Taha Kehar

A blogger on social events and has previously worked as Assistant Editor for a media magazine. He is currently pursuing Law Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies. He tweets @TahaKehar.

Attacking shrines: The new fundamentalism

The explosions at the shrine of the Sufi saint Abdullah Shah Ghazi are yet another glaring testimony to the belief that a new-fangled brand of ‘Islamic’ fundamentalism has emerged as a force to be reckoned with. But under the garbed reality of civilian genocide, intelligence failure and staggering chaos which have devastated the lives of the Karachites, a more scathing assault has been launched on the Naqshbandi Sufi order. Upon glancing at Trimingham’s The Sufi Orders of Islam some months ago (the contents of which have been sourced mainly from Taj al-Din ibn Mahdi Zaman al-Rumi’s Risala fi sunan al-Ta’ifa ...

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The Bilawal we do not know

Early on Bilawal Bhutto Zardari refuted intentions that he would enter politics, yet this young scion of Pakistan’s landed gentry has, paradoxically, been striving to establish political recognition. Whether this entails telephone conversations with PM Gilani about the current situation in Pakistan or addressing a community of altruistic Pakistani expatriates in Dubai, Bilawal seems to be attempting to  develop a political identity equivalent to that of his mother. But can he? In her contentious memoir, Daughter of the East, Benazir Bhutto alludes to Bilawal as ‘the most celebrated and politically controversial baby in the history of Pakistan’. Although politics is a hereditary business ...

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September 21, 2010

Shobhaa has her day

Feisty, clever and – at times – abrasive, Shobhaa De has penned a plethora of electrifying books which, in their unorthodox appeal, have astounded critics and readers alike. The shock value of her work is as rich as her thoughtful renderings of Bombay, Bollywood, child-rearing, marriage and national pride. And yet, her writings have always been viewed skeptically on account of their sheer originality. On the other extreme, the element of subversion that is dominant in her work has always made one wary of her. It is this incongruous treatment of her novels that has baffled me ever since I ...

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Exorcising the feudal

Over the last few weeks, various elements from the MQM have launched a scathing attack on the prevalence of the so-called feudal system in Pakistan. The intent behind this needless  criticism appears extremely idealistic since it has yet again been assumed that an uprising will solve the problems of the impoverished. Moreover, there is a striking dearth of foresight in this scheme that is to preempt the repression caused by the ineffectiveness of the feudal lords. After all, we cannot overlook the fact that “almost half of Pakistan’s GNP and the bulk of its export earnings are derived from the agriculture ...

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Urdu poetry and the spirit of global progression

Pakistan’s poetry, more importantly, its progressive appeal is of immense importance in the global context. An assessment of Suhrawardy’s masterful use of the metrical foot and rhyme and Taufiq Rafat’s lyrical tendencies provides ample justification for this belief. However, there have been other poets in this set of distinguished poets whose works have effectively portrayed the spirit of global progression. Before addressing the merits and weaknesses of their respective works, it is vital to explicitly state the implications of this global progression. It can be argued that this “global progression” lends the opportunity for poets to integrate their works within ...

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Love, donkeys and Pakistani cricket

Following the accusations of suspected match-fixing hurled at Pakistan’s cricket team, a plethora of explanatory theories have been put forth. Some, like the Pakistan Team Manager Yawar Saeed, discount the view that the cricket team is ‘institutionally corrupt’ whilst the more diehard of enthusiasts have instantly suggested that it is merely an Indian-manufactured conspiracy. Furthermore, some – who have been disillusioned by the team’s objectionable conduct – have resorted to leading a procession of donkeys through the streets of Lahore and pelting them with shoes. Of course, there are some, like Veena Malik (Mohammad Asif’s ex-girlfriend) who have capitalized on ...

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Solidarity versus resentment

At a Press Conference at New Delhi, on July 14, 1947, Jinnah was grilled by a correspondent who wished to inquire as to whether Pakistan would be a secular state or a theocracy. Jinnah hinted at the absurdity of the question, adding, quite tactfully, that he did ‘not know what a theocratic state’ meant. The correspondent had then fervidly suggested that it was ‘a state where only people of a particular religion, for example, Muslims, could be full citizens and non-Muslims would not be full citizens’. Apprised with this vision of a theocracy, Jinnah aptly stated that ‘when you ...

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Anticipating the dreaded A-level results

A vague disturbance settles in the night before results are announced. Sleep has evaded me completely but its absence fails to takes its toll. I browse the web with bated breath, conducting searches for “Cambridge International Exams A-levels” on Google and find nothing of substance – just a link to the CIE website, an examination schedule and a discussion on ‘CIE vs. the IB’. As my fears spread I logged on to to Facebook and was greeted by a message in my inbox: Results tomorrow at 11:00 I felt revitalized as the threat of failure ebbed into a void. But then, in that indeterminate state between recovery and absolute composure, I succumbed ...

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A discourse on creativity

Writing fiction is akin to erecting a temple of consecrated ideas which, like religious convictions, should be sacrosanct for the author. However, it is disconcerting to note how this analogy can be brazenly distorted to signify that the essential quality of a literary work is in the framework of ideas inherent in its plot. Such a line of reasoning casts aside the importance of stylistic merit and hence, it can be argued, that literature which presents strong ideas without much sophistication, is a weak portrayal of the author’s flair for creativity. Literary creativity is a two-pronged concept that entails ...

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The disaster waiting in Sindh’s wings

An overview of the latest media reports indicates preventive measures are being taken to avert the floods that are expected in Sindh. River embankments have been strengthened and evacuation schemes have been executed lest any contingencies come forth. But prior to addressing the consequences of this natural disaster, it is important to consider the probability of its occurrence. It is vital to draw upon precedents of severe flooding in the region and their devastating outcomes. Mansoor Raza’s essay, Disasters and Sindh offers insight into the multiple disasters that have plagued the province, including floods. It is here that he succinctly ...

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