Stories published in July, 2014

Yes, I don’t like watching football if Pakistan isn’t playing

The FIFA World Cup 2014 was a sporting spectacle watched by everyone. From youngsters to elderly people, everybody’s eyes were fixed on the television as some of the best players in the world fought for eternal glory. Seasonal fans came out to discuss the matches in detail, while some enthusiastic football critics even took to television to voice their opinions. I, too, watched the games and was amazed by the quality of football on display. But while everyone cheered Argentina, Netherlands or Germany on and cried tears when Brazil lost, I remained neutral. Why wouldn’t I be? My beloved Pakistan was not in the FIFA ...

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Losing our religion one Ramazan transmission at a time

While browsing through channels after iftar yesterday, I realised that my TV screen had been taken over by multiple Ramazan transmissions airing on different (read: every) channel. Although the ‘shows’ have been airing questionable content for some time now, this year they seemed to have taken it up a notch. Previously, such transmissions comprised of learned religious scholars who would discuss Islamic issues and answer audience questions pertaining to religious teaching. This would be followed by a recitation of a naat or a dua, and the transmission would be over by iftar time. No shenanigans, no games, no quizzes – a simple programme on ...

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Life had been drained out of her…

She looked like someone had drained all her strength. I could not stand it anymore, so I closed my browser and made my way towards her. She looked dull and weak. I observed her silently, praying to God to restore her strength. After all, how much longer could she survive with only an ounce of energy left? She had already struggled so much, living in this restricted area and now she was finding it difficult to breathe and communicate any more. She lay there, helpless. I stooped over her and examined her to see if there was any physical mishap but ...

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Are you a Pakistani pseudo-intellectual?

With the rise of free media, several classic cases of pseudo-intellectualism have emerged in Pakistan, but only a few hold a special place in the ‘Pseudo-intellectualism Hall of Fame’. So what is pseudo-intellectualism? The Urban Dictionary offers a very concise description of a pseudo-intellectual: “One who attempts to flex intellect that does not exist within his or her own mind” The water kit scandal is one example. The water kit scandal arose in 2012 when Pakistani ‘inventor’, Agha Waqar, claimed to have designed a perpetual motion machine that would utilise water as fuel for cars. Waqar’s claims were met with a mixture of scepticism and enthusiasm by the general public as ...

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6 Pakistanis who think Israel is their problem

I feel bad and a little guilty saying it, but I’m not interested in the Palestinian crisis. There, I said it. * Exhale * I don’t understand this outpouring of emotions for Palestine on Facebook. How come there weren’t any well designed posters shared on Facebook when 10 people were shot by police forces in Model Town, Lahore? Why wasn’t Facebook overwhelmed with emotional anti-Taliban visuals when they attacked Karachi airport? Were we sleeping earlier or are we just tuned to only hate Israel? Do things going kaboom in our backyard not make us flinch? Or are we afraid of criticising the Taliban because they might be ...

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14 hours without power and teetering at the edge of sanity

I recently experienced something that almost every Pakistani is familiar with: a prolonged power outage. It came on the heels of a public announcement that the government cannot vanquish the great beast ‘Power Shortage’ and the good people of this country must grit their teeth and hunker down for the collapse of civilisation. Notice the use of the word ‘almost’ in my first sentence? Yes, the people responsible for doing something about the crisis do not experience it at all. Maybe that’s why their actions, not to mention their comments to news agencies, lack a sense of urgency. Perhaps they no ...

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‘What is dead may never die’…except George R R Martin

There is a rumour afloat that strikes fear in the hearts of millions. It’s not the reports of the brain eating amoeba or SARS or an exotic epidemic. No, this is much more critical, infinitely more blood-curdling horrifying. The rumour is that (hold on to your dear ones. If you are a misanthropic loner then a pillow will do) George R R Martin may not be able to finish the last installation of his ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ books which form the plot of the wildly popular TV show, Game of Thrones (GOT). There, it’s off my chest. The ...

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Malaysian Airlines MH17: Let’s put an end to aviation tragedies

On July 17, 1996, a Trans World Airlines (TWA) Flight 800, operated on a Boeing 747, exploded and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near New York soon after it took off from John F Kennedy Airport. The flight was bound for Rome with a short stopover at Paris. The incident killed all 212 passengers and 18 crew members aboard. This was the third largest air crash incident of that year, after the Garuda Indonesia Flight 865 crash, in which 272 people died, and the Saudi-Kazakhstan mid-air collision over Chakdari, India, in which 349 people lost their lives. The remains of the ...

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Pakistani women, cricket and their dilemma

To stand in the sunlight, over the lush green grass of a cricket ground, surrounded by hordes of people cheering you on while you aim to annihilate the stumps with that ball in your hand is no longer just a man’s dream. Today, women too aspire to have a career in cricket and recent events have shown that they are very much capable of becoming great cricketers. The Pakistan women’s cricket team made it to the limelight when the national squad won medals in the 2010 Asian Games and brought glory to their nation. This was a major milestone, not just for the ...

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Lemon squares with a sprinkle of Ali Zafar please!

Born and bred in good ol’ Lahore, this Lahori munda has done us proud in many fields. His claim to fame is painting, singing, dancing and acting. With his adverts zapped nationwide on billboards and television channels, singing and dancing to his own composition, Ali Zafar goes around painting the town yellow and red. Shuffling between the neighbouring Indian film industry, local adverts and composing albums, he is a busy man, yet he was kind enough to take my call whilst driving back home from his dentist appointment. Given the lack of time and opportunities to meet him, I managed a ‘lightning round’ with him ...

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