Stories published in November, 2010

Masala news: How the government benefits

I feel sorry for us, the audience, when we are ‘forced’ to hear utterly bad news and exaggerated facts. Almost all important news events are covered with great fervor but only for a limited time – one can hardly see any news covered to its logical end. This behaviour is quite similar to the government technique of forming committees to divert people’s attention from a burning issue, but people have now become well aware that constituting committees is tantamount to negligence and putting things on the back burner on the government’s part. Starved for bad news We have almost accepted that ...

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Cigarette promotions: Is free always better?

My brother, who is studying in Malaysia, recently went to a tobacco company-sponsored event where free cigarettes were distributed among all those in attendance. He didn’t tell us about it himself; his Facebook did. Upon questioning, he said it was a promotion whereby two free cigarettes were given out to each individual who showed his identity card and the event pass. Further probing revealed that the crowd mostly comprised young men and women between the ages of 18 and 30. It is human nature that when something is being offered free of charge, one feels the compulsion to have it. Of ...

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Musharraf charge sheet: Where is the follow-up?

Recently, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) issued a charge sheet against former president Pervez Musharraf – well done! The seven-page charge-sheet contains 17 allegations including the Kargil misadventure, Musharraf’s use of the army for personal reasons, declaring war against Pakistanis, blackmailing through NAB, alleged assassination of Nawab Akbar Bugti and the disappearance of people and conspiracy in Balochistan. The document also termed Musharraf a “corrupt, callous, immoral and ruthless ruler.” Moreover, PML-N demanded that the government take necessary measures to bring back the former president through Interpol and ensure his trial under Article 6 of the Constitution for acts of high ...

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Private airlines: A show of poor customer care

What’s worse than having a flight repeatedly delayed? Is it that you might be delayed by up to twenty four hours? No. Is it the annoyance at the added wait with a dash of inconvenience at having to locate the next possible flight? No, not even close. Perhaps its the irritation you feel at having to hold the line, while the delayed airlines’ operators finish laughing at your misery. No. Close. The worst thing about a delayed flight is customer service. There is nothing worse than when you’ve been clutching the phone receiver to your ear, breathlessly waiting for a voice on the other end to shine a ...

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Jobs: The plight of the foreign graduate

Welcome back to the land of the pure.  The one question most recent graduates from foreign universities face while being interviewed by employers and relatives alike is, “What are you doing here? Why did you decide to come back?” The graduate, given he is not the heir to a large chunk of the country’s land or industry, must have been either an idealist or under some form of compulsion to return. Of course, no sane person could have made that choice without being under duress. If the country wishes to reverse the brain drain phenomenon to some extent, now is the ...

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Victims of patriarchy: Save the women of Pakistan

My last blog post on soaring cases of rapes in Pakistan received a mixed review. While some readers appreciated the issues that I highlighted as being responsible for the increasing numbers of the gruesome tragedy, to others the piece was nothing but a Islam bashing, ‘westernized’ viewpoint coming from the pen of a feminist! And while a few of the emails that I received from our foreign readers discussed the hardships that rape victims all over the world have to face and live with (appalled at the lack of support for these victims in Pakistan), there were other countrymen ...

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Drone attacks: Unlawful killings, double standards

A recent report indicated that the US was considering expanding drone operations in Pakistan to now encompass areas surrounding Quetta. Pakistan vociferously rejected the expansion and said the US would not be allowed to expand the areas where drones operate. Drone attacks have a history stretching back to 2004, when they started as part of George Bush’s war on terror. An independent tally by New America Foundation, shows that there have been 199 reported drone strikes in northwest Pakistan with approximately 103 in 2010 alone. The records state that till today between 1,276 and 1,955 individuals were killed, of whom around ...

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Do you have what it takes to be a society aunty?

Aunties are the essential thread that holds the delicate fabric of Pakistani society together. In fact, it’s quite surprising that a proportion of our country’s defence budget isn’t allocated towards the Aunty Brigade. ‘Society Aunties’ are the crème-de-la-crème of the Aunty Brigade. Deceptively formidable, they are armed with snubs, icy stares and an ammunition of feline comments. Beautifully groomed, dazzlingly arrayed, and possessing razor-sharp social finesse ‘Society Aunties’ reign drawing rooms, ballrooms, and fashionable weddings. Just don’t make the mistake of addressing them as ‘Aunty’ especially when they appear 39 and Botoxed while their classmates are getting hip replacements. Have you ...

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Ahmadinejad: The granny in the drawing room

“The best age for marriage is between 16 to 18 for girls and 19 to 21 for boys,” a Mardomsalari newspaper quoted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying on Sunday. For a figure with his political stature and notoriously brazen statements (remember “Anybody who recognises Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation’s fury”?), Ahmadinejad’s take on the “best” age for marriage undermines his lofty reputation. Primarily, the claim that there is, indeed, a “best” age for marriage is overwhelmingly tall, and what it really does is make me think that deep down beneath that façade of guts ...

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A fashionista’s Birkin adventure

I was sitting with a group of friends and we were discussing the usual…jobs, people, politics. Just when we were getting up to leave, a friend noticed another friend’s handbag, which opened up a Pandora’s box and started another exhausting discussion of the Birkin. Now, if anyone has done even the least amount of research on this handbag, they would understand that it is not easy to get. The Purse Forum is quite informative, and one can read up on some of the mad adventures that women have had chasing the bag. And of course, there’s ‘Bringing Home The Birkin’ ...

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