Original Articles

Censorship tactics and the ‘unity of liberals’ – by Alamdar Mengal

 LUBP editors, writers and supporters are often harassed and falsely accused for engaging in personal attacks, abuse, ISI-tagging and using pen names. Such accusations are also hurled at other bloggers and writers who take a bold, anti-establishment stance (e.g. our friends working for Hazara, Ahmadi, Pashtun and Baloch rights). Here is our response:

1. Labelling journalists as pro-ISI/ISI-friendly and hence “defaming them”: At LUBP many of our writers and contributors have taken an uncompromising anti-establishment stance. In Pakistan, the military establishment and its civilian bureaucrat, media, judiciary, theocrat and politician proxies form the establishment. This is an inter-connected special interest group which benefits from the multi-trillion dollar financial empire at the center of which is the Pakistan military and its Jihadist auxiliaries.

In order to perpetuate their stranglehold over Pakistan, the establishment has manufactured and disseminated a litany of false narratives which we consider important to counter. Therefore when deconstructing pro-establishment narratives we have been blunt and called out those who have direct and/or indirect ties to the establishment and whose discourse reinforces and recycles the establishment’s narratives. An example would be the dishonest tactic of blaming politicians with roots in the masses (PPP, PML-N, ANP, PKMAP) for the ills and blunders of the military establishment.

When we call out some as being pro-ISI , we are associating them with the power structure; this would be analogous of pointing out that someone is part of the Gestapo/SS during Nazi Germany. It is equating these individuals with the power structure. This does not constitute defamation as it does not hurt their material interests; if anything, it probably enhances it.

2. Being abusive and personal: Often times, LUBP has taken the lead in highlighting crucial issues and taking a stand. For example, we never shed away from boldly and publicly supporting anti-establishment writers and activists whenever it was important to take a stand, e.g., when Kamran Shafi, one of the boldest, most accomplished columnists was attacked by the Deep State’s goons in Wah Cantt, or when Marvi Sirmed was harassed by the Zaid Hamid mafia. Similarly, we have pointed out the anti-Baloch and anti-Shia biases in Ejaz Haider and his shameless apologia for Taliban and Al-Qaeda affiliated militant groups like LeJ.

Every time we take a stand or do not obfuscate the glaringly obvious reality of extremism and its main sponsors and apologists, the line of defense has always been to dismiss and straw man our arguments as “personal attacks” and “abuse”. This petty tactic actually harms the cause of those who come out to defend the indefensible as they clearly lack any counter arguments and thus throw around these terms hoping that it would silence, dampen and censor bold critiques. It actually does the opposite and highlights that there are no valid counter arguments. Interestingly, those who accuse us and others of such tactics have double standards that never cease to amaze:

Here are some examples of those who have accused us of being “abusive” and “personal”:

beenasarwar beena sarwar
Folks attacking HRCP are only playing into the hands of those creating divisions among progressive-minded Pakistanis. Liberal fascists = hide behind anonymous ids, have progressive pretensions, attack others who have moderate views.

Ejaz Haider
And now, ladies and gentlemen, I am a Lashkar-e Jhangvi sympathiser! Beavis and Butthead be praised! Here goes: Since its publishing, the Deobandi Shia and other assorted internet detritus have gone to the extent of saying that I am ordering a hit on the besieged Hazara community by altering perceptions. Some have created mirth through the reference to the cake! Others have left lowly abusive comments on my public Facebook page. …In most cases, anonymity, distance and 140-characters have created internet warriors who would not have survived the era of chivalry when men with chests (to reverse Fukuyama’s phrase) settled an insult with duelling. http://tribune.com.pk/story/227605/now-this-takes-the-1-lb-cake/

TheseLongWars TLW
Wow, kutti @…. gone.Glad to see her gone, but a twinge of aww maybe cause I fought her off so many times & she came back for more abuse. Sparks will fly gentlemen and ladies, watch out for @…. #BitchBeBackSoon

AliDayan
Call Microsoft, get in touch with Twitter, rumor has it the ISI has unleashed the @…. virus. It kills all human rights activists. The @… virus originates in US and targets & kills human rights activists in Pak (emphasis on virus being the abuse; being ISI, as explained here, is not abusive, simply an equation of power)

Urooj Zia (@UroojZia)
Posted Sunday 21st August 2011 from Seesmic
@shehrbanotaseer Oh? The LUBP had seemed “credible” enough to you lot when they’d been making personal attacks against me. @AamnaTaseer even RT them calling me a whore. Why the sudden opposition? Oh right, they’re assholes only when they come after YOU lot. Why should that make you hate them, though? They’re exactly like you lot: vile, lying, hypocritical fucks. Ek hee thhaali and all that jazz.

