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JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011

Colours of the Kalash This week the spotlight is on the community, in its element as it celebrates the traditional festival Joshi.







JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011

Cover Story 22 Colours of the Kalash An inside look at the unique tribe’s Joshi festival

Context 26 Culture Shock Kalash customs could soon fade away, threatened by migration and opposition to their beliefs

Portfolio 30 Spirit of the Valley Whether they are young or old, the Kalash wear the same face — full of defiance and brimming with a love for life

Feature 34 Such Great Heights After scaling Everest, Hassan Sadpara aims to break world records


Feature 38 Recalling the Libyan Atura The writer remembers a country that was very different than it is today


Positive Pakistanis 42 The Special Editor This hard worker makes overcoming a disability look easy

Fired Up With Frieha 46 All’s Fair in Love What do you do when you find your soul mate and he’s already married . . . or you are?

Regulars 6 People & Parties: Out and about with Pakistan’s beautiful people 48 Advice: Mr Know It All answers your questions 50 Reviews: What’s new in films 54 Ten Things I Hate About: Candid moments


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: 4


L’Oréal Professionnel Pakistan introduced X-Tenso Moisturist in Karachi

chant, Ambreen Mer dia Shah Sa d an la bi Na

Yasmin Angie Marshall


Neelo JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011

Zarmeena, Sohai and Suhana

Asma Zaidi, Nighat Misbah, Rukaiya Adamjee with Rosy Patel

Zurain Imam


Rizwana Khan

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Amina Saeed of The Furniture Gallery exhibited her work at the Mall of Lahore




Faiqa and Uzma


heh Asad and Anus JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011


Fatima Ambrina and

Maryam and Ja



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Nesha and Afsha



Tehmina, Dr Maryam

Onaza and Moin


Kashif and Rotaba JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011

Mona and Tazeen

Mehak and Lisa

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Zara, Amina, Fiza Gillani, Sadaf

Wafa and Bilal Mukhtar


Mubashir and Mrs. Saeed Puppal


Shireen JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011


Asim and Humera

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QYT threw an exciting dinner to celebrate his birthday at Chameleon, at Royal Palm

Fauzia and Shazreh

Tina and Maria

Ayesha Sana , Asimyar, Reema and Tony

Ayesha and Mrs Rizwan


Shahid and JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011

Shazia Najeeb and Uzma Ramzan


Iffat and Mehreen

Iman and QYT

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Anila Shah and Yasmeen Bajwa

Maheen Kardar, Saad Ali, Maria B and Tahir

Mehdi and Natty Samina Peerzada


QYT and Shoaib Akhtar JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011

Sadeyeh and Huma Shah

Ather Shah za


Misbah Momin and Noveen Amjad

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colours The community is fully in its element at the traditional Kalash festival Joshi. BY CHEREE FRANCO PHOTOS BY ZEESHAN HAIDER

22 JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011

of the kalash

My journey officially begins at the Chitral police station, where Pakistani friends sip sweet green tea while Shane and I try to argue our way out of 24-hour armed escorts. “I was here just last July, and I didn’t have a guard then,” says

the adamant Irishman, a five-year resident of Islamabad and a seasoned traveller in the northern areas.

Apparently, since October 2010 — a point in time that seems

completely arbitrary to us — all foreigners are assigned guards. Will the guards fit in our Landcruiser? Okay then, not a problem.

They’ll send a separate truck. So the next afternoon, we begin the treacherous uphill chug into what was, until recently, the North West Frontier, following a pick-up packed with cops — at

The midsized Kalash valley of Rumbur is the land that time ­— and electricity, mobile service and hot showers — forgot. It’s less commercialised than Bhumboret, the larger valley, and its population is almost purely Kalash — a tribe of Indo-Aryans who consider themselves the progeny of Alexander the Great.

least seven at last count.

The midsized Kalash valley of Rumbur is the land that time

— and electricity, mobile service and hot showers — forgot. It’s

less commercialised than Bhumboret, the larger valley, and its population is almost purely Kalash — a tribe of Indo-Aryans who

consider themselves the progeny of Alexander the Great. Rumbur has five villages of between 10 to 50 families each.

It’s twilight when we arrive in the largest village, tumbling

out of the Landcruiser like clowns on parade. Women stand on

low roofs, their gazes fixed and expressionless. Men and boys

crowd the road to witness the spectacle. The girls — miniature

copies of their mothers in regal headpieces and baggy black, neon-trimmed dresses — scatter like minnows as we approach.

We are staying at The Kalash Guest House, operated by Engi-

neer Khan and his family. A wooden structure that stacks level

upon level, the Guest House is set apart from the main village,

nestled opposite a bend where the river opens to misty-soft mountains. It’s ramshackle and cosy. The fresh, pungent waft of burning cedar drifts from the cooking fire, and I think we have

come to the most pacific place on earth . . . for about six minutes. Then my reverie is interrupted by angry voices. There’s a confrontation playing out between my travel companions and the cops.

My friend Tazeen fills me in: “They want to sleep in our rooms,

but we said no, that we have women, for one.” It seems the police

have been sent with nothing more than knapsacks of clothes —

no plans and no funds for room and board. Finally, we reach an

agreement. We’ll pay for our guards’ meals, and Engineer will pitch a tent so they can sleep in his yard.

Harmony restored, Engineer breaks out a recycled Pepsi bottle

of home-brewed grape wine, and we sip from mismatched cups

JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011



Joshi in full swing(above): dance is an integral part of Kalash culture.

and quiz him on Kalash culture. As the first college graduate in

ists from Peshawar and one guy, a Danish trekker, even slept on

at the Rumbur government primary school. His daughter, Sha-

envy him the experience. The night before, I huddled under a

activist for education. He teaches English, among other subjects, zia, is pursuing a master’s of philosophy at Punjab University, and his 18-year-old son is studying engineering in Chitral.

Despite their exposure to urban life, Engineer is convinced that

the open-air porch. Despite the fact that we freeze all night, I

blanket on that same porch and watched the planetary sideshow — roughly a shooting star every four minutes.

