JULY 3-9 2011
Living on the Edge In the most newsworthy country in the world, journalists are the ones who find themselves in danger
JULY 3-9 2011
Cover Story 22 Living on the Edge Journalism is an increasingly risky business in Pakistan — but who is really the bad guy? 30 The Trials of Tribal Journalists The tale of one reporter’s descent into chaos
Feature 34 The House That Sadat Lived In The author recalls her family’s early days in Egypt
Feature 36 Celebrating Vaisakhi at Ram Thamman A look at the festival that celebrates a successful harvest
40 My Generation Asifa and Nabeel focus on the teenager in every woman
Up North and Personal 46 Home Truths The sale of local land to city dwellers is stripping Murree of its character
Food 48 Reinventing the Bird Poppy Agha adds some zing to roast chicken
Regulars 6 People & Parties: Out and about with Pakistan’s beautiful people 20 Questionnaire: Deepak Perwani on heroes 50 Reviews: What’s new in books 54 Ten Things I Hate About: Driving
Editor: Zarrar Khuhro. Sub-Editors: Batool Zehra, Hamna Zubair. Creative Team: Amna Iqbal, Jamal Khurshid, Essa Malik, Anam Haleem, Tariq W Alvi, S Asif Ali, Samad Siddiqui, Mohsin Alam, Sukayna Sadik. Publisher: Bilal A Lakhani. Executive Editor: Muhammad Ziauddin. Editor: Kamal Siddiqi. For feedback and submissions: email@example.com 4
PEOPLE & PARTIES
Unilever launches six exotic flavours of Lipton at Cafe Flo in Karachi
Aysha, Ali and
Faizan Haque JULY 3-9 2011
ar Rameez Satt and Frieha
Saba and Tooba
Mr and Mrs Intezar
PHOTOS COURTESY CATALYST
Nida Azwar and Sanam Chaudary
JULY 3-9 2011
PEOPLE & PARTIES
s Shahita Abba Sanam Agha
ol kaiya and Bato Seema Jafar, Ru JULY 3-9 2011
JULY 3-9 2011
PEOPLE & PARTIES
Shoaib Mansoorâ€™s Bol premiered at Cinestar cinema in Lahore
Tazeen, Zarmina, Bilal, Ammara and Zaynab Mahira Khan
Ana and Sara
Tony, Nighat Chaudhry
Mariyum and Emad Irfani
Abdul Rauf, Faraz Chaud hry and Sohail Warraich JULY 3-9 2011
Maram and Aabroo
JULY 3-9 2011
PEOPLE & PARTIES
Mubasher, Asifa and Aliya
Hina Hasan and Shazreh
Ali Zafar and Humaima
Ahad, Ayesha Sana Taimur Mehmood
Fia JULY 3-9 2011
QYT and Hadiqa
Shiraz Uppal and Shah
JULY 3-9 2011
PEOPLE & PARTIES
Mahira, QYT, Hadiqa and Humaima
Ghulam Mohiuyudin Zeba Mohammad Ali
Zeb, Mahnoor, Maram and Aabroo JULY 3-9 2011
Irfan Khosat and Imran Aslam
JULY 3-9 2011
PEOPLE & PARTIES
Modeville showcased Fahad Hussaynâ€™s line in Islamabad
Amna and Sana
Samman and Hania PHOTOS COURTESY VERVE
Aslan, Arsal an and Fahad
Sibah and Sameer Taniya
Hammad an JULY 3-9 2011
Eesa and Faiz
JULY 3-9 2011
“I am my own hero” Fashion designer Deepak Perwani on loving KungFu Panda 2 and wanting hair in the right places.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
A perfect sunset or a great day at the beach — life is all about little
I’ve had many, though the greatest is yet to come.
pockets of happiness.
What is your greatest fear? My mother dying before I do, for death is inevitable. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Procrastination. What is your greatest extravagance? Oh, it is yet to happen. What is your current state of mind? At the moment I am relaxed, though I’ve started my diet today so ask me next week.
On what occasion do you lie?
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? Superman. Where would you most like to live? On a small island off the coast of Miami. What is your most treasured possession? My cat. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? The current state of Pakistan. If you didn’t do your current job, what would you choose to do? I would be a rock star.
When I’m sleeping and someone wakes me up — I don’t exactly lie
Who is your hero of fiction?
I believe in real heroes.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
Who are your heroes in real life?
Hmmm. The hair on my back.
I am my own hero.
Which living person do you most despise?
What’s your favourite quote?
I don’t think I despise anyone. It’s too strong a word.
Life is not about getting what you want, but wanting what you get.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
What kind of super powers would you like to have?
The power to eradicate disease and famine.
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
If you had a time machine, where would you go?
I like open-minded opinionated women.
To Mars and to the Moon, oh and also to the ancient world of the
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? F*** off! When and where were you happiest?
Romans and the Greeks.
What’s the one thing you wish someone would invent? A lie detector for all Pakistani politicians.
That would be in Barcelona — its one of my favourite cities in the
If they made a movie on your life, who would you want to play your role?
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
What’s the last really good movie you watched?
I’ll get more hair on my head.
Kungfu Panda 2.a
21 JULY 3-9 2011
living on the edge
BY SABIN AGHA
Journalists have the power to change perceptions. But when their work puts them in danger, it is societyâ€™s right to infomation which is really at risk.
22 JULY 3-9 2011
The story is by now familiar: Syed Saleem Shahzad, Pakistan bureau chief of Asia Times Online, went missing on May 29th, on his way to participate in a television talk show in Islamabad. Two days after his abduction, his body was found at Mandi Bahauddin. Subsequently, the ISI was accused of complicity in his killing, which it promptly denied. In the aftermath of 9/11, Pakistan has become a hotspot of
global news, but while it may be “a good beat” for reporters, at the same time, the dangers it poses to them are grave: the government, militants, the military and intelligence agencies — it
seems that journalists are up against them all. Shahzad’s murder puts the perils of being a journalist in Pakistan sharply into
focus, but this isn’t the first time that a journalist has been in grave danger because of his job.
The curious case of Saleem Shahzad A mild-mannered, soft-spoken person, Shahzad’s area of specialisation — international security and terrorism — led him to focus on Pakistan’s armed forces, the northern tribal belt, al Qaeda
and the Taliban militancy. In 2011 Shahzad wrote a daring book, Inside al Qaeda and Taliban: Beyond Osama Bin Laden and 9/11.
