Posted By Malik
I came across this year’s Press Freedom Index. International media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders has been issuing the index since 2002. The index is self-explanatory about how some countries in the world are averse to the freedom of the press in spite of doing very impressively in some other domains of life. Ironically, Pakistan has improved its ranking this year by jumping from 159 in the index of 175 countries to 151 out of 178 this year. Of course, this is not something to be very proud of. We have a long way to go.
For your interest, I am providing this year’s rankings for all countries represented in Humphrey Fellowship Program at ASU. Congratulations, Macedonia for doing better!
- Macedonia 68
- Croatia 63
- Mongolia 76
- Bangladesh 126
- Turkey 138
- Pakistan 151
- Sri Lanka 158
- China 171
Now, here is the disturbing part. The report stated: “It is disturbing to see several European Union member countries continuing to fall in the index. If it does not pull itself together, the European Union risks losing its position as world leader in respect for human rights. And if that were to happen, how could it be convincing when it asked authoritarian regimes to make improvements? ”
The BRICs – Brazil, Russia, India and China, the report observed, many have made significant improvement in their economic growth but their march towards press freedom has not been very encouraging.
” Russia, which had a particularly deadly preceding year, is still poorly placed at 140th. Despite an astonishingly vibrant and active blogosphere, China still censors and jails dissidents and continues to languish in 171st place.
Pakistani author of The New York Times best-seller, Taliban, Ahmed Rashid, who was acknowledged by TIME magazine as “the most informed person on the earth about Afghanistan”, has accused George Bush of plagerizing parts of his writings in his freshly released book, Decision Points.
Plagiarism is universally recognized as an unforgivable offense. I can imagine why the “Cronkite School Academic Integrity Policy” so strictly discourages plagiarism. Bush has once once again let us down, first as a president and now as an author.
Rashid was quoted by the BBC jokingly saying that his children and their friends and some journalist colleagues wanted him to sue Bush. He said he would do no such thing.
“Other friends and colleagues have said it was a big joke, but in all seriousness I am not laughing,” he added.
POSTED BY: MALIK
It is the third consecutive eid I am away from my family.
I remember last year, I could not go to my home town of Panjgur for eid because I returned to Quetta from Singapore after speaking at an India-Pakistan conference only a day before the eid. By then, all bus services had stopped. There are no daily flights from Quetta to Panjgur. So, I had to celebrate the eid in my apartment. I wasnt’ alone, surely. I am lucky. A few but highly trustworthy friends always surround to take care of me.
Honestly, it is not very easy to stay away from the family all the time. Sometimes, I feel like being very selfish in terms of pursuing my professional dreams. I am, at the same time, so proud of my family for their complete support they offer me in following my professional goals.
I spent one eid in Chennai, India, in 2005. The other eid day was at an airport in Berlin, Germany. For the last two eids, I have been in the U.S.
What is so special about the Eid that I miss?
I miss my friends from Panjgur/Quetta whom I would meet every eid after a long time. A vast majority of my friends are the ones whom I met during cricketing days or at the American English Language Center. Everyone among those friends truly established long term relations. It just feels like yesterday when we used to talk about our future plans. Some of us would endlessly talk about the entry tests at Bolan Medical College and others would contemplate going to Quetta to enroll in a Masters program. Now, most of us have entered into our professional lives serving in different places of Pakistan and the world in various fields.
The good thing about blogs and social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, is that it has reconnected me with a lot of my old students and colleagues. Life has become a lot more easier now.
I’d like to tell all my friends from the cricket matches, AELC, University of Balochistan and journalism. I love you all.
Eid Mubark is just a formality. For good friends, its Eid day everyday.
For my family, I am so very thankful for your profound moral support. I love you all.
I attended the Social Media Boot Camp for CEOs organized by Splash Media the other day. Registration was totally free! Just wanted to share a few things that I learned from there which I did not know before.
- ping.mf is a wonderful website which enables you to update your status, blog entries on at least 40 different social networks. This means you will no longer have to log in Facebook and Twitter or My Space simultaneously to update your status.
- “Google loves Linkedin“. Linkedin is more easily search-able for Google than any other site. So, the more you remain active on Linkedin, the brighter the prospects of being Google-searched.
