Stories published in October, 2015

Karachi and the paralysis of imagination

You want to read about a vision of a just Karachi? The contract killer ($50 a hit) ripping up the road behind Disco Bakery on his Honda 200CC and the secret service colonel cracking skulls in a Clifton safe house will both cite one vision: Dubai. This happens to also be the vision of the one-armed Afghan refugee selling Beijing socks off a cart in Saddar bazaar and the unsexed Karachi Port Trust shipping agent waiting for shady clients to cough up cash so he can escape to Phuket. To borrow from an old Urdu election rallying cry, Chalo,chalo, Dubai, chalo (Come, come, let’s go to Dubai). Vision presupposes ...

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Women will do anything it takes to look beautiful

“Aap moon haath dho kar fresh ho jayain. Mein chai laati hoon.” (You can freshen up. I’ll get you some tea.) The women uttering this on TV mostly look immaculately well put together, French nail tips and blow dry et al. This sentence deserves the award for the most oft-repeated sentence on Pakistani prime time television. But what is amazing is how good most of the women on our prime time television dramas look while working in kitchen all day, if the dramas are to be believed. Female news persons are also perfectly painted and coiffured, even if not well versed ...

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Ismat Chughtai’s women: Women, yes – dreams, no

Ismat Chughtai is universally regarded as one of the four pillars of Urdu fiction in our time, apart from her contemporaries Saadat Hasan Manto, Krishan Chander and Rajinder Singh Bedi. This year is being celebrated as her birth centenary year. While in India, she and her legacy is being feted and commemorated.   In Pakistan, this unrelenting and daring champion of women’s rights and feminism, who anticipated by a few decades the heaven-stormers of the 60s powered and pioneered in the West by Simone de Beauvoir, has been consciously ignored. Perhaps firstly, owing to the controversy she created with one ...

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People are dying, yet clerics say they are ‘happy’ to see attendance rise in mosques

It was déjà vu for anyone who lived through October 8, 2005, and not just the feeling that the ground was going to split open. Yet again, we have shown that at times when people come together, irrespective of cast, creed, faith and political affiliation, we Pakistanis would rather choose to be divisive. People are dying, yet clerics say they are ‘happy’ to see attendance rise in mosques. People have been left homeless, yet politicians are busy point scoring, blaming each other for the slow response of the other instead of taking responsibility for their own mismanagement. Hospitals are being called high risk buildings by their own staffers, yet ...

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Excuse me VIPs, can you move your cameras and armed personnel so doctors can save lives?

Did you know that essentially there are only two types of people in Pakistan? Let me introduce them to you. The first is the population in waiting. They are the ones who stand in lines, who grab a ticket and wait for their turn, who crowd the waiting rooms until their names are called out. They are the poor, the middle class, the hapless subaltern. The second, more fortuitous type, are the VIPs. They are the ones who whizz past lines under a haze of officialdom, who don’t have to collect tickets and watch the clock tick, who have never seen ...

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Take that, India: Edhi and Pakistan don’t need your money

“You Indians, your country is the rape capital of the world.” “All the minorities should just move out of Pakistan.” “You people don’t even have access to toilets, what are you talking about?” “At least we are not killing people in the name of religion.” The vitriol spewed against Pakistan by an Indian or vice versa is nothing new. Working for a local newspaper in Pakistan, anti-India statements from Pakistanis and vice versa is an everyday norm now. In fact, if you were to quickly browse through this very website and pick any news story or blog, even the ones that don’t remotely ...

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Is the fashion industry evolving with the inclusion of its first Hijabi model?

Mariah Idrissi is the first female Muslim model to feature in an H&M advertisement. The advert describes her look as ‘chic’ and Mariah definitely looks chic. Most are applauding this diverse and inclusive step from the world’s second largest retailer for representing Muslim women in the fashion world. The fashion industry is changing…or is it? Muslim women have their own views and as the global Muslim population is the second largest in the world, there will never be a formulaic response to what one Muslim woman wants. Our choices will depend on us individually and include the country we live in, our work ...

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Dance with me, my love!

If you knew the world would soon end, And we both would perish, When this moment is spent, This jiffy would die and with it, Our spirits would burn and fly!   Would you care, my love, to dance with me, When we have time to dance, To the end of the sky?   Let’s dance, my love, Before dreams are lost, And longing is rusted, In our hearts and eyes, For the dead dance not, Nor ashes cry!   Before the lights are out, And the doors are closed, Wild hearts are muted, No more they pine and sigh.   Here! Before the world ends, Dance with me, my love! Dance to the end of the sky!   Or would you not ...

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Do beggars deserve our sympathy or indifference?

I cringe at the sight of the decaying face of a desolate poor individual; yet my mind goes blank when I think of how to help them. Even if I help them financially, I can never cure their gloomy and emotional state of mind, their unhappiness and the woes they try to hide. An expression of agony is written all over their faces. Their ragged, coarse and wrinkled faces are enough to prove how miserable they are. Their skin is tightly woven on their facial structure which clearly indicates starvation. We are so busy in our daily routine that we fail ...

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Dear PCB Chairman, how about focusing more on Pakistan and less on India

Dear Sir, I am writing to you to request your attention towards an issue that affects me in the capacity of a regular cricket spectator and a fan. As you know, Pakistan has been deprived of competitive international cricket for over six years now, the wait for us cricket fans to see international action in our grounds is becoming increasingly painful. Even though your efforts did result in making the Zimbabwean cricket team tour Pakistan for a couple of T20s and three ODIs earlier this year, consistency needs to be ensured and the success of that tour needs to be promoted much more ...

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