Stories published in August, 2010

Screaming from the margins

Persecution doesn’t always have to be physical. I cannot even begin to imagine the horrors of being physically abused, which is a daily reality for millions of women (and men) all around me (although the threat of that too is omnipresent), but there is a more subtle kind of persecution that absolutely none of us escape. Being a woman is bad enough, but if you are a woman and a hardcore feminist (and perhaps a few other progressive things along with that), well than god be with you. Don’t get me wrong: It’s not a women versus. men thing. I almost wish it ...

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Morning madness with the irresponsible

I have often thought about the relevance of morning shows in our lives. Why, despite their mindless talk, are these hosts on every other channel so popular? Why have I never heard them say anything intelligent? But no matter how much their chattering gets to me and no matter how I wish PEMRA could control their script and content, I make it a point to listen to them (Nadia Khan on Geo, Sana Tariq on Hum TV and Shaista Wahidi on ARY) for just a few minutes every day – sometimes hoping to hear them say something constructive or just to see their attempts at ...

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True stories of celebrity tantrums

The best part about being a journalist is meeting celebrities of whom one has been a great fan. However, at times staying in touch with celebrities can be a miserable job. Celebrities can live up to your worst nightmare of stereo-typical narcissistic social-climbing artificial materialistic horror – and they can do it in spike heels. As a free-lance writer for several English language magazines I have gone through some bitter experiences. Interviewing a celebrity (with fangs!) A. Khan is a singer and song-writer who I have had the misfortune of interviewing twice. The first piece I wrote appeared on my blog before it was printed in a weekly publication. The ...

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All in the name of religion

Aristotle said, “The rule of law is better than the rule of any individual.” It’s a good thing that he did not live to see the way laws are made in Pakistan, set in place too frequently by individuals for selfish reasons. Case in point: the blasphemy law When General Ziaul Haq started tweaking the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) in 1982, he introduced Section 295-B, which made desecrating the Holy Quran or making a derogatory remark about it punishable by life imprisonment. Unsatisfied with his contribution to the law, in 1984, he added Section 295-C. The clause added the death penalty ...

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Fear and floods in the land of my fathers

My grand father used to tell us about a flood that swept away hundreds of villages in our district, Larkana in 1945. Our family was forced to leave their home and move.  The second flood that hit our area was in 1947 and had the same intensity. Many lost their loved ones and a few elderly men can still recall the devastation. With this dark history, it is little surprise the 2010 floods have caused panic in my village even though it does not fall in the Katcha area. “I have learnt that flood water is coming towards our village! Please tell me where we can ...

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Yes, we can make a difference

If you think running a relief camp is a joke, think again. Do you wish away volunteers who pop up at every corner? Please, don’t. They are there for a reason. Two weeks ago, I was spending what was a very boring afternoon with a jet-lagged aunt, who, for some odd reason was very worked up about the floods in Khyber-Pakhtukhwa. As news about the death toll poured in, and she started arranging for boats, I thought that, maybe – just maybe – something more tragic than the airplane crash had happened. However, as news poured in over the course of the week ...

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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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Bye-bye BlackBerry

There are reports that the BlackBerry maker, Research in Motion (RIM), has come to an agreement in Saudi Arabia and the government will now have access to RIM’s communication service for BlackBerry Messenger. However, as of yet, RIM in the UAE has not agreed to give the government access, meaning that the plan to suspend BlackBerry services starting October may continue. The debate between governments and RIM is not new and the Indian government raised security concerns about messages shared via the BlackBerry in 2008, when they suspected militants used the phone to plan the 2008 Mumbai attacks where 166 ...

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Dollars for death: Should the US compensate civilian deaths?

Sometime ago reports were published in the Washington Post and The New York Times, and even in the Pakistani media, which said that CIA is using new, smaller missiles and advanced surveillance techniques to minimise civilian casualties in its targeted killings of suspected insurgents in Pakistan’s tribal areas. According to reports, US officials do acknowledge a number of civilian casualties caused by the CIA’s drone strikes. Although there is persistent debate on the exact number of such casualties, one thing is indisputable – the militants targeted by drones are said to be “suspected.” How does one define a “suspected” militant? According to me a ...

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What is missing this August?

August was once a month in which school children used to rehearse for tableaus for independence day functions, flags were bought to hoist on rooftops, independence day parade practice would take place in Islamabad and awards were presented on the big day. Fete and furore were synonymous with August . However, this August seems cursed with devastation, bloodshed and hopelessness from Karachi to Khyber. The summer began with  stories of the unfulfilled dreams of  youths aboard an ill-fated airliner and the pain their loved ones went through. In the backdrop of this tragedy were bomb blasts in Peshawar and the Data Darbar in Lahore followed by target killings in Karachi. Soon afterwards the words “floods ...

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