Stories published in July, 2012

Ramazan with Veena Malik: Lord forgive us all

A heavy voice, amid fire raging on the screen (illustrating hell fire) alerts us that it’s that time of the year when we all have to seek forgiveness from God– and just when I was about to recite Astaghfar in my heart, Veena Malik appeared and disrupted my connection with the Divine. I shook my head in disbelief and continued to watch Veena Malik address me in a cobalt-blue kameez shalwar. “Main hoon Veena Malik, is Ramazan main keroongi aapke saath … apne aur aapke gunaaho’n ka astaghfar.” (I am Veena Malik, and this Ramazan I, along with you, will be seeking ...

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Come home my child

Come home my child, school is over It has been blown up I know some of your mates have been taken Their parents, shattered, battered, broken Come home my child, In the mountains, it has been snowing flakes of bombs, flames so white, Shards and shrapnel, snowballs bright In the name of God some slaughter In the name of God others fight we the people, we the fodder Live to face our gory plight To enormous events we have been destined First the poverty, then the quakes, Then the militants, now the drones, Come home my child, far from the agony Away from the war with no end in sight Come home to my dreams There’s peaceful ...

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Ambassador Munter misunderstood Imran Khan

Ambassadors usually choose their words carefully. However, in a recent interview with BBC Urdu, the US Ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, stated that he had met with PTI Chairman Imran Khan and PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif and that both leaders had assured him of a pro-US government if elected. This was either a misinterpretation on his part or wishful thinking and shows the dangers of careless talk or reporting. Imran Khan has said on many occasions that he is not for or against the US, but that he is against specific US policies. In a 2011 interview on CNN’s ‘Face the ...

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Karachi Zoo: A threat to endangered animals?

The other day, my two-year old nephew would not let go of The Express Tribune. On the front page, there was a picture of a large white lion. While he didn’t understand the headline “South African white lions to land in Karachi”, he sat transfixed on the floor with the page and roared over and over again like he was the big bad Scar from The Lion King. Unfortunately, I could not be as ecstatic about the picture as my nephew. The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation imported these white lions at a price of Rs10 million. A glass enclosure is being built from a special ...

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Burma killings: Think before you point fingers

I have always thought of Buddhists as being the wisest, most religious and peace loving of all people. Hence, their recent atrocities in Burma were shocking on many levels. Burmese Buddhists are carrying out a ‘cleansing’ and have (reportedly) killed many Muslims over the past two months.  To answer the ‘why’, let’s examine a bit of history first for that is where most of the answers lie. Burma/Myanmar is situated next to Bangladesh and Muslims started arriving there in the early 20th Century. Memons and Shias also migrated in large numbers – that is also the origin of ‘Khao Suey’ we so enjoy today ...

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Poetry of the Taliban: An oxymoron?

“You read poetry during lunch time?” asked a colleague as he swallowed the few remnants of his sandwich. “If it’s written by the Taliban, then any time of the day,” I replied. His eyes gawked at my computer screen, as he uttered the following words; “Taliban poetry…that’s an oxymoron!” Taliban: a coin with only one side – up until now In May 2012, Kandahar-based researchers and writers, Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn, set out to play the devil’s advocates; they published a book titled Poetry of the Taliban in the UK, revealing the softer side of the militants whom we all claim to know so ...

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The Social Media Mela was NOT a kitty party

Question: What is the one common thing between a writer from Mumbai, a journalist from Delhi, a famous film maker from India and a junior doctor from Lahore? Answer: The fact that all of them loved hearing Iqbal Bano sing ‘Dasht e Tanhai main’ on the radio, at the wee hours of the morning while waiting to get CNG at a gas station in Karachi. For me, that one moment captured the spirit of Pakistan India Social Media Mela 2012. No wonder the slogan of the event said, ‘Faasla Na Rakhen, Pyar ho Jaanay Dain’ (Don’t distance yourself; let love happen) Organised in ...

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Polio vaccinations in the dark ages

Pakistani children have it rough. They grow up in a country with a corrupt and incompetent government at the helm. They are inheriting a faltering economy and mountainous debt. The country isn’t as safe as it used to be, to put it mildly, and it doesn’t look like things will be improving soon. To top it all of, rising crime rates, extortion, political violence and terrorism are now the accepted norm as well. They can’t look forward to a proper healthcare system to take care of them when they are ill, nor can they expect a decent public education to be ...

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Aisam and Faha’s separation carnival: The blame lies with us

Pakistani tennis star Aisamul  Haq Qureshi and his wife Faha Akmal Makhdum decide to separate having failed to develop an understanding between each other over the course of their eight-month marriage. First thought: Aisam, the tennis dude, loves milk (no pun intended). Second thought: Eight months! Who the hell walks away from a marriage in just eight months and that too in Pakistan? Third thought: Something scandalous must have happened. Must find out what. I felt pretty ashamed at my personal train of thought when I first heard of Aisam and Faha’s separation, but once I went online to see what the media ...

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A marriage does not just come down to ‘love’ or ‘arranged’

A few days ago, whilst skimming through the The Express Tribune, I came across a blog entry titled “Why one should love arranged marriages,” by Sidrah Moiz Khan. Ms Khan’s piece set out to discuss the age-old debate of arranged vs. ‘love’ marriage. However, rather than giving a balanced account the author, being an ardent supporter of the former method of union, gave a diatribe that seemed more suited for Khawateen Digest (Women’s Digest). As such, I felt the need to formally reply to Ms Khan’s blog. Before I begin, I wish to clarify something. I find the terminology chosen by the author ...

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