Tagged with " Humour"
Apr 1, 2009 - Uncategorized    31 Comments

Looking for a scapegoat at G20

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At times, one yearns for the good old days when battle lines were clear and one knew who is rooting for whom. Nowadays, if you happen to be a PPP jiyla who bitched about Sharifs a couple of weeks back or a noon-league supporter who thought calling President Zardari a lying cheating whore will grant you a palace in heaven and 72 virgins, you find yourself in a bit of bind. First they were sworn enemies, and then came democracy charter. Then they became friends, then they were not, then they thought they were friends and now even they don’t know where they stand. Shifting loyalties and friendships requires one to keep a lid on emotions and not call your temporary opponent any names; even if it means that you die of political name calling constipation.

The problem is; this is not a just a local affliction. First there were clear lines drawn between Capitalism and Communism, now the bastion of capitalism is home to socialism of sorts and US government is buying banks, insurance companies, equity firms and what not to keep the economy afloat. The former strong house of socialism, Russia, is home to maximum number of new millionaires and billionaires who love to buy football teams and shag as many Wags (that is wives and girlfriends of those footballers who play in those teams) as they can with the help of those little blue pills. Formerly, we just had a G7 (group of rich powerful Western Countries plus Japan) and a G77 (group of middle and lower income countries who were envious of Group 7 countries). Nowadays, one can’t keep a tab on these groups as they are fluid and can transform themselves very quickly from G7 to G6 to G8, from G22 to G33 to its latest variant G20 (mind you, its different from the poor countries’ G20 formed in Cancun 2003).

The question is: why am I blogging about G20? Well, why not. For one, I cannot just blog about the doomsday scenarios from Pakistan about Taliban and their not so civil ways of implementing their code. Secondly, my friend Andrew has taken over my inbox sending me minute by minute updates from London – from how choppers are flying all over London carrying the powerful heads of states to the stories of protestors who are squatting over London’s Square Mile and how he wishes that he had taken a couple of days off to show solidarity with protesters (I personally think he wanted to score with the women protesters). Since G20 is all I have been reading about for past 24 hours, it is but natural that I write about it.

G20 usually comprise of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the US and the country holding EU presidency, in this case, Czech Republic, but Gordon Brown seems to be in a generous mood and also invited Spain, the Netherlands, chairs of New Partnership for Africa’s Development, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the African Union Commission, and the president of the EU Commission. Heads of the UN, World Bank and International Monetary Fund takes the tally of attendees to 29.

Amidst all the stimulus plans and saving the world promises, Guardian focuses on more important issues surrounding the G20 such as why US all secret service agents wear shades, what will Jamie Oliver be cooking for the G20 delegates, who will sit next to whom at the dinner table (I am assuming that everyone would want a piece of world’s biggest super star President Obama), where picketing protesters throng, what clothes will the partners of heads of states be wearing and why is Obama given the codename Renegade?

How much money is it costing the British Exchequer? A cool £20 million – a bargain if compared with 2008 G8 summit in Japan (cost $285 million). Will it make a difference to the lives of people battling job loss, rising food prices and poverty? Not really, similar meet ups have not changed the world in the past, why should this one be any different?

Why is it convened? It is convened to find a scapegoat for the financial toilet the world is today. Chances are that most of it will be blamed on good ol’ W who is probably enjoying a juicy steak in Crawford and couldn’t care less. It is also rumored that Gordon Brown wanted to have a big party at tax payers’ account and decided to hold the summit as a cover for the party. A less likely rumor is that it is yet another chance to give some more press coverage and air time to Jamie Oliver.

What would have been the most looked for moment of G20 but will not happen any time soon? The meeting of Barack Obama and French First Lady Carla Bruni. It is heard that Sarkozy got a little unnerved by Obama’s message of “Change” and made sure that Carla would not attend the summit. It would have been interesting to see The Saint and the Seductress together.

