Stories published in April, 2011

El Clasico: God’s gift to mankind

Football enthusiasts around the world, and particularly ones partial to La Liga, have a feast of beautiful football to look forward to in the next two weeks. In case you have been living under a rock for the past week or so, an unprecedented deal of four El Clasicos were scheduled in the span of four weeks. Two have already taken place with Barcelona and Real Madrid involved in a 1-1 stalemate in the league. As both goals came from the spot, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo finished with honours even. The second was a match-up in the Copa del Rey ...

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Mukhtaran Mai case: Mubashar Luqman’s big mistake

The Supreme Court (SC) judgement of Mukhtaran Mai’s case was a great disappointment, but the insensitivity displayed by some elements of the media, was shocking. Many elements in the media treated the judgement as they treat every other issue – adding a lot of masala, controversy and sensationalism to it. While I think that no issue deserves this sort of juvenile treatment, there should be a limit to the coverage of sensitive topics like this one. The decision of the SC has been a big setback for the women of Pakistan. Most decent people in Pakistan, and the rest of the world, think ...

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Do you care about my dead uncle?

My uncle was killed this month. But, you don’t care and, you’ll care even less as you read on. His death knell was sounded about two weeks ago – not by God but by six armed men. The headline of this sort of story, due to its lack of significance for the rest of the world, may read something like this: Shia doctor assassinated by militants Very conveniently, the media simplifies the most important event in his life, and the life of his family members, to a war between two groups. Out of the entire population of Pakistan, the number of people ...

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Mukhtaran Mai verdict: Where the court went wrong

Human rights activists are rightfully outraged that the Supreme Court (SC) has upheld the acquittals of five of the accused in Muktar Mai’s case, except Abdul Khaliq. (The State v. Abdul Khaliq, Criminal Appeals No.163 to 171 and S.M. Case No.5/2005, hereinafter “Judgment”) The case offers an opportunity to reignite the struggle and frame ethical principles that balance the right of the criminal defendant with the rights of victims of crimes. On August 31, 2002, the Anti-terrorism Court (ATC) found the six defendants guilty of several offences under the Hudood Ordinance and the Pakistan Penal Code.  These included rape and aiding ...

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ZAB case: Pros and cons

After hearing the case and upholding an earlier verdict of the Lahore High Court in the Mukhtaran Mai case, the Supreme Court will hear the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto reference case and it will be a historic moment. I say historic because it will measure the Pakistan Peoples Party’s success in helping set the record straight. An iconic leader, the first democratically-elected prime minister and founder of the PPP, Mr Bhutto was and still is revered by many. Maybe this is why setting the record straight becomes even more important. The party followers will literally dance and revel in joy if the ...

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What I learned about Pakistan in Muscat

I’m in a new land. Many back home think I am amongst the lucky few who have had the chance to live abroad and see “better days”. But, I wonder, do Pakistanis find happiness in the fact that they are actually home? I was filled with an overwhelming longing for Pakistan as soon as I landed in Muscat. The alien atmosphere, the new faces, the strange dresses, and the various dialects intimidated me. For the first time in my life, I felt proud of being a Pakistani, of wearing our traditional shalwar kameez and bearing the traditional Pakistani look. When ...

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The best thing about an identity crisis

Exactly one year ago, on the very night I wrote this, I remember not being able to sleep. Such nights were common then. I would twist and turn for over five hours, lying in bed until finally, sleep would come. During those waking hours spent in bed I would cry. My anxiety attacks were so severe that I would fear I may die during the sleepless struggle. I knew I was on the precipice of a full-on identity crisis. In retrospect, I wonder now why I never bothered telling any family member or friend what was going on. Maybe, it was because I ...

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The futility of justice: Was the movement in vain?

The lawyers’ movement that began three years ago was supposed to restore justice and fairness to the Pakistani judicial system with the reinstatement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who had been so unceremoniously dumped from his position by then president, General Pervez Musharraf. But, while Chaudhry returned to his former office, justice it seems got lost somewhere along the way. After nine torturous years, Mukhtaran Mai, who was gang raped and assaulted on the orders of the village council of where she lived, witnessed five of the six accused freed by the Supreme Court (SC). A desperate end to a harrowing ...

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With Moin Akhtar, a piece of my childhood dies

Those who remember the 80s well will also be familiar with the brilliance that existed on Pakistan Television (PTV) at that time. In days of severe censorship and fear of the government, PTV (especially its Karachi centre) always found ways of subverting the system and poking fun at the dictator and his lackeys. There were three names, Anwar Maqsood, Bushra Ansari and Moin Akhtar, who were the mainstay of such satire where things had to be said subtly in order pass through the censor board. In a rather twisted bit of irony, PTV’s golden days of comedy died with Ziaul ...

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No tea for Mortenson…

I met Greg Mortenson at the Authors Festival in Carmel, California while I was attending grad school in the area. We chatted for half an hour and swapped contact information so we could meet in Pakistan. While in Pakistan, I rang up his Central Asia Institute (CAI) contact, Suleman, to arrange a meeting but Mortenson’s trip was cancelled because of his heart condition. Nevertheless we kept in touch through emails and Facebook. I made an effort to see the CAI schools in Skardu while I was visiting those areas during my summer break. After my return to California, a group ...

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