Entries Tagged 'where, here?' ↓

CJ Resotred

Time to sleep now.

Never would I have thought that this Long March would succeed. Not ever. It’s brilliant. Like a lot of people, I’m not totally trusting of this restoration plan, because it does not immediately go into effect. But as it stands now, it’s brilliant.

Gillani came on TV at 5:45 am to say that PPP is keeping its promises, as it always intended. Whatever. It doesn’t matter, the lies, right now. I’m just completely thrilled. Let’s hope it sticks.

It’s not fashionable in lefty circles (where I seem to belong) to have an attachment to national flags or anthems. And to be honest, I don’t usually.

But as the national anthem played before the Prime Minister’s speech, I followed along with the words, which I haven’t heard in a long time. And I got snagged at these:

مرکزِ یقین شاد باد

Markaz-e-yaqeen shaad baad

May the centre of your faith stay alive.

Three days ago I sat with my mom and Sarah and pontificated at length about the pointlessness of this long march and the way in which the lawyer’s movement has been reduced to merely symbolic actions. I am happily eating my words.

The centre of my belief is strong again. Things happen. Someone asked me on chat if I thought it was the Americans who caused this or Kayani, the Chief of Army Staff. And I expressed a shrug but the truth is, no power broker would have cared people hadn’t, for the past 4 days, been on this long march, facing riot police, braving tear gas and coming out in droves. If the final nail in the coffin of Zardari’s current bout of authoritarianism was a phone call from somebody powerful, that’s okay. They only stated the obvious – that your’e screwed if you stick with this plan.

And so it goes. It has been said again and again over the past two years that the Chief is no saint. But that statement, bandied about as if it should mean something, is based on the notion that the symbol of the movement should be above reproach. We should be able to, in time, call them Hazrat Chief Justice. Well, it’s okay. We don’t have to like the guy much. At some point, for reasons that were part personal gain and part opportunity to finally act in favour of the nation, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry exercised his powers as an independent arm of the triumverate democractic system. Masses of people supported him. That’s the reality. He’s no saint. But by God he’ll be independent. And that’s a step in the right direction.

16 March 2009 is a good day. Let the core of your belief that things can change have its day.

How Brown is My Navel – Part 1

Off and on, I’ve been asked about how I want The West to react to some such thing I’m doing. I was asked here and in a forthcoming interview (that I shall link to later in my shameless self-promotion habit, when it’s up).

And then, I’ve been reading some things about race, tokenism, colonialism, feminism and the internet. And I have been having thoughts.

The thoughts I’m having are not so much about this current blogsplosion (which I don’t usually refer to at all but follow kind of avidly really), but about race and the relevance of the term for the kind of work I think I do.

So here are some thoughts-in-progress.

1. Expat

I’ve realized recently in a way that I didn’t before that there’s a vast difference between the US South Asian and the subcontinental South Asian. Maybe this is obvious, but maybe it’s not. But I realized it when I wrote a scathing and angry critique of Yoni Ki Baat for GlobalComment at one point and, in the responses of the creators of that project, realized that we were operating from very different premises.

My experience of South Asian identity in the US has been one of unification. Where the sub-continent is deliberately divided into is constituent countries and those national identities are virtuously adhered to, in the US, boundaries are erased and everyone’s a Desi or a South Asian.

Desi is a racial category. It signifies people from the sub-continent. It calls up brown skin and black hair. It is dominated by Indian identity, but it consists of Pakistanis and Indians primarily.

I don’t know if Desi includes Bangladeshis or Nepalis or Sri Lankans in the same way, or if in the US those points of origin fall under the category of  South Asian. I don’t know the nuanced difference between American South Asian and American Desi. Is South Asian also racial? Probably, but it’s also more. It’s an umbrella of some sort, but I’m not sure what sort.

The reason I can’t go further than this is that I’m decidedly not a South Asian American. Which is to say that, while I am South Asian, while I am Pakistani, while I am also American, and while I am mixed-“race” and mixed-nationalities, I am definitely not a South Asian American because in order to be a South Asian American or a Pakistani American, it seems imperative that one be in the United States. The identity [Ethnic]-American requires residence in and a primary dealing with the US context.

