Stories published in July, 2019

Can Pakistan be polio-free?

People who know me well know that I often compulsively compare and contrast India and Pakistan by virtue of not just their close proximity, but because I consider both countries as my home. When the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared India polio free on March 27, 2014, after it had not had a single case since 2009, I was filled with great pride. Knowing that India is densely populated, afflicted with poverty and has poor access to healthcare for millions, polio eradication was indeed something to celebrate. But as in every such situation, I naturally wanted to know how long it ...

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The wider implications of #MeToo and #TimesUp in Pakistan

“Cancelled” – that’s the impromptu public response whenever a known personality is accused of harassment. When Ukhano (Umar Khan) was exposed for alleged harassment recently by multiple women, he was instantly ‘cancelled’ by a significant percentage of people on social media, that is until Polish vlogger Eva Zu Beck shared her experience of working with him. Just because he hasn’t harassed you, doesn’t mean he’s not a harasser In an Instagram story, Beck shared how she went trekking with Khan for two months, during which he never made her feel uncomfortable or threatened at any point. It made sense for her to come out in support of her ...

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Modi has no one to blame but himself for Imran-Trump’s successful meet

Narendra Modi disastrously bungled India’s famous policy of so-called ‘non-alignment’ over the past year and ensured that the summit between Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and American President Donald Trump was an unprecedented success in changing the strategic chessboard in South Asia. Afghanistan, trade and Kashmir All of Eurasia is still trying to process the grand strategic implications of what took place last week during Imran’s unprecedentedly successful summit with Trump. The American leader praised his counterpart for “extricating” the Pentagon from Afghanistan, committing to invest even more in the South Asian state, and even surprisingly offering to mediate the on-going Kashmir ...

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Money Heist 3 retains the thrills and raises the stakes

Revolving around a group of robbers who take over the Royal Mint of Spain, La Casa De Papel, also known as Money Heist, originally aired on a Spanish network where it had a limited viewership. That was until Netflix acquired it in late 2017. By the time the second part was released on the streaming service, the series had already become a worldwide sensation. In its first quarterly report of 2018, Netflix announced that Money Heist was the most watched foreign language series ever for their service. Although originally conceived as a two-part limited series, Netflix, unsurprisingly, renewed the show for ...

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Pakistan’s education crisis: enrolled in schools, unable to learn

It is no secret that Pakistan’s education sector is in dire straits. The Wilson Center report, titled ‘Why Can’t Pakistani Children Read? The Inside Story of Education Reform Efforts Gone Wrong,’ talks about Pakistan’s ‘education emergency’. It talks at length about the misdiagnosed education crisis of Pakistan which has resulted from decades of well-meaning but majorly-flawed internal and international reforms. Maina Gathinjaga WaGîokõ, a fellow educationist from Kenya, once said, “I am not worried about the 850,000 who are out of school. I am more worried about the 12 million who are in school.” The current level of enrollment in kindergarten at ...

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There is more to Mohammad Amir’s retirement than meets the eye

Traditions are a funny concept. We preserve them for the sake of history but in doing so we sometimes run out of reasons as to why they are relevant anymore. Much like South Asia’s overblown marriage ceremonies, Test cricket is also a tradition that is now being questioned. It goes without saying that Test cricket is the toughest form of the game, where only the best can survive. Any player that chooses to opt out of it severely dents his chances of being remembered as a legend of the game. But having said that, who are these players trying to ...

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#TherapistDiaries: What schizophrenia is – and isn’t

If you start seeing, hearing and feeling things which nobody else can, you are either going to be tagged as having a ghostly experience or be labelled as a dangerous and ‘crazy’ person. And the problem with both of these titles is that they are incredibly dehumanising. As a child, I would see people on the streets and in shrines with no sense of their surroundings. They would stare at you endlessly, talk gibberish, stay in extremely hard-to-maintain postures for long hours and scream at things you could not see. They fought with invisible beings and tried to shut ...

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Fahmida Riaz’s departing present opens up ‘A World of Possibilities’

Today marks the 73rd birthday of Pakistan’s arch-feminist poetess and activist Fahmida Riaz, who left us rather too soon last November. But even during her last days, she gave us two remarkable books as departing presents: Tum Kabeer, her last collection of poetry; and a novella titled Qila-e-Faramoshi, a fictional rendition of the life and times of the first-ever socialist Mazdak, the scourge of Zoroastrian Persia. According to her sister, Najma Manzoor, she also left us with her last unpublished poem Daftar-e-Imkaan (A World of Possibility). This was written during her bed-ridden days in Karachi, just days before she moved to her daughter’s house in Lahore in 2018, on her final ...

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With zombies and sequels losing popularity, is Zombieland 2 a smart move?

There was a time a few years ago when zombies were all the rage. From The Walking Dead to World War Z, it looked like Hollywood was desperate to cash in on the audience’s love for those slow, meandering creatures. Zombieland rode that wave of zombie interest very well back in 2009 and helped to further bolster the growing resumes of future A-listers Emma Stone and Jesse Eisenberg in a film where Woody Harrelson was the most well-known actor (not counting that brilliant surprise cameo by Bill Murray). But the fever has died down since and zombies no longer capture ...

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Allowing dual nationals to contest elections: Another U-turn or another gimmick?

In what can be called another U-turn, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, decided to allow dual nationals to contest in Pakistan’s elections. It is hard to believe that this is the same party that has previously criticised its political opponents for keeping dual nationalities and for having vested business interests abroad. Imran, during his dharna (protest) days and throughout his time as a member of the opposition, had told the nation that when elected representatives stash their wealth abroad, have dual nationalities and/or business in other countries, they cannot serve ...

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