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Report: Meetup with Dr Ayesha Jalal

Young people in Pakistan need to wrest back their perspective from people like Hakimullah Mehsud’ said Dr. Ayesha Jalal in a session with bloggers at Nairang Gallery, Lahore on 22nd August. It was attended by 20 bloggers and media personnel from Lahore including Cheif Editor Pak Tea House, Raza Rumi, Saroop Ijaz, Mehmal Sarfaraz, Yasir Latif Hamdani, Aisha Sarwari, Saadia Gardezi, Zebunnisa Burki, Adnan Rasool, Awais Aftab, Rabia Mahmood, Sabahat Zakriya, Sher Ali,Aun, Samar Ataullah,Ali Sethi, Rab Nawaz and Abdul Majeed.

The purpose for which this meet-up was organized as to discuss How bloggers can make a difference in the political narrative of the country and how should they work to bring back the narrative of Pakistanis. Dr. Jalal initiated the session by pointing out that Pakistan’s perspective is not the one that people like Hakimullah or Baitullah Mehsud peddle. We need to project our own perspective. She also said that bloggers have a special responsibility which they themsleves do not yet recognize. It is the duty of bloggers to challenge the narratives that corruption, politicians or Army is resposnible for all our ills. This has become very cliched. Why don’t we highlight the fact that only 9% people in this country pay taxes. Why don’t political parties present their views and solutions regarding this issue? This is where bloggers come in. They make this issue an electoral issue and present it like this to the masses. The political power of social media needs to be tapped and used effetcively.

Blogging in Urdu or English?

The issue that interaction with audience should be in Urdu or English took most of the time during the discussion. The fact is that very few of our fellow Pakistanis understand and like to read in English Language.(Raza Rumi pointed out that this trend is being reversed slowly due to the increasing prevalence of English Language Institutes in every nook and corner of the country.) The circulation of all the English Newspapers combined is less that circulation of an established Urdu Newspaper. The same situation is present in the Pakistani Blogging Arena. Very few bloggers write in Urdu Language. There are certain technical glitches in this respect. Adnan Rasool pointed out that there are only two Urdu Scripts which can be used online. Both are difficult enough for beginners which makes learning them a hard task. Adnan also added that Pakistani bloggers, till now, are talking ABOUT people, not TO people,that they have little influence among even the upper middle class. He cited as one of the Pakistani efforts to solve the ‘Urdu Font’ problem. Dr. Ayesha was of the view that engagements with the masses is necessary(and thus the need for Urdu as the language of blogs). There has been too much ‘preaching to the converted’.  Ammar Aziz opined that content is more important that language and we need better content.

Education of History

Dr Ayesha was of the view that history is not an exact science, which is why it is not called ‘Historical Sciences’. History is a Methodology. A post-modern reading of history is necessary. History should be taught in a proper manner, from schools till the University level. We have created a ‘Cognitive Dissonance’ in Pakistani children as the ideas that are imparted to them in schools are different from reality. Due to constant indoctrination, there is a wide-spread break from reality evident in Pakistani students.  

Pakistani Identity
Dr. Jalal contended that Pakistanis, by and large, are confused about their own identities. This confusion is compounded by the narratives found in textbooks and the mainstream media. Raza Rumi added that ‘Imagined’ Identity of Pakistanis is a harbinger of a certain narrative that is based on historical myths and blatant lies. On the topic of self-hatred among Progressive Pakistanis, Dr. Jalal said, ‘It is a bad habit, Kick it Out’. She also said that we are not a failed state as western standards of a ‘Failed State’ should not be applied to Pakistan. Our systems work when we want them to work. Labelling this ‘Lack of willingness’ to make things work on the part of the state does not necessarily that we have failed as a nation.

Lack of Documentation

Dr. Ayesha was of the view that one of the major problems facing Pakistan is the lack of documentation about trends, demographics and development indicators. Adnan Rasool added that no I/O charts are available for Pakistan, regarding economic indicators and the base year for economic statisics that is assumed for Pakistan is 2004.

A Concerted Effort

It was agreed upon by all the participants that we need organized, effective and tactical blogging, to fulfill the political potential that we have. Dr. Ayesha Jalal suggested formation of a focus group of bloggers which translates the most important english blogs into Urdu.

Blasphemy Law

During the Question/Asnwer Session, the discussion drifted towards the infamous Blasphemy Law. Dr. Jalal said that the onus regarding Blasphemy Law and its effects on our society lies with the state and the attitude of state is not serious enough to tackle this issue. Blasphemy Law is a political issue, not a religious one. It was a law introduced by the British rulers to contain incitement caused by books such as ‘Rangeela Rasool’(which resulted in death of its publisher at the hands of Ilm Din). The unfortunate fact is that blasphemy law has been used by Muslims against each other more than it has been used agains Non-Muslims. The history and politics behind this Law needs to be understood and the law should be discussed in public sphere.

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15 Responses to "Report: Meetup with Dr Ayesha Jalal"

  1. AKB Pakistan Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @ YLH, RR etc

    Not a political issue but an administrative matter.


    Doesn’t it prove that you have been conducting a false and vicious propaganda against the blasphemy laws on the false basis of it being
    oppressive to the minorities, in particular to the Mirjai’s???

  2. Cynical India Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Dr. Ayesha Jalal said that we are not a failed state as western standards of a ‘Failed State’ should not be applied to Pakistan.

    Would have liked to apply an eastern or oriental standard to judge whether or not Pakistan is a ‘Failed State’. Trouble is 1)that such a standard has not been set yet, or it has been kept in secret.

