‘Children of Peshawar’ a poem by Ashok K. Bhargava 

pashawar

Muzzled flowers
Bullet ridden walls
Blood soaked books
Ask us –
What is this barbaric devastation?
We won’t live for it

Dec 18, 2014
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Sign this petition
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Separate Religion from State
Declare Pakistan to be a Secular Democracy

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Public Meeting in Rawalpindi
Organizing society against the fascist onslaught

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‘“Brand Malala”: Western exploitation of a schoolgirl’ by Carol Anne Grayson

‘I think she is a very convenient person for us to really like. She’s the kind of Muslim girl that we want to show we like because we want to see them go to school. But in Pakistan, most girls do go to school.’ Says Birmingham poet Benjamin Zephaniah who was voted third in a BBC poll of the nation’s favourite poets, behind TS Eliot and John Donne (birminghampost.co.uk).  
As well, Malala helps US-NATO soldiers to believe that they are fighting for a ‘noble cause’ as opposed to Afghanistan’s riches and world colonization; and, it helps Pakistan’s ‘civil society’, whose salaries come from US/NATO-supported funding agencies, to justify their inaction both against US drone attacks and Taliban. Uddari.

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As Malala Yousafzai has told the media, that second when she was shot by the Taliban in Pakistan changed her life, (it is also changing the lives of others too), Malala has become a very marketable western commodity. My issue is not with Malala, I support and respect her wish of education for all, however (and it shames me to say this being British) I doubt she fully realizes the extent to which she is being exploited by her new “mentors” in the UK.

There is an element of risk to all now living in Pakistan since the US led War on Terror brought internal conflict to the region but there is only special treatment for some of those affected. Why not fly out every child harmed by US drones to the west for the most up to date medical care, there are plenty for wellwishers to assist.

Despite some victims trying to speak out on drones, for the most part we don’t even know their names, let alone details of injuries inflicted upon them. There are double standards on how terrorism is reported. Taliban terrorism is used to propel the “good west versus bad east” narrative in the media whilst US state terrorism is served up as “collateral damage” and is more likely to get buried along with its victims. All violence must be condemned.

Since the shooting of Malala, western politicians and media alike have seized upon a very profitable “alliance” with the young Pakistani schoolgirl. She fits comfortably into the well- worn narrative of “rescuing” women from the east. Let’s face it an entire war was waged according to some to “save” Afghanistan’s females from the Taliban. (Let’s hope Malala’s story will not be used to keep occupation going a little longer). What press usually fail to mention however is how Britain and its allies are failing miserably on “gender justice” back home.

Exploitation of women whether emotionally, physically, financially is so ingrained in our society and institutions that I am not even sure whether some men realize their actions. The old saying comes to mind… “in the valley of the blind, the one eyed ‘man’ is king”! Former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, Malala’s avid supporter, fits that description. He is known as a misogynist by his former work colleagues and to human rights campaigners for his refusal to address the plight of widows whose husbands were unlawfully killed by the state see my earlier story http://activist1.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/malala-becomes-poster-girl-of-western-government-double-standards-on-gender-justice/

How many men do you see studying gender to work with women for greater equality though it would benefit society for more males to do so. Division of labour need not be problematic if given the same value for both sexes. The one man on my gender course at university was a young Pashtun man who was determined in his aim to improve the situation of women in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan whilst at the same time respecting the culture.

The special treatment of Malala is highlighting divisions in many ways. Week in week out, when I peruse the British press, we are subjected to articles about asylum seekers “ripping off” the UK. These stories show scant regard for torture victims coming to Britain that often end up being held in detention centres or virtually penniless in the community living on vouchers with limited access to health care. Yet one young lady is flown in to the UK and provided with the best possible care at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham appearing to bypass the hurdles faced by many. It would seem that there is something of a two tier system of care going on here and it is understandable that this will raise questions as to how we define a “deserving” case. I have met many juvenile survivors of torture, outspoken activists on human rights so what makes one person more deserving than another?

