First of all, a big THANK YOU for your ongoing support to the LUBP project. Here is an update on LUBP visitor statistics which you may find reassuring.
In the last two months alone (Oct-Nov 2010), we have received about 100,000 absolute unique visitors to our website. The total number of visits is much higher than this figure.
Top ten countries in terms of traffic: Pakistan, US, UK, India, Canada, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Australia, Germany
We have received numerous comments and private messages from renowned intellectuals, columnists, critics and politicians, who have in the main appreciated our work in terms of its aims and the quality and diversity of content.
It was on 9 November 2009 when Shaheryar Ali very generously wrote:
1) This blog took an early and bold stand against Talibanization and sectarianism
2) This blog took a conscientious stand on rights of Pakistani minorities
3) This blog showed a remarkable strength of conviction and conscience when it supported the restoration of judiciary against wishes of many in the Party whom they support. [I for example who is writing this article to support Let Us Build Pakistan was and am critical of lawyers’ movement and judiciary but this never came in way of either me or Let Us Build Pakistan]
4) This blog is pioneer in “Media Criticism” and has frequently demonstrated the “ideological biases” of Pakistani media hence upheld the fundamental right of people of Pakistan to unbiased and/or alternative news and opinions
5) This blog has taken a democratic stand in support of marginalized groups and nationalities of Pakistan
6) This blog has covered the silent anti-Shia genocide taking place in Pakistan which finds no coverage anywhere
What do we stand for?
Let us take a stock of what we have been up to in the last one year.
- We have continued to cover militancy, militarisation and the military establishment’s brutal operations, evasive tactics and tacit and institutional support for jihadi and sectarian terrorists. In this regard, we have covered sufferings of civilians, extra-judicial killings, abductions and political assassinations in Pakistan particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
- Instead of a qualified condemnation of an unknown enemy, we have named and condemned the enemy as well as it apologists in bold terms, i.e., extremist Deobandis of the Taliban and Sipah-e-Sahaba, extremist Salafis of the Laskar-e-Taiba / Jamatud-Dawa, the Taliban ISI Alliance, the Taliban apologists (Friends of Taliban) (including Imran Khan, Munawar Hasan, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, General Hamid Gul, Roedad Khan, General Aslam Beg, General Asad Durrani), the current protectors and promoters of good Taliban (General Kayani and General Pasha), ISI’s agents in Pakistani media (Pakistani Taliban Union of Journalists) (Haroon-ur-Rashid, Talat Hussain, Mosharraf Zaidi, Ansar Abbasi, Shaheen Sehbai etc) and also some refined ‘holy cows’ in Pakistani blogs who in the main keep recycling and reinforcing the official narratives of the (Punjabi and Muhajir urban middle-class dominated) military and civil establishment.
- We have paid special attention to voices from Balochistan to highlight the Baloch nationalist perspective which is often ignored by Pakistan’s mainstream media and ‘civil society’ blogs. We have not only highlighted the state (army) violence against Baloch nationalists but also covered the target killing of Punjabi settlers by Baloch extremists and the target killing of the Shia and Hazara population by extremist Deobandis and the ISI.
- We have provided unflinching support to other progressive websites in their hour of need. For example, we boldly declared our support for the progressive on line newspaper Baloch Hal when their website was banned by the military establishment of Pakistan, whereas almost all bloggers and media persons chose to ignore the ban. Previously we have shown a similar support for Iranian bloggers who are facing an oppressive regime in their own country.
- While exposing the extra judicial killings of Pakistan Army in Swat, based on widely circulated video evidence, our post on condemnation of that act of brutality was BLOCKED as per the directives of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority. Previously our website was witch-hunted by Geo TV’s Hamid Mir and Ansar Abbasi (in Capital Talk), however, we have refused to give in to such tactics of harassment.
- We have covered topics which remain in the main ignored by other blogs and newspapers, for example, the blockade of Shias of Parachinar (Kurram Agency) by the Taliban and Pakistan Army, the silent genocide of Shias by extremist Deobandis of Sipah-e-Sahaba and Taliban, and the systemic persecution of other minority groups including Ahmadis and Christians.
