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OCTOBER 23-29 2011

Fight Night! Will Karachi: the Musical deliver a knockout punch?


OCTOBER 23-29 2011

Cover Story 18 Fight Night Karachi can now boast of a musical of its very own!

Feature 28 Karachi — What lies beneath Survivors of the latest wave of carnage in Karachi recount the horror they faced in captivity 30 Under the Sea We found Nemo. He was in Irfan Mirza’s fishtank!

Portfolio 34 Star Trek Starlit skies and the majestic beauty of Nagar Valley



6 People & Parties: Out and about with Pakistan’s beautiful people 38 Advice: Mr Know It All solves your problems 40 Reviews: What’s new in books 42 Ten Things I Hate About: Growing up



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


Nida Butt and Hamza Jafri hold a preview concert of their musical “Haar Na Mano” in Karachi

Raza Shah

Nida Butt and Hamza Jafri


Imam Syed and Rubya Chaudhry

Sam and Eliyena

Alina and Usman

Nabiyah Fahim

6 OCTOBER 23-29 2011


Faisal Rafi

OCTOBER 23-29 2011


Al Karam launches its winter collection at the Al Karam Studio in Lahore

Shehzad Nabeel and Asifa

Shehzad and Urooj

Sabina Pasha

Akif Mahmood, Frieha Altaf and Mohsin Ali

Natasha Hussain

8 OCTOBER 23-29 2011

Tanveer abid and Abid Umer

Hadiqa Kiyani


Fouzia with Babloo

OCTOBER 23-29 2011


Iffat Umer with friends


Sanna and M


Hira Fatima


Sara Shahid w

ith Deeda Mum

10 OCTOBER 23-29 2011



Shirin with her sister

OCTOBER 23-29 2011


The Tree of Life launches at the Lady Dufferin Hospital in Karachi

Iqbal Haider and Sherry Rehman


Muna Siddiqui, Dr Setna and Pomme Gohar

Irshad Kassim and Kaukab Shahbaz

Yasmin Islam, Mona Kaiser and Farieha Hashwani

12 OCTOBER 23-29 2011

Dinar Setna and Mrs Mancharjee



OCTOBER 23-29 2011


Amina Naeem launches her clothing-line Swank in Lahore.

Akram, Maryam, Ajmal and Rawan

Ahmad, Izza an

d Rameeza w


ith a friend

Shehryar an

d Ayesha

14 OCTOBER 23-29 2011

Amina Naeem

Iman with a friend


Abdullah and Shazia

Ali and Zain

OCTOBER 23-29 2011


Azra, Ghazala and Hamza


Margo Abdul





16 OCTOBER 23-29 2011

Maida and Ayesha

OCTOBER 23-29 2011


Fight Night Karachi is the ultimate comeback kid. It’s a city that’s often down, but never out. And now, this mean and marvellous metropolis can boast a musical of its very own BY RAFAY MAHMOOD PHOTOS BY ADIL MUFTI

It’s a week before opening night for “Karachi: The Musical”, and rehearsals are in full swing at the Music, Art and Dance school on Karachi’s Zamzama street. Inside the rehearsal space, where one can usually catch perfor-

mances by underground bands, I am told to take a quiet corner

since an acting exercise that requires immense concentration is underway. About 20 young people are sitting in a wide circle with

their backs to each other. Eyes shut tight, they passionately deliver their lines but the director is still not satisfied.

“Guys, this is not a joke — it’s an exercise! Keep your eyes

closed and try to listen to each others’ characters!” shouts Nida Butt, the lady behind the smash hits, “Mamma Mia” and “Chica-

go” in Pakistan. “Karachi: The Musical”, originally titled “Lyari: The Musical”, is the director/choreographer’s latest production. An original Urdu play by Made for Stage productions, it deviates

from Nida’s previous offerings — which have been faithful reproductions of famous musicals — but the director brings the

same intensity and passion that were evident in “Chicago” and

“Mamma Mia” to “Karachi: the Musical”. Made for Stage Produc-

tions, incidentally, is the only theatre company that stages live

I am about to strike up a conversation with Nida when, all of a sudden, the actors shuffle to their feet and disperse. Each is now

18 OCTOBER 23-29 2011

Hamza Jafri and Nida Butt writing a sketch of his or her own character in the play. It’s a

ing a scene with another actor. Playing an amateur boxer from

tions, who hang around conversing in fluent English, and are

train him to be the world champion. It’s a powerful scene and

mixed crowd, comprising of actors from Nida’s previous producclearly at ease with her novel methods. Then there are the welltrained and experienced Arts Council and Napa graduates, instantly recognisable as they crack jokes in street lingo and trade

gossip and stories about their respective institutions and teachers, many of whom are household names in the theatre world.

