Stories published in March, 2012

Bailing out Radio Pakistan

In his letter to the editor of The Express Tribune on February 28, Radio Pakistan Director General Murtaza Solangi defended the proposed tax of 2% on mobile phone users on every recharge to make public radio financially stable. If the additional tax was unacceptable, Solangi said, people should come up with counter-proposals for Radio Pakistan to stay afloat. Solangi says: “At the end of the day, the choice is either to have a public broadcaster — as the rest of the world does — or shut it down. If it needs to be retained, then people need to tell us how.” First ...

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Let the lawn wars begin

Come summer and all women hail the arrival of lawn — the three-piece fabric. Yes, do keep the hot weather conditions of the country in mind, but in the recent past what we have seen is the onslaught of one customer against the other, at the cash counters of great exhibits, which mostly take place in big cities of the country. This time round, things were a little different, before even winter ended in Karachi, the first lawn wars began with the adverts, with the first major exhibition by the end of January, of J Lawn by Junaid Jamshed. Come ...

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5 steps to solving Pakistan’s energy crisis

Out of all the problems we face as a country, energy seems to be the one that annoys us the most. It’s not that other issues are not important or are somehow less annoying; it is just that every single person in Pakistan uses energy in one form or another and hence is directly affected by it at a very personal level. So when a few days back I was invited as an expert delegate to the PML-N’s energy conference , I was pleasantly surprised that our political parties are beginning to showing signs of maturity and started talking issues. The ...

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A semblance of security

What kind of country are we living in? This is a question I, as ajournalist, often end up asking myself as I glance through the day’s newspapers. Consider: on the same day, there was a report of a family of five found murdered, in one of Karachi’s relatively affluent neighbourhoods. Then there was a report of a suicide attack in the country’s northwest in which several dozen innocent people had lost their lives. And then there was the demolition of the Osama bin Laden compound in Abbottabad, which was being done for some unknown reason, almost a year after he had ...

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The perfect romantic comedy: London Paris New York

Love stories have been told again and again. Every now and then, a Jab We Met comes around – a film which that rises above the predictable. London Paris New York (LPNY) is one of those special films. Set in three lovely cities, this is story of Nikhil (Ali Zafar) a happy-go-lucky boy and Lalitha (Aditi Rao Hyderi) a simple, nerdy Madrasi girl, who fall in love with each other thrice in six years. And that’s it. That’s all the movie is. No impediments, no pretentiousness, no preaching, no ‘zaalim samaaj’ and not even a supporting cast. ...

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Racism and football

The 2011-12 English Premier League (EPL) football season will forever be remembered for all the wrong reasons. While the football on display has hardly lit up the televisions this season, other incidents on and off the pitch have revived the long-standing controversy of racism among players and supporters. The embarrassing developments first occurred in a league match in October 2011 between rivals Manchester United and Liverpool, in which the latter’s Luis Suarez allegedly racially abused the former’s Patrice Evra, a coloured player. Suarez later admitted to calling him a “negro”. He was subsequently banned for eight matches by the Football ...

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Obama’s apology and the ashes of the Holy Quran

Last week, as the horrible news spread that US military officials had incinerated copies of the Holy Quran at Bagram airbase, American military and civilian leaders quickly said they were sorry. NATO commander General John Allen and US President Barack Obama both apologized to Afghan President Hamid Karzai. A top US defense official, Peter Lavoy, even appeared at a Washington DC area mosque to offer his apologies to worshippers during Friday prayers. Yet Washington also went beyond apologies. Allen announced an investigation into the affair, and the military pledged new training for its personnel. “These actions do not represent the views of ...

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Shia killing: Identified, offloaded and shot

Last time it happened they called it the Holocaust. The Nazis did not annihilate the Jews for what they had done or for what they had not done for that matter. They exterminated millions of Jewish men, women and children for what they were – the Jews. That was the identity of those unfortunate souls that led them to ghastly ghettos and horrific concentration camps set up by the Third Reich across Europe. The holocaust was the genocide of one of its own kind, where no territory dispute or any material stakes were involved, but simply the hatred for a ...

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Do I have the right to remain Ahmadi?

In 1966, nearly 180 million people in the US received Miranda rights – the right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination. Half a century later, a religious community in Pakistan, another country of nearly 180 million people, is facing a rather caustic version of the Miranda rights. They don’t have the right, but a duty, to remain silent. The religious group is the Ahmadiyya community. Two recent events frame the issue aptly. First, on January 29, 2012, clerics organized an anti-Ahmadiyya rally in Rawalpindi, attended by 5,000 madrassah students, chanting threatening anti-Ahmadiyya slogans and demanding to take over a 17-year-old Ahmadiyya ‘place of worship’. Then on February ...

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Cinema and class

Film as a revolutionary art form has for some time been at direct odds with the commercialisation of cinema, because it has put those on the margins in popular discourse. The decline of Pakistan’s local film industry has also coincided with changing economic structures in which the industry used to operate. Cinema has since long been associated with projection of national identity. With the advent of globalisation, film has been used to project various group identities and has also changed the paradigm in which culture functions. In the 1970s, Indian actor Amitabh Bachan had come to represent the quintessential anti-hero in ...

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