Stories published in January, 2018

Nothing screams meetha like this delicious gajar ki barfi does!

This year, I wanted to start things off with something sweet. Maybe I wanted to hint at my guardian angels to make the next 12 months as sweet for me as the desi dish I was about to make. Desi desserts are always full of flavours, with each bite one floats off to a sweet paradise. Plump with refined butter and glistening with syrup, these delicacies are not for the faint-hearted. It is hard for me to walk past a shop where slabs of Sohan halwa topped with almonds, or newly fried bright orange jalebis sit enticingly in the window, and not find ...

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For Imran Khan, it’s never been about winning the race, but about not letting PML-N win

Let’s rewind back to October of 2011. The charged up youth of Lahore welcomed the leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Imran Khan, with the sort of political fervour and passion not seen by this city in recent memory. That rally in Lahore turned out to be the defining moment in Imran’s political career, as for the first time, he was taken seriously as a possible contender for the seat of prime minister. Fast forward to January 2018. The city was the same, the person gracing the stage was the same as well, but the crowd and the passion of old was absent. We will subsequently discuss ...

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The jury and the executioner: Misusing the blasphemy law for personal vengeance

A few days ago, I came across a headline that shook me to the core. A student killed his principal in Charsadda, on the pretext that the man had committed blasphemy by merely reprimanding him for his absence from school. The student had skipped school to attend the infamous Faizabad sit-in. The fact that the dharna was supposedly conducted for the protection of the finality of prophethood, and his principal indirectly rebuking him for attending it, was enough for the student to justify killing him. Over the past several years, I have witnessed several incidents in which blasphemy was used as a pretext for framing and killing individuals. There ...

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Oh. My. God! Could it be more fake?: 15 reasons why we wish the new ‘Friends’ trailer was the real deal!

Everyone’s seen Friends, and if you haven’t, what have you even been doing with your life? It’s only been 14 years since the most popular sitcom in the world ended.  There are some TV shows that we connect with to the degree that they end up creating a special place in your life, and Friends was that show for us. We were pulled into the world of Apartment 20 (though we don’t quite see how they afforded it), and we got to know each member so well that we, too, felt like we belonged in that group. And then after 10 seasons of laughter (even ...

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Can Shahid Khaqan Abbasi #BringZulfiqarHome so he can spend his remaining few days with his family?

“We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final.” – Robert Houghwout Jackson Conflicting interests and balancing human rights with state laws lie at the heart of the sentencing process. Judges may arrive at decisions based on either restrictive or broader interpretation of laws. Hence, the plight of terminally ill prisoners can only be resolved by having concrete laws and policies formulated to create exceptions to cases like that of the Pakistani death row prisoner in Indonesia, Zulfiqar Ali who is suffering from chronic liver and Diabetes Mellitus. Ali was taken into custody in 2004 on drug-related charges. ...

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In an age of weight watchers and surgeries, Vidya Balan proves that it is talent that counts

The Filmfare Awards 2018 took place recently, and Vidya Balan surprised no one by winning the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Female). No one that has seen Vidya act will question or challenge her win, but the award means more than just another win for a deserving actor. This is indeed a big win for the art and the artist, but it is also a big win for women and for body positivity. At a time where most Bollywood actresses are judged and appreciated more for their looks and their bodies than they are for their performances, this ...

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‘The Commuter’ may not be phenomenal, but it does justice to Liam Neeson’s last hurrah as an action hero

After a hiatus of almost three years, Liam Neeson, undoubtedly one of the most remarkable action stars in Hollywood, finally appeared in another solo action movie. The last action thriller he starred in was Run All Night, which was released back in 2015. This year, we once again get to watch Neeson entertain us by doing what he does best on the big screen, in Jaume Collet-Serra’s The Commuter. The movie follows an insurance salesman, Michael MacCauley (Neeson), who lives a simple life with his wife and son, with set routines like taking a commuter train to and from work. The ...

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From slaps and shakedowns to metal rods and death, the evolution of corporal punishment

This new year has been a horrific one for the children of Pakistan so far. Days after the brutal murder of little Zainab, nine-year-old Muhammad Hussain’s Quran teacher beat him with a metal rod so badly that the boy died. Unshaken and unrepentant, the teacher has since justified the murder as a simple case of a teacher disciplining his pupil that accidentally went horribly wrong. This is the Mullah who beat an 8-year-old student Muhammad Hussain to death at a Madrassa in Karachi's Bin Qasim Town pic.twitter.com/oAlLpDv4Qh — Bilal Farooqi (@bilalfqi) January 22, 2018 Most of us still have memories of the slaps ...

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Did we catch the right man in Zainab’s murder?

After weeks of hoping, praying and demanding justice, we have finally been presented with a man being deemed the main culprit in the Zainab rape case. However, in light of all the information that was revealed to us earlier, along with the hurried nature of this capture, I remain unconvinced that Imran Ali Arshad is the man who not only raped and killed Zainab, but also seven other little girls since 2015. What is certain is that if the Supreme Court (SC) had not ordered the police to find the killer within 72 hours, the police would never have acted ...

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India and Israel’s “humane” strategy: Why kill them quickly when you can give them a slow, painful death?

Amnesty International India recently launched a postcard campaign calling on the Indian government to ban the use of pellet guns in Jammu and Kashmir. Indian authorities argue that pellet guns are non-lethal and continue their use. There is some truth to India’s claims. Pellet guns overwhelmingly blind, injure, and maim, but do not instantly kill. They are, therefore, posited as more humane and acceptable instruments of crowd control. A similar logic is behind Israel’s use of rubber bullets in Gaza. The question then arises: Are India and Israel actually being more humane? Or is there a political strategy behind their decision to blind and maim Kashmiris and Palestinians, as opposed to ...

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