Friday, April 20, 2018

When Meesha Shafi wasn’t hot enough to be harassed by Ali Zafar

Ali Zafar
Meesha Shafi called out Ali Zafar for sexual harassment, publicly — and all hell broke loose on Pakistani social media. The Twitterati had a meltdown, the social justice warriors went tapping away on their keyboards frantically, and the rest of us watched in amazement as those who we thought had some modicum of sanity, resorted to obscene objectification of Meesha Shafi to prove that Ali Zafar would never harass her.

The amount of social breakdown I saw in the aftermath of Meesha Shafi’s allegations has rendered me completely speechless. I knew there was a reaction to the feminism movement in Pakistan — I just didn’t know it’ll come out in such force. The number one objection to Meesha Shafi’s allegations was that she’s simply not good looking enough to be harassed. This was quickly followed by the more conventional “she’s a slut, so she was asking for it”  line of thinking that the Pakistani nation is accustomed to.

Now I am not going to go into the depravity of someone believing only “good looking” girls can be harassed, or the fact that most guys commenting on this tragedy today were of the opinion that being harassed is actually an honor that Meesha Shafi should quietly accept. No.

What I am going to go into is the fact that the vast majority of men and women are so biased in their assessments against victims, it should literally give you migraines. Pick any victims over the last 10 years. Mukhtaran Mai, was bullied and harassed on national TV by Mubasher Lucman in his show; to be followed by Pervez Musharraf saying she conveniently got herself raped to get foreign visas. Malala, shot in the head by Taliban, conveniently dismissed as a western agent, an actor, and questioned about how she’s alive after being shot in the head. Shazia Khalid, a doctor posted at Sui, raped by an army officer in the middle of the night, beaten and tortured, and then drugged by the medical staff who she had gone to ask for help. And then, she was put under house arrest. Then her husband’s grandfather asked her husband to divorce her for bringing dishonor to the family, and when the husband refused, the grandfather assembled a mob to kill her. Khadijah Shah, stabbed 23 times in broad daylight, who’s perpetrator’s father said in open court, in front of a judge, that he would leak her pictures if she didn’t back off. Her attacker was sentenced to 7 years in prison. Then it was reduced to 5 years. Then the judge himself asked Khadija to pardon the attacker.

How many men and women in this country believed the stories of these victims? These victims who’s stories are verifiable without any question? We still laugh at Mukhtaran Mai, dismiss Malala, have conveniently forgotten Shazia Khalid and have pushed Khadija to fend for herself in a society that will not rest until her attacker is free to torment her once more.

I have no love lost for either of the two individuals involved in this very public kerfuffle. I don’t know them. But some things do stand out to me. 1) No sane woman in this country called Pakistan would be stupid enough to willingly subject herself to the vitriol that is currently being directed at Meesha Shafi. 2) We have documented proof from Ali Zafar’s Twitter account that he is in fact, a sexist pig. 3) Since Meesha Shafi’s allegations against Ali Zafar, a bunch of other women have stepped forward to claim the exact same stuff as Meesha Shafi. 4) Meesha Shafi’s ignominious attitude aside, there really is never any justification for one human sexually harassing another human.

Ali Zafar says he’ll take Meesha Shafi to court. If I was Meesha Shafi’s lawyer, I would throw Ali Zafar’s Twitter account in his face, call the women who’ve called him out publicly as witnesses, and call it a day. But I’m not her lawyer. What I am, is a rational thinking human who thinks Ali Zafar crossed one too many lines. He’s rich, he’s famous, he’s handsome, and women probably don’t say no to him. And those that do, probably don’t go public with it. He probably tried the same with Meesha Shafi, and now he’s got his face plastered all over the Pakistani internet.

But he should fear nothing, because the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis have convinced themselves that he would never do it because a) Meesha Shafi isn’t hot enough, b) Ali Zafar doesn’t look like the kind of person who would sexually harass another person, or c) it’d be an honor if Ali Zafar harassed them.

Meanwhile the rest of us are going to go stand in the corner with our hats in our hands thinking about the social breakdown that’s led us down this path. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The True Perspective — 2018 Edition

The True Perspective
Welcome to the new, and welcome back to the old! The True Perspective is now updated and ready for 2018 and beyond. It’s been 8 years since my first post on this blog. In the time since, this blog has undergone massive transitions — design and concept wise. But I’ve finally gotten around to fixing some of the most glaring issues with this blog  (I had to go and learn a bunch of HTML and CSS in order to make that happen) and hopefully, this’ll lead to a more streamlined experience for you, dear reader.

So what are some of the changes that you can expect on thetrueperspective.com then?

