Stories published in December, 2010

Dear govt, wake up and smell the inflation!

Just last week, tomatoes were being sold for Rs60 per kg, but this week they were priced at Rs80 for the same amount. When I asked why the sudden price rise of Rs20 in just one week, I got a short reply: “Baji, saardiyan shuru hogayi hai,” (Sister, winter has commenced.) Now, what do tomato prices have to do with the sudden drop in temperatures? The supply of tomatoes is going to continue just as always- there is no sowing strike, no harvesting strike, no farmer strike, no buyer strike, no transport strike – and there hasn’t been any news of devastation ...

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Was Jinnah’s Pakistan ‘Islamic’?

Whether the country that came into being on August 14, 1947 was actually intended either for the Muslims or Islam is a matter that still invites enormous room for debate. This question has always meddled with our ideological roots; but even after 64 long years, we are not anywhere close to the answer. This confusion can be held for transforming our country into a mighty farce. Jinnah the liberal Jinnah, as it comes out, was a liberal to his bones. Why, he dressed up in sleek, hip western suits, drove imported cars, conversed in a foreign language and never sported a ...

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Media coverage: Shock, sell, forget…

The other day, one of the major TV news channels was doing a story on the two brothers, Mughees and Muneeb who were beaten to death by a frenzied mob in Buttar village, Sialkot. The program did short interviews with residents of Hajipura, where the boys were from, and with their families. This is probably old news and will not “shock” or “sell” but it was encouraging and depressing in the same breath. It was encouraging because television channels do not usually follow-up on their stories. Something horrible happens, someone does something inhuman, there is a hue and cry, “analysts” and ...

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WikiLeaks: Is the truth unpatriotic?

Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks indomitably dominated the headlines of late. The content of the leaked US diplomatic cables is definitively headline worthy. The repercussions of the unveiling of dangerous government secrets are colossal. As the US Justice Department considers the Espionage Act of 1917 to charge Assange with, I wonder if speaking out the truth is unpatriotic or if it’s just the only right thing to do? According to the Espionage Act, “unauthorised possession and dissemination of information related to national defence is illegal”. But then what about the First Amendment to the US Constitution? It guarantees freedom of press. Robert Wright ...

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I know a puppy killer

Last year, I came across a girl whom I despised at first sight. Some girls have a legitimate phobia of animals but some make a big deal about being afraid, thinking it’s endearing to be the damsel-in-distress. I was afraid when I was five and didn’t know any better, but when I see grown women screaming at the sight of a tiny animal, I can’t help but think they look ridiculous. Initially, that’s all I thought this was, a stupid girl scared of a pint-sized puppy. When it ambled up to her, she kicked it, hard. The poor thing was knocked ...

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Do we need to rethink segregation?

We often hear rhetoric condemning western culture for being lewd and too open towards sexuality. We accuse it of objectifying women and accrue this as to why they have high cases of rape and child molestation. But take a look at the source of these accusations – the ones pointing the finger,  our religious clerics have made headlines of their own for all the wrong reasons. Clerics and prayer leaders in Pakistan made news when they were found guilty of child molestation, victimising young boys and girls who were their students in madressahs. Although Islam strictly mandates harsh punishment to perpetrators, the ...

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I mourn the death of Australian cricket – its Ashes will remain in England

A demolition – no other word better suits England’s victory over the Australians by an innings and 71 runs. Actually, I believe demolition is a milder word too for so complete was England’s dominance that Australia must be wondering whether they were playing against the Australia of the Steve Waugh era or the West Indies of the 80’s. The roles have been reversed. It is Australia who cannot bat, cannot bowl and cannot field and are being left high and dry at home looking for an inspiration. This is a situation that England are used to. But since South Africa ...

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The day I was almost mugged

On the way to work yesterday, I stopped by the bank to take some cash out owing to my empty pockets. Ready to head out to cover a story, I hopped on the F-11 which goes to Tariq Road. The bus was not exceedingly crowded, so I had nothing to fear. But what happened next, is something one can’t stop to imagine. Grouped in a number of six, were big-built women clad in colourful burqas. Next thing I knew I was shoved across one end by one of them, while my over-sized bag was pushed towards the other end. I screamed ...

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WikiLeaks: A missing cable and a dinner for Prince Charles

Here are some interesting nuggets that much of the world press hasn’t reported upon, and isn’t likely to either, because they don’t make for ‘sexy’ reading/content. The case of the missing cable The News – and Jang – of December 9 had a lead story which, quite unbelievably I must say, quoted a cable from the US embassy in Islamabad saying all the things that the establishment in Pakistan would want the world to think about: a) India b) India’s army c) India’s chauvinist Hindu parties and d) Hamid Karzai. The Express Tribune of December 9 also carried a similar story – by Online news agency  ...

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Dear liberals, speak up!

In my two and a half years in the US, I haven’t met a single Republican. An overwhelming majority of the Americans I have spoken to are apologetic about the drone attacks in Pakistan, were appalled by the “Ground Zero” mosque crisis, despise the Tea Party movement and don’t understand Republicans’ repeated attacks against health care reform. This category of opinion is in large part echoed by liberal columnists and pundits that we even follow back home. I, therefore, find it interesting to reconcile what I witnessed in the November 2 elections with what I know of my personal experience ...

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