Who will not bring their partners? Apart from spoilsport Sarkozy who feared the Messiah’s undeniable charms a little too much, Angela Merkel’s Professor hubby will not be there (he is a quantum Physicist and probably has better things to do). Cristina Kirchner’s husband, Néstor Kirchner will also give it a miss, probably because he used to be the President of Argentina before his wife and knows that he would stand out like a sore thumb exchanging floral arrangements and recipes with the wives of Indonesian and Dutch presidents. The infighting between the numerous wives of Saudi King Abdullah to accompany him resulted in him taking his favourite camel for company. They are putting up a special heated tent in London Ritz for the aforementioned camel.


In case anyone is wondering, the men at back are not King Abdullah’s wives

Mar 19, 2009 - published work    12 Comments

Failed State? Not really

Latest iRant from Dawn.com.

Sometime back, Newsweek named Pakistan the most dangerous place on earth. Now, the American magazine Foreign Policy has come up with its own most dangerous place. Surprisingly, it is not Pakistan. They name Somalia as the most dangerous country. In addition to a detailed article about the perils to life in Mogadishu, the Somalian capital, they came up with a chart of 60 countries that pass for failed states. They have graded the countries on indicators of instability that are as varied as human flight, human rights, economy and factionalized elite among others.

There are no marks for guessing that Pakistan gets an honourable mention in the top ten. It is the ninth most failed state after Somalia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Chad, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan and Ivory Coast – all fairly failed states. What did get my goat, however, was that Pakistan is considered more failed than Central African Republic, which came in tenth. Central African Republic? No one would even know where the country is if its name were not so geographically specific.

But it’s not just the good ol’ Central African Republic – Pakistan is more failed a state than Ethiopia (16), Liberia (34), which is famous for its blood diamonds and child soldiers, and Malawi (29), a heaven for celebrities looking to adopt kids without much ado.

The chart is designed with the maximum point of 10 for any indicator – the more failed a state is, the higher the score would be on most indicators. According to the chart, out of the 12 indicators of instability, Pakistan’s least worrisome performance has been in economy and – believe it or not – public services. It is a known fact that electricity –rather, the lack thereof – has wreaked havoc with our lives and economy. If that’s come out smelling of roses, imagine how bad the score would be on other indicators.

Group grievances, security apparatus and external intervention were among the higher scoring indicators. I personally think the chart is biased and is part of an international conspiracy to besmirch the good name of Pakistan. For instance, it has been suggested that US Drones that are said to be flying from Afghanistan are actually taking off from our own airfields. If that’s the case, then the level of external intervention is not as high as has been indicated in the chart.

Similarly, if the number of times traffic is blocked in the main cities of Pakistan to clear passage for high-ranking officials is any indicator of our security apparatus at work, it seems to be working just fine – that is, for the government officials, if not for all Pakistanis. Pakistan may score high in group grievances, but that is to be expected in a multi-ethnic country. If Baloch people have any issues with the federal government about royalty of its resources and the fate of its missing persons, it’s not that big a deal. After all, they comprise only 4 percent of the population.

Pakistan also scored high on delegitimization of the state. This was perhaps correct in the past, but it has been taken care of since last month. We have officially signed deals with dissident groups in Swat and Bajaur Agency and handed over districts and cities to them. Now they are the ones who are officially administering those areas and government of Pakistan cannot be held responsible for the deligitimization of the state.

The highest scoring indicator for Pakistan is the curiously titled factionalized elites. Contrary to scoring in the chart, the Pakistani elite does not seem all that factionalized. The elite has been quite focused, coherent and persistent in evading the taxes while piling indirect ones on the poor people of Pakistan. It can also be thanked for upholding the flight of Pakistani capital out of the country, investing in the Middle East, signing over parts of the country to militants, selling public goods, and denying external intervention in matters of governance. If anything, they have proven to be the most consistently performing group of the country.

The link for the chart was sent to me by fellow blogger Desi Che


PS: Those looking for laughs should check out the comments section in dawn blog, I personally think common sense is the rarest commodity these days.

