Stories published in January, 2012

Iran and the oil embargo

When it comes to the face off between the United States and Iran over Iran’s nuclear program, there are signs that things could escalate into something that neither country will be able to handle. Is it wise to challenge one another at a time like this and threaten each other’s security and resources? Global powers are not what they once used to be. Is this stand-off supposed to result in something, or is it an indication that we cannot stop playing games with one another? Recently, the European Union finally approved an oil embargo on Iran, which prohibits any EU member ...

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Is Pakistan ready to host again?

In 2009 when the Sri Lankan team arrived in Lahore, much was said about their security, or the lack of it, after armed men were able to ambush their vehicle with ease. At the time of their arrival at the airport, the security protocol suggested that improvement was needed. But at that point the most worrying aspect was being hoarded by fans’ excitement or the media. Few thought a gun attack was in the making that would cause casualties and injuries. But it happened and, despite ‘intelligent’ reports, a targeted and planned attack was to take away international cricket and the ...

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My sister didn’t visit the Punjab Institute of Cardiology

I visited Pakistan this winter to spend my holidays with my family.  After spending some lovely days with my parents at my dad’s farmhouse in the cool country side of Sargodha – the world’s best citrus fruit producing area – and returned to Rawalpindi for some work. While driving along the way, I received a phone call from my sister. She told me she had an intestinal gas problem, which had resulted in low blood pressure and had caused her to faint. By the time she called me, thankfully, she was feeling better. ‘Intestinal gas’ is the ultimate diagnosis in our ...

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84th Academy Awards: Predictions, tweets & snubs

The Oscars are a time when fans, TV anchors, stylists, live bloggers, tweeters and seat-fillers (the lucky people who sit on celeb’s seats while they’re visiting the bathroom or the bar) satellite around A-list stars in the celluloid constellation known as Hollywood. Die-hard viewers host Oscar parties at home while Hollywood’s B, C and D-listers try to attend as many after-parties as they can (since they’re naturally not invited to most awards shows). It’s fun for all, whether you’re watching the show live at the crack of dawn in Pakistan’s time zone (and heading off bleary-eyed to work), or watching the ...

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Where criminals are secure, and innocents die

Once lucky, twice confident, thrice dead, goes the saying, and more often than not, it does play out that way. Unfortunately, as far as Rana Sarwat is concerned, somebody else did the dying. The convicted kidnapper and under-trial murder accused managed to evade death for the third time in the face of James Bond/Ethan Hunt-inspired assassins, only for two innocent women, the mother and sister of the cabinet secretary, to lose their lives in a hail of gunfire as a pair of gunmen entered the supposedly secure VIP ward of Pims and managed to leave after the incident without any ...

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Why comments and likes matter in the (new) media world

The number of comments or likes or tweets on an online news article or Op-ed do not determine its real worth, just its popularity. What is popular on news sites is ‘common’, ‘low-brow’ perhaps ‘sensational’ maybe even ‘gripping’ but it is rarely what is ‘good journalism’ or ‘valuable opinion’. Therefore, clicks, hits, comments and likes are definitely not a measure of success for a ‘real’ writer or journalist. This is what the old vanguard of journalists, columnists, bloggers and writers of all-sorts would have you believe. Being an editor for an online news desk has left me open to frequent attacks ...

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Banning concerts is not a solution

Tracing back the history of Pakistani pop music is tricky. Wikipedia describes Runa Laila as a veteran among pop sensations; Nazia Hassan and Zohaib Hassan are ranked after her.  Today, Pakistani pop music is one of the most popular genres in South Asia and also with the South Asian diaspora around the world.This fact has been accepted with much grace and enthusiasm by the majority, but there are always hindrances posed by certain hard-liner groups, changing governments and Islamic fundamentalists, who frequently have issues with Pakistan’s vibrant and thriving mainstream and underground music factory. Following Ziaul Haq’s military coup, ...

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Living with multiple sclerosis

I suffer from multiple sclerosis. I also suffer from a cocktail of other ailments that such abbreviations bring. However you never know what or which. You spend endless hours every week with new symptoms that could fit into other definitions. There is a concoction of medications and an assortment of supplements that promise good health, but is there ever hope? Never. Hope is about knowing that the disease will go away. Hope is for the foolish. Here, there is fighting; there is preparedness; and there is perseverance. I must live as the capacitor that can store every iota of strength for my ...

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Saeed Ajmal, the doosra Saqlain

Off-spin bowling has never been as glamorous and stylish an art as leg-spin. In fact, it wasn’t long ago when off-spin wasn’t event considered an art, as every part timer could roll over his arm for an end changing spell of off-spinning lollipops. From Benaud to Qadir and Warne to Mushtaq, leg-spin was the only form of slow bowling that was considered an essential ingredient of a potent bowling unit. All that, however, changed with the emergence of a skinny young man from Lahore who not only reintroduced off-spin as a genuine threat but also added such artistry to his repertoire that his invention laid the foundation of ...

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Irresponsible patriot or mature voter: which are you?

I will be the first to admit that it was wrong of me not to vote in the last elections. I regret that decision now, and it seems very irresponsible, especially since I took part in the student movement against former president Pervez Musharraf. My reason was simple: I did not like any of the candidates. In hindsight, that was not a good enough reason to not protect my vote because even though I did not go to the polling station, in all likelihood, my vote was used in rigging. I failed to protect my vote and for that I have to ...

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