We amble about the main village, watching women wash

his children will choose to follow Kalash traditions. And Shazia, a

clothes in the river, and men pat out flat circles of walnut bread.

my family when I’m in Lahore,” she says. She hopes to follow in her

used to be Ahmed Ali, but I changed it to sound less Muslim,”

woman with an open face and wry wit, agrees: “I miss it here, I miss father’s footsteps and teach the Kalash children. But at 22, she’s past the traditional age for marriage, and Kalash men don’t understand

her ambition. “It’s strange for a woman to be educated, and there are valleys with mountains on either side. So people don’t have anything to do but talk,” she says, offering a candid half-smile.

The next night we split a bottle of local moonshine with Co-

In the evening we meet Engineer’s nephew, Ahmed Kalash (“It he explained matter-of-factly). Ahmed is 28 and lives in Lahore.

Despite the fact that he holds a law degree from Peshawar University, he works at a call centre that dispatches limos to New York airports — a quirky mish-mash of globalisation that seems misplaced in Rumbur.

Ahmed invites us to his father’s house, leading the way across

meo, a hardcore Japanese backpacker who rode down from Gil-

the rapid river, hopping on rocks and a rickety board. There used

mend: “Very cold,” he says dryly.

fell victim to last August’s floods. Once across the river, we are

git atop a Jeep. It’s a thrilling experience that he doesn’t recomComeo came for Joshi, but he is leaving the next day, before

the festival even begins. “I can’t take this security thing any-


We wake to a full guesthouse — there are journalists and tour-

the village — Chitral Degree College, 1990 — Engineer is a local

more,” he says. “I’m going to Peshawar.” Less fortunate than we’ve been, Comeo is sharing his bedroom with a guard. JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011

to be a proper bridge but, like the hydroelectric generators, it greeted by a fairy-tale scene — low-roofed houses with womblike interiors, piled atop each other in a precarious pyramid and

reached by a series of makeshift ladders and narrow paths that wind through bright fields and tiny irrigation channels. Every-

as they can get to their gods. “Our religion says to us you should gather. You should try to be happy with each other, and, in a really practical way you should enjoy the happiness,” Ahmed tells me.

According to Engineer, Joshi honours three sentiments, dictat-

ed by the various drumbeats. The Kalash offer prayers of thanksgiving and petition, they honour those who have died in recent

years — occasionally transmitting via song the dream messages

that come from deceased love ones — and finally, they celebrate the universal rebirth of spring through romantic invitation. Dur-

ing the festival, Kalash are free to choose spouses, even if they are already married. Young men, emboldened by wine, chat up girls who rebuke them flirtatiously or sometimes, with genuine annoyance. The Kalash have no holy book, so the festival is also

a means of orally passing on tradition, and some of the songs recall the glory days of famous ancestors.

The festival grounds are muddied, as men spray spring wa-

ter, channeled through a pipe, to ease the dust. Sometimes they

playfully target specific people. But the stream is no match for the clouds rising beneath busy feet. Many of the women tie kerchiefs around their noses as they dance.

The festival is a whirl of stampeding kids, faces stained from

sucking on sugary glacial ices. It’s teenagers stealing away behind the shop, and wine-happy women grabbing each other’s

shoulders and pledging sisterhood and affection. It’s bossy little

girls in circles on the ground, distributing bracelets and necklaces — signs of material wealth — among friends. It’s the raucous, thing’s shrouded in the purple mist of evening. I feel like I’ve stepped into a Tolkien novel.

“Ispata, baba, babyan,” we say to everyone. “Hello sister,


The next morning, the main day of Joshi, Engineer serves goat

cheese at breakfast. “At Joshi we ask for good cheese, good food, good crops, all these things,” he tells us.

The previous day his wife, Zamgulsa, sent someone to Chitral

to get new shoes for the children, and today she shakes out the

dresses that she and Shazia stitched through long winter evenings. Their black sheen will soon be dulled by fine dust.

We step through the metal-detector, a new festival accessory,

and begin our steep ascent up the mountain.

The sun is nearly unbearable, but soon we are distracted by

hundreds of ecstatic, dancing women. They link arms and step firmly to the beat of the men’s drums, emitting ethereal siren calls from open throats.

From my perch above the action — the rooftop of a building that

rollicking life-and-death ritual that happens each Joshi, as everyone forms a looping chain, grasping ceremonial woven strips,

and snakes full-speed around the mountaintop to a frenzied

drum accompaniment. This is the most breathless ritual of the day — the Kalash seem shocked each time they’re jerked around

a corner, open-mouthed laughter mixing with dismay whenever

someone is unfortunate enough to lose grip. Woe to the person who breaks the chain, because this indicates probable death in

the coming year. There is another strange ritual, a festival addition in recent decades. It involves corralling all the outsiders

(journalists, tourists and police) on the shop roof while elders

and teen boys chuck rocks at us. We are warned that this will

happen, but I don’t think we believed the Kalash hold this sort of violence or anger until the rocks start flying. We scatter from the edge of the roof, but there is nowhere to go. Kalash boys run up the exit path, and the roof is small. Luckily, the rocks are also

fairly small — they have to be, to be launched by hand — and it all ends after about 10 minutes.

More dancing, more brandishing of the cleansing juniper

serves as teahouse and convenience store — I marvel at the complex,

branches and then suddenly, without any sort of prelude or grad-

The men bounce in the center, pummeling the sky with hats and

wards the exit path.

archetypal symbols they form — spirals gyrate and helixes unfold. fists and fragrant juniper branches. Boys laugh and roughhouse

on the fringes, tumbling like puppies on top of the world, as close

ual denouement, the drumming stops and the dancers move toAnd that’s it. Joshi is over. Or at least until it starts again to-

morrow, one valley over, on a different mountaintop. a

JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011



culture shock An ancient civilisation could soon fade away, due to migration and threats to their beliefs. BY OBAID UR REHMAN ABBASI PHOTOS BY ZEESHAN HAIDER

“Every week we get threats from people who ask us to abandon our traditions,” says Fida, a resident of Bamorat village of the Kalash Valley in Chitral. This is one of the realities that the Kalash have to face every day, a reality that is at odds with the serene beauty of the valley. The Kalash live in about 12 villages in the valley, which is full

of lush green fields and natural springs. The Kalash villages are

accessible from Peshawar and Gilgit over the Lawari Pass and Shandur Pass, located at a distance of 365 kilometres and 385

kilometres respectively, a 12-hour journey in either case. How-

ever, tourists prefer to travel by air via the daily flight operated by Pakistan International Airlines from Islamabad or Peshawar to Chitral.