I met him in January this year in Karachi and, while swap-
ping views on the law and order situation, I asked if he felt un-
der threat or surveillance for reporting so daringly on sensitive issues. “Oh, constantly,” was his prompt response. “I was abJULY 3-9 2011
COVER STORY Pakistani journalists killed in 2011
Wali Khan Babar
Daily Extra News
January 3, 2011 in Pidarak
January 13, 2011 in Karachi
April 2, 2011 Karachi
ducted by the Taliban in 2006 in Afghanistan. I was shot last year
Political chaos, armed insurgencies led by Taliban militants in
here in Islamabad but survived, and I do receive threats from in-
the North and Baluch separatists in the South, target killings in
part and parcel of journalism.”
challenges faced by journalists. As the room for reportage grows,
telligence agencies and militants alike. But, you know, this is all Days before his murder, Shahzad wrote the first of a two-part
report on the extent of al Qaeda’s infiltration in the lower ranks
Karachi, and denial of access to the fields are only some of the so too does the imperative for strangling press freedom.
of Pakistan’s Navy. After his disappearance, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) expressed concern and reported
Dangerous liaisons — between political parties and journalists
that he might have been abducted by a state agency. The com-
mission’s statement said, “It has been suggested that Shahzad’s
Part of being a journalist is the responsibility of filing a great sto-
reporting after a terrorist attack on a navy aviation base in Kara-
ry without being intimidated by underlying threats. Danger is
part of any story that is sensitive, controversial — and ultimately,
chi might have something to do with his abduction.” Other analysts too suspect the involvement of the state’s secret agency in the abduction and killing of Saleem Shahzad.
Of state and non-state threats Shahzad’s case is unique in the sense that he was killed. Mohammad Rafique Baloch, is still alive, as is Umar Cheema, investigatvie reporter of The News.Both were allegedly abducted by intelli-
worth being brought to the public’s attention. Wali Khan Babar,
a reporter for Geo News, was onto just such a story at the time of his violent death in January. Shot five times at point-blank range
while returning home from work, Babar, 28, covered an operation against a drug-peddler in the suburbs of Karachi that day.
His murder investigation led to nothing: in a press conference
Karachi Police boasted of having arrested five men in connection
gence agencies and tortured. Baloch, a Karachi-based journalist and vice president of Karachi Union of Journalists claimed that he was picked up by intelligence agencies to restrain him from appearing in a court hearing in a case about journalists’ wages.
“I was on my way to the Sindh High Court on March 21st at
around 8 am when I was intercepted by plainclothes men,” recalls Baloch. “I was blindfolded and bundled into their vehicle.
A 20-minute drive led us to a location where I was interrogated for almost four and a half hours. They constantly accused me of making derogatory remarks about the chief justice.”
While the interference of intelligence agencies to control and
manoeuvre the message sent out by the media is not new, it has increased with the growth in the media industry.
“Intimidation is a threat that journalists encounter every
day. Being on the frontline, they are soft targets,” says veteran
journalist Qaiser Mehmood. According to him, there are three sources of threat: “State intimidation, intimidation by non-state
actors, and even pressure from their own employer in the form
of job insecurity. State intimidation can be resisted with protests but the graver threat emanates from non-state pressure groups.” JULY 3-9 2011
Zaman Ibrahim was killed in Lyari this year. He was believed to have had ties with the now defunct People’s Amn Committee. With no approriate probe into his killing, it seems that his stories might have rubbed a rival gang in the neighbourhood the wrong way.
COVER STORY Nasrullah Khan Afridi
Khyber News Agency,
Asia Times Online
May 20 or 30, 2011 in Mandi Bahauddin
June 11, 2011 in Peshawar
June 17, 2011 in Wah Cantonement
Pakistan Television, Mashreq
May 10, 2011 in Peshawar
with his murder. But there’s more to this case then just nabbing
arranged on my own,” says Shah.
count of how, one after another, four men, including two police-
ey — but it provides some relief to the victim and his family. As
investigation were killed.
responsibility of media houses to safeguard their employees with
henchmen. Adil Jawad of Daily Express Newspaper gives a chilling acmen, a brother of a police official and an informer, linked to the
“The credit for the arrest of Wali Khan Babar’s killers goes
to our government. Zulfiqar Mirza and I visited his family and promised to bring the culprits to task,” boasts Sharjeel Inam
“Loss of life or an injury can’t really be compensated with mon-
long as the state fails to provide compensation, it becomes the a hazard fund,” says Mehmood.
How media houses can help — or not
Memon, information minister of Sindh.
Tahir Hasan Khan, the president of the Karachi Press Club, la-
da Qaumi Movement (MQM) and thus the blame automatically
sional, few measures are adopted to facilitate them. “While we
Babar was killed in Liaquatabad, a stronghold of the Mutahi-
fell on them. MQM rejects the accusation: “This is an absolutely absurd allegation!” says MQM MNA Waseem Akhter. “Why on earth would we kill him and that too in our own area?”
Zaman Ibrahim, crime reporter of a daily newspaper, was also
killed in Karachi this year. Ibrahim was gunned down in Lyari, an
area notorious for gang warfare. He was believed to have had close
ties with the now defunct People’s Amn Committee (PAC) — an af-
filiate of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party. PAC is accused of violent
ments that while media-houses expect journalists to be profesexpect the government to be indifferent to the challenges that journalists face, we imagine that media outlets will be different.
Surprisingly, even media houses are more concerned about their equipment than they are about reporters who put their lives at stake. Channels reap the benefits of ‘breaking news’ in the form of high-ratings and revenues — all at the cost of reporters,” says Hasan Khan.
He believes that the pressure for more information from their
tactics and with no appropriate investigation from the police for
organisations compels reporters to take unnecessary risks, in-
of the rival gangs operating in the neighbourhood the wrong way.
are working at great personal risk in significant danger. But this
his killing, it is clear that Ibrahim’s stories might have rubbed one
Danger on the frontline It is not just investigative crime reporters who face danger — on
the frontline, reporters risk life and limb to get accurate news out. Amin Shah, a Karachi-based TV news reporter, was critically wounded in a bomb blast on Chehlum last year at Jinnah Hospital
in Karachi that killed at least 34 people. “Moments before, a bus
stead of following safety precautions. Print and television crews
surge in danger doesn’t seem compelling enough for Pakistani news organisations and media outlets to train journalists for
conflict reporting. War and terrorism require a set of rules governing how reporting crews should cover different events: when a story is too dangerous to cover, how close should a reporter get to the frontline, for example?
Despite its growth, Pakistani media remains at a nascent stage
full of Shia mourners had been blown by a bomb. I was waiting
when it comes to journalists’ safety and hiring responsible hu-
fracture in my head caused internal bleeding in my brain and par-
where personal safety training is mandatory, Pakistani journal-
for my beeper when I was shaken by another blast behind me. A
alysed the right side of my body for quite some time,” recalls Shah. Like other victims of the blast, Shah failed to receive the com-
pensation of Rs300,000, that had been announced by the Sindh
Government; the paperwork required to get the compensation
man resources. Unlike journalists from developed countries,
ists with minimum or no training continue performing their duties, especially in the conflict-prone tribal belt. They draw lessons from the field instead.
defeated him. “I was treated at the Agha Khan Hospital for 18
Hall of shame
Soomro from Information Department. The rest of the money I
gerous climate affecting press freedom are almost non-existent
days but for this treatment only Rs100,000 were paid by Jameel
Constitutional protection and legal safeguards to counter the dan-
JULY 3-9 2011
COVER STORY here and Pakistan ranks 10th on the Index of Impunity created by
the Committee to Protect Journalists. On the other hand, on the worldwide index of press freedom, it ranks 159th. What contributes even more to the fear is the fact that culprits remain at large
and unpunished in most cases. According to Reporters Without
Hasan Abbas, general secretary of Karachi Union of Journalists says, “We don’t want to take up arms — I am a journalist, not a criminal. My weapon is my pen with which I fight back. I can’t think of killing, even in selfdefense.”