The commodification of Malala appears to have started at the time her father volunteered his daughter to the BBC to document life at school under the Taliban (this was before she was shot on a bus). She is seen on film at a younger age going to school and participating in lessons with her peers.

Media stories report that her father Ziauddin owns “for profit” schools which just happen to be high on the agenda of Gordon Brown, global envoy for education at the UN (again documented in my earlier article. One wonders why then, given that both Ziauddin and the BBC are so quick to warn of the dangers of the Taliban, they would put a child in the line of fire (albeit her identity thinly disguised) to write her diary for public consumption.

With regard to the question of another agenda, artist Jonathan Rao who painted the portrait of Malala that hangs in the National Gallery admits to his concerns in the Independent newspaper and states:-

 “I guess I was worried that she was probably a pawn in a bigger game and was being unduly influenced by the people around her.”

The Independent points out that:-

Those people include Edelman, the global PR firm that manages Malala alongside its work for clients that include Microsoft and Starbucks. Jamie Lundie, an impeccably connected senior executive for the firm and former speechwriter for Paddy Ashdown when he was the Lib Dem leader, leads a team of five who work with Malala on a pro bono basis.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/the-making-of-malala-yousafzai-shot-by-the-taliban-for-going-to-school-and-now-in-the-frame-for-nobel-peace-prize-8862588.html

During a BBC documentary this week, Malala’s former friends are shown in Swat valley, Pakistan continuing their education. However there is fear among children in the region. Fox news reports the following words from school principle Selma Naz:-

“We have had threats, there are so many problems. It is much more dangerous for us after Malala’s shooting and all the attention that she is getting,” said Naz. “The Taliban are very dangerous. They have gone from Swat, but still they have a presence here. It is hidden, but it is here. We all have fear in our hearts.”

What is disturbing also is that we are told in the film which area of Birmingham Malala now goes to school, careless words given threats to target her once again repeated from Taliban. Can we assume she will not be targeted in UK?

Safety is pushed aside for “brand Malala”. There is Malala the book, Malala the film, Malala the award nominee, Malala the portrait, with the schoolgirl being skilfully marketed by Edelman, the world’s biggest PR company. Wavering a fee will no doubt be compensated by the value of the publicity she will bring to the company. I wonder, how many people can name the other girls injured when Malala was shot? What quality of care and support did they receive? Are they represented by PR companies?

All this stage management behind the scenes strikes me as far removed from the image portrayed on our screens of a simple, very bright girl, with a love for school standing up for her rights. We are now into the dangerous cult of celebrity. To ease the entry into western homes via multimedia, we are told Malala likes pop star Justin Bieber, is championed by actor and UN ambassador Angelina Jolie and what transition would be complete without the obligatory photo with a smiling David Beckham. With the “A” listers behind her, Malala’s future looks rosy. How different to the many women that have been harmed in Britain and received no such support.

It is fascinating to see the establishment prizes Malala is collecting including “Pride of Britain”. Will we see her projected from Quilliam next, sat beside former English Defence League (EDL) leader Tommy Robinson. Even to Tommy, she must surely be the acceptable face of Islam. Then of course we are gearing up for the Nobel Peace Prize with Malala a firm favourite to take the award. Putin’s heart must be sinking with Malala predicted to follow in the footsteps of champion of drones, supporter of targeted killings, President Barack Obama.

I can’t help but think of another Nobel nominee two decades ago, one Rigoberta Menchu. Like Malala she was thrust into the limelight, pressurised by others. She also wrote a book and appears to have been so eager to fit the expected narrative that she is alleged to have altered facts to project her cause, that of Quiche people in Guatemala. Ten years after the Nobel she was mired in controversy, though allowed to keep her prize. I quote a newspaper story in the New York Times  December 15th 1998:-

In the autobiography ”I, Rigoberta Menchu,” first published in Spanish in 1983 at the height of Guatemala’s brutal civil war, Ms. Menchu, now 39, tells a wrenching tale of violence, destruction, misery and exploitation as moving and disturbing as a Victor Hugo novel. So powerful was the book’s impact that it immediately transformed her into a celebrated and much-sought-after human rights campaigner and paved the way for her being awarded the Nobel Prize.

