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Cover Story 18 Imran Khan Unplugged Love him or hate him, you can no longer ignore him

Feature 34 Inglourious Bustards A tale of two visitors, one who comes to nest and the other who comes to kill

Portfolio 36 Call to Prayer Masjids around the world showcase the unique cultural heritage of local Muslim communities



40 Blistering Barnacles! The Adventures of Tintin 3D hits all the right notes


Regulars 6 People & Parties: Out and about with Pakistan’s beautiful people 42 10 things I hate about: My mother-in-law


Magazine Editor: Zarrar Khuhro, Senior Sub-Editor: Batool Zehra, Sub-Editors: Ameer Hamza and Dilaira Mondegarian. 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


Jenna and Ash

Sara and Maria


Zohair and Maryam

Mr and Mrs Shoaib Malik Amna Babar and Sadia Faisal

Fiza and Fawad


Verve celebrates its Annual Halloween party in Lahore

Sana, Fahad and Mahra

Imtisal Zafar

Asif Kamal and Ursula



Sara Gillani with friends

Naima and Hannah Butt

Areesha, Adil and Hina

Salma and Turab Aamina Haq

Mr and Mrs Haroon Ahmed

Khadija and Obaid


Zubair and Emania

Saim and Natasha



Tariq Amin and Ali Xeeshan


Nazneen Tariq with a guest

Sanam Agha

Sky Production House launches in Karachi

Ghulam Hussain with Eeshal

Deepak Per

Saba Ansari



Munib Naw az

Imran Qureshi and Anoushey Ashraf

Hira Lari



Body Shop launches the fragrance White Musk Libertine in Karachi

Sana Khan and Saima Azhar

Photos courtesy Catalyst PR

Nadia Hussain, Fatima Amir and Feeha

Frieha Altaf

Maham and Saima

Ayesha Omer


Rubya Chaudhry

Ayaan and Raana Khan



Amna Ilyas, Schaz Khan and Saima Mahmood

Nashmia and Jimmy Engineer

Huma Tahir

Myra and Sidra

Barza Talha Faisal Qureshi


Arij Fatima




COVER STORY Love him or hate him, you can no longer ignore him. Following the Lahore rally, Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf have emerged as a force on the field of Pakistani politics. But to many he is still a mystery: is he a superstar, a philanthropist, a politician, or all three? Who is he really, and what does he stand for?


Q: On the point of new people joining the party, one of the statements you made recently is that PTI will not award tickets to corrupt people and opportunists...but can those corrupt people and opportunists still join your party? IK: If someone is a known crook then they can’t join the party,

but there are a lot of shades of grey. This is a society where it is

difficult to be honest, and even if you try to be honest, society forces you to be dishonest. For example, I was trying to transfer land from my ex-wife’s name to mine and it took me one year just

PLUGGE D Q: Some call you Taliban Khan, and some call you Inqilab Khan. So the first question I want to ask is: will the real Imran Khan please stand up?

to have a simple transfer done. I kept asking my lawyer why it’s

Imran Khan (IK): (laughs) ... You missed out one thing... I’m

say that we will find angels here is not possible. But we will try

also part of the Jewish lobby.

Q: And of course you’re a slave of the US and Europe, accord-

ing to the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

IK: And according to PML-N, there is also a Jewish conspiracy

going on.

Q: So we need the real Imran to tell us who he is. First, let’s talk about Shah Mahmood Qureshi. After his resignation, he can either go for the Pakistan Muslim League — Nawaz (PMLN) or the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), and now you’re going to tell us which one it is. IK:

I’m hoping he joins PTI because he fits the profile of

what I expect a PTI office bearer to be. He’s honest, a clean politician who is educated and is a bit of an anomaly in this

taking so long and, without telling me, he eventually bribed the patwari because otherwise it would have gone on forever! So to

and sift through relatively better politicians. For instance, Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Mian Azhar are clear-cut choices.

Q: Why is Mian Azhar a clear-cut option? A lot of people are criticising that decision because Mian Azhar was the head of the PML-Q under Pervez Musharraf and he lost the elections in 2002 so why him? IK: Because he is honest and nobody has accused him of cor-

ruption. If we exclude everyone who has changed parties or is of a slightly different ideology then it will be impossible to get

anyone. So we have decided that it is financial corruption we’ll concentrate on, which is the biggest reason why we are in the

state we are today. If we can fight corruption in Pakistan then the country becomes viable.

is someone who started from the union council level and has

Q: But don’t you see a contradiction there when you have somebody like Mian Azhar who represents the old status quo politics and you say you are representing ‘new’ politics?


revolutions are not brought about by political workers. It’s the

system. He has a vote bank and has a lot of political experience which our party lacks because we’ve got new people. Here

been contesting elections for years and so he brings in a lot of

IK: It’s not a contradiction and I’ll tell you why. It’s because NOVEMBER 27-DECEMBER 3 2011


COVER STORY leadership that comes up with a certain ideology. I remember Fidel Castro saying that he started the Cuban Revolution with 16

people who formed his ideological core. The most invaluable part of the PTI are the core workers and office bearers who have survived 15 years in the wilderness. I mean, we have passed through

the most difficult test where everyone wrote us off. So those people who stuck it out were the ideological workers and office bearers. Everyone can join and there are a lot of people joining but the ideology of PTI will be protected by this old guard.

