Tuesday, June 29, 2010

180 reported suicides in Pakistan

The government statistics in Pakistan have reported 180 suicides in 2010 alone. Most suicide victims ended their lives reportedly because of poverty, high prices for staples, and unemployment.

Further details are available HERE.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

McChrystal: From Cinderella to the wicked witch of the East

It is the summer of loud mouths. It started with Helen Thomas of UPI venting in unfortunate terms at the White House. She resigned the very next day. Now it’s the General’s turn. The maverick who was loved by the media just a few days ago will be made the scapegoat for talking out of the line.

The fact that Afghanistan is increasingly becoming Obama’s Waterloo will not change by firing the General. In fact, his firing will prove only two things. First, it will show that the US administration is coming to the realization that the surge in Afghanistan is unlikely to deliver the miraculous victory or even a d├ętente. Second, the realization of an imminent debacle in Afghanistan, and a more likely escalation of violence in Pakistan, is resulting in cracks of the mighty establishment in Washington DC.

These are unfortunate times. The more NATO forces fail in achieving their goals (whatever they may be) in Afghanistan, the more frustrated they will get, and the more violence it may result in. The Afghans and Pakistani civilians will continue paying with their blood for the foolhardy policies in Afghanistan.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Jundullah undeterred after its leader hanged by Iran

Jundullah militants attacked a police convoy carrying four of their accomplices to the courts in Karachi. They were successful in freeing the four, while one died during the escape. This happened almost at the same time when Iran hanged Jundullah's leader Abdolmalik Reggi for running a campaign of terror and violence in Iran, and lately in Pakistan. Reggi was caught by Iran on a flight from Kyrgyzstan to Dubai in February 2010.

The Sunni militants in Pakistan, who have been running a murderous campaign against minority Shiites and other Sunni sects, joined hands with Jundullah first in Balochistan province that borders Iran and now in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city.

The fact that terrorists outfits are now targeting across the national borders in collaboration with similar outfits in other places should be a matter of grave concern for law enforcement agencies who are accustomed to ignoring events that happen beyond their precincts boundaries.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sexualising the Hijab: An intellectual attempt

A rather dubious three-day conference about Islamic veil, which is sponsored by, among others, the Canadian government (SSHRC) will be held from June 3 to 5 at York University and the University of Toronto. Missing surprisingly from the website are the names of individuals behind the event. The link to conference organizers is still showing under construction.


Most presenters are academics from abroad. Canadian presenters are mostly graduate students. I may also add that also missing from the programme are the researchers who have indeed studied veil seriously. The book titled The Muslim veil in North America, for instance, is a serious inquiry into understanding the underlying dynamics of veil in North America. Such serious authors/researchers are obviously absent from the roster.

I find the list of presenters amusing, which includes mostly western and non-veiled Muslim women intellectualising the Islamic veil. The key note speaker is Ellie Ragland from the University of Missouri who would enlighten the audience with her very topical presentation: “The Islamic Veil, the Phallus, and the Semblant.” I for one do not understand the relevance or the utility of such intellectual self-gratification. But I am only an engineer, not a philosopher!

A review of the presentation titles suggest that the non-Canadian academics are busy in a not-so-veiled attempt to sexualize the veil and hence the references to Freud and Lacan and presentation titles including expressions such as “Islamic swim suits”, “the phallus”, “virgin desire”, “over exposed and completely covered”, “purdah and castration”, “Seductive Piety”; or to commoditise it with presentations on “Veiling Mannequins”. The Canadian presenters (mostly graduate students) are addressing the run of the mill topics, such as “Is Punk Music Haram?”

Two Canadian academics of Iranian origin are also presenting. Nima Naghibi of Ryerson University will discuss “Compassionate Subjects, Objects of Compassion: The Unveiling of Neda and the Post-Election Protests in Iran.” While Neda’s death (seen all over the world on YouTube) was indeed a very tragic incident and the ill-treatment of her family after her death by the Iranian government was even more despicable, linking her tragic death to the narrative of veil is an interesting intellectual leap. Mahdi Tourage, an Assistant Professor at the University of Western Ontario, is attempting even a more daring intellectual summersault in his presentation titled, “The (Veiled) Phallus and the Erotics of Sacrifice in the Qur’anic Tale of Abel and Cain.” 

The academics indeed have a way of talking for three days without ever addressing the primary question being debated in the West: Does the State has the right to force women to put on a veil or to take it off.