Key details of that story, though, are untrue, according to a new book written by an American anthropologist, ”Rigoberta Menchu and the Story of All Poor Guatemalans.” Based on nearly a decade of interviews with more than 120 people and archival research, the anthropologist, David Stoll, concludes that Ms. Menchu’s book ”cannot be the eyewitness account it purports to be” because the Nobel laureate repeatedly describes ”experiences she never had herself.”

http://www.nytimes.com/1998/12/15/world/tarnished-laureate-a-special-report-nobel-winner-finds-her-story-challenged.html?scp=7&sq=rigoberta%20menchu&st=cse&pagewanted=1

Malala is a bright, articulate young woman. She comes across as caring and committed and has great potential to make a difference in this world finding her own route. She is not in the UK to boost careers or further the bank balance of those in the media. Those who claim to support gender justice should ask themselves why it is that some cases are projected into the media whilst thousands of other cases are suppressed by government including by one of the same politicians so supportive to Malala.

I recall one campaigner harmed by the state writing to Gordon Brown on his deathbed requesting a meeting in a last ditch attempt to obtain gender justice for widows left behind. The BBC spoke highly of this activist, noted how he “died a disappointed man” ignored by Gordon Brown. Such requests were repeated by others many times.

The support people receive after trauma makes a significant difference to how they recover and move forward in life. Malala has been surrounded by care, offered opportunities and her story given immense media coverage. That does not happen for most women. Many go unheard no matter how vocal they may be or what risks they take, they simply don’t fit in to a popular narrative, especially if victims of the state.

Malala should not be used as a diversion to distract away from other women that have been fighting in British courts for years to highlight injustice and the wrongdoing of government. This does not help the cause of any woman while one is exploited and others are being suppressed!

As an intelligent young role model, I don’t imagine Malala would want this. I would think all she wants to do is knuckle down and get on with her education and hopefully will be allowed to do so in peace.

Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad.  She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”.

Original with images: http://activist1.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/brand-malala-western-exploitation-of-a-schoolgirl/

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The Story of Kainat Soomro

Outlawed-in-Pakistan

In 2007, Kainat Soomroo says she was walking home from school in her hometown of Mehar, Sindh. She went into a store to buy a toy for her niece. While looking around in the store, someone covered her mouth with a handkerchief. She fainted.

Kainat claims she was kidnapped and raped by four men over the next three days. After the third day, she escaped back to her family. Her father tried in vain to report the matter to the police. She was declared an outcaste by the local jirga (council). Her family was told to redeem its honour by killing her.

Instead, her parents defied the jirga and fled with Kainat and the rest of the family to Karachi . There they enlisted the help of a lawyer and of the NGO-group War Against Rape (W.A.R) who helped them bring the four men to trial.

The men were acquitted however as there was no evidence corroborating Kainat’s oral testimony. A month later, Kainat’s brother was murdered by unknown assailants. One of the accused rapists, Ahsan Thebo, claims also that Kainat married him during her captivity, though some suspect this was a tactic to avoid criminal responsibility since marital rape is not a crime in Pakistan.

Kainat and her family now live in poverty in Karachi and have suffered repeated threats on their lives including Thebo’s threat to take Kainat back or kill her. Yet Kainat remains undeterred:  “I want justice, I will not stop until I get justice.”

Her case is currently under appeal.

Written by Randeep Purewall.

http://www.war.org.pk/

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/pressroom/press-release-outlawed-in-pakistan/

“Cinema for Change” – Addressing Violence Against Women

2010_0301_women_hands_m

The South Asian Film Education Society (S.A.F.E.S.) hosted its first “Cinema for Change” film festival from April 19 to April 21, 2013. The theme: “Addressing Violence Against Women.”

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Guest Filmmaker, Samar Minallah, appeared at the opening night by Skype from Pakistan. Her documentary, “Swara: A Bridge Over Troubled Water,” looked at “swara,” the practice of using unmarried girls as compensation to settle disputes between families.  The practice of “swara” in the film of the same name, typically takes place as follows. One man kills another man and the family of the man who has been killed wants compensation from the murderer. The compensation takes the form of a girl, transferred from the family of the murderer to the family who would otherwise seek revenge. The girl is then expected to live in the “other” family as a daughter-in-law.

