Imran Khan: The next PM

Imran Khan is an emerging politician.

And Asghar Khan has joined the PTI

Imran Khan

Imran Khan in APC London

Coming soon…

Test

Test

Faiz Ahmad Faiz

Faiz was a great progressive poet.

Book Fair Publicity

BOOK FAIR PUBLICITY

This comment was published in the print version of daily PakitanToday on May 14, 2011

A Book Fair sans Advertisement

Punjab University is holding the traditional book fair after 2 years’ break. This break was a joint venture of the plight of the state of security in our country and a contention between IJT and the University administration. At the end of the day, the University administration won the battle and now she’s holding a grand book fair seemingly quite successfully this year.

We should keep in mind that running a public university is entirely different from running a book fair. We have seen a bleak glimpse of the low-turn-out six-day book fair in the Aiwan e Iqbal a few days ago. It was arranged by a government organization, and we saw that it left some peculiar marks of lethargy on the face of its expected smooth and successful execution.

Before having a solo flight, the PU administration should have studied the factors that resulted in a tragic failure of the book fair held in Aiwan e Iqbal. Among these factors, the prominent most were the half-hearted marketing, and totally invisible advertisement of the fair. They did not publicize the event properly. They did not advertise it the way the Expo Book Fair was advertised, and the way the student union IJT used to market and advertise when they used to hold it at the University corridors.

If the University administration was to take the solo flight at all, there was no harm in taking the IJT’s advertisement specialists on-board before going for it. If there were some political issues there, the admin should have consulted the marketing experts teaching in its institutes like IBA and IBIT.

We have seen that the much coveted and much awaited book fair of the year has not been properly advertised in the city and beyond. We don’t see any posters, hangers and flex banners displayed around the city. The IJT used to campaign it very effectively. She used to use all the advertisement means i.e. from the word-of-mouth to print media and from banners to posters. Looking at the lukewarm advertisement, we fear that this book fair may not experience the traditional high turn-out this year. And if it happens, it will be a great disappointment for the publishers and the book-lovers, and a matter of embarrassment for the PU administration. Though the ambience, facilities and on-corridor preparations are commendable, yet the importance of advertisement cannot be over-looked. It is the advertisement that can make your mud sell at the price of gold, and the vice versa. We are sure that the administration is aware of the fact and won’t like to see their sincere efforts going in vain only because the efforts weren’t properly advertised…

eJournalism in our Universities

eJournalism in our universities

This comment was published in daily PakistanToday on May 4, 2011.

With the inception of the cyber age in the late 20th century, the world around us started changing so fast that it was almost impossible for anyone to keep the track of the changes taking place. The development of the ICTs (information and communication technologies) was mistaken for the development of the architecture of the computer machines.

Though it is true that the very architectures were also undergoing a rapid change, yet, more accurately saying, they weren’t changing in a vacuum just implicitly. That is, the change in architecture wasn’t self-motivated; rather it had to be brought about in response to the demands of the communication technologies i.e. the Internet.

We see that the Internet has become an integral part of our life. Without being online, we feel crippled. To eliminate this feeling, we tend to be online to remain uninterruptedly connected with our friends, co-workers and mentors. Social networking sites, search engines and IM service providers e.g. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, SutmbleUpon, Google, Skype etc. are the natural outcomes of the demands of this ICTs-oriented world. These sites have revolutionized the world. No field of life could be said to have insulated itself from the magnetic field of the Internet.

Almost all the desktop applications i.e.Word, Excel and their likes have been made available online. Google docs and sheets are a good example. Whatever was once present only on a desktop has now been converged to some related server. That is, Cloud Computing very much in fashion now. 

This trend reminds us of the era when computer machine was invented. The business analysts are reported to have been saying that manufacturing the computer machines would not be a profitable business, for the public would never feel the need of having a machine at homes or offices. They were convinced that even 4-5 computer machines would be more than enough to suffice the need of the entire world.

