Stories published in October, 2012

What about the good that happens in Pakistan?

We are a nation full of flaws, but we have some good aspects as well which are rarely highlighted. I recently met a doctor, a pioneer in gastroenterology, who received the prominent civil award, Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, this year for his contribution to the field. During our meeting, he commented on the prevalent negativity in society. The media hunts down only the bad news and presents it as trophies to the public, he said. He told me about a workshop organised in March this year, where despite the travel warnings due to the security situation in Karachi, 29 international experts from the US, the ...

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Bravery in the face of cowardice

Even after all these years, sometimes, in my dreams I find myself in the Swat Valley with waterfalls that look like diamonds falling from the peaks of mountains into emerald lakes. I see myself and my cousins, walking on a flimsy bridge as it sways perilously over the river Swat, not daring to look down at the mighty river, flowing with the rage and power of a hundred thousand white horses stampeding un-reined. I see apple orchards and walnut trees. I see children so beautiful, they could be angels. I see beauty. Only beauty and serenity. When my daughter asks me what ...

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Doomed to a life of drones

Shattering sounds of broken glass and screams of sirens poured into Ali’s ears; and hot, blazing flames leaped before his eyes; he could not say with assurance whether that was an hallucination or some frightening reality. A little while ago, he had been plucking yellow, juicy apricots from a tree in his courtyard. Suddenly, a predator flying in the air threw fire in the direction of his house. Those sounds came back to him and were mingled with low, moaning human sounds. Ali shut his eyes tightly and attempted to move his body. A loud groan escaped his mouth. Hearing his ...

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Shehr-e-Zaat: A spiritual romance

After “Humsafar“, expectations for any work involving Sarmad Sultan Khoosat were high, and seemingly impossible to fulfil. How does one compete with a phenomenon, especially one you created yourself? The answer was apparently simple ─ “Shehr-e-Zaat“. This isn’t “Humsafar”, but it is a tour de force in its own right. It is yet another bright feather in director Sarmad’s cap. The story, written by Umera Ahmad, is a difficult concept to bring to the screen. What might be a deeply insightful work on paper can seem bland and heavy handed on screen. 7th Sky and Hum TV have done an admirable job, ...

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Is there a ray of hope for Pakistan?

There are two ways of interpreting a glass half-filled with water. You can either call it half-full or half-empty. Even though referring to it as half-full may give you hope, I do not intend to excite the readers by projecting fake optimism while so much is going terribly wrong in Pakistan. I still believe that despite all the unpleasant happenings, not all is lost yet. Terrorism, failed state of affairs, discredited army, incompetent leadership, hopelessness; there is enough going on in Pakistan that is a cause of despair and is indicative of a bleak future, but there exist some promising prospects in our country as well. I have come ...

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Every 10th person in Pakistan has hepatitis

Over 15,000 dengue patients were reported in Punjab in October last year. A health emergency was declared in all public hospitals and even private health facilities were asked to accommodate dengue patients. Almost everybody in the Health Department had become a dengue-maniac.  This year, around 250 dengue patients have been reported in Punjab so far, with zero casualties. The efforts by the Punjab government seem to have worked. With Rs300 million, a separate programme in the Health Department, titled Prevention and Control Programme of Epidemics in Punjab has been launched to deal with dengue and other epidemics in the province. Government ...

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Kashmir: Rahul Gandhi’s proposals are meaningless

On October 4, the Indian National Congress General Secretary and the fourth scion of politically influential Nehru-Gandhi family, Rahul Gandhi visited Indian-administered Kashmir. Rahul’s visit was mainly to alleviate the trust deficit, which has been mounting due to the recurrent abjuration of promises New Delhi has made so far vis-à-vis Kashmir. The young Gandhi made it clear in his speech that he has come to empathise with the people of Kashmir. Well aware about how India has failed in reaching out to Kashmiris, Rahul said while addressing a large gathering, “I want to establish a relationship with you and understand your pain. And I want ...

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Malala’s shooting: Why are you being so cowardly, Pakistan?

In memoriam: Soon they will forget you, They will forget the sadness, the horror, Of what you had to bear- Most do not know, Do not care- But I will always remember you, You were another girl, I could not save. Feminism to most people seems to mean an aggressive, narrow minded, anti-men approach to life that encourages individuals to campaign for female supremacy. Moreover, most people consider it a waste of time in this day and age. But I feel that every Pakistani woman should be a feminist- a feminist in the sense of the word that one should campaign for the rights of women and children in ...

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The trouble with academia: Write to impress or write to express?

I’d like to expand on a pearl of wisdom that I received from where most pearls of wisdom originate ─ my grandmother. She is a published Urdu novelist and part-time journalist, but more than that she is an intellectual searching for depth in the meaning of death as she sees herself approaching the imminent reality of it. A more popularly acclaimed introduction would be as Bushra Ansari’s aunt. Lucky for you, I’ve chosen to talk about one of the least morbid topics she happened to discuss with me: Academic writing. Despite having published novels, my grandmother does not consider herself a ...

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Dearth of international action in Pakistan is killing our sports writers

Unable to host international teams has many repercussions — your players are always on the road; the budding ones don’t get enough chances to impress; the closest the crowd can get to the action depends on the size of the TV screens, and the federations’ cash-flow is heavily affected. The many biryani wallahs, chat wallahs and rickshaw wallahs miss out on their third Eid, too. However, going through the many emails and articles on a daily basis, it has been discovered that the dearth of international action in Pakistan is also destroying the future of its sports writers. While domestic players lose out on ...

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