The practice of “swara” is well-known in North-West Pakistan and in other tribal communities and stopping it, Minallah admits, can be dangerous. The murderer (whose family pays the girl as compensation) is “let off the hook;” stopping that compensation would mean that the murderer must otherwise pay for his crime which, Minallah notes he will typically go to any lengths to avoid. Although Minallah acknowledges the challenges in fighting “swara,” she has helped bring awareness of the issue to the public and to policymakers through short public service-announcements. She also works to sensitive the police to the problem after the practice was made illegal through legislation passed in 2004. A growing number cases of “swara” moreover are being reported and addressed through public interest-litigation (200 cases were reported in 2011).

swara

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The second day saw the screening of “Common Gender” (2012), a Bangladeshi activist-documentary on the life of the hijra (intersexual) community of Dhaka and the violence underlying the social process of gendering. The two other films were “Afghanistan Unveiled” (2007) and “Provoked” (2006).

The film “Provoked,” is based on the true story of Kiranjit Ahluwalia, a Punjabi woman in the United Kingdom who was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of her husband in 1989. Her conviction was set aside in 1992, partly through the help of the women’s advocacy and outreach group, Southhall Black Sisters. The judge noted that because of years of  abuse, Kiranjit suffered severe depression and battered women syndrome; her mental responsibility for the act was thus “diminished.” She had also been “provoked,” but was unable to retaliate right away because of her mental state. Her case (R v. Ahluwalia) changed English law, leading to the setting aside of convictions for battered women in 1992 and thereafter.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

In “Saving Face,” we hear the stories of two survivors of acid attacks in Pakistan, Zakia and Rukshana. While highlighting the brutality of the attacks and their affect on the women, we see how the problem is being fought through cooperation between reconstructive surgeons, policymakers, lawyers, the media and NGO’s is key in bringing perpetrators to justice and helping women rebuild their lives.

In “Bol” (2012) Meghna Halder presents a short-film in three parts through masks, puppetry and shadows. Whereas the “The Cyclist” looks at the facelessness of the Indian Muslim woman who died in a bomb blast in Bangalore, “The Rape” looks at how two women went missing in Kashmir and were presumed to have been raped and disposed of by the Indian Army. In “The Mask,” Meghna presents the story of a man who wakes one day to find his face has been stolen. All three films were layered with meanings, teasing one’s interpretations.

While the issue of violence against women is ongoing and oftentimes distressing, I admire the filmmakers’ use of film as a medium for raising social awareness of the problem. In Minallah, we saw an example of the activist film-maker who has continued to make films despite risk to herself. In three films, we saw how individual and community activism can bring about social change such as the passage of law against “swara” and acid-attacks in Pakistan or the precedent-setting case of Kiranjit Ahluwalia in the United Kingdom. While the struggle continues, the SAFES has hopefully played its own part in presenting “cinema for change.”

For a list of all films shown and descriptions, go to: http://southasianfilm.blogspot.ca/

“As long as the grass shall grow and the rivers flow…” by Aaron Paquette

Uddari joyfully supports
Idle No More
‘We are all Treaty’.

aslongas

“As long as the grass shall grow and the rivers flow…”

The poetry of this phrase of Treaty always struck me as uncommonly beautiful.

As does the truth of this statement:

We Are All Treaty.

For those who don’t know, Treaties were made between Canadian First Nations groups and The Crown, which is to say, the authority from which each successive Canadian Government derives their authority to rule.

They were intended as a peaceful resolution to a problematic conundrum: how to form a country in a land peopled by Aboriginal groups who could not be defeated on the field of battle?

For the Indigenous population, it was an opportunity to return to a more stable way of life, unmolested by the European invaders who they once protected as friends but now fought with for the right to live.

As we saw with the Residential School horror, that peace was not to last.

