Thursday, March 21, 2013

Can Turkish Soaps and Schools Counter Saudi Influence in Pakistan?

Cultural invasion of Pakistan is in full swing with Turkish schools and soap operas finding broad acceptance across the country. Local TV channels are airing soap operas dubbed in Urdu and Gülen movement is operating over a dozen schools in different parts of the country.



Turkish Entertainment: 

Since last summer,  channel Urdu1 has enjoyed top TV ratings with its multiple daily airings of the Turkish soap opera Ishq-e-Mamnu, or “Forbidden Love", according to the New York Times. Afraid of being left behind, Geo Entertainment, part of Pakistan's biggest media empire spawned by recent media revolution in the country, has joined the bandwagon with its prime-time airing of  Noor. It's a rags to riches story of a woman, and her adoring husband, played by the blue-eyed former model Kivanc Tatlitug.

Ishq-e-Mamnoon Cast Members
While the soaps depict a western lifestyle and deal with subjects that are considered taboo in Pakistan, they include characters with Muslim names which many Pakistanis can identify with. 

This latest trend contrasts sharply with what has been happening in the country for several decades.  Since 1980s, Pakistan's cultural transformation has been led, in part, by Pakistani workers traveling to and returning from Arab countries. These workers have brought with them Arab notions of Islamic piety and hard-line Wahabi beliefs to Pakistan. This phenomenon has contributed to the proliferation of radical madrassas funded by Saudi money in many parts of the country.

Arabs, seen as model Muslims by many Pakistanis, are themselves soaking up Turkish culture. Back in 2008, Saudi-owned Middle East Broadcasting Centre (MBC) bought Noor and broadcast it across the Arab world to win its hearts and minds. Now Turkish shows are dominating the Arab airwaves. Even Greece, traditional rival of Turkey, has become so hospitable to Turkish soaps that they "are gaining a worshipful following in Greece", according to Mary Andreou who writes for the Greek newspaper Adesmeftos Typos.

Magnificent Century – Turkey’s most popular and most talked-about but controversial soap is about the lavish lifestyle of Suleiman The Magnificent who ruled the Ottoman Empire from 1520 to 1566 at the height of its glory and is still revered as Kanuni, or Lawgiver. His empire included large parts of Eastern and Central Europe and the entire Middle East. It is watched in 43 countries by 200 million people, according to David Rohde in The Atlantic. The Hurriyet reports that Turkish soap opera exports have grown from US$1 million in 2007 to nearly US$100 million today. Around a hundred different Turkish serials are exported in dubbed or subtitled form to North Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America.

Turkish Education:

In Pakistan, Turkish presence extends beyond television entertainment; there's a network of Turkish schools being operated by Gülen Movement, a transnational religious, social, and possibly political movement led by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. It's been described by  New York Times as  coming "from a tradition of Sufism, an introspective, mystical strain of Islam". Currently, Gulen Pakistan is operating 14 Pak-Turk schools serving over 3000 students in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Khairpur, Multan, Peshawar and Quetta.

Pak-Turk School, Jamshoro, Pakistan
 In a CBS 60 Minutes segment last year, here's how correspondent Leslie Stahl described Gulen schools in the United States: "Over the past decade scores of charter schools have popped up all over the U.S., all sharing some common features. Most of them are high-achieving academically, they stress math and science, and one more thing: they're founded and largely run by immigrants from Turkey who are carrying out the teachings of a Turkish Islamic cleric: Fethullah Gulen". CBS report said Gulen schools in the United States have 20,000 students enrolled with 30,000 more on waiting list. The growing popularity of Turkish charter schools has drawn suspicion and criticism of various groups in the United States.

Critics:

Growing Turkish influence in Pakistan has its critics. Local actors and producers decry the new competition of Turkish soaps for "destroying our society".  Others see as part of the American conspiracy. Mesut Kacmaz, a Muslim teacher from Turkey, was warned by a mosque near where he works never to return wearing a tie, according to a news report.

Future: 

Today's Turkey is a modern democratic and secular state run by moderate Islamists. It is seen by many Muslims, including Pakistani Muslims, as a model pluralist society that offers many lessons for the rest of the Islamic world.  But it has many detractors as well. For example, there is significant resistance to growing Turkish cultural and educational influence in Pakistan.  The Turkish influence is still small but rising rapidly, and the resistance from entrenched orthodoxy is increasing with it. It does offer hope as an anti-dote to the  radical Saudi influence that is at least partly responsible for growing violence in Pakistan. While I do see signs of hope with the emergence of Turkey as model for Pakistan and other Muslim countries, only time will tell as to how this culture war unfolds to shape Pakistan's future. 

Here's a video clip of Ishq-e-Mamnoon:

Ishq E Mamnoon OST Title Song Full 720p HQ from Prince Mughal on Vimeo.


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Turkey, Pakistan and Secularism

Pakistan Media Revolution

Violent Social Revolution in Pakistan

Clash of Ideas in Islam

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

 Silent Social Revolution in Pakistan

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

39 comments:

Zee said...

Wahabis will not like it and mullahs will issue fatwas against the impure culture and nudity being imposed upon as shown in the above pic.

Anonymous said...

The question is are we happy with overwhelming Saudi influence that has created so many problems in Pakistan?

