Stories published in March, 2018

Mohammed bin Salman openly calling Khamenei “Hitler” is proof that money talks and bloodshed walks

US President Donald Trump’s cozy relationship with Saudi Arabia makes little sense in its recent historical context, given this is the same Trump who once accused Saudi Arabia of committing the 9/11 attacks. This is also the same Trump who rose to the presidential throne on an anti-Muslim platform, which is intriguing because Saudi Arabia is of course not only the birth place of Islam, but also a country which exports radical Islam as though it were a commodity. However, if there is one thing Trump hates more than dark-skinned refugees, it’s Iran, and this is the crux of the newfound Trump-Saudi alliance. Of ...

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In PSL’s ultimate showdown, the mind says Islamabad United, but the heart wants Peshawar Zalmi

For three consecutive seasons, I have supported Peshawar Zalmi in the Pakistan Super League (PSL). And for three consecutive seasons, my sibling has supported Islamabad United. Throughout every tournament, we have shared banter at the expense of the other’s team; however, Sunday’s final in Karachi will prove to be the ultimate showdown.  Clearly, there is a lot riding on the final. Watching your team win the trophy is well and good, but nothing is greater than winning the rights to mock your sibling for the rest of the year. I have my jokes lined up, but for me to use them, Zalmi will have ...

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Remembering Habib Jalib: the torch-bearer of resistance through poetry

There is no doubt the languages of Pakistan are rich when it comes to resistance poetry. One need not look far; in Urdu alone, names such as Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Ahmad Faraz, Josh Malihabadi, Kishwar Naheed, Fahmida Riaz and Zehra Nigah come right up. Then there are names such as Shaikh Ayaz, Attiya Dawood and Amar Sindhu for Sindhi; Mir Gul Khan Naseer for Balochi; Ustad Daman, Ahmad Rahi, Ahmad Salim, Nasreen Anjum Bhatti, Najm Hosain Syed and Fakhar Zaman for Punjabi; Janbaz Jatoi and Shakir Shuja Abadi  for Seraiki; and Khan Abdul Ghani Khan, Qalandar Momand, Khatir Ghaznavi, Farigh ...

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Mohammed bin Salman is breaking the chains of a ‘regressive’ society – will the rest of the Muslim world follow?

During his recent visit to the US, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), sat down with CBS news for what can only be termed as a remarkable interview. Many interesting statements were made, but what was most shocking was undoubtedly his criticism of the law in Saudi Arabia. According to him, the unisectarian implementation of Shariah in Saudi Arabia since 1979 is to blame for what the country has become over the years, and its radical laws are the reason his generation has suffered the most. He further elaborated that according to Shariah, there are no pre-defined garments for ...

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With grandeur that leaves audiences a teary mess, has Sanjay Leela Bhansali replaced Shakespeare as the king of tragic romance?

If there is a synonym for visual opulence, it is none other than the great auteur, Sanjay Leela Bhansali. With only nine directorial ventures under his belt so far, Bhansali’s career as the main man behind the camera has not been less adventurous than a roller coaster ride. From being an assistant director to the crafty Vidhu Vinod Chopra, to his debut directorial flop; from successfully taking risks to creating a national level controversy, Bhansali has probably seen it all in his career. Yet he always strives to deliver a magnum opus like never before, with Padmaavat being the latest ...

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In the name of female gender glorification, ‘Annihilation’ presents illogical garbage disguised as sci-fi

It is understandable that when it comes to political correctness in filmmaking, you can’t be too careful in this day and age. One inappropriate casting decision, and you are bashed left, right and centre all over social media, which invariably leads to poor box-office numbers. It is perfectly justified when studios are roasted for absurd whitewashing practices. However, all this racial and gender diversification in movies simply to pander to the supersensitive millennials – who take offense to anything and everything –  is just as absurd as Jake Gyllenhaal playing the Prince of Persia. I am all for strong female ...

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Women empowerment in rural Balochistan: Applause is louder and real when men and women clap together as equals

In December 2017, I paid a visit to the Kech District in Balochistan, during which I had a very stimulating interaction with members of the community organisations formed by the National Rural Support Programme (NRSP). However, the biggest surprise for me undeniably was to see the social mobilisation of local women, as they participated in the meetings alongside the male members of their village. Such a high rate of female participation in these meetings was a shock, to say the least, particularly given the conservative nature of the province of Balochistan. Decision-making here is a domain solely belonging to its men, ...

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Today’s India presents a very sorry figure as it stands in isolation

When Narendra Modi started his innings as India’s prime minister four springs ago in 2014, he declared ‘neighbourhood first’ as the core of his foreign policy goal. He invited the heads of state of all the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries to witness the inauguration of his regime, and the entire atmosphere spelled out some hope for a peaceful future in a tense region. This would not last long. Four years down the line, this policy remains a great non-starter – just more empty rhetoric from a politician who wants to win elections. New Delhi’s relationship ...

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My Pure Land: One of the finest independent films of Pakistan, yet forbidden in its own country

In Pakistan, it is uncommon to watch a well-made film that is not only based on true events, but also dedicated to our real life heroes. For instance, films like Gulab Gang, Bandit Queen and Mary Kom have been made in India to relay the sacrifices made and challenges faced by its women. In Pakistan, however, we can hardly recall a film or two on the same. This is why Sarmad Masud’s venture, titled My Pure Land, which showcases the story of Nazo Dharejo, came as such a surprise to me. The film does not feature big names or superstars, ...

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From bhaiya to saiyaan: The dangers of cousin marriages

I was surfing through the channels when I came across a TV serial, Mein Maa Nahi Banna Chahti (I don’t want to be a mother). I was able to grasp bits and pieces of the story – the heroine liked another man but her father coerced her into marrying her phuppo’s (paternal aunt) son. The phuppo, meanwhile, desperately wanted a male heir. The storyline was repetitive and regressive but I stuck around for a few more episodes, and I am grateful that I did, because the drama tackles a crucial issue – genetic abnormalities in children born in cousin marriages. Before pseudo theologians and geneticists come after me with ...

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