Do we need to bribe our way out of Pakistan and Kazakhstan?

A recent article was brought to my attention about Kazakhstan airport officials refusing to accept the existence of New Zealand, instead insisting that it was in fact a state in Australia and thus detaining one of their nationals overnight. Map of Australia and New Zealand. Photo: Google Maps   The story has the sort of happy ending that all Pakistanis are used to: “Yaar, bas mein ne usey haath milaney key bahaney 1000 ka note pakra diya, aur us ney mujhey janey diya.” (I shook his hand as an excuse to hand him a 1000 rupee note and he let me go.) Of ...

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The Junaid not many knew

Sitting here, writing a blog that is an obituary for Junaid Jamshed. This is surreal. It is unbelievable. And is an unpleasant and painful task, but one that I must carry out as someone who knew him well. Because he would have liked me to write this. For two reasons: Firstly, Junaid, or JJ, or Jay as close friends called him, was a people’s person. He did not mind the attention. He was used to it from a very early age. I remember asking him, during one of the three interviews of his I did spanning over two decades, whether ...

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How in God’s name was Regent Plaza even allowed to function without fire safety measures?

Anyone who has taken their Cambridge exams in Karachi will know the significance of Regent Plaza. I was not only a Cambridge student who scurried through the halls of Regent Plaza but later, for odd jobs, I was also an invigilator for British Council and often had duties in the various conference rooms of the hotel. There are so many people like me who, for years, have some sort of consistent relationship with Regent Plaza. I remember attending a conference there, and I even stayed there when I came back to Pakistan for a short while. When I returned, ...

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From jahaiz to chuchak: The burden of having a daughter in the Subcontinent

“A female was burnt for not bringing adequate dowry.” “My three sisters and I are still unmarried because our father cannot afford to provide us sufficient dowry.” “My father died of a heart attack because my sister’s in-laws broke off a three-year engagement when my parents could not fulfil their dowry demands.” Dowry, jahaiz in Urdu, is a tradition in Pakistan and India that has ruined numerous relationships and marriages. Parents borrow staggering amounts of loans just to satisfy the greed of their daughter’s in-laws and to ensure that she is not taunted after marriage. As evil as this tradition may be, almost all families, irrespective of ...

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So… in Pakistan people are getting divorced because of… gas shortage?

Whatever you say about our parliamentarians, you have to admit they have a sense of humour. I’m referring to the recent claim by the learned MNA Tahira Aurangzeb about how gas shortage is the reason for the increasing divorce rate in the country – she is the mother of Ms Maryum Aurangzeb, our minister of state for information, who said that our ministers and senators cannot survive on Rs60,000 a month. The learned female lawmaker wasn’t sure of our divorce statistics two or three years back, when there was no shortage of gas, compared to how many cases there are ...

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I was sexually abused as a child. But I moved on.

As each day passes by, it becomes increasingly difficult to come to terms with my dark past. It amazes me how some individuals blatantly cry out, “my life is a mess” or “I can’t get over a relationship”. Those are not incidents to contemplate over for long. They are not worth your happiness. I had always been outgoing. When I was younger, I was the chirpy child, the boy who always had a smile plastered across his face – but that changed one day. I lived in a small neighbourhood in Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU). I was always becoming acquainted with people through my ...

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An open letter of gratitude to the Archbishop of Canterbury

Dear most reverend archbishop, Justin Welby, I am not sure how I am supposed to address you; may I call you the reverend father? This seems more appropriate considering the impression you’ve left behind after your visit to Pakistan. Reverend father, you are the head of a worldwide Anglican community which includes Pakistan. You landed in our country last Friday night and, despite the protocol, you did not attend many meetings with the high and the mighty. One official courtesy call to the Foreign Office Minister, Mr Sartaj Aziz was necessary. The purpose behind your visit to Pakistan becomes evident when ...

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IDEAS 2016: For the elite, by the elite

Like every year, a proud tradition has come about again; one where government officials and army generals hold highly sophisticated weapons in their hands and pretend to target invisible enemies – so the foreign dignitaries they are trying to entertain are impressed enough to purchase the firearm in question for big bucks – because, well, these steel toys do not come cheap. The place is flocked by bureaucrats, generals and a whole lot of politicians in one place having a good time and appreciating the deadliest weapons produced by a third world country. Although this is seen every year under the name of International Defence Exhibition ...

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Rehman Malik has left but his legacy of barring cellphone networks still lives on

My driver didn’t show up today. I could drive myself but then my other family members need the car too. None of us can call Uber or Careem because the apps are not working in the absence of mobile data services so we are stuck. My friend from college is in town for a day. I cannot reach out to her because the only way to contact her is via cell phone – I cannot expect her to check emails to figure out a plan. I had planned that she would come over; we would order something and hang out ...

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Will Karachi ever receive the same affection as Lahore?

With state-of-the-art bus stops, multiple lane roads suitable for the most developed countries and educated traffic police to remind one to put on a seatbelt, the chief minister has done well to clean up the most metropolitan city in the country—Karachi. Suddenly, the daydream is broken with an ear-piercing horn from behind. The traffic light turns green, or at least appears to be, as the cars in front start inching forward. To be honest, it’s difficult to see through the cloud of smoke emitted by the Lal-Kothi-bound bus. As one throws the car into drive and honks at the stationary Flintstone ...

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