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Showing posts from April, 2010

VIEW: Sajad Haider Saved my Life - i think. UNPUBLISHED (so far)

There is a story behind these carelessly uttered, yet delightfully cryptic words, one that will not figure in Air Cdre Sajad Haider’s part memoir, part expose - Flight of the Falcon. It happened more than a quarter of a century ago during a simple routine training exercise carried out to groom operational pilots to be pair leaders before they moved up as section and finally flight leaders. Now, all operational pilots are expected to lead a flight of 2 in mock combat missions to qualify as pair leaders. In late 1969, a fresh operational Flying Officer (F/O) from No. 14 Squadron stationed at PAF Base Dhaka, was detailed to fly a check sortie (the clearance test) with the redoubtable, (then) Wing Commander, Nosey Haider. Their mission was to carry out a low level airfield strike. A Mig-21 silhouette, painted in the apron at a satellite airfield provided the target for their planned low level ingress followed by a simulated gun attack.

The F/O remembered that the navigation was on track, …

VIEW: Karachi’s Bete-Noire

PUBLISHED in The POST / Aug 22, 2007

By: Afrah Jamal

‘Don’t go back yet! I saw water on the roads’, cautioned a well meaning Arab friend as I prepared to return from Al AIN UAE.

Admitting that the continuing presence of water on Karachi roads leftover from a 2 day old rain is as natural to us as its absence is to them would have bewildered him further. No matter how stifling the weather gets, when people gaze at rain clouds with dismay, you know that you have arrived in Karachi. Always a high risk area for cyclones and tsunamis, this City used to get a glimpse of the Monsoon now and then but the changing weather patterns account for the increasing frequency of rains.

The danger of cyclones is age old and the fear of rain may be recent but it is not irrational as heavy rains were such a rarity that people could quote the year when it last occurred. The regular albeit unwelcome appearance of Venetian roads has of course changed their perception of ‘no rain’ in Karachi. If rainfall in oth…

BOOK REVIEW: Three Battles: Critical Clashes Between Asia and Europe By M Abul Fazl Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal

Thanks to Dost Publications for the review copy

Published In Daily Times / 17 Apr 2010

The battles of Jhelum, Plassey and Dien Bien Phu are said to be key turning points in history. Of the three, two had already been lost on a political level long before they were ‘joined’; all of them have been subjected to intense scrutiny over the years. In one, a battle-hardened general and famous military strategist won a technical victory over a warrior king. In another, a trading company challenged and defeated a major Asian powerhouse. And, finally, a guerrilla style movement led by local nationalists brought down an occupying force of superior strength.

If Plassey was decisive for the company where the British gained a convincing military victory over young Sirajuddaula, the standoff between Porus and Alexander at Jhelum exposed the fatal flaws in a famed Greek strategy and the fall of Dien Bien Phu dealt a crippling blow to the French colonial ambitions.

Strength in numbers is not a decisive …

BOOK REVIEW: Songs of Blood and Sword: A Daughter’s Memoir

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

Author: Fatima Bhutto
Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal

Published in Daily Times / 10 Apr 2010

Google Fatima Bhutto and George Clooney’s name comes up — the Daily Telegraph thinks they are an item; peruse her new book and the journey through the wonderland with its glitz and glamour takes an unexpectedly macabre twist. Her family history is to blame for blighting the sunny landscape. Bhuttos are the ruling elite. Every so often they run for office. This quest leaves a bloody trail and each attempt almost always ends badly. But their political aspirations override self-preservation. The Bhutto family name is as much a liability as an asset, and each generation manages to find itself contributing to a gruesome storyline.

If there is anyone born to write this story, it is Fatima, proclaims William Dalrymple on the cover of her new book Songs of Blood and Sword: A Daughter’s Memoir. When it comes to invoking pathos, romanticising her father’s life, glorif…

BOOK REVIEW: He’s Just Not That Into You: The No - Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys

Thanks to Fakhara for introducing me to the Bible of relationship woes.

Author(s): Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo

Published inDaily Times / 3 April 2010

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

Relationships are complicated, not guys, but they would have women believe otherwise, at least according to Greg Behrendt. They would also rather be trampled on by elephants on fire than admit that they are not into you, again according to Greg. So with these two nuggets of wisdom — and that visual in hand — we proceed to meet these specimens at their worst, while they use work as an excuse not to call, are commitment phobic, never get back, pick fights, vanish without a trace - poof!

When they exhibit any of these symptoms or use a million other handy excuses, they are probably not that into you. And Greg observes that they, his fellow men, may not be saying it but they are absolutely showing it.

The book has compiled stories heard and questions asked in the form of a delightful little Q and A with the author. …