Stories published in December, 2011

T20 fever and the Big Bash

The first time that T20 cricket burst onto the scene was in 2003 in England, and some eight years down the line there is no arguing that it is the most popular form of cricket. Millions of dollars have been put into competitions like the IPL and Stanford 20/20 tournament which have enjoyed enormous success. A testament of its wide appeal is the number of World T20s already held. In Australia, the format was launched in 2005 and an excited crowd attended the domestic fixture at the WACA, which had seen poor attendance for Australia-Pakistan Test match some time earlier. This ...

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It’s not easy being Veena

While we may complain about there being too much coverage of Veena Malik in the news, the fact is that all of us want to read of her latest move, her latest misstep or scandal, so to speak. From her so-called topless pictures for FHM India, to her most recent episode when she is said to have ‘disappeared’, people on both sides of the border seem to want to know more and more about this controversial Pakistani actress. Some say that she is doing all these things deliberately, for PR purposes, while others say that she should be left alone to ...

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The tough New Yorkers of Lahore

I moved to Lahore from my home town of Faisalabad, to pursue higher education at the Government College University. Although I didn’t know it then, Lahore was to be my home for a very long time. My MBA years flew by when I lived in the university hostel. My needs were simple; I wanted nothing more than the 15 x 15 cubicle that I shared with a room-mate. There were no air-conditioners in the summer, no heaters in the winter, no maids to do my laundry, and no home-cooked food. Yet, I survived. Even though the winters were bitterly cold in Lahore, my room was ...

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Be a Cakeoholic

Like most people in Karachi, my friends and I have grown up with only one form of entertainment: eating out. It is the easiest, most readily available and socially acceptable form of entertainment in Pakistan. From standing in line for hours and trying out a new fast food joint like Hardees, to visiting a hidden gem of an eatery in Saddar, we have done it all and enjoyed it thoroughly too. Recently, with the rise of social media and websites, the food industry has truly thrived, and many new businesses have come up offering an amazing variety of food. Food is no longer just ‘a ...

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Love and tears for Dhaka

My stepfather, Afzal Ahmed Syed, is a generally quiet and inward man who occasionally breaks from his reticence with humorous insights about the world. He does this not through fanciful and elaborate explanations, but in pithy quotes or by reciting a shaer. As many thoughtful commentators on his life and poetry have suggested, much of my father’s poetic vision has been shaped by his experience as a witness to immense political tragedies like East Pakistan’s violent rebirth as Bangladesh in 1971, the Lebanese Civil War, and the ethnic and sectarian violence that overwhelmed Karachi in the 1990s. Musharraf Farooqi, my father’s ...

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Don’t blame the gas crisis on the government

We may be dealing with multiple crises as a nation, but one incident in particular is simply being blown out of proportion –  the issue of the CNG shortage. People are infuriated about the shortage of gas, and have every right to be. CNG is a cheaper fuel alternative to petrol, but the gas has been getting increasingly expensive for a while, and its very availability is becoming a growing issue. The shortage of compressed natural gas (CNG) has led to industries threatening shut downs and workers protesting, as they have no jobs. Industries keep printing ads in the papers about how ...

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Is unbiased news too much to ask for?

Objectivity has always been touted as the golden rule of journalism. A good journalist, we are told, is one that can accurately convey all the facts without any sort of editorial bias. That is a noble notion indeed, but the fact of the matter is that news comes from journalists, and journalists like all human beings, are essentially flawed. They too have strong opinions and viewpoints on matters and events, but it is expected of them to ensure that their personal views do not, in any way, interfere with the impartiality of the news that they are trying to convey. This, of ...

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Some generalisations about the French just aren’t true

Before I left for Paris this January, a horde of advice was thrown at me from aunts, uncles, cousins, friends – almost everyone had an opinion on how I should handle living in France. I got all sorts of cautionary remarks such as: “Un se ziada dosti mat kerna, boht racist hain.” (Don’t be too friendly with them – they are very racist) I was repeatedly warned about the language barrier, and how the French are very arrogant about their language. A lot of friends advised me to learn some basic French before I left. “The French are very unfriendly and they won’t ...

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KP politics: Of name changes and one-line manifestos

Walking out from parliament is one of the oldest forms of expressing dissent or dissatisfaction with the government. However, on December 9, there was a walkout in parliament over an issue of immeasurable proportions. No, not drone strikes. No, not memogate or Ghulam Nabi Fai. No, not Zardari’s health or Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif’s exchange of dirty laundry and certainly not pictures of Veena Malik. This was much bigger, yet it could be summarised in three letters. KPK. Apparently the ruling party of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the ANP, decided that the abbreviated use of the province’s name in ministries’ written ...

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The Chairman’s speech

After reading a recently published article about Bilawal Bhutto Zardari being made to learn Urdu and Sindhi before leading the Pakistan Peoples Party, I began wondering how important language is to culture and politics in Pakistan. Is Bilawal any less worthy of leading the PPP if he is not fluent in Urdu or Sindhi? Is language an important factor in determining whether one is capable of being a good leader? In a culturally diverse country such as Pakistan, language is definitely an important factor for everyone because the majority of the population cannot speak or understand English, which is listed ...

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