Desi Italiana's blog

So Long, and Farewell... and I Leave you my National Manifesto

By: on 18 Aug 2007

This is my last post on Pass the Roti, so I thought I'd leave with a bang :)

Independence Day(s) for Pakistan and India are over, and I am thankful for that. I am glad that everyone took one day off out of the year to unfurl their flags, sing and dance in the praise of their nation, and listen to the Prime Minister's speeches. Every year when Independence Day rolls around, journalists, writers, the opinion makers, and other members of the intelligentsia and elite will exhume national "heroes." They will solemnly showcase pearls of wisdom which spilled out of Nehru, Jinnah, and Gandhi's mouths: Nehru saw India as an ancient palimpsest, blah blah blah. Jinnah wanted an secular state where religion didn't matter, even though Pakistan was consciously constructed on a particular religion- a contradiction, if there ever was one. Mohandas Gandhi was the Mahatma, and Mahatamaji's dream and Pandit Nehru's prescient words should come true, especially since 60 years have passed, yada yada yada. How many times do we have to hear about India's Tryst With Destiny? Citizens are expected to ponder these words of wisdom, rub their chins, and say, "Wah wah! Too true!" The next day, everything can go back to normal. Pakistanis can resume taking over masjids, blowing each other up, unleashing a suppressive and deadly military campaign on people who demand an equal share, and abduct Hindu girls and force them to convert to Islam. Indians can return to massacring its own citizens and let the complicit politicians enjoy total impunity, kidnapping women who marry outside of the "community," force Christians to convert to Hinduism, and crooked badmaashes can carry on with their corruption and naatak. Both can pick up their axes again to destroy religious sites to symbolize the triumph of one religion over the other, fundamentalists can go back indoctrinating folks, the poor on both sides of the border can go back to the streets pavements to sleep after the fireworks are over, millions of refugees can return to their camps to languish there, and human trafficking on a large, global scale can restart its wheels. But look on the radioactively bright side- both have nuclear bombs which are national / honor. Who says Pakistan can't Zindabad and Mera Bharat isn't Mahan?

Wiki Tidbits

By: on 29 Jul 2007

I love Wikipedia. For someone like me who feasts on morsels of information on a wide variety of topics, Wikipedia is a godsend. Some of the articles are very informative, and you can basically find information on anything you want, however random. One of the best things is that it's open source- meaning, people get to dish out, collaborate, and discuss the contents of the subject at hand.

Be a Digital Warrior!

By: on 29 Jul 2007

As you may all know, the use of blogs can be many: they can be like diaries, a personal journal, news oriented, imaginative, and commentary which can be categorized under hundreds of different topics. In other words, they can be anything you want them to be. They are a space where each one of us can say what we want. And blogs are ubiquitous now. Major media have them, human rights organizations utilize them, and your everyday people record their thoughts on them. Original reporting is not a characteristic of blogs- yet. For the most part, blogs are commentaries which rely on mass media and other media outlets that have already done the original reporting.

Bloggers are as diverse as the purpose of blogs are. Some bloggers are your average Joe Schmo. Others are people who care about certain issues and seek to inform. There's another cadre of "elite bloggers"- those who are professionals and journalists, the gatekeepers and opinion makers. But for the first time, you can create a network or "community" of bloggers based on mutual interests that crosses oceans and borders. Blogs can be powerful, and bloggers can wield immense influence (for those who have access to the Internet and are able to read them). For the optimistic, blogging is the ultimate democratic tool: we can all be "citizen journalists" now.

A while ago, I came across a blog that talked about "white ethnic blogging." That post powerfully resonated with me, because I've realized that I do not read some of the popular blogs in the US (see our own blogroll). Some of these blogs talk about issues in such a way that I can't relate to them. Most of the well known bloggers are white- but they don't consider themselves as white. The operative assumption here is that white is the default, and anything outside of that is "ethnic blogging." Allow me to reproduce the aforementioned post because it perfectly captures my sentiments:


By: on 28 Jul 2007

I must admit, I'm enraptured by the videos below, the first two being from Pakistan, and the latter two from India. The speakers seem to be channeling some sort of anger, disaffection, anxieties, need for purpose and direction, desire for identity, and collective self worth. And I can't quite pin these sentiments down and articulate them.

Watch the four videos below. Witness how in all four, there are children who are listening to this baqwaas. These children are not present out of their own free will, but have been brought by adults.

The Blood Covering Lal Masjid

By: on 28 Jul 2007

Images from the Lal Masjid siege are imprinted on the minds of millions all across the globe. Smoke, guns, police officers, armed men, and women clad in black burqas were the pictures we saw splattered across newspapers and magazines. TV coverage of the Lal Masjid episode reflected what looked like war scenes: the soldiers at a standoff with militants, and blood red flames here and there.


The Lal Masjid students first came onto the international stage when in January female students occupied a children's library to protest demolitions of "illegally built" mosques. Thereafter, string of kidnappings took place: in March, Lal Masjid students kidnapped three women who allegedly ran a brothel (and released them when the women promised to "lead a pious life), in May they kidnapped six policemen, and in June nine people (of whom were 7 Chinese nationals) at an acupuncture clinic, accusing them of running a brothel. But it was the date July 3 that sparked the confrontation between the military and the students: the students had grabbed the weapons of the policemen who were stationed at a building in front of Jamia Hafsa.  The siege was mostly spearheaded by Maulana Abdul Aziz and his brother Abdul Rashid Ghazi (Ghazi says that they are "demanding a totally welfare state based on Islamic principles.")

Speaking of women, what did some of them have to say at a protest in Islamabad in May?

Imran Khan, the famous cricketer turned politician, had this to say in an interview:

A Blue Eyed, Pumped Up Hanuman

By: on 23 Jul 2007

Today I decided to hit up the Desi establishment.

Democracy Isn't Really For Pakistan

By: on 20 Jun 2007

The New York Times* voiced a mind boggling question that some Americans have about the possibility of democracy reigning in Pakistan:

Can Pakistan Mix Well With Democracy?

TENS of thousands of pro-Western moderates took to the streets of Pakistan recently and demanded an end to military rule. Benazir Bhutto, the country’s exiled former prime minister, is offering to return and push for democracy, which she says would act as an antidote to extremism.

Interesting how those who have vociferously demanded democracy are dubbed as "pro-Western" as if democracy were a Western invention and value, and "moderate" because presumably most of Pakistan is extremist while these folks are "moderate." We don't hear this language in the US when we talk about the Bush regime (extremist) and the Democrats (slightly moderate).

Break Out the Party Hat, Musharraf- You Won't EVER Have to Take off that Uniform!

By: on 20 Jun 2007

There was a time when the US administration would sugar coat their hypocritical stands in order to achieve their geopolitical objectives.

Musharraf Forces Journalists to Keep Chhuup

By: on 7 Jun 2007

If you've been following the news coming out of Pakistan, you'd know that General Musharraf has slapped tape on the mouths of journalists, waging a "war on journalism."


The Statement Department says that it's watching the media crisis "very closely:"

Well, we're watching very closely the events in Pakistan. I know this is a very sensitive issue for Pakistanis; how to resolve this judicial case within the bounds of Pakistani law.

Er...I don't know where $63 Billion went!

By: on 5 Jun 2007

I almost feel impelled to add another category named "where is the paisa?" because it seems like there's so much of it sloshing around in South Asia, yet we don't know where a lot of it goes.

Like Afghanistan, Pakistan seems to suffer from the question "Where's the money?" And similar to Afghanistan, the US has been pouring in a lot of money into Pakistan since September 11: Three years following 9/11, U.S.

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