I think about Pakistan of 70s. It was a very tolerant and a very happy place. Why cant we have that Pakistan back instead of copying this model or that model?

Zaheer said...

Thanks Riaz,
Fethullah Gullen is a controversial figure in the USA. In neighboring
Pennsylvania (I live in New Jersey) he is supposed to have a
well-attended Sufi School. Googling Fethullah Gullen leads to supposed
links with the CIA. The current Turkish Govt. is supposed to be quite
opposed to FG but who knows?

Imran said...

Its appalling to see how closed Pakistani society has become . If you go into the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul and announce being a Pakistani, the shop keepers start calling you a brother, slash the margins they charge from the tourists and instantly you get a preferential treatment.

Jaafar said...

In his 2009 book, "The Next 100 Years" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Next_100_Years), George Friedman projects that Turkey will be a major world power within the next couple of decades projecting its influence into the Arab and Islamic world and also into Europe and the old Soviet states. Even if Friedman's assertions are exaggerated, Turkey is the 18th largest economy in the world, the 2nd largest in the Islamic world (marginally behind Indonesia, which is 3X the population), and has been growing at more than 5% annually over the last decade (including the global recession years of 2008/2009).

The Islamic world - Pakistan included - would do well to look at Turkey for economic, social, and cultural inspiration.

Oostur said...

That will happen after we export all idiot extremists back to Saudi Arabia!
After my recent trip to Pakistan, I am not holding my breath!

Riaz Haq said...

Jaffer: "In his 2009 book, "The Next 100 Years" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Next_100_Years), George Friedman projects that Turkey will be a major world power within the next couple of decades projecting its influence into the Arab and Islamic world and also into Europe and the old Soviet states.."

Thanks for pointing it out.

I have read Friedman's book and wrote the following post on it in 2010:

http://www.riazhaq.com/2010/06/is-america-young-and-barbaric.html

Here's the relevant excerpt:

After the second collapse of Russia in 2020, Turkey will be backed by the United States to emerge as a stable platform in a sea of instability and chaos all around it. The Turks will have substantial economic and military presence extending in all directions in Eurasia. Israel will recognize the Turks as a regional power and reach an accommodation with them. Eventually, the US will feel existentially threatened by the combination of Turkey's political and economic power, and go to war with Turkey. The US and its European allies will prevail over Turkey and its coalition by using space-based weapons and technology in 2050s.

Pro said...

What's wrong with our own culture that we need to import cultures from anywhere else?

How can airing Turkish dramas be dubbed as cultural invasion while watching English movies and tv serials for last 60 years was never considered cultural invasion?

Grow up and stop spreading conspiracy theories.

Riaz Haq said...

Pro: "What's wrong with our own culture that we need to import cultures from anywhere else?..Grow up and stop spreading conspiracy theories."

It does not help to have xenophobia and spin conspiracy theories.

In the globalized world today, every nation and every society is influenced by foreign cultures to varying degrees. The real question is which influences to accept and embrace and which ones to resist and reject....that's what Pakistanis have to decide.

HopeWins Junior said...

^^RH: "It does not help to have xenophobia and spin conspiracy theories. In the globalized world today, every nation and every society is influenced by foreign cultures to varying degrees. The real question is which influences to accept and embrace and which ones to resist and reject.... that's what Pakistanis have to decide."
----

What are your views on the "Indian Invasion" of movies, serials, sitcoms and cartoons?

After we "set aside xenophobia and conspiracy theories", should we "accept and embrace" it or should we "resist and reject" it?

Setting aside this "Turkish Invasion" for argument's sake, do you think the "Indian Invasion" more beneficial or more harmful to Pakistani society as compared to the "Saudi Invasion"?

What are your views? Please clarify for the benefit of your younger and more impressionable readers.

Anonymous said...

if the Turks create an Urdu version of Kurtlar Vadisi I will tune in every God damned day of the year

M said...

Good! i am sick and tired of Indian culture penetrating pakistani minds, it's finally time we watch some stuff from our western borders, places like Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, Middle east etc...

Amjad said...

I was in Istanbul and Izmir in 2008 and saw one of these schools in Izmir. They do have high quality curriculum but they are ultra-expensive, mostly for the elite and gifted kids, espouse strong nationalistic ideas and seemed totally out of place in the middle class, slum-like surroundings of the Izmir neighborhood I visited. I learned from my hosts that the movement aims to 'develop future leaders of Turkey'. There was no room for critical thinking and I sensed an atmosphere of indoctrination. Besides catering to the wealthy, I wonder what their contribution is to education in Pakistan .. perhaps it's a subtle way of spreading the idea that the Turkish empire will rise again?

Riaz Haq said...

Amjad: "I was in Istanbul and Izmir in 2008 and saw one of these schools in Izmir. They do have high quality curriculum but they are ultra-expensive, mostly for the elite and gifted kids..."

Thanks for the info.

I have never been to any of their schools but I have heard good things from parents who are sending their kids to Gulen's charter schools in California.

These charter schools are publicly funded by taxpayers and do not require parents to pay a dime.

There was a 60 Minutes segment on these schools which called them "high achieving academically".

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57433131/u.s-charter-schools-tied-to-powerful-turkish-imam/

Khalid said...

Thanks for covering a very encouraging trend. We just need a " Kamal Ata TURK " from Pakistan. May be that will change fate of suffering Millions.

