5 Culpable parties in #Gujranwala Killings

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“Hate is a baggage. Life is too short to be pissed all the time. It’s not just worth it”, are the words of Danny Vinyard, the protagonist in my all time favorite Hollywood flick,American history X

I reckon his words are the most suitable antidote needed at this critical juncture by our society that has been defaced with another scar in the form of Gujranwala killings.  

The miscreants torching houses of the vulnerable Ahmadi minority at the culmination of the Holy month of Ramadan added to the ignominy of the shameful act. An inside source cleared the air that the accused was framed, a commonplace with minorites in Pakistan, since his facebook account was hacked before he was charged of posting an offensive image on the social networking website. 

Post Gujranwala incident, I have identified five culpable parties whose indifference towards humanity is startling:

1). The Mob (mentality)

This is the most dangerous of the lot as they comes in various shapes and forms. They are well verse at wielding sticks, totting guns and pyrotechnics. They claim that they ostensibly retaliate in the name of the God, yet their goal is to incite hate.

 At times they afflict pain by being physical on other ocassions they prefer to remain silent. Wondering how?

When Farzana Parveen was stoned to death in broad daylight this mob watched orgasmically until the poor lass breathed her last. Whereas in cases of Badami Bagh tragedy, Gojra massacre, Youtube protest and recently Gujranwala arson they excercised their physical prowess.

Another bizzare routine in their modus operandi is looting. They executed it with utter impunity, after setting houses,belonging to the Ahmadis, on fire. 

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2). Inept criminal justice system: 

With human rights violation galore, the criminal justice system in the Islamic republic of Pakistan has failed miserable and as it seems, the price tag on life depends on a person’s religious affiliation — a pity to say the least.

Every passing day our flawed judicial system strengthens the radical element by bowing in front of his tyranny. In case of Gujranwala incident it has hardly taken notice.

No matter how debatable or confusing the intricacies of blasphemy law are but it is clear as a May morning that only state has the right to exercise the law. The Gujranwala incident would be the umpteenth time when judiciary and the state machinery have failed to deliver.

If past precedence of this skewed system is anything to go by then Hijratullah, the culprit in Manawa incident is a prime example. He was sentenced to 7 years later Judges ruled him innocent.

Same hold true in the case of Rimsha Masih, where witnesses changed their testimony during the course of legal proceeding against Khalid Chishti, who was charged with wrongly framing Rimsha of blasphemy. As a result the culprit went scot-free.

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Rashid Rehman case is no different. While representing blasphemy accused lecturer, Junaid Hafeez, he was threatened by his counterpart in the court of law but the system was unmoved. He was eventually shot in point blank range by the supposed custodians of the Ummah. 

I reckon the recently promulgated Pakistan Protection act 2014 has pushed the envelope a few notches. With bizarre clauses suggesting that “an accused is guilty until proven innocent“, could well sound like death rattle for the vulnerable minorities, if misused. 

A commission being formed to investigate the murder of innocent Hira, Kainat and Bashiran in Gujranwala incident seems a remote possibility as well.

3). Chief minister Punjab and his toadies:

Being a direct stakeholder, Khadim e Ala could not muster courage to publicly condemn the killings.Usually hands on, both CM and his toadies including Khurram Dastagheer, MNA from Gujranwala, (despite being contacted by the jamat ahmadiya spokesperson) kept their lips mummed over the unfortunate incident, that consumed the lives of two children and a pregnant lady.

On the contrary, a few days later the news about the electrocution of 3 minors in the same city, prompted Shahbaz Sharif to take notice and order investigation resulting in fastidious suspension of a myriads of rank and file GEPCO officials. (Link attached)

One must not forget that Shahbaz sharif was the incumbent in Punjab when Salman Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti and Raza Rumi were attacked. When household names can’t find peace under his leadership, I wonder how a vulnerable minority can wish for it.

4). Electronic media 

This medium is all encompassing, has a larger reach and illiteracy is not a barrier in its viewership, but on the issues of Ahmadis, it is coy and timid like politicians of our country.

