Stories published in June, 2015

Was what happened in Charleston terrorism?

In wake of the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, terrorism expert Brian Phillips asks and answers five questions based on initial reports of the shooter and the massacre. 1) Is this terrorism? Yes. There are many definitions of terrorism, but most definitions have four elements in common: Violence; Perpetrated by an individual or non-governmental group Political, social, or religious motivations; Intimidating a wider audience than the immediate victims. By this definition, the massacre in Charleston, SC, on Wednesday, was clearly a terrorist act. The violence is evident in the death toll of nine people. The perpetrator apparently was not a soldier or official acting on behalf of a ...

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Five stereotypes that ‘Devious Maids’ smartly shuns away

The comedy-drama series Devious Maids made its much anticipated return with the release of season three in June 2015. The show stars Roselyn Sanchez, Dania Ramirez, Ana Ortiz, Edy Ganem, and Judy Reyes as five Latina maids working for elitist families in Beverly Hills, California, with dreams and ambitions of their own. But these five women are not just cleaning floors or washing dishes for a living. Apparently they hold on to many dirty secrets of the families they work for. However, keeping the ‘devious’ element aside, I believe the show suppresses a number of stereotypes and clichés about Latinas that the writers indirectly try to enlighten ...

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‘Kabul gets bombed 24/7’: Eight stereotypes about Kabul

A six-day long Afghan-Pakistan Youth Dialogue in Kabul changed my life forever, as I set off to a venture that helped me break stereotypes about Afghanistan. From their meritorious hospitality  to appetising cuisine, from their commendable social activism to unwavering dedication, I could pen down a novel about my week-long stay in Kabul. But for now, let me share some of the stereotypes which were shattered once I moved across Kabul myself, experiencing and collecting cherished moments. Not everyone gets bombed 24/7 Kabul is not a battlefield and rockets do not come falling over your head. Chances of you dying while driving in Kabul are higher than getting shot at. An Afghan man roller blades ...

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Here is why I can’t trust the police in Pakistan

A friend’s recent encounter with the police has left me fuming. He was waiting for his sister outside a restaurant on a busy road, when a transvestite tried to get into his car. Seconds after he told the transvestite to go away, a police mobile stopped next to his car, as if waiting to pounce on him and hurled a series of accusatory and demeaning questions at him. He had not been committing a crime nor attempting to do so, then why was he dealt with like a culprit? And would he have been treated the same way had he been in an ...

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As a dermatologist, I say dark can be beautiful too

I grew up listening to songs like ‘Goray Rang Ka Zamana’ (the age of fair skin) and the likes, and in recent times, I’ve come across Bollywood beats such as ‘Chitiyan Kaliyan Way’ (my white wrists) and ‘Gori Gori’. Even though these songs are decades apart, they send out the same message: That fair complexion is a sign of beauty and romance, and dark complexion is its opposite. However, I believe that this perception is wrong on many levels. In my daily practice as a clinical dermatologist, I come across frequent cases regarding young people wanting a fairer skin tone. They want to attempt every possible method to ...

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Dear TV channels, stop commercialising Islam in Ramazan

Sawab, Rounaq Ramazan, Ramazan Hamara Emaan, Pakistanion ka Ramazan, Marhaba Ramazan, Subhan Ramazan, Ramazan Sharif, Bismillah Ramazan, Shan-e-Ramazan, Ishq Ramazan, Jashan-e-Ramazan, Mohabbat-e-Ramazan – the list is exhausting… and utterly monotonous. These are some of the many special Ramazan shows that have been lined up to be aired on various TV channels during the holy month of Ramazan this year. Along with these shows, many channels have also come up with their signature game shows to lure in audiences. Just like last time, nearly all news channels are planning to run shows where the hosts invite so-called religious scholars to discuss topics of religion and Islamic jurisprudence, recite naats between the show, cook different delicacies for iftar and interact with viewers ...

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Is PCB capable of hosting an IPL-level league in Pakistan?

While Nasim Ashraf sowed the seeds for Pakistan Super League (PSL) earlier in 2008, Zaka Ashraf watered them, and enabled them to grow further in January 2013. Not only that, he also spent millions of rupees to develop it. However, every time he would get closer to launching the league, something would go wrong and the dream of having Pakistan’s own league would shatter away. This time, Najam Sethi and Shahryar Khan have revived plans of restructuring the league and launching it again in 2016. But this is being done without a concrete vision in mind. There were quite a few serious steps taken ...

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Aik Tha Badshah: Is Noori declaring war on Pakistan’s rock bands?

Noori is back! After 10 years of crappy commercial songs and a few good coke studio productions, after 10 years of dormancy, Noori is back. Noori, for me, is synonymous with nostalgia. It reminds of the long drives on GT Road travelling between cities. It reminds of riding my bicycle late at night while playing chor-police in the neighbourhood. It reminds me of the heavy torrential rains of Punjab that used to wet the earth for weeks on end (Oh God, let it rain in Karachi). It reminds me of the all-nighters I pulled off during my matriculation exams where every inch of my existence would pull ...

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Does the death of al Qaeda’s Yemeni leader change anything for the better?

Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch, also known as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), released a video statement on Tuesday confirming the death of their leader, Nasser al Wuhayshi. Like every high profile terrorist death, this incident has ignited the age old debate – would this death be “effective” in destroying a particular terrorist organisation? In today’s world of convoluted terrorist groups, the question should not simply be “is a particular targeted killing effective?” but rather from whose perspective is it effective? If we look at Wuhayshi’s death from the US’s perspective, it is a great success and probably the most significant since Osama bin Laden. Wuhayshi ...

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Should office timings be changed during Ramazan?

Amidst a change in meal schedules, increased spirituality (sometimes self-imposed), adherence to daily religious obligations, and gradually increasing somnolence as the month progresses, there are a few characteristics that are specific to the middle class, ‘not so religious for the rest of the year’ employee, working a corporate job or any other job for that matter. Unexpected individuals are seen sharing spiritual posts on Facebook and browsing websites for the Holy Quran and its translation. Such is the aura of this month and the environment it generates within and around. When it comes to timings, the employees complain of ‘prolonged’ working hours since ...

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