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Mar 11, 2009 - published work    44 Comments

Profits in times of recession

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The global recession and liquidity crunch is making things difficult for everyone; small fish like us don’t stand a chance when giants like Coca-Cola are announcing dips in their profits. Job sites and Labour department and employment exchanges, especially in the United States of America and UK, are busy advertising the kind of skills that are still in demand and locations where people can retrain for those skills in order to get a job.

Things work a little differently here in Pakistan. The government is busy pacifying the militants, establishing governor’s rule and ensuring the availability of riot police for the impending long march. The opposition, on the other hand, has to make sure that they riot as much as they can during the long march, protest against the aforementioned governor’s rule and criticize government on every television channel that asks them to voice their opinion. The employment of common people is not something that is high on the agenda of either the government or the opposition parties.

However, after much deliberation, a new list of occupations is devised which can bring in richer dividends for the people, even in times of slump and economic decline.

Flag and Banner Industry: Whether it is election time, Muharram, Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi, political rally, long march, short march or just the month of March, there is always a demand for a banner or two. Whether you are in business of providing cloth to the banner-and-flag maker or work as the darzi who sews the jhandas, there is steady employment in this business. Occasional employment is also available for hoisting the flags and banners across the length and breadth of the country.

Crowd provider: Just like flag and banner industry, potential for running a human resource agency for providing crowds for political meetings, marches, jalsas and dharnas is tremendous. Not only the possibilities for providing general public for rallies are enormous, one can create a niche speciality for providing people who are good at slogan chanting, rallying the mob and flag bearing. Of course the charges for specific human resource would be much higher than just general crowd provision.

Hijab Industry: Hijab industry is the fastest growing industry in the country. With imposition of Shariat in Swat and Fata and its probable spread to other areas, burqas would be mandatory for women if they are to leave their homes to go to the weddings and funerals of relatives. Quite a few people have already built empires out of manufacturing and selling Hijab-related clothing. Hijab not only has a huge market in the country, but it sells like hot cakes in other countries as well and can generate much needed foreign exchange for the country. Canada is one such country where the business of hijab is booming, thanks to the immigration of Farhat Hashmi to the greener environs of Mississauga. Toronto and Vancouver are the new hotspots for the trendiest in hijab wear. This scribe met a sister duo in Rabi Centre Karachi who were buying tonnes of black georgette. One of the sisters is running a very successful hijab boutique in Vancouver and the other sister is the manufacturer who exports the hijab wear from Karachi; both of them are doing very well while busy in God’s business. If your business if affected by anti-dumping duties or you cannot compete with the low cost of production for knitwear, you can always switch to hijab wear and make loads of money for yourself and your country.

Madrassa teacher: As more and more people are facing the axe and their purchasing power is declining, they will soon be pulling their children out of the regular schools and put them in Madrassas funded with Saudi petrodollars. The higher the enrolment in such Madrassas would be, the demand for teachers would accelerate in the same proportion.


Disclaimer: Invest your time and money in the aforementioned occupations at your own risk; we cannot guarantee that the market for them will stay stable.

Originally published in Dawn.com

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Feb 20, 2009 - published work    33 Comments

All in the family

The final installment of the series.

What quips, quirks, snafus and scandals does Pakistan’s future hold? Tazeen Javed time travels to 2021 and blogs about what makes the Land of the Pure tick – or is it explode? – in the coming decade.

April 1, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The newly-elected government of Mr Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has completed its first 100 days in office. The landmark event was celebrated by a national holiday here on Tuesday, which takes the tally of Bhutto family-related national holidays to seven (the other holidays were birthdays and death anniversaries of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the annual commemoration of Mr Asif Ali Zardari’s 10-year anniversary in the presidential office, and the wedding anniversary of Prime Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari).

The notable constitutional amendment passed under PM Bhutto-Zardari’s parliament is the imposition of tax on royalties of all creative art forms, including sales of books, music records and art. However, it has not improved the condition of the national exchequer as only two books were published in the country last year and the pirated version of all the music created in Pakistan is available online, which results in absolutely no sales for the recording labels.