Q: Is the real Imran Khan a risk taker? IK: Imran Khan was always a risk taker. Everyone said “Minar-

My instinct is against capital punishment, but these people are taking lives and I do believe that to stop the plunder of this country, for a while there should be capital punishment above a certain level of corruption.

e-Pakistan! Oh you’re doomed now” and of course Shahbaz Sharif and Nawaz Sharif had their own rally in quite a small venue,

despite full administrative support, so everyone said you’re taking a huge risk with Minar-e-Pakistan. But anyone who has achieved anything in life has always been a risk taker.

Q: So what happened that day on October 30th when you arrived at the venue and saw all those people? What was your instant reaction?

IK: You know I had four interviews before the 30th and in each

interview I said that there will be over a hundred thousand people

at the rally. When I said that we will sweep the elections, people laughed! And I actually made a bet with Talat Hussain on Kashif Abbasi’s programme saying that we will sweep the elections. He

was very cynical about it and then on another programme I gave him in writing that the PTI will sweep the elections. The reason

was...and I’ve never said this before...the reason was in the past year I’ve seen the people change. That’s because I’m probably the

only politician who was going around holding public rallies because others were too scared. I could see that the youth had sud-

denly woken up and decided that there was only one party that

stood for the change they wanted. So each rally was larger than the last. So when it came to the Lahore rally, I felt it would be a

criminals siphoning off billions of dollars. My instinct is against

ried but I was relaxed about it.

believe that to stop the plunder of this country, for a while there

big success and I was very relaxed. My party workers were wor-

Q: When I first interviewed you in Lahore in 1997, the PTI

was quite new. It was your first time in politics and I remember quite clearly at that time you had said corruption is the most serious problem affecting this country and that all corrupt people should be hanged. There was a certain naivety that you had at that time. The Imran Khan sitting in front of me here today... how has he changed?

IK: This is a country where thousands of children die from

waterborne diseases, where over 1,600 people have committed


suicide because they can’t feed their families and here are these NOVEMBER 27-DECEMBER 3 2011

capital punishment, but these people are taking lives and I do

should be capital punishment above a certain level of corruption. I was in China recently and they had a huge problem with cor-

ruption but then 150 state ministers were imprisoned and some were even executed and the problem has been largely controlled.

As for the other question, yes I was completely naive! I’d ap-

proach politicians with all sincerity and say ‘you should join me because we want to change this country’ and now when I

look back I realise they must have thought what an idiot I was! Because I was being sincere and thought they’d all join me just

because of that. But now of course, they’re all joining but they don’t join simply because you are sincere.

Q: Then why do they join? IK: They join because they have invested a lot in their con-

accountability process starts, both of them will be affected. So

tunists and think you are going to win. Others (I think) want to

with foreign assets, as with (former Tunisian president) Zine

stituencies. Some of them will join because they are total opporjoin you but feel you’re not viable. They feel they’ve done a lot of

work and built a vote bank and don’t want to join someone who is sincere but unviable.

Q: You say corruption causes billions of dollars in losses and

that you want to bring back the money and assets that are in the Swiss banks. How are you going to do this? What is your game plan?

you need a clean government to do this. Secondly, the world has changed. Once you start corruption proceedings against anyone

Abedin Ben Ali, (former Egyptian president) Hosni Mubarak and Qaddafi, all their foreign assets are immediately frozen. We are

no longer in the old days where you could hide your money in Swiss banks. Now there is a money trail, so if a government has

the will and there are people who cannot explain their assets, it can get this done. That’s why our main campaign is to have politicians declare their assets.

that is clean can bring that money back. I don’t know if you saw

Q: But all these politicians declare their assets before the Election Commission. You don’t consider that viable?

28th where Shahbaz said “We’ll bring back the Swiss money,” so

sets. That is why someone as rich as Nawaz Sharif will only

because we know where all their foreign assets are and we know

a professional cricketer for 18 years and I earned most of my

IK: Firstly it is important to know that only a government

Rehman Malik’s comment after Shahbaz Sharif’s rally on the

Rehman Malik the next day said, “the Sharifs better be careful all the corruption cases against them so they better not cross this

line.” In other words they are saying, “let’s keep sparring but

let’s not cross a certain point” because they know that once an

IK: It is so obvious that they have concealed their real as-

pay Rs5,000 in tax. Then there’s me, a politician who was money abroad. And all my money is in Pakistan and declared in my name. So how is it that these people, who only earned

or plundered money from Pakistan, have assets abroad? They


COVER STORY PML-N leadership has a number of corruption cases against it so

it’s a “you scratch my back I scratch yours” situation. It became

the friendliest opposition which is why now you’re seeing them panicking and going for a “Go Zardari Go” campaign because they have suddenly realised that the PTI has now taken over as

the main opposition and they are trying to reoccupy that space which they have lost.

