Archive for the ‘ Pakistan ’ Category

The VIPs Khan Won’t Talk About

Frankly, I was thrilled with the recent incident where VIP politicians were booted off a PIA flight for causing a needless delay. But there’s another VIP culture we rarely like to talk about, because it’s far too dangerous and politically complicated to do so. Democracy is a system cherished by people-pleasers, and despised by forces that can’t acquire votes. It is in their interest to sow among the public, the seeds of mistrust towards the democratic politicians; not that the politicians usually make that task difficult! Attacking a politician wins you easy approval. They say top Pakistani politicians are “above the law”; unimpeachable and incapable of being punished for crimes that others readily get fined and jailed for. It’s true to a large extent, although… – Yousuf Raza Gillani did spend about 6 years in jail – and Zardari spent 8 – before his wife was assassinated running a political campaign of her own (her son is booed nowadays for having “too much personal security) – during the era of General Musharaff, who exiled Nawaz Sharif – and got Javed Hashmi sentenced to a staggering 23 years in prison, though he was released early due to Supreme Court’s intervention In fact, there’s an endless list of examples of these “monarchs” being beaten, imprisoned and even publicly flogged – an occupational hazard of operating in a country where the true power lies with….oh, you know. You want to know what immunity looks like? Sue a high-ranking army officer. The army remains extremely well-funded, for a country that can barely afford to keep a light-bulb on for 18 hours straight. They are well-organized, and demand respect. 90% of the times I’ve been stuck at a road block in Rawalpindi, it’s been because of a general’s convoy passing through. We’re saddened by what happened in Model Town, and the fact that the all-powerful police personnel involved never went to tria; never got investigated. By thew way, do you remember what happened to that old Hamid Mir case where he blamed the attempt to assassinate him on you-know-who? Neither do I. Shhh… Now that’s a VIP culture you won’t find the likes of Imran Khan harping about from the roof of his container. Funny.

This Blog Post is Against Our Culture (and is sponsored by Jews)

The demonic child of Mr. Nail and Madame Chalkboard is a term used repeatedly in Pakistan to justify any kind of censorship and moral policing, however ludicrous.

The term, “against our culture” is a curious little brain-bugger. What precisely is “our” culture, and who among us has the privilege to define it? Is it at all possible that your culture may be different from mine, and that it’s unfair to use your government as a platform to promote one kind of culture as opposed to the others?

I’ve frequently been mocked as “excessively Westernized”, which is now a badge I wear with some pride. It’s not that I believe the Western cultures are without their faults, but I do concede that they’re better.

Pakistanis, and I fear this is true for most third world countries, are unable to differentiate between foreign cultures and socially-advanced cultures. The Western nations are often scowled at for their acceptance of gay rights, gender equality and many other concepts that we find outlandish. And an attempt to import these concepts into countries like Pakistan, generates an abundance of angry, full-caps tweets from around the world, hash-tagged with ‘racism’.

The thing is that there’s nothing “Western” about these ideas. These nations share a horrific history of  treating gay people as inglorious HIV-dispensers, and women as decorative commodities. These nations have suffered through a plague of socially-acceptable slut-shaming (not that the disease has been entirely eradicated yet). Traditional America has been a nightmare for transgender people, so has old Europe.

What I’m saying is that what the culture of today’s Pakistan is not too dissimilar to the culture of America in the 70’s. The difference is that they evolved past the hate, the exclusionism, racism, and while they still need to evolve much further, they deserve credit for what they’ve achieved.

Meanwhile, we haven’t evolved enough. Watching the bikini-wearing, gay-accepting, alcohol-chugging and even marijuana-smoking culture of the West is, for Pakistanis, like gazing into a crystal ball at our social future 30, 50 or 100 years from now on. That is, if we survive long enough to allow the transition, and not start devolving into a complete mullah state.

Most of what we see is not a foreign culture, but a ‘developed’ culture.

..which is a message for the people of the West too. I am hopelessly in love with Pakistan’s famous truck art; the Islamic architecture; Pakistani heritage sites; our musical tablas and sitars; countless colorful, wondrous things about various kinds of lifestyles that people live in Pakistan. Just as I admire mardi gras parades, American folk music, hamburgers, European films…

But never, for a minute, tolerate injustice, homophobia, or gender inequality in the name of multiculturalism. You too must be able to draw the distinction between a foreign culture and an outdated culture. Resist the shariah court, or any other kind of religious court that delivers verdicts based on archaic laws that are an insult to human dignity.

