Wednesday, September 24, 2014

“Imran was my teacher”- Kristiane Backer

In an interview with Ammara Ahmad, Kristiane Backer, MTV VJ turned evangelist talks about her friendship with Imran Khan, conversion to Islam and her latest book – From MTV to Mecca.

“Remaining true to art is punishing”- Naman Ahuja

Ammara Ahmad talks to Delhi-based curator and academic, Naman Ahuja, about the ways in which the human body has found its way into Islamic art and the need for museums to be more than just dumping grounds for precious artifacts.

Ammara Ahmad talks to Delhi-based curator and academic, Naman Ahuja, about the ways in which the human body has found its way into Islamic art and the need for museums to be more than just dumping grounds for precious artifacts   - See more at:
Ammara Ahmad talks to Delhi-based curator and academic, Naman Ahuja, about the ways in which the human body has found its way into Islamic art and the need for museums to be more than just dumping grounds for precious artifacts.
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Ammara Ahmad talks to Delhi-based curator and academic, Naman Ahuja, about the ways in which the human body has found its way into Islamic art and the need for museums to be more than just dumping grounds for precious artifacts   - See more at:

Tribute: The Immortal Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s influence has been so widespread within and beyond the English speaking world, that had the bard himself been present on his 450th birthday ceremony last April, he would have been astounded by the sheer number and diversity of his devotees. Indeed, many of them would not be English speakers at all, but rather readers from the hundreds of other languages in which Shakespeare’s works have been translated.
Barely does a school kid pass through the first 16 years of his life without coming across at least one of his plays or sonnets.
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Book Review: A Pictorial Story of the Past

Would you like to walk through the history of art, across the centuries and cultures-one step at a time? This is precisely what Neil MacGregor's A History of the World in 100 Objects intends to do.
MacGregor, who has been the curator of the British History Museum for over ten years, conceived a radio series based on the stories of some 100 antiques present in the British Museum. Initially considered too lofty and ambitious, the series surpassed all inhibitions to become one of the most successful radio shows ever. MacGregor then decided to bring the sounds bites of his show to pen and paper.
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Monday, May 19, 2014

The Nation Editorial 17-05-14: Modinomics For Pakistan

Yesterday, when news of a landslide victory spread through India, the Indian markets responded very positively- a vital indicator of what this election actually meant. After a decade full of half-baked economic policies and a hoard of corruption scandals by the Congress party, the tenor of this election was uniquely focused on economics. And there was very little for Congress to offer as a counterpunch.
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Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Nation Editorial 16-05-14: Dangerous Precedents

Last week, human rights lawyer, Rashid Rehman was killed for being the legal counsel of a man accused of blasphemy. This week, around 70 people, including lawyers protesting against the police chief of Jhang, Umar Daraz, for manhandling their colleague were booked in a blasphemy case for disrespecting the name (Umar) of the second Caliph of Islam. Does this sound alarming?

The Nation Editorial 14-05-14: The Hashtag Revolution

In a controversial move, Michelle Obama replaced her husband for the first time in the weekly presidential address to express outrage at the kidnapping of over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by the terrorist group, Boko Haram. Soon after, a photo of the first lady emerged on social media holding a sign with the twitter hashtag “ #BringBackOurGirls.” Not long after this, celebrities followed suit and joined the campaign first started by a Nigerian lawyer Ibrahim M. Abdullahi, on April 23rd.

The Nation Editorial 13-05-14: Police Empowerment

At the beginning of this week, almost two dozen police officials including traffic wardens and constables were sacked in Lahore on various charges of corruption and the misuse of power. Fifteen other officers were penalized with demotions. In Kasur on the same day, a young man was allegedly tortured by the police and dumped unconscious on the roadside. Over the years, police brutality and complicity in crimes as severe as rape and custody deaths, have become a serious state issue.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Nation Editorial 12-05-14: Mothers’ Day And MDGs

In the last few years, Pakistanis have begun celebrating Mother’s day with fervour. However, Pakistan remains one of the toughest countries in the world to give birth and raise children in. Save the Children’s State of World’s Mothers report was released at the start of this month. The report confirmed that in the last 15 years, globally maternal mortality has halved and infant mortality has decreased by a quarter. 

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The Nation Editorial 11-05-14: Protect the dissenting voice

Dr Shakil Afridi, who allegedly helped the American spy agency find Osama bin Laden, has no legal counsel as of now. His legal counsel has resigned, citing pressure from the US and militant counsels as a cause.
This is hardly a surprise.

