Noman Ansari

Noman Ansari

The author is the editor-in-chief of IGN Pakistan, and has been reviewing films and writing opinion pieces for The Express Tribune as well as Dawn for five years. He tweets as @Pugnate (twitter.com/Pugnate)

Why do Pakistanis cheer Brandon Stanton, but attack Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy?

Like so many in Pakistan, I was pleased when American photo-blogger Brandon Stanton, founder of Humans of New York, visited the country to tell the stories of every day Pakistanis. As with his other excellent work, Brandon shared some moving tales, creating empathy as only he can. At the end of his Pakistan series, Brandon moved on to a despicable social ill of Pakistan: Bonded Labour, which is used to victimise thousands of Pakistanis and has been described as modern day slavery by the United Nations. Like any good journalist, Brandon highlighted the issue by sharing several heart-breaking stories alongside striking photos while relating some ...

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Is Uber in Pakistan risky or convenient?

Usually, rickshaws, as well as the older black and yellow taxis are available at every other street corner in Pakistan, and are effective in getting consumers from point A to point B, though the quality of service is far from ideal. The challenge in riding a rickshaw, especially for taller individuals, is reaching the destination with as few bruises and head injuries as possible, considering how adventurously the drivers of these open vehicles drive. Taxis, on the other hand, are a test for anyone with a fondness for personal hygiene. Sometimes the seats of these vehicles, which lack in air-conditioning, carry ...

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Should Apple give the FBI access to all our iPhones?

Considering how public opinion can sway important legal matters, there is perhaps nothing more perilous than irresponsible journalism. Unfortunately, in an age where click-bait is the name of the game, reporters unfamiliar with their subject matter often spread misinformation. This, sadly, is especially true for information technology. You may have recently heard from various news sources that Apple previously ‘unlocked’ iPhones for the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) ‘70 times’. Some even claimed that Apple is refusing to do so now as part of a marketing strategy. This has also been gleefully echoed by the FBI itself. Some of the sources ...

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Is prayer a better way to deal with depression than treatment from a mental health professional?

I’d like you to take a moment to imagine two people. Both follow the same religious scripture, with equal regularity yet one interprets the passages as peaceful instructions on life, while the other sees them as commands to violently confront anyone who disagrees with certain worldviews. The disparity is drastic. They read the same words, yet the comprehension is as different as a chalk or cheese. When we speak of the religious extremism that plagues the world and its driving factors we rightly mention political unrest, education, socioeconomic backgrounds, violent text, the mullah culture, and more, but what we fail to talk about ...

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Would Nergis Mavalvala have made it had she stayed in Pakistan?

Overnight, astrophysicist Nergis Mavalvala’s star went supernova in Pakistan. As news spread that the Karachi born scientist’s research played a role in one of the greatest scientist discoveries of our time, people who couldn’t spell ‘gravitational wave’ began celebrating her achievement with the fervour of Neil deGrasse Tyson dreaming about first contact. Meanwhile, our right-wingers quickly started combing through scripture, seeking evidence of a Nostradamus like foretelling of gravitational waves, perhaps in hopes of winning a reductive reasoning award. But I digress. As TV channels and news dot coms broke the story, social media hit fever pitch. Proud of Nergis Mavalvala a Pakistani ...

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If you think the niqab is a choice, think again

In my recent article, ‘Our national dress is the shalwar kameez, not the niqab’, while examining countries in and around the geographical vicinity of the Middle East, I lamented the loss of cultural riches such as art, music, various religious festivities, as well as heritage sites like ancient temples and monasteries to a single fast-spreading inflexible ideology. To drive the point home, between a dozen countries, I compared various cultural garments with the full single-colour veil called the niqab, also known as the abaya or the burqa. The contrast was startling. On one end were 12 aesthetically delightful national dresses varying ...

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Pakistan cricket desperately needed a tournament like PSL

It is difficult to believe the Pakistan Super League (PSL) started less than a week ago, for the T20 cricket tournament has already grown into a daily viewing addiction. Featuring five teams, including Islamabad United, Karachi Kings, Lahore Qalandars, Peshawar Zalmi, and Quetta Gladiators, the tournament has captured the imagination of people across the country. During the last week, I have found it remarkable how keenly the games have been followed on the streets of Karachi; taxi and rickshaw walas are keeping up with the contests on the radio; roti walas, while rolling bread in their uncomfortably warm hole-in-the-walls are glancing constantly at ...

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Would they have arrested Maulana Abdul Aziz had he been a Virat Kohli fan?

Al Jazeera claims he is possibly the most hated man in Pakistan. Maulana Mohammad Abdul Aziz; a fiery cleric; said to be the torchbearer of sprawling madrassas, 5000 pupils and 550 teachers strong; co-owner of the militia powered seminary Jamia Hafsa; accused of using religion to serve his politics; allegedly a sympathiser of notorious organisations such as Al-Qaeda, Pakistan Taliban and ISIS. In the late 00s, his Lal Masjid disciples began frighteningly violent acts of arson, vandalism, and kidnapping. In response, security forces hit back with a military operation. Scores died. Eventually, Maulana Mohammad Abdul Aziz became the subject of a meme when he tried to escape wearing a burqa. In ...

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What do our reactions to a 13-year-old’s false allegations of gang-rape say about us?

The 13-year-old Berlin based German-Russian girl’s allegations of being kidnapped and gang-raped by men of Arabic and African origin quickly snowballed into a storm. Her claim was the men had forced her into their vehicle and attacked her. Reports of the girl’s harrowing tale were shared across Russian social media and even made it to local television. They were met with demonstrations by an anti-migrant national right-wing political party, as well as people from the Russian community in Germany who were backed by the Pegida-related Bärgida movement. The matter soon turned into an international incident. While the German police rightly kept ...

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6 things Saudi Arabia and Iran have in common

Saudi Arabia’s long and bitter history with Iran came to a boiling point recently when the Kingdom murdered Shi’ite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on charges of treason after a farcical trial. For some time, the Saudis had indirectly indicated that Nimr al-Nimr was on Iran’s payroll. The late preacher, a fierce critic of the monarchy, ridiculed these claims. Although Nimr al-Nimr was a Saudi national, Iran strongly condemned the execution. Later, a Saudi embassy in Tehran was vandalised by Persians angrier than the ones defied by 300 Spartans. That Iran reacted so strongly did nothing to disprove any Nimr al-Nimr ...

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