Stories about two

Once upon a time, there were two travellers – one Pakistani and one Indian

It was a late Friday evening in Chicago. After working the full day, I rushed to O’Hare International Airport, to catch a flight to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on my way to Delhi. It was a short impromptu trip to meet my parents and I intended to be back within five days. The past few days had been very hectic at work and I was half hoping that I would be able to catch some sleep in the 14 hours of the first leg of my travel. Of course, an empty middle seat next to mine would be even better, ...

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Google can envision Pakistan-India harmony in less than 4 minutes…can we?

Regarding India-Pakistan relations, Sir Walter Scott in his poem “Lochinvar” captured it the best: “Love swells like the Solway, but ebbs like its tide” Replace the river Solway with Indus or Ganges and one gets an idea of the ebb and flow of India-Pakistan relations. I first learnt of it through the most obvious of sources, Indian movies. We were watching a cliché with the usual “dushman mulk sazish” storyline when came the long advertisements and movie reviews that would be a permanent feature of the video cassettes. This was sometime after the Babri Mosque incident and relations between the two states were crumbling. Among the ...

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Musharraf: Free to leave the country?

After nearly six months of being in a sub-jail (read, residing comfortably in his Chak Shazad Farmhouse), former President and General (retired) Pervez Musharraf is finally free. His sub-jail was de-notified upon submission of merely two surety bonds of Rs100,000 each. Many believe that much like his arrest, his release is part of a script. The arrest, notification of the farmhouse as a sub-jail and speedy justice delivered at the doorstep of the former president, is a deviation from the past actions and attitudes of the higher judiciary that gave no such concessions to the likes of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. However, there ...

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137th birthday: What Allama Iqbal’s poetry has taught me so far

“Maqsood-e-hunar soz-e-hayat-e-abdi hai Ye ik nafas ya do nafas, misl-e-sharar kia” -Iqbal (The real aim of any form of art should be to develop the longing for an ultimate life. It’s not art if all it does is to spark the feelings for a moment or two and then subside – Iqbal) Iqbal’s poetry, beyond doubt, goes in line with the above definition of art (hunar). Though I am just beginning to discover Iqbal myself, it is indisputable that his poetry has proven to be a truly transforming force. Some of his verses had an unprecedented and enlightening impact on me, helping me become ...

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An alcoholic’s partner

The tangy smell of his breath dissolved the boundaries between good and evil for her. Together, the two of them had no need to be conscious of each other’s presence. What smelt good, what looked better – everything becomes meaningless, almost non-existent. It didn’t take her much time to discover alcohol’s uncanny bliss. This discovery, however, didn’t present itself like an immaculately packed gift. It grew on her, silently and gently, till she realised its advantages. There could be nothing more vulnerable than an alcoholic, she had understood that. All the moral babble she had heard so far about the fiery wrath of ...

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Peace talks won’t work. If they kill two, we must kill four

The year was 1989, I can’t remember the month though, but it was winter. I was 13-years-old, studying in Aitchison College Lahore. My late father, a brigadier of the Pakistan army, was commanding the Tenth Corps Artillery which was headquartered at Chaklala, Rawalpindi. I used to live in a boarding facility at the time and would visit our military home during vacations. I can’t help mentioning that those were very peaceful times, although it sounds a repetition in our country these days – everybody who is aged 30 and above says that quite often. I wish we could rewind or invent a ...

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Why do you stare when I nurse my child?

When I was in New York, hounding the aisles at Buy Buy Baby and Babies R Us, my belly sticking out and my behind the size of two swollen water melons, I picked up everything that had a seal of approval from Parenting magazine. Sleep sacks. Check. Night-light. Check. Sleep sacks that glowed in the dark and eliminated the need for a night-light. Check. I’m not sure why I needed the glow-in-the-dark kind when I had the simple ones, but I convinced myself that when the night-light stopped working, the glow in the dark sacks would be put to good use. ...

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Ferrari 2014: Will team Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso prove worthwhile?

At last the unthinkable has happened! Ferrari has let go of Felipe Massa and instead has hired Kimi Raikkonen on a two-year contract to partner with Fernando Alonso. As a result, two legends, two of the greatest drivers of the modern era, will be battling it out in the same team, the legendary red of Ferrari. Arguably, this has to be the strongest line-up since perhaps Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost together in McLaren. It also signals a significant change in the Ferrari policy of having only one rooster in a hen house (to put it in the words of Ferrari president Luca ...

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Main Hoon Shahid Afridi: Pakistani cinema has finally arrived!

Pakistani cinema has finally arrived where it was supposed to. (It was supposed to arrive a decade or two ago but anyway.) I am not happy when people start comparisons between a multi-billion dollar industry such as Bollywood to a flailing, haphazard, mainly notorious industry such as Lollywood. The comparison is not only unfair, it is silly and, from all rules of economics, a failure to begin with. Pakistani cinema-goers, however, cannot help but compare the two and hence, every time we watch a Bollywood flick, we sigh and go, “Haye, Pakistan main kyun nahee banti hain aisi movies?” (Gosh, why aren’t ...

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Karak District: So, can women shop here or not?

When we talk about women empowerment, our society, not unlike others, is divided between two extremes — those who go to extreme lengths to establish female independence even at the cost of others and those who enforce patriarchal authority. Then there are the women this society is fighting for. Ironically enough, these women are not asked by either side about what they want. Recently, during Friday sermons in Karak, four clerics took a decision to restrict women from entering bazaars without a male family member accompanying them. The decision sparked debates over news, social media and even managed to enter our ...

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