Stories published in December, 2016

Presenting, Pakistan’s Social Media Awards for 2016!

Nobody does crazy like Pakistan. In 2016, the world lost their collective cool and Pakistan was put on the crazy back burner. But that does not mean we didn’t have our moments. It is time to acknowledge those moments. The strangest out of all the weird stories, the most real-fake news, as well as the funniest – let’s honour the best. Presenting, the Social Media Awards for 2016! From sacrificing goats before flying planes to kabootar agents, from stationary dharnas to mankind’s angels, from chai walas to Momina; these are my favourite stories from last year. The time for politics is over; we are in the age of the celebrity – Donald Trump is president. The victor of the 2018 ...

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Has Prime Minister Malala Yousafzai done what her predecessor Nawaz Sharif could not?

It is said that in darkness, there’s light, and in every challenge, an opportunity. And who knows it better than us who once made the headline as “Pakistan: The Most Dangerous?” in a provocative cover story of Newsweek a decade ago. The same news magazine has now called Pakistan “A Country with Hope and a Future” in its recent issue citing that the country has much to offer as a potential model for Islamic renaissance and praised the leadership of its newly elected Prime Minister, Malala Yousafzai, who, according to its editorial “has been repairing the sinking ship with correct tools”. From bullets ...

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Can ‘Arrival’ live up to its hype?

From the creative mind of Denis Villeneuve that brought you Enemy (2013) and last year’s crime-thriller Sicario (2015), here comes a new sci-fi film, Arrival. When a mysterious spacecraft touches down across the globe, an elite team, led by expert linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams), are brought together to investigate. Joining the cast along Adams are Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker. Amy Adams in Arrival (2016).Photo: IMDb As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and her team race against time for answers. However, to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly be the end of  humanity. Amy Adams and ...

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As her doctor, could I have done more?

My ER shift started in chaos. “Does it have something to do with today being Friday the 13th?” I wondered, although not really being all that superstitious. I knew it was just a momentary thought. On bed 13 lay Aleya, a 13-year-old previously normal and healthy girl, and the youngest of 13 siblings. To add insult to injury, she got ‘tubed’ (intubated), unsurprisingly, at 1300 hours. But I get ahead of myself, so let’s start at the beginning. For the past 13 days, Aleya had been running a ‘very high’ fever, not confirmed by a thermometer.  “Jism bahut garam tha,” (The body was really hot) said her 18-year-old brother, ...

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A Rage for Order: Painting a crucial portrait of the deeply troubled Arab uprising

Revolutions never seem to bring the happiness they promise. There was no happy conclusion in France in 1789 or Russia in 1917 and neither in Egypt or Libya or Syria in 2011. Instead, if anything, the Middle East has gone from bad – brutal dictatorships built on secret police and theft – to worse; open civil war and genocide. The year 2011 saw a revolution escalate through the Middle East as protesters demanded an end to tyranny, corruption and economic decay. From Egypt to Yemen, a generation of young Arabs insisted on a new culture of common nationality. Five years later, their utopian goals have taken on a darker ...

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When tape-ball cricket was the best kind there was

Watching the Pakistani team bat against Australia yesterday morning in the first Test match somehow made me wish every Pakistani batsman could get two chances to bat in each inning. The thought, although impractical, opened the doors to my childhood memories when I used to play tape ball or ‘kirmich’ ball (as we used to call it) cricket quite regularly. This is how we played; if one team was a player short, a batsman from that team was allowed to bat twice. This is so far from the real world of cricket and yet many good hard-ball cricketers give credit for their success to this ...

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Have Muslim countries failed its women due to religious orthodoxy?

A few months ago, when Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy won her Oscar, I got into a heated argument with one of my friends. His contention was that people like her were ‘maligning’ the image of Pakistan by unnecessarily inflating some isolated incidents. In his opinion, her efforts were just creating negative stereotypical images of Pakistan and which made ‘enemies’ of Pakistan feel comfortable in their hate. In his opinion, Pakistan’s gender related issues were not systemic and were blown out of proportion. “It is just a tiny minority which is indulging in honour killings and it is unfair to present Pakistan in such a negative light”, he argued. Is he ...

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Brawl in the susral: Is Faryal Makhdoom really as innocent as she claims to be?

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen! And welcome to the main event; the fifth monthly featherweight bout between the susral and the bahu for the Pakistani masses. We’d like to thanks our judges for tonight; social media, bad journalism and you! The people-with-nothing-better-to-do! The stakes have never been higher! The winner of this match will receive a tea-cup full of sasti shaurat (cheap fame) and absolutely no title belt what so ever, because this is not important! Now, introducing first: In the red corner, we have the upholder of moral values, the traditional immigrant sob-story, the clean, the mean, the Khan ...

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Unfinished memories

The candles in the room remain un-blown, The crevices on the bed still untouched, By the morning due, unknown, The fists still in pain, unclutched. The walls of the baby’s room still unfinished, The toys still placed on the corner, diminished, Papers on the table top still wet with tears, The wind still screams in all its fears. The air in the atmosphere seems uncomfortable, grasping, With all its might to make some sense of the situation that might just not be, What could have been, still shadows over the eternal debate between reality and death. The paint in the room still, unfinished, reminds them of all they gave up, All they sacrificed for the loved one ...

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Why America is the greatest Islamic Caliphate there exists

Last Friday, Maulvi Sahab again said that God’s wrath is soon going to descend on the United States of America (USA) and the Muslim World will rise again. Although these are two entirely different things – fall of America and rise of Muslims more so the Asian Muslims – quite unrelated; nevertheless, he bundled them together as is the understanding in the entire Muslim world these days. So far so good. For the last 30 years of my life in Kashmir, I have often heard this prediction being made by “God’s own middlemen” that this Islamophobic, zionist, kafir America will ...

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