Stories about Rawalpindi

Entry tests and inept professionals: Another nail in our education coffin

A few days back, I came across the news that the government is considering to end the entry test system (ECAT & MCAT) for admissions in universities. The news left me utterly dismayed. The policy to hold these tests was implemented a few years back, to check the competency level of students coming from different educational boards. It was a good way to test individuals on similar parameters to understand their aptitude for a particular field of study and was a much-needed step. In Punjab, there are many educational boards – almost every city has its own – and alongside ...

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No Pakistani can ever resist some palak paneer

I was in Pakistan for a few weeks to attend a sibling’s wedding. However, the trip turned out to be longer than expected because of the political situation in the twin cities that led to the cancellation and rescheduling of the wedding a few times. Because of this, many invitees were unable to attend the events. The happy affair turned into a stressful one as the two families tried to get through the logistical nightmare that blockages and the long march had created between Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The mehendi was cancelled, the wedding reception was organised at a four-hour ...

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Don’t demolish Balaknash temple, Pakistan!

This year I had the opportunity to participate in the Janmashtami festival, the Hindu festival in which they celebrate the birth Hindu god Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of Hindu god, Vishnu. The festival is celebrated on the eight day of the Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight) in the month August or September. As I entered the Gracy Lines area in Rawalpindi, I asked for directions to the Balaknash Temple, an 82-year-old temple that will be demolished soon along with 53 quarter houses. It is surrounded by FWO flats. As a guard at the check point told me where to go, he asked inquisitively ...

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No, I’m not a football fan – bite me Suarez

I don’t follow football! Yes, I don’t have a favourite team – the closest I have ever gotten to it was when I played FIFA video games with my friends or back when Ronaldo had not gotten a hair transplant and was not such a Prince Charming lookalike; oh wait, that’s not the same guy – that explains a lot. By the way, we must limit the number of Ronaldos in one era, so that it’s easy to remember who is who. They are becoming the Khans of soccer. Exactly the way people from Rawalpindi think its cooler to live in ‘Pind’ rather than Islamabad, ...

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Preparing for Ramazan with potato stuffed samosas and a spoonful of green mango chutney

Like the rest of the world, few foods are associated with certain events and seasons and in Pakistan, it is no different. Like Kashmiri Chai, which is an integral part of the food menu during wedding festivities in the winter season, gulab jamuns and ladoos are served to celebrate joyous occasions, samosay and pakoray are served with fiery chutneys when the monsoons open up the heavens above to give us a little reprieve from the hellish summers in Pakistan. Our love for samosas, however, doesn’t end with the monsoon season. In fact, samosas take centre stage during the month of fasting – Ramazan. No iftar table is complete without vegetable or minced meat samosay, served with various types of chutneys. While ...

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How we went wrong with Rawalpindi

The history of Rawalpindi is one, which is scattered across a vast area. To draw a complete picture of our history, one has to collect the scattered pieces and put them together. No doubt, it’s quite a difficult task but with time and patience, all can be achieved. Most of us know Rawalpindi as a convenient route taken by the invaders, when coming from the north-western regions. It also served as one of the most important cantonments established by the British Army in the north-western region of British India, in days of the The Great Game. Before the partition, Rawalpindi was an urban centre ...

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The serendipitous serenity of Swat Valley

Swat was a land alien to me, until I got the chance of visiting the beautiful valley with my brother and a friend. We decided to take a bus to Mingora and then travel on our own from there. The image I had in mind of the valley was a Kashmir-ish land, in internal turmoil, as the people struggle to keep their cool with the military and radical presence. I was prepared for an unwelcoming vibe from the locals. However, while we bargained with a local Hi-Ace driver, Abdul Rashid, to give us a short tour of the land, his demeanour and polite behaviour made ...

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My grandmother: The unwanted martyr

Normally, when my friends would tell me how their grandparents passed away, they would speak of ill-health and chronic pain, which one would expect as consequences of old age. I would, however, always keep that information about my grandparents closed off from the rest of the world. It’s a topic of great sensitivity amongst my family and has always been brushed under the carpet by my mother, as a way of preventing tears from streaming down her otherwise stoic face. After all, it’s not particularly straightforward for me to discuss the fact that my maternal grandmother was blown up by a ...

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Islamabad is the safest city in Pakistan? Not today…

I was tying my shoe laces, getting ready to go for a walk when the number of my children’s school flashed on my screen. My heart always flutters a little when I see this number on my phone and this time was no exception. “Maybe you should pick your kids from school early today,” said the coordinator. “Umm why,” I thought, running through a mental check list in my mind and wondering if I had forgotten a costume or an art supply or something at home. “You know, because of the shut down,” she added helpfully. I gasped. I had been too busy working to switch ...

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Metro bus service in Rawalpindi and Islamabad: A blessing or a curse?

The Punjab cabinet approved the extension of the metro bus service to the twin cities of Rawalpindi-Islamabad in its recent meeting. When the PML-N won the elections back in May 2013, I had hoped that this was one election promise that they wouldn’t fulfil since the intended goal can be achieved via several alternative solutions. However, I guess since they couldn’t deliver on their electoral promise of ending power outages in six months, he has decided to give the twin cities a metro bus service. Politics aside, it makes little sense to have a mega project like the metro bus in Rawalpindi-Islamabad. According to ...

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