Often times, we have asked them to elaborate which parts of our article were “personal” and “abusive”. We have tasked those of us who have disagreed with our articles to write a counter. Similarly, for the last few months, we tasked those who criticize us on twitter to write standards that can be applied universally and retroactively. They have still not gotten back to us but continue to attempt to censor and undermine us without ever applying the standards to themselves or those who abuse us.

3. Anonymity: The latest weak tactic to counter LUBP is to attack its authors and supporters for using pen names. Since ancient Greece and Rome and up to present times (several pro-democracy activists in Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain use pen names to evade persecution and murder by the ruling class), the use of pen names has been the strategy of those who write against the established order. It is the arguments that count and the refusal to address critiques and offer a counter by dismissing the critic as “anonymous” betrays a sad insecurity in one’s conviction in one’s own argument. It’s another weak tactic. However, it has now gone beyond abandoning one’s point of view. An active effort is being made to sneak out the information from those whose lack of credibility should alone question the veracity of this information.

Those who are making hectic efforts to pin others as LUBP writers could also have a nefarious agenda. By using discredited and weak information to expose the identity (in many cases falsely) of those who write anti-establishment articles, especially on human rights violations, could only have one objective. This would be to expose LUBP writers and their supporters to the same fate as that met by Saleem Shahzad (recently murdered by the ISI). We understand and appreciate that some prominent journalists work under severe constraints and cannot be as expressive about critical issues as LUBPians. In many instances, they have appreciated our efforts in private. Our issue is not with them. It is with those who support establishment journalists on Twitter and elsewhere and use ad hominems to attempt to silence and deflect our criticism. This does not reflect well on them; especially those who have earned their journalism and activist credentials on their anti-establishment stance in the past.

4. Dividing the “liberals”: Lately, a new theory has been floated to undermine LUBP which is that it is dividing and discrediting “liberals”. This is based on the comically presumptuous understanding that the liberals in Pakistan are confined to 30-40 odd twitter elites who light candles for selective causes. Many of them are actually liberals and people whose activism we support and respect. However, we beg to differ with them on both their understanding of who is and who is not a liberal as well as that dangerously faulty and elitist insecurity that Pakistan is a fundamentally illiberal society. Their theory that criticising those whom they consider as liberals would endanger their self-defined tribe, is laughable, if not pathetic.

Let us be very clear on one thing:

We cannot align ourselves with those who recycle the latest ISPR press release; no matter how expensive their suits, how fake their accents and how obtuse their reasoning. Those who deflect criticism from Ejaz Haider’s disgustingly insensitive portrayal of the Hazara genocide based on some tribal patriotism, or those who react abusively in response to critical analysis of HRCP’s and Amnesty’s meaningless statements on Shia Hazara massacre in Mastung, are in urgent need of self-reflection. When these seemingly well-meaning individuals then harass us to abandon our work to preserve their elitist notion of “liberal” unity, it is hugely disappointing to us.

In Pakistan, the urban elite understanding of liberalism is shallow to say the least and in some cases, those enjoying a lifestyle are mistaken as liberal. Liberalism, as understood by them, has nothing to do with tolerating and accepting dissenting points of view and promoting a progressive society. In Pakistan, liberals are country club tribe that jealously guard membership rights. Their tribal reactions to criticism is an indictment that the Tweeple brigade places greater stress on camaraderie than a progressive and evolving understanding of complex phenomena. They present liberals as an endangered species, which indeed fake liberals are, ignoring the millions of politically aware genuine liberal Pakistanis who consistently vote for moderate, progressive political parties while rejecting the right-wing and fake liberal proxies of the military establishment.

