Stories published in January, 2016

What if a student had shot back during the mock drill at Punjab University?

As a resident of a country where militancy regularly makes headlines, I sometimes wonder how I would react if caught in the middle of a terrorist attack. Perhaps it is because I am a passionate video gamer, but I’d like to believe that I would fight back should no escape route be available. Would a gun or any other weapon be available to me in such a scenario, I am sure I’d shoot at any terrorist in my way. Of course, considering that my only training is playing first person shooters late into the night with Cheetos crumbs on my ...

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David Cameron, why did you single out Muslim women?

The English language is a very peculiar thing. It can be difficult to grapple with its eccentric rules of grammar, punctuation and pronunciation. However it is a language that is fast becoming a necessary modicum of communication. The English language pervades social media, popular songs and movies and has even become a pre-requisite skill that one has to obtain before moving to the West. I definitely agree that if someone from Pakistan or any other country, moves to the United States or England, they must have a basic idea of what the language entails, not because learning English will shed ...

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Have original ideas become a financial risk in Hollywood?

During a question and answer session at the TIFF 2015 (Toronto International Film Festival) filmmaker Charlie Kaufman was asked why big film productions in Hollywood lack the originality of ideas of smaller independent produced films. He replied, “It seems to me that it’s a circular problem. People who make movies see things that do well and then they continue to make those things because they continue to do well and that becomes this sort of cycle and everything else becomes excluded from that (…) If you make a superhero movie that looks like it should do well and doesn’t do well, you don’t get fired ...

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An Army Public School massacre game? Really Punjab IT board?

Someone decided to make a first person shooting game about the Army Public School (APS) massacre. No, no, I’m not joking. I swear, it’s true. It’s no longer available on Google Play store (Gosh! I wonder why?) but people have seen it, played it, reviewed it and are all asking the same question, what were you thinking Punjab IT Board? The answer is, probably nothing. A video game of APS school attack? WTF is the Punjab IT Board smoking? Are they out of their freaking minds? — Sahrish Iftikhar (@shadesofsunrise) January 18, 2016 Some great premises for the Punjab IT Board to mine for ...

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Why do you stare, Pakistan? Do women on wheels freak you out?

Austrian Ambassador Brigitta Blaha is an active power woman. She is the type of diplomat who promotes her country but doesn’t rub nerves, because she equally promotes the country she is in, wearing their clothes, meeting their people and participating in their events. So it was no surprise that she was invited to Lahore, for the much-hyped Women on Wheels initiative by the Punjab Chief Minister Special Monitoring Unit on Law and Order and UN Women. True to type, she got into the car with Asma Khan, founder-director of Satrang Gallery in Islamabad, and drove right over. And then traded ...

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In solidarity with the human umbrellas of Kolachi

Yet another grainy illustration of wealth inequality in Pakistan has left many Pakistanis on the internet shaking their heads in disappointment, if not shaking their fists in full outrage. A viral photograph on social media shows the diligent waiters of Kolachi taking ‘customer service’ to a new level. The servers are seen forming a short cordon around a table, holding umbrellas over the seated patrons on a rainy evening. For some reason, this modern re-enactment of a scene from Mughal-e-Azam is being praised by some on the internet as a sign of dedication to the customer. Kolachi was ‘prepared’ for the ...

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The Revenant: Iñárritu is in town and he brings with him the best movie of the year!

There is a reason why Alejandro González Iñárritu is the new doll of Hollywood. There is a reason why Emmanuel Lubezki is now considered to be one of the finest cinematographers working in the film industry. And there is certainly a reason why it feels that Leonardo DiCaprio will finally walk onto that stage, clinch the coveted piece of gold-plated britannium he so desires, and put an end once and for all to the ever-circulating memes on social media regarding the lack of an Oscar in his career. The reason is, quite frankly, simple; The Revenant. After the profound critical ...

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Sex and the Saudi

One winter day a few years ago, I met a girl I really liked. I saw her at a park in Qatif. We were looking at each other, so I went up to her and said, ‘‘Hi, you look beautiful.’’ She thanked me, and I handed her a piece of paper with my number on it. ‘‘We should talk more,’’ I told her. ‘‘I’m interested in you.’’ Then I left immediately. We started talking on the phone for hours every day. Her name was Samar. She was 18, pretty and slender, with long black hair and light brown skin. About a week later, when ...

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What can the green shirts do to make sure they don’t lose the third T20?

Time to hunt some Kiwis! Wellington will host the series decider this Friday when Pakistan and New Zealand go head-to-head in the third and final T20 match in Pakistan’s tour to the land of Kiwis. So far both teams have been in prime form at different instances with Pakistan winning the first T20 through a magnificent all-round performance (less than two drop catches) while Williamson and Guptill stole the show for the Kiwis on Sunday with awe-inspiring performances with the bat. Both teams have a lot to prove in the third match. Both teams have a lot at stake. ...

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Why schools, colleges and universities?

As I am watching the attack on Bacha Khan University in Charsadda unfold on live television, I am forced to relive the horror of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Army Public School (APS) attack which took place approximately a year ago. For the millions of Pakistanis who witnessed that attack on live television, APS is a scar that is not going to heal. I can only pray for the students at Bacha Khan and their families. Vehement protest, which perhaps is the best emotion to represent our feelings, will fall on deaf ears like the hundreds of similar protests across Pakistan following other ...

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