Stories published in September, 2016

In the Skin of a Jihadist: Investigative journalism gone wrong

In the Skin of a Jihadist is a book about a young French journalist’s fascinating look at how contemporary terrorists use social media and technology to reach disillusioned youth. This is witnessed through the undercover investigation that led to the journalist’s deep involvement with a key member of ISIS. On Facebook, Melodie – a 20-year-old convert to Islam, living with her mother and sister in Toulouse – meets Bilel, a French-born, high-ranking militant for the Islamic State in Syria. Within days, Bilel falls in love with Melodie, they Skype repeatedly, and he adamantly urges her to come to Syria, marry him, and take part in jihad. ...

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Is it necessary for animal sacrifice to take place in homes?

The year was 1348. A mysterious disease broke out, killing up to 60% of the people of Europe. It is estimated that a third of the world’s population had succumbed to the disease. Some estimates are that more than a 100 million people perished. The disease was called the Black Death, which was caused by the bites of fleas carrying the microbe from infected rats to humans. The plague was so lethal that those who came in contact with the sick were themselves infected and died within a few days. According to those who survived, citizens avoided one another, neighbours stopped talking to each ...

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Should school administrators be allowed to harass students over non-payment of fees?

While winding up the lesson, the teacher turned towards the clock to check the time – there were 20 minutes remaining. Opting for a pop quiz, he asked everyone to take out a rough sheet of paper. One of the students eagerly did so – for history was her favourite subject – but as she scribbled the answer ‘Treaty of Versailles’ to the question asked by the teacher, she saw terror approaching from the corner of her eyes. She heard the dreaded words, “Please step outside and bring your diary along.” And quietly moved toward the door while all the students stared ...

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If you want a job in British banking, you must get rid of your brown shoes

Britain’s love for tradition is well known. From retaining the monarchy, even if just as a very expensive figurehead, to maintaining an all-white dress code during Wimbledon, Britain manages to hold on to some of its cherished traditions in an otherwise fast changing world. Test cricket still enjoys primacy in England, even as the rest of the world has embraced T20. Evening tea, the Royal Ascot horse race, the Queen’s Guard, and the iconic black taxis in London are part of a long list of lovable traditions that endure. While these are traditions that are usually seen in a positive light, ...

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Paralympics 2016 – Beside and beyond

Para-   (parə/), prefix.     Beside; Beyond. For me personally, the Paralympic Games, that kickstarted last week on Wednesday, promise to be an even greater celebration of sporting excellence than the Olympics itself. Brazilian Paralympic swimmer Clodoaldo Silva lights the flame during the opening ceremony at 2016 Rio Paralympics.Photo: Reuters The event as the name suggests takes place ‘beside’ the Olympic Games, but as far as I am concerned it goes ‘beyond’ them, considering what the particular group of participating athletes achieve during the course of this quadrennial contest. With the sort of world we live in, the Paralympians, ...

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An open letter to bakra mandi owners

Dear bakra mandi owners,  This letter is to express my absolute stupefaction over your outrageous, albeit devious, marketing tactics, yet again, at Eidul Azha this year. The prices of goats and cows have escalated to a level that is beyond the financial capacity of the middle class group to afford. Even the lower upper class is having second thoughts about fulfilling this necessary religious obligation. More and more people are forced to take shares in cows. For me, as well as for millions of other like me, I’m sure, taking shares in cows is extremely embarrassing because it openly screams of the fact that I ...

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Can Muhammad Masood Khan change anything for Azad Jammu & Kashmir?

This summer’s protests in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IOK) have been the most sustained, violent and aggressive since 2010. They have magnified the urgency with which both India and Pakistan need to resolve this issue once and for all before Kashmir becomes nothing more than a metonym for mass graveyard. It is imperative that a solution be found. Hopefully, Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK)’s recently elected president has the answer. On August 6, 2016 Muhammad Masood Khan secured 42 votes defeating Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Chaudhry Latif Akbar who only managed to take six votes. The 23rd President hails from the AJK’s Rawlakot area. He succeeds Sardar Muhammad Yaqoob Khan. There ...

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Don’t touch my bakra!

Eidul Azha is probably one of our most anticipated holidays in the yearly calendar. Depending on one’s inclination, people normally plan for this religious duty months in advance. Its popularity is also due to the high level of interest that children take in the festivities and it would not be incorrect to say that it is more of children’s Eid than ours. Personally, I am not inclined towards it – I guess the sight of animal blood, urine and faeces all over our cityscape is not very appealing to me and we have our efficient government to thank for this. We have had roughly 69 Eids ...

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What’s for lunch this Eid? Biryani, chapli kabab and kulfi

My childhood memories associated with Eidul Azha are still very clear. I was raised in a joint family household, so just imagine around a dozen people, including young boys, trying to get to the congregational Eid prayer on time. I miss that chaos, the preparations, and the presence of various butchers sharpening their knives, while all the children would surround them in anticipation. The girls, including myself, would get ready and watch the qurbani, all the while helping our mothers in the kitchen. Laying the table, taking out the fancy china in the rooms filled with air soaked in the appetising smell of butter ...

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India must remember that Balochistan is not Bangladesh

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day Speech on August 15, 2016 raised the issue of Pakistan’s human rights violations in Balochistan. This has brought a new excitement in New Delhi, particularly among the right wing commentators as if India has finally found a solution to the Kashmir issue. Since the death of a charismatic militant Burhan Wani in the hands of the security agencies on July 8, 2016, Kashmir is witnessing unprecedented violent protest. Modi and his advisors hope that Kashmir unrest will come to an end if India starts spreading the fire in Balochistan. If Modi and his advisors really believe that the Balochistan threat will dissuade Pakistani ...

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