Stories published in September, 2018

Stand at attention, hand on heart, bow your head – what are you supposed to do during the national anthem?

It is not often that people listening to the national anthem get airtime on multiple occasions over a three-month period. In this era of hyper nationalism and unnecessarily overt displays of patriotism, perhaps this is not entirely a bad thing. However, with the recent oath-taking ceremonies, Independence Day, Defence Day and the Asia Cup coming in quick succession, we’ve been blessed with (or subjected to, depending on your perspective) something approaching an overload of this. One remembers, of course, the brouhaha across the border on people not standing up for the national anthem which, apparently, is played before every movie in the ...

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When Sadaf Kanwal threw her privilege all over the place

I remember the first time I saw an ad featuring Sadaf Kanwal. I was walking past a clothing shop, and I stared into her big bold eyes, encompassing the entirety of a wall. I was thinking about how beautiful she was, and flawless, up on that wall for the world to see. Recently, this same beautiful model spoke about the #MeToo movement on a public forum. “You know aap ke sath #MeToo jab ho, tab bol do. Baad mein aap ko yaad araha hai #MeToo, so I think jab ho bol do.” (You know when you experience a #MeToo incident, say it then. Why ...

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Scary folklore paired with good comedy, Stree is a fine one-time entertainer

Indian movies rarely have something fresh or exciting to offer when it comes to new content or experimenting with different genres. So when I heard about Stree, a horror-comedy centred on the ghost of an angry woman wandering dark narrow roads in search of her husband who was murdered on their wedding night, I couldn’t wait to watch. The film’s theme is inspired by a horrific urban myth of the 90s known as ‘Naale Baa’, which is embedded into the local culture of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka. The inhabitants of these states avoid staying outside late at night (even today), ...

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Has Nawaz Sharif been silenced or is it the calm before the storm?

For an outside observer, September 19th in Islamabad could easily have been mistaken for Eid – thousands gathered and cheerfully embraced each other with exuberance, and sweets were handed out to all in sight. The entrance of the Islamabad High Court was buzzing with excitement, in the aftermath of the decision to suspend the sentences handed down by the accountability court to Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Captain Muhammad Safdar Awan. Amidst it all, the cause of celebration – former Prime Minister Nawaz – was relatively mute. Of course, the sombreness is in many ways understandable, Nawaz’s wife and former First ...

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#PakvsInd: What was to be a nail-biting clash, quickly became a one-sided affair

The entire nation was abuzz as the Asia Cup began, knowing that Pakistan and India were scheduled to face off in multiple matches, and hoping for a repeat of the magical display witnessed during the final of the Champions Trophy 2017. Given the performances Pakistan has delivered since then, one would think we would be the favourite to win, but given that India is an immensely strong side, the matches were sure to be nail-biters. Unfortunately, we all know how the first match turned out, as what was expected to be a nail-biter became a one-sided affair in which India ...

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Talks on, talks off: Modi, a prisoner of the past, is afraid of peace

Does the Indian government have a coherent policy towards Pakistan? Is ‘adhocism’ now the mantra followed by India’s foreign policy?  After the abrupt cancellation of talks between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan by New Delhi, the aforementioned questions – which were only whispered earlier – are now being raised loud and clear.  India has not been taken for such a ride by its own government before, the way it is under the Narendra Modi regime. Never before has a party with such an overwhelming majority treated its own people so shabbily. What the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has been doing ...

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They say the gas price hike will not affect the common man, but that’s not true

At no other time in Pakistan’s recent history were people’s expectations as high as they were after the 2018 General Elections. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief and his associates had practically promised the moon to the masses in their pre-election campaign. Murad Saeed had even guaranteed that half of the $200 billion in foreign bank accounts of corrupt Pakistanis, would be brought back within two days after the formation of his party’s government. But Imran Khan rewarded this fake degree holder and miracle man (who had allegedly given and passed three exams in just half an hour) by making him ...

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Why Batti Gul Meter Chalu should have stayed in the dark

These days it is difficult to find a Bollywood movie that depicts a strong message. Most movies are made for the sole purpose of entertainment and pay no heed to the script or the plot of the movie. As long as there are some witty dialogues, catchy songs and a star cast, the movie will cash in all the moolah. Unfortunately, due to this, the fine line between commercial and parallel cinema is fading away. After the success of the eye-opener flick Toilet – Ek Prem Katha, Direcetor Shree Narayan Singh is back with another subject-oriented film, Batti Gul Meter Chalu. The ...

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Is Pakistan ready to grant citizenship to its Afghan and Bengali refugees?

Policy and governance are most effective when idealism morphs into realism to tackle challenges and go after opportunities in the real world, while also aspiring for utopia. It is in the middle ground between these poles where effective governance happens. Thus, Imran Khan’s announcement that Pakistan would grant citizenship to refugees of Afghan and Bangladeshi origin should be seen in the same vein as his other policy decisions since his victory, many of which he has backtracked on. Atif Mian’s resignation from the Economic Advisory Committee is a case in point. The decision to oust him was a solid ...

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PTI calling the kettle black: What they call ‘tabdeeli’ in Naya Pakistan is mere sloganeering in old Pakistan

The appointment of Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari as a special assistant to the premier has shocked many, even within the ranks of the Pakistan-e-Tehreek Insaf (PTI). His designation is in many ways equivalent to that of the minister of state, and he will subsequently be availing the perks and privileges given to a minister of such a position. On the face of it, Bukhari came close to Imran Khan when he assisted him in finding forensic companies to investigate the business dealings of Nawaz Sharif’s sons, Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz. As a result, he quickly became Imran’s blue-eyed ...

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