Borders, as many as 14 journalists were murdered across Pakistan in 2010, including the first quarter of 2011. The International
Press Institute put the number at 16 — out of this total, 6 belonged to the volatile province of Balochistan. In January this year, Ilyas Nazar’s bullet-riddled body was found in Pidarak. Nazar was a local reporter for Baloch magazine Darwanth. He went missing for
some time before being killed. Abdost Rind, associated with The Daily Eagle was shot dead in February in Turbat while returning home from work. In both cases, the killers remain unidentified.
Hasan Abbas, general secretary of Karachi Union of Journalists
says, “We don’t want to take up arms — I am a journalist not a criminal. My weapon is my pen with which I fight back. I can’t think of killing, even in self-defense.”
“The question is whether you can actually stop intimidation
with laws or not. There are common laws for threats to life and security of every citizen — we can’t ask for separate laws for journalists. ‘Intimidation’ is actually a mindset which needs to be altered,” says Mehmood.
Reality bites Despite these stories, the former Inspector General of Police in Sindh, Fayyaz Leghari seems out of touch with reality. “I don’t
Can we speak freely? FREEDOM OF SPEECH & RIGHT TO INFORMATION Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan enshrines every individual with freedom of speech and the right of information. Article 19: Freedom of Speech “Every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, and there shall be the freedom of press, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or Defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, (commission of) or incitement to an offence.” Article 19.A: Right to Information “Every citizen shall have the right to have access to information in all matters of public importance subject to regulation and reasonable restrictions imposed by law.”
have any specific reason to cite as to why journalists in Karachi have been targeted frequently, other than terrorism,” he says.
This response crystallises the state’s apathy to the unsafe envi-
ronment in which journalists work. In the past ten years, risks
have escalated for Pakistani journalists due to growing militancy and the involvement of armed forces to counter it. But the gov-
ernment claims that it is doing all it can to compensate journalists’ woes.
“Pakistan is a good beat,” said Peter Oborne, a journalist with
the Daily Telegraph and a documentary reporter with Channel 4,
during a visit to Karachi. But it is the very nature of Pakistan’s
newsworthiness which has made it so dangerous.“The war on
terror has made journalists here more vulnerable. We in the West recognise and appreciate the inspirational and courageous stand of Pakistani journalists.”
It is clear that conflict training of media practitioners is the
need of the day. Training not only enhances the understanding of journalists about their roles, it boosts their confidence and encourages independent decision-making.
“To safeguard the lives of journalists is the state’s responsibil-
ity but it is a responsibility which media houses should share. The equation is: we protect you and you expose the real culprits by reporting with objectivity,” declares Sharjeel Memon. a
JULY 3-9 2011
Reporting in Pakistan BY CHEREE FRANCO
I write about microcosms — fringe cultures, identity issues, art and music trends. I don’t own a TV, and most of what I read consists of naval-gazing, vaguely theoretical post-hipster commentary on fringe cultures. Politically speaking, I don’t know what’s going on in my own country, much less what’s happening in Pakistan. If I knew, maybe I’d have a better answer for the first question anyone asks me: why Pakistan? The simple truth — I was naïve enough to think, why not? Pakistan was the first offer on the Columbia Journalism School job-board. I applied for The Express Tribune fellowship in June, 2011. Like the three other fellows selected, I expected to be in Pakistan by August. I knew nothing of the place, except that it was abstractly scary, that it used to be joined with India, and its complete name includes ‘the Islamic Republic of’. I broke the news to family and friends, who were alternately impressed, horrified and/or dumbfounded. That’s when I started paying attention to the news. National Public Radio, in particular, seemed to report a bomb blast a day in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Immediately, there were visa roadblocks. A massive flood occurred, and more months passed. Some fellows took other jobs or reassessed the risks and pulled out. New fellows were selected, but they pulled out as well. By February, I was the only remaining fellow, and I had been granted a two-week visa that I could extend upon arrival. Two months in Karachi, and I’m still going through this laborious extension process. I left Mississippi in late March, nearly nine months after I received the fellowship. My father was so worried that he cried when he hugged me goodbye. I can count on one hand the times in my life that I’ve seen my father cry. At Jinnah airport, I was greeted by a driver and a guard with an automatic weapon. For some time that guard accompanied me everywhere. He waited outside restaurants and friends’ houses, he hung around the office, trailed me in the bazaar. I had been worried about being too frightened to report, about being too skittish to go anywhere other than the guesthouse or the office. But within a few days, I was dining on greasy seafood on the world’s ricketiest dinghy, in the midst of the Arabian Sea. Soon after, I had a chat with my boss. The guard began to get most evenings off. Two months in, everything feels normal here. I go to the of-
fice, I file stories, I go to yoga and to parties. It helped to establish a few contacts before arriving, asking for Facebook introductions from friends of friends. But I know that nothing is normal here. Whole lives are lived behind boundary walls. I can’t take public transportation. I can’t go anywhere or do anything alone, save sit with my laptop at one of the few, uninspired coffeehouses. If I were an independent journalist or a tourist, I could throw on a burqua and brave the streets. Maybe I could even report the sexy, just-breaking stories of mayhem. But Express is responsible for me, and I am an international PR risk. I have to respect their position and comply with their hyper-vigilance — especially since those saying ‘no’ have spent a few more years in this country than I have. There are always random, awkward moments, such as when Military Intelligence waited at my hostel on my recent trip to the Kalash valley, to cover a festival. The MI guy was more interested in speaking with my friend, a Pakistani lawyer, than me. “Why are you staying in the same room?” he asked my friend. “Are you getting married? You must be thinking about getting married now.” Marriage, of course. Because that’s usually what splitting costs on a budget trip indicates. So apparently, I am under constant surveillance, and I’m definitely in a frequent state of upheaval. I’m always having some sort of epiphany, whether it’s journalistic or personal. After a productive week, I’ll have a wasted week, trying to figure out how to meet Express’ expectations, how to parlay this time into the beginnings of a career as an international correspondent and simply, how to be here. Despite this bipolar cycling — maybe even because of it — I am addicted to Pakistan. Obviously, it’s one of the more newsworthy corners of the world. And beyond that, people are generous, hospitable, diverse, opinionated and, contrary to their international image, highly intelligent. Coming here has sparked a fervent interest in geopolitics, and a sense of shame about how little I know in comparison to my Pakistani peers. I’m reshaping my worldview from the micro to the macro and examining my western-hewed values in the light of eastern reality. Yes, scary things happen here, but being in Pakistan has changed everything for me, and my advice to other journalists would be: find a way to come here, if you can. a
27 JULY 3-9 2011
the trials of
tribal journalists BY SAID NAZIR
“Please give up your job ... it is so dangerous, I don’t want to see your wife widowed and your children orphaned. Look at what risky journalism did to us,” pleads the wife of slain tribal journalist Nasrullah Afridi. On May 10, 2011, Afridi was killed when a bomb planted under
“When I leave for work in the morning my wife advises me to
stay away from the press club, she thinks it will be hit by militants at any time,” says journalist Mashtaram Khan from Mohmand Agency.
