Stories published in December, 2010

PakLeaks: Did I miss the humour?

I used to believe that blogs were a great way for people to express themselves. Old school bloggers have a way with words and express themselves in an interesting manner. Unfortunately, a new generation of bloggers seems to think that the medium gives writers a license to go around making personal attacks just because it seems fun. I heard about a new blog called PakLeaks which seemed to be Pakistan’s equivalent of WikiLeaks. The blog claimed to have 35,000 leaked direct messages or “DMs” from members of Pakistan’s Twitterati. It claimed that it is being hacked because of the nature of its ...

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Will privatising the existing education system work?

Recently, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has been calling on a new wave of educational reforms in an effort to privatise colleges in Punjab. The government of Punjab has decided to replace the existing system with a board of governors having power over 26 colleges in Punjab.  While the privatisation of colleges is not a new concept in Pakistan, it has certainly aroused a lot of passion from a range of groups lately. Student groups and teachers’ rights associations are fervently against such a move because they argue that along with the inevitable hikes in tuition fee, professors’ rights will be severely ...

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Aisamul-Haq: 2010’s shining star

To say that it was an eventful year for Pakistan sports would be an understatement. 2010 witnessed many ‘highs and lows’, ranging from the sensational spot-fixing scandal involving three of the country’s leading cricketers to a stunning title-winning triumph by our ladies in the cricket event of the Asian Games in Guangzhou. For me the defining moment of Pakistan sports came in September when tennis ace Aisamul-Haq Qureshi marched into the men’s doubles and mixed doubles finals of the US Open. His heroics at the Grand Slam tournament gave Pakistan’s sports fans something to cheer about after several dismal weeks in ...

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What advertisements are doing to our children

“Bubloo tumhara sabun slow hei kia?” chants an arrogant, animated girl character in a liquid soap ad, teasing the poor boy who has been silly enough to not know that soap bars are useless compared to liquid soap. Such is the shallowness being imparted on  children during their formative years through advertising. They develop a narcissistic attitude towards what they see as  “me and my things.” As ad filmmakers are formulating the most effective ways of enticing consumers to buy their products, they have found children are good targets. Younger minds are easy to manipulate and are seen as long-term potential buyers. ...

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Will Israelis call West Bank ‘home’ someday?

I was enjoying a great day in the sun in New Zealand, far away from the guns and dead of Karachi, reading an article by Robert Fisk about his memories in Lebanon on the Independent’s website. While I rolled a cigarette for myself, a 12-year-old Maori (New Zealand native) kid asked if he could have one too. I told him to bugger off, and he skated away angrily, mumbling racial slurs. This seemingly trivial moment made my heart sink, the way it does when I hear very bad news, but it wasn’t because of the racial slurs or the poor condition ...

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Revelry for relief: Fiddling while Sindh sinks

The sensitivity of young people today should ideally never be gauged by the first question that comes to their minds when a bomb goes off in Karachi: Will there be school tomorrow? Instead, Karachi’s generation-next should be assessed on how much hard work, effort and time its members put into relief camps and charity distribution, placard holding and general running around they did in an effort to contribute to alleviating the pain of the people hit by the flooding this summer. There was a definite perception that young privileged girls and boys just live in their bubble on that side ...

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Shifting media focus: From politics to people

There has been electronic media expansion and explosion in our country since the turn of the century with more than 80 TV channels disseminating an influx of information to millions of viewers. But the question is whether the media is fulfilling its functions in the society as a responsible actor? Does it regulate and improve itself to be more responsible with the speed it expanded and is expanding? Is it playing its role as the fourth pillar of state and a watchdog of the society? These questions are worth considering because mass media is the double-edged sword of any society. It ...

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Battleground Facebook: The right way to deal with Muslim bashers

In the world we live in, Mark Zuckerberg is ‘Person Of The Year’ and slacktivists can click a button to soldier on for a cause. Gone are the days of long marches, debates, writing letters to leaders or newspapers, or mobilizing petitions. Now it’s all about the ‘like’ and ‘share’ buttons. Every now and then when I log on to Facebook, I see messages saying: “Delete this page – Islam expletive Allah obscene language Muhammad (PBUH) offensive remark” Unless you’re a kindergartner, your brain processes words as fast as your eyes see them. Every time someone joins these groups, I automatically end up reading the ...

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19 girls, one car: I was one of them!

Challenges make you discover things about yourself that you never really knew. They are what make you go beyond the norm. The same applies to what my team and I achieved on the December 15, 2010 when we successfully set a new Guinness World Record by fitting into a Standard two-seater Daimler Benz Production Smart Car. Doing something smart with my smart car I realized that I possess a Smart Car which is a rarity – at least in Pakistan. In fact whenever I took it out on a drive I was followed by inquisitive admirers. While browsing newspaper headlines in my ...

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The significance of the Karbala story

The Islamic New Year has arrived, but instead of the celebration that we see in other religious traditions, there is mourning and reflection because of the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (RA). There is an exhaustive amount of literature on the history of this tragic event in the canons of Islamic thought across all the schools of thought, but it is not the historicity of the event itself which is of concern but the existential significance of it. Religious literalism can be best described as grasping for excruciating detail of the event, usually steeped in antiquity, whilst forgetting to draw from these ...

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