Stories published in June, 2012

Kidnapping culture: They show no remorse

Just like all the other crimes, this one is a part and parcel of life in Karachi. Hearing about a case of abduction did not really give me goose bumps before. However, all this changed the day one of my own kin got kidnapped. Being a professor at a medical college, lecturer of another and a doctor,  Reza* possessed all the qualities of being the perfect ‘victim.’ He was kidnapped on the outskirts of Karachi, on his way to the university along with the driver of the university car. His family did not know for hours and only tried to contact ...

Read Full Post

Visa restrictions: Who draws lines around countries?

The last few months have been full of optimism for Indians and Pakistanis who are eager to step across the border and experience what lies on the other side. The fact that both countries have been working towards a liberal visa regime  to enable people-to-people contact is a cause for celebration but there is bound to be anxiety until the time an official deal is signed. The recent news about a last-minute snag, leading to a postponement in this process after a meeting between Pakistan’s former Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, and India’s Home Secretary, R K Singh, comes across as ...

Read Full Post

Sabermetrics: The art of numbers in sports

So, it was when Scott Hatteberg hammered a home run for the Oakland Athletics (Oakland A’s) on September 5, 2002 that baseball had a new ideology to celebrate. The Oakland A’s had made the 20th consecutive groundbreaking win, all due to their manager, Billy Beane’s, fascinating, albeit controversial, stratagem to incorporate ‘sabermetrics’ into the baseball universe. First put forward by Bill James, sabermetrics relies on the tactical analysis of baseball games and players by utilising objective and empirical data. In layman’s terms, it is the philosophy of using numbers and statistics to make decisions and value judgments. This success galvanised and reshaped ...

Read Full Post

Goodbye, Dr House

As the saying “all good things come to an end” goes, “House M.D.”, the brilliantly written show, ended last week. There have been numerous television dramas over the years based on doctors and hospitals including “General Hospital” from the 60s to “Scrubs” and “Grey’s Anatomy” during the 2000s. “House M.D.” embarked on a journey to create its own presence and niche when it first aired in 2004. It is based on an ingenious but misanthropic doctor who is willing to cross all boundaries to solve a case. His actions are seen to be driven by his passion for medical puzzles and ...

Read Full Post

Will the Tsunami kill orthodox politics?

In the last century, it has been generally accepted that Pakistani voters are more or less divided according to the left-right ideological divide which is also, conveniently, referred to as the Bhutto/anti-Bhutto vote. However, in the last decade a new breed of voters is ready to replace those who were young during 1970s and 80s. The priorities of the previous generation of voters too has been altered by the significant changes in economic and social conditions, consequently they no longer are as enthusiastically affiliated to the left-right politics as they once were. On the other hand, new generations of voters are immune ...

Read Full Post

A table for two

“Goddamnit,” she thought as he interrupted her motion of drawing the chair for herself, his face clear, earnest and nervous, to do it for her instead, “He’s going to propose.” And instantly she was gripped by a feeling of dread: it weighed her down; she felt her limbs filling with lead. But why was he going to propose? Why now? Why, why, why, she repeated, feeling helpless (and consequently angry), finally sitting down after feeling a bit silly standing there and looking at him, wondering. But surely he wouldn’t – he couldn’t. They had talked about things. It was absurd, ...

Read Full Post

Why Facebook’s IPO flopped

The initial excitement associated with this biggest ever deal for Nasdaq has faded away. Facebook’s share prices continue to plummet with the share price reaching a new low of $26.9 today. The original price set by the Facebook team was $38. The drop in Facebook’s share price wiped more than $11 billion off the company’s market capitalisation with Bloomberg declaring that “the IPO produced the worst five-day return among the largest US deals of the past decade.” The latest news that disgruntled shareholders are furious over Facebook’s IPO performance, and cannot wrap their heads around how the country’s second largest IPO ...

Read Full Post

Are lawyers above the law?

Having successfully restored deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, some lawyers – we all know who I am referring to – have started to think that they are above the law. The recent attacks by lawyers on policemen, readers and judges are truly abominable. These acts of mob violence can be expected from the uneducated masses. However, coming from a highly educated bunch, this uncouth aggression is shocking, to say in the least. There has been a string of incidents across Punjab in the past few months where lawyers have manhandled policemen and court readers, entering into unwarranted arguments and abusing ...

Read Full Post

Punjab’s dislike for polls on party lines

It is understandable for dictatorial regimes to hold elections on non-party basis. Political parties are platforms that nurture aspiring politicians and hence strengthen democratic politics. A dictator is averse to the latter and, therefore, denies political parties any opportunity for organising themselves. He prefers picking and choosing his own people for elected offices, so the likes of Amir Mahmood and Shujaur Rahman get elected to municipal councils. They may pretend to represent their cities, but their eligibility for the office is mostly derived from support for the dictator and the socioeconomic muscle that they are capable of wielding because of their ...

Read Full Post

Just how powerless are we?

As a child, the smell of a blown-out candle was among the sweetest of fragrances that I knew. Not because my mind equated it with birthdays, but because it signalled that the power was back on. It would begin with the sudden disappearance of Mario from the television screen smack in the middle of a boss level, amidst a chorus of frustrated interjections from me and my cousins Grandfather would then light a gas lantern fixed in the living room wall, as well as some candles strategically spread around the ground floor. Occasionally, there’d be a petrified little kid stuck in the bathroom ...

Read Full Post