Since 2005 to date, nine journalists have lost their lives report-
his car exploded in Khyber super market in the Cantonment area
ing from the tribal areas.
Agency, and had been working for the Urdu-language paper the
media, and this is the reason that 30 per cent of tribal reporters
Afridi had been threatened countless times, but he brushed
of Journalists (TUJ) have chosen to flee and settle in districts of
in Peshawar. Afridi, 40, was reporting from Bara Tehsil Khyber Daily Mashriq and for state-run television, since 2001.
away suggestions that he should leave the profession. “My father used to tell my mother: ‘I may leave you but I will never leave my job’,” says Afridi’s elder son, Ihsanullah. Ultimately, Afridi did
leave his family for good, leaving behind a wife, three daughters
Warring tribes and militant groups have little tolerance for the
out of 230 journalists registered as members of the Tribal Union
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, says TUJ president Safdar Hayat. He himself has migrated from North Waziristan to Peshawar and lives close to Afridi’s house in Hayatabad.
Hayat says that anyone who attempts to delve deep into mili-
and three sons, his mother, father and three sisters.
tancy and military operations will ultimately be silenced. He
frequently face threats. “My father often asks me to change jobs
area of Peshawar just adds to the insecurity journalists feel.
Afridi was not the only journalist in the tribal areas who had to
in Khyber Agency.
but the thrill of journalism prevents me from doing that,” says
Noor Haleem, a reporter for an Urdu-language newspaper based JULY 3-9 2011
adds that the death of Afridi in the highly protected cantonment But how do journalists, in the process of seeking the truth, end
up enmeshed in deadly activities in the first place?
In Afridi’s case, he had had an uneasy relationship with Khy-
After some time, Afridi bore the brunt of an attack on him by
ber Agency-based banned outfit Lashkar-e-Islam, led by warlord
some fellow tribal journalists, who visited Tirah Valley in 2009
Back on February 24, 2006, Afridi and Khyal Math Shah (from
following the LI’s orders, and they asked its chief to help make
Mangal Bagh, since its inception in 2006.
the Daily Surkhab) reported that militants from Lashkar-e-Islam
launched an assault against its rivals, led by Pir Saif-ur-Rehman.
to see Mangal Bagh where they complained that Afridi was not
one of them a correspondent for The Daily Mashriq instead of Afridi. The LI had also been blaming Afridi for siding with its archri-
This enraged the founder of LI, Mufti Munir Shakir, who directed
val militant outfit, Ansarul Islam. His colleagues Sher Khan and
the Daily Mashriq and Daily Surkhab. He also banned sales of both
though Afridi had cordial relations with Ansarul Islam and he
his followers through his illegal radio channel to boycott reading papers in Bara tehsil, where the LI has established its own writ.
Mufti branded the reporters ‘anti-Islamic’ and closed the petrol station Afridi owned.
He also told the reporters that unless they apologised for their
reports, their papers would continue to be banned. The journal-
Qazi Rauf from Khyber Agency disagree with this, saying that
was a strong opponent of LI, he remained impartial while cover-
ing conflicts between the rivals. Afridi’s colleagues say that his main misstep was that he reported about the militant groups’ unlawful activities in an unbiased fashion.
On April 17, 2011, a press conference addressed by the leaders of
ists ultimately capitulated and apologised to Mufti. The monitor-
Ansarul Islam was held in Peshawar in which they claimed that
incident and demanded that the government protect the journal-
anti-Pakistani forces. When this press conference was covered by
ing organisation Reporters Sans Frontiers protested against the ists, but nothing came of this.
On the 16th of the following month, Afridi and Qazi Rauf pub-
lished a story about a murder that the LI was allegedly responsible for, in their respective papers the Daily Mashriq and Daily Ex-
press. The story contradicted the LI’s claim that the deceased was
a thief, which infuriated Mangal Bagh. Through a radio broadcast, he told the reporters he would attack their homes if they did
not stop reporting against the banned organisation. So on March
Mangal Bagh had fled to Afghanistan where he was working for local newspapers, Mangal Bagh was infuriated and thought the
press conference had been organised by Afridi. He threatened Afridi through his shadow spokesman Muhammad Umer, say Afridi’s friends.
They say that colleagues and a Pakistani intelligence official
had asked Afridi to lie low for a few months, but he didn’t take their concerns seriously. A month later, he was dead.
So far no militant group has claimed responsibility for his kill-
17, the two journalists submitted a surety bond of Rs1 million
not file stories about the group any more. The media protested
they can avoid the wrath of militant groups or state agencies.
On May 21, 2006, The News published a story stating that one of
vulnerable position. “I have filed many stories which say things
through local councillor Haji Ikhtiar Shah, and said they would against this, but again, nothing came of their protests.
Mangal Bagh’s sons was studying in a school run by the Frontier
Corps inside Mehsud Scouts fort in Sordand area of Bara tehsil in Khyber Agency. The journalist who was associated with The
News as a correspondent in Khyber Agency said the story irritated the then commandant of the Mehsud Scouts, Mehmood Raza
For journalists in tribal regions, self-censorship is the only way
Those who do not practice self-censorship are in an extremely like, ‘unknown armed men kidnapped unknown persons and
shifted them to an undisclosed location’ despite the fact that I knew the three Ws — who, what, when. But the parties involved do not want to be named,” says Safdar Hayat.
Hayat says that 80 per cent of tribal journalists are not paid by
Changezi, who shared the story with Mangal Bagh in a meeting
their respective media organisations, which contributes to the
result, on May 22 Mangal Bagh issued a death warrant against
ers. A lack of financial resources, education, training and toler-
on May 21, and told him that Afridi was behind the story. As a Afridi through his illegal radio station, asking his militants to shoot Afridi wherever they found him.
At this time, Bagh also stated that Afridi’s petrol station should
be closed for three years, and banned sales of the Daily Mashriq in the area for six months. This time, Afridi shifted his family from
his hometown of Bara to Phase 6 in Hayatabad, Peshawar, in
problem, and makes most of them morally corrupt or blackmailance on the part of security forces and militants were some of
the main challenges for journalists covering the conflict in Fata, he adds. He says the law of Frontier Crimes Regulations and the non-extension of the Freedom of Information Act to Fata were the main hurdles in protecting journalists.
He says that tribal journalists are not aware of their own limi-
tations or of national interest and this is why they become vic-
alleging that LI militants had fired on security forces in Qamber-
in-camera briefing like it gave to parliamentarians, which may
Then about a year later, on May 21, 2007, Afridi wrote a story
abad area, injuring a police officer. LI rejected its involvement,
and five days later a hand grenade was hurled into Afridi’s house in Peshawar.
tims of the conflict in Fata. “So we request the ISI to give us an help minimise threats to journalists,” he says.
