Stories published in June, 2010

Government Bashing: All About Ratings?

Is the Pakistani media too critical of its government? The Wall Street Journal shed light on the issue in a recently published article on the controversial content on our news channels. And with a title like “In Pakistan, Criticism of the President is Good for TV Ratings,” its not hard to see whose side the WSJ is taking. The article takes a swipe at local news anchors, accusing them of using anti-government rhetoric to raise their ratings, and spreading “rumors that  Washington and India are acting secretly to take over Pakistan and are fighting Islam”, using the example of Jihadist ...

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Where eunuchs aren’t allowed to party

History – or Pakistan Studies – has taught us many things; most of which we know because it was stuffed down our throats. While retaining only the fourth of the founding father’s fourteen points is no profound achievement, it is a rejoinder that the mainstream education system still thrives on rote. And for that, it deservedly gets thrashed. Alas, not all the thrashing handed out in this land of the pure tends to be deserved. Corporal punishment is still a murky subject; not even considering gas stoves that continue to blow up – fatally – in the faces of unsuspecting ...

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Four reasons why England’s loss is no surprise

While the UK media did a great job of propping up the English side in the run up to the 2010 World Cup, nothing but the results can speak for their performance. That anyone genuinely thought England could lift the World Cup this year, is a testament to how members of the media can sway public opinion on things one wouldn’t usually give a second thought to were one to calmly focus on the facts instead. I’ll get straight to it, here are four signs that went unnoticed by Englands Coaching Staff and its fans, who blindly followed England to ...

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How do such headlines get through?

What should I make of the following headline in Dawn, Images, June 27 for a movie review on The A-Team? Their regular reviewer (he seems to be writing for a number of years, though mostly forgettable reviews) Mohammad Kamran Jawaid wrote the piece, and I am assuming that he gave the headline which is: Man-on-man action and explosions (Incidentally, Mr Jawaid’s movie reviews invariably have a ‘Second opinion’ by someone by the name of Farheen Jawaid – and even if the two aren’t related I wonder why would you need a ‘second opinion’ to a movie reviews, especially by someone not very well known). Now ...

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The real deal on cell-phone stalkers

In the days before the cell phone (does anybody even remember those?) stalking was fun. You could call the object of your desire, harass him/her on the home/office phone number twenty times a day and all you would get is an agitated “Ayenda yahan phone nahi karna” and if it’s not your lucky day then “ &*@# ayenda yahan phone nahi karna &*@#.” In those days you were kickboxing in the dark and your opponent was almost twenty feet away. Then cell phones came along and ruined everything. They brought the opponent a bit too close (shudder). When I first acquired a ...

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The air we breathe

On June 27, this paper ran a story on International Drugs Day that reported that Pakistan has one of the highest rates of narcotics seizure in the world. The news made me very happy, especially since the last top ten that Pakistan made to was for “failed” states. But what caught my eye was the photograph printed with the story: that of a drug burning ceremony held in Rawalpindi under the watchful eye of the police. According to the article, Pakistan has seized narcotics worth more than 50 million rupees this year and all of that (or at least most ...

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American discourse on Pakistan: a double headed-monster

When it comes to Pakistan, there are at least two narratives in the American media; one constructed on the basis of quasi-positive direct quotes of the administration, the other, an acrimonious narrative created by ‘unnamed’ official sources. From stories that raised concerns on the safety of its nuclear assets to exposés that have alleged Pakistan reverse engineered legacy Harpoon missiles; from allegations that ISI engineered attacks on the Indian embassy in Kabul to claims that ISI officials participated in high level Taliban meetings in Quetta; an image of a Pakistan gone wild is well established in the American imagination. After a ...

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In Karachi, guns are not the problem

Since 2009, different quarters have been calling for the de-weaponization of Karachi. But with minimal trust in law enforcement agencies, many would feel safe with a licensed weapon in their possession, ideally placed in hands reach and to be used for defense only. Ironically the ones who call for de-weaponization are the same ones who wear weapons as traditional ‘jewelry for men’. But is this the only way to help curb target killing in Karachi? But why in Karachi? Karachi has imported many cultures over the years. Traditions came with the migrants whether from across the border or from up the ...

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Pakistan history, distorted by the literalists

Recently released, the Brookings Institute report claims that the real cause of militancy in Pakistan is the public education system, and not religious schools (madrssas) because the majority of Pakistani students attend public school whereas only ten per cent attend madrassas. It states that Pakistani public schools disseminate militancy, hatred, jihad and distort history. Until 1970, despite bureaucratic and military dictatorships, the Pakistani educational curriculum and textbooks, for example, had included the history of the Maurya and Gupta dynasties of the sub-continent conforming to the secular ideals of Pakistan clearly expressed by Mohammad Ali Jinnah in his speech to the constituent ...

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Of copper, cobalt and chrystals

I previously wrote about double standards found in every nook and cranny of our society but let’s not forget double standards everywhere else too, on larger scales. Take General McChrystal’s sacking for speaking against US President Barack Obama’s policies in Afghanistan and ridiculing members of his national security team. I’m not sure if it’s the epitome of democracy or the lowest abyss of freedom of speech in the land of the, well, free. And not just that. The US has recently discovered $1 trillion worth of mineral deposits in Afghanistan, “far beyond any previously known reserves, enough to fundamentally ...

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