Stories published in August, 2012

The problem lies not in our blasphemy law, but in ourselves

The blasphemy laws of the Pakistani Penal Code have been a subject of fierce debate ever since they were formed, under the regime of Ziaul Haq. Pakistan was born in the name of Islam and by its constitution, the Islamic way of life is to be propagated and protected. Pakistan was also born out of the dire need for religious freedom of the Muslims of the subcontinent. This message was displayed on the Pakistani flag, where a white band proudly streamed next to a wider green band, declaring to the world that while Pakistan was a Muslim state, the rights of all ...

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Are you kidding me? Bollywood loves Muslims

Recently, I read a blog on The Express Tribune entitled “Bollywood, please stop demonising Muslims” by Muhammad Mustaqeem Yousfani. Had the article written been about the mind-numbing inanity that Bollywood is prone to dishing out from time to time, I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid because, frankly, there is some truth to that statement. However, when Mr Yousfani alleges that Bollywood is anti-Muslim, I raise my eyebrows, roll my eyes and put pen to paper to write a befitting reply (I hope) to refute his unfounded charges. It is startling that such an allegation can be directed towards Bollywood – an ...

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Hello, any moderates out there?

After reading the Reuters report on dance parties in Pakistan and watching the daily shenanigans of the religious extremists on television, I’m starting to feel lonelier and lonelier in this extremely dichotomous and polarised society. I do not know how it happened but it certainly happened sometime in the last few years when practically all Pakistanis chose their sides. Today, a person is either the ‘I’m-better-and-smarter-than-all-of-you’ type of liberal or he or she is a ‘we’ll-blow-your-head-off-if-you-ask-for-any-rights’ type of religious fundamentalist. So now, the debate is always on miniskirts versus the hijab and on dance parties or dars. In their liberal or ...

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Dear US, solve gun control before waging war!

Student A: “I’ve got a new gun, it’s a Glock 39. It’s a small yet powerful package” Student B: “Wow, that’s so cool. I brought my new ‘Desert Eagle’ today, let’s check them out.” Student A: “Sure, after class. Let’s try few shots on the nerdy Physics professor; he’s been wearing DOD’s ballistic undies lately” As both students talk quietly in the class, the teacher comes up from behind them and loads his M4 Carbine, “Both of you- hands up! Drop your weapons – You were not supposed to take them out of your bags and plan a new assault on your professors.” The teacher then ...

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PEMRA: What’s vulgar to you is decent to me

Most recently, the apex court has taken notice of the petitions filed by Justice (retd) Wajihuddin Ahmed and former Chief of Jamaat-e-Islami against obscenity and vulgarity being broadcast on the electronic media. They requested the regulatory body to make policy guidelines barring TV channels from broadcasting vulgarity. To follow this order PEMRA has taken its first step by defining the word obscenity.  A lot of people have been lashing out at the court but the truth is this wasn’t a suo moto action. There has been a lot of debate over the court’s decision and the new definition. Liberals proclaim that ...

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Neil Armstrong: Never the showman, always the astronaut

Ask any serious sci-fi fan, and they will tell you that the most compelling piece of science fiction has a strong element of plausibility. If you can suspend your disbelief long enough to believe that the fiction you are consuming is within the realms of possibility, then your imagination’s immersion within that universe is likely to be deeper. In that sense, science fiction fans have much to thank the people at NASA for, who in bringing about the moon landing, unshackled the gates of imagination for the minds of countless, including myself. Although I was born 11 years after American astronauts ...

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Marriage proposals and job interviews are pretty much the same!

As I entered my senior year of university, the dreaded dilemma of career versus marriage finally presented itself to me. Fraught with uncertainty at both ends, I struggled to keep all doors open. Take it from me, juggling between the job interviews and larkay walay visits is a mission and a half! Going through enough of the two experiences to make one feel worthless, I came to realise that both of these activities are more similar to each other than they are different. Here are a few things you will find strikingly common between the two, so if you can master the skills of either one, ...

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Holier than thou

It seems as if a large portion of the population will have to be decimated so that the adherents of a certain ideology can create an ‘Islamic’ society. The binaries of ‘self’ and the ‘other’ are now frozen, with the ‘other’ being essentially damned and the ‘self’ being essentially blessed – a pompousness which has absolutely no place within a religion which embraces difference, encourages criticism and celebrates diversity. Islamic history boasts of centuries and centuries of coexistence between people of different faiths. Sadly, historical narratives suffer the same fate as religious texts do: they’re either ignored, or are split ...

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Will the fear ever end, or will I have to pick up a gun too?

The last six months have seen over 50 Shias killed in three bus attacks, while the overall numbers are much higher if incidents of targeted attacks on Shias in war-torn Parachinar and the rest of FATA, Balochistan, and Gilgit-Baltistan are included. For the Shia community in Islamabad, a sizeable share of which is from G-B, dinner table conversation over the Eid weekend focused directly on a worrying ‘what-if’ scenario, namely, the possibility of a militant Shia response to the violence and the fallout from such violence. This is not a recent change. Three years back, an attack on an imambargah ...

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Time for some Sharjah magic!

It was a Pakistan vs Australia series in 2009 that was the launchpad for the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. The ground was showcased to the world with that series three years ago. Its life will come a full circle when it hosts Pakistan and Australia again in a three-match T20 series starting September 5. But before that, Pakistan and Australia take part in a three-match ODI series that starts today in a stadium that is slowly making its way back to the international arena ─ Sharjah! I grew up watching matches at the Sharjah stadium; it is the first cricket ground that I ...

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