Pakistan – A Day on Twitter

@UncleThinkTanki: Right now, conducting a round-table on ‘The Benefits of having both tissue rolls and water faucets in Pakistani Washrooms’ with @ColonelStrategicDepth and @AuntieNGO

@ColonelStrategicDeath: @UncleThinkTanki  Strategy is the main reason we support Afghan Taliban and do not have square toilet bowls #IamtheCoolestWriterInPakistan

@UncleThinkTanki: @AuntieNGO is emphasizing the importance of upholding local traditions and maintaining lotas in our toilets

@ColonelStrategicDeath: As Habermas reminds me, one needs to be realistic about matters of national security and toilet accessories

@JihadiInqilabi: Khilafat, Islam, Jihad, Khilafat. Democracy is kufar

@MunnaHashTagWala: #IWetMyPantsBecause I drank too much red bull

@AuntieNGO:  Lotas and tissue rolls, keep everyone happy, funds rolling ;)

@ColonelStrategicDeath: @UncleThinkTanki @AuntieNGO I just remembered that story about the woodcutter and the grizzly bear

@ComradeInqalabi: Zinda hay Lenin Zinda hay, Zinda hay Stalin zinda hay. #vodkaKahanHay?

@MacWaliBaji: Why wasn’t voyager 1 powered by iOS? Yeh ziadati hay #SteveJobs k saath

@MunnaHashTagWala: #IWetMyPantsBecause I saw a tiger

@BajiCyberFreedom: Youtube khol do! Youtube Khol do #unbanYoutube

@UncleMobileJammer: We are planning to jam cell-phone services on Valentine’s Day, Halloween and NewYear eve as security measures

@BajiCyberFreedom: @UncleMobileJammer Please open youtube. Youtube khol dain. Plz, plz achay uncle

@MunnaHashTagWala: Come one guys lets trend #IWetMyPantsBecause

@UncleMobileJammer: Beta, I have been using hotspot shield myself to watch Lady Gaga. Main to chahta hoon per boss nahin mantay.

@BajiCyberFreedom: @UncleMobileJammer Owein, Owein, youtube kholoooooooooooooooo! Main nahin manti, Yeh rondi hay

@TaxMunshi: @UncleMobileJammer Sir I have used grade-6 algebra to sort out the names of tax evaders. Press Release bhaij doon?

@UncleMobileJammer: Shabash baita @TaxMunshi Remind me to take your arrest warrants back.

@MunnaHashTagWala: #IWetMyPantsBecause I am 20

@UncleThinkTanki: Summing up the round-table. Will prepare a public policy paper on having lotas, water faucets and tissue rolls in all public toilets

@ColonelStrategicDeath: @UncleThinkTanki Please do not forget to mention the difference between good lotas and bad lotas, sorry good Taliban and bad Taliban

@MacWaliBaji: Why didn’t #SteveJobs write the Space Shuttle code

@HeadMaster: I have turned CRUMBS into the best university in Asia. For details, contact my secretary. I am busy tweeting

@MianwaliTiger: Imran Khan, Imran Khan, Imran Khan. Tum sab corrupt ho

@PhajjayKPayeSocialMedia : Today CM inaugurated the 5th flyover at Kalma Chowk to ease traffic congestion caused by second and 4th flyovers #SherAvayiAvay

@DamselinDistress: Why is the world so cruel? Why is it so cruel to me?

@FilmiCharsi: Just watched the Godard’s 8349th film. It’s the best film he ever made.

@ColonelStrategicDeath: Time to do some firing practice with my 9mm.