Barring Jibran Nasir who had the chutzpah to break the silence through his show, Izhar, rest of the media was busy playing to the galleries.

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At most, state television PTV drew a hazy picture of the incident by letting the audience know that there was a rift between two groups that led to the incineration. Hardly any media outlet pointed out at the fact that fire brigades were forced to go back by the angry mob when they arrived at the scene. Like previous incidents pertaining to this minority group, facts were twisted to get it over with.

Similarly the unfortunate incident of 28th May 2010 in which more than 90 Ahmadis lost their lives failed to get ample air time as it was treated as a petty lapse on the part of law enforcement agencies.

5). Unpatriotic Gaza sympathizers

They update status in favor of the oppressed Palestinians but they find it difficult to share a tweet highlighting the plight of minorities rotting in their own backyard. They must understand that charity begins from home.

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The Zionist oppression against Palestinians is as condemnable as the act of hooligans lighting houses of Pakistanis on fire. Shouting hoarse over the plight of Palestinians in Gaza while caring less about the miseries of their compatriots manifests their indifference towards their homeland. Their bigotry is unexplainable and their nationalism questionable.

All hate mongers must realize that it is not about who is right or wrong? The issue is whether you have the conscience to raise voice over the tyrannical act or are you simply numb. 

As for Danny Vinyard, he gets shot by a random fanatic in the end. 

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GET YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER, IF YOU ARE SINCERE WITH PALESTINIANS!

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Post Israeli blitzkrieg in Gaza, I feel heart rending pain and anguish seeing the Palestinian public helpless in front of barbaric aggression.

This time round though I have resorted to introspection in order to find solutions as opposed to the religious scholars and leaders across Muslim world who have aimlessly gone all guns blazing against Jews and jumped on the band wagon to annihilate the oppressor through public rhetoric rather than getting their houses in order first.

Praying and supplicating to God to alleviate Palestinian brethren miseries, my soul searching endeavour has exposed the failure of Muslim Ummah in finding logical remedies to the recurrent crisis.

Introspection phase 1:   How helpful is the boycotting gimmick?

For starters, I am weary of conspiracy theory mongers who have given a farcical dimension to the crisis by luring indiscreet public to boycott products carrying the barcode 7 29. I reckon it is probably an attempt on their part to cleanse Muslims from sins during the holy month of Ramadan.

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Throwing spanner in the work, how about boycotting Google and Facebook (both Jewish owned)?

I guess I would get an overwhelming “NAY” as an answer,since both Google & Facebook are part and parcel of our routine lives.

Boycott seems a valid option where perhaps the protesting entity is a cohesive unit and not a disparate crowd as in the case of Muslims today.

When the blacks boycotted public bus service in 1955 for 381 days in Montgomery after Rosa parks incident, not only did it hurt the revenue stream of the transportation company but the civil rights movement also gathered impetus from there on in. I attribute that success to the sincere focus of black people to end segregation in the US.

On previous occasions, Muslims remonstrating against Facebook or boycotting Danish products has lead to a zero sum game — attributing to the misplaced priorities of the Muslim fraternity in resolving issues.

Introspection phase 2:   Are all Muslim countries tolerant?

A cursory look at recent past and current state of affairs in Muslim countries shows that they have blood on their hands.

It is commonplace in Pakistan for the radical mindsets to brazenly condemn Shiites and Ahmadis to death, while keeping mum when a Hindu girl is forced to convert.

Similarly, Malaysian court has barred Christians from using the word “Allah”, making it look as if Muslims in the country have patented that word. Even Somalia has passed a bizarre law, where converting to another faith from Islam is a crime punishable by death.

The Bangladeshi government  for that matter has banned the Rohingya refugees from their fundamental right of getting married whereas paradoxically they shout hoarse in condemning the ongoing Rohingya genocide in Burma, next door.

From the perennial persecution of Bahai and  Copt Christian minorities in Iran and Egypt respectively to the terror activities of radical Islamic groups like Alqaeda or Boko Haram, there is ample food for thought for all Muslim pacifists.

