Stories published in July, 2016

The why, how, who and what of the Russia doping scandal

If you are a typical sports fan, who only gets his competitive kick by watching cricket and football, then I am pretty sure you wouldn’t have noticed that Russia is about to be banned from competing in the forthcoming Olympics. They haven’t been barred as yet, but all the signs are pointing toward them not being there. With approximately two weeks until the Rio Games open on August 5th, the fallout from a series of revelations of state-sponsored doping in Russian sport has caught many by surprise. It might have been a bombshell for some, but it wasn’t shocking at ...

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Finally, an ad that does not care about what a man-child might think about menstruation

Menstruation? I know what most of you are going to say: “Oh no! Run to the door! Run to the hills!” In this ‘beautiful’ society of ours, menstruation is synonymous with shame. Women and men, alike, recoil at this ‘topic’ faster than you can say “pad”. See, anything below the waistline is taboo for us Pakistanis, but have we ever thought about the side effects of having such a mind-set? Most women feel on edge when it’s that time of the month, they feel isolated, impure, and fragile. This advert might be the only one of its kind. In our local and ...

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A Whole Life: Less than 150 pages but one of the most deeply affecting books I have ever read

My favourite book of the last year was A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Despite its ironic title the novel was little in no way, far from it. At around 800 pages, it was one of the longest novels I read last year and was gargantuan in every way possible; in terms of its subject matter, its length and in terms of the depth and resonance of its character. My favourite book of this year, so far, is the exact opposite: Austrian writer Robert Seethaler’s novel, A Whole Life. Yet again, despite its ironic title, the novel runs a little ...

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Would you accept blood from a gay donor?

More than a month has passed since the Orlando shooting revealed an exploitable defect in American gun laws. What it also exposed, was a structural bias against a peaceful community that has existed for a long time. On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen – later identified as a young Muslim who was troubled by his own homosexual orientation – opened fire inside a nightclub, killing 49 innocent people. In the wake of this devastating attack, we’ve heard survivor accounts that challenge what we’ve been indoctrinated to believe regarding the alleged inhumanity of gay individuals. We’ve learned of ‘deviants’ who threw their bodies in ...

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What would a Trump presidency mean?

It’s official. Donald Trump, as of July 19, 2016, is the Republication nominee for President of the United States. How could this combo of successful businessman, womaniser, and charismatic reality show TV star edge so close to the highest office in the United States?  This same man built his 2012 presidential run by challenging Obama’s citizenship, claiming he was really a Muslim born in Kenya, he’s synonymous with the Trump University scandal, his “generous contributions” to charity, when fact checked (by the Washington Post) prove false, and he will not release his tax returns. Trump 2016 has not swallowed magic beans. ...

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What’s the point of your National Laptop Scheme if I can’t read or write, Mr PM?

The Prime Minister’s National Laptop Scheme was introduced in 2014, an expansion of a previous version by the name of the Shahbaz Sharif Youth Initiative. Four billion rupees have been allocated for the scheme and more than 100,000 laptops have been distributed through the Higher Education Commission (HEC) in colleges and HEC recognised universities. As part of phase two of the Laptop Scheme, 25,867 students were meant to receive laptops by February, 2016. But what concerns many of us is, what the return on this extraordinarily huge investment under the banner of Youth Initiatives has been so far – especially ...

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Will England’s revised bowling line-up be enough for a victory at Old Trafford?

As unbelievable and odd as it may sound initially, Pakistan have indeed beaten England at Lord’s, the Mecca of the cricketing world, and that too within the comfort of four days. Too many storylines were involved, too many controversies were fuelled by the English media and questions were asked, but Pakistan seemed to have the most fashionable of answers to everything. England vs Pakistan.Photo: AFP England were, naturally, displeased with the outcome of the much talked about encounter and were sour towards the post-match celebrations. Therefore, it can safely be assumed that England will be at their very ...

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A six-year-old’s wish: “I like Pakistan. But I hope they make it better like Canada”

 “I like Pakistan. But I hope they make it better like Canada.” These words have been haunting me for the last couple of hours, written by an ostensibly vivacious six-year-old. They speak of the intense trauma that he is currently experiencing when relating to his homeland. A child’s innocence enables him/her to create impressions that perhaps lays bare the lines of fault and pretence which envelops our vastly deceptive lives. Children often have the uncanny ability to see through the façades which we erect on impoverished realities of life, and since their hearts are yet to be tainted by the vices ...

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Dear Facebook, stop censoring Kashmir

As a Pakistani writer of Kashmiri descent, it may not be entirely possible for me to speak without prejudice; but what’s one humble blogger’s bias against an iron curtain drawn over Kashmir by powers barely within my comprehension? If you’re outside Pakistan, and not politically motivated to draw your attention towards the gruesome events unfolding in Indian-administered Kashmir, it’s likely that you’re unaware of the gravity of this matter. And you’re not entirely to blame for your ignorance. You could be a hearing-impaired, computer-illiterate villager in Irkutsk, Russia, and you haven’t managed to keep yourself from finding out about a deadly rampage ...

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Would justice be served if Waseem is eventually executed? Maybe, not.

One of Qandeel Baloch’s most important legacies will remain her defiant and glamorous take down of patriarchy through her bold and feisty performances. In the aftermath of her brutal murder, there has been renewed debate around the law against honour killing and its intersection with the laws of Qisas and Diyat. Many Pakistanis are deeply concerned about laws that bypass legal process for a problematic and potentially arbitrary settlement (and that too) for the most heinous of all crimes – murder or a murder for honour. Even more so, people are concerned that this case will hit trial, will end ...

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