While addressing the nation, PM Bhutto-Zardari shared the good news that Pakistan has entered the Guinness Book of World Records for a single family holding the maximum number of ministries and other official positions in a country. In addition to the office of the president (held by the father of the prime minister) and that of a federal minister (his younger sister Asifa Bhutto-Zardari fills that spot), various ministerial posts are occupied by an assortment of uncles, aunties and cousins.

Leader of opposition, Mr Hamza Shahbaz called it a black day in the history of Pakistani politics and vowed that when his party assumes office, it will purge the government of the element of nepotism. He said that only a handful of positions would be held by his immediate family and substantiated the claim with the fact that in his family, women do not participate in politics, which automatically decreases the number of family members seeking official positions.

Meanwhile, Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussein sent flowers to the prime minister on this auspicious day. In a televised phone call from London to the PM secretariat, Mr Hussein said that Bhutto-Zardari would make a historic leader. Hussein added that PM Bilawal’s achievements have been exemplary since he was a little kid and had a famous chowk named after him in the port city of Karachi at the ripe-old age of five. He performed fateha for the PM’s martyred mother and cried a little while remembering the shaheed leader.

The evergreen Pir Pagaro congratulated the young prime minister and said that there would be a phoenix rising, adding that Sindh will be waterlogged and papers will fly. When asked about Pir Sahib’s message, the prime minister said that the Pir never made much sense – even in his lucid days – and that it would be futile to expect such an old man to make any sense at all.

Jamaat-e-Islami’s amir Qazi Hussein Ahmed initially announced a long march to protest the lavish celebrations to observe the first 100 days of the government, but had to retract after his party members refused yet another long march. One young member of the JI, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that per diem provided to long march participants has remained the same for the past five years and it has become almost impossible to recruit anyone to take part in long march at the old rates. Imran Khan, who now runs a successful media consultancy, agreed with the Jamaat’s new direction and suggested an online virtual march as a less expensive option. It is still not known if Jamaat plans to go virtual.

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Feb 19, 2009 - published work    17 Comments

TV 2020: Anchors away

The fourth installment of iRant, with a brand new logo.

What quips, quirks, snafus and scandals does Pakistan’s future hold? Tazeen Javed time travels to 2020 and blogs about what makes the Land of the Pure tick – or is it explode? – in the coming decade.

April 1, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The centre for ethno-historical research in Quaid-e-Azam University is holding an exhibition of tools, gadgets and other items of daily use from earlier periods to educate youngsters about lifestyles in their parents’ times. A series of seminars is also being held alongside the exhibition to educate the youth about the norms and practices of previous generations.

The seminar on ‘Television Viewing Habits of the Past’ was quite popular amongst the young crowd. Not only were they amazed to see huge LCD televisions from the old days, but they were also fascinated by the concept of family TV viewing. When they were told that PTV continues to sell itself as a family channel, they were suitably surprised – not because family viewing is still considered a saleable point, but because they did not know that we have a TV channel called PTV. Indeed, a quick survey of the seminar participants revealed that an overwhelming majority of 92 percent had no idea what PTV is.

Youngsters were dumbfounded when they were told that biggest entertainment during the earlier part of the century was watching current affairs programs and talk shows on TV. They were shown clips of big names such as Hamid Mir, Shahid Masood, Talat Hussein, Zaid Hamid and Nadia Khan, who in their time commanded huge salaries. Unfortunately, their huge salaries proved to be their undoing – the channels that employed these anchors collapsed because they had nothing left to run operations after paying those enormous salaries.

Youngsters were curious to hear about the current status of the erstwhile anchors, so the institute prepared an interesting documentary detailing their current lives. Mr Masood is currently heading Muqtadra Qaumi Zaban. Although he is not a man of letters and has never studied Urdu formally, he was given this post because of the sheer verbosity of the TV monologues that he passed off as news analysis (his close ties with the president also helped).

