Stories published in November, 2011

A short, myopic and utterly biased guide to bookstores in Lahore

Let me qualify this first: by ‘books’ I almost exclusively mean books of fiction and poetry — and my judgment of bookstores rests entirely on the said collections. So, go read some other column if you’re into politics or that kind of a thing. Just go away. (Also, I don’t discuss Urdu books here either; there will be another piece for that.)  Now let’s begin with the usual suspects, Ferozesons and Sang-e-Meel, which have traditionally provided shadier grounds for fiction lovers. Over the past few years, however, these two have fallen on hard times — and it seems to me, ...

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Religion, reality and red wine

First three Hindu men are murdered in cold blood and then, a week later, a Sikh woman is raped in Sikhism’s holy city. In both cases, the government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan remained faithful to its contemptible conduct. It yawned while condemning the incidents, rubbed its eyes as it promised speedy justice and then promptly went to back to bed. As for the killing and rape, these are not just two isolated incidents. They are evidence of our subconscious hatred for anything dissimilar: one small controversy and it comes of age; sometimes leaving us with debris of fallen temples, ...

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Will Israel go to war?

From operations like the 1948 War of Independence to the Suez Crisis, from its great victory in Six Day War in 1967, to legendary action in Sinai during the Yom Kippur War, the Israelis have proved that they are the best at their job. The country has shown time and again that it is capable of doing the impossible for the security of their citizens. One more thing which we observe is that for national security, the Israelis can even make sacrificial lambs of their allies. During the 1967 War with Egypt and Syria, the Israeli Air Force knowingly bombed ...

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I’m not ready to live in Imran’s Pakistan

Its 2013 and by some unlikely miracle of sheer inqilabi (revolutionary) voting, Imran Khan has been elected prime minister and his party is in power. Wait a minute – what party? That’s right, a hefty gang full of  loafers and bitter ex-politicians out for rival blood. Looking at those lining up to be given party tickets so far, the PTI may as well take Sheikh Rasheed, Pir Pagara and Musharraf on board (something I’ve suggested before). Let’s face it – for Imran to win the elections, he will (and is) turn to the same old faces, using the same old tools to come ...

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Gilani handed the baton to lead charge against opposition

One of the reasons Asif Ali Zardari made the unlikely choice of Yousaf Raza Gilani as prime minister after the 2008 elections was to keep the PML-N happy in its grand coalition. The Sharif brothers have always had a soft spot for Gilani, who they see as sensible and non-confrontational. While Gilani’s presence couldn’t keep the coalition from imploding, he has still been spared criticism from the PML-N, even as they ramp up their campaign against President Zardari. That may be about to change. Sources in the PPP say that the prime minister will lead the fight back against the ...

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Finding Mr Veena on reality TV

Veena Malik is getting paid million of rupees to get married on live TV. Well, I can’t say this is shocking or anything new. The global economy might be in the dumps, but marriage is a robust and burgeoning industry. Eager girls and boys have been hammered this drill since diaperdom. Disney told us that if we were pretty and dainty enough, our handsome prince charming would rescue us and marry us in true superstar fashion. Cinderella threw the Prince under a spell with her ethereal blue eyes, and Meg hypnotized Hercules with her cascading tresses and waif-like figure. ...

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The wisdom of children

Last week, my son had a play-date with his friend. For a full hour, the two toddlers played and fought, snatched toys and cried bucket loads of tears, argued over bigger and smaller cars, and who’s slice of cake was larger. At the end of the hour, we wearily put our chai and samosas away and got ready to go.  “Give him a hug and say thank you for having us over” I nudged my son. “As if!” my friend laughed. The toddlers stepped towards each other, planted big sloppy kisses on each other’s cheeks, waved a merry goodbye and were off. This ...

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Lessons in political rhetoric

For a while now a number of ‘issues’ are in the limelight in Pakistan. Every single politician talks about them, every analyst discusses them and the whole population chimes about them literally every single day. But the thing is at no point are those issues actually looked at and the truth behind them explained. Take power outages, every single person in the country discusses the issue, shows their anger about it and the media highlights it. But at no point does anyone explain exactly how and why it occurs. Now you may ask why is it important to understand why ...

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No more loans, please

It’s common to hear people quote the dollar amount the United States spends annually on its wars and homeland security — and put next to it the money needed to end world poverty, Aids, cancer or malaria. One such comparison is that the US has spent $980 billion in Iraq since 2003, which is enough to wipe out world poverty for 10 years. According to another estimate, the United States can control malaria deaths in Africa by diverting 3.7 per cent of its $81 billion annual budget for national intelligence. I’m not pro-war. Neither do I approve of heavy military spending ...

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Stop bashing, copy a model that works

From observing conversations on Facebook and Twitter, I am sure that all my Pakistan-watching friends genuinely want ‘change’. There are many ideas – everyone is passionate and wants to throw in their two cents, and that’s how it should be. However, when I comment on these threads my friends often remind me that I should not have an opinion. This is because either: 1) I live in the West 2) I do not propose an alternative Both streams of criticism are fair. I do live in the fairly developed state of New York – in a city (NYC) that I love and in ...

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