Irony; their prudent predictions are proving to be true now. The world has completed its circular journey from manufacturing one machine to one billion and shrinking back to perhaps one humongous machine having innumerable tiny clients.

 This is a new world which could never have been imagined of in the late 90s of the last century. Lawyers, doctors, engineers, businessmen, poets, managers and journalists; none can live without being connected to their peers. Their life is left paralyzed if they go offline.

A journalist has to be informed and updated of every passing moment. Use iPhone or Nokia 3310, if you are a journalist, you have to have the latest information of your beat. Otherwise, your competitor will surpass you and eventually you’ll be outclassed.

To keep your job protected from any such thrusts, you need sound background knowledge of the usage of new media i.e. alternative media/interactive media.

Using, contributing and practicing the new media is called eJournalism. eJournalism is the new-media-form of traditional journalism. The syllabus of Journalism at the university level will have to be adapted to the needs of the new media. It shall have to be re-defined in order to equip the students to cope with the needs of the ever-changing world.

There are at least FIVE areas which need an immediate attention of the higher education commission in this regard.

1- ePapers (Using and Making and Maintaining them).

2- Web Radio (learning to tune into some channel, acquiring your own channel and then producing shows and finally up-linking/ live streaming of them).

3- WebTV (Watching, Producing WebCasting TV contents, live streaming them, archiving them).

4- Blogging (contributing to a blog site, creating your own blog site, attracting ads and Search Engine Optimization of your blog site).

5- Journalists’ own web site (creating, maintaining and updating the site, as well as optimizing for the search engines and attracting advertisement for it in order to make it a sound source of income).

In addition to merely ‘introducing’ these subjects to a general student of journalism, these five subjects along with their off-shoots must be taught as a full-fledged track at the grad and masters level at our universities. So that our universities may produce the eJournalists who could be able to voice for the much-needed national integrity and in defense of sovereignty in an age of the much blunt and arrogant new media—in an age of media warfare through the implementation of cybernetics.

University of the Punjab has intended to start eJournalism as an optional subject in the 4th semester of their masters program. It is not at all sufficient. Covering the integral branches of the inevitable track in one semester and as the only one optional subject will prove to be an absolutely futile practice. This seemingly point-scoring but mala-fide practice shall confuse and distress the students, rather will ruin their zeal and zest, and as a result, frustrate the market once such passed-outs are inducted into it.

The government must pay due attention to the call of the time and appoint some really visionary media educationist, like Dr Mughees ud Din Sheikh, who could work on it realistically and chalk out a potent and fertile syllabus covering all the branches and their buds discussed above. This syllabus, then, should be sent to and implemented by all the universities of Pakistan ensuring the uniformity and modernity.

Ahmad Hammad

PML(N) Losing to Imran?

PML-N LOSING TO IMRAN?

This comment was published in the print version of PakistanToday on the 27th of April, 2011

Amid an unimpressive lot present at the presidium at Aiwan e Iqbal on the Iqbal day, Imran Khan was the only speaker who had something concrete to say. Others were eloquent, rhetorical, fiery but not practical. Imran inspired a large number of people present there by his speech which was highlighting the character of the Quaid e Azam, the vision of Iqbal and the future of a drone-plagued, poverty striken, loadshedding-paralysed Pakistan. Imran was quoting Nobel Laureates, Pakistani Scientists, Mr Jinnah’s letters, Iqbal’s philosophy of ego, and the Quran. The hall got almost empty after Imran’s departure. On listening to the remaining speakers, anyone could come to the very decision what most of the audience made after Imran was done with his inspirational words. Although everybody knows that he is neither a good orator, nor an impressive politician; yet what is undeniable of him is he is a patriot, sincere and a great inspiration for the youth. He inspires through the stats stirred in sincerity.

Stats, if quoted correctly and for a cause, can really be very crucial. He is more statistical when he talks of the wealth of the ruling and ruling-to-be politicians, and of the would-be registered voters in the 2013 general elections. These voters, as he goes on saying, would leave a decisive impact on the overall result of the upcoming elections. The PPP government has proved to be a comprehensive failure, they say. She has failed in protecting the Karachiites, providing the industry with the uninterrupted gas and electricity supply, getting rid of the influence and intervention of the military in internal and diplomatic affairs of the state, and above all, giving a real relief to the poor of Pakistan.

