Stories published in June, 2012

Nurturing children to be better human beings

In the late 1700s, when children worked the entire week and could not attend schools, Robert Raikes initiated the Sunday school movement in England so that education could be provided to them on their day-off. Youngsters were taught how to read and write, along with being provided basic knowledge of the Bible. This movement turned out to be the precursor for a national system of education in England. This practice continues in almost all churches of Pakistan today, with the Sunday school being the place where Christian children get their basic religious education. The church committee appoints the coordinator and superintendent ...

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Coke Studio is making a mockery out of our culture

At the risk of sounding judgemental, let me state flat out that “Coke Studio” is the place where a revitalisation of folk culture is endeavoured by slaughtering it. A not-so-thoughtful cogitation, in this case, has led people to believe that through commercialism a win-win situation can be achieved to the benefit and amusement of all the stakeholders, i.e. the producers, the conglomerate and the MTV generation. The idea clicked. The “Coke Studio” fad is running amok. Social media is replete with ‘Naulakha Charkhas’ and ‘Jugni’. Rohail Hayat seems to have acquired the status of ‘god of music’. Rambling on about the latest episode of “Coke Studio”, ...

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“Yes, I don’t want children”

At forty, Faiza Abbas has been married for 15 years. The pitiful looks she receives started a couple of years after her first wedding anniversary. Initially, they were accompanied with encouraging and humble words like:  Oh, it’s only been three years, you’ll have kids soon enough, I’m sure. Don’t worry, there’s still time, you’re still young. About these remarks, Faiza states with a laugh: I used to think these aunties were more worried about my childless situation than I was! I didn’t really care for children, personally. At the beginning of my marriage, my career was just starting to take off and I didn’t want ...

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China and Russia can free us of the US

Pakistan is looking to the East for help. We are pinning our hopes on regional cooperation through blocs such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation ( SCO). This bloc boasts support from two major regional powers –Russia and China. Why should we support this alliance, one might ask. To them, I would like to state simply, we need this to free ourselves from the stranglehold of the US. We have numerous reasons to support this alliance. For instance, despite all cooperation and the consequent suffering, Pakistan continues to face immense pressure from America. The recent episode of this series of pressure came when Pakistan suspended the Nato supply ...

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Game on: How Shane Warne stumped the world

The year was 1993. The first Test of the series was underway between England and Australia at Manchester. A chubby, blond leg spinner was making his Ashes debut. The man facing up to him was Mike Gattings, who was known to dig into spinners as he would into his lunch. What transpired next single handedly revived the art of leg spin bowling. The world was to witness a delivery that would go on to be known as the ‘The Ball of the Century’. The bowler came off from three to four paces to ...

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Who wins if Punjab is divided?

There has been a lot of talk recently regarding the impending division of Punjab. From the viewpoint of many analysts and politicians, it is simply a matter of time before Punjab is divided into, at least, two provinces. The question, however, remains; does division, whatever form it eventually takes on, make sense? There is one line of argument that focuses on how large countries, like China and India, are able to experience substantial economic growth side-by-side with a substantial number of provinces. This argument makes the false assumption that the provincialism is somehow driving the economic growth. The truth is that ...

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Adventures of a Pakistani groom-to-be

Preparing to become a Pakistani groom is a lot like watching Shahid Afridi bat. The thrill and the excitement that comes naturally with the process are unparalleled. But the adrenalin rush also keeps you on the edge of your seat; you genuinely have no idea what’s going to happen next. Weddings are a big deal around the world but in Pakistan, they’re an even bigger deal and a bit of a rollercoaster ride, especially for the bride and groom. Incidentally, while Pakistani brides may be groomed (no pun intended) for this rollercoaster ride all their lives, the grooms are kind of expected ...

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Radio in FATA: A foreign voice for local problems

During my job at a radio station, I got one of my listeners to come in for some questions. In came 60-year-old Haji Noor Zaman, who is from the Khyber Agency and was internally displaced due to the operation against militants. My first question to him was, Do you still listen to radio? He replied saying, Yes, I do, but only to the news bulletin of Radio Deewa. Radio Deewa is a US government sponsored radio station. Curious, I asked: So, what’s new up there? He said: America has diverted its cannon towards Balochistan and has built up a human rights case against Pakistan. He was hinting at the ...

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Give your wallet a workout at Café DownTown

Glitzy, jazzy and hip. These are the words that came to me as soon as I stepped into Café DownTown, located on Khayaban-e-Sehar in the DHA area of Karachi. In a very short period of time, this expensive new eatery has become a fairly popular hangout among the young crowd of DHA and Clifton. Café DownTown is another addition to the eating-out map of Karachi. Talking to the five young entrepreneurs of this restaurant, I learnt that an ardent passion for food led them to open the place. Their goal in setting up Café DownTown was to respond to the need of many offices and businesses as ...

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Budget 2012: What about tax collection?

Dr Hafeez Shaikh is a helpless man. He says powerful lobbies in the country do not want to pay taxes. This is true, but it’s nothing new for us. What duty is the current elected government performing, if not tax collection, to run the country? Everyone wants the budget to provide some form of relief but nobody is willing to pay tax. Unfortunately, those who do end up paying their taxes in Pakistan, the salaried class, are being further burdened, while the powerful people in agriculture and services sector are free of any societal responsibility. It is well known that government ...

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