  3. krash United States Internet Explorer Windows says:

    wow! is an awesome site!

  4. krash United States Internet Explorer Windows says:

  5. ahem Germany Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    to PTH and bloggers

    It is difficult (and in certain cases impossible) to be honest in a muslim or islamic or islam-based or muslim-majority society.

    Islam puts the muslims to the harsh choice: Either praise islam and call it ultimate perfect truth OR face ridicule, humiliation, vilification, persecution and physical violence.

    It is by nature and basically a street-gang-type collectivist, totalitarian ideology, since Mohammad took over Madinah and, 20 years later later, took back Makkah.

    Muslims will not be able to muster the honesty to admit this.

  6. tajender United Arab Emirates Internet Explorer Windows says:

    ahem bhai,

    nahar pe chal rahee hai panchakki
    kam kee puree hai,dhun kee pakki.

  7. AKB Pakistan Opera Windows says:


    ahem must also know that…….
    yoon tu choti he zaat bakri ki
    dil ko lagtee he baat bakri ki!!

  8. ahem Germany Internet Explorer Windows says:

    to muslims on the PTH

    Muslims will not be able to muster the honesty to admit that islam forces muslims to be dishonest. That is logical consequence of islam (=submission). Islam enforces submission under a fascist god and revelation and prophet concept.

    This dishonesty enforced by and for islam is the major reason why muslim and islam-based societies are backwards, mentally ill and violent.

    Islam is the thus the biggest producer of cowards, machos, liars, terrorists (who prefer to hide behind or among women and children or in mosques) and closed-minded self-glorifiers.

    Just ask yourself whether that is the right analysis or not.

    If muslims continue to practise deceit an d self-deceit then things will become worse, and they are becoming worse. If islam becomes stronger and muslims more in numbers then things will go down the drain of fascism rapidly. That too is happening.

    Don’t waste time ridiculing or insulting or boycotting me. That is not going to help the muslims come out of the morass.

  9. tajender United Arab Emirates Internet Explorer Windows says:

    nahar pe chal rahee hai panchakki

  10. ahem Germany Internet Explorer Windows says:

    This fascist ideology from the desert needs a nahar (water-canal) of rationality and honesty and a pavan-chakki (wind-mill) of intelligence and wisdom.

    What is going to help mankind (muslims and non-muslims) recognize that islam is a fascist, primitive, arrogant ideology. Do that.

    No use wasting time devilizing/accusing/humiliating brahmins, jews, hindus, USA etc.

  11. Kamath. Canada Safari iPad says:

    There are so many Bloggers today as they say – dime a dozen! Some fancy themselves as political philosophers, members of elite class of thinkers or ones who like to see their unmet needs of imagination satisfied.

    But , It is nice to see PTH founders and like minded bloggers getting to gether and developing a sense of purpose , direction and a mission. Good luck fellows.

  12. Kamath. Canada Safari iPad says:

    One of the many hideous laws that exist on the books in Pakistan is the Blasphemy Law. Weight of a woman’s evidence is only half the worth of a man – being the other. A couple of years ago, Pakistan govt. argued in European Parliament that it was necessary. Only few months ago, the prime minister stated that Pakistan Govt has no
    Plans to get it rid off either. Now many people are apologetic about it and put a spin on itas if it is the fault of the Brits. Does it not appeal to reason and human compassion to any one politicians or main-stream alike that this law is a medieval and barbaric In nature? Is it not time to ditch it? Europeans have done it as early as late 18th century. But Pakistan still retains it. how nice!
    Does any one need Ayesha Jalal’s blessing to act?

  13. Kamath. Canada Safari iPad says:

    Note to BJKumar: Yes, you are right. Words like “despondency” describe it extremely well. Unfortunately, it affects everybody even the unconnected human observers.

  14. TAJENDER United Arab Emirates Mozilla Firefox Windows says:



    Jake “Bakre” ne falak per yeh kaha Allah se
    Aise bande ki banaya hai ghiza too ne mujhe

    Jo tiree deeN se tire ahkaam se hai bekhhabar
    Apni marzee apne dil per chal raha hai yeh bashar

    Aise insaN ke liye maiN ne kataya hai gala
    Jiska ab Islamm se rishta hai bus meri ghiza

    Meree qurbaani ka is insaaN Ko kitna paas hai
    Aur kis kis hukm ka khhaliq ose ehsaas hai?

    Yaad hai khhaliq ose bus meri qurbaani kee baat
    Bhool baithha jo Namaaz-o Roza-o Hajj-o Zakaat

    Hukm-e qurbaani se shaayad yoon bhi hai raghbat ose
    Hai bahut marghoob mere gosht ki lazzat ose

    Meri khilqat ka yeh maqsad tha banooN sabkee ghiza
    Chund hi lete haiN lekin lahm ka mere maza

    Jeb jinki thee garam un sub ne ji bharke urhaaye
    Mera Bheja mere Gurde, meri Haddi mere paaye

    Aur kuchh aise bhi the jo moflis-o majboor the
    Ya Ilaahi meri lazzat se woh kitne door the

    Tere kuchch makhsoos bandoN ka ajab andaaz tha
    Ai Khhuda onki ghiza banne pe mujhko naaz tha

    Aaj ka insaan lekin haq se kitna door hai
    Kitna sarkash, kitan be-diN kis qadar maghroor hai

    Bus yehi faryaad hai tujhse miree mere Khuda

  15. AKB Pakistan Opera Windows says:

    jawab aaN ghazal!!


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