Stories published in December, 2010

A hot samosa on a cold winter night

It’s that time of the year again – the elusive Karachi winter is finally here so enjoy it while it lasts. Dig into your storage and dust out the oh-so-soft blankets, heaters, leather jackets, cozy mufflers and some downright crazy head-gear. This season brings with it the joys of eating piping hot food that would otherwise make you perspire. You seem to notice a sudden increase in the roadside samosay-wala’s clientele waiting in line (a polite way of referring to the mob that surrounds his stand), for this mouth-watering – albeit a bit unhygienic– delicacy you so love, becomes a ...

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For the love of books: Digital is not always better

I’ve been papering my wall with pages of old books that I’ve loved. The mechanical exercise is strangely cathartic and every time I step back to look, it makes me happy. However, it does set off a train of thought on the role of books in a busy world, where paper is becoming redundant. Is it true that they are becoming largely ornamental, to display on shelves and proclaim, “I read”? For those who can afford it, options exist which have eliminated the need to ever enter a bookshop. The Amazon Kindle, for instance, is the ultimate simulation of the book ...

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When law-enforcers become hyperactive

A few days ago, I received frantic calls from some people from my village in Kamber-Shahdadkot district, informing me of an attack on the village by bandits. I was told that not only were the police absent from the village, the SHO was also unwilling to lodge a case against the criminals. A few victims even travelled to Karachi to meet the Sindh home minister but, despite their best efforts, they were unable to get an appointment, while their complaints with the IGP, home department and CM complaint cell are yet to receive any response from our so-called democratic government. Incidents of ...

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Our economy’s problem: The rich don’t pay their taxes

Any chance of progress in Pakistan is contingent on two critical issues: economic recovery and social reform.  Every person in Pakistan, be it a high ranking politician or bureaucrat or a person belonging to the middle or lower classes, agrees that the economy—and problems resulting from its degeneration—are a significant cause of the country’s woes. The devastation caused by the recent floods has only added to the economic dilemma.  Following this disaster, numerous NGOs and countries around the world have promised aid to Pakistan, but the actual funds received don’t come close to the pledges.  It seems now that even ...

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Test cricket: In danger from its own protectors

While the International Cricket Council (ICC) ponders over ways to make Test cricket more attractive in competition with the electrifying (and lucrative) Twenty20 format, it continues to do more harm than good to the purest form of the sport. Was there a Test series in Sri Lanka, really? Who knows what the ICC was thinking when it decided to have a Test series in Sri Lanka during the monsoon season. The rain had the final say in the first Test at Galle, which ended up in a draw. Unfortunately, Chris Gayle’s second triple century could not receive the fan viewing it ...

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NATO troops pullout: Is Afghanistan ready?

When I read that leaders from 48 nations (including 28 Nato members) endorsed the gradual pullout plan of Nato forces from Afghanistan in 2014 at the Lisbon summit, several concerns crept into my mind.  With this, the combat operations that started in 2001 will also be stopped, giving Afghan forces complete control for the security of the country. Has enough been done to reduce the Taliban to a negligible strength? Will the wound not start bleeding again after 2014? Will the withdrawal of troops not add to the instability in the region? The Telegraph reports that the Pentagon has admitted that ...

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Blasphemy: Intellectualising murder

A brilliant investigative reporter recently deduced that 94% of blasphemy cases have been filed against Muslims. Congratulations on your ability to do simple fractions. The blasphemy laws have indeed been used to target Muslims, Christians and Hindus. What is your point? According to this gentleman, a paltry 130 people are languishing in jail under the blasphemy laws. Only 130? I mean, come on! More people die of hunger everyday in Palestine. Down with liberal America-lovers who don’t care about Palestine! Moving on. “Now, let’s have a look at the status of these eight Christians. Again the official data shows that only three are on ...

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In memoriam: Abdul Wahab

Peace jirgas are groups of local elders from different tribal agencies who have decided to say no to terrorism. Their cause is to give a normal life to their families and they have decided to side with the army and government of Pakistan in an attempt to get rid of the insurgency in their area. In pursuit of peace they have often come under attack from misguided people who have gone to the extent of taking precious human lives, just because they think they are right and everyone else is wrong. They killed more than 40 people in Mohmand Agency yesterday (Tuesday) ...

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WikiLeaks: Redefining diplomatic history

The continuing WikiLeaks saga has many important implications for the state of international relations which have been much debated over the print and electronic media. We’ve heard diplomats, kings, generals and politicians from all over the world having candid and unguarded conversations about each other. However, we have failed to see how the leaks have threatened the idea of history, and notions of the process of discovering it. History is not what has happened in the past but an account of what is said to have happened. The historical process can range from a sage telling a story to a ...

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Indo-Pak rivalry: Are we sheep?

As an administrator on a newspaper website, I come across a lot of comments readers make, and while I have a lot to say on this topic, at the moment I will stick to how news items relating to Pakistan and India have the ability to instantly charge up readers on both sides of the border. Three days ago, there was news about the Indian Cyber Army hacking around 40 Pakistan government websites.  What followed was an array of defensive and, more importantly, vengeful comments from the Pakistani readers and “Jai Hind” and other forms of cheering, tainted with a ...

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