HopeWins Junior said...

^^M Said: "Good! i am sick and tired of Indian culture penetrating pakistani minds, it's finally time we watch some stuff from..."
----

Dr. Haq,

I raise this point again.

Anchors, Talk-show hosts, politicians and Maulvis say repeatedly that we must "resist and reject" the invasion of Indian Culture otherwise we will lose our unique Pakistani culture.

And there is some truth to this view.

However, almost no one speaks of the invasion of Saudi-Salafi/Wahhabi culture in Pakistan. I have yet to hear TV-hosts, politicians or ulema unequivocally condemn the intrusion of Saudi-Wahhabi culture and values into Pakistani society.

Even a child can see that such intrusions are destroying our unique Pakistani Sufi-Islamic culture at its very roots.

Here are my questions to you as an intellectual media person and social thinker:

1) Why do people not criticize the intrusion of Saudi Wahhabi culture in the same way as they condemn Indian (and/or Western) culture, when all of them present a foreign danger to our unique Pakistani culture?

2) Composite Indian culture clearly includes Sufism (which is the majority-sect in Pakistan), whereas Saudi culture deliberately excludes & condemns Sufism-- so which is more harmonious with our unique Pakistani culture, Indian-Hindu acceptance of Sufism or Saudi-Wahhabi rejection of Sufism?

3) Which do you think is the MOST DANGEROUS to the fabric of Pakistani culture, society and identity: the intrusion of Saudi Avowedly-Wahhabi culture or the intrusion of Indian Quasi-Hindu culture?

HopeWins Junior said...

^^Khalid: "Thanks for covering a very encouraging trend. We just need a " Kamal Ata TURK " from Pakistan. May be that will change fate of suffering Millions."
----

We DID have a Kemal AtaTurk. His name was QeA M.A. Jinnah. Read the following:

http://alturl.com/4vgk2

Anonymous said...

We DID have a Kemal AtaTurk. His name was QeA M.A. Jinnah. Read the following:

Yes but he passed away within a year of founding you need a wise leader for atlease 15-20 years like Nehru had to stabilize a new country...

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of Pervez Hoodbhoy's Op Ed on popes and caliphs as published in Express Tribune:

A consensus at electing popes hasn’t always been that easy. History: Pope Gregory X established the Papal Conclave in 1274 after it took the cardinals nearly three years to choose him as the successor to Pope Clement IV. Locking the cardinals in a meeting and gradually decreasing their food rations was seen as good way to expedite agreement on a new pope. Three voting cardinals died during the process. Such is life.

What enables the quick consensus on electing popes in modern times? Simple: the pope’s role has become largely ceremonial since 1536. No head of state need obey his orders. For Catholics, he is an icon of piety and chastity standing above the sordid politics of the world. While they are expected to live and breed according to the dictates of the Church, they do not consider them to be infallible any more. Today, increasing numbers of Catholics are moving away from the Church because of its stand on birth control and divorce. Nevertheless, though with much lessened powers, the new pope speaks for 1.2 billion Catholics.

Who should speak for the 1.5 billion Muslims today? This question is difficult because the Islamic world has been without a caliph ever since Kemal Ataturk eliminated the Ottoman Caliphate in 1924. Earlier, a caliphate had been the norm. Today, several Muslim groups are marketing the idea that restoring ancient glories is contingent upon reviving the caliphate. But this is a prescription for fratricidal conflict.

The problem is that the caliph is generally understood to be both the spiritual as well as temporal leader. The Egyptian scholar, Taha Hussein, was unusual in suggesting that Islam permits the two aspects to be separated. This strongly conflicts with the views of Maulana Abul Ala Maududi or Sayyid Qutb and those who have been influenced by them. In 2001, Osama bin Laden called upon Muslims to “establish the righteous caliphate of our ummah”, a man who would lead and organise the ummah. A Sunni, he would enforce a single Sharia. The bewilderingly many extant sects and schools of thought would have to vanish, either by persuasion or by coercion. Since Shias obviously cannot be persuaded, they (and others) would have to be subdued.

More significantly, the caliph would be the commander-in-chief of all Muslim forces belonging to an Islamic superstate that would supercede the authority of Muslim national states. He would authorise jihad, both defensive and offensive, in forms ranging from actual combat to space wars, cyber jihad, economic sanctions, oil boycotts, making treaties, and dealing with the World Bank and the IMF. Pakistan’s nuclear weapons would be at the caliph’s command. So would oil from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Gulf. If any Muslim country defied his orders, waging war would be an option.
-----------
Today, a global caliphate can only be created through violence. The Hizbut Tahrir, which seeks this goal, sees mutinies and insurrections as the solution. Its website calls upon Pakistan’s armed forces to rise against its leadership. Brigadier Ali Khan and his colleagues will surely not be the last officers convicted of sedition.

It is a hard enough question, answerable only by God, to judge who is truly a pious Christian or Muslim. But when the power to make war also depends on the answer, it becomes impossibly difficult. So, the 13th century cardinals locked up by Pope Gregory X would have starved to death rather than arrive at an agreement! Attempting to elect a caliph today would pit Muslim against Muslim in bloody conflict. Although there is zero chance of the caliphate’s revival, this goal nevertheless looms large in the consciousness of those committed to seizing state power and to fundamentally transforming the societies they take over.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/524854/on-choosing-popes-and-caliphs/

M said...

