On Urdu, from Pakistan: A Hard Country, by Anatol Lieven

Pakistan, A Hard Country:

The official language of Pakistan is native to neither of its old halves. Urdu – related to ‘Horde’, from the Turkic-Persian word for a military camp – started as the military dialect of the Muslim armies of the Indian subcontinent in the Middle Ages, a mixture of local Hindustani with Persian and Turkic words. It was never spoken by Muslims in Bengal – but then it has never been spoken by most of the people of what is now Pakistan either. It was the language of Muslims in the heartland of the old Mughal empire, centred on the cities of Delhi, Agra, Lucknow, Bhopal and Hyderabad, deep in what is now India. Urdu is the official language of Pakistan, the language of the state education system, of the national newspapers, and of the film industry; but the only people who speak it at home are the Mohajirs, people who migrated from India after partition in 1947, and who make up only 7 per cent of Pakistan’s population.

Five years of Zardari

A milestone came and went past this year, bigger than most – an elected government in Pakistan completed its full term. The PPP government wasn’t thrown out by the army mid way, though it sure looks like the Army had a few half hearted attempts along the way. Even the Supreme Court got into the game of chucking the government out but only managed to get rid of the Prime Minister, who as everyone knows is just a little toady to the main man, Asif Zardari.

The puzzling thing about five years of the PPP government is how little of a main man Zardari was. That he survived five years is testament to his cunning, scheming, politicking and the many little duplicitous tricks he used to stay in power, but there is nothing else there. No signs of courage, of trying to do right by anyone not related to him, of honour, of attempts to change – nothing.
Continue reading

A list of things Australian

I wished to find out more about Australia and hence this list.

Books

The VICE guide to Karachi

Added without comment, to be watched later. A scene report from the VICE dudes on the ground. It’s in five parts, all up on youtube and embedded below:

VICE Guide to Karachi: Pakistan’s Most Violent City (Part 1/5)

Vice, true to their name, sticks to all the vices of wherever they go, forgoing everything else, but that said, Karachi is changing from a city with a seamy underbelly to a seamy underbelly with huge slums and a urban jungle of a city hanging on for dear life.

Continue reading

Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work

Saw an interesting TED talk on happiness – says we work to achieve happiness – more pay, bigger house, etc etc – but research shows that the goal posts keep moving, so we never quite get there. The trick is to be happy first – and suddenly everything else gets better – including work – as you’re more productive, open to opportunities, and so on. The positive brain is more productive, smarter, creative, open to learning – the list goes on.

Some ways to apply this:
- Write down a positive experience every day in a journal. This allows your brain to relive it, and over time you learn to remember and and look for positive things every day – seems are brains are wired to remember mostly the negative things.
- Random acts of kindness – as simple as writing a nice email to someone
- meditation

Bangladesh finally starts up war crime tribunals for 1971

A blast from the past, from the 1971 past that is, where another Pakistan Army, which has moved on to raping entire governments not just it’s own women, did this:

“Bangladesh says Pakistani soldiers, aided by local collaborators, killed an estimated 3 million people, raped about 200,000 women and forced millions to flee their homes. Pakistan has disputed the allegations.”

Wikipedia has lots more... sadly there aren’t many easily readable books on this period, but Salman Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children” is a good start to get interested in what happened then.

It is also interesting to note that members of Jamaat-e-Islaami, Pakistan’s largest Islamic party than and now, are behind bars for raping and killing their fellow citizens. Not surprising, because the Jamaat is still active in these areas, but still jarring to note that the Jamaat’s war against Pakistan dates back so long and is so consistent- from fighting against Jinnah, to using all the dirty tricks in the book to screw over East Pakistan, and nowadays supporting myriad terrorist organizations.

Senator Rehman Malik on wives, girlfriends and killings

“According to my personal experience in Karachi, if, let’s say, it is said that 100 people have died in target killings, when I did the investigation, I found that there were only 30 target killings,” Malik said.

“Seventy per cent were those people who wanted to be rid of their wives and girlfriends or girlfriends who wanted to be rid of their boyfriends. All the figures are with me, they killed them,” he added. #

Senator Rehman Malik. The truth published in Pakistani newspapers is often far, stranger than fiction.

Internet slowdowns, it’s not just your bad connection

I have noticed something fishy while using Google+ in Pakistan, over three different ISP’s in both Karachi and Lahore – that web browsing slows down a lot sometimes, and google+ especially crawls in fits and starts.

I suspect it’s something to do with Pakistani routers as turning on a VPN everything is blazing fast again. Of course, once the Pakistan Internet Ministry figures out how to slow down VPN links, they will do that too, until they decide to ban encrypted links all together!

Maybe VPN links are prioritized or ignored by the magical routers run by the wizards at the PTA as they solemnly inspect every internet packet for blasphemous or anti-state or anti-army or porn or anti-PTA or anti-Altaf bhai content? The list which they inspect is very long indeed.

It must be said, on behalf of the PTA, that they are doing an admirable job fending of the yobo’s at the high courts and supreme court who keep passing judgements to block ALL porn sites, facebook, and just about every other site on the internet where you might find blasphemous or anti-state content. Hence websites like rolling stone return this sad error message:

Access Denied

You don’t have permission to access “http://www.rollingstone.com/” on this server.

Reference #18.3a2a287c.1311324507.3b365b6c

It’s a fine line, blocking enough sites to keep the internet stone age morons at the courts and government happy, while not actually restricting internet usage. A happy fiction for all, though not for the rolling stone magazine, which I’m sure sells at least one copy a month at the Saeed book bank in Islamabad to the one music loving diplomat posted there.

In the future barter economy, who needs internet links anyways?

some blasts from the past on the same topic, which despite being old old pieces are still sadly valid today:

Zulfiqar Mirza on the MQM

Was he drunk? Is he a non-closest bigoted raciast? Does he suffer from delusions of grandeur? Has the PPP lost even the little control it had over it’s many stooges, most of whom suffer from delusions of not being stooges in the first place? Is Zulfiqar Mirza a lion to Zardari’s whimpering poodle hiding in a corner behind five rows of containers and concrete barriers, as well as about ten percent of Pakistan’s security forces?

I think the answers to all the above questions is yes.

What is clear is that the gentlemen in the video above has upstaged Rehman Malik, the gentlemen who searches for terrorists and miscreants using google maps on his ipad while calling them “characters from star wars”, all without a internet connection on his ipad or even an app to connect the many security camera’s around Karachi.