1. Mobile — The website is now properly optimized for mobile! Yay! This is something I’m actually very proud of. Previous versions of the website did not render correctly on mobile, with oversized buttons, lack of padding, and no coherency between the desktop and mobile versions of the site. But no more! The desktop version now morphs perfectly into the mobile version. If you’ve opened this link on mobile, you’re already looking at a streamlined interface. If you’re on the desktop, open thetrueperspective.com on your smartphone and check it out for yourself!

2. Medium — The True Perspective on Medium.com doesn’t exist anymore. While Medium is a good platform, I never saw any real traffic on there. I still have a couple of thousand views on this website every month, but the same just wasn’t true for Medium. So I decided it was time to bin it.

3. Comments — There are no more comments on The True Perspective. There isn’t any scientific or spam related reason behind removing the comments section from the blog, except for the fact that nobody comments on actual blogs/websites anymore — discussion about any article, news, link, blog now happens on Facebook or Twitter after the link has been posted there — and it was a resource hog on the website, causing page load times to increase. So I made the decision to get rid of the comments completely.

There are also subtle changes and under the hood tweaks to make this website more responsive, intuitive and easier to load. Please continue to follow The True Perspective on Facebook at facebook.com/thetrueperspective and Instagram at instagram.com/thetrueperspective. If you’ve got any comments or you want to get in touch, you can send me a message at m.me/thetrueperspective.

Cheers! 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Pakistan’s unhealthy obsession with its military prowess

Pakistani F-16s
They say minstrels write songs about the military might of Pakistan. They say poets try to equate the omnipresence of God with the creation of Pakistan. They say even philosophers are forced to concede that the existence of Pakistan is a miracle.

Meanwhile in the mortal world, we’re left to wonder if Pakistan is so great, why the hell do they turn off mobile networks every time a bird sneezes?

The other day I went to McDonald’s. Right in front of me was a military officer wearing his uniform. He crossed the metal detector and was on his way. When I crossed the metal detector a security guard jumped out of nowhere and told me to stretch out my arms for the proverbial “checking.” I was outraged. Why did that security guard not “check” the military officer? To which that innocent, misguided, gullible representation of the Pakistani populace replied, “because he defends us. It doesn’t behoove us to check those who defend us.” Pure anger coursed through my veins. So the 70,000 Pakistanis that we like to bandy about before the international media, did they drop dead of their own accord? If these men of the so-called Allah’s army are supposed to defend me, why did the attack on APS Peshawar happen? Or the attack at Sehwan Sharif? Or the attack in Iqbal Park Lahore?

I’m not a fan of the military in Pakistan. This is the reason why: They get a free pass, every single time. And they’re allowed to get a free pass every time they want to show off their love affair with phallic toys. Like today.

I woke up today with fighter jets whizzing over my house. They were on their way to the military parade ground in Islamabad, for the full dress rehearsal that’s taking place, before the actual thing takes place on the 23rd. So I picked up my phone and tried to message a colleague, but the message wouldn’t deliver. And that’s when I saw that I had “No Service” instead of the bars of phone strength signals. So there it was again — a free pass. People’s lives can be damned; their inconveniences can be ignored; their priorities can be shelved, as long as the boys wearing camoflague uniforms get to show off their toys. And for what? What have these toys achieved? I still don’t feel safe going to a market, or a mosque, or a bazaar.

They say when you go to a foreign country, they treat you like a second class citizen. That’s a load of bullshit if I ever heard one. But what about being treated like second class citizens within your country? What do you think your status is when they shuffle you like sheep and ask you to “prove your identity” when they stop you at checkpoints and search your vehicles without warrants? Thatis called being treated like second class citizens. It doesn’t happen in America. It doesn’t happen in Europe. Or Canada, or any other country where the majority of Pakistanis want to escape to.

It is tme for catharsis. This country which we claim is all we need in the world is not great. It’s not even good. In this country we have problems of terrorism, extremism, corruption, lack of rule of law. Instead, what we’ve decided to tackle is free speech, the internet, the very existence of social media and inclusion. State agencies, without following due process, kidnap people who are critical of the state, and judges scream profanities when those same kidnapped people are recovered and try to find asylum abroad. I mean the sheer naivete and blindness that makes up the national character of this country astounds me to no end.

I don’t know. It’s the culmination of the little things that has boiled over. The terrible traffic, the electricity crises, the lack of due process, the relentless war on the freedom of speech.

And now, today, them turning off my mobile phone network.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

We hate liberal fascists... Why?

Liberal Fascist
The top trend in Pakistan on Twitter today was #WeHateLiberalFascists, started by a charming young man called Farhan Khan Virk who according to his Twitter bio is a "Global Youth Ambassador for the UN" - (since I wrote the post, he has changed his Twitter bio), as well as a medical student, blogger, social media activist, and by the look of his tweets, a PTI fanatic and yadda yadda yadda. So I went to his blog to check out what kind of views this man espouses, when I discovered that he's "neither a liberal fascist, nor a religious fanatic". Well good for him.

