Stories published in November, 2010

The voice of (un)reason

What happens when you put three political leaders on a standardized panel set with a confused looking anchor and throw in the word ‘pithoo‘? A bar room brawl that would put fraternity boys to shame. Leaders on a local talk show recently became highly emotional when the issue of secret loyalties to the US came up. The entire situation descended in politicians childishly echoing “No, you are” at each other and ended with one leader picking up a glass of water and flinging it across the set at his colleague. Thankfully, he missed. The Tehreek-e-Insaaf and Pakistan Peoples Part ...

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RGST: Another cross from the public to bear

The other day I was watching a show on Dunya TV that was discussing the latest General Sales Tax reform introduced by the government. To my shock, one of the proponents was renowned journalist Mr Ansar Abbasi. According to him and the other pro-GST reform person, the recent Reform General Sales Tax will: 1. Be used to broaden the tax base 2. Decrease GST by two percent. The tax is 17 per cent now and after the new RGST implementation it will be 15 per cent.  The excise duty shall be increased from 1 per cent to 2 per cent. Thus, Ansari explained the taxes ...

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Bakra Eid: Not just another ‘liberal’ rant

If cleanliness is supposed to be half of our faith, then I am sorry to say but we get a clear F grade, when it comes to Eidul Azha. The streets, lanes and alleys will have streams of animal blood flowing for days. The unwanted remains will create foul odours for weeks. All this while, we will be greeting one another with “Eid Mubarak,” and enjoying the backyard BBQ’s. For those of you who think this is another ‘liberal’ rant against Islam’s revered practice, I would like assure you that it isn’t. I am fairly conservative on certain issues, and in ...

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‘Xbox on!’

The gaming market just got a lot more competitive (and physically exerting). Kinect for Xbox 360 was released last week which means all leading videogame consoles now have motion based gaming support. Sony launched the PlayStation Move last month while Nintendo’s Wii has had the feature since 2006. A Kinect can be bought for abot Rs20,000 in the local market while a PS Move controller with its sensor costs half that. What is cool about Kinect Kinect is a completely new take on motion-based input as it requires no physical controllers to control a game. As Microsoft’s tagline goes, “you are ...

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Afghans point finger at US: Who’s corrupt now?

Many Afghans, from government officials and parliamentarians to the common man are disgruntled with the US officials relentlessly accusing them of being corrupt – while ignoring their own government’s fraud and misappropriations in the $56 billion development budget approved by the Congress for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Afghans deem US responsible for corrupting their society. For Obama’s administration, ‘corruption warnings’ are a new blackmail tool to use against the Karzai government. There has been constant rhetoric to “eradicate corruption” and “stop misusing US tax payers’ money,” without realising that only 20% of the allocated funds are at the disposal of ...

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Religion vs ethics: Who cares where human rights came from?

The election of Asma Jahangir is a welcome development in the establishment of human rights and rule of law in Pakistan. However, the concept of human rights remains one of the most controversial issues in contemporary political and social thought, partly because of the origins and the justifications used in reference to human rights. The case against rights The  grounding of human rights in our respective societies is perhaps one of great concern. Why bother with rights? What gives them legitimacy? Do they even exist? What does it mean to have a right? What about responsibilities? Are human rights universal? These ...

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Bowing to Arab pressure: Nature pays the price of politics

The “West” is by far Pakistan’s favourite whipping boy. Many view the Pakistani state as subservient to Western demands, compromising its interests and the welfare of its citizens to please its “master”. Closer to home are another set of masters who have made Pakistan their playground and its peoples its servants. The rulers of many Gulf States have for long relied on the cheap labour that has built their palaces, roads, buildings and filled the rank and file of their military. Not content with the rabid exploitation of the Pakistani labour class, endangered species such as the houbara bustard famous in ...

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Pakistan’s Twitterati: The good, the bad and the ugly

I joined Twitter a few months ago after my friends couldn’t stop whining about my absence on the social network. Time passed by and I gained recognition for my pseudo-humour. People followed me and I followed a few of them. The ones that I did hit the green tab on were usually journalists, writers, bloggers or citizens who knew how to use grammar accurately. Then, one day, it dawned upon me: There were several easily-distinguishable types of users in the Pakistani-Twitter sphere. I also noticed how they followed each other almost obsessively and formed mini-clans on the desi world ...

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Organ Transplant: Actions speak louder than words

Although the Punjab government makes tall claims of its good governance and rule of law, two recent incidents prove otherwise. The Human Organ Tissue Transplant Act (HOTTA), a law that specifically deals with illegal kidney transplantation, could have been used last month against two culprits to set a precedent. Two persons from Oman had brought their mother to Pakistan for illegal kidney transplantation, but the operation proved to be unsuccessful, resulting in her death. The sons, through influence in the Punjab government, managed to be protected from the HOTTA which clearly states that both donors and receivers of organs should be booked. Since ...

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Road trips to Sindh’s secret tourist treasures

Recently, I had an opportunity to travel to interior  Sindh and discover the wonders of the ancient necropolis of the Makli, the Shah Jehan mosque and Haleji Lake. All of these attractions are in the district of Thatta,  just a few hours away from Karachi. If developed, these places could be great tourist spots not only for Karachiites who love road trips but also for people living in other parts of Pakistan. Haleji Lake Haleji Lake is the largest bird sanctuary of the country and is about 70 kilometres from Karachi. A few kilometers of uncarpeted road links it to National Highway and ...

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