Stories published in January, 2011

KESC sacking: Wrong time for the right decision

The weakening economy is impacting every sector and one of the worst hit seems to be the Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC). The company was already a victim of corruption and a house to ‘ghost employees’ when General Musharraf privatised the utility company in an attempt to provide an uninterrupted supply of electricity to the city. The new, improved KESC fulfilled its promise.  The new organization was restructured on revolutionary lines. Initiatives against electricity theft were introduced and load shedding hours were reduced to as little as 3 hours (compared with more than 10 hours). KESC took all necessary measures to ...

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Save your breath, PML-Q!

The PML-Q’s disapproval of the present regime’s tactics at placating the ‘religious right’ clearly indicates that politics in Pakistan is replete with irony. Caustic remarks were made with reference to the PPP’s inability to sustain support for progressive and moderate elements within the country and instead succumbing to pressure from religious extremists. Some PML-Q leaders have also gone to the extent of saying that there is no fundamental difference between the current leadership and the autocratic Zia regime. This anti-government tirade appears a tad insincere keeping in mind the fact that this ‘religious right’ were once empowered by the PML-Q ...

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Teach for Pakistan: Sharing the wealth of knowledge

Those of us who are brimming with patriotic fervour now have an outlet to use this energy constructively. This past week I saw a video for the Teach for Pakistan campaign that seeks to recruit professionals who have the potential to be educators. The idea is to train people accepted into the program to be inspirational teachers and to partner with government schools which are facing problems such as an absence of teachers or poor teachers. What I like about this is that the Teach for Pakistan program focuses on a specific problem and tries to fix it. Roots of ...

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Duvalier’s return to Haiti: Not really a big surprise

Jean-Claude Duvalier, also known as Baby Doc, has been planning his return to Haiti for at least six months. The former dictator has had a small but active political party lobbying for his return. His girlfriend Veronique Roy and a handful of supporters have been laying the groundwork for his arrival. In certain parts of the capital Port-au-Prince he has support from the people; the Duvalier name is spray painted on the sides of some buildings. But when he returned on Sunday, 24 years and 11 months after he was deposed, world leaders reacted with shock and condemnation. US State ...

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Leave Veena Malik alone!

When Pakistani film and television personality Veena Malik went to India to participate in popular reality show “Big Boss 4” she was doing a job – as an actress not an ambassador. According to Malik one of her tasks on the show was adding melodrama to the program – which she did. She was also, apparently requested to display a certain degree of intimacy with Indian model and actor Ashmit Patel.  This was where it all went wrong. The Pakistani public’s moral barometer hit the roof at the sight of a “quom ki beti” cuddling in the arms of ...

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Funeral etiquette: Do’s and dont’s for the not so bereaved

I lost my mother on January 12, 2011. I was at the airport, waiting to board my plane to London but the flight had been delayed due to heavy fog. Just as the call for boarding came, my brother called me and broke the news that she was critical. I forgot everything and grabbed the first taxi to the hospital. I had talked to my mother just two hours before, and she had been home, getting ready for her regular checkup. She sounded fine. Upon reaching the hospital, she died suddenly due to heart failure. To say the event was shocking would be ...

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How bad was your first day after winter break?

There’s pandemonium in the car as you put on your socks in last-minute uniform rituals that should have been performed at home. You try not to strangle yourself with your ID card as you are spat out from the car and propelled across the courtyard and through the chilly corridors. Your sweater was made for mild Karachi winters, not this 6 am Murree-like cold. “I made it,” you gasp as you hit the homeroom threshold. The class collapses in laughter. The teacher is comforting: “Beta, aur late aao, koi baat nahin.” It’s the first day after winter break. There are ...

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Can we have more intelligent cricket stories, please?

For someone who loves the game of cricket, irrespective of which teams play, I must concede that covering cricket matches almost became an untenable career option for me. I joined journalism to be involved with the game I loved. Of course, like most aspiring cricket writers, I made a cardinal mistake about the way sports coverage functions – I assumed what I wrote would change the way things are perceived. However, that is not the reality. My initial perception of ‘changing the system’ with my work was soon shattered; I learned that it’s not just the content but how this content ...

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The racist within us

It’s sad how we don’t want to be called racist and how callously we use the word for others, even though there lies an evident mindset that we as a nation harbour a feeling of division deep in our hearts — not only amongst ourselves on regional lines but even at a global level. It’s obviously offensive for Pakistanis to be called “brown” or to be more precise, “Pakis”. Nothing could be more offensive to us. But I could never measure it, in the true sense of the word, until the time I called an American friend of mine “Gora sahib”. ...

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Is Pakistan your heaven or hell?

On January 20, 2011 PM Gilani announced the inauguration of Parliament Lodges Phase II. The construction will spread across four acres of land and the initial building will cost Rs2.9 billion. The entire project is set to be completed in 36 months. The lodges include 104 residential family flats, a gymnasium, mosque, meeting rooms and five servant quarters. Earlier, Gilani also discussed reintroducing a proposal to construct a tunnel that led directly from the parliament house to the parliament lodges so that the security of parliamentarians could be ensured. Interestingly, in the same address he talked about Pakistan’s economic crisis. Our government ...

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