Stories published in August, 2010

Will the political elite please stand up?

While the world’s rich dole out money to help Pakistan’s flood victims, our own rich political elite have refuse to budge. By now we should have seen members of the ruling elite buying tents, building shelters and providing gallons of clean drinking water to the homeless millions. But in every flooded district of the country, all you will find are Pakistani civilians and military volunteers – not politicians. This is a lesson for the Pakistani nation. Compare the generous response to a nation wide campaign in Saudi Arabia to raise funds for the victims of floods to the reaction of the Pakistani elite: What ...

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Colours of Pakistan

It is an interesting mix. The place where I work and most definitely where I sit. Every ethnicity is represented and deep in my heart I call the Reporters’ Corner, the ‘Colours of Pakistan’. Why? You’d ask. Well, because my beautiful country is represented by a group of ten reporters at The Express Tribune covering different beats and belonging to different ethnic backgrounds and though I see the men folk most notably lost in their political talk, on ethnic lines I have never seen them crossing the line of respect for the other ethnicities. Not all of them are politically ...

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Talk to the shoe

Desperate times call for desperate measures. So what do people resort to doing when they have been rendered politically impotent? They opt for symbolic, emotionally charged protests like name-calling, flag-burning, and most recently, shoe-throwing. Shoe-throwing has been the way to get your voice heard since 2008, when Muntader al Zaidi tossed two shoes at George W Bush in Iraq. In a slightly less famous incident, Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao was the victim of a shoe-attack in the UK in 2009. In the instances mentioned above, both shoe-tossers chose to accessorise their flying footwear with a string of invective. Zaidi ...

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How to feel when you have lost everything

It’s hard to resume normal life after coming back from the flood zone. Vivid images of victims haunt me as the human toll begins to stack. Lately, I’ve been asked to explain what the situation in Khairpur is like and what individuals can do to help. First, allow me to explain a few Sindhi terms which have forcefully made their way into vernacular and will feature prominently in any discourse about floods in upper Sindh. Boodh: Sindhi term for the floods. Ironically, some people, Masi Aqeela leading them, still believe that at the end of the day floods are a ...

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Heera Mandi: Scarlet secrets of Lahore

There is a bazaar in Taxali Gate called Heera Mandi. A few decades ago this place was famous for dancing and music. People used to go here for a visual and musical treat. Beautiful girls (kanjiries) used to sit in stall shaped balconies, called kothas, and ply their trade, the oldest profession in the world. The place was perhaps even more famous for singing and dancing. However, slowly the aesthetic pursuit became less arty and more tarty. The area became the centre of prostitution in Lahore. Most people have the misconception that the Diamond Market got its because of the beautiful girls who worked ...

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Our ‘rotten’ education system

Amid the flood coverage, it was interesting to see one of the national dailies pick on the corruption in our education system. The story discussed how the chairperson of the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education bypassed certain rules and regulations to ensure that her children got high grades in their SSC examination. No amount of reporting seems to change the behaviour of those in positions of responsibility for the better, but being a product of the Pakistani education system myself I can’t help but wonder why the system is so rotten. We all know the flaws: rote learning, ...

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A transformation in consciousness

The notion of modernity highlights the novelty of the present as a rupture with the past, opening into a swiftly approaching and future. It is associated with the ideas of innovation, industrialization and secularization. However, modernity is opposed to the ideas of antiquity, the conventional and traditional. It is a never ending process of internal ruptures and fragmentations within itself. With the augmentation of modernity, there has been a rise in new modes of thoughts and an alteration in consciousness.  This has led to a materialistic, ecologically degenerating environment which is on the verge of destroying values. This has undermined our fundamental ...

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Sharing links is not ‘helping’

So, The Express Tribune decided to run a report on all the fantastic mobilisation that is being witnessed online toward helping out flood victims. Wow. So, before I start ranting about this topic, let me first say that there are a few online voices who are making a genuine difference by coordinating efforts and collecting funds, and that is commendable. But then there is everyone else (and you know who I’m talking about); the other 90 per cent of armchair Twitterati and time-pass Facebook people who are busy sharing links and decrying the ‘awful floods’ and doing absolutely nothing to help. So ...

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All Kayani’s men: The faith to fight

Of course, the Army has always gone into battle with the cry of Allahu Akbar (God is Great) – just as the old German army carried Gott mit Uns (God with Us) on its helmets and standards; but according to a moderate Islamist officer, Colonel (retd) Abdul Qayyum, You shouldn’t use bits of Islam to raise military discipline, morale and so on. I’m sorry to say that this is the way it has always been used in the Pakistani army. It is our equivalent of rum – the generals use it to get their men to launch suicidal attacks. But ...

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The crisis of Pakistani television

There is something wrong with our electronic media. It has no decency left, what with thrusting microphones in front of grieving mothers and sisters. It is also shocking to turn on the TV and hear so-called experts on foreign affairs talking on prominent Urdu channels about tearing India apart ‘along its inherent fault lines’, containing Israel by coercion or threatening it with nuclear bombs to ‘twist’ America’s arm and making it accede to our terms. (Incidentally, apart from rhetoric, these experts have no practical way to accomplish any of this.) The idea of unifying the Muslim Ummah is good, but stating that the ...

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