Stories published in February, 2012

Crowded classrooms: 3 teachers for 500 students

Often young minds, unaware of the notion of enlightenment, tend not to be inspired with a desire to learn, progress and achieve.  They fail to comprehend the significance of education and that its absence can lead to an irreparable personal loss.This leaves them with the ‘monotony’ of school and a mushrooming culture, of neglected nurturing, of their innate inquisitive nature. Why is this so? One of the major factors is the gradual increase in the high student-teacher ratio in public schools of Pakistan. According to the data provided by Unesco in 2008, Pakistan has the most crowded classrooms in South Asia. The ...

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Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, you are my role model

As I sat waiting for the award for ‘Best Documentary, Short Subject’ for which Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy had been nominated for her documentary Saving Face to be announced, my stomach tied itself in knots. Having interned with Sharmeen last year, and worked with her on “Saving Face”, I was inspired by her. I frantically texted my friend Anushka (who had been Sharmeens’ assistant last year) who was as nervous and excited as me. The thought of Sharmeen at the Oscars was overwhelming and we had a strong feeling that she would win. We felt anxious, almost sick, but we knew that we were not alone. There was an entire ...

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Rahul fights for his destiny, not for the dynasty

In William Shakespeare’s “Henry IV” the protagonist is the complex Prince Henry – the son of the king who keeps the audience baffled at all times. Sometimes the king himself is worried about his son’s future. His subjects were never sure what the prince (Hal)  stands for. He acts rebellious but does not reveal his intentions. However, Hal redeems himself on the battlefield by saving his father from the enemy and eventually shrugs off his bad reputation when he demonstrates his ability to govern in uncertain times. In India, an icon of a dynasty is working to engage the masses and ...

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The thick blood of a journalist

Two journalists died on February 22, 2012 in the Syrian city of Homs after Syrian government forces shelled the house that they were staying in. One was an American and a reporter for the British paper, The Sunday Times, while the other was a 28-year-old Frenchman who had his own photography agency. The American journalist, Marie Colvin, was a veteran war correspondent and had just the night before her death sent a detailed dispatch on various western news channels about the deteriorating situation in the city, believed to be the stronghold of the Syrian resistance to Bashar al-Assad. The French photojournalist, Remi ...

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The 101 on how to survive an admission test

Overheard at Regent Plaza last Sunday… “These pagals who give the Scholastics Aptitude Tests (SATs) and get their 2400s,” said girl A, “Bar bar daytay hain, aur phir LUMS Common Admission Test (LCAT) ka grading scheme mess up kar day tay hain” (they take the test over and over again and mess up the LCAT grading curve).” “I swear yaar…,” said girl B. That was the weekend the Karachi Literature Festival kicked off at Carlton Hotel while a rally was taking place at Mazar-e-Quaid to protest against India, drones and everything in between. It also happened to be the weekend that the Opal ...

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My friend, the outcast

There was once an Ahmadi friend of mine who confided to me that no matter how hard she tries to identify herself as a Pakistani, her experiences of a lifetime of ‘otherisation’ and always being at the receiving end of misery do not allow her to do so. From her school days, to growing up in a neighborhood which regarded her as an Ahmadi first and then anything else, to watching people belonging to her community being ostracized, it was one incident after another of constant singling out, being branded as a ‘kafir’, ‘outcast’ and ‘un-Pakistani’ that molded her ...

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‘Just call me Muslim’

This year there have been a number of reports that what were clearly acts of sectarian violence, hatred and discrimination. In January, three lawyers – a father, his son and nephew–  were gunned down. They were Muslims who belonged to the Shia sect. On the same day, three other professionals from the Shia community were killed in Quetta. This all follows the year of 2011 where hundreds of Shias were murdered – and it seems as if nothing has, or will change. The Shia community is not the only minority sect that is being targeted. For a couple of weeks, attempts were made to ...

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Tendulkar: A retirement or a century?

Every cricket lover will agree that Sachin Tendulkar is indeed a legend. He has been one of the best batsmen, the most prolific run maker and arguably the biggest cricket icon the game has ever known. Let’s recap his achievements. Tendulkar is not only the man with the most runs under his belt (over 15,000 in Tests and over 18,000 in ODIs), he is also the first cricketer to score 200 runs in an ODI. With the increasing trend of T20 cricket, it seems that his record for the most runs in ODIs and Test matches will stay with him forever. But now there’s ...

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Defy Pakistan: How the right-wing turned rogue

The Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) is a tightly-held multi-party alliance of some 40 parties representing all shades of the country’s religious right-wing. It is led by veteran cleric Maulana Samiul Haq, who is popularly known as the father of the Taliban. The alliance is founded upon a single anti-US agenda, to drive out the Nato forces in the region and sprang up soon after Pak-US relations took a nosedive post the Salala bombing. After some low-key, closed door seminars on Pak-US relations, the alliance took to rallies, the first of which was staged at the Minar-i-Pakistan in Lahore. This rally was an ...

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Trade with India, for a better Pakistan

If the choice facing Pakistan is abandoning its claims on the Indian side of Kashmir in exchange for free trade with India, then I see it as an automatic choice: the economic future of 180 million citizens of Pakistan is not worth sacrificing for the sake of some vague political aspirations of a fraction of the 12 million or so who live on the Indian side of Kashmir. The hyper-nationalists that populate a surprisingly large segment of Pakistani cyberspace will no doubt argue that this is “selling Kashmir down the river”. Has anyone ever thought of the fairness of it ...

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