Moving on to the holier than thou Saudis, who are busy retailing yet another genocide with their accomplice by funding the war in Syria and unleashing the notorious ISIS in the Levant, after successfully orchestrating the Iran Iraq war, decades ago.

Allow me to say that an Israeli may argue that he has as much right to push for a separate state being the top dog, as Saudi family had in changing the name of country Hijaz to their tribe’s name, ascribing to their rise to power in 1930’s.

Hats off to Saudi royal family’s hypocrisy!

With the baggage of human rights violations, injustice and intolerance in tow, the million dollar question is whether Islamic countries be able to fight the cause of suppressed Palestinian brethren for sustainable peace in the region?

The plain answer is no.

Introspection phase 3:   Will retaliation resolve problems?

Being the underdogs, Muslims nations must realize that retaliation will not simmer down the aggression. As hate only be-gets hate.

I reckon, the current aggravating crisis in Gaza would only fuel racial profiling by creating more fissures between Muslims and Jewish people, without us realizing that that it is not the people but the oppressive Israeli regime that is the sole culprit.

As recently in Tel Aviv, Jewish people carried out  protest rallies against their own government’s trigger happy attitude towards Gaza.

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Further alienation could have serious ramifications that could lead people into being hoaxed by the phony jihad campaign launched by the ISIS. Falling bait to which would take the world on the brink of catastrophe.

Introspection phase 4:   Has Muslim Ummah utilized international diplomatic forums?

The following image from a recent gathering in Jeddah held to discuss Gaza crisis, paints a picture of indifference and misplaced priorities of Muslim fraternity at the current point in time.

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To better analyse past performances, in hindsight we find only one figure in the Muslim Ummah in the form of  Sir Chaudhry Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, who stood tall for the Palestinian cause. Many international observers maintain that his speech at the UN security council on the Palestine issue on 7th October,1947 was the most vociferous case in favour of Palestine till date. The Statesman, Delhi editorially paid homage to his unrelenting service to the cause:

“For the first time the voice of Pakistan was heard in the counsels of the United Nations on a burning topic of world-wide significance when leader of this country’s delegation, Chaudhry Zafarullah Khan, addressed the United Nations Palestine Committee at Lake Success on Tuesday. It was a telling speech which tore into shreds the specious pleas put forward by the advocates of the partition of Palestine. Chaudhry Zafarullah did not merely indulge in rhetoric when he described the partition plan as `physically and geographically a monstrosity’, he proceeded to prove this by unassailable arguments. Answering the contention that the migration of more Jews into Palestine should be permitted because the Jewish displaced persons desired to go to that country, Pakistan’s spokesman asked whether the Americans would consent to relax or abrogate their own immigration laws if displaced persons of various other nationalities desired to enter the United States and settle there? Would America, he further asked, agree to take in the five million displaced persons of the Punjab if they desired to leave the scene of their suffering and cross over to the United States. We have little doubt that the Arabs will rejoice to find the voice of Pakistan so powerfully raised in the United Nations in defence of their cause. The addition of the independent sovereign state of Pakistan to the comity of free Muslim peoples of the World is already beginning to have its effect on international affairs,” 

Furthermore King Faisal Al Saud of Saudi Arabia also appreciated Sir Zafarullah Khan’s effort for the Palestinian cause in his letter to the satalwart.

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Despite being the lone ranger, Sir Zafarullah Khan’s struggle for the Palestinian was cut short when his home country Pakistan disowned him for his religious affiliation as an Ahmadi – which sums up the vested interests and myopic vision prevalent amidst the Muslim world.

THE WAY FORWARD:    

                     1.   BETTER ADVOCACY

The only way forward for the Muslim Ummah is to leverage international diplomatic and peace forums through better advocacy.

I reckon the OIC forum should be utilized by all Muslim nations to come on the same wavelength and bridge gaps between each other. It can be achieved by framing a charter of tolerance, peace and justice in all Muslim countries across the broad spectrum.

At the United Nations, Muslim fraternity should try to find a powerful voice to raise their grievances to the international world. The paradigm of bold and influential personality like Sir Chaudhry Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, who fought tooth and nail for their rights should be emulated. 

