Stories published in December, 2010

Why job creation alone isn’t going to save Pakistan

Pakistan is a land of opportunity, but also has many needs.  It is critical to create jobs in this country, but it would be an error to believe that jobs alone will solve the issue of poverty. An article from Business Week titled, “A silver lining in Pakistan’s floods” states that “this natural disaster may have given the country an opportunity to tackle a recurring point of contention in Pakistan—feudalism.” The author states that aid money going to Pakistan should focus on job-creation strategies in addition to housing. She argues that the provision of jobs in relief work and an emphasis on business training ...

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Our cricket team selectors and their mysterious agenda

The selection of the cricket team in Pakistan has never been child’s play. In other Test playing nations, teams might be selected solely on the basis such mundane issues as form and fitness, but not for Pakistan. That is the dull way of doing things. Frankly, what fun is there in seeing a player selected for the number of runs he has scored in the domestic season? It gets saucy when factors like politics, relations with the current captain, and more recently the player’s suspension status, decide the selection doesn’t it? In such circumstances, it is prudent to expect some surprises ...

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The day I got fired from Dunya News

According to a BBC Urdu report, nearly 300 journalists have lost their jobs in 2010. Yesterday, my husband and I became a part of this statistic. Our contracts were terminated without warning and without notice and the reason given to us was that the company was being “restructured” and according to the new model our posts had been dissolved. While the financial crisis has led to constant downsizing, money is not the only reason for heartlessly firing trusted old employees. In most cases, simple structural changes spell disasters for middle tier staff. Of course, no one expects something like this to happen. ...

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Tantrums of my favourite Maulana

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman is a funny guy. Just recently, he took a moral stand (his own words) a week ago to quit the government because the PM fired his minister. At that point in time, he was praised by many within his party and even nationally for finally showing some spine and taking action. But now that the adrenaline rush is over, Maulana sahab fears that he might have gone a bit too far and that there may not be a way back. His most recent comments highlight this anxiety. He stood outside the National Assembly and ...

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Frisky business: Why Indian diplomats should be checked at airports

What differentiates a democratic system of governance from colonial rule or from a totalitarian system or a feudal order is the rule of law and equality before law. India has been a practising democracy for more than 60 years and several landmark social and political changes have taken place in the country to break the nation free from feudal and colonial ways. But somehow the desire of the ruling  and rich class to see themselves above others is so deep rooted that whenever there is an attack on this hierarchy, the privileged class makes it a national issue and links it with national ...

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Killing our teachers: A step away from freedom

Pakistanis have been so caught up with WikiLeaks and our very own fake version of India-centric leaks, that no one has bothered to notice that a crucial segment and institution of our society is being targeted. The 40-page report prepared by the Human Rights Watch called “Their Future is at Stake”: Attacks on Teachers and Schools in Pakistan’s Balochistan Province,” released this month documents the killing of at least 22 teachers by suspected militants between January 2008 and October 2010. Not only are teachers being targeted, our entire education system has been hijacked by nefarious elements. Regard for teachers and education ...

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Curtain call 2010: When fun times rolled in Pakistan

It rained fashion weeks It was the year of the fashion week multitude; there were two in Karachi, two in Lahore and then Bridal Couture Week – yet more announced (Islamabad Fashion Week and Peshawar Fashion Week). The world’s fashion capitals Milan, Paris, New York have one fashion week. Pakistan, however, seems way ahead of the game…or not. Do we really have that many retail buyers in Pakistan? We definitely have enough bored housewives, busy darzis and a multitude of ‘fashion’ magazines. What’s next—Sukkur Fashion Week and Head & Shoulders’ darzi Fashion Week? Our social network Facebook—the ‘un-Islamic’ website was temporarily banned ...

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Fight corruption with civic education

It can be said that one of the great pillars of the liberal democratic project is civic education. This project requires the cultivation of certain virtues in the hearts and minds of citizens, in order to foster a democratic culture. These virtues include respect, tolerance and generally revolve around the concept of citizenship. Without these civic and moral resources, the democratic state cannot survive. Indeed, one of the failings of Pakistani democracy is the absence of a universal, coherent and robust concept of citizenship. What does it mean to be Pakistani? Pakistan is a country with a huge youth population, experiencing a ...

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Shariat Court vs Parliament: Who cares about women?

I am not a lawyer but I have been a keen observer of how courts work and how they deliver their verdicts for long enough to make some sense of them. In this regard, without getting into the legal aspects of the judgment delivered by the Federal Shariat Court on December 22, one point does need to be made, and that is that the judgment of the court (now headed by a judge who was seen by some as being a nominee of the president) effectively undermines the sovereignty of parliament and the mandate it has to make new laws ...

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Everyday Af-Pak: Skateistan, Slackistan and more

The recent release of documentaries and films about Afghanistan and Pakistan cover a wide array of topics. Filmmakers are trying to alter the negative image of these countries, or at least showcase a more nuanced angle by showing everyday life in those areas. Here are some films that Everyday life in troubled countries Skateistan: To Live And Skate Kabul Who would have thought there is a skateboarding school in Afghanistan? Produced and directed by Orlando von Einsiedel, this film tells the story of a country’s (and the world’s) first non-profit and co-educational school of this kind, providing youth “with new opportunities in cross-cultural ...

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