Multan, he is pleading with a renowned coach from Lyari to I watch mesmerised. When Syed finishes up with practice, he wolfs down an apple. “I need to tone up my muscles for the per-

formance,” says the dedicated actor. Clearly, even snack choice is determined by the role.

The actors’ excitement about their roles is palpable, and the

Perhaps appropriately for a play about Karachi, it’s clear that

Napa and Arts Council graduates are as excited about the pros-

One of the actors from the Arts Council has previously per-

itself. One of them takes me aside and exclaims, “Rafay Bhai,

both burgers and bun kebabs are well-represented in the cast.

formed in the Urdu adaptation of Kleist’s “The Broken Jug” and is

clearly excited by this new exercise. “I’ve written this character

pect of going to Dubai for performances as they are about the play these plays are much better than what Zia Mohiyuddin does.”

The person I’m really looking forward to seeing today is Co-Ven

sketch in Urdu, since I play a typical mullah. You know, the hyp-

frontman Hamza Jafri. A master of his genre — which happens

with a grin.

lowing thanks to Co-Ven’s brilliant music; the song Sailing Fast

ocritical kind who doesn’t practice what he preaches,” he says

The lead actor, Imam Syed, can be found in a corner rehears-

to be progressive rock — the Lahore-based Hamza has a cult folwith its tongue-in-cheek video is a particular favourite among

Rubya Chaudhry channels her inner songstress

19 OCTOBER 23-29 2011


Imam Syed and the cast fans. Hamza is co-producing the musical alongside Nida and has

into the musical itself. They enthusiastically state that the audi-

about Karachi requires quite a bit of soul-searching,” he says.

While the story is based in the Karachi of today, the musical fo-

been working for over a year on the music. “Making a musical

“Pinpointing the traits that define this metropolis and then putting them to music and lyrics is no mean feat.”

For her part, Nida believes it is resilience that defines the spirit

of Karachi. “The chowkidar who opens our gates, the vendor who sells us fruit, the labourer who builds our houses, the ordinary

cuses on the long-neglected sport of boxing. It’s a tale of aspira-

tions, betrayal and triumph which ends with a message of hope. But haven’t we heard this story before? Is this just going to be a Pakistani version of Rocky or Resurrecting the Champ?

“I wouldn’t say it’s anything like Rocky,” counters Nida. “The

man’s struggle and desire to achieve something, despite the tur-

only common thread between us and Rocky is boxing and God

our songs from the play has the line ‘Karachi ghareebon ke sahara,

also more than one hero in this musical but ssshhh! I don’t want

moil — this resilience is the inspiration behind the story. One of

hai chal raha’ which encapsulates the character of the metropolis.

This musical is a tribute to those who make this city functional, day after day, irrespective of whether there is paani or bijli,” says Nida.

knows there have been many more movies on boxing. There is to give too much away,” says Nida who clearly wants to save her best right hook for the opening show.

But the Nida Butt that theatre enthusiasts know is the one behind

Clearly, the play itself is something of a labour of love for Nida.

local productions of foreign musicals — an Urdu musical is the last

loud if there is a single musical instrument that defines the true

trous experiment rather than an innovative theatrical experience?

Wishing to draw out the thus-far silent Hamza, I wonder out

spirit of Karachi. “Not really,” he says, looking out at the Zamza-

thing one would expect Nida to do. Couldn’t this turn into a disas“This is just what I’d like to hear,” says Nida. “I wouldn’t waste

ma traffic through a window. “Karachi is a whole orchestra. The

my time on doing something that wasn’t far-fetched.”

shots, auto rickshaws, blasts, riots, protests, celebration, festiv-

ers this play a great opportunity to challenge himself and explore

Hamza draws a clear distinction between his hometown of La-

story I want to tell and shows the way I look at things. But to

sound of Karachi is the sound of generators, ambulances, gunity — and we have all of this in our ensemble orchestra.”

hore and Karachi, a city that truly excites him. “In Lahore, the man on the street and the one driving a Pajero are one and the same, in terms of their character and tastes. The latter is just

more affluent,” says Hamza. “But in Karachi if you go on the

Hamza is also ready to jump into the ring, saying he consid-

himself further as a musician. “The music in my albums is the create music for an existing script required me to take a backseat

and listen to everyone else, which makes it a different ballgame altogether,” says Hamza.

