Stories published in February, 2014

A dialogue with my murderer

I am Bano. My mother used to call me Pari (Fairy). I was the only baby girl of my parents. I was killed by my uncle. My father was supposed to kill me but he didn’t have the courage so he asked my uncle for the favour. I was killed in the honour of my family’s good name which I destroyed. I was killed on Eid day. My grave is in my village and I was buried in my Eid dress. My father visits my grave in the dark so that no one sees him. My mother never visits my grave, she can’t make it. My ...

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Karachi embraced Ibtihaj with love and support but will you do the same, Bilawal Bhutto?

On the morning of January 27, 2014, I was looking up air tickets to fly to Quetta to meet the victims of the Mastung blast. None of my friends or family members were excited about this proposition. Much to their relief, eight of the victims were shifted to the Agha Khan Univeristy Hospital (AKUH) at Karachi the same afternoon. I met 11-year-old Ibtihaj along with a few of my friends that same evening. He was a little overwhelmed, being suddenly surrounded by so many strange faces. A large number of the visitors were of the Hazara community members based in Karachi. Later that day, ...

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Plans never work out… especially when you get cancer

My life was going according to plan; everything was going well. I had passed my first year of pre-medical with marks good enough to get me into a medical college and now my second year was almost over. My father is a doctor as well and I have always looked up to him. He has always been my idol. The doctor genes run in the family; my sister is also on her way to becoming a doctor from King Edward Medical University (KEMU), one of the most prestigious medical colleges in Pakistan. Because of the gene pool, I aspired to be a doctor as ...

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The Taliban must not be painted as violent savages

“You have no option but to take direct military action.” This was the advice given by John F Kennedy’s top military aide at the height of the Cuban missile crisis which brought the world to the brink of a nuclear war. The future of the world hinged on Kennedy’s acquiescence. After the Second World War, global politics were dominated by the political, ideological and power clash between the Americans and the Soviets. Communists were painted as violent savages to the Americans who were made to fear communism. However, the idea of communism gained ground in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union grew as a global superpower. Following ...

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If you are reading this, you are part of the 0.1% elect few

Greetings! If you are reading this blog, you are a part of the ‘elect’, the fortunate ones in this great country of un-equals. Let me tell you something more about yourself. You are able to read in English and hold a conversation in the language and this very ability makes you one of the privileged ones: out of a population of nearly 200 million, only six million Pakistanis are able to afford a daily newspaper and out of this tiny number, a further 60,000 happen to read the English ones. A strong correlative factor determining your present status is that you went to a good private school ...

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Sarah Taylor, the female version of Umar Akmal?

It is always saddening when a person is highly talented but unable to deliver. There are always expectations and predictions when a new player appears on the stage of international cricket. International cricket has seen a number of cricketers with some extraordinary capabilities but they never performed as well as they were expected to do. In the current era of cricket, I personally feel that when you talk about a player with immense talent that has not done justice to their potential is Umar Akmal. Sarah Taylor is another player who has some immeasurable potential of the gentlemen’s game but could ...

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10 awkward moments we have all been through

We aren’t perfect. We cannot always make witty remarks and indulge in interesting conversations all the time. All of us make the one off faux pas – tell someone they have bad body odour or say things jokingly only to have the other person offended. Sounds familiar? This happens all the time. If it weren’t for it, then you and I would be the only two people living a monotonous life. Being social animals, we can’t possibly avoid interaction. We will do things that are embarrassing or things that will put us in awkward positions. There are guidebooks and rules for such social ...

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Putting journalists behind bars (or in coffins) – the loss is yours!

Last week, a delegation of foreign journalists visited our newspaper’s thrice-attacked office in Karachi, Pakistan. As we hustled to make them feel comfortable while simultaneously trying to explain the newsroom dynamics, one of them asked us in a matter-of-fact tone. “Do you support the current government?” There was a nervous silence as each of us lingered over the question for a few seconds. Until one of my colleagues responded, “We try and support no one. Our job is to report things as is.” All of us nodded in unison. In a simple sentence, she had summed up the essence of what journalists all across ...

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Losing our culture and identity, one drama at a time

Gone are the days when families would sit together and watch Pakistani dramas. Instead, today we get to see the ‘not-so-moving’ storylines that seem to be inspired by Indian soaps. What is worse is that our TV channels show things that are in direct contradiction with our cultural and social values. From pregnancies to abortions, from extra-marital affairs to illegitimate children and elopements, we have been exposed to all kinds and degrees of absurd content in these dramas in the name of modern entertainment. Even respectable relationships are not spared. I have seen countless dramas where a guy falls in love with ...

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Pakistan, a nation raised by ‘maids’ and ‘aayas’

During my last visit to Pakistan, I happened to attend a three-year-old’s birthday party. As the birthday boy belonged to the elite class of a capital city, the extravagance that met my eyes as I walked through the magnificent rust and copper gates, did not dazzle me at all. I was, however,  surprised to see a group of young girls, aged 10 to 15, dressed in obvious hand-me-downs standing near a bunch of little kids playing pat-a-cake. These girls matched the kids around them, both in number and jocundity. My host told me that the girls were the ‘maids’ of the invited ...

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