Once again, a big THANK YOU for your ongoing support to the LUBP project. This post marks LUBP foundation day (21 May 2008).
Four years ago, on 21 May 2008, I was approached by a couple of impassioned, critical, independent supporters of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) who complained that their voices were being suppressed or banned by various (at that time dominant) Pakistani websites.
In 2008 and previous years, I too had been observing the relative absence of the PPP and other progressive voices in Pakistan’s social media. There was clearly a need to establish an interactive, transparent, pro-progressive website to provide a level playing field to pro-PPP bloggers as well as those critical of the PPP policies.
That’s when I decided to create “Let Us Build Pakistan” (LUBP) as a meaningful contribution to the socio-political blog-sphere in Pakistan. The aim was to provide critical, non-mainstream reflections on Pakistani politics and media.
While there were quite a few websites managed or dominated by pro-right-wing or “seemingly liberal” elites, their bias against and hatred of the PPP was a common factor. Pro-PPP or pro-progressive voices were routinely bullied, suppressed or banned from Pakistani blogs and websites.
Between a rabid-right wing and pseudo-liberal dominated media and blogsphere, there was literally no presence of a critical voice of those who supported the PPP. Aside from static websites that did not extend beyond sloganeering and de-contextualized reporting, PPP did not have a platform on cyberspace to take on the daily abuse, vitriol and smear campaigns by the (mostly Urdu media) right-wing and the (mostly English media) pseudo-liberal elites.
Aside from very few isolated voices, there was no one to challenge the dominant hypernationalist discourse that complimented the de-politisized discourse of the pseudo-liberal elites. Similarly, right-wing websites were busy in propagating pro-Jihadist or Islamo-fascist views.
LUBP has done its best to fill in that role and provided a much needed reality check to the hyper-inflated egos of a deeply biased and basically incompetent media.
Right from start, LUBP has never claimed to be neutral. We clearly stated that we are a bunch of critical supporters of secular and left-wing parties in Pakistan, particularly the PPP. At the same time, we are sympathetic to the more inclusive Sufi tradition of Islam. We, however, endeavour to maintain a balance in our critique and analysis of various social and political issues and news items pertaining to Pakistan. We wanted to build a credible source of critical and non-right wing news items and analyses. Over years, our humble contributions have been acknowledged and appreciated by various visitors who have provided feedback to us through emails and comments.
We note that Pakistan’s mainstream media and mainstream affected blogs have done their best to obfuscate and dilute the daily sufferings of Pakistan’s disenfranchised ethnic, sectarian and religious groups. Whether it is the Christian, Ahmadiyya Muslims, Shia Muslim or Baloch, Pashtun, Balti, Sariaki, Sindhi or the moderate Barelvi/Deobandi Sunni Muslims, all are suffering directly at the hands of the military establishment dominated State and its various proxies and affiliates.
Before LUBP, many PPP supporters had to rely on the token and cosmetic discourse of those who balanced their mild criticism of the State with far more unwarranted and unfair criticism of the PPP. Today, PPP supporters and other progressive Pakistanis have LUBP as a resource to both use and to contribute and develop as their own voice. It is a diverse platform that believes that there is no one voice in Pakistan but a plurality that must be celebrated not suppressed.
LUBP has positioned itself as a think tank resource for the PPP supporters without any formal or financial support from the party and it has not been harassed for any criticism of PPP by the PPP leadership. Our research has been quoted by international rights groups and media and in spite of the best efforts of the pseudo-liberal media elites to block our circulation, we continue to grow.
In wresting a space and trying to work on these parameters, LUBP writers, editors and contributers have been abused and harassed continuously from the most unlikeliest of sources, the pseudo-liberal elite. However, overall our family has enormously grown. Today, we receive scores of original posts from all over the world. Total number of non-mainstream, voluntary, reasonable quality original posts published on LUBP is higher than any other Pakistani blog. Similarly, in terms of visitor traffic, we are far ahead of most Pakistani blogs (except websites hosting videos of Pakistani talkshows).
Our traffic and circulation continues to break new records. In these four years, we have changed our domain twice and since the last time, we have gone from 0 to nearly 10,000 facebook likes in less than 2 years. Given our non-mainstream, hard to digest discourse, this is no less an achievement. The Alexa statistics suggest we are now ahead of pkpolitics.com, a popular pro-right wing, TV Talkshow hosting website.
In the last two months alone (May-June 2012), we have received about 150,000 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, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Canada, Australia, China and France.
Interestingly, quite a few visitors in China and France are reading our posts after auto-translating them into Chinese and French. The effect is evident in the way our discourse has started reflecting in certain reports on Pakistan by Xinhua, France 24 and other media outlets.
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.