Q: Why is the PTI opening up multiple fronts simultaneously? With the PML-N, the PPP and the MQM. The only people you haven’t attacked yet are the ANP and I suspect that is not too far in the list at this point. IK: We are not attacking parties, but the status quo as rep-

resented by the PML-N and the PPP. In sports we learn that you

have to know your enemy and then go for them. Who is destroy-

ing this country? It’s the two main parties and their interests are the same. They have been in this coalition for almost all the time since 2008 and now they are trying to pretend they are actually in opposition with each other because they are threatened by us.

Threatened by the tsunami that is coming. When they attack each other, it’s like watching a fixed match!

The military should stay within its constitutional role. In a democratic government, it’s the civilian government that takes responsibility and has authority even sent the money abroad through hawala and other chan-

nels and laundered it. That’s why we insist that politicians must declare their assets.

Q: Do you seriously think they will? IK: We have now set up a cell to bring out the real assets. So

we will see what they have concealed even if they want to hide it.

Q: Leader of the opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan of the PML-N says if you have proof you should go to the courts.

IK: We might do that, but the problem is that it is the duty

of the state to stop corrupt people. Instead here is a state which protects criminals. Here the judgments of the Supreme Court are ignored by all. When the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) was annulled, why did the PML-N not do anything in the

assemblies? Why did they sit around? If they are a genuine op-


position, they should have stood up. But the problem is that the NOVEMBER 27-DECEMBER 3 2011

Q: You have always strongly opposed drone strikes in Paki-

stan’s tribal areas. You have declared the war on terror an American war and vowed to hang all those responsible for the deaths of the over 35,000 people killed in terror attacks as well as drone strikes. This will probably confuse a lot of people. Who exactly do you hold responsible?

IK: First, let me make it clear that I never used the word hang.

I said we would bring them to justice. The reason is this country has had 35,000 to 40,000 people dead and more are dying every

day. Zardari says the country has lost $70 billion, which means the people have lost this money. The government has got $20 billion, but we don’t know where it went because the people are getting

poorer and there are three and a half million people who have been displaced and the entire tribal belt has been devastated. People have been devastated; you cannot imagine the way they are living because no one is allowed to go in there and see. Life is hell for them.

So, why did we get into this? We were not involved in 9/11, no Pakistani was involved. Al Qaeda was in Afghanistan, there were no

militant Taliban in Pakistan and in any case the Taliban were not terrorists, but fundamentalists. We went in for dollars. Our ruling elite have always sold us for dollars. Some 20 years ago we were in

this for dollars again, acting as a frontline state. We were creating

jihadis for dollars then and now we are taking dollars to kill the same people. After 9/11 we should have helped the US, just as we should help any country suffering from terrorism, but not like this. We have created terrorists at home.

Q: What kind of help would you have offered? IK: If there was any information about the plot, about the

Pakistan. If anything, they helped us and were always ready to

doesn’t mean that we should have handed over our civilians for

tary operations in early 2004 and it took three years of collateral

plotters, then we should have provided it to them. But help bounty and have them end up in Guantanamo. We did a U-turn,

we turned people who were our allies into our enemies. The Af-

ghan Taliban government, as far as I am concerned, was a proPakistan government.

Q: The Taliban government in Afghanistan was a pro-Pakistan government?

IK: They were not giving us any problems and Pakistan had

recognised them. Now if the US had an issue with them, we

help Pakistan. The number one question is: why was the whole

tribal belt not on fire before? Do you know that we started mili-

damage to produce what are called the Pakistan Taliban. This was a reaction to the military operations.

Q: So what is your counter-narrative? IK: There is only one way to understand, we have to get people

on board who know the area. There are generals and diplomats,

like Rustam Shah Mohmand, people who know the tribal area. Ask them what the answer is. The politicians have completely

sublet the whole war to the army, and which civilian govern-

should have stayed neutral. Why did we have to get into this

ment allows the army to run a war? If I was prime minister,

cause the ruling elite has sold us for dollars.

tician and politicians look for political solutions, not military so-

mess? The reason we are in these top ten failed states lists is be-

Q: Let’s get specific. You say that there are one million armed

would I allow the army to make all the decisions? No. I am a polilutions. Especially if those solutions have failed for seven years.

people in the tribal areas who, if the drone attacks stopped, would happily remove terrorists living in their areas. Isn’t that a little unrealistic? We know that these people have been taking money [from militants], we know that they have been supporting militancy in many ways. The general perception is that

We were not involved in 9/11, no Pakistani was involved. Al Qaeda was in Afghanistan, there were no militant Taliban in Pakistan and in any case the Taliban were not terrorists, but fundamentalists. withdrawing the Pakistani army from the tribal areas would allow militants to regroup.

