Stories published in February, 2012

Shakil Afridi: The lowliest of traitors

Dr Shakil Afridi, accused of running a CIA sponsored fake vaccine program, is in a funny position. On one hand, he has been responsible for fulfilling Osama bin Laden’s dear wish to die at the hand of infidels. On the other, he has played in the hands of the secret agency of an ally country. The recent attempt of US congressman Dana Rohrabacher to save his neck has brought his case to the fore once again and it’s a surprise to see that most of the people who rejoiced at the news of OBL’s death think that Afridi shouldn’t be tried ...

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Baby scare: Motherhood can change your life

On December 2, 2010 I called my obstetrician/gynaecologist’s  office only to hear the words:  “Ma’am, you are seven weeks pregnant!” I couldn’t believe my ears. What the nurse told me seemed impossible. I immediately logged on to Googletalk and broke the news to my husband. He wanted to share the news with his family members, but I was still in a state of disbelief and stopped him from spreading the word. I spent that entire day crying, wrapped under a blanket, until my husband came home. After a few days, he started sharing the ‘good news’ and simultaneously, I started receiving ‘congratulation’ ...

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Jawwad Farid and risky business in the IT sector

Whenever we dicuss the IT sector in Pakistan, the conversation is usually about what we lack and not what we have. Then we compare it to India with all its government subsidies, state of the art infrastructure and lament all the catching up we have to do. While there is nothing wrong with making that comparison because competition is healthy, we need to realize that Pakistanis have been blazing trails in the IT industry for some years. Even with all the hurdles we have in our way, the sector has been providing niche services and is often unnoticed. There is ...

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Who you calling crazy?

Imagine being paralysed to a point that living your day to day life becomes a constant struggle and challenge. Imagine that a simple task that you do on any given day becomes an obstacle and causes great anxiety. No, I am not referring to being physically paralysed or having a physical impairment but rather the crippling impact of dealing with serious mental health problems. I find it difficult to speak so openly about this issue as someone very dear to me has been struggling with bipolar disorder and a severe form of anxiety since I was relatively young. This someone happens ...

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The problem with the expat vote

The Election Commission of Pakistan recently announced that in principal, it had agreed to franchise overseas Pakistanis by allowing them to participate in the electoral process. However, going through the minutes of the meeting conducted by Secretary ECP Mr Ishtiak Ahmad Khan, it’s quite clear that things are not as done and dusted as news reports have made out to seem. Quite rightly, the ECP is still considering the most efficient and transparent way in which to conduct elections for overseas Pakistanis. Setting up voting booths in high commissions, embassies and consulates across the globe is quite an expensive option as many Pakistanis may not live ...

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English Premier League: Handshakes and hypocrisy

If the English Premier League can be defined by one contest, it is the one between the two most illustrious and successful clubs, Manchester United and Liverpool FC. That is one fixture (in fact two, if you count home and away fixtures) every season that never fails to entertain you for reasons varying from sheer brilliance to absolute controversial. After the racism controversy surrounding Patrice Evra and Luis Suarez where Suarez was found guilty not based on any “evidence” but on a “balance of probabilities” (which I believe has to be the flimsiest way of deciding on one’s guilt especially in a case as ...

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Harassment doesn’t stop us

A recent news story published in The Express Tribune reported a female traffic warden in Lahore who had to get transferred from road duty after she was groped by a man on a motorbike. She said:  “I cried at the CTO’s office and he ordered me transferred to the Ticketing Branch. The same thing happened to several other wardens.” The idea of including female traffic wardens in to the field was to make society a safer place for women. Officers thought that once the commuters saw a lady in charge, they would behave themselves. Unfortunately, that was not the case. It is ...

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Waiting for evolution in Pakistan’s classrooms

When I was in class III, my school teacher showed us an unusual illustration in our science class. It was the classic drawing of the evolution of man, from monkey ancestor to homosapien, and I remember thinking back then: well, that makes a lot of sense, we look just like monkeys. There was no big debate in our science class. The teacher just taught us evolution (change via natural selection across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations), and we just absorbed the information and assumed it to be true. The narrative of how life came into existence ...

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Trading sex on Zamzama

As a regular commuter in this cauldron of mixed sights known as the metropolis of Karachi, I see diversity amidst the cacophony of ethnicity, race, language and cultural values and I also see the growing perpetual prostitution lining the streets of Zamzama – which has perhaps truly evolved as a one-stop shopping district. They say it’s the oldest profession in the world, but come what may in Karachi it seems to be the newest one. Somehow every street has become a rendezvous for a potential client and provider. Women continue to sell their bodies to earn a livelihood; admittedly this has ...

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Unchanging and endless: Abandonment

A woman is as fragile as flowers, or so states every romance novel that I have ever read. It was during the later stages of life that I began realising that the opposite is true. However, I will compare women to one flower in particular, the Purple Iris. Delicate and soft, the Purple Iris pushes itself skyward without waiting for the snow to completely vanish, to embrace sunshine and the approaching warmth of spring. When I was studying to earn a postgraduate diploma in photographyat Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, I participated in a three month long project for my ...

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