- Youtube is NOT just like other sites. Don’t forget that the world’s second largest search engine is not Yahoo or Altavista. Its Youtube! So, put as many things related to yourself, your company as possible so that you are easily searched.
- Tweet at least three times a week. Big companies Tweet at least 25 times a week.
- Either blog regularly or don’t blog at all. Blogs with no updates for weeks and months may result in rejection of your job application with a certain company. Employers normally visit your blogs to see your level of commitment to your job.
- Make sure you purchase your name+com before it is taken before anyone else does that.
- Make sure you make own www.facebook.com/YOURNAME.
Posted By Malik
The panel discussion on ” The Media and the 2010 Midterm Elections” during the Global Leadership Forum was a grim reminder how both the media and polity are falling in the hands of the corporate elite. All three speakers, Professor Kevin Klose, Ms. Kay King and Dr. Jeremy Mayer, contributed immensely to my knowledge about the US electoral system, emerging and ending trends.
Does the heavy involvement of money in electoral races not shut doors for politically conscious but relatively less wealthy politicians? I am surprised that none of the speakers uttered a word about the election manifesto of political parties during the mid-term elections. In a question, which I could not ask because of lack of time, I wanted to know how different the election manifestos were during midterm elections as compared to the presidential polls. In addition, do political parties reshape their electoral promises during the midterm elections? I still have to find out the answers to these questions.
My concern is politics, like the media, will further by driven by corporate interests rather than political ideologies in the future.
When CEOs join the electoral race and devoted political workers lag behind because of numerous unavoidable reasons (such as scarcity of money to run advertisement campaigns etc) then we should not get surprised what Dr. Jeremy Mayer pointed out: “Many campaigners avoid the media. They don’t invite or welcome the media in their campaigns”.
They don’t feel the need to talk to the media because, in some cases, they have got their own media outlets or media cells. They now run their election campaign via Twitter and Facebook. Along with so many other questions, I will conclude with one more question: What is going to be the future of election reporting? Will election candidates and voters need us in the futre? Dr. Jermey said: “People now prefer to switch to media outlets that provide them the information they’d like to hear while living in their comfort zone.”
WASHINGTON DC: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while addressing the 2010-11 batch of Hubert Humphrey Fellows at a reception held on Monday evening said that people-to-people connections were at the foundation of all the work done at the State Department.
218 Hubert Humphrey Fellows from 93 countries of Middle East, South Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe, have gathered in the US capital, Washington, to attend a week-long Global Leadership Forum (GLF-2010). The fellows are currently affiliated with 18 American universities. The State Department reception held at the Benjamin Franklin Room was attended by the ambassadors and senior diplomatic officers of various countries. The ambassador of Pakistan, which is the largest recipient of the prestigious fellowship, did not show up for the event.
Assistant Secretary Ann Stock and Dr. Allan Goodman, the president and CEO of the Institute of International Education, also attended the reception.
Most Humphrey Fellows said they were not expecting Secretary Clinton and her visit to the reception was a “big surprise”. As she walked into the reception, fellows, mainly the females, cheered Clinton enthusiastically.
Secretary Clinton said it was exciting for her to see a diverse and impressive gathering as the Humphrey Fellows began a “very worthwhile year of study.”
“I came here to really thank you for deciding that you wanted to come to the United States and to learn and to let us learn from you as we build greater understanding and more bridges between people. I think that the idea of nurturing talent and creating opportunities for the next generation is really key to what we’re trying to do in the Obama Administration and here at the State Department,” she said, “We’ve got to build more mutual understanding and mutual respect. We need more links between people in government today and people who will be in government tomorrow. So we do expect great things from you when you return home after this period here as a Humphrey Fellow.”
Secretary Clinton complimented the sizable representation of women in the fellowship program.
“I must confess I’m very pleased to see so many women here. I really believe that investing in half the population pays off,” she said.
She also paid tributes to former vice president Hubert Humphrey in whose commemoration the fellowship has been launched by billing him as one of real inspirational leaders of the last century in the United States.
” He took stands on issues, whether they were popular or not, and he fought hard for them. He was an early leader when it came to civil rights. He supported the creation of the Peace Corps. He was someone who really appreciated the legacy of service.”
She urged the Fellows to maximize the unique learning opportunity during their stay in the United States.
