Stories published in September, 2012

This is an ‘Islamic’ republic: You can’t sit next to your wife!

If you thought that of all the places to eat in Pakistan, McDonalds would be relatively safe from extreme behaviour, falsely made in the name of religion, sadly, you would be quite wrong. Unfortunately, I just found this out the hard way, and in an incident that left a worse taste in my mouth than the culinary abortions the burger joint had on offer. Just yesterday, a little after midnight on Sunday, my wife and I, coming back from a friend’s birthday party, decided to stop at Karachi’s newest McDonald’s restaurant at Defence Phase 1 for some Diet Coke. Rather ...

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Are we to be blamed for Rimsha?

Qari Khalid Chishti is caught in the same trap that he had initially set for a minor Christian girl — which was intended as a tool against the Christian community in his area. The unexpected backfiring of this case seems to garner hope that Rimsha Masih will receive justice. The widespread reaction of religious scholars against Chishti’s actions is new hope for all citizens and for minorities, in particular, who feel insecure at the hands of such elements that misuse the blasphemy law. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are based on British colonial laws dating from 1860 and were amended in the 1980s ...

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Defence Day: Does it really matter who attacked first?

It was September 6 two days ago ─ just another day in London, the country I am currently living in. However, in my home country, this date was marked in red on many calendars. Until around a decade ago, Defence Day used to be a public holiday. However, as the wave of ‘enlightenment’ hit the country and we became workaholics, this date on the calendar was replaced with the usual colour. The only sign of the importance September 6 had in our history is now the special editions of the newspapers and some TV shows, or to some extent, verbal and ...

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Can anyone tell me why India and Pakistan don’t get along?

In 1950, three years after the partition, my great grandfather, who was living in Dhaka (then Dacca) at the time, was brought to West Bengal, India, by his sons. This was not a voluntary move, for Charuchandra Dasgupta had lived in Manikganj almost all his life and saw no reason to relocate to what was now an independent India. The communal riots in East Pakistan of that year further pressed the resolve of his sons, who ultimately prevailed upon him and that was the last he ever saw of Dhaka. In the last week of August, a conflict transformation workshop organised by ...

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Is education for Karachi slum-dwellers a waste of time?

In 2008, on a typical hot and humid summer morning, I was driving through Karachi city to get to work. Passing close to Karachi’s biggest slum area, Orangi, my car broke down and I had it brought to a workshop nearby to get it fixed. The workshop had a head mechanic, who diagnosed the problem and then assigned one of the several teenagers working for him to fix the issue. I observed the child working on my car and found him to be very talkative. He asked me about how I’ll be late for office and commented on my good luck ...

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Pakistani dramas: Are women really less empowered now?

Pakistani drama culture is back with many brilliant writers and directors entering the industry and producers investing generously. However, recently it seems that our writers have run out of ideas. It is like our society has no other issues other than ‘khandani’ politics and scheming in-laws. To quote the way my brother puts it: “The women are always the most innocent creatures while men are vile, cruel and evil and are always lured away by the evil sister or evil friend and eventually they realise their loss and end up sorry. The end.” Sadly I have no choice but to agree ...

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My sister: Always the apple of my eye

My sister and I, like a lot of other siblings, have a love-hate relationship. We can be the best of friends at times but can also turn into the worst of enemies. We still don’t hug or even shake hands when we see each other after a long time. Yet, the smiles on our faces are enough for both of us to understand how much we’ve missed each other. She is probably the most energetic and witty person I’ve known. She truly is the life and soul of our house. I still remember when she went off to medical school ...

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Mohammad Aamir, we want you back!

Not too long ago, Pakistan witnessed the début of one of the most talented and mesmerising young bowlers in the history of cricket. An aspiring teenager who, at the age of 17, had begun bowling for his country in all formats of cricket. Yes, I am talking about the very promising Mohammad Aamir. I don’t think anyone has been able to forget what a match-winner this lad had proven to be. Who can forget those deadly spells that played a significantly important part in winning us the World T20 in 2009, or the sight of a 17-year-old showing Sachin Tendulkar the way ...

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Dear Mr Chief Justice, why are you allowing extrajudicial killings?

Dear Mr Chief Justice, The entire nation knows how you refused to bow down before a military dictator, and helped establish the rule of law in this country. We know how your courageous actions led to the revival of democracy in our country and the independence of the judiciary. Ever since your position was restored, you have taken suo-motu notice of many actions, and have done a commendable job at scrutinising the executive under the Supreme Court’s inherent powers of judicial review, such as the Balochistan law and order case. I thus take this opportunity, to bring to your notice, ...

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Forgotten hope

They say that hope is what keeps us alive, what gets us out of bed every morning and what in fact makes the world go round! On my recent trip to Karachi I met a lot of my old friends, colleagues and class-mates. The thing that struck and disappointed me the most was the dearth of hope that some of them are beleaguered with. Not a day went by when someone did not ask me if I could find them a job in the UK or Ireland and for someone like me, who holds his roots in great esteem, this was ...

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