Stories published in December, 2016

From jahaiz to chuchak: The burden of having a daughter in the Subcontinent

“A female was burnt for not bringing adequate dowry.” “My three sisters and I are still unmarried because our father cannot afford to provide us sufficient dowry.” “My father died of a heart attack because my sister’s in-laws broke off a three-year engagement when my parents could not fulfil their dowry demands.” Dowry, jahaiz in Urdu, is a tradition in Pakistan and India that has ruined numerous relationships and marriages. Parents borrow staggering amounts of loans just to satisfy the greed of their daughter’s in-laws and to ensure that she is not taunted after marriage. As evil as this tradition may be, almost all families, irrespective of ...

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Why are you silent on the amnesty bill for property sector thieves, Imran Khan?

It has finally happened. For the past five months, our government strongly resisted pressure from property sector players to grant them amnesty to retain stolen money. This week, the National Assembly – composed mainly of crooks – approved a bill which will enable these thieves to whiten their black money by paying back only 3% of the amount that they have looted from the nation. Property investors and builders are jubilant. This scheme allows them to whiten seven trillion rupees instantly, while paying a piddling amount to the exchequer. Prices of their plots, bungalows and apartments will undergo a phenomenal increase, making it impossible ...

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Nutshell: In the mind of an unborn foetus

There is nothing quite like the fictions of Ian McEwan in British literature. Though quintessentially ‘English’ in essence, his books are rendered unique, by the shocking precision of language, the wonderful economy of the prose and his macabre explorations of uncharted territories. McEwan’s books are boundless in their depth and beauty, baffling and oblique, and even mystifying in craft, narrative and technique. And though, some of his recent books have been unfortunate missteps, with Nutshell, his latest book, he evokes the haunting resonance and shimmying splendor of his earlier novels such as Enduring Love, Saturday and Atonement. Nutshell is an intelligent and compelling novel that uses Hamlet’s plot as a backdrop and ...

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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

The alarm bells were not ringing in the desert heat; they were, in fact, ringing aloud in the immediate aftermath of the Pakistan team’s recent achievement; drawing the Test series 2-2 in England. On the back of a resounding victory at the Oval, Mickey Arthur stated that the plan that won Pakistan that Test was, in fact, a plan that Pakistan would adopt moving forward and is seen as the long term solution for the batting line-up. But did it really win us with that Test? After much deliberation, when Arthur was appointed, it was seen as a step in the right direction to modernise ...

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Why was this Christian boy beaten for drinking water from a mosque?

News and images of Pakistani Christians being beaten up or being wrongly prosecuted are not surprising for the Pakistani public, especially since Pakistan ranks number six on the Open Doors World Watch List for Christian prosecution. Verily, one cannot turn a blind eye to such violence when it takes place so often. With the growing intolerance rate in Pakistan, many members belonging to minority groups continue to pay the price for acts they don’t even know constitute as crimes. And, realistically, they aren’t. A couple of days ago, a Christian boy was shown to be brutally beaten up in a video ...

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Water shortage: How long will Balochistan have to suffer?

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Balochistan is the most fragile province in Pakistan. Its fragility is further exacerbated by multiple conflicts – sectarian militancy, ethnic fault lines, violence, extremism, corruption and lack of development which widely plague the province. Though the root causes of turmoil in Balochistan are complex, after reflecting on my visit to the province, I have narrowed the factors down to three underlying causes: corruption, mis-governance and neglect. The most serious crisis Balochistan is facing at the moment is a water shortage of a catastrophic level. The province is situated in an arid zone that experiences lower levels of rainfall. ...

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It’s the 21st century, don’t expect a pat on the back for allowing women to drive, Saudi Arabia

Having lived in Saudi Arabia and seen first-hand the difficulties of women not being allowed to drive, it was such a relief to see a member of the Saudi royalty adding some common sense to an already absurd situation. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a quagmire of sorts in an ultra-conservative kingdom, tweeted that it was time to let women drive. Economic necessity demanded it. According to the prince, it was too costly to keep drivers and too inefficient to let men leave their offices to drive women round. كفى نقاش: حان وقت قيادة المرأة للسيارةhttps://t.co/BBgyF8i1Gs Stop the debate: Time for women to drivehttps://t.co/6KAniFa4BT — الوليد بن طلال ...

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Why is the Bangladeshi or Indian narrative the only acceptable narrative for 1971?

The year 2016 is ending on a somewhat positive note for Pakistan with a lower number of terror-related casualties compared to 2015. Yet there is one date that always affects Pakistanis aware of the 1971 partition of East (now Bangladesh) and West Pakistan. That date is the December 16th. December 16th is marked as Victory Day in Bangladesh, signifying not only its independence from West Pakistan (now Pakistan), but also its apparent victory over the Pakistani military. On this day every year, social media, not only in Pakistan and Bangladesh, but also in neighbouring India is abuzz with different narratives, opinions, and sentiments. #16December A historical day for India, the Day ...

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How ‘mastani’ is this biryani?

The king of South Asian cuisine and a universal crowd pleaser, the versatile biryani, needs no introduction. It’s rich, it’s royal and it’s right up everyone’s alley. Eat it today or a day later, with raita or kachoomar, during winter or in summer, your love for biryani will be the only constant that will stand the test of time and taste. It’s a no brainer then that countless eateries and stalls have risen to meet the unparalleled demand for this revered rice dish. From Hyderabad to Bombay, Lucknow to Sindh, the quest for the best biryani has sent many biryani ...

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Why PML-N is right to propose the 24th amendment

Right now, all eyes are on the Supreme Court where the future of the present prime minister is being decided. Although it is difficult to predict what the honourable court will decide, implications of an unfavourable decision would be far reaching, not only for Nawaz Sharif, but also for the political trajectory of Pakistan. Cognisant of the possibility of an adverse decision, the Nawaz government has started to take precautionary steps, one of which is the constitutional amendment which proposes a right to appeal against an order of the Supreme Court. The proposed amendment also stipulates that the appeal “shall ...

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