Stories published in May, 2011

US economy: A downhill trip

The economy of the United States (US) is in dire straits. In June 2010, a well known financial sector analyst, and the woman who blew the doors open on the 2008 mortgage crisis, Meredith Whitney, forecasted that two million government employees would be laid off in the coming years because of fiscal problems. It is happening. Over 300,000 employees were fired in fiscal year 2011, and this number is about to increase by 50 per cent in 2012. Around 450,000 people who work for US states, counties, cities, towns and villages could get the pink slips next year, which would ...

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Criticism of Ajmal’s action: Cause for needless controversy

The recent test series between West Indies and Pakistan, which ended in a 1-1 draw, confirmed Pakistan’s strong bowling lineup and the batting weakness of both the teams. It was one of those rare series in which the Green Shirts relied more on their spinners than the pacers and they returned handsome rewards. West Indian batsmen were simply clueless against the wiles of Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman and Muhammad Hafeez. Ajmal took 17 wickets in all and was deservedly named man of the series but the comments of some of the West Indian greats of the past left a sour taste ...

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Time to restructure the army

Recently, there was a public demonstration in support of the Pakistan army outside the Presidential Palace. There were more banners in support of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the army than there were demonstrators. Ironically, all the banners were exact lookalikes. There was a desperate need for show of some public support for the military after US Navy Seals violated Pakistan’s sovereignty undetected, to hunt down Osama bin Laden. This demonstration didn’t change much. Pakistan received a small, handicapped army after the partition of India in 1947. The civilian population, keeping the best interest of the country in mind, massively ...

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Heroin use in Pakistan: Deep and deadly

In all the blitz of news this week, there was a remarkable story that the largest ever heroin cache had been seized in the country’s history – a whooping 375kg, worth an estimated $44 million. Indeed, this is a job well-executed on the part of the Anti-Narcotics Force, but this whole episode should serve to open the box on heroin drug use in Pakistan, rather than just a mere round of applause. To give a short history of heroin use in Pakistan, this menace came into prominence in the wake of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Domestic cultivation of poppy ...

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Karachi: The city with a memory

Karachi would be a tour guide’s nightmare assignment. Imagine a horde of overeager Japanese or European tourists, thirsting for scenic, history-laden wonders, wanting to take that perfect Facebook profile picture next to a monument where the fate of the world as we know it today was defined. What do you have? Nothing. The sea, one might argue. Or those lovely dilapidated colonial buildings, Empress Market, the sea, Frère Hall, the sea, Bohri Bazaar, the sea. Add to this, a lacklustre assortment of non-attractions, a cacophony of cars blaring through traffic-choked streets, wilting trees, hordes of beggars at every signal that ...

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PNS Mehran attack: United we stand?

Does the maxim ‘United we stand, divided we fall’ hold true for us, only as a nation? It’s very evidently true for us, if we are part of the military forces. Just how can the intruders jump into the naval base and create havoc of such great magnitude. Unthinkable and unimaginable. Karachi, my city was under attack, and one feels extremely out of focus, when our armed forces, our jawans, who spend their entire life guarding our lives and our borders, evidently get attacked by people we know as Taliban. This is in reference to the recent attacks on them. But ...

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The role of men in contraception

In a constitutionally Islamic country riddled with contrasts, far away from the welfare model, perpetually confused on nearly all critical issues ranging from foreign policy to population planning, infamous for low status of women and girls and their social exclusion, and characterised by the dramatic capture of power elites in politics and development fields both, one wonders — what does the male role or involvement in family planning mean to Pakistan? I tried to come up with a plausible definition of male involvement in family planning in 1999 after noticing its absence in the literature. It reads: Male involvement in Family ...

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10 troublesome traits of the average Pakistani

Every state has its own national character, for instance the French are considered great lovers of wine, art and science while the Americans follow the lesson of George Washington’s cherry tree story which basically teaches two important things – Do the right thing and take responsibility for your actions. Unfortunately, we as Pakistanis have some negative traits which are coming to define us: 1. An average Pakistani behaves as he is told to by the establishment and/or the biased media. We do not cherish golden rules like ‘do the right thing’. Instead, we follow a de-facto rule, ‘my staff, my cattle’ ...

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Are you part of the ‘kewl’ club?

I solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. A couple, who happen to teach English Language, went to meet the love of their son’s life in order to proceed with the proposal the eastern way. When someone asked the professor afterwards, if he was happy with his son’s choice, he had only one thing to say: The girl was fine but her father kept speaking inaccurate English; his grammar and tenses were highly misplaced. This may come across as a rude remark to some, but it truly reflects a teacher’s dilemma. I, however, am no tutor ...

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Clash of the Titans: Johan Cruyff vs Alex Ferguson

Another Champions League final has dawned upon us. Barcelona and Manchester United, with different footballing concepts, gear up for a masterpiece that should give the supporters and neutrals alike a memorable finale at Wembley. This is not just another final, it is the meeting of two footballing theories—that of the great Johan Cruyff against the genius of Alex Ferguson. The characteristics of Barcelona’s football ethics is inherited from the 70s, coherently the Dutch style which became associated with Ajax and Rinus Michel, and later Barcelona’s very own total football—in which defenders could attack and attackers could defend, all the while creating ...

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