Two songs have been released so far from the musical and fans

streets of DHA, you’ll find hard-rock music being played in car

can’t wait to get their hands on the rest. According to Hamza,

being played with the same spirit.”

plans to introduce a lot of programmed horns on the keyboard

woofers and when you get to Lighthouse, you’ll find ethnic pop


ence should expect two and a half hours of pure entertainment.

It’s that spirit that Nida and Hamza Jafri have tried to infuse

OCTOBER 23-29 2011

the music is a mix of rock opera, desi and Big Band jazz. Hamza and a number of percussive instruments onstage for which the

Rehearsal Shenanigans platform has also been extended.

“Almost a year back, Nida showed me a documentary on the

boxers of Lyari and from there I picked up elements like triumph, the adrenaline rush and a lot of action. When I started to go through the script, it evolved into something very grand with an ethnic pop influence,” says Hamza.

This synergy doesn’t just end with the cast and the music,

and Hamza waxes lyrical about the contributions of scriptwriter Faraz Lodhi, who is himself a well-known underground musi-

cian. “If the writer of a musical is a musician himself, it becomes easier for the composer and Faraz was a great help.”

Making the untrained actors sing for the live musical perfor-

mance was no mean task but Hamza is satisfied and is keeping

his fingers crossed till the show goes on stage. “Everyone has given it their best. Many of the cast members have evolved from being nowhere to actually singing well — let’s hope for the best.”

“Karachi is a whole orchestra. The sound of Karachi is the sound of generators, ambulances, gun shots, auto rickshaws, blasts, riots, protests, celebration, festivity — and we have all of this in our ensemble orchestra.”

The musical is already scheduled for an all Pakistan tour in

March 2012 and, if everything goes smoothly, possibly a performance in Dubai by the end of 2012, which the Arts Council crowd is very excited about.

“Karachi: The Musical” is likely to be a turning point in mod-

ern-day Pakistani theatre. The audience has seen live musicals

with an original script and music?

ductions like “Bombay Dreams” and countless other adaptations

her pet dog, Gabbar, “I wish it was as easy as opening a laptop

countries to Pakistan, she was accused of plagiarism and dupli-

is why I am now doing an original musical with live music. It’s

with classical music instruments, largely lip-synched local proand translations. When Nida Butt brought musicals from other

cating the filmic rendition of those plays but soon others followed in her footsteps. The big question is, will they do the same

Nida has a few words for her critics as she nonchalantly pats

and duplicating the scenes. It never was that simple — which

time we show the world that we have more to offer than cricket and fashion.” a

OCTOBER 23-29 2011


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24 OCTOBER 23-29 2011


what lies beneath

Beneath Karachi’s dazzling lights and bustling commerce is a dark underworld of kidnappings, murder and torture BY SABIN AGHA

“My son’s arms were ripped from his body. His face, chest and stomach bore deep stab wounds. His legs were broken and he had been shot twice through the forehead.” This is how Shahnawaz’s father Maula Bux describes what happened to his son. Twenty-seven-year-old Shahnawaz went missing on August 15

and was found dead two days later. His three young children will now grow up without knowing their father’s love.

“He was on his way to Zainab Market to buy frocks for his daugh-

ters and jeans for his son for Eid,” says Maula Bux. Recounting the

Shahnawaz wasn’t as lucky, his fate sealed by a length of red

string. “Shahnawaz and others like him had a red string around their wrists. This was a common clue found by the police on those

who had been separated from the rest of the kidnapped people and sent to the private torture chambers,” claims Zafar Baloch.

The existence of torture and death cells in many localities of the

city is corroborated by the numerous bodies found in gunny sacks,

dumped in different areas. The phenomenon of the bori band lash — the consequence of kidnappings for torture and murder — stems from the violent ‘90s, when such tactics were first used.

