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Editorials

Reflections on RJA’s Hunger Strike

Those of you familiar with our blog must be aware that for the past few weeks we covered Raja Jahangir Akhtar’s (RJA) fast against corruption. The news of his intended fast had come to me during Ramadan, through a dear friend in Pakistan, and we immediately posted his first press release on the blog. In fact, and I am proud to say this, The Pakistan Forum was the first major blog to post information about RJA’s intended initiative.

Since then we covered the story both in its early as well as culminating phase. As you know, RJA has ended his strike today after the politicians promised to seriously consider and legislate an anti-corruption bill. I do hope they live up to their promise; If not, we will be there to hold them accountable on the pages of this blog.

Personally, RJA’s actions have given me a new kind of hope: I mean here is a 68-year-old  citizen of Pakistan who has forced, through personal will and lateral solidarities, the Pakistani politicians to listen. And he accomplished this when one of the major TV networks (Geo TV) was shamelessly avoiding any mention of him in their so-called news.

A hunger strike is a performative act: it presupposes an audience of like-minded people and a means of communication to spread the message. In a way it is an act that introduces an anomaly within the discursive space of power, a sort of breakage: the kind that forces power to stop in the tracks of its normative drive. A hunger strike cannot be an end in itself but is always caught up with the future that it may unleash: Gandhi’s Satyagraha relied quite heavily on such public performances, but succeeded only because the press covered it.

What we saw in the last few weeks is unprecedented. Young people joined the movement and brought the tools of their time to fray: a Facebook page, a live stream, a blog. Countless webs of transnational solidarity woven together through techne but made possible because one man stood up and said: “enough!” This is the greatest lesson that I have learned: that one person can unleash so much power of good.

There were quite a few detractors: some venal members of a forum called The Defense Forum, some tired youth on Facebook asking silly questions without offering to do anything themselves, but then that is the nature of such actions: the nay-sayers, the fatalists, and the minions of power, when threatened, always resort to cowardly, malicious tactics or, like Geo TV, pretend to not notice at all.

But this has been an enlightening experience for all of us who were involved and I am specially grateful to my friend from Pakistan (whose name I cannot mention) for providing us all the information that we needed.

My thanks to Raja Jahangir Akhtar for putting his life on the line for a just cause: Thank you from our heart and may you live long and continue working for Pakistan.

To our politicians: beware, we are watching what you do to OUR country and our patience is not endless!

 

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Commentaries Editorials

Some Good Pakistani Blogs

Now that we have started aggregating content from selected Pakistan-related blogs, we have found a rich array of blogs dealing with various aspects of Pakistani life. I thought I should take a few moments to introduce some of these blogs. My account of these blogs, of course, is in no way exhaustive. So, please feel free to suggest your favorite Pakistani blogs in the comments and we will include them in our Pakblogs section for our readers.

Art Ka Pakistan: Maintained by Nadia Hussain, this is a personal blog that provides ideas, thoughts, and commentaries of an artist and could be very useful to all those interested in art and artistic pursuits. Nadia describes her blog as follows:

Wannabe artist (except they’re called visual artists now), corrupter of young Pakistani minds, do gooder (and badder), lover, not a fighter and a general procrastinator. And Murree Brewery rocks.

Citizens for Democracy: I strongly endorse CFD’s effort who describe their mission in the following words:

Citizens for Democracy (CFD) was formed on Dec 19, 2010, as a coalition of professional groups, NGOs, trade unions, student unions, political parties and individuals outraged by the consistent misuse and abuse of the ‘blasphemy laws’ and religion in politics.  We came together at a meeting at Karachi Press Club, convened by Professional Organisations Mazdoor Federations & Hari Joint Committee (POJAC).

CFD calls upon all professional groups, NGOs, trade unions, student unions, political parties and individuals to join hands for its one-point agenda, to work against the misuse and abuse of the ‘blasphemy laws’ and religion in politics. CFD chapters have subsequently been formed in Lahore and Islamabad. Please see CFD stand and endorsing organisations at this blog. Email: cfd.pak@gmail.com Twitter: @cfdpk.

Desi Flavors: Maintained by Rafia Shujaat, Desi Flavors is a wonderful blog that provides quite a few traditional, some fusion, and some very innovative recipes. I could not recommend this wonderful resource enough.

[We have removed “Hope for Pakistan” as it was mirroring the Pakistani Spectator]

Journeys to Democracy: Maintained by Beena Sarwar, a renowned Pakistani journalist, this blog needs no introduction. If you ever need to find some incisive, thought-provoking analysis of Pakistani current affairs, this is the place to go.

Middle Ground: Defines itself in the following words:

Middle Ground is my place on web where I put together my thoughts. Middle Ground falls in the middle of extremism and liberalism. It shows the picture of tolerance, which is much needed in our country these days, than before.

It is a place on web where I write what ever interests me. Subjects may vary but they will always be something related to my country, Pakistan. I am trying to play my part by contributing in some way to the progressive Pakistan.

Mustafa Qadri: Maintained by Mustafa Qadri, one of our contributing authors and an active journalist and humanitarian, this is the kind of journalistic writing all the bloggers should aspire to and emulate.

Pak Tea House: This is one of the most established blogs of Pakistan and a place to visit for astute political and cultural commentary.

Secular Pakistan: This courageous blog declares its mission thusly:

We are here to advocate the dream of a state where a citizen is recognized because of his/her existence as a human being rather than cast, creed, sect or religion. Contributions, feedback and death threats are all welcome.

The Pakistani Spectator: The spectator is not just a blog; it is rather a newspaper-like multiauthor blog filled with interested commentaries and stories about all things Pakistan.

United for Justice: This is another good blog that aims to fight all kinds of discrimination in Pakistan.

Well, this completes my first round-up of good Pakistani blogs. I am certain that I have missed some very good and important blogs and would love to include them in the next such round-up. feel free to use the comment section below to suggest any blogs that you deem should be included in our next roundup and also in our Pakblogs section.