Stories about ban

Mohammad Asif: The man who did not know best

I always regret not being there at the National Stadium Karachi to watch the historic test match (January 2006) in which Pakistan beat India to win a rare series. On a helpful pitch under a generous cloud cover, Pakistan’s fast bowling disintegrated a strong Indian batting line-up. I was doing my A’ levels at that time, and out of the many bunked classes, I still can’t believe I didn’t bunk school for that day’s play. The highlight of the game, apart from Irfan Pathan’s first over hat-trick, will remain in memory for the absolute mastery of Mohammad Asif with the ball as ...

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Why ban alcohol when it is consumed openly?

While on one hand we hear declarations like, “sharaab haram hai!” (alcohol is forbidden in Islam) at the mere mention of alcohol, we have MPAs like Saleem Khursheed Khokhar who campaign to make it as easily available as regular soft drinks.   Celebrated Muslim poets like Omar Khayyam and Rumi often wrote about wine and intoxication, while there are claims that Allama Iqbal and Jinnah used to indulge in a little ‘suroor’  (intoxication) themselves. The modern Muslim world isn’t any different; the Middle East experienced a 70% growth in the sales of booze from 2001 to 2011. It has a high Muslim population ...

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Why the Twitter ban is serious

Two years ago, a ban on Facebook was enforced in Pakistan. Yesterday, Twitter was blocked by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority. Do you see a pattern here? The reason for this ban – which was lifted within a day by Prime Minister Gilani was that it was against the ‘promotion and encouragement to participate in blasphemous contests’ through Twitter. Here’s my first argument: if such contests are being held by some people around the world, how exactly will Pakistan’s suspension of Twitter stop the practice? How does barring people from any site accomplish anything, leave alone the discontinuation of the allegedly ‘offensive’ content? Coming to my ...

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TEDx Margalla: Pakistan’s got talent

I recently went to TEDx Margalla, where the bright minds from Islamabad and Rawalpindi sat together to discuss ideas that could help change Pakistan. The event was the brainchild of two young heroes – Ahsan Mukhtar (winner of top blogger award of Pakistan in the infotainment category) and Saad Hamid – two ordinary guys with extraordinary ideas. It was a truly fascinating experience. TED is a non-profit organisation where people from different backgrounds come together and share unique ideas for the benefit of communities. TEDx is an independently organised TED event where local communities come together to discuss problems and carve out plans to ...

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Do I have the right to remain Ahmadi?

In 1966, nearly 180 million people in the US received Miranda rights – the right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination. Half a century later, a religious community in Pakistan, another country of nearly 180 million people, is facing a rather caustic version of the Miranda rights. They don’t have the right, but a duty, to remain silent. The religious group is the Ahmadiyya community. Two recent events frame the issue aptly. First, on January 29, 2012, clerics organized an anti-Ahmadiyya rally in Rawalpindi, attended by 5,000 madrassah students, chanting threatening anti-Ahmadiyya slogans and demanding to take over a 17-year-old Ahmadiyya ‘place of worship’. Then on February ...

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To ban or not to ban …Shezan juice

A couple of weeks back, the Jamaatud Dawa held a well-attended rally in Rawalpindi to remove an Ahmadi religious centre from Satellite Town. Even though neighbours claimed to have no issues with its presence, the assault on this myopically-perceived menace seems far from over. Just take the little-reported effort to ban a local cell phone company due to its ‘questionable ownership’. Although proven to be non-Ahmadi owned, the company still raises suspicion because it starts with the same letter that a derogatory term for Ahmadis does. Apparently, a flaw in their phones’ Urdu dictionary which made it impossible to type the ...

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PTA – a correction

Last week, Pakistanis suffered some three minutes of unmitigated shock and awe. It occurred after the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) announced that it would not allow the mobile operators to carry text messages containing swear words. After registering some initial outrage, however, the nation broke into uncontrollable euphoria. It had to do with the list of swear words that the PTA issued to go with their directive. The list, in case you haven’t seen it yet, is spread over two documents (Urdu, English) and it has been researched, compiled and prepared by the PTA — May God bless them. Going through ...

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Warning! The PTA might not approve of this bakwas

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has decided to ban the word ‘bakwaas’ (nonsense). Let me say this right here – that is such bakwaas. It has also banned the word Jesus Christ. There go Merry Christmas messages to Christian friends. There goes, now that I think about it, this particular conversation I found in my phone: “Hey I heard you were ill – did you really faint in Chemistry class today?” “Jesus, how fast does news spread around school anyway? I am feeling much better.” To be honest though, I am not that fussed. Stranger, inexplicable things have happened. Facebook, for instance was banned ...

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Selling uranium: Australia’s hypocrisy

The politics of nuclear proliferation is due to take centre-stage with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard lobbying to overturn a ban on the sale of uranium to India. And in this case, India has been put in a “class of its own” by the Australian prime minister, who added that the policy shift would apply only to India and not open up potential sales to Israel or Pakistan. So what is the basis for this hypocrisy? India, like Pakistan, has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. However, fortunately or unfortunately for Islamabad, New Delhi has increasingly become Washington’s economic and ...

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Saudis in Audis

I came across an old Harry Enfield clip on Youtube the other day where a woman believes that because she knows about ‘embroidery and kittens’, she can handle a car. Incidentally she goes on to drive it in reverse, crash into a wall and the truth of life flashes across the screen,  ‘Women, for pity’s sake, don’t drive.’  Except in some parts of the world, it isn’t because our pretty little heads are not capable of operating cars. Apparently it is not compliant with the Saudi Arabian brand of Shariah law, hence a ...

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