When LUBP was critical of Ejaz Haider’s insensitive and pathetic misrepresentation of the Hazara genocide, those who were promoting and distributing his article attacked our criticism with the typical and inapplicable “personal attack” and “abusive”; the irony of Ejaz’s expletive-laden tirade against the elected president of Pakistan completely lost on them. We faced similar reaction by fake liberals when we challenged Cyril Almeida’s lies and misrepresentations on Baloch genocide by the Deep State. If our deconstructions and exposure of pseudo liberals is causing divisiveness, then those who parade as liberal really need to revaluate their positions. How about accepting criticism and growing further.

This happened fairly recently when George Fulton acknowledged his mistake in the comments section of our blog. In our estimation, his stature did not diminish one bit. Quite the contrary actually, given his past body of good work and his candid and blunt response.

Eversince LUBP and other blogs became critical of the English speaking elite who (falsely) define Pakistan to the rest of the world in order to further the financial interests of the various NGOs run by them, censorship tactics  have increased in number and intensity.  The “unity of liberals” is simply a cover for protecting the financial turfs of those who build their reputations on shallow and non-textual discourses.

In spite of consistent efforts to quell its voice, LUBP has only grown. We will do our best to maintain our uncompromising stance on human rights and provide a platform for pro-politician and anti-establishment voices. Constructive and valid criticism is welcome and we will be glad to publish it. However, we will not back down to threats. Attempts to dilute our critiques of the mainstream media by meaningless deflections only make our arguments more valid.

About the author

Jehangir Hafsi

16 Comments

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  • Unity of liberals is yet another tactic to undermine the liberals from within. How can those who celebrated ZAB’s judicial murder, or those who actively undermined BB’s governments be treated as liberals?

    If they are liberal, I denounce liberalism.

  • Beena calling Laibaah a liberal fascist is so awesome. I am glad that Laibaah was silenced. I hope that Beena can shut down LUBP. Just bcos twitter is free does not mean that the human rights and NGO industry should suffer financial losses. Paid activists are humans too.

  • I like Beena Sarwar. She likes Urooj Zia. Urooj likes Samad Khurram. Samad likes Ali Dayan. Ali Dayan likes Farahnaz Ispahani. Farahnaz likes Mosharraf Zaidi. Mosharraf likes Ejaz Haider. Ejaz Haider likes Husain Haqqani. Husain Haqqani likes Raza Rumi. Raza Rumi likes Marvi Sirmed. Marvi likes Riaz Toori. Riaz likes all of them.

    And they lived happily thereafter.

    Hey abusers, don’t spoil the party!

  • Pakistani Shias and other rights activists protest the misrepresentation of Shia massacres by Human Rights Cartel
    http://criticalppp.com/archives/58864

    …………

    Slmn0 Suleman Akhtar
    by PakistanEHRC@
    @PakistanEHRC He must wake up from his hibernation and see what his fellow ‘revolutionaries’ are doing to us. #AitzazAhsan #Hypocrisy
    2 hours ago Favorite Retweet Reply

    PakistanEHRC Equality&HumanRights
    ‘Peasants for Democracy’ demand Aitzaz Ahsan to be a prosecutor in the Taseer murder case criticalppp.com/archives/38916
    2 hours ago

    PakistanEHRC Equality&HumanRights
    Citizens for Democracy platform is in fact Citizens for Martial Law which was abused by Nasim Zehra & Beena Sarwar to blackmail politicians.
    2 hours ago

    PakistanEHRC Equality&HumanRights
    The ugliest anti-democracy role in the last 4 years has been played by none other than Beena Sarwar and Naveen Naqvi’s so called CFD.
    2 hours ago

    Gilgiti Farooq Ahmed Khan
    by PakistanEHRC@
    @Slmn0 @PakistanEHRC #Aitiza is free to defend anyone just make payment of his fee
    2 hours ago

    PakistanEHRC Equality&HumanRights
    We must also congratulate Beena Sarwar and Tammy Haq who consistently badmouthed PPP and Zardari to restore such bast*&*s in the court!
    2 hours ago