I am asserting this because, in contrast, in Pakistan, I’m half-gori. Or my mother’s American. My identity here is racialized to whiteness, but it’s not the same whiteness that I have when I’m in the States. There I am a light-skinned brown person of ethnic and Muslim origin, and therefore a kind of peripheral subject. Here I am a light-skinned Pakistani of Amreekan ancestry, but not peripheral as a result. Having an American mother does not trump having a Pakistani father or a regular Pakistani accent or fluent Urdu.

In the US, my ethnicity and religious identity marginalize me, and racialize me. Here, I have always been racialized, but that racialization doesn’t consistently marginalize me. Often it privileges me. Sometimes it does marginalize me, or at least put me on the back foot. Occasionally it combines with gender, and then it certainly marginalize me. Mostly it doesn’t matter. I’m gori, but I’m not not-Pakistani.

Gori is a racial characteristic. But race doesn’t mean here what it means in the US.

So, what’s the point? I guess to extricate one kind of Desi from another, one kind of South Asian from another. South Asians in South Asia identify by their national origin. Using the umbrella of South Asian usually comes difficult and it comes with conditions attached, and a time limit. “We will be South Asian for this conference or this SAARC summit or this project we have going together, but when it’s over, I’m Pakistani, you’re Bangladeshi, you’re Indian and we’re all going home now, thank you very much.”

In the US, it seems to be an ethnic and/or racial identity in the face of a larger hegemonic identity of whiteness.

Is that because the whiteness is up close? It’s not like the subcontinent doesn’t deal with the hegemony of the US. But perhaps it is about which hegemony is closer because if you’re using your national identity, that means you’re asserting yourself in the face of someone else’s national identity and so their race doesn’t matter. Whereas if you’re using your race, it means you can cross or have already left behind (to some extent) national borders and the relevance lies with the racial identity that is the South Asian (brown) (desi) person.

It occurs to me, however, that this definitional exercise is in itself bound up with the White-and-American-centred push to define non-white non-American subjects. By the very nature of this definitional process, I am and we are thrown into a world in which the ultimate centre resides in the US.

What I’m trying to do here is say that US South Asians and subcontinental South Asians are not the same thing at all times. A project like Yoni ki Baat (which is how this whole thought process got started for me) needs to acknowledge that, when it’s talking about South Asian, it’s not talking about every kind of South Asian. That a “South Asian” project initiated in the US has to be aware of its own circumstance.

There is a corresponding blind spot, I think, in subcontinental notions of South Asian projects that don’t acknowledge diasporic concerns. That imagine that if there is peace on the land here, there will be peace between people there and that if there is war here, there will be war there, as if the diaspora is a mirror of the “real” South Asia. There is no greater reality to either South Asianness.

Up next:

2. Islamophobia and Racism

3. White Skin Privilege

4. Talking to “The West”

Chay Magazine Issue 2 Call for Submissions!

This issue will address themes of sex and sexuality as they interact with the daily politics of human life. We are looking for feature articles and non-fiction that deal with

1.    Gender Roles

–    gender roles and gender expectations in the family and society in general
–    socialization at home and at school
–    gender role education in single gender schools and co-educational schools
–    gender role education in private schools and government schools
–    gender roles in the curriculum
–    the teaching of marriage as the final or one of the final destinations of a person, particularly a woman
–    gender roles and class variations
–    female and male autonomy from familial and other social institutions in different class strata

2.    Sex/Sexuality, Feminism and Activism in Pakistan & Abroad

–    the feminist movement in Pakistan – its history and its attention to sex and sexuality
–    what feminism means in the Pakistani context
–    women’s groups in Pakistan, their missions, agendas, histories
–    Pakistani feminism in comparison to other regional or international feminisms
–    sexual violence and the feminist movement in Pakistan
–    sexual rights movement in Pakistan, South Asia and globally
–    gender diversity activism in Pakistan, South Asia and globally
–    sexual orientation and queer activism in Pakistan
–    non-“feminist” activism on issues of sex and sexuality in Pakistan, South Asia and abroad
–    transnational feminism and sex and sexuality activism

Please submit features, non-fiction and fiction of between 500-1200 words; no more than 3 poems; no more than 3 pieces of visual art (min. resolution 300dpi) to CHAYMAGAZINE AT GMAIL DOT COM .

