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Lahori Food Lovers in Tizzy

The Food Critic Lahore’s celebrated food scene was embroiled in crises yesterday as a samosa vendor was arrested for failing to ‘poison’ his customers. According to witness reports, patrons of Brown & Ganda Samosa Wala, had been enjoying delicious, disease-free snacks for many weeks. The police finally swooped when a man complained that he hadn’t experienced his post-meal vomiting session after visiting the establishment. Javaid Somoro, the owner of the shop will be remanded in custody until his bail hearing. Late last night, his brother-in-law spoke to reporters outside the family home in Feroz Market. “We are numb with shock and grief. There is no way to explain what has happened. Javaid has not washed his cooking utensils for six months”, he said. Anwar Hashmi, a once loyal customer, disputes this. “Everything about him had become … Read entire article »

Filed under: Lahore

Kashmir: the Elephant in the room

By Ghazala Akbar: On February 5 every year Pakistanis jointly commemorate a secular, national holiday, Kashmir Day. This is truly a momentous achievement – not just because it keeps the ‘K’ word active in our political vocabulary but notably, because it is marked by all Pakistanis, all on the same day! That alone should be a cause for a major celebration. Kashmir Day, unlike certain religious holidays is determined by the Gregorian calendar. It does not require any elaborate moon – sighting exercises by scientifically- challenged scholars perched perilously on rooftops. Even the Government of Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa, fiercely autonomous in matters of lunar-sightings concurs demurely with the Federal Government on this point. The fifth of February is Kashmir Day. Period. And so this year, Kashmir Day came and duly went. For the politically-charged … Read entire article »

Filed under: Kashmir

Greasing the wheels

By Saad Hafiz: The view that corruption is widespread in public places is generally held around the world, but it is not just in governments that corruption is found. It has permeated all levels of society. Corruption has been around for just about as long as institutions and opportunities of any sort. [The King] shall protect trade routes from harassment by courtiers, state officials, thieves and frontier guards…(and) frontier officers shall make good what is lost…Just as it is impossible not to taste honey or poison that one may find at the tip of one’s tongue, so it is impossible for one dealing with government funds not to taste, at least a little bit, of the King’s wealth. –From the treatise The Arthashastra by Kautilya (chief minister to the king in ancient … Read entire article »

Filed under: culture

A case for evolutionary change

By Saad Hafiz: The recent “anti-establishment” rallies confirm that Pakistanis are more politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive than ever.  It is heartening to witness the quest for personal dignity and economic opportunity in a country painfully scarred by memories of decades-long domination by the “status-quo”. The pattern is also consistent with the political turmoil and stirrings against the established order so widespread today around the world. The youth in Pakistan are particularly restless and resentful and politically alert and engaged.  The demographic revolution they embody is thus a political time-bomb, as well.  The rapidly expanding demographic bulge in the 25-year-old-and-under age bracket is creating a huge mass of impatient young people. Their minds have been stirred by sounds and images that emanate from the region and beyond and which … Read entire article »

Filed under: Politics

Why Women Still Can’t have it all

Sumble Butt There has been a lot of talk about women empowerment in the past half century and considerable efforts have been made at social, political and household levels to provide women better opportunities and rights in the society. The goal, however, has yet not been fully achieved and feminist debate that women still lag in provision of fundamental and superior rights. Recognizing its importance, eight out of fifteen Millennium Development Goals focus on women empowerment and hence it has become absolutely relevant for overall growth that women rights, abilities and opportunities are optimized worldwide. I recently attended a forum hosted by OPEN Silicon Valley on Women Championing Women, in California. The Key Note Speaker at the forum was Katherine Spiller (Executive Editor of Ms. Magazine) who is an economist and researcher. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Society, Women

The story teller’s sacrifice

by Amal Khan Fifteen years ago, in a city fifty miles south of Lahore, a Bishop shot himself in front of the Sessions Court where a Christian had been sentenced to death for blasphemy. It was a particularly personal protest. A sixty six year old Roman Catholic priest took a pistol to his head and excluded himself from holy communion with God. An optimistic man; gentle and educated. For reasons that we might better understand today, Bishop John Joseph decided that the model of the passive Christ, one who endures and suffers with worthy but ineffectual grace, just wasn’t his cup of tea. This was his act of self awareness; important to each of us in understanding questions of powerlessness and power. Especially, How much power do I possess? This is a tricky question, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Identity, Punjab, Rights, violence

