Stories published in January, 2013

Cleaning up the mess after Dr Tahirul Qadri’s Long March

The long marchers are gone, but fear not fellow Islamabadis, they left us something to remember them by, namely, a 100-odd tons of trash lining the city’s commercial district. The icing on the cake however, was the fact that many were praising the marchers for their behaviour and the freezing cold they were putting up with. I am yet to hear of a person who goes to work, leaves without punching anybody, and gets praised for it. Similarly, if someone were to go on a skiing trip with only t-shirts in their luggage, I doubt anyone would feel sorry for ...

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Buildings that fuel a divide

Blurry images drift through the pungent air. Human forms seemingly cram space after space. As more and more individuals become exposed to our society’s chaos, struggles to maintain a representation and an identity become increasingly evident. It is in Karachi’s layers of chaos and lack of form where we find our reflections. Situated in the fabric of daily life, architecture has the power to establish social divisions and identities through specialisation. Much like individuals, buildings have the tendency to take on the labels enforced on them by society, which in turn leads to the segregated traffic that accesses these various ...

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Honey Singh makes ‘rap’ culture sound like ‘rape’ culture

Women are rarely presented as independent and confident human beings, let alone superior to men in rap songs. The women that populate the songs of well known rappers like Eminem, Cam’ron, Snoop Dog and Lil’ Wayne are submissive, dependent and nymphomaniacs. Their only purpose in life is to be objectified as symbols to satisfy male desire. An example that is closer to home is that of the rapper Yo Yo Honey Singh. I came across this person when I read about how Indian women had petitioned to get his concert cancelled due to his misogynistic lyrics. “Girls like to hear Honey Singh ...

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Smash. Screams. Silence… Ignore it, it’s Pakistan

Six men reasonably well dressed, stormed into a restaurant and started beating the life out of the waiters that were serving at the time. They started smashing crockery and throwing chairs around without any regard for the dozens of customers dining in – including females sitting in the café who screamed helplessly as the intensity of the attack grew.  Within minutes the public rushed out, and the entire restaurant was covered in broken glass. The attackers conveniently stepped out, in no rush at all and got into their cars and left. No, this is not a scene from a tribal area ...

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Playing Bluff with ‘religious’ men

Mir Jan lives in my village, Pratistan, between the affluent town of Bundookh and impoverished Mafloos. Like his fellow villagers, he is a poor, illiterate man. In fact there are just five literate men in our village, respected men, and until recently, I was respected as one of them. Our advice is sought in village problems, and we offer it after consulting thick books and pulling at our lips with solemn frowns. We are paid in cash, but mostly with gifts of meager farm produce, and milk from skeletal cows. Mir Jan is paid by handling our transport, because he ran the ...

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In Karachi, let them drink juice

Fresh juice, no preservatives, not bottled, made right there in front of you, only for you. The horror. I grew up on bottled water from questionable sources and my system will react in unimaginable ways to any form of juice that is not chemical laden. Its primarily because I grew up in Karachi – I can’t deal with wholesome and nutritious, just like the city. So today – a typically atypical Karachi day with the promise of violence and death in the air – I wanted to buy my usual supply of unhealthy provisions that will lead to an early death, ...

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For Tahirul Qadri, it’s a win

The revolution is over. Democracy is saved. Islamabad the green will become even greener, thanks to all the fertiliser. The ‘padri’ is now very much a player. The ‘former’ government is now a coalition partner, the ‘yazeedis’ are now buddies and Karbala, it seems, came with a conference-ready container. Bad jokes and highly inappropriate references aside (hey, they started it), we can breathe a collective sigh of relief that it all ended without violence because, for a while there, it all looked very touch and go. I’m also glad that the army kept its boots off, and didn’t tip the balance ...

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Lance Armstrong: The canary sings

They say when you are cornered and there is no way out, the canary sings. In Lance Armstrong’s case this is what has happened. As I watched the first part of his interview with Oprah, he has tried to come out smelling like roses, of course with Oprah’s help. Lance Armstrong was the greatest cyclist ever! 7 tour de france titles is a remarkable achievement, as was his come back from cancer and then building the Livestrong Institute. Here was a man who connived to cheat not only his name in the history books but our conscience too; we all bought the wrist bands ...

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‘Muni badnaam hui’ is never appropriate on a news channel

I hate watching news on TV, not just because the lead stories in Pakistan are too depressing, but also because their treatment is mainly frivolous. The argument that our electronic news media is young, is years old now. Even if we do buy that claim, sadly there is no sign of growing up. Despite having a body to regulate the workings of our media, the performance of our news channels has always been disappointing. The regulatory setup and channels are to be equally blamed for the low quality. However, a few simple changes here and there can, of course, help set a ...

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Spare us the embarrassment; Stop inviting international teams to Pakistan!

There was a time when Pakistan cricket was at its peak – a time when cricket teams and players from around the world wanted to visit Pakistan willingly, play cricket feverishly and intermingle with the locals openly. It was a time when Pakistan was able to successfully host World Cup matches on its soil. Those days, it seems, are long gone. The optimist in me tells me that those days will return and that good times are just around the corner, but the realist in me tells me that this is not to happen in the foreseeable future. It is not news ...

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