Unfortunately for journalists like Nasrullah Afridi, it is already too
late, and he has become another victim of a faceless criminal act. a
JULY 3-9 2011
the house that sadat lived in This time the author takes us to Egypt, to the moment when Hosni Mubarak came to power.
BY JEHAN NASEEM
My parents arrived in Cairo, Egypt in 1977. They were given a home by my father’s company in Garden City and soon found out that it was the very same house that Anwar Sadat had been living in before the revolution. Every day necessities were not available in Egypt at that time.
My father had to buy small things like toothpaste in Kuwait, which he travelled to frequently. This was a massive change for
my family since in Libya, at that time, everything was readily accessible. There was a time that our housekeeper bought about 3-4 kilograms of butter at one go. My mother was astonished, and
asked her why she made such a huge purchase since our family obviously couldn’t consume that much butter. Her reply was:
“Madam, it was a necessary purchase. I don’t know when it will be available next.”
It seemed that Sadat wanted to pay heed to the World Bank’s
policies, in order to be able to receive loans from them so that Egypt’s debts could be relieved — policies that meant the end of
subsidised food. However, when people started rioting, the state reversed its position.
Shortly afterwards, President Anwar Sadat made a historic
visit to Israel for peace. Many western countries and even Egypt lauded Sadat for taking such a bold step and encouraged it. How-
ever, many Middle Eastern countries, especially Libya, (which
was the main supporters of Pan-Arabism) claimed that Sadat was
a sell-out. If you took Sadat’s side, you were a liberal dog. If you opposed him, you were a radical fundamentalist. However, prior
to him trying for peace in the region, he did make a surprise at-
tack in 1973 called the Ramadan War. Therefore, the only way to
get around this was trying to instill some stability in the region
through a treaty. The very day Sadat went for his trip, his wife Jehan Sadat hosted a coffee morning with all the ambassadors’
and government elites’ wives just to keep things calm, so that she wouldn’t have to constantly think of the dangerous risk her
husband was taking. JULY 3-9 2011
After this, the economy seemed to be getting more stable,
along with the country’s international relations. My family and their friends saw Egypt steadily progressing. However, shortly after my birth, the assassination of President Anwar Sadat took place, during a victory parade held in Cairo to celebrate Egypt’s
crossing of the Suez Canal. My family remembers seeing the parade on the television live broadcast. My mother says: “The pa-
rade went berserk; we didn’t understand what was happening. All of a sudden the network cut to the Talawat, then they announced President Sadat had been assassinated. The whole day,
the network played the Talawat and they showed Jehan Sadat
running towards Sadat’s body and her yelling to the bodyguard,
Clockwise from below: A cruise along the Nile, and women in traditional dress.
‘What did you people do? What did you people do to him?’”
My eldest sister recalls that when they showed this footage on
the local TV channel, our housekeeper wept piteously as she sat
in front of the TV and kept saying in distress, “They killed such
a good man, he was such a good leader, why did they kill such a good man?”
Hosni Mubarak took over as President while Egypt grieved. A
couple of years later my family and I moved back to Pakistan.
To this day they all remember Egyptians as loving, warm, and
welcoming people, with a rich culture and strong history. Time and time again our Pakistani friends who were with us in Cairo
would return to visit. After some 15 years or so, one of them men-
tioned how it was again becoming very difficult for the common man in Egypt to buy certain food items — chicken, for example.
A couple of years later our housekeeper came to visit us with an-
other Pakistani family that she had started to work for when we left. According to her, Egypt was not the same anymore.
I don’t remember anything about Egypt, and of course Libya is
all stories to me. Regardless, there is a certain melancholy and a strong sense of relief that my family and I feel when watching the revolution happen. Tahrir Square was where my parents
strolled with my push-chair and my sisters walked on either side. We hope that Egyptians get through this ordeal.
When the situation has stabilised in Libya and Egypt, I’d like
to make a small visit; just to see how fierce the desert wind blows and how strong the currents of the Nile flow. a
35 JULY 3-9 2011
FEATURE Maut ka Kuwaan
celebrating vaisakhi at BY HAROON KHALID
Celebrating a harvest means enjoying the antics of stuntmen and eunuchs alike in this village in the Punjab.
All the eunuchs or Khwaja Siras walk into the arena called the Maut ka Kuwaan or ‘the well of death’. With vibrantly painted faces, blow-dried hair and brightly coloured shalwar kameez, the eunuchs dance in the well as the daredevil rides around the flimsily put together wooden wall on a motorbike. The daredevil, Muneer Ahmad, doesn’t fit my definition of a
stuntman — since I would imagine a stuntman to look like the
character played by Nicolas Cage in the Hollywood thriller, The
Ghost Rider. He isn’t anything like the riders that take up danger-
each time to appear dramatic. He doesn’t smoke Marlboros but is the quintessential Marlboro man, an inspiration for the crowd.
The audience stands on a circular platform built on the outer-
wall of the well. A blue tent covers them from the not so comfort-
able mid-April sun. There is not a single woman in the crowd,
except my photographer friend Maryam Altaf. The rest are teenagers flirting with the eunuchs. The Khwaja Siras, with their
bold overtures, provocative dressing, and with half their black
brassieres visible through their low necklines, provide the young
village men with the only time in their lives when their obnoxious sexual remarks are met with an appreciative response — if
ous feats on AXN either. Ahmad is skinny to the point of appear-
not a much more flirtatious answer and gesture. These young
effect of smoking hashish. He wears his silky black hair like Wa-
who clumsily place them in their cleavages. They often wink at
ing emaciated. His face shows signs of aging — a probable side
heed Murad, the iconic Pakistani film actor from the ‘70s. He has a thick, short beard and wears a greyish, baggy shalwar kameez
as he enters through the well’s tiny door in a stoop. His unbut-
toned shirt demonstrates his manliness. He carries a lit cigarette
in his mouth and I think to myself that he must enter with one
36 JULY 3-9 2011
men throw in notes of five and 10 rupees to these dancing actors
their admirer, blow him a flying kiss and sometimes even gesture
for him to meet them outside after the performance, while sexually provocative Punjabi songs blare from speakers placed atop
the bamboo that supports the canopy. Like Ahmad, our Malboro
man, the eunuchs too perform this act a dozen times throughout
The Khwaja Siras, with their bold overtures, provocative dressing, and with half their black brassieres visible through the low necklines, provide the young village men with the only time in their lives when their obnoxious sexual remarks are dealt with an appreciative response.
The dare devil Before you know it, the entire structure begins to vibrate with the movement of the bike, which Ahmad rides vertically up and
around the pit’s wall. Ahmad takes his hands off the handle and the bike continues to revolve uniformly. My jaw drops. A man extends a 10 rupee note from the crowd. Ahmad tries to grab it
but fails. His bike dips a little, so he puts his hands back on the
handle and is back in control. His third attempt results in success as he clutches the note, puts it in his mouth and lets go of the handles as his bike performs a victory lap. He then throws his the day. By the time we reached it was 3 pm and one could sense the exhaustion in their steps.
