Stories published in July, 2011

Anjum Aqeel: Who let the MNA out?

As a voting citizen of Islamabad, I am ashamed. My MNA, the elected representative of the city, a member of a party that is ostensibly part of the judicial movement, made a mafia-style dash from the police before deciding to turn himself in. How nice of him. There are those who would point to his party’s hierarchy to show this was to be expected. Now how can a party which stood up for the judiciary and the removal of a dictator be seen in such a light? Read history. The party and its democracy-loving leader rose to prominence in the 80s through the ...

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England vs India: Battle for world supremacy

One of the most anticipated cricket series will start at Lords Stadium on the July 21, when India takes on England in the first Test match. This series can be regarded as the battle for the World Test Champion, as the number one team in Test cricket, India, will play the number three team. If England wins the series, they will take the top position. Both teams are at the peak of their performance but England seems to have an edge where the future is concerned. The younger players in their line-up have already established themselves as world class players ...

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Choices to make: Is cheating ever okay?

A friend spoke with me recently about a dilemma. His brother had gotten in touch and asked for a favour, or rather, had given him a directive. Do this or else… The issue was that my friend’s nephew will soon be sitting the Intermediate exams. My friend’s brother wanted my friend to pull some strings and speak to the teacher who would be taking his viva in the sciences to allow his son to be evaluated ‘fairly’. Apparently, this is the ‘only’ way to get better marks. According to my friend’s brother, regardless of their answers most students are given mediocre ...

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Eating the Internet: Why foodies need to log in

The difference between an industry and random entrepreneurs with small businesses is connections. Being involved in the fashion world, I have witnessed this evolution.  Say what you will about the numerous fashion weeks we have every year, it has provided a platform for members of said industry (designers, journalists, store owners, makeup artists, photographers, stylists, models etcetera) to meet and collaborate, understand each other and grow. The ultimate winner in such an endeavor is the consumer who now has more choices than ever. It is surprising that a nation obsessed with food and dining has a relatively underdeveloped food industry. The link ...

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Karachi violence: Lessons to learn the day after

What can one say about Senior Sindh Minister Zulfiqar Mirza that hasn’t already been said. However, we can examine further the ruling party’s ever-ready approach to bring their angry spokesman repeatedly into the picture. This time around, months after being on vacation after his resignation, Zulfiqar Mirza found quite the appropriate moment to burst back into political limelight. Before being led away by Local Government Minister Agha Siraj Durrani, Mirza put the icing on the cake by urging the people of Karachi and Hyderabad to rise up. And as they say, the rest is history – the people did rise ...

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South Asia’s forgotten art: Dastangoi

The good thing about the internet is what it does to distance. It can bring the flavour of your des or watan (land) right to your apartment in London. Whilst I was on one of my random internet strolls one day, I chanced upon a clip of a recent Dastangoi event organized in Delhi. For those of you who don’t know, Dastangoi was a form of storytelling practised in Delhi and the Urdu speaking areas of the Indo-Gangetic plains. The concept was pretty simple. In the olden days, when the idiot box was still not invented, a Dastango (storyteller) would recite the tales of Amir Hamza and Tilism-e-Hoshruba, whilst his audience ...

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CIA, polio drives and responsibility

In April 2011 I was made part of a World Health Organisation (WHO) team to monitor effectiveness of a community vaccination drive carried in different districts of Karachi. I spent the day with my team visiting a set of clusters in the Baldia Town area of the city. At the cost of sounding alarmist, I’d regard it as my firsthand experience of observing the enormity of community vaccination in Pakistan – it almost felt undoable. I was seeing the face of Karachi I had never seen before – rural, ethnic, rugged and a whole lot more like Afghanistan on CNN. We ...

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Karachi politics: Make space for the Pashtuns

Karachi hosts the largest concentration of the urban Pashtun population, surpassing Peshawar, Quetta and Kandahar. It is the largest Pashto-speaking city in the world. In fact, by some accounts, Pashtuns make up for more than 15 per cent of the total population in Karachi. Pashtuns contribute significantly to the economy of Karachi through business and labour. The fact that the Awami National Party (ANP) managed to win two seats in the 2008 elections is evidence for large Pashtun existence in the city. ANP, as a party, is changing and is becoming a counter-force to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). Karachi is ...

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Harry Potter: Deathly Hallows, Pottermore and saying good bye

Indeed, it all ends here as millions around the world unwillingly let go of a rope that for the last fourteen years has allowed us to descend– nay, apparate – into the most fantastical, timeless world ever to have been conjured (pun intended). Last Thursday author JK Rowling joined the Harry Potter cast in Britain, fictional home of Potter’s mystical world of magic, to promote the final film in the seven-film series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two. The cast, transformed from mousey-haired, ambrosial little children into chic, downright dapper young adults, spent hours mingling with fans as they ...

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Islamabad Diary: Of dodgy scoops and ‘cultural terrorism’

An elected official of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), who I am sure would prefer to remain anonymous since he would not want people to know how he wastes his time courting journalists, sent a text message last week offering his condolences for Roger Federer’s loss at Wimbledon. This had followed an earlier conversation we had had where I explained that the tension over the government’s survival and political machinations in the country seemed so insignificant compared to the travails of the greatest tennis player in history. After receiving the SMS, my instant reaction was to cut the man some ...

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