Stories published in June, 2011

Lt Yasir: Him and me

Something dawned on me the other day – disturbing and fascinating at the same time. It is related to the Mehran Base attack in Karachi. I could have known Lieutenant Yasir Abbas, the tough fighter and hero of the Mehran Base attack. I could have known Yaser. He could have been more than a bodyless hero, more than a random encounter in a restaurant, may be an acquaintance. We could have been really good friends. In fact, we could have been the same person. Let’s rewind a little. Once upon a time, I almost landed in the Pakistan Air Force. ...

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Help! Am I still in love with my ex?

Hi, It has been four months since my ex-fiance and I broke up but I can’t get over her. We had a good relationship and to be honest, the break-up was more from her side than mine. Anyway, it’s been over four months now and I have had no contact with the girl, though I miss her dearly from time to time. There are things that remind me of her. At times, I wonder what she is doing, what she must be thinking, whether she is missing me too. I understand this is normal, and that time is the best healer. There ...

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Why I chose Imran Khan

Imran Khan is a name that comes up often in political debates among people affiliated with Pakistan. In times of trouble many see him as a ray of hope in a jungle of darkness. Others however, have accused him of playing popular politics, not taking a stance on important issues, and – when I heard this it blew my mind – being a terrorist sympathiser. Opinions differ (but not evenly) and though Imran Khan has tremendous support from the youth of the country, bashing his politics is also extremely popular in newspapers and the social media. I, as a convinced ...

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What does my hair have to do with my kick?

News that Fifa has banned the Iranian women’s football team from participating in the Olympics on account of their headscarves has been met with much criticism, but the real issues are not being addressed. Sport has reared it’s ugly bigoted head yet again. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Whether it’s sexuality, gender, religion or race, sport seems to be the perpetually re-offending schoolyard bully. Headscarves have been banned under the old hackneyed excuse of health and safety. Fifa’s ruling vaguely stipulates: “Players must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous to himself or another player.” This is an embarrassingly flaccid argument that is ...

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A taste of Turkish delights

“I wish I did not know what I know,” was how Zulkof Ajer had me speechless for a while, after I asked him what he knew about Pakistan. It was dinner time at the Conrad Hotel in Istanbul on June 4, where we had gathered for a pre-consultation of the International Contact Group (ICG) on Afghanistan. Turkey and Norway hosted this meeting that was followed by a similar consultation among the officials from members of ICG i.e. USA, Japan, Germany, Afghanistan, Turkey, India and Pakistan. The waiter at the Monet Restaurant, an extremely pleasant personality, was curious about our nationality, and was ...

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Selling rewards for the after-life

Sex – and anything remotely connected to sex – sells. Whether its one-liners in Nandos ads punning on ‘peri-peri hot chicks’ or a Twitter upload of Anthony Weiner’s manhood, sexual innuendos are popular. Don’t ask me why – I’m not a social scientist and I don’t purport to know why people are so interested in the act. I just know that they are.  And this YouTube video proves my point. This ‘scholar’ (I hate to use this word to describe him, but this is a public forum and I am going to maintain a certain level of respect) is preaching his ...

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The Capital Vulture: Tales from Islamabad’s haunted underworld

Are you experiencing strange dreams and sensations in parts of your home? Do objects move on their own accord; does the TV turn on by itself; are you hearing disembodied sounds? Even more macabre: does the bed shake when it’s not supposed to; has your shrieking woken the entire house because, for a few seconds, a tall silhouette appeared and disappeared as quickly as it came? If it’s YES to any one or more of these, you either need to re-evaluate the effectiveness of your shrink (that or get better pills) or you’ve got a paranormal infestation. Most households in this ...

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The army is not the bad guy

One of the key traits of a leader is to have perceptual objectivity – to be able to understand and articulate the point of view that each party brings to a conflict situation, and to develop a full comprehension even if it differs from one’s point of view. Yes, I’m a son of military person. No, I’m not here to defend the ‘holy cows’ that are the military just because of my dad. Yes, I chose not to join military because I did not agree with their policy and organisational culture. I stand for open and ‘objective’ criticism of the military and full ...

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I read so you don’t have to: Afridi week

Pakistan’s love affair with Shahid Afridi is a curious thing. He is a charismatic underperformer but we choose to concentrate on the former and ignore the latter. In a week otherwise dominated, as all weeks are, by bombings, the Taliban, the CIA and the ISI, there was no greater spat than the one between Afridi and PCB chairman Ijaz Butt. It reminded us once again that we love Afridi because he makes us smile and he makes us laugh, a feature common to all the best pieces of the week. The worst pieces of the week make it to the ...

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Pakistan hates women

Pardon me for being so blunt, but I’m not wrong. When you live in a country in which 80 per cent of the women are subjected to domestic abuse, then one can do nothing but point his or her finger at the collective psyche of the nation, within which misogynist ideas are so profoundly ingrained. There’s nothing wrong with particular individuals but something is terribly awry with us as a whole. If there’s one thing Mukhtaran Mai’s struggle has taught us, it is that this nation abhors rape victims more than it despises rapists. Our society, in lieu of teaching ...

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