    PakistanEHRC Equality&HumanRights
    @
    @Slmn0 I won’t be surprised to see #AitzazAhsan and his flatterer Samad Khurram assisting Justice Sharif in THE Ghazi’s defence.
    2 hours ago

    Slmn0 Suleman Akhtar
    by PakistanEHRC@
    @PakistanEHRC I’d like to appeal to #AitzazAhsan to step forward as prosecution against Qadri to prove his liberal credentials.
    2 hours ago

    PakistanEHRC Equality&HumanRights
    Now their hero Justice Sharif is defending Taseer’s killer. That’s a full loop! 2/2
    2 hours ago

    PakistanEHRC Equality&HumanRights
    I mentioned Samad Khurram and Dr Awab coz both of them published private pictures of shaheed Taseer when he was alive. 1/2
    2 hours ago

    PakistanEHRC Equality&HumanRights
    Let’s congratulate Samad Khurram of pkpolitics and Dr Awab of Teeth, their Azaad Adlia will defend Mumtaz Qadri. F&*& you, Aitzaz Ahsan!

  • marvisirmed Marvi Sirmed
    +1000 RT @beenasarwar Using fake IDs is ok if you need protection. But then don’t use those fake IDs to tl.gd/dhsg4j
    3 hours ago Favorite Retweet Reply

    Beenasarwar beena sarwar
    @casanovamaveric Don’t have unlimited time to deal w fake ID users who aim only to attack & push other humanrights activists to ‘do more’
    5 Oct

    beenasarwar beena sarwar
    @BushraS @zburki Blocked him ages back. Can’t believe he claims to be a ‘student of int’l relations’. Fraud, hater, fake id.
    5 Oct

    AliDayan Ali Dayan Hasan
    RT @beenasarwar: Using fake IDs is ok if u need protection. But don’t use it to taunt, harass those who are openly using their real names.
    4 Oct

    beenasarwar beena sarwar
    @tariq_najeeb If someone is using a fake ID that isn’t hurting anyone else, fine. But not when used to troll, harass, fingerpoint, abuse.
    3 Oct

    beenasarwar beena sarwar
    Using fake IDs is ok if you need protection. But then don’t use those fake IDs to taunt, harass those who are openly using their real names.
    3 Oct

    ————

    PakistanEHRC Equality&HumanRights
    @MaulaBuksh How can fake liberals misrepresenting Shia massacres by the Deep State as ethnic cleansing expect us to respect them?
    25 minutes ago Favorite Reply Delete

    PakistanEHRC Equality&HumanRights
    @MaulaBuksh I will prefer a ‘fake’ name (pen name) to a fake discourse. Shame on those misrepresenting Shia massacres as ethnic cleansing!
    28 minutes ago

    MaulaBuksh Maula Bux Thadani
    Pen names for security are better than fake and dishonest discourse criticalppp.com/archives/58864 # Ali Dayan Hasan

    Chiltan salma jafar
    @brranzz for me #Laibbah is a voice of oppressed pen-name irrelevant wouldn’t mind if she usesJafar

  • AbdulNishapuri Abdul Nishapuri
    RT @ActivismTips When some1 is annoyed by your attacks against the stuff they love, it means they are beginning to feel guilty…

    AbdulNishapuri Abdul Nishapuri
    Of course! RT @ActivismTips Remember that objectivity and neutrality serve those who are in power.

    AbdulNishapuri Abdul Nishapuri
    Yes! RT @ActivismTips If you’re good at making people feel guilty then make them feel guilty.

    AbdulNishapuri Abdul Nishapuri
    Yes! RT @ActivismTips If you’re good at invoking the truth, then invoke the truth every chance you get.

