Stories published in January, 2017

Pakistan’s missing freedom

Salman Haider. Ahmad Waqas Goraya. Asim Saeed. Ahmed Raza Naseer. Samar Abbas. Five of Pakistan’s brightest and most outspoken social activists have disappeared.  Waqas and Asim have been missing for a week, Salman for five days, Ahmad Raza for three days and Samar Abbas went missing today. Other than CCTV footage in the case of Salman, possibly showing his kidnapping, no leads are reported on any of the other men. While journalists, human rights lawyers and activists have been kidnapped and assassinated in the past, this is the first time multiple abductions at different locations have occurred within a span of ...

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xXx: Return of Xander Cage is nothing more than a cash grab

xXx was a bad film, the sequel even more terrible. But here we are, about to receive the threequel in roughly a week’s time; Hollywood and its predictable obsession with making a franchise out of everything. Quelle surprise. xXx: Return of Xander Cage is a cash grab. It’s as simple as that. The first installment with Xander Cage as the spy was a rip roaring success at the box-office while the follow up with Ice Cube as Darius Stone, a new agent, barely broke even. So it kind of made financial sense to give it another shot with Xander Cage ...

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What is so similar about Pakistan and Turkey?

You have a neighbouring Islamic country whose government you don’t seem to like much. You would appreciate if its rulers changed. The United States of America shares the same opinion as you. They want you to help settle a few scores of their own. You collect motivated youth from around the world, all aligned in a certain sectarian direction. You provide them with military know how, modern weapons and defence strategies, in your own backyard. You send them charging to your neighbour, hoping that these motivated proxies will overthrow their government for you. While doing all this, you never calculate the ...

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Why is it so easy to kidnap a child?

Imagine going through an abusive marriage while holding up to be an inspiration to your daughter simultaneously. Imagine your three-year-old daughter, your angel, being kidnapped by your very own husband and taken away to a country across the globe. Imagine doing everything you can in your power to get her back, yet failing at every turn. Imagine living for months without hearing any news of her, without knowing if she’s okay and being taken care of. Imagine her continuously crying profusely for her mother yet you’re unable to hold her in your arms and soothe her. This is what my friend, Nadia ...

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For the love of pizza (and your tummy)

Just about everyone loves pizza. If you’re a pizza lover, chances are the phrase “too much” seldom crosses your lips, and you can but taste a world of cheesy, saucy goodness waiting to tickle your taste buds. The classic American pizza pie consists of a flat, open–faced round of bread–type dough topped with tomato sauce and cheese and any number of different toppings. Still there is a lot more to say about pizza than, “Make mine a large with mozzarella, mushrooms, and pepperoni.” Pizza comes in many forms too – that just increases its awesomeness tenfold! So you get the ...

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Serena Williams vs Madison Brengle: Who will take the Australian Open title?

On Wednesday, when Serena Williams stepped on to the court in her second round match against Madison Brengle, few could have predicted the outcome. Their only meeting prior to this match took place in Madrid back in 2015, when Williams managed a convincing 6-0 6-1 win over her opponent. Williams ranked number two in the world, lost to Brengle, ranked 72 in three sets, leaving the Auckland crowd in a shock. Serena Williams of the US celebrates after defeating Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands during their second round match at the US Open Championship tennis tournament ...

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Are our traffic wardens the only ones who need psychotherapy?

A recent news piece mentioned traffic wardens in Lahore being given psychotherapy sessions in light of their unruly behaviour. It appears to be a good move on the surface, but is it only the traffic wardens who need these sessions? If one makes a list of the most disliked authority figures in Pakistan, it would have traffic wardens at the very top. This is not a phenomenon that is common to a select few – it is much bigger than that. I remember growing up in Lahore, and learning to drive. Every now and then when I would be out with a group of friends (before ...

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And they will say, ‘Remember what happened to Naila’

She hailed from Qambar Shahdadkot, where the literacy rate is 44%, according to a report published in 2012. She came from an area where only 33% of the female population has completed higher education. Against all odds, she left her hometown and enrolled herself in the Sindhi Department at the University of Sindh, Jamshoro, to continue her studies. Currently in her final year, Naila Rind was not just an average student; she was an award winning student in her Masters class. Naila had returned early from her hometown during her winter vacations in order to work on her final year thesis, which was due on ...

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Could Nocturnal Animals be the best film of 2016?

Nocturnal Animals is a haunting romantic thriller that explores three different stories; the past, the present and the fictional. Amy Adams plays the role of an artist who is now in the process of re-evaluating her life. She then receives a present from her ex-husband Jake Gyllenhaal; a manual script from his soon to be published novel. The film then indulges in shocking intimacy and gripping tension that explores the thin lines between love and cruelty, and revenge and redemption. Nocturnal Animals has been directed by Tom Ford, a fashion designer turned filmmaker whose talents also include his previous film A Single Man (2009). But after seven years ...

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Lessons from Islamic history: The Mutazila and Ibn Hanbal

By the time the ninth century began, the Abbasid Caliphate had completed its construction of the new capital Baghdad. Within a few decades, the city became a major centre for science, art, and agriculture. The works of Plato and Aristotle were translated into Arabic and local philosophers built on Greek thought to become the foremost exponents of discipline in the world. Within the hospitals that served both the rich and poor were separate wards for the mentally ill that utilised talk therapy, music, and art as treatment modalities. Within the clergy, a movement known as the Mutazila (literally translated as “withdrawers”) ...

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