As for the victims, they are drawn from every major ethnic group

last conversation he had with his son, his eyes mist over. “I had

in the city but, by and large, they have been people without any

that Baloch boys were vulnerable to kidnappings. I told Shahnawaz

because of their ethnicity. Most of the people abducted were daily-

heard that there had been announcements in the area, warning to be careful but he was not worried.”

But Maula Bux’s worst fears came true when Shahnawaz’s bru-

tally tortured body was found stuffed in a gunny sack and dumped

on a roadside in PECHS, with a suspicious red string around his wrist. His tale is only one of the many horror stories that emerged

during the height of the bloodletting this July and August in Kara-

real political affiliation, who appear to have been singled out only wage earners. In many cases, victims were dragged from public transport, their identity cards checked and then kidnapped. The

W-11 passenger bus recently became a symbol of horror due to frequent abductions. In one case, it was set ablaze by unidentified men with the passengers still inside.

Every community and political party has its own story to tell. The


MQM’s Dr Farooq Sattar claims that over a dozen men belonging to

while 12 are still missing,” claims Zafar Baloch, a senior member

been recovered after being subjected to brutal torture.

“Around 46 Baloch men were abducted and killed this August

of the defunct People’s Amn Committee and a former general secre-

the Urdu-speaking community are still missing while some 20 had Similar claims are made by Bashir Jan, a senior leader of the ANP

tary of the PPP’s south division. “Two of my cousins were also kid-

Sindh. He relates the spine-chilling account of a Pashtun survivor,

Baloch’s own relatives were among those 18 missing men whose

shot and was dumped on the roadside when his captors mistakenly

napped and tortured, but fortunately they both survived.”

release was secured after intense negotiations between the police and rival political parties.

28 OCTOBER 23-29 2011

who spent eight hours in a gunny sack after being tortured and

thought him dead. “At one point, he accidentally stuck his head out

of the sack when he was being transported in a rickshaw to be dis-

posed of. His abductor, still thinking he was dead, used his foot to push his head back into the sack,” reveals Jan. “When he reached

the hospital after being picked up by an ambulance, only then did

he take his hand out of the sack and ask for water. The ambulance driver was shocked.”

This is not the only tale of survival that has emerged from the

Dreading the worst, his family was surprised at his return. “I guess my time has not come yet,” adds Muhammad.

Gul, a student of Class 9 and an inhabitant of the Pashtun-domi-

nated Muhammadpur area of Orangi Town, was another victim of this politico-ethnic power struggle.

“I was picked up by four men from Qasba Colony near Hina Bak-

dark nightmare of Karachi’s violence. Fifty-year-old Ahmed* , a

ery. Their faces were hidden behind scarves. They tortured me for

community, was abducted at gunpoint from Orangi’s Sector 12 and

fusely, and I told them to kill me because the pain was too much.

resident of Bilal Colony, which is dominated by the Urdu-speaking held captive for three days.

“I was on my way to Sabzi Mandi in a taxi cab when the driver

eight to nine hours, taking turns to beat me. I was bleeding proBeing a Pashtun was my only crime,” recalls Gul.

His desire to stay alive eventually overwhelmed his fear; he

stopped at Bismillah Market near Sohrab Goth. Two Baloch men got

snatched a loaded gun from his kidnappers as they were about to

time he and the other kidnapper were constantly talking on the mo-

Later on, they untied my hands, as they were confident that I would

in. One of them sat next to me and pointed a gun at me. The whole

bile in Balochi. They took me all the way to Thatta and demanded a ransom of Rs 500,000,” recalls Ahmed. “They told me they were

enemies of Urdu-speaking people and wanted to kill all of them.

They hit my legs, tied a rope around my neck and hit me with a thick stick due to which I was temporarily paralysed on one side. One of them used to slap me on both my ears simultaneously which

execute him. “At first, I was blindfolded and my hands were tied.

not try to escape. They took me to an imambargah along the river and told me to face the wall but I couldn’t because I was in pain.

Then they kicked me and loaded the pistol. It was as if I saw my death before my eyes. I thought, these men will kill me – at the very least I should try to escape, may Allah may help me,” says Gul.

