Stories published in November, 2011

Rape is not funny

“Yaar main nay toh exam ka rape kar dya” (Man I totally raped the exam) …I overheard someone triumphantly say as I was packing my bag in school. My fingers fumbled with the strap as I tried to drown out the peals of laughter that erupted after the inappropriate comment. Sadly, it isn’t that strange to hear someone use the word ‘rape’ in such a frivolous manner. People have now become accustomed to using this word casually in contexts that are far from serious. This immature use takes away from the gravity of the issue, and attributes a humorous quality to a crime that is far from a ...

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I love my country. Do you?

This is a question that’s debated quite often these days, by both, people who have lived in this country and those who are of Pakistani origin but live overseas. Often, seen in the drawing rooms as the tea trolley moves around, the argument grows to be a heated one but the million dollar question remains, “Who loves their country Pakistan, the most — the residents or the expats?” Come to think of it, each group has a role to play inside Pakistan or outside of it. And we don’t need to love Pakistan and be patriotic because we listen to ...

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Reforms in FATA will not help

The Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) was legalized by the British government in 1901, to control tribal territory through a political agent. However, the recently introduced amendments in the infamous FCR are cosmetic ones, and will not bring any visible change to the life of tribal people. The amendments state the follows: 1- No one can be indefinitely detained, and people will have the right to appeal in the FCR tribunal which will have equal power as the High Court. 2- Cases will be decided in a fixed time frame and those arrested can be released on bail. 3- Women and children below the ...

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Kiran caramelized: The story behind ‘Teray Bin’

Kiran Chaudhry, one half of the Pakistani musical duo Club Caramel, is a characteristically adventurous, freedom-loving Sagittarius who excels at pretty much everything she puts her mind to.  Ms Chaudhry has a staggeringly diverse array of talents; while Head Girl at her school in Lahore, her former classmates recall tearing up during her soulful rendition of Whitney Houston’s ‘I will always love you’. Musically inclined, she trained with Ustad Fateh Ali Khan while still in her teens. Kiran went on to win an International Baccalureate scholarship at the World College of the Atlantic in Wales, after which she read PPE (philosophy, politics and ...

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Teacher, don’t stand so close to me

We’ve all done it when we were awkward and fourteen. The teacher was probably not even young or good looking.  But we did it for approval, for love, for a better grade, to be admired.  A student of mine alerted me to an interested phenomenon recently. There was this girl who was most sober in my class, did her work, took copious notes, wrote at college level, her glasses high on her nose, she looked like she had just stepped out of Hajj.   My student told me in reference to her: “You should see her in the Eco teacher’s class. ...

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Thanks for winning Team Green!

I still remember the first time I beat my male cousins at a sport they loved and thought only boys could be good at. I was 14-years-old. Just like everyone else in the neighbourhood, I grew up loving cricket. There would be heated debates over cricketer crushes, whom we referred to by their nicknames. We watched entire matches; I think we all lived for those and still do. Pakistanis ardent love of cricket can be seen in every street where the game is played with heated passion. But this is not because every kid playing the game wants to be on the national team one ...

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11 rules for the Pakistani do-gooder

There’s much to be said about the spirit of volunteerism and philanthropy, so deeply ingrained in desi culture. In a material world, it’s great to see people making the effort to venture beyond their personal spheres.  Before leaving one’s comfort zone, however, it might be important to be a little prepared. This is true not only for the good-hearted burger-bachas, but also their proactive supervisors, armed to the teeth with terrifyingly good intentions.  After squirming in my shoes watching just such an army of angels at work, I thought it might be useful to have a Community Service Orientation Pack, ...

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Tempo rises in political musical chairs

The dizzying game of musical chairs that is Pakistani politics is only going to induce more nausea in the year or so left till the next general elections. For the past few weeks, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the former foreign minister for the PPP, has been holding meetings with the PML-N, including with chief Nawaz Sharif, before deciding which party to join. Part of the reason for Qureshi’s vacillation between the PML-N and the PTI is his desire for a leadership position in whichever party he joins. To that end, sources close to Qureshi have been spinning a new scenario for ...

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What to expect from Elections 2013

In the last two weeks we have seen a flurry of political activity across Pakistan. Be it the rally in Karachi or the jalsa in Lahore, the political temperature of the country seems to be finally heating up after slowly simmering for the last two years. The reason is the impending elections that are expected to be held in 2013. It is natural that alliances are being formed, seat adjustments are being negotiated, and parties are becoming more aggressive in their rhetoric. Unlike the last elections in 2008, where there were numerous parties contesting, the upcoming elections present a fairly different picture. Over ...

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What our text books do not say

While having class discussions with my sociology students sometime back, I noticed that some of my students, although very bright and intellectually capable, seemed to be uneasy with various debates within the stream of sociology about topics that are considered taboo in our society. However, what struck me most was their constant reliance on pinning down problems in the societal realm of Europe to the continent being not impacted by Islam. Their reference point always seemed to be the ‘glorious age of Islam’-the years of Madinah republic. My students seemed to be still living in a romanticised past where Islamic empires ...

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