Comment moderation at LUBP and elsewhere – by Ahmed Iqbalabadi

The LUBP editors and authors come under some sort of slack over the last few weeks for allegedly “character assassinating potential allies” (who we consider as back-stabbers) and “inciting killing civil society members” (who we consider as Fake Civil Society (FCS)). We have been dubbed as “Zardaris Pitthus”, “Let Us Destroy Pakistan” and what not.

We have taken the criticism wholeheartedly to the extent that internally the editorial board had an open debate and some broad policies were clarified. However, our conviction towards building a democratic and progressive Pakistan remains undwindled and so remains our resolve to confront the Islamist and pseudo-liberal friends of the establishment.

As a matter of LUBP policy, one thing has remained prime: we do not moderate comments. We do not approve some comments that we like and disapprove those that we do not like. Only thing we do not tolerate is abusive nature of comments. If one goes through our archives, you will find tens of articles criticizing the PPP leadership as well as critical to the articles written and posted on LUBP. Based on this principle, one will find LUBP to be a very open minded forum. Unfortunately, it cannot be said about a number of other blogs and media personalities.

Faisal Qureshi does a very well watched program called Bang-e-Dara on News One at 11 pm every day. Previously I didn’t used to watch the program as it used to be very well angled against the political government and also full of sarcasm, at times bordering on “Pseudo Intellectualism”. However, a recent program which he did which was about change in our own selves, made me realize that Faisal Qureshi’s program is worth watching. He raised the issue of how we call ourselves muslims and then throw Quran’s pages from the Native Jetty bridge in Karachi thinking that they will go into the open sea and hence no sin on us. Unfortunately, he showed in his program, thousands of pages of the Holy Quran that instead of going into the open sea came back inland and could be found near a sewerage dump.

However, what made me write this piece is to show the way moderation takes place on Faisal Qureshi’s own blog. Maybe he himself is not moderating. Maybe he has some staff who do not let critical comments through. I saw a program on his website called “Crucial Ministries”. He took on phone Ibn-e-Zia ul Haq and Fauzia Wahab to discuss “crucial ministries”. With Ijaz ul Haq, he asked about the role of Religious Affairs Ministry in a Muslim majority country like Pakistan and the expenses that it has to bear. He then took on Fauzia Wahab and asked her about the Culture Ministry and Postal Services Ministry. Ijaz ul Haq has been a minister of the Religious Affairs Ministry whereas Fauzia Wahab has never held any of these ministries.

Faisal was asking pertinent questions but in a very sarcastic manner. Fauzia Wahab kept on explaining to him but he went on with his sarcasm. The program can be viewed here:

Now coming to the initial point called moderation, I entered a comment on the page of Faisal Qureshi on lines that:

1. Your questions though pertinent, were not to the relevant people who are responsible for these ministries right now
2. Ministry of Culture Affairs is responsible of upkeep of various museums, archaeological sites, performing arts, Lok Virsa etc.
3. Ministry of Postal Services has the largest network of sites in the country. Its Postal Life Insurance is hugely popular. It has a savings bank and also provides pension disbursement services. If an organization is not being utilized effectively then that is a management issue rather than questioning the whole existence
4. These organizations have a number of people employed. If they are shut down as per his questioning tone, then where do all these people go?
5. Finally that the discussion was full of sarcasm with a view of making fun of the political system

I entered the comment from my name of Ahmed Iqbalabadi. It was there yesterday, but it has been removed today. There was nothing abusive but it questioned the logic of Faisal Qureshi. It has probably been removed by one of his website management staff. Is that fair? Can we safely say that our media anchors only want to speak and not hear? And even if they want to hear, it has to be favorable?



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