There is no 'invasion' as such. If anything, it shows the acceptance of Pakistanis of foreign inputs: Indian, Arab, Western and now Turkish. Don't forget that for the large part of Pakistan's early history Indian movies were freely available and yet Pakistanis remained cautious of India.
People know where their interests lie--their own country's well being. Perhaps we can define some kind of Laszlo's Pyramid about people as part of nationhood.

Also, as someone said correctly above, stop blaming Arabs for wahabbi-ism etc. Pakistani rulers--especially General Zia--sought to introduce the 'true' Islam in Pakistan. The King of Saudi Arabia didn't twist Zia's arms to do that. Never forget that Zia was just an unbearded mullah with military training.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a news story of Saudi culture in action:

A Saudi Arabia Airlines flight from Jeddah to the eastern city of Dammam was delayed over a passenger's demand that a stewardess be removed from the aircraft because she wasn't accompanied by a male guardian, Okaz newspaper reported.

Flight 1108 was delayed when a stewardess began to read out and demonstrate flight safety procedures was interrupted by a passenger who asked her "why are you on the plane without a guardian?" the newspaper reported.

The passenger then proceeded to demand the plane not take off until all women unaccompanied by male guardians be removed from the aircraft.

The captain called security who then forcefully removed the objecting passenger and his son and started an investigation, according to the newspaper. The incident caused the flight to be delayed two hours.

Every woman in Saudi Arabia must have a male guardian accompanying her when travelling, usually a husband or father, sometimes a son. Women in the kingdom need the consent of a male guardian to work, travel abroad, marry or to open a bank account.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who has tried to accelerate the pace of reform in the kingdom, announced in 2011 that women would be able to vote and run in municipal elections starting in 2015.

Last month, the monarch appointed 30 women to the 150-member Shoura Council which was previously an all male body that advises the government on legislation.


http://www.arabianbusiness.com/saudi-flight-delayed-over-stewardess-lack-of-guardian--492949.html

HopeWins Junior said...

^^RH quotes ArabianNews: "A Saudi Arabia Airlines flight from Jeddah to the eastern city of Dammam was delayed over a passenger's demand that a stewardess be removed from the aircraft because she wasn't accompanied by a male guardian, Okaz newspaper reported...."
----

I will bet that the stewardess was not a Saudi citizen. In addition, it is unlikely that she was Muslim. Most likely the woman was a lebanese, syrian or egyption arabic-speaking christian or an english-speaking non-muslim.

http://alturl.com/hy5wi

QUOTE: "Are female flight attendants recruited from other countries? Yes. We recruit from Morocco, Tunis , Egypt , Sudan , Ethiopia , Algiers , Albania , Bosnia , Turkey , Lebanon , Jordan , Syria, Pakistan , India , Philippines , Malaysia , Indonesia and Bangladesh. We don't have any flight attendants from Saudi Arabia or The Gulf Countries."

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: " it is unlikely that she was Muslim. Most likely the woman was a lebanese, syrian or egyption arabic-speaking christian or an english-speaking non-muslim."

I personally know a Pakistani Muslim girl who worked as a flight attendant in Saudia, the Saudi airline.

Khalid said...

How did Turkish soap operas change or influence the culture in Pakistan? What are Pakistanis doing differently because of these soap operas?

Riaz Haq said...

Khalid: "How did Turkish soap operas change or influence the culture in Pakistan? What are Pakistanis doing differently because of these soap operas?"

Entertainment works in subtle ways to change people's thinking.

Here's a excerpt of a recent Bloomberg story on Turkish soaps in Pakistan:

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

There have been studies of the influence of Cable TV among women in India by American researchers Robert Jensen and Emily Oster who found that the effect of TV in 2700 households empowered women to be more autonomous. Cable TV households had lower birthrates, less domestic abuse and kept daughters in schools.

http://www.nber.org/papers/w1330

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Time Magazine article on Hollywood bending to get Chinese business:

We already knew some filming of Iron Man 3 took place in China, and that the movie has a Chinese co-distributor and that Chinese actor Wang Xueqi has a role — but, as of late last week, Chinese Iron Man fans have another reason to feel special: they’re getting their very own version of the movie.

(MORE: Licence to Cut as Skyfall Censored in China)

After the May 3 release of the Marvel tentpole, another edition will be released in China and will be marketed and distributed by Chinese distribution company DMG Entertainment. (DMG is listed as a co-producer for the film on IMDB, but this latest press release clarifies that, in China at least, the movie is a Marvel production distributed by DMG.) The announcement, available on Deadline, told fans that the Chinese version would include bonus footage:

The Chinese version of the film will also feature a special appearance of China’s top actress, Fan Bingbing, and will offer specially prepared bonus footage made exclusively for the Chinese audience. Marvel Studios’ experience working on this film with Fan Bingbing and Wang Xueqi and in shooting in China has been very positive and has created a springboard for future collaboration with China’s talented stars and its growing film and television industry.

DMG has experience with this kind of situation, as the Los Angeles Times points out: Looper also received financing from the company and had a Chinese version that showed more of Shanghai than U.S. audiences saw.

