Reviewing Pakistani Blogosphere – top ten stuff

I had written this piece for Shirazi Saheb’s wonderful blog – The Light Within. I am cross-posting it here. There is just one omission from the list below and that is the unique, powerful blog of Ali Eteraz. One of the reasons for this calculated omission is that this is not a Pakistani blog in my view but a global platform and a loud voice of reason. You can disagree with Eteraz but you cannot discount the force of his writing.

I have to admit that selecting Top Ten from Pakistan blogsphere was a difficult task. I used an arbitrary criteria: quality, diversity, regularity; and value-addition to Pakistani blogosphere. As you can tell this is a pretty subjective criteria and I apologise if I have missed out the good blogs (I write these lines stuck in a traffic jam with no internet access).

The list is not ranked there is no way that one can do such a thing

All Things Pakistan
Managed by Adil Najam and Owais Mughal, ATP is interesting and diverse and provides the space for a lively discussion. A good number of its readership and discussants are the expat Pakistanis which skews the discussions and makes them a little out of touch. However, the quality of posts remains excellent. Furthermore, it attempts to highlight the myriad aspects of our shared “pakistaniat” and therefore does not become boring or one-dimensional.

Pakistani civil servant turned academic (quite a transformation some would say) manages this excellent blog that filters a lot of journalistic and academic writings on Pakistan and provides the readers with quality information and analysis. It also carries a formidable list of academic and other resources for laypersons, researchers and students alike.

Chapati Mystery
CM may not be strictly Pakistani but it posts a lot on Pakistani issues. Co-managed by a Pakistani student, it maintains utmost quality and originality. There are rants of all sorts but each time you visit, there is a new post to be discovered with a crisp and sometimes irreverent comment. Take a tour of CM here that begins with this sharp sentence: “Over the years, CM has pontificated, endorsed, critiqued, hailed and booed many subjects – controversial ones, even…” find out for yourself.

Koonj: The Crane
Inspired by the symbolic bird koonj or a crane that “cries in pain because it has strayed from its flock”, Shabana Mir has been blogging indefatigably since 2005. An academic, and a mother she brings in a unique voice to Pakistani blogosphere. Our Koonj talks about her personal life, her academic interests, poetry, society and several other subjects in an inimitable style.

Light Within Group
Needless to mention, the Light Within is a leading light for the Pakistani blogosphere. The other affiliated blog is Thattha Khedona. I would stop here as the list appears on Light Within…lol

Teeth Maestero
Dr Awab Alvi from Karachi has led various campaigns including do not block the bloggers. TM is diverse and has been discussing a wide range of issues. However, since the imposition of emergency, this blog has become an excellent source of news about civil society’s resistance to the current mess. In this way, it is pretty energetic and vibrant.

Olive Ream
Omer Alvie manages this cool and classy blog that betrays an truly individual style. The writing is taut and satirical and makes you laugh despite the poignancy of the points made. For instance talking about the blog, Omer writes: “.. this blog originated on a warm, sunny afternoon in April of 2005. The birth pangs were excruciatingly painful but in the end I was able to slap the little bastard into life for all to see. In the days, months, and years that followed, this shy little web log grew into a handsome, strapping, young web site, with a devoted fan following of two.”

The Insider Brief
The Insider Brief is a blog that provides an insider’s view to Pakistan with critical intelligence, analysis and commentary. By disseminating in-depth and insightful analysis, the blog seeks to enable policy makers  both within and without Pakistan  to make informed decisions about a country that is vital to regional and global security. The site is managed by Shaan Akbar.

The Pakistan Policy
The Pakistan Policy Blog provides a regular, critical perspective on Pakistan’s domestic and foreign affairs. Its principal goals are to stimulate discourse on policies furthering a prosperous, progressive, and secure Pakistan, and bridge the gap between the U.S. and Pakistani policy communities. The site is run by Arif Rafiq, a policy specialist based in the US.

The Pakistani Spectator
TPS is relatively young but has become a collage of several voices and writers. It has a populist feel to it. There is a range of posts that deal with issues that Pakistanis feel strongly about. In addition, it has also interviewed several Pakistani bloggers which is a good way to introduce new and old, serious and jovial bloggers. TPS can be sometimes provocative in its use of language but then it is free speech

The list does not end here. Let us violate this rule. I add to the above: Ali Eteraz’s new Pakistan specific blog, Pakistan Politics, the earnestly ideological and zealous Red Diary managed by Virodhi(!), fresh and energetic, Land of the Pure, the informative and engaging blog by the young Dr Farrukh Malik called Silence, the insightful Cyrilal and finally the non-Pakistani but Pakistan-obsessed Mayank Austen Soofi who manages a blog called Pakistan Paindabad from Delhi!

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