Faraz Talat

Faraz Talat

A medical doctor and bubble-wrap enthusiast from Rawalpindi, who writes mostly about science and social politics (and bubble-wrap). He tweets @FarazTalat (twitter.com/FarazTalat)

In defence of Bilawal’s vocal cords

Let’s face it; there may be legitimate complaints out there to lodge against Bilawal Bhutto as an emerging politician. An allegedly ‘girly’ voice does not qualify as a ‘legitimate’ political complaint, or even as a ‘harmless’ joke. The things that make us laugh make a statement about us and how we perceive the world. Consider the anatomy of an ‘insult’, and the part of it that actually causes the sting. Why is it insulting to Photoshop a detested politician’s face onto the body of a mule, but not the body of a lion? Because the mule, in our perspective, is a lowly being, ...

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Is ‘Haider’ really a threat to Pakistan’s ideology?

This is not a review of the film ‘Haider’, but an evaluation of the strong political reactions it has generated. This review is unsuitable for adults easily aggrieved by unfavourable judgement of their political views. Vishal Bhardwaj has established himself as an artist who likes to prod controversial subjects, just to see what happens. While the film itself boasts an impressive rendition of Shakespeare’s magnus opus, set to the beat of dazzling musical numbers, and jaw-dropping footage of the embattled valley, what truly stands out is its boldness. India: 2/5 stars While Haider managed to successfully squeeze its way through tight grasp of the Central Board ...

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When did not rising for a national anthem become a crime?

You know you’re insecure about your nationality when you have to raise a ruckus about people not standing up for your national anthem. It’s safe to flag this one as a serious problem. In late August, 25-year-old Salman was charged with sedition in Kerala for refusing to rise during the national anthem as it played in a movie theatre. Additionally, he was charged for posting derogatory remarks about the Indian national flag on Facebook. He was denied bail, and faces life imprisonment. No, I am not kidding. More recently, Preity Zinta boasted on Twitter about throwing a man out of the theatre for the same peccadillo. Why did Ms. ...

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No, Mr Khan. Dictatorship is never better than democracy

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chief, Imran Khan, has recently claimed that former President Pervez Musharraf’s dictatorship was better than Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s democracy, allowing the world to roll its eyes to what has become our national shame – the dictatorship apologia of self-hating democratic politicians. In what has become a weekly tradition of delivering bafflingly misinformed statements, the lines between dictatorship and democracy were blurred by the D-Chowk rage-generators, in an attempt to continually vilify Nawaz’s government. The comparison of dictatorships and democracies is as ludicrous as suggesting that a bad bargain is worse than someone stealing your wallet. Any notion ...

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Qadri Sahib, you cannot ‘rent’ your supporters!

Battered by the monsoon and baked by the sun, many Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) revolutionaries seem to be yearning to return home. Alas, they did not or probably could not read the fine print of the contract they signed with their political party. According to a BBC Urdu report, there is growing discontentment among a large number of protest participants who are, allegedly, not being allowed to go home. These include participants who were injured in the clashes with the police, and are ostensibly unfit to sit-in any longer. A young resident from Bahawalpur informed BBC that he’d been promised a sum of Rs6,000 to ...

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Pakistan’s Hidden Shame: Exposing child sexual abuse and Pakistan’s ‘see no evil’ attitude

Pakistan’s Hidden Shame, a documentary exploring the widespread sexual abuse of children in the streets of Peshawar, is something one wishes every Pakistani would take time to watch, while imploring his or her own eyes to un-see it. The practice of ‘bachabazi’ (child prostitution), as it’s known around the country, is something most of us are aware of. It is an ignominious fact of life in Pakistan that has blended seamlessly among all the other facts we don’t like to talk about. The statistics are hair-raising. Of the estimated one and a half million street children in Pakistan, 90% have suffered sexual abuse. And for every 10 ...

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No Imran Khan, you haven’t ‘won’ yet

As the clouds of smoke, dust and teargas recede, what looms into view is a picture of aggression and lawlessness that spells ‘victory’ for nobody. Maybe Mr Khan lost, but lesser than others did. Imran Khan has made repeated claims over the past few days of his party winning, which leaves one wondering what ‘victory’ really means to him. It’s important for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to not let its supporters be demoralised, and maintain faith in their rebel-leader. Yes, rebel-leader, which can be taken either pejoratively or as a term of endearment, as the reader sees fit. Khan has achieved this with a generous dose ...

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Shireen Mazari’s weight is not a political issue!

Being an overweight public figure isn’t easy. In a world obsessed with appearances, it’s like wearing a ready-made joke on your lapel that you just know your critics will use the first chance they get, however irrelevant it might be. Fat-shaming is effortless. On the list of categories of comedy arranged by the level of creativity involved, a fat joke is half a step higher than letting out a fart and giggling. All one requires, is to take note of the obvious fact that a person weighs more than normal, and compare him or her to any number of large, heavy ...

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Why have the Pakistani liberals forsaken Gaza?

Now’s the moment for a liberal to decide if he truly stands for the principles of liberalism, wherever applicable, or if he’s simply saying the opposite of what his conservative uncle shouts at the dinner table. Operation Protective Edge, involving a military superpower descending upon a small strip of land that Palestinians have magnanimously been allowed to squash together into, has gathered supporters from the unlikeliest quarters. There has been an intense debate over the asymmetrical nature of the ‘conflict’, parodied to perfection by the consistently liberal political comedian, Jon Stewart. Others, like Bill Maher and Joan Rivers, jumped ship. They gladly adopted the ...

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Can Pakistan ban alcohol for non-Muslims? Not ethically!

As the nation slides down the slippery slope of prohibition, progressives entrench their nails into its icy surface, resisting the imposition of Islamic dicta on the state’s non-Muslim subjects. The National Assembly Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Human Rights stated its opposition to the proposal to impose a complete nationwide ban on alcoholic beverages, revoking the exemption provided to non-Muslims in Pakistan. It is a restriction Pakistan’s ultra-right political parties have long pushed for. JUI-F MNA, Maulana Shirani, has been particularly vocal in this regard. The proposition implies a constitutional amendment, which has faced a welcome amount of resistance from the ...

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