Stories published in January, 2012

Explaining the garlands for Qadri

You may argue that a large number of people in Pakistan condemn the assassination of Salmaan Taseer. But the truth, though bitter, is that many instead of condemning the heinous act of a murderer, condemn the verdict of the court which proclaims capital punishment for Mumtaz Qadri.  There are campaigns running throughout the country that pay tribute to a murderer. Huge posters of Qadri, decked with Quranic verses and beautiful roses, are plastered all over and yet there is no one to remove such aberrations. Some believe that the reason for this queer phenomenon is illiteracy, and talk about it in a ...

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Reader comments: Do not feed the trolls

Think of reporters as bards and warrior-journalists on an epic quest. The Kingdom demands new songs and tales so we are forced to enter the wilderness regularly. There are many hurdles along the way— harsh climbs, Aabpara Road, local fauna. A lucky few are allowed to pass unmolested by the indigenous population of  internet trolls.  Others come face to face with the terror of wet jaws and a big club ready to wham their journalism degrees to a thin paste. These cyber-beasts are active 24/7. When offended (their list of offences is exhaustive, tyrannical) they show no mercy on news ...

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Seraikistan is our right

Seraikis are not ‘south Punjabis’, just like Pathans aren’t ‘north Punjabis’. Stop calling them southern Punjabis; it’s in bad taste. Having one’s cultural identity reduced to a geographical variant of an alien ethnicity is unpleasant. People should realise how incredibly offensive it is when they claim that Seraiki is just a dialect of Punjabi and not a different language. Seraiki is an ancient language, rich with heritage that represents its people. Some even argue that linguistically, Punjabi may be a relatively recent relic of the Sikh invasion, while Seraiki, with its original Sanskrit script, might be significantly older. It’s ironic how a ...

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Manto: Still relevant, still cherished

January 18 marked the 57th death anniversary of Saadat Hassan Manto, the greatest and most controversial short story writer ever produced by Urdu literature. Manto jumped into the realm of Urdu fiction in the early 30s. In the wake of the Progressive Movement, when all writers inclined towards realism were ardently following the ideology of the movement, Manto was the only exception. He was a movement unto himself. With his unique treatment of the subject, and psycho-analysis of human behaviour, Manto turned the whole course of Urdu fiction, which until then was mainly under the influence of Prem Chand’s realism and ...

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Pakistan vs England: A history of controversies

As every doosra and teesra out of Saeed Ajmal’s hand passed the incapable strokes of perplexed Englishmen, the smell of a potential controversy got stronger with every wicket in the fully packed media center of an otherwise empty cricket stadium in Dubai. Staying completely loyal to their predecessors, the British journalists and media men triggered another controversy by questioning the bowling action of Pakistan’s new Spin King, and the wisdom behind his selection of attire that consisted of a full sleeved T-Shirt. Rumors have it that if England lose the first Test in Dubai, Ajmal’s action might come under an even sterner media ...

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Where is Shahnila Naz?

Soon after my return to Pakistan from Germany, one of the most progressive nations holding on firm to human rights and anti-violence policies, and where I worked extensively on women issues, I was confronted with one good piece of news and one bad. The good news was that a Belgian court had sentenced 20-year-old Sadia Sheikh’s family on charges of killing her for ‘honour’ in 2007. Her brother, who had shot her dead while she had returned to pacify her parents over her decision to marry a Belgian, was sentenced to 15 years. The court also sentenced her father and ...

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Don’t close hearts because of Shamsul Anwar

The story ‘Waiting to receive pieces of daughter’s dead body’ aroused a series of vacillating emotions. Shock and horror washed upon the public after hearing Shamsul Anwar’s heart-wrenching and soul-shattering story, affecting everyone who heard of or read it. People lost sleep over the desperate father’s horrific state and many even reached out to help him as much as they could. Those emotions were then replaced by more shock, but this time layered with deceit and betrayal as it was revealed that Shamsul Anwar’s story was untrue. Aside from pointing out the obvious negligence and shoddy efforts of proper research on ...

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Mukarram Khan, Saleem Shahzad…who’s next?

In 2001, just after the US invasion in Afghanistan, a tribal journalist from Mohmand Agency was captured near Kandahar along with another Pakistani and a French journalist. All three were taken into captivity by the Afghan Taliban on suspicion of being American spies. As their case went before the Taliban court, the tribal journalist found himself with an unexpected advantage; he was the only one who could understand both English, Urdu and Pushto. Thus, he entered into the unlikeliest contract of all; working as a paid translator for the Taliban while in captivity. At the end of the three months ...

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Government vs Judiciary: When push comes to shove

Make no mistake, this is a Supreme Court crusade to recover ill gotten wealth. Doing so successfully has become its pride and joy. The bewildering list of instantly recognisable acronyms in cases involving financial misdeeds ( NICL, BoP, PSM, RPP) bears testimony to the fruits of such efforts. Given these circumstances, the government’s continuous attempt to frustrate such efforts by evading the implementation of the NRO judgement was never going to bode well with the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court has waited over two years for the implementation of the NRO judgement. Unfortunately however – if I may take out ...

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I told Shamsul Anwar’s story

I don’t know where to start from. I don’t know how to console all those who were fooled by Shamsul Anwar, the man responsible for cooking up a fake story to swindle people. What really disgusts me is that he toyed with the emotions of so many just for the sake of money. Let me confess, I first filed the story on this very same man in December 2010, approximately a year before the story ‘Waiting to receive the pieces of daughter’s dead body’ was published by The News. The reason that made me do so was the same which made thousands collect money ...

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