Stories published in July, 2016

The eternal night in the valley of light

Sometimes I would wake up in the middle of the night and could feel someone standing in the corner of my room. I was afraid of opening my eyes to find a Djinn or Khokh standing right there, staring at me, blankly. Eyes closed, I would crawl my hands on the wall, looking for the switch and turn the light on. I would then carefully scan all the corners of the room to make sure no one was around, staring at me through the darkness. But now things have changed. Sometimes – and that is very frequent now – I wake ...

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Our minorities, but not our people

Avinash Kumar and Sateesh Kumar; these were the two latest victims of the undeniably worsening trend of minority persecution in Pakistan. Seventeen-year-old Sateesh is dead. The two boys were targeted because the local community was ‘incensed’ by reports that a Hindu man, Amar Lal, had ‘desecrated the Quran’. Since they were Hindus and easy targets, someone in Ghotki saw them as fair game to act out their deeply (and rather easily) offended religious sentiment. This incident is disturbing but not just because of its depraved message of murderous retribution for any perceived ‘blasphemy’. It is also a grim reminder of the lack of sensitivity towards psychiatric illness prevalent in Pakistani society. By the accounts of local Hindus, Amar ...

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The demons of Delhi

The more things change, the more they remain the same. It was 2012 and Delhi was in the midst of a round of massive protests. The gang rape of the young woman Nirbhaya, who came to be remembered as the fearless one, in a moving bus, finally got the jaded citizens of the city on to the streets, as women demanded their basic right, safety. Soon after, legislations were amended, new laws were brought in, and politicians finally seemed to have heard the pulse of a frustrated nation. Yet in the last one week alone, a tourist was gang raped as ...

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I would vote for Michelle Obama as the future president of America

Inspiring is one word that comes to my mind as I pen down my thoughts about the recent Democratic National Convention held in the great city of Philadelphia, PA. At a time when the Democrat Party found itself down in doldrums, the convention introduced to us night after night celebrities and luminaries who effectively built a case for Hillary Clinton to be the next president of United States. Amidst the gloom, doom and despair painted by the Republicans in their convention just a week prior to the Democratic convention, the Democrats rejected cynicism and fear, talked about hope and bringing ...

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What encourages the crowd to cheer for the ‘bad guys’?

The art of professional wrestling has often been undermined and condescended, given its scripted nature. What such people have yet to understand is that it’s not only about winning and losing, but also the art of storytelling and the performances. In wrestling, ‘heels’ (the ‘bad guys’ you love to hate) mostly lose, or even if they win, most of the time, it’s by using dirty tactics. (Hey, not everyone can be the badass suplex-hitting, opponent-dominating world-conquering Brock Lesnar) Brock Lesnar made a successful return to the UFC after 5 years away. Photo: AFP What’s interesting to note is that ...

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24 hours in crime filled Karachi

In 2015, when it started, the Rangers’ operation was eagerly welcomed by the citizens of Karachi. Even though this decision undermined the authority of existing law enforcement agencies including the police, it brought with it a promise of safety and security for Karachiites; and we were starved for protection. A few months into the operation, and our faith in this beautiful, resilient city of ours was renewed. Karachi had had enough, and the operation was going to finally cleanse the city of all the filth that continued to eat at its heart and soul. Many started dreaming of walking to ...

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How far is the state willing to go to police the internet in Pakistan?

It is unfortunate that every time activists engage the government in a discussion regarding the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill (PECB), with the aim of protecting civil liberties in cyberspace, the government in turn makes the law more complex and open to multiple interpretations. In recent days, an extensive round of deliberation was carried out with the senate’s standing committee and sub-committee on information technology. This time, digital rights organisations somehow managed to push legislators through, with the help of a few sane voices, in the senate for removing and/or improving the sections contravening the essence of democracy vis-à-vis civil liberties. Pakistan has ...

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Who killed Fatima Ali Jinnah?

Fatima Jinnah, the sister of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and Pakistan’s first woman presidential candidate all the way back in the 60s, remains a mystery for the nation, both in her life and her death. Her portrayal in various biographies of Jinnah, as well as popular fiction, has either been ambivalent or even net negative.  The recently released Indian novel, Jinnah often came to our house, portrays her as a spoilt child and an overall malignant influence on Jinnah, instrumental in turning him from a leading light of the Indian independence movement and ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity to a dogged separatist ...

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Star Trek Beyond: An oasis in the barren desert of summer 2016 blockbusters

After the disappointing Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013), many people believed the future of the Star Trek franchise was in danger. Not from a financial stand-point, but rather a creative one. And let’s face it, for all its excitement “Into Darkness” did feel very much like a sub-par remake of the far better 1982 film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. There was a general consensus among most fans that the series was beginning to forget its roots, which were essentially about exploring space and spreading peace throughout the galaxy. There was even more disappointment among the fan base ...

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Ephesus: City that rivaled Rome

Rome has existed as far back as the eighth century. The Roman Empire covered most of Europe, parts of North Africa, Asia and the Middle East. During its peak, this empire rivalled existing empires. Due to the expansion the Roman Empire, new cities evolved and flourished. The city of Ephesus was one of the major commerce centres that strengthened the Roman foothold in Asia. Ephesus existed since before the Bronze Age and had lived through the Greek, Hellenistic, Roman and Ottoman periods. But it was during the Roman period that this harbour city progressed, and ultimately became the second largest city ...

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