Stories published in January, 2018

Pot calling the kettle black: Imran Khan reserves the right to privacy, but Maryam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto don’t?

A few weeks ago, before the media storm was unleashed by Imran Khan’s alleged third marriage, a friend of mine sent me a WhatsApp message in which he mocked Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. His contention was that Bilawal had “technical” faults and was a closet homosexual. I tried to ignore him at first, but he kept pressing at the issue. I replied by saying that firstly, he had no proof for making such an assertion and secondly, even if it was true, it was his personal matter. Some days later, I got another message, in which he was desecrating Maryam Nawaz’s ...

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For Mohammad, New Delhi is merely shelter, as war-torn Damascus will always be home

On a December evening, with the daylight fading fast, a thick layer of smog, a common Delhi phenomenon, envelopes the city. People – the ordinary on foot or in rickshaws, the affluent in cars – go about their lives in the Sarai Jullena area of the national capital. Raucous horns of vehicles of all sizes and types rend the air. Two Septuagenarian Arabs sit across the table in a restaurant, identifying itself as Syrian, right opposite the Escorts Hospital that spreads across several acres of land. They converse in Arabic and order food without even glancing at the green-coloured menu, cluttered with a ...

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Contrived and rote, ‘Insidious: The Last Key’ fails to hold a candle to its predecessors

The Insidious franchise has inarguably been one of the best examples of studio-budget horror done right in recent times. And as a franchise, it has not only been immensely successful commercially but has also delivered on the scares effectively time and time again. But sadly, like most horror franchises, it also doesn’t know when to call it quits and stop milking the franchise cash-cow, which means we get Insidious: The Last Key, the fourth film in the franchise. It is the  latest to join the likes of Ouija: Origin of Evil and Annabelle: Creation, as films from already established horror franchises are taking the prequel route just ...

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Pakistan’s asymmetrical response to Trump’s tweet is a clever way to flip the tables on Afghanistan

Donald Trump is soon going to regret what he tweeted about Pakistan on New Year’s Day, in accusing it of giving safe haven to terrorists, since Islamabad is poised to hit Washington with an asymmetrical counterpunch that it surely won’t forget. The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2018 The Pakistani ...

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Culinary pioneer Zubaida Apa has left us but her totkas and bestselling Hyderabadi biryani and Sujji/Besan halwa will be with us forever

 Zubaida Tariq, aka Zubaida Apa, was a lovely woman. Her talent of inspiring people to cook just through her words and the way she carried out everyday chores was extraordinary. If you look at TV chefs nowadays, they lack the magic that Apa possessed on screen while she cooked up a storm in the kitchen. However, her magic show has come to an end. On January 5th, a little bit of Pakistan died – a little piece that will never be replaced. Her passing was incredibly sad and an unfortunate loss not only to the cooking industry but to the entire nation ...

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Can Disney live up to its own fantasy standards with ‘The Nutcracker and the Four Realms’?

Over the decades, Disney has mastered the art of recycling popular stories and fairy tales and turning them into either animated or live-action cinematic adventures that charm audiences while also dominating the box office. After all, some of their highest grossing ventures, such as Frozen (2013) and Beauty and the Beast (2017), have been inspired in a similar fashion from existing works. Their latest foray into the fantasy adaptation is The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, a live-action reimagining of a Christmas classic. Directed by Swedish filmmaker Lasse Hallström, the movie is based on both, ETA Hoffmann’s story The ...

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Sadiq and ameen, Imran Khan is the cleanest politician in Pakistan and an evident choice for the 2018 election

In the wake of the Supreme Court (SC) verdict, which disqualified Jahangir Tareen, Imran Khan has been accused of hypocrisy by his critics who continue to defy logic by drawing similarities between his behaviour and Nawaz Sharif’s rhetoric of, “mujhe kyun nikala?” (why was I disqualified?) After his disqualification, Nawaz started a campaign bent on maligning the judiciary and pitting the public against it, arguing that since the public had elected him, only they had a right to hold him accountable. This is, undoubtedly, a faulty argument, because if the public began meting out justice, Nawaz and his partners in ...

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“Desi Website”– Indulge yourself! There is no shame

Surfing aimlessly late at night, I came across a cool website, Where feeble hearts remain unseen, Modest are few and far between.   Where every topic always leads, An attack on someone else’s creeds. To hurl insult just take a pick: Christian, Hindu, Muslim or Sikh.   You meet chest-thumping fanatics, Old-fashioned mullahs, liberal chicks. Imposing on adversary’s mind, The likes and dislikes of their kind! And all are free to blow their lids, Till wisdom dims, and reason skids.   Most favorite sight? The view of rear, The world revolves around Kashmir. Check out, my dear friends, tonight, With Google search “Desi Website”. Indulge yourself! There is no shame, Just hide behind a ...

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Dadi jaan was a warrior, wrapped in six yards of silk

Amidst the cacophony of uncontrollable sobs, wails and tear stricken faces, she lay there peacefully, lifeless and listless, shrouded in layers upon layers of pale white cloth, oblivious to the void she had left us with. An unfathomable sight for me, for I had spent my entire childhood admiring the grace and modesty with which my grandmother, Asiya Khanum, carried her colourful banarsi saris, those elaborately designed and intricately embellished pallus, the effortless ease with which she went about her daily chores even with six yards of fabric wrapped around her petite waist. I can’t recall anyone being on their ...

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Touching the ocean floor and feeling my heart beat in the clear blue Red Sea at Hurghada, Egypt

There is a phrase I often use to describe my very first scuba diving experience in Antalya, Turkey years ago, “Diving made me believe there is a God!” It was a surreal feeling, to connect with the majestic creatures at the depths of the ocean, with a feeling of absolute peace overtaking my relatively complex existence in the moments I spent underwater. The symbolism behind it alone is much deeper that we can ever imagine. Touching the ocean floor symbolises respect for nature, and thereby leads to a miraculous harmony with the oceanic life as they accept you in their space. ...

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