Stories published in May, 2015

Russia: The one country the US cannot bully

This week US Foreign Secretary John Kerry met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Russian Black Sea resort, Sochi – the same place where the Winter Olympics took place, which the West boycotted – for the first talks since the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis back in the autumn of 2013. Kerry held discussions for more than four hours with Lavrov before he sat down with President Putin. Among the topics discussed were the themes which the US cannot handle without support from Russia, i.e. the Iran nuclear talks and the situation in Yemen and Libya. But apart from these topics, ...

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The baba near the seashore

He was 14, as he walked alongside the beach, barefooted, with his slippers placed under his armpits. The powdery sand tickled between his toes as he walked, until the dry soil met the wet mud and eventually the water. He was one of the few people in the brightly lit city of Karachi who would wake up before dawn and come to the beach. He had his reasons to do so. He would wake his aged grandfather up for the morning prayers, prepare a bucket of warm water for his ablution and make tea for him after he was done praying. He would then catch ...

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Between the buns: A brief history of Karachi’s love affair with burgers

Armed with a hundred bucks and an appetite to match, a bunch of school kids still in uniform converge on their favourite burger joint on Karachi’s Boat Basin. Even before walking in, a distinct aroma fills their nostrils; the perfect way to kick off the weekend on a hot Thursday afternoon. After placing their order, they wait on remarkably uncomfortable chairs and pass time by discussing the classroom cutie. Soon, food arrives. Drenched wrappers are torn off and the first bite sends them on a short trip to burger heaven. As long as Karachiites from my generation can remember, there have been ...

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Understanding rape through the Game of Thrones

Warning: For those of you, who have yet to watch the new season of Game of Thrones, be prepared for spoilers. Or stop reading.   ———————————————————————————————————————————————————————- I’ve been following the controversy about the Game of Thrones rape scene, which troubled a lot of women when it was aired this past Sunday. In the scene, Sansa Stark is raped by the sadistic psychopath Ramsey Bolton, while Theon Greyjoy is invited to watch. You don’t see Sansa or Ramsey, but you hear everything, while the camera focuses on Theon as he weeps. This, women have said, is unacceptable. Rape should not be used as a plot point. It’s gratuitous. ...

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Are we a nation of Taliban apologists?

During his talk about terror and extremism in Pakistan, Mohammad Jibran Nasir declared, “I am not a cultural ambassador. I am not here to talk about bhangra.” The point was well taken since he was in the middle of a hard-hitting presentation about the terror threat in Pakistan and was not holding back his punches. Clad in a white shalwar kurta with a Pakistani flag pinned to his lapel, Nasir clearly does not equate patriotism with denial. Photo: Jibran Nasir He emphasised that while we are not all Taliban apologists, our society has become a breeding ground for terrorists. He is on an extensive tour of ...

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Is Pakistan a failing state?

More than 45 people are shot dead in cold blood by six or eight armed men, who reached the spot on motorcycles. At practically every traffic signal in Karachi, one can see armed policemen stopping motorcyclists, checking the vehicles’ papers and letting them go after extorting some money. Yet on the day of the mass killing, no one stopped the killers, while the police station nearby was nearly empty. Isn’t this a glaring sign of failure of the state? Dr Bernadette Dean, who had been living in the country for many years and was advising the provincial government on revision of syllabi, received death threats ...

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Novak Djokovic will take down Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

The present era of tennis is indeed the best ever by a long shot in the history of this sport. This era boasts of few of the greatest names ever and is characterised by intensely fierce rivalries. While the first half of the past decade was undoubtedly dominated by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the latter half truly belongs to Novak Djokovic. And here are the reasons why. Photo: AFP By 2011, Djokovic had erased the label of being a one-slam wonder and came into a league of his own. It is considered as one of the greatest seasons ever by a ...

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There is zero tolerance for hate speech in Pakistan, even if you are a cleric!

Recently, an anti-terrorism court set a precedent by sentencing a prayer leader belonging to Kasur for five years of imprisonment. Maulana Abubakar was convicted of delivering anti-Shia hate speech during his sermon. He openly declared Shias to be “infidels”. In the last few months, over 4,000 individuals were arrested for similar offences while 21 have been convicted in Punjab for delivering hate speech, with some of them jailed for up to eight years. I am not going to refer to this man as a ‘qari’ in this blog, for a ‘qari’ is expected to be a respectful man who is dutiful towards his religion, actions and sermons. No one ...

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Balochistan 2: There is more to Balochistan than the state’s high-handedness

The attack by Baloch separatists on labourers in Turbat last month was a timely reminder that there is more to Balochistan than the state’s high-handedness. The atrocities of the armed forces reviewed in the preceding blog-post take place in, and are part of, a two-way conflict. Mama Qadeer’s son, Jalil Reiki, was the information secretary of the Balochistan Republican Party, headed by Brahamdagh Bugti. Brahamdagh is also believed to control the Balochistan Republican Army and, alongside Harbiyar Marri and Allah Nazar Baloch, credited with leading the insurgency in Balochistan. All three are designated as terrorists by Pakistan. The insurgency, which has often been romanticised because of the neglect ...

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Is Morsi going to be Egypt’s Bhutto?

Egypt and Pakistan may not have much in common when it comes to culture, cuisine, and heritage, but when you look at their political landscape, a lot of commonalities spring up. My political alignment is exactly the opposite of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, but I admire him as a great public orator and a tactical politician. He was a rarity amongst the political circle of our country, so much so that the biggest political party of Pakistan is still banking on his legacy to lure in voters. In regard to his personal charisma, I think Imran Khan is the only one who comes close to his ranks. ...

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