The origins of the Kalash tribe are shrouded in doubt and

speculation. Some historians believe that these people are the descendants of Alexander the Great. Others say the Kalash are

indigenous to Asia and come from the Nuristan area of Afghanistan. Some say the Kalash migrated to Afghanistan from a distant place in South Asia called ‘Tsiyam’, a place that features in

their folk songs. However, it has been established that the Ka-

lash migrated to Chitral from Afghanistan in 2nd century BC, and by 10th century AD the Kalash ruled a large part of present-

day Chitral. Razhawai, Cheo, Bala Sing and Nagar Chao were fa-

mous Kalash rulers in the 12th- 14th centuries AD. Their fellow tribesmen in Afghanistan were known as Red Kafirs.

But by 1320 AD, Kalash culture had begun to fall. Shah Nadir

Raees subjugated and converted the people to Islam, with the villages of Drosh, Sweer, Kalkatak, Beori, Ashurate, Shishi, Jin-

jirate and adjacent valleys in southern Chitral among the last subjected to mass conversion in the 14th century. By the time

the Amir of Afghanistan forcefully converted the Red Kafirs on the other side of the border to Islam in 1893, the Kalash were liv-

ing in just three Chitral valleys, Bhumboret, Rumbur and Birir. The villages of the converted Red Kafirs in Chitral are known as Sheikhanandeh — the village of converted ones.

Today, the Kalash are popular with domestic and foreign tour-

ists because of their unique culture. The Greeks have recently shown great interest in the area and one NGO reportedly funded by the Greek government is doing a great job protecting this

ancient civilisation. Unfortunately, according to a survey con-

ducted by an NGO, the Kalash population decreased from 10,000 inhabitants in 1951 to 3,700 in 2010, motivating conservation ex-


perts, development workers and anthropologists to put in greater JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011

The reason that traditionalists have threatened the Kalash in recent years is that the Kalash adhere to a polytheistic tradition based on ancestor worship. efforts work to preserve Kalash culture. The Kalasha Dur — the

superstitions about menstruation and pregnancy. During these

seum which houses artifacts from Kalash culture.

Each Kalash village has a Bashali outside the settlement, and

“house of the Kalash” — is the outcome of these efforts: a mu-

The reason that traditionalists have threatened the Kalash in

recent years is that the Kalash adhere to a polytheistic tradition

based on ancestor worship. They also worship 12 gods and god-

desses dominated by the main god Mahandeo. Their myths and superstitions centre around the relationship between the human

soul and the universe. This relationship, according to Kalash mythology, manifests itself in music and dance, which also con-

tribute to the pleasure of gods and goddesses. In their festivals, music and dance are performed not only for entertainment, but

times, women are secluded, and live in a place called Bashali. though women are allowed to work in the fields they are not

allowed to go home. The Betaan or Shaman plays an important role in Kalash culture. He makes prophecies during religious

rituals, and seeks the help of fairies to make prophecies come true. Another important practice in Kalash mythology is astronomy. The Kalash believe that a new sun is born on Decem-

ber 21 and that the new sun affects the flora and fauna of the land.

This civilisation is now wasting away as some Kalash fami-

as a religious ritual. The Kalash celebrate four major festivals

lies have either gone underground or left the area. This may be a

pastoral life. These festivals are Joshi or Chilimjusht, Uchal,

ism every year.

commemorating seasonal change and significant events in agro-

Phoo and Chowmos. The Kalash celebrate these festivals by offering sacrifices on altars, cooking traditional meals and dancing to traditional music during the week-long events.

The Kalash have kept alive their ancient traditions, including

great blow to Chitral which pockets millions of rupees from tour-

“We don’t want to leave this land,” says Gollaya, a villager

in Bamort. “But we are afraid of people who threaten us if we

do not bow down to their wishes. The government and local administration is protecting us, but we still feel insecure.” a

JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011




In a valley far removed from the bustle of every day life, a unique community keeps unusual traditions alive. Their vitality is reflected in the use of vibrant colours in their traditional costume, and everywhere you look there is something to see — a bright bead here, a startlingly neat braid there. Despite this, it is the faces of the Kalash people that stand out most. Weatherbeaten and wrinkled when old, and breathtakingly beautiful when young, these faces have one thing in common — a hardy, defiant attitude, and an evident love of life. a

The waves of love

30 JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011

The present, and the future.

31 JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011


A face that could tell a million stories.

32 JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011


The boy and the man. Pensive looks.

33 JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011




heights Hassan Sadpara has broken records in Pakistan and now wants to be a Guinness World Record holder.

“I am surprised to see that when the defeated cricket team returns home, they are greeted by ministers and other senior government officials. However, when I returned after conquering the world’s highest peak and planting our national flag on top of Mount Everest, I hardly felt welcomed,” says Hassan Sadpara, the second Pakistani to scale Mount Everest. 34 JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011

Despite his astonishing feats in mountain-climbing, Hassan

Sadpara has had to ask the government for financial assistance several times to make his expeditions possible. The 48-year-old mountaineer is the only person in Pakistan to have climbed some

of the world’s highest peaks without supplemental oxygen. To put things into perspective, this means having to climb to altitudes where oxygen levels are less than half of those at sea level.

Sadpara is the first Pakistani to have climbed K2, Gasherbrum

I, Gasherbrum II, Nanga Parbat, Broad Peak and Mount Everest.