@MunnaHashTagWala: #IWetMyPantsBecause I saw @ColonelStrategicDeath with his gun

@ColonelStrategicDeath: @MunnaHashTagWala Son, I am sorry to disclose it to you but you can never get through ISSB with that

@MunnaHashTagWala: #IWetMyPantsBecause @ColonelStrategicDeath replied to my tweet

@PhajjayKPayeSocialMedia: Lahore Metro Bus System will be inaugurated by CM on March 23, 2019. Hats-off to timely completion #SherAvayiAvay

@MianwaliTiger: @PhajjayKPayeSocialMedia Loot ker kha gaye salay Pakistan ko. Imran aye ga Pakistan bachaye ga

@PhajjayKPayeSocialMedia: Abay teri <edited>, Lahore a, tujhay batata hoon, teri <edited>

@MianwaliTiger: @PhajjayKPayeSocialMedia Kia bolta hay, Imran Khan teri <edited>

@MianwaliTiger2: @PhajjayKPayeSocialMedia Imran Khan teri <edited>

@MianwaliTiger3: @PhajjayKPayeSocialMedia Imran Khan tujhay<edited>

@MunnaHashTagWala: #IWetMyPantsBecause It was raining

@MianwaliTiger4: @PhajjayKPayeSocialMedia Imran Khan will <edited>

@JihadiInqilabi: @MianwaliTiger4 @PhajjayKPayeSocialMedia  Khilafat, Islam, Jihad, Khilafat, Islam

@JihadiInqilabi2: @MianwaliTiger4 @PhajjayKPayeSocialMedia  Khilafat lao, mulk bachao, democracy is kufr

@DamselinDistress: Yeh duniya itnee zaaalim kioun hay?????

@FilmiCharsi: Finished watching Godard’s 8350th film. Its the best film made by Ingmar Bergman.

@DamselinDistress: Sab Maya hay

@MianwaliTiger: Imran Khan will fix everything in 90 minutes. Jemima still love him. He lives in a wooden hut and pays $1 billion tax every year. #Inqilab

@DamselinDistress: Zindagi aik bojh hay, kia faida zinda rehnay ka

@DamselinDistress: soch rahi hoon khud-kushi ker loon

@MianwaliTiger: Imran Khan, Imran Khan #Inqilab

@JihadiInqilabi: @MianwaliTiger Khilafat, Khilafat, Khilafat

@MianwaliTiger: @JihadiInqilabi  Imran Khan, Imran Khan #Inqilab

@JihadiInqilabi: @MianwaliTiger  Khilafat, Khilafat, Khilafat

@PhajjayKPayeSocialMedia : #SherAvayiAvay Dekho Dekho Kon Aya, Sher aya, Sher aya

@MunnaHashTagWala: #IWetMyPantsBecause I trended on Twitter

@DamselinDistress: Raat ho gayee hay, soti hoon.  Kal shopping keroon gi, party per jaaon gi. Kitni zalim hay zindagi. Nahin rehna mujhay zinda, Kal har halat main

@MunnaHashTagWala: #IWetMyPantsBecause I wet my pants

@DamselinDistress: Just forgot, kal to Amsterdam ki flight hay. Holidays! Yaaaaay! Getting late. Good night all.

COMMENT: Islamic fundamentalism, post-modernism and science

by Awais Masood

Published Daily Times – November 23, 2011

The recent killing of Yemeni-American Imam, Anwar al-Awlaki, in a drone attack has brought to front the significance of Islamist propaganda in cyberspace and its effects on terror recruitment. Hundreds of sermons by Awlaki were available on the internet. He operated a Facebook page, ran a blog and was described as ‘Osama bin Laden of the internet’. His online influence has been linked with more than a dozen terror investigations including the Fort Hood shooting by Major Nidal Hasan and the Times Square bombing attempt by Faisal Shahzad.

