Stories published in November, 2010

Why student unions are essential

Those who refuse to participate in politics are destined to be ruled by their inferiors. -Plato General Zia‘s ban on student unions in 1984 was akin to demolishing all medical colleges in the country and then bemoaning the fact that Pakistan lacks capable doctors. If you ban medical colleges, the doctors who will serve you are likely to be quacks, armed with fake degrees and no real desire to help those whom they profess to serve. Student unions are the nurseries of leadership. They hold debates between students from opposing parties. This helps create tolerance for differing viewpoints and helps students learn ...

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Calling all language snobs

A culture that does not respect, nay deems inferior, its mother tongue, the language of its forefathers is a culture whose native country is doomed to forever spiral the seventh circle of hell… and here we are! Now, before I am ostracized and the townsfolk burn me at the stake, hear me out. I know on the blasphemy scale that statement would rate pretty high; insulting Pakistanis and being condescending towards religion in the same sentence? Sacrilege! But even as you feel self righteously indignant I’m pretty sure a certain part of you is wondering if that’s why life might be ...

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Conspiracy theories surrounding Swat

Since Swat valley witnessed the ugly face of the Fazlullah-led Talibanisation movement, a hot topic for discussion has been the theory of unseen powers working behind the game. Be it street talk or scholarly analysis, the locals give vent to the perception that some ‘secret hands’ nurtured the mayhem that plagued the paradise on earth for years. Ironically, no one dares to expose any names of the actors responsible for the growth of what can only be called ‘barbarism’. Many are of the opinion that the Taliban and the security forces are two sides of a coin engaged in a game ...

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Hungry in the mountains: the trials of GB’s flood survivors

In the summer months, Pakistan’s remote Gilgit Baltistan is busy with mountaineers climbing the world’s highest mountains. Some head to K2, the second highest on earth, while others are off tackling Nanga Parbat or the Killer Mountain, a much-feared peak.  Other travelers explore legendary glaciers, meadows of rare flowers and old forts in a spectacular region that is home to the Himalayas, the Hindu Kush, the Pamir and the Karakoram ranges. On the way to K2, mountaineers will drive through the little village of Youno. Draped by snow-speckled mountains, life is bucolic with bleating sheep meandering under tall green and gold ...

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Money 101: How to make some extra cash from home

The first rule to increasing your bank balance is saving. Last week I presented a few home remedies of making your rupee last longer. But money rule number two is far more exciting as it suggests increasing the family income – extra earning not only means extra saving but also extra spending and an overall better quality of life. Get to work Forget detailed scientific research – just browse around your local neighborhood and see the steady benefits of a two income family. They are likely to be the ones whose kids are going to better schools; their disposable income is more so ...

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Lessons unlearned: Post 26/11 train travel still unsafe

Its been two years since Mumbai’s landmarks were attacked and 26/11 became a date etched in the minds of every Indian. Those 60 hours are practically unforgettable, even for those who were at home, witnessing the horrific event unfolding on TV. On the second anniversary, the city has been turned into a virtual fortress. Security has been stepped up and vigilance increased. Naka bandis on main roads, patrol units have been set up around all the city landmarks and mock drills have been conducted. But these steps are taken today, what about in between these two years. Chugging back to normal While ...

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Asian Games 2010: A bright day for Pakistan

Pakistan brought gold home at the Asian Games on Thursday.  Many believe that it is Pakistan’s right to be the holder of so many medals since, traditionally, Pakistan has been good at hockey and squash and has been world champion in the past. Pakistan is considered to be the greatest ever squash-playing nation of all time, and credit for this goes to the Khan dynasty. It all started with Hashim Khan, who, at the age of 36, opened Pakistan’s participation in the international arena at the British Open in 1951. Hashim went on to dominate the squash arena by winning ...

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The importance of saving our sufi heritage

The resting place of Baba Farid Ganjshakar at Pakpattan, which was attacked last month, became the fifth sufi shrine to be destroyed in the past few years. Security agencies say after the mass attacks on mosques, sufi shrines are now under threat as well. These assaults on our holy sites are slicing through our social fabric, and here’s why: People of Pakistan, especially in Sindh, have long been known as followers of sufism – the mystical interpretation of Islam – and shrines are symbols of their devotion. Destroying them is an outright attack on a system based on deep introspection, great ...

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What you need to know about RGST

The Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST) Bill has become the latest ground for political games. While the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) calls it a necessity, almost all parties are in strong opposition. Amidst the political rhetoric, economic experts are siding with the proposed taxation system and the public is flinching at the thought of yet another price hike. What is the RGST? Why is it suddenly so important? Is it really as evil as they say? Here are a few answers. What is the RGST? The RGST is actually plain old Value Added Tax (VAT) with a new name. Since the VAT has ...

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26/11: Move on and help Pakistan

Time is a great healer and a great leveler- that’s what people say and believe. Is the passage of two years enough to heal the wounds of those who suffered an irreparable loss in the Mumbai terror attacks on November 26, 2008? No, the loss of precious lives can never be compensated by the generosity and magnanimity of time. One has to accept the reality of loss, come to terms with the truth and move on. But have we started moving on? Are we allowing time to heal the wounded relations between India and Pakistan? The Indian government’s rhetoric On the ...

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