IK: The general perception is there because of total ignorance,

people have absolutely no idea about the tribal areas. The politi-

cians don’t know about it, and no one knows the history of the

tribal areas. When the great Quaid-e-Azam withdrew the Paki-

stani army from the tribal areas in 1948, the politicians said, “Don’t withdraw the Pakistani army, we will have problems.” What happened? We never had one problem in the tribal areas

ever since we withdrew the army although we deprived [the tribals], we never helped them, never spent any money on them. We kept them backwards but still there was never any problem for



They have suddenly realised that the PTI has now taken over as the main opposition and they are trying to reoccupy that space which they have lost. What have we achieved in seven years? What has the US achieved

in 10 years in Afghanistan? Nothing. If anything, radicalisation

solved in a month. Swat is a totally different thing and unfor-

tunately people did not understand the difference between Swat

and the tribal areas and they confused the solutions of the two. The solution to the tribal areas is to get out of the US war, pull out the Pakistani army and tell the people of the tribal area, after truth and reconciliation, that it is your job to finish terrorism.

Q: Let me present an argument here. IK: Let me give the solution here. If you empower the people

in Pakistan has grown. So we have actually made the situation

of the tribal areas, get the Pakistan army out and no longer be

ing of the tribal areas, there is only one solution: win the people

war. Otherwise, this is a never-ending war. For eighty years,

much worse. So if you speak to anyone who has any understandof the tribal areas to your side, start truth and reconciliation, say

considered a hired gun of the US, I promise you we will win this

the British never had peace in the tribal areas. They were a su-

that we are no longer a part of this American war on terror. They

perpower. We are a country which is bankrupt. For 62 years, the

cans as a mercenary army.

the tribals and eventually there was a political settlement. There

consider the Pakistan army to be fighting on behalf of the Ameri-


IK: Please understand that Swat has nothing to do with the

tribal areas. Swat was a mess we created and it could have been

Q: I want to throw one word into the equation: Swat. NOVEMBER 27-DECEMBER 3 2011

Mughal Empire, which was a global superpower, fought against is only a political settlement, and the PPP, the most incompetent and corrupt government in our history, is not going to be able to

Afghans out of a population of 60 million. They said that eventually they were fighting women, and children. The whole population was fighting.

Q: So here we come back to the same question, is Imran Khan a conservative, a fundamentalist or a liberal?

IK: You know, people pigeonhole people a lot. The only reason

I wrote my book was because I was sick of the question: Are you a

liberal? A fundamentalist? A radical? What are you? I wrote this book for the young people of Pakistan because there is so much

confusion here. What is Islam? What is religion? What is secular-

ism? So to try and answer all these questions, I thought I better

put all of this down in a book and try to make people understand what religion is and what spirituality is. In fact, my conclusion is that the threat to the world is not from religion because all the

great religions of the world talk about humanity, justice, and the noble values of human beings. It is naked materialism we should be scared of because it’s going to destroy the globe. It’s this lust

for more and more and this unfettered greed. It is this extreme form of capitalism that’s the danger.

The Afghan Taliban government, as far as I am concerned, was a pro-Pakistan government. do anything. We are committing suicide. In the All Party Confer-

ence on Sept 29th, there were 50 parties and they all finally came

down to what our stance has consistently been, that there is no

Q: But the underpinning of modern civilisation is capitalism. IK: But if we keep consuming at the rate we are, we are

doomed. Imagine if China starts consuming, per capita, at the

same rate as the US. It’ll all be over! The real issue is consump-

tion and greed — attacking countries because you want to cap-

ture their resources, as has been done throughout history, that’s the real issue. Religion is not the issue. A true religion should make us all humane.

Q: Among many circles, the biggest fear is that Imran Khan

military solution. All of them accepted that there was only one

will come to power and his coalition partner is going to be the Jamaat-e-Islami.

Q: What would you say to American policymakers who are

ask them about their agenda. But my agenda is clear, it is

solution and that was to give peace a chance.

convinced that the Haqqani network operates out of safe havens in the tribal areas? In the regional endgame when it comes to Afghanistan, what is your solution?

IK: I would tell the American policymakers: for God’s sake

don’t listen to your generals. You need a political settlement, you don’t need more troops, you don’t need a surge. The surge has

failed in Afghanistan. And I would ask the American politicians , is it plausible that five or six thousand Haqqani men, these

fighters, these Rambos, are the reason one hundred and forty thousand soldiers of the greatest military machine in history are

facing defeat? The Americans are fighting an entire population

and they’ll never win the war because they don’t understand Afghan history. Read the Russian accounts; they killed a million


I don’t know about the Jamaat-e-Islami, you should

the agenda of Jinnah, and that of my ideological role model

Iqbal. As for religion, it is a way of life, a way of being. It is religion which brings out the best in a human being. The

only reason I am a politician is because my religion tells me that I have a responsibility to my society. Otherwise, I have everything I want in my life. I don’t need anything. But it’s

religion which tells you that the more God gives you, the

more responsibility you have towards less privileged human beings. And this is really why it is important to promote religious values and spiritual values as opposed to the materialistic culture which is unfortunately imbibed by our upper classes. This culture of “me” and “I” can only be countered by spirituality.


COVER STORY Q: One of the statements you recently made was that the ISI should be under civilian control. Are you advocating that the country’s military intelligence agencies should be brought under a civilian ministry? IK: What I am saying is that the military should stay within its

constitutional role. In a democratic government, it’s the civilian government that takes responsibility and has authority. No management structure can work if you divide it up so that someone else

has the authority and someone else the responsibility. It doesn’t

work. In the case of Prime Minister Gilani, he has the responsibility but President Zardari has the authority. It doesn’t work.