“I hope that each of you will take advantage of this opportunity – ask questions, schedule meetings outside the classroom, volunteer to help on projects, just take it all in. Because we want you then to take what you have learned and put it to use in your own countries. You will meet friends that you never met before, both among the other Humphrey Fellows and here in the United States. And so you will get a chance to exchange ideas and to really test yourself. The students sitting in your classrooms or studying next to you can be a valuable resource for you.”
She also highlighted the significance of networking for personal and professional purposes. “When you get to know someone as an individual, it really does change your mindset, and I find that in my own experience and I hope each of you will as well. There’s an alumni network of more than 4,000 Humphrey Fellows in 156 countries around the world, so there’s a built-in opportunity to have a network experience because of who you are and this extraordinary opportunity.”
She further said the Humphrey Fellows had a lot of partners and allies across the world.
“Remember that we stand with you. We believe in you. We support you. You are here because a lot of people decided that you should be here. So we know that this is a challenging experience, but we all think you’re up to the challenge. And I think if you can take advantage of this time, your experiences will help you become even more ready to assume a leadership position in your own country and society,” she remarked.
On the second day of the Global Leadership Forum, Shanta Nagendram, Director of SkillsFocus Consultancy of Malaysia, shared her experiences as a Humphrey Fellow in 1987. She spoke in detail about skills, perspective and knowledge required to become an effective global leader in the 21st century. She shared her learned lessons and repeatedly talked about the importance of networks and contacts the fellows make during their stay in the United States for ten months.
“I have one bad experience for every ten good experiences in the United States,” she said, confessing that perceptions about women, blacks and Muslims had worsened in the post-9/11 which had made exchange programs and international tours more difficult. However, she urged the fellows not to confuse the people of America with the political polices of the government.
Shanta said she came from a middle background when she joined the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship program but found it as an extraordinary learning opportunity. She wanted to become a successful negotiation consultant and today her clients include the US Government, leading multi-national companies and international non-governmental organizations.
Participants of the Humphrey Fellowship also took part in an exercise to discuss pressing global issues in the context of Copenhagen Consensus of 2004 and 2004.
During their deliberations, the Humphrey fellows hailing from assorted domains of life prioritized areas in need of greater need for allocations for issues like air pollution, conflicts, diseases, education, global warming, malnutrition and hunger, sanitization and water, subsidies and trade barriers, terrorism and women and development. Most groups prioritized education, diseases and hunger in top sectors they believed needed global attention and spending.
WASHINGTON DC: The Global Leadership Forum (GLF-2010), which is an essential component of the State Department-sponsored Hubert Humphrey Fellowship, was an implicit demonstration of increasing relationship between the United States of America and different countries of the world in the domain of education and cultural exchange.
The five-day long conference kicked off on Sunday in the US national capital in connection to a ten-month long program which the Fulbright Exchange Commission administers with the collaboration of the International Institute for Education (IIE).
Pakistan, with twenty-seven Humphrey Fellows, is currently the highest recipient of the coveted mid-career fellowship.
The Hubert Humphrey Fellowship, founded in 1978, to respect the services of former US Vice President and senator Hubert H. Humphrey, has a network of 4,200 alumni in 157 countries of the world.
Amy Nemith, Assistant Director of the Hubert Humphrey Program at the IIE, told The Baloch Hal that the GLF was the first of two times when the Fellows were brought together in Washington DC to introduce them with the US capital and fellows working at different campuses across the United States.
Amy said 218 Fellows from ninety-three (93) different countries attended the Global Leadership Forum this year.
“It is a chance for all to Humphrey Fellows to discuss what it means to be a (better) global leader. The Forum is one of the benchmarks of the fellowship year,” she said,”We are expecting from the Global Leadership Forum to give the Humphrey Fellows a broader understanding of the program. Previously, the Fellows were based at their individual campuses but now we have made them a part of a larger global community.
On the opening evening of the GLF,Dr. Allan Lichtman of American University spoke about the legacy of Hubert Humphrey whom he described as a man who proved his leadership skills even without becoming the president of the United States.
Dr. Lichtman started his talk about Hubert Humphrey amid applause when he said he truly felt the legacy of the former senator after seeing Fellows from India and Pakistan dinning on one table. ” That is what Hubert Humphrey stood for!” said Lichtman who offered a chronological description of Humphrey.
According to Lichtman, Hubert Humphrey staunchly advocated civil rights and pushed the Democrats to struggle for equal rights for all citizens. He was opposed to nuclear weapons and the war in Vietnam.
