Stories published in January, 2015

NEFER: Fabulous handbags, fabulously Pakistani!

I am all for entrepreneurship. Be it any field, I have a great sense of respect for whoever decides to venture into the field and willingly commits to the several pressures and demands innate to the entire prospect. As a nation we have had our fair share of notorious leadership, misguided groups and tragedies, with a few to thank. We have also hit the rock bottom at various times, yet I have not given up on the Pakistani youth. Being a part of the generation myself, I am extremely proud of what we are capable of achieving. From the business sector to ...

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What about the Charlie Hebdos of Pakistan?

I am not Charlie Hebdo. Does that make me less valuable as an organisation? As a journalist? As a human life? The answer to all of the above is a distasteful yes. I am a journalist based in Karachi, Pakistan. I am part of a news organisation that was attacked by militants thrice in 2014 for its stance on extremism and militancy. Gunmen pelted our office entrance with bullets, threw grenades at the building and attacked an office news van on assignment. Three people lost their lives while another was injured and paralysed for life. But you do not know this and ...

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PEGIDA anti-Muslim riots: Is Germany flirting with its dark past?

There is no such thing as racism in Germany. Or at least in theory, there isn’t. After the Second World War, Berlin was reduced to rubble by the Allied Forces, revealing the horrors of the Holocaust that Nazism left behind. At the time, the question, “how did we let this happen?” was never fully answered. The Allies and the Soviet were too busy contemplating the future of Germany. The issue of intolerance and racism was never really dealt with but was rather suppressed deep within the sub-conscience of the Nazi apologists. And overnight, anti-Semitism became unfashionable. But looking back after 70 ...

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The media didn’t fail on January 8, you did, Pakistan!

Chaos, screams, gunshots, children running from one end of the camera to another, mothers wailing in the background, mortifying reports, death tolls, debates, condemnations, shock, horror and terror – this was Pakistani media on December 16, 2014. Our minds couldn’t fathom, let alone comprehend what we all heard and saw that day. Our very souls quivered with absolute fear, remorse and anger. That was the day a small army of terrorists entered the Army Public School in Peshawar, opened fire on innocent students and teachers, forever scarring our ‘pure’ land with blood. Pause. No, not ‘forever’. Pakistan doesn’t remember anything ‘forever’. Fast forward. No wait, not ...

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How long will the US assist Pakistan?

State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki went off the cuff last week to announce that Pakistan has not received any development assistance from the United States since 2013. That was news – Pakistani papers Express Tribune and Dawn headlined it. But it was wrong. Congress released funding to Pakistan in September 2014.  Under the “Kerry-Lugar-Berman (KLB)” bill, Congress authorised $1.5 billion in development assistance for Pakistan for five years, from fiscal year 2010 to fiscal year 2015. But because USAID must get Congressional blessing of its program plans before it gets the money, money rarely comes through in the year it is budgeted for. So Pakistan received funds ...

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Who are you, Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde?

“And like the sea, I’m constantly changing from calm to hell.” – Dallas Green My mother always says to me, “You are a wonderful woman all of the time.” But my husband insists that is not the case. When I asked him why, he replied, “Because you are two people. There are times you behave like an angel, and at other times, you are a monster, a masochist.” “A masochist? Is that not too harsh a term?” I asked He explained, “No, you should see and hear yourself; you are entirely zoned out of decency. Remember that time when I wanted to travel two hours to attend my ...

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10 philosophical ideas perfectly expressed by Lollywood songs

Lollywood gets an unreasonable amount of flak for being the stepsister of Bollywood; the one that was sent to the village as a child, and says her ‘o’s as ‘a’s – McDonalds becomes ‘MaacdAnalds’ and Ostrich becomes ‘Asstrij’. However, these people fail to realise the deep philosophical ideas expressed by Lollywood songs. Here are some examples of why Lollywood is on par with the greatest philosophers the world has ever seen. 1. Cartesian doubt Philosophical version: The Cartesian doubt is a method of questioning one’s own beliefs; of being sceptical about all that you hold to be true. Lollywood version: “Sanu Nehar walay pull tay bula kar sohnay ...

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The ‘chosen ones’ for the 2015 World Cup

Cricket is not just a game in Pakistan; it is the blood of this nation. Thus, it is only natural that the hopes and dreams of 180 million people are placed on the shoulders of 11 men in green. Every cricket enthusiast in Pakistan was busy guessing who the ‘chosen ones’ for the squad were going to be before the names were finally unveiled by the National Selection Committee. Senior players like Kamran Akmal, Shoaib Malik and Umar Gul were dropped while pace bowlers like Sohail Khan, who last played international cricket in 2011, made a comeback. What came as a surprise to everyone, ...

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Saudi Arabia flogged a blogger? Let’s blame the West for that too!

Worshipers emerged from a mosque in Jeddah to witness a Saudi activist, Raef Badawi, being ceremoniously lashed. One… two… three… all the way to fifty painful whips, which are only the first of the thousand due to be delivered in 20 weekly sessions. International condemnations are flowing in, in support of the 30-year-old co-founder of Saudi Liberal Network, convicted of ‘insulting Islam’ after criticising powerful Saudi clerics online. He’s also been sentenced to 10 years in prison, and ordered to pay a fine of one million riyals. This is not the first crackdown by the establishment on liberal Saudi artists, academics and writers challenging the ...

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So what if Reham Khan is divorced?

There are occasions when the misogyny and gender-bias that exists in Pakistan becomes more obvious than ever. Imran Khan’s wedding to Reham Khan has been one such occasion that has brought to light the underlying and inherent concept that an “honourable woman” needs to have certain pre-requisites. On the top of that list is this: she must not be a divorcee. For most men of Pakistan, even the so-called educated ones, the only women of honour are their own mothers, sisters, wives and daughters. Any other woman’s repute, especially that of a divorced woman, is something they can plunder, especially if she ...

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