Stories published in July, 2012

The passport scam is a sorry start to the London Olympics

Just like any thriller, the sequence of events surrounding the Olympics visa scam, leaves one completely dazed. First came the not-so-shocking revelation that one can get a fake Pakistani passport and if you can dole out more money, even a spot in the Olympic squad, as the British tabloid, The Sun recently insinuated. Countless counter-allegations and some multiple arrests later, National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) has now come out saying that the whole scam episode is in itself a scam altogether. However, there are still many unanswered questions hanging in the air. Some quarters immediately started saying that this was ...

Read Full Post

Zarmeen’s story: On giving the poor a chance

In an age and country where material and financial resources reign supreme in most aspects of existence and the masses strive to barely fulfil the basic necessities of life, the heart-warming story of Zarmeen is truly uplifting for spirits.  This young girl has been given a chance to earn a full scholarship for studying much to the joy of her father who is a guard at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (Lums) itself!  “Finally there was a letter from Lums which said that my daughter had been selected for the National Outreach Programme (NOP),” related a beaming Akhtar about his daughter. Other than a poor girl getting the ...

Read Full Post

Elections 2013: PPP should complete its five-year term

The current PPP-led government has, at the most, another seven months in office before it completes its five-year term in March, 2013. However, opposition parties such as the PML-N and the PTI are calling for the ruling coalition to hold early elections, keeping in mind the tensions between the government and the judiciary that have led to political instability in the country. The question before us is whether elections will be held in March, 2013 or will the government be forced to call snap pools? Or, whether elections will be held at all in the foreseeable future? There are several hypothetical ...

Read Full Post

Batman shooter: Mentally ill, not a terrorist

If you are a Muslim, or have Muslim friends, chances are that you’ve seen the gem above doing the rounds on social media websites like Facebook, where the caption states that had Holmes been a Muslim, he would have automatically been labelled a terrorist by the American media. Heck, you only have to visit video coverage of Holmes’ violent shooting spree on YouTube, or read the news reports on websites like CNN, to find random comments from outraged Muslims asking why he wasn’t labelled a ‘terrorist’. But let’s just backtrack a little, in case ...

Read Full Post

The genie does not fit the bottle anymore

While the media in Pakistan has travelled a long and difficult journey to reach where it has today, as a young member of the fraternity, I am left confused if this really was the destination my elders struggled for. Even if handful, there are still people in the media, who stand by their principles — code of ethics as they call it, and rightly so. But while this seems the only honourable thing one can and should stand for — ethics that is — the younger lot in today’s media largely feels estranged to the idea. Being introduced in an environment ...

Read Full Post

Does saying ‘Ramadan’ over ‘Ramazan’ make you a better Muslim?

Since the last few years, the arrival of the holy month brings with it the ignition of a debate on social media in Pakistan. At the centre of this is the dispute over how to pronounce the name of this month; should we use the Urdu word ‘Ramzan’ or the Arabic word ‘Ramadan’? Here are a few tweets regarding this matter: Beena Sarwar: @beenasarwar You can call the holy month what you want. I’ll use Ramzan, rather than the corporatised, commercialised, Arabised, westernised Ramadan. Fazeelat Aslam: @FazeelatAslam If you’re Pakistani say Ramzan. If you enjoy continuing Zia’s mission and being a lemming, please say Ramadan. #lemmings AM: @delhisultan Today we ...

Read Full Post

Terror and bloodshed in Balochistan: Who’s to blame?

For several weeks, a group of coy Baloch men and women camped outside the Islamabad Press Club. Mostly young, many are members of the Baloch Student Organisation (Azad). Samina, 9-years-old, left her home in Mekran to demand justice for her father, whom she has never met. Behind her petite demure is a large poster with faces of the missing, abducted in various parts of Balochistan, accusing security agencies for the disappearance of many fathers, brothers and sons. “No one is safe, there are arms everywhere,” said Governor of Balochistan, Nawab Zulfiqar Magsi, at a civil society meeting in Quetta, as ...

Read Full Post

The tears of twenty million people

As we moved in to the second decade of the 21st century, we left behind one that was filled with world altering events. Unprecedented disasters like the Pacific-Asian tsunami in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina eight months later, devastated communities like never before. We welcomed 2010 with cautious optimism, but again, nature took its cruel course. Pakistan was shattered by two catastrophic floods in 2010 and 2011 that killed thousands, uprooted millions and caused billions of rupees of infrastructural damage. Entire communities and acres of land were lost in a flash. The 2010 floods, which were the more destructive of the ...

Read Full Post

Saaen to saeen, let the Mohajir also be saeen!

A bunch of the loudest possible 15-year-olds had crowded a tiny fro-yo eatery. As one of them cracked a Pathan joke, on a table next to them, my four friends and I immediately turned our heads to gauge the reaction of our own Pathan friend. “Dude, he just cracked a Pathan joke!” she yelled. “Mashal, you’ve never even been up North and you know like five Pushto words. So calm down,” commented my Sindhi friend Noor. But two minutes later, the same bunch cracked a Sindhi joke and suddenly, she stood up and all hell broke loose: “Say that to my face jaahil!” We ...

Read Full Post

Shaista Zaid and the black days of the past

English newscaster Shaista Zaid retires after 43 years of service to the state broadcaster PTV, but did you know that for many years she was also the voice of the English speaking clock, and that to this day, you can hear her on PTCL announcing, “Your telephone subscription does not support calling this number. Please dial 17 for more assistance?” Her voice for me was the official English-speaking voice of Pakistan when I was growing up, during the years of Zia and state control over information; seeing her finally retire brings back memories of those difficult times. I can’t help but think ...

Read Full Post