Stories published in August, 2013

Karak District: So, can women shop here or not?

When we talk about women empowerment, our society, not unlike others, is divided between two extremes — those who go to extreme lengths to establish female independence even at the cost of others and those who enforce patriarchal authority. Then there are the women this society is fighting for. Ironically enough, these women are not asked by either side about what they want. Recently, during Friday sermons in Karak, four clerics took a decision to restrict women from entering bazaars without a male family member accompanying them. The decision sparked debates over news, social media and even managed to enter our ...

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Are Pakistani women ready to go for Eid namaz?

Once upon a time, Ammi used to have a list of exciting chores ready for her girls when Eid day arrived. This was the drill: Abba and brothers go for Eid namaz, and while they are gone, we, the women, had to make taaza (fresh) sheer khorma, change bed linen and table cloths (it was some family ritual, I think), get ready, pray the short Eid namaz at home, and be happily ready for the guys to return and give us Eidi. On Bari Eid (Eidul Azha), a slight modification would be to get ready after the meat was distributed ...

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Imran Khan through the eyes of an artist

While the Jumma Hafta Art Bazaar that recently took place at a local cafe in Karachi, called The Second Floor (T2F), was a melting pot of compelling art pieces and vibrant canvases, the most eye-catching of all the displays around was probably the portrait of Imran Khan that Shanzay Subzwari was painting on the spot. The artist’s inspiration behind choosing that particular piece was pretty basic — the appreciation of Pakistani heroes. All of us are used to seeing objects, particularly politicians, in binaries; either one is Darth Vader or one is Batman. There’s no in-between. No one accepts them ...

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Eid shopping and memories from Swat

Swat: I grab my white parrunay (veil) and handbag, and ask my younger son to hire a rickshaw for us. It’s the last week of Ramazan and my clothes for Eid are still lacking a lace here, and a button there; my elder son wants shoes while the younger one wants to a buy a shirt like the one his friend at school has. As the rickshaw races towards Cheena market – the local market where almost everything is available that a woman might need for herself and also for her kids – I see life at its full swing. People of ...

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Why don’t beggars quit being so gross?

The following is a graphic description of my traumatic ordeal last week, when I was forced to cruise through a bazaar full of beggars in my handsome new Corolla. I emerged from it with a greater understanding of their sordid ways, of which I shall gladly inform you. It was an ordinary afternoon that transformed into a grotesque nightmare. I made a fatal mistake of passing through Saddar which was teeming with excited Eid shoppers, and found myself stuck in a gridlock. That’s when it began. They came at me from every direction; tapping on my window with their yellow, misshapen ...

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The home advantage: What is Pakistan missing out on?

The concept of ‘home advantage’ in sport is often under played. Many might not be aware of the difference that it makes whether a team is playing at home or away, however, to put it simply – it makes a huge difference. Sadly, our cricket team has been playing without this advantage for the past four years. On average, a team wins more of its matches at home in every sport. MS Dhoni, as of 2012, had won at least 89% of his Test matches at home and around 33% away. Such differences in home and away records are across the ...

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A commuter’s plea: Revive the Karachi Circular Railway!

I can still remember the days of my childhood in the mid 90s when I would sit in front of my father on the oil tank of his Yamaha motorcycle, en route to my uncle’s place. I can still hear myself squeal in excitement and wave my hand at the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) trains that would pass through Gharibabad level crossing. Closing of the gates, the all too familiar whistling sound and then the speedy appearance of a giant machine pulling large railway carts; it was from this fascinating experience that I started developing my love for train ...

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The Burka Avenger: Offended by a fictional superhero’s clothes

Disclaimer: Like the majority of those with ridiculously strong polarising opinions about Burka Avenger, I have yet to see the darned thing and haven’t the slightest clue what channel it’s on or when it airs; frankly, I grew out of the whole cartoon fad ages ago. Let me begin by asking how many of you really took their cartoons and comic super heroes seriously? If you attempted to jump off your roof in order to prove that you and Superman came from the same planet, please don’t bother to read any further. Right, okay, let me rephrase that question: how many of ...

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After the Kerry visit: Dialogue may commence, but drones will continue

It was scheduled, then postponed. Then it was rescheduled—only to be postponed again. Then, on July 31, it finally happened—US Secretary of State John Kerry made his long-awaited trip to Pakistan. Alas, there were few major achievements. However, there were two notable takeaways. At first glance, each one may seem to be a boon for US-Pakistan ties. Yet at second glance, one comes away significantly less optimistic. The first takeaway is that Kerry and his Pakistani interlocutors are really serious about restarting the Strategic Dialogue, which has been suspended for two years. This is undoubtedly a good thing. Deep and sustained dialogue builds trust, which ...

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Monsoon rains in Karachi: Forget your cars, bring out the boats

This Saturday seemed like any other ordinary day to me and I continued my day as usual; the sky was not very clear, but I never anticipated the havoc that was to soon come my way. The weather forecast stated that some areas in Karachi were in for heavy rainfall. Since I am a Pakistani, however, I conveniently chose to dismiss what I heard on the news and decided to manage my day just as any other; I drove out with my mother for her routine dialysis. After almost four hours, I was welcomed by all that I was warned about ...

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