Stories published in November, 2011

Why I let my children smoke

 “Amma, you’re very chalaak, sly and cunning too,” My son stood squarely in front of me, his face red with accusation, teenage angst writ large all over it. “Your whole reverse psychology business has made everything unexciting and boring for us. When my friends gather furtively behind an expansive leaf laden tree to share a smoke, I think to myself, big deal, I can do that at home too,” He relayed to me accusingly. “You were always enticing us with the choice of brands we should try, menthol or no menthol. At the same time telling us to make our own decisions and not be ...

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Shahid Afridi is my neighbour

I have a special bond with my house. It has nothing to do with nostalgia but simply because Shahid Afridi is my neighbour. I’m not quite sure if this affects property prices but just looking at the boy next door evolve into a champion and national captain gives me a lot of pride. I remember my younger days – as a guest in Karachi – when I’d wait to play cricket in the afternoon when this new Pakistani opener used to interrupt the match and take us all for Maghrib prayers. I went to the mosque because of him. When I moved to his ...

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PTA – a correction

Last week, Pakistanis suffered some three minutes of unmitigated shock and awe. It occurred after the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) announced that it would not allow the mobile operators to carry text messages containing swear words. After registering some initial outrage, however, the nation broke into uncontrollable euphoria. It had to do with the list of swear words that the PTA issued to go with their directive. The list, in case you haven’t seen it yet, is spread over two documents (Urdu, English) and it has been researched, compiled and prepared by the PTA — May God bless them. Going through ...

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Edhi we love you

On November 28, 2011, the Prime Minister of Pakistan nominated Abdul Sattar Edhi for a Nobel Prize. For Pakistanis and most other people around the world, Abdul Sattar Edhi is a name that requires no introduction. The founder of the largest welfare organization in Pakistan, the ‘Edhi Foundation’, Edhi has been referred to as an inspiration, a saviour, and a living saint. For those who know his story, he is no less than a legend who has overcome the odds to accomplish a selfless goal that has helped millions see a glimmer ...

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Violence against women, no more

The Women’s Rights Bill unanimously passed by the Pakistani parliament is indeed a great achievement. For what it’s worth, it is an acknowledgement by the State that yes, indeed, there should be legislative measures to protect women.   Nighat Daad, a lawyer and the social activist behind Take Back the Tech initiative hopes that the proposed Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Law Amendment) Act 2011, which now awaits passage in the Senate, doesn’t face the similar fate as the Domestic Violence Bill passed by National Assembly in 2009. Daad says: “The Senate allowed it to lapse while saying that this law will enhance ...

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Sim Sim Hamara: Sesame Street comes to Pakistan

Back in 1966, when the discussions about a television show to help young children prepare for school were under way, who would have thought that 45 years later, the resulting show would be preparing children for school all over the world; across 120 countries, through twenty independent international versions. The latest addition to the Sesame Street Franchise is Sim Sim Hamara. Sim Sim Hamara will start airing in Pakistan later next month. The four year project is a collaboration between Sesame Workshop and the Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop, funded by USAID’s US$20 million. It seems as though Washington is now trying to quash the influence of radicalism ...

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How I learnt where Islam ends, and culture begins

Like the vast majority of Pakistanis, I was raised a Muslim. Being ‘raised’ Muslim, to my best knowledge, means that during my childhood and as I grew older, I was exposed to Islamic teachings. I had a maulvi sahab, I read the Holy Quran, learned how to pray and was taught the history and fundamental principles, or pillars of the religion. Till my teens, I was in my opinion a good Muslim. I found it very difficult to lie, I gave charity, I prayed, I fasted, I respected my parents, and forgave those who hurt me. I was satisfied with ...

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Dr Abdus Salam who?

Recently the 15th death anniversary of one of Pakistan’s greatest sons, the Nobel Laureate Dr Abdus Salam, passed away unnoticed. One often hears well-meaning voices and laments in the national media about how Pakistan cruelly and ungratefully refused to honour its only Nobel Prize recipient, just because he was from the Ahmadiyya community. But is religious bigotry the only reason behind the lack of recognition accorded to Dr Salam? Pakistanis as a nation have a few iron-clad traditions that are rigorously followed come what may. The most prominent of these is to mistreat anyone who does any favour to this ...

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Team Green: Wish you all the best!

Last year in November 2010, Pakistan cricket was going through a very tough time. Already reeling under the dark clouds of spot-fixing shenanigans, a representative team lost to Afghanistan in the semi-finals of the Asian Games in China. As always, a loss in Pakistan is attributed to match-fixing while a win is credited to ‘qaum kee duayen’ (the nation’s prayers). “How can Pakistan bounce back from this low of losing talented cricketers with the cricket World Cup just a few months away?” This was the question which perturbed many Pakistani fans like me. But as they say, the sun needs to set ...

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My school in Badin

Four months after torrential rains hit rural Sindh, the people of Badin are still trying to rebuild their lives. Shaukat is a fourth grader at Kehar Khan Lund primary school in Badin. This video shows  his journey to school every morning – a school surrounded by stagnant rain water. Every day, Shaukat and his seventy-two classmates wade through filthy stagnant rainwater, smiling, even laughing at their struggle. However, their teacher says with no help, little can be done to keep the school functional. Even though Shaukat is fond of learning and says that his favourite subject is poetry, he will ...

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