Stories published in July, 2010

Hakimullah on-demand: Value Added Terror!

A team from Voice of Fidayeen* (VOF) is sent to an undisclosed location. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan leader, Hakimullah Mehsud wants to record a message and it is urgent. Two men with guns receive the team. Cables are laid, camera mounted on the tripod. The men with the gun stand in front of a black backdrop, and Hakimullah arrives. He is looking pale and gloomy; the VOF team looks at each other, nods are exchanged, audio levels adjusted, but a sound of an explosion ruptures the silence. The technician yells. Hakimullah gives a disapproving look, audio-levels readjusted and camera starts filming. The men ...

Read Full Post

Goodwill, beyond boundaries

It is indeed heart warming to hear positive statements that the real face of Pakistan ‘are its hardworking, generous and beautiful people’ in an era when the world is awash with war-raged news. Sitting across the room, as I saw the longest serving goodwill ambassador of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) since 1998, I could not help but marvel at her humble attitude. “I am keen to use this opportunity to visit not just UNDP’s projects on the ground, but also to interact with a common Pakistani and to learn their culture, values and opinions,” she said with a ...

Read Full Post

The recent dynamics of Pakistan cricket

It is nothing less than a cricket lover’s dream to watch the Pakistan cricket team when on song. From the sublime Imran Khan to the charismatic Shahid Afridi, Pakistan has constantly churned out cricketers who are not only among the best in the world, but are also among the most loved. It is so easy to get carried away with the talent that Pakistan constantly throws at the world scene, that we forget to dig deep into the reasons for the constant failure of this team to live up to its potential.  Pakistan has been trying to rebuild for the ...

Read Full Post

WikiLeaks: the old, the new and the ugly

A few days ago, WikiLeaks.org released approximately 91,000 government documents related to the war in Afghanistan through three news organisations, the New York Times (American), the Guardian (UK) and the Der Spiegel (German). The documents are mostly a collection of war logs; a series of eyewitness accounts and reports from the soldiers on the ground and contain unconfirmed and unverified information. In the words of WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, the documents are “true” but the information in them might not be. Keeping this in mind, I’m going to summarise some of the more crucial information from this massive data dump. The ...

Read Full Post

Colonial ‘chai’ and capitalist ‘coke’

A few days ago, a guest at my house enquired why I don’t drink tea. I mentioned that at some precarious juncture of my youth I irrevocably replaced ‘chai’ with ‘coke’ as my daily conduit. He expressed his dismay and proceeded to tell me how ‘coca cola’ was a Zionist enterprise and a universal capitalist symbol. I responded that ‘chai’ was just as much a colonial symbol as coke was a capitalist one. If one beverage carried with it the plasticity of commercialism; the other bore the bourgeois refinement of elitism. The conversation got me thinking seriously about our colonial ...

Read Full Post

Our culture of intolerance

When quizzed about our culture we Pakistanis can go to any length to prove that we are like any other normal and civilised nation having no dearth of artistic sense and know how to appreciate sports, good music and movies but sadly many people in the Western world fail to buy that. Those who identify Pakistan through the daily dose of media coverage believe us to be an uncouth nation, sans values and compassion. Our country is considered synonymous with terror where killings and human slaughtering are undertaken without any remorse. That almost makes us look like a psychologically ...

Read Full Post

Guns and poppies in Sindh

There are powerful people who suddenly appear with lots of arms, all brand new, semi-automatic weapons, into villages like Buriro , in rural Dadu, Sindh. People, the poor villagers are asked to hand over the lands to them and just work as tillers and do what they are told . They are threatened with dire consequences and even death if they do not cooperate. The police looks away and a new crop is cultivated. I used to listen to a famous US rock and roll band named ‘Guns and Roses’. Now it seems Sindh has over the last two decades ...

Read Full Post

Another kind of democracy

My name is Umair, and I’m a marketing strategist. And as a marketer, I’m trained to offer creative solutions in the face of extreme adversity. Between apocalyptic stories of fake degrees, rampant corruption, and all-around disappointment hovering in the international media, Pakistan is almost always in the crosshairs of a bad governance witch hunt. Much like a marketing brief, let’s tackle this problem by identifying the crucial elements: What’s the job-to-be-done? Good governance. What’s the market scenario? Destruction and despair at the hands of politicians. Who’s the target audience? The population of Pakistan. What are the competitors (read: the opposition) doing? Promising to usher in change. What ...

Read Full Post

The case for Shahid Afridi

Seldom do sports personalities face the public and withdraw themselves from positions of influence before they have completely humiliated their team at one point or another. In a world of endorsement deals and public appearances that make players the great bulk of the money they earn during the course of their sporting career, it is odd to see someone giving up their chance to do just that, though no one seems to be focusing on that aspect of Shahid Afridi’s decision! To better understand Shahid Afridi’s motivation is in my opinion folly, to ridicule him is just a demonstration of ...

Read Full Post

A journey into Musharraf’s mind

When I was about to leave for a meeting with former President Musharraf in Dubai my friends warned me it wasn’t a great idea. I had written vociferously against his tenure and what was the point in meeting him when he was even out of power, they reminded me. Yet I wanted to go and meet him. I wanted to see what had changed since the general left power and was it wise to write him off yet. Also was he a bit miffed at the extension given to General Kayani? I wanted to know if there could ever be a ...

Read Full Post