Stories published in March, 2013

An icon, hero, legend and friend – Air Commodore MM Alam

He was nearly 12 years my senior in service and I did not meet him in person till 1968 when I was posted to Sargodha. He was commanding the elite Mirage squadron, the only one in the Pakistan Air Force; an envy of all his peers while I was flying the Chinese F-6 (Mig-19). For a youngster like me, at that time, he was the ultimate in terms of professional excellence having acquired international fame in aerial combat. I would see him in close quarters during the joint morning briefing and hear his professional input. He had an aura around, not of ...

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I was thrashed but not beaten: Never be afraid of divorce

I got married at a very young age. I was 17- years-old and had not even finished high school yet. I was married to a man who was 31 years old at the time, an MBA graduate from a university in the US. He belonged to an elite and very well to do family from Karachi and was also the only son. Marriage to me was all about jewellery, fun, laugh and play, but it didn’t take long for me to realise that although it was a new relationship it was definitely a very strange one. In the third month of ...

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Die Hard 5: A not-so-good day to die

Making a sequel is a difficult job considering how the first movie sets up expectations and sequels invariably let fans down – unless of course something terribly redefining is introduced. Now talk about making the fourth sequel to a movie and you can imagine the unforgiving nature of the task;  you probably have done all you could with the storyline in the first four parts and shown all the action sequences there are to be shown and made them look real at the same time. What else can you do to keep the movie from being dull? Each one of the movies ...

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The Iran-Pak pipeline: Who’s funding this project anyway?

The Iran-Pakistan pipeline formerly known as the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline was conceptualised in 1989 to supply India with hydrocarbon resources. Pakistan was set to play only the role of a transiting state as the need for natural gas in the country were substantially lower than what they are today. However the matter was brought to a standstill due to unstable relations between India and Pakistan, it was only after Pakistan agreed to give a sovereign guarantee to India did the matter progress. By this time Iran, due to its nuclear program, was pressured by the United Nations Security Council via sanctions and embargoes. ...

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Azlan Shah Tournament: Pakistan hockey disappoints

Defensive mindset, clueless defence, erratic aggressive play and energy sapped players characterised the display of the green shirts in Ipoh. The Azlan Shah Hockey Tournament campaign for Pakistan began with a narrow win against New Zealand in the opening encounter and it all went downhill from then onward. Pakistan lost twice to India and was taken to the cleaners by Australia in a heavy 6-0 defeat. Having said as much, they still managed to salvage some pride as matches against Malaysia and South Korea ended in a draw. Overall, Pakistan managed a wooden spoon for their efforts at the tournament for the ...

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The Christians of Pakistan mean nothing to the pope

The last Pope, Benedict XVI, elected at the age of 78, was the oldest person to have been elected as pope since 1730. In February 2013, he announced his retirement due to old age. The election of the new pope has been the talk of the town and the air is buzzing with excitement everywhere except in Pakistan. Pope Francis, baptised name Jorge Mario Bergoglio, took the position on March 13, 2013, just days before the holy week of Easter began. Amongst other things, Pope Francis is the first pope to have been a Jesuit (head of the Society of ...

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The government cannot do everything for you

It is a paradox that I have failed to understand: Pakistanis tend to hate their government, think of it as corrupt and incompetent, but at the same time, we feel that the government should do absolutely everything for us. The average Pakistani sees absolutely nothing wrong with the idea of the government setting prices in energy and agriculture. They see nothing wrong with the government blatantly discriminating against some industries by giving others preferential treatment in the tax code and regulatory structure. And most people do not seem to have a problem with the fact that the government owns vast swathes ...

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What working for a newspaper does to you

It has been over a year since I started editing stories for this newspaper. The job itself is not particularly complex: there are just a few things I need to keep in mind. A shoulder is not something people lean (or cry) on. And datelines have nothing to do with dates. We use British spellings. It’s ‘realised’, not ‘realized’. I must use ‘that’ sparingly. I have to economise on words, as we believe that saying something succinctly is more effective than a verbose treatise that winds and unwinds its way to senselessness. I sometimes fish for catchphrases. I have been made to ...

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Yes, I was home-schooled and I turned out fine

Whenever I am introduced to someone, they are certain to ask me the following, very annoying question: “Which grade are you studying in and what school do you go to?” My answer generally leaves them dumbfounded. You see, I have never been to school – ever. I am home-schooled and am currently doing my A’ levels. I am a keen student and always manage to secure good grades. Despite having all the opportunities to enroll myself in any well-reputed school, I chose to study on my own. When I tell people this, they ask me why I chose to be home-schooled. It is a predictable question and I ...

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My nominees for caretaker prime minister are…

As I throw in my 2000 rupees worth (because two cents just doesn’t cut it anymore) into the ring about who should be the caretaker prime minister, I’d first like to congratulate my fellow Pakistanis on having managed their lives with unreliable electricity, inflation, and joblessness. Like a long fasting day in the summer heat during which we thought we won’t make it, iftar time is finally here and perhaps after the elections we may celebrate Eid. But in that midst, we must decide who our Eid ka chand will be. For the two non-Muslim Pakistanis remaining in the country and ...

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