PML-Q minus Mushahid Hussain, Marvi Memon and Sheikh Waqas Akram is a spent-out force.

MQM doesn’t seem to win the hearts of the Punjabis in near future.

The PML-N has started showing nerves with every passing day. Imran is fast becoming a political threat to the once exiled-for-Pakistan leadership. The PML-N knows that if some party is going to lose to Imran, it would be none but the PML-N. Interestingly, the big guns of the League are ignoring the fact, or at least not dealing with it adequately. They are not doing anything practical to cope with this threat; instead, they are trying the old methods of defaming and denouncing Imran. They know that it was Imran who had been driving the nail aright, and who had been making efforts to stitch in time to save nine. They know that it was Imran who introduced the Sasti Roti Tandoors for the first time in the country.

Mian Shahbaz Sharif followed the footprints of him and implemented the idea at a larger scale, for he had got a grand machinery/pool of resources in his control, therefore he could exercise it at the provincial level. If the floods had not ruined a large part of the Pakistani lands, the Sasti Roti Scheme would still have been intact to benefit the poor. Then, it is Imran Khan who took a practical initiative for the restoration of the Judiciary back in 2007. This too was followed by the larger parties and the fruit of the credit of the restoration was picked by the PML-N.

And now, it is only Imran Khan’s sincere and brave voice which could be heard clearly among the booms and blasts of the missiles fired by the drones causing a brutal massacre of the innocent Pakistanis. He is fearless, patriot and honest. He knows that he is not an orator of Martin Luther King Jr.’s caliber, but at the same time, he seems to have absorbed Luther’s saying, “in the end, we remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”. Amid the shrills of the drones, the Pakistanis may forget the noise of them, but would never forget the silence of their leaders. And Imran knows it very well. That is why, he is agitating in Peshawar nowadays. Shahbaz Sharif, Ch Nisar and Nawaz Sharif, like Javed Hashmi and Marvi Memon should join hands with Imran in this regard. They should join the sit-in if they want to win the next elections. Though from Beijing, Shahbaz Sharif is voicing against the American atrocities in FATA and our dependence upon America, it is not enough, for everybody knows that the politicians still look at the COAS’s mood and move before giving a statement related to foreign affairs.

The PML-N must not forget the fact stated by Pushkin, the national poet of Russia, that the youth may forgive every sin of the elders but cowardice. And Imran had been Herculian whenever it came to national integrity. It is the youth again that is going to be decisive in the next elections. And they will vote for a brave voice in 2013 i.e. for the inspirational Imran who has been fearless throughout his political career, as they did in 2008 i.e. for the charismatic Nawaz Sharif who had been a symbol of hope and resilience in the wrecking times of Musharraf’s tyrannical dictatorship. The PML-N should not overlook the fact that the university students have become ardent followers of Imran. They are waiting for an Imran who is politically more mature and practically more influential. And, Imran is improving in both the dimensions so fast…

Ahmad Hammad

Pakistaniat and our Heroes

PAKISTANIAT, HEROES AND MOTHERS

This comment was published in daily PakistanToday on Saturday, February 26, 2011 and can also be read at: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/pakistan-news/Opinions/Letters/26-Feb-2011/Pakistaniat-and-our-heroes

Nations support their heroes by all means. Writers write for them and singers sing. Businessmen weigh them in gold and students go ovational. For, nations live on heroes; heroes cease to be, nations perish.

Let us confidently proclaim that the Pakistanis are a brilliant people. They are agile, intelligent and resilient. They do wonders when it comes to their integrity and prestige. They unite when earthquakes jolt their earths and floods wash them away. They unite when their players show heroics in the stadia. These sensational moments tug their true nationhood out of a seemingly unending hibernation. Otherwise they are a whining, rather aloof flock.