This is the annual festival of Vaisakhi, arranged at the village
collection into the air, and the junkie collects it at the bottom.
Another man next to me extends a 10 rupee note which Ahmad
manages to catch on his first attempt. The bike’s wheel misses the edge of the wall by about a foot. I wonder what direction Ah-
of Ram Thamman, in April. On our way here ,we stop at a small
mad and the bike would take if they were to escape from the well.
jannat ki hawa,’ ‘Jalne wale, tera mun kala,’ read a few of them.
the masculinity of the daredevil — is an essential feature of any
Thamman is covered with various stalls on both sides. Posters of
ris wheel and a pirate ship.
on the stalls along with other Bollywood and Pakistani cricketing
and it sells. Babas calling themselves ‘Master of the Universe’,
Meanwhile, Ahmad the daredevil picks up his mountain mo-
different stones to sufferers. They also hang various lockets in a
stall selling one-liner stickers. ‘Haran de, rasta le,’ ‘Ma ki dua, The road from the neighbouring village of Kala Kharu to Ram Shahid Afridi, Kareeena Kapoor, and Ajay Devgan are displayed stars.
torbike resting on the well’s wall — both their meagre weights crucial for the balance of the centripetal and centrifugal forces. The bike doesn’t start immediately. A man who looks like a junkie
The Maut ka Kuwaan, with its barely cloaked femininity — and
village festival. Other must-haves are jumping pads, swings, ferSpirituality plays an important role in South-Asian festivals
and ‘Curers of all diseases’ sit on roadsides, offering rings with
black thread, some read religious messages such as ‘Ya Ali’, while others are more secular like ‘Love’.
13th of April coincides with the 1st Vaisakh of the ‘Hindu’ Bik-
with a shaved head and unshaved beard offers to push it. At first
ramjeet calendar. This marks the harvest season. The entire com-
is persistent and keeps on assisting.
val before the actual cutting begins. It is a time to mark the end
Ahmad rebukes him, gesturing for him to go away. But the man With a slight push, the bike starts; the engine begins to roar
and a cloud of grey smoke momentarily hides the stuntman.
munity celebrates what is popularly known as the Vaisakhi festi-
of a successful farming season and the beginning of a new one.
Pre-1947, there were many cities and villages where the Vaisakhi
37 JULY 3-9 2011
The Babas offer rings with different stones to the sufferers. They also hang various lockets in a black thread, some read religious messages such as ‘Ya Ali’, while others are more secular like ‘Love’.
Ferris wheel festival was celebrated on a large scale and Ram Thamman was one of them. According to the Intelligence Reports of Police found
in the archive of Punjab Secretariat, about 35,000 people attended this festival in the year 1946, which was perhaps the last time this festival was celebrated at such a grand scale.
Munawar Bibi was an old woman from the village in her 70s
whom I met in 2010 and who has since passed away. She had told
me that before Partition, there used to be so many people attend-
ing the festival that some would stock up on their food and lock themselves in for three days to avoid the crowded streets. Ghulam Hussain, 85, used to visit this festival from Ferozpur District
nearby. His grandfather, a Muslim, was a Sadhu at the temple of Ram Thamman. After partition he moved in with him, settling
inside the temple. He told me that people from all over the country — including what is now India — used to come here to cel-
ebrate Vaisakhi. There used to be kabadi, traditional wrestling, and nautanki, folk theatre, full of music and dance. There were
many more stalls in those days. “It was understood that if somebody was lost in the mela (festival), there was no point in looking for him/her,” he told me, while I interviewed him inside the
smadh of Ram Thamman. He wore a red cloth with golden em-
broidery around his forehead. “We would already have this talk beforehand that if anyone of us got lost, we should meet up at a particular spot,” he added.
In the famous folk story of Punjab Heer-Waris — while describ-
ing the Barat of Heer — the author says: “Jevein log nigahein te raatan thaman dhol marde te rang lawande.” The mention of
Thamman in the Heer-Waris portrays the significance of this festival in Punjab. a
Haroon Khalid works as the Minority Project Director for ‘The Citizens Archive of Pakistan’ (CAP).
38 JULY 3-9 2011
JULY 3-9 2011
Sometimes an eye-catching motif is all you need.
Designers: Asifa and Nabeel
Model: Rubya Chaudhry
Photography: Zeeshan Ghauri Make up: Huma Tahir
Coordination: Umer Mushtaq
JULY 3-9 2011
Berry-licious, with a floaty twist.
Asifa and Nabeel showcase their new prĂŞt line, aimed at girls and young women. Dress
these tops up with churidars, or dress them down with jeans â€” whatever works for you.a
41 JULY 3-9 2011
FASHION Traditional wear for that family affair.
42 JULY 3-9 2011
Inky blue will work with white for day, and black for night.
White perfect. JULY 3-9 2011
UP NORTH AND PERSONAL A typical village home.
truths Scratch a Murree local and find a property dealer offering you a potential ‘luxury property’ TEXT & PHOTOGRAPHS BY ZAHRAH NASIR
For a country on an economic downslide it is amazing just how many people are snapping up property in the Murree area, and right now! Ever since the Punjab government actually did something sensible and declared the area ‘environmentally sensitive’, an untold number of angry speculators — some of them having invested huge amounts in land on which to build apartment complexes — have been frothing at the mouth as they vainly struggle to obtain the requisite NOC from the Environment Protection Agency in Lahore. Permissions
also have to be obtained from the Murree Improvement Trust and a number of other government departments before work can get
under way. Some developers, however, go ahead anyway, work-
ing on the premise that if they fork out enough in bribes their completed monstrosities will be approved.
top of the purchase money, more cash on erecting boundary walls
and clearing the site of undergrowth and mature trees which lo-
cals promptly grabbed for firewood, but I have a malicious grin plastered across my face as I write this!
This is, as everyone knows, a tourist area: Goodness knows
how many people, locals and outsiders, depend one way or an-
other on tourism for a living; yet greed is killing the proverbial
goose. Local people have been selling off prime chunks of land to developers for years and still are, with far less success since
the new law was announced. This means that their children will inherit little, if any, land at all and thus be forced to move else-
where. In the future, these same people are unlikely to be in any position to purchase land of their own up here, unless they undertake a good many highway or bank robberies.