Election season

By Saad Hafiz: This year’s parliamentary elections in Pakistan will be the second ‘legitimate’ democratic elections for the first time since the country was founded in 1947. The upcoming elections are expected to be fought on the primary issues of the struggling economy, poor governance, the weak rule of law and the inability of the government to deliver basic services. Other important issues such as sectarianism and terrorism, institutional wrangling and foreign policy are expected to take a back seat in the election. The politics of smoke and mirrors can thrive in a country where policy-making processes are weak, political society is not pluralistic, and checks and balances are poor. Political parties run on slogans and on short-term thinking, not on longer-term policy-based platforms. These factors skew political incentives away from promoting the … Read entire article »

Filed under: Elections

Pakistanis Return Home

By Usman Ahmed: The Statistician Leading statistics have shown a startling rise in Pakistani migrants returning home. The most recent report, conducted by the Go Back To Your Own Blasted Country Alliance, estimated that at least one million migrants had returned to their country of origin. Experts believe that these changing patterns stem not from global recession, but because more and more Pakistanis are failing to adjust to life abroad. Maghfoor Jatoi went to the Netherlands in 2008 to ‘send lots of EURO’s back to my parents’. Now, however, he has decided to make his permanent home back in Pakistan. ‘Even though I was earning enough money for me and my family’, says Jatoi, ‘my employers expected me to come on time and actually do some work. There was also only one tea-break in the … Read entire article »

Filed under: Pakistan

The Wish Fulfilling Tree

The Wish Fulfilling Tree

by Quratulain: “O you shaggy-headed banyan tree standing on the bank of the pond, have you forgotten the little child, like the birds that have nested in your branches and left you? Do you not remember how he sat at the window and wondered at the tangle of your roots and plunged underground? (The Banyan Tree by Rabinder Nath Taigore) A Triplet of Banyan Trees near Chehrie, Gujurkhan at G.T Road While moving from Rawalpindi towards Lahore on The Sher Shah Suri s … Read entire article »

Filed under: Love

Maria Zulfiqar Khan: Investigative journalist or media bully?

By Farwa Zahra: Pakistani news media never fails to remind us of the fact that it operates under no formal code of ethics. Whilst the reporters take up the role of undercover agents, once every few months we see moral policing by TV show hosts like Maya Khan and more recently Maria Zulfiqar Khan. One of the latest episodes of Maria’s show “Baat Say Baat”, featuring her raid on a Chinese-run massage centre, only left me disgusted that journalism has stooped so low. The show violated media ethics on various fronts. The host revealed identities of both she thought were innocent or involved. The name of a 14-year old girl working at the center was mentioned quite a few times before the editors of the programme decided to censor it… as if … Read entire article »

Filed under: Media

The absence of trust

By Saad Hafiz: The recent veiled warnings and tough talk between India and Pakistan has largely abated. And not too soon, as hope was evaporating that the two nations might have, at long last, realised the futility of prolonged confrontation and might therefore give peace a chance. There is no getting around the fact that the two neighbours consider each other arch enemies. This antagonism is not only on a state-to-state level. The people of the two countries also share the feeling. Politicians on both sides, preoccupied with their own elections and re-elections and under pressure by internal lobby groups, added to the inflamed atmosphere, and their own rhetorical strategies circumvented meaningful communication between the two nations. Their initial reaction fed into the domestic demand to whip up xenophobia in order to … Read entire article »

Filed under: Pakistan-India Peace Process

Truth about Gandhi

By Yasser Latif Hamdani   Those who have followed my blogs and writings know that I have tried to balance out the hagiography of Gandhi as a saint.  This I have done very consciously because the deification of Gandhi automatically means – to many naive immature minds- that anyone who opposed Gandhi, like Jinnah or Ambedkar, was automatically a villain.  The idea has never been to replace Gandhi the saint with Gandhi the monster but to state a few facts that have been deliberately written out of history. Gandhi’s position in history is uncontested. He is a great man warts and all. … Read entire article »

Filed under: History, India, Uncategorized