A question arises then naturally: why Pakistanis do not experience their nationhood i.e. Pakistaniat when there is no emergency or crisis? Why do not they chalk out some contingency plans to avoid the crises ahead? They wait till a crisis hits and makes them feel Pakistaniat, upon which they unite and respond to the crises. To name a few, post-Dhaka Fall days, Pokhran Nuclear Tests, Kashmir earthquake, emergency plus on the judiciary by Musharraf, floods 2010 and a few high-profile cricket and hockey matches.

Should anyone doubt the fact that situational and momentary heroes do not leave lasting impressions on the life of a nation?

Nations need long-lasting heroes to inspire generations to come. For this purpose, great nations continually work on infusing nationhood and persuading individuals to become heroes. Their heroes are born before the situation arises; unlike us who wait for a situation to arise and then start searching for a hero to appear and rescue.

A true national hero is born when a chaste sense of nationhood prevails all over his deeds, thoughts and interests.

For a truly Pakistani hero, Pakistaniat is something which should run in his veins every moment he lives. The realization of Pakistaniat is something that one should start experiencing right from the cradle of one’s mother, for the true heroes are born to only those nations which experience nationhood and need their national dreams to come true through some heroics. These heroics are exhibited by the real heroes and the nations remain indebted to them for ages. If we look at the equation of the hero-nation relationship, we shall find that they are directly proportional to each other—weaker the nation, lesser the heroes in number.

Mothers play a pivotal role in nation building. They nourish heroes and hero-nourishing nations. Therefore, while making a sincere effort in inculcating Pakistaniat among the Pakistanis, intellectuals like Dr Jamil Jalibi (of Pakistani Culture) should address the mothers of Pakistan.

It is the cradle of a mother that shapes up the personality of an individual. An individual is convinced to accomplish a towering, a heroic task only when s/he is taught to be daring. And dare is a virtue which comes in a package (training) that is handed over to an individual from the mother.

In an age of poverty and famine of literary achievements in Pakistan, poets, writers and intellectuals will have to sacrifice their personal interests and ignore the criticism the ignorant pass; and will have to re-assemble themselves for the sake of nationhood i.e. Pakistaniat; as they did in 1965 or in the times of earthquake 2005 for that matter. The only alteration they will have to do to their plan is to re-direct their stream of creativity towards the mothers of Pakistan.

More the mothers of Pakistan are literate and equipped with the sense of Pakistaniat, brighter the chances of having a large number of some true heroes. For these heroes are the only architects of tomorrow’s shining Pakistan; a Pakistan that was once conceived by Iqbal and visualized by Jinnah. 

Ahmad Hammad

Dr Mughees: A Dynamic Dean

A DYNAMIC DEAN—DR MUGHEES

Dr Mughees ud Din Sheikh’s scintillating era came to an end on the 13th of this month. During his tenure at the Institute of Communication Studies, University of Punjab, Dr Mughees had become a synonym of the institute. People living abroad used to recognize the institute with his name. It was so because he drastically revolutionized the institute altogether. He introduced the reforms that not only brought some radical changes in the curricula, but also to the infrastructure of the institute. The induction of multi-media lab, audio/video lab, FM radio channel, TV channel, Ph. D. lab, Master in Development Journalism, Master in Film and TV production and the Replica programs are some of his towering tasks which he accomplished during his directorship.

It was due to the outcome of his zeal and zest that the neighboring countries started sending their citizens to this institute in order to get equipped with the latest knowledge of Media.

 Dr Mughees used to dream of setting up a Media University in Pakistan. Some critics raise fingers, some others eye-brows, but it is a fact that in an age of fast-growing and fast-evolving media dimensions, a prudent eye can’t help seeing that sooner or later Pakistani educationists will have to fulfill Dr Mughees’ dream; that is, setting up a university dedicated to the media sciences only. For, we know now that the paradigm shift from traditional media to new media, and the media ecology perpetually taking place are to be studied quite keenly, wisely and critically if we are to live in today’s world where wars are fought at the battlefields of paper, sound wave and screen instead of the soil. The gulf war is a good example in recent times; and Dr Goebbels’ techniques are not a mystery anymore.

