Stories published in January, 2013

Pakistan versus South Africa: Are we prepared to handle the heat?

So it’s time, again. The South Africa versus Pakistan Test series starts on February 1, 2013. Exactly a year after Misbah’s boys conquered the world number one side, they face a similar challenge when it comes to statistics, only this mountain they have to climb is much steeper than before. England was the best side in the world then, and South Africa is at the moment. The two series cannot be compared because the differences are obvious; Pakistan faced the world number one last year in the UAE, “a home away from home” on the slow and low tacks. Now, however, the battle ...

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Zero dark thirty: Entertainment, not a documentary

If ever there was an appropriate name for a film, Zero Dark Thirty is it. The title here, which is military speak for the ‘middle of the night’, not only stands for the pitch black hour at which Osama bin Laden was apparently killed by the US Navy SEALs in Abbottabad, Pakistan, but represents the murky nature of the decade long clandestine hunt for the notorious al Qaeda leader.  Zero Dark Thirty highly dramatises these events to create a supremely gripping intelligence film which clicks on multiple levels due to the cold gun-steel style of its director, Kathryn Bigelow (Hurt Locker.)    Yes, it is ...

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Brazil, Baldia and the importance of empathy

The nightclub fire in Brazil that claimed close to 250 lives inevitably brought back memories of the garment factory fire in Baldia. The sheer horror of it, the pain of the weeping families and the apparent negligence and mismanagement by the nightclub owners all brought back to mind the tragedy that occurred in Karachi on September 11, 2012. As with the factory inferno, fire codes had been ignored, emergency exits had been blocked and, in essence, the terrible catastrophe could easily have been avoided in Brazil as in Baldia. Then the similarities ended. Brazilian President Dilma was on a state visit to Chile and ...

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Why ban cousin marriages in America?

Cousin marriages – while common in Muslim societies – are a big taboo in the US. In fact, 25 US states actually ban such marriages. And the Muslim youth, inadvertently, is buying into this idea. On the contrary, acceptance for same-sex marriage is gaining such popularity that President Obama invoked gay rights in his inaugural address. My advice; never go to a barber shop in America while you are still mulling over such controversial topics because your mind may sputter a question like, “Why do we smother the discussion on the topic of first cousin marriages?” And you may get a response like, “Well, you don’t have to be an Einstein to know ...

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Shahrukh Khan controversy: Hype and hypocrisy

As anything Shahrukh Khan would, the Bollywood megastar’s recent article in an Indian magazine, where he admits to having felt discriminated against in constitutionally-secular India for his Muslim identity, has gone viral. Everyone and their khala has read the interview, sympathising and basing their entire critique of India’s treatment of ‘minorities’ on this one man’s one statement that’s hardly any different from his previous statements on the matter. Enter our very own Hafiz Saeed, the noble chief of UN-blacklisted charity organisation Jamaatud Dawa. Unable to bear the injustice being meted out to a Muslim brother in (horror of horrors) India, he jumped in ...

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The man who cycled to Pakistan because his heart told him to do so

Florian, a 26-year-old German cyclist stayed at my house before he left for his expedition around Islamabad. In the few hours he spent here, he was able to inspire me with his will to be free; through his life’s story, he gave me an alternate way to look at my own life.  “I left my job to pursue something that keeps me happy,” he said simply. This made me look back at my life and made me question the purpose of my existence. I thought to myself, why am I so satisfied within my comfort zone? Why do I need to have a plan ...

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Royal Rumble 2013: A substandard event with few highlights

Every year in the wrestling world comes an event where rising stars and veterans get one more shot to fame. This year marks the 26th Royal Rumble event, which includes the ever popular and mandatory Royal Rumble match itself. This match is regarded as one of the three (arguably four) major Pay-Per-View (PPV) events of the year. If you’re a wrestling fan like me, you would know how eagerly viewers await the Royal Rumble. Since I cannot review the whole event for you (it was packed with one too many exciting moments) I’ve listed a few of the major highlights here. Included ...

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Pakistan’s long forgotten Hindu temples and Gurdwaras

The partition of India was based on the premise that a Bengali Muslim would be able to identify with the sorrows and issues of a Punjabi Muslim more than a Bengali Hindu. Of course, that was a vicious and diabolic notion because I believe that culture and heritage stand above religion. I recently visited the dilapidated temples and gurdwaras of Rawalpindi and realised that the city still sings of her secular past. The entrance to a temple in Gunjmandi. Photo: Shiraz Hassan In the early 19th century, the British made Rawalpindi the central seat of military power as they aimed towards Afghanistan. This was in line with ...

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Inglot releases halal nail polish

Cosmetic company Inglot claims it’s manufactured the world’s first ‘wudu-friendly’ nail polish. Being a relatively modern creation, nail polish remains obviously unaddressed by early Islamic sources. But the general consensus in the Islamic community is that praying with nail polish is impermissible because of the waterproof barrier it creates on nails, which prevents the wudu ritual from being completed five times a day. Enter Inglot’s happy accident – their 02M Breathable nail polish line, akin to breathable contact lenses, is made with a breathable polymer that allows oxygen and water vapour to seep through to the nails. Inglot’s tapping into the market of ‘halal’ cosmetics ...

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Was the Two Nation Theory flawed?

Pakistan, the product of the two-nation theory, is struggling to be a nation, 65 years after conception.  Even the usually taciturn army chief has lamented, “Disillusionment, desperation, religious bigotry, political disharmony and discord seem to permeate our lives.” Much of this is the unintended consequence of the theory. Jinnah had realised that the theory had the potential for unleashing fissiparous tendencies that would cripple national development. Just three days prior to independence, he called on Pakistanis not to interject religion into their public lives. The important role of minorities was enshrined in the national flag with a white bar. Jinnah’s call was a tall order that would test the ...

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