Stories published in January, 2011

Who is the real Muslim?

Islam is not complicated, Muslims are. When I say I am Muslim, I should not feel the need to categorise myself as an extremist, moderate or liberal. I either practise my religion or don’t, but as long as I believe in one God and the Holy Prophet (pbuh), I am as much of a Muslim as anyone else. The reaction of several hard-line religious groups at the assassination of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, if compared to my reaction and, of course, a very large number of others, confuses me. I claim to be a Muslim and yet I condemn the ...

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A strange fate has befallen us

Don’t ask me how hard writing has become nowadays as one calamity or the other hits us on a daily basis. Every day there is some accident, every day some tragedy. There was many a calamity one lived through, said Meer, but then one fell in love and discovered that nothing had prepared one for it. The tragedy that visited us Tuesday has stunned not just me but a whole people. The whole country, one might say, has been shaken. Salmaan Taseer has left the world in so unusual a manner. Is this, I ask you, the way to go? I ...

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Have you contracted the 2400-degree SAT fever?

“I abhor your loquaciousness” “Excuse me?” “Also, your use of rhetoric is highly un-lucid.” “You sound like your English General teacher.” “Shut up! I’m trying to… OK, test me again. What does tenacious mean?” Welcome to SAT fever, the kind hundreds of students across Karachi contract when preparing for the globally administered Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), an inescapable English and Mathematics trial by fire for anyone who wants to apply to American colleges and universities. If you haven’t registered yet, go crawl back under your rock. Your much-anticipated winter break now comes pre-packaged in a three-inch thick Princeton Review SAT preparatory book, guaranteed to get ...

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Trying to pray in Pakistan: Not as easy as you think

I am not a religious activist, nor do I don a burqa. I stay away from religious discussions and debates because I believe I’m not qualified enough to comment on religious rights and wrongs. However, if there is one thing that I do, and that I’m proud of, is pray. I might not pray well, but I do pray. I’ve prayed in malls, in restaurants, in shops, in mosques and at home. I don’t care if others pray. All I care about is that I get a chance to offer my prayers on time. When I am out at restaurants or shopping, ...

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High petrol prices are a good thing

This week, I realised why Pakistan has such a difficult time progressing: It’s leaders care more about being popular and being re-elected, than they do about making the correct, and often difficult choices that are best for the country. The latest example of this is Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s decision to retract his earlier plan to raise petrol prices after he caved under political pressures to save his government. The decision is not a wise one, as the move will cost the government between Rs4 and 5 billion in subsidies, and make tax collection even more difficult. More so, this ...

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Telefilm: The true story of Naseem Hameed

I applaud a tele-film “Bhaag Amina Bhaag!” which was recently aired on Geo Entertainment. The play is a tribute to Naseem Hameed, the Pakistani athlete who became the fastest woman in South Asia when she won a gold medal in a 100-metre event. Amina, played by Amna Sheikh, is not like any average teenage girl growing up in a low income area. She is bold, gutsy and naughty as hell. She grows up surrounded by boys – three brothers and her childhood friend and neighbor a handicapped boy – and gains all the traits of a tomboy. She is completely unaware ...

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Fighting over Rs130

On a recent visit to a market in Gilgit, I witnessed two men beating up a vendor. When I inquired about the cause of the fight, I was told it was a result of bitter haggling over the price of a jacket. The two men had offered Rs100 for a jacket while the vendor insisted that he couldn’t give it for less than Rs230. The mere difference of Rs130 triggered a verbal debate, which then culminated in violence. While many may find this shocking, I thought the incident wasn’t unusual. We have come across similar cases of a much more serious ...

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Lynching Salmaan Taseer: Social justice by a ‘pious’ nation

Governor Salmaan Taseer’s murder at the hands of his own bodyguard has certainly rocked the proverbial Pakistani boat. Just four days into a new year – which the astrologers on the television told us would be a good one for Pakistan – a police guard turned his gun on the governor, riddling him with 26 bullets. The assassin was led away, smiling ear to ear at his accomplishment and leaving a trail of utter madness in his wake. Pakistan has had its share of turbulent times, and through the years we’ve found surprising ways of coping with them. We deny involvement, ...

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Too proud (or too foolish?) to learn from India

Learning requires open minds and a willingness to adopt good things from anyone across the globe. We, as a nation, are inherently intolerant towards our ‘conceived enemies’ like India, thereby restricting the already limited avenues of learning. Both countries started off the same year. Yes, our history books tell us that we were deprived of major industrial setups and similar resources but still, our populations are comparable! The Indian rupee is moving fast towards a ratio of 1:2 with the Pakistani rupee and their GDP is around 7.5 times that of Pakistan. Statistics are overwhelming but the purpose of this post ...

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South Africa vs India: Battle for supremacy

If India had won, lost or even drawn the series there would have been no change in the ICC Test Ranking. It would remain on top and South Africa would be number two. However, since India has never won a series in Australia, England or South Africa, the team could not truly call itself the ‘best Test side’ in the world. Hence, this series in South Africa was the unofficial Test Championship for the best test side. The series lived up to the expectations with some exhilarating cricket being played by both sides. It will be remembered for Sachin Tendulkar scoring ...

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