Q: Now another crucial question. In your rally you said you want to eradicate thana culture, the police structure in this country, and the patwaris. But here is the critical point: politics in Pakistan is very strongly based on biradaris and dharras, clans and community structures that are centuries old. How can you be okay with biradaris and say that that is part of the political process and at the same time be uprooting institutions that are also a part of the same structure? IK: Well. First of all, if you want to bring about a change in

Pakistan, the fundamental change you have to make is to empower your people. You empower your people by having a strong local government system. Western societies give freedom to their people not through a centralised system but through a devolved

structure of empowering the people at the grass roots level. Now, before the British came here, under the Mughals and even before

that, the village was actually empowered. The village was a self

-contained unit. In fact, if you go to the tribal areas today, you will find that the village has its own jury system, it has its own parliament. It’s actually autonomous.

Q: A lot of us believe that it is a parallel judicial structure and you can’t have jirgas meting out their own brand of justice. IK: In the tribal areas, this is not a parallel structure, it is

village has its own jury system and it has worked very well for

Q: But that is the level where these biradaris, powerful clans and feudals continue to dominate the lives of the people.

stan. In Swat, one of the reasons why they started the Nifaz-

the village level, people were empowered. Remember that

work. When Swat became part of Pakistan in 1974, Pakistani

In fact, Mirza Ghalib wrote in 1860 that the first time the

the only structure. There is only one structure, where every them, which is why they don’t want to become part of Pakie-Shariat movement is because the imposed system did not

laws came in and their whole devolved structure of free justice at the village level disappeared. Suddenly they had to hire law-

yers and pay fees and still had no guarantee of justice. So the poorer classes all joined this movement to bring their system

back. You have to empower people at the grassroots level, in


other words at the village level. NOVEMBER 27-DECEMBER 3 2011

IK: These braderies existed before the British came but at

it’s impossible to have a false witness at the village level. British introduced sessions courts was the first time [the people] started hearing of false witnesses. Sixty per cent of the issues that clog the rural courts are land issues and they

should be resolved at the village level. The schools should be under the village committee, and the same goes for the local health services.

Project, he proved to people that the moment you empower the people, the people can lift their own standard of living. They can look after themselves.

Q: And the problem that many people feel that the PTI is going to be mired in the politics of clans and of all of these old structures that exist. Do you think that the PTI can break free of these feudal structures as well as these biradaris? IK: Look Quatrina, I won the election in one of the most dif-

ficult rural areas. I understand about biradari systems. The moment you destroy the oppression in the thana, you will liber-

ate the people. How does a feudal operate? The way the feudal

operates is by controlling the thana. If you liberate the people

from the thana, you give them justice at the village level, which is the most important thing. That is how you will liberate the people. I went to China and understood how the Chinese got

four hundred million people out of poverty in twenty years. There were some interesting ideas that came out, and one of them was how to help the small farmer. If you want to help

the small farmer, you must liberate him from the thana and the patwari system.

Q: How? IK: We have to have e-government. We have a plan through which

we can implement a whole system in 90 days and bring in e-govern-

ment which can not only eliminate corruption but also help people.

Q: That’s for when and if you get into government, what’s your political plan right now?

IK: We are going to have a rally in Karachi on the 25th of De-

cember. The whole objective of the rally is reconciliation. We want to bring everyone together, especially the Urdu-speaking community and the Pashtuns. We are probably the only party that can get these two ethnic groups together and not

engage in the divisive politics which certain people and parties exploit. They make people fight each other and get votes

Q: Do you support biradari politics? IK: How are you going to destroy it? Q: How are you going to destroy thana culture? IK: They are not linked. Thana culture is feudal and per-

petuates the feudal system. The first thing a politician does when he comes into office is he gets his own thanedar and

patwari in place. This is because he wants to control the

thana, he wants to control the patwari and therefore he enslaves the people. What I am talking about is empowering

the people through local government. One of the greatest Pakistanis was Akhtar Hameed Khan and in the Orangi Pilot

and power through discord and bloodshed. Our idea is to bring about a grand reconciliation.

Q: Nawaz Sharif has now officially gone on the warpath against

the government. Will you ally yourself with Nawaz Sharif for your mutual goal of removing the current administration?

IK: I think after 30 years of seeing power, it is time for Nawaz

Sharif to think of retirement. Thirty years is a long time.a

This interview has been adapted from the televised interview of Imran Khan by Quatrina Hosain on Witness with Quatrina, which aired on 14th November 2011


FEATURE Outside, the desert sun beats down on the baked and barren dunes, but inside the customised SUV, it’s another world. The AC is on full blast and the tinted win-

dows filter the unforgiving rays of the sun into diffused light.

Plush seats provide a level of comfort one would find impossible to imagine in such a harsh environment. Beep…beep…beep. The silence is broken by the sound of the scanner; the vehicle comes

to a sudden halt, sending the soft desert sands cascading down the dune that it is now precariously perched atop.

