Stories published in August, 2010

Does Sakineh deserve to die?

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is a young Iranian woman who was sentenced to death by stoning in Iran, a sentence that sparked an international outcry over  a practice that many see as archaic and barbaric. Since the initial sentence the twists and turns in events have moved rapidly. The initial sentence was handed down by a court in Tabriz in May 2006, she was charged with committing adultery (despite the alleged incident occurring after the death of her husband) and was sentenced to 99 lashes, which was carried out. Then, in September she was convicted by another court, the details of ...

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Life in a hostel: The hate list

The Warden: I wonder if while hiring hostel wardens, the administration specifically looks for bitter, old, and mostly unmarried ladies who will make sure that life is unbearably hard for students at the dreaded boarding school. They inculcate a sense of fear among those destined to be at their mercy. With a paper and pen ready, they are constantly waiting to pounce on their victims just so they can attach another notice on the board of disorderly conduct. The Washrooms: It is an absolute pain walking into a wet washroom. The pain scale shoots to 10 when the washroom is ...

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Did you hear the one about the Pathan?

It really annoys me when I hear fellow Pakistanis complaining about racism – not annoyed because of their racist attitude but because we don’t look at ourselves before we point our fingers at others. I had a nasty experience the other day when I was talking to someone on an online forum. He was pleasant enough until I told him about my ethnic background when all hell broke loose. His comments were so nasty that they would put the KKK to shame. He blamed the entire Pukhtun race for all of Pakistan’s problems interspersed with four letter words and accusations of us smelling like sweat and ...

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Shoe throwing and the need for maturity

It was a matter of shame when a shoe was allegedly thrown at the President of Pakistan in Britain. Yet, in some twisted way, many people felt proud of what happened. No, I do not support President Zardari, but I respect the position of the President of Pakistan. Before jumping to conclusions, please read on. A recent wave of negative propaganda against President Zardari is rather disturbing from a national perspective.  Institutions form the government structure, not individuals. Asif Zardari, Yousaf Gilani, and Iftikhar Chaudhry are temporary, but the structure they represent will last. People in power have always ...

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As I head to the flood zone

I have fallen in love with Pakistan once again. Anyone heading from Lahore towards Multan across the lush agricultural heartland would. Bollywood tunes sung by popular Pakistani artists are playing in the bus and remind me of the great talent this country possesses in every field. You cannot but agree with the Prime Minister that manpower is the biggest asset of the country. This manpower however, is crying at the moment. The mighty Indus has brought nothing but destruction for them this year. Monsoon rains that usually last one month or so have come down in just about a week. Result? One in ...

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The conditional humanity of Taliban

The Taliban have a humane side. No, I’m not kidding. It must be humanity that prompted the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan to offer $20 million for the aid of flood victims and distribute relief goods. The scenario baffles the mind. Imagine the TTP in Swat, one of the worst hit areas. I assume victims would be directed to line up at Khooni Chowk in Mingora. I can imagine TTP workers shouting “All those who adhere to our brand of Islam, line up for aid. Anyone who dares to defy us, can go drown in the raging waters.” Obviously, this generous $20 million offer comes with a catch. The aid is available ...

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The secret diary of a news anchor

News anchoring is quite underrated in Pakistan. People regard it as merely reading a script written by brilliant copy editors. But after one month  as a professional news anchor on Express 24/7 and I have realized what a misconception this is. When I told some of my friends about my new job, they asked me why not a show? My response was – why not news? Is news anchoring only about reading off the prompter? Surprisingly, news anchoring is still an alien concept to a lot of people I’ve come across. A lot of times the response I get is, “Oh so what is ...

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Bringing street children into the fold

After I wrote a blog for The Express Tribune and I Own Pakistan, I got so many positive and negative comments that I decided to work further on the project and come up with a successful model for educating beggars in Karachi. The gist of my idea was that: On each and every signal we should install a small box for water with surf or any other cleaning material and a few wipers. Two to three kids should be assigned to each signal with one official to collect money. All these kids should be provided uniforms and they should have standardised times for ...

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Faraz Haider’s Andher: Hits and misses

Faraz Haider derives his musical inspiration from life, be it human emotions or current affairs. His debut album Andher reflects this, as most of the songs on the album have been composed by him and the relation of the artist to his lyrics lends them honesty – as if he is relating real life experiences. As soon as I popped the CD into the disc drive and hit the play button, I was greeted with an Audioslave inspired rock intro. Faraz Haider’s classic rock-esque wails and croons in the title track Andher are disappointing; the music and angry-guy lyrics are predictable ...

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Guilt factor: Eid on September 11

A new debate has emerged among American Muslims. Can they actually celebrate Eid on September 11 this year? According to the moon forecast, there is a high probability that the Muslim religious event of Eid will fall on the day which changed the world. My mother is currently visiting her brother in the US. Her aunt is an active member of the nearby mosque committee. During the frequent visits to the mosque, my mother received a leaflet saying that the Muslims of that particular community will celebrate Eid this year either on September 10 or on September 12. My mother was a little shocked ...

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