Pakistan’s Image Insecurity and The ‘Aal Iz Well’ Syndrome


As written before:

‘Since the onset of Pakistan’s engagement in the War on Terror, the country nosedived in its entirety; politically, socially and economically. Not only was this unfortunate plunge a harbinger of possibly, the worst of times for it but heralded the introduction of a gamut of negative stereotypes in relation to Pakistan and its citizens.

Largely owing to the almost-routinely involvement of Pakistan or any individual with even a faint connection to it in incidents or reports of terrorism, the spread of these stereotypes fixed its image as ‘The most dangerous place on Earth’’

This particular instance had consequential effects on both sides; of the Pakistanis and the rest of the world.

Concerning the latter, [ for most of them ] Pakistan’s picture became what was a hodge-podge of stereotypes and words such ranging from terrorism, terrorists to poverty, illiteracy and bloodshed.

For the Pakistanis, grivieances were nurtured of being portrayed in the single shade of negativity in international media, an obejction or grouse justifed at times, while many ventured and are venturing to show the ‘real’ image [ As said in the Pakistani lingo ] and positive angle of their country.

With each passing day, as the worsening of Pakistan’s state ensured its quick descent into chaos with degeneration in every quarter of the country – certain approaches developed amongst the people – one of them associated with ‘insecurity of image’, after being swung onto a somewhat defensive edge by the quick spin of events involving the country.

This evolved into an attitude relating to ‘Hear no evil, Speak no evil, See no Evil’ [ Which in some interpretations, ‘is used to refer to those who deal with impropriety by looking the other way, refusing to acknowledge it, or feigning ignorance.’ ]. Many Pakistanis chose to shut their ears, close their eyes and sew their lips to silence when it came to the ills in the society and country. This has eventually lead to a self-concoted national ignorance, that has inevitably given birth to a sociteal conspiracy of silence.


As the numbers who chose to immerse themselves in this practise grew, a culture of shame, conspiracy theories, denialism and dogmatism flourished with it due to which any pinching incidents or facts that proffered chances for clamant introspection were tossed away by the dismissive wave of a hand after much nugatory tub-thumping and dramatic statements on the media by individuals.

With the PTA reporting over 22 million Pakistani internet users, which is about 12% of the total 180 million population, this concept and societal mindset slid onto the virtual world.

Plenty of these Pakistanis have been vociferating their opinion that no news regarding the country should be posted or discussed on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter [ where many have friends from other countries ] that sharpens the features of the poor picture that lots hold globally of Pakistan. This is the extent of the ‘image insecurity’.

One wonders how would the prevention of posting unfavourable Pakistanis news [ Say, cases of the treatment of minorities here, rape victims etc ] on these sites from reaching a handful of foreign people help in this digital age and era of electronic media where even a minor happenings are broadcasted or published through hundreds of channels and sites to millions all around the world within split seconds of their occurance.

Also, as of yet Pakistan has, in fact – no image at all. And it is food for thought, that if social networking sites could be tools for revolution, can’t they be instruments to stir a societal change? It is defined, that societies are the footing for nations that inhabit countries. Any change within the society will affect the nation which will inevitably reform/rebuild Pakistan’s perception positively that will come in its ripple effect.

But for that, the bizarre approach needs to abandoned. Pakistanis must shed the guise of ignorance and keeping mum while being cognizant about plagues and cultural malaises.

The people must be made aware of the innumberable and untold stories and issues stinging the core of Pakistan’s culture, society, politics and nation. They must be awakened from this sleep of dormancy that has been prolonged for too long a time, 64 years.

Debate should be initiated about them at all forums [ The internet, the streets, national media or at homes ] after this.
One of the reasons for the palpable and glaringly low tolerance in Pakistan is the absence of debate and arguments among people, which has helped to foster and instill a proclivity in each person for sheer insularity and unwillingness to hear opposing views – that if heard, are answered by profiling [ labelling someone as a RAW/MOSSAD/CIA Agent or a ‘liberal facist’ ] , judgements and fatwas rather than refuted by facts.