” Hubert Humphrey played a significant role in introducing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which remarkably ended discrimination and segregation in the United States,” he recalled,”he was an internal critic of the war in Vietnam and wanted it to be transformed into an internal war against disease, poverty and hunger. The War in Vietnam was horrendous for Hubert Humphrey and brought him immense misery.”
Fellows from different parts of the world admired the exchange program and described it as a helpful opportunity for the mid-career professionals to improve their management and leadership skills in order to lead in their respective domains in the future.
Hussein Habeeb Mhawesh, an orthopedic surgeon from Iraq who is currently affiliated as a Humphrey Fellow at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School and Public Health, said the fellowship offered him a “great chance” to meet people from the same profession of other countries. ” America is a relatively new nation in the comity of the world but they have assumed a leading role within a few hundred years because of their hard work,” he said.
When asked what he intended to take back to his home country over the completion of the Humphrey Fellowship year, Hussein said: ” Probably, I am going to implement some of the US health service models in Iraq on my return. The health service in the US is quite limited because of the Health Care Insurance whereas in my country health services are free. I am planning to benefit from the American health strategies in Iraq.”
He opined that exchange programs like the Humphrey Fellowship helped in eliminating misunderstandings between different cultures.
” We are facing many difficulties and shortfalls in the health-sector,” he said, ” one of the biggest needs in Afghanistan right now is the need for leaders in the health sector. I wish to take the Humphrey Fellowship opportunity as an advantage to move further in the health field in my country.”
For David Njenjere kabita of Kenya, who is an assistant Director at the Education Department, the Humphrey year is meant to focus on two areas: Leadership capacity building and professional engagements.
“The fellowship provides us an opportunity to share experiences,” he said.
Chin Idirisu Medorni of Cameroon, who is a fellow at University fo Minnesota, viewed the Humphrey Fellowship as a drastic change in his personal and professional life: “ I am sure when I go back to Cameroon, things will not be the same because the program is amazing and it has provided me a chance to learn a lot,” he remarked.
Erika Diaz Pascacio, a Mexican fellow at Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said she viewed the fellowship as a “great opportunity” which was going to have a lasting impact on her professional life in the future to analyze what her goals in life are.
When asked what she believed was the most exciting thing to learn during her fellowship in the United States, Erika,
who holds a Masters degree in Environmental Management from the University of Queensland in Australia, said she had found the people in America as very hard working.
” I am so surprised that people in this country have to make their day every day. They really work very hard. If they want to get something, they really have to work hard. I hope I can share these experiences to people in Mexico,” she envisioned.
Earlier in the day, the Humphrey Fellows were taken on a tour of Washington DC as a part of which they also saw the White House, the official residence of the US President, and several other official and historical monuments.
The news report originally appeared in The Baloch Hal, the first online newspaper of Balochistan in Pakistan
By Malik Siraj Akbar
As we all prepare to leave for the Global Leadership Forum (GLF-2010), I am exuberant that we already have 95 Hubert Humphrey Fellows from different campuses on our GLF Facebook page. It’s indeed the power of social networks that we got 90+ members only 15 hours after the creation of the group which has enabled all the expected participants of the Forum to know each other before proceeding to the event.
It was great fun to see some fellows delightedly chat with their former colleagues from pre-academic English courses in Tuscon. Let me thank you all for immediately joining the group and posting there as well. I expect the page to draw more attention as we start sharing exciting photos.
As discussed in the last Humphrey Seminar, I wish to blog about the corrupting practices among journalists in my country.
Scores of tactics are applied in Pakistan by the government, non-governmental organizations, political parties, pressure groups and lobbies to influence journalists’ professional commitment. Here is the piece of the cake as to who gets what…
- International Trips with the President/ Prime Minister
- Ticket (from political parties) to contest elections or become a Senator
- Official advertisements
- Writing off of taxes, utility bills and loans
- Free internet, mobile phone connections
- Lavish use of official vehicles
- Free access to official guest houses
- “cooperation” to post/transfer recommended candidates on certain jobs
- Appointment in selection boards, boards of governors, trustees of official bodies
- inclusion as members of inquiry committees, charity organizations
When the editors are corrupted in the first place, the guns are subsequently brandished at reporters in the following areas.
