Stories published in March, 2019

Mythbusting Peshawar: No longer a hotbed of drugs, AK-47s and terrorism

I recently had the honour of visiting the city of Peshawar in Pakistan, travelling through the panoramic mountains linked to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) border pathways which lead to Afghanistan. This was my first visit to the city and I must confess, I had various pre-conceived perceptions about the city and region. These preconceptions were largely fed by the British Foreign Office, which for many years had advised British citizens to be extremely cautious when visiting this region. There are various myths pertaining to Peshawar. Most people believe it to be a hotbed for terrorists and thus extremely unsafe to travel. This is ...

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Why did Karachi Kings retain Usama Mir if they were going to waste his talent?

In 2015, Sialkot’s Usama Mir shot to fame after an impressive T20 tournament, where he regularly took wickets for his team, enabling them to win the Haier T20 Cup. Mir had played some T20 matches a few years prior to this, but 2015 was his real breakout season. He was then rewarded with a place in Pakistan’s premier T20 tournament, the Pakistan Super League (PSL), with the Karachi Kings. In the 2016 season, Kings played their first game, and made a mistake of not having a specialist spinner on their side. They rectified this mistake the next game by selecting Mir. Mir ...

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Muslims in India today are revisiting the same fears as they did in 1947

The strength of a democracy is measured by the way it protects its weak, marginalised and minorities. After Partition in 1947, one big challenge before India was how to assuage the fears of the Muslim minority about their well-being in India. Bridging religious faultlines was part of the nation-building process. The government, civil society, film industry, media, and even on an individual level, a large section of the society created an ecosystem where secularism and liberalism were promoted unabashedly. This ecosystem and way of life have been largely sustaining India for the last seven decades. Three generations later, Muslims in India are ...

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The intolerance behind #BoycottCareem and #BoycottSurfExcelIndia

As Careem takes down its controversial billboard ad featuring a runaway bride after being accused of promoting immoral ideas, one wonders about the real culprit behind this ongoing protest. With its target audience mostly consisting of youngsters growing up watching Moltyfoam’s pensive version of a Pakistani bride, the Careem bride simply couldn’t appease its customers’ androcentric worldview. Feminists have no sense of humour, a common grievance many have against people who are sensitive to sexist jokes, not realising how the same joke would offend them if tables were turned. This is what we recently witnessed in the reactions to Careem’s latest ad ...

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6 reasons why you need to distance yourself from that ‘friend’ of yours

When you hear the word abuse, what do you think of? A man physically abusing a woman or a person who isolates and belittles their romantic partner? What needs to be discussed more is how friendships can also become abusive. An ‘abusive friend’ may seem like an oxymoron because we are taught that our friends mean well and do what’s in our best interest. Like abusive romantic relationships, abusive friendships start out looking great on paper. You meet a new friend, who compliments you a lot and is eager to hang out with you. The same person who said that ...

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Who decides Usman Buzdar and other lawmakers’ salaries?

Last week, the Punjab Assembly unanimously passed a bill within five minutes which increased the salaries of the chief minister, speaker, deputy speaker, MNAs and MPAs to an incredible extent. According to the details of this bill, the speaker’s monthly salary was increased from Rs37,000 to Rs200,000, while his deputy would receive Rs185,000 instead of Rs35,000. The MPAs, who used to earn Rs18,000, would earn Rs80,000 every month. CM Buzdar’s own salary was increased by Rs59,000.  After the matter was taken up by social media, Imran expressed his sheer disappointment and termed the decision ‘untenable’. The Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry also labelled the development ...

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In conversation: Mansha Pasha and Ahmed Ali Akbar talk about Laal Kabootar and life behind the camera

This Friday, we will get to witness two new Pakistani films compete rigorously at the box office: the patriotic film Sherdil, and the thriller Laal Kabootar. I met the leading duo of the latter, Mansha Pasha and Ahmed Ali Akbar, to talk about more than just the movie. In a light, fruitful conversation, I dig deep into their personal lives. So let’s get to know them like never before! Talking about your thrilling new venture Laal Kabootar, what is the film’s premise? Pasha: The movie centres on Karachi. It is sort of like a melting pot, with our characters belonging ...

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I lost my cousin Sabika Sheikh to a mass shooting – gun violence is the new ‘terrorism’ and it’s very real

On March 14, 2019 I gathered with hundreds of students in front of the United States Capitol in Washington DC. These students had walked out of their classes to join the National School Walkout demanding decisive action against the epidemic of gun violence in the US. A few hours later, a gunman entered two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, and shot dead at least 50 worshippers and injured 47 more while live-streaming the massacre. Pakistani exchange student and my cousin, Sabika Sheikh, was killed when a gunman entered her classroom and killed her and nine others at the Santa Fe School in ...

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The PSL4 final was just a formality – the trophy already had Gladiators engraved on it

The rest of us had to wait till March 17th to know who will ultimately be crowned the champions of Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2019, but in the Quetta camp, it seems victory was already foreseen. Soon after qualifying for the final, Dwayne John Bravo was already humming to: “Quetta Quetta, we the Gladiators!” “Quetta Quetta, we the Gladiators!” Best Batsman of the tournament & player of the #HBLPSL 2019, @ShaneRWatson33.Winning captain, @SarfarazA_54.Man of the Final, Muhammad Hasnain.Champion Gladiators 💜#KhelDeewanoKa pic.twitter.com/0fy4vLgL6e — PakistanSuperLeague (@thePSLt20) March 17, 2019 I must confess, I sang along those lines too even though I felt guilty because I was ...

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Asad Umar mocking Bilawal Bhutto is a new low, even by Old Pakistan standards

A few days ago, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari addressed the National Assembly in the English language. I did not see it at first and in fact, my attention was drawn to it after hearing Finance Minister Asad Umar’s rebuttal, which was tweeted by PTI’s official Twitter account: Finance Minister @Asad_Umar reminds Mr @BBhuttoZardari of how a grassroots worker beat PPP in its own heart of Lyari, and how his speech in English today toeing India’s narrative was postured for a specific international audience whose bidding he does. #PTI pic.twitter.com/fKYaHhiUWa — PTI (@PTIofficial) March 6, 2019 In his rebuttal, the finance minister first mocked the ...

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