  • An ode to Aman Ki Aasha, Jinnah Institute, CFD and similar projects approved by Pakistan’s ISI:

    From Twitter:

    iamthedrifter Ayesha Siddiqa
    engaging is no big deal after all track II is thriving industry

    iamthedrifter Ayesha Siddiqa
    @amitabhmattoo @pragmatic_d @dhume01 the source is one so you may have diff tones of one color but not diff colors

    iamthedrifter Ayesha Siddiqa
    @amitabhmattoo @pragmatic_d @dhume01 hey our side the team reps just one perspective don’t fool yourself

    amitabhmattoo Amitabh Mattoo
    @iamthedrifter @Watandost Ayesha,surely people like Sherry are hardly part or sympathetic to the deep state. But I hope u 2 will be a part.

    amitabhmattoo Amitabh Mattoo
    @pragmatic_d @iamthedrifter I am not sure what balloon u r talking about?Do u disapprove of seriousIndians & Pakistanis talking 2 one other?

    iamthedrifter Ayesha Siddiqa
    @amitabhmattoo @pragmatic_d @dhume01 will be grateful if these folks can even spell extremism & terrorism
    6 hours ago

    iamthedrifter Ayesha Siddiqa
    @pragmatic_d the bottom line is state talking to state through replicas which makes it track 1/2
    6 hours ago

    iamthedrifter Ayesha Siddiqa
    @pragmatic_d the rest are carbon copies
    6 hours ago

    iamthedrifter Ayesha Siddiqa
    @pragmatic_d it also has Ejaz Haider, Musharraf Zaidi, Cyril Almeida, Sarah Khokhar and Shehrbano taseer
    6 hours ago

    iamthedrifter Ayesha Siddiqa
    @dhume01 u will get lot of them and Madame is suggesting some abuse I think not incl all voices is the real abuse
    6 hours ago

    iamthedrifter Ayesha Siddiqa
    @pragmatic_d sherry fails to bring marginalized view mainstream so he gang is mostly the power corridor friends type
    6 hours ago

    iamthedrifter Ayesha Siddiqa
    @pragmatic_d lots of tough guys and very sweet girls!
    6 hours ago

    iamthedrifter Ayesha Siddiqa
    @amitabhmattoo @dhume01 @smitaprakash @pragmatic_d have fun on Monday when you hear some of the ppl and then see if jaw-jaw is even possible
    6 hours ago

    iamthedrifter Ayesha Siddiqa
    @amitabhmattoo @pragmatic_d this is very American style I.e. talk to the establishment or those that represent it
    6 hours ago

    iamthedrifter Ayesha Siddiqa
    @amitabhmattoo @pragmatic_d I don’t have a problem bei part of the process except that this one is for sherry and her boys and gals
    6 hours ago

    iamthedrifter Ayesha Siddiqa
    @amitabhmattoo @pragmatic_d just run down the list from our side and most names are deep state’s bosom bodies incl sherry Bibi
    6 hours ago

    iamthedrifter Ayesha Siddiqa
    @dhume01 also no pressure on higher judiciary 2 change it’s methods this is as gentle as possible btw, read comment 2
    7 hours ago

    iamthedrifter Ayesha Siddiqa
    @dhume01 heaps of sympathy in LHC one judge related with Omar Saeed Sheikh but wanted to flag how SSP ppl being released
    7 hours ago

    iamthedrifter Ayesha Siddiqa
    @amitabhmattoo @Watandost with all those very sympathetic to deep state’s view it will certainly be very serious
    7 hours ago

    iamthedrifter Ayesha Siddiqa
    @dhume01 just wish friends can read the fine print
    7 hours ago

    iamthedrifter Ayesha Siddiqa
    @suhasinih don’t tell me you will be reading this enroute to Bangkok? Ed’s asstt Majid nawaz very accommodative 2 GHQ

  • aliarqam aliarqam
    @
    @Razarumi: Blasphemy law is a tool to keep fanatics glued to the state, why not speak against state & its farces @NasimZehra bravado useless
    2 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply

    aliarqam aliarqam
    @
    RT @JunaidQaiser: @AiliaZehra same was @NasimZehra supported General Pervaz Musharaf and still supporting Taliban Khan lies @fispahani
    5 minutes ago

    aliarqam aliarqam
    @
    @AiliaZehra: Lies! Same was Hussain Haqqani, a JI fanatic but now transformed @JunaidQaiser @NasimZehra
    6 minutes ago

    aliarqam aliarqam
    @
    @AiliaZehra Babar Awan is fanatic but not back stabber like Sherry R @JunaidQaiser @NasimZehra @fispahani
    8 minutes ago

    aliarqam aliarqam
    @
    @AiliaZehra Sheery R knows Khakis have no problem with her bravado on blasphemy law, she proved useful to them @JunaidQaiser @NasimZehra
    11 minutes ago

    aliarqam aliarqam
    @
    @AiliaZehra Naism zehra cant be trusted, as she was part of FP Elites, who wrote the sha,e #JI report @JunaidQaiser @NasimZehra