The frenzied, myopic sale of land over the last two or three de-
It isn’t just developers who have been hit by this belated en-
cades has resulted in ugly over-development of a once beautiful
house, be it a permanent or part time residence, are, quite
up steep slopes making them prone to landslides, natural water
vironmental sensibility. Those wanting to construct just one rightly, subject to the same law. I am delighted to report that the paindus who purchased a plot from Forrest Gump last year are
like that. I should sympathise with the fact that they spent, on
amongst those caught up in the morass. I know this is nasty and
petty of me, but I really did not relish the thought of neighbours JULY 3-9 2011
region: Trees have been cleared, access roads and tracks bulldozed sources no longer satisfy the huge summer population so uncon-
trolled tube-wells have moved in to drain precious aquifers. All
this, in turn, leads to further destruction of remaining greenery with a knock on effect on wildlife and indigenous flora. The scale
of desecration is shocking and yet, with tourists still pouring in
Throughout the painful process we were accompanied by an
to be taken advantage of, property prices have soared.
expanding retinue of would-be property dealers who always had
ly as three years ago, to over Rs200,000 per marla in scenic loca-
or in the next village and all, without exception, offered to build
Land prices have gone up from Rs100,000 per kanal as recent-
tions away from the main road. Existing property, no matter how dilapidated it happens to be, is suddenly a gold mine although, I hasten to add, extensive renovations which alter the
size of a house legally need planning permission too. Idealistically speaking, controls should have been imposed many moons
ago but everyone, including local politicians, authorities and lawyers, are naturally against anything that might bring their incomes down to an ‘honest’ level, as attempts by the Murree
Improvement Trust to convince the provincial government to relax planning rules amply illustrate.
the ‘perfect place’ ... just around the next corner, the next hill a dream house to match my friend’s imagination if they would
just buy this plot or that field. Suddenly they were building con-
tractors as well! What none of them seem to realise is that the area had reached saturation point long ago as far as construc-
tion is concerned and that continuing to build unsuitable houses and high-rise buildings is both ludicrous and dangerous — let’s not forget that the area is earthquake prone, and just because it
escaped narrowly in the big one of 2005, doesn’t automatically mean it will be lucky next time around.
This worrying situation aside, one cannot blame local people
Being one of those rare breed of people who happen to be
for making hay while the sun still shines, although the classi-
investment, I recently found myself in a tight corner when
spoke in their wheels. Actual employment opportunities are few
against anyone owning a second home, for pleasure or as an
asked to help friends find just such a thing so that they could spend a little time out in the hills every now and then. Having explained that holiday homes wreck local economies, remove
potential homes from indigenous youngsters and are morally wrong when so many people don’t even have roofs over their heads, I ultimately surrendered when my friends pointed out
that if I did not help them they would be left to the mercy of a property dealer. Idealist I am, but realist I am too.
What followed was an eye opener: How about paying Rs8
million for a six-bedroom prison? The brand new house boasts
fication of the area as ‘Environmentally sensitive’ has now put a
and young men have no real option but to move away in search of whatever menial work they can find as their elders go about the
business of selling off their birthrights. If — and this is where the idealist comes back into play — there weren’t any holiday homes and tourists had to stay in rented accommodation, there would be no need for the younger generation to migrate as they could all find work so much closer to what is left of home. a
A home with a view.
tasteless columns on either side of the front door and painfully
narrow marble steps which lead into the ‘drawing room’ which has a weird ‘Beam me up, Scotty’ device implanted in the ceiling! The drawing room is a dark and dreary place with one small
window, two of the upstairs bedrooms have one small window each. The other four bedrooms — two upstairs and two down-
stairs, have no windows at all, but one windowless bedroom downstairs is livened up by the presence of a tube-well and donkey pump!
Rs5 million would buy a three-bedroom concrete bunker build
into a hillside and in the final stages of self-destruction thanks
to lack of drainage, and at Rs4.5 million there is a mud house
right on top of a steep hill. It claimed to have four bedrooms but had two, plus one buffalo residence and an attached chicken
shed, and overlooked something I hadn’t known existed: a se-
cure compound of perhaps a dozen or so houses and apartments owned by a general, a judge and others deeming it necessary
to be kept under lock and key. At Rs3 million was another mud house in need of major repair work and minus an access road. The list goes on. We must have walked at least 50 miles up,
down, across and around the mountain and by the time I surrendered, having wisely decided to opt out of the game, my legs must have been all of two inches shorter.
The richness of cheese and the tanginess of citrus — roast chicken will never taste the same again. BY POPPY AGHA
One of the main things I try and teach students who learn how to cook with me is that every dish is versatile, both in the way that it is created and the way it is eaten. The most famous of them, of course, is chicken roast. We’ve all had it, we love it, but sometimes we tire of it. This is because we tend to make the same roast again and again. Changing the recipe slightly or bringing in another element can completely alter the face of the dish and, in effect, its very nature. Making the perfect chicken roast can be daunting. Remem-
ber, it’s all about using interesting spices and getting the timing
right. By that I don’t mean that you should marry ill-fated ingredients together but try and be adventurous. I love the flavours of
fresh citrus, balsamic and red chilli. Throw in a little thyme and
turmeric and “wow”, you’ll have a great bevy of intense flavours flowing your way, and of course we must never forget good stuffing!
This wonderful dish can be extremely versatile and you must
try your hand at it. The roast works as a complete dish upon serv-
ing, carved or whole, and is a great sandwich filler too. a JULY 3-9 2011
We’ve all had roast chicken, we love it, but sometimes we tire of it. This is because we tend to make the same roast again and again.
STUFFED CHICKEN ROAST Coating for the chicken: Salt — 1.5 teaspoon
Thyme — 1.5 teaspoon
Turmeric — 1.2 teaspoon
Red Chilli Flakes — 2 teaspoons
Fresh Black Pepper — 1.5 teaspoon
Lemon — Juice of one whole lemon over the chicken
Orange — Juice of one whole orange over the chicken
Whole Red Chilli — Crush 6 in your hand and throw them in
the roasting pan with the chicken
Extra Virgin Olive Oil — Coat the chicken well
Balsamic Vinegar — Coat the chicken well — but not too much! RICE STUFFING Parboiled rice
Small black raisins Cottage cheese Mozzarella
Brown sugar Cashews
Artichokes — To seal the rice stuffing in the chicken cavity Red onions — Quartered around the chicken
6-8 pods of garlic — Whole, placed around the chicken Method: Coat the chicken with the marinade ingredients and stuff the cavity with filling. Place the onions and garlic around the bird
in an oven dish. Cover the dish with foil and cook in a preheated oven at 200 degrees for 45 minutes.
Remove foil and cook for another 20 minutes. The chicken is ready to serve immediately.