- Provision of residential plots.
- Fixation of Hajj (pilgrimage) quota (to Saudi Arabia) for journalists or their relatives
- Receptions (Breakfasts, lunches, super, dinner where journalists’ meal is paid by the host)
- Subsidized air and railway tickets (which journalists manipulate to get tickets for their relatives too)
- Trips (both national and international)
- Offering grants, officially-sponsored buildings for press clubs and equipment.
- Numerous gifts (such as cell phones, mangoes —-these are the frequently offered notorious gifts)
- Access to official vehicles, telephones and other facilities to do stories
- Access to official guest houses for personal use of journalists
- Cash money offered in envelopes after press conferences
- Free or subsidized telephone connections from cellular companies.
These are a few forms of bribing journalists in Pakistan which I could think of while packing for Global Leadership Forum (GLF-2010)
I attended the two-day long 18th Annual Nonprofit Conference on Sustainability Strategies at Desert Willow Conference Center on October 14-15. The conference was very helpful for me to meet a lot of new people from nonprofit sector. There were several sessions on important topics such as public relations, social networks, strategic planning, secretes of consultants and fund-raising for non-profit initiatives.
The stall comprising of books about nonprofit sector was fabulous.
The conference was organized by ASU Lodestar Center which is located in the building next to the Cronkite School of Journalism. We had visited them previously to learn about the Center which organizes several programs on nonprofit.
I enjoyed the keynote speech of Kay Sprinkel Grace, an international fund-raising expert. She spoke very beautifully about the importance of dreaming before doing something big. She asked the participants what would have happened if Martin Luther King had a plan without a dream. She said everyone among us should dream big and very big.You can’t make a big difference until you have the courage to dream.
Once in my life time — only once— did someone as coward as I wanted to kill a person. The murdered-to-be was a good friend who snatched away a “mesmerizing” (at least for a teenager like me) Urdu novel Yousaf bin Tashfeen when I had barely entered the post-300 pages territory. Several years down the line, I wish he rather killed me for the time when I was a reader of Naseem Hijazi, the author whose fiction, which he insists is nonfiction, is imbued with false and misleading glorification of violence and endless description of Muslim chauvinism.
Nasim Hijazi and his school of thought offered a poisonous genre of literature to my generation that was born and brought up in Pakistan in 1980s. Such literature appealed to us because of the hateful textbooks we were taught at school. They were the days when the country was (mis)ruled for eleven long years by a military dictator, General Zia-ul-Haq, who prolonged his junta under the radical process of Islamization.
The worst thing that could happen to my generation was the reconfiguration of the text books. Our text books taught us profound hatred towards non-Muslims and inculcated a sense of superiority complex. These books left such an irremovable impression on the mindset of some Pakistani youths for the rest of the life which could not even be washed away by the best available secular education.
While I read the verdict of A Manhattan judge who sentenced Faisal Shahzad, 31, a Pakistani-American national who plotted a bomb blast at Time Square, for life imprisonment, I wish something was done back home to revamp the textbooks in Pakistan. Until the hateful material is expunged, the likes of Faisal Shahzad will keep emerging.
I felt devastated over the young handsome fellow who celebrated the verdict against him.
“My sentence reflects life in this world, not life in the hereafter,” he was quoted by CNN. “I’m happy with the deal that God has given me.”
Posted by Malik
Human sufferings are similar throughout the world. It is not as if some people suffer more in one part of the world because of one issue and the others confronted with a similar problem suffer less elsewhere. We all, who come to America from other countries, keep endlessly convincing the folks back home that America is not all what we see in Hollywood movies.
America is indeed the world’s sole super power. Yet, it is still not the Utopian land where people remain oblivious to the connotation of pain, suffering, hunger and torture.
I found my today’s interaction at the Cronkite School with the team of 2010 News 21 Knight fellows very insightful and thought-provoking. We spoke to Cronkite students who reported on immigrant women’s issues.
” It is the economic reasons that drive many to illegally cross the border,” said Lauren Gambino, who worked in the project, “a person who earns $6 a day in Mexico can’t resist earning $6 per hour a few miles away in another country.”
These illegal migrant women, among other issues, face trafficking, abduction, detention and disappearance. (Read More)
Posted By: Malik Siraj Akbar
Shattered Glass was the best journalism-related movie I have seen since watching All the President’s Men. It was a wonderful Wednesday Night Movie at the First Amendment Forum which was enlivened by a thought-provoking discussion that Professor Jody Brannon supervised.
