Stories published in July, 2011

A review of the Decision Review System

The Decision Review System (DRS) was part of the agenda in the recent International Cricket Council’s (ICC) annual meeting in Hong Kong where the administrators and executive members tweaked many rules of the game, only to compel cricket-pundits to turn cynics. Two bodies, the ICC and the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI), are ruining cricket, by altering the game’s norms – the former is doing this through sheer absurdity while the latter, through tyranny. The DRS along with the Hot Spot (infrared technology) was made mandatory by ICC after their annual meeting. But the system, in its current form, ...

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Pakistan Railways and class

If financial statements were Pakistan Railways’ (PR) only problem, a recent Rs11.5 billion bailout package would have been an encouraging omen for its future. The Railways’ predicament, however, like that of the entire Pakistani state, concerns [lack of] ideas and self-interested policies. By definition, it is public transport; in practice, it serves first its bureaucracy and then the passengers. Originally rail networks were built in India to link up inland economic centres to port cities for efficient transportation of raw materials for onward shipment to Britain. Profitability, then, was central to its business model and transportation of goods. A factsheet available ...

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Appeasing the Baloch youth

The youth – the future leaders of this country – continue to bear the major brunt of the simmering conflict in Balochistan. Unemployment stands at an all time high. Educational institutions in Balochistan are either mostly closed or only partially functional – either because of threats from Baloch militants or sporadic military sweeps through the areas, or strikes, called to protest for victims of target-killings. Education at large has suffered due to frequent strikes. In 2010, more than 100 working days were lost due to the breakdown of law and order or because of political action, mostly by Baloch nationalist parties. In ...

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Transformers 3: Great effects, greater flaws

Watching a Michael Bay movie must be similar to what I imagine it is like for patients on the receiving end of a colonoscopy – there is always a bit of a fear. After all, this is the director who, in 2001, took a historic tragedy and unintentionally turned it into a three-hour comedy in the form of Pearl Harbor. The experience is numbing, considering that you can fit the plots of Bay’s entire work on the back of a matchbook; after either ordeal is over, any enjoyment you may have felt is accompanied by feelings of guilt. Dark of ...

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Life between two encroachments

The federal government watches on as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) encroachment upon Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) territory, both in the Shandur and Diamer-Bhasha Dam case, is adding to the despondency of the G-B people. The Shandur case remains unsolved even though a committee has been constituted to look into the problem. The situation turned grave last year after the Gilgit polo team went against a seven-decade-old tradition and decided not to play with Chitral. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has reportedly given Wapda a go-ahead signal regarding the Diamer Bhasha Dam, without first settling the issue. Opposition leader in G-B Assembly Bashir Ahmed, who hails from ...

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“Firing in Saddar! Turn on the TV!”

I live near Saddar, and every single act of violence that affects Saddar affects me too. I was waiting for my mom to come pick me up, obliviously laughing with my friends over some lame joke, unaware of what I was going to go through in the next ten minutes. I was at my school, waiting for my mom to come pick me up – and for a second, I thought I’d lost her forever. A guy came rushing up to us and said: “Firing in Saddar! Turn on the TV!” Normally, being a helpless Karachiite, I would have watched the news and ...

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Farewell Space Shuttle Atlantis, thanks for the dreams

The Space Shuttle Atlantis is about to embark on its final mission. The mission will bring to an end three decades of space travel, exploration, experimentation and innovation. Space travel taps into one of the most basic and perhaps most valuable of human qualities, curiosity. For someone growing up in Pakistan during the 1990s, Space Shuttle launches in Florida were as distant as space itself.  They were brought a little bit closer by NTM when it first started broadcasting a few hours of CNN and BBC a day. One of my first experiences of following the 24 hour “Breaking News” ...

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The domino effect of terrorism

While the dictionary defines it as the “use of violence and intimidation in pursuit of political aims there is no unanimous legal definition of ‘terrorism’ If it was up to me, I would define it as a continual dose of fear that creates uncertainty, distrust and melancholy. That melancholy triggers depression, which in turn gives birth to numerous psychological ailments. Recently, a noted psychiatrist from Peshawar, Dr Khalid Mufti, released a survey report, conducted under his supervision by an NGO called Horizon. According to the survey, 80 per cent of South and North Waziristan residents are suffering from mental illness while ...

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Karachi, my city of violence

Two nights ago, I heard sounds of blaring ambulances as I entered my house. The next day while I was on my way to work, my brother called me and told  me to turn back because the situation in the city might get ‘Orangi-ised’ by evening. The ambulances I heard had been carrying the bodies of two men shot at Johar Chorangi, just half a kilometer from my house. For once, I thought it wise to listen to my brother, and went back home. While I stayed at home I was only too aware that innocent people were dying and many ...

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I read so you don’t have to: A week free of cliches

It is a truth universally understood that there is now only one sport in Pakistan. Sure, when the Olympics rolls around we suddenly recall that hockey is our national sport. But on the average day, Shahid Afridi’s latest shenanigans will always get top billing above whatever other sport we might happen to be excelling in. Let this be the week when our success in cards and the spirited display of our special Olympians changed all that. Let this also be the week that the rest of the world stops writing about Pakistan as if it were a cliché. Sure, there’s ...

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