Stories published in February, 2012

Demi Moore and our fear of ageing

Demi Moore’s recent divorce from her younger husband, Ashton Kutcher, and subsequent trip to rehab for drug and alcohol addiction have been documented all too well in the tabloids. We read the headlines, and exclaim our shock and horror at Moore’s “pathetic” behavior. Unable to keep her much younger man,  losing the battle with Mother Nature, guilty for beginning to show her true age, Moore reportedly turned to substance abuse to keep her fledgling self-confidence afloat. We can balk as much as we want at Demi Moore’s troubles, but how long can they distract us from our own insecurities? With the deluge of bad press ...

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Who is watching the social media wardens?

The recent issue of Maya Khan vigilantism and the subsequent uproar that ensued in the social media, resulting in the termination of the said anchor and her team, has brought to fore a number of questions. Whereas I wholeheartedly ascribe to the widely held opinion that this is a major victory for the liberal coterie which is otherwise known for keyboard ‘jihad’ alone, I have my contentions. Let’s not put down the entire thing to a liberal win. The impact of the social media’s protest over this issue, in particular, was hugely galvanised because it struck a chord with a vast ...

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Pak vs England: A welcome green sweep

Pakistan cricket was burnt down in 2010 and from those ashes rose a green phoenix. This phoenix conquered all it faced, even before the start of the England series; it set up an epic encounter with the whites but was not given due credit and was instead written off as ‘winning against the minnows’. Critics felt that the series against England would expose the Pakistan side’s weakness. However, the encounter turned out to be lopsided as the whites were no match for the phoenix’s tenacity, determination and skill. England came to the Middle East with great confidence but was found wanting ...

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Let’s love Pakistan: A new resolution (II)

In September last year, I took up the challenge of making a list of 65 reasons why I love Pakistan; the poor broken country we have begun to take for granted. The idea was simple, but its execution not so much, which is why it has taken me four months to come up with the second set of reasons. I plan to compile the list by August 14, 2012—Pakistan’s 65th Birthday.  Here’s a short excerpt from my previous blog to establish the idea behind this otherwise puerile exercise: I’m going to try to complete the list (of)  reasons – some small; some ...

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The terrible appeal of Humsafar

The appeal of Humsafar is obvious. You could cut through the weird chemistry between Khirad and Ashar, the hero authors of romance novels would be envious of. Eye candy, nakedly sexual, he stares arduously at his love interest with desire that would give the Grammarian and the Aisha Bawany schoolgirl goose bumps. He is clean cut. He smiles infrequently and when he does, it seems as if it were a gift. Physical contact is at a minimum. Sex is implied, and there is a chastity reminiscent of Zia-era dramas that drives people insane with tension. Khirad on the other hand, played by the cherubic ...

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Kashmir- where Indian democracy comes to weep

The title of one of the sessions in the recently held Jaipur Literature Festival was “Prison Diaries”. Moderated by Sidharat Vardarajan, editor of The Hindu, the three authors of on stage were all from Jammu and Kashmir; Iftikhar Gilani, Anjum Zamarud Habib and Sahil Maqbool. Whether it was by choice or coincidence, all the prison diaries that have been produced in India in recent times have been written by Kashmiris. Iftikhar Gilani, a journalist by profession who is also well-connected with political circles in Delhi, was picked up in 2002 by security agencies from his Delhi residence on charges of ...

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Fear and loathing for military coups

Three unrelated stories reported in the mainstream media recently gave me an emotional high — and a low. The first story was about a decision by a court in the Turkish capital of Ankara to indict and charge the leader of that country’s 1980 coup with crimes against the state. Bravo! This was a high. But a sudden low came with a news piece on a tribunal’s decision in Bangladesh to send 90-year-old Ghulam Azam, the country’s most prominent Islamist leader, to jail, pending trial for war crimes. The 90-year-old was accused of helping the Pakistan Army in the 1971 ...

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Dawkins made it to my sociology class

Growing up in a society that discouraged asking too many questions, I often wondered what it is about modern western education that the conservative right is so scared of.  Reading the news and following politics on television and online has helped me understand how our policy makers think and what issues matter to our general public. If you have done the same, you will know that every effort to modernise our educational system and make it more culturally and religiously neutral has met with stern resistance from political, religious and other factions of the society. But one day, while sitting in ...

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Why Younis Khan is king

The Pakistan – England Test series finally witnessed a century, and it came from none other than the most reliable batsmen out there – Younis Khan. I had been waiting for a Younis Khan century throughout the series and last week, he made it happen. Younis’ performance was most satisfying because I had been anticipating it for some time and to top it off, I was at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium to witness it. I don’t remember a Test series that Pakistan has played that has not involved a match-winning or match-saving century by Younis. Calls to drop Younis from the Test squad prior ...

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Is religion the opium of Pakistani masses?

Institutionalized religion can have a major social impact on society, for good or for evil. This blog is not concerned with discussing the ‘dogmatic’ aspect of religion; rather it revolves around religion’s impact on society. Generally, it is the poorer societies that have the greatest proportion of the population following institutionalised religion. For this reason, religion tends to have a greater social impact in poorer societies, where it is supported more strongly by the majority. Either the religion controls the government or the government uses religion as an opiate in a majority-poverty society as influence. When Karl Marx stated that “religion ...

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