Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Floods in Punjab, Pakistan 2013

Greetings Friends!
I recently went to Lahore and captured following shots of people strangled due to heavy monsoon rain. Flood has engulfed the major adjoining areas of Lahore and the flood water has caused massive destruction. People's lives are at a standstill - everything lost. They are on the roads, literally.
See for yourself:

Floods in Punjab, Pakistan 2013 by saqibtanveer

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Seths of Pakistani Media, Anchors and Lowlife Staffers

Writer is a journalist and a political commentator. He tweets at @SaqibTanveer

It has been narrated on the authority of Hadhrat Jabir Bin Abdullah (May Allah be well pleased with them) that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said:  “Hamza Bin Abdul Muttalib is the leader of all martyrs and that One is also the Leader of the Martyrs who raises the standard of truth before a tyrant and enjoins what is good to him and stops him from what is forbidden and that king martyrs him.  (Mustadarak ‘Alas Sahihain, Hadith No. 4872)”

The above mentioned Hadith is what made me who I am today. My motivation to become a journalist was solely this Hadith. The responsibility to question and account the rulers that have oppressed us for all these year is my mission as a journalist. But in this hunt and journey of standing up to these tyrant rulers, we (journalists) have forgotten to account the people who pay our monthly bills.

The channel owners, precisely.

Utility bills unpaid – landlord insulting and banging the door every day demanding the rent – family expecting their breadwinner to send some money back home. This is not a scene of Hollywood movie featuring a broke junkie or a failed professional. This is the everyday story of a Pakistani media person or a ‘lowlife staffer’.

Salary-delay in Pakistani media industry is not a rarity, in fact a common practice these days. You are expected to give 110% while on the job but when it comes to getting paid, you are asked to drink the nirvana of patience.

Every other channel is involved in this malpractice. Many haven’t paid their employees for the last 6 months or so.
I am also a part of that same media. Though I haven’t had any substantial effect of delay in payment of salary against my services, primarily because I live with my parents and have no real responsibility or liability unlike majority of my colleagues, who have come from all corners of the country – in search of a career – in search of a living.

The media owners, who have opened channels to get an influential standing in the country, have their coffers flowing with cash but when it comes to paying the employees, all the hitches in the world creep up. And the pathetic thing is that these owners don’t give a damn about their liabilities towards employees.

Salary of an Assistant Producer equals to one night expense of our media Seths i.e. top of the line prostitute and a bottle of alcohol every night or the fuel for their lush BMWs. But their personal lust and greed is more important than what they owe.

Salary delay issue cannot be attributed only to the channel owners/tycoons. Our media anchors and newsroom controllers have a fair share of blame to take. Our media anchors, all day long, blast the politicians for their incompetence and corruption but when it comes to their own pals, they keep mum. They champion the cause of masses but somehow overlook the cause of their own brethren. They pose as if they are the brave ones but, in actual, they are epitome of shallowness. They talk about the problems of whole world but cannot dare to speak about the rights of their own employees, their own researchers who work all day long to keep the ratings of their one hour program on the top.

And then how can we forget ourselves i.e. the lowlife staffers. It is, we, who allow these bloodsucking owners to suck our blood. We’ve grown so indifferent that injustices do not seem any tyranny to us. One can understand that job security is an integral part of anyone’s profession and everyone has his own ambitions but these very ambitions, sometimes, become a hindrance in our principles.

We, the lowlife staffers, know that market is not healthy when it comes to employment opportunities, so we try to cling on to whatever we have. We are afraid that if we ever stood up to our Seth then he may send us packing – which he eventually will.

I, starting today, have decided to stand up to these bloodsucking monsters and demand what is mine. I am no one and I know my small voice won’t have a substantial effect but someone has to start from somewhere. Here’s my first step. I will dedicate whatever unemployed professional life, I may have, to account these Seths. I will see to it that their actions do not go unnoticed and unaccounted. Emotional but the right thing to do.

And, I have a message to my fellow brothers who have been the victims of this corporate slavery, “It is up to us, whether we want to go down fighting or get stabbed in the back, knowingly.”

