mehreenkasana:

fopofeminism:

“Drones Kill So Malala Can Live”—How does western media use women to justify violence in Pakistan? What are the realities for women on the ground? 

Madiha Tahir  is an independent journalist reporting on conflict, culture and politics in Pakistan. She has travelled extensively through the FATA areas of Pakistan, reaching many areas that are inaccessible to many journalists to report on victims of drone violence. 

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing her on the intersections of Pakistani society, gender and American drone strikes. Listen by clicking the area, or read a slightly edited transcript below. 

How is Pakistani society—particularly in the FATA-controlled areas most affected by drone strikes—gendered? Does this make it so that women are affected differently by drone strikes than men?

Madiha Tahir: It is difficult to know what the precise gender relations are, particularly in North Waziristan, which is where most of the drone strikes have been happening. Before I start talking about this, I do want to say that the tribal areas are subject to three forms of violence: American drones, the Pakistani Army which conducts operations there, and lastly criminal gangs like the TTP who also kill people and conduct their own form of terror in these areas.

The thing that I have heard from psychiatrists is that women are harder hit by some of the psychiatric issues that result from these conditions, partly because they do not have the same kind of support networks that the men do. Each of these homes, which are called “compounds” and have dozens of family members living there—often as much as 50, 60, 70 family members and related family living in a particular home. So women have access to this group. Still, they’re not able to move around in society in the same way that the men do. They’re isolated for a variety of reasons. They don’t have people to talk to in the same way that men do about dealing with whatever issues they might be dealing with—dealing with stress, etc. So, they exhibit particularly severe forms of trauma and psychological stress from all of these forms of violence.

The particular thing about drones is that they cause a very particular form of anxiety. The thing about violence from the militancy, like gangs and the TTP, is that there is some sense—whether it is true or not—that to some extent, they control their interactions, so as long as they don’t bother them, they will not be subject to violence. Irrespective of whether that’s true or not, that is a thing in peoples’ minds.

However, with drones they have no control. The drones are not part of society in anyway, they are not interacting with society in anyway. They are hovering overhead 24/7 and they make a constant buzzing sound which is incredibly unsettling to people. You don’t know when these drones are actually going to strike. There is an uncertainty that produces a particular form of anxiety that the other forms of violence do not.

You mentioned the differences between representations of Afghan women and Pakistani women in the American press. While Afghan women needed to be saved, Pakistani women are called Terrorist Mammas and Terrorist Wives. Can you talk about this difference? 

MT: A common trope of imperial wars has been the idea of white men saving brown women from brown men. This is certainly part of the war effort we see in Afghanistan. Major mainstream American feminist organizations supported the war in Afghanistan as a war for women’s rights—never mind that Malalai Joya, a feminist and an activist in Afghanistan, has spoken about how women’s rights have taken a turn for the worse since the United States invaded Afghanistan.

In Pakistan, however, in the tribal areas where the drone attacks are happening, that has not come to the fore as a justification. You have moments of it where you see, for example, that when the school girl Malala Yousafzai attacked and shot by the Taliban, you saw that she was being used to mobilize pro-War sentiments.

In general, what you see in the triabal areas is that when women are caught and killed as part of a targeting effort by the US. So when drones kill women in the tribal areas, lots of so-called experts write that off as collateral damage, or, they say that these women, by consenting to be the wives of these militants. That is another question altogether, what makes a militant—but to the extent that women were wives to these people, they were complicit in whatever alleged crimes that these people may have committed and therefore deserved to die. So they’ve been called “Terror Mammas” and other such terms.

So, you don’t see the same kind of discourse happening in Pakistan around the saving of women. To the extent that it happens, the saving of women in other parts of Pakistan is that women in tribal areas are deemed as complicit if they end up being killed in a drone strike.

Can you talk about Malala Yousafzai and how this was treated as the question of education in Pakistan and ignored as a foreign policy issue? 

MT: It’s horrific what happened with Malala, and certainly a cause for concern. So the fact that people were able to be horrified by what happened to Malala is—in the case of Pakistanis who are written off as terrorists or open to terrorist tendencies—the fact that Pakistanis exhibited horror at Malala Yousafzai’s shooting is a testament to the fact that Pakistanis are, by and large, opposed to this form of terrorism. It’s sad to actually have to make that comment, and to have that be a political comment, but given the rhetoric in the United States around Pakistan, even saying something as basic as “most Pakistanis are not terrorists” has become a political statement.

The other thing is that we saw around Malala was a certain mobilization of sentiment around Malala to justify the war. Within Pakistan, we saw protests happening. In one case there was a photo circulated of a woman at a protest in Pakistan holding a sign that said, “Drones Kill So Malala Can Live.”

