Run Up to 14th August


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Pakistan’s independence day, August 14, is around the corner and it seems to me that Pakistanis are desperate for good news to give them something to celebrate.

Many private television news networks have changed their logos to a shade of green. An animated spray can flits around one logo changing it from blue to the colour of the flag. On another news channel, you see an animated letter skulk onto the ticker tape to fling a big ball of green paint on its twirling logo. A gigantic neon green number, counting down to The Day descends from the sky into the screen with a thump reminding me of Space Odyssey 2001. News anchors are wearing flag pins on their lapels.

By the way, does anyone remember who started that trend? American presidents –Richard Nixon in the 1970s and, in the post 9/11 world, George W Bush – have been the ones to pin the red, white and blue on their lapels. Next thing you knew, it was Tony Blair with the Union Jack and, soon enough, General Pervez Musharraf had the old star and crescent on his Amir Adnan sherwanis and Armani suits.

But I’m going off on a tangent. I was talking about our green-hued news channels, but is there any good news to celebrate? Well, Baitullah Mehsud is dead, or is he? He most likely is, but the back and forth from the government may not have been the best strategy. On Twitter, mailatimes had one of the funniest tweets on the issue (and there were many). ‘Rehman Malik: I can confirm that we can not completely confirm the killing of BM but can confirm that this is a non confirmation. Questions?’ For hours, moving into days, we’ve been in a state of limbo. From the funniest Baitullah Mehsud tweet series, here’s another one from Alalazoo: ‘He’s dead. He’s alive. Dead. Alive. Dead. Alive. Dead.’ And did it really have to be a US drone strike that (maybe) got him in the end? Couldn’t he simply have been killed in the military offensive in Swat? Couldn’t we be allowed to rejoice that we had gotten Public Enemy No. 1?

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Let’s move on to other big news: the Gojra massacre. Yes, that’s right, the Gojra massacre. Not ‘incident.’ It was a massacre. No occasion to celebrate there. It’s not over yet by any means. On Sunday, Asma Jehangir of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan held a press conferencewarning that ‘extremists were still threatening Christians in Gojra and the tension was building up again.’ The Christians of Pakistan are marking today as a Black Day in protest of Gojra. Traditionally, though, August 11 is observed as Minority Day here. I asked for tweets on the issue, and here’s what most people had to say: ‘That’s right! Keep pushing the negative agenda.’ What does that even mean? Apparently, in Pakistan, to be self-critical is to ‘push the negative agenda.’ If you were a Christian, Hindu, Ahmedi or woman in this country, you might not be saying that. There can be no change without self-examination, people!

What didn’t make it to the news channels but came up on page two of the Dawn newspaper was a story about some teenagers who cleaned up Aabpara in Islamabad. They are A Level students who call themselves Zimedar Shehris (Responsible Citizens). In the mid-morning heat, these kids walked down the street wearing masks and gloves and picked up litter thrown on the pavement. They started their movement in Lahore, as The New York Times reported, and decided to bring it to the federal capital. It’s pretty impressive to have civic responsibility in a country where you don’t always have civic amenities.

Like I said, not big news, but good news all the same. But hey, there’s a giant acid green number landing on my television screen. That means four more days to go. It is Pakistan. Anything can happen.

This post was first published on 11th August 2009 by

One Response to “Run Up to 14th August”

  1. 1 Run Up to 14th August | Tea Break

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