Shouting expletives and heaping anathema upon the barbaric Israeli regime would not resolve issues as it has never done before, only dialogue and discourse would help develop a constructive narrative for long term and sustainable peace in Palestine.

                   2.  COEXISTENCE

There is a dire need of an invigorated PR campaign that could help Muslims rebuild their image in order to lobby effectively with countries holding sway in deciding the fate of Palestinians on international peace forums.

The Holy Koran has set the basis of the best public relations campaign for all nations across the broad spectrum and that is called “coexistence”, an ingredient missing in most Muslims nations at the current point in time. The Koran says:

There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion”    (Sura Baqra Verse 256)

Even a closer look at the life of Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h), makes us realise how he championed the art of coexistence when he allowed a Christian tribe from Najran, that had come to meet him, to offer their prayer in the Nabwi mosque.

We must realise that today Muslims stand divided, which has led the oppressor to kill innocent children in Palestine with utter impunity. Following Islamic values and scruples, Muslim ummah can help find peaceful solutions to the Palestinian issue.

The current crisis is a wake up call for all Muslims nations that they immediately end trust deficit by fostering attributes like tolerance, harmony and coexistence to pave a way for a brighter future for the Palestinian generations to come or else it will be too late.

Express network’s latest hire : The unholy Cash cow!

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Dear express media group,

I want to express my grave concern over the hiring of Dr. Amir Liaqat Hussain as president and head of religious affair programs at your august Organization. I bring this up not as a distraught audience but as a proponent of minority rights as well.

My views are resonated by many a cognizant tweeple across the board.
Jibran nasir tweeted:

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Whereas Nadeem paracha chirped in his signature sarcastic tone:

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On commercial grounds ostensibly it seems a good deal for both parties ( the express media group and Amir Liaqat) in reinstating him for a second stint, since he is known for his shenanigans of commodifying the holy month of Ramadan. Where as on the mere basis of merit i don’t think any channel should have given him a chance to host during ramadan in order to uphold the sanctity of the holy month.

With the cat already out of the bag as far as Geo tv is concerned, i don’t think there is any doubt left as to how instrumental Dr. Amir Liaqat was in positively leading the religious mind set on media screen during his tenure at Geo. Rather than developing a sense of unity amongst various sect, he created more fissures. In the past He has spread venom against minorities. In one of his religious programs his vitriol ( fatwa against ahmadis) led to the murder of members of the minority community in interior Sindh. Eventually the top echeloen at Geo (Imran Aslam) had to apologise in public for his naivety.

Not only his indifference towards minorities coupled with his antics on tv screen (which entails poor impersonation of SRK) are repressible, infact his sincerity and loyalty towards his own Organization are highly dubious as well. Finding an opportune moment, Amir Liaqat ditched Geo tv in troubled times to mint money during Ramadan through another channel.

But the onus lies onExpress tv as well.

As if there was no better professional administrator or a religious scholar of higher pedigree left in Pakistan that recruiters at Express media group opted for him. As an outsider i see the hiring of a controversial figure like Amir Liaqat Hussain at Express tv as a blotch on the channels’ otherwise enviable reputation. One wonders if monetary benefits, ratings and ROI are the key indicators in hiring procedure of our media groups. Having an abysmal loyality quotient, it is highly likely that the Doc will say Adieus to his new found employer, when the going will get tough for the channel.

Even his administrative and managerial expertise were found wanting at Geo where anti army invective was broadcast live for hours but he didn’t intervene to stop that media howler carried out by his Geo management.

In hindsight It seems as if local media industry has not learned any lessons from the recent Geo episode that led various electronic media outlets into a fit of cannabalism. I can vividly recall that when Geo hired the Doc for the second tenure, a handful of conscientious journalists and anchors voiced their reservations. Sana Bucha for one did resign in protest.

For the moment though It seems as if Express TV is taking full leverage of the fact that doctor Amir Liaqat is amongst 500 most influential muslims across the world and exploiting it wonderfully as a marketing gimmick to their advantage.

