Stories published in August, 2016

Pakistan, I am of you, from you, and no matter where I am, inseparable from you

Once when I was six years old I sneaked out of my grandmother’s house in Lahore’s old Mozang neighbourhood and headed for the nearby Mozang Bazaar, a large market of red-brick shops over a hundred years old. The shops there fascinated me to no end and I was determined to discover kites – my main attraction – of every shape and size. Getting there was no problem as my grandmother’s laane ended in the bazaar itself. Once there though, I lost track of time and my curiosity led me to explore the entire bazaar. At some point I realised I was lost. ...

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Dear Diary, maybe someday I will look back and wonder – if only

Present day The old man sat down on his chair and flipped opened the diary he had found in the storage room. It was dusty. He focused his gaze on the first page and started to read. January 3, 2000 Dear Diary, I woke up at 6:30 this morning, as I had planned. It was a little early, but this way I could leave for school while Abu was asleep. My new cricket kit is beautiful, although I do think I might have paid too much for it. It’s also pretty hard to disguise it from Ami’s CCTV eyes when I am leaving ...

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A common Pakistani’s response to Happy Bhag Jayegi director’s open letter

Mr Mudassir Aziz, Proud Indian, Director of Happy Bhag Jayegi. Dear Mr Mudassir Aziz, I just read your open letter to Pakistan on The Quint regarding the unfortunate ban on your film Happy Bhag Jayegi in Pakistan. I am not the person in charge but merely a common Pakistani, for whose benefit you want to get the film unbanned. Let me say at the outset, that having successfully fought against the YouTube ban as a lawyer in the Lahore High Court, I am absolutely opposed to censorship of any kind. I believe any speech, no matter how offensive, should be allowed unconditionally. I recognise that this ...

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Chitral’s natural beauty can stun anyone into silence

When I was going to Chitral to cover the aftermath of the Shandur Polo Festival 2016, I had no idea what the region had in store for me. When you have space for one story from a region that is generally under-represented, it is inevitable that the most appalling one wins placement. There is so much more to Chitral than just forced marriages and floods. Whether you are strolling in a bazaar or sitting on a hill overlooking Tirich Mir from the royal abode of the mehtar, the city and its people will force you to extend your trip. The ...

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Afghanistan-Pakistan-India: A Paradigm Shift: Understanding South Asia from the eyes of an ambassador

When a serving ambassador writes a book, it reflects not only an individual’s observations, but also mirrors the larger thought of the government or the country that he represents. Shaida Mohammad Abdali, the Afghan ambassador in India, is a rare breed of a diplomat, who has tried to delve into topical issues affecting South Asia. His book, Afghanistan-Pakistan-India: A Paradigm Shift, is an attempt to enter the terrain which occupies the mind space of many. However, not many understand the trajectories of the territory. The book comes at a time when tensions between India and Pakistan are high. Both countries are also ...

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Can Baar Baar Dekho make it big?

Sidharth Malhotra (Jai) and Katrina Kaif (Diya) are starring together in a seemingly fun-loving movie; Baar Baar Dekho. But it’s not just the duo that has us anxiously waiting for the movie to hit the cinemas. The film has already generated a lot of hype with the release of its song Kala Chashma. Its lyrics and catchy tune have made it a super hit, along with Sidharth and Katrina’s groovy dance steps. The movie has a feel good vibe. Jai and Diya are seen falling in love and planning their future. Jai thinks life is a simple equation – according to him, “Jai plus Diya equals to ...

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You should know your nikkah nama before signing it

As we approach a certain age (that age varying upon a variety of factors) we are faced with the prospect of marriage. It is a natural part of our lives and marriage is, at least to me, one of the very sacred bonds we share with another person. To marry someone is to promise lifelong companionship for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. It is and should be considered as a journey you take with your significant other. Like all journeys, it must start somewhere and in the case of Muslims all over Pakistan, it starts when the man ...

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Omran thought it was just a game…

Perhaps they were playing the Street Sniper game. It was all the rage among the kids in Aleppo. Or they could have been playing the Hand Grenade Saga. He must have understood the game in bits and pieces, following his older siblings around the house. Maybe he hid under the sink or behind the door on the terrace. He must have covered his ears, anticipating the sound that his brother made while imitating a bomb blast. But the sound that came next…..was not the fake sound. It was so real, it shattered all windows on impact. Somewhere inside the house, he hid behind the door ...

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Pakistan’s unfortunate Olympics journey

The summer Olympic Games finished after 16 days of festivity and competition in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Two hundred and five participating nations competed in 306 events and 86 countries and two independent athletes won at least one medal.  Unfortunately, but as expected, Pakistan did not appear on the winning stand – just as they hadn’t in the previous six Olympics, stretching the medal drought to 24 years. To add insult to injury, it can be pointed out that once again, Pakistan remains the most populated nation on earth not to win any medal in the Olympics. Ironically, the day following the wrap of the ...

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The English language is dying and we are the ones slitting its throat

Language shapes the way we think. It’s a system of investigation of reality, and control of reality. Today, so many of us live for language. It is our mode of communication, words are how we express what we mean, want, and desire. Actions do not speak louder. Words are direct, and distinct. But what happens when they aren’t anymore? What happens when words begin to diminish into abbreviations and sentences into acronyms? People blame the millennials, they always do. But this hasn’t solely plagued our generation. I was re-reading George Orwell’s 1984 for a class last semester. I realised that in the world of ...

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