For the past century and more, Indigenous groups have witnessed the encroaching of their lands, the theft of their resources, and the reneging by the government of monies agreed on in return for peaceful use of the land.

There used to be a fund set aside. Corporations could extract resources from Treaty lands. They would keep 60% of the value and the landlords, the First Nations, would get 40%.

(almost done the history, bear with me!)

Canada’s first Prime Minister, John A. MacDonald, wanted to build a railroad…but how to pay for it?

You guessed it. That fund was dissolved. And lo! the railway was born!

And the taxpayer was given the responsibility of taking care of the corporation’s debt to the Treaties. And even then, it was a pittance compared to what was actually due.

If we add up the money that is owed, there is a Trillion Dollar Debt to the children of Canada’s treaties, many of whom have no clean drinking water, no warm shelter for the cold winter months, and no access to decent education and healthcare (all part of the original Treaty Agreements, by the way).

And in the meantime, the government has been trying to rid itself of the “Native Problem” through attempted Genocide, assimilation, and reduction of funds to “starve them out”.

No one in the general public really complains because at the same time, there has been a public continuation of some popular memes, propaganda if you will:

The natives are lazy.
The leaders are corrupt.
The problem with the natives is the natives themselves.
Everyone suffers, why should they be special?
It’s in the past, forget about it.

As long as people believe these obvious untruths, the government has free reign to continue their work of dehumanizing their enemy and chipping away at the treaty lands for corporate use.

Why is this important?

Because those lands have been instrumental in keeping Canada a natural paradise. This is why we are all Treaty. We all share that responsibility.

This isn’t just a Native thing, this is an Everyone thing. We are all in this together.

The beauty of our unspoiled places, that they have been kept pristine and clean for this long is a miracle.

And we want to keep it that way.

All our children deserve it.

The Treaties make this possible, and its what the government wants to be rid of so that those lands can be developed.

And the waters are now unprotected.

It’s easy to do the math.

All you have to do is see who profits.

I’m not anti-corporation at all. But I am all for a responsible stewardship of the land we all share. The water we all drink, and the air we all breathe.

As long as the grass shall grow and the rivers flow…

First Nations in Canada have been good allies for the rest of Canada.

In every instance they have come to the table in peace. In every instance they have operated in good faith.

There is a misconception that they are always asking for more. They are only asking for the Government of Canada to live up it’s share of these Peace Treaties.

There is a misconception that all the Chiefs are corrupt and the meagre sums provided have been mishandled. The office of the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs has to approve every cent of expenditures. Myth destroyed.

Canada’s Indigenous people have been very patient. They have been purposely kept in a state of poverty and emotional wreckage in order to control them.

But the new generation is rising. They have been freed from the cycle of abuse and they are educated. They are supported by the wisdom of their Elders. And they are tired of this long, long, fruitless fight. They want peace and fairness.

And so should you.

You should be proud that you live in this time when the broken pieces of the past are being gathered, put back together.

You live in a time when an abused people are reclaiming their dignity and strength. And they don’t carry blame, they don’t carry guilt, they carry an olive branch.

And the settler’s legal books, which they have read and mastered.

Canada is sadly a deeply racist society and that is now being uncovered.

Be happy and overjoyed! The light will cast out the darkness.

You are witnessing a Civil Rights Movement that is lighting the world up with inspiration.

And you are invited to join it. You are invited to be part of what will be the remaking of Canada’s present and providing a better future not only for one of the largest landmasses in the world, but for the world itself. This is only the beginning and it’s time is due.

The time is now.

And you are here.

It can’t happen without you.

You’re here for a purpose. To be a part of something wonderful.

You can feel it.

And you can feel the fear of the establishment. They don’t want change. But change is coming. Peacefully.

It’s time to put this broken world back together again.

hiy hiy

If you missed my piece on Residential School, here it is:
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151324672623754&set=a.407683733753.184728.34759153753&type=1&relevant_count=1

And for more on Treaties:
http://www.toboldrollo.com/2013/01/01/i-am-canadian-because-of-treaties-with-indigenous-nations/

People say, “Put the past behind you.”

