Stories published in January, 2011

When money is involved in journalism

One of the many lessons I’ve learnt in the profession of journalism is that there are always strings attached when a flock of top media personalities are in full attendance when, let’s say, a boring yet important issue like maternal healthcare is discussed at a five-star hotel. I was recently invited to attend one such ‘interactive’ event organised by a leading NGO in Karachi. It was a lively discussion and I was really impressed that many important people not only flew all the way from Islamabad, but also braved through the five-hour long session. As the event progressed, those belonging to ...

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Why I broke the law at the Islamabad airport

While working abroad, not many of us can afford to go back to Pakistan for a visit as often as we like. In 2009, when I finally had some time (and $1700 to spare), I landed in Islamabad. Two weeks flew by and I found myself at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport, ready to head back to the US. As I handed my passport to the official looking security fellow, he looked at my face and said: “ji, aap kay pass protector nahi hai” (you do not have a protector). With my passport handed back to me, I was dismissed. Having no clue what ...

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Pakistani ‘sex gangs’ who don’t prey on British girls

Allegations that Pakistani men acquire sexual perversions as a result of their sexually oppressive cultures, by many commentators, including David Aaronovitch, former Labour MP Ann Cryer, and now Jack Straw—and coverage of these views by more-than-delighted right wing publications like the Telegraph, the Daily Mail and The Sun—is fast becoming an accepted universal truth. The increasingly frenzy follows a half-baked investigation by British newspaper The Times, which ostensibly concludes that Asian British men are specifically targeting white girls between the ages of 12 to 16 for “street grooming” and sexual exploitation. Following this, prominent Labour politician Jack Straw warned that British Pakistani men regard white ...

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The customer is always right…but is he happy?

During uncertain times, the customer becomes the lifeblood of any business. But today the brand team is struggling with which existing and prospective customers to target with their current offers via multiple channels of interaction. Many established corporations are aligning their resources towards BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China, for growth opportunities and are aiming to hone in on the rise in disposable income within these economies – notably China, whose new five-year plan aims at a growth strategy fuelled by domestic consumption instead of the trillion-dollar generating strategy of exports maximisation. What they are finding is the difficulty to ...

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Big Boss 4: Dolly’s mental pain equals viewers gain

The Reality TV syndrome has a frenetic influence on audiences who frantically follow televised episodes crammed with real-life depictions of love, intrigue and hate. But how traumatic an experience is it for the participants of these glamorous TV shows who have to reckon with the tedious task of maintaining an image that will heighten TRPs, enable them to secure audience votes and even increase their chances to attain prospective fame and glory? More significantly, how easy is the compromise involved in sustaining an on-screen image and preserving the inner self? In a candid interview with the editor of the Chennai-based ...

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Pakistan held hostage: Obscurantism and the death of Taseer

As numbness ebbs away after the fatal attack on Governor Salmaan Taseer, questions about the context of his murder arise. Confounding the discussion are the likes of Jamaat-i-Ahl-i- Sunnat, Tehreek-i- Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and some other like minded clerics. This school condones, and in some cases, justifies the murder. Unlike the governor, liberal segments of society remain largely equivocal and cautious in their response after threats by TTP to treat everyone offering prayers for Governor Taseer worthy of death at the hands of vigilante justice for purported blasphemy. But given the sensitivity of the attack, and its broader socio-political ...

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PCB haunted by the ghost of captaincy past

Once again, the Pakistan Cricket Board faces an issue that has haunted it for years – captaincy. Since the 2007 World Cup, the team has changed six captains for all formats of the game and now, at such a crucial time, with the World Cup just 40 days away, the PCB management is stuck once more. After four years of preparation teams across the world are ready to perform – but the question of who will be captain remains the bane of our team’s existence. The PCB has not announced the captain for the current One Day Internationals series against New ...

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The ‘revolutions’ of PML-N and MQM

You know your country’s politics is in the dumps when two of the most dictatorial political parties start talking about revolution and then start pointing fingers at each other. I mean – seriously! The audacity with which the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) talk about revolution is simply amazing. And, it’s not as if they are small political parties. The PML-N prides itself as being a national party whereas the MQM is working its way up to becoming one or at least making claims of becoming one. Dynastic party systems The fact is, the PML-N’s internal party ...

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Hate commenter: Why are you reading this?

Yes, you. The one who’s going to post hateful anonymous comments about how all this is a waste of time and how this publication is printing trash and the writer is representing mindless elitists whose only interest is in indulging themselves and not caring about human tragedies and natural disasters. Yes, you, who takes the time and effort to read all of what is on the ‘Life & Style’ and ‘Gossip’ sections and then refuses to comprehend satire, misunderstands sarcasm, and wastes office working hours on reading ludicrous items like this instead of engaging in philanthropic work and visiting NGO ...

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After Taseer: The birth of a liberal movement

After Salmaan Taseer’s assassination, a clear line of distinction was drawn between the liberals and conservatives of Pakistan. This assassination will change the course of Pakistan’s history, and this is not an exaggeration. The outspoken Governor had flaws, but hypocrisy was not one of them. He made a promise to the minorities of Pakistan and fought for it till his last breath. Whether his demand was legitimate according to the constitution of Pakistan or the Islamic law is beyond the scope of this article. Taseer has become a symbol for the liberals and Mumtaz Qadri for the rightists. The rightists ...

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