He is now determined to include his name in the Guinness Book of

World Records by scaling all of the world’s 14 highest peaks. “I have enough talent and skill to accomplish this within a short span of

time,” he says, adding that he hopes that he can bag the award

before any other mountaineer does. However, he is sceptical about getting the money he needs. On the bright side though,

Sadpara did get the monetary assistance he required in his pursuit to scale the ‘Goddess of the Sky’. “The day I planted my country’s flag on the world’s highest peak was the most significant day of my life,” he says.

Sadpara began as a mere porter who tagged along with foreign

expeditions and trekking teams. Inspired by his father, he gradually started summiting the peaks of Gilgit-Baltistan one after another. Before he knew it, Hassan had reached newer heights. In

the summer of 2009, Sadpara decided to pay a visit to the Himalayas. After a meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari, in which Sadpara expressed the hope of getting financial assistance from the government, the president directed his request to the Alpine

Club. Following a wait of nine months, Sadpara was sent off to

Nepal, home of Mount Everest. He left along with his four-member team, which comprised his younger brother Muhammad Sadiq, but since the expedition cost $10,500 each, the rest of the team members had to be sent off for trekking at the base camp instead.

Hassan continued his ascent along with a group of Nepalese

mountaineers on the world’s highest peak. Finally, on May 12, 2011,

the Pakistani flag was hoisted on Mount Everest for the second time. After Nazir Sabir, president of the Alpine Club Pakistan, Hassan Sadpara became the second Pakistani ever to conquer Everest.

But the extreme terrain of the Himalayas has not been the most

challenging obstacle in the mountaineer’s life, who struggles to

make ends meet. “I don’t have enough money to even serve a cup

of tea to the guests who come to congratulate me,” he says. His children have often asked him to give up his expeditions since the abject poverty in which he lives leaves little room for family

expenditures and he is unable to feed or educate them. Inspired by his father, Sadpara took a risk in pursuing mountaineering but does not feel duly repaid. “I represented Pakistan in Nepal

and hoisted the nation’s flag on top of the world’s highest peak.

Eight-Thousanders: The world’s highest peaks (mountain, ranges, country, height) 1. Mount Everest, Himalayas Nepal/Tibet (8,850m) 2. K2, Karakoram, Pakistan/China (8,611m) 3. Kangchenjunga, Himalayas, Nepal/India (8,586m) 4. Lhotse, Himalayas, Nepal/Tibet (8,516m) 5. Makalu, Himalayas, Nepal/Tibet (8,462m) 6. Cho Oyu, Himalayas, Nepal/Tibet (8,201m) 7. Dhaulagiri, Himalayas. Nepal (8,167m) 8. Manaslu, Himalayas, Nepal (8,163m) 9. Nanga Parbat, Himalayas, Pakistan (8,125m) 10. Annapurna, Himalayas, Nepal (8,091m) 11. Gasherbrum I, Karakoram, Pakistan/China (8,068m) 12. Broad Peak, Karakoram, Pakistan/China (8,047m) 13. Gasherbrum II, Karakoram, Pakistan/China (8,035m) 14. Shisha Pangma, Himalayas, Tibet, (8,013 m)

There should at least have been a federal representative at the air-

35 JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011


port to receive me,” he says.

Since his return, there has been one instance of acknowledge-

ment from the government: Hassan Sadpara has been appointed

an instructor in the police force by the Gilgit-Baltistan government. A senior police official says that it would be an honour to

be trained by a man of such resilience. Sadpara, who had hoped for funding to scale the world’s highest peaks, is disappointed

but promises to try his best to live up to the expectations that people have of him. “I am as empty-handed as I was before, but something’s better than nothing,” he says.

Mountaineering is one of the most challenging sports in the

world, requiring the adventurer to risk his/her life but it does not get the same respect — and funding — as other sports in the

country, despite the fact that Pakistan has immense potential for

mountain-climbing. “Pakistan has 50 peaks above the height of 7,000m — that makes it a great tourist attraction. The govern-

ment should develop infrastructure to attract foreign tourists,” says Sadpara who feels that economic and security conditions deprive this industry of the attention it deserves. As a mountain-

eer Sadpara wishes to revive the tourism and adventure industry. “I am ready to establish a Mountaineering Training Institute in

Skardu to train the youth if the government is ready to support it. This would be helpful in training local talent, and foreigners

would also be interested in attending such training institutes. It could ultimately be a good source of foreign exchange,” he says.

Currently, there are hardly 20 countries that have their flags

planted on the roof of the world and it is because of mountain-

eers like Nazir Sabir and Hassan Sadpara that Pakistan is one of


them. a

JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011

The 48-year-old mountaineer is the only person in Pakistan to have climbed some of the world’s highest peaks without supplemental oxygen. To put things into perspective, this means having to climb altitudes where oxygen levels are less than half of those at sea level .


recalling the libyan atura BY JEHAN NASEEM

The writer delves into her memory of a very different Libya from the one we hear of today.

When my parents arrived in Tripoli, in early 1969, Libya’s economy was thriving. The kingdom was known for its riches, particularly oil. Every necessity was readily available, people were allowed to voice their opinions, and education was at its peak. International relations with other countries and with their

preceding colonial rulers were credible. Historical landmarks made by the Greek, Roman, Arab and Ottoman Empires — that had taken over the region at one time — reminded people of the ties their culture had with the rest of the world.

In its own way, Tripoli was to Libya what Dubai is to the UAE.

There was law and order and the constitution maintained human rights similar to Europe and North America, but by declaring Islam as the religion, Libya fell short of being a secular state.

At the same time, the constitution emphasised equality in terms of civil and political obligations, opportunities and responsibility for every race and religion.

According to my mother’s recollection, the king had set up

many contracts with countries that would import the best of the

best to Libya. Argentina and Australia had contracts for halal

meat; dairy came from Holland and Denmark; engineering con-

tracts with Britain and the US arranged for arms. Libya’s oil and natural gas products ensured that the country did quite well.

