Stories published in September, 2015

Move over, Shaan: Dear Lollywood, please stop with your nepotistic ways

Nepotism has a new face in Pakistan. Can you guess who it is? No, it’s not Nawaz Sharif. It’s not the Bhutto clan. It’s not the politicians or the bureaucracy. All those institutions have been swept aside by that new lady in town. We fondly call her ‘Lollywood’, but she’s more formally known as Pakistan’s film industry. She isn’t really new, but her recently acquired contemporary ornaments have taken years off her face. She wears Bol around her neck, carries Bin Roye under her arm and has crowned her head with Waar. In step with her is her entourage; a horde of uncles and aunties, brothers ...

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Reza Aslan versus Bill Maher: Learning the crucial difference between culture and religion

Responsible schooling, governance, international diplomacy, accountability and conscientious citizens are the demands of modern society. However, popular media despite its presence in every home, remains the most ignorant, irresponsible and manipulative aspect of modern life. With its capacity to communicate instantly, the world with its current atmosphere of extremism, global stress and social and political upheavals is more open to suggestions in a way it was never before. Therefore, manipulation by entities with access to an audience has wider influence than before. Labels are among the pithiest vehicles of language. They appeal most strongly to unthinking individuals, starting with those of all faiths in the pulpit ...

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Kabira is still crying in Pakistan

While many progressives are fond of extolling Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s lament on the unfulfilled promise of postcoloniality, his evocative poem Subh-i-Azadi (The Dawn of Freedom), in prose, it is actually Saadat Hasan Manto who captures the opportunism and political chicanery which characterised the newly-formed state of Pakistan. In his little-known short story, Dekh Kabira Roya (See, Kabira Cried) published soon after Manto’s reluctant migration to his new country, Manto uses the famous 15th century Sufi poet Bhagat Kabir as a protagonist to presciently satirise the emerging trends of intolerance, orthodoxy and cultural chauvinism in the newly-independent state, which are all too familiar in Pakistan in the 21st century. As such, this fable may also be read today ...

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#IStandWithIndianMuslims: Indian police detain ‘Muslim’ lambs on Eidul Azha

In international conferences on human rights, India likes to claim it is all for freedom of religion and equal rights. When countered on social media with respect to its minorities, right-wing Indians become defensive, claiming they treat their minorities all too well and it is the Indian Muslims who like to whine for nothing. “This country exists in the name of Hinduism and Muslims should accept their second-class status here. What’s the big deal? Can’t Muslims be thankful we gave them a home?” said one of the country’s leading Hindu cleric Pundit Srinath Ramkumar, echoing the sentiment of the right-wing Hindus. India ...

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There is no freedom of speech in India, it’s a myth

During one of his court hearings, legendary writer Saadat Hasan Manto told a judge, “A writer picks up his pen only when his sensibility is hurt.”  I am appalled by the senseless murder of one of the most noted and progressive thinkers and scholars of Kannada, MM Kalburgi. Verily, as I write this, my heart bleeds and tears trickle down my cheeks, for yet another sane voice has been silenced by the religious fascist forces in the world’s largest democracy. Yet another rationalist and good human being has been gunned down for speaking his mind. Septuagenarian Kalburgi was shot dead by two na maloom afrad (unidentified men) at ...

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“Could I have done more?” – A psychiatrist’s struggle with patient suicide

It’s a story I feel compelled to tell. It may be therapeutic for me and possibly for others as well. It’s a story that needs to be told. But I hesitate. I fear the stigma. I am afraid of being judged. I fear breaking the silence. I ruminate about the potential repercussions. What if I, a psychiatrist, wrote about my own emotional conundrum after a patient chose to end his life? Can I open the private vault of personal grief that filled me with his untimely and unnatural departure? I want to narrate the tumultuous aftermath of patient suicide, the distressing combination of ...

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This boy saved his mother when the crane fell in Makkah

September 11, 2015. It is a day when the tragedy at Masjid al Haram in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stunned the world. A massive crawler crane, one of many used to modernise the city, collapsed without warning on the Grand Mosque after 5pm on Friday, a time when the mosque is usually bustling with activity. The unfeeling steel indiscriminately took down concrete as well as flesh and bones standing in its path. In the aftermath, the sorrowful scenes saw 107 people dead and 238 injured. The stories emerging from the incident are horrifying. Many have lost their beloved family members in a few heartbeats. Yet, there is ...

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Modi’s visit to the US is not as warm as it looks

From holding the title of the first person to be denied US visa and prohibited from entering US soil for nearly 10 years for his deliberate inaction in stopping the Gujarat massacre, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has certainly come a long way, judging by the warm welcome awarded by the Obama administration. His previous record of being a ‘severe violator of religious freedom’ has been conveniently shrouded with diplomatic immunity as he conducts flurry of meetings with American statesmen, prominent Indian Americans, and heads of Fortune 500 companies and tech corporations. Pakistani anchor Dr Shahid Masood hit the nail on the head when he compared Modi ...

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Imad Wasim, the man with the golden touch

Pakistan beat Zimbabwe by 13 runs in the first T20 of the two-match series on September, 27 2015 letting Imad Wasim exhibit his brilliance on the cricket ground. Photo: AFP The confidence that Wasim exhibited throughout the match, demonstrated his greatness in the game. Moreover, his all-round performance proved that our domestic structure still has the ability to produce match-winners for Pakistan. The 26-year-old is not a new face for the followers of Pakistani cricket. He was a part of the winning team of the 2006 U19 World Cup, and was later given the responsibility to lead the ...

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Yes, I am a cybercriminal

While trying to decipher governing policies of the world, I find that western countries are edging more towards moderation and tolerance while Muslim countries, on the other hand, are becoming more narrow-minded and intolerant. Pakistan has jumped onto the bandwagon of intolerance with the induction of its new cybercrime bill. In spite of various objections, criticisms, and numerous online and offline protests, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Information and Technology forcefully approved the final draft of the cybercrime bill 2015, without making any amendments, and has sent it to the National Assembly for approval. The use of the word ‘forceful’ is due ...

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