Stories published in August, 2015

He went from being her uncle to the father of her child, and no one saved her

Saima was 10-years-old when she was taken from her school located in a small town in Mitiari by her khaalu (maternal aunt’s husband). He told the teacher that Saima’s mother was very sick and she needed to be taken to her at the earliest. He arrived at the village, along with the little girl who had no idea what was about to happen with her. He asked her to stay at his house till her parents returned from the hospital, and she responded with affirmation. Two days passed by and Saima was eager to see her parents but they had not returned from the hospital as yet. Saima ...

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Sorry Sri Lanka, but we love ending things in style

The ambition is fierce and the energy is high — Pakistan are back, and back with a bang! The familiar aura of suspense finally returned to the faces of avid spectators, watching their home side take Sri Lanka head on in two nerve-wracking games, finishing the job splendidly. Gone are the days when fans would long consistency in batting, cringe over poor fielding, and question the constant shuffling of bowlers. Pakistan’s signature display of winning when least expected, and that too in all three departments, has given the whole nation a sweetly addicting tune to dance to. ...

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The end of Afghan Basti: It was all they had

Last week, Islamabad High Court judge, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui ordered the removal of illegal settlements in I-11 area of Islamabad. The judgment summarised that the Capital Development Authority (CDA) had allotted plots in the I-11 Sector, and therefore the settlements established there were violating the rights of the land owners and resultantly had to be removed. Strangely enough, however, the voters list of 1985 had the names of the inhabitants of the Afghan Basti (settlement) as eligible voters while the plots were allotted a year later in 1986. How could Afghans be registered voters? Well, it seems that the name is a misnomer because the population ...

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Orange Is the New Black: Changing perceptions and clearing misconceptions

In the last two years, Orange Is the New Black has proven to be one of the most multi-faceted and diverse shows of this decade. It is a blend between a harsh reality, a cruel joke, and a fit of absolute hilarity. Around 80 per cent of the show is set at a Federal Women’s prison in New York. The show, based on a book of the same title, highlights a crude and in-your-face sense what life for the female inmates is like. What makes it interesting is that for every character on the set, every one that we see, we are ...

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Why now, Afghanistan?

In the aftermath of Wednesday’s revelation that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar is dead — which had long been assumed yet never confirmed — a fundamental question remains. Why would the Afghan government make this announcement now? Specifically, why would Kabul jeopardise a peace process that it desperately wants to succeed and that has only recently gained steam? Surely, Kabul knew that announcing Mullah Omar’s death would bring long-festering tensions within the Taliban to the fore and trigger a deep and perhaps even existential organisational crisis — a messy, drawn-out, and possibly bloody leadership transition that will consume the Taliban’s energies and could limit its ability to focus on peace talks. So what ...

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PCB kills two birds with one stone

Shoaib Malik measured Milinda Siriwardana on the third and fourth ball of the 41st over by playing two dot balls. Pakistan only needed six runs to bag an unassailable three-one lead in the five-match ODI series against Sri Lanka. The fifth ball came a tad short and Malik, who had already romped off three sixes, pulled the ball over the midwicket boundary for a maximum to end the 257-run chase with a victory. Photo: AFP As the players celebrated an emphatic series win, the think-tank of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) started pondering over the prospects of delaying the series ...

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The reality of Pakistan through Brandon Stanton’s lens

While Pakistani fans of Brandon Stanton were posting warm and welcoming comments on the Humans of New York (HONY) Facebook page, the power of pre-conceived notions and assumptions about Pakistan was evident in the contrasting rude and dismissive comments. Some of them called Pakistan “that wretched country” and threatened to give up on being fans of Brandon if he visited Pakistan. Photo: Screenshot And so it has been. Pakistan, a beautiful country, inhabited by a vibrant nation, is often seen globally as a monolithic entity in which only extremists and bigots live, and where only bad things happen. It is seen as not ...

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Is the Human Trafficking Ordinance just another failed statute in Pakistan?

The situation of human rights in Pakistan as recorded by international rights organisations, bodies and agencies has always been grave and continues to exacerbate. In similar news, Pakistan is on the Tier 2 Watch List of the US State Department’s Trafficking in Person report for a second consecutive year. The countries whose governments fail to comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards are placed on a tier, which is a clear indicator that there is apparently no political will to curb the menace of human trafficking. According to International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) trafficking records, the profits from forced labour are estimated to be in the ...

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In Sindh, our children’s lives are not as valuable as that of a politician’s

After the Army Public School (APS) Peshawar carnage, schools throughout the country were under constant threat. Most vulnerable were the schools of Karachi where there were a few instances of letters, coffins and even bullets thrown in schools in order to intimidate the authorities and school owners and create an environment of fear and paranoia. However, the government did not mobilise its security apparatus to secure the schools and instead relied heavily on the schools to take care of their own security. Instead of withdrawing police from VIP protocols and deputing them in sensitive areas, the provincial government displayed insensitivity by asking the schools to beef up their security by employing the services of private ...

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Paper Towns: The young and mysterious journey of self-discovery

John Green’s second book, Paper Towns, gets a movie adaptation by the same name with Nat Wolff playing the role of Quentin Jacobsen and Cara Delevingne appearing as Margo Roth Spiegelman. The movie explores the relationship of Quentin and Margo who remain best friends throughout childhood but drift away during high school. Scott Neustadter and Michael H Weber, who jointly wrote the screenplay for The Fault in Our Stars, have written the screenplay for Paper Towns as well. Perhaps this is why viewers who have watched The Fault in Our Stars will find similarities in the philosophical issues discussed in Paper Towns. Although they are not the same, the tone of voice the characters use ...

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