Stories published in August, 2010

Why no football fan can afford to miss La Liga season

This upcoming La Liga Season has the potential to be the best season in memory. Conflicting styles of playing football have been the subject of debate for decades. Countries have through the performances of their national sides, found themselves on opposite sides of the fence in their approach to tactics and strategy. The universally recognised dividing line seems to be whether teams are considered attack minded or defense minded, which makes perfect sense in a game where there are three outcomes (win, draw, lose) as opposed to the usual two (win, lose) in other sports. Clashes in styles of play that ...

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The PhD ‘business’

Anyone even remotely related to the field will confess to the silent revolution in the landscape of higher education in the country since the establishment of the Higher Education Commission (HEC). Pakistan has a high number of scholarships for M.S and PhD candidates, much higher than countries like India, Iran, Australia or New Zealand. Unfortunately, there are loopholes. Even a cursory look at the Fellowship program will reveal the benefits the project awards to PhD advisors. These include a monthly honorarium and bonuses for synopsis, publications, thesis defense etc. This has resulted in many advisors becoming greedy enough to enroll every Tom, Dick and Harry with them for the ...

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Going to the bazaar in chains

Picture this: I am walking down the street tomorrow, and someone accuses me of being a robber, murderer, blasphemer, Ahmadi (take your pick). Would you attempt to rescue me from the clutches of the frenzied mob encircling me, baying for blood and laughing in glee at my panic? Or would you rather just watch the gory spectacle, enthusiastically recording it for posterity, the screams of anguish, the blows of the sticks and stones, and the spurting of blood? I can see the answer forming on your lips. Yes, of course I would, you say. Are you sure? Would you have the ...

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Telling the story of a mosque in America

The controversy over the proposed Islamic centre and mosque near Ground Zero began earlier this year as a contained local story in New York. But today it seems that everyone is talking about it and arguing over it. The centre that had aimed to bring a community together has instead divided an entire nation. Just about every major political leader from the mayor of New York to the Senate majority leader, all the way up to President Barack Obama has weighed in. The debate centres around two clear issues: freedom of religion and the location where the backers of the Islamic ...

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Singing from the heart

There is a story told in traditional musical families in the sub-continent about Tan Sen, a legendary musician from the times of Akbar the great who was one of the nine jewels of the Mughal court. It is said he could cause rain clouds to appear and disappear through the exposition of his raags. The heart does not sing for gold The story goes that one day, after listening to the rapturous music of Tan Sen, Akbar asked him if there was anyone in the empire who could match his musical talents. “There is one, my Lord, who not only matches but indeed surpasses me in music,” answered Tan Sen. “Is it ...

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Sialkot lynching: What would Freud think

Watch the gruesome Youtube clip of the Sialkot lynching incident of the brothers, Mughees and Muneeb, and you will wonder why no one tried to stop the demonic perpetrators. What brought on the animalistic instinct of the executors and the crowds of wide-eyed onlookers? Who were the crowd around the two bleeding, flailing bodies, as the young men were thrashed repeatedly and mercilessly? As reported in a daily English paper, one of the accused said that the DPO, Waqar Chohan, present on the scene goaded the accused into partaking in the violence by saying “Go ahead and kill both of them. ...

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Too scared to be happy?

Fun, in Pakistan, is a debatable issue. Being an Islamic republic, the idea of fun somehow ends up sparking a debate on “shariah compliant” ways to take pleasure in anything. Opinions clash, sentiments are hurt and the concept of entertainment is trashed before it can become a threat. The concept of ‘having fun’ tends to be viewed as an attack on the sanctity of our religion. Everything is assessed for the label of ‘haraam’, whether it is pumping up the volume and tapping our feet to a song, sitting in an integrated gathering, indulging in a conversation with a member ...

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Down with dynastic politics

A few days back I was watching a documentary on the royal family of Britain, when a comment ran by. “The king is dead, long live the king.” The glorious revolution brought down the pillars of hereditary kingship in Britain. The transition went quite smoothly and was finally incorporated in the “Act of Settlement” by the British Parliament. This great event had two significant points. Firstly, it abolished the age-old belief that kingship belonged to a specific family. Secondly, it propounded the golden principle of sovereignty of the parliament. Unfortunately, while we may have learned parliamentary democracy from the British, our political ...

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Looking for General Patriot

Did I hear someone support the next martial law to be imposed by “any patriotic general” who is willing to clean Pakistan’s political mess? Pure genius! Why didn’t we think of this? Can patriotic general sahib also please fix the economy and increase the living standards of the people? While you’re at it, we would like to request you to uproot feudalism and fix democracy for us too. Oh oh… can we also have Kashmir? Once you clean the mess, you can hold elections and the politicians will take it from there. By the way, since we are talking about ...

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The untold story of the milk that we drink

When packaged milk was first introduced in Pakistan in 1981, the idea wasn’t welcome. In general, people thought packaged milk was not as healthy as loose fresh milk. An aggressive campaign was needed to change people’s minds. How many of you remember the documentary aired on national television showing how free from germs and bacteria Tetra Pak milk is? Today, I can say the campaigns succeeded. Lots of people have converted from traditional, loose, fresh milk provided by dairy farms. The packaged milk industry has evolved and there are many players in the industry. But while the industry matured, did any of these companies evolve ethically as well? What ...

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