Stories published in October, 2014

Ten reasons why Pakistanis do what they do

Pakistan, ever since its inception, but even more so after the rule of Hazrat General Ziaul Haq, has been under the axe of western propagandists and bigots. The precipitous progress that the country is displaying and the threat that this presents to the developed world has them grinding their teeth. Thus they target us rather unfairly and portray to their public an image of ours which cannot be far from truth. It is to undo their nefarious designs that I, perhaps for the very first time in history, yearn to exhibit a picture of Pakistan like it really is. To this effect, a list of ...

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Letters to my deceased parents

When there’s a bomb blast, it takes a few seconds to realise what has happened and then you hear people screaming, dying and running like they never have.  The physical impressions last a few hours. There is sadness, there’s mourning and then for the majority it’s buried somewhere down memory lane. But then, there’s the psychological impact, where the clock keeps ticking and the bomb keeps exploding again and again and again…ad infinitum. While investigating a recent story as to what happened to the victims of a bomb attack, I came across a 17-year-old girl who lost her parents. She lives in extreme poverty with ...

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Series 2: “The Djinn” Part 1 Who are you?

The Pattersons, an English couple and previous owners of my grandparents’ house, had returned to where they had come from when their countrymen left India. There’s a picture of them on the landing; she is sitting on a deck chair in shorts while he is hanging over the back in white flannels with a chota peg in hand. Both of them appear to be sun-streaked blondes, the “dahling”, coffee party types. My grandmother, on the other hand, modelled herself as the ideal woman in her Bahishti zewar (heavenly ornaments) which meant that the sun rose on my grandfather’s… well from his ears, ...

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Pakistan’s fear of a local security check-post

Last month, Sajid, an engineering student from the University of Engineering and Technology, was shot in the head by a Frontier Constabulary (FC) constable. Different sources obviously claim different versions of the story. The security officials, however, have stated that Sajid refused to stop at the security check post after being flagged down repeatedly. The real story will only be revealed when an impartial investigation into the incident is conducted. Putting the validity of the versions aside, what concerns me today is the important ‘issue’, a daily ritual might I add, of passing through security check posts in the country. ...

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My life when Amma was diagnosed with breast cancer

Do you know how it feels to wake up one morning and find out that your mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer? I do. It doesn’t hit you at first. It was all a big rush; hospitals and tests, alien language and timeframes, it was chaotic and far too real. I still remember sitting with her, my mother, at the hospital. We were surrounded by family, aunts and uncles, but she was scared. This was my mother, the person I would run to in the middle of the night when I had a nightmare. She was my hero. And yet, ...

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Defeating our demons

On January 6, 2010, I sat with my head in my hands as I tried to make sense of what had just happened. Some brilliant (read: not) captaincy and some strange fielding – attributed largely to Mazher Majeed’s influence on the team – meant that Pakistan squandered a 206-run lead and, with it, the chance to beat Australia on home-ground. For Pakistani fans, this was a hard pill to digest and that can largely be put down to Australia’s complete dominance of Pakistan over a number of years – basically our entire cricket-following age. At Hobart in 1999, Australia chased down 369 against a ...

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Why does marriage equal compromise in Pakistan?

I’m a 24-year-old woman and I am divorced. Yes, you heard right; I’m a 24-year-old divorced woman in a Pakistani society. I got divorced because my husband was suffering from depression, was taking pills without any proper prescription due to which he also had erectile dysfunction. He insisted that his pride and ego were more important than getting treatment and ensuring a healthy marriage. When I tried explaining the benefits of acquiring treatment he became abusive, leaving me with no option but separation. Our society, however, does not believe I made the right decision. Yes, it is easy to sit behind a ...

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Can journalists be opinionated on Twitter?

The events taking place around us affect our feelings, which as a result, affect our conversations throughout our normal lives. Since August, the prolonged Azadi march has been affecting the feelings of average Pakistanis on the road. Being associated to the data-mining and text-mining field, I carried out a little experiment to explore the sentiments of Pakistani journalists who are reporting current events in Pakistan. I took journalists as my test subjects as ordinary people generally take their (journalists’) opinions seriously and even adopt them as their own. But according to the journalism objectivity principle, these journalists should remain impartial and convey only facts without ...

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Recycle yourself, don’t let your kindness die with you

A man sitting in a park reading suddenly bursts into laughter. This catches the attention of a boy sitting near him with dark shades on and a stick in his hand who, out of curiosity, asks the reason for the man’s laughter. The man, pleased to be able to be nice to the boy, starts reading the passage to him and they both share a laugh. After a while when the man gets back to his reading and there’s silence once again, the boy breaks the ice by asking if the man would be kind enough to let him have “that” after ...

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Za Pakhtoon Yum: A mind-altering foray into Pukhtun life and culture

So far, our dramas have revolved around the vicious circle of poverty, a miserable daughter-in-law suffering at the hands of her evil in-laws, societal customs, dowry issues, giving birth to a male child or the perfect ‘rishta’ (proposal). Indeed these are issues which need to be addressed in dramas or movies, but there are other issues that require our attention as well. With the passage of time, we, Pakistanis, have come across many complex issues segregating our society into small groups, each intolerable for the other. We have issues ranging from the Shia-Sunni to the Punjabi-Pukhtun, anti-women empowerment to pro-women empowerment, even from the pro-Malala ...

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