Stories published in November, 2010

Pneumonia: Killing our babies every day

During the 1970s the world woke up to the realization that there was a deadly assailant on the loose who was out to get little children! So deadly was this assassin that soon people began comparing it to a jumbo jet that took off every one minute and crashed as soon as it went up killing all the 400 passengers onboard. Yes, this vicious murderer was taking the lives of 400 children every minute! After more than 30 years the brutal slayer is still at large and responsible for 19 per cent of all under-5 deaths in the world. Scarily, ...

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What Musharraf and Lady Gaga have in common

Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and General Pervez Musharraf have something unusual in common: They all have an enormous fan following on Facebook. Now for Gaga, who has 22 million fans, and Bieber, 15 million, that maybe an appropriate yardstick of popularity given that they are entertainers and the more they are watched, the higher are the record label sales. In a recent interview with the BBC, former President Musharraf spoke about his political career’s resurrection, asserting vehemently that he is very popular in Pakistan. The assertion may be debatable but I wouldn’t write Musharraf off completely yet. When asked how he ...

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Bakra Eid, changing from sacrifice to fad

Muslims from all around the globe are gathering in the city of Mecca to offer Hajj. Those who stay at home pray to Allah to make ways for them to perform Hajj like their Muslim brothers and sisters. Hajj is a time that reminds us of the sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) who was accompanied by his son, Prophet Ismail (PBUH) in an ultimate show of obedience to Allah. In remembrance of this great sacrifice, Muslims follow sunnat-e-Ibrahimi or the example of the prophet by offering a sacrifice in the month of ZilHajj. However, with the passing of time, the essence of ...

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Terror attacks: Slippery slope towards a violent society

Details are still emerging but one thing is certain – another powerful blast has shaken Karachi to its core. People were still in the shock of Abdullah Shah Ghazi blast, a few weeks back, and now this. As these lines are being written, 15 precious lives have been lost and regretfully, more will probably follow as many are seriously injured. The epicenter of this recent blast was the DIG CID’s office. A high profile terrorist was recently captured and the data on that individual is reportedly lost. The terrorists have targeted law enforcement personnel once again, showing the rest of ...

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Karachi blast: What’s security got to do with it?

The blast that has rocked Karachi’s grand Club Road and claimed (so far) 15 lives has sparked a familiar line of questions on news channels. The question the anchors ask is “Was there a security lapse” but the question they are really asking is “Who should we blame?” and thus who can we crucify on live TV. After every blast the question emerges – was enough done? Where were the police? The rangers? Where was everyone when this bomb was mysteriously planted in random building X? Somehow we expect that a platoon of police officers can prevent a bomb blast. But ...

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In times of suicide assaults

In a way, the recent suicide attack in Lahore is the first of a kind. The suicide attacks so far had had a target each; this one had two. It killed, or tried to kill, two birds with one stone. There was a sea of devotees brimming over at Data Darbar on account of the urs. At nearby Karbala Gamay Shah, the mourners milled around in anticipation of a chehlum procession slowly winding its way towards it. Great planning, one must say, for this way the attack had an impact on two fronts. Of course, both gatherings, from the planner’s ...

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Cleanliness: Another dream for Lahore

Shahbaz Sharif, our chief minister, has said he wants to see Lahore become as clean and presentable as Istanbul. The statement is music to my ears, weary as I have been growing of stereotyped statements reeking of hatred and violence. Given the oppressive atmosphere created by these, this one came as a breath of fresh air. But then I remembered some more statements of a bygone era and then some more – the declarations about beautifying Lahore. One I remember particularly well was an announcement that Lahore would be turned into Paris. And it was not a single Punjab minister ...

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Is the golden era of British education over?

I was in London with tens of thousands of students from all over UK who were gathered outside the parliament protesting against the recent announcement by the British government to cut funding for higher education and increase the tuition fee. Students held placards and banners and chanted anti-government slogans. They looked defiant, outraged and disgusted by the government’s plans to lift a cap on the current tuition fees and leave the universities to choose to charge a variable fee. This march was the biggest in the recent history of student movements in the UK. What propelled the protests? The  demonstration was held ...

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Sugar crisis: Fed up of food politics

Had we punished the hoarders of basic food items in 2008 and 2009, we wouldn’t have to face the current crisis. Surprisingly, our ‘suo moto judiciary’ did not take notice of it. No one can deny that the current sugar shortage is self-created and that RAW, XE, CIA or Musharraf have nothing to with it. This drama is an epic mismanagement by the policy makers we have elected to operate the public relief departments of this county. We should all know the reasons behind this crisis because we are paying exactly the double of what was available only a few ...

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I miss good ol’ PTV!

Remember the time when owning a cordless was the coolest thing ever? Cricket had just become a national craze and Imran Khan a living legend; Wasim Akram’s ‘Mein Cigarette Nahein Peeta’ ad had caused half of the teenagers to eschew cigarettes; Fanta had finally started getting accepted as a guy’s drink; Atari and Nintendo were the next coolest thing to a Ferrari – not to mention shooting a duck with an actual gun on your Nintendo. How about playing Dave 1 on your brand new Windows 95 and finding out you couldn’t cross level three no matter what? Or perhaps ...

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