We are a nation of about 180 million human beings. If we look at the proportion of media to population of our country, we find that we are lagging far behind as compared to the modern world. India progressed in Media Industry and IT industry by leaps and bounds. It is only because of paying respectable heed to the Media industry that Indian film industry has become the largest film industry in the world. They produce films like Chak De India and Swades to boost the morale of their nation. And we produce senseless talk-shows which demoralize us.

We are comprehensively failed in understanding the importance of media as a useful means of influencing people within and beyond the country.

It is so because we are not having the real scholars and analysts of the media productions—be it films or news. We have not started studying the media dynamics scientifically till date.

We, the 180 million, would have won so many wars including the so-called war on terror, and redressed the issues of Karachi, Baluchistan and illiteracy, if we had developed a vibrant but sane and intelligent media industry supervised by the media scientists.

By setting up a media university, Dr Mughees wanted to produce the very media scientists. The scientists who could lead us to an informed Pakistan, for, it is the informed Pakistan that will turn into a knowledgeable Pakistan; a tolerant, developed and a real welfare state.

Dr Mughees had an urge of setting up a Media Cunsumer’s Society as well. It was to sensitize the people, who utilize the media products, that not everything is to be consumed without putting brains into exercise. The consumers should be the commanding force when it comes to the media products. That is, they should guide the media industry as to which products are hazardous and which are beneficial.

These lines have been written in the hope that the vision of Dr Mughees will be materialized by his successors at the Institute, and that the worthy doctor will be appreciated by the state of Pakistan by setting up a Media University, and appointing him as the first rector/vice chancellor of it.

On Media University

ON MEDIA UNIVERSITY

This comment was published in PakistanToday on Friday, the 4th of February, 2011.

It is a fact that in an age of fast-growing and fast-evolving media dimensions, either the government of Pakistan or a business firm, sooner or later, will have to set up a university dedicated to the media sciences only. For, we know now that the paradigm shift from traditional media to new media, and the media ecology perpetually taking place are to be studied quite keenly, wisely and critically if we are to live in today’s world where wars are fought at the battlefields of paper, sound wave and screen instead of the soil. The gulf war is a good example in recent times; and Dr Goebbels’ techniques are not a mystery anymore.

 We are a nation of about 180 million human beings. If we look at the proportion of media to population of our country, we find that we are lagging far behind as compared to the modern world. India progressed in Media Industry and IT industry by leaps and bounds. It is only because of paying respectable heed to the Media industry that Indian film industry has become the largest film industry in the world. They produce films like Chak De India and Swades to boost the morale of their nation. And we produce senseless talk-shows which demoralize us.

We are comprehensively failed in understanding the importance of media as a useful means of influencing people within and beyond the country. It is so because we are not having the real scholars and analysts of the media—be it the production of films or presentation of news. We have not started studying the media dynamics scientifically till date.

We, the 180 million, would have won so many wars including the so-called war on terror, and redressed the issues of Karachi, Baluchistan and illiteracy, if we had developed a vibrant but sane and intelligent media industry supervised by the media scientists. By setting up a media university we will be able to produce the very media scientists; the scientists who could lead us to an informed Pakistan.

In other words, the dream of living in an informed Pakistan could be materialized by producing the people who have technically, culturally and intellectually sound approach toward studying the media ecology, alternative/social/new media, development journalism, media management, film/tv/radio/theatre productions, pajamas media, brain reprogramming, media consumption, and media effects. Merely one department imparting the education of media or even an entire institute for that matter is not sufficient anymore, for the fast-evolving avenues of media demand a full-blown university where the areas (a few of them have been mentioned above) could be explored critically and creatively.

The un-necessary delay in setting up a media university leaves a question mark on face of modern Pakistan. If the health sciences university, medical university, IT university, veterinary university, agriculture university, space sciences university, Islamic university and engineering university have been set up, what refrains us from setting a media university especially when the WikiLeaks effect has dramatically changed the modern world—an informed world?