Few Pakistanis lived in Libya back then. The Pakistani expat


community in Libya actually swelled during Colonel Muammer Qaddafi’s rule. My parents had made friends with expat YugoJUNE 26-JULY 2 2011

Roman structures at Leptus Magna.

slavs, Britons and some of the locals. On occasion they would go

sightseeing to Leptus Magna, on the outskirts of Tripoli, and enjoy the historical structures made by the Greek, Roman and some of the Arab and Ottoman Empires. My mother especially loved

the fact that it was peaceful and secure enough for her to roam the streets whenever she wanted. At the same time though, Pan-

Arabism was spreading to Libya and there were murmurs of King Idris stepping down. Apparently, a group of young army officers

headed by Captain Qaddafi (ranked colonel right before the coup) were trying to overthrow the monarchy. Qaddafi’s main supporters were young men, who would roam the streets — including the one my parents lived on — playing his revolutionary songs and yelling “Atura! Atura!”. (Revolution! Revolution!)

The coup was bloodless. King Idris had decided to step down

gracefully and the transfer of power was controlled and planned out. Overnight, Libya went from being a liberal, moderate kingdom to a police state. Qaddafi’s words were as good as carved in

stone. The new head of the state wanted to rid the country of all western influence. He made most of the Europeans settled in

Libya leave the country and cancelled the import contracts that

the previous monarchy had made. But the desire to purge Libya of western influence rested on a weak foundation. Colonial influences pervaded the daily life of Libyans. The shurba or soup they

ate had small, rice-like pasta; macaroona or macaroni formed

part of their staple diet and the French bread, baget, was popu-

lar. Daily life in Libya was evocative of Italian, French and British culture — and so it remains, even to this day.

At the Friday sermons in our local mosque, my father used to

have trouble understanding the preacher because of the dialect. Later he found out that there was a Green Book to teach locals about “one state” and how democracy was the devil. Libyans had

no choice but to attend these sessions and follow what the leader said.

Around that time period, Pakistanis started coming to Libya to

work. My mother’s cousin, who is a doctor, was sent through the Pakistan Army to Benghazi to practice medicine for a while. My

father’s eldest brother, also a doctor, was posted at Benghazi and then Misrata, which, though called a developing town, was little more than a village at the time.

After living in Libya for about eight years, my father was posted

to Kuwait for a few months and then to Egypt. Libya is the place where my family laid down its roots, at least for a while, the place

where my two eldest sisters were born. Now, when news of turbu-

The international community mingling, historical landmarks and our old car in Libya (Clockwise from left).

lent times floods our television and newspapers, our hearts flood with memories and we say a prayer for the Libyan people. a

39 JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011


the special editor BY M ARSHAD SHAHEEN

There are reasons a-plenty for us to lend our ears to the story of this man, whose physical impairments have not stopped him from achieving his goals.

Walking down Goosley Lane in the London borough of Newham, I saw a notice outside a house. It read: ‘Disabled Person’. Later, when I asked a friend about this, he said, “When a dis-

abled person lives in the area the council makes a sloped curb near their house instead of a square-edged curb so that the wheelchair

can pass into the house easily. They also place this notice on the wall and if you make the mistake of parking your car here, you are heavily fined.”

42 JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011

My host continued, “Utility bills are waived, disabled people

get special parking zones downtown and buses lower to help get

the wheelchair inside. And there are slopes everywhere to help them move about.”

I really began to envy the freedom with which disabled people

could live their lives abroad, especially when I thought about the

hardships that an acquaintance of mine, Syed Abdul Wadood Shah, faces in Pakistan.

Shah’s story is an inspirational one. A normal little boy until

he was five, he was deprived of speech and hearing by a serious illness. Despite this, he continued to go to school, and completed

his master’s in Mass Communication from the University of Karachi.

He communicates by writing his thoughts on paper, but for

people close to him it is enough for him to scribble in the air with

a finger. His family and close friends respond in the same way, which he understands well, and the conversation continues.

“Sometimes I worry about Shah ji,” says a colleague. “Over-

work and lack of sleep have started affecting his eyesight, and now he has to use eye drops and is always splashing his eyes with fresh water.

53-year- old Shah looks older than his age because of the life he

has had to lead. He supports a family of three; his two daughters study in class eight and he also has a baby boy. In spite of these

challenges, Shah has been editing and proofreading text at Oxford University Press for many years and also assisted in finalising the text of the Oxford English-Urdu Dictionary translated by Shanul Haq Haqee.

Fluent in English and Urdu, he translates at high speed. But

what is most exceptional about him is his peaceful and happy

demeanour. The only time when he expresses disappointment is

when he sees anyone compromising on the quality of their work.

He communicates by writing his thoughts on paper, but for people close to him it is enough for him to scribble in the air with a finger.

All his colleagues are convinced of his ability and dedication.

In fact, the only time they find it difficult to get along with him

is when he questions the accuracy of their work. “Shah Ji is a per-

fectionist,” says one of his colleagues. “He has to work at many places to bear the economic burdens his life has placed on him, but his work is always perfect, and he never forgets to ask you for your feedback, so that he can improve.”

Shah has worked for many popular magazines and publica-

tions, but it has always been difficult for him to make ends meet. Currently, he also works in an Urdu daily where he is in charge

of a few pages and writes editorials as well. Despite all this, he is always smiling — a genial human being, and a beacon of light even to those who have more than him. a

43 JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011


They say all’s fair in love and war. But we know that not to be true. War can never justify rape, torture and killing of civilians even though it happens. People are tried in tribunals for such actions. So in love, where is the line drawn? They say love makes

you lose control: you lose perspective and hence do things that

may be unfair. So, if you find your soul mate when you’re already married to someone else and you have an affair, is your affair ‘fair’? Many married people carry on affairs of the heart for long periods of time.

A few years ago, I walked out of a Toronto cinema with my bud-

dy Sandra after watching The English Patient. The Academy Award-

winning film has actress Kristin Scott Thomas playing Katha-

rine, the wife of Geoffrey Clifton (Colin Firth), who has an affair with Ralph Fiennes’ character. I could not help feeling confused about ‘true’ love and when Sandra asked what was bothering me, I replied, “It’s the affair thing — she was married and having an

affair!” Sandra responded by saying, “Those two truly loved each other and were meant to be together. Had her husband been the

right one, the affair would not have happened.” Thus she justified the affair by saying that ‘true’ love could arrive after holy matrimony was in place, and ‘all’s fair in love’. But why do the

spouses not break up with their respective hubbies first and allow themselves and their ex to have a real chance at happiness?

