Stories published in June, 2012

Exploiting the power crisis: Rioters in protesters’ clothing

A strange thing happened on the way to Raja Rental’s ascension to the premiership; Islamabad’s daily loadshedding was increased. On the face of it, there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with that, considering the nationwide power crisis, but a little birdie told me that in the absence of a WAPDA minister and prime minister, the hike should have been delayed until a cabinet was set in place. And although that may or may not be a legal requirement, a notification of the increase is. With the mercury hovering around 45 degrees Celsius, loadshedding is a major issue, but unfortunately not the only one. Water in Khanpur Dam, the ...

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Polio peace

On June 16, the Taliban shura in North Waziristan Agency, led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, banned polio drops. Then, in the south, a Maulvi Nazir-led shura also banned polio vaccinations until drone strikes in the south and north are stopped. A source in the FATA secretariat health department said that thousands of children will be affected by this decision and the world media condemns it. The agency’s administration there has started negotiations with tribal elders. It has threatened to arrest them and stop all developmental work in response. A tribal elder said that the ban was imposed by the Taliban ...

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Why is Manmohan Singh’s village better than mine?

Reading the tale of a ‘modern village’ Gah, I was amazed at how each word painted a surreal picture of an ideal village. Was this village really in the same country and the same province as my village? Gah happens to be the birth place of the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh. As a friendly gesture, Musharraf’s government labelled Gah as a ‘modern village’ and what followed miraculously helped to improve the standards of living of the poor people there. Commendably, Manmohan Singh stayed in touch with his roots played a pivotal role in supplying the village with solar energy. Thus, the people of Gah are heavily in ...

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The curious case of an American cousin

Imagine you’re the parent of a Pakistani teenager. Focus on the last word there, which signifies rebellion, obnoxiousness and other ‘growing up’ clichés. Who do you blame when your child acts out? TV? Their friends? Aaj kal ka zamana? But not once will you say “Stop acting like the goray children do”. Goray children – welcome to the world of immigrant parents. There’s enough talk of Pakistani immigrants to amass a small library – from ABCDs (American-Born Confused Desi) to terrorists in Britain, from the Green Card queues to the Canadian cold.  But that’s not what’s bothering me. As I write ...

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Oh summer, thou art fabulous!

With the scorching heat and indefinite amounts of loadshedding hours, summer is not exactly the best of seasons here in Pakistan.  However, there is always a silver lining and in spite of such gruesome circumstances, there are always reasons to shun away the cynicism that the three hours of loadshedding might bring. Here are just a few of them. The musical treats by “Coke Studio” No matter what the naysayers might say, “Coke Studio” is and will remain one of the best things to have ever happened to the Pakistani music industry. Never in the history of Pakistani music have people followed folk and ...

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Diary of an avid cricket fan

My phone beeped. It was an SMS from a friend who had grown skeptical of the Pakistan Cricket Team since the 1999 World Cup Final debacle. “So are your chuckers going to win?” It was the eve of the 2009 T20 World Cup final. And even though he knew that the response he would get would be oozing with positive energy, hope and an incomprehensible delight for one of the most unpredictable sports team in all sports throughout history, he still wanted to know. You see, after a long time this team was showing some spine. It was regenerating interest in the ...

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The story of self-made sustenance

Zeba voices her reservations with being photographed at first, rather shy and wary, but at the same time amused by the idea of it. All reservations subside once she starts talking in her native tongue, Saraiki. The narratives are interspersed with bouts of laughter, the sincerity in her words is evident through her smile. Lodhran is a far off town, but Zeba seems like someone from very close by. Maybe it’s her innocent laughter that just touches my heart. I keep looking at her face, enjoying that gleam of accomplishment. From time to time I bend over my diary so ...

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Documentaries about Pakistan: A step in the right direction?

Pakistan is a land full of stories. Its culture, ideas, politics and landscapes are so vast and intriguing that it invites artists for exploration all the time. Ever since 9/11, Pakistan has been the center of media attention ─ be it nationally or internationally. The so-called ‘war on terror’ has given rise to a lot of interest in the foreign film market, encouraging people from all over the world to analyse its complexities surrounding fundamentalism and liberalism. But one question, I feel, is extremely important for us to explore is ‘why Pakistan?’. So, in the hopes to settle my query, I invited my ...

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What legacy will you leave us with, PM Ashraf?

It was more than a decade ago, on September 20, 2001, when the infamous George Bush proclaimed, Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. He may have left the office but like his policies, this sentence still seems to resonate with the Pakistani nation, particularly PPP and its jiyalas. They label anyone who tries to question their incompetence as enemies of democracy. A manifestation of that is the latest national catastrophe that has hit Pakistan. Raja Parvaiz Ashraf has been made the 27th prime minister of Pakistan. The same Raja Rental ─  as named by the Twitterati ─ whose reputation is ...

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Raja Pervaiz is Pakistan’s Raja

Although our new prime minister – the largely unpopular Raja Parvaiz Ashraf – has been ridiculed on social media sites and other public forums with nicknames such as ‘Raja Rental’, credit should be given where it’s due. So I have penned down five factual points which go in favour of our new PM. 1.  A political worker at the grass root level: While we have had prime ministers who belonged to the lower middle class before ─ Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, for example ─ never has a political worker at the grass root level clinched the premiership. This marks the first occasion ...

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