The stimulation of discussions will so, instill gradually a sense of open-mindedness along with stirring people to comprehend the situations, think, measure their words and then freely express their opinions.

Debates might also commence into finding solutions for the problems they are based on and individual efforts may be encouraged to apply those. Joint efforts may also be made. And the more the pandemonium and clamor of the people is, the more it is bound to reach the corridors of power and ensure decisive action.

There is an idiom in Urdu; Kabotar ka billi ko dekh kar ankhein band kar lena.
‘The shutting of eyes by the pigeon as he spots the cat’.

Some expound it as one’s turning away after seeing a difficulty. This might just be what the aforementioned Pakistanis are doing.

By averting one’s gaze from a problem [ Not accepting the existence of or talking about it ], it does not dissolve it. It needs to be faced. Pakistanis need to yield the need to identify conundrums, national dilemmas and social contaminations for only when they are recognized as problems, does one seek a remedy to be extricated from them.

The lean line separating resilience from indifference also needs to be accentuated and compreheneded. Pakistanis have begun to dwell more into the realm of the latter than the former. To be struck by bomb attacks, blasts and natural calamities and again get back and continue life with the same vigour is resilience but to see myriad cases of rape, discrimination against minorities, a selective genocide against the Baloch and yet remain silent – is shameful apathy.

Being lulled into a state of false security and satisfaction by not raising your voice against wrongdoings, thus they are not brought into the light of scrutiny and attention as they derserve to be, will only stoke the fire of such perversions and injustices for those committing it would certainly be basking in the knowledge of the nation’s propensity to remain indifferent towards them.

And as Sana Saleem wrote in one of her ever-brilliant articles;

‘The mindset that believes that acknowledging our issues is threatening to our ‘image’. What good is an image, other than deceiving ourselves, is another question altogether.’

Pakistanis have acquiesced with whatever has swept the country for too long and it has cost them too much.

Or as Ayaz Amir penned in his thought-provoking and must-read ‘Woes of an Ostrich Republic’;

‘Islam is not the state religion of Pakistan, denial is. And our national emblem should be the ostrich, given our proclivity to bury our heads in the sand and not see the landscape around us as it is.’

It will be nugatory to tart up Pakistan’s image for the world and act for them and for ourselves [ in betrayal of reality and as an ode to denialism ] as if everything is ‘Aal Iz Well’ while succumbing to the death-knell of destruction in the country due to national apathetic torpor that binds us in bondage of inertia relating to the situations in the country.

~ Hafsa Khawaja

On Musharraf’s ‘Admittance’ Over Kashmir


As published in the ‘NewsPost’ :

“Musharraf has ‘admitted’ in an interview that Pakistan had trained militant groups to fight in Kashmir. What a brainless person he must be to say such a thing at a time when unrest in Kashmir is at its peak. The Indian government already accuses Pakistan of secretly funding the struggle of the Kashmiris. Musharraf’s statement will provide the Indian government another reason to dismiss the uprising in Kashmir as one facilitated by Pakistan rather than heeding the demands of the oppressed people of the Valley.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Hafsa Khawaja
Lahore”

Published in: on October 8, 2010 at 2:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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‘We Are The World’ For Haiti? Not For Pakistan?


When earthquake hit Haiti this January 2010, the world rose in unison to help the victims of the deadly shake with many nations generously chipping in to donate for the people and governments munificently sending billions of dollars of aid and displatching relief teams to the country.

But today, when Pakistan has been hit by the most devastating floods in its history, which have been termed as “the greatest humanitarian crisis in recent history with the number of people suffering possibly to exceed the combined total in three recent megadisasters – the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake” by the UN, it seems that the world has started to suffer from a ‘donor fatigue’ or has intentionally closed its eyes and ears to the cries and pleas of the flood-hit Pakistanis.