His intrepidness in the face of certain death saved him, but hun-

would make my whole body go numb with pain.”

dreds of others were not so lucky.

was kept in was left unattended for a little while.

party, but point to what they can only call ethnic warfare. Behind

Shah colony in the same neighbourhood: “I was on my way to Yu-

rivalry among the Pashtun, Urdu-speaking and Baloch communi-

Luckily, Ahmed managed to escape when the door of the room he Muhammad*, 26, is another lucky survivor from Baba Vilayat

suf Goth for work when five men on two motorbikes came from be-

hind. Three of them looked Baloch and two seemed as if they were Pashtun. They blindfolded me and one of them sat with me on my bike. They abducted me at around 2 in the afternoon and kept me

Ahmed, Muhammad and Gul do not blame any one faction or

the brutal violence lies a long-standing and complicated ethnic ties. This situation has left both political workers, as well as the

common man at the mercy of criminal gangs who use the cover of ethnic conflict for their own ends.

These survivors maintain that these destabilising elements are

till 8 pm. They tortured me until they got a call from someone on

trying to carve Karachi into gangsters’ fiefdoms where only the

sent to another place to be killed,” says Muhammad. “They beat me

ethnic affiliation is only limited to the statements and the coloured

their mobile. Then they discussed whether I should be kept here or with sticks, slapped me repeatedly and told me ‘You are a Mohajir

and Mohajirs kill Pathans and Baloch. You torch vehicles and ran-

sack shops. You are a criminal because you are a supporter of Altaf Hussain.’”

According to Muhammad, the sound of a siren from a police mo-

bile distracted his captors and gave him the opportunity to escape.

law of the jungle prevails. They say that loyalty revolving around flags of political parties, while the real issue is that of turf, terri-

tory and control. Consuming the lives of countless innocent people, violence and murder are just bargaining chips in Karachi’s power politics.A

*Names have been changed to protect identities.

29 OCTOBER 23-29 2011


under the

40-year-old Irfan Mirza loves the ocean so much that he put a mini version in his living room.


A striped Clownfish brushes across orange anemones swaying gently in the blue, while a school of bright yellow Tang fish swims past. Blue-hued Chromis fish move swiftly out of the way of the anemone tentacles swaying on the coral. Snails and hermit crabs scuttle behind live rocks resting on the smooth white sand. Irfan Mirza’s living room houses a veritable miniature ocean.

“After a busy day at work, watching the aquarium is so soothing

that it can put you to sleep,” says Mirza.

His huge saltwater aquarium takes 120 gallons of water and occu-

pies half of his living-room. The 3-year-old aquarium — “one of the

best in Pakistan” — according to Sajjad Mirza, Irfan’s bird-loving father — costs a total of Rs800, 000, including the marine creatures which have been imported from Malaysia.

Passionate about owning a saltwater aquarium since childhood,

replicating the ocean’s natural environment is a feat Irfan achieved through “a lot of reading, and trial and error.” Grinning, he recalls

how he once put the wrong species of fish together and they ended up killing each other. Another time, he put jumper fishes in an aquari-


um and by the next morning they had, surprise surprise, jumped out of the tiny holes in the tank. He also once added 10 fishes to a new OCTOBER 23-29 2011


tank, resulting in overcrowding so that all of them died at once.

Irfan’s aquarium is made special by the fact that it has living cor-

als. “There are other enthusiasts in Pakistan but they mostly have

only fish in their tanks.” Irfan, on the other hand, has even the highly poisonous button polyp corals. “Putting on gloves is recommended before dipping your hands in the aquarium, because their poison can kill,” explains Irfan nonchalantly. “Also, natural skin oils harm these corals.”

To sustain Irfan’s mini-ocean, each sea-creature plays it role. Fish

eat food and their leftovers are broken down by shrimps and crabs, which also serve as cleaning stations. Cleaner shrimps stop the

“I am not really into banking,” says Irfan. “I work because I need a source of income to sustain this hobby.” fish, enter their mouths and clean the bacteria residing within. The

with a pipe. A cubical glass box covered with white thermopole is

to ammonia, ammonia to nitrates and nitrates to nitrites, which

sump is an area of a saltwater tank that has been set aside from

waste falls on live rocks where the ‘good bacteria’ break down food are then released into water. Hermit crabs eat other leftovers while snails feed on algae and clean rocks. It’s a complete ecosystem.

