Stories published in January, 2012

No homosexuality in Pakistan, and other lies

While visiting Karachi University a few months back for a fieldwork assignment, I had a rather peculiar run-in with a group of clinical psychologists. All of them were involved in clinical and rehabilitative projects and had recently banded together to start a small forum to teach people aspiring to enter mental health and also to disseminate specialised information among professionals. They felt that such knowledge was largely disaggregated in Pakistan.  This meeting was atypical for me since it was one of my first encounters with a group of well educated and professionally active psychologists who wanted to inject some vigour into the ...

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There is no shame in using a jharoo

It was a dark day when I was caught red handed by my friends, squatting over the floor and sweeping it with a jharoo. Within seconds, the camera phones were out, and their lenses were all aimed at me. The images were injected into the web-ways, and they received a dozen ‘lol’s’ and many more likes in the first 24 hours. The joke, I imagine, was that some people like to keep their rooms clean. Ha, absolutely hysterical! This form of immaturity is shared by more than just my small band of burger buddies (yeah, you heard me!). Way too ...

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Media matters

It seems all that the media can seem to cover is the so-called memogate case and issues related to it. For example, for the past two-three days headlines on news channels have been dominated by speculation regarding whether Mansoor Ijaz will come, or not come, to Pakistan to testify before the commission set up by the Supreme Court to investigate the authenticity of the memo. Surely, there must be other issues for the media to cover. After all, one can argue that how does the issue of the memo affect the lives of ordinary Pakistanis who are finding it increasingly ...

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David Warner: A true cricketing metamorphosis

David Warner’s scintillating debut against South Africa in a T20 fixture, where he scored 89 off 43 balls, told cricketing fans that maybe they were not going to miss the mighty Mathew Hayden that much after all. The stark contrast in the frames of the two left-handers is more than compensated by their consubstantial batting styles – belligerent and disheartening for the bowler. Many players phase out after such breathtaking debuts and are unable to carry on the high of their initial promise. Warner, however, proved to the world that he was ...

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The corruption within

Irony appears to be wasted on many citizens of Karachi. I’ve had one conversation too many sitting in the passenger seat of a car, hearing an animated driver furiously lambast devious politicians of the country from behind the wheel, then promptly run a red light at a crowded intersection. Surely some parallels could be drawn between these two sets of people: the corrupt politicians and the negligent drivers. Politicians are entrusted, among other things, with the responsibility of being honest and fair during their tenure in office. They are expected to have concern for the welfare of the general populace. ...

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What a gori learned in India

I didn’t get to ride an elephant or dance and sing about love and heartache in choreographed Bollywood style. But during a little trip to India to attend my boyfriend’s cousin’s wedding, I did learn some things about Indian etiquette. Here are a few lessons for non-Indians who find themselves sari-wrapped in India. Lesson #1: The price is never fixed You can haggle for literally everything in India — even when there are signs saying “price is fixed.” The process is like interpretive dance: prices hang in limbo while unresolved arms sway and strike poses to the rhythms of sari fabrics brushing ...

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Meet Chota Jatt, the Pakistani superhero

My goal while making Chota Jatt was to provide the children of Pakistan with a character they could relate to. I wanted to give them a role model. Inspired by Lollywood movies from the 70s and Japanese Anime, Chota Jatt tells the story of the legend behind the man who inspired an entire movie genre (Maula Jatt), and highlights Pakistan’s rich culture. The character Chota Jatt uses his strength to fight for justice and to battle against corruption. The series will be high octane, action packed and hilarious. Currently, in Pakistan there is very little programming done for children, particularly those from the ...

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More provinces …or not

Recently, amidst the frenzy of the National Assembly debate regarding new provinces, the MQM’s Farooq Sattar voiced an interesting thought. He said that if more provinces are not built, more “Balochistan-like situations” could arise. By politicising the issue of additional provincial units, the current discourse for provinces has taken an unfortunate turn. Based on populist rhetoric, the debate inside the National Assembly disregards the structurally important aspects of the country’s bureaucracy and political system which is plagued with cases of centralisation and inability to promote local autonomy. The real fear of creating ‘more provinces’ is that it may further polarise the ...

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Imran Khan’s PTI: New face, same old lines

Has Imran Khan’s party started to crumble already? The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Nazriati (ideological) is a recently formed faction consisting of those who stood by Khan when he started his mission to clean Pakistan’s politics. Khan took pride in them because they were honest, educated, and hard-working people who had vowed to help him bring about a revolution in the country. Recently, however, his right and left have been hijacked by the Makhdoom’s and the like. Honesty, education, and hard work are not traits that will win ballots today. This is not very different from the history of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). The PPP ...

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A dummy’s guide for journalists in Pakistan

Two years ago, I took a course in war reporting. In one year, we learned what we could about embedding within the military, media effects, propaganda, and censorship, amongst other things. Most importantly, we learned the basics of all basics: the nine principles of journalism. We were asked to memorise, interpret, scrutinise, and above all apply them in context. In Pakistan, the media has taken on various roles, often acting as analyst, policy maker and even judge.  At times it has lost the entire notion of censorship and theconcept of contextual objectivity (as difficult as that may be). Over the past ...

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