 

While it is true, that the number of people killed in the Haitian Earthquake were more than those killed in the floods but according to statistics and figures available it can be known that around 20 million have been affected, thousands injured or left homeless with their families separated from them, over 722,000 houses damaged or destroyed, 70,000 children at a risk of dying of malnutritioon and around 6 million can lose their lives in the second expected wave of death likely to be caused by a combination of lack of clean water, food shortages and water-borne and vector-borne diseases.

It has become apparent that those in other countries seem to ignore the current state of people in Pakistan considering the type of image that is portrayed of the country by much of the Western media – of a terrorist and barbaric nation that only breeds intolerance and extremism despite the fact that it is the single most nation that has bore the brunt of terrorism the most.

But some like Liz Borkowski have come to realize that the catastrophe is not being met with the appropriate response as it should. She has written a post on why the floods here are not receiving as much aid and attention as Haiti. Writing as :

“The UN has requested $459 million for emergency relief and has received or gotten commitments for 35% of that. The majority of that has come from the US and UK governments reports Nathaniel Gronewold of Greenwire.  Aid agencies report that responses from individual US donors have been slow, though.

On the list of possible factors behind the lag in individual US donations, Gronewold starts with “public opinion of Pakistan” and cites a June CNN poll showing “78 percent of Americans hold mostly unfavorable views of Pakistan.” I’d like to think people can hold an unfavorable opinion of a country but still be willing to help its citizens get food and water after a natural disaster; maybe when it comes to donations, though, decisions aren’t entirely rational.

I expect the slow pace of donations is mostly a function of less media coverage (compared to the Haiti earthquake). It’s not like the major news organizations are failing to cover Pakistan’s disaster at all, but so far I don’t think I’ve seen many stories about individual families’ struggles – and those are the pieces that spur donations. ” 

One UN assessment in the province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) found: “37% of women in households surveyed were consuming less food than men, while 50% of households reported having no food for an entire day.”

The UN asked for $460 million to fund an emergency response. So far, donors have contributed or pledged $148 million, or 32% of the total.   The top donors are the United States ($75,621,599), the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund ($26,595,962) The United Kingdom ( $40,235,085 ) Denmark ( 26,595,962 ) and Private individuals and organzations ($10,510,184).

 After visiting flood-ravaged areas of Pakistan, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “In the past I have visited the scenes of many natural disasters around the world, but nothing like this.”

Approximately, 1/5 th of Pakistan is under water. 

Elizabeth Ferris at ReliefWeb has prepared an excellent analysis and report on the comparison between the Haiti Earthquake and Pakistan Floods, compiling a data as follows:

Haitian earthquake Pakistan flooding
Date of disaster 12 Jan 2010First OCHA Situation Report: January 12 Late July 2010 (First reports of flash floods in Baluchistan on July 23, floods in KPK starting around July 26/27)First OCHA Situation Report: July 29
National population 2009   10.2 million 166.1 millionii
Deaths   220,500iii 1,539iv
Injured   Over 300.000v 2,055vi
Displaced Est. 1.8 million (1.3 within Port-au-Prince, 500.000 leaving Port-au-Prince) vii Est. 6 million in need of shelter(August 23)
Total affected/as percentage of total national population 3 million (29.4 %)ix 17.2 millionx (10.35 %)
       

 