They may play their roles harmoniously, but not all the aquarium

residents are friends. They live in defined territories, and cross-border incursions can lead to attacks. Anemones serve as home for the

clownfish, who in return feed them with their waste. This symbi-

otic relationship between the two is so strong that anemones sting every other fish that comes near them; the clownfish also get ag-

partitioned into a narrow sump and a broad refugium A refugium the main aquarium. A sump provides a convenient place for nondisplay accessories such as heaters, filtration media and skimming devices whereas a refugium is a sump that supports life, providing

a suitable habitat for tiny organisms which filter a reef tank by feeding on waste materials.Dirty water falls into the sump and filters

into the refugium where macro-algae consume waste nitrates. There’s more, but you kind of need a science degree to figure it out.

Next to the refugium sump lies a smaller tank connected to another

gressive in order to protect their home.

refugium sump. This one has a lonesome fish swimming under blue-

on weekdays and three hours on weekends when 10% of its water

“This is cycling,” explains Irfan. The cycle starts when a dead shrimp

This fragile ecosystem demands Irfan’s attention for an hour

is replaced by home-made fresh saltwater. A test kit is vital to the system. A pH meter rests next to the aquarium with a probe in the

water at all times. An alkalinity meter, a salinity meter and test

spectrum light amongst live rocks, waiting for macro-algae to grow. is added to the tank with water and rocks. Bacteria grow cyclically for 6 to 8 months, till the tank is ready for fishes and corals.

Irfan is clearly passionate about this expensive, time-consuming

solutions for calcium and magnesium are used frequently. “You

hobby and takes an obvious pride in replicating the ocean’s ecosys-

explains Irfan. “However, with coral in an aquarium, you have to

because I need a source of income to sustain this hobby.”

don’t need to maintain water parameters in a tank with only fish,” have salt, magnesium and calcium levels close to ocean water.”

tem. “I am not really into banking,” says Irfan of his day job. “I work

According to Nature’s World, the aquarium shop at Nisar Sha-

Although corals mostly photosynthesise their food under halo-

heed that Irfan patronises, the trend of owning saltwater aquari-

“Unfortunately, in Pakistan people don’t understand the water

own saltwater fish-only aquariums and recently, there have been

gen light, Irfan also feeds them food that he gets from abroad.

parameters and the strong light needed to sustain corals. Only two

to three people import fish and no one imports corals. People don’t want to spend that kind of money. Australia, Singapore, Thailand

and Indonesia — all the best exporters of fish — have put a ban on selling corals as they are becoming extinct.”

ums is growing in Pakistan. Approximately 100 people in Karachi orders for corals as well.

“Sadly, the fish suppliers here do not encourage this hobby,” ex-

plains Irfan. “They sell for money and not for passion. Often, they sell dead, rotten fishes.”

While 7-year-old Manizeh often comments that her father only

“But this is only the pleasant-looking part,” he adds pointing to

loves the fishes and not her, 9-year-old Minelle is fascinated by the

The ‘not-so-pleasant-looking’ part is the refugium sump kept in

attention from her husband than she does, “No,” replies Irfan’s wife

the bright fish swimming in the blue.

another room, one floor below the main tank and connected to it

vivid life in the aquarium. When asked if the aquarium gets more pleasantly. “Me and the fishes share his time equally.” a

31 OCTOBER 23-29 2011


star trek A photographic adventure in the enchanting Nagar Valley TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY MOBEEN ANSARI

I have always been drawn to the Nagar Rakaposhi and Diran moun-

tains in the Nagar Valley: sleeping under starlit skies, swimming in crystal clear water, hiking cautiously across glaciers. The peaks routinely draw tourists and adventure-seekers, with tours operating on a monthly basis. Very few, however, try to capture the pristine beauty of the place. It is not easy to take photos while maintaining a precarious balance on the slippery ice, or to change lenses

without getting them fogged up. These photos are an attempt to convey something of the majesty of these mountains and the clear, starry skies over them.

In order to photograph the stars and mountains clearly, I had to

go as far as possible from any source of light, including torches and

even bonfires. This meant that I was effectively blind and freezing while taking these pictures. The fact that these shots required long exposures did not help either. My camera bag was so heavy that it caused me to slip at least a dozen times on the final trek to Diran base camp. But the stunning landscape made it all worthwhile.