Moderates: Fuck em’

“Moderate” is the most ridiculously overused and irritating term of the 21st century. Often, people swaying unmistakably towards the liberal or conservative side of the median, declare themselves to be “moderates” in a pitiful attempt to appear more rational than others.

In Pakistan, everybody’s a moderate! We have moderates who hate fags; moderates who are Taliban-apologists and Mumtaz Qadri fans; moderates who call you a whore for not wearing a dupatta..

..and then we have the closeted-liberal moderates – the ones who are too coward to embrace the much-sullied, stigmatized party of liberalism, and choose to describe themselves with less controversial terms like “centrist” or “moderate”.

These are the kind of people who would keep repeating the same asinine, insipid shit over and over and over and over again:
“You know, the extreme of everything is bad. So I just choose to take the middle-ground!”

Choke on a musical dildo! I insist!

Of course the extreme of everything is unhealthy (God, what an epiphany!) but unfortunately, there is no objective definition of what counts as “extremism” in this country. In Pakistan, a right-winger usually has to blow up a bunch of schools; issue fatwas against people for…I don’t know…wearing brown socks or whatever; support murderers; call for oppressive laws against the minorities…

..before he finally earns the title of “extremist”.

You know what a liberal has to do here to become an extremist? He has to support Veena Malik’s right to flash a side-boob! I’ve not met a single Pakistani liberal who isn’t mocked as “liberal extremist”, “pseudo-liberal” or “liberal fascist”.

In Pakistan, “liberal extremists” are an imaginary party created to balance out the “religious extremists”, who are the real threat to our nation’s social, economic and political stability. The worst that you can charge the “liberal extremists” with, is snobbery, elitism or perhaps, political inertness.

The middle-ground isn’t always the right answer. If the matter of protecting Ahmadi minorities from discriminatory laws comes up, I wouldn’t want you to say, “Yeah, I support the liberals, but I also think the oppressive mullahs make a good point”. I would want you to take a fucking side and stop pussyfooting around the central pylon. And learn what argumentum ad temperantiam means.

Calling yourself a moderate is “in”, because the title requires no real credentials, and makes you look smart and impervious to highly polarized rhetoric. But you know what I hear when you announce yourself a moderate? I hear a person too stupid and uninformed to take a real stand for anything.

Of course, you don’t have to pick the same side for every matter. I’m a liberal when it comes to LGBT rights, and a conservative when it comes to GMO labelling. But I’m not going to label myself a moderate or a centrist because of the 10-15% of the cases where I side with the conservatives. It is because I lean heavily towards the liberal side of the median, that I find it appropriate to label myself a liberal.

A proud, happy liberal!

Secular Groups and Intra-House Politics

It’s bad enough that the free-thinkers are among the most widely persecuted groups in the world; that many of us are forced to keep our identities secret just so we can avoid being yelled at, discriminated against, or shot for apostasy. Evidently, I need to guard my ass from factions within the secular groups too.

Pakistan Atheists and Agnostics (PAA), and countless other secular groups around the world, are not just social clubs. Our cohesiveness is a defense mechanism. This group supported me when I had to climb out of my dorm window as a mob at my university tried to attack me for being an atheist. They were there to ward off the feeling of crippling isolation I felt in the year following my de-conversion. They were there to assist me through the daily frustration of hiding my identity from everybody, including my parents.

Naturally, I feel that people who allow unpleasant experiences with group members to generate rifts within the group itself, can go fuck a jagged keyhole.

We’re not a cult, but we are a support group. And we stick together for more reasons than just religion-bashing. Atheists and agnostics who deny this persecution are invited to step out of whatever sorry Defense, Bahria or F-sector bubble they live in and smell the air of real Pakistan.

It is becoming increasingly painful for me to introduce myself as a feminist, knowing what self-proclaimed feminists they have done locally and internationally to secular groups. I sympathize with women who have faced sexism within these circles, but I have nil respect for the ass-lords who treat misogynism as a uniquely “secular” phenomenon, instead of a general phenomenon which is present among all groups including, yes, the atheist ones.

