Stories about america

Subliminal mockery and the devils advocate

A recent encounter with a firangi journalist made me realise that I have proudly joined the cult of perverse Pakistanis. Anyone who bears an accent and worships another deity must face the ‘us’ and ‘them’ complex. We will, at all times, find or literally pluck out a thread of sublime mockery from well-structured declarations of a love for Pakistan and every time these foreigners show us the positive side of Americano, we want to throw a brick at their Cau-caustic face. The jingoistic journalist started off the session just fine but then started chanting ‘bombs’, ‘bullets’ and ‘rape cases’ in ...

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Splitting atoms: Can your nukes save you?

Pakistan’s nuclear program, much like Pakistan itself, is always a headline grabber. And like Pakistan, it’s usually for all the wrong reasons. Certainly, there are all the perfect ingredients for a pot-boiler present –the potential death of millions, espionage, conspiracy, the threat of pilferage and/or outright takeover and so on. Also predictably, very few of us really see eye to eye on the usefulness of this programme. Those to the left of the political spectrum see it as a wasteful, dangerous and unnecessary tool, while the rightists amongst us see it as an indispensable asset and a laudable achievement. There ...

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The wailing wall of Israel

Perhaps we have all heard the oft repeated joke; when an American tourist came to Israel with the intention of visiting the Kotel (the Wailing Wall) but he forgot what it was called. When he stepped into a taxi, he said to the driver, Can you please take me to the place where all Jews cry? Do you know where this is? The taxi driver answered, Beseder – I’ll take you there. And he drove him straight to the taxation office! When I stepped outside the Easy Jet terminal on Tel Aviv International Airport, I felt chills travelling down my spine. They were partly ...

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What the NATO Summit achieved

The Pakistanis came, they didn’t quite conquer, and now they’re leaving. At the end of the day, the NATO Summit in Chicago produced no news, and yet there was much to report. With hundreds of media personnel camped at the massive media centre at McCormick Place, the venue of the summit, the subject of the day remained Afghanistan and Pakistan. Reporters tried to work out whether Pakistan would announce the re-opening of the supply routes, an issue that has been raised in nearly every press conference that took place during the summit. All that work really was in vain – Pakistan ...

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A year after Bin Laden: Could it happen again?

A year after the Abbottabad raid that plunged the US-Pakistan relationship to a new low, one big takeaway is that America’s general public is finally familiar with the name of at least one Pakistani city (though this does not mean we and our media have a handle on its geographical location). But on a more serious note, could there be an Abbottabad redux? Could there be another unannounced assault on Pakistani territory to take out a big-ticket terrorist? If there is one thing President Obama has demonstrated in recent months, it is that he is influenced by the hard-line rhetoric emanating ...

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Pak-US ties and those who matter most

At a joint sitting of the parliament the debate is on. The representatives of the people of Pakistan are discussing the new set of terms of engagement with the United States in the aftermath of the November airstrike on Pakistan’s Salala check post. A joint parliamentary committee on national security dished out some 40 recommendations which ostensibly would lay the basis on which the future Pak-US relations would stand. One runs through the proposals and after a lot of sifting through three visible contours emerge. 1) The US must submit an unconditional apology for the strikes; 2) the drone attacks must end ...

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Use or abuse: How far will social media activism go?

On 26 February 2012, an unarmed African American teenager Trayvon Martin was shot in the chest by George Zimmerman. Minutes before the shooting Zimmerman called 911 and allegedly said – as has been proved by the release of dispatch tapes – that Trayvon “looked suspicious.” He claimed self defense and no charges were filed, however when police arrived on the scene all they found with Trayvon was a can of iced tea and a bag of candy. This incident did not explode on  mainstream American media for a while. But the uproar was loud and clear on social media platforms. It became big on Twitter, Facebook ...

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Obama’s unfulfilled promises

For Americans and a huge chunk of non-Americans who (sometimes unwillingly) are affected by American policy and rhetoric, the annual State of the Union (SOTU) address makes for important TV. Oh, except that one time in 2010 when that episode of Lost was nearly delayed thanks to competing airtime forcing many to directly question the President’s Office if their president was even aware of this pending catastrophe. Very kindly, the White House assured America’s citizenry that President Obama would “not pre-empt the premier of the show’s final season”. Returning to tonight’s SOTU. On January 24, 9 pm President Obama’s third address to ...

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A journalist in Peshawar: My encounter with a militant

Six armed men surrounded my vehicle and asked me to get out of my car. Two of them seemed like people from the locality. The rest were shorter, had sharper features and Mongolian faces and spoke a language I couldn’t decipher. One of them, who spoke Pashto in a coarse voice, roughly ordered me to get out of the car Shaken, I replied: “Walay? Sa chal shaway de? Za sahafi yema.” (Why? What happened? I am a journalist.) He looked at me and asked: “Aren’t you an American?” I don’t know why he assumed so – I am as Pakistani as it gets. My guess is ...

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Dharna dude meets Jaali jihadi

The characters: Dharna Dude: Loves X-Box, facials and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) Jaali Jihadi: Hates the Jews, likes the Taliban, loves Jamat-e-Islami (JI), and also Katrina Kaif (secretly) Dialogue ensues sometime in the future, at a “Shukrana Rally” called by PTI and JI to celebrate the American withdrawal from Afghanistan. Dharna Dude: Helloooo JJ ma man! Whats happening Bro? We did it didn’t we dude? PTI and JI are like BFF man. Americans are tu bhago-fying (the Americans are running). Jaali Jihadi: Asalam o Alaikum bhai jaan. Thanks to Allah we have succeed. We must do shukrana (gratitude) Nawafil, as it is holy day of Friday. Dharna Dude: So true ...

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