Stories published in April, 2011

The battle of ideas: Reform the militant

One is not born a terrorist. One doesn’t wake up on a Thursday morning with an epiphany of being the next Mullah Omar or Khalid Sheikh Mohammad. A desire to resort to terrorism doesn’t take place overnight. It is a process of indoctrination; a change of thought and mindset. And all changes can be reversed when there is a plan. Today, what’s important for Pakistan is the need to devise a strategy of de-radicalising, rehabilitating and reintegrating militants back into society. I don’t mean to undermine military measures being taken against violent extremists, but the military alone cannot eradicate a group of ideological ...

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Is the veil not cool enough for France?

Is it difficult to be a woman, a Muslim and a self-proclaimed fighter of gender discrimination – and not support the French government’s ban on the burqa? Nope, no problem. In fact, I feel I am in a position of advantage as a member of a religion that has come under fire from the world’s democracies as well as an outspoken advocate for  equality for both sexes. Let me iterate here: I do not support the ban on the face veil. It is tantamount to human rights violations against minorities. What is French culture? The French government’s ban  says that the ...

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Windies tour: Who’s who on the Pakistan squad

Pakistan team selectors have made a smart move by picking a fresh squad for the one day and T20 matches to tour the West Indies later this month By excluding old horses like Younis Khan, Misbahul Haq, Abdul Razzaq and Kamran Akmal they have paved the way for the next set of players in order to rebuild the house for the next World Cup. It was a decision that had to be made and there’s no better time to groom younger players than now. If we can unearth another Umar Akmal, perhaps find another exciting fast bowler and a decent wicket ...

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Sesame Street: Can puppets change Pakistan?

A BBC news report stated that USAID has made a grant of $20 million to Rafi Peer Theater group to create a local version of Sesame Street. The setting is a rural village and the protagonist a spirited little girl named Rani. This report should be in the Onion or get a rotten tomato. It quotes Imraan Peerzada, a writer for the new series: She (Rani) will represent what little girls have to go through in this gender-biased society…her journey would inevitably touch on Pakistan’s ongoing fight with militancy, but would not directly refer to religion. What’s next? Fluoride in our drinking water to make us more docile, compliant and less flammable in ...

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Baisakhi fair: Thanking one God for His bounty

As a child, I attended the Baisakhi fair many times. The sound of the beat of the  huge dhol echo in my memory. I can picture the ancient ‘well of death’. Visions of  the bright circus and toy shops come flooding back to me. I can almost taste the unique sweetness of the jalaibis, and the spicy taste of pakoras. Last year I visited the fair after all these years and relived childhood memories. Looking back,  I am amazed at the scale of the three-day festival marking the harvest time of the rabi (winter) crops. It is celebrated as a harvest festival by the large farming community in ...

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I love you, but you can’t have my password

I recently read a blog post about sharing personal e-mail accounts with your partners or spouse. The blog said about 33 per cent of women and 30 per cent of men share their online information with their partners. It also said that among unmarried couples, 10 per cent of the time, this led to a discovery of their partner’s infidelity. The figure was lower for married couples – about three per cent. The identity theft expert who gave these stats, Robert Siciliano, went on to warn that this figure was among those who had admitted to account sharing and discovering the infidelity ...

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Qaddafi 1, Libyan opposition 0

While the US, the UK, France, Germany and other western allies have done all they could to oust Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi, they have failed. In fact, if anything, the dictator, who has been in charge of the North African country for close to four decades is nowhere close to relinquishing his position. In this, he has shown himself to be far more resilient than Hosni Mubarak and this may be slightly ironic given that the protesters off Libya got their inspiration in large part from their counterparts in Egypt. However, unlike in the case of Egypt, the US saw in Libya ...

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Brainwashing: Fighting the Taliban and fools’ paradise

According to different sources, Umar Fidai, the would-be Sakhi Sarwar suicide bomber, was studying in eighth grade when he was approached by the “merchants of death” – the Tehrik-i-Taliban. He was systematically brainwashed to “find the path to paradise, instead of wasting life on worldly affairs”. Fidai was transferred to training camps in North Waziristan, and trained along with 350 bombers, including nationals from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan along with Pakistanis. Some reports said Fidai lost his father in an attack in Karachi. Others said he was told that he would be attacking a target in Afghanistan, but the destination was changed at ...

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Can’t kill, detain or release militants? Frame a legal policy

Despite Islamabad’s cartwheels and somersaults, the mud of extra-judicial killings in terrorism hotspots is sticking. The US government’s report on human rights violations in Pakistan said nothing new; Islamabad’s refutation was predictable. But in the absence of a coherent strategy to deal with captured militants, the frustration of the military as well as rights activists is growing. While the military describes the status of the General Kayani-commissioned report on the video depicting the gunning down of six civilians by men in uniform as ‘ongoing’ and insists it will figure out – eventually – what to do about those found guilty, ...

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Why scientists love the HEC

Science is a process that requires consistency. It takes years to gain momentum before researchers can reap the fruit of the labour – continuity is vital for progress. But in Pakistan, scientific study has already received multiple blows. Mistakes like the devolution of various bodies that support scientific education including the University Grants Commission are being repeated. Devolution hurts the economy Investors and global business leaders look at the total budget spent on research and development before investing into an economy. Low budgets mean they move onto more favourable countries. Apart from the security issues that Pakistan is facing, the ...

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