*

DEADLINE:  December 15, 2008

Zia ul Haq is alive and well.

The US Department of Justice is apparently considering changing its rules to profile Muslim- and Arab-Americans. I think this is ingenious. I think that what they should do is enlist the likes of true Islamophobes like Daniel Pipes, put on some spiffy army hats, grow moustaches of varying styles and stomp around town. I think that would be great. Because fascism only looks good if you dress for it.

Fuckers. This after Obama, who I’m still gonna vote for, voted yes on FISA, the bill forgiving the phone companies that complied with illegal governmental wire-tapping and snooping on the private lives of Americans.

It’s not a great day for freedom and democracy and chocolate chip cookies.

Yer Mom

I was reading this post on Oppression Olympics by Octogalore just now and something about this comment by Daisy struck me particularly:

And my question, quite seriously: Who do they think those people WERE in the 60s and 70s, having sex in disco bathrooms, engaging in group marriages and Bob-and-Carol-and-Ted-and-Alice type encounters? All of those people are my age and older now. It’s like they have some idea that all old people just retire and instantly become Baptists, or something. I dunno.

Another old woman and I had a long discussion the other day, about how conservative the young seem to be–and does liberalism mark us as “old”? Odd that ‘stylistic’ liberalism (willingness to try new fashions, music, clubs, vacation spots, foods) is popular with the American young, but NOT idealistic or intellectual liberalism.

My mom belongs to that generation, the hippie dippie liberal all-we-need-is-love generation. She was mostly chilling out during that time, more a thinker than a marcher, and her hippie dippie-ness resided in her associations and conversations rather than anything else. Continue reading →

And finally, for today…

Robbers burned alive in Karachi.

I just don’t understand. Bolta Pakistan and Capital Talk both addressed this, but they seem not to be fully aware of the horror. Check them out on Pakistan Politics. It’s absolutely horrific.

I’d better go study. I can’t stand knowing what’s going on in the present anymore. It’s ancient Arabia for me.

“He tried to kill my daddy!”

A while ago, Asif Ali Zardari was interviewed by the BBC about what would eventually happen regarding the restoration of the judiciary. Zardari equivocated in his sleazy fashion, saying that, because he wants the “majesty of law” restored, “we” will come up with a plan that does not allow for the abuse of power that Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s SC was able to get away with. When asked what he meant, Zardari lost his shit, essentially, and said

I have come to power… People’s Party has come to power. We have lost our leader to politics, the fourth leader we’re losing to politics, we intend to \change the system… so that no other Asif Zardari stays in prison under trial for 8 years and Mr. Iftikhar Chaudhry does not say, I have not read the case so I can hear the case … in that case i was languishing in prison for two years and i went to Chaudhry Iftikhar five times. The judiciary has killed my father in law, they admit judicious murder

Sound familiar? Yeah. To me too.

یعنی انہوں نے صاف کہہ دیا ے کہ کسی صورت افتخار چودھری کو اپنے عہدہ پر بحال نہیں کیا جائے گاـ یا چیف جائے گا یا اسکا اقتدارـ تو اگر تیرہ سے اٹھائیس اور اٹھائیس سے سو بندہ بھی بینچ پر لانا پڑا یا آئین میں ترمیمیں کر کر کہ اس کا بھوسہ بنانا پڑا تو سب جائز ہےـ بس زرداری صاحب کو انکا انتقام حاصل ہوـ