The reason Mr Virk started the #WeHateLiberalFascists hashtag was because according to him "TTP and Liberal Fascists are same! One group kills us and the other group protects those killers from hangings!" [link].

Now before I delve deeper into the narrative espoused my Mr Virk, let me just clarify who a fascist actually is. A fascist is someone who believes in radical authoritarian nationalism. The same kind being displayed by Mr Virk and his ilk. So by any stretch of the imagination, it is Mr Virk who is technically a liberal fascist, and not those who disagree with him.

I don't know under what rock Mr Virk lies but the truth of the matter is that the so called "liberal fascists" he wants to hang (along with the Taliban) are the same people who have been voicing their anti Taliban opinions since this whole mess started in Pakistan. The same people who said do not make a distinction between the good and bad Taliban; the same people who warned talking to these terrorists will come to bite you in the ass; the same people who stand outside Lal Masjid and demand that those terrorist apologists who spew hate from the pulpits of mosques are held accountable. But as Mr Virk is a PTI supporter (member?) logic, common sense and decency do not seem to be his forte.

Hypocrisy seems to be woven into the fabric of the PTI so let me refresh everyone's memory a little bit. Imran Khan has been shouting himself hoarse by saying repeatedly that these terrorists who kill and maim Pakistanis are "our people" who have been wronged, and who have lost loved ones in drone attacks. That these terrorists responsible for the deaths of 60,000 Pakistanis are angry because American drones kill terrorists inside Pakistan. Imran Khan also famously said that the "Taliban do not want to impose Sharia in Pakistan by using force". Imran Khan, by the looks of it, seems to have a great in with the Taliban. The problem however is, that every time Khan opens his mouth to drop his pearls of wisdom, he's proven wrong; but that's a discussion for another time. What's important to note here is that just like Imran Khan, his supporters have cried themselves hoarse in defending the Taliban, and flayed the government when it decided to launch an operation against these terrorists. So it astonishes me that Mr Virk has the audacity to say the so called liberal fascists and the Taliban are the same when these liberal fascists were the one constantly opposing the Taliban, while Mr Virk and his ilk were defending the soul less monsters roaming in Pakistan's tribal belt.

Hijacking a narrative and obfuscating the truth has become the norm in Pakistan. That's what Mr Virk and his fellow PTI supporters have done in this instance. Let me just briefly mention the backstory of why liberal fascists offend Mr Virk so much. After the government lifted the moratorium on the death penalty in Pakistan, a lot of clear headed Pakistanis implored the government to rethink the decision. The reason was that 86% of the death row inmates were tried by anti terrorism courts, when they had in fact nothing to do with terrorism. Shafqat Hussain's case is a glaring example of this injustice. When people raised their voice on this issue, in swooped Mr Virk and his ilk to hijack the issue and say liberal fascists are defenders of terrorists because they don't want them to be hanged. But that's not really the truth now, is it?

Now Farhan Khan Virk is a man who likes to stir the pot every now and then against all those people the PTI loves to hate. But I don't see him starting a Twitter trend to ask the government about the unfortunate release of Malik Ishaq, the leader of the terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, or the release of Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi, the main accused in the Mumbai attacks. This is what ticks people off. The hypocrisy of these so called defenders of Pakistan. Maybe next time Mr Virk would be well advised to go after people who have actually harmed Pakistan and harbor the intent to do it again, instead of those who simply do not fit in the myopic bracket of Mr Virk's acceptable opinions list.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Why I do not support Imran Khan

Azadi March 2014
I do not believe Imran Khan has the skills, or the fortitude to lead this country. The only thing people keep saying in his defense is that we've tried the rest, now we should give him a chance. But he had a chance. That chance is called KPK. He failed miserably.

His foreign policy has no sense or direction, his interior policy is extremely dangerous for the country and his emotional tantrums make him unfit to be an administrator. And because he's made the same tall claims that the rest of our political gentry has made, you can be rest assured he'll fall even more spectacularly than the Sharifs (if they fall of course). By comparison the Sharifs policy of non confrontational politics and reconciliation is a refreshing and welcome change.

Imran Khan's only calling for the resignation of Sharifs because he wants to be the next prime minister. That is it. I would've agreed with him, heck even supported him if his so called freedom march was for accountability of the Lahore genocide; was for electoral reforms; was for drafting new local body rules and elections; was for re-elections in the districts that were found to be rigged (so far all of PTI's petitions have been rejected because they couldn't prove their allegations).

But I am not going to support a pied piper who's deluded himself into believing he is the rightful heir to a throne in Islamabad, and who will kill the system just so he can have his way.