I’m talking, of course, about people like Rebecca “Elevatorgate” Watson and the Atheism+ crowd. They are the ones who have almost completely dedicated their lives to sabotaging the secular movement by portraying sexism as an “atheist problem” rather than a pandemic that’s pervading the secular community just as it’s pervading others.

While providing additional ammunition to a world that is already starkly anti-atheist, they tend to ignore the fact that atheists and agnostics are far better aligned with the cause of feminism than the general population. Without religion, we have one less excuse to support the anti-abortion, hetero-normative, “cover-yourself-in-a-trashbag-so-I-feel-less-tempted” attitude.

PAA, and I’m certain this is true for other groups too, is hounded by people who have allowed bystanding members to become collateral damage in their personal relationship battles; who have downed group websites, and threatened to rat out their fellow atheists possibly putting their lives at risk; who are engaged in a perpetual vendetta, an endless bitch-fit against an atheist group(s).

Get…a…grip!

I’m not advocating tribal mentality. Perhaps secularists in the developed world are in a better state, but we in the developing countries, particularly the Muslim world, have enough extrinsic shit to deal with without the unending intra-house politics.

Woman in Black #2

Woman in Black #2

YouTube ban unlikely to be lifted in Pakistan:
http://tribune.com.pk/story/506765/government-decides-to-continue-youtube-ban/

A Note on Bisexuality

The bliss of bisexuality transforms all of humankind into a buffet of sexual delicacies. Gender is simply irrelevant.

But do bisexuals truly exist? Most certainly they do, but those who put the B in LGBT are far less common than people believe. Remember, this is primarily a blog for Pakistanis, who are generally not well-informed about homosexuality. If you’re a reader from a nation where adequate awareness is being raised about the queers, you might find this post a bit blah. Nevertheless, I’ll try to be entertainingly offensive enough to hold your attention.

If there’s anything we’ve learned from Alfred Kinsey, it’s that the population is not divided strictly into gays and straights. Each of us is attracted to either a man or a woman to a variable degree.  On Kinsey’s scale of 0 to 6, where 0 is an exclusive heterosexual and 6 an exclusive homosexual, a person can lie anywhere in between. At 3 or 4, you’re bi. So yeah, they’re absolutely real.

But only half of the people claiming to be bisexual are actually so…

A boy growing up realizes that the sight, scent and behavior of another man makes his penis act funny. It’s a reaction, he discovers, that most of the other boys have for girls. He is told that boys who are attracted to other boys are “fags”. No, no, no, no, I can’t be a fag!

He cannot argue with his erection, and he knows he’s stimulated by men. But he attempts to convince himself that this is just one part of the story. He is also sexually attracted to women, which means he must be bi. It’s a tactic that allows him to avoid the label of “homosexual”, which carries greater stigma.

Now, how can he convince himself that he’s sexually attracted to girls? If there’s anything we’ve learned from science, you cannot force yourself to want to have sex with somebody. If you’re not aroused, you’re not aroused.

What he does is exploit the Kinsian law of fluidity  Except for those falling in groups 0 and 6 of aforementioned scale, every individual is attracted to every other individual to a variable extent. A Kinsey-5 lesbian is at least mildly aroused by men, even though this feeling isn’t nearly as strong as what she may have towards other women. She may use this fact to trick herself, and others, that she is bisexual.

This, of course, is a blatant lie because in just about any situation, she’d pick a sexual partner of the same gender. While she may be bisexual theoretically, she’s gay for all intents and purposes, regardless of whatever label she may choose for herself.

In a corrosive, homophobic environment, most bisexuals are just partially-closeted gays. As societies evolve to become more tolerant of homosexuals, we’re likely to see a dramatic decline in the proportion of people calling themselves bisexual.

An atheist and his family: “Mom, I’m going to hell”

I’ve been doing this for a long time now..

Several years of swimming against the tide; wading through a constant stream of hate mail; switching blog addresses whenever things get too hot to handle.

I’ve been an outcast on multiple levels. I somewhat pride myself for being a Pakistani who is essentially the death of all stereotypes. I’m an atheist and a bisexual and a feminist and a far-leftist and an extremely  introverted personality. My complexion is significantly fairer than most of my fellow citizens. Even my BMI makes me an outlier (I literally do not “fit in”). If only I did not share the same race as most Pakistanis, I would’ve been Minority-Bot 4000. Continue reading