The relationship between religious fundamentalism and technology has remained complicated. Religious fundamentalist movements have been widely described as reaction to modernity though the movements are themselves modern in nature. Hence there exists an inherent conflict where these movements reject the underlying notions of rationality, secular and scientific constituting modernity. On the other hand, these movements continue to appropriate modern symbols and technology to further their cause. Historically, fundamentalist movements vehemently opposed natural sciences and technology but that does not hold true anymore. As stated in a paper titled ‘Postmodern Conservatism and Religious Fundamentalism’ by Geoff Boucher, the fundamentalist movements of today harbour a selective, instead of a wholesome, hostility towards natural sciences and try to engage in an understanding of the world that remains compatible with the commercialised science of today encompassing applied sciences and technology. Hence, these movements hold a significant appeal among technical professionals such as engineers, doctor and lawyers. Carrying forward this correlation between technical education and fundamentalism, a 2009 study published in The European Journal of Sociology showed that engineers constitute 20 percent of all Islamist militant organisations, a value remarkably greater than the expected 3.5 percent figure. Continue reading

Jahandad

Awais Masood

(Dedicated to the memory of an eighteenth century French idiot who wrote the worst satire in history)

It was in the vast green fields of Faisalabad industrial area that Jahandad grew up and came to know the wonderful world created by Allah. Mubarak Manzil , where he lived, was located very near to the three factories also owned by his guardian Haji Sheikh Ghulam Nabi. The streams of fresh water flowing out of factories and the fumes emitted by their chimneys had turned the whole area into a tourist attraction. Therefore it was frequented by the wonderful scouts of Tableeghi Jamaat along with recruiters from Lashkar-e-Taiba, Lashkar-e-Jhangavi, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Tahreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Tahreek-e-Taliban Punjab, Tahreek-e-Taliban Multan, Tahreek-e-Taliban Pattoki, Tahreek-e-Taliban Arain Mohalla and Tahreek-e-Taliban Ghanta Ghar.

Haji Sheikh Ghulam Nabi was a very pious and generous man. He had performed five pilgrimage in his life, never paid any tax to the vile government , frequently lost money on horse races, offered prayers five times a day and had acted as a patron for almost every prostitute within the city. He also believed in charity and hence donated regularly to a madrassa that trained children for jihad. He also believed in the equality of human beings as long as they belonged to a certain class. Hence all of his servants wore similar rags and lived in identical servant quarters. He believed in the right of a woman to be forced to wear a burka and to be coerced into a marital rape. His firm belief in the Doctrine of Separation between Religion and Business ensured that no part of his income from a thirty percent share in the best brothel within the city ever went to fund a madrassa.

Jahandad had an eventful childhood. One of the fondest memories from that period included participating in a mob lynching at the age of twelve. The man was accused of blasphemy by a maternal cousin of a paternal uncle of a friend of an aunt of a neighbor who claimed that the accused went to the toilet exactly at the same time when the local imam started his Friday sermon. He was dragged out of his house, flogged, whipped, canned, kicked, punched, stoned and hanged. Jahandad had the fun of his life pelting stones and dancing with joy around the corpse. Later it was found that the accused actually came out of the toilet exactly five seconds before the sermon started. The local mullah declared that being innocent he would be granted great pleasures in heaven which would include six hundred palaces, two hundred gardens, four hundred horses and eight hundred houris. Despite these heavenly delights, his family was also compensated with five suits of original Alkaram latha, one cow and an amount of six thousand, four hundred and twenty three rupees as blood money. Everybody was quite happy that it was all settled according to the laws of land and sharia which ensured a peaceful and just society.

Jahandad was told that Sheikh Ghulam Nabi was his distant relative who took care of him after his parents died. Though Jahandad also heard that he was a son of a real life sister of Sheikh Sahab and she was found dead in mysterious circumstances. Jahandad did not care much as long as he was allowed to live in Muabark Manzil along with the family of Sheikh Sahab. It was said that no adult male other than Sheikh Ghulam Nabi had ever seen the faces of his wife and daugther. It was indeed true and nobody other than her five lovers had actually seen his wife. It is needless to mention that Sheikh Sahab had no clue about them and the extent to which they had seen Begum Sheikh Ghulam Nabi.