These little nods to the appetites of Chinese fans — or, in some cases, the potential future decisions of Chinese censors, as other movies have learned the hard way — may not seem like much. But studios must be betting that a few extra Chinese location shots or scenes with Chinese actors could pay off in a big way, and they’ve got reason to think it’s possible: analysts predict that China, currently the No. 2 box-office market in the world, will surpass the U.S. within the next decade.


http://entertainment.time.com/2013/04/01/iron-man-3-chinese-fans-will-see-different-cut-of-the-movie/

Khalid said...

While the television craze goes unabated in the Muslim world, it is a different story in the country where it started. As this report shows today there are five million homes in the US with no television.

Isn't it time for the campaign for television free homes in the Muslim world?

Riaz Haq said...

Khalid: "Isn't it time for the campaign for television free homes in the Muslim world?"

This is a generational change. The younger people prefer to watch TV on Internet channels like Hulu. They are not abandoning TV entertainment...just using a different way to access it.

Rashid M said...

The younger generation is teaching the older generation that within a few hours of broadcast, the latest episode of any favorite Pak drama can be viewed on Youtube on any laptop or tablet.

Thus, there is no reason to pay for all the Pak channels in the first place.
Also - Viva! No more need for terrabyte add-on drives to the DVR!

Riaz Haq said...

Rashid: "The younger generation is teaching the older generation that within a few hours of broadcast, the latest episode of any favorite Pak drama can be viewed on Youtube on any laptop or tablet"

Wait till broadband access becomes ubiquitous in Pakistan. You''ll see young people abandon TVs in droves to watch the shows on the Internet. Online ads will then become the main source of revenue for TV channels.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a PakistanToday story on HuT's campaign against voting and democracy:

The banned outfit Hizbut Tahrir (HT) has started its campaign across the country to convince people not to participate in elections and join hands with the outlawed organisation for the unification of Muslim world as a single state under the leadership of Sheikh Ata Abu Rishta.
The campaign has been started in almost all parts of the country and the HT activists have started holding public gatherings and corner meetings to convince people on a point that democracy was against Islam.
The intelligence agencies have started operation against the HT and arrested two of its activists from outside a mosque for distributing leaflets among the worshipers and preaching them not to participate in elections.
Through the leaflet, the banned outfit invited people to join hands with them to abolish democracy from Pakistan and establish caliphate.
The leaflet reads further, “Muslims have not been stung merely twice, but countless times by the current system in Pakistan. Each time new faces come through coup or election, the people curse the old faces. However, only after a while, the new faces appear even uglier and more despised than the older faces. The current system is incapable of looking after the affairs of the people and securing the rights that Allah guaranteed humankind, regardless of their race, language, gender or religion.”
It reads further, “Pakistan's current system is a continuation of the British rule occupation that abolished Islamic rule in the Indian subcontinent in the first place. Even though the Muslims shed their pure blood to establish Pakistan in the name of Islam, it was the British Parliament that created Pakistan’s initial legislation under its Indian Independence Act of 1947.”
“It is democracy, designed by and inherited from the colonialist kufr that separates our ummah from Islam and its ruling system of khilafah, whether in Pakistan, Egypt or Turkey, Tunisia or Indonesia. The claim that yet more elections within this system would bring change of system is a lie made to secure this system from abolition,” it also reads.
“It is the Khilafah alone that ensures our education, foreign policy, economy, judiciary, consultation; accounting and removing of rulers are all according to Islam,” the leaflet adds.
Talking to Pakistan Today, a leader of HT confirmed that they had started a campaign across the country for abolishment of democracy and establishment of khilafah in Pakistan.
“We will hold public gatherings, corner meetings and door-to-door campaign to boycott the elections as the democracy is un-Islamic,” he added.


http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2013/04/14/news/national/hizbut-tahrir-campaigns-against-democracy-polls/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Washington Post story on Taan, billed as Pakistan's answer to "Glee":

Starting in September, Pakistani TV stations will begin broadcasting what some have called the country’s “answer to Glee”: an envelope-pushing musical drama called “Taan,” set in a fictional Lahore high school.
If a peppy musical about misfit teenagers and their social/sexual escapades seems out of place in Pakistan, that’s because it is. Interviews with director Samar Raza tend to focus on the way the show can grapple with those issues like sexuality and teen romance without provoking the ire of Pakistan’s media censors — the same people who warned TV media earlier this year not to promote Valentine’s Day and once took an entire cable network off the air after it broadcast a Salman Rushdie interview.
Raza told Agence France-Presse, for instance, that the show suggests a homosexual relationship through innuendo and conversation among the characters. (Homosexuality is illegal in Pakistan.) It will also tackle Pakistan’s religious and sectarian violence: One of the characters is described as an extremist who initially planned to blow the music school up — before getting into music, of course. Another main character is a Christian whose girl family was massacred in the 2009 riots at Gojra, an actual event that heightened interfaith tensions for weeks.
“Music is the only thing that can unite this country,” one of the show’s actors, Hassan Niazi, told The Telegraph. (The BBC also has some more behind-the-scenes interviews, and a few shots from the program, in this video.)
But it’s not as though Pakistan has shied away from controversy on TV. Pakistani dramas, often filmed in Lahore and modeled on Indian shows, have addressed child abuse, divorce and incest, Pakistani journalist Kamal Siddiqi told the Times of India for a feature on Pakistani TV last year. One of the country’s most popular domestic soaps, a family drama called “Humsafar,” revolved around a cast of willful women — and gave plenty of screentime to issues like divorce and mental illness.