What do you do when you find your soul mate and he’s already married . . . or you are.

So why do people not do the right thing? Is it the fear of society?

The fear of losing your children? In our culture, of course, it is

more acceptable to stay with your family and carry on the affair



instead of breaking the unit. It is also our cultural conditioning

fair, you break up with your husband so he too can have a chance

eventually surfaces. So you are married off and you discover — af-

ry the burden of guilt.

which tells us to keep the ‘family’ together even though the truth

ter three kids — that ‘this is not love’. Along comes Mr Charming;

to be loved. The kids also deserve the truth and don’t need to car-

Let’s examine couples that were meant for each other. The

not only do you start dreaming about him, you find that the feel-

power couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, who met on the sets

is a nice guy but he’s not ‘the one’. What will people think? It

Later, Pitt did right by divorcing Jennifer Aniston to be with the

mind. What would be fair is that instead of carrying on that af-

sets of Cleopatra; Richard Burton was married when he had the

ing is mutual. You want to be with your soul mate. Your husband will shatter the family. These are thoughts that go through your

46 JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011

of Mr and Mrs Smith, have undeniable chemistry and had an affair.

one he loves. Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor met on the

While the West sells love as ‘happily ever after’, South Asian culture promotes suicide as the only way for couples to be together as families, religion, caste, social and economic standing are the enemies of love.

My friend’s mother’s best friend, a pretty little lady, has been

in love with her guy for 40 years. He wasn’t allowed to marry her, so he married and had kids with someone else. The friend’s aunt

never married but still sees him to this day. Another lady I knew

found the love of her life after marriage; he was married too. Nei-

ther divorced their spouses, choosing to carry the affair on for years till she died.

My colleague’s mamoo was in love with a lady he wasn’t al-

lowed to marry. He got married to someone else under family

pressure, had kids but from time to time meets his true love. The

sister, the only one who knows the story, helps set up their meet-

fair in


affair. He divorced his wife, married Liz Taylor, divorced her and married her again. The marriage may not have worked but the love affair was real.

The tragedy in Pakistan, I’m told, is that most women and

men don’t know what falling in love really is. How are we to dis-

cover our soul mates when most of us are married off according to our parents’ choice? How tragic is never having been in love? I, who have experienced the emotion, would not exchange the moment for anything.

ings because she believes they were meant to be together. How

does our society not allow people who love each other to have the right to be together? Doesn’t this type of control cause tragedies and hurt?

Let’s look at extreme cases of ‘all’s fair in love’... like murdering

someone in order to be with the one you love. The Mughal prince

Jehanghir, despite being super romantic, he failed the ultimate test of love. He let Anarkali, his courtesan and lover die at the hands of his father, encased alive in a wall. When he became emperor, he pursued Mehrunissa, later known as Noor Jehan, who

was married to someone else. He sent the husband to war where the poor man was killed, so Jahangir could be with Mehrunissa. Some say it was Jehangir who had the husband killed. Any man

or woman who uses murder in the name of love is psychotic. Our culture is obsessed with Heer Ranjha and suicides attributed to love. They think the ultimate expression of love is suicide. While

the West sells love as ‘happily ever after’, South Asian culture

promotes suicide as the only way for couples to be together as families, religion, caste, social and economic standing are the enemies of love. But suicide, murder and affairs cannot be justi-

fied as fair in love. People with no strength to face reality and fight the system, create scenarios to hide their ineptness. Better

to sacrifice in love rather than justify unacceptable behaviour. Now, ‘sacrifice’ in love ... that’s another article to look at. a

47 JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011


mr know it all From relationship blues to money woes, Mr Know It All has the answers!

Q. Dear Mr Know It all

A colleague at work has been getting very chummy with me.

My colleague always takes a smoke break whenever I take one,

goes to the bathroom with me when I’m on my way there, and

has started copying the way I dress. You may think otherwise ...

do I make it up to her?

Befuddled birthday basher

A. I’m afraid you’ve made the same mistake many a naïve

but I am a man, and so is my colleague. Is this just a case of a

husband has made in the past: believe (wrongly, of course) that

thing more sinister in the offing? How do I get him to stop?

complex genetics of the female kind make it impossible for them

little hero worship? Does he just want to be my friend, or is someStalked

A. While most of us spend a lifetime waiting and hoping that

one day we’ll become cool enough to have our own stalker, some of us are actually dissing the one they’ve been blessed with on a

silver platter. How vain! Of course, I agree it would be better to

you’ve got your wife all figured out! Guys keep forgetting that the

to have straight-up conversations and be readily comprehensible to an average male. Remember how you had to be ever-prepared

for a surprise test back in grade school? Well, I hate to break this to you but that phase of your life isn’t over yet; only the subject has changed. Women love mind games, and the sooner you learn the warped rules, the better you’ll be able to play along … and

have a hot chick stalk you instead of a hairy ape, but still, dude,

with time and tons of practice, maybe even start winning.


milestone birthday, you blatantly let her know that you agree

a stalker is a stalker. Stop thinking too much and revel in all the

Q. Dear Mr Know It All,

I found myself in a bit of a sticky situation following my wife’s

30th birthday. A few weeks before the birthday, she kept saying she didn’t want to celebrate the day because she didn’t want to be reminded of the fact that she had turned THIRTY. She told me, and all her friends, to treat the day just like any other day

and not give her any presents, etc. So naturally, I didn’t buy her

By not buying wifey at least a pair of diamond studs on her

with her when she thinks she’s getting old … and women associate old with useless and ugly and whatnot. There are some in-

stances when you are better off telling a little white lie, because a good husband never agrees with his wife when she’s in a selfdeprecating mood. And that includes her suggesting you ignore her birthday, when on the inside she wants you to go all out and

make her feel like the centre of your universe, where she belongs.

