Sorry to annoy you, but it’s my rights

After a recent poll by Thomson Reuters Foundation stated that Pakistan is the world’sthird most dangerous country for women, many men moaned. What else do you women want, they say, looking at their women colleagues who earn as much as them and get the same perks and privileges.

Here is what we want: a realistic view of the acute problem of discrimination against womenin our society.

Even if we do not talk about sexual and domestic violence that Pakistani women are routinely subjected to, there is still a long way to go to address the chauvinistic attitudes that remain entrenched. Phrases, such as “lady doctor” or “lady health worker” are used on a regular basis, as though being female makes her less professional than a male doctor or health worker. Even today, when someone advertises to hire an office secretary, their gender – female – is a criterion. Some jobs are considered more “suitable” for women, for instance, teaching where they can be close to their kids or return home before their husbands/fathers, as opposed to more “hardcore” professions such as law or accountancy. Anything to do with clothes or physical appearance – such as fashion designing or hair styling – is considered appropriate.

But what is alarming is that these are the attitudes affecting those who are able to go out and make a choice, albeit out of options enforced upon them by someone else. They cannot even begin to indicate the sort of problems and pressures that a large majority of Pakistani women must face every day – from being socially-ostracised for giving birth to a female child to being branded of loose character for taking up a job to help provide for her family.

Pakistan is not a safe or conducive place for women and no matter how annoying the constant “nagging” gets that is a fact that can neither be denied nor ignored. Just because a handful of women are able to choose what they study, where they work and who they marry does not mean our society has become friendlier to women. There is a long walk to freedom and only “nagging” will get us there.


Guns are a problem, not a solution

Pakistani journalists have been allowed to carry guns to protect themselves. This brilliant solution has been offered by none other than Interior Minister Rehman Malik who has, in the past, offered many such pearls of wisdom, particularly over the unabated spate of target killings in Karachi.

There is evidence enough that journalism is one of the most dangerous professions in Pakistan. In a recent statement, the Committee to Protect Journalists has ranked Pakistan the tenth most dangerous place in the world for journalists to work and, according to the International Federation of Journalists, five journalists have died in Pakistan in the first six months of this year.

But will carrying guns really make journalists any more secure in the future than they are in Pakistan today? Just this year, the deaths have occurred in circumstances that a gun would never have been able to prevent.

Arguably the most revolting death was the brutal case of journalist Saleem Shahzad who was reported missing from Islamabad on May 30 and within 24 hours, his body was found in Mandi Bahauddin with marks of torture. Would he have been able to protect himself if he had had a gun?

A number of journalists were among the victims of this past weekend’s twin bombing in Peshawar’s Khyber Supermarket. One journalist lost his life and one was critically injured and is fighting for his life. Would they have been able to protect themselves if they had had guns?

So will carrying guns really make the job any easier, at least in terms of security? The country is becoming increasingly insecure, not just for journalists but for the people at large. Kidnappings for ransom and street crime are as rampant as target killings and suicide bombings. Does that mean that every citizen of Pakistan should be allowed to carry a gun for protection?

More weapons are not an answer because guns do not save lives. The solution to insecurity is not to increase the number of weapons but to decrease them. If A tries to shoot B and B shoots A in self-defence, the net effect will be loss of life, not more security.

Afridi, as I see him

Two bloggers face off on Afridi’s controversial resignation – were his actions justified or did ego get the best of him?

The Pakistan Cricket Board had it coming: Zainab Imam

Someone had to go against them and who better than Shahid Afridi – Lala to his fans – who not only says he has public support and doesn’t need anything more, but also behaves like it.

Many believe that Afridi has a personal agenda against the board which is why he, loved and hated for his mercurial temperament, has taken the bull by the horns. They point to the day he announced his retirement, saying he was dejected after being stripped of captaincy. What they fail to look at is the legitimate reason he gave: The perennial uncertainty about his immediate future and not being able to do his job properly due to unwanted interference.

PCB’s reply to this was the worst possible way to treat a player under whose captaincy Pakistan made it to the World Cup semi-final despite a mediocre year behind them and the shock loss that was Mohammad Amir.

The time is now. We see scandal after scandal unfold under Ijaz Butt and the board’s incompetence at handling trivial matters is quite clear. It needs to go. And Afridi is going to be the man spearheading the movement.

Suspending Afridi’s contract and revoking his NOC is PCB’s way of saying that no one can challenge its decisions, not even the captain. For him to put his career at stake for the improvement of cricket is one of the boldest steps any cricketer has ever taken. And we should be behind the man who has dared.

Afridi’s reaction lacks dignity and poise: Amna Lone

The drama that unfolded with Afridi commenting on Waqar Younis’ interference in team affairs has taken on proportions that were quite unimaginable when he first spoke about it.

It seems that both Afridi and the blunder-prone PCB are bent upon outdoing each other in committing one howler after another. However, as a weary Pakistan cricket fan, who has had to put up with the shenanigans of the PCB for the longest time, one cannot help but feel that the board alone cannot be blamed for giving rise to the stand-off.

Only the most biased would disagree with the fact that Afridi is a proven match-winner who’s left an indelible mark on Pakistan cricket. However, that doesn’t give him the license to openly wash the dressing room’s dirty linen in public. Making irresponsible statements and playing to the gallery is not the kind of behavior that a senior player, who’s captained the national team, should be engaging in.

Afridi’s comments on the coach’s interference were needless as the ideal approach would’ve been to seek a quiet, behind-the-doors solution, failing which he could have gone public with his grievances as a last resort.

Admittedly, his removal from captaincy was taken with reasons unexplained, but his reaction to the move completely lacked dignity and poise. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to swallow one’s pride and act maturely for the greater good, but that’s something that seems to be lost on Afridi.