Stories published in October, 2015

When did rape threats become a necessary technique for extracting confessions?

Early morning, Wednesday, October 28, 2015, will be forever etched on my mind and conscience as the day when my reserves of patience and equanimity were exhausted and emptied. My friend, the human rights activist, Rashid Orakzai uploaded and shared on Facebook a singularly brutal abuse of  force by a functionary of the so-called law-enforcing authorities of Pakistan. One could see a man in a Pakistani police uniform hitting a hapless burqa-clad woman, 30 to 35-years-old, on her head and face a number of times, hurling abuses and taunts of unprecedented obscenity. A young lad, perhaps eight or 10-years-old, can be seen ...

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Will Maryam Nawaz invest Michelle Obama’s $70 million anywhere outside of Punjab?

This week we were treated to scenes of Maryam Nawaz Sharif standing with Michelle Obama as the First Lady announced an investment of $70 million as part of a new partnership between the United States and Pakistan to promote girls’ education. The money is part of President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative, which started up in March of this year and seeks to expand educational opportunities for girls. Ms Sharif also spoke about Nawaz Sharif’s education reforms, and the importance of educating girls. It’s good to see commitment at the highest level to this worthy goal. However, I can’t help being a bit of a cynic about ...

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Shaandaar, or more like far from it, is a forgettable and sagging affair

Shaandaar is a romantic comedy revolving around the subject matter of matrimony and nuptials, combined with the concept of a destination wedding set in London. Think of it as a big, fat Greek Shaandaar Indian wedding.  It is directed by Vikas Bahl of Queen fame and is produced by Fox Star Studio. This movie would appeal to the younger generation as they may find it relatable to some extent. Starring the newlywed Shahid Kapoor and the girl next door, Alia Bhatt, the movie is combined with what seems like a family affair. The cast also includes Pankaj Kapoor and making her acting debut, Sanah Kapoor.  Veteran actress Sushma Seth is also casted in ...

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Pakistan is a cesspool of humanitarian crises, but who cares? Imran and Reham just got divorced!

Imran Khan is in the news again. He has definitely got the knack for it. Even those who are staunchly against him, people like me who are not Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) supporters in any way, turn around to listen when he’s going on and on about something. Whether it’s about “teen halqe” or even his madcap rants atop the container, the man can pull crowds. A lot of it has to do with the fact that my generation, those of us who were all young and starry-eyed when he lifted the 1992 cricket World Cup, grew up with the idea of ...

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The scariest costume you can wear this Halloween is ‘racism’

A fake ‘Sheikh’ nose, blackface, and a Mexican sombrero? Let me guess: you’re going to that Halloween party tonight as a ‘Howling Racist’. Halloween has little relevance to the lives of most Pakistani people. It is celebrated in certain elite quarters, while the rest of us wonder what scarcity of spookiness there is in this country that needs to be compensated for with a few extra zombie masks. For those who participate, I may have a Gullu Butt costume to lend out, if you ask nicely. But it is an important tradition in much of the Western world, particularly the United ...

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What if gun control isn’t solely to blame for mass shootings in America?

With alarming regularity, shootings in America make the news across the planet, sometimes every other week. Horrific visuals of mayhem, tragedy, and pain fill our TV screens as we try to understand how the most powerful nation in the world helplessly suffers like this month after month, year after year. We look at the statistics where only the United States amongst its peers sees mass murders take place with any regularity, and wonder what the hell is going on. On the left, American politicians would have their citizens believe the problem simply stems from a lack of gun control, and the ...

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Why were Karachi University girls beaten up for playing cricket?

News of young women playing cricket at Karachi University being beaten by religious thugs is not a great way to start your day. Members of the Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) had warned the cricket-playing women days ago, then came and broke up a mixed-gender game, and beat up both the men and women, members of the Punjabi Students Association, with batons. University officials seem to be passing this off as a clash between two student groups, but the IJT outright denies they beat up any of the young women. Campus violence involving political groups and religious groups has long plagued Pakistani universities, especially ...

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Can a Tweet get you arrested in Pakistan? Yes, it can

Today, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested a social media activist from Peshawar for posting a tweet on September 22nd, 2015. They placed upon him charges for violating the Electronic Transaction Ordinance of 2002 specifically clause 36: Violation of Privacy of Information and 37: Damage to Information Systems. These are, as per my understanding, non-bailable offences permitting the FIA unbridled arrest of Qazi Jalal for up to 90 days without follow up. Electronic Transaction Ordinance of 2002 – Clause 36 and 37 reads, 36. Violation of privacy of information.—Any person who gains or attempts to gain access to any information system with or without intent to acquire the information contained ...

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Modi and Nawaz Sharif need to stop undermining cricket for political gains

During the Sri Lankan tour to Pakistan in 2009, the bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore was fired upon by militants, injuring six Sri Lankan players and killing six policemen and two civilians. It was a sad day for Pakistan cricket as no country was willing to send its team to Pakistan after this unfortunate incident.  In a scathing attack on the serious security lapse, the then Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram said, “Such incidents could make Pakistan a failed state, and that one was not sure as to who was in control of the country.” We, in India, always ...

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Is religion more important than unity in Australia?

During my school days, students would queue in the main ground and proudly sing Pakistan’s national anthem during the morning assembly. Singing the national anthem brought everyone together, nurturing inclusiveness and a sense of unity. The school had students from different religious backgrounds, although the majority was Sunni Muslims. Singing the anthem instilled love for Pakistan from an early age and brought everyone together in solidarity. Those were the only times when Jinnah’s Pakistan twinkled in the eyes of everyone and reminded us of his quote, “You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other ...

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