I had dinner at Cafe Flo, a very upmarket Karachi restaurant, last night, and came away with several competing emotions, all vying for the rather limited space in my brain. At first I felt guilty for having spent so much money on what was, essentially, just a meal – this was closely followed by the realisation that the amount in question was, frankly, preposterous for anything not made of solid gold.
Mostly, though, I found that my overwhelming feeling was of not actually being full.
– Metaphor of the day: US CENTCOM chief Gen Petraeus says the Taliban are a bunch of snakes. And the ISI are aged babas with flutes, then? On a slightly more serious note, Petraeus does seem to grasp the set-up of this conflict, from Pakistan’s point of view, fairly well, and in his testimony at the ongoing congressional hearings he sometimes comes off sounding more like a Pakistani diplomat than a man who’s running the US war – in essence, he’s been pleading with the politicians not to push Pakistan’s establishment too far with their favourite stick: the ‘Do More’.
– Sindh High Court developments you’ve probably not heard about, but should care about: in the ongoing defamation case filed by PPP Information Secretary Fauzia Wahab against The News‘s Ansar Abbasi, the SHC bench has upheld a stay against the defendant, barring him from publishing material that defames any party without adequate proof. That a High Court stay-order was needed for this to happen is indicative of the level of responsibility in Pakistani journalism today. The court noted in its remarks when upholding the order, which Mr Abbasi appealed on the grounds that it apparently stopped him from ‘doing his job’ (!!), that the court was not ordering him to do anything that he shouldn’t be doing anyway.
Watch this space, as The News is using the case to claim that it is being unfairly victimised. The firm pursuing the case, according to sources within it, is going to aggressively push this case as far as it will go, and is prepared to file contempt of court charges the moment Abbasi steps out of line, on any story. The same firm, in fact, has obtained a stay-order against columnists Shaheen Sehbai and Anjum Niaz and TV channel Dunya News for writing/broadcasting uncorroborated stories about Riaz Lalljee, a Karachi businessman who was recently abducted and then released in mysterious circumstances. If the SHC takes an activist line on pursuing these cases, watch for many, many more to be filed, and maybe, just maybe, the media in this country will begin to think about the importance of accuracy in reporting.
– Finally, I can’t figure out what the Express-Tribune is for. Take a look at this Opinion page on the website. From the excerpts and headlines, the only conclusion I can reach is that it’s a newspaper where burgers and people ‘just like Jinnah’ from the professional classes can write open letters to Pervez Musharraf, the Chief of Army Staff, and PM Gilani’s janitor.
I’m sure it makes sense, to someone. Damned if I can figure it out, though.