Stories published in November, 2011

Welcome to the hot seat Sherry Rehman

Just when you think the government is on the proverbial ropes, it pulls a rabbit out of its equally proverbial hat.  In this case the appointment of PPP’s Sherry Rehman as the ambassador to the US. At one stroke, not only have the speculations that the deep state will force the appointment of someone more pliable been put to rest, but a somewhat sidelined member of the old PPP guard has also been promoted and (presumably) assuaged. Sherry, with her immaculate record and outspoken nature, is the one person who can not only go toe to toe with the notoriously cranky ...

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Dharna dude meets Jaali jihadi

The characters: Dharna Dude: Loves X-Box, facials and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) Jaali Jihadi: Hates the Jews, likes the Taliban, loves Jamat-e-Islami (JI), and also Katrina Kaif (secretly) Dialogue ensues sometime in the future, at a “Shukrana Rally” called by PTI and JI to celebrate the American withdrawal from Afghanistan. Dharna Dude: Helloooo JJ ma man! Whats happening Bro? We did it didn’t we dude? PTI and JI are like BFF man. Americans are tu bhago-fying (the Americans are running). Jaali Jihadi: Asalam o Alaikum bhai jaan. Thanks to Allah we have succeed. We must do shukrana (gratitude) Nawafil, as it is holy day of Friday. Dharna Dude: So true ...

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Another women’s bill passed – so what?

So another bill was passed in the National Assembly for taking women rights forward. As a woman, and an ardent advocate of women rights, I should be happy and celebrating. But, seriously, I am not. In fact, what does this Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Law Amendment) Act 2011 have to offer that the Protection of Women (Criminal Laws Amendment) Act, 2006 or the Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010 did not offer anyway? Women are still raped, killed for ‘honour’, thrown acid on and harassed at the workplace. Does passing a bill and making it into a ...

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I worry about my religion

It’s a chilly night in Beijing as I’m weaving my way in and out a very packed aisle to board my flight to Karachi. I get to my seat after some effort. Every time I get my seat assignment, I secretly hope that it’s someone nice and intelligent sitting next to me; you know, someone I can make conversation with. Ah, 23L, here it is. I look up to see a middle-aged man in a shalwar kameez, vest and hat. No problem; I point to the window seat saying “idhar”. The man, instead of being courteous by getting up to ...

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Hello Foton, bye bye Daewoo

In a bid to revamp urban transportation in Lahore, the Chief Minister, Shahbaz Sharif inaugurated a fleet of ‘environment friendly’ CNG buses last week to cater to the growing demands of public transport in the city. Run under the banner of the Foton Bus Company, a Chinese firm, the service has launched 56 of 111 CNG buses, with the rest scheduled to hit the roads of Lahore by the end 2011. As a means of providing modern transportation to the provincial capital, which is in a desperate need of an efficient public transport system, the bus service is expected to provide ...

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What is a victim?

All too often we see guilty people play the victim card. Someone made me do it. I couldn’t help it. It was the other guys own fault. And of course, the evergreen, if I didn’t do it someone else would have. Playing the victim is unfortunately an international favourite. From cheating spouses to murderers and rapists, from crooked businessmen and bankers to corrupt bureaucrats and politicians, almost everyone who has ever wronged another is, in their personal interpretations, a guiltless victim. The reality is that there are generally only two kinds of victims – victims of chance and victims of ...

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Benetton, you go too far

The United Colours of Benetton is no stranger to controversy. The company distinguishes itself by its utilisation of attention grabbing and shocking imagery in advertising campaigns. Its latest campaign called ‘UNHATE’ contains a series of photo-shopped montages of political and religious leaders, and traditional enemies, kissing. The jaw dropping series includes Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu kissing Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas; Barack Obama with Hu Jintao and another with Hugo Chavez; Angela Merkel with Nicolas Sarkozy, and the most controversial: the Pope with an Imam. According to a statement released by the Italian company, the series is meant to promote “brotherhood”. But ...

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A standing ovation for Afridi!

Who would have believed that Pakistan would reach 200 when they were 97 for 6? Who could have guessed that Pakistan would win when Sangakara and Jaywardena were cruising along at 155 for 3? As heads dropped in dismay, one man could hear the call of destiny. When Shahid Afridi walked on to the field Pakistan was in trouble and it seemed they wouldn’t even make 150. Less aggressive than usual, but he still lit up the stadium with three hits out of the park. His 75 was the highest score of Pakistan’s innings and as it turned out, it ...

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Warning! The PTA might not approve of this bakwas

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has decided to ban the word ‘bakwaas’ (nonsense). Let me say this right here – that is such bakwaas. It has also banned the word Jesus Christ. There go Merry Christmas messages to Christian friends. There goes, now that I think about it, this particular conversation I found in my phone: “Hey I heard you were ill – did you really faint in Chemistry class today?” “Jesus, how fast does news spread around school anyway? I am feeling much better.” To be honest though, I am not that fussed. Stranger, inexplicable things have happened. Facebook, for instance was banned ...

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‘Unpatriotic’ Haqqani to unite an otherwise diverging PML-N

If there is anyone more upset than the PPP government about what increasingly looks like the end of Husain Haqqani’s tenure in Washington, it is Islamabad’s press corps. During his time as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, Haqqani was always freely available for comment and loved nothing more than to give an unsolicited titbit or two, ironically enough, usually on BBM. But journalists are also finally realising how Haqqani may have played them. Soon after Mansoor Ijaz wrote his infamous column in the Financial Times, Haqqani was quick to get into action. He was typically vigorous in giving off-the-record briefings, ...

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