Friday, March 4, 2011

An Overdue Acknowledgement

Unlike MSS, or at least partly unlike MSS, I truly was at a loss for words about the the assassination of Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti. The only words that seemed to express the intensity of the despair I felt about the abyss staring us in the face came from poetry. In fact, before MSS posted her piece, I thought a collection of Urdu couplets was the only way I could mark this tragedy, because what is the point of repeating all that I have said so many times before. I might still do a post with such a collection, but here's a sample, from Faiz:

"Amaa'n kaisi ke mauj-e-khoo'n abhi sar se nahin guzri
Guzar jaaye tau shaayad baazu-e-qaatil thehr jaaye"
[No one is safe, for the wave of blood has yet to wash over our heads
Perhaps once we drown the killer's hand will be stayed] 

But my reasons for writing today are slightly different. I have to admit that I am not a regular watcher of DawnNews, a hangover probably of experiences from the channel's earlier incarnation. But I also have to admit that whenever I have had a chance to see its Reporter programme (usually on someone's recommendation), it has generally pleasantly surprised me. Reporter, and its host, Arshad Sharif, have been quietly and soberly plugging away with sensible debate about issues that most television current affairs programmes either do not touch or deal with only in bombastic or sensational overtones. I thought I owed it to Reporter to link to parts of the hard-hitting programme about this murder of an upright Pakistani which bear being viewed and heard by more people. It almost made me have hope in Pakistani political talk shows again.

Here's one part where renowned rights activist Hina Jilani rightly sticks it not only to the government but also to the media and the political opposition:

Here's another part, where Dr. Moeed Pirzada (newly inducted into Pakistan Television) gives a very decent summation. But in particular do not miss the strong speech by Maulana Tahir Ashrafi, Chairman of the Pakistan Ulema Council. It's probably the only time I have heard a political maulvi talk sense on this matter.

Could television still be reformed?


Anonymous said...

Glad someone else finally took notice of how good this show is. They screwed it over when they gave Talat the time slot without giving this the promotion it deserved. BTW, I think you mean Arshad Sharif, not Arshad Bhatti.

Mutazalzaluzzaman Tarar said...

Arshad Sharif has been doing a great job quietly for a while now. He is very balanced in his programs. I'm a big fan. But unfortunately as is the way in Pakistan... since he doesn't bring politicians on to bash them silly or to make them fight each other, I bet his ratings suck. Just hope that his program doesn't get chopped. Dawn has killed some good programs in the past. Programs like "Reporter" need to continue.

You should also check out the programs that Reporter did on Salmaan Taseer shaheed. Not only was Arshad Sharif one of the few "anchors" who openly said what a brutal crime this was, his program paid one of the most touching tributes to Taseer sahib.

Having said that also check out Matiullah Jaan's program. I think it's called Apne Garaibaan something. Simply outstanding! The guy is doing a magnificent job. Wonder if all the crazy journos whose corruption he exposes will turn on him now.

Salman said...

The anchor is Arshad SHARIF!

XYZ said...

Apologies to all for putting Bhatti down instead of Sharif for Arshad. Corrections have been made in the post.

Kabeer Ali Abdul said...

I know Dawn newspaper has been very vocal against extremism and doesn't beat around the bush like most other papers - well who can if you have writers like Kamran Shafi, Cowesjee and Nadeem Paracha (NFP) there.

Nevertheless, I have been watching two shows on DawnNews. One is Reporter and the other is this very underrated show (forgot what it's called), in which it actually goeas after corrupt journos and TV anchors.

But I read a Tweet some days ago in which NFP was quoting someone from DawnNews who told him that the channel is becoming a ''mini-Geo'' because the rise in numbers of pro-Jamat Islami ppl there. Is that true?

TightDhoti said...

Tahir Ashrafi made some very good points. Why dont we make links with people who talk some sense. Perhaps we are all too blame to stereotyping and jumping to the "mullah brigade" and "Westernized elite". I am sure that some common ground across different groups will add alot of weight to the argument.

Tilsim said...


Finding people who share common ground would be great. I was as pleasantly surprised as you as well as the author to hear the stance of Tahir Ashrafi, chair of Pakistan Ulema Council. However, Ashrafi's credential here are at odds with previous reports of Tahir Ashrafi bestowing the title SaifulIslam on Osama bin Laden. A quick googlesearch has him quoted as follows: "If a blasphemer can be given the title “Sir” by the West despite the fact he has hurt the feelings of Muslims, then a mujahid [religious warrior] who has been fighting for Islam against the Russians, Americans and British must be given the lofty title of Islam, Saifullah,' said the council's chairman, Tahir Ashrafi.

I don't know the man but I suspect that yet again some positioning is going on between the audience of Dawn news and let's say the audience of Nawai Waqt.

Read more:

deep said...

About reformation, I am not sure. One programme aired yesterday called Bolta Pakistan discussed a recent one-man agitation against the 1998 novel of Tehmima Durrani called Blasphemy. The moderator's justification for giving the man driving this agitation air-time was that they wanted to know if there was any agenda behind this sudden sense of anger against the book considering Durrani's high-profile connections. However I was thinking - oh here goes again - another person on the blasphemy hit list - should the moderators have been so proactive - was the issue a non-issue? Dont know - only time will tell.

TLW said...

In terms of Reporter shows, this is one that dellivered something that I had wanted to see for a long time; Nadeem Farooq Paracha speaking for an extended period of time on the situation in Pakistan. This was in a Reporter episode dedicated to revolution and the possibility of its occurence inside Pakistan.

I was touched by the well thought out and intellectually profound manner a topic as emotionally resonant as revolution was spoken about in this show. A special word of appreciation had to go to Mr Taj Haider for the engaging yet academically sound way he spoke on a topic as serious as revolution.

Please do watch. It was deeply touching to watch people on Pakistani television treat a discussion with respect and understated but authentic love, whilst studiously keeping it from being a shoutfest.

Room for Revolution in Pakistan Part 1

Room for Revolution in Pakistan Part 2

Room for Revolution in Pakistan Part 3

Room for Revolution in Pakistan Part 4

Room for Revolution in Pakistan Part 5

TLW said...

Deep, you're stupid, but not as stupid as the stupid reporter who had that stupid man on his stupid show. I won't even try to find it and link to it, but I heard rumours about this stupid incident from a stupid reporter who was stupid enough to even bring it up. This law is stupid, the people who "debate" about it being changed are stupid, and the most stupid are obviously those fuckers who want to let it stand as it is. What, are the stupid motherfuckers on the street going to topple the government if these laws are amended? That'ld be first, a bloody military coup in the history of the world to make sure nobody insulted Mohammad. Stupid. Punjab's capacity for stupidity probably will never cease to amaze me.

TLW said...

The clip of Reporter you put up is a good one, but I would like to mention that Maulana Tahir Ashrafi was shouting about our civil leaders, he could have also taken our very autonomous military and intelligence leaders to task as well. Maybe there is a great necessity to introduce a real maths and economics course into our Madaris' systems education because he could also have spoken about how much money and American equipment our military receives from the United States.

Aside from that, I agree that this was more or less, as sober a view as any that can be given on the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti. Although I would like to mention that nobody mentioned that the somebody needed to talk about allowing a change in the registration procedures of the blasphemy law. That is a real centre point between repealing the law and letting it stand as it does currently; as a call to murder and an instrument of abuse.