Sheikh Ghulam Nabi was much concerned about the spiritual well-being of his children. Therefore he and Sheikh Sahab’s daughter, Jehan Ara, had been tutored by the same mystic named Majid Ali Majid. Majid was an ugly little man who taught that destiny reigned supreme and man was bound to a predestined fate known as taqdeer. It was thus in the taqdeer of Haji Ghulam Nabi to own factories, remain rich, kick the workers at his factories and perform umrah every month. On the other hand, the workers at his factories were destined to remain poor. It was the will of Allah that ran the markets and hence any interference by the government to control them and hinder Sheikh Sahab from becoming richer was against nature, Allah and Islam. Jahandad was much fond of him and his intelligence.

One day, while seeking an old lost item in some least frequented portions of house, Jehan Ara saw Majid teaching the laws of natural destiny to a servant of the house. The passion with which Majid taught the girl lessons in destiny and fate evoked some latent emotions within Jehan Ara’s heart. What she saw was unbearable for her. She, being daughter of the master of the house, considered it her right to explore fate and destiny first instead of a filthy little servant. She went looking for Jahandad and on finding him strolling around the lawn took him by the hand, brought him to a corner and exposed all five toes of her left foot, a sight that left Jahandad thunderstruck and speechless. Unfortunately Sheikh Sahab, who was at home due to some unknown reasons, came across the scene. He grabbed his daughter’s hand, slapped her, punched her and then locked her in a dark room. He then grabbed Jahandad by the neck,  kicked, punched, canned and whipped him and then threw him out of the house. Jahandad had no money in his pocket and no idea where to go. The only thing that struck into his mind was to go to the nearest mosque where he hoped to find a meal or two for free. It was during the very first night within the mosque that Jahandad met some of the most amazing men in his life and started a new journey of life.

Next: How Jahandad went to Raiwind with his Tableeghi comrades and met Hamid Gul

Demystifying the drone — II

Shahid Saeed and Awais Masood

Published in Daily Times

The Pakistan Body Count (PBC) data is highly unreliable and the use of this data for making any claims about drone accuracy would have severe epistemological implications. Moreover, the data, on multiple occasions, ignores reports of al Qaeda leaders and associates killed in drone attacks and the casualties are again reported as civilians. Even if Dr Usmani believes that the Afghan Taliban are not terrorists, militants or any other word as such, data collection on this issue should not classify them as civilians since they are the target of US forces and their deaths at the hands of a drone should count towards the success of the drone — regardless of the ideological leanings of the personnel compiling statistics. If in his defence Dr Usmani could claim that listing somebody as al Qaeda would require names, i.e. confirmation that a certain person has died, then this argument too falls apart since in their defence, opponents of drone strikes must bring names and information about each and every civilian killed in the strikes. The fact of the matter is that data collection on these issues is difficult but newspaper reporters use their local and intelligence sources to ballpark figures. Militant deaths are not reported by name unless it is a leading figure whose death is celebrated as martyrdom by militant groups themselves. Farhat Taj has already challenged the opponents to bring data to back their claims, and now so do we. Continue reading

Demystifying the drone — I

Shahid Saeed and Awais Masood

Published in Daily Times

Drone strikes have evolved to become a national political issue with the media and public opinion constantly pressing the government to take up the issue with the US. Opposition to drone strikes is mostly based on ill-conceived notions of sovereignty, ghairat (honour) and figures that seem to suggest that drone strikes are inaccurate and lead to a high number of civilian casualties (not to suggest that there cannot be any informed opposition to drone strikes). From Imran Khan to Munawar Hasan, right-wing political parties and religious groups have used drone strikes to forward their agenda by misguiding people through erroneous, fabricated and fictional data. As a result, thousands of people have been mobilised across the country to oppose these strikes.

