Stories published in July, 2010

Not just another brick in the wall

Pink Floyd’s classic “Another Brick in the Wall” always reminds me of my teachers. One of the biggest mistakes teachers in Pakistan make is to treat students as blocks of wood, and not as individuals. Teaching is often considered a thankless profession, but one can have such a positive influence on raw, impressionable and hungry minds. Many of my teachers relished ridiculing their students and chipping away at their self esteem, but there were others who motivated and cared for us. One of my earliest memories is of my kindergarten teacher in Gilgit, who placed me on her lap on ...

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In the commune: The French burqa ban

This week Syria banned the full face veil in unversities. France has also declared wearing a burqa or full veil illegal. The new laws have inspired support from some and been condemned by others. We asked Tribune bloggers whether or not the move is justified. Manal Shakir: I don’t believe this debate should be taken out of context. People need to keep things in perspective. A veil is a piece of cloth, just like a beard is just facial hair. It does not say Muslim or non-Muslim. It is a physical symbol which portrays what an individual may feel on the ...

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It’s high time India made an effort

We have fought numerous wars, we have exchanged many dead, we have brought enough misery upon our lives and continue to live close to the poverty line, only to maintain an aggressive yet defensive posture. We never let a chance go by where we are leveling blames on each other, and we make sure that any talk towards peace must fail miserably. Sadly, this time around it was first Pillai and then Qureshi’s fault! Pakistan has to realize it’s not as big as India and must look more towards its own economic standing, before eyeing a stronger, stable economy, and India ...

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Protecting our children

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa Child Protection and Welfare Ordinance has recently been promulgated  This is good news and will hopefully be passed by the assembly as a bill soon.  It has been reported that a similar bill exists in Punjab. But there is dire need for such a bill to be passed in Sindh and the Balochistan provinces as well. Childrens rights groups and NGOs have been pressing for signature campaigns and seminars but so far little progress has been made. We should learn a lesson from Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa. The maximum number of cases of violence against children has been seen here. Due to the effects of displacement, suicide and ...

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Comfortably inhuman

If you are a regular follower of the Pakistani blogosphere and mainstream media, chances are that you have come across these three stories – the fake degree scandal, Fox News declaring the countryPornistan and a heartbreaking rape incident of a nursing student. It is amazing how the stories that appear completely different are in one way correlated. Starting off with the Fox News story, which claims that Pakistan tops Google’s chart when it comes to ‘Sexy Searches’ (Though personally, I find nothing sexy about horse sex). Frankly, Fox News is infamous for its special love for Pakistan and the Muslim world ...

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Double talk, double standards

Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna’s recent visit to Pakistan concluded without much … okay, any … tangible progress. The Indian delegation kept insisting on discussing terrorism, that is, the Mumbai attacks. I wonder how they define what is happening in Indian Kashmir. In Mumbai, 166 people died over the course of three days. In Indian Kashmir, thousands of people have died over the course of many, many years (there are several tallies of the death toll since there is limited access to the region). Those dead in both cases did not deserve to be killed. Are the killings in ...

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The problem with Balochistan

If I endeavor to draw a parallel between East Pakistan and Balochistan I’m sure it would be a well-founded one. The way the central government has continued to deny Balochis their rights it’s not too difficult to see how similar the situation is to that of East Pakistan. While all disturbances and revolts are attributed to ‘foreign’ hands’, the centre never ventures to ponder on what makes Balochistan a hotbed for such anarchy. A very fleeting look instantly reveals that it has been an acute state of injustice, provincial inequality and continuous military repression that has pushed Pakistan’s largest province to the brink of ...

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The missing and forsaken

Whenever I hear the words missing persons I think of Amina Janjua and feel sad. She is the wife of Masood Ahmed Janjua, one of many missing person and chairperson of Defence of Human Rights Pakistan (DHRPK) which has been interminably and doggedly struggling for the cause of missing persons in Pakistan. Sometimes her hard struggle has been alone and sometimes she has had the support of the masses. The missing persons have allegedly been nabbed by Pakistani intelligence agencies in collaboration with the United States of America which is  interestingly our top ally in the war against terrorism. The issue of missing persons is almost ...

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TEDx: Five hundred hellos

Organizing an event like TEDxLahore is no easy feat. Imagine pulling a ship over a mountain with nothing but your inexhaustible belief that you will do this and that you will see this thing through to the end, no matter what. That, and the almost skeptical support of friends and family members who may initially think this is a fool’s errand at best. In terms of popular culture, I call it the Mulder/Scully Effect, where some of us believe that the truth is out there and want to pursue every small lead to get to it, and others want to ...

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Two faces of the hypocrisy coin

Although it’s a common human trait (one of the most abundant natural commodities, individually and collectively) I try to focus on the society that I live in, and while focusing on my society, I try to scan it from both perspectives, the so-called conservative and the so-called liberal perspective. The so-called conservative Pakistani society is dominated by conservative factors. The overwhelming majority of the urban middle class, especially in Punjab, highly reveres the religious clergy and looks upon it for guidance. But as the saying goes, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, the contractors of religion tend to degenerate into ...

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