Thursday, June 07, 2007
Musharraf vs. the Cell Phone
Amir Mir has written an amusing piece on how the political battle against Musharraf has now spread to the nation’s mobile phones.
Mobile trouble: Musharraf at receiving end of Pak mobile squad
LAHORE: Sun Tzu, in his Art of War, says: “When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard.” Had the Chinese master of military strategy written his tour de force in the era of blogs and pod-casts, he may have modified his maxim thus: “When you shut down the media, do not forget the SMS.” But General Sun Tzu died in 496 BC, long before General Pervez Musharraf decided to gag the media in Pakistan.
Musharraf has of late ratified stringent measures to curtail media freedom. He did not realise, however, that dissent would find an outlet in Pakistan’s growing cellphone subscriber base. A massive campaign against Musharraf has been launched recently by the general public on cellphones.
The ‘Go Musharraf Go’ ring tone is resounding in Pakistan these days, mostly on the phones of those using the services of Mobilink. A senior Mobilink official in Islamabad, who did not want to reveal his identity, said that the number of anti-Musharraf text messages being sent and received every day runs into millions.
The ‘Go Musharraf’ tone — recorded from chants of real-life protests — has been embraced by lawyers and opposition activists. But the public is just as thrilled with the insurgent trill.
As for the dictator-dissing messages, a typical SMS asks: “Who will be saved if a boat carrying Musharraf and his Corps Commanders sinks?”
The answer turns out to be ‘Pakistan’.
Another popular message uses irony to deride the President of Pakistan General Musharraf: “Imagine the pleasure of living in a land where the chief justice cannot get justice for himself and the army chief, security for his life.”
Satire runs through a message pretending to be a campaign letter from Musharraf himself. Part of it reads: “I have the honour of kicking out from the country two former elected prime ministers...”
The letter further reads, “I am the one who had handed over hundreds of Pakistanis to the American Federal Bureau of Investigation...”
The letter then goes on, to say, “I almost sold a steel mill for the price of plastic toys... Please vote for my Pakistan Muslim League (Q) stooges... or don’t vote at all, so that I can enlighten you further!”