Stories published in February, 2011

Works on Faiz and other books

Were he alive today, Ahmad Nadim Qasmi would have found the current fervour and growing unanimity of acclaim for Faiz Ahmad Faiz quite intriguing since he thought that his own sidelining as a secondary figure of contemporary Urdu poetry during the latter’s lifetime had something to do with class and lifestyle. With class and lifestyle gone with the man, now what remains, Qasmi Sahib would have wondered, but his poetry and his memory? Is that worth making so much fuss about? In the realm of the arts, relative greatness cannot be determined with a measuring tape. Faiz Sahib himself made no such ...

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Mubarak’s departure: Triumph of the citizen

Three Fridays, eighteen days. There is no greater testament to the power of people, ordinary people that is, than what the Egyptians have achieved yesterday. Overthrowing Mubarak is historical, not just for the overthrowing of a deeply entrenched dictator, but because the revolution straddles both, the present and the future of the idea of social aggregation. Present in its ability to rid a society of autocracy and futuristic in its ability to do so without revolutionary leaders, this, and the Tunisian revolution, has shown the world that age-old notion of heroes rescuing troubled damsels in distress is just that – ...

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Taking the GMAT: Easier said than done

My university deserves credit for teaching me one great skill: passing an exam by studying just a couple of hours before the paper. However, two years after graduation, as I studied for another important exam I found that I did not have the same focus or zeal that I had in college. Unfortunately, the exam I was studying for was the GMAT. . The low down GMAT is not your run-of-the-mill exam. It cannot be attempted successfully by ratto-fying (or rote learning). If you have a good memory, you might be able to do well in one or two sections of the exam, ...

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TV talk shows: Today’s violent idiom

Why do the participants of political debates on our TV channels shout so much? And why do they all talk at the same time? And keep talking? And why, while all of them are shouting at the top of their voices, does this creature called the anchor, jump into the fray? I happened to believe that a recent debate on one of the channels, which featured a minister, a political analyst and a very decent lady on the panel, may be worth watching. To my surprise, however, the participants had all come armed and prepared for a violent exchange. The opening ...

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The world is coming down, the flags are up!

World Cup preparations have reached fever pitch and speculations about which teams are best placed to reach the semi-finals and who will land cricket’s most coveted prize are rife. Although I am not a cricket expert, I do have my very own semi-final line-up. After all if Imran Khan has already picked a winner, why can’t  I? My choices are as follows: Pakistan It is a little foolhardy to predict what an unpredictable team will do. The Pakistan team has often left those who dare to make predictions about them dumbfounded. The setback of the talented trio’s bans aside,   mercurial Afridi’s captaincy, has managed ...

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After Mubarak: Will Egypt survive democracy?

As dissidence swept the Middle East, events in Egypt turned sour. Hosni Mubarak was rumored to step down in a press conference yesterday but he disappointed many with his attempts to prolong his rule. Things in Egypt could have gotten really ugly. My guess was that crowds would march towards the Presidential Palace pressuring him to step down – and they did. What does democracy mean to Egyptians This movement is  based on political ideas as opposed to personalities. ElBaradei should draw an agreement with the consensus of leaders of the brotherhood, and the Ghad party among others, mapping demands for ...

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The paradox of the female suicide bomber

The Taliban’s claims of the presence of female suicide bombers in their ranks remain paradoxical. In the past, they have asserted that they do not target women (hence they denied involvement in Benazir Bhutto’s assassination) nor use women as tools in war. However, both these claims seem to be false. Using female bombers The Tehrik-i-Taliban Swat chapter has been involved in the rampant killing of women. One of their well known victims was the former member of Swat district council Bakht Zeba. She vehemently criticised the Taliban for preventing girls from attending school. As a result the Taliban unleashed their wrath. They dragged ...

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Kasab’s verdict: Lessons for Pakistan

The Mumbai terror attacks have been dubbed by the Indian media as their 9/11. Ajmal Kasab, the sole accused of the incident, will be facing a verdict at the end of this month. The sentence that will be awarded to him is pre-determined; perhaps the harshest and most well-deserved punishment as allowed by the Indian constitution and laws of the jurisdiction. A few years ago, Kasab and his accomplices terrorised the glitzy city of Mumbai for days and took the entire world by surprise. The shooting rampage and mayhem created by these despicable characters reversed the course of the ongoing pleasant ...

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What is your Valentine’s Day mantra?

It’s that time of year again. We’ve said goodbye to last year with nasty indulgences and ludicrous excesses. We’ve kicked off the New Year with the detoxed ‘new year, new me’ mantra and by the end of January, we’ve broken all our New Year resolutions. Yes, it’s the time when the New Year shine has faded and the New Year blues are slowly setting in. As if things weren’t bad enough, we have one thing to pull us out of our misery (not): Valentine’s Day! It’s one of those love it or hate it issues that people have polarised views on – ...

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Do birds have it better?

John Elijah envies a sparrow’s life. Guess why? Because, he points out, sparrows do not read newspapers. This far, I agree. Sparrows are really fortunate in that they do not read newspapers. But unfortunately they do not get to read John Elijah’s essays either where they are mentioned along with Plato, Aristotle, Avicenna, Alpharabius, Firdousi, Saadi and Hafiz. I have had to read the essays and am not saying for now whether this counts for a boon or a bane. Imtiaz Ahmed has compiled this selection of John Elijah’s essays published by Bahauddin Zakariya University’s Department of Urdu. The Elijah that comes through ...

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