49 JULY 3-9 2011
featured review of the week
book the real gandhi? BY AMMARA KHAN
When another book on Gandhi’s life comes to stores, one can’t help wondering what new insight the writer could possibly come up with. As one of the most prominent leaders of the twentieth century, Gandhi did not just influence the events of his time but is acknowledged worldwide as both a unique thinker and a perceptive politician. The vastness of Gandhian scholarship today only affirms his greatness, and his life is no mystery, considering the fact that he has been the subject of numerous biographies. As far as Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India is concerned, it is not Gandhi but the writer Joseph Lelyveld that attracts readership at first. Lelyveld, who won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction in 1986 and worked as the executive editor of The New York Times from 1994 to 2001, daringly de-mythologises the deified figure of the Mahatma. Lelyveld delves deep into the many contradictions of Gandhi — his self-aggrandisement and obsession with self-image, his narrow take on ethnic issues like the rights of Untouchables, his unfathomable instructions on combating sexuality, his relationship with a Jew Hermann Kallenbach, his liaison with his niece. The last two, as expected, caused great controversy, leading to the accusation that Lelyveld portrayed Gandhi as a bisexual and a pervert. However, the relationship unveiled in this book is that of platonic love. At the same time, Lelyveld is careful not to belittle or downplay the greatness of Gandhi; his purpose is to uncover the making of a shrewd politician who knew how to bend wills to his liking. The book constantly questions the facts and ideas that are largely taken for granted. The Gandhi that emerges as a result of this process is more human and believable than the god-like persona that is often attributed to him. By showing the evolution of Gandhi’s ideas regarding issues like Untouchables, the book shows the subtle clash between the idealistic niceties and the practical restrictions that he had to face. The first part of the book deals with Gandhi’s early life in South JULY 3-9 2011
walking contradiction Lelyveld delves deep into the many contradictions of Gandhi but is careful not to belittle him.
Africa and the second focuses on his transformation into Mahatma. The book tends to focus on issues, instead of giving primary importance to historical events. Structure-wise, the book follows a loose chronological order of Gandhi’s life. However, unlike the traditional biography, the goal is not an indisputable conclusion or a final verdict on the enigmatic character of a great leader. It is more of a study of the many contradictory aspects of his early formative years in South Africa and their influence in his later life. Some people might feel uneasy at this individualisation of Gandhi but it is nevertheless intriguing. Lelyveld discursively constructs a humanised figure that is both historically contextualised and psychologically exposed. Unusual as it is in its approach, the reaction of most readers has either been of pure delight or utter disgust. One simply has to read the book to discover what camp one falls in.
book saints and sinners BY BISMA TIRMIZI
How can I live fearlessly, love passionately, be content, and speak honestly? Delve into The Forty Rules of Love and a natural flow of real emotion will take over. You will find yourself free from struggle, ready to escape from an imprisoned mind, ready to fall in love with life and ready to embrace the pleasure that only comes with conscious freedom. Elif Shafak spins a tale that explores the past and present, and East and West with synchronised exactness. Forty-year-old dissatisfied Jewish-American housewife Ella Rubenstein lands a job as a Reader to a literary agent and is asked to read a manuscript titled Sweet Blasphemy written by Aziz Zahara — a modern day Muslim Sufi. Zahara’s novel is the tale of Shams Tabrizi’s search for Rumi. It talks about the integral role that the passionate wandering dervish Shams played in the conversion of the accomplished but unfulfilled cleric Rumi. The two great Islamic scholars developed a spiritual and intellectual relationship in 13th century Konya that forever transformed Rumi’s path. Under Shams’ unconventional guidance, Rumi became a philosopher of Sufism and mysticism, and a poet of universal love. Ella sees her story replicated in Rumi’s struggle and comes to believe that Zahara — like Shams — has been sent by the Divine to guide her to her full potential, paving a path to her emotional freedom. This story of two spiritual relationships is a powerful subject to ponder on, especially in the current climate when the world is ablaze with secular, religious and cultural differences. I was amazed to read a book so entrenched with realism, hope, forgiveness and freedom. The vibrant characters add a deep conviction to the novel. The power of the novel may just be the simplicity with which it is written, each of the Forty Rules is a lesson, a philosophic principle that has the power to engage its reader in self-analysis. Advice like “Through an illness, accident, loss, or fright, one way 52 or another, we all are faced with incidents that teach us how to JULY 3-9 2011
parallels Ella sees her story replicated in Rumi’s struggle and comes to believe that Zahara — like Shams — has been sent by the Divine to guide her to her full potential. become less selfish and judgmental, and more compassionate and generous. Yet some of us learn the lesson and manage to become milder, while some others end up becoming even harsher than before. The only way to get closer to truth is to expand your heart so that it will encompass all humanity and still have room for more Love,” is a simple rule giving us great insight into life. Each episode in The Forty Rules of Love leaves us with wisdom that has more than just a deep personal impact. We are invariably drawn to think about life, society and religion, and how rigid rules and hateful rhetoric have marred our vision of peace. As Easterners we are openly uncomfortable with intellectual connectivity and spiritual and romantic relationships, therefore it is reinvigorating to stumble on literature that forces one to reflect on human value, differences in religion and social stature, and love all equally and openly. The Forty Rules of Love is a must read, it is a contemporary classic sure to win the hearts and minds of moderates looking for intellectual stimulation.
10 things I hate about ...driving
1 2 3 4 5
BY FATIMA RIZWAN
Windscreen patrol. Of course you can wipe my spotless
windscreen with your rag and wiper. That is exactly what I meant by my frantic hand movements and vio-
lent nodding of the head in the east-west direction as you walked towards my car.
Biker rights. Oh look, it’s green for me but a motorcyclist JUST decided to cross. Biker boy is changing lanes
for the umpteenth time and it is my moral duty to let him do it. And the best is when the wife; the half-dozen children, the monthly grocery and the motorcyclist daddy cling onto every bare surface of the motorcycle,
making me feel like a home-wrecker every time I honk. Lane crimes. Oh rickshaw man, why would you drive in the right lane — taking up space enough to prevent any-
one from squeezing between you and the next car but also leaving a gap large enough to tease the over-taker in me?
And let’s not forget: Hello my name is Ginganti-normous Bus and I randomly feel like keeping to the right lane today! You will listen to me because I can crush you in a jiffy.
The number of bumps on the roads of Karachi that can put Fergie’s humps to shame.
and scooch its way through the tinniest of gullies. Just
when you begin to think it is not physically possible for
you to make the “squeeze,” bystanders around your car
will prove you wrong by exclaiming “buhat jaga hai,
Distracting billboards. Is that an actual dairy milk
stuck to a pole with actual men eating it? Eyes on the road, eyes on the road.
The age-old-caveman prejudice against female driv-
ers. Might this driver be of the fairer sex? Must catch up to check. Must roll down window for a clearer view. Affirmative. Must overtake.
The case of the chronic over-taker. He will first start by using the infamous “dipper,” casting a blinding reflec-
tion in your rear view mirror. This will be followed by a rhythmic honk coupled with a systematic increase in
speed. The last touch will be zooming past you to show his rage (from the left, mind you), just when you decide to give him way — making your car wobble like jelly.
Peer pressure. Once the countdown at your signal hits “9” expect honking from a few dozen cars as a polite indicator to put your gears in place. By the time it shows
“4” you better have revved up that engine a few times to prove you share the mob mentality of unboundedeagerness. And lastly, you must be halfway down the wrath of the mighty honkers.
JULY 3-9 2011
make your shy car participate in frequent bumper-fests
buhat jaga hai, nikal jayegi!”
signal by the time it says “1” or else prepare to face the
6 7 8 9 10
The squeeze. Driving in Karachi will — by necessity-
Saddar. Enough said.