‘The Nationalist Monthly too Canada centric’ Zarir

January 3, 2011

By Havi Zayed

The Nationalist Monthly has remained the primary magazine for Pakistani Nationalists residing in North America for the past 2 years. It is available for distribution across the United States and Canada chapters of the Pakistan Nationalist Association and has been the only magazine available for members of all the various movements in these two countries. It allows Nationalists to stay updated on current news events concerning Pakistan expressed from a Nationalist outlook and about events impacting their own community. It is published in Canada. However recently certain members have expressed reservations over the content being too Canada focused. Zarir, a key member of the Pakistan Nationalist Association residing in Newyork, United States has been the most outspoken of these.

In an open letter addressed to the Canada Chapter of the Pakistan Nationalist Association Zarir Khalid has requested for changes to be made in the content appearing in the Nationalist Monthly. Zarir’s work mostly involves sending money back to Pakistan for various social projects and is known more often as a sponsor for certain various organizations social activity rather than an active worker of the movement. However his influence in the movement has grown in the past two years with his increased donations to humanitarian aid groups.

In the letter he writes “Instead of focusing on Pakistani politics and Nationalist activity in Pakistan where it actually matters the magazine seems obsessed about what members did in Canada, events taking place in Toronto where the Nationalist community is involved and other chapter specific information no one really cares about”

Information gathered at our Toronto office in Thorncliffe further reinforces what Zarir has said. Many members have expressed their dissatisfaction with the information provided in the magazine claiming it is sometimes irrelevant to what they are actually looking for. Ahmed a Toronto based member says “What we want in the Nationalist Monthly and on the website is Pakistan related information. We want to stay updated about what’s going on there because helping Pakistan is our goal. To achieve that goal we need to know about each and every single thing that takes place in Pakistan.”

Another member Ali backs Ahmed up. “We already know about the events taking place here as we are invited to them anyway. Every event that takes place in Toronto, we are a part of it. We are closely connected with Nationalism in Canada but the problem is staying updated on Pakistan. I will not be treated like a “burger” outsider when I return to my own country. The information in the Nationalist Monthly needs to be more Pakistan centric. As for the website it needs to be broader and should have more regular postings.”

Zarir further adds. “To be clear the Canada chapter is made up of about 250 Nationalists all divided amongst various organizations. The majority of members, about 9000 of them are in Pakistan so clearly that’s where we should be focusing on. The writers of the magazine may be in Canada but they must remember they are writing about Pakistan not the Canada Chapter of the Pakistan Nationalist Association.”

At the same time Zarir has also gone further to criticize the Pakistan Nationalists Associations web effort describing it as extremely shallow. “I mean the entire site is filled with praise for certain Canadian or British chapter members, information about long forgotten death threats which are again an exclusively Canada-chapter issue, and articles written about certain topics related to Pakistan’s current affairs by a small group of writers with the same names appearing constantly one of which is the Chapter head. It’s just surprising how shallow the content is and over-focused it is with the Canada Chapter even though its the only site run by Nationalists. It’s actually surprising you are thinking of buying a domain. There should be a detailed report on every event that takes place in Pakistan and it should be turned into a news source so that rather than reading the propaganda of the Times daily we can read something worth our time.”

Endgame

All these views are not new and have been stated in the past but no changes have been made to the content citing the fact that there is a vacuum of information arriving from Pakistan due to a lack of magazine reporters in Pakistan. There have also been limited writers for both the magazine and web effort. However everyone agrees it may well be time for at least some changes in the Nationalist Monthly allowing for the inclusion of more Pakistan centric information that replaces the Canada chapter based information. This specially stands true as the latest information reveals the Nationalist Monthly has been gaining a small readership in Pakistan as well.

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