Stories published in March, 2014

Aids is a real disease, get out of your ‘conservative’ bubble and believe it!

Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection (HIV) is transmitted primarily via unprotected sexual intercourse including anal and even oral sex, contaminated blood transfusions, hypodermic needles and from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding. There is no cure or vaccine for the virus and prevention is the key strategy to control the spread of the disease, primarily through safe sex and needle-exchange programs. However, anti-retroviral treatment can slow the course of the disease. Raising awareness about AIDS is a big issue, especially in Pakistan, because this is still considered one of the biggest social taboos in the country. I remember just last year the media reported that 15 blood ...

Read Full Post

Is this what it feels like to be invisible?

There are times in one’s life when one wants to be invisible. And then there are those unthinkable times when one actually is.  Flight MH 370. What does it feel like to be invisible? That is a question that crosses my mind as this story of this plane unfolded. As I close my eyes, I imagine that there I am, in all my glory, looking forward to life, availing all the opportunities that come my way, aspiring to make something of myself and on the verge of achieving what I always dreamt of. I am a professional. Dr Yuchen Li ...

Read Full Post

Our weapons must not be the reason children in Syria are dying!

I stood underneath the shadow of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. This grand symbol of the Ottoman legacy rested benevolently amid a vast courtyard filled with lush gardens, sparkling fountains and the excited murmurs of tourists. As I fully absorbed my surroundings, I felt a sudden tug on the hem of my shirt. I looked down to see a child standing in front of me, repeatedly pointing to something he held in his left hand. He was young of age, hardly thirteen-years-old. His worn out clothes and look of utter desperation were enough to betray the fact that he was not ...

Read Full Post

1971 was a dark year in Pakistan’s history

During the late hours of March 25, 1971 the Awami League leader, Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, announced the independence of East Pakistan in the form of Bangladesh. What followed was the Bangladesh Liberation War which culminated in Pakistan’s defeat in the end of December that same year and Bangladesh celebrates its independence day on March 26.  The surrender by Pakistan resulted in the largest accumulation of prisoners of war since the Second World War. Two wings of a country divided by almost 1,600 kilometres of presumably hostile territory was never a feasible idea logistically, politically, socially and militarily. Add to this, the startling gap of economic ...

Read Full Post

The psyche of a Pakistani cricket fan and the shameless vanity of passion

To understand the psyche of a Pakistani, you first have to understand what it means to love and hate at the same time. This is not semantics. It is truly a reality. To understand the degree of pain our hearts have already endured, you have to understand the depth of hope our hearts are still willing to go to. Finally, if you want to understand the paradox that is Pakistan, you will have to take the leap of faith and understand that one cricket field with a few men in green has the capacity to undo more mental damage than all the ...

Read Full Post

Jehangir Aziz Hayat and the Pashtun rock scene, finally uncovered!

A few of the bands that I grew up listening to were U2, Nirvana, Matchbox Twenty and Lifehouse, among others. The genres of these bands included rock, alternative rock, post-grunge and elements of metal in their songs. I remember attending rock fests that were held in Lahore during 2002 and 2003. They featured some rocking underground bands that were quite awesome, to say the least. Bands like EP, Aaroh and Call are some that I recall playing live at these fests, before they achieved mainstream success in Pakistan. However, almost all the songs sung by the bands that went on to receiving ...

Read Full Post

PPP wants Sindhi Hindus to vote for them, but won’t protect them!

On March 16, 2014, while Pakistan’s Hindu community celebrated Holi, the country witnessed an unpleasant incident in Sindh’s Larkana District, where a frenzied mob turned violent following a rumour that a member of the Hindu community, Sangeet Kumar, 35 – reputed to be a drug addict – had desecrated the Holy Quran. In Larkana, after the incident, people wanted to harm the accused man but the police and rangers, somehow, managed to take him away to a safe location. After his safe escape, however, the angry mob attacked and vandalised the Sindhi Hindus’ dharamshala (community centre) and also partially damaged a Hindu temple in the same ...

Read Full Post

Bewakoofiyaan: ‘Practically’ perfect

For a good movie, subject matters a lot. Bewakoofiyaan might look like a usual love story at first glance but it’s actually a very well-penned and well-conceived movie. This does not mean that the movie has nothing to do with romance; the plot, in fact, is based on romance but it also talks about the other things associated with romance in today’s ‘practical’ world. The story revolves around Mohit Chadhdha (Ayushmann Khurrana) and Mayera Sehgal (Sonam Kapoor), new-age practical and career-oriented sweethearts. Both try to build their lives around career stability, well-stocked bank accounts and better market positions. Photo: ...

Read Full Post

Pakistan beyond Bin Laden

In her most recent article in The New York Times, Carlotta Gall, has shunned the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and military establishment of Pakistan in an attempt at assessing the troublesome relationship between Pakistani institutions and Islamic extremists. The article titled “What Pakistan Knew About Bin Laden” explicitly accuses the ISI of harbouring Islamic extremists for its own selfish reasons, with a special mention of Osama bin Laden who she believes had been under the protection of the ISI until he was killed during the raid on his compound in Abbottabad in 2011. Considering the blatancy with which Gall points fingers ...

Read Full Post

Train journey: A story about two ‘strangers’

“It’s a beautiful day,” he said, to break the silence. “Yes. It looks good,” she replied, smiling. “Yesterday was horrible. It rained all day. But now, it seems fantastic.” “I know.” “I wish I was outside, sitting in the sun and reading a book. I love sunny days. What about you? Do you like sun?” “Yes, I enjoy sunny days.” She answered, picking up her book. “You like crime stories?” “Yes, I do. But this one is a detective story book. I like detective stories.” “Me too. Have you read the latest book by James Armtek?” “No, I haven’t.” “You must! I’m sure you will like it. It’s a great book, ...

Read Full Post