Mr Mir finally found his true vocation: he is now an inspirational guru and lectures on politics, current affairs, war and peace. His most frequent guest speaker is none other than Imran Khan, who is an expert on religion and justice. Mr Khan started his career as a cricketer and later turned into a philanthropist. He tried his hands at politics, failed at it miserably, hosted a TV show, but met failure there too as he did not let any of his guests speak. He later took on the job as Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan’s spokesman, but became redundant after they went under because of rampant infighting. Apart from the lecture tours which are immensely popular, Mir and Khan now run a media and politics consultancy where they provide services to political parties and young politicians on dealing with the media.

Mr Hussein used his popularity with female fans to full advantage and his foray into the world of acting and performing arts proved to be extremely successful. Not only is he acting on TV, film and the stage in Pakistan, he is working on a film in India and another in Bangladesh. It is also rumoured that he will feature in a German film soon. In addition, he has just launched an accessories label for men and women called ‘Interaption.’

Effervescent Nadia Khan, for her part, is running a successful finishing school for girls where they are taught to sharpen their claws to deal with future mothers-in-law. Her school has a separate wing for people who want to break into the TV industry despite being not very bright. She teaches aspiring anchors how to become successful with limited skill and knowledge. There are additional classes which are open for everyone titled ‘How to Take Pride in Stupidity’.

The only exception in this group is that of Mr Hamid. He took the demise of the Taliban a little more seriously than the rest. He now wears a straitjacket and lives in a padded room in a big hospital in Hyderabad. Those who live in the vicinity of the big hospital do hear someone screaming, ‘Inshallah, dushman ko khatam kar dain gay,’ at times. It is rumoured that whenever Hamid surfaces from his medicine-induced stupor, he does fancy that he is back in 2009 and makes such claims. But the good doctors at the hospital take care of his situation and send him back to where belongs, in deep sleep.

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Feb 18, 2009 - published work    17 Comments

Pakistan’s cultural renaissance

The third installment of what future holds for us.

What quips, quirks, snafus and scandals does Pakistan’s future hold? Tazeen Javed time travels to 2019 and blogs about what makes the Land of the Pure tick – or is it explode? – in the coming decade.

April 1, 2019

KARACHI: The wait is finally over. After a tussle that lasted for over a decade, 2019 will see the second installment of the fashion week being held in Pakistan. The idea first surfaced in 2006 and Karachi did come up with a fashion week in 2008, but it fizzled out after just one event. In a time like this, when major fashion capitals have wrapped up the idea of actually having a fashion week as obsolete and most big designers have taken to use holograms to showcase their ware, the fashionistas in Pakistan seems quite excited about being able to claim that they too have taken part in/attended/organized an event where fashion reigns supreme.

Several reasons were cited for this decade-long delay: security concerns in the country, infighting in the fashion council of Pakistan. But the most pertinent reason was that there were only three models who were at least five feet, eight inches tall – a standard that is followed everywhere in the world except Pakistan. As one cannot have a fashion week with just three models, we kept delaying the event. It didn’t help that no new girl joined the fashion industry in the past decade because of threats from various jihadi groups. Now that the militants have all fought and killed each other, things are much calmer and a new breed of models have joined in to make the fashion week a possibility.

Of course, the fashion industry is not the only one that has gained momentum after the jihadi burnout. The film industry is also in for a revival and is attracting financing from all over the world after Shaan was declared the most prolific actor of all time. He has continued to work throughout the jihadi period and single-handedly ran the film industry while in exile in Timbuktu. He recently returned home and was interviewed by none other than Oprah who is visiting Pakistan as the cultural envoy of US President Condoleezza Rice. Shaan has not only worked in more than 4,000 films as the leading actor, he also wrote, produced, and directed at least half of them. He is also the only actor known to have played the proverbial college boy well into his fifties. As all his films required him to be involved in a blood bath before the credits rolled, he is being considered to become the spokesperson for the National Blood Donation Drive. As he only wanted farm fresh ketchup to be used for blood in all his films, he is also responsible for introducing tomato farming and the ketchup industry to the dusty deserts of Timbuktu. Members of the Association of Tomato Growers and Ketchup Makers in Timbuktu came all the way to Lahore to pay tribute to the legendary actor, secretly hoping that Oprah would also give them a two-minute slot in her show.