 The times ahead will prove that only the knowledge-economies would survive on the globe. And we know that knowledge is the processed form of information, as information is the processed form of data. Therefore, we need to share, analyze/process and spread information in order to turn Pakistan into a knowledge economy.

To achieve this goal, that is, to survive in future, we are to set up a media university as soon as possible.

Dr Mughees ud Din Sheikh, the former dean of social and behavioral sciences, envisioned such a media university way before his retirement. But we could not benefit ourselves from his vision. Conforming to the maxim, ‘it is never too late’, this worthy doctor must be appreciated by the state of Pakistan by setting up a Media University and appointing him as the first rector/vice chancellor of it.

Jinnah and Nawaz

JINNAH AND NAWAZ

This comment was published in daily PakistanToday on Saturday, December 25, 2010. You can read this comment by clicking at: http://epaper.pakistantoday.com.pk/E-Paper/Lahore/2010-12-25/page-14/detail-1

Turn on the heater in chilly winters and you would not come across the gas to turn your room cozy. Switch on the fan in a suburban area or even in a metropolis in summers and you would not find it soothing the soul- scorching heat. You cannot take a respectable ride while travelling through the public conveyance. You cannot make the both ends meet without wearing some extra wrinkles at your face in early forties. You are not awarded of what you deserve against a sincere toil. Ironically, you can avoid all the calamities mentioned if you belong to the ruling class of Jinnah’s Pakistan. Jinnah, whose vision of Pakistan was based on equality; no matter what caste, creed or color a citizen has. Unfortunately, even after losing the eastern lands, we couldn’t practically comprehend the Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan. Had we imbibed it when he was still alive, we would neither have lost the lands and nor the waters, nor the security of life even.

Now when we have lost almost everything but hope; and we must be prudently thankful to the independent judiciary, vibrant media and a few patriotic politicians for the noble deed, for they have saved our hope from being lost into extinction for good. And the hopes have grown even stronger especially when the 19th amendment has just been passed which shows that the stakeholders of a modern Pakistan are more eager and inclined to exercise the democracy only.

A purely democratic Pakistan is the great Quaid’s vision. He categorically said in his policy speech on August 11, 1947 that, “If you change your past and work together in a spirit that everyone of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges, and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make”.

Nawaz’s CoP (Charter of Pakistan) also emphasizes the guarantee of the perpetuity of democracy in Pakistan. It can really be a workable proposal if a few slight amendments are introduced. The great Quaid never depended upon or even included the armed forces to ensure the system working safe and sound. Rather he trusted the masses. He founded the structure of a new country with the stone of ballet, and not bullet.

Nawaz Sharif should also exclude the forces from the list of the ‘stakeholders’ whom he is asking for signing a 25 years’ charter. Secondly, once the charter has been drafted in association with all the political parties excluding others i.e. the judiciary, media and civil society, it should be put to a referendum, for the masses have elected the chief part of the present ‘stakeholders’ i.e. legislators for five years only. How then they could be qualified to sign a charter chalking out a 25-years plan?

Along with the other points of the charter, the question of the inclusion of the other stakeholders should be raised in that referendum. If the masses say yes to the inclusion, it is fine. Otherwise, the authority should be left with the elected representative of the masses only. Media, judiciary and the civil society will never do something bad against the state now. For, it is the media that brought democracy back through covering the struggle of the civil society to restore an independent judiciary.

So, no smell of danger from these corners should be sniffed. If to be sniffed at all, that must be from the opportunist politicians and adventurist military generals. To seal them for good, an authoritative and sovereign parliament is sufficient.

However, a new social contract is still needed to be signed keeping the society of a modern Pakistan in view. And that social contract between the state and her citizens could be drafted with the help of the findings after a referendum on CoP. Once drafted, included into the constitution and implemented in letter and spirit, it would be deemed that a step towards the Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan had been taken.