In the last few years, strife has swept parts of the country depriv-

ing both locals and international tourists from exploring its many

scenic wonders. But the north remains an extraordinary place, so


peaceful and serene that it is easy to forget the strife elsewhere. a OCTOBER 23-29 2011

There they stand, the innumerable stars, shining in order like a living hymn, written in light. -NP Willis

The fire is the main comfort of the camp, whether in summer or winter, and is about as ample at one season as at another. It is as well for cheerfulness as for warmth and dryness. - Henry David Thoreau

35 OCTOBER 23-29 2011

PORTFOLIO Mountains are not fair or unfair, they are just dangerous. -Reinhold Messner

Bald as the bare mountain tops are bald, with a baldness full of grandeur. -Matthew Arnold

How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains. -John Muir

36 OCTOBER 23-29 2011

Then as it was, then again it will be, and though the course will change sometimes, rivers always reach the sea. - Led Zeppelin

37 OCTOBER 23-29 2011


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

Q. Dear Mr Know It All,

So I don’t know if I’m sleep-deprived because of the work, hal-

lucinating, or just plain crazy but I feel like the copier guy at my

workplace may like me. If you’re thinking ‘awww’, I must tell

Q. Dear Mr Know It All,

Sigh. I feel suffocated. I feel as if every step I take in life is being

you to stop now. This is far from cute crushes. He’s on the verge

closely monitored by my parents. I can’t do anything according

standing behind me; whenever I go to the washroom, he does

and if that wasn’t bad enough, my mother insists I find an acha

of being a creepy stalker. I go to the cafeteria, and he’s always too; he comes to my department five times to ask if any copies

need to be made, even though he’s only supposed to come once.

Call it coincidence or fate, but I’ve had enough of it! However, I don’t know how to tell him to back off. How should I fix this?

Confused Girl

A. I’m going to go the safe route here and assume you’re a

woman, because otherwise I really wouldn’t know what to say to you except something totally boorish like … put those knuckles

to use already — if you’re absolutely sure you’re not secretly flat-

to my own free will. I can’t go to the university I want to go to, larka. She means the stereotypical kind with the perfect job and his pants slightly higher than they should be. I don’t know what

to do and how to tell them to stop directing my life. What should I do?


A. Hey hey hey … hold on there a second, missy! Don’t you be

dissin’ all the acha larkas of the world by automatically assuming we all wear our pants on our chests!

Look, if your parents are forcing you to start checking guys out

tered by the unwarranted attention, that is! On a serious note

for the distressing coupling ritual we Easterners call shaadi, it’s

tive here, because let me assure you, there are still people out

Yup … kindergarten is over! If you don’t like your life, do some-

though, are you absolutely sure you’re not being over-imaginathere who can be nice to you for the sake of being nice. Not every

man’s sole purpose in life is to go around wooing women left, right and centre, especially the ones who are completely against

any romantic possibilities with them. Having said that, there’s an old adage which goes: if you ask a man what he’s looking for

in a woman, he’ll say she should be hot; but if you ask a woman the same question, she’ll come out with a long list of ‘nice guy’

characteristics like a sense of humour; a guy who’s nice to her and treats her well; has good values and a strong moral character. Yeah, right! If women really chose men based on what they


now instead of being the star subject of my column this week!

say they’re looking for, then your secret admirer from the office

would be getting ready to go out on a third date with you right OCTOBER 23-29 2011

probably time for you to grow up and take control of your life. thing about it. Talk about your problems with the people concerned. Take charge and walk away from the clutter. If you can’t

do that, turn your computer on and write a book about it, get it published, sell millions of copies and become filthy rich. That’s

bound to make you feel a lot better and make your parents back off a bit. If they’re still resolute about directing your every move, get your own place and become essentially independent so you

won’t have to adhere to every demand they make. Until such a time, however, I suggest you accept the fact that being the kid in the house means you’re your parents’ to mould, mend, bend and

