Stories published in April, 2012

A question of loyalty

Are flexible loyalties all that one needs to resurrect a political career? Are there ideological reasons behind such decisions or are they just a matter of profit and loss?  Did any leaders who switched sides bother to take into confidence those whose votes helped them achieve the political stardom? Did they feel that they were on the wrong paths earlier in their careers? Or, perhaps, they are not answerable to anyone? The season, with elections inching closer, is ripe for more such announcements but there already exists a long list of these ‘awakened’ politicians. Hina Rabbani Khar, Jehangir Tareen, Javed ...

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Cheating on exams: I blame the system

A recent news report in The Express Tribune titled “Rs100 is all your dad needs to have pharras delivered to you during the exam” began with the question; “Is there a point to sitting examinations at all?”  The article was about the recent case in Sukkur where invigilators and school staff were found helping students cheat, as eager parents outside paid them off. Let’s start by considering the question posed –  is there a point to taking exams at all? Across the globe, educational systems have implemented testing as a means by which to discriminate academic performance between students. However, this is a hangover ...

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Things you never say to an overweight person

We’re everywhere. Your odds of having to interact with us are increasing with every fast food “temple” that is erected in your city. A conversation with an overweight person can be a faux pas minefield, so here are a few tips to help you out. Have you lost weight? Never say that unless it’s an honest compliment and not an actual inquiry. Remember, someone who is overweight knows very well whether his physical dimensions have changed recently. If he hasn’t lost any weight, your statement will come off sounding shamelessly specious. Nobody likes a boot-licker, especially one lying so transparently that it feels like ...

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Held hostage: When will I see my father?

Our lives changed on November 2010, when MV Albedo was hijacked. My father had devoted 40 years of his life at sea to provide for his family, and now that his time to retire and live comfortably is near, his life is at the mercy of ruthless Somali pirates. A 17 month wait is a long time when you are kept in a cabin. It is even worse when that is in the middle of the ocean, far disconnected from the world. Those hijacked have witnessed the death of their companion who died due to inhumane living conditions. One captive, Rajbhar Rajoo, lost his ...

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Connecting our cities not just with flyovers but with people

What do you want Islamabad to look like in 2042? If there’s anything the geography component of O’ Level Pakistan Studies taught me, it was to appreciate my city. One of the chapters was “Population in Pakistan”  full of sketches of villagers moving to new cities. A friend underlined one reason given in the textbook for rural-urban migration: Bright lights. “Of all things, that’s why people migrate?” she asked with a bemused laugh. But that is true to some extent as Karachi is a city of bright lights. Take a ride at night and the billboards will prove this. Is your ...

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The day I wore a niqab

Books have been written about it, feminists have insulted it, Muslim feminists, however, have defended it, and international laws are being passed against it. While there are some extreme cases where women are forced to wear a niqab (veil), most of the niqab-wearing women I know in Toronto and Karachi wear it due to a personal choice.  I have some experience with the performing arts and expression, whereby one uses the body and it’s form as a canvas to initiate reaction and to enable visual dialogue between the performance artist and the viewer. Therefore, as a social and creative experiment, I decided to ...

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IPL without Pakistan: Who is the real loser?

Since its inception mid-way through the last decade, Twenty20 cricket has added a new dimension to the gentlemen’s sport. This relatively new brand of cricket not only marked a certain form of revival for the sport, it also managed to expand its fan base by exploring regions of the globe that had previously shunned it because of the length of its duration. The inaugural T20 World Cup soon followed and brought the most significant twist in its otherwise steady growth. The crowning of India as the World T20 Champions marked wild celebrations back home and took Mahendra Singh Dhoni and many of his unknown men ...

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10 things I hate about being a Pakistani gamer

For many in Pakistan, video games are still in the same category as children’s cartoons – which I still watch, by the way. But for hardcore gamers, video games can be a form of art that aside from providing entertainment, can also stimulate one on an artistic and intellectual level. Personally, I’d like to see a child perfectly execute a bomb disposal with zero casualties in the tactical shooter, Rainbow Six, or lead their nation to world domination in the strategy game, Sid Meier’s Civilisation. Also, I’d love to see a child frag me in an online shooter, like Battlefield. Okay, ...

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Gilgit-Baltistan: Paradise turned bloody

The bloodbath in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) has started yet again, as a severe wave of sectarianism has revisited the landlocked, but strategically key, part of the country. It began on February 28 when masked miscreants forced passengers travelling in four buses out at gunpoint and shot dead 16 of them in Hurban area of Kohistan. Since then, the law and order situation in G-B has worsened. On the morning of April 10, violence erupted again in the tense city of Gilgit when masked men riding on a motorcycle hurled a hand grenade on Sunni activists who were trying to force shopkeepers ...

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Is Allama Iqbal relevant in today’s politics?

In our national conscience, Sir Allama Muhammad Iqbal occupies that lofty post of being the first person to have conceived the idea of Pakistan. The second thing that we know about him is that he wanted an Islamic Pakistan. Nobody has ever bothered to go beyond this simple fact to ascertain the reasons for this, and it is noteworthy that mostly we have only read about the part where he supports the idea of a separate homeland for Muslims. The official narrative has erased Iqbal’s advocacy of a unified India and presents only his later ideas. The point of this article is ...

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