But the larger political question is: why are we so horrified by the shooting of Malala Yousafzai, but not the killings of children who are being killed by drone strikes?

Certainly we should be horrified by the Taliban shooting Malala Yousafzai, but we should equally be horrified by children being killed by drone strikes.  Those things barely make the wire service reports, never mind an entire news article on any child. We barely know their names. That’s what I find really troubling—and that’s where the politics comes out: this emotion that comes out around Malala Yousafzai is a certain kind of politics that only feels horror for a particular kind of violence and doesn’t feel horror for another kind of violence that is also killing children, and used to justify the killing of those children on the basis of shooting of another child. 

Listen to this.

 

mehreenkasana:

How Thomas Friedman Distorts Realities in Egypt, Pakistan, and India by Amith Gupta in Jadaliyya

Writers such as Gyanendra Pandey have noted that despite the systematic nature of Indian state’s violence against its Muslim minority, such violence is always deceptively depicted as an aberration, “aberration in the sense that violence is seen as something removed from the general run of Indian history: a distorted form, an exceptional moment, not the “real” history of India at all.” This is a fitting commentary on Friedman’s own whitewash of the history of India. This is, of course, not to mention India’s short stint as a dictatorship, from 1975-1977, when Indian leader Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency, jailed political opponents, dramatically limited freedom of the press, and began a campaign of forced sterilization against the poor—following a court ruling that she had broken the law during her election. Furthermore, there is India’s declaration of war against jungle tribes within India itself: peoples that have been dispossessed and robbed of their lands, only to be massacred by helicopter gunships as they try desperately to resist. Nevertheless, Friedman somehow manages to ignore these glaring problems in favor of highlighting a token Muslim appointee as proof of Indian cosmopolitanism.

Such omissions are only the beginning of Friedman’s absurd musings. He asks if Egypt, under the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, might become like Pakistan, opting for strict military rule and intolerance against minorities. In the process of posing and exploring the question, he makes another glaring omission: the role of the United States. In both Pakistan and Egypt, US policy has been a major determinant in the outcome of internal power struggles, especially those which concern military-civilian relations. Pakistan did not become a militarized (near-failed) state without the active intervention of the United States. A major Cold War ally against the non-aligned India, the United States backed Pakistan with billions of dollars in military aid since its founding in order to contain the alleged threat of communism. This carried over and was intensified during the Soviet invasion of neighboring Afghanistan.

The massive and unbalanced aid flow to Pakistan’s military establishment has resulted in the weakening of Pakistan’s civilian institutions, creating a nuclear military power that can and does ignore the rule of law with the blessing of heavy US support. In the process, the United States has enriched a core of Pakistani military officers who have used the billions of dollars to fund various pet projects, while preventing any serious oversight from the Pakistani civilian government. This continues even as Pakistan’s military and intelligence services back al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters. There should be no doubt that the United States has underwritten the Pakistani military’s domineering, lawless hand in Pakistan’s domestic affairs so as to quell any real or alleged threats from other regional powers.

[continued]

Thank you and shukriya for proving that Friedman will always be a God damn idiot. Read this.

 
mehreenkasana:


Native Orientalists in Pakistan
The Orientalist enterprise of Western writers has received a great deal of critical attention since the publication of Edward Said’s Orientalism in 1978. As Western academics have learned to bring more objectivity and empathy to their study of the Islamicate, a growing number of Muslim academics, novelists and journalists – in their home countries and the diaspora – have started looking at themselves through new Orientalist constructs that serve the interests of Western powers. This native Orientalism has existed in the past but it has grown dramatically since the launch-ing of the West’s so-called global war against terror. This essay examines the man-ner in which native Orientalists in Pakistan – writing mostly in the English language – have been supporting America’s so-called global war against terror.

Reading right now. Profound and important.

mehreenkasana:

Native Orientalists in Pakistan

The Orientalist enterprise of Western writers has received a great deal of critical attention since the publication of Edward Said’s Orientalism in 1978. As Western academics have learned to bring more objectivity and empathy to their study of the Islamicate, a growing number of Muslim academics, novelists and journalists – in their home countries and the diaspora – have started looking at themselves through new Orientalist constructs that serve the interests of Western powers. This native Orientalism has existed in the past but it has grown dramatically since the launch-ing of the West’s so-called global war against terror. This essay examines the man-ner in which native Orientalists in Pakistan – writing mostly in the English language – have been supporting America’s so-called global war against terror.

Reading right now. Profound and important.

