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Showing posts from May, 2012

VIEW: The National Anthem Conundrum

Published in Daily Times / Saturday, May 26, 2012

By Afrah Jamal

The headline in a local daily about alleged disdain of Karachi’s elite schools for the national anthem was framed to trigger a firestorm of protests. The outrage came right on cue. A small group of enlightened souls recently gathered to mull over the national anthem controversy over tea and cookies did not look too worried about this blatant attempt to reinterpret the patriotism handbook.

Some educational institutions may have already bidden adieu to an established tradition but the latest fracas over the disappearing practice of singing the anthem could be an opportunity, for some, to reassess a tired, old arrangement. No one denies the importance of the Qaumi Tarana ; no one would dare, in such an emotionally charged environment. However, they are conflicted over the exact manner it can best serve the nation in its present day crisis mode.

The anthem may be non-negotiable. And in a land split across cultural, ethnic, re…

BOOK REVIEW: Fatal Faultlines: Pakistan, Islam and the West

Published by Daily Times / 5 May 2012

When characters in a modernised version of Sherlock Holmes make a passing reference to Karachi — they only have Daniel Pearl in mind. When the ISI agents are featured on TV shows — it is because they can stand in for the US’s favourite Cold War foes.

Such imagery goes well with the popular narrative doing the global rounds. A widening gulf between Islam and the West, the oscillating nature of the Pak-US relationship, and the alarming levels of toxicity within, is a source of concern and confusion. Now, it is the subject of a book. At the launch of Fatal Faultlines: Pakistan, Islam and the West, veteran columnist Irfan Husain briefly touched upon these incongruities. In the book, he delves deeper into a cheerless terrain where reason has been cast adrift and paranoia is king.

Fatal Faultlines: Pakistan, Islam and the West meticulously sifts through centuries of suspicion and decades of scorched earth left behind by Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan t…