Stories published in December, 2012

If I could have a chat with Jinnah…

Like many, I often wonder what it would be like to talk to an influential historic figure. One wants to sit with them, ask questions and find out what they think about things around them, but they no longer exist to answer. I personally wish I had a chance to interview Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah – Jinnah now. The apparent dream of Pakistan he saw in 1934, which may have led him to come to India, all the more makes one want some answers. He isn’t here to answer, but one can conjecture, right? I wonder if Jinnah would have given ...

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Noise on the Connecticut shooting, but deafening silence at home

Shootings at Sandy Hook happened a day before the bombings in Peshawar. There was an outcry for justice and amendment in the United States gun control laws, worldwide. Pakistanis in the US and abroad, also expressed their deepest condolences towards the people who had died in this tragic incident. President Obama addressed the nation with immense grief. His teary-eyed, sombre voice sent a shiver down my spine. Several news publications and scholastic journals published detailed reports and academic discourses of the incident within 24 hours of the shooting. And the average person in the United States, is still reminiscing over ...

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What’s in a tattoo?

I hate to burst people’s bubbles but all this tattoos-are-“un-Islamic”-and-would-never-be-worn-by-an-Islamist-radical nonsense is a major distraction. Plenty of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan have been found with tattoos. In fact a several years ago so many dead Taliban fighters were found with maple leaf tattoos that senior American counter-terrorism adviser David Kilcullen actually led an investigation into what they represented (short answer: Quality Toyota Hiluxes originally imported from Canada). It’s also common to find Taliban fighters with tattooed inscriptions and text. Here is a photo of a captured Taliban fighter with a tattoo saying ‘I bear witness’. Foreign Jihadi fighters who have travelled from other parts ...

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We are (annoyed by) Malala!

Oh, Malala! How did a child like you ever manage to lock herself in the eye of an unrelenting storm of controversy and conspiracies? Usually when a girl gets shot, she gets to reap much support and sympathy. Somehow, that art is lost on you. Almost everything your name touches, spontaneously combusts into an inferno of angry protests- if not simmer with a million eye-rolls and irritable head-shakes. A recent example is the controversy surrounding the renaming of the Saidu Sharif College in your honour. The students had several reasons to protest. One was about your audacity to seek medical treatment ...

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The complexities of today

A year short of a quarter-life crisis, I can’t help but wonder if our increasing awareness of happiness and therefore, unhappiness has slowed us down as individuals. Agreeably, most of our unhappiness stems from our own inaction, which we then attribute to a kind of failure. It seems that we are all unfulfilled in some way or the other but an awareness of this failure, more so, the fear of failing itself, has made us complacent and self-pitying. I often find myself in this web of doubt that tangles ambition, ingrained values and societal pressures. For instance, each time someone asks me ...

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Uncanny resemblance: Is Balochistan the next Bangladesh?

It has been 41 years today. 41 years ago, Pakistan was broken up into two parts, the former West Pakistan and Bangladesh. Apart from a distance of around 1000 miles separating the two parts of Pakistan, there was enough resentment on part of East Pakistani populace that manifested in a demand for provincial autonomy. East Pakistan supplied so much of revenue to the federation but got little development in response. Moving the capital from Karachi to Islamabad and limited participation of East Pakistanis in the bureaucracy were some other contentious issues. In the national elections held in 1970, Bengali Nationalist ...

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Re-imagining Pakistan

Pakistan continues to dominate the headlines in the world media but for all the wrong reasons.  Judging from the books that continue to be published, the authors seem to be in a race to tell the most depressing tale they can conjure up. More than one analyst has called Pakistan ‘the most dangerous country in the world’. While that moniker can be debated, what is beyond debate is that Pakistan is afflicted with multiple ills. The top seven are urban anarchy, load shedding, illiteracy, unbridled population growth, ethnic conflict, Talibanism and Indophobia. These ills are so common place that most Pakistanis do ...

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Don’t shy away from the ‘talk’: Your children deserve sex-education

Due to some myopic stigmas related to sexual and reproductive health rights issues in our country, parents normally refrain from discussing such topics with children. The result is that sometimes children without awareness have extreme trouble in dealing with this. I appreciate those parents who consider it important to equip their children with knowledge about the physical changes they go through, while hitting puberty. But there are many parents who do not discuss such issues with them, considering it obnoxious. Thus, their children are left with no other option but to either consult their friends or log on to websites to ...

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Banana bread just like my mother used to make it

The sweet smell of ripe baked bananas takes me back to my mother’s kitchen when I was a mere seven year old. By the time I was 15, my mother could no longer share her recipes or secrets with me; she fell sick when I was just a little girl. Growing up, I knew I wanted to hold on to every piece of her that I could remember and so after experimenting and testing out different recipes, I finally figured out my very own banana bread recipe inspired by my mother. It requires no fancy or expensive ingredients, just ...

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Talking business

I once interviewed a brilliant young man, who started a business with a total investment of Rs800 and achieved the annual turnover of one million rupees in less than three years. He was in his early 20s and had a degree in business studies. But when I asked whether his business paid taxes and was a formally registered entity, he said he had so far managed to steer clear of all government offices. Their registration procedures are tedious, he told me, and he’d rather build his business than waste time standing in queues outside government offices. So what’s the exact number ...

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