Stories published in September, 2011

Who would speak up for a dead Shia?

As a nation we are getting sicker – we refuse to accept the existence of our disease. We call ourselves humans; we call ourselves people of faith and many other names. But what we don’t call ourselves is what we have become: soulless.  And yesterday’s brazen Nazi style attack on a bus full of pilgrims proves exactly that. Twenty six people were lined up and shot because of their faith. Three people were killed while trying to save the lives of others who were shot during this massacre. That’s enough to send any nation in to a state of absolute shock and ...

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Domestic violence: The scars that remain

I had met Sumaira Waseem* many times for work. Vivacious, smiling, in control – she seemed to be a confident, educated woman who had it all: a home, a comfortable lifestyle, three children, a ‘nice guy’ husband and a career she enjoyed as an HR consultant. But sometimes, just sometimes, I felt her eyes did not smile along with her lips. Over the years, slowly, we developed a friendship. This year, during one of our heart-to-hearts, Sumaira spoke out. She came out of her closet. What I heard stunned me. Waseem and she seemed like the almost perfect couple. He was quiet, ...

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Sialkot lynching: Hang ’em all

“An eye for an eye makes the world blind…but with so much injustice around us, perhaps blindness is preferable.” [J Haque] After a total of 401 days, the Sialkot lynching case has come to an end with an outcome that is perhaps as grisly as the event that took place – death sentences for seven of those involved, and I for one fully support the verdict. In fact, just to play judge, jury and executioner, (as is our classic Pakistan ka haal) I would also like to know why the other six involved, and particularly the policemen who stood by and ...

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Are you a part of Slackistan?

“You should talk about the film Slackistan.” The clock on the wall strikes 11 am: the boy behind me is watching the second hand tick by, his head slumped against the desk. The girl next to him is using her dupatta as a pillow-cum-blanket. Its the cliché free period, but today is too hot and humid to talk, let alone work. The only person wide awake is sitting right next to me. “You know, Slackistan?” she reiterates. The film Slackistan? What else could possibly be said about that one year old film? Article upon ...

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A ‘Russian spy’ in Lahore — not quite

A Russian walking past a crowd of Punjabis will hardly qualify as news in societies open to exchange of ideas and people. But television channels in Pakistan are used to treating foreigners’ presence in the country as breaking news. On the afternoon of September 9, most channels reported the arrest of a Russian “spy” in Lahore with an undertone that a disaster had been averted. With hundreds of thousands of dollars having moved around in ad revenues and blood money following an American spy’s presence in the city, the September 9 report was all set to occupy prime time slots for several ...

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Avengers incorporated

Apart from sending the cash registers ringing, what do the films ‘Bodyguard’ and ‘Captain America’ have in common? No, it’s not the good looks or the brawn of its leading male protagonists Salman Khan and Chris Evans. Both films represent an avenger taking on the forces of evil and hatred and emerging triumphant, if a trifle bloodied, after a fierce battle. In an increasingly insane world, is it any wonder then that we are increasingly drawn to a hero who will vanquish our demons and ensure that peace and harmony prevail? Actually I was dragged feet first to see Bodyguard  ...

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Why Google is important for freedom

It came as a shock to many when interior minister Rehman Malik indicated that Google and YouTube could possibly be shut in Pakistan. Most businesses, particularly those that promote Pakistani businesses in Pakistan and abroad online, knowledge seekers, researchers and students use Google and YouTube as a vital tool in their daily lives. For any techie, this report in the press was a little amusing. According to the reports, Malik announced that the government reserves the right to ban Google and YouTube in Pakistan if the ‘Google administrator’ does not assist them in their criminal investigations. Perhaps he forgotten that the Pakistan’s cyber crime law, under ...

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Pak vs Zimbabwe: A clean sweep is a clean sweep

“They are the weakest team in the world to play top level cricket; they just came back from test match isolation; they don’t have any world class players in their ranks; their fielding sucked.” Say what you may, but a clean sweep is a clean sweep and it doesn’t come every day. The Pakistan-Zimbabwe series, in which Pakistan won each and every match, brought to an end the stint of Waqar Younus as Pakistan’s head coach. An 18 month period that had a lot of ups and downs finished on a high note and the final T20 win was the perfect icing on ...

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Burqa woman: A ‘make-believe’ refugee

“Excuse me … I’m almost afraid to ask this, but I have never seen anyone like you before. May I please take a picture?” Summer hat, sea blue shirt with khaki shorts revealing legs tanned, the right shade of cocoa-brown – how could I say no to this guy? So I pose next to a palm tree and say:   “I have my best smile on but I bet your photography can’t do any justice to it.” As he manages a nervous giggle, I can almost hear his thoughts: “Crazy woman with a strange sense of humour.” That was justified, of course, considering the fact ...

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Why protesting against this government will fail

Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve. George Bernard Shaw Last month, Pakistan celebrated the 64th year of its broken democracy (30 if you discount the field marshal and generals). Whether you prefer 64 or 30, the fact remains, our democracy is broken. While many accuse politicians of breaking it, this is just proof of our national past time, blame it on the other guy. As much as I want to agree with the sentiment of people on the street, that Parliament is full of thieves and liars, I am reminded of one fact ...

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