Vaqas Asghar

Vaqas Asghar

A sub-editor on the Islamabad city pages of The Express Tribune, Vaqas holds a Master's degree in IR from Iqra University. Before joining ET, he taught history and was also a member of the editorial staff at Blue Chip Magazine. He tweets as @vasghar (twitter.com/vasghar)

In Bhakkar, breakfast is Tiffany

People eat strange things. In Southeast Asia, insects are a delicacy and in East Asia, the same goes for dogs. Pig meat, a major source of protein in the diets of many peoples, are taboo for Muslims and Jews. The same applies to the noble cow for Hindus. The reasons for these differences are manifold. So before we get ahead of ourselves, it is important to agree that ‘food’ is not an easily defined word. In Bhakkar, two brothers were arrested for desecrating a grave. While saddening, it is not really the worst of crimes. But that is only because under Pakistani ...

Read Full Post

Isloo boys, lion cubs in Lahore and a tale of lunacy

The triad of sociopathy refers to three behavioural characteristics that are associated with violent tendencies including murder and aggressive sexual behaviour. These characteristics include fire-setting, violence towards animals and bedwetting. A combination of any two is considered a sign for worry. Then there is compensation, a strategy whereby people cover up for their shortcomings, real or perceived, by excelling in other areas of life. This, in itself is quite normal. Children keep playing different sports till they find one they are good at and the ones who are subpar at all of them will usually end up burying themselves in books and getting good ...

Read Full Post

Pakistan, where security and justice are only illusions

Public security measures taken in Islamabad are often regarded as anathema. A few years back, the police checkpoints and barricades around the city made our once-serene little town look more like a sister city for Baghdad than Ankara. Of course, recent rains temporarily made the capital resemble another one of its sister cities — Venice — but that’s a separate story. The checkpoints around town have fallen in number over the last couple of years, and especially since the new government came in, but the large barricades outside some offices, schools and embassies remain, despite the fact that most of these ...

Read Full Post

Pakistan hates its LGBTs but loves its LGBT porn

Pakistan hates its LGBTs (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) but loves its LGBT porn. That was the hypothesis of Alex Park’s piece in Mother Jones magazine, “Why Is Gay Porn So Popular in Pakistan?” The story came soon after the findings of a Pew Research Centre poll on global acceptance of homosexuality were released — findings which showed only two per cent of Pakistanis feel homosexuality should be accepted by society, placing the motherland second behind Nigeria. The openly-gay British actor and journalist Stephen Fry said last year, “At least 260 species of animal have been noted exhibiting homosexual behaviour but only one ...

Read Full Post

Chaklala Cantonment Board: Making a fool of those who pay taxes

Taxes. Everyone hates them, everybody tries to get around them, but at the end of the day, they serve an important purpose. Taxes are the only thing that keep a government afloat. Well, international aid also applies in the cases of many third world nations, but that is a different story. Pakistan has ridiculously high rates of direct tax avoidance, mostly by businesses and the upper class, but even at the lowest levels, tax-free smuggled goods and handwritten ‘kachi’ receipts deprive the state of indirect taxes. The federal board of revenue regularly comes up with tax amnesty schemes to try ...

Read Full Post

Water supply: Trickling into anarchy

Water — the most basic element necessary to sustain life and the most powerful source for internal strife. Water shortages are becoming a norm in Pakistan, with the contributing factors a mix of controllable and uncontrollable ones, such as inefficient water management and climate change respectively. While the former results in reduced water supply due to inefficient and insufficient water distribution networks, the latter causes erratic weather patterns and reduced input from glacial melt, because the rising temperature of the world is causing glaciers to disappear. At local and national levels, the approach to addressing water-related problems has been mostly reactive instead ...

Read Full Post

‘Who did your hair and makeup?’ The mockery that was our oath-taking coverage

Oath-taking ceremonies are usually boring affairs. A bunch of men and women stand up for the national anthem, take the oath and then go home. This is not exactly amazing material for the media – especially television — which is why most outlets focus on more colourful stories. Some of these stories make sense, such as quizzing the elected members on their knowledge of the workings of a parliamentary democracy, while others are just as outrageous as the returning officers’ questions, which the same media members were so very critical of. The segments featuring male members of the various houses focused ...

Read Full Post

Please sir, encroach some more

There was once an old man. He had an estranged relationship with his children, who rarely made the effort to care for him. Maybe it was because he wasn’t rich, and they had already got everything they wanted from him. One day, a robber broke into the poor old man’s house and stole his life’s savings. The old man approached the police for help, but they couldn’t track down the robber. Years later, as the man was dying at home, unable to pay for his medical expenses, the police finally caught the robber. The old man now had a choice — ...

Read Full Post

Agro farm issues: Pakistan’s very own political FarmVille

Around the world, banks, leasing agencies and recovery firms are despised for the swiftness with which they come to collect on unpaid loans or breaches of contract. People complain about how their unique circumstances were not considered by the agencies when they appeal for leniency. Yet, at the end of the day, this is what keeps those companies ticking over. Plus, ‘borrowing’ something with no intention of giving it back is a form of fraud. Fortunately, so is providing loans to people who cannot pay them off. Unfortunately, while poor borrowers get punished, predatory lenders usually get off scot free. In December, ...

Read Full Post

GI Joe 2: On censorship and movies based on children’s toys

Censorship. The worst enemy of intellectual freedom. The worst enemy of creativity. The worst enemy of an egalitarian, democratic society. And the best friend of the establishment. Censorship is why people in this country don’t know the history of this land. Censorship is why any reliable information construed as critical of Pakistan’s power players will vanish from the airwaves. Censorship is why Pakistan will not see the GI Joe sequel. The upcoming movie has been banned by the Pakistani censor board for its ‘fictional’ portrayal of Pakistan as a failed state and the also fictional theft of Pakistani nuclear weapons by Cobra. Max ...

Read Full Post