Stories published in May, 2011

Women are the weaker sex – so what?

The pervasive staring can be annoying and so can a look on some mens’ faces which says: “she’s just a woman.” While most Pakistani women are victims of inequality, abuse and threats I believe there is a ray of light that often goes unnoticed. In my experiences, many middle-to-upper class women in Pakistan are delicately handled -like valuable, glass objects. They are respected at least outwardly and even allowed to disgrace men in public for initiating eye contact. In spite of the blatant prejudices, should such women appreciate the small advantages they are given in the Pakistani society? On the bus My journey towards exploring the ...

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The market for conspiracy theories

What was limited to marginal audiences in the past has now transformed into a huge commodity. Following every ‘big’ incident in any part of the world, it sells the most – conspiracy theory. In Pakistan, conspiracies theories are constantly evolving. You can get to any conclusion whatsoever, and come up with any analysis on a given situation. It will sell, provided you have a platform to market your theory. The favourite platform for a conspiracy theorist is a television talk show. The real disseminators of such theories, however, are local language newspapers. Deriving their credibility from the conspiracy-theory-based talk shows, the vernacular ...

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Osama bin Laden’s revenge begins

Osama bin Laden, the world’s most wanted terrorist and mastermind behind the September 11 attacks, was killed by US Special Forces in a predawn helicopter raid in Pakistan’s garrison city of Abbottabad on May 1, bringing an end to the decade-long terror that had gripped the entire world in its ugly clutches. His death was declared the third biggest news of the 21st century; right below the rise of China to first-tier nation status and the election of Barack Obama as the US president. However, even in his death, Osama has not seized to surprise us. If anything, he continues to ...

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Mr President, make a choice

We should appreciate the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) decision in President Asif Ali Zardari’s dual office case. And, we should hope that the president accepts LHC’s verdict, if he aims to end national conflicts and boost public confidence in the political leadership of the country. LHC ordered to restrict President  Zardari from conducting political activities at the Presidency.  The four-member bench headed by the LHC Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry mentioned in its 35-page decision that a president should be neutral. The verdict further declared that the presidency could not be used for political activities. Our political leaders need to understand that democracy ...

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Indo-Pak relations: Back to normal

After the recent brouhaha over cricket diplomacy, it looks like India-Pakistan relations have again slipped into their comfort zone of allegations and counter allegations. Last month, as I saw Manmohan Singh and Yousaf Raza Gilani in Mohali, I was reminded of David Grey’s song “This year’s love had better last.” But then, in typical Ross and Rachel-esque fashion, statements by our diplomats have begun to resemble “We were on a break” and “No, we weren’t”. The fact that Osama Bin Laden died only complicated matters. Soon after the news of Bin Laden’s death spread, Indian news channels went into overdrive. Predictably enough, ...

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Just say ‘I’m sorry’

Remember the time when your school teacher made you say sorry to a class fellow you got into a fight with, and it was he who had started it anyway! And then it all ended with your teacher saying, “Come on you two, shake hands now,” and you did shake hands. You made minimal hand contact with your erring buddy before quickly snatching away your hand. Perhaps you even rubbed your palm against your uniform trousers right after, just to signal to your rival that his dirty hand had now soiled yours too. But thank God that moment of making ...

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Let’s talk about sex

While the Behavioural Surveillance Survey (BSS) found a vast majority of young people in Pakistan to be sexually active, another study showed that Pakistan is witnessing a rise in sexual abuse cases. Statistics released by an NGO, Sahil, in a report called “Cruel Numbers Report 2010,” reveal that victims of sexual abuse comprise 73 per cent girls and 27 per cent boys. These findings mock the belief that young people do not know, need not know, or, have nothing to do with, sexuality because they are protected by Pakistan’s culture and tradition. Abuse and violence shouldn’t be the only standpoints to ...

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When will our captains understand?

It is common knowledge that Pakistan cricket and controversy go hand in hand, and it seems that the former cannot survive for long without the latter rearing its head. The last few years, under the rule of the much maligned Ejaz Butt, have been no different, be it the descent of Younis Khan from captaincy, the Muhammad Yousuf captaincy and non-selection saga, the unfortunate Butt, Asif and Amir incident or the regular sacking/resignations of coaches and chief selectors – the people involved at the highest echelons, and the fans too, have perhaps resigned to the fact that it is ...

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The man who taught me how to give

I was not too surprised when I saw the elderly man on the side of the Islamabad highway. Beggars are a common sight on the road and drivers are used to ignoring them. But as I waited at the traffic signal, I noticed the man stepping onto the road. The light had just turned red and the timer had started. He only had a few seconds to get someone’s attention. Watching him from the car, I assumed he was asking for money, but his movements suggested otherwise. There was no weariness, no weakness in his movements, which is usually associated ...

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Kalash: What we can learn from the lost civilisation

My family and I were fortunate enough to spend a few nights among the extraordinary Kalash last summer. This unique tribe is tucked away in the isolated mountain valley of Bumberet, hidden from the rest of the world. Legend has it that 2,300 years ago, when Alexander the Great and his army were pushing deep into South Asia, on their way to India in 327 BC, some of his men remained in the villages of Chitral. As a result the Kalash tribe of roughly 3,500 today consider themselves direct descendants of the Macedonian king. We began our journey along the Chitral-Dir ...

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