Foreign imports from Turkey and India are also wildly popular in Pakistan. As the New York Times reported in January, the country’s most watched Turkish soap, appropriately titled “Forbidden Love,” follows the adventures of the rich and promiscuous as they fall in and out of love triangles and otherwise sordid relationships. (The video below, a slow-mo compilation of meaningful glances from the show, is absolutely worth watching.) Critics have slammed the show as vulgar and un-Islamic, but it’s still on-air....
--------
Taan will fortunately have no problems there: The show was filmed in Lahore, and its creators have licensed more than 100 classic Pakistani songs for the “Glee” treatment. Now Raza and his crew need only hope that their bold storylines receive the same kind of reception Glee, a rule-breaker in its own right, got in the U.S. According to Nielsen, he show raked in more than 8 million viewers during its last season.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/05/30/pakistans-answer-to-glee-will-address-homosexuality-and-extremism-in-song-of-course/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn report on Pak-Turk school students placing second in an international contest:

Two students from Islamabad have bagged silver medal in the world finals of the International Computer Projects Competition held recently in Romania by giving solution to end loadshedding and resolve issue of energy theft.

Shahbaz Khattak and Abdul Muizz Lodhi of PakTurk School Islamabad have designed a GSM-based Automatic Meter Reader (AMR) which was presented in the Infomatrix Romania where their project won silver medal in the category of Hardware Control.

AMR can collect consumption data from power, gas and water meters without involvement of meter readers. It transmits data to central database of service providing company for billing, troubleshooting, and analysis.

AMR saves utility providers the expense of visiting every location to read a meter, its billing is based on actual consumption rather than estimates, past or predicted consumption.

Moreover timely information can help utility providers and customers’ better control usage and production.

It provides accurate data, track usage, improve energy management, detect tempering and cut operational costs by discouraging wastage to boost profit. It can be used for security and fire alarm systems.

Khattak and Lodhi said that metre reading will no more remain a time consuming and labour intensive manual process if gas, power and water utilities employ ARM which will also settle the issues of complaints by consumers and increasing energy theft presently estimated at Rs250 billion annually.

Also, some modification can enable power companies to switch off air conditioners and other home appliances drawing extreme amounts of energy remotely which will end the need of loadshedding in Pakistan where over 5000MW is consumed by A/Cs in summer, the students said.

Commenting on the development PakTurk officials Kamil Ture and Turgut Puyan said that participation in global competitions and winning prizes has become a regular feature for Pakistani students which reflect their talent.

Educational institutions should encourage young to apply their imagination, passion, and creativity to make a difference.

The competitions are not just about promoting professional excellence; it also serves to promote intercultural dialogue and cooperation, said Ture.

Hundreds of students from many countries including United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Russian Federation, Macedonia, Belgium, Romania, Poland, Hong Kong, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Tanzania, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Vietnam, Hungary, Mexico, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ecuador, Thailand, Indonesia, Turkey, South Africa, Kazakhstan, Laos, Colombia, Kenya, Albania, Iraq, and Malaysia participated in the event and presented projects covering a wide variety of topics.


http://dawn.com/2013/05/29/pak-students-find-new-solution-to-end-loadshedding/

Riaz Haq said...

Brief history and prospects of Pakistani cinema published in Dawn newspaper

http://dawn.com/in-depth/film-special

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan Idol show launched by GeoTV.

One of the most popular talent shows in the world has come to Pakistan. The Geo Entertainment Network officially launched ‘Pakistan Idol’ on Wednesday.

The globally celebrated singing talent show has attracted 460 million viewers worldwide since it was launched in 2003.

Speaking to reporters at the launching ceremony, Imran Aslam, the president of the Geo TV Network, said Pakistan had a history of producing talented musicians across genres. The Geo Network’s endeavour to bring forth talented musicians is a step towards keeping that cherished tradition alive.

“The Idol will be a platform for people who sing in private, in the bathroom or in small family gatherings. We will bring them together and provide them with the opportunity to showcase their hidden talent,” he said. “From among them, the people will choose one voice that will reign in our hearts.”

The auditions for Pakistan Idol will start in Islamabad from Thursday (today) and the judges (who have not been named yet) will travel to various other cities to spot talent, including Quetta and Peshawar.

Asif Raza Mir, the managing director of Geo Entertainment, said the network was aware that there were security problems in Quetta and Peshawar, but the two cities were equally important.

“So we will provide our contestants, judges and crewmembers with security,” he added.

The eligibility age for the participants is between 15 and 30 years old.

The reason for this, Asif explained, was to encourage youngsters in the first-ever Pakistani Idol.

“We have a number of plans for the future. We will hopefully come up with Child Idol and another show for people aged between 30 and 60 years.”

About the possible inducements in store, Asif said the canvas for a Pakistani singer was not restricted to within the borders as many had craved a niche for themselves in the Indian entertainment industry.

“When the show was first launched in the UK, the prizes that were offered were not the same as they are today; things happened gradually. But we will certainly provide the winner with the opportunity to sing for the Pakistani film industry which is growing with each passing day.”

The sponsors also spoke on the occasion. ‘Idols’, co-owned by Fremantle Media and 19 Entertainment, is one of the most successful entertainment formats in the world.

