Stories published in October, 2010

(Un)quotable quotes from Pakistan’s best

They’re supposed to be good orators, but our orators just can’t avoid bloopers. It’s only after they have made statements in front of the media that politicians realize what blunders they have made. Often, they end up saying something vague which can be easily distorted. The “official statement” from their party, blaming the media for misquoting their noble thoughts, quickly comes to their rescue.  Sometimes, they wash their hands of the whole affair by refusing to acknowledge ‘misquotations’ as their own. More often than not, politicians intentionally issue statements to stir controversy, which ends with promises not to continue the war ...

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Urban politics vs rural politics

Politics in Pakistan are a tangle of confusion, lies, deception, favouritism and broken promises. Anything that goes wrong, whether it is getting in trouble with your boss or having a lesser player selected for team captaincy, can be blamed on politics. In my experience of both Karachi and interior Sindh, I came across two distinct forms of commercial politics (politicians are, after all, contractual employees). Personality-based politics has strong roots in the countryside where, in a given area, a certain landlord will hold the most influence. No matter which party he chooses, or even if he decides to stand as ...

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Judicial bungling: Islamabad’s dog and pony show

Recently I have been trying to figure out exactly what is going on in Islamabad and more importantly what exactly the PPP and judiciary are on? Right now it seems the biggest favor they can do is to pass on whatever they are smoking on to the rest of us. The other favor they can do for this country is start doing their jobs. Now when I say jobs I mean jobs based on the descriptions that have been formed in the constitution. What should be happening According to the constitution, the executive is supposed to work on a policy with the ...

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A six year old with an STD

I am interning at the Ob/Gyn department nowadays and nothing has been as psychologically taxing as this rotation. Everyday hundreds of poor women come to the out-patient clinic for consultations, each with a unique problem of her own. Yesterday, however, a little girl  with big brown eyes and shabby clothes entered the clinic. She was barely six years old and had a cape tightly wrapped around her shoulders. The lady who came with her was her paternal aunt who told us that the girl was complaining of a rash around her genitals. On examination, it turned out to be  genital herpes – a sexually transmitted ...

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The war on militancy that cannot be won

I admire the sheer abundance of the rhetoric that we are producing. It makes me believe that we have finally decided not to succumb to the ridiculousness we are confronting each passing day. However,  I often find this very rhetoric nothing more than a  colouring of the same biases and ideas that our ill-informed drawing room folk raise their voices about. The terrorists’ point of view I recently saw a video of an interview of a terrorist by a local private channel. I’m sure most of us have seen it, but for most of us, it was just another brick in ...

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The Burberry that stole my heart

Walking in the streets of London a month and a half ago, Q and I decided to eat at Wagamama’s. After devouring the chicken katsu, I miraculously managed to convince him to take the side street with me and head to Oxford instead of back home, like he had hoped. It was while we were walking past Selfridges that I fell in love! I stopped dead in my tracks, much to Q’s puzzlement. “Handbag…dangling from her arm, cell phone…in her hand, sunglasses…on her head”, he quickly did a mental check. “What, now?” “Have you left the keys at Wagamama’s?” When he got no ...

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The ugly face of distorted religion

Translated from the German ‘Die Religion… ist das Opium des Volkes,’ philosopher Karl Marx said that “religion was the opium of the masses.” While this statement is extremely applicable to Pakistani society, religion is more than just the ‘opium’ of the people. It is now being used as a weapon; their excuse and justification for everything including things which are not very pleasant in nature. The most obvious example of this would be the “extremists” and their code of conduct, which they attempt to justify in the name of Islam, which has in the process literally distorted the religion’s main ...

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Granta: Pakistan through a literary lens

The latest issue of the noted British literary journal, Granta, was devoted to writings both on and from Pakistan. At a time when the country has been swept up in a spate of bad news, ranging from tensions with the United States, drone attacks and the devastating floods, to the distressing allegations of match fixing by the national cricket team, this collection of essays, poems, vignettes and even artwork is a welcome reprieve. The collection is true to Granta’s justly-famed reputation and does not serve up an anodyne collection of writing. Instead, several of the essays are quite provocative, the ...

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I’m sick of my puppy, you take it

Outside my office, on the bulletin board, hung a distressing poster. A boy was selling his 2-year-old dog for Rs50,000. The ad stated that he hoped to find Spike a ‘good home’. I almost turned around and walked back into my office, when I knelt down to read the boy’s contact number, and punched the digits into my cell phone. I was going to call him. After a few rings, the boy picked up, his voice thick with sleep. I told him that selling off his pet dog to the highest bidder wouldn’t guarantee a good home. I suggested that he ...

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Desensitised in Karachi’s killing fields

Karachi is seeing red again as the city is gripped by target killings and “cannibalism”. Yes, I know the latter isn’t an appropriate word, but has anyone got a better way to describe what is happening in the city? The death toll of the three days’ ongoing target killings in Karachi has climbed to 55 on Tuesday with 15 killings in last 24 hours in various parts of the city. And that is not counting the very latest figures of the 12 victims who died in Sher shah. The police and Rangers claimed to have apprehended more than 80 persons allegedly ...

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