اس طرح تو پھر بش نے بڑا تھیک کام کیا کہ صدام ٓحسین پر غصہ ہے تو عراق پر بم گرا دوـ آصف زرداری کو چودھری افتخار نے جیل میں ڈالا تو پاکستان کی عدلیہ کو آئین میں لپیٹ کر گنگا میں بہا دوـ

مجھے معلوم ہے کہ پرانی بات ہو گئی ہےـ لیکن بات بجا ہےـ ڈوگر کی عدلیہ میڈیا کا نوٹس لے کر اس سے ڈانٹ کھا کر نوٹنکی بنتی جا رہی ہےـ زندہ بادـ

Not Girl Enough

A friend of mine just got fired from her job because she didn’t dress feminine enough. This was in Lahore. Because that’s what’s important in a teaching job – girlie-ness.

Some days the world is just disgusting. Which leads me to my next post…

Gotta Love It

via Gul Bukhari at Pakistan Politics:

Absar Alam, Bureau Chief of Geo News was summoned by the Supreme Court of Pakistan and asked to apologize for a news ticker broadcasting a meeting between Justice Nawaz Abbasi, a judge of the Supreme Court, and the Secretary Interior.

What ensued was surely, not just a First Ever, but hopefully also the Last Ever event of it’s kind to happen in Pakistan. The first shocking revelation was that Justice Nawaz Abbasi was on the three judge bench of the Supreme Court endeavoring to hear/try the proceedings of this Suo Moto Notice (involving his own complaint). Mr. Alam had to address Justice Abbasi directly to remind the honorable gentleman that he was not qualified to hear the case since he was a party in the case.

Embarrassingly, it doesn’t end here: Mr. Alam refused to apologize to the judge and asked for time to hire a lawyer to represent him. The journalist further proceeded to tell the supreme court judge that he, and the media in general, were doing the most important duty as citizens by protecting, safeguarding and upholding the constitution, by ensuring no one desecrates article 19 of the constitution (which essentially safeguards freedom of speech)!

In a fit of fury, Justice Abbasi wrote out an order banning any programs, mention, clips or coverage of the judiciary by the print and electronic media in toto. At which stage even the counsel from the state advised him to review and rescind his order, as it was very likely to be violated. The Justice in question had, using a ticker announcement, in effect issued a broad based gagging order on all forms of information and news coverage with regard to the judiciary issue. On the 12th of May.

It’s absolutely hilarious. It’s also scary. I don’t want to lionize the Nov. 2 judiciary overly, but their suo moto notices were a little more relevant to actual justice, rather than entirely in the service of the ego of the judges. The only place I disagree with the author, Gul Bukhari, is the assessment that it’s sad that the judges backed down in the face of a protest from Absar Alam. I think it’s great. I think cooler heads eventually prevailed and realized that this was going to become absolutely farcical. I don’t have any particular insight on whether or not there should be a contempt of court law in Pakistan – being not the least bit qualified to have an opinion – but the fact that we don’t worked entirely in the favour of what’s right in this case.

Meanwhile, May 12 came and went, and the judiciary was not restored. Hopelessness may be kufr, but what happens if it is so frequently affirmed?

Chay Magazine Call for Submissions

CHAY MAGAZINE
Call for submissions
(Visit http://chaymagazine.org for details)

Deadline: May 15, 2008

Having observed in Pakistani society, a disturbing tendency towards fear and shame around issues of sex and sexuality – that is to say, around a normal human interaction – the founders of Chay Magazine feel that sex and sexuality should enter the public discourse. The taboo and silence around sex and sexuality are oppressive on all of us, irrespective of gender, and lead, at the very least, to unhappiness in our daily lives and, more often, to violence, shame, depression, ill health and general social malaise. We at Chay Magazine endeavor to bring to the Pakistani reading public a place to converse about those things we are most shy of. Our hope is that, through this, we can become braver and stronger, more powerful, self-assured, and just and fair members of society.

Our focus is on Pakistani society and our themes emerge from this context. However, Pakistan is only our starting point. Chay Magazine aims to enter the fray of international feminist discourse and, as such, we invite writers of all nationalities, geographies, stripes to contribute. We are not so much interested in where you come from as in what you have to say.