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The Nation Editorial 10 -05-14: A Pervasive Mindset

Pakistan was the first Muslim country to have a female Prime Minister. Top cabinet ministries, including finance and foreign, have gone to women politicians. However, these landmarks achieved at the national level have not translated into political empowerment for women on the provincial level. Balochistan, for example, is heading for a local government election next month without a single woman candidate. 

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Nation Editorial 08-05-14: Travel Restrictions

Following the WHO recommendations to place travel restrictions on Pakistan owing to the country’s failure to stem the spread of polio, the Punjab government has announced that people travelling to the province from other provinces of the country must produce polio vaccination certificates or get vaccinated on the spot. Consequently, vaccination teams and the police will be deployed at entry and exits points in the Punjab.
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The Nation Editorial 07-05-14: Assam And Modi

Violence broke out in the north-eastern province of Assam last week, leading to the deaths of thirty four people. India has witnessed several communal riots since partition. In August last year in fact, a Hindu-Muslim clash in the Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh broke out, where sixty two Muslims died in what was described as “the worst violence in Uttar Pradesh in recent history.” Still, the intensity and frequency of the violence has generally declined in the last ten years, after the Gujarat riots which killed about 2000 Muslims. 
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The Nation Editorial 05-05-14: Lateef’s Protest

Balochistan Student Organization-Azaad (BSO-Azaad) is an ethno-centric student organization fighting for the separation and freedom of Balochistan. Over 100 members of the organization have been reported missing, and the organization is still considered popular amongst Baloch students. On the 18th of March, Zahid Baloch, the chairperson of BSO-Azaad was abducted and is now reported missing, like thousands of other Baloch.
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The Nation Editorial 06-05-14: Educate The Criminal

Intermediate exams were recently organized for ten inmates held for murder at the Adiala jail. This should spark a much delayed debate in Pakistan about the balance the country’s prison system needs to strike between punishment and reform. It must be kept in view throughout this discussion, that a majority of prisoners are returnees. Why is this the case? Why, after undergoing the horrors of jail time in Pakistan, do criminals continue to remain criminals after release?

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Nation Editorial 04-05-14: The Environment And Safety

In D.I. Khan, ten people lost their lives after falling into a chemical drain yesterday. This chemical drain carried waste from the Chashma Sugar Mills and ends in the Indus River. Two things must be considered when addressing this incident: safety and accountability, for human life and the environment.
Had events not taken this deadly turn, the Chashma Sugar Mills would still be releasing its deadly, untreated waste into our water systems unnoticed. In turn these sugar mills are owned by the influential political lobby that gets ministries and many political perks. Is this why these influential conglomerates manage to flout the environmental laws without much consequence?

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Editorial The Nation 03-05-14: Fragmentation, not devolution

The Punjab Institute of Cardiology has been slowly degenerating, after having been devolved to the provincial government. Presently, seven out of nine operation theaters in PIC are closed for sterilization, and all nine have been branded unsafe for use. This is alarming, considering the hospital serves almost the entire province and there are few alternatives. The bigger problem, outside of hospital administration, is the fragmentation of power and devolution gone wrong. 

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Editorial The Nation 02-05-14: A Narrowing Discourse

As the election race reaches the finish line in India, a harsh policy towards Pakistan can come handy. Modi recently promised that he will bring back the Indian fugitive, Dawood Ibrahim, from Pakistan. Our Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar called this statement “irresponsible and shameful.” The foreign office denounced it as an attempt to win elections by exploiting anti-Pakistan sentiments.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Book Review - Rasheed Araeen: To the West With Love

The book The Triumph of Icarus, is a compilation of essays based on the “Life and Arts of Rasheed Araeen.”
The book is an almost 200 page thick bundle of sagacious essays that attempt to become the “best mirror of the oeuvre and writings of one of the foremost avant-garde artists…”
Each insightful essay is escorted by equally gripping photographs of Araeen’s work. Most of the writers, (mostly artists, but also a few academics and critics) are based in UK like Araeen has been since the 1970s. Many of them have met, interviewed or heard Araeen lecture in person. Therefore, they come up with personal and perceptive insights into the artist’s work.

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Editorial The Nation 29-04-14: Protestors Mistreated

When peaceful protestors of the missing persons issue tried to approach the Parliament building in Islamabad yesterday, the police responded with a baton-charge; firing and tear gassing the demonstrators. Many of these demonstrators were consequently wounded, along with six policemen. Additionally, the police attempted to confiscate the recording equipment of media houses trying to cover the incident.

