Stories published in June, 2019

Carbon pricing: the solution to Pakistan’s smog and economic woes

Air pollution has been a growing concern for many in Pakistan. With rapid population growth and urbanisation, Pakistan is facing the worst air quality it has experienced since in its existence. AirVisual, an air quality monitor, ranks the major cities of Pakistan like Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad and Peshawar among the most polluted cities in the world. Another major problem that has emerged in the past few years is smog, which is a result of extreme air pollution. Smog, quite literally, is formed when smoke merges with fog; a hazy, grey air which is produced when heat from the sunlight reacts with fine particles ...

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The Secret Life of Pets 2: A disjointed sequel struggling to find a reason to exist

The financial success of a movie pretty much guarantees whether or not a sequel will eventually pop up, as Hollywood studios eagerly try to milk any and every cash cow they can lay their hands on. But not all films actually merit or deserve a sequel. The Secret Life of Pets, for instance, clearly didn’t. The 2016 animated adventure – a peek at what pets get up to when their owners aren’t home – was no masterpiece, but it did rake in a lot of money. Illumination unsurprisingly decided to give the film a sequel, even though it seems like ...

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No one can ever call the Pakistan cricket team ‘predictable’ or ‘boring’

At the iconic Lord’s cricket ground, Pakistan won the toss and smartly chose to bat first. The real test for Pakistan was whether they could see off the new ball against quality bowlers like Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi. The openers definitely delivered on that front. Just to put things in perspective, after five overs, Pakistan had scored 35 runs, courtesy of seven boundaries. All the shots played were quality strokes, mostly played against good deliveries. This was crucial because when Pakistan’s opening batsmen deliver and lay a good foundation, it usually leads to the middle order firing as well. It wasn’t ...

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#TherapistDiaries: Understanding genophobia, the fear of physical intimacy

Almost a decade ago, I heard a story about a villager that stuck with me for quite a while. I was in my sophomore year of my psychology degree back then, and my novice brain was quite struck by the story of a teenage villager who screamed at the top of her lungs every time her husband tried to touch her. She had been married for four months, but due to her reactions, no physical intimacy had been initiated. Initially, the mother-in-law and the women of the house laughed it off, terming it as mere shyness, even though the girl’s ...

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The dream that could never be – part 3: A wolf at every turn

She had woken up sweating heavily, vividly remembering his foul ragged breath on her neck and the abnormally large splinter just a step behind her. The next day, her baji had sent her to clean her late father-in-law’s old study in the formerly off-limits part of the house. The place was covered under ages of dirt and was teemed with insects. Samreena had been extremely scared to even step foot there until she found that golden brooch. “Samreena! Kiya halaat hain uper? Neechay aa kay batao jaldi. So gayi ho kiya?” (Samreena! What is the situation up there? Quickly come downstairs and ...

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Remembering Amjad Sabri: You can’t dim the light of a star

His recitation was eerily reminiscent of how his father, Ghulam Farid Sabri performed his signature qawwali tracks. It was the exact same way his uncle, Maqbool Ahmed Sabri also performed. This style of qawwali can probably be traced to how his ancestors had performed, right back to the time of Mian Tansen, a favourite musician of the Mughal court. Perhaps because theirs was a proverbial  ‘qawwal gharana’ (a family of qawwals), was why in my mind,  Sabri’s Karachi household eternally vibrated to the combined music from harmoniums, tablas, dholaks and sarangis used to produce a qawwali. All of us know that qawwali is no ...

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As a Muslim husband, I do not agree with Farhat Hashmi and her view on marital rape

It was the summer of 2015. I was in Pakistan for a month and a half due to the demise of my father. My visit coincided with the month of Ramazan. During the holy month, my wife decided to attend Dars-e-Quran sessions conducted by a certain Islamic scholar, Tahira Yousuf. One night, my wife asked me to pick her up after the lecture. When I reached the centre, the lecture had just ended and I saw a large number of women from apparently affluent backgrounds coming out of the hall. When my wife sat in the car, I asked her ...

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Dark Phoenix: not with a bang but a whimper

When the X-Men franchise was rebooted in 2011 in the form of X-Men: First Class, many were sceptical as to whether or not it would be able to offer fans something different. Bryan Singer’s original trilogy had pretty much delivered what fans had expected from an X-Men movie. Much to everyone’s surprise though, X-Men: First Class did offer something new, while the sequel, X-Men: Days of Future Past, practically shattered the ceiling for the franchise. The reboot had been a big success both critically and commercially until X-Men: Apocalypse, where you could feel that the wheels were starting to come off. ...

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In conversation with President Arif Alvi: ‘Pakistan’s fourth industrial revolution is here’

Dr Arif Alvi is an acquired taste. He isn’t your typical flash in the pan Pakistani politician who rides his 1,000-watt charisma to answer difficult questions. Instead, Alvi is that rare Pakistani leader whose substance overwhelms his style. He quotes ideas from Plato, Maulana Maududi, Karl Marx and Thomas Piketty with equal ease. Even if you’re a resident of his former constituency in Karachi’s Defence area, you might not know that he was shot twice while protesting against Ayub Khan’s military rule. I got the opportunity to interview the president over Eid at the Governor’s House in Karachi. We had ...

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Calling Iran’s bluff: Who are the real winners in the Gulf tanker crisis?

Iran has shot down what it claims to be a United States (US) spy drone in the Strait of Hormuz, accusing Washington of violating its airspace amidst escalating tensions between the two nations. Two days earlier, the US announced that it will deploy 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East in response to Iran’s “hostile behaviour”. The attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week marked a tipping point in their steadily deteriorating relationship, and although both countries insist that they want to avoid war, there are fears that recent developments could inevitably result in military confrontation. ...

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