I say, put it in front of you. A vast wide vista of your life, the lives of your parents, and that whole amazing assortment of those who came before. Learn from them. Learn perseverance, learn love, learn compassion. Learn perspective.

And learn their stories.

Behind you is the future. And you walk blindly into it because no one can see it, we can only catch glimpses.

Allow those who came before you to be your guide. And they will guide you. Their time is done and they can see where you are going, they’ve been down similar paths.

Gain wisdom from your ancestors and prepare yourself to pass wisdom on to those who come after.

The past is gone, and it’s a feast for the curious, a balm for the lonely, and a hope for those who despair. All who came before you are cheering you on.

“You can do it!”

They should know. They left you with the best parts of them.

So don’t live in the past, but never forget it. Bring the lessons with you into the exciting and unknown road ahead.

hiy hiy

From Aaron Paquette
https://www.facebook.com/AaronPaquetteArt
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Idle No More Rally at Vancouver City Hall, 12PM, Friday January 11, 2013
https://www.facebook.com/events/400873509990958/

uddari@live.ca
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Uddari-Weblog/333586816691660
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‘Pornography in Pakistan’ by Waseem Altaf


Untitled 17 – Art by Shahid Mirza

A Google survey carried out in June 2010
empirically substantiated that Pakistanis were No.1
in the world in searching pornographic material.

Any material in written form or pictorial, factual or fictional, aimed at arousing human sexuality through explicit sexual content can be referred to as pornography. Apart from treatise on sex which existed in ancient texts like kamasutra and Koka Shastra and were available in written form since centuries, very little pornography, be it verse, prose or illustration survived in the subcontinent. This was primarily due to the clandestine character of the subject which remains tabooed till today. Second, no effort has ever been made to collate and preserve such material from a psychosocial point of view. However man’s fascination with sex remains a hard fact and some of the most revered names in poetry and prose did create pornographic literature. Some of the poetry of Nazeer Akbarabadi is explicitly pornographic. There were also poets in the early twentieth century who wrote hazal or obscene verse. Syed Iman Ali Khan of Bilgram (a.k.a Sahib-e-Kiran) Kallan Khan who wrote under the poetic name of Bechain and Saadat Yar Khan Rangin were all hazalgo poets who described their boastful exploits of sexual intercourse with prostitutes.

Although extremely rare, yet books in Urdu language with sexually arousing content and hand made illustrations were available in the subcontinent since the seventeenth century. A book by Kaviraj Harnam Das published from Sialkot in the 1920s had two parts. The first part dealt with the physical and behavioral characteristics of women from various countries of the world, where the headings would go like this: Kashmir ki aurat(Woman of Kashmir), Inglistan ki aurat (Woman of England), Iran ki aurat(Woman of Iran) etc. The second part contained stories where brides and other girls would narrate accounts of their first sexual encounter. The details were fairly explicit and the book was embellished with pictures of women. Translations of texts of Kamasutra, Koka Shastra, Premshastra etc were also available in the market which were primarily created for sex education. Nevertheless these were also considered the right material to have sexual pleasure. The introduction of photography in the 1800’s and the invention of motion picture in 1895 broadened the scope of pornography to reach masses in much more graphic detail. Pictures of actors and actresses in intimate positions were now available to many. Although such material enjoyed mass appeal particularly among the youngsters, due to lack of social acceptance it’s use remains secretive.

It is believed that Shaukat Thanvi used to write pornography with the pseudonym of Wahi Wahanvi. Tigdam, Rukhsar and Bura Aadmi were some of his popular titles. Maybe it was him initially but soon this was a brand name for pornographic novels. It is believed that many others began writing with Wahi Wahanvi’s name as the author. Later Pyarelal Awara, Raheel Iqbal and several others entered the field and pornographic novels were easily available at the aana (dime) libraries. The librarian would charge eight to ten aanas for pornographic novels whereas other novels were available for two aanas. These novels were issued to trustworthy customers who would then hide the book and would read the text in seclusion usually at night when others were asleep. Wahi Wahanvi would use explicit language whereas Raheel Iqbal would give descriptions using similes and metaphors.