Looking forward, One can only hope that in order to safeguard its brand equity and goodwill Express Media group will rein the doctor in, so that he doesn’t make mockery of religious norms in coming Ramadan by turning religious programs into Neelam Ghar and animal circus.

Yours sincerely,
A distraught viewer

Year’s round up: the good, the bad and the ugly!

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Note: this article of mine got published in “The News international blog” on the 66th independence Day of Pakistan with slight modification. Here is the link:http://blogs.thenews.com.pk/blogs/2013/08/years-round-up-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/

The cliched fanfaronade of our forefathers’ altruism for emancipating us from the shackles of slavery will mark yet another independence day.

But are we following the footsteps of our founding fathers? is a million dollar question.

As a yardstick for future trends, let us gauge our progress during the last one year starting from 14th August 2012.

The ugly scorecard:

I don’t want to send pessimistic vibes but the status quo reflects a sob story of turmoil and upheaval that i find pertinent to recount:

Badami Bagh was this year’s pit stop in an unending journey of ‘Christian-misia’. That included Shanti nagar and Gojra as the plundered stations of yesteryears.

There was no respite for the poor Hazaras as well, whose ghettoizzation touched a claustrophobic level. This year proved that the only remedy for their woes is a facial surgery. As they are the most vulnerable to violence because of their distinct facial contours, which is a pity to say the least. Bad luck pursued them even when they tried to run away. From the capsizing of ship to the denial of sanctuary by foreign world, this year was an ominous one for the estranged minority.

As it transpired, there was a lot more to Shia genocide’s personification as a twitter hashtag. Abbas town incident in karachi and the Parachinar massacres were only the tip of the iceberg in a flurry of violence against the Shiite community.

The ‘run of the mill’ persecution faced by Ahmadis, hit a new tangent this year. The rally of lawyers in Lahore protesting against Shezan drinks was quintessence of prejudice oozing from the torchbearers of justice. Furthermore the publication of an innocuous tabloid (Lahore magazine) run by the community, was also halted by state officials.

The aforementioned was not the first effort to curb freedom of speech during the last one year. Infact the ban on youtube by state machinery was the original sin that crippled the country’s intellectual freedom. I wonder why google has not yet banned Pakistan over this idiosyncrasy.

Osama Bin Laden! don’t fret. He didn’t make the cut this year. Infact it was an offshoot of OBL’s organisation, The Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan, that earned ignominy by causing havoc and claiming responsibility for scores of nefarious acts carried out across Pakistan.

Malala Yousaf Zai was shot in Swat in a cowardly attempt to suppress education and opress the female voice. It left an indelible smear on the nation’s image. Though many cranky followers of “The Arrivals” series would still argue that Melanie Josephine was the real name of this CIA backed education drone.

The grisly massacre of foreign mountaineers in Diameer valley, Gilgit, didn’t render any service to Pakistan’s image as a tourists friendly city as well.Thanks to the Chinese for yet again forgiving the callous attitude of Pakistan’s government towards protecting lives of tourists.

The once dynamic city, Karachi, reeked of blood as usual. The gang war of Lyari hogged the limelight for engendering an exodus of settlers from the ravaged zone.

Balochistan Liberation Army, the outlawed bandits, hit the last nail in the coffin when they attacked Quaid e Azam’s residency in Ziarat. A symbol of national heritage was razed to ashes in a jiffy and the law enforcement agencies were caught napping.

The good part:

11th of May was a momentous day this year when Pakistanis chose ballet over bullet. Active involvement of the youth in the democratic process and smooth transition of power to democratically elected government were breaths of fresh air.

Young Amir Atlas and Muhamad Asif are worth mentioning for winning laurels for the country in squash and snooker respectively. Rest of the sports and sportsmen painted a sorry figure.

The wicked (bad) side:

The failure on part of election commission in carrying out a free and fair election in a country, founded by an epitome of justice, was a bitter pill to swallow.

I agree with Karl Rove’s philosophy that “politics is tv with the sound off”, yet understanding MQM’s politics was easy this year. They did a great job in showcasing their unmatchable summersault skills — switching stances from time to time.

