Stories published in January, 2011

Pakistan needs a gun-control law

Has your car ever been stuck behind a police mobile in a traffic jam? If yes, then you may have found yourself staring in to the barrel of a rifle that lay snugly on a police officer’s lap. There is probable a security lock on these guns that are pointed directly at us, but the thought of an accidental shot always makes me move a little further away from the vehicles to ensure the gun is not pointing at me. What bothers me is that I have never seen the rifle pointing towards the vehicle, at another officer or the driver ...

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Teachers tried to make my son stupid

Last September my son started first grade and I decided to enroll him in a French immersion program here in Toronto. He is a shy and quiet child but I had never heard a single complaint from his kindergarten teachers. But within the first weeks of his new class I started receiving notes saying he was not capable of writing and that we should work on his motor skills. The entire family was worried. We helped him with French dictation and math, we begged him to work harder – the pressure for a six-year-old boy was immense. His teacher continued to ...

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Beards are not just for terrorists

For years I lived any young adult’s dream; there was music, parties, banter, unorthodox festivities, substance abuse and a fair degree of foul play. Then things changed radically – it was nothing short of a revolution; I grew a beard. After extensively studying and reading about both Islam and other religions, I started to pray five times a day and even encourage friends and colleagues towards the path of salvation. I have finally chosen spirituality over (supposed) rationality and have given up on worldly desires to pursue those of an eternal life. Why did I grow a beard? For me it was simple: a ...

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Veena Malik is no fool!

Veena Malik’s appearance on Bigg Boss 4 and her current interview on Express News has been the subject of many a cushy drawing room debate.  Liberals everywhere are incensed by the mufti sahab who did not even watch Bigg Boss and yet was quick to pass judgement on Malik. Fair enough.  Malik’s supporters have rushed to Facebook to give her a big thumbs up and cheer their ‘hero’ on.  Veena takes on mullah and wins, they scream. Now we all know that this was pretty much a setup. Kamran Shahid pitched Malik against a mufti and then called Ashmit Patel who made some ...

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What Obama didn’t say to Pakistan

On Wednesday morning at 7AM in Pakistan, all eyes were on America. As I cradled a steamy cup of coffee and willed the morning mental fog to drift away, I eagerly took in an invigorating State of the Union address from President Barack Obama. “In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It’s how we make a living” I was inspired.  Had it not been for the morning cobwebs tying me down, I might have belted out a “Yes, we can!” To every young person listening tonight who’s contemplating their career choice: if you want to make a difference in the life of ...

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Whose country is this anyways? (Part III)

Corruption is the one word that explains government failure, greed, misallocation of public resources, abuse of power and undeserving state patronage. However, depending on who is involved, the degree of condemnation varies, which is a curious anomaly in what should be outright condemnation and a clear recognition of right from wrong. A dog’s life Recent reports have suggested that Pakistan’s Defence Ministry is demanding Rs1.66 billion to establish a National Canine Centre to train dogs.  3,260 dogs are to be trained over a period of 10 years, which works out to Rs2.7 million per dog. The army already manages a well regarded dog-training ...

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Row, row, row your boat, [not so] gently down to ‘Netty’ Jetty

This is a shout out to Sophia A. Sophia rows a boat. So do 15 other schools from all over Karachi who competed at the regatta at the Karachi Boat Club. But that’s not important right now. What’s important is that she rows a boat. And before she gets to that, she does this: “Oh my God. They train you like a dog. You have these squats, these endless jogs, and if you’re late you have pushups and then something called fishies. Imagine lying down and then trying to lift both your legs and your torso at the same time.” Fishies for ...

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A Liberian story of liberation

Martin Luther King Jr was not the only dreamer, there are others too; people who turn their dreams into reality. One such woman is Leymah Gbowee, who led the women of Liberia to end war in a thoroughly non-conventional but highly replicable way. The war in Liberia was vicious, far worse than even we – living in a land of suicide bombers – can imagine. Even the women of Liberia had taken up arms to fight in the civil war, killing sporadically, and it was Leymah who united them against their dictator Charles Taylor. Dressed in white, the women gathered to besiege ...

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Parents’ role in infusing tolerance

Intolerance has risen to a level that now threatens the very survival of our society, Islamic or secular. People in positions of responsibility don’t think twice about commenting, in rather careless and offensive language, about the deep-rooted beliefs of millions of people. On the other hand, those who take offence think it right to settle scores with those who made the comments through any means possible. People start fighting in bazaars, parks, as well as on public transport. Someone asked the Holy Prophet (pbuh), “How many times shall I forgive my slave? He keeps on making mistakes.” “Seventy times,” was the reply. Many ...

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Wake up America, Islam is not the enemy

“Pakistan is going down.” This was the headline that appeared on the screen on a CNN broadcast as I prepared to board the 16 hour New York – Lahore trek, returning to a country I’ve grown to love deeply but that the newscaster was condemning as the most dangerous country on the earth. Squirming tirelessly on the flight, I thought about all that’s happened over the past few months I’ve been in Pakistan – and particularly the flooding gap between the liberals and radicals, which the international media has so loudly proclaimed – and felt an overwhelming sense of restlessness. How could the international ...

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