Stories about intelligence

Considering torture is illegal as per US law, how is a brutal torturer appointed as the new CIA chief?

The CIA occupies an almost mythic space in the minds of those of us who watch Hollywood movies. Time and again, we come across movies that show a direct link between the CIA and various atrocities around the globe. Movies such as the Bourne series and the Mission: Impossible series bubble up plenty of theories regarding how the CIA operates. Specifically for Pakistan and the Muslim world in general, such movies are proof for drawing room analysts that the CIA has a one-point agenda: defeat the Muslims. Movies like Zero Dark Thirty showed a heroic account of the CIA ...

Read Full Post

Is Canada the next Anglosphere super power?

China is snapping at the US’s heels in the race for world leadership. Punters cheer it on, disregarding the significance of the Anglosphere, a multinational composite of domestic prosperity, political sagacity, economic achievement, military prowess and soft power concentrated within the Anglo-Saxon group of five effective countries. The Trump administration will further strengthen this sphere’s dynamism and harness it to its vision. The active club members are the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand—Ireland may be discounted for ineffectiveness. The five are intertwined within the United Kingdom-United States of America Agreement (UKUSA) by seven treaties in intelligence, signals intelligence, communications electronics, ...

Read Full Post

Is education killing creativity?

This one TED-talk made me rethink my concept of education. Education for me had always been about rote learning and grades. I mean, if I could repeat the day’s lesson verbatim I was one of the most intelligent students. But if that logic applies, then a parrot can repeat things perfectly too so it is probably the most intelligent of all life forms. But parrots aren’t educated. Do you see my conundrum? Education should be about more than just about becoming literate, it should also facilitate creativity and originality. In my opinion, formal education is producing a workforce conditioned to be conformist; ...

Read Full Post

Is it a burden to have four daughters in a Pakistani society?

“Four daughters?” the woman asked, her eyes wide with a mix of horror, pity and fascination. Then, “Mashallah!” A sympathetic smile, followed by, “They are beautiful. May Allah (SWT) bless them with good kismet (fortune)” I can’t count how many times I have heard these sentences being said to my mother. Different women, same words, same connotations each time. For most of my life it did not bother me. I took it in stride. After all, it is a burden to have four daughters in a Pakistani society. To find an educated husband for them, to painstakingly accumulate their dowry, to train them in the art of keeping house; above all to ensure their ...

Read Full Post

Happy 61st Birthday Benazir Bhutto, there is none like you!

June 21st is one of the longest days of the year. But its significance is much more than just that. It is also the day when Pakistan’s great leader was born 61 years ago. Benazir Bhutto was a brave and dauntless leader. With her charisma, intelligence, wisdom, knowledge and compassion she was an ideal woman in many ways. Tested through fire, she never abandoned her ideals and belief in the freedom of humanity from tyranny. In a male-dominated and Islamic society, she became the first woman elected ruler of a Muslim country in modern history. She stood bravely against both the tyranny of ...

Read Full Post

When there was a rat in the house

The family stood by like a nation. Mother was the intelligence. She knew all that took place – how many people entered the house, when they came in and when they left. Only she truly knew the quantity and quality of ration and what kind of sustenance was needed at any given point in time. She was also the government. Father was the army. He fixed leaks, changed bulbs and defended the territory from external threats. He was also the opposition. My sister was the media. She kept a strict check on the army and government. She was also the ...

Read Full Post

SAT, GMAT, GRE: Can intelligence really be ‘measured’?

Standardised testing is a system used worldwide to assess a candidate’s ability and thus forms an integral part of the college application process. The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), and the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) are all known examples of standardised tests. While universities often state that these tests do not form the main criteria in the decision making process, the reality is somewhat different. Let’s consider a hypothetical scenario in which a candidate has a very low SAT/GRE score but displays an above average extra-curricular record matched by an outstanding personal statement. Won’t the decision maker’s judgment being ...

Read Full Post

Meet Umair, Pakistan’s very own child prodigy

Child prodigies are an eclectic bunch; being  on the fast-track in the lane of life at such a tender age makes them so. Although, some go on to commit suicide, turn to crime and develop drink and drug problems, we remain irrevocably fascinated by them.  We are overcome by their childhood achievements and allured by the fame and recognition they bring to the family. Secretly we wish in the depths of our hearts that our children would also do the same. However, what we fail to realise is the immense pressure that these kids are put under, the long hours that they spend ...

Read Full Post

Missing prisoners: Skeletons with urine bags

For many the media is a watchdog, but some want to make it a scapegoat to achieve their short-term personal goals. The prevailing crises in the country have also increased the challenges for the media to maintain its credibility and impartiality. I have no words to highlight the threats made to media people by the Difa-e-Pakistan Council, or certain terrorist groups. But today I still have something to say. One of the country’s top lawyers, defending the prime minister in a contempt of court case, also accused the media of negatively portraying the issue. “Don’t get into this controversy, they are ...

Read Full Post

Welcome to the war in Balochistan

In 2007, those of us journalists working on news desks could see from the daily reports pouring in from Swat and Fata that the situation had turned dire; that there was a war upon us that we, the media, could see, but which the general population would not wake up to, at least not until it reached their doorstep. Due to Pakistan’s overt involvement in the US war on terror, the lid on that battleground blew open fairly soon, but even back in 2007 we could see that there was another deadly war front opening – the war in Balochistan. ...

Read Full Post