Stories published in July, 2013

Bring Aafia Siddiqui back, but make her trial transparent

Yesterday, major newspaper publications flashed a news report that the US has shown willingness to transfer Aafia Siddiqui, serving prison sentence in Texas, to Pakistan after signing of prisoner swap agreement. The US has proposed two conventions: the European Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons and the Inter-American Convention on Serving Criminal Sentences Abroad as a pattern for signing of the agreement. Let us have a brief look at these conventions to understand the conditions under which Aafia can be transported to Pakistan. Both conventions provide that the sentence of the person accused shall be enforced in accordance with the ...

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Singing the national anthem in a tank top: Worthy of abuse?

The true face of people shows on the internet. Online anonymity has something thrilling about it which makes you say whatever you really want to. Unfortunately, some people (even while not being anonymous) say the cruelest, more hateful things on social media. I tend to always feel a little depressed after going through the comments sections of public posts on Facebook. I know that it is ‘only the internet’ and I need to have thicker skin; still, some things leave me wondering what the people of my country have become. A few days ago, I stumbled upon a video on Facebook. Around ...

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Blue drums: Beverages and milk that could kill you

Nowadays, wherever we go, we find blue-coloured drums, which are used by shopkeepers to store water and prepare beverages. People drink the beverages without any qualms even after coming to know about the way they are prepared. It seems that nobody knows that the blue drum is not good for our health. Different chemicals are imported from different countries in these very drums and once they are emptied, they are sold in the market to be purchased by uninformed buyers, who use these to store liquid products. The government of Pakistan has prohibited the use of these chemical-ridden drums but shopkeepers ...

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My visit to Bibi Zainab’s (AS) shrine: Memories cannot be destroyed

I was 23, in my last year of an undergraduate degree and perhaps like every young soul, had many questions about everything under the sky; religion, nationalism, God and just life in general. Although I have always flaunted my beliefs with utmost certainty, there have been many times in which my mind is left wondering, about uncertainties, in an abyss of utter confusion.   That was back in 2008, when I had first visited Syria and fell in love with the country. I loved everything about it; the people, the cultural diversity and above all the sacred shrines that invoked the ...

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Why my champa tree reminded me of the sect-free mosque

More than six months ago, I bought a small champa tree, supposedly because my husband wanted one, but really, I love champa myself. It’s ‘frangipani’ in English, but it is the name ‘champa’ that means for me this short tree with a most definite idea of self. Its branches twist this way and that most tree-ishly, its leaves a rich deep green, veined and elongated. And then the flowers, so many varieties, but all champa: the pale pink ones edged with a blush of slightly darker pink with the signature yellow in the centre…  Champa flowers all have this yellow right there. ...

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I dare to defend Misbah

“I hate Misbah!” “He made us lose another game.” “This is what to expect when you have a captain like Misbah!” Try as I might to close my eyes to this increasingly trite propaganda, I find escape impossible. So here I offer my two cents, because if there is one thing I abhor above all others, it is the mindless hate leveled at those who don’t defend themselves. After his recent performance in the fourth One Day International (ODI) of the West Indies vs Pakistan series, Misbah has managed to prove himself worthy enough to be respected as the captain of the team. During this chase, he went ...

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Altaf Hussain’s UK investigation: Hold your horses, Pakistan, only time will tell!

Two months ago, there was a press conference between British High Commissioner to Pakistan, Mr Adam Thompson and a soiree of Pakistani journalists. The purpose of this meeting was to brief the media with the findings of the 2013 election observers. The standard questions asked, however, somehow revolved solely around the MQM Chief, Altaf Hussain, his indictment and a statement from the UK government. The standard reply received was that the London Metropolitan Police was free from government pressure and whilst investigations were underway, no statement can be given. But that didn’t satiate our appetite for more information; the press conference could ...

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Bulbulay: When a poor man’s distress is funny

The TV-show ‘Bulbulay’ enjoys a sizable fan-following in Pakistan, but I’ve never really been a part of that base. On watching its most recent episode, my face appears to have been restructured to bear a permanent grimace. The story went something like this (needless to say, you’ll find spoilers here!): A penniless man arrives at the family’s doorstep begging for food. He stays at the door for several hours, sobbing uncontrollably about his woeful condition. The fact that the show’s writers managed to squeeze jokes into the episode with such a background story, is a remarkable feat. But wait, it gets funnier! ...

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Wali Flo Shah’s success story: When he refused to let poverty break him

“I know you’d expect this kid to be a criminal, But before you judge someone, don’t be as cynical Because that child wasn’t a story, That child was me.” Thus, eighteen-year-old Wali Shah ended his powerful spoken word ‘The Child’, narrating his journey as an immigrant child – battling economic hardships at home and a troubled gangster life outside in Toronto, Canada. For his narration, he received a standing ovation at a prestigious event at United Way, attended by dignitaries in the city of Mississauga. I met Wali Shah later in his home, located in a modest, middle class rental apartment building. As his Mom received ...

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What happened when a Pashtun child tried to read Urdu

Note: To fully understand this post, it is mandatory that you watch the video pasted above. If one knows Urdu as well as Pashto then watching this video invokes instant laughter. I had great fun carrying out this experiment on a lot of my friends, having them watch the video and crack up. However, the post-laughter response to this video has usually been a lament about the state of education in Pakistan. There were many who were genuinely saddened by the unfulfilled potential of this boy to learn. Many deficiencies in the education system of Pakistan can be attributed to the meager ...

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