The music industry is not far behind either. All the bands that were underground for the past decade have finally seen the light of day and are making themselves heard. Although they were underground for political and security reasons, they took their state of being underground a little too musically and all they now produce is hard rock and grunge – the type of music underground bands have been associated with in previous years. The only performers of good old pop music are the children of pop musicians-turned-naat khwaans who have been busy selling their Naat and Hamd CDs and DVDs for the past dozen years. Pakistan has also seen a surge in rap and hip hop music after the successful debut of the first female Pakistani rap artist Bakhtawar Bhutto-Zardari, who was nominated for two Grammys last year. Bhutto-Zardari is the daughter of the slain former prime minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto and longest elected president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari (11 years and counting).

Apart from all the new and exciting musicians, the only band to have lasted this long is Noorie. When contacted, Ali Noor – the lead vocalist – said that the reason the band survived is because all band members hail from his family. In the past, they have had band members who were not part of their family, but they could not survive the family-like atmosphere of their jamming sessions. Currently, the band comprises of Ali Noor, his brother, his nephew, his son-in-law, and his nephew’s mother-in-law. After all, it is all about loving your family and your nephew’s mother-in-law.

The sole person to whom this positive and much-needed change can be attributed is our young and dynamic Minister for Cultural Affairs Asifa Bhutto-Zardari. When asked what made her work so hard for the revival of the performing arts, she said it is in her blood. With a sister who is a rap artist and a cousin who is married to Hollywood royalty, performing arts and its promotion at all levels is a cause very close to the minister’s heart. Like Ali Noor, our esteemed minister also believes that it is all about loving your family.

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Feb 17, 2009 - published work    21 Comments

Short Order Fatwa

Here is the second installment of iRant published today.

What quips, quirks, snafus and scandals does Pakistan’s future hold? Tazeen Javed time travels to 2018 and blogs about what makes the Land of the Pure tick – or is it explode? – in the coming decade.

Short-Order Fatwa

April 1, 2018

MURIDKE: The fatwa capital of Pakistan, Muridke, has been under the media spotlight for over a week. Muridke Institute of Instant Religious Decrees (MIIRD) has beaten Egypt’s Jamia Azhar and India’s Dar-ul-uloom Deoband for issuing the maximum number of fatwas. Unlike the other two institutions which are centuries old, MIIRD has surpassed the feat in just five short years. The institute prides itself on its speedy delivery of fatwas. This bastion of religious declarations is home to 225 scholars who address queries through a call centre that takes questions both via phone and online and responds to them in the shortest possible time.

The website of the institute very clearly indicates that every religious query will be answered in less than 180 minutes. The religious call centre is operated like any other call centre – scholars work on eight-hour rotational shifts. The scholar who issues the maximum number of fatwas in a month’s time gets selected as the scholar of the month and gets his photo streamed on all the televisions in the institute as well as on its website. Maulana Faish Hoshiyari has been selected scholar of the month for eight consecutive months and now has a 123 Facebook pages devoted to him with over a couple of millions fans to date.

Apart from the online fatwas, the institute is running a 24-hour religious TV channel called ‘Akhirat’, which not only helps in the proliferation of the aforementioned fatwas, but also airs other programs. One such program is ‘Banking: The Halal-Haram Dichotomy’, which repeats the premise that interest taken by other banks is haram but profit on investment taken by halal banks is perfectly fine.

