Oh Kashmala

I ask you, nay demand, to spend an hour listening to the The Musharraf Government Makes Its Case at the Asia Society. You will hear from such luminaries as:

Dr. Nasim Ashraf, Minister of State, Government of Pakistan; Chairman, National Commission for Human Development.
Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif, Minister of Tourism and Youth Affairs, Government of Pakistan.
Ms. Kashmala Tariq, Former Member, National Assembly of Pakistan.

The Q&A is really what you must hear. Kudos to the NY audience members.

Chapati Review: Wristcutters, A Love Story

(Suggested listening while reading this review: click here; don’t bother to watch the clip, since it’s just a fan slideshow) The film version of Etgar Keret’s novella “Kneller’s Happy Campers” (which is also recreated in the graphic novel Pizzeria Kamikaze) has finally been released in the US (see the earlier review of Keret’s work here). Despite some major and possibly regrettable alterations to the setting and plot, it is still an excellent movie. The biggest disappointment is the location. The story takes place in an afterlife universe where people go after they have committed suicide. In the novella and graphic novel, this place is a city and surrounding countryside that bears a remarkable resemblance to Tel Aviv. The movie was shot in the Wristcutters: bleak landscapeUnited States in run-down parts of LA and somewhere near the Nevada-California border, which makes sense, since most cinematic universes are relocated to California. The characters are now mostly American, or recent immigrants to America. Choosing to make the whole movie American and losing the Israeli element of course robs the story of some of its original flavor, although in the novella the place is never named, and is only meant to resemble the lousy places where the suicides lived before they killed themselves. Suicide is not a culturally flat construct and in the context of an ironic Israeli tale it takes on an especially dark and provoking resonance. Goran DukicOn the other hand, the Croatian director, Goran Dukic, has done a superb job choosing the grimmest and most derelict locations imaginable, and this does make up for the initial disappointment that our hero is now from New Jersey and his life has probably improved quite a bit now that he is dead and living in California.
Continue reading Chapati Review: Wristcutters, A Love Story

Tick Tock X

Pervez Musharraf became a civilian today. The elections are scheduled and candidates across the country are filing their candidacy papers – in great numbers, especially in the troubled regions. This despite great debate across the two major political parties, the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz on whether to participate or boycott the elections. Their hesitance is understandable. Pervez Musharraf, as a civilian President will rule under the 1973 Constitution which has the oft-used Eighth Amendment to the Article 58, enacted by the last dictator Zia ul Haq in 1985. The Amendment grants the President the power to “dissolve the National Assembly where, in his opinion,…the Government of the Federation cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and appeal to the electorate is necessary”. The amendment was used first by Zia ul Haq against the civilian government of Muhammad Khan Junejo, then by Ghulam Ishaq Khan against Benazir Bhutto, then by Ghulam Ishaq Khan against Nawaz Sharif and again by Farooq Leghari against Benazir Bhutto. The last Nawaz Sharif government nullified this power of the President by passing the Thirteenth Amendment Act in 1997. In 2002, under the Legal Framework Order, General Musharraf fixed it right back.

Basically even if these elections take place as scheduled, even if all the political parties participate, even if they are fair, open and untampered elections (to whatever extent possible) … President Pervez Musharraf can, at his will, dismiss the elected government when he pleases. Historians predicting the future need only point to the past.

D-man, sitting in SF, demanded “I want a post about sharif’s impact in CM”. Well, now. CM doesn’t do requests, my dear friend. And, much recent evidence to the contrary, neither is CM a “Daily News and Commentary” blog. My passion for democratic reform and my love for all the people fighting the good fight in homistan compels me to order all of you to go read the students and professionals in Pakistan every day: The Emergency Times, Rise of Pakistan, Teeth Maestro. Seriously. Forget this desk-bound, ivory-tower-chained, pandit in Chicago.

As for the Sharifs, I can only imagine doing a post on Tehmina Durrani and Shahbaz Sharif – but only if lapata agrees to paint their wedding photo.

See Tick Tock Series … IX, VIII, VII, VI, V, IV, III, II, I for our journey so far.

Sunday Reading for the Decadent

Guy TrebayThe time has come to take Sepoy to task with regard to his blanket condemnation of the New York Times. I am willing to cede the point that numerous op-ed writers for that newspaper of record often appear to lack even the most basic skills needed in making a logical argument. In the case of Maureen Dowd, of course, logical argument is not, it is hoped, even a goal. In her column, the formula of pegging every political figure and situation to a corresponding character in a widely viewed prime-time hit television show does not require logical argument, but only a fit of insinuating pique. What those who bewail the fall of quality reporting and argument in the pages of the editorials and international news at the Times need to understand is that in the newspaper produced by the most decadent city of a declining and falling empire, the best writing will not be found in those sections. While reading the book reviews yesterday, I was idly wondering why no one wrote so well nor so wittily as Noël Coward these days, when I happened to pick up the Style section. On the front cover was a story about a man named Andre J who was featured on the cover of French Vogue last month. While the topic did not interest me much, I noted that the author was one Guy Trebay, whose work I had previously admired in numerous articles, but especially in one about 24 hour gyms in Manhattan. The article was easily the best piece of writing in this Sunday’s paper, a 21st century profile written in the style of a 19th century romance, with magnificent sentences such as this:

And so it was that Andre J. — who had most recently been style-channeling Cher and compulsively Google-searching the late Detroit-born model and beauty and heroin addict Donyale Luna, and evolving his personal appearance to express what he thinks of as “a 60s, not mod, but mod-ish, and hippie look” that also contains elements of 1970s blaxploitation films — found his way to Mr. Weber’s compound by bus.

Continue reading Sunday Reading for the Decadent

Missing in Pakistan

Missing in Pakistan is a short documentary written and directed by Ziad Zafar, an independent journalist and filmmaker. It was shot in February and March 2007 and highlights one of the key causes of the judicial and political crisis in Musharraf’s Pakistan: the extra-legal disappearances of ordinary citizens at the hands of Military Intelligence. It reveals, as well, that the average Pakistani citizen can easily draw a stark connection between US ideals and policy with the realities in Pakistan. It is time we did the same here.

The documentary was to be screened at FAST-NU in Lahore. The screening was halted by the administration of the University at the behest of the government. Please read this account by students at FAST-NU to get the details. [via]

The Cliopatria Awards

I have been lucky enough to be a member of Cliopatria – the group blog of historians – for a long while now. We host an annual Cliopatria Awards, where we highlight the best in history blogging. Please take a moment to nominate someone or some post from the desi/history blogosphere. I hope to do my own nominating as soon as I catch my breath. And I will share my nominations here. Two excellent places to help you pick are the Asian History Carnival and the History Carnival.

Nominations will close Nov 30th.

  • Best Individual Blog
  • Best Group Blog
  • Best New Blog
  • Best Post
  • Best Series of Posts
  • Best Writer
  • Results will be announced at the AHA in January (which I will be attending and would love to meet fellow SAists at…)