Stories published in January, 2016

With US sanctions lifted, can Iran become the next economic superpower in the Middle East?

The 61 years of diplomatic relations between Iran and the United States have almost always been problematic. Iran’s mistrust dates back to the joint US-British intelligence design of 1953, aimed at overthrowing Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq, whose goal to liberate Iran’s oil industry from British colonial rule delivered a death blow to Western economic interests. The Iranian Revolution of 1979 spurred nearly a decade of hostile anti-American sentiment, and since 1995, the United States has placed various sanctions to restrict Iran from practicing economic, scientific and military trade with major global powers. Since 2006, the United States and Israel have ...

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Mommy: A whirlwind of emotion

Mommy is the fifth film written and directed by the ever talented Québécois filmmaker Xavier Dolan. The film won the Cannes Jury prize in 2014 and received a wide release last year. And yet again, his skills as a storyteller just leave me at loss for words. Anne Dorval plays the role of Diane Després, a widowed mother who now has to raise her troubled son Steve (Antoine Olivier Pilon) on her own. Along the way, Després is aided by her neighbour Kyla (Suzanne Clément) and together, they all form a special bond. Shot in rare 1:1 aspect ratio, Mommy projects an ...

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Pervez Musharraf killed my grandfather

On March 17, 2005, bombs were dropped at my ancestral house in Dera Bugti on Pervez Musharraf’s orders. My grandfather, Nawab Akbar Bugti, and my father, Jamil Akbar Bugti, were in a tin roof bungalow within the perimeters of our living quarters. They felt the ground under their feet shake for four hours and then decided to flee. Whenever my father recounts the story, he ardently says, “We didn’t want to make it easy for them to kill us. We refused to be sitting ducks”. As they headed to the hills, a string of bombs followed their footsteps. They were tracking my grandfather’s movements throughout. ...

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Is Spike Lee’s film, Chi-raq, a hit or miss?

Chi-raq (2015) is a modern day adaptation of the ancient Greek play, Lysistrata, by Aristophanes. It is set against the backdrop of a city riddled with gang violence and showcases innocent civilians getting caught in the crossfire. Up until one day, when an incident involving a young girl’s death ultimately leads Lysistrata (Teyonah Parris) and all the women of the city to withhold sex from their men until peace is attained. Chi-raq is a difficult film to recommend, mainly because I’m not sure which demographic Spike Lee was aiming for. It’s a very admirable film with a powerful message and boasts of great performances all around, ...

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Islamabad, as never seen before

Here I take you through a visual journey of Islamabad never seen before. For some of these photos I have had to go to Margalla hills and then hike just to capture the sunrise. On a clear day with some clouds the views of sunrise and sunset are stunning. Colorful sunrise view from Loh-e-Dandi / Photo: Sher Ali Photography View Towards Faizabad interchange from Zero point, Islamabad after rain / Photo: Sher Ali Photography Witnessing the sunrise from Margalla hills / Photo: Sher Ali Photography View towards ...

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Saudi Arabia and Iran need to show the same level of political maturity as Pakistan

Saudi Arabia’s decision to severe its diplomatic ties with Iran were ill timed, especially because the world is witnessing a growing escalation of conflict in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Instead of working closely on solving the crisis in the Middle East, they have only managed to strengthen the hands of all those forces that don’t want to see peace in the region. Furthermore, this will embolden terror outfits such as ISIS, who will readily take advantage in the already febrile region. With the recent detente between the United States and Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iran could have grabbed the opportunity ...

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She lost herself in the wor(l)d of Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway died by scratching an itch on the back of his head with the bullet of a shotgun that left a hole in his cranium. That always intrigued her in some odd way. “It takes courage,” she would say, “to do something that irrational.” “It’s cowardice,” I’d say and she’d give me a look that showed that she respected what I’d said, but was sure that I was wrong. We were too young at the time to understand anything Hemingway had to offer. His voyage through life was sort of mystical to her, but to me he was just another ...

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So you think cinnamon cream-cheese rolls are difficult to make?

I had just gotten done with my exams, on an endless rainy morning ,when I came across the idea of cinnamon cream-cheese rolls on Pinterest. I saw the lovely photos and decided that I had to make this right away! This is the perfect thing for a lazy weekend breakfast because it is easy and quick to make, and tastes absolutely great as well. My rolls don’t resemble perfectly smooth roll-ups, because the bread that I used didn’t have exact square pieces, therefore I had to improvise by trying to trim the crust off neatly. I failed miserably and somehow forgot to dip the ...

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Match-fixing in tennis: Et tu, Brute?

Just when Mohammad Amir was allowed to bowl for the first time after a lengthy ban of five years, another match-fixing controversy arose in the sports world. This time around it was in the world of tennis. The tennis world was ready for the first Grand Slam of the year in Melbourne and most of the players were done with their first round of matches when BBC ran a shocking headline. BBC and BuzzFeed news have been investigating corruption cases in tennis for quite some time. Today they have claimed that they could expose widespread match-fixing cases against players in the ...

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Did Nawaz Sharif just wake up to honour killings in Pakistan?

When it comes to the barrage of crimes against women, Pakistan ranks among the highest in the world. Such crimes against women include violence (sexual and non-sexual), trafficking and murder in the name of “honour”. While no crime is worse than the other, the regularity with which honour killings occur in Pakistan is especially harrowing. As a matter of fact, more than 1,000 women die from honour-based killings every year. These are just the reported cases. Think about how far the number would jump up considering the fact that most of the cases of violence against women go undocumented. Despite the uniformity of these crimes, ...

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