For the first few issues, we have outlined some broad themes, which are listed below. While we are looking in particular for work around those themes, we are always looking ahead to later issues so, if you have some work kicking around that you’d like to submit, feel free.

Let’s Talk about Sex
o Talking about sex and sexuality – why do it, the taboos around it, the problems with it, the silences
o Sex/Gender, gender roles and gender identity
o Talking about sex and romance
o Standards of “moral” conduct relating to sex

The Politics of Sex
o Sex-positivity
o Sex and feminism in Pakistan
o The politics of shame
o Religion and sex(uality)
o Visions for a new Pakistani Feminism

Marriage
o Sex: enjoyment, coercion, guilt, force
o Sex and marriage
o Domestic violence and rape
o Virginity

Promiscuity
o Saying no and saying yes
o “Sluts” and “whores”
o Sex-work
o Religion and Sex
o Virginity
o Re-appropriating language

We are looking for

– Feature Articles 500-1000 words. These can be analysis, commentary, historical explorations or any other non-fiction on the theme of the issue.
– Poetry and Fiction. There is no real restriction on the subject of the poem or story. If it gives a nod in the direction of the theme, we’re happy. Please send no more than 3 poems or fiction pieces in the vicinity of 1000 words.
– Artwork. Again, there is no particular restriction on artwork. If there is particular work you are interested in submitting, please email in with a query.
– Translations. We accept original translations of thematically relevant works in any genre, from any language.

Send queries and submissions to: chaymagazine AT gmail DOT com . Please attach .rtf or .doc files (we cannot accept .docx files), .jpg or .pdf for images. Please send in a small bio along with your submission as well.

We are an utterly non-profit, non-commercial, money-less concern; therefore we cannot offer any compensation to our writers. In time, we hope to become rich, famous and commercial, at which point we hope to offer you pots of money.

Sincerely,
Kyla Pasha and Sarah Suhail
Co-executive editors, Chay Magazine

Migraines and Panic make Kyla Much Blog

I was sitting with my prof this afternoon, hesitantly reading Arabic hadith at him and working out what they meant, when a small poinpoint of evil hit me behind the eye. I lost focus on what I was reading or saying, as I usually do in migraine land. Luckily, we had been through the larger part of our work so we both kind of teetered and fell off the precipice of attentive with a sweet little thunk. And that was good. Continue reading →

Go Vote

I’m in Seattle. I wish I wasn’t. Only because, after a long time, we’re having elections in Pakistan again and, regardless of rigging, I wanted to be able to vote.

Why you should vote: I know that there are accusations of rigging and mass rigging and rigging so heinous that you don’t know what to do with yourself. But the more people show up to cast actual votes, the more obvious the ballot stuffing will be. Furthermore, the more people show up, the more eyes there are to witness blatant voter intimidation, repeated voting (where one person votes more than once – illegal) and other more surreptitious activities at the polls. Finally, when you vote, you meet other voters and you get a sense of what people outside of your own class box are interested in for the future of their country.

Vote because if you vote, something might change. Then again, things may stay the same. If you don’t vote, things definitely won’t change. Respect the democratic process and it will inshallah pay off in the end.

That’s all folks.

Super Genius

Turns out that the Afghani Taliban and the Pakistani Taliban are not in fact the same Taliban. One has expressed a separation and distinction from the other, according to the BBC. Well, blow me down with, you know, a bull dozer because gosh, no one saw that coming.

Much as I think Imran Khan is a bit of a dope, he made a good point at LUMS when he was speaking on the night of the “Emergency” declaration (3/11/07). He said that the tribes there are a) not used to being governed by anything they consider a foreign power and will not welcome it, and b)  there’s a difference between the various extremists movements in Afghanistan, Waziristan, Swat etc. “Our” ones have more to do with the Musharraf regime than directly with wanting Shariah as the law, although that’s now a central point of the platform.

Meanwhile, Iran put Bahais in jail for propaganda and proselytizing, and is apparently fond of killing people.