Stories published in October, 2011

Let’s talk about breast cancer

I saw a patient yesterday. She was a 40-year-old mother of three, her youngest daughter only six. The patient had gone to a general surgeon because of a breast mass and she had been referred to me for diagnostic work up. The lady told me that she’d had the mass for over a year. I asked her why she hadn’t seen a doctor earlier, and she said that she hadn’t wanted to draw attention to herself. The family had limited resources and she did not wanted to become an additional burden. My patient had cancer. I suspected as much the moment I saw ...

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Life outside my safety blanket

Before I begin, I’d like to make a few things abundantly clear. You are about to embark on a dark and depressing road. Even though the purpose of this article is to vent, the means used are painful. The light at the end of the tunnel may in fact just be an illusion rather than a ray of hope. I am about to help you face facts which ironically are always harder to accept than fiction. It is officially too late. You are about to graduate. Everything that you have accomplished so far isn’t even close to what you should ...

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Tainted trio: From heroes to zeroes

“The next station is London Bridge. Mind the gap between the train and the platform please”. The announcement on the London Underground disrupted my train of thought. I was on my way to the Southwark Crown Court to learn the fate of Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, who were waiting for the jury’s verdict in the spot-fixing case. At that time, I wasn’t thinking about the destination as much as I was pondering over their journey. It was only a year earlier that a Butt-led Pakistan defeated Australia in England and the team’s avid followers felt that finally the leadership of the ...

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Zaka Ashraf: From farmer to PCB chairman

The much awaited, controversial and politically influenced post of Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board has finally been filled. Ladies and gentleman, put your hands together for Mr Zaka Ashraf, a man who has had absolutely nothing to do with cricket! Nice job Mr President – out of the multiple candidates presented to you, you have successfully chosen the worst one. Having said so, lets look back on Butt’s tenure as the chairman of the PCB to gauge whether Pakistani cricket can, indeed, fall lower than it already has. The damage done Ijaz Butt has faced a great amount of criticism based on his ...

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Tali-ban(d), baja, baraat!

In the tradition of banning Facebook, motorcycle double sawaari, and kite flying, the Pakistan government is now proud to introduce to you the new ban – the Taliban. A peace deal has been brokered by this year’s PHD winner Rehman Malik (earlier won for making ‘peaces’ of Karachi) between the government and the Taliban. The group has accepted and are now in talks with the PPP to form a coalition government in which the Taliban will have sole rights to make all the decisions for Pakistan. The conservatives are pleased while the liberals have packed their bags and bought their tickets. ...

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Saudis in Audis

I came across an old Harry Enfield clip on Youtube the other day where a woman believes that because she knows about ‘embroidery and kittens’, she can handle a car. Incidentally she goes on to drive it in reverse, crash into a wall and the truth of life flashes across the screen,  ‘Women, for pity’s sake, don’t drive.’  Except in some parts of the world, it isn’t because our pretty little heads are not capable of operating cars. Apparently it is not compliant with the Saudi Arabian brand of Shariah law, hence a ...

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The curse of the creative

Every creative person at one time or the other faces one of the most debilitating crises in his/her life: fear. It is the thing that makes them wake up at night drenched in cold sweat, threatening to leave them in a deep abiding funk. It comes in a variety of different flavours, from an idea that has been festering in their mind but is refusing to translate into reality to the fear that their work might be seen as trite and unacceptable but the worst is when one is just starting out and can’t come to terms with what ...

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A failed nation?

A statement in the newspapers today by a federal minister brought back memories of a celebrated teacher. The statement is attributed to the minister for production who has advised the government to get rid of Pakistan Steel Mills. The teacher I remembered was Prof Ashfaq Ali Khan who had taught English at Government College, Lahore. It was the Ayub Khan era and a new institution called the Bureau of National Reconstruction had been set up. At its auditorium next to the Coffee House and at the Pakistan Council for National Solidarity there used to be debates on issues of national ...

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Pakistan, I love you!

Re-visiting Pakistan for the second time this summer, after having spent 4 weeks last year exploring Karachi and Lahore, I no longer feel like a completely clueless gori like I did before. I now find myself amused over my shock that there was dinner served after we went out for Iftar to BBQ Tonite, my utter cluelessness of what paan is, leave alone how to eat it, and my wonderment and childish excitement to see donkeys in the middle of a city.  This time around I did have a much better understanding of what was going on – what the ...

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“If you speak up for Ahmadis, Hazaras, you are Anti-Pakistan”

“I think its natural for Pakistanis in USA to speak ill of this country.. Kashif , your hate for Pakistan is admirable .. Didnt you get your Medical training from that country??? you dont love Pakistan… lets admit this.. Look at your posts” Ajnabi Rastay These were the accusations levied against me recently on a Facebook forum. I was labeled anti-Pakistan. What had I done? Did I curse Pakistan? Did I burn its flag? Did I take out a “Go Pakistan! Go!” procession in the centre of downtown Manhattan? None of the above. All I had done was share news items on the persecution of the Hazara Shia ...

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