Stories published in June, 2014

Four misconceptions about Narendra Modi

India’s new prime minister is a man of contradictions. He covets foreign investment and embraces globalisation, but he also speaks limited English and harbours hard-line Hindu nationalist views. He is alternately described as a pro-business reformer and an anti-Muslim ideologue. Narendra Modi, who was sworn in on Monday, is a complex figure. Not surprisingly, he is also dogged by many misconceptions. Four in particular are getting a lot of mileage these days. Now is the right time to expose them. 1. Modi has been banned from the US since 2005 Observers routinely claim that Modi has not been allowed to visit America since 2005. Actually, this is not technically true. In ...

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Dear finance minister, your new budget is killing us

Dear Finance Minister, I belong to the class of ‘common men’; some people also call us ‘mango men’ or ‘aam admi’. Ours is a species that is found in abundance everywhere in Pakistan. If you ever look out of your bullet proof BMW, you will notice one of my fellow beings selling something or the other on a footpath. We are also found polishing shoes, unloading trucks, offering window covers during a traffic signal, pouring hot tea in a cup at a tea stall, pushing a fruit or vegetable cart or driving a donkey cart loaded with a number of things. There ...

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“Altaf Hussain has been arrested – get home, now!”

1:20 pm, Tuesday, June 3rd It was a regular weekday with the familiar hustle of an office facing tight deadlines. Some people had finished their lunch and were chatting over tea about the upcoming football world cup. Others were just about to tuck into their food and planning out the post lunch work plan. A colleague broke the news, the possibility of which had been discussed in hushed tones many-a-times. Breathlessly she spilled the words: “Altaf Hussain (Chief of the MQM Party) has been arrested!” All was left aside and everyone started checking social media for updates. Some turned on the news ...

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Will Modi be able to make peace with Pakistan?

This is the first time since 1994 that a Pakistani head of state, during his trip to India, did not meet any separatist leaders from Jammu and Kashmir. During his two-day-long stay in New Delhi last week, prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, confined himself to conversations only with the Indian leadership. Is this a change in Pakistan’s policy towards Kashmir? We all know the answer. For Islamabad, Kashmir is very much an inalienable part of its foreign policy and domestic agenda. However, Nawaz understands that raking up controversial issues only accentuates the differences between the two nations. It leads to the wastage of ...

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Three Muslim films Pakistanis must watch

Pakistan might not have the best movie industry in the world but Muslim countries across the world have managed to spread some truly phenomenal messages and cultural insights through their films industries. The Iranian cinema’s popularity in European film festivals and their recent Oscar win, is but one example of Muslim cinema’s increasingly transforming and often very realistic nature. In light of that, here are three thought-provoking films from different Muslim film industries that are sure to leave you pondering upon the many facets of Islamic beliefs and Muslim cultures. They will also highlight the drastic parallelism between foreign Muslim societies and ...

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Why are women overweight anyway?

I am writing this article in response to a blog I read titled ‘Why are Pakistani women obsessed with their weight?’ Let me clear this misconception. Women aren’t obsessed with their weight; they are obsessed with obsessing about their weight. If this wasn’t the case, there would actually be less overweight women in the world. Before you take out your kolhapuri chappal or stiletto to beat the hell out of me, have a look at the facts first. Data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests that women are far more likely to be obese than men. And this situation isn’t any better in Pakistan. ...

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One-on-one with Senator Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain

The phone rings… Me: “Hello?” Person 1: “Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain aap sey baat karain ge.” (Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain would like to speak with you.) Me: “Okay.” Maintains a calm tone while jumping around Phone on-hold, music plays… Person 2: “Baat kijiye Chaudhry sahab se.” (Talk to Mr Chaudhry please) Me: “Okay.” Still jumping… Senator Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain (Sen CSH): “Assalamu Alaikum, kaisi hain aap?” (May peace be upon you, how are you?) Me: “Walaikum Assalam. Main bilkul theek hoon. Aap kaise hain?” (I’m perfectly fine, how are you?) Sen CSH: “Theek. Bohat hee acha article likha hai aapne.” (I’m fine. The article you wrote was very good.) Me: “Thank you so much for your appreciation.” Sen CSH: “Jo hum apne initiative ke through message dena chah rahe thay, aapne bilkul sahi tarha woh logon tak ...

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Learn from the BCCI, Pakistan, don’t hate on it!

High school is all about hierarchy. You have the cool kids who set the trends and everyone else is a follower. And then you have the drama geeks, the science club and the kid with the braces and the asthma pump who watches as teams are picked and groups are made but he is left watching from the sidelines.  Welcome to the Indian Premier League (IPL), the Pakistan cricket team and the wonder of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). This year marks the seventh season of the IPL, six of which have excluded Pakistan. The BCCI has tactfully managed ...

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Did Brad Pitt really get punched by a Hollywood prankster?

A crazy Ukrainian decided to make it his life’s mission to go parading from one Hollywood event to another, making a fool out of himself at the expense of our beloved celebrities. His latest whim consists of getting out of the fan gallery and jumping on Brad Pitt, allegedly to punch him. Yes, you read it right! This guy almost managed to punch one of the most handsome men on the planet. Brad Pitt, the American heartthrob, my childhood crush and the guy who has caused many accidents at the intersection of Punjab Colony with his face plastered across a huge billboard ...

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Overcoming adversity and reopening schools in Swat

As one travels, on the highway, from Peshawar to Swat, the lush green fields, dotted with tall poplar trees, appear breath-taking, and gradually the silhouette of the mountains become visible. The low-lying mountains gain height and the sound of water springs, gushing from the crevices of rocks create a melancholic music. Photo: Sameera Rashid   On a winding road from the Chakdara to Mingora, people are seen crossing the clear waters of river Swat, on makeshift bridges, and plum trees with delicate pink flowers bloom on the roadside orchids. Photo: Sameera Rashid Not only does Swat cast its ...

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