Stories published in May, 2013

A dire need to end teen smoking

While informally talking to a World Health Organization (WHO) official in Islamabad during a seminar, I was told that Pakistan is among the few countries that have taken no serious measures to implement its own legislation to restrict tobacco consumption. She said that despite convincing sessions with Pakistani authorities, no positive measures have come forth to curb the practice of smoking. Instead, the WHO has received reports of increasing number of female smokers in Pakistan, which mainly include young girls at school level, especially those studying in private schools. Teen smoking is a complex phenomenon, which has several causes. Unfortunately, there ...

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Fatwas against science and semantics

Pakistan is a strange country. Considering the fact that 70% of the population comprises of youth, there is no Council of Youth Affairs to safe guard their rights. A great majority of the population has no access to health and reproductive facilities but there is also no council working to ensure that people of Pakistan should be provided with basic healthcare. On the other hand, a good 97% of the population follows some kind of Islam or the other but the country still needs multiple councils and other bodies to safeguard the religion. Two such bodies – Federal Shariat ...

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Kalyan Das temple: An abandoned shelter for the blind

A trek through the old areas of Rawalpindi reveals many examples of ancient architecture; silent testimonies of our heritage, narrating tales of our past and stories of our land. Unfortunately, these exponents of our history are in a state of utter neglect. And a cry out for immediate attention by the authorities is much needed. In the middle of the area that is commonly known as Kohati Bazaar, one can see the dome of a temple which is almost hidden by the high walls of an academic institution. Here stands one of the beautiful, historic landmarks of the city: Kalyan ...

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Behind the scenes: A heartfelt interview with Ranbir Kapoor

I caught up with Ranbir Kapoor on his recent visit to London for the promotional tour of Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewan (YJHD), his much awaited release this weekend. Ranbir Kapoor is the quintessential star kid, the scion of Indian cinema’s first family. After an underwhelming debut in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s 2007 Saanwariya, he has gone from strength to strength proving that he is here to stay based not on his famously enviable surname but for his own talent. Over the last few years Ranbir has dominated the award shows as well as the gossip columns. His haul of back to back ...

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Journalism – the worst career?

Besides the usual 140 characters of political, financial, emotional and otherwise, raving and ranting that goes on on Twitter, including my own, I recently came across a tweet that read something along the lines of ‘newspaper reporting ranked as the worst job of 2013’. Sure.  A mighty revelation indeed! As it turns out, it wasn’t just a figment of my imagination after all. Those long endless, and almost of no avail, debates of how overworked, underpaid and over-stressed reporters were, finally made sense. Only, what intrigued me the most was a tweet, by a fellow reporter, which was not a random ...

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Random Access Memories: Daft Punk’s new album hit a home run for me

Random Access Memories (RAM) is the fourth studio album released by the French duo, Guy-Manuel and Thomas Bangalter – better known to the world as Daft Punk. After a sabbatical of eight years since their last studio release, the iconic team of electronic musicians finally dropped their much anticipated latest album. I decided to give it a listen, in lieu of all the hype and let’s just say that it exceeded my expectations. Known for worldwide hits such as “Around The World” and “Harder Better Faster Stronger”, I had hoped that they would stay true to their roots and would not resort ...

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A Pakistani boy in the kitchen: Chasing my dream with a pinch of salt

Three years ago, roughly around this time of the year, I told my parents what I wanted to do with my future. I still remember that day. My father and I were searching for seafood at the infamous Delhi Colony market. The sun was at its peak and the heat was unforgiving. A’Levels is a crucial time of the year; it is that time when students stress about their future. Thinking about shifting from a school to a university was considerably overwhelming at that time. If I’m not mistaken, it was a Sunday that sparked my realisation of where I ...

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A day in the life of 78-year-old Riaz

It’s Monday morning. The alarm has started wailing in its almost cynical tone as per the daily routine. It is time for Riaz to drag himself out of bed and face another listless and robotic day at work. The tea is cold as usual and the bread two days stale. Living in a locality bearing the brunt of both the electric and gas loadshedding means the water never really reaches a point of warmth, let alone the boiling point. Baked bread is too expensive a luxury so this stale piece must do. Upon reaching work, the young supervisor starts barking orders ...

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Why I cancelled my vote

You know that awkward personal moment right after offering your prayers, when you are supposed to say a dua, ask for something and you really can’t come up with anything. So you say, “Allah Mian, you know what I need”, before wrapping up the janemaz. My voting experience could not have been any different from this; it was pretty much like saying my Namaz. Until that awkward moment arrived. Suddenly the most attractive box on the ballot papers was the last one filled with horizontal and vertical lines. I thought “well isn’t this representing how I feel? Aren’t we a nation ...

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Another polio worker killed: Will we ever kick the disease?

Despite some gains, the fight against polio is facing mammoth challenges in the form of refusals by parents to vaccinate their children and the ban imposed by militant groups on polio vaccination campaigns. Sharafata, a female polio worker was killed in Peshawar yesterday, after she and her team were shot at by two gunmen on a motorcycle. Her team member Sumbal is in a critical condition. The Afghan Taliban recently announced that they would support polio vaccinations, but warned foreigners not to participate in the campaigns. The insurgents said they supported all programmes “which work for the healthcare of the helpless people ...

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