Stories published in January, 2011

TV commercials: Inform, remind and persuade!

While I was watching the news the other night, a newscaster said, “Stay tuned, we’ll be right back after a short commercial break,” making me immediately think, “Oh god! Not again.” The musical rollercoaster of advertisements began – a five minute ride that I seriously did not enjoy. What I learnt in my O-level commerce class was that there are three categories of advertisements – ‘reminder advertisement’ that reminds consumers of the products available in the market; ‘informative advertisement’ that keeps the consumer informed and ‘persuasive advertisement’ which persuades consumers through various techniques to buy the product. And these apply ...

Read Full Post

Oscars dominated by politics and cliches

The Oscar nominations were announced early on the morning of January 26th. The list of nominees almost always includes overrated films, which the Academy proudly hand out in little envelopes, while viewers complain about them. When The Social Network got the nod for eight Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, it was an outrage. It’s exactly how I felt the year Slumdog Millionaire walked away with eight Oscars; disbelief, a sense of ‘are they joking?’ and then finally, resignation. After all, it is the Oscars, and we know it is about politics. This was as close to a golden year as the Academy could ...

Read Full Post

Why ‘Boom Boom’ should be captain

With the cricket World Cup less than 25 days away, Team Pakistan still finds itself without a leader for the mega event. By not announcing Shahid Afridi as captain so close to the international cricket tournament, the PCB has again given us a practical example of how incompetent their management is. Why they allowed this uncertainty to prevail before such an important event is a mystery to me, and one that is so befuddling it makes me want to protest outside their office. I don’t agree with people who claim that Afridi doesn’t perform well as captain.  Although I do not ...

Read Full Post

The colourful world of comments

“Don’t you have anything better to write about?” is the response you get when you do a story that does not cover pressing issues or one that would be ‘making a difference’. If you do get a story on topics along the lines of corruption, rape or violence, the reaction you get is, “Stop maligning the name of the country! What will others think when they read this?” Working for The Express Tribune Web Desk, I have come across a very diverse group of comments – everyone seems to have something to say, whether you like it or not. There are the ‘something ...

Read Full Post

Salmaan Taseer: Ghetto prince of gutter poets

It was a hot April Fool’s day when I first heard the gruff voice of the Governor of Punjab on the phone. Naturally, I thought it was one of my friend’s playing a prank on me. To think that the Governor himself would pick up the phone and call me- what a heresy in a land dictated by status and protocol! As the conversation continued, my doubts about whether it was really the governor himself grew. When he asked if I was Scottish, I was stunned into silence. My preconceived notions of all government officials being idiots evaporated, and I ...

Read Full Post

Bleeding tears for Pakistan: Where have we failed?

Nothing is more refreshing than an evening jog in the park. The wind in your hair, the moist clods of earth under your feet; the almost tangy smell of damp, green grass and the mellow chatter of birds as they begin their daily rounds of “good-night!” to each other. But today is different. Rather than a gentle caress, the wind seems to lash out at me. The grass smells bitter and the normally rhythmic twitter of the birds is like an ominous chant, resounding in my ears, getting louder by the minute until I can take it no more. I surrender ...

Read Full Post

Slackistan: Not coming to a cinema near you

The Pakistani creative and entertainment industry is in the line of fire yet again. Last week’s cause célèbre is incidental heroine Veena Malik, the Lollywood actress whose participation in the Indian reality television show Bigg Boss, has touched a raw nerve with Pakistan’s self-appointed morality brigade (media and mullah alike). She emerged from Kamran Shahid’s show Frontline as an ambassador for showbiz and entertainment. This week, we have been greeted with the news that Hammad Khan’s feature film Slackistan with an all-Pakistani cast will not be released in Pakistan because of the raft of objections and censorship demands from the Pakistani Central ...

Read Full Post

Sialkot’s neglected journalists

Sialkot, the city of eagles, is proud to have produced many prominent politicians of the country. Of course, its most illustrious son was Allama Muhammad Iqbal but in recent years, it has given rise to many a prominent politician. One of them, of late, is Firdous Ashiq Awan, the current information minister. Many journalists from the city supported her during her rise to political office, in large part because she was a local politician and in part because they believed that having an information minister from their city could help in some of their own many problems as journalists. For ...

Read Full Post

Will the real America please stand up?

Here’s an amusing little nugget: “Now a final note: The left blogosphere seems to have wigged out over the suggestion that George W Bush and the successful emergence of a secular, democratic Iraq has anything to do with all this. For starters, it is amusing to see that those voices, fresh from the smear on conservatives regarding the Arizona shooting, are now all about “causation.” But more seriously, had democracy failed in Iraq, had the country descended into chaos, and had Iraqis labouring for a secular, democratic Muslim country been killed and exiled, do we imagine this would have been ...

Read Full Post

‘Strike tomorrow, school’s closed!’

How many countries have more unofficial (read: unnecessary) holidays than official ones? Now that 2011 has been announced as Pakistan’s year of education, we might want to start focusing less on who killed whom and more on keeping our schools open. My high school years in Karachi were a blur of classes, canteen breaks, throwball, netball, and bonfires. Sounds like fun, I know. But it would have been a whole lot more productive had it not been interrupted by school closures thanks to random strikes and curfews. As a young’un, who really cares? After all, no school is usually good ...

Read Full Post