As far as making it up to her is concerned, I suggest you give

anything. The night of her birthday, then, was a bit like what I

her a call from the office one day and tell her to be ready by the

and things hurtling through the air. I’m just so confused. Was I

and assertive as possible. Take her to dinner, choose the food,

would imagine the apocalypse to be — full of wailing, screaming,


boat out for a huge birthday bash?’ And after my oversight, how

supposed to know that ‘Don’t buy me anything’ means ‘Push the JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011

time you get home. Don’t answer any questions and be as vague

and then bring her home and put a candle on a cupcake and sing

her happy birthday. No asking her what she wants, no telling her where you’re going and definitely no seeking her approval.

Top all of this with a decent present and you won’t have to spend the night on the couch for a few months at least! Q. Dear Mr Know It All,

I’m a teenager who’s come to ‘that’ point in life where one has

to decide what they want to do with their lives. I’ll just cut to the chase. My folks want me to be a doctor. And I don’t want to be one. I have absolutely no interest in the profession and have

made that clear to my parents. Unfortunately, anything I say falls on deaf ears. I want to pursue a career in law. And no, I’m

not desperately clinging to a childhood dream. I’ve given it a lot of thought and I want to be a lawyer. I’ve got a year left to make

my decision. And quite frankly, I don’t know what to do about it. Unheard

A. Welcome to the real world, kiddo. Believe it or not, your

problem hits home for every sub-continental kid out there. Up until a few years ago, every well-meaning parent on this side of

the globe wanted their child to become an engineer or a doctor; today, they want their kids to become, well, a doctor apparently,

or a morning show host. (Seriously, do you have any idea just how much money those guys make?)

The rest of the world may have evolved to let teenagers like you

make their own decisions, but we’re still way behind. That’s not

to say you should give up hope altogether, no, just that there are

some things you should accept and try to work your way around. I personally don’t approve of parents pre-planning their children’s lives for them; especially when it comes to aspects as material as what they’ll be spending their days doing for the next 50 or so years. But then I also admit that a parent’s insight about

these things is usually invaluable. This may sound like a stretch

but they can recognise your limitations better than you yourself at this age, and can thus provide excellent career advice. So, instead of prodding you to have a full-blown confrontation with the wet blankets, I’m going to turn caveman on you and ask you ILLUSTRATION: S.JAMAL.K

to make a good old fashioned pros and cons list for both the ca-

reers in question; make presentations if you have to, and then have a peaceful, adult-like discussion with them. Make them

understand your point of view instead of trashing theirs. And

then, if they’re still being adamant, you can always try the nofail divide and rule approach, which is a known strategy to work on difficult parents!

P.S. Just an afterthought: If you can’t sweet-talk your parents

into letting you live your life the way you want to live it, are you absolutely sure you’re cut out to become a good lawyer? a

Got a problem you just can’t solve? Mail us at and let


our very own whiz take a crack at it! JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011


featured review of the week

film you don’t say BY RAFAY MAHMOOD

After a five-year wait and numerous leaked YouTube videos, Shoaib Mansoor’s Bol finally premiered last week. Unfortunately, the film was a major disappointment and left the viewer wondering, “Why did I watch this movie?” The film’s narrative is non-linear, with the opening scene showing us Humaima Malik’s character standing in front of the gallows. We then go back in time to hear her story, which is essentially about how she and her sisters struggled to live with an oppressive father (Manzar Sehbai ) with extremist tendencies. Mahira Khan stars as Humaima’s sister and their neighbour Mustafa (Atif Aslam) is her love interest. Iman Ali is a courtesan, and Shafqat Cheema stars as her father. Since Atif’s involvement with the film has been highly publicised, it was surprising to learn that he does not play a significant role in Bol. Mustafa is supposed to be a pivotal character, but the weak characterisation and meagre screen time fail to create the right tension, and you are left wanting more. Mahira’s role suffers from chronic implausibility. Despite being an ‘obedient’ daughter, she manages to sneak away with Atif on an almost daily basis to learn how to play the guitar, and even finds the time to rock out at a concert. Her character’s actions are so pointless and unbelievable that you can hardly contain a yawn. After this, the story takes such a dramatic and unconvincing turn that it would take a thesis to point out all the narrative flaws. Thankfully, Humaima and Shafqat Cheema swoop in to save the day, since they actually act well. Manzar Sehbai is monotonous and under-directed — and any humour he adds to the film is unintentional. In fact, Sehbai’s getup and dialogue seem to be inspired by Nawab Aslam Raisani, and the character appears comic even when he is trying to be serious — surely this wasn’t the effect the director desired. Iman Ali, like Atif, has a very small role in the film, but lives up to her character. On the whole, however, the characters in 50 the film are weak, fake and one-dimensional JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011

song and dance If you cannot make a proper item number in Pakistan due to ‘cultural sensitivities, don’t attempt a watered-down version either because it’ll just end up looking forced

4 reasons we love Shoaib Mansoor 1. “Fifty-fifty”: arguably the best satirical show in the history of Pakistani TV 2. “Sunehray Din”: besides many laughs, this 90s drama gave a fresh Saleem Sheikh his breakthrough role as a young soldier 3. “Alpha Bravo Charlie”: this drama about the Pakistan army would clear the roads of traffic when it aired on television 4. Vital Signs: The best thing to happen to Pakistani music

Stylistically, the film is more than a disappointment, looking like a student’s first attempt rather than a seasoned director’s hyped up work. About 20 per cent of the film was out of focus and the film processing was so bad that at times it seemed like a film being aired on Filmazia. In some places the sound was not properly synchronised with the visuals, and some scenes were intercut so badly that they ruined the entire buildup of the sequence. This time around the music didn’t save the director either; only a few tracks are worth listening to. And a point about adding spice to Pakistani films with song and dance: if you cannot make a proper item number in Pakistan due to ‘cultural sensitivities’, don’t attempt a watered-down version either because it’ll just end up looking forced. This is exactly what happens with Hadiqa Kayani’s hip hop number “Sajania,” — I’m guessing the director had to squeeze the song in somewhere, so we are shown daughters Humaima and Mahira dancing to “Sajania” every time their father steps out of the

house — a unique way of throwing off the shackles of oppression. Despite the accolades Khuda Kay Liye garnered, this offering is not close to what you call a feature film. It lacks even a clearly thought out story. For those who will laud Mansoor simply for the heroic act of making a film in a country like Pakistan, let me clarify that countries much worse off than Pakistan have told much better stories in more trying conditions. Here’s a piece of advice for the producers of this film: there are many thoughtful individuals working in our industry who have the capability of making better films, so please, open your eyes — it’s a win-win situation. To sum it up, whenever I think of Bol and Shoaib Mansoor I am reminded of the Australian cricketing legend, Adam Gilchrist, who retired from test cricket after dropping the first plum catch behind the wickets .Considering what has come out of Bol, one wonders if Mansoor will follow Gilchrist’s footsteps or become the Kamran Akmal of Pakistani cinema.

