religious leaders on the health benefits of family planning. The Marvi programme relies on community mobilisers – ranging from religious leaders to influential landlords – to communicate the benefits of contraceptives. In 2014, approximately 40 Islamic religious leaders approved birth spacing for women in Pakistan. Samina adds that she enjoys the support of the village’s maulvis, or religious authorities, who endorse her door-to-door campaign, and never issue anti-contraceptive messaging over the mosque’s loudspeakers.


“Before the culture was rigid, but now they’ve gradually accepted family planning,” says Samina, the Marvi worker, motioning to the group huddled around her. “I am proud I can teach women about both the Qur’an and birth control.”

Riaz Haq said...

Social change in Pakistan: a conversation with Mr Arif Hasan
BloomsburyPakistan organised an event, ‘Social change in Pakistan: a conversation with Mr
Arif Hasan’ on May 11, 2015.

The migration from rural areas, along with global influences from informal capitalism, forced
huge changes in the character of urban areas as well, particularly in katchi abaadis. Once
these abaadis were purely working class settlements, women did not work, the informal
sector worked only within these abaadis, and language reflected social hierarchy. Now, these
are no longer working class settlements: global communication technologies have flooded
them, women have educated themselves and are working in service sectors, and people have
developed a strong sense of identity and aspirations that they did not have before. If we take
the age group from 15 to 24 as an illustration, the effect of these changes can be observed. In
1981, 39% women and 17% of men in this age group in Karachi were married; extrapolating
the 1998 census shows that less than 18% of women and less than 6% of men are now
married. As the demand for education increases, a huge network of private schools has
emerged. As children of this generation grew up, many new universities were established,
both in public and private sector.

A very powerful trend that captures various aspects of these changes is the significant rise of
court marriages. In 1992, there were 10-15 marriage applications per day. By 2006 this had
risen to more than 200 per day and by some estimates the number now stands at around 800
per day. This rise indicates changes in family structures, weakening of biradari system,
heightened consciousness of individuality and personal aspirations.
Just as in rural areas, these progressive changes are being resisted in urban areas as well by
conservative forces which have joined hands with religious elements and use informal
economic power – land mafias for example – to retain power. The religious element received
a huge support from the state as well during the Zia era which saw state suppression of
student politics, artistic activities and political dissent. As a result, the overall tenor of society
has remained conservative with a rising anti-western/modern discourse. Yet, beneath the
surface a process of individualism and freedom continues, as reflected in the figures for
education and marriage choices. One way in which many young people, women in particular,
have negotiated these dynamics is by adopting conservative religious symbolism – the veil,
for example – while continuing to participate in modern life.

Despite the generally pessimistic picture painted above, Mr Hasan remained optimistic about
the future. He saw the current struggles as a necessary phase in social transformation, and
expressed the belief that human spirit for freedom has awakened in the younger generation,
particularly women, and in the medium to long term this spirit will overcome conservative
resistance. His approach was a good example of Gramscian words that “I'm a pessimist
because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.”

http://nebula.wsimg.com/e1220c34bb211727621e460d11b3f9a5?AccessKeyId=D38F223A1FE944D1A306&disposition=0&alloworigin=1

Riaz Haq said...

#PMLN Senator Sardar Yaqoob Nasr: "Poor are born to serve the rich... God made people rich or poor" http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/pakistan-politician-comment-poor-serve-rich/1/749331.html … via @indiatoday

WHO SAID WHAT
"The poor of this country will never get to decide their own fate," Haidar said.
To this, Nasar remarked that if everyone were to become wealthy, there would be no one to grow wheat or to work as labourers.
"This is a system created by God and He has made some people rich and others poor and we should not interfere in this system," he said.
Haider countered that socio-economic classes were man-made and God had nothing to do with it.
Another Senator, Mohammad Usman Khan Kakar, too said that God created all people as equal and that the poor were not meant to serve the rich.
But Nasar could not be convinced and said: "Once in China all people were considered equal, which did not work out well.
"Those who cannot get an education and cannot earn more have no right to live the life of a bureaucrat," he said.