Stories published in December, 2011

Who let the dogs out?

The puppy is six weeks old. She has black fur all round except for a little white mark on her neck. She likes to drop her food on the ground before attempting to eat it. If she likes you, she will bite your foot. Her owner, my friend, is madly in love with her new pet. I spent the evening at her house playing fetch with her Rottweiler puppy and went inside to wash my hands. And that’s when she says: “You should probably do wuzu (ablution) you know.” The tap water is running, I have soap in one hand. “Sorry?” I ...

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Don’t write Federer off yet

Great athletes defy the scourge of age to transcend the presumed parameters placed on them by the others. Sachin Tendulkar’s first Test century, which came in an unusually warm English summer of 1990, belongs to an innocent age. He’s still one of the best in the world. Michael Schumacher began his stellar career in Formula One the following year. He’s retired once, after winning seven drivers’ titles, but he’s back and remains a competitive driver in the paddock despite being 42 years old. In his own domain, Roger Federer shares the unyielding hunger of those two, although he does so in the ...

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A lover, a teen militant, a human being

I had just taken my matriculation exams when I volunteered for a first aid camp. However, this wasn’t just any first aid camp – it was located in the war-torn area of the Kurram Agency. In 2007, the situation was much the same as today; the area was under siege and conflict was on the rise between the Taliban and the security forces. The nights were cold but the reality that I came face to face with there was even harsher. Some memories still make me shudder and cry. I witnessed a tremendous amount of blood and gore. The roaring of heavy ...

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Double standards and the infallible military hierarchy

US President Harry Truman famously placed a sign on his desk in the Oval Office that said “The buck stops here”. Thousands of miles away and some 60 years later, the only message on anyone’s desk appears to be “The buck stops anywhere but here”. Memogate has been an embarrassment for the sitting government, even though the credibility of the memo seems to be shrinking day by day. Meanwhile, the ever-reliable Mansoor Ijaz has become a media darling for his incessant, single-source (at best) allegations that have essentially revealed that everyone in power, elected, selected or promoted, just wants to rubbish ...

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Chronicles from FATA: Your story or your life?

Two powerful stakeholders of Fata, the armed forces and the militants, are not happy with the work of tribal journalists. They are constantly warring with each other and each wants the media on its side. In the end, a journalist can report either a factual account and get killed, or craft a vague story and save his skin.   In situations like these, tribal journalists undergo immense pressure. They fear the potential wrath of one party but win support from the other. Usually, their writings miss the main ‘who’ and ‘why’ without which a story cannot be complete, accurate or fair. It is ...

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Sovereignty is just an illusion

On May 2 this year US special forces entered deep inside Pakistan’s territory and effectively killed the world’s most wanted terrorist, leaving undetected. This raid, by some, was considered a breach of Pakistan’s national sovereignty. Here’s a question: hasn’t Pakistan’s sovereignty already been compromised by the very presence of Osama bin Laden, banned organisations, and wanted terrorists in the country? Isn’t it, thus, fair game for international forces to chase them inside Pakistan? It is only considered a breach of sovereignty when there is “use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state,” according to the United Nations ...

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Household help and hypocrisy

It’s safe to say that most of us are guilty of taking for granted our privileges. I was reminded of this unspoken understanding that has been neatly folded into what we call our social structure when I recently watched The Help, a movie based on a novel of the same name by Kathryn Stockett. Set in 1962 in America, as the civil-rights movement is boiling over, the film follows a privileged white woman, Skeeter, who interviews African-American maids seen as the lowly help, who are not even allowed to use the toilet ...

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A lullaby for you, my daughter

Allaho is a traditional lullaby that is culturally addressed to sons. However, with the help of Pashto and Dari poets, we made a lullaby for girls too. “Allaho – a lullaby for  you my daughter” breaks away from being male- oriented as it is directed towards the female child.  This video was made when girls schools were being targeted in the different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Afghanistan. The aim behind it was to challenge the mindset that girls should not be allowed to get an education. In shooting this video, I wanted to highlight the positive role that fathers and teachers play in the empowerment of ...

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Losing East Pakistan: Lessons we didn’t learn

Forty years ago, Pakistan and Bangladesh became separate countries. They may enjoy good relations with each other today, but it seems that Pakistan has not learnt any lessons from the East Pakistan debacle. After the separation, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto formed the Hamoodur Rehman commission, headed by the then Chief Justice of Pakistan. It was given the mandate to investigate all circumstances and events which led to the disintegration of the eastern wing. The commission submitted its report to Bhutto in October 1974, but the report was not made public. In august 2000, parts of this report were leaked out and ...

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A female baby, a waste of space

It’s pitch dark outside, and not a sound can be heard anywhere. He hears the soft ruffling of his new-born daughter stir and he sneers at her in disgust. “Waste of my money and a waste of space,” he mutters angrily. As if sensing her father’s displeasure, the baby starts wailing softly. That’s it – he grabs her roughly, and before her mother can react, the baby is murdered. The only crime she had committed was that of being a girl. Unfortunately, manly female infants meet the same end in Pakistan. According to The Edhi Foundation, it was estimated that more than a thousand infants were ...

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