Stories published in July, 2011

Mediocre coaches give mediocre results

Saudi Arabia’s dismal run at the 2011 AFC Asian Cup campaign resulted in the mid-tournament sacking of their national football team coach Jose Peseiro, who was replaced by the world-renowned Frank Rijkaard. We see a similar trend in Iran, where Afshin Ghotbi was replaced by Carlos Queiroz, while Qatar fired their long-serving coach Bruno Metsu and appointed Serbia’s Milovan Rajevac in his place. In fact, wherever ‘the beautiful game’ is followed with passion and sincerity, failures on the field are taken seriously by both the fans and the concerned authorities. Football federations leave no stone unturned to rectify their errors and go ...

Read Full Post

If Harry Potter were desi, his broom would be a jharoo and his Snitch a laddoo

Harry Potter’s last film is coming out (in Pakistan) on July 22 and somewhere in semi-peaceful parts of Karachi, not shown on TV, a couple of kids are getting ready for the biggest event of their lives. If their city will allow them to. When Harry Potter’s last book was released, bookshops around the world were told to release Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at exactly the same time, lest some overeager fan typed up the book on the internet and ruined it for everyone by not operating on GMT. That meant at 4:30 am every book outlet in Karachi ...

Read Full Post

“Death is better than divorce”

When I heard that Nariman*, my bubbly childhood friend, was back in town, I was overjoyed beyond belief. I looked forward to a time full of fun and laughter and doing every thing under the sun. When we were younger, I actually believed that sitting still caused Nariman physical pain, because she was always so excited. But three years after her wedding, she sits old and haggard, her eyes devoid of all laughter, her gait lacking spirit, and her voice like a mere rustle of dead leaves on parched mud. What led to the transition is not the fact that ...

Read Full Post

10 travel tips for the desi explorer

There are two ways to travel – like an invited guest, you can ring the doorbell, enter through the front door and have your host guide you to the prized room of the house while they serve you in their finest china, make small talk and control your experience of the place – or, you can enter through the back door, through the kitchen, see what’s cooking on the stove, set the table, make tea and find your own comfort zone to enjoy the experience at will. The former is a tourist, the latter an explorer and mastering the ...

Read Full Post

Musharraf is just not a good brand

The Musharraf brand, if you will, is pretty toxic. For all the talk of grassroots contact campaigns, the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) rarely hits headlines, or captures public imagination. It doesn’t help that the leader of the APML, Pervez Musharraf himself, is not in the country. He is spending most of his time criss-crossing the United States (US), meeting various local support bases among the expatriate community. I guess his brand value is greatest among ineligible voters. APML’s political strategy remains a mystery. The much publicised Facebook support base cannot be counted on. Musharraf has stated that he will return to Pakistan ...

Read Full Post

Afghanistan without Petraeus: ‘Tough days ahead’

On July 18, General David H Petraeus handed over command of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato), the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) and US Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) to his successor, Marine Corps General John Allen. Petraeus had been in charge of military operations in Afghanistan for a little over one year. According to The Christian Science Monitor the change of command has taken place at “a time of increasing instability” – not a good sign for the Americans who want to hand over the security of Afghanistan to the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP) over ...

Read Full Post

Of politicians and social networks

With Rehman Malik declaring that 70% of the recent violence in Karachi can be attributed to (incredibly angry) wives and girlfriends and Jamaat-i-Islami declaring that Malik needs to see a doctor, the lines between farce and reality have been fairly blurred. If not the usual suspects, it’s the new Sindh home minister saying that the multifarious problems of Karachi can be solved using a ‘wand of love’. Harry Potter couldn’t have been happier to hear that ethnic divides, riots, tyre-burning, killings, strikes, loadshedding and the like could be solved with a loving wand. But just when we thought it couldn’t get any ...

Read Full Post

What you need to know about Hina Rabbani Khar

After keeping the slot of Foreign Minister vacant for more than five months, the government has finally woken up and decided to appoint Hina Rabbani Khar as the next Foreign Minister of Pakistan. It will not be an alien territory for Ms Khar, as she has been performing her duties as the Junior State Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs till now. But, there will be an additional set of responsibilities that will come with the promotion. Even though she is familiar with the portfolio, it will be very difficult to speculate, at this stage, how much she would ...

Read Full Post

Smart power: Mango diplomacy and Khar

I said I wanted to write about our Chaunsa Diplomacy and was reminded that the accepted phrase for the season’s initiative was Mango Diplomacy. I still prefer Chaunsa Diplomacy, Chaunsa being the only variety amongst Pakistani mangoes to have been allowed market access in America. Also, I believe it sounds more native and therefore implies credit and ownership for the policy where it is due. And why have I not written about the new tint our diplomacy is taking vis a vis India? I can say that from the foreign minister’s purse to her blue scarf, the subject has been beaten ...

Read Full Post

Rural education: Eight reforms we need now

Educational institutions are the breeding ground for any civilization. Illiteracy is the mother of all evil and ignorance leads to exploitation of the weak, and injustice in the society. The pertinent question: Why is the current breed of politicians so ignorant about the pitiful state of government-run schools? The simple answer: They know that their presence in the assemblies and their luxurious lifestyle is only possible because of the illiterate masses who vote for them. Education, especially in state-run institutions, has deteriorated. I belong to a very remote part of Sindh and have had the opportunity to observe the devastation of society personally. I have ...

Read Full Post