Monday, July 1, 2013

Promises Made - Promises Broken

Naya Pakistan,(new) Roshan Pakistan,(enlightened) free and fair elections, rigging, terrorism, overseas Pakistani voters etcetera – all the fuss is over.  Elections have been held and power has been transferred from one civilian government to another, for the first time ever in the history of the land of the pure.
Things are as smooth as ever.
After all the allegations of rigging during the polls, almost everybody has accepted that a new setup will be in place.  Nawaz Sharif the new Prime Minister– Shahbaz once again Khadim-e-Aala and Imran Khan, new leader of the opposition. Our problems are going to be solved. So romantic, isn’t it?
But hang on a second, things are not as black and white as they seem – there are too many grey areas.
Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, created a lot of hue and cry against the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz and Muttahida Qaumi Movement over the rigging of elections and the killing of their leader, Shahid Zehra in Karachi, respectively.
But all this has gone out of the window now.
PTI has contacted the very same “killers” of Zehra Shahid both directly (via Shah Mehmood Qureshi) and indirectly (via Sheikh Rasheed) for the election of the opposition leader. PTI has embraced the same lion that once stole their mandate in Lahore and vowed to work with Nawaz Sharif after a conversation with General Kayani.
Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz, champion of nationalists and the right-wing, banged the drums of “no drone strikes” before the election campaign but after emerging victorious from the elections and getting a pat on the back from Barack Obama, their stance has softened on these remote-controlled attacks.
The issues that dictated the election campaign have subsided after the elections – as always.  The questions  of drones and load-shedding, though pretty much discussed on television, has been placed on  the back burner since political circles are busy deciding the portfolios of ministers.  One can argue that ministers are the ones who will solve the problems but my question here is over the priority of the politicians.
While PML-N plans to end the circular debt by printing more money or selling bonds, the issue of drones and the violation of sovereignty remains unheeded.  PTI – staunch opponents of drone strikes – have already reiterated their stance on the drone strikes and they know that PML-N will never be able to stop these attacks until the Obama administration decides to end them, obviously for its own interests.  And PTI will play that card for the duration of this government.
For me, the future is pretty much decided, that is, everything will go on as it has done for the last 65 years.  Nawaz is elated after getting a third term, Imran Khan is content with his government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Pakistan People’s Party has its own government in Sindh.  Everybody is in government and everybody is happy.  If there is anyone absent from government, it is the people and the people’s will.
We all thought that the votes cast by the general public meant that their mandate and their wishes would be carried out by THEIR representative but alas, we haven’t been able to see any substantial implementation of the will of the people.  At least, not so far.
Muhammad Saqib Tanveer is assistant producer with Capital TV Pakistan and a political commentator.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Imran Khan – The Bat-Man and His Change

Writer is a political commentator and renders his services to Capital TV as Assistant Producer (Twitter: SaqibTanveer)
Imran Khan has been running the Sharif brothers ragged in the political battlefield of Punjab. The two Sharifs have been roaming around whole of Punjab to counter the attractive ‘rhetoric’ of change of Imran Khan. The bat of Imran Khan is clearly producing sixes that has left the lion thinking.
Sharifs may feel threatened with the presence of Khan in Punjab, as it breaks the traditional hegemony of two parties in Pakistan but, actually – much hasn’t changed. The rhetoric of Imran Khan, to bring about a change and moving away from the politics of elect-ables, has been blown by his recent actions i.e. induction of turncoats and not being able to present pragmatic and implementable solutions to complex problems.
The mantra of change has always been seductive to the masses, primarily because of the incompetence of previous government. As the clich√© goes; it isn’t the opposition that wins the elections, it is the government that loses. People want change and desperation leads them to anyone who spearheads the campaign of change, be it Barack Obama, Tahirul Qadri or Imran Khan.
Bringing about a change, especially in a place like Pakistan, is not as easy as it may seem. Though I completely agree with Imran Khan when he says that he can end major corruption in 90 days, as it only takes will and honesty.
Imran Khan will definitely come in to power one day, not sure if next term is his.
But his agenda of change – from within – seems highly impossible. Ending the politics of dynasty and elect-ables is something that cannot be done from within. This sort of change can be brought in the urban area but our rural area is poles apart, when it comes to both, facilities and electoral dynamics.
Imran Khan’s focus has been Punjab and Punjab is all about rural areas.
People in rural areas are not concerned with party’s manifesto, economic policy, stance on war on terrorism etcetera etcetera.
Recently, I was in my village and attended a lot of baithaks (formal sittings of elders of village) and all their talk was related to elections. They all were active, in fact, proactive and excited about the upcoming elections. Though all of them were interested in the predictions on who would emerge as the winner in their constituency, none of them was concerned about the background and capability of the candidates.
All they were interested in was the caste of the candidate and his previous allegiance with the village.
One candidate and previous MNA is commonly known as a murderer and car lifter and there have been many cases pending against him in the courts but no one is concerned with his criminal record.
A recent decision by the head of my baradari (caste) was to vote and campaign for one particular candidate and all the baradari has to follow that decision now. No element of freedom to cast vote for personal choice.
This is the story of virtually every rural constituency in Punjab and this is where Nawaz Sharif has been successful. He has been there and done that while Imran Khan is a rookie, when it comes to rural politics.
If Imran Khan has to come into power then he will have to follow the suit of status-quo i.e. emulate the way Nawaz Sharif or any other party in Pakistan has been doing so – the politics of elect-ables.
And Khan has been able to deviate from his idealistic standards and lean towards the more pragmatic ones and has become an agent of status-quo. Even if Imran Khan comes to power, he will never be able to break the shackles of status-quo, in fact, if he has to come into power then that can only be with the help of people guarding the status-quo.
Imran can hit sixes with his bat very well and win the crowd with his sixes but will these sixes help him win the match? That remains to be seen.
The question is what sort of bat does Imran plans to bring? If it is the same bat that brought us the worldcup, then I would love to hold it but if by bat, he means the animal then I am sure, the lion is ready to swallow it. Choice is yours, Mr. Bat-Man! And you are definitely out of options.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Iran for Pakistan: A Friend or a Foe?