The movie is about a young reporter, Stephen Glass, at The New Republic magazine who fabricates his stories. He mentions fake and, in some cases, nonexistent sources in his reports.Too popular among his staff members, Stephen gets caught after one of his stories about a hacker is investigated because of its shadowy sources. The young reporter descends into disgrace after it’s unearthed that all his sources were fabricated.
As a result, the young reporter is suspended from his job. At the end of the movie, we learn that he fabricated at least twenty-seven stories out of forty-one in previous editions of the magazine before being caught.
The movie highlighted a few very important aspects of journalism.
My personal opinion, which I shared in the post-movie discussion, was that a reporter must always discuss his story idea and share most, if not all, of the sources with the editor. You cannot solely blame a reporter after the publication of a story when it turns out that he cooked the story. Mutual trust between the reporter and the editor is an essential element of good journalism. The reason due to which Glass fabricated stories was because his editors did not regularly coordinate with him to fact-check his sources when he was doing stories.
I wonder for how long he would continue to do this criminal job as a reporter if editor Michael kelly were not replaced with Charles Lane, Kelly’s successor.
It was funny when he tried to convince Kelly that he was being punished only because of his loyalty with his former boss. I admire Kelly for being a professional editor who does not get flattered by Glass’s remarks. Instead, he reminds Glass of one such stories he had done about the Republican convention. In that story, Glass had mentioned the minibars in a hotel which did not in fact have minibars but small fridge in its rooms.
It has become much easier to fact-check stories now in the age of Googlization. Nonetheless, journalistic integrity and credibility is, I believe, just like virginity. You lose it once and forever.
POSTED BY: MALIK SIRAJ AKBAR
I just realized today how assumptions can ruin our lives. In the first couple of days, I assumed (of course you don’t require any logic, reason or permission to assume. You assume simply because you assume) that Yousef was very proud, indifferent and unfriendly.
I don’t know why but that is how I assumed and assumed (luckily not forever).
They say when you assume, you make an a.. of you and the others too!
Today, the same “assumed guy” helped in rescuing my sinking boat when I was on a deadline. I didn’t know the ABC of a software through which I was supposed to submit my assignment. I blushed for a moment while ‘assuming’ (in fact the right reason for making assumptions) how mortified I’d feel in front the whole class tomorrow without having done the first assignment.
And there came Yousef.
He came. He saw. He sat. He Helped. He helped more. He helped again.
Together, we conquered!
I am walking elatedly to my class room.
The moral of the story: Discard the immoral thing: Assumption.
Well, first things first.
Having once been caught red-handed for (allegedly) “misquoting” Martin Luther King in one of my previous posts, I would like to make a confession: The title of this entry is not my brainchild either.
You have rightly guessed, if you are an avid Marquez admirer, that it self-evidently emanates from my most favorite fiction, Love in the Time of Cholera. Poor Marquez of Columbia could have lived ecstatically even without writing this book (1985) or clinching the Noble Prize in Literature (1982). After all, only one introduction suffices: He is the author of modern classic One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967).
I think the period of my cultural shock has commenced. My cultural shock entails divergent symptoms from what had been inculcated in my mind during a pre-departure orientation in Islamabad. They said as the period of excitement ends, you will start getting nostalgic and frustrated towards the local people.
There is nothing as such on my side. What irks me is the sense of stagnation. I have not been able to make ample girl friends here. I had thought it was much easier to start a conversation with the Americans. Talk to people, I am told. But what about?
“Hey do you like football?” asked he, a freshman from Philadelphia.
“Yes, I love football,” I exclaimed.
“Which one is your favorite team?” he asked.
“Wait a minute, dude” said the American lad who was now joined by another, “do you mean you love soccer?
“Yes,” I said naively.
“Soccer sucks,” they denounced. (Forgive their French)
I wished Ivy was somewhere around me to reiterate the difference between soccer and football.
I have in fact started loving them for some of their unique qualities. (I don’t mean Americans only possess these qualities). Let me explain.
While looking for a digital voice recorder at Target Store (agreed, Best Buy is the unsolicited suggestion from all sides), I picked up a book not necessarily because of its title or the contents.
