Stories published in April, 2012

Bhoja Air crash: Hail to the sound bite addict!

Hours after the fiery death of 127 Bhoja Air passengers, our interior minister, hungering for sound bite-upon-sound bite, raced to the crash site. His getting there was so important that ambulances and rescue vehicles were forced to move aside and clear the route for his motorcade. Fortunately, either good sense or the army told him to turn around halfway, but why he needed his full motorcade to go to a disaster area with him in the first place is beyond me. Why he thought his motorcade should be given priority over emergency vehicles is also beyond me. His presence at the site ...

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Dear PEMRA, what is indecent, anti-state, anti-national?

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) is really stepping up its efforts to, at least superficially, hold the media accountable. First they made their public complaints archive publicly accessible online – good job, although a glance at the complaints does highlight the issue of their complaint centre being hijacked by propaganda-laden trolling. Secondly, and more critically, they have uploaded a draft of the upcoming PEMRA Content Regulations 2012 – the code of conduct that local broadcasters will be bound to. The regulatory body has also called on the public to email their feedback before May 07, 2012, after which ...

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Killed twice: Marrying the man who raped her

A young girl lay dead across the bedroom floor, and a small open bottle lay just mere inches from her hand with the words ‘rat poison’ printed across the label. She had just committed suicide – an act forbidden by the laws of God and nature. Her reason? She was ordered by a judge to marry the very man who had raped her. Amina Filali was just 16 when she ended her life. Only last year, Amina’s parents filed charges against their daughter’s rapist who was 10 years older than the teenager. The judge, in the Moroccan city of Tangier, concluded that rather than punishing him, the ...

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Want rescue? Please hold indefinitely

I was standing in the kitchen with my mother when we heard a vehicle come to a screeching halt on the main road we live across. As I peered out of the window, I saw the red car slam into what looked like a pick-up truck. There was a loud bang and then both the vehicles turned upside down on impact. Immediately I grabbed the phone and dialled 15.  The recorded voice of a woman asked me to hold and I did. This went on for around five precious minutes before the operator picked up. “Hello Madam, Rescue 15.” “Hello. There has ...

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PTI in Balochistan: Quetta loves Kaptaan

In this video, I explored the true sense of excitement that surrounded Imran Khan’s rally in Quetta. As one of the locals who attended the jalsa (rally) in person, I recorded scenes that show what this gathering means to the people of Balochistan. I interviewed men who travelled long distances to see their beloved leader, Imran Khan. The general sentiment around the rally reflected adoration, positivity and patriotism. One can gauge the amount of respect people in Balochistan have for Imran Khan by the fact that many people showed up to support him despite the flooded streets and traffic jams. “Rastay ...

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Bhoja Air crash: We are accessories to murder

Please refrain from shedding tears or feeling remorse for the unfortunate victims of the Bhoja Air crash. As painful and heart wrenching as this episode is, I’m afraid we have no right to feel sorry or pity for the departed souls and their loved ones. This may seem harsh, but it is the truth; we are all culpable in what is brazen murder. We are the ones that are allowing these airlines to operate within our borders; we are the ones that are tolerating unethical business practices that all too frequently imply cost cutting at the expense of the public ...

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Going to the movies? Well, good luck!

I recently went to watch the movie The Hunger Games at a cinema located in Saddar. To say that I had wanted to watch this movie for a long time (since it is based on a novel that I had read and really enjoyed) is an understatement. I was truly looking forward to the experience of watching the characters come alive on screen and discover how closely the scenes matched the ones I had imagined while reading the novel. So, in short, I was really excited for what should have been an amazing experience. But amazing it was not, and ...

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Bhoja Air crash: Tragedy for the professional cynic

Here’s what an ordinary day in the newsroom is like: Stories come in, at regular intervals. People edit them, casually, in the knowledge that our paper will reach our readers tomorrow. People take cigarette breaks. Someone reminds someone else to turn the television on in case of breaking news, which usually turns out to be something insipid (at least for a journalist), like tyre burning at XYZ roundabout. Here is what today, the day that over a hundred lost their lives in the Bhoja Air crash, was like: At close to 7 pm, breaking news turned out to be far more than ...

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Torture behind the scenes of fashion

Last month, one of the biggest textile names in Pakistan hosted a typically grandiose and hugely successful event showcasing its latest line of fashion wear. Cameras flickered to capture celebrities and designers entering and exiting the venue. Glaring lights reflected against colourful backdrops which displayed the names of sponsors and partners. Stone faced models posed elegantly for the glitterati. In a land 20 kilometres away and some days earlier, 12 of the workers responsible for manufacturing towels sold at its outlet were arrested, detained, tortured and eventually charged under the Anti-Terrorism Act. The common factor uniting all 12 workers was that ...

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How disasters should be dealt with

Modern techniques and equipment cannot avert either natural or man-made disasters but surely use of available resources, comprehensive planning, and effective training to agencies handling calamities can reduce the consequences. Apportioning responsibility for the Bhoja Air crash will be a lengthy process as it requires advanced technology and equipment to ascertain the causes of the incident. Likewise, Pakistan does not have a culture which requires the authorities to share information or findings of such disasters. Examples from history further reinforce this: East Pakistan debacle, Kargil adventure and the July 2010 Airblue crash in which 152 people lost their lives. Now, ...

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