Stories published in March, 2016

Why is it such a big deal that Afridi thanked the people of Kashmir for their support, India?

During my visit to Azad Kashmir, I came across a truck on the road that was unusually bereft of any truck art; it’s exterior was all plain apart from a few words boldly painted at the back, clearly stating “Boom boom Afridi”. It proudly exhibited the truck owner’s love for the Pakistani cricket player, Shahid Afridi. This immediately reminded me of the first scene from the Bollywood film ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ , showcasing Pakistan’s side Kashmiris cheering for Team Green, a lady among them who was even willing to name her new born after Afridi. On the Pakistan cricket team’s ...

Read Full Post

They chose to ‘mourn’ a murderer by storming Parliament and destroying public property

The last megalomaniac, who stood outside parliament in an attempt to take down the government, showed he still has a shred of compassion for his countrymen when he gave up his campaign in the face of a horrible terrorist attack committed by a religion-inspired group of sadists. On Sunday, hours after the same group of sadists murdered more of our brethren, like-minded people descended on Islamabad. But unlike their politician predecessor, these people have shown they are not here for blood. Their charter of demands literally calls for killing people. And between the lines, it calls for purging innocent people who disagree with their desire to retreat to ...

Read Full Post

He named her Angel

I named her Angel and she looked the part too. After four rowdy boys, my wife and I had prayed for a girl. I was blessed, fathering four sons or at least that is what everyone told me. However, the Easter of 2011 brought with it the true tidings of joy and blessings for me, when my Angel was born. I have recorded every moment, every toothless smile, every shaky step and all first mumbles from her beautiful mouth. I have watched her sleep, memorising the details of her innocent face and I have stayed up with my wife ...

Read Full Post

How many more of God’s children will die in the name of God?

Aaj kay naam, aur aaj kay gham kay naam Aaj ka gham kay hay zindagi kay bharay Gulistan say khafa Zard paaton ka band jo mera des hay Dard kee anjuman jo mera des hay Un dukhi maon kay naam  (To, this day and to its sorrows, To the day’s sorrows, cross with life’s overflowing garden, The thicket of yellowing leaves, This thicket of dying leaves that is my land, This assembly of anguish that is my land.) (Intisaab by Faiz Ahmad Faiz, translation by Mustansir Dalvi) The first time a person strapped on a bomb and stood in the middle of a public place and ...

Read Full Post

Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton: The election no one wants

In this most bizarre of presidential election cycles, every day seems to bring another jaw-dropping development. This year’s presidential race could come down to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Both are despicable and horrifying choices to lead United States. To vote between them is to play the worst game of “eenie, meenie, minie, moe” imaginable. It is to choose between the third or fifth circle in Dante’s inferno, between Applebee’s and Chili’s, between socialism and communism—choose your own painful analogy, but you get the point. You will pick the less painful of two poisons. Do you pick the war monger who has lied about some of the ...

Read Full Post

Let them fight

As a feminist, I never thought I’d feel sorry for Junaid Jamshed. Yet here I am, feeling unhappy that he was physically assaulted at Islamabad airport by short bearded men, who comically enough, looked like they should have been carrying the ring to Mordor, instead of shouting at the pop-star-turned-preacher in loud nasally voices, “Gustakh-e-Rasool!” (blasphemy!) It is almost as if someone had decided to take up a particularly difficult challenge. Man 1: “I bet you can’t make the public feel sympathy towards Junaid Jamshed.” Man 2: “What? Junaid ‘women can’t drive’ Jamshed?” Man 1: “Yes, no one likes him.” Man 2: “CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!” Let’s be frank. ...

Read Full Post

How do you stop a man who wants to kill children so much he is willing to die for it?

In a broken down house in some sleepy part of Lahore, a man woke up knowing it was the very last time he was ever doing so. Perhaps he watched the sun rise one final time, perhaps overwhelmed by its beauty for a few seconds he doubted himself. Perhaps he wondered how many people will miss him, perhaps he looked forward to what he was promised after death, perhaps he was just tired. We don’t know anything about him, not his identity nor his dreams, ambitions, fears and above all his demons. We don’t know who he left behind; a ...

Read Full Post

Attack on Junaid Jamshed: Where does the Quran state we should abuse and humiliate others?

Our country has seen so many lows in the past few years that good news, in any form, is hard to digest and celebrate. Having said that, we all have to admit that the last two months have been good for Pakistan. It started off with the Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act 2016, which is a massive milestone for the country in general and women in particular. Then came the news about Mumtaz Qadri’s death sentence and his ultimate hanging, which strengthened my belief that the justice system, albeit the delay, might be a little transparent after all. Sharmeen ...

Read Full Post

The Divergent Series: The birth of an Allegiant leader

Since the very first Divergent book and then the movie, its fans know well that the story is about five factions of people in the city of Chicago which is surrounded by a wall separating the factions from the outside world. The much awaited third instalment of the Divergent series, Allegiant, finally shows us what is beyond the wall. Now, there are no factions, and the people of Chicago are divided by their emotions towards the prisoners; unsure whether to be merciful or outraged. The story starts with sheer irony as main characters Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James), ...

Read Full Post

Why are Lahore Fort’s walls being used as urinals?

Nations, tribes and even individuals have claims to heritage. Heritage helps us define our place in the multitude of ideas that surround us. This view, however, is simplistic and uni-directional to say the least. The notion of a collective heritage and what we hold onto in the present day and age is an iterative one. It means that along with the mighty forts, castles, mosques, literature and practices of the past, we as present day inhabitants of a place can build on the legacy from the past. This building on the past is yet another dangerous term. The experiments in this ...

Read Full Post