2019 – Story So Far

FYI presents a half yearly report of the defining moments of the year so far.

 

The Curious Case of the Balakot ‘Attack’ – Indian War Hysteria

It’s not often that Pakistan wins any kind of battle of perception as far as international media goes. Especially in comparison to India. But history was definitely made earlier this year, when India shattered all illusions of sanity and logic and proceeded to make preposterous claims about mythical terror camps blown up in Balakot, with over 500 casualties and the downing of PAK fighter jets. All of which were unceremoniously debunked by independent analysts from all over the world. The war hysteria in India was such that everyone from their leadership to so-called credible journalists and bollywood stars, were all acting as they themselves had gone to ‘avenge’ the Pulwama attack. In a stark contrast, our own government displayed a quiet calm and restraint, all the while calling for dialogue. The captured IAF pilot, Abhinandan was shown the due courtesy a pilot of his kind deserves and ‘the chai is fantastic’ has taken on an iconic life of its own since then. Even our media, uncharacteristically shied away from stooping to the same levels of histrionics as their Indian counterparts. Still, all said and done, for those generations certainly, who don’t know what it feels like to have the threat of war looking over their heads, the sounds of fighter jets circling the skies in their deafening booms, was a harsh wake up call to the reality and ugliness of war. As for India? Expect a slew of bollywood films coming to cinema screens shortly, all about the ‘glory’ of the victory, that never was. .

 

Aurat March – Proving why women march

Like many movements, this too was met with resistance. Too ‘vulgar’, too ‘obscene’ or just plain, ‘unnecessary.’ Sure, some of the posters were provocative, as many in movements like this are meant to be – to shock and awe. Yet, the  gross and convenient singling out of those posters, while ignoring the very real and credible manifestos and issues that Aurat March actually stands for, smacked of the stench of misogyny and patriarchy which engulfs our society. Every time a nine year old girl is married off to a 50 year old man who bought her, a young girl is raped in the hospital by the same doctors and staff sworn to serve and heal her, a woman is killed by her in-laws for presenting cold food on the table or indeed, a woman dies in a motorbike accident, just because she was forced by societal norms to sit in the absurdly dangerous side saddle – ask yourself, why women march. It is years and years of anger, frustration and resentment which have finally found a voice. And long may it roar.

 

PSL  – A Taste of What Could Be

If ever there was a case to be made for shifting all the PSL matches to Pakistan altogether, it was the sheer, monumental contrast between the atmosphere of matches held in the UAE and matches held in Pakistan. Karachi once again became the city of lights, the foreign players showered their love on all things Pakistan and Darren Sammy, Viv Richards and Shane Watson became local heroes. The deserving team in Quetta Gladiators winning was the ultimate icing on the cake. Like a shot of energy to the arm, Pakistan needed this. And it will keep needing it, every year.

 

Swinery – Our Ultimate Instagram Obsession

If you have been lucky enough to have discovered @swinery on Instagram, you know exactly what we are talking about. Using different avatars such as the judgmental society aunty, her fed up mother in law, the quick to chastise moulvi, to the more surreal such as the pig or UK returned owl, Swinery has a pulse on so much of what makes this society what it is, that it’s uncanny. And the best part is, that it’s done with unabashed humour and wit. There’s no self consciousness here – just straight up, no holds barred, talent. If you haven’t checked out the account yet – do so, immediately! You’ll never hear the phrases, ‘Shazia’s dottuh’ and ‘avocado ka halwa’ quite the same way again. And don’t forget to watch our personal favourite, the very underrated Mars ka alien. Urdu expletives will never be the same.