 

I could venture into the deep thesis of Orientalism, but let me not. A simpler explanation is because the editors at these foreign publications demand a certain style. The foreign correspondents reporting from “exotic” locations, where a “life is cheaper than the bullet that takes it”, have to conform to corporate demands. Many have internalised this style, while others let the desk editors do the Stylebook adjectivisation. Some foreign correspondents have spent enough time in Pakistan to know its nuanced life, while other “parachute journalists” use adjectives as crutches to bolster their “fact-challenged” reportage. […] The result is a colourful picture of Pakistan for the world to read. Here “moustachioed” and “turbaned” men rub shoulders with “powerbrokers in pin-striped suits”, who are always fighting a losing battle with brass-laden generals who always “swagger”. […] Yes, this is a war we fight on a daily basis. It is a war of adjectives that slash like a whip and cut like a scimitar. At the end, the poor Pakistani journalists can only look at the foreign correspondent and say with a resigned shrug: “Saala angraizy kee maar dey giya” (He vanquished me with the English language).

 

The American media has falsely convinced its viewers that Malala was shot because she wanted to go to school. It is unfortunate that most viewers have accepted this narrative and failed to ask simple questions like, “Is Malala the only girl in all of Pakistan who goes to school?” The average Muslim woman, or even the average Pakistani woman, does not get shot on a daily basis; millions of girls and women go to school daily, even if there are still many families who deny education to their daughters. Yet, for the American media, Malala has become a stand-in for the condition of the generic Muslim woman. Yes, there are issues in the Muslim world—including Pakistan—but many of the experiences of women in the Muslim world are shared by our sisters in the non-Muslim world. Highlighting one Pakistani girl’s case, and misrepresenting it as an attack on any Muslim woman who wants to go to school, not only trivializes the issue but also diverts attention from women’s mistreatment in the rest of the world—including the so-called Western world.

Orbala - How Not to Talk About Malala Yousafzai in Tanqeed magazine.

An excellent article by Orbala who argues that while criticizing US drone strikes is extremely important, one should not forget to criticize and bring attention to the ongoing attacks by the Pakistani military in the tribal agencies as part of being an ally in the so-called US “War on Terrorism.”

Make sure you read this.

(via mehreenkasana)

 

mehreenkasana:

Isn’t it amazing how rhetoric shapes politics? Simple words and images. If you’ve studied US foreign policy specifically in terms of the Middle East and South and Central Asia, you’ll notice how the Western media has maintained a very strong and even strangely hypnotic kind of control over consumers when it comes to the notion of “danger.” It’s full of sensationalism and trigger-happy as well as trigger-paranoid narrow-minded discourse. After 9/11, the most “dangerous” places in the world were Iraq and Afghanistan. US and its allies deployed troops in both regions, killed thousands and thousands of Iraqis and Afghans, plunged itself into an economic failure, and unwillingly realized only recently that its decision was a flawed, hypocritical one.

Now the rhetoric has shifted its focus on Iran and Pakistan. Two countries that have been under aggressive and relentless US foreign policy for the past decade. With sanctions imposed on Iran and drone strikes in the tribal areas of Pakistan, USA continues to increases its violent pressure on both states. What’s amazing is how there’s very little opposition from American viewers; the majority plays easily into media’s aim to create a phantom Muslim enemy. An enemy that is, statistically speaking, so small and negligent that it barely exists as an “imminent” threat. Putting power politics aside, what does that say about Western media? It highlights its purposeful, malicious bias that perpetuates violence and bigotry against Muslims but it’s more than just that: Western media operates like a machine. It facilitates war.

Do you remember this from 1945? Look closer.

“Kill Japs, Kill Japs, then kill more Japs.” We all remember what happened then.

It’s just incredibly saddening. I grew up thinking words are obsolete, that human sensibility could see through the loopholes and inconsistencies of political rhetoric but when you have media so passionate about exaggeration and dishonesty, and people who are not only unaware but unmoved by tragedies proven over and over again, piles and piles of dead children and women and old people, it’s easy for war to happen - again. It’s convenient even. Because it satisfies that fear put into you. That “enemy” is dead, your politicians tell you. Then they create another enemy. It’s time to kill that “enemy” too.

Words are everything. Western media insists that it is “fair” and “neutral” but it contradicts itself by analyzing international relations without discussing actual politics. Yesterday everyone was worried about nonexistent WMD in Iraq and Afghanistan; today they’re worried about Iran and Pakistan.

And you know what could possibly happen after that. Everyone knows.