Another important and highly rated program is ‘Halal Dating’, where religious-minded folks are hooked up under the ever-vigilant eyes of the Maulana, who is also the executive producer of the show. Another program that enjoys immense popularity amongst the masses is ‘Istakhara for all Seasons’. Not surprisingly, the program that has broken all records in religious TV viewing is ‘Halal Food Guide’, which combines two main passions of Pakistanis – food and religion. The cooking show features famous chefs who prepare food with halal ingredients. The food shown in the programs is also available across the nation at MIIRD restaurants called ‘Al Halal’. That is why the institute, at times, is affectionately referred to as ‘Fast Food Fatwa’.

Interestingly, the institute was the first religious school to go on Twitter and pioneered the custom of delivering the latest ‘fatwa of the day’ right into their subscribers’ cell phones.

In addition to adding their name to the Guinness Book of World Records for maximum number of fatwas, the institute has also pioneered the MIIRD clothing line which consists of topis, kifayas, pagris, burqas, hijabs, kurtas, and pajama designs. All born-again Muslim celebrities-turned-designers contribute to the line. It is believed that MIIRD will be the biggest clothing label in Pakistan soon. Moreover, the institute has just launched a chain of saloons where men can get their beards trimmed in true halal fashion while women can get their hair dyed with henna – in separate sections of course.

After completing taking over the Hajj and Umrah travel business, MIIRD’s board of directors are now planning to commence the first all halal airline, which will offer separate sections for male and female travelers and Jama’at prayer sessions for men during the flight. The in-flight entertainment programme will exclusively broadcast snippets from Akhirat, the institute’s television channel.

It is said that after achieving the feat of issuing the maximum number of fatwas and building an empire based on the Pakistani masses’ incessant need to seek religious approval for all things trivial, MIIRD will be taught as a business model at Harvard Business School

When contacted, the CEO of MIIRD Empire, Al Haaj Mufti Sheikh Syed Maulana Mujawar, about being taught at Harvard Business School as a business model, a feat that no other Pakistani company or business plan has ever achieved, Mufti Mujawar said that he is extremely pleased to put Pakistan on the business map while serving his people and fulfilling their socio-religious needs. When it was pointed out that some segments of society are not too pleased with the instant fatwa empire and think that various – and at times, conflicting – fatwas are adding to anarchy in the society, the esteemed Mufti dismissed it as mere heresy. ‘Society is chaotic because it the natural state of being and peace can only be achieved in afterlife,’ he says.

PS: While you guys are at it, have a look at this live blogging session.

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Feb 16, 2009 - published work    29 Comments

The First Rant

Dawn launched its new website and I have been asked to write a series of blogs about what Pakistan would be like a decade down the road. Here is the first installment of iRant.


Shoaib Akhtar: Conscience of the Superstars

What quips, quirks, snafus and scandals does Pakistan’s future hold? Tazeen Javed time travels to 2017 and blogs about what makes the Land of the Pure tick – or is it explode? – in the coming decade.

April 1, 2017

LAHORE: The last remaining super star of Pakistani cricket, Shoaib Akhtar, is still battling it out with the Pakistan Cricket Board. When the TV cameras caught up with Akhtar outside the cricket board offices, he vowed to make it back to the team and shared with the media his new fitness regime, which consists of him walking 100 meters without either a walking stick or power enhancing drugs. He also blamed the board for his poor performance and lack of consistency and said that he spent a better part of the day getting the cricket board to pay his old unpaid medicals bills dating back to 2009 – as a result, he cannot concentrate on his game.

Apart from the long drawn out battle with the cricket board on unpaid medical bills, Akhtar is involved in 11 other cases and is being considered for an award for his role in keeping the lawyers community afloat. He is a joint contender for the award along with Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, who has been fighting for a free judiciary for a whole decade. Of the 11 lawsuits that Akhtar has been fighting, one is against Kolkata Knight Riders for unceremoniously dumping him eight years ago. The team has changed ownership twice since then (Shahrukh Khan’s wife got the team in divorce settlement, but later sold it to Karan Johar. The erstwhile Mrs Khan was of the opinion that Johar can appreciate dirty, sweaty men a lot more than she ever could). But Akhtar is still battling on.