Wearing dark sunglasses to cut the glare of the sun, the passen-

gers excitedly disembark to locate what the LCD screen tells them is just overhead. They look skywards, trying to focus on the sun with eyes that are forced to squint despite the dark shades they

are wearing. It almost looks like a scene from an old Ray-Ban ad. Gradually, they focus on a tiny dark spot in the sky. Is it what they are seeking, or is it just another illusion of the desert sun?


Slowly, the dark spot begins to increase in size. A screeching

pierces the calm as a falcon descends upon the sand dunes. Suddenly, a portion of the sand dune seems to move! It’s the elusive

Houbara bustard, well camouflaged against the sand. Intimidated by the falcon, it takes flight in a desperate attempt to flee the

soaring predator. The falcon dives and curves towards its target


with sharp talons now facing towards the ground like an aircraft’s landing gear.

The bustard still has one trick up its feathered sleeve. It swivels

sharply to avoid death but is stalled by a sudden gust of wind.

Wham! The aerodynamic falcon smashes into its prey in a flurry of claws and feathers and it’s over in the blink of an eye. With eu-

cle had a foreign number plate. When asked, our host and guide

chunk of meat kept especially for this purpose. This is the climax

They are hired by Arab sheikhs who will soon be visiting the area

tard to make it Halal. They divert the falcon from its prey with a of a typical falconry expedition.

I first came to know of this activity on a wildlife photography

trip. While planning to visit a brackish-water lake, our host told us that he would request the “wildlife guys” to drive us in their vehicle. He took us to a tent pitched right next to the highway

with a few charpoys around it and wide tyre marks indicating the frequent movement of heavy 4x4 vehicles. The “wildlife

guys” greeted our group and told us that all their vehicles were

already on “patrol duty”. It had been reported that poachers had made a few kills and a VIP visit was also due — hence the in-

creased vigilance. Disappointed, we proceeded to visit the lake in our old jeep.

laughed. “You think these are government employees? No, sir! for hunting Talaur (the local name for Houbara bustards). They

fund the locals and provide vehicles to ensure that no one else

hunts in the area allotted to them by the government.” Warm-

ing to the topic, he continued: “All this is carried out through the local chiefs. By law, Pakistanis are forbidden to hunt Talaur;

in a way, these guys are the law-enforcers! Try shooting down a Talaur here and you will see what happens to you!” The part-infotainment-part-warning was delivered in a manner that, coupled with my host's cordial relations with the “wildlife guys”, led me

to wonder if some benefits trickled down to my host, who was associated with “conservation” work himself.

In later years I came to know of other arrangements that the

On our way back, as we approached the same tent, our guide

hunters put in place. These include heavy-duty water, fuel and

of-the-line 4x4 truck was parked next to the tent, its hood and

scurrying on highways in rural areas during the hunting season.

announced “Look! One of their trucks is back”. A brand new topsides partially covered with a layer of fine dust. I wondered how

government wildlife institutions were able to afford such an ex-


My suspicions were confirmed when I observed that the vehi-

phoric cries, the hunters, run to perform the “zabiha” of the Bus-

pensive vehicle.


oil tankers that service their encampments. They can be seen Earlier, I had only seen such desert-enabled tankers during TV coverage of the Paris-Dakar rally!

The air would reek of hi-octane petroleum as an entourage

of their tradition and they are here not just to eat the bird but in

fact to practice the traditional art. The Houbara bustard has the

misfortune of being their target due to its in-flight trickery, its skill and speed on the ground and its cautious nature — all of which make it a very difficult prey.

Houbaras originally visited the Arabian Peninsula in large

numbers, but over the years, as oil money financed better hunting gear and trucks replaced camels, the migrant birds could not sustain the pressure and are now on the verge of extinction.

Originally inhabitants of colder climes such as Siberia, different

colonies of the bird descend to warmer areas in the south. The columns descending to the Middle East have thinned to near extinction.



A tale of two visitors, one who comes to nest and the other who comes to kill

passed by at high speed. The hunters would come equipped

with satellite phones, GPS devices, internet connectivity, radio tracking equipment and walkie-talkies among other gadgetry.

The temporary tent settlements that they had set-up looked

like something straight out of Arabian Nights, complete with air-conditioned tents powered by huge generators for the senior sheikhs.

The Houbara hunts in Pakistan, over the years have been an

elaborate affair, with Arab royals arriving in their private jets followed by C-130s full of vehicles, equipment and support staff.

In Pakistan, however, the greatest threat which the Houbara

faces is not from foreigners but in fact from habitat degradation

and local aficionados. Whether eating the poor bird actually increases virility or not, the myth is now established among the

local hunting-guides and the inhabitants of rural areas near the wilderness. Unlike the Arabs, the locals do not practice falconry,

but instead use guns to shoot down the bustards. They do not follow the traditional codes followed by the Arabs and end up killing any other bird or mammal that they come across as well.

Trophy hunting is used as a tool for conservation in many parts

of the world. Expensive licenses are auctioned for a limited num-

ber of animals to be hunted during a limited hunting season.

The proceeds of the licenses are spent on conservation efforts, social uplift of local rural population and the creation of jobs.

