Skip to main content

VIEW: The Prince and the P***

PUBLISHED 30 Jan 2009 Muslim World Today(California)

‘Our little friend Paki’:

A four-letter word in this innocent sounding dialogue between Harry and his handheld camera hit an already frayed, overtly sensitive nerve of the Pak-British community in general and some Pakistanis in particular. Had we watched Prince Harry’s infamous video in Pakistan, without the accompanying howl of anger, would we still have noticed anything amiss? Maybe. May be not. The fuss over this sound byte was the first intimation for many Pakistanis that Paki was a racial slur, not a nickname used when convenient, not a prefix to be tacked to all things Pakistani and definitely not a term of endearment for their compatriots. And this revelation came as a surprise to folks who pleaded guilty to using the term often, both in earnest and in jest, with foreigners and without. Its usage is more common that one would think.

The same argument does not exempt foreigners apparently, which is why the case against Harry went to (media) trial, and the verdict was racist. Since Brits have coined the meaning – if not the term – Harry, must be aware of its meaning if not the implication for fellow cadet Ahmed and therefore, was not let off the hook this easy. A lynch mob (tabloids, Pak - British community, Ahmed’s entire family and an uncle) rearing to take down the politically incorrect Royal made sure of it. 3 years after making their short film debut in a very personal video diary, Ahmed and Harry were dragged back in the limelight. Neither could have foreseen that a private banter would end up on a public forum and footage never intended for commercial production would become the most talked about 3 minutes of Royal filmmaking circa 2006.

Harry’s swift apology did not deter an unforgiving media from exploiting and advertising the Royal quest for redemption to the accompaniment of disapproving looks and relentless critique. The Pakistani family’s response did not help. While Ahmed seemed to have no problem with Harry 3 years ago and probably has none today, the father’s reaction was excessive, when instead of graciously accepting the Harry’s apology, he asked for another; one that was to be bigger, better and more public. The family called him cowardly for hiding behind an official spokesperson while an Uncle crawled out of the woodworks with a desire to see ‘sorrow in Harry’s eyes’. A news report now claims that Harry has straightened things out with his ‘little’ friend on the phone.

The racism charge appears to be more of a gimmick to feed the insatiable appetite of media inspired witch-hunts of twentieth century than an actual pursuit for justice. For the footage that set out to capture the escapades of a certain officer cadet and his merry men was, perhaps not a production masterpiece or a shining example of humor in uniform, but that was the extent of its crime. The statute of limitation on racism may not have expired but given that Harry’s slip was probably more asinine than Freudian, before he risked his life for his people, his verdict should be Time Served.

A decorated soldier like Ahmed battling insurgency in his homeland has taken worse hits than this since. He will survive this setback. Second Lieutenant Harry, who carved a similar path of glory by going incognito to the heart of battle in neighboring Afghanistan, has been in worse jams. He will get through this one, but for future reference, he needs to weigh his words carefully (both on and off camera) because media trials have a way of making you eat them later and alleged slurs leave a bitter after taste.

Images Courtesy of: http://www.princeharry.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/prince-harry.jpg

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

BOOK REVIEW: Pakistan: Beyond The ‘Crisis State’ / Author: Maleeha Lodhi

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

Published in Daily Times / Saturday, June 18, 2011

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

Published under the title: 17 Reasons to Hope

“History will be what we make it. If we go on as we are, history will have its revenge and retribution”— from the movie, ‘Good Night, & Good Luck’

A region known for most “terrorist sightings”, a place feared for harbouring medieval mindsets next to progressive thinkers and a nation shunned for having an affinity for nuclear toys. By turns a cautionary tale, an indispensable ally and an international pariah, Pakistan does not fit into any mould — for long. But its name crops up whenever things go awry.

Pakistan: Beyond the ‘Crisis State’ is a compilation of articles put together by Maleeha Lodhi that countermands the grim prognosis. When Ms Lodhi, who has served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US and UK, acknowledges that “resilience has been part of Pakistan’s story from its inception, obscured by the single issue lens…

BOOK REVIEW: Hira Mandi / Author: Claudine Le Tourneur Dlson

Published in Daily Times Saturday, February 11, 2012

Reproduced on Claudine Le Tourneur Dlson's Website

Translated from French by Priyanka Jhijaria

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

A programme about Hira Mandi did the internet rounds a couple of years ago. It claimed, among other things, that the sons of the ‘dancers’ reportedly end up as lawyers, doctors, artists — a few join politics and some even reach the military. These outrageous statistics may be one of the reasons the documentary was banned from the mainstream media. That and its primary premise — the plight of the fallen women — would prompt the conservatives to howl with dismay before scurrying off to bury any evidence in the backyard along with other bodies.


