Stories about elite

IDEAS 2016: For the elite, by the elite

Like every year, a proud tradition has come about again; one where government officials and army generals hold highly sophisticated weapons in their hands and pretend to target invisible enemies – so the foreign dignitaries they are trying to entertain are impressed enough to purchase the firearm in question for big bucks – because, well, these steel toys do not come cheap. The place is flocked by bureaucrats, generals and a whole lot of politicians in one place having a good time and appreciating the deadliest weapons produced by a third world country. Although this is seen every year under the name of International Defence Exhibition ...

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The Way Things Were: Is India’s past a mentor for its evolution?

Aatish Taseer’s latest book, ‘The Way Things Were’, is the first book of his that I have read, but its subtle tone and poetic finesse lured me instantly. The title of the book is based on the Sanskrit word ‘itihasa’, meaning history. The concept of ‘itihasa’ is utilised throughout the book, with a literal extraction of elements from the past, not to exploit the present or future but to transform current situations in a more cultural dimension. ‘The Way Things Were’ is a story that is cultivated in three phases – the Indian Emergency 1975, anti-Sikh riots of the 8os, and the demolition of the Babri mosque in 1992. The story beautifully interweaves characters from the elites of Lutyens’s Delhi, Indian politics and Sanskrit, ...

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Gullu Butt: The ugly face of Pakistani politics

There came the sacred, exalted goon, smashing the cars in an invincibly high spirit. Behind him stood hundreds of baton-loaded policemen, entrusted with the protection of our life and property, silently appreciating the heroics of Gullu Butt. Somehow, those pictures of Butt and the police symbolise the ugly facet of our national politics abscessed with the misuse and abuse of power. The likes of Butt, who has been identified as a PML-N worker, represent the kind of mindset that exists throughout the ranks of conventional political parties; the mindset that considers power a tool to subvert and supersede the law; the mindset ...

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I wish I didn’t feel like such a foreigner

Sometimes, I wish I wasn’t born in such a big house Didn’t watch so many Disney cartoons, Or read so much Enid Blyton, when I was young… Didn’t go to the poshest all-girls private school in town, Or eat at the best foreign restaurants Hadn’t ever been on a plane, Ever outside the country Didn’t know the words to every English song on the radio Didn’t have a big air-conditioned car Didn’t live in Defence Didn’t always get what I wanted. Sometimes, I wish I didn’t feel like such a foreigner In my own country Among my own people That I wouldn’t be polite, Embarrassed, awkward That Punjabi or Urdu would flow from my mouth As effortlessly as ...

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Game of Thrones is the greatest show of all time

“Unsullied! Forward march!” My shout reverberated off the walls, sounding even louder in the quiet environs of my workplace. My colleagues gave mixed reactions. Some were shocked while one intern asked, “March where?” ‘Unsullied’ – while not an offensive word – was not really in my usual repertoire of phrases and hence, their reactions can be excused. Some sniggered into their keyboards while other ‘potential CEOs’, gave me a knowing look and nodded sagely. One particularly wise one walked up to me and called me the ‘father of dragons’ in a conspiratorial whisper. I felt proud, my work here was done. Khaleesi ...

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Thoughts on leaving Pakistan

The last time I put thoughts to paper was a year and a half ago, when my husband and I moved back to Pakistan from the US. It happened very suddenly, under very sad circumstances, and there we were – thrust into a disorienting new life, filling roles we had never anticipated, never wanted, inhabiting, once again, the cloistered, uninspiring world of Lahore’s privileged class. Much elapsed during the past 18 months in Lahore – much to rejoice and remember. Engagements, bridal showers, weddings. Baby showers, and babies! Farewell parties and welcome-back parties, birthday parties and Pictionary parties. PTI fever, elections, and Pakistan’s ...

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On dynastic politics and feudalism: A response to Salman Ahmad

Renowned Pakistan musician Salman Ahmad wrote a piece published in The Express Tribune on December 31, 2012. I have tried in the following paragraphs to rebut his argument by pointing out factual inaccuracies in the piece. Mr Ahmad begins with castigating the ‘feudal elite’ of the country while citing the instance of the chilling murder of Shahzeb Khan, gunned down in Karachi by the ‘sons of corrupt feudal elite that Bilawal represents’. Aside from inherent flaws of inductive reasoning employed by Mr Ahmad, feudalism has come to be a whipping boy when it comes to a simplistic explanation of multifaceted problems ...

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Expat bhai, Pakistan is Pakistan yaar!

I feel sorry for Pakistani kids who grew up abroad. I realised this when my nine-year-old cousin was doing a heritage project in school, about Pakistan. She had to talk about her ancestry and how she ended up in America. It was going to be a typical project. She was going to narrate the cliché, sappy story of how her parents were looking for a better life for their children and thus migrated to America. Then, she would talk about how when she was three she visited her grandparents’ farm in Pakistan. Over there, she saw cows and hens ...

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Social Media Mela or Twitterati kitty party?

Yesterday afternoon, I was at the Social Media Mela, (better known as SocMM12) at Avari Towers, Karachi. As I neared the hall where the particular session I had to attend was to be held, I heard they were running late ─ and fashionably so. When I first saw #SocMM12 trending on Twitter, I immediately thought of guns (let’s blame rap songs on the radio for this). When I found out what it really was and I took a look at the event guide online, I made a biased assumption; this wasn’t going to really be a broad-horizoned ‘social media’ mela; ...

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He who changed my life

I was part of the elite ─ the privileged, the damned. Yes, I was a part of those cadres of people who have dominated this country since its inception, crippling it in the nexus of nepotism and corruption. Fickle lives and distraught ambitions were what defined me in that period. Life was great or at least it felt to be so. All that changed on that fateful night. The night of March 3, 2005 changed who I was. It was around three in the night. Coming back from the usual late hangout with my friends, I stalled at the Atom Chowk, since the ...

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