Trophy hunting of ibex and Markhor is reported to have resulted in increase of animal populations in some areas of Pakistan.

Similarly, the Houbara hunts should be used to finance conservation and economic uplift while strengthening foreign relations.

However, the petro dollars currently flow only to some government functionaries and local lords, while the general public living around the hunting grounds remains illiterate and without

access to basic facilities. It is a failure of our system to distribute the benefits of hunting-tourism equally and beneficially.

Additionally, countries like the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Morocco,

The hunts are not monitored by wildlife departments but inter-

etc, are now realising the importance of conservation and have

have almost caused diplomatic rows when the quotas allocated

grams. Pakistan is blessed by nature with several fertile breed-

estingly are the domain of the ministry of foreign affairs. They to royals of various countries were deemed insufficient by them. Nowhere else in the world does the Houbara command such im-

portance. Foreign royals have even bought huge private estates throughout Pakistan in areas where the bird sojourns.

The picture painted in the Pakistani media is that the Arabs

initiated comprehensive, and well-funded, conservation proing grounds of the Houbara in the deserts of Balochistan and Cholistan, placing us in an ideal position to claim a share of the

economic opportunities that international conservation projects create.

For now, the Houbara bustard, a foreign visitor that flies in ev-

are here to satisfy their gastronomic indulgence with the Houba-

ery year during the winters to nest, has to contend with both lo-

version is that they value their traditions and consider their cul-

As for its alleged aphrodisiac properties, I am happy to say that

ra bustard that supposedly has aphrodisiac properties. The Arab ture an indispensible ingredient of their honour. Falconry is part

cal hunters and foreign visitors who also fly in seeking trophies. I don’t have the information — or the need — to verify them! a




Badshahi Masjid, Lahore, Pakistan When completed in 1673, the Badshahi Masjid was not only the largest Masjid in the Mughal Empire, but also the largest in the world. Built with red sandstone, the four tall minarets in each corner demarcate the main building, which is capped with white marble domes of enormous size, supported by eight arched pillars.

call to

Sultan Qaboos Grand Masjid, Muscat, Oman Built by His Majesty the Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the majestic Grand Masjid is probably the most imposing religious landmark in Muscat. The prayer carpet that covers the floor of the prayer hall contains 1,700,000 knots, weighs 21 tonnes and took four years to produce.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Masjid, Abu Dhabi, UAE The Sheikh Zayed Grand Masjid features 82 domes of Moroccan design, decorated with white marble. Reflective pools surround the Masjid, whilst coloured floral marble and mosaics pave the courtyard which is decorated with white marble from Greece. The pools reflect the masjid’s spectacular image, which becomes even more resplendent at night.

30 NOVEMBER 20-26 2011

Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Masjid, Shah Alam, Malaysia


Also known as the Blue Masjid, due to its distinctive blue aluminium dome, the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Masjid rises above a man-made lake which surrounds it. Inside, lighting systems on the dome replicate the twinkling desert night sky. The masjid has four minarets erected at the corners, with each minaret 460 feet tall.

Masjids around the world showcase the unique cultural heritage of local Muslim communities TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY SAIFUDDIN ISMAILJI

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Masjid, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Named after the 28th Sultan of Brunei, the Masjid's most recognisable feature is its main dome which is covered in pure gold. Standing 171 ft high, the masjid can be seen from virtually anywhere in Bandar Seri Begawan.

Shah Faisal Masjid, Islamabad, Pakistan The tent-shaped Shah Faisal Masjid is one of the largest masjids in the world, marvellously set in the backdrop of the lush Margalla Hills. The large crescent on top of the dome supports the large hall trimmed with works of art by two of the country's most celebrated artists: Gulgee and Sadequain.


NOVEMBER 20-26 2011



blue blistering barnacles! BY NOMAN ANSARI

If ever there was a divinely scripted marriage between a comic book franchise and a film-maker, it is here between Steven Spielberg and The Adventures of Tintin series. Based on the exploits of the iconic reporter Tintin and his dog Snowy, what is instantly remarkable about The Adventures of Tintin 3D, is how visually pleasing it is. The CGI movie, made entirely through performance capture, features fantastic art direction, and brings the distinctly European comic book pages to life nearly perfectly on the silver screen. I use the word ‘nearly’ because, occasionally, some of the film’s shots do suffer from the ‘uncanny valley effect’, where sometimes the characters do not replicate human likeness perfectly, with their eyes looking eerily soulless, resulting in a degree of involuntary repugnance. Having said that, in terms of overall production values, the movie is quite pleasing, especially for fans of the franchise’s characters. Aside from Tintin (Jamie Bell) and his trusty canine companion, the movie features other beloved characters like the grouchy Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis), and the comically incompetent and almost identical looking gum-shoes Thompson and Thomson (Simon Pegg

