Vaqas Asghar

Vaqas Asghar

The author is a senior sub-editor on the Islamabad Desk and also reports on diplomatic events. He tweets as @vasghar (twitter.com/vasghar)

They chose to ‘mourn’ a murderer by storming Parliament and destroying public property

The last megalomaniac, who stood outside parliament in an attempt to take down the government, showed he still has a shred of compassion for his countrymen when he gave up his campaign in the face of a horrible terrorist attack committed by a religion-inspired group of sadists. On Sunday, hours after the same group of sadists murdered more of our brethren, like-minded people descended on Islamabad. But unlike their politician predecessor, these people have shown they are not here for blood. Their charter of demands literally calls for killing people. And between the lines, it calls for purging innocent people who disagree with their desire to retreat to ...

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How did General Kayani’s brother manage to scam DHA?

In late 2012, a man familiar with the domestic property market had asked me if anyone would do an expose on “the DHA scam”. Curious about what he was referring to, I asked for more details. He said General (retd) Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s brother Kamran Kayani – also a retired officer – was scamming DHA Lahore out of money through an unfulfilled contract. Instead of putting a stop to it, DHA had given him a fresh deal in Islamabad. Still confused, I asked for more information. He essentially described the residential ‘non-development’ DHA valley, which is among the subjects of the current National Accountability Bureau (NAB) ...

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CDA is vigilant about encroachment in slum areas, but won’t shut down big businesses?

Violence against journalists must always be condemned, but what about the collateral damage caused to common citizens by a media houses’ flouting of the law? The ARY news office is illegally operating in a residential area, violating Capital Development Authority (CDA) land use rules. Besides the defiance of the law of the land, the nature of operation of this particular business exposes residents to an unnecessary threat. When the terror threat level is high, state security will tell people to avoid commercial areas and stay home. Media houses usually relay such statements verbatim, but might avoid offering this disclaimer, “Media houses are a prime terrorist ...

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People are dying, yet clerics say they are ‘happy’ to see attendance rise in mosques

It was déjà vu for anyone who lived through October 8, 2005, and not just the feeling that the ground was going to split open. Yet again, we have shown that at times when people come together, irrespective of cast, creed, faith and political affiliation, we Pakistanis would rather choose to be divisive. People are dying, yet clerics say they are ‘happy’ to see attendance rise in mosques. People have been left homeless, yet politicians are busy point scoring, blaming each other for the slow response of the other instead of taking responsibility for their own mismanagement. Hospitals are being called high risk buildings by their own staffers, yet ...

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In defence of Centaurus Mall – Why the hullabaloo?

“Rs100 just to enter? How dare they? It’s a public mall! I’m boycotting the mall!”  The level of offence that some have taken to the recent decision by Centaurus Mall’s administration to charge Rs100 for entering the building is surprising, and largely misdirected. First up, the fee can be adjusted against purchases made in the mall, so entry essentially remains free if you buy anything inside. Second, the mall is private property, and businesses have a right to refuse entry. Don’t believe me? Try hanging around inside any random shop for a few days, buying nothing and just ogling at customers. If you’re ...

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Caught in Islamabad with sex toys and an abortion clinic – Uh Oh

Around 1,000 Pakistani women die every year because of abortion-related complications, and the procedure is often used as a primary family-planning method, rather than a last resort. This is because of a combination between low contraceptive prevalence, low sexual health awareness, unqualified or illegal medical practitioners and social taboos about topics related to sexuality. So when a story comes along that allows broader debate on quack abortionists, it is worrying that the approach taken to covering it is one of religious and moral outrage at the ‘unusual’ sexual elements of the story, rather than the life-preserving element. A recent story about an alleged fake abortion clinic in Islamabad was given ...

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We are solely to be blamed for the water crisis in Pakistan

The average person uses over 300 litres of water to wash their car at home. The average car wash uses half that amount. Some automated systems use barely a 10th of it, when accounting for water recycling. But why would people spend hundreds of rupees to wash their cars when they can get it done for ‘free’ by the household help? Isn’t that what they’re paid for? Well here’s the problem. In an area with 100,000 cars, one wash a week would end up using 30 million litres per week, or almost eight million gallons. That is over a million gallons. There ...

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The resurgence of Lal masjid and honouring knowledge with ignorance

The Crusades were an example of a diminishing empire declaring war on an ever-expanding opponent using religion as a pretext, even though the motives were actually territorial and economical, and the actions of its soldiers more satanic than godly. The Muslim world was at its peak around this time, its libraries a source of light for the world, its share of scientific output unmatched, and its religious zealots confined to the fringe. Western writers have described one of the Crusader leaders’ orders following the sacking of Jerusalem as ‘kill every man, woman and child, but spare the dogs’. That same kind of ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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