Stories published in August, 2010

Bursting the ex-patriate bubble

Over the past week having endured the endless hate rants against President Zardari followed by an even more nauseatingly futile rant on the plight of the country’s poor and marginalised by the Pakistani diaspora, I was inspired if not irked into embarking on a bit of a rant myself. At the outset let me clarify, that this is not piece in defence of the President nor a piece attacking those amongst us who constitute the intellectual cream of the nation and are now residing in greener pastures abroad; sipping their Starbucks, flaunting their Gucci’s and uploading pictures of all their ...

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Blasphemy: Pakistan’s descent into anarchy

The widow of Bantu Masih hurls her pet hens inside the cage as she prepares dinner. Her only son Bagga, a scavenger, will return sometime after a full day’s tedious labour. The family lives in a remote locality 65 km from Lahore. They had to shift here overnight, after an enraged crowd killed Bantu Masih, the sole breadwinner of the family, over alleged charges of blasphemy in court premises. Human rights organisations and secular circles in Pakistan have been condemning the abuse of blasphemy laws in the country for the last many decades. Introduced by military dictator General Zia, the ...

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Sialkot lynching: Roots of extremism run deep

I first heard the news on Facebook – I caught a friend ranting about a video of two boys in Sialkot getting brutally beaten to death in my feed. The internet has done its fair share of damage to most people’s minds morbid curiosity drove me to see what the video was about. It wasn’t exactly hard to find since violence has the potential for instantly going viral on the net. The video depicts two kids getting beaten up by almost everyone that could fit into the view of the camera. Around the end, there is even what appears to be ...

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Adventures of an unemployed Columbia grad

I left for New York last summer for an MS in print journalism at Columbia University’s School of Journalism. I was super excited. This is it, I’d thought, this is my lucky break. I thought everything would pan out once I returned to Lahore, my home city in Pakistan. During my program I nurtured big dreams while I adapted to the ways of city life in New York. Back then, I’d failed to comprehend why some of my class fellows voiced their bitterness about paying heavy fees for a ‘futile’ journalism degree. Some of them thought it was a waste ...

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Everywhere you look

A few days back I spoke to a political analyst who very blatantly said, “Pakistan is an economic basket case”. And while anything to do with economy and finances usually goes over my head, the statement was jarring enough to get me thinking. The government has failed, once again, to ensure a curb on hoarding and overcharging. The Ramazan relief package worth Rs2 billion announced by the government last month, is yet to take effect. I think most people would agree that this month surely does not feel like a month of blessing. Even before the country was hit by floods, ...

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Why I do not date in Pakistan

It was the first time I was visiting Karachi in my life as my family lives Ottawa. I had recently broken up with my girlfriend in Canada before coming to Pakistan, and when my cousins found out they insisted that I find a desi girl here since they are ‘sincere’ and ‘faithful.’ Despite my opposition and discomfort in ‘finding a girlfriend’ in an alien land, my cousin introduced me to a friend’s friend – Maheen*. My first interaction with this girl was through the cell phone, or text messages to be more precise. After this introduction, we didn’t talk till one fine day in ...

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I am part of the Sialkot lynch mob

The brutal two-hour long lynching of two young brothers in Sialkot at the hands of a mob, inclusive of policemen and children is so horrifying that it truly merits the questions some visitors to The Express Tribune website have been asking: Are these people animals? Is this the true face of a nation so despicable that even God has forsaken them? While I do not believe in the latter argument, I can understand where such a profound sense of grim despair comes from. In a country afflicted with back-to-back political and civil strife, war, terrorism, poverty and natural disaster, violent extremism (in ...

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Did Islamabad’s underground sell its soul?

There have been countless debates over the real definition of ‘underground music’ and both sides are have strong arguments. Is it music that hasn’t really gotten the commercial stamp or music that doesn’t cater to a big audience (like Annie ‘the pop princess’)? Definitions aside, the fact that some music that comes out from the underground scene per se is top quality. A homeless underground I’ve been part of the Islamabad music scene for quite some time and the difference between what it was and what it is now, saddens me. Islamabad is a small city and there are definitely not enough venues to play concerts at compared to ...

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Dishonoring the Holy Quran

I heard about ‘International Burn a Quran Day’ through Facebook, as invitations to join  pages against the event kept coming in. The first thought that occurred to me was ‘Oh no – here we go again!’ Yes, it’s not the first time that the Holy Book of Islam is being disrespected by non-Muslims. During the post-9/11 ‘War Against Terror’ campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, non-Muslim soldiers burnt and flushed Quranic scripts, to make Muslim prisoners angry and force them to retaliate or get a reaction out of them, find a reason to beat the prisoner up. It was also an insulting ...

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Solidarity versus resentment

At a Press Conference at New Delhi, on July 14, 1947, Jinnah was grilled by a correspondent who wished to inquire as to whether Pakistan would be a secular state or a theocracy. Jinnah hinted at the absurdity of the question, adding, quite tactfully, that he did ‘not know what a theocratic state’ meant. The correspondent had then fervidly suggested that it was ‘a state where only people of a particular religion, for example, Muslims, could be full citizens and non-Muslims would not be full citizens’. Apprised with this vision of a theocracy, Jinnah aptly stated that ‘when you ...

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