Houses destroyed/damaged    105.000/208.000xi 1,226,678 (August 23)xii
Schools destroyed/damaged    1,300xiii 7,820xiv
Hospitals destroyed/damaged    50xv 200xvi
Original UN Flash appeal launched     15 January: xviiUS $ 575 million  11 August: xviiiUS $ 460 million
International pledges 2 weeks after flash appeal as percent of total appeal     82 %xix   57 %xx
Flash appeal funded 100 %  16 February (35 Days)xxiOn Feb 18 revised Humanitarian Appeal is launched requesting US $ 1.4 billion for 1 year (includes the $575 Million of the flash appeal)
US pledges    US $ 211.6 millionxxii (part of the extended 1.4 billion US $ appeal)   US $ 150 millionxxiii (August 23)
Appeal by International Federation of the Red Cross/Crescent Society      US $ 103 million US $ 74 million
Number of tents/plastic sheets distributed 3 weeks after     10,545/11,390 (February 3)xxiv 109,500/72,200 (August 23)xxv
% of displaced receiving tents/tarpaulins (after three weeks)      1.2 % 3.0 %
Donation per affected person received after 2 weeks of flash appeal      US $ 157.16 US $ 15.24
Role of US military Deployed 22,000 troops,58 aircrafts,15 ships;oversaw airport operations,

rehabilitated the harbor,

distributed aid, hospital ship

15 helicopters,as of August 24 the U.S. military had delivered 1.5 million pounds of relief supplies and food,and helicopters had rescued or transported about 6,500 people.xxvi
Health concerns  Traumatic injuries,including crushing Injuries,high needs for surgery, infections Water-borne illnesses (diarrhea, cholera),skin-disease,acute respiratory disease
Protection concerns Trafficking of children;gender-based violence in camps,generalized insecurity Early reports of separated families, a few landmine victims,discrimination against lower castes,women-headed households
Shelter concerns Land tenure issues, rubble clearance Land markers washed away by floods, mud removal
       

 

Political concerns Interrupted Haitian election timetable,governance questions and relief effort; Potential strengthening of fundamentalist groups,destabilization and delegitimization of government
Economic concerns 70 % of Haiti’s GDP is generated in the Port-au-Prince area which has been most heavily impacted by the disaster, massive destruction of infrastructure Massive destruction of infrastructure, 3.2 million hectares of standing crops have so far been damaged or lost;widespread loss of livestock
Logistics Destroyed airport, harbor, roads.Generally bad infrastructure;Particular logistics difficulties in Port-au-Prince and surroundings Destroyed roads, bridges;some areas only accessible by helicopter;20% of the country flooded
Total GDP 2009 xxvii    US $ 6.5 billion US $ 166.5 billion
GDP per capita 2009 nominal    $733 $1,017
Estimated Damage    US$ 7.8 billionxxix Est. US $ 15 billionxxx
Estimated Damage as percentage of GDP    119 % 9 %
Reconstruction Pledges March 31 – Donors pledge US $ 9.9 billion of which US $ 5.3 billion is pledged over 2 years (requested US $3.9 billion). Aug. 22 – World Bank US $ 0.9 billion Asia Development Bank US $ 2.0 billion (loans)
Corruption Perception Index 2009 (out of 180)    160 139
HDI 2009xxxii (out of 182)    149 141
Media stories 10 days after the disaster xxxiii Well over 3,000 stories in both print and broadcast media respectively by day 10 and by day 20      320 broadcast news stories and 730 print news stories
Top 10 donors (pledges) Venezuela US$ 2.417 mInter-American Development Bank US$2.000 m

USA US$ 1.152 m

European CommissionUS$ 567m

IMF US$ 436 m

Spain US$ 427 m

World Bank US $ 399 m

Canada US $ 387 m

InterAction members

US $ 322 m

(Donor’s Conference) xxxiv

USA US $161.9 mSaudi Arabia US $114.4 m

UK US $108 m

European Commission US $93.5 m

Private Donors US $84.2 m

Germany US $32 m

Australia US $31.8 m

CERF US $26.6 m

Norway US$ 14.8 m

Japan US$ 14.4 m

(Flash Appeal) xxxv

 

 So why this difference? When over eighty international artists collaborated for the song ‘We Are The World’ for Haiti, why have not international celebrities other than a few (George Clooney, Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, Ashton Kutcher) and sportsmen spoken about or rallied for the distressed and hopeless people of Pakistan who now neither have nothing to look back to nor a future to look to until people help them? If Haiti was poor, it should be remembered that Pakistan too is a developing country with rsising poverty and inflation. Does there not even a speck of sympathy and empathy reside in our hearts anymore? Why such slim coverage of this catalysm that has struck a nation already struck by many jolts?