It was first aired in the UK as Pop Idol in 2001 and immediately became a worldwide phenomenon with local variations in Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, North America and South America airing 199 series across 46 territories and attracting upwards of a staggering 6.5 billion votes worldwide.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-4-202867-Are-you-ready-to-become-the-first-Pakistan-Idol

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Brookings Inst view of impact of IRan-US ties on US-Saudi ties:

The hints, and they are no more than hints, of an improved Iranian-American relationship have led to some interesting (to put it mildly) reactions from Saudi Arabia. For the first time, the Saudi government gave up its yearly opportunity to present its view of the world in an address to the United Nations General Assembly. The Saudis let it be known that their unhappiness with American foreign policy in the region — on Iran, on Syria, on the Palestinian issue — led to this demurral. Saudi commentators and media have raised the specter of the U.S. selling out Riyadh in a grand geopolitical bargain with Tehran. Are we headed for another "crisis" in Saudi-American relations?

In a word, no. There is nothing new here. The United States and Saudi Arabia have faced much more serious differences in the past, without the bilateral relationship being fundamentally altered — the 1973-74 oil embargo, the differences over the Camp David Accords and the Iranian Revolution in the late 1970’s, the profound crisis of 9/11 and the Iraq War. The episodic crises, both real and imagined, between Riyadh and Washington are, in fact, baked in the cake. They are the result of two enduring elements of the relationship: 1) the structural fact that the Saudis are the much weaker party in the partnership, and 2) the mistaken belief of many, more in the U.S. than in Saudi Arabia, that the de facto alliance is built on a complete complementarity of interests.

In any alliance between a weaker and a stronger party, the weaker is always tugged between the opposite, but equally dangerous, fears of entrapment and abandonment. When the United States and the Soviet Union were at daggers drawn in the Cold War, America’s Western European allies feared being dragged into a war not of their own choosing. When the U.S. and the USSR engaged in détente, the Europeans worried that their interests would be ignored. But the Western Europeans had nowhere else to go. There was not a third global power to which they could look for security. The British and the French acquired their own, small nuclear forces. The French made symbolic gestures of independence, like withdrawing from NATO's military command. But nobody thought London or Paris could stand up to the Soviets on its own. In the end, the Western Europeans stuck with the U.S. and NATO because they did not have any reasonable alternative.
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As the United States moves forward on the Iranian front, it is important for the Obama Administration to keep the Saudis informed and, as necessary, reassured about the continuity of American strategic goals in the Gulf. American diplomacy can also point out to its Gulf partners the benefits that could accrue to all concerned from a more normal relationship with Iran, as has at least one important Saudi commentator in recent days. Neither the inflated hopes nor exaggerated fears of other actors should distract the Administration from its cautious but promising outreach to Iran.


http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/iran-at-saban/posts/2013/10/14-saudi-iran-rivalry-nuclear-deal

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AP report on Turkish TV in Pakistan:

The shows, which have taken Pakistan by storm over the last year, are attractive to local TV operators because they are much cheaper to buy than Pakistani dramas are to produce, and also feature more elaborate costumes and sets.

“It is a big challenge,” said Abid Ali, a veteran Pakistani TV star, while filming his latest show, Mere Apne, or My Loved Ones, in the southern city of Karachi. “Turkish shows have very expensive productions our industry can’t afford.”

The spartan set of Ali’s show, which chronicles the sad life of a young girl after her parents die, helped prove his point. The entire episode was filmed in the living room and driveway of a small rented house in an upscale area of Karachi. The actresses used the only bedroom on the ground floor to apply their makeup, and the kids who lived in the house were scolded for making too much noise while they were filming. Since there was only one camera, they had to shoot each scene three times from different angles.

One of the most popular Turkish shows in Pakistan right now is Mera Sultan, or My Sultan, a period drama about the powerful Ottoman ruler Suleiman the Magnificent. The show is no Game of Thrones, but it does feature ornate Ottoman-style sets, scenes with horses and archery and beautifully designed costumes.

“There are multiple reasons behind the success of Turkish drama serials,” said Athar Waqar Azeem, a senior vice president at Hum TV, one of Pakistan’s leading entertainment channels. “Freshness, better and beautiful locations and new faces attract Pakistanis.”

One episode of a Turkish drama costs a Pakistani TV station about $2,500 to broadcast, while the production of a Pakistani show can be four times that amount, Azeem said.

The popularity of the Turkish shows has sparked concern from Pakistani politicians. The Senate committee responsible for information and broadcasting said at the end of last year that it was worried the shows would harm Pakistan’s TV industry and featured content that ran counter to local cultural norms.

Pakistani TV star Javeria Abbasi, who co-stars with Ali in Mere Apne, agreed, saying “if a Pakistani actress wears a miniskirt, nobody accepts it, but Turkish actresses are gaining popularity in these costumes.”
---
The popularity of Turkish shows in Pakistan has benefited at least one group in the media industry: voice-over artists who translate the dramas from Turkish into Urdu. The pay isn’t great — $20 to $40 per episode, which takes about eight hours to dub — but it’s enough to make a living.

“For the first time in the history of the voice-over industry, there is enough work for an artist because of Urdu dubbing of Turkish serials and soaps,” said Tasleem Ansari, a veteran voice-over artist, who was working out of a cheap apartment in Karachi. “Before this trend, voice-over artists could only perform in commercials.”

