Stories published in November, 2013

Will Musharraf’s treason trial help democracy in Pakistan?

Dictators and enemies of democracy would do well to listen to the great Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda’s advice,  “You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep spring from coming.” It was more than a decade after the country’s first democratically elected popular leader, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was hanged by a dictator that his daughter, Benazir Bhutto returned with an impressive mandate. Today, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has returned to the political driving seat after a decade, with almost a clear majority while the dictator who ousted him from power, lingers in a sub-jail. In an unprecedented move, Prime Minister Sharif’s government has initiated a case of high ...

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Global powers have to stop playing political chess with Syria

It has been quite a while since the people of Syria began to assert their rights and demand freedom from the clutches of dictatorship. However, as time passed things have taken a turn for the worse. Although the initial uprising was inspired by Syrian neighbours – both, immediate and distant – unfortunately, this simple and just assertion was turned into a global issue by the Big Five countries in the United Nations. These nations played politics at the cost of innocent human lives and even Muslim countries have shown helplessness in stopping the ruthless and continuing massacre of Syrian civilians. On the one hand is Bashar ...

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Google can envision Pakistan-India harmony in less than 4 minutes…can we?

Regarding India-Pakistan relations, Sir Walter Scott in his poem “Lochinvar” captured it the best: “Love swells like the Solway, but ebbs like its tide” Replace the river Solway with Indus or Ganges and one gets an idea of the ebb and flow of India-Pakistan relations. I first learnt of it through the most obvious of sources, Indian movies. We were watching a cliché with the usual “dushman mulk sazish” storyline when came the long advertisements and movie reviews that would be a permanent feature of the video cassettes. This was sometime after the Babri Mosque incident and relations between the two states were crumbling. Among the ...

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I am Pakistani, whether I speak Urdu or Punjabi

We are not a sitar with a single string, and our music takes more than one chord to make. We are a convergence of languages and cultures, all of which are simply too lustrous to be overshadowed by any single one. Yet Urdu is not considered a language; it is an apparatus used to measure patriotism. It is a test that is used to verify one’s allegiance to our green and white flag. Isn’t this an awkward status to have bestowed upon Urdu, considering hardly eight percent of Pakistanis speak it as their mother tongue? On the other hand, Punjabi happens to be the first language ...

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Rawalpindi violence: Where is our humanity?

It has become a recurring story now. The same news stories reappear on our television screens every Muharram, be it the Ashura procession in Karachi a few years ago, to the one in Rawalpindi this year. Every year when Muharram comes about, there is a little voice inside all of us which warns us to expect that religious fundamentalists, in some parts of Pakistan, will try their utter best to ruin a peaceful Ashura procession. And sadly, this voice usually turns out to be correct. I have been fortunate enough to spend some part of my life in Rawalpindi and Islamabad. To me, these joint ...

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Ram-Leela: Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s visual treat to the world!

The moment I saw the first promo of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film Ram-Leela, I decided I had to watch it. I did not think that it would change my views about world cinema, nor was it the most captivating promo one would ever see; but it did look absolutely stunning. I knew that it would be nothing less than a visual treat. However, before you classify me as a die-hard fan of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, let me clarify. I am not a huge Bhansali fan, I particularly did not like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (HDDCS) or Devdas and I could not bear Saawariya for 15 minutes. Having said that, ...

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Six reasons why Misbahul Haq should not be blamed

I wouldn’t fault Pakistan’s ODI and Test match captain, Misbahul Haq, if he is just a teeny-weeny bit happy that Pakistan lost both T20s to South Africa. If I was in his place, I’d be somewhat pleased as well. “Blame it on me now!” I’d say while grinning from ear to ear. Recently, it seems that the maligned Misbah has become the Malala of Pakistan cricket; everything is his fault. When he plays defensive cricket because he knows that the rest of his team can barely qualify when under pressure, he is accused of pedestrian batting. But if he throws down ...

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To Pakistani social media trolls, don’t you have any manners?

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines etiquette as ‘the rules indicating the proper and polite way to behave’. The history of etiquette dates back to prehistoric times when man first began interacting with others and hence started devising rules for making these interactions bearable and pleasant. Over the centuries, as societies and human interactions started falling into specific slots, etiquette was drafted for different settings. For instance, there is etiquette for behaving with elders, with neighbours, with teachers, with siblings, with parents and so forth. Similarly, as the presence of social media grew progressively pronounced in our lives, the proper etiquette of ...

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Wildlife: Cherished in Kenya, butchered in Pakistan?

Wildlife refers to plants and animals that have not been domesticated and exist in their natural environment. Hence, it is a national heritage and should therefore be preserved for future generations. Wildlife also opens employment opportunities for many including in the fields of security, game reserves and lodges. In addition, some plant species are used for medicinal purposes and also provide researchers with valuable information regarding nature. As a nature lover, I recently availed the opportunity to visit the National Park of Kenya. It would be a gross understatement to say that it was a spectacular experience! Unfortunately, it was also ...

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When the policeman aimed his gun at us and my dad yelled ‘Shoot!’

It was Wednesday October 9, 2013 and I still remember how exhausted I was. I had just taken a test and was on my way back home from school. I just wanted to go home and sleep. On Khayaban e Ghazi, we saw two police mobiles and a bulletproof prison car. We were ahead of them, and one guard on the first police mobile gave us the signal to keep moving, so we kept going. On Gizri Boulevard, we were going down the slope leading to the Saudi house; my father was driving and had indicated that he was going ...

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