the star rocks BY SAIM SADIQ

Ranbir Kapoor is perhaps one of the most versatile actors currently working in mainstream Bollywood; an actor of unusual calibre with the disarming ability to charm you as easily with his smouldering intensity as with that goofy grin of his. Two decades down the lane, Imtiaz Ali’s latest movie, Rockstar, will be remembered more for bringing into limelight the original cinematic rocker than anything else. To be very honest, it is anything but a film with universal appeal. Of course, everyone is bound to love the leading man, but if you are one to frown over non-linear narratives and characters lacking in moral fibre, skip this movie. For lovers of the Salman Khan brand of ‘entertainment’, this warning is doubly applicable. For the rest, this movie is a devastatingly gorgeous love story that will linger in your head for hours. Ranbir plays the role of Jannardhan Jhakar (later re-christened Jordan), who goes from being a young Delhi lad, to a confused musician, to a repulsive, romantic rock star. He is just the kind of actor Bollywood is not used to — a star with a commanding screen presence who never tries to overpower the scene and an instinctive actor who gets under the character’s skin to give a performance both nuanced and solid. To be fair, the film owes much to this man who is clearly meant for much greater stuff. Romancing 40 him is the half-Pakistani Nargis Fakhri, whose alabaster skin makes NOVEMBER 27-DECEMBER 3 2011

and Nick Frost). The voices of these iconic characters are also well suited to the characters, though I expected Tintin to sound less English, and Captain Haddock to sound gruffer. Things start with the young journalist buying a model of a sailing ship, the Unicorn, breaking it by accident, and discovering a secret parchment that takes him, along with his dog Snowy, on an adventure through exotic locations in Europe and Africa. But while the movie hits all the right notes with some frequency, unlike its opera diva character, Bianca Castafiore, it doesn’t quite shatter glass, and neither does it stand nearly as tall as the really great adventure films from Spielberg. Having said that, in this day and age of soulless, over-the-top action adventure films, The Adventures of Tintin 3D feels refreshing, and even if it doesn’t win the bout by knockout, with its light punches consistently hitting the mark, it easily scores more points than its modern day peers.

up for her bad dubbing and lack of acting skills. More than anything else, what works for Rockstar is its love for subtlety, for small moments stolen and put together in a long, lovely montage: a brother-in-law exploding at his bhabhi because of her overtly affectionate consolatory touches, a discussion between two friends in a Czech field about a forbidden first kiss, a stunning, married heroine running back home, after indulging in infidelity, under the morning light, heels in one hand, guilt in the other. The filmmaker uses wonderful restraint in underscoring the drama and romance. Imtiaz Ali is a master of layered and dialogue-based narratives, while Jab We Met remains a cult movie in its own right, this film has Ali at his riskiest and most mature. While the non-linear editing lacks finesse, the film’s biggest drawback, AR Rahman’s exquisite soundtrack — a heady mix of rock, melody and some fine poetry — more than makes up for it. With its clunky editing and predictable script, Rockstar isn’t a perfect film by any standards, but it is certainly worth a watch. a


10 things I hate about ... my mother-in-law

1 2 3 4 5

Her “I-am-so-young” complex. I hate how she blatant-

ly lies about her age. She should be more careful with her math when she proudly claims to be 43 years old, with a 26-year-old son.

The contradictions in her personality. She constantly

claims that she is ‘modest’ and ‘humble’, but still goes to weddings sporting enough bling to put Missy Elliot to shame.


6 7 8 9 10

Boot camp on Eid. What pleasure does she draw from forcing me to wake up at 7 am, dress up in gaudy wedding wear and entertain dozens of nosy relatives the

whole long day? Thanks to her, Eid is now a hellish experience.

The tendency to exaggerate. She’ll brag about “exercis-

ing for hours” every day when all she actually does is tittle-tattle with gossipy middle-aged aunties at the gym, while walking in slow motion on the treadmill.

No wonder mummy jaan stays flabby despite her “physically rigorous routine”.

Delusions of being the best mother-in-law in the

world. She endlessly recounts anecdotes of satanic mothers-in-law just so that I am utterly grateful that

mine has not drenched me in kerosene and burnt me alive or spiked my milk with rat poison.

Unsolicited advice. When will she learn to mind her own business and quit telling me to “stop family planning”? How long do I have to wait for the day when

mummy jaan does not (un)enlighten me with ways to keep her son happy?

Faking respect. Gone are the days when I could imperi-

ously patronise my mother for mispronouncing words or wearing an atrocious dress. With my new “mom”,

I am supposed to be on my best behaviour — that in-

cludes biting my tongue every time she epitomises a sartorial catastrophe or invites me to eat “lowbuster”.


The constant comparisons with her own daughter. Every now and then, she smugly tells me how her daugh-

ter prepares seven-course meals for her in-laws and gives her sasu maa expensive gifts. While most of her not-so subtle insinuations fall on deaf ears, they do end up making me cringe with irritation.

The attempts to trap me with her smooth talk. She

coaxes me to take charge of the household because she

believes I have “strong leadership skills”. But “taking charge” is actually a euphemism for household drudgery and my “strong leadership skills” are simply intended to cut down expenses for domestic help.

Kitty parties. Being married automatically makes me a member of a universal married aunties’ club. Mummy

jaan makes sure I attend every dreadful kitty party and contribute to the heated discussions on manicures and clothing. a

The Express Tribune Magazine - November 27  
The Express Tribune Magazine - November 27  

The Express Tribune Magazine for November 27th 2011