Stories published in June, 2016

Why conditional state funding of madrassas can be a sound policy move

A heated debate has ensued over the allocation of PKR 300 million to Darul Uloom Haqqania by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government in the 2016-17 budget announced recently. The critics view this as a reward for a seminary that is notorious for its regressive world view and alleged support for violent extremism that earned it the title of ‘University of Jihad’ from Washington Post. Yet, there are plenty of reasons why conditional funding of madrassas, if pursued with caution, can be a prudent policy move by the provincial government to tackle religious extremism.   It is important to remember here that ...

Read Full Post

Please don’t let the world say ‘I told you so’, Britain!

I have a British passport and I’m a UK trained Chartered Accountant, having worked in the city of London for over a decade – which some would think means I am slightly better placed than many others to understand the implications of Brexit. However, it’s too early for anyone to predict the socio-economic implications. I can say though, with quite some certainty, that at least in the short term the fallout is going to have far reaching implications. Waking up this morning to Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is beginning to take on Black Friday like proportions. Every social media ...

Read Full Post

I had to wait over a year for a journalist visa to India

May 5, 2016 On the phone, the clerk is confused. “I’m calling about my visa status,” I tell him, and he asks a standard question – “When did you submit the application?” “May 5, 2015,” I say, reciting the date American-style. He pauses as though he’s only heard the first part. In the silence, I can almost hear him thinking, “May 5th? But that’s today.” It’s not. I applied for a journalist visa from the Indian government one year ago. The consulate in my hometown, Chicago, has gone from estimating a two week wait to one month, then three months to no particular date. The latest ...

Read Full Post

UK voted to leave the European Union: Now what?

On June 23, 2016, the United Kingdom voted by a majority of over a million votes to exit the European Union (EU). The Brexit, as it has been called, has a number of implications for the economics and politics of not only the UK and the region, but also the world over. Firstly, the results of the referendum are unbinding, meaning they are not compulsory for the government to follow. However, having said that, it is very unlikely that the British government will not follow through on it. The key question is how the exit happens. For the exit to happen, Article ...

Read Full Post

I fell in love with cricket because of our legendary fast bowlers

Fast bowling is obsolete now. This phrase is difficult to comprehend for every cricket enthusiast of my generation. Honestly, it was the deadly fast bowlers of our country that made us fall in love with the beautiful game of cricket, in the first place. No doubt fast bowling has always been Pakistan’s trump card. We had the best pace attack in the history of cricket spearheaded by the great Imran Khan in the 80s, Wasim Akram-Waqar Younis in the 90s and the speed star Shoaib Akhtar in early 2000s. This trio was one of the most celebrated lots of fast bowlers in the history of the game. ...

Read Full Post

RuPaul’s Drag Race: Paving the way for the queens

While Alisha, a transgender woman, battled for her life in a hospital in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), two drag queens, a world away, were lip-synching for their lives on RuPaul’s Drag Race. The show, which has now become a favourite amongst the masses, pits 12 drag queens against each other in a reality show format, where they must complete challenges in order to win a myriad of prizes which include: $100,000 in prize money, a one-year supply of Anastasia Beverly Hills cosmetics and the title of ‘America’s next drag superstar’. RuPauls Drag Race cast.Photo: Brandon Voss The television series offers obvious entertainment, a ...

Read Full Post

Is Imran Khan endorsing and financing an institution that officially supports the Afghan Taliban?

For those as yet unaware of the legend, Darul Uloom Haqqania is a large religious seminary located in Akora Khattak in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). It was founded in 1947 by Maulana Abdul Haq, a prominent scholar of Hadith who had trained at the Darul Uloom Deoband, the centre of Deobandi Islam in undivided India. It remained, till the start of the Afghan-Soviet war, a somewhat respectable institution that stayed away from politics and controversy. The students and administration of the seminary even played an important role in ensuring security and safety for the engineers and labour crews of the massive Karakoram Highway project. ...

Read Full Post

It’s good to be back…

There are expats and then there are people like me, returnees. I’m going to take a literary liberty – without meaning to offend any intellectuals – and call myself an ‘inpat’. I think people like me deserve a special made-up name. Mine is a story like many others. I went to London 25 years ago to study and it took me that long to return. Not because I was particularly dumb and took 25 years to finish my education, but because the rat race rollercoaster of life took over. To cut a long story short, after 13 years in London ...

Read Full Post

I can sing today because Amjad bhai told me I can

I never knew it would come down to this; me writing about how Amjad Sabri changed me. What sort of a man was he? Everyone has pictures with him. Everyone seems to know him personally. Every second politician has something to say. His death has made even those talk who were never fans; those who never considered him an A-lister. As a boy who grew up in the cultural milieu of Sadaat-e-Amroha, I would go to our community centre every year to witness Amjad Sabri perform for the Urs of Hussain Sharafuddin Shahwilayat. I had never been exposed to qawwali this ...

Read Full Post

What’s so obscene about QMobile’s ad, Pakistan?

QMobile recently made an ad that has everyone in Pakistan talking about it. Strangely enough, mostly for good reasons this time. The ad is about a girl called Sara who wishes to pursue her dreams of playing cricket. Like many in our society who feel a girl’s place should be at home, Sara’s father refuses to support her and says “ladkiyan cricket nahin khelti” (girls don’t play cricket) making it clear that cricket is a “man’s” sport. To this day, potential in-laws look for an educated girl to wed their son, so that she can be domesticated as a homemaker. No ...

Read Full Post