It’s like they have an infinite supply of ridiculous images to go with their even more ridiculous titles. Tasbeeh did a great post on this a few hours ago.

 
mehreenkasana:


“In Pakistan, underground parties push the boundaries“ (via Reuters)

Wherein elite Pakistanis blame everything on religion - moderate or extreme, doesn’t matter to our awfully privileged Pakistanis - while spending money on tickets to farmhouse parties that would cost the lower-middle class Pakistani a month’s income. Never once does it actually occur to the rich kids at these raves that the divide they find so “messed up” is not exactly a religious one, but a blatantly class-based issue. The “servants and the drivers” waiting for these upper class whiners don’t judge on the base of religion; They judge on the basis of class divide and the treatment the elites give them. The servants and drivers get the worst treatment from the elites that whine day in, day out. In 9 out of 10 cases, these “menial workers” don’t give two shits about the religion you follow. They only pity you as you bemoan the “unfairness” of life while you gorge on food, alcohol, drugs, special protocol and luxuries they could never, ever afford. Not to forget your parents evading taxes. Your parties don’t push boundaries for the majority of this country. Your elite denial, arrogance and deliberate ignorance towards the basic issues of those far less privileged is “pushing the boundaries.”
P.S. Reuters, where is your common sense?

Because everything about Pakistan is either Islam destroying A, Islam destroying B, Islam destroying C, Islam destroying your upper-class, no-entry-for-poor parties attended by American diplomats, but never ever should we mention the class difference here. Good job, Reuters. Thanks for framing this within religious context like usual. 
/sarcasm.

mehreenkasana:

In Pakistan, underground parties push the boundaries“ (via Reuters)

Wherein elite Pakistanis blame everything on religion - moderate or extreme, doesn’t matter to our awfully privileged Pakistanis - while spending money on tickets to farmhouse parties that would cost the lower-middle class Pakistani a month’s income. Never once does it actually occur to the rich kids at these raves that the divide they find so “messed up” is not exactly a religious one, but a blatantly class-based issue. The “servants and the drivers” waiting for these upper class whiners don’t judge on the base of religion; They judge on the basis of class divide and the treatment the elites give them. The servants and drivers get the worst treatment from the elites that whine day in, day out. In 9 out of 10 cases, these “menial workers” don’t give two shits about the religion you follow. They only pity you as you bemoan the “unfairness” of life while you gorge on food, alcohol, drugs, special protocol and luxuries they could never, ever afford. Not to forget your parents evading taxes. Your parties don’t push boundaries for the majority of this country. Your elite denial, arrogance and deliberate ignorance towards the basic issues of those far less privileged is “pushing the boundaries.”

P.S. Reuters, where is your common sense?

Because everything about Pakistan is either Islam destroying A, Islam destroying B, Islam destroying C, Islam destroying your upper-class, no-entry-for-poor parties attended by American diplomats, but never ever should we mention the class difference here. Good job, Reuters. Thanks for framing this within religious context like usual. 

/sarcasm.

(via intersectionalityis4lovers)

#pakistan   #asia  
 

But who really cares what happened behind closed doors. More importantly: [Hina Rabbani Khar] got high marks for wearing Roberto Cavalli sunglasses, classic pearl and diamond jewelry, a blue designer dress, and toting an Hermes Birkin bag. And thus ladies and gentleman, a glamour icon is born. We give it three months before Vogue comes calling… wait, maybe two. [Goswami said] She could be Pakistan’s new weapon of mass destruction.

Robert Zeliger for, obviously, the Foreign Policy.

“Pakistan’s new weapon of mass destruction.” I’m not even commenting on that.

Let’s just limit a Pakistani female politician to her fashion taste because obviously a Pakistani female politician is only about her fashion taste. Great journalism going on there, Zeliger. You should win an internationally acclaimed medal for your astute and totally serious analysis coming from the West on an Eastern female political figure.

Except not.

(via mehreenkasana)

 

The Orientalist enterprise of Western writers has received a great deal of critical attention since the publication of Edward Said’s Orientalism in 1978. As Western academics have learned to bring more objectivity and empathy to their study of the Islamicate, a growing number of Muslim academics, novelists and journalists – in their home countries and the diaspora – have started looking at themselves through new Orientalist constructs that serve the interests of Western powers. This native Orientalism was a minor affair during the Cold War but it has grown dramatically since the launching of the West’s so-called global war against terror. This essay examines the manner in which native Orientalists in Pakistan – writing mostly in the English language – have been supporting America’s so-called global war against terror.

Abstract of Native Orientalists in Pakistan.

Currently reading this. Remember when I said Brown Uncle Toms and Sams? This is precisely about that. Excellent so far.

(via mehreenkasana)

Native cronies and Orientalists go hand in hand.