Nadir Hassan

An Islamabad based journalist who tweets at @Nadir_Hassan.

Federer ends Wimbledon with a bang!

Sometimes even the bare statistics can be enough to tell the entire story. With this four-set victory over Andy Murray in the Wimbledon final, Roger Federer won an astonishing 17th grand slam, three more than any other man in the history of the game. He also tied Pete Sampras’ record in winning his seventh Wimbledon and, in two weeks’ time, will overtake Sampras for the most weeks spent at number one– an  unbelievable 286 weeks at the top of the rankings; with Andre Agassi being the only player to have reached the pinnacle of the rankings at a more advanced age. ...

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May 20, 2012

Image is nothing: Pakistan as Andre Agassi

Even before he had won anything of note, tennis player Andre Agassi became a celebrity thanks to his “Image is Everything” ads for Cannon, which capitalised on his ridiculous blonde locks and cut-off denim shorts. Although he would go on to reveal that the hair was augmented by a toupee and win a bunch of majors on his way to becoming a truly legendary player, Agassi admitted in his searing autobiography” Open” that he was never comfortable with his rockstar status, unearned that it was. The lesson is clear: image is a self-created ...

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Sights and sounds at the Karachi Literature Festival

Foreign correspondents like conjuring the “books, not bombs” angle to justify the expense of flying down to Karachi to hear a bunch of people talk about politics and their books (in that order). But at this year’s Karachi Literature Festival there were bombs everywhere. Pervez Hoodbhoy led a discussion on bombs of the nuclear kind, Ayesha Siddiqa lobbed a few verbal bombs in Anatol Lieven’s direction for not nursing sufficient hatred for the Pakistan Army while Mohammed Hanif even dropped the deadliest bomb of all: the F-bomb. I began my annual pilgrimage to the Karachi Literature Festival by making a mental ...

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Hypocrisy and defenders of democracy

Hypocrisy may be the tribute vice pays to virtue but Pakistanis take it too far. Those who have appointed themselves as the defenders of democracy, the protectors of our military or the guardians of an independent judiciary have entered a Bermuda Triangle of political argument, where a black hole sucks in whatever logic once existed in their brains. Let’s start with Mansoor Ijaz, or rather his critics. Here is the man who sparked off the crisis that threatens to engulf the PPP and so he is obviously an enemy of all that is decent and democratic. As a colourful businessman ...

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When journalists and politicians become friends

If you are familiar with the recent work of left-of-centre reporters and columnists, you will know two things about them: that they consider Babar Awan a fake pipliya who distributed sweets after Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged and that Husain Haqqani is the only remaining bastion of liberalism. Why the double standards? After all Haqqani has also taken a slow journey to the PPP, with detours at the Islami Jamiat Talba and PML-N. During his sojourn at the PML-N, Haqqani was also widely believed to have spearheaded a dirty tricks campaign against the sainted Benazir Bhutto and her mother. The answer ...

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Who is the ISI reporting to?

You know the game is up when even Asma Jahangir walks off in a huff with the ball mid-match. The indefatigable human-rights lawyer threw a tantrum after the Supreme Court decided that the charges against her client, Husain Haqqani, in the Memogate casewarranted investigation by a commission. Jahangir decided she could no longer represent Haqqani after accusing the judiciary of working in league with the ‘establishment’, a term that means ‘everyone I disagree with in Pakistan’. In this case, she seemed to be referring to the ISI. Earlier, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani more or less admitted that he had no ...

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Is the PPP defiant or in disarray?

Christmas Day in Islamabad is like any other day, except for the turkey on dinner tables. Natives still try to procure invites to parties hosted by foreigners and they still speculate about President Zardari’s murky future. The night before Christmas provided further grist for the coup rumour mill as Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani skipped the dinner Zardari hosted for Chinese State Councillor Dai Bingguo, sending Chief of General Staff Lt Gen Waheed Arshad in his place. The night before that Kayani was a no-show at the dinner Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had for Bingguo. Zardari’s aides have ...

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Islamabad diary: Things khakis would have you believe (done)

Only politicians leak; the military simply beams out a coordinated message. The military’s target may change but the story is always the same. Most military briefings on civilian politicians essentially amount to the same thing: look at these hapless men and what damage they are doing to the country. You can judge the amount of contempt and hatred the military has for Husain Haqqani, the former Pakistan ambassador to the US, by the fact that they continue to brief against him even after they successfully ousted him from office. Two versions of the same story were pushed out this week to ...

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Islamabad diary: Making sense of Zardari’s sojourn

When the coup comes, will it be a silent one or will it, like most coups do, make lots of noise? Is President Asif Ali Zardari in Dubai for genuine medical reasons or is he seeking a safe haven? Is it the army that is gunning for him or is it the Supreme Court, or perhaps a combination of the two? Such idle gossip seems to accompany nearly every elected government in Pakistan but this time there is a difference. Usually the rumours are spread by the military and their cheerleaders in the media. Now, however, most of the coup ...

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Islamabad diary: ‘Neto, Zadari’ rhetoric and nothing else to say

The first thing you notice at a rally organised by religious parties is that they are not very good at spellings. Placards at the Jamaatud Dawa protest at Aabpara on Friday were long on enthusiasm but short on literacy. They demanded that “Neto” must go, vociferously “condomed” its attack and called on “Zadari” to resign. Their synchronised singing wasn’t much better. Chants against the US would have been easier to make out had the participants started and ended their sloganeering at roughly the same time. For such a party, the JuD at least managed a good turn out and ...

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