Papers published such as ‘The CIA’s Covert Drone War in Pakistan, 2004-2010: The History of an Assassination Campaign’, ‘New Light on the Accuracy of the CIA’s Predator Drone Campaign in Pakistan’ and ‘Sudden Justice? Evaluating the U.S. Predator Campaign in Pakistan’ have already challenged the exaggerations and fabrications of these parties and media groups. The figures they provide contradict the ones thrown at us. The casualty rates are 13.56 militants: 1 civilian: 3.35 unknowns according to one paper. The New America Foundation put civilian deaths at 24 percent and the Long War Journal at 9 percent. The figures cited by a leading newspaper were so erroneous that their account of the total militants killed was less than the number of militants killed in a single drone strike that they themselves had reported. Such unethical exaggerations and fabrications should be unacceptable in journalism and they construct the wider narrative about drone strikes in public opinion. Continue reading

Extension of Hypocrisy

by Awais Masood
It was such a tragedy to see a news item mentioning that the Vice Chancellor (VC) of University of Engineering and Technology (UET) Lahore who has been ‘ruling’ the institute for last twelve years has been granted another (fourth) term.[1] There is almost everything wrong with Mr. Akram and the extension of his tenure.  Almost every problem that could be identified with Pakistan as a state could be identified with him and the university he is supposed to look after. One cannot find better symptoms of degeneration anywhere else than what should be one of the prime institutions for technological education in the country.

Gender Discrimination

It was year 2003 and my first week as an undergraduate student at UET when during a lecture; we were visited by a few senior members of university Dramatic Club who wanted to introduce us to the nature of their work. After a brief orientation, the only female member accompanying the members of Dramatic Club turned to my female class fellows and told them that the Vice Chancellor does not allow female students to act on stage but there are important back stage tasks to which they would be able contribute if they are interested in joining. The ban remained effective through my four years as an undergraduate student. It has also been confirmed by a recent graduate that that ban still remains in place in year 2010; Female students are not allowed to appear on stage and female roles (if they exist) are performed by male students. As someone rightly pointed out, when she was told of this ridiculous ban, there seems no difference between twenty first century Pakistani universities and sixteenth century Shakespearean England.

I have also been informed that recently the Electrical Engineering department of the university prohibited male and female students from forming combined final year project groups. Perhaps one must ask the VC if he is heading a university situated inside Mansure or Muridke?

Continue reading

Flood Relief Chronicles – I – Kot Addu and Taunsa Barrage

by Awais Masood

Road to Kot Addu via Mahmood Kot and Sanawan

As an attempt to assess the situation after the devastating Pakistani floods, I along with two of my fellows visited Kot Addu on August 22nd. Kot Addu is a tehsil of Muzaffargarh district in Southern Punjab that has been heavily affected by the recent floods. The city, which lies quite close to Taunsa Barrage on River Indus, was evacuated in the wake of flood threat. and the low lying western section of city came under water. A railway line splits the affected and unaffected areas of the city.  A few direct routes to the city remained under water for some time and alternative routes had to be taken. The one we took was opened only recently and a part of it was still under water. The road was damaged at various points where running water had submerged it for almost two feet.

Flood and Politics

Our conversation with residents of Kot Addu,- brought out that they were highly displeased at the way flood conditions were handled. According to them, the breach of embankment named Abbasid Bund at left bank (East) of River Indus was unprecedented. Historically, it was always the right bank (West) of River Indus at Taunsa Barrage that was inundated at the time of severe floods. The right bank areas on the side of Dera Ghazi Khan (DG Khan) district are less populated and hence flooding on that bank causes much less damage. During the floods this year, the West bank areas were instead flooded. These areas, including Kot Addu, are naturally low lying areas with a very large population. As a result, the damage was magnified to enormous proportions. Our hosts claimed that it was the powerful Khosa family of DG Khan which used its influence to protect their farm lands on the right bank side of River Indus. Hunjra, another political family of that area that owns farm lands and game ranches on the right bank side, was also pointed out for using political influence to protect their property and as a result inundating areas with large population. The residents pointed out that the affected areas come under the constituency of a PPP MNA and according to them, the provincial government of Punjab deliberately damaged the areas. Our hosts also pointed out strange management of Taunsa barrage at the time of flood where the barrage gates were shut down (instead of being opened) when large volume of flood water was to pass through the barrage. Continue reading