Other legal cases include, but are not limited to, a hit-and-run incident on Rawalpindi-Lahore Motorway, growing marijuana in his backyard and gifting it to neighbours’ under-age kids, two cases of assault against teammates, three paternity cases in two countries, and a couple of lawsuits against a cola giant for dropping him and causing him irreversible emotional damage. In order to pay for his ever-mounting legal fees, Akhtar has decided to auction his infamous bat with which he assaulted a former teammate. It is rumoured that the former teammate, who now supplies soft drugs to the whole of the Middle East since their legalization following 2010’s Dubai’s real estate market crash, will be buying that bat for nostalgic reasons.

Last but not least is his ongoing battle with the Indian judicial system, which has repeatedly denied his attempts at adopting an Indian orphan. It was almost nine years ago when Akhtar first revealed the intention to adopt a child from Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. When asked why he singled out Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, he said that as he was always partial to the name Teresa and would want it to be part of his adoptive child’s life. When contacted, a member of Indian judiciary revealed that it is not his history of violence and substance abuse that is hindering his chance at adoption, they are more concerned about the probable influence of Akhtar’s former teammates who are now running Hajj and Umrah tours and have close ties with Osama Bin Laden and Junaid Jamshed. It is heard that the state of Malawi slackened its adoption laws, especially for celebrities from far far away lands. Akhtar, being the philanthropist softie he is, does not mind adopting a child from Malawi, as long as it get the same media coverage as an adoption would get in Mumbai. Unfortunately, adoption agencies in Malawi cannot guarantee that as they do not take care of adoption-related PR. It is clearly stated in the standard adoption contract that the celebrity is required to arrange his own post-adoption press junket and cute baby photos.

Like the original playboy of Pakistani cricket, Imran Khan, Akhtar is also building a hospital. Unlike Khan, who built the hospital in honour of his mother who perished from cancer, Akhtar’s hospital would be devoted to cure skin diseases. It is still unknown if it is being built to honour a particular person or if it is something he likes to be associated with? Some detractors of the national hero said that there would be a special ward in the hospital for the ‘thick skinned’, to honour the cricketer himself.

Akhtar believes that he is the most misunderstood celebrity of our times and blames the cricket board and media for the PR debacle that is his life. Although many would disagree, Akhtar fills a huge vacuum in Pakistan’s media industry. We do not have people like Prince Harry and Paris Hilton, but we need people who can fill the air-time of local TV channels and serve as tabloid fodder. Akhtar is doing just that. Who can help but be charmed by such social service?


PS: Can someone please fwd this link to Shoaib Akhtar if they happen to know him?

Feb 4, 2009 - Uncategorized    54 Comments

Of weddings and new(er) insults

During the December Shadi (wedding) season, something strange happened. Quite a few people asked me about my academic qualifications, which I believe is totally unsuitable a topic of conversation at weddings. At weddings, you are supposed to ask extremely inappropriate questions with impunity. For instance, you may ask single people if they are getting married any time soon, if they have no such plans, you tell them to take the plunge and try and fix them up with first available person. You can ask the married ones if they plan to have any children and if they are not having children you tell them to procreate. You ask those who already have a child if they are having a second child and the minute they turn their back, you shake your head somberly and say that if they continue to breed like this, they would single handedly be responsible for the eventual dumbing down of the society. In short, you have the license to be as obnoxious as you can and you usually get away with it.

As I am eternally single and it has been discussed to death by every chachi, mami and khala, people have become more imaginative and developed a new set of insults and inappropriate questions to ask. One uncle asked me what I have done academically, when he found out that I have two post grad degrees in social sciences, he shook his head and said that if I had studied something worthwhile (preferably a business degree) I would be rolling in money and not wasting my time with the non profit non-sense. Still reeling from the shock that all my college education was deemed useless and my choice of career non sense.

I guess the old insults won’t do hence the newer insults are all the rage. Gotta come up with more flippant come backs now.

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