direct. I’m not saying they’re always right, but they do deserve to be heard. a


War on Terror: A business strategy BY HUMA IMTIAZ

In the days leading up to the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, much of the conversation in the United States focused on the victims, the terror threat and how to bring about peace in Afghanistan. Then came along the book Top Secret America, co-authored by Washington Post reporter Dana Priest and journalist William M Arkin, that stated: “Americans couldn’t tell what they were getting for their money, but they could be assured that whatever it was, there was a lot of it — at least $81 billion a year’s worth just for national intelligence, according to the government’s own, if incomplete, count.” The book outlines how defence contracting firms had made billions from the war on terror, the erosion of civil rights in America and the Pentagon’s heavy reliance on contractors. It features extensive research and investigation into the murky world of intelligence collection, sharing and use; detailing how multiple agencies bloated post 9/11. Within a span of ten years, many started producing the same intelligence and data – piles and piles of it that complicated the process instead of helping intelligence agencies. The book’s style befits a thriller and each page holds fresh revelations, as Priest and Arkin piece together a billion dollar industry that has benefited from the war on terror. The book highlights the development and growth of government and military institutions in the past decade. From police departments in Memphis to the CIA, each has expanded its surveillance operations to the extent that the United States now resembles a police state. For those interested in US-Pakistan relations, the book also features some interesting anecdotes about Pakistan which make for fascinating reading. It also details the controversial and publicised events that have made up the war on terror — from CIA secret prisons and the rise of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) under Donald Rumsfeld’s rule to its present state and, of course, the new favourite tool in warfare: drones. “The number of drones in the US arsenal has increased from 60 to more than 6,000 since 9/11. Funding for drone-related projects and activities was about $350 million in 2001, when the first CIA Predator was being flown from a trailer once used as a day care centre in the parking lot of the agency’s headquarters. In ten years, spending on drones has ballooned to over $4.1 billion, and there are over 20 different types of unmanned aerial vehicles in the government’s inventory. Most of them are used for surveillance. Some of the experimental ones are as small as a dragonfly, and disguised as one, too.” The core argument presented in Top Secret America is whether 40 the surveillance, the intense intelligence collection and the secrecy, OCTOBER 23-29 2011

Draining the state’s coffers after 9/11 — Americans didn’t just part with their cash but also their privacy.

that have been trademarks of the last ten years in the war against terrorism, have benefitted the United States, or have helped make it safer. It also lays bare the wasteful expenditures that continue to be part and parcel of the way the US military and intelligence agencies function, with important questions raised on its efficiency and reliance on private firms, and how, even with a new administration in charge, little has changed from the days of the Bush era. A


10 things I hate about ... growing up

1 2 3 4 5


Having to meet everyone. You know how there are certain people you just can’t stand and as a child you always tried to avoid? Well, being a grown-up means

that no longer can you throw a tantrum, tell Mummy you hate him or her and that she can’t make you say, ‘Hi’.

Being polite. You have to put on a good show, meet everyone with a smile and listen to others go on and on

about how the war in the Middle East will affect micro-

wave ovens or something equally absurd. All you can do is smile and nod your head.

Being formal. One always has to dress formal, talk formal, act formal. Heck, I’ve seen people ‘hang-out’ formally. Yes, there is such a thing.

6 7 8 9 10

Expectations. “People have expectations beta,” is what my Mum always says. So, for the sake of people, kill your inner urge to be happy, embrace maturity and the

high blood pressure and premature baldness that comes with it so the world is awed by the pearl you’ve turned out to be.

Increasing your vocabulary. Somehow people just don’t take you seriously unless you deliver your intended message in the most extravagant form of speech known to mankind.

Paperwork and cards. I’m not referring to the one we

have to send on Eid. These are the papers certifying our education, cars, houses, etc. Then there are cards certifying we are indeed a person (cool, eh?) and cards certi-

fying we can drive, and of course the ones that allow us

to draw money from banks. Whatever happened to the bank of Mum and Dad?

Being responsible. I’m still getting the hang of this one. I mean, one day you’re 17, the next you’re 18 and

suddenly the very essence of you is expected to change.

Behaving rationally. Honestly this one’s not fair. Why

are adults always expected to behave rationally at all times? I mean why can’t one speed and overtake from

the left side when the uncle in front of you is chugging excruciatingly slowly in the middle of two lanes? Because it’s not rational. Right. Gotcha.

42 OCTOBER 23-29 2011

The hormones. Seriously these biochemical terrorists

go a little rough on a person; we could seriously use a break from the emotional rollercoaster ride.

Getting a job. After having the life sucked out of you while studying for a piece of paper that assures the

world that you did indeed lose all your youth at the hands of a university, you are at the very least expected

to find a job that pays well. Cause they’re out there just hanging on trees for you to pick. a

The Express Tribune Magazine - October 23  

The Express Tribune Magazine for October 23rd 2011