 

The Black Hole – Milestone

You could argue that it’s just a picture. But make no mistake, the picture represents so much more than just a black hole. It is years of human perseverance and tenacity and the endless scope of the universe which is still so unknown to us, as well as the infinite possibilities of technology – all symbolized in that one, iconic picture. Just look at the bigger picture here. The picture released was taken by a team of 200 scientists, shown in a galaxy named M87, situated in the massive Virgo Galaxy cluster, which is about 55 million light years away from Earth. Also, the mass of the black hole is 6.5 billion times the Sun. Now consider. Consider own egos and petty insistence that the world revolves around us. And think just how insignificant we really are, in the grander scheme of things.

 

 

 

Asad Umer Resigns – Cabinet Reshuffling Controversy

Chief Minister Punjab, Usman Buzdar holds on to his seat, yet Asad Umer goes and Fawad Chaudary is reshuffled. Take a moment to consider this. And yet, here we are. Now, there’s no denying that the economy is going through an extremely turbulent phase. And yes, the PTI only hurt itself by presenting Umer as some messianic savior who would miraculously heal the economy. However, there’s also no denying that the state of economy inherited by PTI was so dire, that one would have thought you would allow someone of Asad Umer’s caliber at least a follow through period to see if he was able to sustain his ideas and measures. Not to mention the fact the unceremonious way in which he was forced to resign to begin with – taking one of the saner voices of the party out of the cabinet is not the best idea.

 

Applauding Second Marriages

We all remember Sanam Baloch’s interview with Amir Liaquat and his second wife. An episode where we saw a woman throwing another woman under the bus. Furthermore, the host had the audacity to express her displeasure over how Aamir Liaquat is being ‘treated’ by his first wife. It’s as if Ms. Baloch hasn’t even heard of the phrase ‘female solidarity’, nor did she bother to look within her own house first, before passing judgment on others. One would have thought after a troubled marriage herself that ended in a divorce, she might have been kinder. But no. Then, there was the second wife sitting ever so smugly. One couldn’t help but think that she really ought to remember this same sanctimonious high road about ‘deen’ if her husband ever decides to remarry a third time. Because, why not? And then of course, there’s the man himself. Who represents all that is wrong with this disturbing new trend of passing off or validating second marriages these days with no context whatsoever. Firstly, clearly there is no consent from the first wife. Secondly, in almost all of these new cases of these ‘evangelical’ breed of men like him marrying again – none of the reasons men had to actually marry multiple times in earlier eras apply now. So their reasons for second marriages are clear as day. They can get away with more than one partner, and so they are. With no regards to their first wives. Thirdly, the interview presented him still looking after his first wife and kids as some kind of favour, when it is his obligation. Moreover, to vilify your first wife publicly? Even worse. And all that talk of the ‘kids’ being ‘brainwashed.’ First of all, they’re adults. And second if all, they won’t just “get over it.” To insinuate they are puppets being asked by their mother to express what is their rightful and justified indignation at their father is not only bizarre on the part of the host and the father, but also delusional.

 

Ali Zafar & the Lux Style Awards Controversy

There’s a lot that’s been said on the matter already. Without re-hashing anything, suffice to say that Cersei had the right idea all along in Game of Thrones, when she said, ‘power is power.’ This episode and everything that has come with it – from Lux Style Award’s jury’s weak and self unaware response to Ali Zafar and his wife’s media interviews, to the misinformation on the case itself – proves it. What’s clear is that certain pockets of society, both media and non media alike, fail to realize the larger, more disturbing connotations attached with this whole case. That we are able to even listen to statements implying that if he had the ‘opportunity’ to work with such beautiful bollywood actresses, then why would he waste time on someone like Meesha Shafi, and to hear the host and the wife applaud and laugh along, no less – reveals the depths to which we have sunk and fail to comprehend what sexual harassment really entails.

 

 

Popular Culture behemoths – Game of Thrones Final Season & Avengers Endgame

All good things come to an end. But when two pop culture giants close out their swan song in the same year, it hurts. It may not have been the ending in either case that some of us wanted or hoped for but what we will never forget is the frenzy, the hype, the anticipation. The unity of knowing that all around the world, we belong to a single fandom. Nothing comes close.