- We have criticized the national security state narratives (sponsored and promoted by Pakistan Army through its agents in Pakistan’s mainstream and alternative media), the strategic depth theory (focused on treating Afghanistan as Pakistan’s own backyard), the hate India policy (focused on legitimizing the ever increasing military budget and influence in Pakistan), the good Taliban theory (focused on protecting and propagating the menace of the proxy jihadis of Taliban and Sipah-e-Sahaba), and other strategic follies.
- We have supported national institutions such as parliament, judiciary and the army to work in their constitutional framework. In particular, we have urged the security establishment (army and its agencies) to stick to their job instead of posing as the guardian of the so called ideological boundaries, as it is the job of intellectuals, politicians and other sections of society specialized in it to define our ideological goals and objectives.
- We have covered events and declarations of various progressive and human rights organizations, such as Muslim Canadian Congress, Amn Tehreek, Baloch Human Rights, SAFMA, IndividualLand, and the groups working for free media and the rights of Shia, Ahmadi and Christian Pakistanis.
- We have been consistently and explicitly highlighting the continued, illegal interference of the military establishment in Pakistani politics and media, and have been confronting their known and subtle agents in Pakistan’s mainstream and alternative media.
- As a result of of our strategy to expose the depoliticized chattering classes and civil society outlets and blogs, we have been criticized harshly by the middle class, English speaking revolutionaries of the ‘civil society, and our coeditors suffered personal attacks. We suspect that some of the seemingly secular and progressive blogs are working on an agenda to create confusion in progressive discourse, whereas some neutral and apolitical blogs are in fact simmering in their hatred of the PPP and the people of Pakistan. We will therefore continue to be critical on blogs to judge them on their own declared ideologies especially those “progressive” ones who witch-hunt leftist writers and critical opinions.
- In the main, LUBP remains committed to a democratic, progressive and secular Pakistan.
- We remain opposed to all forms of violence, particularly in the shape of terrorism, sectarianism and ethnofascism.
- We remain opposed to discriminatory laws related to individual faith, gender and ethnicity.
- We remain committed to peace and harmony in South Asia and the entire world.
- We will keep supporting all progressive voices, literary personalities, poets, writers and intellectuals of Pakistan and the region.
We are a blog-zine
LUBP is a blog-zine. It comprises authors, contributors and visitors of diverse political and ideological affiliations who have a firm commitment to values of democracy, diversity, social justice, tolerance and religious freedom.
However, within this commitment, there is a heterogeneity of ideas and approaches, which is frequently reflected in various articles we write and publish at LUBP. We are multiple voices not one voice, nor do we intend to enforce a ‘one voice policy’ at this blog.
We are being heard
Overall, the above mentioned visitors statistics suggest that our voices and perspectives are being read and heard by a sizeable number of individuals within and outside Pakistan. These statistics have been continuously improving in the last few months.
Our modest influence is clearly reflected in at least some of the topics that have recently started emerging in Pakistan’s mainstream and alternative media, e.g. with regards to the accountability of media, the Taliban ISI Alliance, Shia genocide by extremist Deobandis, Baloch nationalist perspective, persecution of Christians and Ahmadis etc.
However, on a macro-level, these statistics are still very small in a country of more than 160 million people. Therefore, there is a need to think of ways to expand our outreach, particularly to Urdu speaking visitors within Pakistan.
We need to pay more attention to our Urdu section. Our technical administrator is currently working on that project.
We need to be more proactive in publicizing and promoting the LUBP as a reliable platform for critical and reflective discourses on Pakistan politics.
As we have times and again stated, while we are transparent in our support of the Pakistan Peoples Party (because what we feel is the promise and potential of the PPP as currently the only political force that respects and represents the plural traditions of Pakistan), we are receptive to rational articles and discourses from all sides of the ideological and political divide.
Facebook and Twitter
In particular, our facebook and twitter accounts are responsible for only 5% and 4% traffic respectively. This area needs improvement.
We will appreciate if our valued visitors and authors could help us spread the word. Please encourage all of your friends and acquaintances to visit the LUBP and also subscribe to our Facebook and Twitter pages.
Other subscription options:
As always, we welcome your feedback, critical suggestions, and also invite you to write for LUBP.
Acknowledgement: I am grateful to Shaheryar Ali, Ali Arqam, Ali Abbas and Farhad Jarral for some of their extremely valuable reflections and inputs used in this post.