Stories published in December, 2011

The curious case of Aisha Khan

The whole world had been captivated with the saga of Aisha Khan, a 19-year-old Kansas student of Pakistani origin who had mysteriously vanished after leaving an alarming voice mail about being harassed by a drunk man. When Khan’s sister arrived to pick her up, all she found were her abandoned bag and cell phone near her favourite study spot. Her family had left no stone unturned in getting word out about her disappearance, utilising social media such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as national media outlets. Her father gave a heart wrenching, ...

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News that is music to the ears

Every time a major political or controversial story breaks, our news channels make it a point to flash it continuously, spiced up with songs. And that irritates me a lot. It sounds non-serious, to say the least. Numbers like ‘Dulhan hum le jaiengay’ (we will take the bride) for Sania-Shoaib wedding, ‘Ye dosti hum nahi choreingay’ (We will not abandon this friendship) on PPP, MQM coalition after fall-outs really push the boundaries of what ought to be acceptable. It is so insane at times you wonder if they really are talking about real events and happenings. It’s a trend to ...

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The Republican threat

Several weeks ago, US presidential candidates from the Republican party descended on Washington to participate in a televised debate on foreign policy. They wasted no time in unleashing a torrent of invective about Pakistan. Michele Bachmann described it as “a nation that lies, that does everything that you could imagine wrong.” Jon Huntsman declared it “a nation-state that is a candidate for failure.” Rick Perry contended that “they’ve showed us time after time that they can’t be trusted.” Some of the nastiest language came from the two frontrunners. “Help us, or get out of the way,” warned Newt Gingrich, “but don’t complain ...

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Who will save democracy now?

I was 15 when Musharraf toppled the elected government in Pakistan. I’m a middle class guy who grew up reading Urdu dailies. I grew up thinking that our politicians are incapable of doing anything good and that the military should govern the country exactly like it does in Myanmar. I grew up thinking that Pakistan and India can never be friends. With time, I started reading publications from different parts of the world. This made me rethink my perceptions regarding democracy. When the elected government of the Peoples’ Party returned to power in 2008, I was as happy as any other ...

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Honourably dead

We celebrated a year of violence in Pakistan by offering 675 girls at the altar of honour. Ismat Parveen (whose name means ‘dignity’ and ‘honour’) married a man she wanted to, and because she didn’t want to divorce him, she was shot to death – by her brother. A young woman by the name of Hajil Mai was axed by her husband earlier last month because he accused her of having an affair with the neighbour. He killed her with an axe in the name of honour. With an axe. She is just one victim amongst the many who die in the name ...

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Pakistan’s Test side shows promise

Last year when that dreadful News of the World (NoTW) sting named some players in a fixing scandal, many feared the death of Pakistani cricket. With international teams already refraining from touring Pakistan, allegations of corruptions almost completely isolated Pakistani cricket. As this year ends, we find Pakistan slowly, but surely, roaring its way back into the cricketing world. All credit must be given to the players who have somewhat managed to recreate the market value that was once associated with this brand of cricket. Pakistan’s form in ODIs this year has been nothing short of spectacular. With 24 wins and ...

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Rape: Fallacies of the four witness requirement

If you search the internet regarding the Islamic perspective on the issue of rape, unfortunately you will come across thousands of hate sites that are bent on criticising Islam. There are only a few forums that present the correct understanding of this much-exploited trauma-turned-melodrama. Adultery and rape are crimes that have existed since time immemorial. In Pakistan, the Hudood laws were implemented in 1979 by the then dictator Ziaul Haq and termed Islamic Shariah Laws. That is when the problem began. According to the Hudood Ordinance, rape victims have to produce four male eye-witnesses to the crime. If they can’t do ...

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Islamabad diary: Things khakis would have you believe (done)

Only politicians leak; the military simply beams out a coordinated message. The military’s target may change but the story is always the same. Most military briefings on civilian politicians essentially amount to the same thing: look at these hapless men and what damage they are doing to the country. You can judge the amount of contempt and hatred the military has for Husain Haqqani, the former Pakistan ambassador to the US, by the fact that they continue to brief against him even after they successfully ousted him from office. Two versions of the same story were pushed out this week to ...

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Robbing the people

Despite a lapse of several years and despite the country’s apex court having taken several suo motu notices (of various cases), corruption as well as cheating the public at large continues. Also, by and large, several cases are pending with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and there seems to be little progress on them. Ordinary citizens expect NAB and the FIA to do their jobs and ensure that those involved in such cases are convicted and that at least some of the money embezzled from the national exchequer is duly returned. The major cases of alleged corruption ...

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Journalism and sensationalism

The Express Tribune poll result published on this page on December 18 said that 91% of the respondents believed journalism in Pakistan was more about sensationalism than reporting facts. I partly agree. But this should lead to the question as to why journalism in Pakistan is sensationalist. I believe that’s because people are more receptive to sensational news than facts-based reporting. Just go to the website of this newspaper and look closely at the sidebar that shows the most viewed, most commented and most emailed news stories. These days, such stories will most likely be about Memogate, Imran Khan, Zardari, judiciary, ISI ...

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