Claudine Le Tourneur d’Ison embeds such wrenching moments in a bold narrative where its doomed protagonist can hail the brave new world and its genteel patrons from an extraordinary vantage point. The expedition to the underworld with the unfortunate progeny and the hapless…

BOOK REVIEW: Quiet Diplomacy: Memoirs of an Ambassador of Pakistan / Author: Jamsheed Marker

PUBLISHED IN Daily Times /February 06, 2010

REVIEWED BY: Afrah Jamal

Jamsheed Marker belongs to an exceptional cadre of Foreign Service officers entrusted to keep things on an even keel on the diplomatic stage. Providence chose him to fill the void brought on by a sudden influx of newly independent nations and the subsequent need to expand diplomatic service during the 1960s. A stellar career in fostering global diplomacy as the longest serving ambassador has earned him a special place in history.

This veteran Pakistani diplomat has a striking resume. With ten posts and nine accreditations, his name appears in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the only person to have served as ambassador to more countries than anyone. He took his curtain call when Pakistan declared him Ambassador at Large in 2004, and has been on the faculty at Eckerd College, St Petersburg — Florida as Diplomat-in-Residence. He ended his tenure with a wry observation, ‘the batting card on the scorecard to M…

OPED: The Great Exodus

Published, Global Affairs Feb 2017

The MIG 21 parked in the Pakistan Air Force Museum Karachi is not exactly a war trophy – it belongs to an Afghan defector who flew by one day and landed at Peshawar air base sometime in 1989 / 1990. He was seeking refuge in Pakistan. There had been others before him. Three decades later, young Afghans are still seeking greener pastures – and making headlines because among them is a trailblazing female pilot who had made her nation proud but preferred to stay behind in the United States while on a training tour.

Pakistan has been doubling as Afghan nationals’ second home for over three and a half decades – hosting some 1.5 registered and 1 million unregistered. It ranks amongst the top three largest refugee communities in the world. The stream of defectors, asylum seekers, migrants and refugees kept flowing while the Reds retreated, Taliban invaded and all through the American occupation.

That surge has been unexpectedly quelled.

There’s a migr…

BOOK REVIEW: Outclass Teams: Secrets of Building High-Performance, Result-Oriented Teams / Author: Qaiser Abbas

Thanks to Possibilities Publications for the review copy

Published by Daily Times / Saturday, February 25, 2012

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

Runaway Teams beware. Qaiser Abbas is an organisational psychologist, author of books like the Tik Tok Dollar and the upcoming Leadership Insights — and one canny facilitator who introduced Pakistan to the concept of ‘Management by Adventure’, or as he likes to call it, MBA. His mission of rescuing wayward teams from doom makes him dash in and out of companies on a regular basis. Prompted by the success of such expeditions, he proceeds to refine these insights for a book on team-building and a lecture on group dynamics.

As someone who specialised in using experiential learning methodology in outdoor training, Abbas swears by well-structured one-day team-building programmes over time spent bonding over social activities. His recent book takes an in-depth look at this phenomenon to determine the value of team-building, show the expertise needed to ensure…

KARACHI DIARIES: MASTERCHEF Comes to Pakistan

Published in Economic Affairs / May 2014 P-20

Last year ‘MasterChef Australia’ S04 contestant came to town. Amina Elshafei, described as an ‘unassuming young lady from Sydney’, had been brought in by the Australian High Commissioner’s office and spread the joy of fusion cooking as part of her good-will mission. Around the same time unconfirmed rumors that MasterChef was headed to Pakistan were floating around. By April 2014, the rumors had officially been laid to rest.


‘MasterChef Pakistan’ is set to go on air by 3rd May 2014. The press conference in AVARI (Karachi) threw together an elegant presentation topped off by a divine hi-tea. The MasterChef franchise is already a household favorite, and makes everyone a judge of culinary prowess, and the lead authority on cuisine. Sidra Iqbal, the host for the evening, had also noted this amusing trend, listing Pakistani food as the ultimate source of drama.


His Excellency, the Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Peter Heyworth while …

BOOK REVIEW: Women and the Weight Loss Tamasha

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

Published in Daily Times / Saturday, February 26, 2011
Under the Title: A Play-book for Losers
Reviewed By: Afrah Jamal
Author: Rujuta Diwekar

Master: “You are free to eat.”

Po: “Am I?”

Master: “Are you?” —
Dialogue from Kung Fu Panda (2008)

Po, the Kung Fu Panda, doubted his mentor/master much like readers will doubt a nutritionist guru when she hands over an exclusive pass to eat and, yet, maintain a strategic advantage in the fight against fat.

They need not.

A thriving industry feeds off of ignorance about weight-related issues. And when health and happiness become collateral damage in the mad dash for the finish line, it is time to alter the game plan.

‘Nutritionist to the stars’ Rujuta makes this lonely trek to the promised land a joyful experience where food is not the enemy, and learning the art of making better judgment calls is on the menu. Since she labels the struggle with weight loss a tamasha (spectacle) at the very outset, r…