Stories published in October, 2011

Why should we come back?

Pakistan is our home. It’s something we’ve been taught from the time we all were children. For better or worse, it will always be who we are, and if there’s something wrong with it, we have a duty to try and fix it. It takes a great amount of idealism to keep believing that, and sometimes, that idealism can be interpreted as idiocy. Over the last month, I interacted with five Pakistani-born and educated bankers. Three are based abroad, two are in Pakistan. They are all of different ages, they grew up in different cities, and under very different circumstances. Yet, ...

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Cooked in Abu Dhabi, served in Islamabad and Washington

A parade of US officials has been visiting Pakistan for the last few months but these trips have been little more than photo-ops. The real decisions, it seems, are being made in secret. Towards the end of September, Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani held an unannounced meeting with US Senator John Kerry in Abu Dhabi, says a government source. The meeting, which was reportedly tense but productive, took place after departing joint chiefs of staff Admiral Mike Mullen explicitly accused the ISI of supporting the Haqqani network. In the wake of the meeting between Kerry and Kayani, however, ...

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Charity clubs: Everybody’s got a plan

There are six people seated around a table, each with paper and pencil in hand. There’s the quiet hum of an air conditioner and the rustle of paper and a serious, practical kind of silence in the air. A paper with questions listed on it is passed around the table for verification- these questions are to be asked in the interview conducted by these six people. Someone giggles, which is immediately cut short with “Seriously, please.” Is this a top secret board meeting of a corporation? Has someone died? No, it’s a meeting of a few 17 and 18-year-olds… ...

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Hijab, or else…

The recent attack on the MC Model Girls High School in Rawalpindi is no less than a national tragedy. When 60 men, armed with iron rods waltz into an educational institute to mete out violent justice against women and children for not ‘dressing moderately’, it is a low point in the very substance of a nation. When an armed mob of religious vigilantes entered the school they did more than just beat innocent children and teachers. They instilled fear in every female student, in every girls school, and in the mind of every parent of a girl. The fact that ...

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No I don’t pray jummah

It shames me to admit that I don’t offer my prayers. This is not because I am a non-Muslim, nor is it because I do not want to pray. Truth of the matter is that I don’t know how to offer my prayers. I am 23-years-old and I am still not sure about the number of farz, sunnat, and nafal to offer with each namaz. In the past, I have tried to cover up my ignorance by making excuses. However, the day Shahbaz Taseer was abducted was the day I stopped hiding. I had joined a new firm in the month of Ramazan, and was welcomed by a very ...

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The last cloud of a storm

Mansha Yaad, who had been writing short stories, surprisingly passed away in Islamabad this week. Here in Lahore the next day, Hameed Akhtar, fed up with his painful ailment, too, decided that he had had enough of this world. Mansha Yaad was in the mid-spring of his writing. He had published a lot of short stories that earned him plaudits from lay readers as well as critics. Emboldened by the approval, his pen appeared to have grown more fluent. But who can rein death? All of a sudden it ambushed Mansha. Call it providence and be resigned to it. Everybody who ...

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The topsy-turvy roller-coaster ride of Bangladesh cricket

A year ago, Bangladesh cricket was settling down after a win against England and a loss to Ireland in the space of five days. They had barely sat down after the rollercoaster ride when crushing series wins over New Zealand and Zimbabwe followed. Then a World Cup came along, throwing up some more shockers: be it the stinkers against West Indies and South Africa or the unforgettable win over England. Just months later, Bangladesh cricket is staring down the barrel again, losing the Test and One-Day International (ODI) series against Zimbabwe. As in September 2010, on the eve of the historic New ...

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2005 Earthquake: Voice of Allai

On October 8 2005, a massive earthquake of magnitude 7.6 stuck Pakistan. It affected 3.5 million people and killed 87,000. Allai was one of the most affected areas in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, with over 2,188 people dead and 256 injured. In 2007, the partnership of the recovery program for the development of Allai was initiated by Save the Children, Sungi Foundation, Church World Service and the Interactive Resource Centre. Save the Children has constructed 15 schools, it has trained teachers, and is working to improve standards of health and nutrition. Thirty-eight thousand people now have access to clean water in Allai thanks to their ...

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Steve Jobs: You die, and everybody loves you

Fact: If you’re dead, suddenly everybody loves you – Grouchy Rabbit. Especially if you are an American billionaire that made shiny consumerism cool in ways unprecedented. Or at least that’s what the global wave of mourning that engulfed us in the aftermath of Steve Jobs death would have us believe. The dotted I’s went up in solidarity for a man who was hailed as a legend, a visionary or in some extreme cases, a prophet. His dogma offered you a bite off the forbidden fruit, a guilt free morsel of the sweetest thing you will ever taste if you have the ...

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A vacation in Balochistan

Anyone beholding the beauty of the Balochistan coast cannot help but be struck by it. This video is a visual tour of all the work being done by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands to regenerate a coastal region that was once dead. A world class highway stretches for 800 kilometres and gives one the opportunity to view the sandy beaches, clear blue waters and the spectacular coastal ranges.  This is the perfect opportunity for eco-tourism, as it promotes the welfare of the locals, and encourages responsible travel. Vast mangrove plantations have been set up, enabled by the Balochistan Forest and Wildlife Department ...

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