Stories published in December, 2011

Pakistan’s trouble can never be India’s gain

We don’t see Pakistan speaking in one voice very often; different stakeholders react differently to a given situation depending upon their interest and political leaning. However, the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers at the hands of Nato a few weeks ago united the Pakistani population in their collective grief. People sick and tired of the western design demanded in one voice a complete overhaul of the relationship with the US. But this development has elicited varied reactions in India. Some vocal sections have reacted with glee at the discomfort of its western neighbour. Below is an excerpt from a blog published ...

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Is my blood not good enough for you?

I was casually walking in the Ibn Batuta Mall with a friend when I saw the Dubai Blood Donation Centre kiosk. The moment I saw it, I decided that I had to donate blood. A couple of girls sat behind the desk with hundreds of forms, while other volunteers walked around asking people to donate blood.  My friend had to look after his daughter, so he decided to wait and watch while I went to donate blood. I walked towards the desk where the females were sitting. They were busy with other donors asking different questions and filling out the forms as I ...

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Six long decades of the Arab-Israeli conflict

It has been more than 60 years now since the start of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Before the start of the First Intifada in 1987, the Palestinians knocked at every door of the international world for someone to address their issue. No one lent an ear. A total of 42 Security Council resolutions were vetoed unilaterally by the United States alone. The Intifada — imbued in shreds of violence and counter-violence both on the part of Arabs and Israelis — made the world realise that there was, indeed, a problem to be addressed in the Middle East. Arafat had to be ...

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The Upper Crust: A taste of Paris in Karachi

I recently spent a great Sunday afternoon shooting sumptuous food, and tasting it at The Upper Crust. Located in the prestigious area of  Zamzama, this patisserie is a true treat for Karachiites and food lovers. Owner Hamid Ali Khan had invited me over to conduct a photoshoot at the bakery, and was generous enough to present us with a range of goodies to taste as we worked. Loaded with our heavy cameras, my partner and I clicked away at the mouth-watering food on offer. The Upper Crust has a tastefully decorated seating area with spectacular bakery shelves heaped with freshly baked goodies that include cakes, ...

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Virender Sehwag: The Genghis Khan of modern cricket

Sometimes, we just have to admit that we have seen something just a little bit special. I was in Antigua when Brian Charles Lara broke the world record (the first time), in Durban when Yuvraj Singh flayed the young Stuart Broad for six sixes in an over in the 2007 World T20, and at The Oval in 1975 (albeit aged one) when a certain Alvin Kallicharran set the inaugural World Cup on fire with a scintillating assault on Dennis Lillee. They were moments when you simply inhaled deeply, and said “I was there!” In the modern era, smaller grounds, better ...

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What really happens inside a madrassa

I was about 10-years-old in the late 90s, when I was forced to go to a madrassa by my mother. I didn’t want to go. I had heard many notorious stories about madrassas and was quite shaken at the thought of being a part of one. Nonetheless, I was sent to become a good Muslim.  I am a resident of Karachi and come from a conservative family where burqas and Assalam-o-Alaikum are necessary to gain respect from your family and friends. My mother used to emphasize on learning the Holy Quran as I grew up. When I asked her: “Mom, why can’t I ...

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A journalist in Peshawar: My encounter with a militant

Six armed men surrounded my vehicle and asked me to get out of my car. Two of them seemed like people from the locality. The rest were shorter, had sharper features and Mongolian faces and spoke a language I couldn’t decipher. One of them, who spoke Pashto in a coarse voice, roughly ordered me to get out of the car Shaken, I replied: “Walay? Sa chal shaway de? Za sahafi yema.” (Why? What happened? I am a journalist.) He looked at me and asked: “Aren’t you an American?” I don’t know why he assumed so – I am as Pakistani as it gets. My guess is ...

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An Indian who moved to Pakistan

This blog post is a response to an article published in The Express Tribune by Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy titled:“Deepening the Pakistan-India divide.” Hence I address this to him. Sir, I know exactly how you feel. I have been feeling the same every year for the last 20 years when I go to seek a visa for India. I have to fill the same form which is ‘special’ for Pakistani Nationals (and it is the same for Indians in the Pakistan embassy). I am not a professor like you who gets an invite and a letter to give a lecture at some university. Nor ...

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Why thank the Taliban, minister?

Every Pakistani was thankful that Ashura passed off without incident and gave full credit to security agencies for employing stringent measures on the solemn occasion. Contrary to this, talking to journalists later, Interior Minister Rehman Malik thanked the Taliban for the merciful act of not carrying out any terror acts during Muharram. The statement not only stunned his compatriots, it also exposed the real reason behind the peace in Muharram — it was not actually because of heightened security, but because of an ‘understanding’ between the government and the Taliban. It was also clear from the statement that the terrorists ...

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A tribute to my cousin, a brave soldier

A Nato attack on the Pakistani check post in Salala left 24 soldiers dead and 12 injured. Normally, these figures are mere numbers to me; with the war on terror, so many people die everyday that I am a bit desensitized about news of death. On November 26, 2011, the otherwise meaningless number of those killed held all the meaning in the world to me. You see, amongst the 24 dead was my dear bhai.  My dear cousin Captain Usman Ali died in this unprovoked attack by Nato forces. As I reflect on the transience of life, everything Usman bhai ever said to me keeps playing ...

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