Open is the autobiography of former American tennis icon Andre Agassi, whom I eulogized since the days of his long golden hair. As I started reading the book, I found the writing style as extraordinary as Agassi’s hard-hitting shots. Having read barely a few chapters, I have prematurely added this book as one of my favorites. Good writing is my weakness. I instantly surrender before creative writing.
Having read this book in parts, I have started loving Americans for their good habit of writing very candid autobiographies. I deeply enjoyed reading President Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage, Nixon’s In the Arena, Bill Clinton’s My Life and Obama’s Dreams from My Father.
I know an “auto”-biography has to be self-written by the person featured in the book. My Pakistani experience is just haunting me. I am just wondering if people like Agassi, a sportsman, (of course, I am not underestimating the chap) can write so well.
In Pakistan, two autobiographies become overwhelmingly popular (read notorious if you are anti-dictatorship)
Do you know what is common (besides, of course, not having been authored by the dictators themselves) between both “best-selling” autobiographies?
Iltaf Gohar, a leading Pakistani journalist, wrote the book for the military president until it was revealed several years later.
As the veteran cliche goes: History repeated itself: Iltaf’s son Humayun Gohar, also a journalist, wrote Pervez Musharraf’s so-called autobiography after forty years.
The current prime minister of Pakistan Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani has also written an autobiography Chaah-e-Yusuf say Sadha (Cry of Joseph from Bottom of Pita) and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif also authored his autobiography Model Town ka beta but what is known about them the most is that they were written by shadow scribes.
What are the trends in your countries? I am really keen to know.
This picture shows the last moments of his as you can see the blast scene from the background. He was shot at from the top by the criminals who thought he was capturing ‘evidence’ against them with the eye of his camera.
(Folks, forgive me for my professional dishonesty. This week, I am only copying and pasting an article that I wrote for my online newspaper. If I had not written the article, I would have surely blogged on this subject.
In Quetta, the city where I live and work, a suicide bomb blast on Friday killed around seventy people and injured two hundred civilians.
Some eight journalist friends of mine received injuries while covering the blast. The driver of a TV team was killed. I am badly depressed over the carnage. Some of these journalist friends have been hospitalized many times before while covering terrorist activities. You can enlarge the pictures simply by clicking on them.
You may not be able to read the Urdu captions of the photos so I have put captions for you in English. All these journalists were injured previously in a similar suicide bomb blast in a Quetta hospital. I admire their courage as you can see them still talking on the phone to report to their respective newsrooms.)
The title of this column will surely disappoint the brave journalists who cover wars and deadly conflicts. It also comes as a let-down to the aspiring journalists interested in war reporting. Western journalists do contribute to the bulk of war correspondents but their conditions still drastically vary from the circumstances reporters in Balochistan and Khyber Pashtunkhawa provinces of Pakistan face. The controversial concept of “embedded journalism”, which has radically undermined many correspondents’ credibility, has in fact improved the working conditions of western war reporters.
I truly believe Balochistan and Khyber Pashtunkhawa are currently more difficult to report from than even many of the war-zones in the world. Let me explain:
At least eight professional reporters and news cameramen were injured the other day in Quetta while performing their professional duty when a suicide bomb blast killed around seventy people. Mohammad Sarwar, the injured driver of Aaj TV team was killed in the blast. Sadly, we underestimate Sarwar’s sacrifice because he does not qualify as a “professional journalist” under our definition of a journalist. Yet, he was also killed while chasing the “breaking news”. Our DSNGs [ Digital Satellite News Gathering] will not reach on the newsy spot without professionally committed people like Sarwar. With an indolent Sarwar, even the best of the reporters will lose the race before the rival media outlets.
I know all these committed journalists of Balochistan who were injured in Friday’s blast. I have been lucky enough to work with these brave men for the past many years. I have no qualms in admitting that they are far braver than I am. Take Noor Ellahi Bugti of Samma TV, for example. It was barely four months ago I had visited him in Quetta’s Combined Military Hospital (CMH) nursing his wounds. Bugti had gone to Quetta’s civil hospital to cover the murder of a Shia Banker on April 18 along with his team. As Bugti began to report for his channel live from the hospital, a suicide bomber blew him up there. Luckily, Bugti escaped the attack with serious injuries, his cameraman, Malik Arif, was killed in the blast.