51 JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011


film the best for last BY AMMARA KHAN

X-Men: First Class is a brilliant prequel to the comics-inspired movies series X-Men. By going back to the formation of the ‘first class’ that enrols at Professor X’s mutant academy and the beginning of the uncanny friendship/enmity between Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr, First Class successfully manages to attract the fan base that Marvel films had lost with Gavin Hood’s queasy prequel Wolverine (2009) and Brett Ratner’s disappointing sequel The Last Stand (2006). Being an X-Men fanatic (despite the recent disappointing movies) my expectations from the latest prequel directed by Matthew Vaughn were quite high in comparison to most of the people who just lost their interest over the span of years. And I can happily say that First Men does not only restore the credibility that this wonderful comics series earned on the big screen with the first two movies, but also delves deep into the lives of the main characters by going back in time and reintroducing them in a rather more impressive way than the first movie does. Young Charles Xavier, superbly played by James McAvoy, is the star lead in the stellar cast. In contrast to the other X-Men movies, Charles Xavier can still make full use of his legs in First Class. He is portrayed as a charismatic academic who has just completed his studies in genetics and has great hopes for the peaceful coexistence of humans and mutants. The movie shows how he becomes the binding force for many mutants and helps them master their capabilities. McAvoy successfully blends the charms of a ladies’ man with the utopian dreams of a great visionary. Micheal Fassbender is equally remarkable in the younger version of Magneto. The backdrop of the movie is the Cuban missile crisis in the 1960s. Sebastian Shaw (played by Kevin Bacon) is the Nazi antagonist leading the Hellfire Club that seeks to destroy the human race by triggering a World War III that would leave mutants as the superior survivors of the bloody war. 52 Despite the fairly short 132-minute running time, the movie goes JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011

back in time The movie goes back to the starkly contrasting childhoods of Xavier and Lehnsherr and their first encounter, the foundation of the mutant academy and their clash with the Hellfire Club back to the starkly contrasting childhoods of Xavier and Lehnsherr and their first encounter, the foundation of the mutant academy and their clash with the Hellfire Club. The movie also chronicles the eventual rift that appears between Xavier and Lehnsherr. The troubled relationship between Raven (future Mystique) and Hank McCoy (future Beast) is given ample attention. Jennifer Lawrence especially does a great job as the young Raven and her obsession with her self-image. McCoy (played by Nicholas Hoult) is shown trying to find a cure for mutation, an innocent wish that becomes the main thematic clash in The Last Stand. Vaughn’s direction is superb. He brings a certain gleam to the storyline and characters, the special effects are brilliant and pace of the movie is so full of energy that there are no boring moments. Final verdict: the movie certainly makes it to four-star status, if not beyond it.


10 things I hate about ...‘candid moments’

1 2 3 4 5

Narcissists. Yes, I’m talking about the people who need a visual record of every move they make at a party or during a vacation. They’re so busy recording the

moment that they often forget to enjoy it. Then they

really need their pics — and Google — to actually see where they’ve been.

Group photos. From weddings to parties, there are always multiple shots because someone is looking away

or blinking or simply decides to go missing and insists on a retake. And just when you are ready to disperse after smiling hard for minutes on end, an annoying

uncle will insist on one last shot because his bald head caused a reflection he isn’t pleased with.

Digital cameras. It’s a gadget we all own but how many can really handle one properly? With a gazillion brands

and models out there, it’s unfair to expect the person taking your picture to be a professional at it. He/she is highly likely to click using ‘night mode’ on a bright sun-

ny day or involuntarily shoot a 30-second video instead of taking a snap-shot.

Instant access. Thanks to instant access to photos on

a digicam one has the freedom to capture 1,632 shots of a person at a time until he/she finally decides the picture is ‘perfect’ for Facebook.

The smiles. I cannot fake one; every time I try, it looks like a grimace. Call me a party pooper . . . or let me be on the other side of the lens!


6 7 8 9 10

Bad photographers. No matter how hard you try to flatten your belly, a lame photographer will always succeed in focusing on that extra bulge. Whoever says that

photographs help us study our best features is an idiot. They do nothing but reveal our faults. I mean, who wants to know that their nostrils are asymmetrical?

Poor timing. The photographer will NEVER click when you’re smiling. It’s only when your cheekbones start to hurt and you decide to give your muscles a break that you are blinded by the flash.

Reflections. Yes, I know my glasses reflect and NO don’t

expect me to remove them each time I’m being photographed. It’s even worse to have someone spot you hiding them in your hands in the photo.

Photogenic people. They never require that perfect

light/white-balance or make-up to amplify their features. They also don’t have a good or bad side. No matter how silly their pose or how crappy their hair looks, they look fantastic and comfortable in every picture.

Peer pressure. The desire to have a memory of every lunch, dinner or farewell means you have to look well-

groomed even when attending your great uncle’s funeral. For the camera-toting friend ‘photographic memory’

holds a different meaning altogether. He will insist on taking so many pictures that even before you’re home,

your pictures will be floating on Facebook, Twitter and


Flickr with 27 people already having ‘liked’ them. a JUNE 26-JULY 2 2011

The Express Tribune Magazine - June 26  
The Express Tribune Magazine - June 26  

The Express Tribune Magazine for June 26th 2011