Stories published in January, 2016

She was 13 and he was 39

The 15-year-old girl from Lahore gave her “consent” and he was her “boyfriend”, and so it is not rape, they say. This case is garnering a very expected response. But why are we surprised? It reminds me of a case I came across a while back. A 13-year-old girl fell for her 39-year-old neighbour. They started chatting via the internet. One day, when she was home alone, he coerced her into having a sexual encounter. Reality was not as the girl had imagined. When it actually happened, she yelled, cried and resisted but was raped. But the men in her ...

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Shah Rukh Khan’s career is now officially over

The longer you keep wine, the better it ages, becoming premium in value. However, when you age beer for too long, it goes bad. You don’t have to be a genius to figure out which direction Bollywood badshaah Shah Rukh Khan is heading. From 1992-2007, SRK had absolutely everything. He gave Bollywood one blockbuster after another. The evergreen Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) ran for a record 1,000 weeks as SRK emerged as the undisputed ‘King of Romance’. He was every director’s delight. From 1993 to present date, the father-son duo of the late Yash Chopra and current Yash Raj chief Aditya Chopra have only directed SRK. From 1986 to ...

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If there has ever been a time to praise this government, it is now

On January 2, 2016, Saudi Arabia executed 47 convicts in one day, including a popular Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. It was one of those moments in history that are not intended to spark extreme global consequences but end up catalysing a chain of events that expose the cracks in the international world order. Like the gunshot that broke into World War II. The next day, the Saudi embassy in Tehran was ransacked by an enraged mob of Iranian locals. The protestors took down the Saudi Arabian flag and set fire to parts of the building. A hush fell over the world audience. And ...

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Should Imran Khan be arrested for treating a Taliban leader?

I will begin by admitting that I support PPP, the party Pakistan’s urban middleclass loves to hate. The basis for my support is just one – in Pakistan’s context, PPP remains the only mainstream party with a liberal and progressive ethos. No matter how you put it, this is a party which, in contemporary times, has tried to act as a bulwark against rising extremism and has paid the price in blood for doing so. In 2007, it lost Benazir Bhutto and then Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti in 2011. It also played a major role in the modification of the infamous Hudood ...

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Is Alamgir Khan’s graffiti of CM Qaim Ali Shah vandalism or activism?

For a long time in Pakistan, art belonged in galleries and to the elite. It was individualistic, and for that reason, terribly exclusive and elusive. Though over recent years, tables are slowly turning and the high fences around the world of art are being brought down, with an increasing number of artists now looking towards engaging the communities and making their work accessible to larger audiences. Last year was perhaps the best in this regard, especially with the revival of public art in the Pakistan. From IAMKHI beautifying the walls of Karachi with truck art and graffiti, to The Fearless Collective engaging the communities ...

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What is the older generation’s obsession with the word ‘compromise’ when it comes to marriage?

Marriage has too many complicated stereotypes attached to it. The more obvious ones include what the rishta aunties say all the time: “Apki beti khana pakati hai?” (“Does your daughter cook?”) “Apki beti lambi hai?” (“Is your daughter tall?”) “Apki beti ziyada umer mein bari tou nahi?” (“Your daughter isn’t too old, is she?”) “Apki beti zeyada tou parhi likhi nahi hai?” (“Your daughter isn’t ‘too educated’, is she?”) The aunties want their sons to be the ones who run the show — the girl shouldn’t be too smart, too educated. She has to be just the right amount of literate. Also, she should definitely know how to cook ...

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Why does Chris Gayle think sexual harassment is a joke?

Chris Gayle made headlines a couple of days ago that had nothing to do with his batting achievements. In fact, he is being chastised all over the world for misbehaving with Mel Mclaughlin, a reporter from the official broadcaster of Big Bash League. He flirted in the most unabashed manner; called her eyes beautiful and then threw in an offer for drinks later. Imagine being confronted with this sort of behaviour at a social event. You would cringe, roll your eyes and decisively walk the other way in disgust. Now think about having to face this conduct in a professional ...

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Series 2: “Checkmate” Part 3 She was a mistake but she was so lovely

The phone call came from New Orleans early in the morning. Right after he hung up, he made a phone call to his friend in Denver, and his friend and him would reach New Orleans International airport early that afternoon. Hopefully, the child would have reached the adoption agency by then. He forgot to ask whether it was a girl or a boy. But then again, it didn’t matter. After having arrived at New Orleans, his friend and him rented a car from the airport and drove the next five miles to the adoption agency affiliated with the hospital. As ...

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Atonement for Aylan: In refusing to witness suffering, we dehumanise ourselves

As the old year gives into the new, one image comes to my mind. His shoes had been carefully buckled. The rubber-soled sandals matched. Somehow in all the upheaval, Aylan’s mother had kept them safe in the thousands of miles trek from their Syrian home to these shores. Tonight, they must leave – the people-smugglers who would bring them to Europe now readied the boat to freedom. She coaxed him to sit still as she fastened them tight. The boat would be cold. Her son must be warm. His feet must not slip in the wet. Smoothing his hair into place, ...

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From boys to men: Five potential breakout stars of the PSL

As the cricketing world prepares itself for the upcoming T20 World Cup in March in India, some of the world’s best cricketers are already packed up and ready to head to Dubai and Sharjah in February to play the Pakistan Super League (PSL). The PSL will go down as Pakistan cricket’s most defining moment. Below I have listed five youngsters who have dominated the domestic circuit over the past few years and are braced to take on the world: 1. Rumman Raees For a country that takes pride in its bowlers, Pakistan genuinely lacks seamers who can dodge batsmen with sheer speed. ...

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