Editorial The Nation 28-04-14: Showing, Not Doing

Last week, Punjab’s Chief Minister inaugurated the Walton flyover in Lahore. In celebration of the event, droves of helium balloons were released but they caught fire and exploded. The explosion injured 40 people, one of whom died yesterday. Little is known about these people, except that most were children and some were admitted to hospitals for burn injuries. The event leads to two important concerns. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Editorial The Nation 26-04-14: Violence Against The Police

Over fifty police officers have been killed in Karachi in 2014 alone. Shafiq Tanoli was just one of them. Along with high-profile cases like Safwat Gayur and Chaudhry Aslam, terrorists have targeted around 5,272 officials of the law-enforcement agencies (mostly police). Why is the police a target? They are a symbol of the state; not guarded like the GHQ or cordoned off in the Presidential Palace, but on the streets, visible in uniform.
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Editorial The Nation 21-04-14: The Basic Need

Multan road has been revamped, but the drain in the centre of the road remains, filled with plastic bags and other waste materials. This drain, and many thousands like it across Pakistan, will inevitably become a breeding ground for the dengue virus if the concerned departments do not take timely action.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

An unacceptable death

The Suicide By: Madalina Iordache-Levay.

Last month, the tragedy of an 18 year old’s gang-rape in Muzaffargarh gained limelight. The victim had registered her case but it did not make any difference. Eventually she set herself on fire in front of a police station. Her story was then picked up by the media. She unfortunately died soon after. This is a compelling and newsworthy story which outlines the unfair treatment of rape victims in Pakistan. However, it demanded careful coverage.
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The street delights of Lahore

Photo by Rahat Ali Dar 
Lahore is known as a foodie’s haven. Indeed, the ‘taste of Lahore’ is just as unique as its sights. Here, winters can be harsh and foggy but the city’s street delights come to our rescue. The most common and oldest one of these delights is a cob of corn. These are usually heated in a heap of hot ground coal and sold with a splashing of ‘chaat masala’ and lime juice. 

Landa Bazaar: Where old things sell more readily

Photo by Rahat Ali Dar

There is never a dull day at Landa Bazaar, Lahore’s answer to many thrift shops one has seen or known round the world. A second-hand (mostly cloth) market on Nisbat Road, Landa happens to be a vibrant and busy place surrounding the Mayo Hospital footpath, near Anarkali. But you can hear the vendors yelling out to attract the customers, from quite a distance.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What would you do if your brother was abducted?

This image of Farzana Majeed is iconic – a young woman in a blue shawl and red cap, standing with a portrait of her missing brother after walking 2,000 kilometres to find him. Farzana holds a double Masters and is the general secretary of the Voice for Baloch Missing Person’s March, members of which walked across Pakistan to give a human face to the issue of state abductions in Balochistan.

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Khushwant Singh's Lahore in DNA India

Walking through the black metallic gates of Government College, Lahore, now the Government College University (GCU), one is greeted by a winding path shaded by large trees. At the end of the trail stands the red building with its large Gothic-style clock tower. The tower is visible from almost all roads adjoining the GCU. It is the symbol of what was once amongst colonial India’s most prestigious colleges, where many literary luminaries including Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Ashfaq Ahmed, and the subcontinent’s two Nobel laureates – Har Gobind Khurana (medicine) and Abdus Salam (physics) studied. And, of course, Khushwant Singh as well.

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The nostalgic train to Pakistan

Khushwant Singh, his wife Kawal, Manzoor Qadir & his wife
via Chughtai
My grandparents were from Amritsar, and migrated to Gujrawala in 1947. Throughout their life they have had a longing to revisit their “homes.” But they could not. It was a dream they were reluctant to realize. Not because of the visa hassle or the political turbulence but because of a latent fear that the home they were forced to abandon might not be there at all. Something similar to the overwhelming shock the Indian poet Gulzar received last year, when he visited his house in Jhelum, Punjab. He had to quit his visit because of it.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Book Review: A Vivid Influx of Art

The book Influx: Contemporary Art in Asia not only asks poignant questions about the art scene in Asia, it compliments them with bewitching images and explanations that are not beyond the understanding of a non-academic art enthusiast.Divided into three broad streams, the book includes writings by the best known artists and art writers from around the world.  

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