Are you a Pakistani pseudo-intellectual?

With the rise of free media, several classic cases of pseudo-intellectualism have emerged in Pakistan, but only a few hold a special place in the ‘Pseudo-intellectualism Hall of Fame’. So what is pseudo-intellectualism? The Urban Dictionary offers a very concise description of a pseudo-intellectual: “One who attempts to flex intellect that does not exist within his or her own mind” The water kit scandal is one example. The water kit scandal arose in 2012 when Pakistani ‘inventor’, Agha Waqar, claimed to have designed a perpetual motion machine that would utilise water as fuel for cars. Waqar’s claims were met with a mixture of scepticism and enthusiasm by the general public as ...

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Why Aitchison?

“Don’t you realise this behaviour is unbecoming of an Aitchisonian?” Mr Zafar Ahmad stared at me. Stress on the word Aitchisonian caused extra ripples of guilt. There is a reason Mr Zafar Ahmad, my housemaster, was stressing on the Aitchisonian angle; he knew it would make me feel like a downcast in my own eyes. And it did. Both of us knew I would not repeat that adventure at least. Aitchison College is in the spotlight these days. Pakistani press is not alone this time because The Guardian, one of the leading British dailies, has also covered the latest issue surrounding the institution’s policy regarding ...

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In Pakistan, domestic abuse is none of your business

As Iman sat there talking to me, I could see all the classic signs of her being stuck in the cycle of abuse. First there was the abuse period, severe fighting at the end of which she would often walk out being the second, the third period would be the reconciliation where he would call and apologise or the elders of the family would be brought in to ‘patch things up’, and the fourth and final stage of returning to him, believing all his lies claiming that it would never happen again. Nevertheless, as always, she would believe and he ...

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The logic (or lack thereof) behind the Protection of Pakistan Act 2014

The Protection of Pakistan Bill 2014 has been honoured with the presidential seal and is now officially the Protection of Pakistan Act 2014. We are told it is ‘an extraordinary law for an extraordinary situation’, having the validation of a strong legislature. That the act is a repressive law, impinging upon the fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution is a settled matter, discussion whereof is now futile and can be equated with banging ones head against a wall. What we should discuss, however, is the thinking or logic which led our lawmakers providing legal sanction to such flagitious police practices as detention on ...

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Don’t Christians in Pakistan deserve a church?

This Good Friday, on April 18, 2014, I met a wonderful Christian housewife named Seema, in Lassori. Christians make up 1.6% of Pakistan’s population, and have been serving in every profession. Seema explained that for the last 60 years, 58 Christians have been working as farm labourers in Lassori Tobatake Singh. She and her husband, Allah Ditta, work in the fields and own two goats and a cow. She explained that the entire street comprised of 40 houses on each side and that all the residents present were Christians. Her parents had migrated during the British colonial rule, when the latter allotted ...

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The black and white of sexual harassment

The Oxford dictionary defines sexual harassment as, “Harassment (typically of a woman) in a workplace, or other professional or social situation, involving the making of unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks” Gauging from this definition, the meaning is pretty self-explanatory, isn’t it? Apparently not. I am often surprised (read: unimpressed), by the type of conversations I hear surrounding the so-called ‘dubious’ nature of sexual harassment. A few years ago, a colleague came to me saying she felt awkward by the way her now ex-boss would treat her while they were at work. She wasn’t sure if he was interested in her, or if he ...

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The failure of the police system in Pakistan

A few days back, while coming to work along with my husband and brother, I was stopped at a check post by the Islamabad Police. One of the police officials on duty inquired from my husband about the three of us. My husband stated that he and my brother were going to drop me to my office. The police official turned towards me, raised his eye brows and, while pointing towards my brother, asked rudely, “Yeh kaun hai?” (Who is he?) I replied, “Mairay bhai hain.” (He is my brother) To which the police official responded, sarcastically, “Lagta tu nahi hai.” (He doesn’t look like it) “Kia matlab lagta tu nahi hai” ...

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Is Pakistan ready to pay the cost of a complete ban on smoking?

The Pakistan Paediatric Association estimates that about 12,000 adolescents become addicted to smoking every day. If this seems like another passable statistic, let me confess that I smoked my first cigarette when I was only eight-years-old. Most of my childhood was spent in an environment clouded by thick smoke of the cancer sticks, yet I was always taught that smoking was bad. The mind of a child can never grasp why something his male relatives indulge in so often can be harmful and I was no different. Not until I took up smoking in my late teens and observed examples of smokers ...

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Zarb-e-Azb: Are you doing your bit to fight terrorism?

With the consent of the federal government in Islamabad, the Pakistan Army has finally launched operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ in North Waziristan. It was long due for the federal government to take responsibility of the constitution of Pakistan. The constitution is not just about executing former chiefs of the army under article six; it is also about establishing the writ of the state, providing justice to its citizens and securing their lives and properties, against criminals and terrorists. The attack on Peshawar airport was not the first attack. The attack on the Karachi airport, on army bases and headquarters, on schools and public gatherings, in marketplaces and residential areas, ...

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This Ramazan, develop an attitude of gratitude

As I sit here writing this, I am exuberated with joy that Ramazan is almost here. We, Pakistanis, are always fashionably late; that should explain why we start fasting a day after most other countries do. Anyhow! Personally speaking, Ramazan is my favourite time of the year. A month I exclusively dedicate to my relationship with God, focusing on spiritual growth and reflections. It would be great if every Muslim tried to make a conscious effort in changing some part of their personality that needs to be improved during Ramazan. But unfortunately, it is sad to note how each year this month ...

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