These novels generally had a weak plot while the emphasis remained on sexual exploits and its graphic narrative. Pirated editions of English pornographic novels were also available in the market which attracted those who could read and understand the language. Since the ’50s and the ’60s those returning from the West would also bring pictorial material with them which would then travel long distances by being passed along to all the near and dear ones to have a look before it was returned. Similarly blue prints were also available on 8mm film for which a projector was required. This material was equally popular among both the sexes. Cultural troupes from European countries and even Turkey and Iran would frequently visit Pakistan where seminude women would perform on the stage. Inter-Continental and other such hotels would also occasionally invite female dancers from other countries who would amuse the audience with erotic dances. Some cinema halls like Irum in Lahore, Khursheed in Rawalpindi and Palwasha in Peshawar also had the reputation of running imported blue films mostly in their late night shows. Semi nude, probably superimposed clips of actresses Rozina and Aarzoo were popular in the ’70s. Also in the ’70s, many pictorial magazines like Chitrali were also available in the market. Though not very explicit on heterosexuality yet semi-nude pictures of actresses would abundantly glaze the pages of these publications. While not very expensive this was the poor man’s choice to have some ‘recreation’. In 1976 came the VCR revolution. Now people could watch Indian movies of their favorite stars and blue films too in a cozy atmosphere. VCR was an expensive machine and not many could purchase it, however, it was available on rent which initially ranged from Rs.300 to 400 for 12 hours. Groups of like-minded would contribute the amount and watch blue films for almost the whole night. As video cameras were also available in early eighties, it was now possible to make blue films at home.

The blue prints of two NCA girls Hala Farooqui and Ayesha Shahbaz along with their boyfriend were perhaps made for private consumption; however, the film made its way into the rental circuit and was hugely ‘popular’. Similarly in 1991, the video of striptease performed by two girls hailing from Multan namely Zarina Ramzan and Qamar Ashraf in a South London nightclub also gained immense ‘popularity’ in Pakistan. The Lahore theatre with a very strong sexual content began to flourish in the ’80s. In the ’90s came the internet revolution and now everything one could dream of, was available in one’s bedroom. Simultaneously the internet cafes also mushroomed. In the privacy of one’s cabin one could watch pornographic material of sorts. Later webcams and mobile phones brought another revolution. Now real life sex could be recorded displayed and shared on the net. This practice was widely misused when net café owners installed secret cameras to film couples having fun in the privacy of their cabins. In some instances the footage was then released on CD’s of those caught on camera. However these ‘reality based’ clips had great demand in the market. Similarly sexually explicit mobile conversations, privately filmed footage and some photo-shopped content is presently the main attraction for many. Print material is almost outdated now and every conceivable aspect of pornography is available on the net; from full length movies to stories of sexual pursuits written in the nastaleeq script, to chat forums and ‘groups’; things for which one had to toil some decades ago are now just a click away from any corner of the world.

As precious as gold and as secretly guarded as a moonstone, the sole possession of the privileged few, that clandestine material is now available to all and sundry 24/7. However, the sex drive continues to create the desire to observe and delve deeper into the alluring world of varied sexual behavior of others.

From centuries old oral recitation of verses to prose laden with sexual content to online sex and physical intercourse with a digital celebrity in the 3-D virtual world, pornography continues to thrive in Pakistan.

A Google survey carried out in June 2010 empirically substantiated that Pakistanis were No.1 in the world in searching pornographic material. The survey further revealed that in 2004 Pakistanis were mostly searching ‘horse sex’, Since 2007 it was ‘donkey sex’, ‘Rape pictures’ between 2007-2009, ‘child sex’ between 2004-2007.Pakistanis were also found to be number one in searching ‘camel sex’. (http://wn.com/Pakistan_to_Pornistan__Pak_tops_the_world_in_internet_google_searches_for_porn_2_of_2)

From Waseem Altaf’s Facebook page
http://www.facebook.com/mwaseemaltaf?ref=ts&fref=ts

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