  • حقانی: دفاع کے لیے فیض کا سہارا
    ذوالفقار علی
    بی بی سی اردو ڈاٹ کام، اسلام آباد

    امریکی حکومت کے نام متنازعہ مراسلے کی وضاحت کے لیے طلب کیے گیے واشنگٹن میں پاکستان کے سفیر حسین حقانی نے پاکستان کی سرزمین پر قدم رکھتے ہی سماجی رابطے کی ویب سائیٹ ٹویٹر پر اپنے دفاع میں اشعار بھیجے ہیں۔

    اتوار کی صبح پاکستانی وقت کے مطابق پونے سات بجے حسین حقانی نے ٹویٹر پر اپنے پیغام میں فیض احمد فیض کی مشہور غزل ‘تم آئے ہو، نہ شبِ انتظار گزری ہے’ کا

    جنوں میں جیسی بھی گزری بیکار گزری ہے
    اگرچہ دل پہ خرابی ہزار گزری ہے

    اگلے ہی پیغام میں انہوں نے افتخار عارف کی غزل ’حامی بھی نہ تھے منکرِ غالب بھی نہیں تھے‘ کا یہ شعر تحریر کیا ہے۔

    مٹی کی محبت میں ہم آشفتہ سروں نے
    وہ قرض اتارے ہیں جو واجب بھی نہیں تھے۔

    ساتھ ہی ٹویٹر پر ان کو فالو کرنے والوں سے بھی ان کی بحث ہورہی ہے۔

    ایک شخص نے ان سے پوچھا’ کیا یہ سچ ہے کہ حسین حقانی نے سن 2000 میں پاکستانی اخبار دی نیوز میں ایک کالم لکھا تھا جس میں انہوں نے لشکر طیبہ سے کہا تھا کہ وہ بنگلور آئی ٹی سیکٹر پر حملہ کریں‘۔

    حسین حقانی نے جواب میں مسکراتے چہرے والی علامت کے ساتھ جواب دیا ہے ’جی نہیں۔ میں نے صرف یہ سوال اٹھایا تھا کہ اگر انہوں نے ایسا کیا تو اسکے کیا نتائج ہوسکتے ہیں۔‘
    ایک اور شخص عمر طارق نے جذباتی انداز میں لکھا کہ ‘میں امید کرتا ہوں کہ کوئی جنرل بھی کسی دن ٹی وی پر آکے روئے اور سویلین قبرستانوں میں دفن اپنے مرحوم رشتے داروں کا ذکر کرکے اپنی حب الوطنی ثابت کرے گا‘۔

    حسین حقانی نے ان کے اس پیغام کو ری ٹویٹ کیا ہے۔ یعنی انہوں نے اس پیغام پر پسندیدگی کا اظہار کیا ہے۔
    ایک اور صاحب نے حسین حقانی کے حق میں یہ پیغام لکھا ہے کہ مجھے یہ توقع نہیں ہے کہ حسین حقانی کا اس میمو سے کوئی تعلق ہے۔

    انھوں نے حسین حقانی کے لیے دعا کرتے ہویے کہا کہ’اللہ آپ کی مدد کرے‘۔

    مسٹر حقانی ’جو بظاہر اپنی بقاء کی جنگ لڑرہے ہیں‘ کے پیغامات سے صاف ظاہر ہے کہ انھیں اپنے اوپر لگائے جانے والے الزامات اور ان کی بنیاد میں وضاخت کے لیے اسلام آباد طلب کیے جانے پر شکایت ہے۔‘

    ظاہر ہے انہوں نے اپنے ان پیغامات میں تو یہ نہیں بتایا کہ انہیں یہ شکوہ کس سے ہے لیکن انہوں نے ان اشعار کے ذریعے اپنا مافی الضمیر ضرور بتانے کی کوشش کی ہے

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2011/11/111120_hussain_haqqani_twitter_ka.shtml