While eight journalists were badly injured in the hospital blast, newspapers showed the gallant reporters the next day reporting to their television channels in spite of blood streaming from their heads and other parts of body.
Earlier this year on July 26-27, I spent two days in Islamabad’s Holiday Inn Hotel with a select group of national and international journalists to discuss the safety issues faced by journalists in all four provinces of Pakistan. Organized by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), the two-day deliberations were attended by PFUJ President Shaukat Pervez, Secretary General Shams-ul-Islam Naz, former PFUJ Secretary General Mazhar Abbass, Karachi Union of Journalists Secretary General, Syed Hassan Abbass, Peshawar Press Club president Shamim Shahid, Khyber Union of Journalists President Ibrahim Shinwari and three international media and security experts.
Pondering over the state of the press in all four provinces, one learned that the dynamics of news search in Pakistan had dramatically changed after the liberalization of media and upsurge of suicide bombings in the country. Nowhere in Pakistan are journalists, press photographers and cameramen provided proper safety training. The onus lies on the owners of these media houses to prioritize imparting of safety training to their staff before sending them to the field.
The “breaking news syndrome” in electronic media does not only lead to regular breach of journalistic ethics but also endangers the lives of reporters on duty. Media professionals sometimes end up violating their mandate while trying to storm into an operation theater or a restricted place only to get the “big story”. I liked HART security specialist Paul Jorden’s suggestion that cameramen could stay safe and still capture the “big story” while utilizing maximum capability of the zoom lenses.
Likewise, the lives of many injured journalists can be saved if media teams are trained how to use first-aid kits. It was disappointing to learn that the government of Pakistan has obstructed the PFUJ from acquiring bulletproof jackets for the journalists. With much hardship, the PFUJ managed to acquire some jackets for the journalists but the Interior Ministry is unwilling to hand them over to the journalists as if they pose a serious threat to the national security.
As luck would have it, blasts take place every day and we have to cover them every time. We journalists are a very strange people. While rest of the world runs away from a catestrophie, bomb blast, earthquake or a flood, we want to be the first ones to reach there. Journalism is all about passion and love for story-telling. I know it is impossible to dissuade reporters to cover conflicts, what we urgently need is proper training how to minimize, if not eliminate, the risks involved in conflict reporting.
Media owners, who are notorious for not implementing the Wage Board Award and issuing appointment letters to their employees, would view us as slave drivers if we ask them to induct insurance policy for their workers. I know this is asking “too much” from the proprietors of the media outlets; yet it is too small a contribution to honor the sacrifice journalists made by putting their lives in danger every day.
I sincerely hope that the a proposed safety guideline booklet being prepared by PFUJ and IFJ for the journalists of Pakistan after the two-day long working group meeting in Islamabad will be released soon. The safety booklet should be followed by training of journalists across the country, particularly in Balochistan and Khyber Pashtunkhawa where several journalists have been killed in the recent times while covering the conflict.
Meet P. Sainath!
If I were ever given a chance to become somebody else, I would surely want to become this outstanding 53-year old South Asian journalist. Having clinched over 35 national and global awards, Sainath, the author of Everybody loves a Good Drought, spends an average 300 days a year in rural India to cover farmers’ suicides. He has unearthed hundreds of suicides by starving Indian farmers.
Watch this video to get introduced (please do!!!)
Both Aaron and Sainath have one message for the aspiring journalists: Be a story-teller not a stenographer.
I loved Aaron when he said this but his CNN video about the Smiths eventually turned me off . Was this not stenography again, Mr. Aaron! It was a painful art of storytelling without uttering a word about the 95,888- 104,595 Iraqi civilians killed in the war. When the story tells me about “successful elections’ in Iraq were engineered by an invading force, I am reminded of what the Man Booker Prize winning novelist Arundhati Roy once wrote:
So now we know. Pigs are horses. Girls are boys. War is Peace.
Aaron’s report was full of ‘our men’, ‘our soldiers’, ‘our security’ versus ‘their elections’, ‘their dictator’, ‘their victory’ etc.
Aron’s art of storytelling fails to attract me because it does include ‘our men’ and excludes ‘their civilians’. I wish Mr. Brown narrated the stories in P. Sainth- style by giving voice to the voiceless. Otherwise, you are teaching these kids the art of stenographic storytelling.