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Showing posts from September, 2010

VIEW: Just Say No…. to IDP’s? - MQM's IIIrd Strike (June 2009)

Unpublished piece

A strike call to protest the IDP’s arrival in Sindh, issued by virtual unknowns – JSQM, had been set for 25 May 2009. MQM’s initial support and subsequent withdrawal late Sunday night (24 May 2009) came too late for the strike to be called off – but in time for them not to ‘strike out’ completely. In baseball terms, however, this would be MQM’s third strike. First a deposed judge (barred for bringing in Marching lawyers); recently a fiery Cricketer turned politician (barred for bringing a peace rally) and now displaced people (barred for unwittingly bringing excess baggage of the Taliban).

As compassion and aid pours forth from all over the world for victims of Pakistan’s biggest humanitarian disaster, this very public display of hostility is bewildering. MQM reps were hauled in by talk show hosts to explain. Glib talking politicians nimbly danced around, careful not to admit wrongdoing, loathe to take responsibility, yet, eager to defend their flimsy pretext for le…

BOOK REVIEW: Estranged Neighbours: India - Pakistan (1947-2010) By General K M Arif

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

Thanks to Dost Publications for the review copy

Published in Daily Times / 25 Sep 2010 under the title: Dreaming of an elusive peace

General Arif admits that he is a “soldier by profession and peacemaker by choice”. The peacemaking side hastens to the battlefield to clear the air and maybe mend some fences while the soldier in him is ready to launch a verbal offensive. He does intend to bury the hatchet but not before evaluating the number of times this hatchet has been wielded in the past by the powerful nation of India against a flailing state of Pakistan. There is a third side — that of the pragmatist who intends to bring Pakistan back in alignment with its stated polices.

South Asia is frequently in crisis mode and Estranged Neighbours studies the inherited problems, shared dilemmas, post partition woes and regional complexities faced by both nations. General Arif witnessed the partition, was President Ziaul Haq’s chief of staff and spent nearly 40 years in t…

BOOK REVIEW: Dead until Dark /Author: Charlaine Harris

First Published in Daily Times - Saturday, September 18, 2010

Published under the title: Playing for high stakes

Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal

All the books in the Southern Vampire Mystery series have the word ‘dead’ in the title, a female lead with moxie as the protagonist, a mystery at the core and the un-dead community as its star attractions. The media is saturated with vampires these days but instead of dying from overexposure, this proves that they are stronger than ever.

Charlaine Harris adds another dimension to an old tale, tweaking the mythology to imagine a world where vampires have risen again. This time they have a stake in society instead of the other way around and no longer need to skulk around in the shadows or hunt humans for that matter. Freshly recognised, at least in the US, out of the coffin, into the open, teetotaller vamps owe their new found freedom to the Japanese whose alternative nourishment plan involves synthetic drinks.

These un-dead run true to type with their…

BOOK REVIEW: Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief / By Rick Riordan

First Published inDaily Times / Saturday, September 04, 2010

Reposted atLiberty Books Blog

Published under the title: Of gods and men
Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal

Olympian gods and goddesses are not the best role models; their moral compass is frequently out of order and no one dares suggest they get it fixed. The (stormy) age of the gods was great while it lasted but it is over. Rick Riordan reawakens the gods, gives them another shot at (eternal) life with a brand new home, creating a new legion of heroes and heroines in the process. He then combines all these elements to launch his fantasy series making mythology the centrepiece and family values the essential pillars of his newly redesigned universe.

How do these extinct entities fare in a (literary) world already overrun with vampires, witches, werewolves and wizards? Set in the present day, Riordan’s young adult fantasy novel tries to survive the onslaught of other supernatural beings by giving neglected Greek gods a clever makeover. T…