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: Thinner Than Skin

Published inDaily Times (Pakistan) / 23 Feb 2013
Author: Uzma Aslam Khan
Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal



Uzma Aslam Khan is the author of critically acclaimed, award winning books like Trespassing and Geometry of God. Her new novel, 'Thinner than Skin' goes off the beaten track for inspiration. A realm built upon incomprehensible layers of intrigue, violence, fairytales and legends provides the stage. People foraging for a lifeline become the props. And the inevitable soundtrack of radicalism now coursing through every fibre sets Pakistan’s modern heart to an ancient beat.

It is these paradoxes that bring its US-based protagonist, Nadir, along with a German-Pakistani girl, Farhana, on a trek from northern California to the Kaghan Valley. Wesley — the American in the background — is drawn to the mating glacier ritual, which is an actual thing. And their trusty ally/guide Irfan charts the course to their path of self-discovery past majestic mountains and ice encrusted lakes.

Their quest …

INTERVIEW: What makes a Fighter Ace? (2006)

Written many moons ago when i was an Asst. Ed with Social Pages.

Published in Defence Journal September 2006

Republished in PROBENEWS(2006)


Legend has it that a Sabre took off from Sargodha airfield to intercept Hunters on a fateful September morning & landed back with an Ace.

120 Seconds: Squadron Leader Alam in a Sabre is on Air Combat Patrol accompanied by his wingman. Upon observing IAF Hunters exiting after an unsuccessful air strike over Sargodha, Alam sets off in hot pursuit of the enemy formation. He pursues a fleeing Hunter and eventually shoots it down with a missile shot.


He spots the other members of the Hunter formations flying very low and as he approaches the trailing member he is spotted and the entire formation breaks (violent turn) in the same direction - a fatal error as in less than two minute Alam has taken out four of them, (as confirmed by more than one independent eye witness) 1 bringing his tally for the mission to five…… And an Ace is born - a legendry ins…

BOOK REVIEW: Fatal Faultlines: Pakistan, Islam and the West

Published by Daily Times / 5 May 2012

When characters in a modernised version of Sherlock Holmes make a passing reference to Karachi — they only have Daniel Pearl in mind. When the ISI agents are featured on TV shows — it is because they can stand in for the US’s favourite Cold War foes.

Such imagery goes well with the popular narrative doing the global rounds. A widening gulf between Islam and the West, the oscillating nature of the Pak-US relationship, and the alarming levels of toxicity within, is a source of concern and confusion. Now, it is the subject of a book. At the launch of Fatal Faultlines: Pakistan, Islam and the West, veteran columnist Irfan Husain briefly touched upon these incongruities. In the book, he delves deeper into a cheerless terrain where reason has been cast adrift and paranoia is king.

Fatal Faultlines: Pakistan, Islam and the West meticulously sifts through centuries of suspicion and decades of scorched earth left behind by Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan t…

KARACHI DIARIES: 6th LADIESFUND® Women's Awards 2014

First Published in Economic Affairs (Apr 2014) P-36


They conquered Everest in their spare time & crafted empires; their names were featured in Forbes ‘30 under 30’. Somewhere along the way they had reset the bar. Their contributions had not gone un-noticed.





The people who had made the list included trailblazers, trendsetters, risk-takers & crusaders, seen at the 6th LADIESFUND® Annual Women’s Awards. An event to salute an unlikely band of heroes who left a legacy of courage & compassion also acknowledged exceptional women on the rise.


LADIESFUND® launched by Dawood Global Foundation (2007) & headed by Tara Uzra Dawood, celebrates these achievements by adding powerhouse women and their noble causes to their wall of fame. It also makes its core mission - Educate 1000 Girls, the lynchpin & encourages the entrepreneur within our ranks. The talented Alycia Dias, who performed the anthem & walked away with a musical scholarship, would be joined by other hopefuls, …

VIEW: WOMEN in the PAF: AN ENSEMBLE CAST

PUBLISHED in HILAL (Pakistan Armed Forces Magazine) Feb 2010

By Afrah Jamal

Progressive - Conservative - Contemporary - Professional; separately these terms could apply to any service; together they were reserved for just one - the PAF.

Pakistan Air Force has kept in touch with its roots through its glorious traditions and kept up with the changing times with innovative thinking. Oftentimes, traditions that made it stand apart have also stood in the way of, well - progress. Consequently, the service nimbly skipped past the one proposed change that was going to have a profound effect on the lives of countless young girls and would forever alter the way society perceived their womenfolk.

Before 1994, Lady Officers were a rare sight in the PAF. So rare in fact, that when male cadets donned wigs to represent the female species in annual variety shows, nobody wondered why. By 2010, women have become an indispensable part of the service. While, PAF was no stranger to a woman in uniform, a f…

BOOK REVIEW: Frontline Pakistan: The Struggle With Militant Islam (2007)

Author: Zahid Hussain

PUBLISHED IN THE POST JUNE 14, 2007

Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal

Frontline Pakistan: the struggle with militant Islam goes for the jugular with an insiders look at a deformed culture borne of a dated ideology, fueled by vested interest and driven by intolerance; and a nation’s complicity.

Not surprisingly, the legitimacy granted jihadists by ISI-CIA ran out soon, as did the sympathy for their jihadist actions formally perceived as heroic. Once used to counter the threat of communism, the rapid shift in their objectives that placed Pakistan’s national interest on a collision course with its security rendered them an anachronism.

This led to a parting of ways with the ISI; consequently, the deadliness of operations and depth of penetration in society seen in the context of 9/11 forever breached the line between liberators and terrorists.

Veteran journalist Zahid Hussain, Pakistani correspondent for the "Times of London", "The Wall Street Journal", …