Vaqas Asghar

Vaqas Asghar

The author is a senior sub-editor on the Islamabad Desk and also reports on diplomatic events. He tweets as @vasghar (twitter.com/vasghar)

Steal a baby, sell a baby

Fact is stranger than fiction. At least with fiction, you can chew out the author for writing a predictable ending or for using outlandish plot twists. Sadly, some stories in life seem to be built entirely on outlandish plot twists. On the 22nd of March, the police in Bhara Kahu, right outside Islamabad, busted a couple who stand accused of conducting illegal abortions, including dangerous late-stage ones, and selling the babies that survived. Sounds a lot like Hell’s version of the sustainable development model. To top it off, the couple shares a bond of blood with one of the accused in ...

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Why Imran Khan won’t go to India

As political debates go, the recent announcement that Imran Khan will not be going to the India Today Conclave due to Salman Rushdie’s presence there, left opinions divided, with some calling Khan’s decision the right one, and others referring to it as pandering to the right. Unfortunately, neither one is correct. While Khan would argue that his decision is based on the “immeasurable hurt caused to Muslims across the globe” by Rushdie, his decision, just days before the event should not come as a surprise. He has been consistent in saying he would refuse to attend any event at which Mr ...

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How America occupied Kashmir

The ‘Defy’ Pakistan rally in Islamabad last month was like a breath of fresh air, as long as you change the definition of fresh to cancerous.  A few thousand rightwingers, the type that give good, tolerant, religious people a bad name, collected at Aabpara Chowk to go on a tirade about how everyone and their uncle is out to get Pakistan, with gems such as “America wants to break Pakistan into pieces”, and “Our protest is against the possible resumption of Nato supplies, US and Indian occupation” coming from the mouth of Samiul Haq, the father of the Taliban. Now if ...

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‘Trashy’ tales from around town

I was walking back from a coffee shop this morning when I got a wonderful reminder of one of the failings of our city administration. I wanted to throw away my empty coffee cup and realised there wasn’t a single trash can around. There was however, a small pile of garbage every few meters, along with the dozens of cigarette butts, bottle caps and similar “pocket lint” strewn across the entire sidewalk. My friend asked, “What are you looking for?” “A trash can,” I replied. He snatched the empty cup from me and dropped it on the ground. Problem ...

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February 29, 2012
TOPICS

Mob rule wins again

We are peaceful people and we act with the administration’s approval, were the words of one of the clerics leading the charge to shut down an Ahmadi religious centre in Rawalpindi. Surprise, surprise, they succeeded last week. So is it safe to assume that the administration approves of violence against minorities? Stupid me, that question was already answered a month back, when a police officer decided to side with the mob instead of the law. In true testament to the competence and dedication to duty of the Punjab police, he lied to innocent victims of a mob threatening violence and ...

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The barber, the doctors and the striking workers

“Uncle” works at the barber shop I frequent. The aging Balakot native has seen his share of hardships since I’ve known him. In 2005 he, like thousands of others in Balakot, was left homeless in the aftermath of the earthquake. After returning to Islamabad, he worked tirelessly to save enough money to start afresh, not an easy task for someone contemplating retirement only weeks earlier. Almost six years later, with life just having returned to normalcy, Uncle suffered a heart attack that temporarily left him unable to work. Not something anyone working paycheck-to-paycheck can afford. Uncle returned to the workplace part-time ...

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To ban or not to ban …Shezan juice

A couple of weeks back, the Jamaatud Dawa held a well-attended rally in Rawalpindi to remove an Ahmadi religious centre from Satellite Town. Even though neighbours claimed to have no issues with its presence, the assault on this myopically-perceived menace seems far from over. Just take the little-reported effort to ban a local cell phone company due to its ‘questionable ownership’. Although proven to be non-Ahmadi owned, the company still raises suspicion because it starts with the same letter that a derogatory term for Ahmadis does. Apparently, a flaw in their phones’ Urdu dictionary which made it impossible to type the ...

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Shaming Maya: Two wrongs don’t make a right

The Book of Love is full of charts, and facts and figures, and instructions for dancing, at least according to The Magnetic Fields, later confirmed by Peter Gabriel. Both the indie band and the legendary former Genesis lead singer also agree that they love it when someone reads to them from it. Unfortunately, it seems that nobody ever read to Maya Khan from it. That can be the only reason she takes so much offence to young love. Now, I’m probably wrong on both counts, given the amount of pictures and video of her indulging in extra-mehram-al relations with men, ...

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Where criminals are secure, and innocents die

Once lucky, twice confident, thrice dead, goes the saying, and more often than not, it does play out that way. Unfortunately, as far as Rana Sarwat is concerned, somebody else did the dying. The convicted kidnapper and under-trial murder accused managed to evade death for the third time in the face of James Bond/Ethan Hunt-inspired assassins, only for two innocent women, the mother and sister of the cabinet secretary, to lose their lives in a hail of gunfire as a pair of gunmen entered the supposedly secure VIP ward of Pims and managed to leave after the incident without any ...

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The value of school reunions and networking

High school is a time many students think they’d rather forget. A year or so after, once university life kicks in, it’s a time almost every person begins to reminisce about. Ten years down and one can only wish for a day of walking around the place that once was a second home. High school reunions are one of the few opportunities most students have to relive school days and reconnect with school friends. But even more so, they are a great opportunity for networking. After all, it’s not every day that you get to interact with hundreds of people ...

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