Moreover the indifference of Pakistan’s mainstream media, to cover a robust revolution that catapulted from the Shahbag square of Bangladesh, was appalling. I believe the youth of pakistan were bereft of learning from the coming of age saga of a fledgeling south asian democracy.

The road ahead:

I don’t buy the rhetoric of a bright future, though i have high hopes attached with the youth of this country. We need to understand that the founding fathers did not free this nation from the compulsive chanting of ‘Vande Mataram’, so that the ‘pseudo-Islamic’ fundos could coerce their radicalised dogma upon us.

Young patriots can certainly bring a longlasting change, if they show their mettle for being the true custodians of 1947 revolution.

For starters, some one needs to make a Pakistani version of “Lagay Raho Munnabhai”, to imbue the badly needed Quaid’s philosophy of unity, faith and discipline amongst the populace.

Face off with the Doctor!

I thought twice before writing this piece (initially considered dumping it) but my innate desire to identify the fallacy in the system got the better of me.

Despite all my efforts, i could not ignore him– yeah, you got it right, i am talking about ‘the doctor’.

A few days back Geo tv host, Dr. Amir lost his temper for once over yet another ‘Amir Liaqat Hussain brand bashing’ article. The article titled “Mudaari”, which means juggler, was published in the Daily Ummat by a random journalist, Ziauddin khan. Its transcript is as follows:

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Now lets hear doctor sahib’s repartee to the article, which he brought to the fore during his immensely popular tv show, kindly go through this video:

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This by no means, was a mere riposte but an undercurrent of a brewing storm, looking at his previous shenanigans. He smartly postulated a self created hypothesis out of the article, that is dangerous to say the least.

First and foremost tactic that he deployed was to brace himself with nuance by misconstruing the complete context of the article, in an attempt to incite anger amongst the audience.

It reminded me of Karl Marx’s famous quote in german, the interpretation of which is :

“religion is the opium of the masses”.

In a country like Pakistan with a high illiteracy rate that holds true to a large extent.
Now if you tell your audience in a tv show, whose market positioning as a religious program is questionable having seen singers and comedians perform, that someone has written a slanderous note against Islam in a tabloid it would suffice in fraying tempers and engendering hate amongst the crowd.

There is no denying the fact that he has a sizeable following, whom he either incite or imbue with a sense of mission is your own call to interpret. I think the onus lies on the people to a large extent, when it comes to opting their leaders. Islam advocates that you ponder deeply into the reality yourself, rather than following someone blindly.

Why don’t we have strict laws to rein in those who propagate hate by concocting controversies they want to hatch. unfortunately, being a religious scholar is considered a luxury in our country, no one can question your intentions as if you have landed in this world with a no objection certificate. If at all someone tries to rectify the fallacy, then a web of conspiracies is weaved against him in order to marginalise him from the mainstream strata.

We have short memories. Especially where so many sectarian mishaps befall every day it is difficult to exactly remember one. I don’t think many people would recall the tv show where the aforementioned host sparked hate against Ahmadis. Which consequently triggered targeted killing of Ahmadis.

Hence it behooves on any person not to create rift in an already fragmented society through their incisive words especially when they are at a pedestal to form opinions.

My humble plea to Amir Liaqat Husain would be:

“Doctor sahib please don’t try to issue a fatwa against poor journalist, Ziauddin khan by giving an impression as if he has desecrated the sanctity of the holy month of ramadan. You can’t stop people from commenting on your demeanour as you are in a responsible position that entails accountability. You can’t afford further recklessness since you already have blood on your hands for propagating hateful speeches in public forum against a peaceful minority.”

Sana Bucha has apparently left the giant media group in protest against Dr. Amir Liaqat Hussain’s reinstatement. I guess letting go off Sana won’t hurt Geo but disposing off Amir would be a cause of concern — after all he is the ‘shooting star’ for them in the BCG matrix.

I believe it is high time when Geo network starts applying ‘Geo Asool’ and ‘Zara Sochiye’ campaigns with letter and spirit on itself as well, rather than using them as attention grabbing media gimmicks.