Stories published in November, 2011

Polio is not a US conspiracy

“So, do you still have polio in Pakistan?” my shocked Argentinian friend asked me during a discussion on different epidemics in the developing countries. I admitted that my country was amongst the four which were still fighting a battle against polio. This also implies that my nation is at a risk of having travel restrictions imposed if polio is not eliminated by the end of 2012 ( much to the horror of my international friends here in the US). After all, in a country where one is more concerned about coming home alive after a long day at work, who cares about ...

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The spy that ‘danced’ me

Hip hop diplomacy, was given the same reception by Pakistan’s security agencies that the music style initially got from its home country. Though FEW Collective’s show in Islamabad did get a good reception from those in attendance, everything since then has gone downhill. First, the troupe was picked up when policeman in Rawalpindi caught them photographing critical security installations – the Regional Tax Office (this quite obviously being the year they finally meet their targets). Barely a week later, their show in Lahore got called at the last minute, because of what was either a No Objection Certificate (NOC) related problem, or ...

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Is Imran Khan peaking too soon?

If there is one word that best describes Imran Khan, it is ‘gravitas’. Several years ago, I sat in on a meeting he had with the Woodrow Wilson Center’s president. As the Kaptaan thundered on about American drone strikes, one of the meeting’s female participants – who had earlier disclosed to me that she had long harbored a crush on Khan – suddenly spoke up. “I can’t believe I’m in the same room as Imran Khan!” she gushed. Khan’s towering frame stiffened. He paused, briefly regarded his admirer with a look of mild irritation, and then promptly returned to his anti-drone jeremiad ...

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Forced into marriage

We live in the twenty-first century, yet it is appalling to know that women in Pakistan still face numerous problems especially in terms of marriage. Girls are often not given the right to choose their life partners and later when they are married, they are usually victims of domestic violence. Although most women in Pakistan accept a forced marriage as their fate, and quietly sign the marriage certificate, many women stand up for their rights and refuse to do so. The video shows the fate such women face; they are brutally beaten and threatened till they succumb to the wishes of those ...

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Where is the merit Shahbaz Sharif?

Transfers and postings in the civil and police administration on merit is considered a hallmark of good governance. This, quite simply, means posting a suitable and competent officer to a place which demands that such an individual be in charge of a particular responsibility. Unfortunately with the passage of time, merit in transfers and postings in civil and police administration in Punjab has become a bit of a joke and an exercise in futility. Most postings and transfers are based on personal likes and dislikes of senior functionaries. Even the officers of the provincial management service (PMS) are being treated as ...

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Well played team Pakistan!

Last night, Pakistan cricket scaled uncharted heights. A 4-1 drubbing was handed out to a team that was recently rated second best on the ICC ODI rankings list. Umar Akmal batted with the kind of maturity his immense talent deserves. Misbah too played resolutely and finished a highly successful series. This victory was crucial in assuring Pakistan fifth place in the ICC ODI rankings. Even though the series itself was already sealed with Pakistan leading 3-1, the match was exhilarating to watch. Personally, the lasting memories from this series will always be the culminating moments of the fourth ODI at Sharjah. As Thisara Perera ...

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Talking peace with the Tehreek-e-Taliban

On the bright sunny afternoon of September 2, 2011, a few dozen tribesmen of Waziristan gathered in a small local mosque to offer Friday prayers. Like anywhere in the Muslim world, Friday prayers are usually held following a speech by the local prayer leader. However, today the Imam cut his speech short and dedicated a major part of the sermon time to an unfamiliar guest speaker. Uneasy with the presence of a stranger the locals had no option other than to listen to him. Though, the stranger did not bother to introduce himself to the audience, he was later identified ...

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Should the new Indo-Afghan deal worry Pakistan?

Afghanistan, being a sovereign country, has every right to do what is best for her interest, as long as no other state is harmed by her actions. The recent strategic partnership deal signed on Oct, 4 2011 after the Afghan President Karzai paid a visit to India has indeed harmed the sole purpose of the efforts made by the Pakistani government, military, and above all the price that the nation has paid over the past decade. The agreement between President Karzai and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh acmes training and equipping the Afghan ...

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A South Indian thali for Pakistani taste buds

I am a proud Pakistani and I love my cuisine. In general, all Pakistanis believe that their food is miles better than any other desi cuisine, especially Indian cuisine. To me, Indian food was like the bogey man under my bed that my mother scared me with when I wouldn’t go to bed on time. Thus, it came as a dismal shock to me when chef Poppy Agha declared that we would be studying South Indian cuisine. Due to my patriotism, I crinkled my nose at the prospect of this class and was not looking forward to it in the slightest. How wrong was I? Thanks to Poppy Agha, I discovered a ...

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Husain Haqqani’s last supper

Ambassador Husain Haqqani arrived at what turned out to be the last function at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington DC under his watch as Ambassador on November 17,  an hour late. His entrance to the upstairs foyer, where approximately 100 guests of Pakistani, Pakistani-American and US-background representing literary and cultural, business and bureaucratic professions from DC-area and elsewhere, were seated listening to a Pakistani poet recite some of her prizewinning poetry. She was one of six writers of Pakistani background whose work had been collected in an anthology called “Pakistani Creative Writing in English: Tracing The Tradition, Embracing the Emerging,” a ...

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