Writer is a News Producer with Saach.TV and a political commentator based in Islamabad.
Twitter: @SaqibTanveer

Iran has been donning the attire of the untouchable for so long. Casted aside by international powers, specifically the west.
However, for Pakistan, Iran is a country that Pakistan can never take its eye off.
Pakistan has endured a lot in the last five or six years or so, both economically and security wise. While Pakistan has waged a war under its own territory, Iran has been able to expand and flex its muscles across the region, be it the establishment of a pro-Iran regime in Iraq or Afghanistan or be it trade with major powers including Russia, China and India.
Looking at the history of relations between the two countries, one gets mixed signals. There have been times when the interests of the two have coincided while there have also been times when there has been a conflict. Current scenario is not any different. While economically both the countries want to trade with each other, as both have granted Most Favorite Nation (MFN) status to each other, geo-politically their destination is not the same.
Iran is a country that has a history of keeping its economic and political relations aside. Iran has a great animosity with Turkey but it is exporting its electricity to Turkey. Iran vis-à-vis United States, is the same. Iran is still allowing US to pass through Strait of Hormuz.
Iran has been trying to get cozy with Pakistan in the recent years by enticing it with several offers including its gas and electricity and it has been able to seduce Pakistan, to some extent. It is better for both the countries to keep going with their economic relations as both countries need each other despite ‘soft pressure’ from western powers.
Iran, isolated by the world, needs partners with which it can trade and has been able to find solid ones including the likes of India and Russia. On the other hand, Pakistan is starved of virtually everything – from peace to energy. And there is no better place than Iran for Pakistan to get both peace and energy, but can it find both simultaneously is the million dollar question.
Pakistan and Iran are currently on a honeymoon period. Romancing economically.
But when it comes to political issues, Iran and Pakistan are poles apart. There are a host of issues keeping the two countries apart.
Gwadar port is an asset that Pakistan values a lot but Iran has serious reservations on Pakistan’s port as its functioning would dent the Chabahar port of Iran, resulting in all the trade to Central Asia routing from Gwadar rather than Chabahar.  Iran would never ever want to lose that precious strategic asset, it has in the shape of Chabahar. And this is the very reason for the theories floating that Iran has been active in Balochistan to destabilize the province and jeopardize the Gwadar port.
Apart from the Gwadar port, Afghanistan is another utmost priority of the two countries. Current regime of Afghanistan, headed by Northern Alliance’s Hamid Karzai, is known to be pro-Iran.
Pakistan, on the other hand, hasn’t had a good relationship with Northern Alliance. The problem will arise when the US will withdraw and the talks for a new regime will begin. Pakistan will always favor Taliban instead of Northern Alliance and Iran will want the exact opposite, though Iran has started to increase its ties with Taliban. Still Iran would fancy Northern Alliance over Taliban.
Peace in Pakistan is directly linked to Afghanistan and Pakistan would never want any regime in Afghanistan that has any hostile intentions – North Alliance is not very much cordial with Pakistan. This is another issue, where both the countries do not see eye to eye.
Obviously, when one sees the relations of Iran and Pakistan, one must also keep the wishes of United States in mind, as it is one of the main string-pullers in the region.
United States may beat the drums of being anti-Iran but from inside, the rogue posture of Iran serves the purpose of US in the region. A rogue Iran keeps Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel dependent on United States. Plus Iran is also helping United States in not letting the regime of Bashar Al-Assad fall.
Regarding Pakistan, US would definitely want Iran and Pakistan to be on the same page when it comes to formation of a new set-up in Afghanistan. So, apparently, there won’t be any ‘substantial’ eye brows raised by US over Iran and Pakistan trade relations. But there may well be problems when the issue of Central Asia will be on table, but that is a totally different ball game.
It is difficult to ascertain how Iran and Pakistan will work together politically but one thing is for sure that both Pakistan and Iran has so much to offer each other. For me, economically Iran can be Pakistan’s darling but politically, I see them as foemen.