Thursday, July 10, 2008

Award-winning Benazir Bhutto photo

I thought this photo was quite amazing. At first glance, one cannot make out who it is, but the jaw structure and facial features are a dead giveaway for those of us familiar with Benazir's photos and her tenure as prime minister. I must confess, she was beautiful.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

First ever US envoy to OIC

Only time will tell what this announcement means for the OIC or the Islamic world in general, but for now, it is a good move and Cumber deserves our support!

Pictures of the Pakistan I know

Sometimes I look at photos capturing the sights and sceneries of countries that are foreign to me and that I know the media will never tell me about and that our schools will never teach about.

So, it comes as a welcome and pleasant surprise that people have taken it into their own hands to inform us about people and places in lands far away and hitherto undiscovered, or at least less widely known. My friend, Adeel Rahman, is always the ultimate discoverer of hidden treasures, so I dedicate this post to him - and thank him profusely!

Enjoy these pictures. They may not be of people, but at least show monuments and structures and landscapes of Pakistan in their true glory.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Four articles of interest

I have rarely been quoted in the media, but apparently when I have, it's been decently substantive! So, with much pleasure, I'd like to share some articles where the authors either interviewed me or just asked for general comments.

1) India Currents article on thoughts after attending a Homeland Security roundtable on post-9/11 civil liberties and human rights issues.

2) PBS Newshour feature on thoughts after an Americans for Informed Democracy conference in 2006.

3) CUNY Graduate Center colleague Mr. Marriah Star's article on social entrepreneurship.

4) The Nation contributor and friend/writer/journalist Jayati Vora's piece on the youth-led movement to restore democratic rule in Pakistan.

As always, feedback much appreciated!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Back to the blogosphere!

Finally! Back after quite a hiatus!

I must say, it took me a good several days to get back in to the routine of things after returning from my hectic trip to Pakistan (first three weeks of this year). It was the mundane things which took the longest to get used to (cooking/preparing food, cleaning, laundry, groceries, etc.) - even though I was gone only three weeks! - because in Pakistan, it's all done for you by others! Many have commented on why I would ever want to live in New York when I left so much behind in Lahore. But, that's a story for another day.

For now, I will keep things short and post three great analytical pieces my friends Muntasir, Arif and Jumaina wrote on the post-elections situation in Pakistan. I have yet to write about my trip a few months ago, but will do so with some photos, very soon.

Until then, happy reading!

Muntasir's piece is on the South Asian Magazine for Action and Reflection's website, titled "From a Musharraf policy to a Pakistan policy".

Jumaina's piece is on the Henry Stimson Center's website (where she is a Research Associate with the Regional Voices: Transnational Challenges project), titled "Power of the ballot: political transition in Pakistan".

Arif's piece is on The Guardian's website (UK publication), titled "Partnerless in Pakistan".

Monday, January 07, 2008

Updates from Pakistan!

I just arrived in this magnificent city days ago and while it may have only been two years since my last visit, a lot has changed. And im not surprised! The story of our economic prosperity has yet to reach the Western media, so allow me to tell it :)

There are so many trade centers and shopping plazas here that parking has become a major issue. So are the countless cars on the streets of many of Pakistan's cities. The new money that's flooded homes and businesses is reflected most evidently in cars and clothing.

I am still trying to fathom how Islamabad, the capitol, is getting the world's first 7 star hotel. It's actually 5 stars for technical reasons but how is this possible in Pakistan, and why Islamabad of all cities?

Anyway, on to some socio-political issues. Benazir's assassination has caused obvious political turmoil, but what the Western media has yet to report is that this time around, a lot more has been affected. With the rioting and violence that ensued shortly thereafter, many people have experienced a tremendous loss in amount of gas, water and electricity to their homes. Pipes carrying either of these commodities were damaged in the riots (yes, they are above ground, not underground like in many other parts of the world), so even doing a simple thing like writing an email has been troublesome. Wedding season is in full swing and people have had to rent alternative power supplies which run on petrol. Prices of candles have gone up nearly 300%. Wheat is in shortage, so bread is expensive too. People are basically waiting and hoping and praying for rain so the dams produce something, anything.

And this is the story for everyone. The rich can minimize it because their money can afford them that level of comfort, but even they are affected. My aunt's husband is now retired, but was the highest-ranking official in the federal government's law department/ministry, and they have barely had hot water to cook, bathe, etc. for the past month.

The general sentiment in the public has been overwhelmingly consistent regarding Benazir's death: She may not have been the country's best leader, but she was extraordinarily brave, courageous and very charismatic. She was at least one option for the masses. Scotland Yard is investigating but everyone knows it's a farce. Elections have been delayed. People are trying to get by.

I have been taking lots of pictures, so I will try to upload those as well, but the portrait I can paint without over-generalizing is that poverty still affects so many people. Most of the aid from the West has gone straight to the army with nearly zero accountability. Testimony to the enrichment and consolidation of the army in civilian life is the presence of grandiose housing societies/colonies for senior army officers. Their presence in NGOs cannot be underscored either. What work does an armed forces person have in civil society? Stay on the borders, please! Standing at a traffic light makes one realize how fortunate those of us are who have the means to lead a decent life. If only others were given that chance too.

I will try to update soon, and might add minor addendums to previous posts in future posts.
As always, please pray.