Ansari said she wasn’t persuaded by those who argue that the Turkish shows threatened Pakistani cultural norms.

“Local actresses and models also wear miniskirts on television programs and at award functions,” Ansari said. “I agree that these costumes do not match Pakistani culture, but Turkish drama is all about Turkish culture, and people like it and have accepted it.”


http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/some-in-pakistan-threatened-by-turkish-tv-invasion/2013/11/26/4f804cf8-5669-11e3-bdbf-097ab2a3dc2b_story.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AlJazeera report on split between Erdogan's AKP and the Gulen movement:

The Gulen movement backed the AKP in its 11-year rule up until recently. Today's bitter row that has escalated gradually in the last couple of years is another serious test for the AKP, following last summer's country-wide anti-government protests, and ahead of a series of elections starting in March 2014.

Analysts say that the tensions between the movement and the government stem from a variety of factors, with the two sides falling apart on several foreign policy issues and Turkey's Kurdish question.

Sources close to Gulen say that the "first crack" in the AKP-Gulen alliance was the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010 when Israeli troops attacked a flotilla boat heading from Turkey to Gaza, killing eight Turkish and one American activist. Relations between the two countries still remain in crisis.

"[Gulen's followers] never approved the role the government tried to attain in the Middle East, or approved of its policy in Syria, which made everything worse, or its attitude in the Mavi Marmara crisis with Israel," Ali Bulac, a conservative writer who supports Gulen, recently told The New York Times.

Mahcupyan told Al Jazeera that that there was an "apparent" difference between the sides in their approach to the Kurdish issue, specifically on the direct talks the Turkish intelligence has been holding with Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

"The government believes that direct talks with Ocalan and the PKK are the way forward for a settlement. In contrast, the Gulen movement is against addressing the PKK directly, but it does not oppose giving [Turkey's Kurds] their cultural rights," Mahcupyan says.

PKK is an outlawed Kurdish armed group that has been fighting against Turkey for around 30 years. Its demands gradually transformed from Kurdish independence to autonomy and, now, to a fully democratised Turkey for all.

Mahcupyan notes that members of the Gulen movement tackled the PKK in southeastern Turkey for years and its followers in the judiciary carried out the cases against the Union of Communities in Kurdistan (Koma Civakên Kurdistan in Kurdish or KCK), the alleged umbrella organisation of the PKK along with other Kurdish groups in the wider region.

Gradual poisoning of relations

There were also a series of incidents that apparently poisoned the relations and ended up with two sides burning bridges.

In February 2012, a prosecutor called in five active and former senior intelligence officers, including Hakan Fidan, the undersecretary who heads the National Intelligence Organization (MIT), for interrogation as "suspects". They were asked to respond to charges that they had illegal contact with the PKK, referring to a series of talks between them and several senior PKK members in the Norwegian capital of Oslo among other charges.

It was even a complaint, sometimes implicit, sometimes explicit, that the Gulen...


http://m.aljazeera.com/story/2013122473646994231

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an NPR piece on Turkish politics:

Turkey is in a political mess right now, and its government is beset by a corruption scandal.

Critics have long accused Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AK party of acting in authoritarian ways in a quest to turn Turkey into an Islamic state. For his part, Erdogan says those critics are part of a plot against him.

Elif Shafak, a Turkish author who divides her time between London and Istanbul, says Turkey these days is polarized almost beyond repair. And it makes the political squabbles in the US look relatively minor.

"When politics is polarized in America, it does not affect the system on every level because, at the end of the day, it is a well-established democracy," Shafak says. "So it doesn't affect the media, the judiciary, the institutions, and therefore individual citizens the way it affects people in Turkey."

Part of the problem is what Shafak calls the "baba complex." The baba complex is a "general attitude, not only in politics, but in almost every area of life in Turkey. We see the quest for the baba — baba is the patriarch, baba is a strong male personality — to save us," she says. "And I find that quite undemocratic, in its essence."

She says Turkey is a country that has been modernized and westernized from the top down, by the elites. But for a true democracy, she believes, there needs to be a real bottom up, grassroots kind of democracy — essentially, by the people, for the people.

Some in the West think that Islam is the problem hurting the country's democracy. Shafak says that's absolutely not the case.

"I do not agree that Islam is incompatible with western democracy ... We have to focus on the system, the structure," she says. "For me, the main problem in Turkey is authoritarianism. And authoritarianism is not something that solely comes from the conservatives. Turkey is not a typical authoritarian regime, but clearly it is not a mature democracy either; it is somewhere in between."

She says the unfortunate reality is that politicians play on the supposed clash of civilizations between Turkey and Europe, and the West as a whole.

"Hardliners everywhere are breeding hardliners elsewhere," she says. "So in other words, anti-western sentiments throughout the Middle East are creating Islamophobia in Europe. Islamophobia in Europe or the Western world are creating more anti-Western sentiments elsewhere. These things go hand in hand.

"Hardliners, or fundamentalists of all religions, should be best friends because they see the world in exactly the same black and white terms," Shafak says.

She believes Turkey can pull out from its political chaos, "but the only path forward is a much more liberal, inclusive constitution."


http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-01-17/you-think-american-politics-mess-check-out-turkey