Ansar Abbasi's Alter Ego

Nov 24th, 2010 | By | Category: Jang

Ansar AbbasiTalat Hussain found himself the subject of outrage recently after he wrote a scathing article attacking Angelina Jolie for failing to live up to Talat the conservative Islamist’s ideal of the proper role of women. While some were upset with his point of view, most were upset with his blatant hypocrisy, seeing this as another example of two-faced journalists who are not honest with readers but only playing to the crowd. Another journalist has revealed his forked tongue by writing an article that attacks not a foreign woman but our own daughters for failing to observe modesty enough to satisfy his taste. Again, this journalist claims to be a liberal and of course he is only writing this column in Urdu.

The article under discussion is Ansar Abbasi’s column for Jang which takes aim at Fashion Week. Cafe Pyala provides a translation of the article for those who do not read Urdu. The blogger also makes the excellent point that regardless of one’s personal attitude towards fashion week, this is another glaring example of media hypocrisy – journalists and media companies who write in one way for English readers and another way for Urdu readers.

Below is a translation of his Urdu op-ed piece published in today’s Jang (thanks to @tazeen for drawing my attention to it). It is worth a read, not only because it provides a window to the mindset of Abbasi and possibly many, many others. But also because it draws attention, once again, to the linguistic divide that separates the English reading public and non-English reading public, a divide that is not only tolerated but pandered to. (It is extremely unlikely you would ever read anything like this article in the Jang group’s English paper The News or any other English-language paper for that matter.) This article serves to remind you, if anything, that all those post-modernist assumptions about progress in how the role of women in society is discussed, are merely hollow assumptions. Or at least that all those debates have passed Abbasi by without disturbing even a hair in his beard.

I have also yet to understand the mindset of the Jang Group, which launches Amn Ki Asha with great fanfare on the one hand, and has no qualms on the other in making petty-minded jabs about Gandhi and India on Geo on the other (see their coverage of US President Obama’s visit to Gandhi’s samadi). It will willingly tone down the anti-West moral brigade in The News or on Geo, but allow them free rein in Jang. It will make Geo a media partner of the Fashion Week and provide it wide publicity and, at the same time, run such incendiary pieces about it in its publications (and make no mistake, this article is a call to disruptive action)… Do they really think this is what is meant by ‘letting a thousand flowers bloom’?

Perhaps it’s time for Jang Group to change its name to Janus Group. It is clear that the organization is showing two faces – one to English readers and one to those who prefer Urdu. Of course anyone may have their own opinion on social issues, but it should certainly raise eyebrows to know that some of our esteemed journalists and commentators have every opinion on an issue, only reciting what they think their dear readers want to hear. If that is the case, what is the point?

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