Stories published in December, 2010

Callousness towards rape

Perhaps the intensity of my anger towards rape and rapists is linked to my gender. If this were true, I am certainly not the only woman living in Pakistan, by that rationale at least half the population, if not more, should be as livid as I am. The treatment meted out by some members of the media, as well as politicians and the police towards the ‘alleged’ rape of a woman in her mid 30s in Karachi was appalling. So perhaps the reason why I’m so enraged is because I live in a developing country where feudalism and the feudal mentality ...

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‘Tis the season for… Christmas cookies!

Picture a decorated pine-tree with presents lying underneath, a fireplace with stockings hung above it and a really old man dressed in red, ringing a big bell and crying out “ho ho ho”. Christmas is the most anticipated and widely celebrated holiday among the Christian community. The big day is just around the corner and even though I don’t celebrate it, I appreciate the values it represents. It’s not just about giving expensive gifts to your loved ones, it’s about sharing and caring for people who do not have the luxuries some of us have. For those who don’t understand the true spirit ...

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Electric Avenue: Sky high bills getting higher

What I pay for electricity of my apartment is almost half the rent itself. There is only one room, with a fan and two tube-lights, other than that I only have a laptop, a toaster, a microwave oven and a 0.75-ton split air-conditioner. As if the price of electricity is not high enough, donor agencies usually demand that the government address inter-corporate debt which has grown to Rs426 billion. And no matter how much money the government tries to inject into the system to get it running again, making it sustainable will require huge increases in electricity prices as well as ...

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Dan Brown: A disappointing one-hit wonder

“The Da Vinci Code” hit book shelves in 2003, and went on to become the best-selling English language novel of the 21st century. Very few books dig down into the roots of history, challenge your beliefs and provide food for thought; this one did. Besides igniting some ferocious controversies and becoming a global phenomenon, the book established its author, Dan Brown, as a talent to watch. However, Brown’s next books have failed to live up to the standards that he himself modeled. There’s a blatant sense of repetition and a tone of monotony easily palpable in his novels that followed. Take ...

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Karachi in the grips of extortionists, terrorists

Earlier this month Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza entered the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) building for a media briefing where a businessman handed him a ‘parchi’  from extortionists and asked the minister to take action against the people who had been threatening him if they didn’t pay the required sum. The ‘parchi’ practice Being a part of the business community in Karachi for several decades, I can confirm that the parchi system is normal practice in Karachi. Political parties, gangsters, ‘community associations’ and representatives of so-called philanthropic and religious organisations pay regular visits to business units around the city ...

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Stop portraying Pakistan as the Meera of the world!

“What do you do?” “I’m a PR consultant.” “Personal relationships?” “No, public relations.” “Oh, you organise events?” Unfortunately, that is what I get from most people when I travel to Pakistan – either this, or I just have to settle for telling them that I work in marketing; which is  a socially acceptable and easily understandable term. PR is not a well known field in Pakistan and is still in stages of infancy; despite the presence of a few PR agencies, the field still remains remarkably untapped. Media and its teething problems One of the obstacles in the development of this field, as I see it, is ...

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Tell cricket fans what’s going on

What is going on in Pakistan cricket? Yes, we all heard that the ICC gave the PCB an ultimatum about cleaning up their act and getting their house in order. But what exactly has the PCB been up to since then? A lot for sure. So why have we, the general public, been kept in the dark? First Kamran Akmal was not selected for the series against South Africa. Initially there was news about an appendicitis operation, but then even when he was fit, and Haider ran away, the senior Akmal was not selected. Akmal himself was unsure about why he was not ...

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Cafe policy: Does sexism change after 7pm?

Ever walked into a restaurant with ‘the boys’ only to be turned away at the door? If it were any other country, this would be regarded as blatant discrimination with the media having a “field day” for weeks and the owners getting sued. But here in Pakistan this is not the case, hence many prominent restaurants implement the “family only” policy after 7pm. If this policy was really just for “family only” in all instances, it would still make sense. But this policy is just there to prevent single men or a group of single men being at the restaurant. ...

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Think-tanks, conferences and more hot air

As a reporter for Dawn in the mid-to-late 1990s, one of the first beats assigned to me was to cover seminars on various issues in the city of Karachi. At first this seemed like an interesting proposition but over time it became a drag – not least because on ended up seeing the same people all the time, discussing the same things over and over again, and giving the same solutions over and over again. Surely, they didn’t need to hold yet another conference on this issue, one would say to oneself, given that the issue had already been done to ...

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Sharmila and the media: Irresponsibility at its best

“Gang rape in Clifton” was a headline plastered across most newspapers today; while most news agencies protected the victim’s identity, English newspapers Daily Times and The Nation violated media ethics by publishing her full name, the area where she lived, the license plate number of her car and other details about the victim’s personal life. Enter Sharmila Farooqui During her media briefing, Information Adviser Sharmila Farooqui publicly named the victim and spoke of her in an apparently derogatory manner; it seemed that she had expected the victim to give her a full-blown account of the incident, and when that didn’t happen, ...

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