 

I urge everyone to raise awareness about the flood-wrecked families in Pakistan and the need for the world to show their compassion and donate, for those in Pakistan are equally human and their lives equally important as those in other parts of the world.

 

RISE FOR HUMANITY.

 

- Hafsa Khawaja

[A Picture Of Our Today] – Bullet-Proof By Raheem DeVaughn Feat. Ludacris


Bullet-proof’ by Raheem DeVaughn feat Ludacris has been on my mind for quite a time due to its meaning which describe our happenings today and so I decided to share its lyrics :

Raheem DeVaughn:
Load It, Cock It, Aim and Shoot
Load It, Cock It, Aim and Shoot

Living like we bulletproof
We bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang
I say we load it, cock it, aim and shoot
Oh we load it, cock it, aim and shoot

Some will die over oil kill over land
Charge you for taxes and Blame Uncle Sam
Read you your rights and charge you for nothing
Now who’s really gangsta
And tell me who’s frontin’
Murder your sons, ravage your daughters
Here overseas and across the waters
Tanks and missiles, bombs and grenades
Inject the land with guns and aids

You better pray to the most high or who ever you praise
Politicians can’t help you they puppets to slaves
Trying to get paid and you are too
Whatcha gone do when the gun is pointed at you
Like bank robbers

Living like we bulletproof
We bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang
We load it, cock it, aim and shoot
(load it, cock it, aim and shoot)
We load it, cock it, aim and shoot
(We gone die)
Living like we bulletproof
We bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang
(I say) We load it, cock it, aim and shoot
(load it, cock it, aim and shoot)
Oh we load it, cock it, aim and shoot

Hey world !

Get you a paper turn on the news
Ride through the hood I witness the blues
How can you ignore it it’s easy to spot it
A trap house, a liquor store and your city’s got it

And my city’s got it, and they city’s got it
This world is chaotic and love is symbolic
So life don’t get cherished, and our babies perish
And your babies perish now tell me who’s careless
Now who should I pray to what should I pray for
You can’t pay the preacher for your redemption
I know where we’re headed, I already read it
The good book done said it
Like cowboys and Indians

We just living like we bulletproof
We bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang
We load it, cock it, aim and shoot
(load it, cock it, aim and shoot)
We load it, cock it, aim and shoot
(We gone die, living)
Living like we bulletproof
We bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang
(I say) We load it, cock it, aim and shoot
(load it, cock it, aim and shoot)
Oh we load it, cock it, aim and shoot
(We gone die, living)

Ludacris:
Luda! they say tomorrow’s not promised today
But today I promise if we don’t make our own way
Somebody’ll take it from us
Snatch it like rats to cheese
So, lord help me please cause I rather die
on my feet than to live on my knees
Living like I’m bulletproof

Xocking the glock and aim n shoot
My future’s ever clear a 180 proof
So I open the bottle then swallow my pride
And drink the pain away
I take shots and just lay up then fade away
Dreaming of betta days dreaming of betta pay
But we got our work cut out for us so we betta pray
Pray to uphold the week, not for eternal sleep
But if I die I pray the lord my soul to keep

Raheem DeVaughn
Living like we bulletproof
We bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang
I say we load it, cock it, aim and shoot
(I say I load it, cock it, aim and shoot)
We load it, cock it, aim and shoot
(We load it, cock it, aim and shoot)
Living like we bulletproof
we bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang
I say we load it, cock it, aim and shoot
(Load it, cock it, aim and shoot)
We load it, cock it, aim and shoot
(Oh lord)

Living like we bulletproof!”

The Video Link:

Published in: on February 16, 2010 at 6:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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