Stories published in November, 2010

To ‘civilised’ Pakistanis: Learn to stand in line

A four-way road-crossing magically functions in many Western cities, without a traffic policeman or a traffic signal. They call it the four-way ‘Stop’ sign; every car stops before the crossing, waits for other cars before it moves and then moves on its turn. Such discipline is a rare, if not impossible, sight when you live in a developing country. This unsupervised display of morally and socially correct actions speaks volumes about the citizens of any country. No concept of standing in line The concept of waiting in queue is missing in Pakistan. While it represents unruly, misguided and animal-like behaviour, it ...

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Floating disaster for the power sector

Disasters often bring opportunities and this adage is true for Pakistan. Federal Minister for Power Raja Pervez Ashraf, (also referred to as Raja Rental by fellow parliamentarians from the “friendly” opposition) inaugurated at Karachi what is said to be world’s largest ship-mounted rental power plant. The power plant is to produce around 225 MW of electricity at the escalating astronomical cost starting from 20 cents per unit. In his speech, Ashraf mentioned a few things which are worth sharing; he admitted that electricity provided through this power plant will be expensive though he generously enlightened the audience by mentioning that it is a gift ...

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Other people’s trash

A few weeks ago, my friends and I went out for a drive and decided to grab a bite on the way. When we were done eating our food, one of my friends rolled down his window and chucked the wrapper out. I was in utter shock. When I asked him why he did it he seemed very calm, as though he had done nothing wrong. He replied saying “What did I do?” I asked him why he would throw the wrapper on the road. He replied saying “Everyone does it, there’s no harm in doing it.” I couldn’t believe the ...

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Sunni Ittehad: Policing deviant thought

The Sunni Itehad Council says that letting Aasia Bibi live is going to plunge the country into chaos.  “Anarchy” will reign, as the boundaries of right and wrong are forever altered – all due to the unthinkable idea of allowing discretion in religion. Discretion, after all, demands context. It would not do for the Council to think about a poor woman, humiliated to the point of anger. It must have been blind rage that prompted words of bitterness against those more powerful than she. It would not do to wonder what religion was represented by people according to whom the vessel ...

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Wikileaks, Zulqarnain and our nuclear arsenal…

The Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence is a group of retired CIA officers that annually gives away the Sam Adams Award to an intelligence professional who takes a stand for integrity and ethics. This year, the award was given to Julian Assange, the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks. Causing uproar all over the world, WikiLeaks is releasing online documents that the US government never imagined to be accessible to ordinary citizens. Interestingly enough, neither the US Foreign Office nor the Pentagon has denied the authenticity of these documents, perhaps because of the sheer stupidity of accusing anyone of faking millions ...

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Federer vs Nadal: Old rivalry, new beginnings

This week, tennis fans across the world were treated to yet another edition of the closest thing tennis has to El Classico; Rodger Federer versus Rafa Nadal in the ATP World Tour Finals. Although this match wasn’t the most eventful the pair have had over their long rivalry (one that boasts its own Wikipedia page no less), it provided substantial fodder for Federer fans that have had little to celebrate of late. Fans had been wondering whether the Federer versus Nadal rivalry exists anymore, though that is partly owing to the fact that the final at the O2 arena this ...

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Welcome to A’ Levels where school’s too cool for you

“Art tuitions?” Two heads shake somberly in unison at the prospect. “But I thought Art was…” “Don’t even think about saying it’s innate. It’s not.” Students across Karachi will unanimously testify that after-school makeup tuitions exist for every subject under the sun. But, this was the first time we had heard of someone taking tuitions for Art. Perhaps it was nervous backlash against one of the worst O’ Level Art results ever this year when the Cambridge International Examinations suddenly decided to give the Monets of my class Bs and Cs? Did we have to go to Art tuitions now because we suddenly ...

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Media sensationalism trumped by online insensitivity

When the Airblue flight ED 202 crashed into the Margalla hills, there was a barrage of criticism against the media reportage of the incident. Sensationalist, unethical and downright insensitive were the allegations against the Pakistani media, and to be honest, they were not misplaced. From boasting to be the first ones to have broken the news to showing gory footage of blood and body parts, running after families of the victims for juicy soundbytes depicting their pain and giving false hope by airing incorrect reports of survivors, the media certainly had a chargesheet of complaints against it, and justifiably so. Bloggers ...

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Ten things I hate about being a writer

1.       Bleeding on the pages. To my chagrin, I’m one of those writers who unconsciously project themselves in their writing. I’m frequently baffled when people ask why my character is so similar to me or people I know until they point out the obvious details I’ve missed. 2.       Getting too involved. It’s bad enough that my best friend/editor keeps begging me not to kill a particular character she’s fond of, if I didn’t write in the fantasy genre, there would be no rational way for me to bring back people from the dead just because I like them too much ...

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The Chai Party Manifesto of Pakistan

The recent rise of the TEA Party in the US has made me realise how important alternative voices are within main stream politics. The fact that a bunch of people who were angry at government policies started a protest movement that eventually became a viable political force in elections is an amazing achievement. It made me wonder why we don’t have something like that in Pakistan. Rather than whining and crying over the stupidity of our rulers, why not put forward an alternative agenda? I present to you, the Chai Party Manifesto: simple things that need to be done on ...

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